I recently read (and commented on) a Facebook post by the mandolinist Buddy Merriam. He was making a plea for support of his music. Now, to me, Buddy is a bluegrass icon on Long Island. The idea that he has to ask for support seems utterly ridiculous. But thinking about it more carefully, I feel there is an even deeper issue here, and that’s not the way the general public treats musicians, but the way musicians treat each other.
I’m constantly seeing posts of local musicians promoting their own thing. I do it quite often myself. But how often do you witness a musician speaking in praise of a peer? We’re so concerned w/ getting our own thing across that we neglect those around us (usually ‘cos our heads are so far up our assess that we forget that there are other local artists). I’ve seen people post rants about how no one supports the local scene and only are interested in name acts, and then a day or two later the same person will post a link to a Van Halen video or mention that they’re going to see Muse the next weekend, and never talk about anything in the local scene other than themselves.
Here’s why this struck home w/ me: I once was checking out a YouTube clip of the M. Shanghai String Band (doing one of my favourite songs of theirs, “Another Day On the Train”) and decided to share it to my FB page. I got a post from a friend of mine saying “Thanks, Jimi. I really liked that one”. This friend lives in Japan (I think) and so may never go to an M. Shanghai show, but he might buy some of their music online. Or he might tell someone else who will buy their music or attend a show (or both). Or nothing may come of it. But if I hadn’t posted the vid, nothing would definitely happened (sorry about the grammar, there).
It occurred to me that it’s highly likely that when I post my own stuff, I come off as a salesman (which I am, but in this case a passionate one). But when I post the music of someone else who I enjoy, it comes across as me just sharing something I think has value, and as such, people are probably more likely to check it out. Imagine if we would all do this for other local artists? And you don’t have to be disingenuous about it. If there are local artists who you don’t like, just don’t say anything about them (“If you can’t say something nice…”). But there are probably plenty of grassroots groups you could be supporting. They don’t even have to be local, considering how the internet works. I have a connection to a group in Denver (Them Raggedy Bones, great old school Americana stuff). I’ll advocate for them, and maybe there are people in Colorado who’ll get wind of it and become fans, or maybe someone else will just purchase some mp3s of theirs.
There’s a concept in New Age thinking that whatever you need, you should give away. If you need to promote your band and develop a fan base, advertise someone else’s group and become their fan. If you want more people to come to your shows, go to more other folks shows (and not Bon Jovi, for one thing ‘cos they don’t need your support as much as your local artists do, and for another thing they totally suck).
There are plenty of local acts that I enjoy and will continue to endorse. Here are some:
John Wilkes Booth (dirt rock)
Orange Television (sort of a “Pink Floyd meets Dave Matthews on an angry day” kind of thing)
Kevin B. Clark (modern jazz guitar)
Melody Rose (modern pop and jazz)
Jerry Willard (classical guitar)
Evolfo Doofeht (goddammned funky!)
the Coyote Loops (new age guitar)
Nathan Hanson (modern sax)
Medecine Fish (raw jam band)
(If you’re wondering why I didn’t put your name up here, don’t take offense. I’m doing this all very quickly, and am bound to omit some important folk)
I sincerely hope this post inspires some folk to really become advocates for their local music scenes, and for anything else going on in their community. But if it even gets one person thinking about these issues, I’ll have accomplished something.
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- Tagged: appreciation, artist, Audiopharmacy, Bon Jovi, Buddy Merriam, Coincidence Machine, Coyote Loops, Evolfo Doofeht, FaceBook, fans, gig, indie, Jerry Willard, Jimi Durso, John Wilkes Booth, Kevin B. Clark, local scene, M Shanghai String Band, Medecine Fish, Melody Rose, Muse, music, Nathan Hanson, new age, Orange Television, Pink Floyd, promote, support, Them Raggedy Bones, Van Halen
Jimi, I agree with what you are saying. I am not a ‘puter guy and resent the time I have to sit in front of the screen-the only reason I post my gigs is that I’ve been told by so many musicians that if I don’t do it I am not trying to get the folks out to a show.
I do put up videos that I think others should be aware of but do not spend a lot of time on the “outer net”- I’d rather be creative with my mandolin & try to write new music.
Your points are well taken, thank you for taking the time to put your thoughts out there!
thanks for your comment. I wasn’t saying that we all have to promote each other on the internet (and thanks for helping me to clarify this). Just letting our own circles know about all the other great talent out here I feel would also be a big help to us all. Also, I didn’t mean to imply that we shouldn’t be posting our own performances. I do that all the time. I’ve just noticed that many of my friends view this as marketing and when I tell them about other people’s shows then they take it as me hipping them to something, which they seem to be more receptive to. Maybe it’s just the quality of friends I have.