This piece was originally published in Charlotte’s Crowd Surfer zine, which if you’re in the Charlotte area make sure to pick one up, it’s great. We loved this piece so much we asked if we could republish it. Bo White is a Charlotte area musician who plays in multiple projects and records bands.
Local Rally Up
By Bo White
If you’re into discovering new music, things can get complicated. Every night bands you’ve never heard of have driven hundreds of miles to play your town. You can’t make it to every show, and you probably don’t want to. The internet makes it better and worse. With some effort you can follow most trends. Trendy acts by definition have some popularity, a kind of prescreening to level the playing field. But truthfully, that stuff is driven by a pitifully small number of websites, many owned by conglomerates primarily interested in driving ad revenue (checkout Spinmedia.com and scroll down to the list of their holdings). This commoditization has been around for years, and the points are so convoluted that I’m not going to attempt a diatribe. But I would like to encourage people in 2014 to try the most immediate way to experience new music and be a direct part of its creation. Go do local music. Hear it, support it, or if you’re so inclined, create it.
Before recorded music and even fairly far into its existence, it was more common for anyone to play an instrument. The music scene consisted of your neighbors and family members. If you lived in a town that was big enough, the best of these players might get jobs playing at venues or events. People discovered and enjoyed music in itself with far fewer tags of importance from record labels or press. Arguably, the decision about whether or not they liked it was far purer than today. Music discovery can still be like this. The easiest gateway is by going back to the roots, experiencing local music.
If you are not a musician:
-Go to a variety of local shows. An actual variety: different venues, different genres, different times of day, different acts.
-There are plenty of local players and songwriters as high caliber as nationally touring acts. You will see some touring acts at local shows, a nice bonus.
– This is live music. You may see a magical performance or an off night. Either way, look for things to enjoy. If you approach shows with this mentality, you will find good things in them.
-Check out local bands’ recordings online, but definitely try to see them live if there is a remote spark of interest in what they do. Sometimes recordings are years old. Most bands are constantly evolving and getting better. Give them few chances before making up your mind.
-Enjoy the connection of live shows. Man, mellow out. If it’s a low attendance, don’t sweat it. Take it as a private show. Stand up front. Talk to the band(s) before or after. Talk to other show goers, or talk a friend into going. There is absolutely no reason to feel weird. Every performer came there to perform, no matter what.
-When you have positive impressions of someone’s music, tell them. If you get the opportunity, tell others too. Local scenes thrive on word of mouth.
-If you’re interested, look into playing music yourself.
If you are a musician:
-Play more shows.
-Support other local bands you like.
-Discover other local bands. Trust me; you are not aware of all of them.
-The scene does not have impenetrable cliques. I’ve heard musicians lament this for years, but it is nonsense. Every band is ultimately on its own. You, me, everyone. Connections are helpful, but rarely concrete. If you want to make connections with other bands, reach out and try.
-When you have positive impressions of someone’s music, tell them. Tell others too. But be genuine; do not bullshit.
-Keep negative opinions to yourself. Give criticism only when asked, and take a moment to make it constructive.
-Make recordings. Release them in a timely fashion. There is a time to stop goofing around with mixes.
-Work on getting better. Write more songs, one a week, one a day.
-If you don’t see the music you like being made here, start making it or encourage others to.
This was a pretty good year for Charlotte music. If musicians and show goers take a little bit of the above to heart, the next will be even better. Here’s to the Charlotte music scene in 2014.