10 Ways We Can Improve Our Local Music Scene

by Skye Zentz

"If we support local music and art at all of its levels of development, we will feed and fuel the music scene as a whole." -Skye Zentz


1) Go to local shows! See bands you love, see bands you've never heard of. Expand your musical taste-buds. Your attendance alone helps make that show just a little more awesome. The collective vibes among strangers witnessing live music together are flat out magical! Like friendly pixie dust. There are lots of great shows to see in town. Here's a few Norfolk venues for starters: The Taphouse, Jewish Mother, and Belmont.


2) Help promote local shows. Attendance is only part of supporting the music. We've all been to a show before where the lack of audience was flat out embarrassing in comparison to the amazing energy of the performers. It can be rather awkward and downright disheartening. And while it's usually either the venue's job, the performer's job, or some promoter's job to help get the buzz out about the event- there's a plethora of reasons and excuses why sometimes this just does not happen. So if there's a show you're amped about, talk it up... make a flyer yourself, or post it on your Facebook wall- every little bit helps!


3) Buy merch at local shows! Venues sometimes give the band a cut of what they make on the door at a show, but other times none at all. So that band you came to see is often relying on album and T-shirt sales to help make all that effort worthwhile. Buy something and you get to take a little piece of the show home with you!


4) Attend local music festivals. There's just about no better way to get to know your area than to go to a festival there. They are amazing opportunities to hear new music, meet new people, eat delicious food and maybe even get a tan! There are probably more than you actually know about.


5) Throw a house show! House shows are probably my and my husband's favorite way to experience music. One time we threw a housewarming party and had a fantastic local band come play in our kitchen! It was a ton of fun for everyone involved and it's really pretty easy to pull off. Talk to a band or musician you like, find a date that works for them, clear it with your neighbors, invite a manageable number of your friends to your house, pass the hat and have a great time. This does much more than give your house a boost of positive energy, it helps a band/performer you love get more exposure and make some money.


6) Support SPIN events, and any local buskers you see around town. Those open guitar cases aren't JUST for coins and bills! They're also an opening for you to express your enthusiasm for the talent you're witnessing. Strike up a conversation, make friends! Better yet, ask em' to come play your house show next month!


7) Tell the venues you love why you love them. It is my personal belief that if the venues we love know how much we love the music there, they will keep having music there. If shows are not well attended and we don't tell the venues how much we appreciate their musical offerings, they may decide to stop offering music altogether. I have seen this happen several times recently with music venues I loved and maybe did not support well enough.


8 ) Listen to 89.5/WHRV. There are some really great music programs offered on WHRV. Out of the Box with Paul Shugrue and The Acoustic Highway with Barry Graham are locally produced shows that do a great job of playing really eclectic music from local and national acts. Plus, they often highlight music by musicians with local shows coming up and sometimes even give away free tickets.


9) Check out open mics and listening rooms. It's important to pay attention to the quiet music spaces as well as the wild and rowdy party scenes. Places like Cure, The Venue on 35th and Elliot's Fair Grounds are great spots to enjoy open mic night or a low-key acoustic show. Open mic nights are perfect opportunities to witness emerging artists getting their sea legs and seasoned musicians trying out something different in a low-stress setting.


10) Start a band yourself! The best way to be able to empathize with the local music scene is to be an active part of it. If you're a creator of music in the area, you'll probably find yourself being drawn more into the scene itself. This way, you'll be able to get a clear sense of what's going swell and what could use some improving upon. Plus, as I learned from my days living in the Bay Area, there's no such thing as too many local bands, right?


Addendum: I must admit that I do my fair share of moaning and groaning about how our music scene has grown rather "lame" lately, but in recent talks with my musical comrades it has become clear that we do have a lot of things bubbling and brewing under the surface here in a really good way. The main point that I hope this list communicates is that if we support local music and art at all of its levels of development, we will feed and fuel the music scene as a whole. If we support the little guy/gal, open our homes to musical soirees, buy a physical CD every now and then and love on our music venues, big and small, we will ultimately create a more sustainable music scene. Thus, we will all live happily ever after. The End.


Article reposted with permission from AltDaily.