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We resolve: Resolutions for a new year of music


January 03, 2018

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It’s the time of year when everyone makes those drastic, albeit often necessary, commitments to significant change. Whether it’s more consistent gym visits, a nicer disposition or finally clearing the clutter, often we find ourselves staring in the mirror mid-February wondering what happened and whether we should recommit a month in or just wait until next year. As a town with a rich musical heritage that is chock full of talented artists and music lovers, perhaps we could all take this year to commit to a few needed changes to create an even more wonderful experience for music lovers and the artists they support.

We commit to stop saying, “There’s no good music anymore.” Let’s be honest. We’ve all said it, thought it, heard it. While we may not be fans of the newer country music or the pop sensations that are taking over VH1, MTV (remember when they actually played music?), TMZ and E!, to imply that every single drop of new music that is produced today is rubbish is simply inaccurate.

True, popular music is all starting to sound the same, and autotune has potentially contaminated an entire generation from understanding what it means to have actual vocal chops. Yet, there are artists out there, locally, regionally and nationally, who still make great music — the  creative kind that makes you think and feel. We may have to dig a little harder to find it, but it’s out there. You can look at NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts and Prairie Home Companion as an example of a place to find fantastic music from lesser known artists who would LOVE support as they blossom onto the national scene. 

In our own region, there are artists who are talented and producing not only amazing covers, but soul penetrating originals. From bluegrass and country to blues and pop and jazz, Statesboro has some wonderful artists performing locally who would love for you to follow them and support them as they create great music. This leads us to our second resolution.

We commit to listen. Bars and restaurants are a great place to hang out with friends, party and enjoy some live entertainment. Unfortunately, as a performer, it can sometimes feel as though we are little more than the radio playing ambient music while patrons go about their evening. Here’s what your local artists would love to experience (and I promise, it’ll make your experience more enjoyable as well): listen to the music — especially original music — that is being performed. This will help you with carrying out resolution No. 1! If you are looking for good music, they will share it if the audience is receptive.

We commit to SING ALONG. OK, I know this is likely asking a lot from most of the population, but come on! Live music is so much more fun when everyone is enjoying themselves and singing along. So when the performer breaks into “Sweet Caroline,” don’t leave him hanging. Sing! You may be the only one singing at first, but chances are good that others will join in, and you can be part of something magical when the whole room fills up with “BUM, BUM, BUM” and “So good. So Good! SO GOOD!” Who wouldn’t want to help create that moment?

We commit to make space. I’m going to take a moment to be a bit more editorial on this one because this is something I’m really passionate about. We have some great venues for live bands, and I’ve written about them extensively this past year. We have two amazing facilities for professional shows in the PAC and the Emma Kelly Theater. However, what we don’t have is a great venue for up and coming artists. I have a dream that in the near future, Statesboro will have a venue where local and regional musicians can find a place to perform for audiences who are there to listen to new music. (I already have the business plan written. That is how passionate I am about this.)  It is disappointing that a college town of this size doesn’t have a venue artists can share their music and the community can support them. Bands can’t afford to rent spaces like the PAC and the Averitt Center because the cost of operating those facilities necessitates a high rental fee and/or high ticket prices. Restaurants and bars are great for cover bands, but for actual performances, they aren’t ideal because folks are coming and going and that’s not really what those spaces are for, anyway. Let’s start a conversation about making a space for performances to happen — an affordable concert venue where patrons can come to hear local and regional artists. If you happen to be someone with the funding and the power to make that happen, please contact me! I’d love to be a part of that creation!

We commit to STOP getting in our own way.  As the little old lady in my dad’s church used to say, “[She] done gone to meddlin’!” Yes, I am about to meddle a bit. It is anecdotally well known that with a little liquid courage and a large group of people, a show can get a lot more fun. Visit many of the music venues in Atlanta, Athens  and Savannah, and you will find that alcohol helps keep those businesses open. You see, it’s not feasible to keep the doors of a music venue like the one described above open and affordable to the average person without some additional income. The problem that venues in our area run into is, while alcohol sales help a venue afford live bands, because of the complicated ordinances we have, they are unable to stay open because even as a performance venue, such as the Averitt Center or the PAC, without a kitchen in the facility that provides food sales equaling a large percentage of the revenue of the sales, these venues are considered “night clubs,” and cannot admit patrons under 21 years of age. HOLD ON JUST A MINUTE! Let’s say that a different way. If a venue, for example the anchor of downtown the Averitt Center for the Arts, were to purchase the necessary permits to sell wine and beer or mixers and cocktails the same way that the Johnny Mercer Theater in Savannah does, that venue would be unable to admit persons under the age of 21. Call me crazy, but that seems a bit extreme to me. It seems like we are getting in our own way. We are creating complicated ordinances that are preventing additional revenue for the city and additional performance and event venues for our community. Can we commit in the coming year to make some necessary changes in this area so that we can continue on a positive growth and development trajectory as a community?

One of the many reasons I love this town is because I, like many of you, see the potential for something magical. When I moved back three years ago, we were just in the beginning of the “America’s Best Communities” competition, the “Town and Gown” relationship seemed to be taking a new positive turn, commercial and industrial development was at an upswing and the arts were picking up momentum. It’s a well-known and well-studied fact that a strong and healthy arts community directly correlates to the growth and development of a community. As we begin this new year, let’s keep the conversation going to continue the momentum that was palpable three years ago. Let’s resolve to do what we can do make the music scene in Statesboro one of the many reasons we are one of America’s best communities. Happy New Year, everyone!


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