Local music took a few hits in 2006, with the shuttering of more venues, leaving us with a small cluster of fully functioning outlets for homegrown bands: AS220, the Ocean Mist, Cats, and the Living Room. A handful of sites are testing the waters for live local sounds, but nothing’s definite. We don’t like it like this. We’d rather have it the way it was five or so years ago, when a slow walk around town on a good weekend night revealed a clangorous maze of business, with punk, blues, and metal chords emanating from more than just a few open doorways . . . .
Still, we choose to look at the glass as half full. There are many good bands in town, a hefty percentage of which are finding ways to call attention to themselves. As the era of the A&R rep trots off into the sunset, another era — one featuring a level playing field, where bands that write good songs and play cool shows can actually attract attention to their music — is beginning to emerge. It is becoming less about who you know and more about what happens if you don’t suck. This is encouraging news for those who prefer to remain optimistic. And for those who’d rather make excuses than get up and get it done, well, sorry . . . You just lost your last best excuse to go nowhere with your band.
We like the sound of the tides as they change. Here are a few other things we’d like to see happen this year:
The openings of more venues
John and Marion at the Blackstone, mired in complications of reopening, have targeted the spring to get up and running at their new location on Main Street in Pawtucket. Brooklyn Tea and Coffee House, Brewed Awakenings (in Johnston and Wakefield), the Mediator, Tazza, Nick-a-Nee’s, and the Black Rep will continue their surge to bring more great music to local stages.
More people going to see live original music in Providence
OK, so maybe this is pie in the sky. But don’t you think it’ll take just one explosive act to light the fuse that’ll trigger beefier crowds clamoring to see local bands? The problem is that once a band begins to make real noise, they leave — and who can blame them? Local bands such as Lightning Bolt, Monty Are I, and Zox are more popular outside of town.
Underground vs. Providence
I’d love to see a reconciliation between denizens of the city’s underground scene and the commercial venues around town. The bitter disconnect between the two factions has served to take Providence’s most serious music fans out of the venues that desperately need them and their beer money. But how will this happen?
That Rich Lupo and John Chan continue their mission to bring worthwhile national acts (and a few local ones). Many acts are whizzing past Providence to get to Boston; we need these anchors to remind outsiders that there are still hungry music fans to feed around here.