Sunday Sound-off: Is there enough local music at Summerfest?
The Big Gig is less than a week away, but the excitement and the grumbling have been in full swing for weeks. People range from being totally psyched -- like hardcore Bob Dylan fans who cannot wait for the July 1 show -- to lukewarm about the lineup.
This week's Sound-off, however, addresses local music. Do you think there's enough made-in-Milwaukee music or does the Big Gig overlook a fair share of homegrown talent? Tell us what you think, Milwaukee.
There is plenty of local music. From cover bands like the Boogie Men to rock / punk acts like Father Phoenix, there is lots of local music at the Big Gig. Summerfest has to focus on national acts, too, in order to attract out-of-towners who might not know Milwaukee-based bands.
There is not enough local music. There are so many great local bands that aren't going to be at Summerfest, and I wish the Big Gig did more to promote local music. Sure, you can catch a cover band here or there, but it's not enough. And bring back the Violent Femmes!
There is not enough local music at summerfest. Even the Groove Garage, which professes itself to be a champion of local music, has bands from CHICAGO on it. Most of the local acts that make it at the "Big Gig"(playing one of the hig profile stages) have been playing the festival for what seems like forever. I personaly know of three local bands that tried to play the festival, and were not only turned down, but outright IGNORED. One of them after being told repeatedly "Sure, we'll give you a spot" right up until this MONTH. Then were told "Sorry, No room" Don't get me wrong, I am greatful there is a musical outlet like Summerfest, and I realize the competition to be a part of this is nation(if not WORLD) wide. But the lack of support for the local music scene makes me a bit ill. For me, it would be like having the premire baseball stadium in the country, and not giving a damn if you have a local ball club play in it or not. You'd just let whatever team wanted to come in and use it, use it. ...Would YOU go see the Yankees at Miller Park every single season?! Would seeing the Brewers at your local baseball field anytime you like and MAYBE one day at Miller park make sense? This is how I view Summerfest. The argument is, you can go see any local band you want, any time you want at a bar or local festival. Yet several bands I know say they see attendence declining, they cannot increase their fanbase because nobody gets to hear them... Yet bands from all over the country are getting exposure on a massive scale during the Big Gig. Bands that may or may not come BACK to Wisconsin after the gig is over. How does that serve Wisconsin tourism? You may go to Minnesota or Illinois to see that awesome band you heared at Summerfest. So when will Illinois and Minnesota be having that Music Festival that drives there people to Wisconsin after hearing some of our talent?! Thank You
Typically I feel like there is not enough local music at Summerfest, but having a stage like the Groove Garage certainly helps to have more. it is nice to see a local favorite like the Rusty P's opening for a big act like the Roots as well. Lastly, if anybody is interested in supporting local music, please check out our band, Hitide.Lotide headlining the Groove Garage on July 1. http://www.myspace.com/hitidelotide There's not much going on that night anyway besides Bob Dylan at the Marcus.
musiq | June 24, 2009 at 5:33 a.m. (report)
it helps if local news outlets (i.e. onmilwaukee.com) write about local bands in their summerfest picks blogs. just a suggestion...
I couldn't have said it better myself, and I am working on some of the things you mentioned right now. I don't work for Summerfest or anything but I am working with them. Hopefully, as soon as I get some things in the works, you will hear about it on Onmilwaukee.
Its not that summerfest doesn't have enough local music...its that they are afraid to take a chance on local orginal bands. If anyone in the entire state can take a chance on this element of the local music community and do their homework as to which new bands deserve the opportunity the play the "Big Gig" along side the already proven original Milwaukee/Wisconsin acts, its the talent booking staff at summerfest. I know they have alot of acts to book each year...but they make millions and should hire a few more people if they can't handle the weight....hell I bet some of the local DJs on WMSE, Radio Milwaukee, or WUWM would gladly suggest original acts for free...purhaps they kind of do already. Anyways, thank God you do still have the Refugee Stage and the Cascio Stage lending their support to local music...but these stages aren't booked by Summerfest and have limited spaces to fill. Plus, Cascio does all or most of the sound for Summerfest...so are they really selecting the acts on their own...I really don't know...I sure hope they are. Anyways 80% of the local acts officially booked by summerfest appear between noon and 3pm on the side stages and they do nothing but covers. I get the whole argument that people like to dance to tunes that they know...but aren't their enough church festivals/local music venues in southeastern Wisconsin to cater to this entertainment vibe already? More insulting is generally the crowds don't start showing up until after 4pm aka after work...its sort of like the Summerfest brass is throwing the local scene their scraps...when they could do major things for some of the quality acts in the city by having them open up for national bands...they do a little...but not enough in my opinion. Simply put by catering more to cover bands and sadly the same ones each year...it shows the out of towners that do catch the early shows that the Milwaukee music scene is nothing unique or worth coming back to again during other parts of the year. This further hurts the local scene...People go to the Twin Cities and Chicago all the time to see music. Honestly, most of the great bands from Milwaukee seem to thrive once they leave the city whether its for a night, weekend, or possibly forever. Anyways I think even the dumbest music fan in the city knows the talent this area/state has produced in the past...but we all seem to forget that the talent didn't die out in the early 90's. In my opinion again the Summerfest brass playing it to safe is killing the creativity in this city...obvously they aren't the only reason the Milwaukee scene is one of the toughest to get noticed in...but they have a great responsibility to juggle the cultural side of the established event they plan and make money in the process. To me they seem to focus to much on the money side of things... and from what I heard they really don't pay local acts as well as they should. Another blow to the local music scene. Why can't the noon-3pm time slots during the 11 day run of the festival be as good as the 5pm on time slots? I'll admit this is a tall order in some respects...but South by South West, the New Orleans Jazz Festival and other events that include a good portion of original local music seem to be sucessful and their hours don't run nearly as long as a single day at Summerfest does. Why is Austin or New Orleans native talent accepted and embraced collectively by their community and Milwaukee's isn't...I refuse to blame our love of alcohol here? Eh I guess I'm probably in the minority with my comments about the local music scene and Summerfests impact on it...heck most people that I know think all original music that they haven't heard on the radio is bad if they saw a bad act once in a local club...its just a sign of the times...people are afraid to like new music unless they are told to do so on the radio or by the Judges of American Idol. I'll admit it does take a little extra work and Milwaukeean's maybe already have enough of that to do traditionally. Anyways, I'm just going to finish my early morning rant here by saying...I do not play music myself...but I am a fan of many of the local acts trying to do their own thing here in the city/state. Hey someone has to try to stand out of the crowd instead of making the quick buck by playing what has already long been played to death. With the long winters we have here how can this not be a hot bed for new ideas and talented musicians gutting it out every weekend to get their music heard. The Summerfest brass should attempt to see this epidemic of local original music dieing as an opportunity rather then some long running joke everytime they get a press kit from a local band or some dramatic music fan like me chimes in. Heck instead of putting local music on the side stages put mid level national acts in those places and have two or three more stages completely designed for local/regional talent...or explore otherways to get more local original music into the festival. Again by original I mean Milwaukee and the entire state. Anyways...let the bashing of my comments begin...haha. Later
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