Thursday, January 04, 2007

Local Yokel

I'm amazed at the amount of coverage local bands get in the weeklies here. The last Willamette Week gave out Best of 2006 prizes for Best Local Albums, Songs, Shows, Venues, ‘Surprises,’ even Labels. That's on top of their 5-to-6 weekly sidebars on local musicians, along with detailed mini-reviews in the Listings section. (The Portland Mercury follows suit.) If homegrown music was getting this level of attention in San Francisco, I missed it. Playing in Fog, valiant as it is, just doesn’t hold a candle to WW’s Local Cut.

Granted, once BAM magazine disappeared (remember the Bammies?), Downtown Studios closed, and key ‘mid-band’ venues like the Paradise Lounge, the Tip-Top, the Boomerang, and the Covered Wagon either shut the doors or switched formats, I pretty much checked out. It's not just a matter of spaces to play and ears to hear—what was missing was any effective way to make a scene of any real size visible to itself. It’s the kind of function I think Stephanie Young (among others) performs so well for poetry on her blog, & pursued with special intensity during what I’m starting to think of without too much embarrassment as the ‘early aughts’. Of course there’s MySpace, a giant boon for bands. But are FriendSpace links a substitute for the mysterious ecology of a scene?

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