I've done some commenting the past two weeks about our popular music coverage and the permutations among our troika of popular music critics, Rich Albertoni, Jessica Steinhoff and Andy Moore. Now, out of left field, we have a popular music cover story by an entirely different observer, former Isthmus editor Marc Eisen.
During the couple of decades that he helmed Isthmus' editorial coverage, Eisen became an authority on Madison's growth as a city. But while he majored in economic development, he was always pursuing his minor in music. A dedicated fan, he took in a wide range of music on the local scene and occasionally would express his predilections in print, moonlighting on his own gig.
Since leaving Isthmus, Eisen has continued to freelance, and currently is a contract managing editor of the tri-annual publication The Wisconsin Interest. It's an organ of the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, an advocate of the "free market," generally considered a conservative outfit. WPRI shelters David Blaska and Christian Schneider, two conservative contributors to Isthmus and TheDailyPage.com, under its umbrella.
In our cover story this week, Eisen bemoans the fact that Madison has ignored its musical promise, as compared to, say, Austin, Texas. True, Madison has sprouted a lot of musical precocity that has gone on to bloom elsewhere. It didn't reach full flower here.
There could be a lot of reasons for that, winter perhaps being one, but the reason that strikes Eisen is the disinterested attitude of the city's movers and shakers - including government - who cannot see pop music as a growth industry.
Most pop musicians consider Madison a pit stop on the way to something bigger, most often New York. In the '60s, Madison-derived musicians were a good bit of the talent that fueled the pop music explosion in San Francisco. Jazz and classical musicians are more likely to find permanent sustenance here. But if you want to be a frontline rocker, you've got to be a rolling stone.