Over the last couple of years, music bloggers in Madison have swiftly established themselves as a growing force promoting local concerts for touring artists that otherwise would have likely passed by the city. Organizing shows in clubs, basements, and anywhere else that might work, these music lovers are among the latest to embrace the DIY ethic to broaden the audience of their favored artists.
Kyle Pfister, the music fan who publishes I'm Just Saying Is All… (and a contributor to The Daily Page), is the latest to take this step from sharing music on screens to on stage. On the evening of Saturday, May 26, he will present his first music showcase at Cafe Montmartre with a bill featuring singer-songwriter Chris Garneau (MySpace) and Chicago quintet Track a Tiger (MySpace).
"I've always liked the idea of supporting the artists rather than just writing about them," says Pfister. "Introducing them to new listeners is a great opportunity, and having a live show just solidifies that. It makes it more real."
Pfister has paid plenty of attention to both artists online over the last year. He has featured two tracks by Garneau -- "Not Nice" (here) and "We Don't Try" (here) -- both from his 2007 album Music for Tourists (which he also reviewed). Pfister has focused more closely on Track a Tiger, highlighting "Seashaken Heart," "Glad to Be Scattered," and "Sound as Ever" (here) from their 2006 album Woke up early the day I died along with "All These Accidents" (here) from their 2007 release we moved like ghosts.
Though it was his first attempt at organizing such an event, Pfister says the process was fairly easy, simply a matter of several emails. "With independent artists," he explains, "you often have a great opportunity to talk to them yourselves rather than talking to a promoter."
With this show, Pfister will join the small but growing cadre of music fans and writers in town who are organizing live concerts as an extension of their work online. This group includes nationally known music blogger Ryan Matteson, who most recently organized a show at Cafe Montmartre in late March; arts advocate Jessica Thompson, who works to weave local music and visual arts in her monthly showcases; and Kiki Schueler, a music writer (for The Daily Page and the departed Rick's Cafe) who occasionally organizes shows featuring established musicians in "Kiki's House of Righteous Music," a.k.a. her basement. "I think we're just music lovers who write," says Pfister, "somebody who can be a contact between the artist and the fans that love them.
In the case of Garneau, there's more than one local music lover who is working to build a Madison audience for him. Brad Vogel, who writes broadly about political and cultural matters, met the singer-songwriter two years ago while on a flight to LaGuardia airport in New York. "His music, which he rightly said resembled Elliott Smith's in a way, is a distinct piano-based singer-songwriter/post-emo/indie sort of bird that will sit softly on your shoulder and sing you to sleep," wrote Vogel in early March. "It's stuff to sip in the wee hours."
This new fan subsequently interviewed Garneau a couple of weeks later. In addition to questions about his music and live performances, Vogel asked the songwriter if he would be stopping in Madison this spring. Garneau said this was unlikely.
Unbeknownst to both, though, were Pfister's first steps in wooing the musician's booking agency. "Brad and I never had a conversation about this,' says Pfister. "I had started to arrange it before Brad had even done his interview, so it was two people coming from different avenues and coming to the same point. It's really intriguing."
Pfister plans to organize more live music in the future, and possibly incorporate art as part of the event. "This is hopefully the first of many with the goal of pairing intriguing indie artists who've been featured on the blog and bringing them to Madison for a live show," he wrote while encouraging his readers to attend the concert. "I'm interested in the entire experience rather than just the usual expectation of what live music is," Pfister concludes. "Maybe that's naive, but that's where I am right now."