Regarding Marc Eisen's story on the city's shortcomings in promoting local music ("Will Play for Food," (9/23/2011), I often think we need to take climate and geography into consideration. We're not Austin, and we're certainly not Austin for about six months of the year. But at the same time, for the six months that we are, lots of folks drive up the interstate with the goal of vacationing in areas that are just outside our little unreality but seeking some of their own.
I have to think that a promotional effort that moved outside the isthmus to turn the venues around areas like Lake Wisconsin into a "northern bayou" scene (or something) would attract those visitors. What little exposure I had to working in these venues told me that they're ready for something besides what our stereotype of rural music patrons informs us.
I think that a coordinated effort to promote a slightly more regional scene might bear fruit.
Marc Eisen's article did not spend enough time on solutions. Like maybe we need better nightclubs with better managers making good decisions so they will stay open. Or maybe the city of Madison should offer grants for musicians to write songs about Madison. One problem not mentioned in the article is every time we get a decent bigger club to play hip-hop, because of riots the police close it down.
Comparing us to a big country music city is unfair because the country music labels don't come here.
Art Paul Schlosser
There are good reasons why Nashville and Austin are music hot spots, and Madison much less so. Country music is our most enduring popular genre, going back to the earliest days of the recording industry. It's still going strong, despite the best efforts of the CMA's plastic dolls. And, like it or not, country is mostly Southern.
I find it interesting that Marc Eisen references Josh Harty's CD-release party as an example of a "healthy music scene." While Josh is one of the hardest-working musicians in Madison, and has collaborated with great results with other musicians, there was another aspect of that show that struck me as relevant to the state of the music scene in Madison. Specifically, the fact that the audience ignored two excellent opening acts, Anna Vogelzang and Winn Dixie (featuring ardent music supporter and Isthmus columnist Andy Moore).
Unfortunately, this seems to be the norm in Madison. It is hard to justify greater public investments in music until the public indicates that they would value them.
I've been trying for years not to talk about how little we musicians get paid for our work because no one wants to hear it and generally don't understand why we do it for so little.
Being a musician has some nice rewards personally, as do many careers that involve lots of training and studying but are not commensurate with wages. And it's not like the community doesn't value music as an art form. Madison obviously loves music, but just doesn't care enough about the people making it. We don't want to be jerks, and we don't want to feel guilty for asking for fair wages. We want to be taken seriously about our life's work.
Mary Gaines, Sun Prairie
If Marc Eisen doesn't write a story like this every couple of years, how will anyone know Madison is not a hot music town? Give us a break. The city would benefit from a centralized city special events office, yes. And promoters would benefit from a Convention & Visitors Bureau more interested in music community-building than building membership. So Marc sees some current players who left downtown, then calls two or three old hands for their take. If Madison's a shitty place for music makers, why did Sidran and Adamany stay here? Maybe bigger is not better?
He ignores Madison's east-side community festivals. Local and international players come out each summer fueled by Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center, MNA and Memorial Union World Music Festival money and volunteers. And then there's the Sugar Maple Fest and the Blues Picnic. Overlooking newer players and developments outside the downtown ring is kind of insulting.