Monday, April 18, 2011

Fight the Good Fight

That may be kind of a strange title for a blog post focusing on the local music scene and the wonderful singer/songwriters who grace our local stages. Let me explain: It is a fight, skirmish, battle, WAR to get people to turn off their television sets and drag themselves out of their houses to go enjoy great live music. And it's understandable. As one House Concert performer opens his show: "Thanks for coming out... Millions were spent to keep you away."
This weekend was a perfect example. OK, so the blizzard on Friday and the highways and Interstate being closed until about three in the afternoon MAY have had something to do with it, but we hosted two amazing artists, Megan Burtt and Jesse Terry at our Nebraska Outback House Concert series on Friday. The show was incredible... enjoyed by about fifteen guests.

Meanwhile, another great duo, Neely, was performing in Paxton at the 5 Trails Winery music series, to a small but very enthusiastic audience. We had the good fortune to host all four artists here during their shows in the area, and wouldn't have had it any other way.
This weekend was definitely one of firsts, including having a male rocker apply make-up in the bathroom mirror, and the artists hosting an aerobics class in the living room. I'll never know just how they had the energy to go on with the show in the evening.
After a day of fun at home (which went on about a half an hour too long as we were late arriving in North Platte), we all packed up and headed to the Espresso Shoppe for a "songwriters in the round" show.

Granted this is only our third show of this series and we have a lot to learn about pricing, scheduling and promotion, but these four amazing artists performed to only about thirty people! We're still shaking our heads trying to figure out the problem. We're going to tweak things for the next show (Mason Douglas following his appearance at our House Concert), and hopefully figure out the formula to pack the house.
Bre Steinmeyer knocked it out of the ballpark with her opening performance. While the touring artists didn't get much of a chance to say so, their comments echoed what Jeremy Neely had to say "Bre is a gem. North Platte needs to nurture that. This is a hard business to make it in, but it's easier with support." I absolutely agree. We do host these concerts to have a venue for national touring acts to perform, but one of our goals has to be providing a showcase for local talent. These young people are incredible, and really have a future bringing quality entertainment to audiences, but they need our support and the opportunities to hone their talent in front of appreciative crowds.

After Bre's stunning performance it was time for our four singer-songwriters to perform. The music was wonderful. Everyone there thought so... all thirty of us.

I'm not going to sit around and complain (much) about the lack of attendance. The team I work with in putting together these concerts are going to go to work and make it better. Here's what I think our game plan is going to be:

  1. Create an accurate database of all the local music venues and the artists they are hosting.

  2. Promote all local music like crazy!

  3. Eliminate the cover charge and just ask for free-will donations. Unfortunately, the $12 cover charge probably kept lots of people away, while those same folks might have been even more generous after they experienced the great entertainment. We'll get more formal from the emcee with instructions for the donations.

  4. Start a new series centered around the I-80 corridor. Hopefully it will be sustained by visitors while steadily growing local support.

  5. Find local sponsors willing to contribute the equivalent of $10 per person attending the show. Distribute tickets to them with the admonishment that they be given to people who actually plan to attend. This kills two birds with one stone - butts in the seats and dollars in the jar. These guests will drop their tickets into the tip jars and be replaced with the corresponding amount of money,


North Platte is located halfway between Denver and Omaha right on Interstate 80. The number of big-name artists tour buses who pass by regularly on I80 must simply be astounding. If North Platte can generate the reputation as a valuable stop-over, the shows we could have here would be incredible. Folks will start to come from hundreds of miles away to attend the shows they can see in North Platte. These folks will stay overnight in our hotels, have dinner in our restaurants and fuel up in our service stations. We all need to get behind the movement of bringing quality music to the people - and work to find a successful way of doing it.

So, if you live anywhere in the vicinity of North Platte, resign yourself to being hounded until you regularly attend local music shows. And if you own a company, plan on being hit up to sponsor some of your friends, families and employees to attend a show.

Thanks for stopping by. Think I'll get off my soap box and have another cup of coffee.

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