I happened to see this comment on the passing of Jeff Healey on "STILLEYE", the blog "next to" mine (what does that "next blog" thing mean anyway?, it's always a different one) and it got me to thinking about music and musicians.
Music is a thing that enriches all of us. Jeff Healey, blinded at a very early age, obviously was enriched by it, and it became his life's passion. Not all of us can contribute the way he did, not all of us have the talent. But there's something we all can do, support our local musicians.
I live in the burbs of a midsized midwestern city, Grand Rapids and our local choices are not rich. But there are a few venues out there. Here are some I like... (Venues come and go so this isn't a list for the ages, or anything like that, just some I like)
- Jukes Bar - This fun little hole in the wall venue, recently under new ownership, was started by a guy with a huge music collection who decided he wanted to have a place for bands to play. It's not big, and it can get quite crowded and smoky, but it's a fun place. Free popcorn. Has a wide variety of acts, a lot of alternative, but also some roots rock. Look for us perched in the corner watching South Park with the closed captioning on.
- Crazy Horse - In Cedar Springs. A country venue. Big dance floor and good food. Can get a bit smoky but a very nice venue. We go there to catch Mane St. They really need to get a web site!
- River City Slims - A new venue near downtown, focusing on Blues and Jazz (it fills the hole left by Rhythm Kitchen closing)
- Driftwood Bar and Grille - In Croton, north of town, actually on the Croton Dam pond. Seasonal as it's a resorty sort of town. Another place that needs to get a website! In the summer you can sit out on the patio and watch the lake, while the band plays inside
- Lena Lou's - Our local hole in the wall. Sometimes gets bands, including String Theory.
- Mane St. - A fun country/roots rock band. Been around a long time and very high energy
- String Theory - Roots rock, oldies, folk, stuff from the 70's
- Junior Valentine - Roots rock and blues. Very engaging story teller
That last bit bears repeating. I travel a lot, and I seek out bands wherever I am. My CD collection can't be duplicated, no one else could possibly have listened to the exact mix of local bands I have. So there's something to brag about right there. If a band is any good, buy the CD. This gives them a bit of cash, but moreover, it gives them some egoboo that yes, the fans care. Most people in the music biz are not going to ever make a living at it, they're doing it out of love.
So give them some love back.