As I end my time as a full-time employee of Creative Loafing, after nine fantastic years, with this edition — I'll still write some reviews and previews as a freelancer — it's tough to say how much I've enjoyed writing about the music scene since I started back in 2007.
Venues have come and gone, but the resolve of the music community and the musicians who help make it what it is remains strong. There'd be no music scene without musicians, but there are also a bunch of people who are the backbone of this city's thriving arts community and it's been a privilege to meet people on both sides.
From day one, when I accepted the position of music editor, I always saw my job as conveying information about the need-to-know bands or telling the most compelling stories. For me, my job was always about trying to help get asses in the seats. Sure, sometimes the people I wrote about weren't the most popular — or were too mainstream — but you learn early on in a media career that not everyone is going to like everything you write. If you think they will, don't become a writer or journalist.
The majority of musicians in Charlotte all want to see things get better and a number of people work tirelessly to make that happen — through booking, show promotion, festival creation or just by attending shows all over the area.
I have to say thanks to the bands, venue owners and sponsors who helped launch the Homebrew compilation CD series starting in 2008. I started it as a way to get local music into the hands of people for free. The newspaper never made a dime off of those albums. Every sponsorship dollar was used to make the CDs. Through six editions, we featured a total of 88 area bands. (All editions are online for download; and a handful of copies can still be picked up at the Creative Loafing office.)
I have to thank the Evening Muse for letting me put on the Off the Record concert series for a year and a half. While it was fun to interview local and regional bands on stage, it was more interesting to listen to bands perform acoustically. The sludge metal of Pig Mountain? Awesome. The hip-hop of Eyes of the Elders? Memorable for the right reasons. Joking around and trying to interview Benji Hughes? Interesting, to say the least.
I hope both series helped music fans discover new artists. Through countless interviews, radio and television appearances and events, it was always about promoting Charlotte's music scene as a whole. So, I have to recognize the musicians who work tirelessly on their craft simply out of the love of what they do in what is often a thankless market. There's also promoters, venue owners, booking agents, bartenders, roadies, security and everyone else who make shows happen.
I think back to the local artists we featured on the cover — Andy the Doorbum, the Avett Brothers, Anthony Hamilton, Benji Hughes, Si Kahn, Lute, Matrimony, Overmountain Men — and am glad we spotlighted them. We rallied support to save the Neighborhood Theatre. We celebrated the opening of the Chop Shop and lamented its closure.
I couldn't be everywhere or write about everything, but I did my best without regrets.
Through it all, one thing stayed the same — this city has a music scene that not only has a pulse, but it's getting stronger. There are so many incredibly talented musicians in this area. Give them a listen. Get outside of your comfort zone. There is so much music that is worth your time.
There's a passion that comes through from people who perform for the love of music — whether there's two or 2,000 people in attendance. Those are the artists who leave every ounce of emotion and sweat on stage and take listeners along for a ride with them. The ones who, when they aren't on stage, are in the crowd supporting others.
Get off the couch, put your phone down and listen to live music. It doesn't have to be every night, or even every weekend. Just make it a habit to listen to something new. If you find a band you like — whether it's local, regional or national — tell at least one friend about them. Bring a friend to a show. Support the local music venues (and any local business you love) while they're still open and thriving. Don't wait until they announce an impending closure and wonder what you can do to help — by that time, it's too late.
Charlotte has more than enough people to keep its music scene not only alive, but make it into one of the best in the state. Find a new favorite song and buy the album or single. Discover an enjoyable local band and go to their next show. Maybe I'll see you there.
Thank you for listening.