Silence of the Jams

A brief history of myself for those who are not aware:

Prior to my days as an upstanding Lansing citizen I headed a little alt/pop/rock group back in native Warren and toured the non-existent but still scrappy metro-Detroit scene. The scene got a little less enjoyable for my tastes, so part of my excitement heading off to Michigan State University was to dive into its rich, eclectic, local rock scene driven by a legendary landmark of a decrepit venue.

Surprise! Three years into my Lansing foray, I’ve yet to find anything even close to that. How is this possible?! I was so desperate for some kind of local color that I started hosting open mics with my wife at the Espresso Royale across from Berkey Hall.

That was fun, but my schedule changed and I was no longer available. Still, it burns me that a community of nearly 50,000 students annually crammed into that campus have nothing to say musically. Why isn’t there a venue on campus or downtown East Lansing that draws national acts on the weekends and holds local acts during the week? Somebody please explain it to me other than it’s nearly impossible without a huge amount of funding and proper support from the powers that be.

The Loft is just about the only venue in the Lansing area that I can stomach calling a venue. If, as an artist, you don’t mind your head in a can. If anyone would care to educate me on the area’s hidden gems, please do so.

One could argue: “There’s simply not enough local acts to justify designating a venue exclusive to that, regional acts can’t draw to make it financially viable and national acts prefer to drive another hour east to the sexier venues in Detroit.”

True, true and true. I counter, however, that local talent is bred from other local talent. It’s a cycle. Musicians were kids once too, and their dreams begin with playing on the stages of those they’ve watched. National acts? You mean to tell me that there isn’t some kind of market for some act some where that can pull from some of the dynamic demographic of college kids? I’m not saying Justin Timberlake or Gaga makes sense. But The Fray? Dave Matthews? Foster the People? They are all arena-based, but not opposed to shrinking the venue for a better concert experience.

And I think that may be what it boils down to for me. Arena prices are miserable. The experience is generally just plain bad for a variety of reasons. The best concerts I’ve ever been to were those in a crowded, sweltering, concert hall with a niche artist.

Regional acts, by the way, still lose unless they share markets and gig swap.

Also, I think that a lack of these venues and my exposure to them is hindering my motivation to begin another project. Food for thought. Of course, that could just be laziness. Or I suck. It happens.

Anyway, if anybody has some suggestions on where I can whet my appetite for local original music, feel free to send it my way.



2 responses to “Silence of the Jams

  1. It seems to me the disillusionment has to do with how people hear about music rather than their geographic location. The few artists who have truly grown in the past few years without major label support have used the internet and new distribution methods to get their music heard (The Weeknd, Purity Ring, OFWGKTA and Lil B). These artists are doing sellout nationwide tours without major label support (well now Weeknd and OFWGKTA are on majors now) and really did it sans regionalism.

    Plus don’t kids in college listen to dubstep now?

    Basically I think the internet killed local music scenes, unfortunately other than typical bar bands and the like it isn’t coming back.


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