Thursday, July 26, 2007

New local blog

Just when it seemed like the local blogosphere was down to just a couple of blogs, a new local blog has debuted. GFL reader MattFacingSouth has started a blog called Still Fighting It.

From the blog...

My goal on this blog is to discuss music - local, national, wherever, and the things that drive music creation and production. Some people have mentioned to me that there's nothing to do here in the Forks. I disagree; I happen to have inside information that the music scene in Grand Forks and our surroundings is thriving. It doesn't take but a few visits to the local clubs, bars, and festivals to see what's happening here.

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thriving? No, not really.

Anonymous said...

music is thriving. Just not here

MattFacingSouth said...

I'm sorry you don't agree. I'd like to know why, though.

vcsuvike said...

mattfacingsouth has a good idea. The music situation is like everything else, people have to get off their butt and go experience it. People need to stop complaining about it and check things out; there's a lot more than you realize.

MattFacingSouth said...

Oh, and thanks to GrandForksGuy for the plug! I really appreciate the blog community around here and since I like to talk, well, I wanted to take part. Here to Grand Forks Life for making my mornings a lot less boring!

LOSERS said...

All of the people that say there is nothing to do are the type that sit in front of the computer or TV all day and expect fun to find them. "Mom, I'm bored."

Anonymous said...

Charlie Brown's and the Diamond usually have some good bands.

webmasterzero said...

The bands that play at CB and the Diamond are (probably close to 100%) cover bands. So I can see where it's easy for someone in a cover band to assume that the music scene is thriving in GF - because you can play at any of the three places that feature live music on Friday and Saturday nights pretty much any Friday and Saturday night...although you do have competition, because there are a ton of cover bands in GF...

Hone your craft, and polish those Nickelback and DMB covers...there's work to do. Karaoke with guitars.

Anonymous said...

GF is devoid of live entertainment....back in the 80's and 90's you could hear live music in about 10 different clubs on any given weekend....

dale said...

Note from Futurama:

The Dave Matthews Band does not rock.

While I agree that cover bands does not a thriving scene make, pretty much every "real" band started out doing covers. If there are enough of them, the good cover bands will start doing original works in order to set themselves apart.

Plus, it's not like we're ever going to see Nickelback or Dave Matthews in Grand Forks, cause the Alerus sucks. Or something.

MattFacingSouth said...

Give the people what they want. If people wanted to hear originals, we'd play originals. I suppose that's okay if I want to play for free, but I've got gear that costs money, gas, time, etc, and no aspirations to "make it big," (meaning give up my 9-5 and quality family time) so I have to put butts in the seats.

So as for the covers vs original argument - leave it at home - the two are not mutually exclusive and in fact need each other to survive and thrive.

That said, a cover band can be very creative - Seven Dollar Shift was last night, and I feel we get pretty creative in the way we interpret songs. And don't get me started on jazz.

Also, there are plenty of original bands in town - the matter of available venues is a matter of simple economics and business.

MattFacingSouth said...

You know, I take it back, I'd love to have a discussion on covers vs originals, just be prepared to back it up.

Karaoke with guitars is a cute snark, but hey, that's like your opinion, man.

I call it good music and I can go into why it is, but I'll save that for my blog down the road; in the meantime we'll just have to agree to disagree.

Anonymous said...

I saw this article online and thought about this thread.
http://www.chartattack.com/damn/2007/07/2712.cfm
"North Dakota may not be hell, but according to the title of the forthcoming three-CD retrospective from June Panic, it's purgatory."

Jay

webmasterzero said...

I call it good music and I can go into why it is, but I'll save that for my blog down the road; in the meantime we'll just have to agree to disagree.

I can't apologize for my previous comment because I do feel, absolutely, that any good music scene involves bands that create their own music. Granted, I get fired up about comments stating that "the music scene is thriving" when in actuality it's sort of stagnant.

There's always been a good mix of bands of different genres and musical ability coming from GF and the area, but it seems one-sided to essentially say that things are going well when really only a select few bands are enjoying success locally - who all happen to be "primarily" cover bands.

I enjoy hearing original music, because even if it's terrible and poorly executed you still know that the musicians are taking that much more time and effort to create something of their own as opposed to learning someone elses music. And I respect that greatly.

But of course, there will always be people that play in bands for the sake of playing music, even if it isn't their own. I can handle that, but I just can't give it the same support I would give something totally original. That's all.

As a side note, I think it's interesting to see a city of comparable size to GF that actually has an incredible music scene.

Anonymous said...

GF sucks for bands...period...
this is the absolute low point...it can only get better.

Coffee Guy said...

How is comparing Grand Forks to a city that's 40 miles away from 500,000 people telling us anything? Lawrence is a bedroom community of Kansas City. Grand Forks must be a bedroom community of what, Lankin?

MattFacingSouth said...

WMZ - I have had a lot of experience and what some would call success doing all things musical - beyond being in both original and cover bands (and writing music myself), so the one-sided comment doesn't fly.

That said, I'll continue to support all endeavors musical. In fact within two days of starting it I have, quite inadvertently, spoken of original bands and cover bands having successful shows. That doesn't sound very one-sided, does it?

Besides the one-sided thing, the only other thing that rubs me wrong is the insinuation that cover bands, mine included, don't put forth as much effort. That's a very black and white statement and, frankly, it's balderdash. I'll let opinions like that carry weight when you get to know me and my music better.

I'll give you one thing: original bands are better at songwriting. But songwriting does not a musician make. It's a small piece of the puzzle, but let's take a different piece, perhaps interpretation.

If we are to look at music solely from a standpoint of interpretation (arrangement), then would not original bands be lacking? Sure, but that doesn't make them any worse, just different.

I love these discussions - I hope we can bring understanding and a little more life to a scene that's on the way back up.

Communication is what my blog is for - my perspective, your thoughts, and, hopefully, a discussion.

And a little shameless self-promotion. I think every musician needs that.

webmasterzero said...

I love these discussions - I hope we can bring understanding and a little more life to a scene that's on the way back up.

I agree. I think this is a problem that Grand Forks has, and has had, for years and years. My greatest regret is that I couldn't do more for local musicians while I was living there.

I have to say, I admire the fact that you haven't made this argument personal in any way. I respect honest arguments more than flamebait, any time.

With that said, self promotion is always one of the keys of starting a band, and keeping it running. It always seemed to me that you have to constantly promote yourself to 1). get your name out there, and 2). keep your name out there.

The fact that anyone is making the music scene in Grand Forks a priority is great. Nothing wrong can come from that. My comments tend to fall in the realm of how pissed off I am about how there is a total lack of interest in music in GF on a wider level aside from people that are in bands that know each other, and support each other to the fullest.

I myself have been involved in the music scenes of GF and Fargo (now Fargo) for a couple years, mostly acting as a promoter. It kills me that I can't book a venue for touring bands in GF because the venues are completely inflexible on certain things - one being the ability of touring bands to play within GF.

This is where my argument comes from. Most bar owners are accustomed to allowing bands that play covers to play at their venues, because - bar bands play covers, they don't offend anyone (unless they go out of their way to), and it's just easy. You can pay them a flat rate and know exactly what they are going to do and play. Original bands don't have this luxury, which is mostly what I have a problem with.

MattFacingSouth said...

Dude, I appreciate your contribution to this thread as well!

It is indeed tough to find a balance between orignal art and stuff that people are familiar enough with to keep them coming back and filling the venue. And, good or bad, image is important nowadays and what goes well for one crowd doesn't always for another. That demarcation often follows along the +/- 21 age line. Old farts like me (hah!) just don't have much of an image to sell, so we often have to rely on that familiar music and our talent alone, which mainly gets that older (paying) market. That's not black and white, of course, but it is the majority.

My hope lies with the kids. Literally. I've been working with a lot of 13-18 year olds at the jam sessions and there's a large crop coming up that is very talented and very musical.

This thread inspired me to go sit at my pianos for a few hours and I completed one song and sketched two more.

dale said...

My hope lies with the kids. Literally. I've been working with a lot of 13-18 year olds at the jam sessions and there's a large crop coming up that is very talented and very musical.

I'm praying that you're teaching them to play in something other than 4/4 and major keys. Expose them to something beyond what you hear on the radio in Grand Forks (yes, even beyond "classic rock".)

Innovation comes through inspiration. If you want them playing something other than Springsteen and Skynyrd covers, expose them to something more interesting... Coltrane, Robert Fripp, Fugazi, the Pogues, Dream Theater...

Make someone other than Bob Seger and Three Dog Night their influence, and you'll see some different and interesting results.

(Which is not to say that I don't like Seger, Springsteen and the rest... but if I'm listening to "Night Moves," I'd rather hear him sing it, and have local bands focus more on original songs that expand them as artists, rather than as mimics.)

Matthew said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matthew said...

mattfacingsouth i not the only one trying/hoping to improve the music scene in Grand Forks. I've been frequenting the site NDIndieRock over the last semester or so, and if you look at the problem those (original) bands are having, you can see what we need to change: more venues, cheaper venues, and a solid promotion system in place, among other things.

I've been working primarily on finding entertainment for UND students--which includes live music. I don't usually care what it is, as long as it's live and different. I'd put time and resources into physically promoting the bands in town if I could, but I'm a poor starving graduate student, so all I can contribute is web-based promotion at Campus Dakota.

I'm interested in getting together a list of bands (cover or original) as well as a list of venues in the area, complete with contact information, rates, etc. If this already exists, or if someone wants to help out with this, drop me a line at bedrocks AT gmail.com.

Matthew said...

Update: Seems the indie music crowd at present lists the Town Square, the Empire, and the Loading Dock as venues. Everything else seems to have dried up lately.

Maura said...

There's a lot more to "live entertainment" than local jam or cover bands playing at bars and the above mentioned venues. For being a town in North Dakota, there is a lot of live theatre and classical music going on! Don't discount that from the music scene!!

Anonymous said...

i not the only one trying/hoping to improve the music scene in Grand Forks. I've been frequenting the site NDIndieRock over the last semester or so, and if you look at the problem those (original) bands are having, you can see what we need to change: more venues, cheaper venues, and a solid promotion system in place, among other things.

There used to be a promoter on MySpace (http://www.myspace.com/grandforks) but they shut it down and someone else took the URL. It was took after Fargo's MySpace promoter (http://www.myspace.com/fargomoorheadareashows).
We need another online (MySpace) promoter for Grand Forks!

MattFacingSouth said...

Dale, the kids I speak of are at the jazz jam sessions. Waaaay more than major keys and 4 4 time going on there. Are Miles, Monk, Dizzy, The Prez, Sonny, and Herbie okay as influences? :)

Matthew - I am a contributor to NDindierock as well, the only problem there is that they are somewhat (yet fairly unintentionally) exclusive to original bands only - and most of them are of the hardcore variety. I am trying to provide a view of ALL music in greater GF.

The indie crowd at present is but a small fragment of music in general...

Unfortunately the venues drying up have more to do with business choices than anything else. There is a lot of talk about a venue for local indie music, and there are actually more than the ones you speak of, but part of the ongoing struggle is that you can't expect a venue to hire you/let you play when your show is 120+dB and/or full of controversial lyrics. You chase most audiences away with that, and with no audience; no business.

It's the ongoing dilemma - but rule #1 is Give the People What They Want. Otherwise you're playing for yourself, which is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Maura - I know - I've directed many theatre shows and though I'm taking this summer off from music directing, I'll be attending Candide in a few weeks. I will write something about that.


In fact, I'll write about all these issues eventually.

Anonymous said...

Grand Forks' primary problem isn't the simple cliche, "There's nothing to do". The problem is, in general, the citizens don't support great live, original music.

I'd also like to add, it wasn't that long ago we were spoiled by an amazing venue and operator. I'm referring to The Ho. In the last ten years before they closed, the quality and variety of talent was absolutely phenomenal. Miss that place!

Matthew said...

mattfacingsouth--I know you're on that site, and we've probably interacted before. I was just tossing it out as an example os SOME of the music. There is more original music than hard indie rock--I'm sure that much of what you play doesn't fall under that category, for instance. We've got to start somewhere, I guess.

Luke said...

The Ho was a grand place, with entertainment as Anonymous mentioned above---until the pull tab crap came around.

Goodbye live music, hello blase comedy acts (it got stale after a year or so)...

It was time for a change; the flood only made it possible.

Anonymous said...

Pull tab crap?

webmasterzero said...

This is sort of an ongoing subject across music forums in the area.

The problem is...complicated.

Original bands don't get the exposure they should get because of their content/music/lyrics/name (sometimes). Most original bands around here tend to be on the heavy music end of the spectrum.

Example: I suggested (as a joke) to a family friend looking for live music for a family type event, that I knew some guys in a metal band that would be interested in playing this show. He went crazy, and shot down the idea immediately.

At the opposite end, there are bands that play covers, which if you think about it, is all stuff that's been on the radio (sort of prepackaged for public consumption). These bands can play wherever because the music they're playing is recognizable and familiar, and people that (in my opinion) don't put music as one of their highest passions in life tend to be kind of blase about it.

I think the key is finding a balance, but that's tough because you're dealing with two polar opposite ends of the crowd and audience interest.

Seems to me that people that aren't terribly picky about music treat live music as sort of a "whatever" part of entertainment. They could take it or leave it. Others who are really passionate about original acts and music, don't want to hear covers and cover bands.

It's tough to get the two to mesh together (in a venue) because you're basically taking two different crowds of people and shoving them together.

I think this is why the original local GF acts are getting pissed off, is because bands that play covers can kind of go about their business and do their thing when, for them, it's impossible to get gigs locally.

webmasterzero said...

Also, if you want to find some more local music forums, check out www.ndrocks.com. There's some good links there for GF, Fargo, and Bismarck.

Anonymous said...

No, Lawrence isn't a bedroom community of Kansas City. I used to live there. It IS, however the home of the University of Kansas and some 35,000 students vs. 15,000 at UND.

Coffee Guy said...

And it's 40 minutes away from half a million people.

Coffee Guy said...

The Lawrence, KS website states:

"Our proximity to the Capital, the commuter transportation and Kansas City Metro area has made this area a “bedroom” community."

http://www.lawrenceks.org/web_based_agendas/
07-24-07/07-24-07h/pd_byrne_grant_problem_statement.html