Local music scene going away from live music
Arizona Summer Wildcat
Lack of college radio station cited for rise in deejay nights at
The evolution of the Tucson music scene is in a slow transition from a live music base to a more deejay and hip-hop club scene - which some local musicians and promoters feel is a negative direction.
"The new trend is more towards the deejay scene so a lot of people are doing that," said long-time Tucson promoter Steven Eye. "The band scene has been harder these days because people these days are more interested in listening to CDs and they don't go out to see live music as much."
Eye, who also owns Solar Culture, 31 E. Toole Ave., has been bringing national and international acts to Tucson for more than 13 years. Citing Club Congress' change to dance music rather than live music is exemplary of how the changing genres and trends are shifting the scope of the local live music scene.
"There's a lot of different places doing shows but there's also not a lot (of bands) coming through town because of Congress stopping doing a lot of shows," he said.
Brent Kort, frontman of local band Funky Bonz, said live music will continue to suffer at the hands of dance clubs and deejays who are attracting larger audiences each year.
"I would say in general, live music is suffering a demise with people going out to listen to the deejays and the strictly deejay clubs," he said. "I think that is hurting it more than anything else."
Natalie Storie, general manager of Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., said declining audiences at live shows and increased attendance at dance nights were the reasons for the shift to a more club music scene.
"(Live music) was just not being supported as much as the dance scene," she said. "It seems that people really enjoy dancing and the deejay scene. They still like live music, but it have it every week just didn't make sense."
Storie added that expenses were also taken into consideration as less people were attending shows.
"There just wasn't the support for it - at least that was the message we were getting," she said. "It's very expensive to put on live shows, and if there is little public support, then it just can't happen."
Tony Bernard, drummer for local band Nevershine, said that while original live music is suffering, cover bands will continue to thrive.
"Right now, I'd say it's a little bit down, especially for original music," he said. "With cover music there are actually places to play. For original bands like ourselves, it is difficult."
Bernard, whose band was named best alternative Tucson band in 1999, said local venues are catering less to original music.
"Most people want to go out and listen to covers of music that they've already heard," he said. "It's actually a little down, especially on Fourth (Avenue) just because a lot of places don't (have live music) and with Club Congress not doing bands anymore."
The lack of a local college radio station has some local listeners concerned as well.
"The biggest problem that town has is that we are one of the only towns or cities in the country that does not have a college radio station," Eye said. "That's been the biggest drawback because that is the voice of the youth and without having that radio there is no way that the people can find out about this music because it's non-mainstream, non-commercial music that does not get played on the commercial stations."
Eye added that both the artists and audiences have suffered due to the demise of KAMP radio, which went off the air in 1999.
"That is the 'A' No. 1 problem with the live music scene in this city. I've been doing all these shows for years - we've done over 1,000 shows - we bring the bands that play everywhere else and every other city and the people here don't know them as well because of the no college radio station," he said
Bernard said the lack of a college radio station has kept many bands in the underground and has kept many audiences at home.
"College radio is a great way to get new acts in. It's a good way to launch local bands," he said. "It would be cool if the college radio was up. I think that would be a great way to get some music that don't here other places.
Although this may be considered a down time for live music, the future is still up in the air as music genres continue to change.
"It's like a rollercoaster - it goes up and down," Eye said. "The future is always something that will get more exciting and interesting and you never know what's around the corner. I believe that its going to be really exciting time here."