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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Recap: "The State of the Music Scene" Discussion at the Luminary Center for the Arts

Posted By on Tue, May 18, 2010 at 3:04 PM

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Julian Casablancas at the Pageant on 4/26. See more photos from last night's Julian Casablancas show at the Pageant. - PHOTO: TODD OWYOUNG

*Laziness is one of the major issues facing St. Louis today, Wasoba said . "Creative laziness, promotional laziness...it all comes down to laziness compiled upon itself. If a band is over-saturating themselves, playing too much and there's only 15 people there, the only people who aren't being lazy are those 15 people. I think it's harder to leave your house and go to a show than it is to play a show."

*St. Louis is an easy city to live in, and that might be one of the major issues stifling creativity and collaboration. Low rent and a lack of historical precedent means artists have the freedom to innovate, whereas in larger cities, competition and expense drives people to work harder. "It's really easy to be in a band here, you can get shows here pretty easily, you can live cheaply and you can record cheaply," McAnally said. "I don't think that's credited enough, you have that margin to do something interesting."

*The loss of Mississippi Nights left St. Louis without a 1,000-seat venue, but the panel agreed that other venues have picked up the slack, and they weren't convinced that a 1,000 seat venue is a necessity anymore. "A band that might sell out a 1,000 seat venue in New York City on a Friday night, they could sell out a 200-300 capacity venue on a Monday night in St. Louis."

*It's a fallacy to say that St. Louis isn't a great place to play. McAnally said he asks all the artists who come through his venue what they think of playing in St. Louis. "Traditionally, it's surprisingly better here than most any other city, including Omaha, which is a comparable size...In some cases, they do better here than the sort of in A-markets." Zaleski cited the recent Julian Casablancas show, which drew about 500 people on a Monday night and totally trumped the turnout in Kansas City and Columbia.

*There's been a sea change in recent years, and St. Louis is being overlooked less and less by major acts. Zaleski said tour routing has more to do with St. Louis being overlooked than anything. "When people complain about bands not coming to St. Louis, a lot of it has to do with drive distances," she said. "For instance, you can go from Denver to Kansas City in a day, but Denver to St. Louis in a day is a stretch, so if you're on your way to Chicago, it makes more sense to do Denver, Kansas City, Chicago. If people want to come to St. Louis, they have to make a special trip here."

*Jazz and bluegrass, the genres on which the city's musical history was built, still have a future in River City. "If you look at the schedule for a place like Jazz at the Bistro, when they book something, they book it five nights in a row," Wasoba said. "If people didn't care, then they wouldn't be able to justify having John Patitucci playing bass five nights in a row, two sets a night."

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