Here are a few ideas that could improve Boston as a music community:
As I mentioned when Gay Gardens was shut down, the city needs to provide sanctioned all ages spaces for third party promoters to affordably book shows. Set up three rooms with a PA: one in Allston, one in Jamaica Plain, one in Union/Davis/Central. Hire someone to oversee scheduling and security. Allow show promoters to host events in a safe firecode’d environment that is not dictated by liquor sales. A corporation could easily swoop in and do something like this, but it’d be smarter for the city to cover these costs and keep the branding at bay. It was refreshing to hear mayoral candidates talk the talk, but it’d be better to see Marty Walsh walk the walk.
College shows pay really well, and most colleges could be doing a better job at introducing their undergraduates to the local scene. I attended a Live Music Association of Northeastern meeting in September and discovered a “small budget” show means they have $5k to spend on the artists. With that kind of cash, an ecosystem of sorts could be set up where everyone wins. Just make it a rule to book three types of acts with every college budgeted show: using that $5k budget as an example, give the Headlining Artist $3000ish, the Local Artist $1500ish, and the Campus Artist $500ish. Headlining Artist brings students attending for the music (or maybe just the name), Campus Artist brings students attending for their friends, Local Artist introduces student body to the arts community outside campus walls. Every artist is paid generously (most of the local musicians I know can fund entire albums or tours with $1500), and every concert goer hears something new.
Turn the Boston Music Awards into the holiday charity show that it actually is. My main concern with the nominations every year is that too many fall into the categories Nationally Famous Local Artist and Artist That Hasn’t Lived in Boston For Years, sometimes both. And if the show’s organizers downplay these questionable calls in order to champion all the charitable good that comes from the night ininterviews, what’s the point? Let’s just have non-competitive night to celebrate Boston’s wide range of artists, because they do that part well.
Sippy Cup Everything has been an extension of myself for about three years. There have been no hires and no interns. The personal emails are sent from my personal address. The blog portion of the website was mostly selfish, writing to keep my emails sharp. It’s rarely self-described as a management or publicity firm, or a booking agency, just “a place to host information on the artists I help and the shows I promote”.
Lately I have been yearning for more collaboration. I tried a few things in Boston, but nothing felt as good as the day I spent talking with folks at Merge Records in October. Here is a label that has been releasing music in a modest-but-proud fashion for 24 years, focused on the trajectory of the artist’s career as much as each release. They work with artists they want to help. I can relate to that. They asked me to join them in Durham, NC and share news of their roster’s new releases and tours. I said yes. I’ll be starting in December.
Greetings from Akureyri, second largest city in Iceland only to Reykjavik, where I’ve spent the last several days at Iceland Airwaves. I’m presently decompressing with a little Brennivín and ready to dish the minor knowledge I’ve attained in the time since my arrival.
Any music fan from Boston should be attending Iceland Airwaves. The cheapest North American flights to Keflavik Int’l are from Logan, and while things are expensive once you get here (a can of Gull lager will set you back 700-1000 ISK or $6-8), fuck it. Great compact town with plenty of culture and an easy learning curve. Perhaps a few Boston artists on the bill might push some New Englanders across the pond…
While on the Boston tip: there’s a bar in Reykjavik called Boston. Sure it sucks but you can go there and probably use your accent to make a lot of new friends. Not that you need that advantage, because…
Icelanders are the nicest people in the world. They don’t get mad. I haven’t heard a car horn yet. There were stupid bottlenecking issues with main concert hall Harpa and the only thing that kept me sane was everyone else around me.
On top of their kindness, did you know that they are all blazingly attractive? It’s simply bonkers. Buy a lopapeysa and say hello to someone. In doing so, I discovered a takeaway beer from Ölsmiðjan for 490 ISK (like $4).
Björk attends this festival and no one bothers her. I saw her two nights in a row: once leaving a venue literally skipping down the street with her posse of friends dressed in psychedelic Russian garb, and second between Mykki Blanco and Gold Panda’s sets. Everyone was all NBD.
Fermented shark meat tastes like windex and blue cheese.
Icelandic music generally rules, wide-ranging and engaging. Local discoveries included Oyama and Moses Hightower. I was also very lucky to see Múm at a church called Fríkirkjan with folks dangling their feet from the balconies (above).
Get out of Reykjavik for a severe nature boner. Here’s the basic rundown: Blue Lagoon should be hit up on the way from or to the airport but it costs roughly $45 so you don’t need to do that more than once in your lifetime. Geysirs are cool if you like smoke coming from the ground and the smell of farts. Everything else is incredible. You’ll want to take a few days to appreciate northern Iceland, but you can easily hit up a place like Gullfoss in a day and one-up Ansel Adams with baybees like this: