On the Goe: Underground music showcase provides framework for GJ event
Following the coverage of last week’s Underground Music Showcase in Denver made me a little envious. Four days of live music, most of it from local bands, at dozens of clubs and music venues along South Broadway would drive any music suitor wild with envy.
After geeking out over the event coverage, talking with friends who both attended and performed at the UMS, and listening to the live broadcast on Colorado Public Radio, I couldn’t stop wondering … Why can’t we have a similar music event in Grand Junction? We have the bands. We have multiple music venues concentrated in a single area. Once you disregard the size and scale of the Denver event, 350 performers over 21 stages, it becomes clear: This model can work in Grand Junction and the UMS is the perfect blueprint to make it happen.
The beauty of the UMS model is that it is not a competition. Not between the bands and not between the venues. It is merely a sampling of the artists and performers who make a community special and exciting. Believe me, there is a live music scene here in Grand Junction. Whether you realize it or not this town is loaded with local performers, spanning all genres: Bronco Country, the Shift, Heavy Drags, Shotgun Hodown, Lowlands, Jack and Jill, Showcage, Starship Romance, Dinosaur the Musical, Intertwined, DJ Strangfellow, Dreamboat, Zolopht and the Destroyers, Pineapple Crackers, the Williams Brothers Band, etc. There is certainly enough talent in Grand Junction deserving to be showcased, so let’s give them the stage.
Seriously, how has a showcase not happened yet? There are at least 10 venues in downtown Grand Junction that regularly host bands, several of which regularly host all-ages shows. Imagine the energy in downtown Grand Junction, band fan bases mixing and mingling, venues overflowing with live music, and a community coming together and discovering the passion and creativity burning in so many youthful hearts.
The valley is ready for this. Make the shows all-ages when possible and pull in the untapped university and high school crowds. Thousands of kids are just spinning their wheels, dying to be a part of something real. The Palisade Bluegrass Festival, the Art and Jazz Festival and the Fruita Concert Series are all great local music events but, frankly, nobody under the age of 40 gives a damn. We need our own music event.
Granted, putting together an event like this takes a little more effort than scheduling a band in a venue, but it can be done, and it should be done. It’s in everyone’s best interest to make this happen. As someone who has promoted and organized shows, performed and attended shows, I think a Grand Junction showcase is a winning situation for all. Who would complain about increased attention to the local music scene? Nobody. It’s good business, it’s good for the bands and, most importantly, it’s good for the fans.
As you’ve probably gathered, this is not so much a column as a plan of action. Keep in mind the UMS had humble beginnings. Four Denver-area bands voted in by the fans played a one night gig at the Bluebird Theater. We can pull that off right now.
Bands, venue owners, promoters and music fans, this is the beginning of something special. Steal this idea and run with it. There are cool people already promoting the local music scene DIY style via house shows and fanzines. Build on that enthusiasm, pull our local music scene out from the shadows and spotlight it for western Colorado to see. Give us a showcase.