We DO Trust You, St. Louis.
The last time this blog was used as a…blog was a little less than two years ago. I was posting things about the St. Louis music scene and what I thought it could and should be, as well as how I thought we, together, could get there. I went through the archive this morning and read through those first two posts I wrote after establishing the idea of STL LOUD, and damn, it was interesting to think about how far we [the STL music scene] have come in the last two years. Of course, STL LOUD is only one part of a complex and wonderful machine- but it’s the one I’ve taken up personally and devoted so much of my time and energy to.
The whole goal of it was to build up local music with the tools I had at my disposal- a recording studio and experience booking shows. Looking out from the Lab, I believe it has been a success- we’re working on the fifth volume right now and are looking into what the project will become next year. However, that perceived-success has been limited, and discovering this felt like a slap in the face.
Yesterday, a Facebook-Ad started popping up on all of my friends’ newsfeeds and it was sub-titled, “Local music in St. Louis now has a home” …interesting. Clicking on it revealed a pretty insulting article for anyone who has put as much work into the local scene as I have. Naturally, I re-posted it and what ensued was a 70+ comment-rant including many of my hard-working, local music-minded friends. It wasn’t long before the discussion devolved into the same old City v. County debate that we’re all too familiar with. There were also similar comments on the actual blog post, which inspired an equally-insulting response from the editor.
As insulted as I was yesterday, I am energized today (hence this post). This was a wake-up call, for me at least- Despite the above writers’ apparent lack of research on their subject matter, they do reveal that we’re on an island here in the City. So, how do we address this problem and bridge this divide? Well, it’s going to involve working together…clearly. So, a challenge I propose!
Before we get to the challenge, however, I need to clear some things up.
First of all, this City v. County shit has to end, NOW. We’re all guilty of it, so it stops with all of us. City friends: we need to respect that not everyone wants to live where we do. County friends: You need to respect that where we live is not the war-zone you often depict it as, and that it IS, in-fact, where the “scene” is located. Like in many other metro-areas, the arts are [generally] predicated on density. From the outside looking in, our divisions not only don’t make sense, but they immediately make St. Louis an undesirable place to be located. Let’s take our neighbor Chicago as an example: I know several people who left St. Louis (county) for (the City of) Chicago after deriding St. Louis for being lame, or whatever. They usually weren’t moving to the suburbs of Chicago, they were moving to the city…because that’s where their “scene” is. These ex-pats may have stayed here had they known about the myriad of things going on. So, one thing the articles above have right is that we are facing a pretty serious marketing dilemma in the City of St. Louis.
Our marketing dilemma and geo-political fragmentation are not insurmountable things, however. We can only blame ourselves, as citizens of an area, for not taking ownership of our place. We do not need to be competing against eachother locally- that is ONLY helping other cities.
So, the challenge!
To my new friends at OFFAIRSTL- You, as the self-appointed improvers of our scene, are now tasked to come into the City, as often as possible, and discover not only new bands, but new venues as well. In fact, let’s not stop at music, you need to improve your palates too. So, make a night out of it- start at one of twenty-something local brewpubs, then head to a locally-owned eating establishment before attending one of literally dozens of musical things going on any-given night. Then take your new knowledge and carry it back to your neighborhoods and proclaim it as loudly as you can. If you’d really like to put your money where your mouth is, I’ll accompany you on your next outing so we can hash some things out- I can even give you an itinerary for every time you come in, and I guarantee you won’t do the same thing twice in at least 6 months. Contact me.
To all of my local-scene friends, City and County- We, as the stewards of our collective work need to reach out to people and places with which we normally don’t interact. We are an area of 3 million and we need not stop until we’ve reached out to everyone.
Let’s work together on this, as people, as St. Louisans, and end this division. I trust we can all trust eachother and trust St. Louis and with that much trust going around, there’s nothing we can’t do.
If you agree, please share, let’s get this discussion going.
Thanks for reading ya’ll.