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Last year we made resolutions for the Spokane music scene — here's how we did

click to enlarge SETH MEAD
  • Seth Mead

Geez, apparently the Spokane music scene takes goal-setting seriously. Around this time last year, we nagged local music people for a list of New Year's resolutions that we could hold the Spokane scene to, published their ideas and then took notes all year long to see how things were going. For the most part, it looks like the local scene took heed and got some shit done, with the Spokane scene a little stronger, a little more confident and a little more creative than it was the year before. Keep checking out the music section in the next few weeks, where we'll publish a list of goals for 2014. (LEAH SOTTILE)

RESOLUTION #1: MAKE HOUSES COUNT

In January, local organizer Taylor Weech, a driving force in creating a house show culture in Spokane's Peaceful Valley, told readers to put stock in the underground house-show scene. She noted that house shows are a viable alternative to venues and could fill a void "left open by a dip in the boom and bust cycle of Spokane all-ages venues." Now, Weech says the scene has "held steady. I am almost sure, though not scientifically, that [the scene] expanded to more diverse locations." Reconsidering the places where music is held should be a continued goal, she says. (LS)

RESOLUTION #2: BRING PEARL JAM

This was a surprise. When the announcement was made in July that Pearl Jam would appear in November, it seemed like we had something to do with it — Inlander Culture Editor Mike Bookey had proposed the Spokane Arena attract Pearl Jam, or at least an "amazing arena-sized rock band that wasn't Nickelback." The show itself was pure magic, completely selling out, proving Spokane a viable location for big names to stop and play. Nine Inch Nails, Bon Jovi and Macklemore and Ryan Lewis also saw excellent turnouts this year. Hopefully this means even bigger things for 2014's Arena lineup. (LAURA JOHNSON)

RESOLUTION #3: BRING CLASSICAL AND ROCK MUSICIANS TOGETHER

Genre-bending collaborations within a local scene not only enlighten a community, they can bring a wide age span of music lovers together. Karli Ingersoll, local artist and co-owner of the Bartlett, thought rockers and classical musicians uniting was something the local scene was lacking. This month, Ingersoll says she has been in conversation with musicians from the Spokane Symphony. "I'm sure now that [the Bartlett] is through the opening process, we can move on to actually organizing cool events and collaborations," she says. (LJ)

RESOLUTION #4: RETHINK THE VENUES

After reporting on the constant opening-and-closing cycle of Spokane's music scene for a big part of the past decade, I challenged locals to tap into alternative spaces — i.e., not bars. In my mind, doing so would provide more all-ages options, and not make the scene beholden to business owners' standards of what patrons want to hear. Sure, Terrain did its usual thing at the Music City Building, and some wineries and stores held one-off music events. But for the most part, I didn't hear about an influx of new alternative spaces opening their doors to music. That's not entirely bad news: 2013 was a great year for the music scene keeping a steady heartbeat, sustaining good venues and seeing even more bars hosting shows. (LS)

RESOLUTION #5: EXPERIMENT WITH VARIETY

One cool resolution we got last year from Jordan Hilker of the local band Odyssey was to see more shows with a variety of genres planned — like hip-hop headliner, electronic DJ and metal band openers. While festivals like Elkfest and the Garland Block Party seemed to do that, club bills stuck with one genre per bill in 2013. Hilker, who says even his band played just metal and rock shows, thinks this is one goal that can carry over into 2014. (LS)

RESOLUTION #6: MUSIC FIRST, SALES LATER

This resolution went hand in hand with ideas touched on in resolutions #1 and #4. See above for more.

RESOLUTION #7: BE A SUPERFAN

This resolution talked about the power "super-fandom" can have in a small city like ours. On one hand, that definitely happened: more people started personally booking shows and bringing their favorite bands to venues like Carr's Corner, the Checkerboard and the Baby Bar. On the other hand, more bookers and more shows puts a strain on a small population of music fans, says Chris Peterson, local promoter and drummer in hardcore band Losing Skin — and that can mean empty rooms. Peterson notes that Spokane's music scene is a constant "work in progress." (LS)

RESOLUTION #8: PLAN A FESTIVAL

It was Alex Davis, formerly of local cassette label Leftist Nautical Antiques, who maintained Spokane should put on a music festival downtown that would celebrate our awesome regional talent — "Not something commercially sick like Sasquatch! or South By Southwest." This year, the Inlander's own Volume was expanded to two days and took place in a myriad of venues throughout the city. Gleason Fest shut down Division and Main Streets. Elkfest took over Browne's Addition, and Pig Out in the Park, Terrain, KYRS Music Fest and Garland Block Party were in the mix too. (LJ)

RESOLUTION #9: USE THE BING

Local promoter John Blakesley suggested the Bing Crosby Theater be utilized more to showcase music. And with the installation of a brand-new sound system, as theater manager Michael Smith explained, the venue has become much more attractive to those wanting to put on shows. "We're really starting to become a one-stop-shop," Smith says. In the past year, multiple local bands have held album release parties there and America's Got Talent finalist Cami Bradley even sold out two shows. Smith says he wants to continue and expand this trend next year. (LJ)

RESOLUTION #10: CHALLENGE THE RULES

There's no bigger bummer than when a show gets shut down by the fire department or the cops, and last year local artist Chris Dreyer challenged Spokane music people to find some middle ground with the city. When we checked in with Shannon Roach Halberstadt, executive director of the Spokane Arts Fund and someone who bridged the gap between city officials and punks in her days in Seattle's music scene, she responded "Yes! Let's make it easier to have shows and arts events in Spokane!" Halberstadt, who took the reins of the Arts Fund in October, says this is a priority for 2014. (LS) ♦

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