Rebirth of a scene: The following is not a dig at musicians to better utilize their station, but a polite proposal based on my travels and explorations of the nationwide DIY community. I'm no community organizer, nor am I motivated by altruism. Of the few beliefs I regard, one is to respectfully offer opinions and ideas when a platform is available or encouraged. If my services are needed to take these ideas further, I'm willing to volunteer. If no fuse is lit or light bulb illuminated, I can live with that.
Whether you call it a scene or community, it consists of a large body. Within that body exists a multitude of interests beyond effects pedals, Beatles vs. the Kinks arguments and tour riders. It happens in Portland, Ore.; in Chicago; in Milwaukee; in Chicago; hell, even in Missoula, Mont. Musicians are hanging out beyond the house shows, studio sessions and venue greenrooms. Not just hanging out, but curating creative events, like band-lottery showcases and the Rigsketball tournament in Portland, wherein artists challenge themselves as both musicians and athletes.
In Illinois, there's the Chicago Sonic Coalition, and in Cleveland, it's the Lottery League, but the conceit is the same: Names go into a hat, and from those names, new bands are born. All that's needed is to gather at a house for a potluck or a bar for happy hour. With each name drawn, a new band is formed with one requirement: In two weeks' time, they must perform a cover. Did your band end up with two saxophonists and a fiddler? Awesome! Embrace the challenge. Sure, it's a little like those annoying and kitschy first-day-of-class exercises in which the teacher assigns you to little groups to get to know one another—it's not a perfect idea. But for one night, you'll perform as a new band with a new name, with no commitment to play with those two saxophonists ever again. Whether it rips or goes horribly wrong, the other performers had the same experience, shaken and challenged.
Too challenging? How about basketball? Portland band And And And attached a basketball hoop to its tour van and called it Rigsketball (http://rigsketball.tumblr.com). It began as a three-on-three challenge with other bands in the venue parking lot before gigs and eventually grew into the yearly band vs. band tournament, which now includes prizes, merch, cassette compilations by the competing bands and an after-party show.
Shake things up, Sacramento. It doesn't have to be a lottery or a basketball tournament. Maybe it's softball, chess, Quidditch, or LARPing, but make it something. Get together. Get creative. Not because it's what other cities are doing, not because it's DIY cool, but because it’s what a community does.
Life’s cheap, little discoveries: The music shop known simply as Records is still wonderfully in business down on Broadway, right there next to Dimple Records, both of which must be protected by the ghost of the Tower Records empire that existed on the same spot years ago. Browsing through the discount bins this past week, I picked up an album called Make Some Noiz by a group I'd never heard of. My overeager expectation was that I'd found some wild, forgotten Zach Hill shit, but, as the in-store turntable revealed, it was a late-1970s funk single with some identical sounding remixes and a humorous but tiring reprise that made up of the single's title. Luckily, Records is still around to afford us these little discoveries, so dry your Midtown Beat-bereaved eyes and get to browsing. Just remember to keep your vinyl out of the hot sun on the trek home, or you'll have a whole new reason to weep.
Don’t call it a comeback: Sacramento's record-store scene has suffered a couple major hits in the last few months. Now, however, there's a spark of sonic hope: Phono Select owner Dal Basi is currently putting the finishing touches on a new Curtis Park warehouse space that is, mathematically speaking, about a gazillion-times bigger than his old Midtown shop. The store, currently scheduled to open by the end of July, will will operate on a limited schedule and by appointment. For updates and further details, check out www.phonoselect.com.