Exploring Madison's Music Scene
Sep 24, 2013
12:03 PMLocal Sounds
Common Anomaly Represents Fort Collins at First Annual BandSwap Event
PHOTO COURTESY OF COMMON ANOMALY
Common Anomaly, a band from Fort Collins representing the Colorado city in BandSwap
I was a bit late to the party at the High Noon Saloon Sunday night, September 22, but I arrived in time to hear Sexy Ester belting it out to a crowd of faithful followers. The alt-rocking quartet was the cap to a day of events presented by nonprofit group SpokesBUZZ from Fort Collins, Colorado, in support of a program the organization started called BandSwap (read more about SpokesBUZZ and BandSwap here).
I was bummed I had to miss the Fort Collins representative band Common Anomaly. Asking around I heard nothing but praise for the band’s performance, especially from members of Sexy Ester who just shook their heads and said, “They are awesome.”
Also on the bill was another Madison band gaining popularity, Sky Road Fly.
The day’s events began at the Great Dane downtown at 11:30 a.m. with a networking event co-sponsored by Illegal Pete’s, a Fort Collins establishment. That event was sparsely attended as the Willy Street Fair and the Packers provided competition. That’s unfortunate because the room should have been packed with people wanting to hear a bit about the Colorado organization and about some things that are happening here in Madison to get the city more involved with its local artists. Listening to SpokesBUZZ founder and director Dani Grant left little doubt that the city of Fort Collins has seen the economic light when it comes to investing in its local talent.
Karin Wolf, the Arts Program Administrator with the city's Madison Arts Commission, was chiefly responsible for making the event a reality. She received strident support from Grant, who pointed out that Madison was not chosen for BandSwap at random. “We look for cities with a secondary music market and similar interests, and that boils it down to about fifteen cities from which Madison was chosen to participate.” Wolf sought out the city’s help in getting the event funded—a measly $5,000—but was turned down. But she persevered and found enough sponsors to make the event a go.
PHOTO BY RICK TVEDT
Dani Grant of SpokesBUZZ at the Great Dane
Though there was no discretionary funding available to Wolf for this project, the city’s lack of will to support local music is painfully obvious. After enduring Mayor Paul Soglin’s feeble attempt at doing something by committing $25,000 to Make Music Madison (read more about that here), this is a double slap in the face. There is hope, however. Note that this post has included “First Annual BandSwap Event” in its title. There will be a strong push to include BandSwap in the city’s annual budget and Grant has offered to fly back to Madison to present her case to the City Council. There is little doubt that Grant—and SpokesBUZZ—have brought a spark to Madison. Grant agrees that “all we need to do now is fan it.”
In addition the Grant’s appearance at the networking event, those gathered also heard from Broadjam’s Roy Elkins and yours truly. Elkins spoke about the city of Columbus, Wisconsin, and how the economy boomed when the film crew of Public Enemies, the 2009 John Dillinger movie starring Johnny Depp, was in town to shoot. Naturally, we all know about the success Austin has had with the SXSW festival and the tremendous technological boom that has spawned as a result. I spoke about Local Sounds and its founder Matt Jacoby who is researching places in the U.S. that have an official office to promote music, film and the arts. He intends to find out how best to incorporate those ideas into something useful for Madison or Dane County. Austin, like the Beatles, cannot simply be recreated.
There is a lot at stake for the arts in Madison and there are enough forces in play right now to make something concrete result. Certainly BandSwap is worthy of the city’s—and the Mayor’s—interest especially when you take into account the program‘s plans to incorporate forms other than music into these events. The partnerships and synergies that would result from the eight chosen cities (Madison; Fort Collins; Nashville; Denver; Portland, Oregon; Asheville, North Carolina; Chico, California and Lafayette, Louisiana) working in a collaborative effort to promote their local artists is innovative and exciting.
As for Sexy Ester, they will now travel to Fort Collins to represent Madison in the “swap” portion of BandSwap which takes place October 3–6. The band gets tighter and more confident with time and the jaw-dropping talent of vocalist Lyndsay Evans is simply unstoppable. They are a worthy beacon for the city of Madison and its enormously large pool of talent.