Guest Column: Locals should nurture the music scene in Rockford

It was with some irritation that I read the other day an anonymous letter written to the Rockford Area Music Industry (RAMI) committee that was very snarky and denigrating towards their efforts to keep live music going in Rockford. All I have to say to this guy is QUIT COMPLAINING. I had to return to Los Angeles for various reasons, and if you want to know what it is really like to try and make it in a scene where you can’t get paid for your efforts, and it seems that only mediocrity and hype are rewarded—come on out to Los Angeles. I DARE YOU!

In six months, you’ll be so busy flipping burgers at the Sunset Denny’s just to make the rent, your musical ambitions will be long buried in the black, bottomless oblivion known as the “L.A. music scene.”

Yes, it’s true, in Rockford you have to play to the market, it’s conservative and even a bit reactionary, but if you are willing to BE A PROFESSIONAL about it and ACT LIKE ONE, you can actually make some decent money, and if you play your cards right and maybe do a bit of teaching on the side, a living. I know, I did it. You have in the RAMI committee a group of people who are willing to put on an event every year that gives the local musicians a chance to network and promote, that gives out an award that puts your name out there and gives you a brownie point for your résumé, and for the young musicians in the area, a chance to get a scholarship that will further their education, and these guys do it FOR FREE. So it’s not perfect, so a few deserving people or bands get passed up, so maybe you might have to put a cover band together to make a few bucks because you can’t get enough work for your “progressively ultra space jam atonal death metal with a string quartet” band. SO WHAT!!!! During the time that I lived here, I played with the Blunatics, the Boulas Trio, the Missing Links, Seratonin, Stan Reese, and a lot of other people and bands that I can’t remember. I probably turned down more work than I accepted because I simply didn’t want to upset my wife due to the fact that I was never home—I was always gigging!! And getting PAID for it!!

The scene in Rockford needs to be nurtured and made to flourish and prosper—the potential for something really great is there, the talent is there, and the support is there. Don’t make me think that the contributions I made during the eight years I lived there were in vain.

Scott Rowe is a former resident of Rockford currently living in California. He’s also a musician.

From the Sept. 28-Oct. 4, 2005, issue

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