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The Sound and the Fury: An Assessment of Sacramento's Music Scene

  • CLARA Auditorium 1425 24th Street Sacramento, CA, 95816 United States (map)

Listen to the podcast of this discussion on SoundCloud and on iTunes

Summer is time for:
* heading to outdoor music festivals with big names and up-and-comers
* putting together playlists for your road trips
* listening to boom-box background music while relaxing in the park
* catching free concerts from busking musicians on the boardwalk
* picking that one catchy song that will stay in your head and always remind you of "that summer"

It's also the perfect time to assess Sacramento's music scene -- where it stands, and where it's going.

The past year has brought a lot of good sounds. Mayor Steinberg announced the City would rethink its ordinance on buskers and outdoor music performers. It also hired a new "Creative Economy" director to think how arts and music can get a bigger boost here. Golden 1 Center and Ace of Spades (now owned by Live Nation) have brought bigger music acts to town, and Holy Diver has gotten top marks for taking over the Starlite Lounge and showcasing up-and-coming national acts. Local musicians like Hobo Johnson and Sister Crayon (now known as Rituals of Mine) have gotten national attention. First Festival has survived tough times and just wrapped up its fourth annual showing.

But there are still some sour notes. The Police Department is still called out to turn the music down. Gentrification means long-time music venues are getting complaints from new neighbors. Local musicians say they lack community support due to a lack of small venues, rehearsal spaces and frugal audiences who don't want to pay. And when our musicians hit it big, chances are they'll still move elsewhere to build their career.

So what should Sacramento be doing to boost its local music scene, and its musicians? Should we look at top music towns like Austin or Nashville and follow their lead? Or are we doing just fine creating our own plan? We'll talk with local music aficionados -- musicians and the people who book and promote them -- about how we can achieve perfect pitch in the capital city.

* Scott Brill-Lehn, concert promoter and owner of SBL Entertainment
* Byron Colborn, baritone saxaphonist and bandleader of several local ensembles, including Element Brass Band and the Byron Colborn Big Band
* Gabriell Garcia, co-owner of the Blue Lamp
* Johnathon Glus, director of Cultural and Creative Economy for the City of Sacramento
* Danielle Vincent, founder of First Festival and Show Up Sacramento
* Paul Willis, local rapper, spoken-word artist, educator and activist