Welcome back to Discover Janesville, the column! It will come as a surprise only to those who don’t know me, but I like live music, and specifically listening to live bands. And if you also like live music, you will agree that there isn’t much variety in what we hear at our local establishments these days, though some bands are clearly better than others.
On one night this past summer, I went to a local bar to listen to a band. They were pretty good, and as I was walking out the door, I heard the band play theme from “Footloose”. When I walked in to the other local bar where I was meeting my friends, 20 minutes later, there was a band playing there, also. Guess what: they were playing the theme from “Footloose”, as well. It’s not that it’s a bad song, I was just hoping for more variety, then to have two great local bands playing the same song on the same night at different bars in town.
There are several genres that can be hard to find in Janesville. Among these: original music, jazz, blues, and pretty much anything but classic rock, top 40 covers and country. The other night, I heard Jazzguise at O’Riley & Conway’s and couldn’t believe how unusual it felt to hear jazz music in Janesville. For that matter, I can’t really remember the last time I heard a band performing an original song.
Now, the entrepreneur in me says that we hear what the market supports, which explains the classic rock, top 40 covers and country that you can hear all over town on the weekends, but I am not entirely certain that that approach is totally accurate. There are enough people in the area who will go to a live jazz performance once a month, if only there was a local place to find it!
Still, the music scene in Janesville is one thing that I do like, and it’s not always about music. Being a working musician in town, allowed me to meet many new people with whom I would have a difficult time connecting were it not for music, including teachers, doctors, attorneys, business owners, and many others, all of whom play and write music in their spare time. Music brings us together, and having opportunities to perform means that it’s not only people who love the performer’s music who will come, but people who know these musicians personally and professionally.
Just look at Docs Who Rock which has sold out for 3 years in a row. Are these incredible musicians? Some for sure, but selling out Janesville Performing Arts Center takes more than talent. Being well-known in the community, and having many clients (or patients) is a huge plus. By the same token, why wouldn’t a club cater to a jazz group or a band performing original songs if the cost to hire a band are low and chances of band members bringing friends and building a following are not just good, they are an investment both in marketing, and in the future, for the establishment.
I, as much as anyone, appreciate the fact that there are still a number of places that look for live music, but in order for our community to make leap to the future, we need to make break with the past, and that’s where theme from “Footloose” belongs.