Thursday, September 30, 2010

Venturing out of your comfort zone

Posted By on Thu, Sep 30, 2010 at 10:15 AM

It’s often remarked that Charlotte can be a compartmentalized town — you can stay in your neck of the woods and rarely find the need to venture into other areas. You could live in the University area, for example, and never desire to check out Plaza Midwood or Dilworth since everything you need is in the University area.

After playing music in Charlotte for the last few years, I’ve noticed that the area music venues also tend to draw the same crowds. Some folks like to hang out at the Double Door, others call Snug Harbor home, and so on.

There are a few reasons why this happens.

First, people like to have a familiar haunt that they frequent since they run into familiar people with similar aesthetic and musical tastes there. The venue has a vibe that they dig and they enjoy sharing that vibe with like-minded folks. Also, it’s just easier to keep going back to your familiar neck of the woods whereas it can be downright challenging to go out and explore new places that have people different from you hanging out in them. Essentially, it’s all a matter of comfort zone.

But there are two things that we should keep in mind when we open up CL and think about where we’re going to go to see some original local live music. The first is that most if not all of the music venues have a wide variety of bands performing in them every week.

The Double Door used to be a blues club but has been presenting jazz, funk, fusion, folk, rock, and jam bands (and much more) while still putting on blues shows.

The Evening Muse used to primarily be the home for acoustic music but they too have been hosting a wide range of bands that inhabit a wide range of musical genres for some time.

The Visulite, the Neighborhood Theater, Snug Harbor, and the Milestone have all been presenting a wide range of bands for some time. So, odds are that you can find something that you dig at any of Charlotte’s venues.

But what about the people? If you venture out to, say, the Milestone you might encounter some folks that strike you as odd because of the aesthetic they present. They may dress different from you, have interesting hair-styles, interesting body-art, and so on. But here’s the reality folks: The people that hang out in Charlotte’s music venues love live music and you have that in common with them. Let me say that again: Those folks are there because they love live music and want to invest their time and energy into it and you have that in common with them.

The reality is that music has been pulling people together since at least the Stone Age. It will always do so but, unfortunately, we have gotten to where we let musical genres help define ourselves and our group and that’s lame because music is much more universal than that. Regardless of musical genre, we can always appreciate a band’s musicianship, song composition, emotional expression, performance technique, and so on.

So, kudos if you’re regularly going out and supporting Charlotte’s original live music. But I challenge you to branch out a bit, get outside of your comfort zone and to check out what’s going on outside of your favorite neighborhood music venue. Not only will this open up the possibility that you might meet new people that are different from you but it will help develop a clear sense of Charlotte’s overall music scene (I just die when someone tells me that Charlotte doesn’t have a good music scene and it’s clear to me that that person never leaves his or her neighborhood to actually go out and explore Charlotte’s music scene).

A good place to start would be to attend the release party for Jeff Hahne’s Homebrew Volume 4 CD on Oct. 15. The show and the CD — both are free — will present a wide range of quality local talent and how often does that happen in the Q.C.? I’ll see you at the Neighborhood Theatre that night... I hope.

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