Lots of people set goals for the New Year. Most do so as the calendar turns to Jan. 1.
Not here at Feedback, where our motto is “Why do now what you can put off for two weeks?”
OK, that's not entirely true. But honestly, my Feedback column has been pretty scarce for a few months now, and I don't like that one bit. Granted, many of my live reviews, photos and videos are publishing on The Bulletin's music blog at www.bend bulletin.com/frequency. But I want Feedback to be a regular presence in GO! Magazine, so this year, I'm committing to seeing more concerts and writing more reviews for print. I hope you'll read along!
But enough about me. Central Oregon's music scene needs goals for 2012, too. Here are a few that came to my mind.
• More venues, more incubators. The past 12 months saw a number of changes among local music venues, and that's nothing new. It's a business rife with change.
The Blackhorse Saloon became Maverick's Country Bar. Player's Bar & Grill is under new ownership. MadHappy Lounge and Grover's Pub closed. Crossings Lounge quit hosting live music.
Businesses come, go and adapt. I get that, and don't expect it to stop. And certainly, some of those changes may be for the better.
But as a guy who pays attention to local music, here's what I see in that list: Blackhorse going bye-bye created a country venue but eliminated a place for hard rock bands to play. Player's — which is changing its focus — and Grover's were for years safe spots for local punk bands to hone their chops. MadHappy was the only place in town regularly hosting hip-hop. Crossings was home to a solid slate of cover bands and a cadre of devoted dance-floor denizens.
When we lose these kinds of places, we also lose the opportunities they provide for musicians, both touring and, especially, local. It's important for any music scene to have what I call incubators for new local bands to get comfortable on stage and in front of people, and it seems like the number of incubators we have is dwindling. That's a little scary.
• A hip-hop revival. This is an extension from the previous point: In 2007, when The Grove closed, the touring artists that frequently played there moved to Silver Moon Brewing & Taproom or the Domino Room if they could, or they simply stopped coming to town on a regular basis.
Back then, Bend had a healthy beat-oriented scene, with active local rappers, a fleet of skilled DJs and regular hip-hop shows. Since, things have shifted. Local hip-hop has receded, many DJs have moved, and now, with MadHappy Lounge gone, underground rap shows are in jeopardy, too.
Concerts by Ice Cube, Tech N9ne and the ubiquitous Mosley Wotta aside, Bend's hip-hop pulse was too faint in 2011, and 2012 isn't looking promising. Hip-hop is too large a part of the big, wide music world for it to be ignored here. We need to reverse this trend, starting with a new spot for MadHappy's refugees to perform.
• Fewer hassles. It seemed like every few months last year a venue or event ran into problems with outside forces, whether it was noise complaints by a tiny minority or governmental nitpicking about the capacity of a mom-and-pop business.
I understand that it's the responsibility of concert promoters and event organizers to ensure safety and respect the neighbors. But I also live here, and I want Bend to be a fun, vibrant town with a diversity of cultural offerings for people of all stripes.
If that means putting up with the sound of music floating through the warm summer air a dozen times a year ... well, there are a lot worse things to worry about, right?
• A fast start at the Schwab. This one could be on the list every year, but it's becoming clearer how vital a full, strong Memorial Day weekend slate is to the Les Schwab Amphitheater's season.
Last year, that weekend's shows made up 22 percent of the total season, but 32 percent of total attendance, with the venue's two largest crowds of the year seeing Death Cab for Cutie on May 27 and The Decemberists on May 29.
Over the past six years, the three seasons with the highest attendance started with Memorial Day weekend shows. The strong start in 2011 spurred the amphitheater on to its best overall attendance since 2008, and its best financial year ever, according to manager Marney Smith.
It's crucial to not only the Schwab but also Bend's summer concert season as a whole that the amphitheater gets off to a good start. A busy final weekend in May is the best way to do that.
Now how about a few quick ones. In 2012, I'm hoping for:
• A place for Crossings' Betty Berger Big Band to continue playing its twice-monthly gigs.
• Continued growth in signal strength and stature of Bend's community radio station, KPOV.
• A steady stream of locally made recordings to build on what has already been a busy January.
• One (or more) local bands to have as great a 2012 as Larry and His Flask had in 2011.
• Sisters Folk Festival's biggest and best year yet, including a stage dedicated to less traditional types of folk music for those of us who don't want to be shushed.
• Continued development of Bend's jazz scene, built on the success of the Jazz at Joe's and Jazz at The Oxford series.
• More loud rock at Bend Roots Revival!
So there's my list for 2012. Got something you think should be on it? Email me at the address right here: