An inspiring book was brought to my attention by a writer from another publication who read my previous article. The book is called “In Every Town, An All Ages Manualfesto.” In this book, author Shannon Stewart, co-founder of The VERA Project in Seattle writes, “It is easy, and even clichéd, to make the argument that music is a universal language that permeates everyone’s experience. It’s also true”(xi). Growing up in a neighborhood where her three options for past times were either sports, God-related activities, or drinking, drugs, and gangs, she openly admits that if you didn’t belong to the first two, the latter was your only option.
Stewart understands the importance of music, especially for the youth. Bursting with energy, our youth need an outlet, and they don’t all need the same one. Her book is a guide to everyone, no matter what your age, on how to create a creative and successful environment for more than just music. She breaks down what it takes to harvest, promote, and create a music scene. Projects such as The VERA Project are dedicated to understanding and working with the youth, without trying to cash in.
We put a lot of blame (me too!) on our cities, our counties, our states, for not providing the youth with other outlets, for not supporting music venues, and for blaming venues for violence, drugs, alcohol etc. However, Stewart takes a different stand with her book and instead puts the ball in the youth’s court. By creating this guide to get involved with music, she is empowering youth (and adults!) all over the nation to make a change. All of a sudden, the ball is in the youth’s court, and they can do what they please with it.
I say go Stewart! If anything is going to change the music scene in any town, the answer is to be proactive. If you can create a space that is a safe environment, is affordable for young kids, and college students, and also treats the bands right, you can be successful. I know it’s easier said than done, but it isn’t impossible either. Creating a venue is one step, while harvesting a music scene in your town is another.
In order for a music scene to flourish, the environment, as aforementioned, must be conducive and inspiring to other artists. You’d be surprised how much talent goes unnoticed at Whitworth, and how many people lock themselves in the practice rooms in our music building so that no one will hear them. Once a place is established, then other people can start getting inspired to share their talents as well. Even with the Empyrean closing, there are still many ways to get involved and support the music scene. A good first step is to branch out your musical tastes, and support local bands, go to a show of someone who you have never heard of. A music scene depends on musicians as much, if not more, as it depends on the people.
You can get a copy of “In Every Town” at http://www.theconnextion.com/aamp/aamp_index.cfm Or at the local independent bookstore!