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A CALL TO CREATE LIVE GRASSROOTS LOOPING FESTIVALS
To the extended community at LoopersDelight:
I recently wrote a letter to a fellow respected looping musician asking
him if there was a chance of setting up a looping festival in the city
that he lives in. This is part of the letter I recieved back from him
in reply (which also generously shared contact and club information in
"........Well, as far as 'my city' being "happening"...I'd say there's
musicians who work together in various loose-knit configurations and
each other's shows (in groups of a half-dozen or so). There's no
.I'm not really interested in setting up a mini-festival. I
dealt with that
.....where I used to live and it was a massive pain in the ass for
very little return. The public doesn't really care how you make
sounds, unless perhaps it's something exotic and fashionable such as the
Theremin--they just want to hear something interesting......."
I've heard this sentiment echoed frequently in the larger looping
this is what I wrote in reply:
I hear what you say about looping and looping festivals. It is
virtually the same here.
We've only had 50-100 people per show for 4 looping shows. To be
frank, though, I couldn't care less about popularity. I care about the
quality of the work and the nurturing of young artists in a culture that
undervalues their unique contributions (a nurturance that I wasn't lucky
enough to have growing up.....although my parents are pretty
hip and supportive now).
Because of the festivals that I put on (and had considerable help
with, I must say), 35 artists performed and 28 of them had never
performed in public or never even considered that anyone would want to
hear what they were doing in a live context. I am proud to say, a year
and a half later, that there are now 8-10 really serious
electronica/looping musicians in this area who are putting out
sophisticated recordings/interacting with each other and doing live gigs
and dozens more who are trying to get started. There was NO scene two
years ago. Hell, I only started these modest little shows because I was
lonely and a totally turned on/newbie/fanatic for electronic/looping
music and wanted a little community of people to talk to and gig with.
Consequently, as well, the local music stores are starting to carry
a lot hipper gear than they used to and young musicians are starting to
get into this field much at a much younger age than their older
counterparts. Electronic influences are noticeably seeping into
traditional Celtic shows/Local cable access television/local
commercials/folk recordings, etc. Now, granted, a lot of this just
reflects what has been happening in the maintstream culture as well, but
believe me, not much of it had reached sleepy Santa Cruz two years ago
(with the exception of DJ/Rave culture and even that was fairly tame).
My point is that community and energy are more powerful, culturally
speaking than pure monetarily driven commercialism. I've been involved,
since it's inception 22 years ago, with the so called 'world beat'
movement. No band has EVER been commercially successful
in the genre (or at least not mega successful). It doesn't matter. We
changed the face of music in this country with our efforts. You cannot
see a movie without hearing an ethnic
fusionist aesthetic at work; almost every current pop record has
influences of world music
in them. I've been fortunate enough to tour the world, make records
with incredible musicians and make my living because of that
At the heighth of the San Francisco sound in the late sixties when
the Jefferson Airplane
were on the cover of LIFE magazine (signalling, at that time, the
'arrival' of a new culture)
there were only about 15 bands in San Francisco that were playing the
and the Avalon Ballroom on a rotating nightly basis......all communally
oriented; all sharing and rotating their billing status from night to
night. The average attendance at those venues was only somewhere
between 125-250 people a night.
My point? Energy, Community and Creativity is what changes
our culture for the better. Somebody once said that artists are the
antennae of a
culture, picking up and/or creating the emerging trends before the sweep
over the culture. I agree.
This is why I am interested in promoting Looping Culture as such:
not for the money
(I made none doing these shows) but because now we have a more
creative/fired up community in Santa Cruz. Interestingly enough,
several of us have been getting local paying gigs and lucrative
corporate gigs (because the entertainment companies that book the lavish
corporate parties as tax writeoffs are sick to death of 70's cover
bands and are looking for something new and refreshing: that's us!).
What I have found, in my admittedly limited 'newbie' concious, is
that creating a
'festival' kicks up interest in the community, excites the press and
radio people who are
bored with 'music as usual', and creates a specifically community
oriented atmosphere which is nurturing to future musical developements.
By having three (or more) artist on a bill you will insure that you will
not make money but you will be able to 'sell' the idea of the event to
the community at large. With such a concept you can sometimes talk a
local church or community center into hosting the event for free or for
a much lower rental fee. You can pool your respective P.A. equipment
to save costs. You can approach local music stores/radio stations and
even corporations for sponsorship to allay costs. In general, you can
create a scene, cause a commotion, make a 'mess' of 'life as usual'.
It's hard work and there are very few economic rewards but you would be
suprised at the ripple effect it can have.
I say: 'Go for it!'
Thanks for hearing my 'rant'. yours, in creativity and looping,
Rick Walker (Loop.pooL)