“How does it feel to be the youngest person at this show?”
Up to that point, I was too busy checking out the band to notice, but the question that local candy man and rock ’n’ roll tour guide Jamie Weatherford asked me in passing at the Randall Bramblett show on Sept. 18 didn’t seem to be anything significant at first.
Days later, this question continues to linger in the recesses of my brain. What does it mean when a 33-year-old (which, in the eyes of many concert goers, is “old” or at least no spring chicken) is the youngest person in the crowd at the CD release party for Randall Bramblett, a man whose career in music has led him to work with guys like Steve Winwood, Gregg Allman, Chuck Leavell and many others?
It signals a problem. Not one that is specific to this show or even Bramblett’s music, but growing (and supporting) a music scene overall. If Macon is going to be considered a true “music town,” we need to educate our community -- specifically the younger generation -- about the music heritage of our area.
Unfortunately, this requires more than just name dropping. I’ve had my soul crushed (pun not intended) more than once in conversation when I say, “You know Otis Redding is from Macon, right?” Response: “Otis who?” or, “Little Richard is also from here.” “The Allman Brothers were formed here.” “James Brown cut his first record here and lived here for a while.”
I bet you can guess how this game plays out. In my mind, these names should elicit an immediate “wow” response that should allow me to segue into more under the radar but no less important figures like Hamp Swain or Satellite Papa (RIP) or Johnny Jenkins or Jimmy Haney or that time that Phil Walden helped elect the President of the United States of America.
But we need to do more than simply educate the young ’uns about the musical legacy of our area. We also need to encourage members of our community, regardless of age, to get out and support live music.
If a music scene is going to exist, high school and college-aged students need to be involved, and a large part of that is booking newer acts.
Not only does this create a more vibrant and diverse music scene, it also feeds into the idea that these students are more likely to stay in the area after graduation and become productive members of the community.
In short, if we give them a fun reason to stay -- such as consistently great live music -- they’re much less likely to jump at the chance to get the heck outta here.
The past may be prologue, but it’s not the entire book. It’s up to us to write the next few chapters. All is not lost and we’re certainly starting to head in the right direction, but for our “music town” moniker to become a reality and not simply a catch phrase, we need to continue this conversation.
Are you ready to join the conversation? Hit us up on social media or at www.fieldnotestenographers.com.
Chris Nylund is a founding member of Field Note Stenographers, a collective of local musicians who write about shows in Middle Georgia. He likes books without pictures, good music and playing a variety of instruments with varying degrees of success. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.