Just doing our job

I didn't get a chance to say this sooner, but I liked the article `"Love me two (or more) times," July 5`. I thought it was well-written and I'm pleased with the overall attitude of the article. Thank you for writing this!

Oh, and on a more personal note, I thought you might be amused to hear that just before the article was published, I started dating one of the other people you interviewed … Brian Downes. This wasn't in the works at the time of the interview or I would have mentioned it, but I thought you might be amused to hear it.

Anyway, thanks again! It's getting good comments on the various poly message boards and e-mail lists!

Shara Smith, via the Internet

Values out of whack

Shame on you. The film Hairspray was great, charming and made a person feel good `"Opening," Film, July 19`, unlike many films you rate "great." I think your value system needs a recheck!

Julie Herring, via the Internet

Digs the Beat

I've perused your periodical for a number of years now and just felt it necessary to pass on my sentiments regarding the weekly "Police Beat" articles. Ms. Ferguson always seems to bring a grin to my face. Her article is always my first stop.

Her acute, benign translation of events our local deviants, punks and criminals perpetuate is worthy of praise.

T.S., Winter Park

Keep on bitching!

Bao Le-Huu: In your column a couple of weeks ago `"This Little Underground"` you expressed some gripes. Thanks! For me, one gripe in particular hits close to home. You mentioned the lack of access to stages for local musicians.

This is a huge problem in the Orlando area. Despite the large number of venues there are too few stages, especially stages devoted to original music. We have no lack of sports bars, discos, dance clubs and (yeech!) karaoke!

At the same time, there is a huge amount of talent here! This talent is commonly frustrated and impoverished. I'm happy to learn that Will Walker via Taste and Preacher Bill are attempting to address this situation with the up-coming conditional open-mic night. I must be less ill-disposed toward the "bumbling of amateurs" than some. Having hosted open-mic nights, I've seen many bumbling amateurs rapidly develop into compelling performers.

The implication from your column is that professionals will populate this conditional open mic. In Orlando what, exactly, is a professional musician? Musicians who earn a living making music? Few. Musicians who earn a living making original music? Fewer.

Access to stages is only one piece in this puzzle. The Orlando area will never have a healthy, vibrant, distinctive and professional music scene until musicians and songwriters are fairly paid for their work. A labor of love is still labor. And we all gotta eat! So, until the music business becomes business-like musicians around here will, at best, be advanced amateurs and forced dilettantes.

One other critical piece in this puzzle is the audience. There are a lot of people around here who frequent local clubs, but they need to be educated and massaged a bit. Anyone who attempts to present an original show has to constantly endure the howling requests for the same tired, boring songs — "Sweet Home Alabama," "American Pie," "Hotel California," "Brown-Eyed Girl" — well, you get it. We could use a coordinated public relations campaign to tell people that this original music is good, hip and interesting.

My effort to advance the cause of musicians and songwriters was the Stormcrow Folk Off, a monthly showcase for songwriters and original songs at Underground Blues in MetroWest. I did this for three years. (That Underground Bluz closed in June.) It was not an open-mic night! It was a gig. I've approached several venues about continuing this showcase but, so far, have gotten little response.

Thanks. Keep on bitchin'!

Bob "Stormcrow" Sanders, Orlando

[email protected]
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