The global music industry verges on collapse, thanks to the Internet-inflicted decimation of the recording business. But Madison's music scene rolls on, lively as always.
That's partly because of what the scene is about: live performance. These days national acts are supposedly playing more shows as a way of compensating for lackluster CD sales. But although Madison musicians are always happy to hawk a disc, most of them are giggers first, then merchandisers. Local music has always thrived on personal connections forged, at live events, between musicians and audiences. And that won't change anytime soon. Those connections are magical, intimate, and they can't be recorded, much less downloaded (yet).
The local scene also remains healthy because of what it's not about, mostly: money. True, there are Madison musicians who make a living at their craft, and popular acts can play very lucrative shows. Rare is the show at which a band doesn't make at least some money, and that's of course as it needs to be.
But we're not talking J-Lo cash. And local musicians also play for fun, and maybe for free drinks. They play to forge those personal connections. They play to be with their friends. They play because they're musicians. They play for the sheer joy. And as long as the rewards include sheer joy, local music will flourish.
But local musicians deserve every penny coming to them. So go hear local acts, including the fine ones listed here as your favorites. Pay the cover. Buy a CD or two. And a bumper sticker. Musicians do have to eat. And buy guitar strings.
Small/Intimate Music Club
1. The Frequency
2. The High Noon Saloon
Large Music Hall
1. Overture Center for the Arts
2. Barrymore Theater
Local Rock Band
2. The Gomers
1. Tony Castañeda Latin Jazz Sextet
2. Harmonious Wail
3. Ben Sidran
1. Aaron Williams & The Hoodoo
2. Cash Box Kings
3. Westside Andy/Mel Ford Band
2. Rob DZ
2. Tony Castañeda Latin Jazz Sextet
3. Que Flavor
1. Cork N' Bottle String Band
2. Oak Street Ramblers
3. Anna Vogelzang
1. Madison County
2. Earl Foss and the Brown Derby
3. Nellie Wilson & the Hellbound Honeys