By Bobby Benedict
Image: DoeDeer Photography
The scene has been simmering for a few years and the soup has finally melded all its flavors and hit just the right point. I’ve known so many bands over the past couple years that have fizzled out because of lack of support and the need to move on with their lives after waiting so long for the scene to catch up with where they want it to be. The waves that a local music scene goes through ebb and flow for decades and when the tide is out so many bands starve in the drifts left behind, but when the flow is back, the strong people, places, and events built get to flourish in the wake.
Okay, sure, I’m waxing poetic about an age of music that not many will ever hear or see, but it is exciting if you dig into it. I did not grow up in this area, I’ve heard a lot of different stories about the history of this music scene and the community that used to exist. Without going into too much of that history, there was one thing that many of the people I talked to agreed on, the scene had a lot of recovery to do after they lost The Pomp Room, but because of the unity around that loss, they flourished for a while. Then through the end of the ’00s into the early ’10s it was a little rough. Thanks to the building of larger venues bringing more validity to the area and smaller venues like Latitude 44 and Total Drag bringing some of the street cred back to the local scene, we have a great atmosphere right now.
In January I went to a meet up that was set up by some local musicians and artists to discuss the state of the scene and what we can do to build it. Sadly, I missed the follow up the next month, but some of the things brought up in the initial meeting showed some of the concerns that many of us all have about the music scene. The only official all-ages venue Sioux Falls has right now is Total Drag, as far as I know. During some of the hard times there was Encore Productions out in Tea but because of it’s awkward spot, it didn’t ever really catch on with the kids because it took some traveling to. The all ages scene is still in need of a place, that sort of centrally located music venue that you can also hang out at during the day – you know, like a coffee shop or something. Getting more young people involved in music is better for the scene because it lets people start earlier finding their voice. I can’t tell you how many bands I’ve seen that still haven’t found their voice within their own songs and because of that their lyrics and style suffer.
Speculating on what could help the scene only gets us so far, though. That is why there was the call for people to step up and try to help those that need it. Producers offering songwriting help, better communication on when shows are and where, some sort of press for people to look to, it’s a lot of growing to do but there’s a lot of people willing to help. If you are part of the music scene and need help in some way ,be sure to reach out to someone and ask. We can only get stronger the more we help each other. Be sure to support local festivals and shows as well. JazzFest always has a few locals on the second stage, there’s the 605 Summer Classic as well, and for the more underground inclined there is always Oddfest which has run the past three years and hopefully will again this year.
We’ve already told you about all the labels that have been popping up recently, and here’s some of the great ways people are offering support for the scene right now:
Most people have heard of these guys by now, if you haven’t then do some Googling and get acquainted. They are one of the many groups that have been working to bring something amazing to the Sioux Falls music scene, and with the construction of their new studio, they will only get better. That space also has the potential to put out some amazing videos for artists independent from White Wall with the way they are setting it up. It’s an exciting spot.
The Bakery’s New Open Mic
Not many know where The Bakery is, but those that were a part of the meet ups and those that participated in their new open mic know it well. It is an office rental spot that is very communal. This open mic night may not be the answer to everyone’s prayers but it is a step in the right direction and the fact that non-musicians are offering up their space to help the scene flourish is fantastic. Open mic nights themselves are great just to get a large assortment of different styles of musicians to share the same stage, it’s a great way to continue networking among the already tight knit scene.
Mercedes is doing so much to help expose this scene to the outside, I initially found DoeDeer Photography on Tumblr and realized that the background of the pictures seemed really familiar. I like to think that I’m fairly knowledgeable in the current music scene but I didn’t recognize a lot of the bands and I had almost missed her photos entirely. DoeDeer was also dubbed the official photographer for Total Drag at one point, but Mercedes takes amazing pictures at a lot of great shows regardless of location. Having great photography is something that many bands pay top dollar to get put out to the public. Check out doedeer.photography to make your eyes happy.