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City Evaluation

City Evaluation

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Published by Chris Pickett

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Published by: Chris Pickett on Aug 04, 2010
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CITY EVALUATIONChris PickettAugust 4, 2010ENGL 320 Unit 3 Project
Every city around this nation is unique in its identity, especially with regard to musical identity. No twocities are exactly alike and thats what makes it difficult to nail down a place to set up a music promotionservice. Even though with the coming of the digital age, where music can be shared across the countryat a moments notice, a strong local fan base needs to be set up before any band can take its act on theroad. Certain locations around the nation draw musicians due to the makeup of its music scene and thereception of the citys people to certain styles of music. Some of the most important aspects of a citysmusical identity are the history of the music scene in the city and the club and musical venue scene.
The goal of this document is to define the musical identity of a few cities around the nation, cities thathave been known to be considered hotbeds of musical activity. It is important for the promotion servicethat I am proposing to be centered in a location where there is a wide variety of musical tastes in orderto service as much of the needs and wants of any given community around the United States.
The research presented in this document is all based on opinion, and therefore everyones taste will bea little different. I will try to obtain information from many different sources as to offset the bias that islikely to be found when researching a topic such as this. This document will describe a few differentregions around the nation on a few different levels: the history and previous identity of the givencommunity and the club and musical venue scene. The regions I have chosen to focus on areAthens/Atlanta, GA; Seattle, WA; and Minneapolis, MN.
Athens, GA and Atlanta, GA, are less than 60 miles away from each other and are both big names in themusic industry and so I will discuss them together here. This region has one of the most varied musical
histories and has been a heavy hitter in terms of major musical acts and even whole genres that havebeen spawned from the creativity of these two cities. This section will describe the recent musicalhistory of these cities.Atlanta became prominent in the music scene in the 1980s with thriving New Wave and indie rockscenes. Some of the prominent bands in the New Wave movement came from Atlanta, musical groupssuch as the Brains and the Producers. The hip hop scene in Atlanta is probably the strongest and mostrenowned aspect of Atlantas musical identity, producing such stars as Ludacris, Lil Jon, Outkast, andUsher. Other major bands from different genres also hail from Atlanta, including the heavy metal bandsMastodon, Norma Jean, indie rock artists Kaki King, Cartel, and the Indigo Girls, and the blues-rock artistJohn Mayer.Athens, GA, has also had a long history of musical successes. Starting in the 1970s, the college musicscene started so see some of the bands that would later go on to become national headliners gainingrecognition. The biggest band to get its start in this decade was the B-52s who went mainstream in the1980s and had many chart-topping hits. Another one of the biggest bast to rise out of the Athens musicscene was Michael Stipes R.E.M., arguably one of the biggest bands in the late 1980s and into the1990s.Another of the most lasting pieces of the Athens music scene is the Elephant 6 music collective. Thisgroup spawned many influential indie rock bands such as Neutral Milk Hotel, Apples In Stereo, and Of Montreal. These bands had a defining role in the introduction of indie rock in the United States and thetypical indie rock sound is based on what these bands produced.The last aspect of Athens musical identity is in the genres of folk and bluegrass. While bluegrass waspresent in the Athens area since the late 1800s, it was never a prominent fixture in the identity of themusic scene until very recently. Bands like the Drive-By Truckers are developing the Athens folk andbluegrass sound and are increasing in popularity throughout the area.
Seattle, WA
Seattle has been a musical metropolis since the post-war era starting in 1945. The local big band and jazz scenes even rivaled that of New Orleans, LA, and produced some excellent musicians. One of thebiggest names to come out of this era was Ray Charles, and while born in Hollywood, CA, he recordedhis first single and made his first television and radio appearances in Seattle. One of Seattles mostinfluential artists from this era was Jimi Hendrix, although he didnt attain much fame or success until hemoved to England.The 1970s and 1980s saw a major influx of punk and alternative bands making a large splash in thebusiness and was crucial in the development of grunge music, which became the entirety of Seattlesmusic scene in the late 1980s and into the 1990s. Seattle is probably best known for producing rocklegend Kurt Cobain and his highly influential band Nirvana and inventing the grunge sound. Grunge canbe described as a mixture of metal and hardcore punk, but slowed down from either of those twogenres. The first true grunge band was Green River which was started in 1985. The first nationally
recognized grunge band did come in the form of Nirvana, though Chris Cornells Soundgarden wassigned a few years earlier. Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Eddie Vedders Pearl Jam became some of thebiggest bands in the whole nation, and they all sprouted from Seattle in the late 1980s and early 1990s.The grunge sound influenced many different bands and music scene across the country, although itexperienced a sharp decline after the suicide of Kurt Cobain in 1994.After the surge of grunge music, the alternative and indie rock scenes started to see major success inSeattle. Bands such as Sunny Day Real Estate, Modest Mouse, Death Cab For Cutie, the Fleet Foxes,Band of Horses, and the Postal Service all have had a major influence on alternative and indie rock, withsome of these helping to define the sound of indie rock while also seeing major mainstream success.The makeup of the current music scene is still rooted in the indie rock sound.
Minneapolis, MN
Popular music from Minnesota starts with possibly the most famous and influential musician of all time,Bob Dylan. Dylan was from Hibbing, MN, but got his start in Minneapolis from 1959-1961. He iscredited with defining the modern folk sound. Other popular folk artists from Minneapolis include LeoKottke and Boiled In Lead, both of which are still performing.Another one of the biggest artists in the nation also hailed from Minneapolis and was part of a veryinfluential and successful R&B scene in the 1980s. Prince debuted in 1978 and with him came a numberof popular R&B artists from Minneapolis, including Mint Condition.The next biggest and arguably most enduring scene in Minneapolis is the rock scene. The mid 1970ssaw an influx of punk talent and the hardcore movement produced some of the iconic and influentialpunk bands, the Replacements with Paul Westerberg and Bob Moulds Husker Du. While neverachieving too much mainstream success, nearly every modern punk band was in some way influencedby the sound and the feel of these early American punk rock bands. The Minnesota Historical Societyclaims that the year 1984 brought the Minneapolis music scene into national prominence with Princes
Purple Rain
at #2 on the
Village Voice
Pazz and Jop critics poll, the Replacements
Let It Be
at #4, andHusker Dus
 Zen Arcade
at #8. Other successful rock bands from Minneapolis include Semisonic, SoulAsylum, the Jayhawks, the slowcore band Low from Duluth, indie rockers Tapes n Tapes, Motion CitySoundtrack, and the Hold Steady.The last influential music scene from Minneapolis is the one that is currently producing results, and thatis the hip hop scene spurred on by the Rhymesayers music collective. Artists such as Atmosphere,P.O.S., and Brother Ali have seen recent mainstream success and do not look to be slowing downanytime soon. The artists with Rhymesayers also seem to be bringing a new brand of hip hop, one thathearkens back to the original lyricism and uplifting messages of the original hip hop songs of the 1980s.

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