South Sound Sidekick: How to become more scenesterish

By Volcano Staff on March 8, 2013

South Sound Sidekick series offers advice from experts living in the, well, South Sound. It posts every Friday. Today, Olympia musician and "scenester" Jabi Shriki asks the Olympia community to support local music.

Jabi Shriki writes,

There was tough competition this year in the category of "Best Scenester" in the Weekly Volcano's 2013 Best of Olympia issue. I can't tell you how much pride I feel in knowing that I'm scenesterer (more scenestery (?)) than any other scenesters out there.

To be honest, I'm still not sure what a "scenester" is. When I got the award of "Best Scenester," I wasn't even sure that it wasn't a pejorative term. But for some reason, after winning this award for two years in a row, I've come to embrace this recognition, despite my lack of certainty as to what the term "scenester" means. Maybe I'm embracing it because of the irony that it entails in the context of my life. To me, a "scenester" is someone who fits or at least tries to fit into a certain scene. For at least one, brief phase of my life (from the age of 0 to the foreseeable future), I've had the experience of being too socially awkward to even try to make any scene.

When I was a high school kid, I once made a graph of how likely other kids were to have their lunch money stolen, based on their proximity to me in the cafeteria. I was at the peak of the graph.

I didn't realize until later that the construction of graphical representations of my predicament were probably only exacerbating said predicament. I would think that this kind of biographical experience would disqualify me from being a scenester in any setting.

But my goal isn't to explain why I've embraced my scenesterosity. Instead my goal for this article is to aspire others around me to become more scenesterish. I'm a musician too, and I'm very proud of my music, but Olympia doesn't just need musicians, it also needs scenesters.

Since my move to Olympia, I've heard countless, original songs by my fellow, local musicians that I can only call manifestations of musical genius. I've had songs from my fellow Olympians stuck in my head for weeks on end. I've been consoled by the music on homemade tapes and CDs that folks have handed to me at their shows.

But as often as I've been impressed by the musicians I've met, I've just as often been shocked to be among audiences of only a couple of other fans. I've watched many passionate, moving performances, from nearly empty rooms. This leads me to a conclusion that makes me a little sad: the Olympia music scene is languishing.

Music is important in any community, but in Olympia in particular, the pride that local folks feel is deeply rooted in the music that gets created here. Even people who have no involvement in the Olympia music scene boast about how wonderful it is, although many of them haven't been to a show in years.

As a result of this passive form of pride, the music scene is growing increasingly asthenic from under-nourishment. Some of the best venues are closing, and other venues are becoming more interested in selling cheap beer than supporting great music.

Last year, I met Jeff Campbell, a gifted singer-songwriter from Northern California. He's toured the Pacific Northwest dozens of times to play shows in Portland and Seattle. When I met Jeff, he told me how he had driven through Olympia dozens of times without ever doing a show here. A few months ago, I booked Jeff at his first Olympia show, with Elbow Coulee and AKA and the Heart Hurt Goods. Last week, Jeff won the national Guitar Center Singer-Songwriter competition, out of thousands of musicians who submitted their music.

This Friday, March 8, the Family Crest, from San Francisco, will be playing their first show in Olympia at the Metcalf Manor. They're one of the best, live, acoustic bands that I've ever seen anywhere, ever. But they've also driven through Olympia dozens of times without ever booking a show here. The fact that other, regionally well-known musicians are increasingly skipping over Olympia to do shows in Portland and Seattle is further evidence of the growing anemia of our music scene.

And what is the cure for this anemia? The cure is scenesters.

The musicians in Olympia need folks at shows. Instead of posting on Facebook that there's no good music being made anymore, take a few hours out of every couple of weeks and take in a show. Pick up a CD. I promise, there's enough good music in Olympia that your investment of time and a few bucks will be repaid with music that will become a part of your heart and soul.

So shake off your passive pride. And stop complaining about the sterile pop churned out by the corporatized national music industry. Most of the bands on the radio couldn't find Olympia on a map. But Olympia is your town. It's where you live, and your emotions are echoed in the music that's being created all around you by your neighbors and friends. Go see a show. There's plenty of room for more scenesters in Olympia.

As much as I would love to three-peat winning the prestigious Best Scenester title, I would be more than willing to cede my title to the legion of would-be scenesters that could pump new blood into the heart of the Oly music scene. Thanks to the Weekly Volcano for this recognition, and for asking me to write this article!

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LINK: More South Sound Sidekick advice



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