Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Alive After Five Backlash

Posted By on Tue, Jun 19, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Some local music enthusiasts say they're fed up with the out-of-town bands showing up for Alive After Five.

The list of bands might be comprehensive, but these folks aren't impressed. Instead, they're all but ready to boycott the popular midweek event, until they start hearing more local tunes.

We talked with Karen Sander, from the Downtown Boise Association, which organizes Alive After Five.

"We wanted to offer something new and different after 19 years," Sander said.

The letters started with a note from Lori Thomas, who goes by the e-mail handle of Lori B. Incidentally, she is a part of a band, Lori B! and The Boys, that is not playing at Alive AFter Five this year.

Here's some excerpts from her letter:

I moved to Boise in 1998 and AAF was the first event I attended and have since attended almost every Wednesday. I have made many friends and have had a lot of fun. Last year was not so fun and this year, well, I guess I won't be attending at all. It seems that DBA stated they were 'excited' to bring in music from outside Idaho. I don't know about you, but I am in a Boise band and I know the incredible talent/music we have in our own community. Why do we need to go outside Idaho and get music when we have such great music/talent here? I know that great bands like Soul Purpose, Rebecca Scott, Cyndie Lee and Streetwise, Lori B! and the Boys, Hoochie Coochie Men, John Nemeth, (just to name a few,) drew great crowds. I have had several people come up to me and ask why there aren't any local bands playing this year?

Idaho is a great place to live and Boise is exceptional. (look at the national statistics) DBA is paying musicians from outside our state to travel to Boise, play 'music,' then take our money back to their state and spend it. How much is DBA paying each of those groups to travel to Boise and play? Our musicians are every bit as good, if not BETTER, than those from out of state. Our musicians live in this area, pay taxes, rent, utilities, buy food, shop at local merchants' stores, etc. Why aren't we supporting them?

True confessions: Boise Weekly is a sponsor of Alive After Five.

Thomas also sent her letter to Mayor Dave Bieter and the Boise City Council.

Is there a campaign going on here? Shortly after Thomas's note went out, we got another one from Bonnie Seideman, with the local band Motto Kitty.

Some of her comments:

I will continue not to support AAF nor attend if the DBA continues to book outside semi-talented, not-so-talented, un-familiar bands. Seems the DBA would book any band without proper research/review/knowledge of the outsiders, based only on their ability to show up on a given date and time...

The e-mail duel continued, with this note from Karen Sander:

For nineteen years, Alive After Five hosted local musicians on the weekly stage. Our local musicians provided great entertainment over the years and from that success spawned many other events in our community that hosted and continue to host the same musicians including: Thursday Thunder, Garden Escape at the Botanical Gardens, St. Chapelle Sunday music events, Eagle Knoll Winery music events to name a few, as well as our many downtown bars and restaurants that book these same musicians on a weekly basis.

Two years ago we decided to be different and bring in musicians that the community was not familiar with, to bring people back to Alive After Five. Our intent was to offer something new and it is in no way a slight against our local talented musicians.

Alive After Five is a fundraiser for the downtown district for cleaning, maintenance and marketing programs. It supports the efforts of local businesses in keeping Downtown clean and vibrant.

I would hope that you would come and talk to us instead of email bashing that does not achieve any results other than hard feelings. We are local folks that work hard daily on behalf of our downtown businesses to make downtown a special place for everyone.

Where do you sit? Is Alive After Five a good show, regardless of who's on stage? Should the DBA book only local bands? Or should they keep trying to get out-of-town acts?

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