After he'd taken over 1332 Records in 2008, Levi Poppke went to Warped Tour and tried to spread the word about the label's Punk Monday shows, now at Liquid.
"My spiel was kind of like, 'Hey, if you like this kind of music, Boise's got a great scene for this kind of stuff,'" he said. But when he tried to hand a flier to one concertgoer, the man told him, "I don't listen to local music."
"It was really ... a shock to me because all bands start off as local bands," Poppke said. He didn't understand how "somebody could be into that kind of music and like that kind of music but, at the same time, not care about local bands who are trying to ... just go out and play good music and have a good time."
Hillfolk Noir's Ali Ward had the same idea when the band was in Austin, Texas, that year.
"Even the guy who was renting us our rental car was excited to hear about our band," she said. "He wanted to know what [kind of] music it was and what instruments we played and what were we doing there. And I thought, 'Wow, it'd be great if as many people as possible in Boise were proud of the work their musicians were doing and excited about it.'"
When she returned to Boise, Ward took steps to form Go Listen Boise, a nonprofit whose mission is to "support, foster and promote the Boise area music community." Last month, Go Listen Boise joined forces with local promoters--including Poppke, Flying M's Nathan Walker and Ten Gallon Cat's Heather Roberts--to throw the Go Listen Boise Music Spree, a series of shows featuring all-local acts at various venues in Boise, Nampa and Meridian. The Spree began with The Frontier Club's Oct. 18 concert featuring rock bands Malachi and Ghostbox and will end with Duck Club Presents' Nov. 30 show at Neurolux featuring synth-pop acts The Dirty Moogs and Blvrred Vision. Other Spree shows include HiHazel and Mt. Joy at Nampa's Flying M on Nov. 8, and Hillfolk Noir, Sean Hatton and Todd Sloan at Pengilly's on Nov. 23.
After returning from Austin, Ward didn't have a clear concept of how to set up Go Listen Boise. She shared her idea with Curtis Stigers, who then introduced her to Record Exchange owner Michael Bunnell.
"I kind of told [Bunnell] what I thought, and he said, 'Well, we're going to form a steering committee.' And I think I really did say, 'Well, what is that?'" she said.
Gradually, a committee formed and Ward started using a Myspace account to build a calendar of upcoming concerts. Go Listen Boise made a notable achievement in 2009, when it worked with the Downtown Boise Association and the Boise City Department of Arts and History to reintroduce local bands to the Alive After Five lineup. Eventually, Ward ceded the role of GLB president to Stephanie Coyle, who had joined the steering committee as, in her own words, "a friend and a music lover and a passionate person about Boise in general."
Ward, who still holds the title of GLB vice president, doesn't mind someone else making decisions or giving input.
"I don't want Go Listen Boise to be my voice," she said. "I don't want it to be my project. ... I think it's always good to bring in new people because they're going to have new ideas and projects."
GLB worked to maintain that democratic spirit with the Music Spree (the idea for which Coyle and Ward credit local musician, Evil Wine co-creator and GLB website developer Dustin Jones).
"Every single one of the promoters or venues that responded back to us with interest is on the Spree," said GLB Treasurer Elizabeth Corsentino. "We probably contacted 20 to 25 [potential participants]. ... A lot of them said, 'Sorry, we don't have time yet.' But the six that got back to us are on the Spree, so it was not like we picked our favorites or anything."
According to Coyle, GLB took a laissez-faire approach to the booking of the shows.
"The way that we formed [the Spree] is that we didn't choose any of the bands that are playing that series. ... It wasn't a benefit for us; it was just a way to maybe connect with some venues and bands that we hadn't really connected with yet. So we posed it to these promoters and venue owners [saying], 'We'll do all the poster-ing and we'll promote it as well as we can, and [you] just put whatever bands you want to put here. We don't want any input in that.'"
This approach appealed to Heather Roberts, who set up a Nov. 1 show at The Crux featuring a.k.a. Belle, Calico and newcomer Samwise Carlson. She praised GLB as "advocates for the local music scene. And you can see that in the way they set [the Spree] up because they were very clear in their explanation that [they] don't want to interfere with the way that you as promoters or venues do business."
Although Coyle wouldn't be opposed to doing another Music Spree, GLB has no concrete plans for future concerts at the moment.
"We've put together some cool events over the last few years, but we didn't really want to be event planners per se," she said, adding that, "everyone in our group has so much stuff going on that it is really hard [to organize events]."
This doesn't mean that GLB's members aren't thinking ahead. Ward, for one, sees both the chance and the need for growth in the Boise music scene.
"The possibilities are really very exciting, although we do have to move beyond just musicians supporting other musicians and going to shows," she said.
Ward expressed particular interest in boosting support for all-ages venues and giving college-age kids opportunities to see live music.
"You don't have as many outside commitments [at that age]. You can be adventurous and listen to music, but if there's so many shows that those folks can't go to, that also creates a gap in their awareness of what they can do when they're older," she said.
That dynamic points to what Ward considers the link between all of GLB's members.
"I think that the common ground is that none of us are really concerned about genre or promoting our thing," she said. "We want there to be a great music scene for our kids."