Band of Bands 

Boise Local Music Group collects local music supporters

Being a local artist of any genre is often a labor of love that feeds your soul but not your pocketbook. Whether it's money for materials, equipment or contest fees, unless a local artist is lucky enough to be supported by his art of choice--or unless there is a money tree in the backyard--coming up with the dough usually requires employment.

But of course, being employed consumes a good chunk of time every week, and when you're not working for the man, you're busy seeking your creative genius, executing the idea and then rehearsing or rewriting or improving. Any surplus time and money (what little there may be) is directed toward promoting yourself and your work, getting gigs, sending out manuscripts and securing gallery space. Without an efficient manager or a costly agent, the task of marketing art falls onto the artists. And let's face it, artists are not marketing or public relations people for a good reason.

To help alleviate at least a fraction of the stress of personally marketing their work, artists have started to form loose collectives with the goal of making a bigger splash in the pond of public awareness. Boise Open Studios Collective Organization (B.O.S.C.O.) is a collective of visual artists who open their studios one weekend each year to the public. Dozens of local artists participate, supporting one another and getting the general public out in force in a way that a single artist's open studio could not.

On the music front a similar group has recently organized in the city of trees to promote and support local music. Boise Local Music Group (BLMG) is a collective of local bands working to improve a music scene where the bands rarely get paid and the fans have taken recent tongue lashings from former venue owners and pontificating music columnists.

BLMG was founded by the four members of local band Uncontrolled Substance and the band's ringleader Jay Arancivia says BLMG member bands need to meet only one requirement: "They have to want to promote the local scene. We don't have contracts but bands have to want to promote local music." Arancivia explains BLMG grew out of the band's frustration that so few local musicians get paid to play and that oftentimes, a venue charges the band a fee to put on a show. And even when a band lands a venue (rented or not), there's no guarantee that the venue will advertise or promote the show in any way. The goal of BLMG is first to form a support network among local bands. Member bands promote and attend shows for other member bands. They share PA equipment when needed. They play shows together. They share a sound engineer from Rival Entertainment and TVTV Channel 11public access television airs shows on Boise City Limits.

Sean McMurtrey of member band Catering to Venus describes the familial bond BLMG member bands share. "I think it puts us all under the same umbrella because we all look out for each other and help each other," he says. "For all of us, it gives us a name to be identified with, like a label." Catering to Venus joined BLMG after seeing the link on the Rock the Mountain Web site. "We've been approached by promotional type groups before and turned them down but we liked this one because it's for the bands by the bands."

That homegrown, one for all, all for one attitude is the kind of aura that has been luring bands to BLMG, in addition to its reputation for being an aggressive advocate for local music in the valley. Paylface manager Trudy Young says Paylface joined BLMG after seeing a flyer for the organization and then perusing the Web site. "We joined because when bands are looking at our market for other bands to play with, they're going to go to a resource like BLMG's Web site," Young explains. "There is no other organization promoting bands as aggressively as BLMG and putting together sponsorships so that they can put on shows."

Beyond acting as a support network for local bands, BLMG helps promote member bands by moving merchandise, advertising shows and putting together showcase concerts. Sound support from Rival Entertainment's Dave Carver is a "benny" for member bands as is the television coverage of shows on TVTV Channel 11's Boise City Limits. With Hastings as a sponsor, BLMG has a rack in every Hastings store dedicated to music from member bands, guaranteeing that local music is in stores and visible to buying customers.

For Catering to Venus who is currently finishing up an album, getting on the road is a priority and while they are touring, the band will rely on BLMG to sell albums and T-shirts at home.

Several weeks ago BLMG put on their first showcase concert in Nampa featuring member bands and while showcases are something BLMG hopes to do regularly, funding such shows is difficult. Currently the group is seeking sponsorships for bigger and better shows. Arancivia says that eventually the group would like to own its own venue--where bands won't have to pay to play and musicians can collect a little dough for doing what they do.

For information on how to sponsor, join or support BLMG, visit www.blmg.org

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