Johnny’s Take On What We Have Here…

By Johnny Beaver

guitar_Friday12I came to Corvallis as a musician, a composer, a recording engineer, and a software synthesizer designer. Be it production, live sound—you name it—I’ve worn most hats at least once, and I’ve had the privilege of living in some really interesting music communities, from the under-the-radar progressive rock and jazz scene in Bavaria to the alternative rock revival in Orlando, Florida. Despite all of this, I’ve largely moved on from music due to changes in the industry that made it impossible to earn a living. In fact, I spent the last good handful of years consulting on the creation of home studios, as well as teaching bands to become self-sufficient so that they could continue doing what they do without the support of deteriorating music scenes.

Let’s make this simple: it’s a cultural problem. And it’s a nasty one, that’s unlikely to change unless people like Jeff Hino take steps toward creating awareness—and those that hear his message respond. Music has felt the impact of the last two decades perhaps worse than any other creative field, save for maybe photography. On one hand, it’s become very cheap to take control of your own recording productions, but on the other, only the most thriving music towns have kept their infrastructure intact. So what can you do? Band together.

For example, Orlando had a major change-up in the downtown culture around 2006-‘07. Some bands were fed up with the practices of several venues, so they formed a coalition called Soundvine and started putting together shows with each other, cross-promoting, which allowed them to bring out a larger fanbase. Over time they started doing these “shuffle” gimmick shows where all the bands were there and a big foam die was tossed around by the crowd. Whichever band was on the side that landed up had to haul ass on stage for a single song. The fanbase got huge, fast, as a result of the heightened interaction. “Those bands” became more like “MY bands.” Six months later a local venue that only booked national acts suddenly started booking mostly locals. A Denny’s booked a band I was producing, which is both weird and a first. And weird.

Point being, things can change. But it requires everyone involved to figure out the metrics of how it can happen.

When I first moved to Corvallis, my first impression of the music scene was on par with many others—there’s nothing going on here. And that, of course, is a big, fat, stupid lie. It wasn’t until I started working with The Corvallis Advocate that I realized what an overflowing pool of talent this city had, and subsequently created the Corvallis Noisemakers group to try and form the framework for getting everyone together. Over the last few weeks I’ve watched the group light up with the glow of ideas and ambition, and I implore everyone around here… music fans, musicians, venue owners… all of you, to get in on the ground floor and see if Corvallis can’t reshape its consciousness.