The Geography of Rock & Roll and the World Around You

I got a posting on my Facebook wall about a band that was from Iowa, The Autumn Project. The question was about if I knew about them because we’re both from the same state and the person really hoped they would come to Vancouver.

It seems like I’ve seen their name float by me at some point, but it’s tough to say that I know a whole lot about them. Reading up on them a little bit, I found out that they’re from Des Moines, Iowa. And actually, they’re right in the middle of one of those “indefinite hiatus” situations.

But the thing that struck me is when I found on that they were from the central portion of Iowa, my first thought was, “Of course I don’t know who they are, they’re from the central portion of the state.” And it’s completely true.

A night out at Gabe's Oasis (2003)

My hub for a music scene was Iowa City for a number of years. There were those two or three hour road trips for a show on occasion, and that was often for acts from other states or countries on their tour route.

I think that once you start to get into a local music scene, your efforts of venturing out of your home base doesn’t seem as important. It’s not about losing connection with it. You just have the ability to have close proximity to something you enjoy while having plenty of friends who are able to tag along (or drag along in some cases).

In the last six months before I moved to Vancouver, we took one of our popular WSUI radio shows on the road to a coffee shop in downtown Des Moines, and the neighborhood in the area of the downtown core that I discovered really surprised me.

There was a feeling of creativity in the area we were in, and the amount of concert flyers I saw for local bands and musicians performing in the downtown area alone was impressive. I recall thinking at the time that I had never given Des Moines much of a thought for a local music scene. That’s almost a regret… Almost.

And yes, Slipknot came from that city and is one of the only bands that many people know from Iowa. They were the only ones I could actually name around that time, but my knowledge was more populated with artists from the eastern part of the state. You never looked west.

Photo with Troubled Hubble at Gabe's Oasis in Iowa City (2003)

I became friends with a lot of bands who called Iowa City home or claimed it to be one of them. I’d get other friends to come along or have great nights out with those passing through town, sometimes to catch a good show.

Being in Vancouver, that’s what’s fun about finding a new music scene, and I’m still learning. Even brief excursions to Victoria, cover band or not, goes to show that getting out of your comfort zone is healthy more often than none. Even if you’re let down, that’s just apart of the education of learning what finding a diamond in the rough is all about.

1 thought on “The Geography of Rock & Roll and the World Around You”

  1. Nice post, glad this question sparked a reason to write.

    It’s nice to see the perspective from someone who has sort of had the ‘luxury’ of indulging in a thriving local scene, and therefore didn’t have to venture too far gone for a great musical experience.

    I am from Calgary, but grew up on PEI. In my generation, not many bands would go out of their way to visit such a small place, so if I wanted to satisfy my hankering, I HAD to travel to fix it. I drove to Halifax and as far as New York, jumped buses to Montreal, and even flew out to Toronto for various events. Being a teenager at the time, made this pretty financially impossible, but I saved every penny to ensure that I could have enough for the one great show I might get to attend in any given year.

    In my university years (Halifax) and year in Italy, it was much easier to get to large ticket shows, but it wasn’t until I moved to Vancouver that I truly felt spoiled. I’ve seen almost every band I ever wanted (and some multiple times) in the last three + years, and as a result I too, have come to know some of the local artists and become friends with different band members.

    But this is where you and I differ. Even though I have become a loyal and serious music enthusiast here in Vancouver, it has never stopped me from renting a car and driving to Victoria, Vernon, Kelowna, and Seattle to see some of my favorite acts. In fact, I have even flown to Toronto, San Francisco and LA to do just that.

    But maybe this is sort of your point- I will travel to see acts I admire (from all over the world), but have never really had the opportunity to immerse myself within each of those respective local hubs, to truly understand what defines their “local scene”.

    I must say though, as a passionate music lover, I do read up the larger scenes, (there are many not far from home), and try to learn about what’s up and coming from out of the area. I’m always on the look for new sounds to listen to -indy bands, and generally any underground music in a multitude of genres.

    That’s the beauty of this social network thing. It has put me in touch with so many wondefully creative people and artists in all sorts of industries.

    To talk to, to listen, and most importantly- to learn from.

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