We live in a paradoxical age: believe nothing unless you have seen it, yet trust outside experts more than the leaders of one’s own community. All my life I have heard the quote “nobody is a hero in their home town” only to discover it’s a paraphrase of a verse from the Gospel of Luke, where Jesus says “Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in their own hometown.” Doubtless Plato complained about the same problem hundreds of years earlier. I believe this is due to our tendency to confuse the familiar with the ordinary. Since moving to Chapel Hill and becoming familiar with many of the great people in the region, I have come to appreciate just how extraordinary so many of them are. Including those with a musical inclination.
That is not to say that we don’t appreciate talent from other states or countries. As a board member of Carolina Performing Arts, I’m rightfully proud of the world-class roster of international talents that perform at Memorial Hall each academic year. But the greatness that comes from afar does not preclude the possibility of greatness living amongst us as well. The INDY week article is a great case in point. Yes, it may seem like bragging to use my own studio as an example of a world-class music and post-production facility in our community, but it’s true. Equally true, and perhaps more important because of the network effect, is that the local community is able to come together and celebrate that fact. Today, artists both local and global are willing to give us the nod over more established facilities in Nashville, New York, Los Angeles, and even London, which is now leading to greater opportunities for all in our growing community. That is wonderful!
North Carolina has been the birthplace of many great musicians, but for most it had been better to be from North Carolina than to be in North Carolina. But things are changing. North Carolina audiences have proven to be reliable, enthusiastic, and loyal. The Durham Performing Arts Center proved that our combined statistical area, which ranked #28 in 2011, ranks 4th (!) as an audience market for high-value productions in terms of ticket sales and seats sold. That is epic! North Carolina has produced two American Idol winners and one runner-up in the past twelve years, 12% of the top two finishes with only 3% of the US population. And on a recent trip down to Fayetteville, I was delighted to discover that there are genuine diamonds in the rough–singer/songwriters whose voices and lyrics gave me goosebumps I did not expect. These up-and-comers deserve not just hometown support, but regional recognition.
And let’s not forget those who make the instruments and equipment that help make the music. Many years ago, Bob Moog pioneered subtractive synthesis with his Moog synthesizers. Terry McInturff makes awesome electric guitars (pictured with me above). Steve Carr makes amazing guitar amps (also pictured with me), as does Greg Germino (not pictured, alas). How lucky we are to have such great local suppliers just down the road?
There are certainly other places that have their brands and their positioning in the music industry: Nashville is “Music City”, Austin is “the live music capital”, New Orleans is “the birthplace of Jazz”, etc. What is so exciting about our region right now is that our future has not yet been determined, but it is in our hands today. Those who want to create it (and there are many) are working out how best to do it, much like a coach figures out how to get the most from a talented but untested team of freshmen players. From what I have seen, we have not only the talent, but the willingness to work together, to make things happen in many different ways, that we will be able to start making a name that is synonymous with our location, our community, our music. By giving each other a hand up, we will rise to national prominence.
Thanks definitely goes out to INDY week, who have been tirelessly discovering, promoting and connecting our community. But thanks also go to those who actively participate in our larger community-building efforts: the artists, the producers, the engineers, and the audiences. As surely as we have built a strong local food community, we will build a strong local music community as well. Come join us!