Published on March 16th, 2017 | by Brittain Thompson0
Do It Yourself, Oxford
The Oxford music community has been a hot topic as of late. Our interviews with Jace Hughes and Ben Ricketts put a spotlight on the problem and a Facebook post by Bill Perry curated an exceptional amount of comments and criticism regarding the lack of stages for live, original music in town.
A portion of the criticism was, both directly and indirectly, aimed at business owners who had previously supplied stages for performers. Though an equally represented opinion was that it was the musicians’ responsibility to nurture and rebuild the music community.
Tate Moore, local musician and owner of Square Pizza, half-jokingly offered a free slice of pizza to any musician that came in and played an original song on piano or guitar. Ben Ricketts decided to go a step further and is organizing a show at the pizza joint on the night of March 23. As of now this is the only show Moore has scheduled.
“Of course I’m not against another one,” said Moore. “Not selling alcohol limits what the space can do. Maybe make it like preservation hall?”
Owner of local record store End of All Music, David Swider, offered his own perspective on the problem.
“I don’t want to come across as a know-it-all or anything like that,” said Swider. “I do think there’s a lack of coherence to [the music community]. There’s some great musicians in town, both that have been here for a long time and that people don’t even know about. I think where the problem is, is in venues and outlets for people to successfully play shows, book shows, and go to a party. I think that is where, as a town, we’re falling short”
Swider has made efforts to book shows at the record store throughout the year for both local and touring bands.
“As a record store I’ve tried to provide that outlet for people when I can, but the bottom line is we’re here to be a record store and not a venue,” said Swider. “Sometimes I can provide a space for that and sometimes not. It usually revolves around whether they have a record to sale, because I’m not, for lack of a better way of putting it, in the business of just giving someone a stage.”
For most businesses, especially those located on the Square with high property values, the bottom line is the deciding factor.
“I don’t know exactly what the fix is other than there’s got to be a new crop of kids with the hungry, DIY attitude, and I haven’t seen that really come yet” said Swider. “Whether it be the Dude Ranch or something I wasn’t even privy to like the Zoogma house or before them like the Cooters house.”
“Having the ‘Farmhouse’ was a huge thing for us,” said Justin Hasting of Zoogma. “At first we were just using it as a practice space to write and record material, but as the ‘after party’ scene started to develop again with the rise of electronic music we decided we should try having one there. The first one was a late-night after Boombox played at The Library. This one was all word of mouth and we ended up having 100 or so kids come out, and we set up and played there until about 3 or 4 in the morning until the cops came and shut it down”
What made the Farmhouse so dear to Hasting wasn’t just having a huge party house, it was the people who filled it up.
“The coolest thing to me about the Farmhouse was that you had all kinds of people there together enjoying themselves; hippies, hipsters, frat and sorority, ROTC, young kids, [and] older ‘townies’,” said Hasting. “People just wanted to have a good time”
Since our conversation with Swider, it seems members of Oxford’s music community have gotten at least a little hungry.
A house many in Oxford will remember as the Young Buffalo house has a new set of tenants who want to help fill the hole in Oxford’s DIY scene.
“I found myself saying ‘Man, somebody needs to do something for the music scene here’ and I was just as guilty as ‘them,’” said Mario Martinez. “So, after talking with Patrick McKee we both got super stoked on the idea of hosting a house show series…that’ll hopefully at least fill a minute part of the void.”
The venue is known as Rose Room and has its inaugural show schedule for March 4 with Woolgathering, Nadir Bliss, and Scapes.
“There’s just too much music and art in Oxford to not have an outlet such as this for it,” said Martinez.