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If you build it, you’ve got to build it

January 26, 2010

Every local scene is birthed, built and maintained by its members, whether it’s music, theater, art, etc. But for our purposes this week, I’ll be speaking musically.
A local scene is only as good as the people involved with it. Now that’s not to say that the scene is only as good as the musicians are talented. All the talent in the world does nothing for the community without the support of the community members. Don’t get me wrong, great musicians are certainly a plus. They’re just not a “be all, end all.”
Another thing about local scenes is that, like everything else, they change.
Anyone who remembers when Chick-fil-A wasn’t here, and was fortunate enough to have a beer or two bought for them by a guy you weren’t going to vote for as student body president will know exactly where this is headed. Nope, not the hurricane (although I think I remember Moiz serving them one night), I’m talking about Rita’s Eatery and Cantina.
That was the hub for a couple of years. The thing about Rita’s was that they had either DJs, open mics or even bands from out town almost every night. I remember most of at least three different all-day, multiple-stage music festivals held in the building on North Street that got torn down in order to build a chicken franchise … a very tasty one mind you, but still a chicken franchise.
Before that, Flashback was where you went to watch Joe Vega and play your three-song set. You could even just get on stage, grab the extra microphone and sing along with Joe. And before that, Five’s a Crowd was packing the folks into Crossroads, which is now mostly the parking lot for Flashback.
Java Jacks and the Out of the Way Cafe both had their fair share of live music as well, and not just the upstairs Java Jacks dome. I’m going all the way back to when I could walk to campus from my house on Blount Street and get a Java Shake on the way to class.
I even remember watching Mayhaw Prophets at Austin Place Apartments when it was still a hotel.
The current scene might be a bit stagnant compared to some of its previous high points, but the spirit of everything good about local music scenes still lives on every fourth Friday in the little church at Millard’s Crossing. John Hazlewood and the rest of the crew that put on the Pineknot Music Co-op every month don’t have to put their time, money and effort into what they do. They do it because they love it.
So if you’re one of those folks who are quick to say the music scene in this town isn’t all you’d like it to be, ask yourself what you’re doing to help make it better. You can’t throw a rock without hitting at least six guitar players or even 15 rappers. If you have no talent, find someone who does and help promote them. Hand out flyers, design a T-shirt or even volunteer to update someone’s Myspace or Facebook page. Organize a festival like the Siid Show, Nacstock or the late Ten Acre Jam; take ownership of your scene.
If you’re interested in the musical history of the Oldest Town in Texas, a couple of local gurus have compiled just such a catalog. Check out some Nacocgdoches nostalgia at either or

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