Jun 3, 2012

Random observations from the 2012 SOHO Music Festival

Another weekend of volunteering at the eighth annual SOHO Music Festival in downtown is on the books.  You may remember my post about last year’s event, so I won’t spend too much time on setting up the festival, but I did want to put down a few thoughts now that the festival has wrapped up what appears to be another highly successful fundraiser for the Mini O’Bierne Crisis Nursery. 

From Friday night, Tom Irwin and the Hayburners
So, if you’ll indulge some extemporaneous babble, here are some takeaways I had from SOHO 2012:

  • As you'd expect, attendees got two days of great local music.  I don't always get a chance to enjoy much of it, but among my favorites this year were Tom Irwin & the Hayburners, Micah Walk and the Station on Friday (their first gig since last year's SOHO, I believe, and always a great choice to close), and on Saturday Murder of Crows, Dave Littrell Band, Legendary Clampetts, Mojo Cats, Josie Lowder Band and last year's closer Dan Hubbard and the Humadors.  
  • Actually, the more I think about it,  it was ALL good.  Local music matters!!
·         The universal reaction among volunteers was we had a much better logo to wear on our shirts than last year’s 7-11 inspired look. 

·         Last year I said nothing beats a Turasky’s rib eye sandwich with live outdoor music.  But I think the pork chops this year were even better.  I must not be alone, since they sold out the first night. 

·         Saturday was definitely not the best time to have a crane operating on the next city block over from us.  It was also a rather odd backdrop behind the stage. 

·         We were blessed by unusually seasonal weather (actually cool Friday night), with only one minor rain disturbance Saturday afternoon.  It only impacted one band’s performance.  How strange is it that it was almost too hot and dry for Memphis in May and almost too cold for SOHO this year?

·         You have to love hula hoop girls.

  • Say what you want about SOHO organizer Eric Welch, but he certainly doesn’t use the event to promote his own band.  Instead, Facebook users voted on the last two spots in this year’s SOHO line-up.   

  • I think we had our first wedding party invasion at this year's SOHO.  

·         I loved the addition of Pabst Blue Ribbon to the beer truck selection.

·         Speaking of the beer truck, sneaking into the truck to share a bottle of Jagermeister among friends … not such a good idea. 

·         Speaking of Jagermeister, it may have been a minor factor in the SOHO organizer’s brother falling out of the beer truck.  Of course, I’m just speculating.   

·         You know you’re going to have great attendance numbers when people are still pouring in the back gate late Saturday evening.

Last, but certainly not least, I guess I should touch upon the political controversy that preceded this year’s SOHO when Springfield Mayor Mike Houston threatened to invoke a music curfew of 9:30 p.m for live music outdoors during downtown events.  Never mind the fact that SOHO raises thousands of dollars for a charitable cause, not once had there ever been any complaint about music going to midnight before, and most attendees don’t even show up until 9:30 p.m.  It was a very bad decision from a very out of touch person who, by the way, originally wanted to exempt festivals from the early curfew that were operated by his friends at Downtown Springfield, Inc.  Do you smell something fishy here?

Anyway, all is well that ends well, at least for this year.  In fact, the outcry from local music fans and the publicity the controversy garnered probably only helped attendance.  And the backing from several aldermen doesn’t hurt, either.  Thanks to Ward 5 Alderman Sam Cahnman and especially Ward 6 Alderman Cory Jobe.  Both represent a portion of downtown, and both  spoke briefly Friday night.  Mr. Jobe’s appearance was especially gratifying to see, as he was instrumental in approaching Eric about the controversy and getting the mayor to reconsider his decision. 

Mr. Jobe’s address to the crowd was scheduled, appropriately, at 9:30 p.m. Friday night.  He asked if anyone was ready for the music stop, and the answer was a resounding “No!”  Honestly, do these people look like they’re ready to go to bed early?

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