Jun 11, 2013

Random observations from SOHO Music Festival No. 9

It’s time to put my spin as both a blogger and volunteer on another successful SOHO Music Festival after the ninth annual celebration of live, local music to support the Mini O’Bierne Crisis Nursery was held June 7 and 8 in downtown Springfield, Ill.    

When I wrote about last year’s festival, I touched upon the controversy created by Springfield Mayor Mike Houston when he – seemingly out of the blue – decided all downtown music festivals had to be quiet by 9:30 p.m.  Well, nobody played along with that, of course, and that order was quickly rescinded after a resounding thunder of negative press came the mayor’s way.  So, you would have thought this year’s event would have been relatively controversy-free. 

Not when you decide to book a Civil War medical encampment on the Old State Capitol grounds the same weekend as SOHO.  This forced the festival to move from its traditional location next to the Old State Capitol to a couple of blocks over near the downtown hotels, creating a whole new set of logistical problems.  Nonetheless, SOHO organizer Eric Welch and his crew of SOHO volunteers and supporters (including Ward 6 Alderman Cory Jobe and Ward 5 Alderman Sam Cahnman from the local political scene) still managed to pull off what may be the most successful SOHO yet. 

As for the medical encampment, I’m sure it’s a very fine event and serves its purpose among the annual attractions that draw tourists to the city.  But really, you draw 6,000 people??  This is closer to what 6,000 people in one city block really looks like … 

With that rant out of the way, here are a few more takeaways I have from SOHO #9:

First and foremost, let’s not forget what this festival is all about and why bands volunteer their talent and so many other people volunteer their time to make this happen every year.  I hope when it’s all said and done that SOHO No. 9 can deliver another check like this to Mini O’Bierne.

Speaking of the generosity of the musicians who donate their time at SOHO, I lost track of the number of people in bands who, although they were provided free admission and drink throughout the festival, insisted on paying the admission price and putting money in the tip jar at the beer truck. 

This year’s temporary location may have turned out to be a blessing in disguise.  First, more local headlines created more publicity and goodwill for the festival.  Second, being surrounded by some of downtown’s tallest buildings ensured at least part of the street always had shade. 

I've volunteered at this festival for five straight years.  This was the first time I personally had the experience of escorting a bum out. 

Regarding the Civil War medical encampment nearby, I got the impression some of the re-enactors would have been just as happy attending SOHO.

Musically speaking, this may have been the most solid two nights of performances SOHO has ever delivered.  And Saturday afternoon delivered some great performances as well.  The band I’d never seen before that I’m looking forward to seeing again – Pattern Grey.   

While I'm on the subject of Pattern Grey, I love this guy's hair.

David Blackburn of Pattern Grey
Josie Lowder, you are a star in the making.

Josie Lowder rocks out with Lowder during SOHO #9.
The additions of an inflatable slide and Hoops Challenge basketball game were very popular in the kids area.  Having to deflate them … well, that’s another story.   

I was a little worried about having an artisans area in SOHO this year, primarily out of concern that there would be enough space at the new location.  However, the artisans fit right in, business seemed steady if not brisk, and in the end it added yet another fun dimension to the festival atmosphere. 

On the other hand, what was the deal with the pots and pan people setting up early both days, then leaving before dark?  I don’t understand why you wouldn't stick around for the busiest part of the festival.  But then again, I don’t understand why selling pots and pans at SOHO would be a good idea, either.   

Sometimes, nothing beats live music outdoors, sunshine and a cold beer.  

I enjoy a refreshing beverage while my friend Jon  ponders how to get away from me.
I was “fortunate” enough to work the beer truck during some of the prime pouring hours on both nights.  It was no wonder we ran out of Blue Moon and Pabst Blue Ribbon before the Saturday night was over.  And by that time, nobody cared that all we had left was Coors Lite.  The last count I heard was that we emptied 98 kegs – which I believe would be a new SOHO record. 

Finally, this musical collaboration by the Station All-Stars at the end of Friday night pretty much says it all about the cooperative spirit of SOHO.

And thanks again to Eric Welch for another successful SOHO.  Your next task is to try to make the 10th anniversary of SOHO even more memorable than this one.  But knowing you, I’m sure you already have some ideas.

No comments:

A commoner dines at Baumgartner’s Cheese Store and Tavern, Monroe, Wis.

I wasn’t sure a place existed that could be the perfect representation of Wisconsin life, but then I traveled through Monroe, Wis., one week...