An Ode to the Blue Note


16 jan. 2007, 23h51m

I usually try not to be too sentimental or to dwell on the "good old days." I was listening to The Reality of My Surroundings today, however, and it occurred to me how fortunate I had been as an undergrad student in terms of the shows I'd been able to see.

I'm currently in the home of Purdue University, where good shows are few and far between. Wilco and Alejandro Escovedo came last fall, and The Queers were just here, but there's not a whole lot going on. I guess we're not that far from Indianapolis or Chicago, but I'm too lazy nowadays to get excited about a long drive for a show.

As an undergrad, I had the good fortune to spend four years in Columbia, Missouri, a fantastic town in which to be a music-loving student (or at least it was 15 years ago, but I suspect that not much has changed). Listening to Fishbone brought back memories of my first semester in college, the Fall of 1991. What a semester that was at the Blue Note, at the time the only place in Columbia someone underage could see a show: Hoodoo Gurus, Pixies, Meat Puppets, Dinosaur Jr with My Bloody Valentine (Loveless tour), and Fishbone with Primus opening. I saw plenty of other great bands there, both national (Afghan Whigs, Kyuss, breeders, Pavement, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Public Enemy, Ice T/Body Count, Fugazi, Thinking Fellers Union Local 282, Matthew Sweet, Seaweed, Flaming Lips, fIREHOSE, Uncle Tupelo,Wilco, Son Volt, Mudhoney, Supersuckers, Social Distortion, Sugar, Screaming Trees, Poster Children, Girls Against Boys, and probably dozens of others I'm forgetting) and local/regional (St. Monday, Mercy Rule, Billy Goat, Tenderloin - actually Uncle Tupelo, et al. would probably fit in here).

We had a way cool college radio station (KCOU) that had an annual outdoor festival - one year the Flaming Lips headlined, another was the Big Star reunion documented on the Live At Missouri University album. Once I was of age, I was able to discover even more cool live music like the Cows and Mule. Plus by that time, there were more all-ages places that brought in great punk bands like Bikini Kill. Salt of the Earth and Whizz Records kept me well-stocked on the latest indie releases.

Anyway, reflecting on this experience, plus knowing what Champaign-Urbana was like in the 90s, I think it's amazing what a sense of creativity and community a college town can engender. Big city scenes are cool, I suppose, but there's something special about spending four years in a place where there's nothing much more to do than study and immerse oneself in a vibrant music scene. I've always been keenly interested in music, even when that just meant listening to my parent's classical records, and I'm sure I'd still be passionate about music if I'd gone to school somewhere else. I just think my passion would have taken an entirely different path.


  • Phaniebangs

    You Are So Lucky

    17 jan. 2007, 1h14m
  • indigo_jones

    New Orleans during much that same time period was also a great place to go to college. It's a big enough city, but has a small town vibe to it at times. Tulane had a really great radio station that made the most of the local music options, frequently broadcasting live from Tipitina's on Monday nights. I saw a lot of great bands while I was there, including some of the ones you mentioned. Afghan Whigs at Tipitina's remains, to this day, one of the absolute best live shows I've ever seen. Now I'm all nostalgic.

    17 jan. 2007, 14h55m
  • drummerforsale

    Haha, Purdue's music scene is awful right now. Mostly just a bunch of hardcore bands and badly amatuer punk acts. Champaign-Urbana still has some good shows, though.

    17 jan. 2007, 15h55m
  • pjb

    I've found the scene here to be pretty disappointing, but at least Von's and J&L are decent record stores. J&L seems like a total throwback to the 70s/80s. I moved here from Tucson, which has more record stores, but I've actually had better luck finding a lot of indie label stuff at Von's than I had in Arizona.

    17 jan. 2007, 18h43m
  • pjb

    I think New Orleans would have been an amazing (albeit potentially distracting) place to go to school. It's always been one of my favorite places to visit, even after Katrina.

    17 jan. 2007, 20h53m
  • hasuf

    Funny... I have the same fond memories of my high school years in SF (with it's pre-clearchannel radio station and great venues) and subsequent college and post graduation years in LA (with places like the Whisky and Roxy). Yep. Thems were the days. So easy to cultivate a great taste in music when you're surrounded by like-minded friends and cool music on the airwaves... These days, kinda feels like I need to make much more of an effort to keep on top of great bands and releases (plus classics that I wasn't exposed to the first time around.) Harder to surround myself with cool passionate-about-underground/indie/etc-music 30-somethings ;) I suppose working in a home office doesn't help either. ...I worked in Tempe in the summer of '94. I can't remember the name of the store near there, but they stocked some surprisingly good stuff. A rare Ecstasy of St Theresa EP, live Shudder to Think... the latest (at the time) Lush release...etc etc. Didn't see any shows there, though.

    5 mai 2007, 21h26m
  • drummerforsale

    A little late, but you should also try to go to some shows at Downtown Records in Lafayette. You can find a pretty wide mix of unknown stuff there, from electronica to metal to punk to classic-rock influenced stuff. Occasionally you'll stumble across someone really really good.

    14 mai 2007, 21h49m
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