During halftime of The Cotton Bowl, I flipped over to PBS and Paul Simon reeled me in. I missed a couple of Johnny Football’s touchdowns while channel surfing, but he’s no Paul Simon. At least A&M did not embarrass the SEC with a repeat of the Gators’ woeful Sugar Bowl performance.
Like Jake and Elmore before him, Simon put the band back together and teamed with PBS for a Graceland 25 year reunion. During the taping he described how he weaved lyrics with the music especially Graceland’s signature bass lead. Graceland is a song about Africa and his son, too, but he had to go to Graceland to finish it … the cradle of the Civil War.
Next week kicks off our annual hootenanny, the 30A Songwriters Festival — hooks, lines and singers —amen, bro. Sometimes I pinch myself at 30A’s musical smorgasbord. For an economy primarily focused on tourism and real estate, the Songwriters Festival gives us another arrow in the quiver. As much as I savor the rare pleasure of driving solo on 30A during the winter, cultural promotions like music and art events make sense (dollars, too).
Just because something is a good idea doesn’t mean it always stays that way, especially in music.
Sixty years ago the Louisiana Hayride was a big deal. Shreveport rivaled Nashville and now Shreveport doesn’t even have a port. In the 20s, country music was centered in Atlanta not Nashville — job well done, Georgia.
While The Songwriters Festival still wears training pants, the community, not merely TDC dollars, should support it. I can remember when Austin City Limits was a new show but when Jimmy Buffett goes on tour nowadays, practice starts in Austin.
Austin’s South by Southwest draws hundreds of thousands annually. 30A may not have Austin’s musical infrastructure and everything’s bigger in Texas, but we ain’t chopped liver either. The Songwriters Festival does not have to match South by Southwest’s numbers to be uber-successful.
Athens, Ga., in addition to being home of the Georgia Bulldogs — SEC East champs two years running — has seen a rather significant musical scene sprout. R.E.M’s “Oh My Heart” with North Campus’ Chapel Bell provides vivid testimony for The Classic City. Combining our local talent and South Walton’s unique vista, something remarkable could develop here.
Speaking of numbers, the TDC measures success by rooms occupied, but there’s a big difference between six or eight cramming together on spring break and a couple coming down for a long weekend. I surmise dollar spent per person is higher for The Songwriters Festival than the typical spring breaker or a family staying for a week.
Maybe we should add a metric to account for visitor quality as opposed to merely looking at rooms booked.
Some people push back at the ticket prices but supply and demand rules. Non-profits like the Cultural Arts Association need volunteers, so volunteer and get in free.
On my last trip to Austin, home of live music, every place we went had a door charge. Get used to it; look at all the free music available around here.
Have fun, enjoy yourself and hope to see you. I’ll be the lucky guy with three pretty girls. My headline is homage to Bob Wills and The Texas Playboys.
Buz Livingston, CFP offers hourly financial planning and fee-only investment management to clients along Florida’s Emerald Coast. Contact him at 267-1068, Buz@LivingstonFinancial.netor www.LivingstonFinancial.net