The Importance Of Community In The Music Scene

When I think about the incredible “rags to riches” stories that seemingly dominate Hollywood musician personas these days, I feel like there’s some critical element missing with each story. The incredible tale of how Ed Sheeran used to sleep in train cars in-between busking sessions, or how Bruno Mars grew up in a shack in Hawaii. It seems like these stories gloss over the critical role that community has surely played in these artists’ success stories. No one builds this kind of success on their own. Sometimes its friends and family standing behind you, other times its other musicians that rally behind your cause. But the truth is, it takes a whole lot of people, all pushing toward the same goal, to get these musicians to such levels of success.

Our band (Trace Repeat) is a band that was born out of the Bay Area songwriter community. An incredible group of musicians, songwriters, and general creators that make up the artistic community here in the Bay. Most weeks on any given night, you can find this community blossoming at one of the city’s surviving music venues. Drop in at the Bazaar Cafe on Thursdays and you’ll see some of the Bay’s finest songwriters pulling out their newest material to workshop. Catch the Hotel Utah Open Mic on Mondays for some of the SF’s most iconically strange and unusual acts. Trace Repeat was born out of these songwriter haunts. It’s where our entire record was written before it even became an album, and it’s the community that we were circling when half of us met each other for the first time. We would not be a band today if not for these incredible incubation spaces.

These spaces are becoming more and more sparse every day, though. We all know the story. Big luxury condos pop up, rent skyrockets, and venues near by shut their doors for good because they simply can’t afford to exist anymore. Musicians scatter to the winds, and eventually settle back in at one of the remaining venues that’s still hanging on. Each time this happens, the Bay Area’s identity as an incredible space for artistic and creative endeavors becomes more and more a thing of the past.

 So what can we do to help?

  1. Go see a show. And I don’t mean buying $200 tickets to the Shoreline Ampitheatre. Here are some cool venues to check out, in SF: Bottom of the Hill, Amnesia, The Lost Church, Slim’s, DNA Lounge, The Independent. In the East Bay: Starline Social Club, Legionnaire Saloon, Cornerstone Craft Beer, The New Parish, The Starry Plough, Independent Brewing.

  2. Tip your musicians. Buy their merch, tip the buskers at BART stations, and stop fussing over the $10 cover charge.

  3. Tell your friends. Music is about building communities. If you want to see these spaces survive, help build the communities that make this survival possible.

  4. Research your neighborhood. What venues, bars, and local hang outs are popular in your neighborhood? Go buy a drink and check them out…!

Trace Repeat are a 6-piece Oakland based funk and soul band (think: Bruno Mars) who are not only bringing you music that’ll get you up and moving (it is seriously catchy), but that brings attention to a much larger issue—Asian American stereotypes. It’s a cause that has gained them attention on NBC News, The Huffington Post, and Mother Jones, and led to the funding (and then some) of their IndieGoGo campaign within the first week of launching, resulting in their campaign being featured on IndieGoGo’s trending page. Their new album, ‘The Oaktown Sound’, sees them reviving the aesthetics of their Motown forefathers: Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, and the tempting Temptations, to create a throwback album packed with James Brown references, Al Green harmonies, and Prince vocal runs. It’s also an album that pays homage to their roots—Oakland. Grab ‘The Oaktown Sound’ when it drops on September 22nd.

Website | Facebook | Instagram | @tracerepeat


Kelly Murphy
Owner, writer, and editor of Indie Minded; Social Media Marketing & Relationship Consulting via Indie Minded Media; Be sure to give me a follow on Twitter @IndieMurphy or @IndieMindedMedia