Amending my 2011 wish list: Music for Baby Boomers

Thursday, January 20th, 2011, 1:00 pm by Ben Salmon

Before we get too far away from this article, in which I listed my hopes and wishes for the Central Oregon music scene in 2010, I want to add one item to it.

This addition is actually prompted by not one, but two e-mails I received from readers who expressed disappointment in the number of local concerts geared toward an older generation. Let’s call them … Baby Boomers. (I just made that term up. OK, not really.) Take it away, bummed Boomers …

Hi, Ben. I read your article about the music that has been coming to Bend. While we seem to have quite a stream of performers, it seems to me that most of this music is geared to the younger set. As part of the leading edge of baby boomers, our selections just don’t appeal to me for the most part. We have enjoyed Simon & Garfunkel Retrospective, Judy Collins and Kenny Rogers….to give you an idea of the type of music we like. I wish we could attract someone like Josh Groban for the Les Schwab, but not sure he is affordable or if he would agree to that small a venue…however, his latest tour did have him going to some smaller venues.

Thanks for the opportunity to provide input.

Phyllis Bear, Bend

(Quick note: The business of booking the Les Schwab Amphitheater is far more complicated endeavor than most people — including me — realize, and I don’t claim to know who could play there and who couldn’t. That said, my gut feeling is that Groban isn’t out of reach for the Schwab.)

Good Morning

Interesting wish list in the GO magazine…. however, you left out two huge categories for those of us with a little better taste in music than headbanging metal. A few years ago, Rhoda had some outstanding Americana and blues performers that were most excellent and affordable…. Dave Alvin, Tom Russell, Tommy Castro, Tab Benoit, Wayne Hancock… just to name a few. Listenable, danceable and affordable.

there is NO PLACE in this town to go dance to decent music for people older than 40. why is that?

BJ Thomas

I wrote BJ back and told him that, questions of taste aside, I agree with the general complaint voiced by both of these letters. Yes, the Tower and the Schwab both come through with shows that might appeal to an older set of folks, but neither really provides the sort of bar/drinks/dancing atmosphere (not to mention lower average ticket price) that you get at, say, the Domino Room or Silver Moon. And both of those venues book acts that are, without question, generally aimed at a younger crowd.

So let me add to my list a hope that in 2011, someone somewhere — whether it’s at one of the aforementioned venues or somewhere else in town — takes on the challenge of booking acts like those cited by Phyllis and BJ. (Admittedly, Kenny Rogers and Judy Collins are quite different from Dave Alvin and Tab Benoit, but the general point is the same.)

And as long as we’re wishing and hoping, I’m gonna go for the gusto: In 2011, I’d love to see Midtown/Domino co-owner Rhoda Jones jump back into the business of regularly booking those venues.

When I moved here in 2006, Rhoda was one of the busiest promoters in town, bringing rock, pop, blues and roots musicians to the Midtown complex on a weekly basis. When it went on the market a few years ago, another team took over day-to-day management of the place and Rhoda stepped away from throwing shows. For the next year or two, the complex was kind of a mess, both literally and from a booking/business standpoint.

Now, though, the Midtown is back in the hands of Rhoda’s team and their on-the-ground guy Roy Nowell. And in recent months especially, it seems as if the lights are on for events more often than they have been in a long time. The schedule certainly looks beefier than it did a couple years ago, but there is still room for more.

Adding in a few shows a month within Rhoda’s specialty would make a huge difference, not only for the Midtown complex, but also for people like Phyllis and BJ, who would like to have more opportunities in town to go out, hear a band, have a drink and dance the night away.

I don’t entirely know why Rhoda stopped booking shows in those venues, nor do I know if she would want to return or if she even has time to return. But realities are of no concern when crafting a wish list, so add this one to mine: More live music in Bend for Baby Boomers, courtesy whoever, really, but ideally, Rhoda Jones and a busier Domino Room and Midtown Ballroom.

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2 Responses to “Amending my 2011 wish list: Music for Baby Boomers”

  1. Jan says:

    Ben, before you go too far down this path, please don’t assume that just because people are Baby Boomers they want to revisit Judy Collins, Simon & Garfunkel or (please!) Kenny Rogers. Plenty of us like new music and don’t necessarily believe that older was better. We need a bar/club that books alt rock artists where boomers won’t feel weird going because they are, you know, old.

    • Ben Salmon says:

      Excellent points, Jan. Please know that I do not assume that all boomers want to see Kenny Rogers. If it sounds like I was heading down that path, that certainly wasn’t the intent … but I do appreciate the comment!

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