Music exists in the abstract. While there are certainly concrete components associated with the songs we sing along to – CDs and LPs, instruments and even the occasional souvenir T-shirt from that cool concert you once went to – for the most part the core components of music, melody and lyrics and ways they resonate remain without form.
That’s what makes it magic. It’s also what makes it so difficult to define as a finite resource. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be. That doesn’t mean it isn’t.
Recently I, along with other members of Augusta’s music and arts community, was asked to speak with members of the Georgia House Music Industry Study Committee, chaired by Rep. Ben Harbin of Evans. Our goal was simple – illustrate how music can stimulate and invigorate economic growth, both generally and specifically in the Augusta area.
It was interesting, because answers seemed to fall easily under a couple of categories. The first were the obvious. Venues, music sales and jobs associated with the music industry all generate revenue. They generate tax dollars. They generate growth. The math is easy. The dollars can be counted.
Less obvious were the ways music makes a community attractive. A vibrant music community makes a town feel alive in a way that’s difficult, if not impossible, to quantify or describe. People want to move to towns where there is art and culture and, yes, music. Companies want to move to those towns. Those communities continue to grow and thrive and survive.
So where does Augusta fit in? Critics will argue that our city’s musical history has been a little shaky and it is true that there have been struggles.
Until Global Spectrum arrived a few years back, bringing Monty Jones (who, I understand, is leaving us soon – boo) to town, the James Brown Arena was a venue artists conspicuously avoided playing. No longer.
It wasn’t too many years ago that the idea of building new or rehabbing historic stages seemed, if not impossible, then certainly improbable.
Today, the construction and continued success of the Lady Antebellum Pavilion in Evans and ramping up of work on the Miller Theater downtown prove we are in growth mode. In fact, much of the hard work, the work of adjusting attitudes about Augusta and its place as a viable base for musical endeavors, has been completed.
Now, whether something formalized comes of the House Music Industry Study Committee’s efforts or not, to make sure those efforts have not been in vain, please support local music. Support our venues and retailers and, most importantly, the musicians who supply us with the songs whose value is both abstract and absolute.
HERE’S HENRY. When director David Lynch’s classic cult film Eraserhead was released in 1977, it was hailed, by the very few that noticed it as a visionary – if very, very weird – cinematic vision. Today, more than 35 years after those first few screenings, it remains a unique film experience.
Combining surrealist humor, authentic pathos and a true film fan’s reverence for the infinite possibilities a single film might explore, Eraserhead is one of those rare films that deserves to be seen on the big screen, but rarely is.
I’m not sure if the movie has ever screened in Augusta. I know I originally caught it on VHS, and don’t remember it coming to the midnight movies at Regency Mall, which would be its most obvious home. It’s an oversight that will soon be rectified.
Matthew Buzzell, the man behind this fall’s intriguing Georgia Regents University Film Series is wrapping the cinematic season with an Eraserhead screening. Scheduled for Friday, Nov. 22, and the late-night movie time of 10 p.m., the film will be shown at the newly film-ready Maxwell Theatre. Admission is free.
And while this is the end of the fall film series, Buzzell promises more movies in the spring. He said he plans to spend the holidays scouting for new movies that might otherwise go unseen in the Augusta market. I can hardly wait to see what he comes up with.