Southern New Hampshire isn’t exactly New York or Seattle when it comes to the local music scene, so I was impressed and very pleasantly surprised Saturday at the Nashua Holiday Stroll.
Every year on the Saturday evening after Thanksgiving, Nashua shuts down Main Street and turns it into a big open-air festival, with several music stages, ice sculptures, your typical festival fried-dough vendors, and local shops staying open to hand out freebies of one sort or another. It’s supposed to remind everybody that we really do have a downtown, so you aren’t absolutely required to do your Christmas shopping at the big box stores on the outskirts.
It’s only two blocks from my apartment, but somehow I’ve managed to miss it the last couple years. I had gotten it into my head that the entertainment was pleasant, but not all that interesting — mainly traditional music of one genre or another, with a pop cover band or two thrown in for the teen-agers.
And, like many middle-aged folks, I had lost touch with the kind of bands you might hear in local bars and clubs. It’s a vicious cycle. If you don’t go, you never find out who these bands are, so nothing strikes you even when you do think to check an event calendar.
Two birds, one stone. This year’s Stroll featured a bunch of young local bands doing original music: Sitting Ducks, Merrimack, Matt Jackson, Tom Flash, Mild Revolution — and I’m sure I missed a few. Again and again, my wife and I said to each other, “I’d go out to hear these guys.”
Which brings me to this week’s challenge: Find out something about your local music scene. The logic behind Listen Local is the same as Eat Local and Shop Local: I’ve got nothing against Lady GaGa, but even if you buy her album at a local music store, most of your money whisks out of the community so fast it doesn’t even wave.
Being a fan of a local band is a real face-to-face relationship that builds other face-to-face relationships. Every local band that succeeds inspires countless younger musicians and strengthens a culture of creativity. And your money stays home. Local musicians are likely to spend your money locally, so some of it may even come back you.
Use the comments to give a shout out to local musicians you enjoy, wherever you are.