Music as Community

I hate saying, “Goodbye”. For the past two years I have had the pleasure of running an open mic at a little place in Madison, Wisconsin called Urban Market and Coffeehouse. On Friday December 2nd, 2005, at the conclusion of the open mic, Urban Market closed its doors for the last time. We’ve tried to create an atmosphere in which people can comfortably perform, relax, and grow. We evidently succeeded. Aaron Nathans who edits the monthly newsletter of the Madison Songwriter’s Group called us “the most welcoming open mic in town”. When word started getting around that we were losing our venue and why (the landlord wanted to tear down the building to put up condos) we were all quite pleased and somewhat amazed at the number of supportive e-mails and phone calls that we received. Many suggested new places to which we might relocate. The latter, more than anything, is why I am telling this story in the first place. I found out that Urban Market was closing late last Wednesday night. The first person that I told was Karen Darcy, the editor of the music listings in Madison’s alternative weekly newspaper the Isthmus, so that we could kill the listing. She sent me back an e-mail telling me about a place called Escape Java Joint, the owner's name, the phone number, and the suggestion that I tell the owner that she sent me. The second people I told were Sandy Andina, Amy Curl, and Ron Dennis, all of whom were booked to work my annual Christmas show. We had planned to stage it @ Urban Market and it was too late to find another venue. Ron started spreading the word about the demise of Urban Market. Darlene Buhler of the Madison Folklore Society suggested that Ron should call Escape. I called the place on Thursday afternoon and talked to the owner Duane Erickson. Ron stopped in to talk to him on Friday afternoon. On Friday night Ron came into the last open mic @ Urban Market full of good news about a possible new venue. He had even made a mock-up for a flyer. That's when he found out that I had already talked to the guy. I stopped in on Saturday afternoon to nail down final details. The open mic will move to Saturday nights (Duane already has asuccessful show going every Friday). We satrt up in the new venue on January 7th, 2006. It would not have happened any where near that quickly had it not been for a number of people pulling together to MAKE something happen. That kind of communal effort is what this music is all about.

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