Friday, November 19, 2010

Mountair: Past and Future

The end (sort of)...

The Mountair shows at my house (located on Mountair Avenue) will be coming to an end. The show this coming Saturday (Nov 20th) will be the final one at this location.

I want to make it very clear that Mountair itself, as a series of little all-ages DIY shows, is not coming to an end. Mountair shows will most likely happen less frequently, but they will definitely still happen. The locations are uncertain, but I'm going to do my very best to figure it out and keep it going. I owe it to myself and my dear friends to press onward with it.

I've been considering this for a while now, and I've finally come to the conclusion that the shows at my house have served their purpose and are ready for retirement. They had a good run and accomplished everything I hoped they would.

Don't get me wrong. I still love organizing shows. I've found over the last year that it's one of my very favorite things in the world to do. But I just can't see myself doing it at this house any longer. I could keep it going here, but the smile on my face would be mostly absent. The shows at my house did what they needed to do. I'm ready to say goodbye to them.
They're ending because I'm losing that energy with which they first started and I'm hoping to rekindle that energy and direct it toward Mountair shows at other locations. Where? I have absolutely no idea.

A very short back-story...

The idea behind Mountair started off last year after I moved back to L.A. from Olympia, WA---a town with a great deal of house-show activity, which was something I thought L.A. desperately lacked. It was really just a way to showcase some music that my friends and I had been up to. I figured the best way to do that would be to make it free, all-ages, and do it in a house for a handful of friends and friends-of-friends. The very first show happened in September 2009. I named the event after the street it took place on and carried it on once or twice a month every month since then.

I began these little house shows with a few things in mind...

I wanted to provide a space where relatively unknown (or, even better, entirely unknown) musical artists could share their work with a group of earnest, passionate listeners with warm hearts and very open ears in a small, intimate setting. It would be free, all-ages, and entirely based upon mutual love and respect for each other's work. That was the sole aim.

Throughout the decade that I've been performing music and booking shows, there have countless instances in which folks have told me that they were timid about engaging in an artistic endeavor somewhere simply because they felt that they wouldn't fit in, or they were scared to even begin engaging in said endeavor at all because they feared they couldn't do it "correctly", etc. I wanted Mountair to counter that. I wanted it to be a place where no one would feel any fear within them. I imagined that it would foster an atmosphere in which you could do anything and you'd have a gathering of people who wouldn't scoff at what you were doing, no matter what you were doing. They would listen. They would watch. And they might even fall in love with you.

I've always been terribly aware that there's a lot of unheard artists out there who could use a little help, and who desperately deserve to be heard. And I was more than happy to help make that happen with these little shows. It's not that I necessarily feel suspicious or resentful toward bands that get well known and successful. It's just that if I'm going to throw my weight behind someone and take the time to organize a show for them, I'll take the uncool kid with no fans making weird sounds any day of the week over some band with glossy press photos and a brand new record deal.

I wanted to create a flow of sounds from all sorts of far-flung genres that would all coexist in one tightly-knit two-hour music revue. I wanted it to be something you could count on. Once or twice a month, it was there. And each time you went, no matter how often you went, it would have something new to offer you.

A big reason why I have often referred to it as the 'Mountair music community' is that I always imagined it as a loose but still very interconnected group of artists who, despite their vast differences in sounds and locations, were all a part of holding together this DIY spirit of free, open shows up in a little house in some no-name town called Tujunga. One's membership in this little makeshift music community basically came down to whether one considered oneself to be a 'member' of it. If you wanted to be a part of it, you were a part of it. That was all there was to it.

I always thought of it as a web. And I always wished that all the distant, disparate ends of that web would grow as close together as they could. I always hoped these shows would introduce artists to each other and lots of new friends would be made. And I know that happened quite a good deal; probably more so than I ever expected. A bunch of Mountair-related bands ended up booking lots of shows together at more legit venues through the L.A. area (some of them had not even previously met). And a few friends of mine have told me that their entire musical projects began because they wanted to do a set at Mountair, which is enough to make me blush.

All of the above: that was my goal. And I'd like to believe I got around to accomplishing it the best I could. There were some small mistakes and pitfalls along the way, but I certainly don't regret any of it. Looking back, it all seems kind of perfect to me in all of its little imperfections.

So, that era has ended. They were free of charge. They were open to anyone who was interested in being a part of them (audience members and performers alike). And they created some of coolest sounds I've ever heard (honestly, I'm not just saying that) and connected all sorts of people who might not have otherwise ever met. It's over. And I couldn't be more pleased.

If you've ever performed at a Mountair show, if you've ever been to a Mountair show: THANK YOU. The fact that some intangible concept I threw together last summer could enter even a few people's lives and do some little bit of good for them makes me so grateful. I'm really, really happy about the way it all went down. So thank you. Thank you so much.
I've made a lot of new friends. And I've only grown closer to the ones I already had.

The future...

The future is tricky. I essentially have absolutely no idea what to make of Mountair's future, but I'll try my best to figure it out.

I've already prepared myself for the fact that by cutting out my house as a location these shows might be drastically reduced in their regularity. If Mountair turns into an event that only happens quarterly, or perhaps even biannually, I'm okay with that. I'm still going to make it happen and I'm still going to work hard on it.

I guess the first avenue I'm going to take is trying to curate Mountair shows at some local music venues that share the same all-ages, DIY spirit (and thankfully there's quite a good deal of them in this city).

If anyone reading this has any ideas---assuming you've actually made it down this far (and if you have, yikes! Thank you for your interest in all of this)---please don't be afraid to tell them to me. Any at all. I'm open to all suggestions (and chances are I'll probably try out just about anything you suggest). Ideas for show locations that might seem a bit abnormal are not only welcomed but encouraged.

I'm looking at the future as Mountair Phase Two. I'll do my very best to make it live up to Phase One.

Thanks again. Really. I can't tell you enough how much I appreciate all of you and what you have done with me in this over the last fifteen months.
Let's make 2011 awesome.


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