I sat down with local comedian, Blind Stein, at W.E. Sullivan’s over lunch to talk about his love of the live local music scene, building community, and his upcoming show as well!
Here is part of our conversation…
What do you love about the local music scene?
Any day of the week you can go out in Peoria here and find better music than people in other places have to spend $30 a ticket to see. On a Friday you can toss up a sail and see which way the wind blows you. You’ll find great music pretty much anywhere…
Also I think Peoria breeds a different type of human.
As we see people grow and progress, it makes you want to do the same type of thing. It makes you want to support and help them do that as well.
Your vibe attracts your tribe.
We have such a talent pool here in the Peoria area. They all have healthy competition, but nobody here is trying to step on anybody. It’s a proper community. Everyone wants everyone to do bigger, do better, and nobody is afraid to share their Rolodex and say, “This is the guy you need to talk to get into this place…”
This is definitely a supportive environment. I love that as well. Who do you enjoy supporting? When it comes to artists, who are your local favorites?
I’m friends with a lot of musicians in town, but I’m also a fan. Aaron Miller and Mike Miller, and Bob Kelly of Easy Riders are all awesome guys and great musicians. Aaron’s a more-white Joe Cocker, with soul, just because he’s a red head.
I played JFL with Roy Ponce from Brainchild. I’ve known him since we were knee-high to a duck. He is one who understands the necessary need of networking and supporting. Although, it helps when the group you play with is just sick. Jake Schultz is amazing on bass, and Pony is a hell of a drummer.
Dexter O’Neal is always a great one to catch, wherever he is. I also can’t say enough about how much I love PhanieRae and the Soul Shakers. Big fan.
Wes Duffy plays like, “Metal Mandolin.” His fingers. He’s got some of the fastest fingers that I’ve heard. A Mandolin player from a touring band once went into a solo at a show I was at. All I could think was, “Man, Wes, you set the bar too high.”
That’s the thing. So many people rely on mainstream radio still. They don’t even know that other things are going on.
They’ll happily listen to someone there, not realizing that a guy down the street could crush that guy they just listened to if they went toe-to-toe.
There are a few who are venturing out to bigger markets, but more could.
Definitely agree there, although I want to come back to that.
How about venues? Do you have favorite venues?
I prefer to go down to Kenny’s for shows. Sean Kenny has done amazing things for the music scene down there. I mean, I’ve heard good things about the stage. I haven’t seen it. But it definitely allows for that intimate concert energy and ambiance.
I go to the Pizza Works open mic quite a bit because of Roy and Jake and those guys. They can cover Rage and make it feel like I’m listening to a CD.
I enjoy open mics too. Dee Mill does really well down at the Country Club BBQ. They’ve got a great one on Monday nights. The Red Barn has always got good music there.
What Roy and Bob have done at Tartan Inn on Sundays is really great, too. It’s enough energy for that small bar without overwhelming it, so you can enjoy the music. It’s a nice little gem in West Peoria.
Each location sort of has their own community.
For bigger shows, I hit the Monarch. Arena shows just don’t quite do it for me. The Civic Center is great for the newspaper flippers. People looking to see big names and maybe remember how things used to be.
But the local scene trumps that “big box” more than anything.
Of course, then there is Summer Camp.
You go to Summer Camp?
It is great. There aren’t a lot of blind guys running around Summer Camp… so I just go wander around and listen to the music. Someone I know always finds me.
It’s really cool how Jason Miles and Jay Goldberg put that together. Especially the Summer Camp on the Road Tour… going out to bring in bands that wouldn’t get a chance to do something like that otherwise.
I know! I wrote about that last month! I love that they do that.
Earlier you mentioned local musicians moving on to bigger markets. One of the things I’ve been saying for awhile is that Peoria has everything Nashville has. I look forward to a day when artists don’t feel like they have to choose Peoria or fame. What do you think?
Peoria is the perfect place for that, and I’m not just talking about music.
There are things happening in other industries in Peoria that the rest of the world is looking in on, and people here are too busy crapping on this town to know, and I don’t know why.
You can find things you don’t like in any town. But people go to Nashville because people in Nashville walk around saying “Nashville is great!” Why? Because they want tourists to come there and spend money.
If you keep saying, “Peoria sucks,” nobody is going to come here! Why would they?
It’s about community. Everyone has the opportunity to come together and be part of this thing growing. There is a satisfaction in that. Taking time, building a community. As opposed to those who want to separate themselves and just complain.
I agree though. Peoria could be that place. I hope I’m around to bear witness to that!
So, tell me about your upcoming show.
Oh yeah, it’s April 5th at the Apollo Theater.
We’ve got that coming up. I’ve been touring around and am fortunate to be teamed up with 99.9 WWCT and ACE Entertainment & Event Management. My buddy, KungFoolComic Eddy P, hosting and Greg Batton from the Greg and Dan show is featured… Four other local comics who are starting to gain their stride will open as well.
My plan is to feature something for everyone, from degenerates to geriatrics. I want to make sure everyone has a good time.
After going to a couple of PhanieRae and the Soul Shakers shows at the Apollo, I just thought, “This place would be great for comedy!” Next thing you know, we’re putting on a show, backed by a radio station. I’m sort of a renegade. Taking a different path than usual for this sort of thing. I like to DIY it. I’d rather build community.
We outgrew previous venues just in seating capacity. I also think there is something to be said for a proper production… as opposed to the barroom setting. They all have their place, but this, to me, is about showmanship. There is a different vibe, a different energy when you are in a theater versus a bar.
My goal is to sell out the show ahead of time and then just spend two weeks going around, telling people they missed out.