The first concert I ever attended was at Peoria Civic Center. Mom and I walked into the arena and the roar of the crowd was thrilling. If you had asked me, I would have told you there were at least half a million people in there.
I was seven.
We had floor seats, and when the crowd rose to their feet, I stood on my folding chair so I could see. I remember having to stand a little sideways, balanced against Mom to avoid the cigarette smoke from the man in the seat next to me.
I’m a Believer has never sounded better than it did that day when Davy Jones, Mickey Dolenz, and Peter Tork sang.
It was 1986 and we were watching the 20th Anniversary Reunion Tour of the Monkees.
Two months later we moved to Texas. So, that sums up my entire relationship with and personal knowledge of the Peoria music scene of the 80s & 90s. I’ve heard some fantastic stories from many of you though.
I also hear and see complaints daily about where our current music scene is in comparison... and it's almost always from those connected to Peoria area music.
I do know there is a lot of room for improvement, but I can't help but be positive. There is too much good happening in this city that I love to write it off as "not enough." And frankly, the only thing besides that one concert that I have to compare it to, is Summer of 2017 when I sat on my couch night after night watching Netflix, thinking there was nothing to do in Peoria.
Seriously… most of Peoria just doesn’t know it’s happening! I had no idea! But, there are some things we can all do to get us closer to where we want to be.
Peoria Music Live wasn’t a thing until it was… it exists almost completely outside the box. It's amazing to listen to the innovative ideas of others as well! There are some amazingly brilliant and passionate people working to improve our music scene these days. Be one of them. Brainstorm. Mix it up. Try something new.
Working together more helps too. Bands, venues, booking agents, promoters, all of us. When you've poured your heart and soul into something, it's common to want to protect it. However, the most successful venues and bands that I’ve seen are the ones willing to collaborate on projects and help each other out from time to time. Pride takes up a huge amount of brain space. Putting egos aside leaves a lot of room for fun and creativity. And those are good things for the music scene!
One of the issues I look forward to working on is the lack of music education in many of our schools. I’m sure it extends through all of the area, but many kids in Peoria schools seem to think the only good music that exists is on the radio. I have some ideas for getting more involved there, but I have to get Peoria Music Live funded first so I can move forward with the other projects.
The most important thing we need to do? Stop publicly complaining. Today alone I saw at least four people talking about how upset and disappointed they are with the scene. I know many of you have seen our scene so much better, but isn't complaining about it counter-productive?
I spend a lot of time telling people that the Peoria music scene is awesome. Time and again they go and check it out for themselves. Some of them bring friends. They’ll all get food and drinks and they'll catch a show. That’s when they realize, "Hey, that was a lot of fun... I want to do it again!"
But if they keep hearing that the music scene isn’t good, or even that it used to be better, they'll just believe us and not bother to find out for themselves... and when that happens, aren’t we partially to blame for the lack of attendance?
Besides the stunning talent we have here, one of my favorite things about Peoria is the fact that we have everything someone could want or need to become successful. I look forward to more people embracing the idea that what plays in Peoria should stay in Peoria... because we have everything you need to flourish right here at home.
Regardless of what New York or Los Angeles or Nashville tells you... you need Peoria and Peoria needs you. Let's work on lifting each other up and just keep doing this thing together and watch what happens.
It’s going to be good!