Thursday, August 14, 2008

Shreveport musicians and the Mayor: a start toward unity and a city-wide musical consciousness

Shreveport musicians responded to Mayor Cedric Glover's invitation to a town meeting - the mayor's tenth - by filling the large room at Barnwell Center. What they found was a mayor who proclaimed his love of music but who drew the line decisively at the idea of widespread live performances outdoors.

"Shreveport is losing population - we're under 200,000 at this point - but Bossier's gaining people. Folks want a clean, orderly community for their residence. " The mayor's priority is to reverse the population slide by emphasizing a new level of awareness of trash and blight and of keeping neighborhoods free of threatening activity, which includes loud music.

Young Shreveporters who resented the city shutting down their open-air music venue at Big D's BBQ, corner of Caddo and Common Streets, hoped to hear the mayor propose to update the so-called nuisance laws. It was not to be, despite appeals from venue owner Big D, producer Susan Garner, musician Paul Garner and musician Yockie Joe.

A big picture was provided for the audience by manager Ken Shepherd, who claimed that Kenny Wayne Shepherd's career is run from Shreveport. "I remember when the musicians' union, Local 116, was strong. It enabled players to be paid and paid a decent fee," he said. "Join your union and you'll be able to sit down with the mayor and negotiate from a position of strength."

The gathering was notable for its demographics. There was a central casting aspect to the seeming equal numbers of black and white musicians as well as old and young music types. One under-represented category: females.

Dirtfoot closed the evening with a tricyclatron show on the Barnwell patio, a lovely under-the-stars venue. Yet in the beginning of the jam the musical attendees seemed occupied with discussions of the session with the mayor. Was there a conclusion to be drawn, a plan to be evaluated?

Many seemed to agree with Jerry Beach, who told the mayor that the music-based town meet was, overall, a good thing. Beach said to Glover, "We need to have another one of these, don't you think?"


Anonymous said...

Ken Shepard is an ass hole and completely out of touch with what the music scene is really about in Shreveport. Joining the Unions who dont care or becoming a member of the Grammy's is a Joke if you think it will solve the real problems we are having in Shreveport. The Mayor and his buddies are obviously out of touch as well. The point of music is not always to make MONEY. sometimes its just about the music!

Anonymous said...

how can you expect to model Shreveport after Austin or New Orleans if you wont allow the things that make those cities truely great and attractive?

Anonymous said...

I gotta say that there was, in fact, a performance. A politician and his well meaning hack certainly appeared to care. Of course this from a guy who goes to SXSW, apparently on our dime, cause he thinks he's helping somebody. The only "somebody" I see being helped here is the mayor and his crony (or political favor).

Pat Austin said...

As far as outdoor music goes, one of the neatest things Shreveport had, back in the day, was the amphitheater at Veteran's Park. I saw Joan Jett there and lots of great local talent (I miss you Mike Grady!).

Sadly, it became a haven for nefarious deeds, it got torn up, abused, and destroyed. WHY can't we have something wonderful like that and maintain it?