With the celebration of the launch of Chroma Collective, I can’t help but think back to where I found my beginnings in local and DIY music. Many of us have fond memories of the person or people that introduced us to our local music scene, or that one venue and community that made an early impression by making us feel welcome and offered each of us a sense of belonging. When I was 16 years old, my parents read an article in the local newspaper about a coffee shop in Buchanan, MI that hosted local bands. It was a shocking moment at the dinner table when they told me to borrow the car and check it out with some of my friends. That venue (now an antique shop) was called The Eclipse and through that place I met a group of folks that opened my eyes to the small underground network of local venues that monopolized my life for the next several years.
That small network of punk venues developed into a thriving spiderweb of metalcore shows in the mid 2000’s that ring in the memories of my peers as the heyday of the midwest music scene. Since that time, we’ve watched the ebb and flow, the rise and fall of popularity of local music. Many of the familiar faces of those mid-2000’s mosh pits have faded away.
15 years later, a bearded 30-something punk/professional (that’s me) shows up early to the basement venue of the day to turn on the lights, flip the switch on the PA, refill the toilet paper, and set out the donation jar. I find myself sitting in that space and reflecting on the folks that have come and gone as well as the ones who have come and stayed. I’m encouraged by new faces with a new energy that have come to fill those spaces in front of the speakers, next to the soundboard, and on the stage. This is a simple reminder that it was a feeling of community and belonging that made us all feel at home in these scenes. This is a petition for all of us to be gracious and kind, welcoming and receptive to those who have a new passion and pride in the community. Don’t forget your roots.