Guest Opinion by Chris Pelka
I’ve been active in the Salem music scene for two years now, playing in a number of acts, organizing a few events and even starting a show aptly named “Salem Music Scene,” and I’ve gotta say one thing: I’m disappointed in the lack of interest in this city for original music. I know a lot of us feel this way, but no one wants to say it out loud for some reason. So, I’ll say it here: if you haven’t seen a local act playing original music in the last six months, you’re the problem. I know some of you buy tickets without intending to actually show up and others buy CDs and other merch, which helps. But what we really want is for you to go to our gigs, dance to our songs, clap along to the groove and sing along with us. You should have a favorite local band – period. You should have a favorite song of theirs – period. Sharing on Facebook is great, but if you don’t come out and support the scene, it’s going to die. Salem is too close to Portland for bands to stick around if they’re good enough. Or worse, those bands will break up because some members will leave and some will stay.
It’s not just individuals making it hard though. The city ordinance on sound is garbage. It needs to change. If you ask me, the only reason that Salem doesn’t get larger acts to come through is due to the lack of a larger venue. The Elsinore is NOT a proper venue. I know that there are those who think we can’t handle it, but those people are clearly wrong. Just look at The Space and the things they’re accomplishing. We need more places dedicated to the music before food and drinks. Salem is in a unique position right now. For instance, did you know that Salem now has a LOCAL FM radio station? 105.5 The Moon went live last month. In the last year, I’ve seen so many bands grow from new guys on the block to Salem standards. We’re in the middle of a musical renaissance, and if you ask me, that is due to the hard work of several people here in the community. Make Music Day Salem was an amazing event and I think it was a good way to get people to check out what’s going on here. We need more city-wide events like this and we need the City of Salem on board and the Chamber of Commerce as well as the citizens.
Reader, you are the most important part of this whole system. Without you, who would I even write music for? Without you, what does being a musician even mean? We do what we love because we want to share it with you – and a lot of us are damn good at it too. So, the next time you see a poster for some cover band coming into town and you think it looks like fun, spend your $10 somewhere else and go see a local band that wrote their own music, and make some new friends. And when they make it big, you’ll be glad you did.
Chris plays in Salem bands Red Spectre and Songs For Alice and has played in Salem for two years as well as hosting, producing, and event coordinating for “Salem Music Scene,” an online video interview show for over a year. He’s a multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter.