Grumbles from the cab

I drove my cab on xmas eve and it was slow enough that we whittled the fleet down to size and I got to go home early. Most of my fares were folks going from one bar to another or going home from a bar–everyone was nice and everyone tipped well which was very thoughtful. Nights like this–slow business with more driving time to each call due to a smaller fleet–give me a lot of time to think about my years in Madison.

My first band, the Ultramaroons, had a practice space in the Union Transfer building which was the first of the many many condo creations that dominate our downtown. We used to unwind from rehearsal at Ken’s Bar (sorry no cool old pic for that) which continued to be a great small place for live music until it got knocked down a few years back. I drive by in cab once in a while just to see if it has become anything more than a pile of rubble. My tenure in Madison started in 1996, right after Club D burned and the Chamber closed so we played most of our shows at O’Cayz and when that also burned our band, along with countless others, faded into obscurity. The music scene did not die with my band’s demise–I still make music and there are still clubs and newer bands that carry the torch. But this town has changed so dramatically in the decade I’ve lived here that I hardly recognize where I am when I drive around the Capitol. I’m always surprised that there aren’t music clubs on State Street–ok the Overture Center is a venue but that’s not what I’m talking about. Once upon a time, the oldsters tell me, there was great stuff on State Street, good clubs, cool bands, etc etc but that’s no more. Now the street has a lot of bars and a lot of youngsters who hit the bottle harder than I ever did when I was their age. I used to go to the bars to drink a lot too, but I stayed for the conversation and ultimately to hear music and eventually to play it. If these kids don’t see live music, will they want to be a part of it too?

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