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Chicago Gets Its Acts Together

By Scott Smith in Arts & Entertainment on Mar 14, 2005 1:00PM

When Chicagoist travels around this great country of ours, we brag about being from The City That Works. In response, people usually respond with “Oh! Michael Jordan!” or make that annoying rat-a-tat-tat machine gun sound. Gangsters, ha ha! It’s funny because it’s...actually, it’s not funny at all. Especially since the city’s got so much more to offer like, say, a kickass live music scene? Anyone? Seems we’re not the only ones tired of faux machine guns though. Greg Kot wrote in yesterday’s Tribune about a group of Chicago 2005_03_14_world.jpgscenesters and folks in the mayor’s office who’ve come together to form the Chicago Music Comission to raise the profile of Chicago’s music scene around the world.

The Commission intends to become “a resource, advocate and lobbyist for all things involving Chicago music.” Kot’s Sound Opinions partner, Sun-Times critic Jim Derogatis, called for just such a commission way back in 2002 but the likelihood of club owners and city officials working together on such a venture seemed about as likely as the re-opening of the Lounge Ax. In the wake of the E2 imbroglio, the city had been putting its collective jack-booted foot on the necks of club owners all over the city (even temporarily closing HotHouse over a license dispute). But over the last year, city officials and music industry professionals have met in an effort to get Chicago mentioned in the same breath as other great American music cities like Memphis, Austin, and New Orleans.

Kot notes that unlike the music commissions of Texas and Louisiana, the CMC will function as a private, non-profit organization and establish a music office in the city similar to those in Austin or New Orleans, which function more like collectives. The board of the Chicago Music Commission is composed of “local music veterans representing a cross-section of the scene” and the involvement of Pressure Point studio owner Chris Schneider, Alligator Records president Bruce Iglauer and Martyr’s owner Kate Hill certainly bears that out. The board is looking for those who aspire to a career in music as well as industry professionals to become members of the CMC and intends to kick off that effort during an April 19th party at Martyr’s.

As for goals, the largest consideration here is money. It’s there to be made and by pooling their resources, local professionals and the city stand to bring in a lot more of it from tourists. Other aims include regular meetings to air common grievances, ongoing discussions with city officials, economic-impact studies, a South by Southwest-style music conference and an informational website on shows in the city.

Hmm. Armchair quarterbacking any organization’s plan at this early a date is so much navel-gazing though we can’t help but wonder if the city really needs yet another resource for event listings in town. Here’s a tip from Chicagoist: how about using that Web space to create a way for unsigned bands to post music online or shed some light on the complicated machinations of the Chicago Liquor Control Commission so that maybe a new club or two might be able to open without an owner first having to donate their kidney.