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How High Will The Hawk Fly?

By Scott Smith in Arts & Entertainment on Feb 17, 2006 6:03PM

If you look at this weekend’s music listings, you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s nothing more than a typical winter weekend of local and national acts hitting Chicago’s stages. But the significance of this weekend is far greater than the bills would suggest. For the first time, Chicago’s music venues are working together to ensure their own survival.

Last week, we told you about the 2006 Hawk Winter Music Festival. Today, Greg Kot and Jim DeRogatis get into the details of the event that’s designed to promote the League of Chicago Music Venues. The League is made up of eleven of Chicago’s clubs and intends to promote the valuable contributions that they make to the city, both economically and artistically.

But Kot notes that an organization to advance the cause of live music in Chicago already existed when the League was formed. The Chicago Music Commission started last year as “a resource, advocate and lobbyist for all things involving Chicago music.”

2006_02_wondertwins.jpgChicagoist thinks it’s a no-brainer for these two groups to work together. Right now, Chicago’s music scene needs three things: internal networking, external promotion and regulation that ensures the safety of the audience while encouraging commerce.

The CMC has already done excellent work on the first point with its Musicians at Work forums. But Chicago needs to do more to put itself on par with Austin as a music destination and this seems to be part of the CMC’s mission as well. While Lollapalooza was a great success in advancing Chicago as a place for great live music, there’s nothing to keep its organizers from staging it another city or multiple cities. Finally, the owners and talent buyers of Chicago’s venues know all to well the dangers of overly restrictive licensing and regulation. Through the League, they can work with City Hall to create an open dialogue that encourages safety while still allowing owners to operate a successful business.

Over the past couple months, Chicagoist had some informal conversations with both members of the CMC and the League. Each group expressed interest in working with the other, but we got the sense that they felt their individual goals would be diluted if they did. We see this as more of a Wonder Twins scenario. When both groups begin working together, they’ll have more success at promoting their individual agendas.