Musicians reflect on DeKalb music scene

By Carl Nadig

David Reed, frontman of The Great Influence Machine.

Northern Star: What don’t you like about the DeKalb music scene?

Reed: That I don’t hear about enough stuff, you know? I don’t do Facebook or … have an online presence. I tend to rely on phone calls and texting. Stuff like that. If I don’t hear about it from somebody like mouth to ear, then I probably won’t hear about it.

It’s not like you go to the local anything anymore and see what’s going on in town. At one point, they used to put fliers up on certain doors and certain places where we knew it would be OK, like a record store. Now, they put fliers up on the local liquor store … . Think about it. The only real place you can look for something to do, anymore, is Facebook.

Danny Collins, owner and booking manager of “Don’t Panic, It’s a Distro.”

NS: As a band manager, is it difficult to book shows in DeKalb?

Collins: No. I think a lot of people are pretty stoked about playing in DeKalb. And one reason is because DeKalb is so far from Chicago … and so close at the same time.

Any band that I’m booking pretty much comes from the surrounding area or from the Chicago area. I mean, it’s really only an hour drive for them and it’s still going away to play a show. Although you’re not playing for the same audience … I think you kind of gather up a reputation for having a good music scene in town. People take note of that.

James High, rhythm guitarist and vocalist of Soundsmith. Alternative Rock.

NS: Is the DeKalb music scene limited to bars?

High: Oh, certainly not! No, it’s a college town, so there’s plenty of people that are willing to host bands in their basements or bands that will jam and basically throw a party. Obviously, there’s been Camp Kind, [which was] started up a few years ago … and Corn Fest is here every year. So, there’s a lot of other opportunities to play in front of a crowd, but not so many music venues are limited to the House Cafe or Otto’s as far as showcasing original music on a consistent basis.

Alex Bentley, aka Statut3. Electronic Dance Music.

NS: Do you see a difference between the music scene on campus and downtown DeKalb?

Bentley: Yeah, definitely. There’s a difference between the downtown DeKalb area and the student body area. The bars, such as Rosy’s and Molly’s, they play the more “up-to-date radio music,” where the downtown DeKalb area plays more bands….

In my experience, it’s changing. Like, in the last two years, dance music has been falling off in the student body. Before, it was more hip-hop, rap and poppy kind of stuff — the kind of stuff that you hear on the radio, which didn’t include dance music until the last year or so.

Pete Jive, folk singer/songwriter.

NS: What is your favorite aspect of DeKalb’s music scene?

Jive: Well, there’s so many different bands…. I think because my favorite place was the House Cafe and that drew a lot of people from different backgrounds and brought people [together] from singing reggae to … kids shredding on guitars.

You know, that’s what I dig so much about it. There was enough people who played that kind of music and [people] who weren’t outgoing enough to try and share their music … [and] not big enough. There aren’t enough places to play.