The beginning of a band is an amazing thing to behold, and our fair crapitol city is a perfect microcosmic laboratory in which to observe the ongoing cycle of a band’s birth, life, and eventually, death. Unless you’re a world renown rock star with unlimited cash and access to the cream of the talent puddle, putting a band together involves as much blind luck as it does hard work. I’ve always been amazed at the number of really talented musicians here in Juneau, and concurrently amazed by the fact that there never seem to be more than a handful of working bands in town at any given time. With our lack of world notoriety here, musicians are forced to work within the framework of who is available, able and hopefully enthusiastic enough to put in the time and effort that coalescence of a decent band takes. I’ve seen a good number of bands come and go over the years and it’s always a fascinating process to witness. Bluegrass 101, one of the hardest working bands in town today (unless you count the school kids), was quite deliberately put together, but still needed the element of chance in the form of the right people being in the right place at the right time. At the risk of jinxing the whole thing, I’ll say that they have a good chance of blazing through what appears to be a 4 to 6 year life expectancy for Juneau bands. There are a wide variety of factors that can contribute to the “death” of a band’s working days, including death itself as was the case in the legendary Peabody’s Monster band when brother Bill Kozmo passed away a few years back. The opposite was true when it came to our dearly departed Panhandle Crabgrass Revival Band who lost members to the pursuit of nurturing new lives. With a few changes in the line up over the years, the Bobb Family band is one group that has doubled (and maybe then some) the Juneau band life expectancy, with no sign of stopping any time soon. Other bands have flared up and blazed like a thousand-string of firecrackers, only to leave a large silence after the last POP! Dag Nabbit and The Clap are two examples of bands that just flared up and kicked butt and winked out. And you may remember Justin Smith’s Blues Band that pretty much owned the live music scene in Juneau for a couple years. A band’s life can be ended by break-ups, make-ups, shake-ups, incarcerations, infatuations, lacerations, impregnations, degradations and upgradations, and that’s why it’s important to get out there and sniff around your always burbling and changing Juneau live music “scene”. For one, you might miss the firecracker show. I treasure having seen a few bands that never recorded and will most likely not play together again. For two, watching a “long-haul” band evolve over the years along with other fans creates a positive shared experience within the community. In this era of global instant information, it’s good for us to shut off the cell phone every once in a while and go dancin’ with the neighbors. Support live music!
~Sean Tracey is four beers deep and feels incredibly smart.