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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Waterfront Wednesday Mystery

On the final Wednesday of August, I took a road trip down to Waterfront Wednesday in Louisville. Waterfront Wednesday is put on by 91.9FM WFPK and is a free show that occurs on the last Wednesday of each month from April to September on a little piece of Waterfront Park in downtown Louisville. Each month the show features three national touring bands playing from an hour to an hour and a half a piece. Oh, did I mention it's free?

Canada's Great Lake Swimmers, singer-songwriter Will Hoge, and alt-country legends, Cracker all graced Louisville's stage last month with the Ohio River as its backdrop. While the tunes were great and ran for four hours (starting at 6pm) this post is not a concert review by any stretch. This my friends is more of an open letter to you, the UrbanCincy reader, to get a discussion going around why Louisville can pull something like this off while we here in Cincy get cover band after cover band on our waterfront on Wednesday nights.

Waterfront Wednesday crowd gathers along the Ohio River

This is my biggest beef these days with our town and something I'd love to change, but the task sometimes seems so great that it is not worth tackling. Then I look closer (like I know most of us do, and we challenge our friends to do so too) and I see that things are starting to really cook! Midpoint is quickly approaching with a lot of great bands with bands from our same zip code, as well as bands from as far away as Paris, France. That group also did a great job lining up bands through the summer on Fountain Square, but I have to say that all of that seems to be the polar opposite of "name that cover band." I think there is a middle ground, and I think Louisville has found it.

Louisville is doing a lot of things right with their concert series and they are bringing a good amount of people into town for it. Their mix of artists on any given Waterfront Wednesday is very diverse and don't necessarily cross over, but people come for one and stay for all three. Will Great Lake Swimmers open for an entire tour for Cracker? Heck no, but for a night it seems to work! Oh, and because it's free, people bring other people along with them. I have noticed in my two trips there this summer that most of the people that show up fall more under the "curious observer" label than "diehard fan". People bring their kids along and there are people around that would be eligible for the Golden Buckeye if only they lived in Ohio. It's a wonderful and diverse combination of music lovers that come to enjoy their evening. Outside. For free. Along the river. Shocking, I know.

So, to you the reader of UrbanCincy, I ask this... why not us? And just as (if not more) important, how can we do something like this? I have asked this question of people around town in conversations over the last six weeks and have received many different answers. Louisville has about 1.2M people in the metro area and we have 2.1M people, so you can't say they have a wider base from which to draw. We both have universities and we are both river towns. Provide your rationale and provide your solutions in your comments, and if you are willing to try to find a way to make it happen say that too.

For those curious, the September 30 show headliner is BellX1 with supporting acts to be announced. I have to say, the drive is pretty easy and for what you get, it's well worth the trip.


Randy Simes said...

I wonder if the success of the Fountain Square Summer Music Series has anything to do with this. Sawyer Point is also somewhat awkward to get to if you're unfamiliar with the area.

Danny said...

I'm not sure how long Fountain Square Music Series has been going on, but Waterfront Wednesday has been going on for years (4 or 5, maybe more). Louisville supports this because their is huge support for WFPK, the public radio station that focuses on music. There is a great following for independent music. Plus, it's free.

Cincinnati could do this if they fostered a culture for independent rock. There are bands that hail from Cincy that fit this mold (i.e., Over the Rhine), but Cincy seems more concerned with being mainstream. Louisville, conversely, gave up that dream long ago and has embraced a niche: we like independents. We like independent restaurants, boutiques, arts (i.e., Actor's Theater Louisville), and in this case, music.

It's not better or worse than Cincy's overall vibe. Just different. If you prefer mainstream acts, you are far better off in Cincy. That's my two cents.

Joe said...

Remember when the city had to decide whether to keep Mike Brown or let him go, and that keeping him would entail building him a stadium and supporting him financially? Remember how smug he was? Remember who the owner with the worst record in NFL history is? Meanwhile, the city cannot fund anything like Waterfront Park. And, people keep paying to go to the Bengal's games.

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