HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO US: It's been a year since we began Big Noise and we're celebrating in the usual way. We've got a big cake with thick icing and one large, red candle stuck in the middle. Wait a second, that candle is sizzling. It almost sounds like a stick of dynamite or something. BANG! We're dead.
That's right. Big Noise is no more. The Weekly's monthly music magazine that mostly focused on the local has been executed by the proverbial bean counter. The fact is, the magazine wasn't bringing in enough money to allow our small paper to afford to keep printing it. We operated at a loss beginning with the first issue a year ago and The Weekly's publisher decided a couple of weeks ago to close the wound gushing red ink.
As you may know, the cost of newsprint has been skyrocketing over the past couple of years and more price increases loom in the future. Ad revenue is what The Weekly depends on for its survival. Even though every issue of BN was filled with ads, that was somewhat of an optical illusion. Most of those ads had already been purchased for publication in The Weekly--not Big Noise specifically. The music monthly just didn't generate enough ad money on its own to justify its continued existence.
What the impact of the magazine's demise on the local music scene will be is hard to determine. We never really got a lot of feedback from readers on the publication, so I don't know if many of you will miss it.
I did have a sense that in the last few months many musicians in town had come to respect the mag and looked forward to the last week of the month when it took the place of our usual music section in The Weekly.
We tried hard to pump up the local scene with BN, whether that was apparent to most readers or not. Almost every issue featured a local artist or band on the cover and each installment of BN had at least three profiles of local performers in it.
We debuted with Rainer on the cover and climaxed with a story about community radio station KXCI (it was good for us, was it good for you?). In between, we did feature stories on Paula Jean Brown, Fuzz, Doo Rag, The Drakes, Blackmoon Graffiti, Linda Ronstadt, Dog and Pony Show, The Resonars and super-DJ Kidd Squidd, as well as national acts such as the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Dick Dale, The Smithereens, Mojo Nixon and Samiam.
Of course, the backbone of the publication was our columnists: Fred Mills shaking out his inimitable Rock Jar; Molly Who keeping us jacked into the Internet (she also did a cover story on how and where to find music and more on the Net) with Line Noise; Yvonne Ervin's informative and witty coverage of the jazz scene in Jazz Is.
We had a new column about underground releases, reissues of albums and collectible music ready to debut in our first anniversary issue. It was to be written by Timothy Gassen, a talented and knowledgeable writer who contributed to every issue of BN.
To be honest, I think we did a damn good job covering music in this town. We did more than anyone else is doing or has ever done in my time in Tucson. We exposed readers to artists who don't get much attention, although they deserve it, and also kept you informed on what some of the better known musicians were up to. It was hard work for little pay, and I want to thank art director Matthew Bardram and all the writers who did the work that made the paper a reality.
I admit I'm frustrated by the demise of Big Noise. I'm angry, too. I wanted to keep going, to keep trying to make it a financial and artistic success. Working on the paper made me feel like I was a small part of something with a larger, noble purpose--enhancing the local music scene and embracing the artists who give so much for so little in return. If it had been my decision to make, you would have the first anniversary issue of Big Noise in your hands right now.
But I'm not the one who had to write the checks that paid for this experiment in journalism. Those checks just became too painful for our publisher to sign any longer.
I'm not sure what the future Weekly music coverage will look like. For now, we're continuing to do a monthly concert calendar and our usual weekly music feature, album reviews and Sound Bites column. I hope we'll be able to expand the music section in the near future and continue some of the work we started in Big Noise.
We hope you enjoyed it while it lasted.
LAST NOTES: You can help feed the hungry and have a good time dancing to the toasting of Eek-A-Mouse this Saturday, September 2, beginning at 10 a.m. at the bandshell in Reid Park.
Community radio station KXCI (91.3 FM) is hosting Jamaicafest '95 to benefit the station and the Tucson Community Food Bank. There is no admission charge for the concert, but everyone is encouraged to bring two cans of food to the park for the food bank.
Before the Mouse man takes the stage, you'll hear reggae and world beat from the Phoenix groups Rastafarmers, Grant Man & the Island Beat and Radical Mix and Tucson's own Northstar and DJ Papa Ranger. The free concert ends around 8 p.m.
The music of the Andes Mountains will fill the Temple of Music and Art, 330 S. Scott Ave., on Saturday evening with Rumillajta.
The group is from La Paz, Bolivia, and plays the music of the homeland as well as tunes from Chile, Ecuador and Peru. Tickets range from $12 to $16. Call 327-4809 for more information.
Royal Crown Revue brings its swinging jive back to Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., that same night. Call 622-8848 for more information.
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