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Alive After Five's New Approach

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In the 19th year of Alive After Five festivities in downtown Boise, the music at the venue is undergoing either a facelift or a downfall this year, depending on individual perspective. The difference is that the music scene will now encompass mainly regional and national bands with a few local bands as well, instead of remaining an event primarily composed of local music.

The Downtown Boise Association (DBA) is responsible for the change, and says it aims to bring as many Boiseans downtown by providing the best performances possible. However, it has upset many in the local music scene who believe Alive After Five should continue to represent local music.

"It's really frustrating to see the [DBA] go this route," says local musician Dennis Cleary. "This has been something so local for so long. Alive After Five has always been a family affair for years, and its two major purposes are to get people downtown to spend money, and also as a free concert to thank us for our patronage to keep the inner city alive." he says.

The DBA's response is that they still support local talent, but their mission of getting people downtown requires offering a greater variety of music not centralized to Boise. "There really is not a switch. What we're doing is providing the city of Boise music they haven't seen before," says Karen Sander, DBA executive director. "Local musicians should be jacked to be able to see these bands in Boise. Part of the other reason is that there's so much competition so we're venturing out to spice it up."

Musicians playing this year range from national bands like The Ducks, to the season's opening local band Crash Four. One rumor raised by the change has been whether or not out-of-town bands will be more lavishly paid than local talent has been in previous years. In regards to a pay discrepancy, Sanders says, "We're averaging out. The Ducks were just on NPR and we scored them. Some of the bands cost more, like The Ducks for their national level, and some cost less than local bands charge here."

Though all profit from Alive After Five goes back into the community, some local musicians feel their contribution to the scene is being overlooked by bringing in regional and national bands, whether their contribution means buying music equipment in Boise or playing around town. Cleary sums up the sentiment, "Musicians have been a big contributor in not only spending cash downtown, but supporting local music stores with equipment purchasing."

The DBA's Sander seems surprised at the idea that the transformation has upset the public. She says, "Typically these guys (local musicians) are hungry to hear new music. Musicians should take it as a chance to learn from each other."

The success of the revamped Alive After Five will not be known until after its 2005 run, and organization for the following year will be determined based on this summer's turnout.

-Jennifer Parsons