Today is good day to be inside. Right now, the temperature in Boise is well above 95 degrees, and the beloved Foothills are locked behind a thick cloud of smoke. So I'm happy to walk through my air-conditioned house to sit down at my computer and check out a cool new way to look at Boise: the BoiseBeat (www.TheBoiseBeat.com).
Not to be confused with the Boise Weekly's online, up-to-the-minute updates, the BW Beat, TheBoiseBeat.com is a brand spanking new Web site devoted to anything related to Boise music. Launched on July 9, the Web site is quickly emerging as a welcome addition to the growing music scene. With a great look and sounds, the site offers local music-related news, art, comics, a comprehensive event calendar and a nicely crafted message board for fans and musicians alike.
TheBoiseBeat.com is clearly dedicated to all things music in Boise, and although other Web sites offer similar features—such as reviews and message boards—TheBoiseBeat.com engages the reader, music fan or musician in a way that makes it feel more like a community.
Oh, community. I love this stuff and want to be a part of it. I had to meet the creators behind this new local gem so I sent an e-mail to Editor-in-chief Stephanie May, and she, along with Operations Coordinator Francis Delapena (who is a regular freelance contributor to Boise Weekly), agreed to meet at a coffee shop to discuss the Web site and the scene.
After a brief moment, it was clear why these two started the Web site: It was formed, like many a great project, out of a passion for something. In their case, it's local music. May and Delapena came up with the idea in an ideal way: On a road-trip, they realized that they could turn their interest in and love of music into something which celebrates and encourages their local music community.
The 22-year-old May said her interest came from years of being a fan of local music, and being as involved as possible: working the door at concerts, promoting shows and more. "When I was in high school, some of my best friends were in the band Trashing Andi. My friend and I went to every single one of their shows for over a year and helped out by selling merchandise and promoting. I remember getting a feeling I can't really describe ... helping their band gave me a sense of fulfillment. I was doing something that helped with local music and benefited more people than myself. Soon after that, I started working with Kill Idaho Concerts, and it kind of sparked a fire that made me want to keep working with music. It is something I've always been around but never really did anything. So I felt like I wanted to give back."
Delapena had a similar reaction to an early local-music experience. "I was riding bikes at the skate park one night when the PirkQlaters and a couple other bands randomly showed up. They set up their equipment and rocked out for a couple hours. I didn't know who any of them were at the time, but I really appreciated being able to ride the park while listening to live music. It made my night, and it's one of those experiences I'll never forget. I'm not a musician or anything, but I've always been really into music, and I thought that it would be a great way to be more involved with it."
I thought I heard wrong, so I asked Delapena to repeat. I didn't hear wrong. Delapena and May are not musicians but do believe in working hard for the music community, in part by creating their "Internet hub" for local music.
I became a bit wary though, thinking about how many music Web sites must be out there and what would make TheBoiseBeat.com different? The difference lies in its goal of "centralizing" content that is already out there, and adding to it. Yes, people can post info about shows on MySpace.com, but it is often difficult to get a clear picture of all the events and music happenings. And as a local musician and promoter, I think that it is extremely important to have as many places as possible to display information about projects and events. But by centralizing this information, it's much easier for a local musicians, or fans, to find ways to experience the local scene.
The notion of community music is at the core of TheBoiseBeat.com, and they encourage everyone to get involved with an open submission policy for their content. According to Delapena, "The big thing that we wanted to do was to make it so that it was easy to get involved with. This is a community project."
TheBoiseBeat.com does have a community feel, but without a homemade look. It's a great-looking site on the Internet, with the distinct Boise skyline as a background (something I haven't seen in a while). Also striking is the fact that, at least for now, the Web site is ad-free, so the only things that aim to get your attention are directly related to local music, which begins playing immediately as the page opens. The site is fresh and vibrant and a welcome complement to the growing number of music-related media, and it will play an important role in the future development of a cohesive Boise sound and community. Delapena is hopeful about the future scene. "By no means am I an expert in this field, I really want to stress that, but as far as the future of Boise music goes, I can see it really starting to blow up. Just about every day, I get exposed to a new band I've never heard of before. Granted, some of them suck, but some of them are amazing and full of potential. Also, one thing that's so great about Boise music is it's expanding in so many directions. B-boy kids are popping up out of nowhere, DJs at places like the Neurolux are always packing the dance floor, indie and new wave bands keep getting better and better, and the old-school butt-rockers are still holding their ground. Most bars in town have live music available, and a lot of those musicians are local. Right now, all signs just point to growth."
Stephanie adds, "I've seen it grow so much just in the past few years. Boise's getting bigger and bigger, and more kids are picking up instruments and just getting out there and doing it. More unique places like the Visual Arts Collective and Community Benefits Boise are opening their doors to local musicians. Our market's small enough to get the word out about great local music, but big enough to be diverse." So true, so true. And projects, like TheBoiseBeat.com, give people reason to focus on what Boise has to offer, in a way that involves anyone who wishes to take part.
Visit www.theboisebeat.com for more information.