Canyon County is not generally held in regard as a hotbed for music and art. Yet there are plenty of offerings to draw those in search of some culture to the west side of the valley.
Nampa and Caldwell have all of the makings of small town culture: bands looking for success, small venues that support local musicians and artists, modest theaters and galleries, and even space for a philharmonic orchestra.
Nampa's Flying M Coffeegarage is a mainstay of the area's music scene. With its cozy decor-rich interior and large mechanic's garage-turned-music venue, it functions as a hub for local bands and artists to congregate, consume caffeine and network for shows and events. In addition to bringing in national touring acts including Toro y Moi and The War on Drugs, the Coffeegarage regularly features local bands.
"The Flying M kind of started it all," said Scott Pemble, owner of Caldwell venue The Manor. "It fostered and supported the local music scene, and it's just grown and spread from there."
The Manor is the moniker for a house in Caldwell near the College of Idaho that regularly hosts concerts and is at the head of a small network of house-show venues in the area. Last summer it hosted a performance from Brooklyn, N.Y.-based noise pop group Vivian Girls. The Big Red House in Nampa is another notable house venue in 2C that regularly hosts artists, barbecues and concerts.
Other spots for local musicians and artists to perform include the campuses of Northwest Nazarene University and College of Idaho, Ste. Chapelle Winery, Messenger Pizza and Brewery, Coyote's Wine Bar and Shop, The Bent Fork and both the Nampa and Caldwell farmers markets.
Several bands from 2C are making waves regionally, including low-fi garage rockers Art Fad, who are scheduled to open for San Francisco post-punk outfit Thee Oh Sees at the Coffeegarage on Monday, Nov. 28, and indie folk group Mickey the Jump. Other notable 2C bands to keep an ear out for are Fountains, Stargaze Unlimited and Grand Falconer.
But because Canyon County's music scene is small and still developing, bands looking to really cut their teeth generally end up having to cross over the county line into Boise. Popular Boise bands Shades and Mozam Beaks both have roots in Canyon County but later relocated to Boise.
"Nampa and Caldwell definitely have developing music scenes, but a lot of the shows we play are in Boise," said Theo Maughan, one half of Art Fad. "We recorded our album in Boise, and most of the opportunities we get are almost always in Boise."
"The local Hispanic community blows everyone else out of the water when it comes to engagement and enthusiasm for its shows," said Pemble.
There are also a number of more traditional cultural offerings in the area. The Friesen Galleries at NNU regularly host world-class exhibits, with styles ranging from modern and impressionist to realist and classical art.
The Nampa-based Music Theatre of Idaho has been putting on professional, family friendly plays and productions since 1997. In 2012 the theater plans to put up performances of Fiddler on the Roof, Hello Dolly! and Little Shop of Horrors among others.
The Treasure Valley Young Artists, also Nampa-based, is home to one of the nation's premier youth choral groups.
There are also several other popular galleries and museums in the area. The Nampa Train Depot Museum was built in 1902 and restored and converted into a museum in 1976 to house artifacts from its history.
The Artistblue Gallery at the Karcher Mall is home to both local and international art, including original sculptures, paintings and pottery.
The Christian art gallery Goodsalt claims that it contains the world's largest collection of religious illustrations--both contemporary and historic--while the Chasa Art Gallery in downtown Nampa features a range of Southwestern arts and artifacts.
Those in search of some classical entertainment don't have to go far from home. Boise Philharmonic regularly holds performances at NNU, and recently upgraded to full Friday night performances.
"We are doing Nampa concerts to expand our base in this community," said Jimsi Kuborn, marketing director for Boise Philharmonic. "In terms of audience makeup, I don't think there's a big difference to Boise. They have similar expectations and are getting the same programming."