E-Mail Story


News Letter Sign up

Support local music scene – or watch it die out

May 05, 2017

1 Image

While the locally owned and corporate restaurants are seeing growth as Statesboro grows, there is one area of the local music scene that is feeling a blow. Driving down around Chandler Road and Lanier Drive, what you may find is a lot of nearly empty spaces. Recent years have seen what used to be a thriving college social scene begin to drown in the wake of more and more restrictive alcohol ordinances. Laws that are intended to provide safer regulations for young people in and around Georgia Southern University have begun to have a strangling effect where live music venues are seeing dramatic drops in attendance which are leading local venue owners to question how much longer they will be able to support local musicians. 

South City Tavern, a popular music venue for GSU students, is one of the few still open, but owner Chris Springfield is concerned that this may be the last semester the bar is able to offer live music.

"We began really promoting live music so we could act as a music venue and have people of all ages come enjoy the artist and our hospitality," Springfield says. "This meant letting in people under the age of 21 to hang out with their friends in a controlled setting that would not serve them alcohol rather than have them at house or fraternity parties with no supervision." 

With what Springfield calls the city's "overly aggressive" attempts to shut down bars, the ticket sales which were used to compensate artists are no longer enough to offer musicians a reasonable pay for their time. 

They aren't giving up, though. Within walking distance of campus housing, South City Tavern, Cowboys (formerly Big Shows), and Dingus Magees all keep social media pages filled up with live music announcements in an effort to keep regulars aware of upcoming shows of local, regional and, occasionally, national artists. The music scene around GSU isn't dead, but the struggle is real. 

Students want to be able to hang out with their friends, listen to music and dance, but local bar owners are facing the challenge of limited numbers. Considering the percentage of the student population that is old enough to enter a 21 and over bar, and subtract those who have no friends who are under 21. Then divide that by the number of venues located in the area and the numbers are just too low. This is without taking into consideration any parties that are being held on any given night that do not offer the supervision of staff to check IDs to ensure that only those over 21 are drinking. Local 21-and-up music venues are facing a real challenge to continue to support local artists, but students and citizens are hoping it's a challenge they conquer.

One venue, however, isn't feeling the burn because it's not the party scene that they're interested in. The BiRDHAUS, founded by local band BiRDPERSON, is making waves in a whole new way in Statesboro. From an artist’s perspective, it's a breath of fresh air. The BiRDHAUS offers a performance venue unlike any other in our area. BiRDPERSON member Aaron Cooler describes those who attend shows as more of a community whose goal is to appreciate the art, support the artists and provide a platform for them to share their music. And with this concept, they are finding a niche that is filled with artists from as far as Wisconsin and Texas who are looking to book shows in venues just like theirs across the country. 

Of course, you're not likely to find your favorite cover band playing here.

 "There are some folks who play some covers," Cooler says," but we encourage the artists to play any originals that they have because that's really what we're here for. That's what we want to hear."  

Genre isn't really a focus for those who attend shows at the BiRDHAUS, either. They have "mixed genre" shows featuring multiple artists of varying genres and, according to Cooler, they are very well attended, but there is a catch. The address is not publicized. Those interested in attending shows have to know someone who knows someone. 

While the community keeps itself accountable simply by their own desire to enjoy the music without the influence of alcohol, they understand that venues like theirs are often misunderstood by communities. What artists see, however, is a place to perform original music to an audience that is eager to listen. As an artist, this is a beautiful concept, and one I'd love to see in action. 

So what does all of this mean for music lovers around Georgia Southern campus? It means that regardless of the local laws, musicians will find a place to play, even if it's their own living rooms. It means that venues will continue to fight for local musicians to be heard by as many people as are willing to listen, even if that means fighting through the challenges presented by local ordinances. It means that you, as music lovers, are the vital key. Without your support, none of these venues can continue to offer venues for local artists to perform, and without local music, there isn't national music. Each and every person we hear on the radio today began in small local venues who gave them a chance to perform and be heard and earn a living through music. 

Next month, we'll take a break from our series to do a special piece on of our areas most influential musicians, Wesley Bragg. 


E-Mail Story

News Letter Sign up

Bookmark and Share
« Previous Story | Next Story »

COMMENTS encourages readers to interact with one another. We will not edit your comments, but we reserve the right to delete any inappropriate responses. To report offensive or inappropriate comments, contact our editor. The comments below are from readers of and do not necessarily represent the views of Publication or Morris Multimedia.

You must be logged in to post comments.  [LOGIN]

You must be logged in to post comments.  [LOGIN]