Savannah’s a notoriously gossip-fueled town, especially when it comes to the performing arts community. So, if you move in those wide circles, there’s a good chance you may have heard a rumor about me leaving Connect.
Well, to borrow a shopworn Hollywood one-sheet come-on, “Everything you’ve heard is true!”
(Cue ominous organ pad.)
After a little more than eight years on staff, I am stepping down from my post as Music Editor. This column will likely be the last in the pages of this publication to run with my byline for some time.
Which is not to say you’ll never again read something I’ve written in this paper. I leave on good terms, with an offer to pen occasional freelance pieces.
Truth be told, for reasons of space and finance, opportunities for such things will likely be very few and far between, but the fact they exist at all is a source of great comfort to me.
Those who know me well understand I have always taken this job extremely seriously. From the moment I came on board, I was determined to do my level best at what I knew was a moderately treacherous assignment. Performers, artists and creative types in general are a prickly bunch, consumed —in varying degrees— by ego, pride, exhibitionism, feelings of inferiority, passion, desire for fame, bitterness, fear, depression and rage.
Trust me on this. I am one myself.
The fact that I was —and still am— an active and visible participant on the local entertainment scene made me both an ideal candidate for this job, as well as a potential liability. Were I not to hew a careful line in covering the very community I was already ensconced in, I would surely be viewed as a walking conflict of interest: my words and opinions worth little or nothing.
The folks who ran (and those who currently run) Connect trusted me to do what I said I would: Namely, to cover local artists and events without playing favorites or insidiously hyping my own personal projects.
I felt strongly then —and still do— that in a slightly sheltered town such as this, where creative types of all stripes have never really had to deal with hardcore, soul-crushing forms of public criticism, the key to nurturing that talent is through expository coverage.
That’s a more constructive (if at times drier) approach than you’ll find in most free alt.weeklies around the country, but it’s also largely free of the hipper-than-thou mixture of snide, caustic put-downs and condescending, jealous axe-grinding that far too often passes for entertainment journalism at rags like this.
It's also an attitude that has certainly confounded some along the way, but the positive feedback I’ve been fortunate to receive from readers who have little or no direct relation to Savannah’s live entertainment scene —save for the fact they support it with their wallets— has only reinforced the notion that being even-handed and pragmatic (as well as remembering this paper is neither a fanzine nor a music-biz trade mag) has helped Connect’s entertainment coverage reach out to an unusually wide swath of locals and tourists.
Hopefully that positive, inclusive vibe will continue in my absence. (I see no reason for it not to, as this paper’s management is nothing if not even-handed and pragmatic!)
As for me, I remain an ardent and vocal supporter of Savannah’s live entertainment scene, and a fierce advocate for local musicians — especially now that some in local government seem hellbent on destroying much of the past decade’s progress (which made this a better place for musicians to live and work — and for music fans to live and visit).
In addition to any pieces of mine which may appear in future issues of Connect, I’ll soon be blogging regularly on the local scene (and the larger pop-culture context) at WickedMessenger.com. If you’ve appreciated my take on such things in the past, I encourage you to take a gander.
I’ll also continue to curate and run the Psychotronic Film Society’s ongoing series of unusual foreign, cult and indie films, and (with my dear friends in the Tiny Team) to promote noteworthy concerts by internationally-known artists who’d otherwise never play this market.
It should go without saying, but just in case it does not, I’d like to make clear that I have the utmost respect and admiration for the entire staff of Connect Savannah. To a person, they are some of the hardest-working and most devoted folks I’ve ever met, and it’s been a privilege to have worked alongside them.
Editor-in-Chief Jim Morekis and Gen. Manager Chris Griffin in particular are gems who toil diligently in often thankless jobs, and the cultural quality of life in this city would be much lower without devoted people like that fighting the good fight week after week.
It's also worth noting that alt.weeklies in similar markets routinely operate with a staff between two and three times the size of Connect Savannah's. The fact that this paper is able to offer the breadth and consistency of coverage that it does with only a skeleton crew on staff is, frankly, stunning.
In closing, if I were to offer a couple of parting thoughts from this particular soapbox, they would be: Don’t make the mistake of taking alternative news outlets such as this for granted. Support your local musicians and songwriters to the best of your ability.
And don’t let a cabal of misguided and deceitful politicians (who truly don't know jack about the business of nightlife, or its extreme importance to the overall fabric, vibrancy and financial viability of Savannah) suck the very heart and soul out of this wonderful, eclectic city — right under our noses.
See you at the shows.