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I wrote a column for this month's Chatter Magazine postulating how Track 29 led us to Moon River, which to me highlights how far we've come as a city when it comes to live music.

Some folks online perhaps took offense, believing that I had somehow disrespected the many, many people who had brought great live music to our city in the past. I say "perhaps" because I haven't seen the comments, but Jim Striker called to tell me some folks felt his old venue, The Bay, had been slighted.

First of all, The Bay closed in 2003, according to Striker, and Track didn't open until 2011. Secondly, no one has given The Bay and Striker his due more than I have. I have maintained for many years that few have brought more great acts to town than Striker at The Bay and Mike Dougher at first the Sandbar, then Rhythm & Brews and now Songbirds.

And so did the folks at Governor's Lounge, the Tivoli and Memorial Auditorium; plus, the list of big-time acts that played McKenzie Arena back in the '80s and '90s is pretty impressive via the prism of hindsight. John Shumaker at JJ's Bohemia continues to book great acts there, as well. Riverbend, too, has booked hundreds of great acts over its almost four decades of existence.

But ask Striker, Dougher, Shumaker, David Johnson, Ken Kapelinski and even Ashley Capps, the AC in AC Entertainment, about the dozens and dozens of shows that were booked in those places that drew one or two or even a dozen people to the concerts they thought would do well.

We were a hit-or-miss town, and that is why so many of the big-time and upper-level shows passed us by for so long, and that is what has changed. Promoters get scared off when the pre-sale for shows is weak and we had a walk-up reputation for decades. Track 29 changed that and Moon River, which sold out its first two festivals here in less than 24 hours, represents that progression.

Thankfully, those guys persevered because, thanks to them, we got to see some great shows. They all deserve a ton of thanks and credit. But the live music scene today is much different and while I don't think any one thing, including Track 29, is to be credited, it was the first to consistently draw enough out-of-towners to sell enough tickets to give promoters confidence to book shows here.

Contact Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6354.

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