After a few months of thinking it over, in April 2003 I launched a very primitive version of Avant Music News. The goal was to use the new concept of a “blog” to provide information about weird and interesting music from all over the world. Because…why not?
At that time I had only one kid with another on the way (they are now young adults). We had recently moved into a new home that would better fit our growing family (we’ve now been here for almost 20 years). I had a different job in a different industry and moonlighted teaching in a master’s program at a local university.
The site grew slowly but steadily since its inception. Today, we have a few thousand regular readers (as far as I can tell – these numbers are surprisingly hard to vet) and we get more review submissions than we know what to do with. Our writing staff is quite informal and has evolved over the years with people coming and going. Our blog software evolved from a bunch of scripts held together with duct tape to a managed service where I (thankfully) don’t have to do any coding.
The music community has grown dramatically as well. Again, it is hard to put numbers to their size, but there are more musicians making interesting music now than at any time I remember. Much of this is unfortunately under the radar and without the recognition it deserves.
In the recent pandemic, we’re seen more than a little suffering in the community. But we have also seen musicians who would not be silenced. If they could not play live, they gathered in small groups and outdoor locations. If they could not record in groups, they recorded solo albums. A ton of music was recorded and released. During this time, my appreciation for the emotional depth of solo and small-scale efforts grew manyfold.
At this point, it is hard to say where we are going as a community. Lockdowns are probably over for good in most of the world, as are mask and socially distancing mandates. This allows more music to be heard but also puts an even higher burden on traveling musicians to stay healthy. And not everyone is comfortable attending live performances just yet.
It is now a cliche to state that COVID brought the best and worst out of everyone, but I am convinced that the music community handled it better than most. The amount of kindness that I’ve seen and experienced from its members, despite their personal challenges, has been inspiring.
So once again, let me thank the listeners, musicians, writers, label heads, venue operators, and others who keep this type of music afloat. The world is much better for all of you and I am happy to play a small part.