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Tuesday, April 30, 2013 10:48 am

Downstate Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: no-brainer or non starter?

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This past weekend, the SJ-R's Dave Bakke published a column suggesting that Springfield would be foolish not to start its own Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, honoring regional acts. This exhortation was somehow inspired by the fact that Bakke was prevented by weather conditions from attending the recent induction ceremony for his native South Dakota's Rock Hall.

The proposal seems reasonable enough on the surface: it is certainly true that there has been a lot of excellent music from around the area worthy of recognition. It is also true that a few other states have their own Halls. However, as a long-time observer and participant in the area music scene (Backwards Day, the alternative band I fronted, used to regularly draw SRO crowds to venues like On Broadway in the early '90s), I find the concept charming but hard to take seriously. The idea that such a place would exert significant pull as a tourist attraction seems Pollyanna-ish to say the least, as it has always been difficult enough to get local audiences to consistently support bands in town, even at the height of those artists' powers. I'm not sure that a ceremony featuring reunions, even featuring several once-active regional bands would be a huge draw, either locally or statewide. Sadly, rather than a wow factor, I would predict more of a who? factor. I would submit that Cousin Eddie has more general name recognition than even the most popular of these acts.

On the subject of name recognition, Bakke suggests including Rockford in the Downstate Rock Hall. Geographic absurdity aside, such magnanimity would likely turn such an institution into the Cheap Trick Museum. A more commercially sound idea might be to open such an establishment in Rockford and another in Champaign for REO Speedwagon. Springfield and the surrounding area could probably support a few reasonably attended Facebook pages without going into the red.

But what do I know? Maybe I'm just being a big Scrooge and Springfield does deserve its own Rock Hall of Fame, and such an establishment would not be foreclosed upon within two years. I've been wrong before. 

What do you think of the idea?

And what area musicians would you nominate?

I'll collect responses below and do a follow-up story next week.

Rock on, Land of Lincoln!

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