Musician responds to Hammer"s assertions My column last week on the demons of gossip, an attempt by me to kick the hornet"s nest of negativity plaguing the music scene, has caused quite a reaction amongst local musicians. One of the most eloquent and cogent counter-arguments comes from musician Steve Hayes of the Common, who also serves as the editor of IndianapolisMusic.net. Hayes, like dozens of others, has been toiling for years to build the local music scene and took exception to my piece, which asserted that infighting has undone much of the progress the scene has made over the past year. He wrote an open letter to me expressing his strongly held views and, in the interest of fairness, I"m reprinting it here. Open letter to Steve Hammer Steve: You"ve really done it this time. You"ve delivered a eulogy over a music scene that"s far from dead. In fact, it"s not even sick. Yeah, I read this week"s column. So did most of the other people out there busting their asses to make something memorable happen in Indianapolis. I read about how the "scene is dying," apparently at the hands of "shit-talkers." All this "negative energy" is driving away audiences. Online squabbles on IMN are your evidence that the scene is now on a downward spiral. I hope this is just another one of your attempts to stir up some shit and get people arguing, because your analysis is complete bullshit. First off, how can you say the scene is dying? If you actually read your own damn paper you"ll discover that clubs are filling up their schedules with live music. Bands are recording and hustling demos every chance they get. I can"t go out without having musicians shove flyers into my hands and invite me to their next event. Bands are communicating, cooperating and getting along better than ever before. Apparently, though, all this effort has fallen off your radar as you"ve chosen to focus on the mini-dramas that are a footnote to the scene. Secondly, have you not stopped to consider how minuscule an issue all this so-called "shit-talking" really is? The entire local message board community is probably a couple hundred people. The individuals involved in the incident you mention are an even smaller group - four people! To paraphrase Casablanca, the problems of four little people don"t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy scene. I"d be willing to wager that 95 percent of people who have any interest in the local music community neither know who these people are nor care what they do. Of course, by reporting on the squabbling you"ve made it an issue and dragged the casual music fan into a fray they had no need knowing about. But now the damage is done. You"ve mounted your bully pulpit from which you get to address 50,000-plus readers every week and declared our music scene is dying. You"ve belittled the ongoing work of the musicians, clubs and promoters who have done so much to make music in Indianapolis worth talking and writing about. You are arguably the most known voice for Indianapolis music and you"ve betrayed the people you write about all in the name of personal issues. I guess it"s up to us to undo the damage you"ve done. The casual music fan will read where Steve Hammer said the music scene is dying and believe it. Any shot the music community fires back could be perceived as a death wheeze and dismissed. Our best hope at this point is that either A) most NUVO readers don"t make it to the last page of the paper or B) most NUVO readers think this column is just another chapter in the shit you"ve been piling for nearly 10 years. But the scene itself isn"t the only thing damaged by your column. I think it"s going to be tough for you to win back the respect and trust of a lot of people associated with the current scene. You really slipped a knife in our backs with this one. I don"t know how I can see anything you write as credible after this column. You"ve made your personal issues public record through your column and participation on local music boards for years, but you"ve never let it warp your ability to report. I guess I"m really disappointed in you and the way you"ve completely written off real events in the name of personal dramas. You closed your column by writing, "It"s a war between players and haters. I"d recommend you get on the right side on this one." Obviously you"ve placed yourself squarely on the side of the haters. All you"ve done is spread around the gossip you claim you"re trying to combat and further spread the negativity you feel is ruining the scene. If this truly is a player/hater war, then the haters have won the first battle. I guess it"s now up to the real players - the musicians, bands, promoters and club owners out there actually attending shows, creating events and sweating it out in the garages in quest of the perfect song - to undo the damage you"ve done. Sadly, Steve Hayes Just to quickly address a few of Hayes" points: The piece perhaps overreached by saying the scene itself is dying. While some clubs have spotty attendance, others are thriving. It would have been more accurate to say that the rampant negativity is the kind of thing which can kill a scene, and that it"s making some prominent members of the scene rethink their participation. I apologize for the overgeneralization but I stand by the rest of the assertions in the piece. Hopefully things will change; my piece was more a call to arms than a eulogy. But thanks for your comments.

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