Thursday, September 2, 2010

Webb City Sentinel column 9-3-10

Like a bride, we’re going to “wear”, musically speaking, something new and something old this weekend – there will even be some blue (as in bluegrass). The old, that is to say familiar, are Jack and Lee Ann Sours, long-time performers at the market. In fact, it is in large part due to Jack and Lee Ann, as well as the late and sorely missed Millie Hansen, that we have music at the market. Millie and the Sours were our first musicians. Millie played hammer dulcimer - that's her in the photo. The Sours play guitar, fiddle, a variety of other instruments, and sing on occasion too. With our tiny budget (about $200 a year!), we could only afford music for very special occasions in those early days.

Then we discovered the Missouri Arts Council and applied for a mini-grant. With their help, we began to have music every Friday. The vendors thought the music added so much to the market that they voted to expand (and fund) the music on Tuesdays as well. By the time we added the Saturday market music was a given. It is a vital part of the market.

Our music budget is now around $4,500. Usually less than half of that is underwritten by the Arts Council. Vendor fees pay for the rest. Considering that pays for about 70 performances, you can see it’s a real value for the market and the community.

The fact is that we don’t pay much, but we do try to pay our musicians something. Artists so often are expected to just give away their art as if it had no value. We know their art is valuable – it has brightened our days over and over, and frankly, it has brought us customers from far and wide. We saw a big jump in sales when we started having a meal and music at every market. We don’t think that’s a coincidence. We think the investment made by the Arts Council and the vendors in music has resulted in a better market, in a good venue for local musicians, and in increased market sales in the thousands of dollars.

Music is a real attraction and it gives our market a personality that can be found in very few other places. Good music, freely accessible in a place suitable for families can be hard to come by – but not in Webb City. It happens here three times a week.

So when you’re enjoying the music at the market, give a nod of thanks to each other because you make it possible – it’s your tax dollars that support the Missouri Arts Council and your purchases at the market that result in the vendor fees.

Have I rambled on long enough for you to have completely forgotten about the “new” music at the market? This year we have been fortunate in finding some new (and young) groups to play and one is making their market debut tomorrow. Erik Brown and Josh Mullen will each play a set accompanied by Tom Smith on trumpet. Should be lots of fun. Enjoy breakfast at the same time. The breakfast benefits CrimeStoppers, which organized locally this year. In cooperation with local law enforcement, they run an anonymous hot line for tips about crimes. Tips resulting in convictions can reap a reward of up to $10,000. I have no idea how they get the reward to an anonymous tipster, but they have a system and it works. One alleged criminal is already off the local streets.

Today lunch is meatloaf, au gratin potatoes, green beans, brownies and a drink for $6. A luncheon salad is $4. As I said earlier, the Sours are playing.

At the risk of sounding like I’m from Coonfoot (which is a great place to be from) – wasn’t that rain on Wednesday grand? With cooler wetter days, the fields and gardens are reviving. So look for more and better produce as we move into fall. We've started our fall hours, which means the market is open from 11 to 2 on Tuesdays and Fridays and from 9 to noon on Saturdays.

Don’t forget that next Saturday is Arts in the Park. It should be a boatload of fun.