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Las Raices: Solutions through Participation and Resources

Coordinator of Las Raices music community forum, Adam Tutor addresses the audience. (all photos, Alyssa Bunting)

Coordinator of Las Raices music community forum, Adam Tutor addresses the audience. (all photos, Alyssa Bunting)

Last night, the smell of fresh paint and lumber, smell of something new, lingered in the air as members of the ever growing San Antonio music scene held the first ever Las Raices Forum set to take place every month.

“It’s great to make music together but also something that we’re missing, that we’re going to be creating here together,” Community Outreach Coordinator for Sound Garden and Coordinator of the Las Raices forums,  Adam Tutor explained to those in attendance. “[What we’re doing] is really solidifying our vision and writing down the things that you want to see, creating goals that are actionable and sustainable. Bringing those to places where people can actually see it and they can start to invest in us for our core value; because we have a value we all know we’re capable of and maybe we’re not reaching that right now. So, our goal is to say we have to do our piece in this equation we’re not blaming anyone else for what's happening, we have to be proactive and create the solutions to our problems. So that's whats happening here today."

The purpose of the event is to not only acknowledge and accommodate the musical entrepreneurs in the City of San Antonio, it is also a place to discuss the state of the San Antonio music scene and help each other with the individual obstacles it takes to succeed in the music industry.

The event took place in the joint building that houses CO-LAB and the skeleton of what will become the San Antonio Sound Garden aiming to open in January 2017, a place where people from all parts of the music industry can come together with the equipment and guidance needed to accomplish their goals and succeed.

Edwin J Stephens and Noah Breeden to his left, founders of SA Sound Garden. 

Edwin J Stephens and Noah Breeden to his left, founders of SA Sound Garden. 

The idea for Sound Garden came from musician Edwin J. Stephens of San Antonio band fishermen and Senior Manager at USAA Noah Breeden, who have been working tirelessly with their individual unique set of skills to make this place of musical camaraderie a reality.

“So we thought ok we could do this, here are the different elements we need to make this work and elevate everyone so it’s not just like, ‘I’m going to build half of my raft, you’re going to build half of your raft and watch each other sink.’ It's more how we can come together as a musical community and build a sustainable music economy in San Antonio, that’s what we’re working on,” Breeden explained to the audience.

The concept of San Antonio Sound Garden is to be the “musical Geekdom” with a wide variety of utilities required to function in the music industry. Anything from a recording studio to graphic design for flyers, to the ability to sit down and discuss distribution, contracts and other steps necessary to have a successful music career.

When the two joined forces with Adam and other advocates in the music scene such as George Garza, Alex Scheel, and Libby Day, they created an interactive opportunity to address concerns and questions from musicians who have been discussing the same problems for years to people who go out and enjoy going to shows. With this event, they are able to provide a controlled environment where problems are addressed and able to collect data from the topics discussed that can lead to strategies for solutions of recurring issues.

The forum was unique in the sense that it was broken down into two separate “workshops” called “Sharing” and “Advocating” which required participation from those in attendance.

In the Sharing workshop, it got personal in the theme of hopes and dreams as you were to speak with another person you didn’t know about how you contribute to the music scene and how you can do more for easy networking. There were three topics participants wrote down and turned in to discuss:

1.       How would you describe the current state of the music scene in three words

2.       Describe how you would the music scene to be in the future

3.       What is your biggest dream [in terms of music]

The third topic was addressed aloud as different dreams were read with the intent of finding someone in the audience who could help achieve the dream. Dreams included anything from writing a theme song to a James Bond film where someone suggested a website specifically for amateur scores, to grants or scholarship funds for bands that want to record a quality album, a solution SoundGarden is working hard to achieve with affordable quality studio time. Dreams were addressed and next steps were presented.

Steve Ray, a representative of the Texas Music Office drove down to attend the forum and offer guidance on how the Texas Music Office can help.

“We’re a state office, we’re based out of the governor's office. Everything we do is free, so we’re a resource, don’t hesitate to use us. We have a pretty extensive website anything from copywriting a song, how to trademark a band name… there’s just a whole plan what you can use in the music business," he said.

In the Advocacy forum, unity and collecting solutions was key, as we were to write down the problems we see and to offer a solution to coincide with it. The subject that the city itself should be more involved with the music community was brought up as a solution to some problems. Councilman Cris Medina, who recently filed for and spoke with us about creating a music and arts district, joined in the discussion “We have talent, we have the capability, it’s up to us,” he stated. “We’re here, we’re ready to advocate for you guys, this is just the beginning.”

Cris Medina addresses "Advocacy" portion of the forum.  

Cris Medina addresses "Advocacy" portion of the forum.  

In this forum, problems were presented and solutions were found and discussed. Problems such as how musicians get paid and how San Antonio is a “culture of late night opportunities” when it comes to concerts.

However, a recurring problem that was presented in both forums is the lack of all ages shows and kid appropriate music environments. Here in San Antonio, a majority of the venues used for live music are also bars and with certain TABC regulations and the factor of bar revenue, it isn’t exactly family friendly. There isn’t much of a variety when it comes to all ages venues such as Paper Tiger, Imagine Books and Records and K23 Gallery but the pickings are made slimmer with the 1011, another all ages venue closing down just last week.

How can we as a music community remedy this problem? Suggestions such as speaking to the bar owners and speaking with the city about getting more involved were brought up and at the end of the discussions a commutative jam session took place.

The term ‘raices’ translates into “roots”, and apart from it being a metaphor for needing roots to grow, according to the forum’s coordinator Adam Tutor,  It was ?uestlove of the Roots that inspired the name.

“This was an idea from a video I saw of ?uestlove was talking about ‘How do we create the movement?’ in the late 90s early 2000s of hip hop in the East Coast and he said what it was all about coming together and having a simple jam session, they got guys all around the scene and they got together in the same room and said ‘What’s your idea’, ‘What about your idea?’, ‘How do we build this?’ ‘How do we elevate each other to a place where we can succeed as musicians?’ And I said we can do this.”

If you are interested in attending a Las Raices forum, upcoming dates are as followed:

May 3

June 7

July 5

August 2

For more information visit www.sasoundgarden.org or email Adam Tutor on how to get more involved at adam.j.tutor@gmail.com