Most kids, and many adults for that matter, have dreamed of one day becoming rock stars. They sing along to their favorite songs and jam out on air guitars.
But what about the young adults who would like to take their dreams to the next level? Bars and various music venues throughout southwestern New York offer many bands opportunities to play on weekends. However, some members of the under-21 crowd feel left out. In the Jamestown area, young promoters and bands have had a hard time booking shows, and those who have landed gigs have struggled to draw audiences.
Alternative rock band Beyond The Illusion has experienced these struggles since its inception over a year ago. "It's hard to find shows in this area," said vocalist Logan Stearns. "We've only had four or five shows in the last year."
Nick Thies, front, and Steven McIntyre, Logan Stearns and Ben Berry, from left to right, make up the alternative rock band Beyond The Illusion. The band has found it difficult to land shows in its more than one year of existence.
According to Stearns, the ages of the band's members have plagued Beyond the Illusion. None of the four have reached the legal drinking age, and bassist Ben Berry hasn't even graduated high school yet. "I've looked around at possible venues. The problem with the bars is we most likely can't play (in them) because none of us are 21," said Stearns.
Guitarist Steven McIntyre believes part of Beyond The Illusion's problem has been a lack of exposure. "Even the venues that want bands want the big bands," he said. "It's hard to get noticed if you can't get shows."
When the band has landed shows, it has encountered a different issue. "Another problem we've had is turnout hasn't been the greatest," said McIntyre. "Our last show was in September. People were walking in and out all night. It's not like there were too many strangers there." The guitarist noted that the only people who attended another recent Beyond The Illusion show were his parents.
Turnout has hurt another Jamestown area alternative rock band. Lion Avalanche has managed to find shows in its first four months of existence. However, the band would like to see bigger audiences when it steps on stage. "We had a show back in September. We had some really great bands there," said Spencer Eck, Lion Avalanche's drummer and acting manager. "Everyone who was there wanted to be there and was genuinely impressed with the show, but we had a really small turnout."
In hopes of drawing greater audiences in the future, Eck and several area young adults have combined their promotional efforts. "We actually just recently put a group together that's trying to get the word out more that there's stuff going on in Jamestown," he said.
That groups includes Falconer native Mike Ball, a junior at Fredonia State and a promoter for Create.Evolve Productions, which specializes in booking shows in the Jamestown area.
"People are going to help promote shows," Ball explained. "Trying to bring in bands is tough when you're doing it by yourself."
Booking musical acts can be difficult without unlimited access to area venues, according to Ball. "I want to have reign over a schedule," said Ball, who organized last month's FestiFall show at The Gateway Center. "When an agent calls me and wants to bring a band to Jamestown, I want to be able to look at a calendar and tell them 'We're good to go.'"
Ball noted that he has had to turn down bands in the past because he hasn't been able to find a place for them to play. "I want to have it so any band can come play any time they want for the Jamestown crowd."
In order to make that happen, Ball, Eck and the rest of their newly created group would like to open up an all-ages venue. Eck believes the 21 and under crowd would help to support the establishment. "If you're 21, you can go to the bars. If you're not, then there's not much for you to do on a Friday night," Eck said of the current entertainment situation in Jamestown.
As a result, the group has sprung into action. "Right now, we've had a meeting, and we're looking at buildings. There's a lot of people on board with this," Ball said. "There have been a lot of names discussed."
As a college student, Ball said he will need more help to bring the venue to life. "I hate saying, 'We need money.'" Ultimately, however, Ball knows he will need financial assistance for this project.
"We're trying to figure out what makes sense financially," said Ball. "We don't want to rush this. We've got a couple locations that we think make sense. We've got places we're looking at and people we're talking to, but we need to make the next step."
Ball thinks the all-ages venue could be open by next summer. "The next big step would be to get someone to say, 'Here's a place; go ahead and use it.'"
"We have the people here and we have the ambition here to pull this off," added Eck. "We can bring in bigger bands and generate more interest in a permanent, all-ages venue. We can pull crowds from Erie or Buffalo. We're at a very good focal point for that."
Representatives from Infinity Visual and Performing Arts Inc. and The Spire Theater have provided the group with advice and have offered to work with Ball on bringing in shows and getting the all-ages venue off the ground.
Like those organizations, Ball would like to create his own center for the arts.
"We're trying to do something that would make sense for people who want to support the arts. I want to hear, 'We're going to Jamestown for the great shows and music they have.' It's not that far of a stretch," he said, noting that an all-ages venue could stimulate the southwestern New York economy. "I believe this would be a good change for Jamestown. It's something Jamestown doesn't want. It's something Jamestown needs."