In preppin’ for today’s column in The Bee — about the importance of this weekend’s Fresno Urban Sound Experience — I floated a query out to the grassroots team that organizes the festival: What does F.U.S.E. mean to Fresno? Why does it matter?
I expected they’d each have something interesting to say, and they did. I had to use bits and pieces in my column. But I enjoyed reading everything, and I hope you will too.
So here it is:
Matthew Schwartz of The Local Noise
FUSE is the prototype of Downtown Fresno’s Entertainment District… especially when it comes to Live Music.
The Fresno Urban Sound Experience is not only a sampling of various artists, but an opportunity to experience Fresno’s Local Music Scene and an opportunity to support Local Music in general.
A unique showcase of musical talents in the heart of our city, Downtown Fresno. And um… FUSE F’ing ROCKS! …that’s why it matters.
Ray Arthur of Fresno Film Commission
I’m not sure it means much to the community as a whole in the sense that a few hundred people, from a county of 1 million, participate in a concert once a year. That could, however, be said for dozens of other successful cultural events that each have created, and to some extent expanded, their niche in the community. Collectively, the Fresno Urban Sound Experience has become part of our DNA.
It’s something positive that wasn’t there before. It’s self-sustaining, It’s promoting creativity, originality, cooperation, participation…hell, it’s promoting promotion! The Fresno Urban Sound Experience is a big, bright identification sign that says Fresno’s a lot of great things and this is one of them.
I don’t want to get all ego-ed out and act like Fresno Urban Sound Experience means more than it does, because there’s always a bit of preaching to the choir that happens. And as I’ve said in the past, while the festival may be important, it’s not Lady Gaga at the Save Mart Center or anything.
Obviously this is a show of force. Fresno has a ton of great bands, some OK ones and even a few that are crappy. In three years we’ve had close to 100 bands play and only a few (less than 10 I’d say) have been repeat performers. The easiest part of the whole thing is booking the bands. There’s just that many. The first year we had Fashawn. Patrick Contreras has played the festival. Rademacher. This year we’ve got Fierce Creatures and HateFX and Say Swear and on and on. MoFo Party has sadly not played, but maybe next year. Point being, the festival is a great representation of what we as a music community are out there doing every weekend, all year. And because there are no headliners and every band gets the same amount of time on stage, it’s a great way to sample all of that.
It’s also authentic Fresno. We could have blocked off a street somewhere (up north probably) and thrown up a couple of stages and gone that route, but our intention was to highlight the places we patronized, where we hung out and drank beer (or coffee) and listened to music. That’s why it was Milano and CafÃ© Corazon the first year. The second year, we had businesses (Club One, Heros) that were making strides, doing things, and they wanted to be involved, so we went there. This year there’s been a lot of action on Fulton Street (with the KYNO studios and Frank’s Place/Star Palace and Iron Bird CafÃ© down the way) so that’s where we ended up. The idea being, when you come to this festival you’re not just interacting with an asphalt parking lot and a beer garden or whatever. They’re interacting with standing structures, venues that will be there next weekend (well, hopefully, this is downtown) or the next time you’re looking for something to do. It’s the same reason we focus on local acts, instead of trying to bring in a big-name draw.
I could probably go on for another couple pages, but I won’t, cause I’m sure others have stuff to say too.
Bradley Fitzhenry (aka DJ Bradley) of Sonic Foundation
FUSE is proof-of-concept that there is enough creativity and energy in our community to do ambitious events focused on local musical talent. FUSE is a powerful statement to not only the community at large, but to both current and aspiring musicians in the Valley that the musical landscape of Fresno is vibrant, varied, and can work together to support a big idea: A locally-produced music festival with community pride as the motivator, not financial profit.
Abe Lopez of Creative Fresno
It means we can be proud of what Fresno has to offer. We have a wealth of talent that goes unnoticed way too often.
It matters because Fresno has sold itself short for too long. We have the means to do great things if we are willing to work past all the negative thoughts we hold about ourselves.
Mike Seay of The Fresnan
It’s tangible proof that Fresno has a diverse, talented music community and creative community in general. Proof that Downtown Fresno is more than just government buildings, that there’s life downtown.
Why does it matter? It is one of the many things that illustrate that Fresno is a livable city. That you don’t have to leave town to see great music, you just need to get out of the house.
Blake Jones of The Trike Shop
I’m going to piggy-back on something from Matthew Schwartz’s response: “FUSE is the prototype of Downtown Fresno’s Entertainment District…”
Just like the Rogue Festival, it’s an effort to demonstrate the world as it should be…all the time. In the case of FUSE: artists, promoters and businesses pitching in *together* to make Fresno’s downtown a vibrant cultural and entertainment center.
One has to have the dream: “Dang, downtown *could* be so cool.” and then the work starts: “How are we going to pull this off”? With the long-term hope that this dream will be contageous and have some positive ripple effects.
Ghandi said: “Whatever you do may seem insignificant, but it is most important that you do it.”
And St. Paul said: “Never tire of doing good”. And all that may sound sort of high-blown, but that’s it really. You do what you think is right, and then you have to have faith that it’ll make a difference in this world.
Floyd Sanchez of Antilabs
FUSE 2010 is the essence of Downtown Fresno’s potential as a metropolitan entertainment destination distilled in one evening. It’s an emblem of Downtown’s ability to foster entertainment, culture and creativity in a manner unique to the district.