J.B. Nelson, host of the local music podcast "Low 'O' Radio," has a deep passion in the music scene in the Rogue Valley. So much that he is slating a series of all-ages rock shows in downtown Medford.
J.B. Nelson, host of the local music podcast "Low 'O' Radio," has a deep passion for the music scene in the Rogue Valley.
"We have these world-class musicians doing big things," Nelson says. "But they don't get the chance to be seen here (in the Rogue Valley) at the level they deserve."
Nelson, who has been promoting concerts in Southern Oregon since the late '90s, sees the area as a difficult place for bands to be seen and develop a local following.
"Bars are terrible venues to see bands," Nelson says. "They can fit, maybe, 50 people, and everyone's standing on the floor. There's no real stage."
Nelson also points out that there aren't many places for underage audiences to see local acts. When the Imperial Event Center opened on the site of the former Veterans of Foreign Wars hall at 40 N. Front St., Medford, Nelson saw the value of the space.
"It's a beautiful room that can host 300 to 400 people and has a separate side barroom so that they can host all-ages events," Nelson says.
Nelson approached the venue's managers about hosting a monthly showcase of local bands, the first of which is at 8 p.m. Friday, May 9, and features Buckle Rash, 100 Watt Mind and TallBoy. Tickets cost $10 and can be purchased at Zeplinz or Musichead in Medford, Dragon's Lair in Grants Pass or at the door.
"It allows our local bands to be seen at that level they deserve, but it also isn't cost prohibitive," Nelson says. "You get a $20 ticket-type of show, but you don't have to charge $20 for it."
It was important to Nelson for the showcase to be accessible for all ages.
"What you get with younger audiences is a crowd that's really into what's happening on the stage," Nelson says.
He points to one of the recent matinee shows that Ashland's Club 66 has been putting on for underage audiences that featured Medford's Ol' Mount'n Due and Ashland punk outfit The Tentacles.
"When Steve, the bass player (for Ol' Mount'n Due), came down off the stage he said 'Man, I want to quit playing the bars. That's what I want to play for,' " Nelson says. "I know that there is serious potential for these bands if they can get a foothold in that (younger) audience, to really elevate themselves up and become those bands that people listen to forever."
Nelson recalls his own experiences with live music growing up in Albany and the importance of all-ages venues.
"When I was in high school, I had a troubled background," Nelson says. "If it wasn't for the local music venue, I probably would have been in a lot more trouble than I was.
"I've been working in the industry for 15 to 20 years and it's because of all-ages venues where I grew up."
Nelson is particularly excited about this first show because it will be the first time that TallBoy has ever shared the stage with either of the other bands on the bill.
"TallBoy generally sticks to straight metal shows," Nelson says. "But what I find with Southern Oregon, and what I love about the area so much, is that a lot of music fans are just pure music fans.
"People that are never at the straight metal shows are excited for this show. They appreciate how good TallBoy is and are stoked to see them with other bands that are also great but not within their genre."
Nelson decided to mix up the genres for each show after seeing 100 Watt Mind play to huge crowds at reggae festivals last summer.
"They were the only rock band on the bill, and they had more people in front of their stage then some of the headliners at night," Nelson says. "A big part of this is mixing up the genres a little bit and exposing new bands to new fans and vice versa."
Concerts will take place at 8 p.m. the second Friday of each month. June's concert will feature the farewell show for Ashland's Father Doug, along with The Tentacles and alt-rock band BROTHER.