Words & Deeds

Deeds: Bad sign. Record Exchange cuts ties with Alive After Five

Alive After Five will continue this summer, but without consulting about bands from The Record Exchange.
Alive After Five will continue this summer, but without consulting about bands from The Record Exchange. doswald@idahostatesman.com

Something definitely won’t rock about Alive After Five this summer, and it has nothing to do with the free weekly concert being uprooted.

The Record Exchange, which has helped book the musical headliners since 2005, is abandoning the series.

Why? Because the independent music retailer feels that Alive After Five’s talent budget is unreasonably small.

The Record Exchange no longer will offer consulting. The Record Exchange no longer will man a booth selling merchandise for the bands.

Elvis has left the building and The Grove Plaza — and he never made it to The Basque Block.

This is not a good look for Alive After Five. Record Exchange owner Michael Bunnell sent a letter to the Downtown Boise Association ending the partnership last week.

“We have attempted to help the Downtown Business Association schedule the best available talent given their limited budget,” he says, “and I’m proud of what we have been able to accomplish bringing ​in ​first-class musicians and also bringing local musicians back to the event as opening acts.”

But the price of booking touring acts has risen in the digital age, Bunnell adds. Musicians rely on money from live performances more than ever. CD and album sales have been replaced by less-lucrative streaming revenue and flat-out piracy.

“Without a talent budget from the Downtown Business Association to support these increased needs from the artist community, we find it impossible to support their efforts at Alive After Five and very sadly are no longer involved in the event,” Bunnell says. “We would gladly become involved again if the organization reconsiders their strategies to provide more funding for both local and national artists.​”

Alive After Five has never been a hotbed of big-name national talent. But it’s often managed to land two or three notable performers. That said, in recent times it has all but lost many passionate concert fans — the sort of Idahoans who attend shows at venues such as Neurolux, the Knitting Factory or Revolution Center. Too often for them, Alive After Five’s headliners now reside squarely in the category of No Name Regional Twang Band.

One can make the argument that Alive After Five is more about the social gathering than the music. It’s always drawn a diverse crowd ranging from Downtown employees to families and retirees in lawn chairs.

New Downtown Boise Association executive director Lynn Hightower declines to share the talent budget for the 14-week event, which kicks off June 1.

Bunnell’s help over the years “has been valued and appreciated,” she says.

“... We’re always happy to continue the conversation,” Hightower added. “As you know, Alive After Five has many audiences. Alive After Five is meant to be a lively community event that brings friends, co-workers and families together, gives them a reason to stay or come Downtown, and encourages them to enjoy the other awesome entertainment, shopping and dining options here in our Downtown.

“Looking over the artists who may be part of the event this summer, including some local talent — I’m sure people will enjoy them,” Hightower says. “ Music helps people unwind and it’s a great part of the event.”

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