Chicago music fans interested in the idea of creating a targeted music district in the city -- as has been suggested by Mayor Emanuel -- might be interested in a film screening this weekend.
At 6:30 p.m. Saturday, the Empty Bottle with Consequence of Sound will be showing "Echotone," a documentary that chronicles the struggles of music venues and real estate developers along the notorious Sixth Street entertainment corridor in Austin, Texas, the self-proclaimed "live music capital of the world" and home each spring to the South by Southwest music festival.
Earlier in the year, as the Sun-Times explored the issue, I spoke with Chicago-based "Echotone" director Nathan Christ about the tortured and tortuous history of Austin's music development -- the various governmental and quasi-civic organizations that sprung up to shepherd its cultural and economic expansion, the events that lead to the city's recently declared "music crisis." In a nutshell, developers seized on a legal loophole and built several high-density condo buildings, marketed them to urbanites who wanted to be near the nightlife, then marveled at how the new residents began complaining about the hipster traffic and concert noise. The result: the music district is now much more silent than it used to be. (A recent case in point here.)
"'Echotone' serves as a catalyst for dialogue about the issues independent musicians face in gentrified cities across the country," says a press release about the film. Chicagoans have long looked to the Uptown area for development of a live music district, and Christ is reportedly readying sequel films about the same issues in other cities, including Chicago.