One of the first posts I contributed to GFM was entitled I’m With the Band! Really? If you have not read it, you can take a peek here. Since writing that post I have given a lot of thought about the concept of a band(or just live music in general) especially as it relates to the Grown Folks Music we love. At the dawn of this new decade one thing has become apparently clear to me: The importance of developing a live music presence. A strong, consistent, and compelling live music presence.

A few weeks ago I was reading an article on the Pollstar website about the top touring acts of the first decade of the 2000’s. I must say that I was not surprised to find out that The Dave Matthews Band topped the list(I say that with a lot of hometown pride. One day I may do a Bruce Springsteenesque post about “My Hometown”). Nevertheless, there were a few surprises, or maybe not so much surprises but a few realizations and questions that accompany.

When I said that I was not surprised about DMB being at the top of the heap it is because they have had a strong, consistent and compelling live act for almost 20 years now. It has always been about the music, not the celebrity. At some point in time this year I will go into greater detail about some of the practices that I believe were key in their development of a devoted live fan base.

Now, I’m certainly not advancing the theory that every career must be validated by this list. Quite the contrary, what I am saying is if we examine the list we will notice some trends that facilitate longevity. In other words when was the last time Jimmy Buffett had a hit single on the radio? Exactly. But quite frankly the point is it doesn’t matter because somehow he grossed $285.8 million(that’s million with an m) in concert receipts over the last decade.

What I believe many artists and producers of music need to concern themselves with over this next decade and beyond is that somehow that I alluded to above. How do you create and cultivate a culture or community that moves when you move. It doesn’t matter the scale it just matters that the movement will support the art that you create.

I don’t think that the movement can be all virtual. As much as I love zeroes and ones(and I do)there’s one thing that is not in the binary code and that is…air. There’s a certain intangible that happens to a person when you hear and create music in a live manner. I believe what has happened over the last 30 years or so is the live music experience has been supplanted by the studio production in numerous genres of music. I think a few of us have been sold a faulty bill of goods in that respect. How do I know? Just look at this list save for a few, most of these acts came up the old-fashioned way…playing.


Ivan Orr is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, performer, and writer. A native of Charlottesville, Virginia Ivan was involved with the forming and nascent days of The Music Resource Center as its first Program Director. A graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Music, Ivan currently resides in Richmond, VA where he maintains an active performance and production schedule while serving as the Music Editor for Grown Folks Music, a position he has held since 2010.