A site garnering buzz on the interwebs is nothing new, but when it's a local site about local bands for local fans, the buzz effect compounds -- fast. I Heart Local Music, a blog aiming to cover all things burgeoning in the Kansas City and Lawrence scene, went live last Monday. Its mission statement calls it "a free flow of ideas for the music community." In short, that means its coverage is comprehensive instead of curated, and egalitarian instead of egotistic. The blog's creator and editor, Fally Afani, spoke with The Pitch about everything scene and heard, from Lawrence's house-show past to KC's festival future.
The Pitch: How long have you followed the Lawrence and KC music scene?
Fally Afani: I've lived in Lawrence since 2000 but wasn't active in the music scene until around 2002. It all started with these house shows that went really well. The Pink House, this old house in Lawrence's student ghetto, started doing shows, and before they knew it, they had bigger national bands wanting to play there. Then, the house's landlord opened the paper one day to a story about it and shut it all down. Then, venues came in to pick it up. The Replay and the Jackpot came about and still do it really well. Shows are happening every week for around five dollars. Everybody has their shit together.
With a full show calendar, posts and videos, I imagine running the blog takes a fair time commitment.
It's pretty damn time-consuming. I have a family, a husband, a baby, so I can't do it all myself. It's good to have people contributing. But I just really like the scene. I know people in bands who, as good as they are, have trouble getting the word out about shows and albums going on. For a while, I lived in Topeka and missed a lot of shows. I really wished someone could cover them for me. That's why I do it; I wished someone would fill the gap for me.
On the subject of "filling the gap," what role do you want the community to play on I Heart Local Music?
Community input is important. Everything passes through me as editor, but it's good to have several voices on the site. If one person runs it, you only get music they like. Someone can say, "Hey, put photos of this show," and I'll post it. It's all gravy. I only go to shows I like, but with other people contributing, we're able to cover far more shows than I could ever go to.
How's the response to the blog so far?
The first day, we got a ton of hits -- way beyond what I expected. And then with Middle of the Map this weekend, it got a lot of hits again. I've been monitoring websites for three years and rely on social media, but we don't really have a lot of followers. So I don't know how people are finding out about it.
What makes music in this area so unique?
Heck if I know. They're so dedicated and stick with it. Some bands at the beginning were a little shaky. I was like, "Hey, keep with it," and before you know it, they're playing onstage with Daniel Johnston. Capybara was so apologetic for their performance when they came to Lawrence, but now they're onstage with Johnston at Middle of the Map Fest, and that's incredible.
I've been really freaking out over Hospital Ships and Cowboy Indian Bear. I was shocked by how big Cowboy Indian Bear's turnout is at Middle of the Map Festival. They haven't played in Lawrence since 2010 because they've been touring like crazy. It will be interesting to see them back on Lawrence soil. We just need to keep this going. Because if I don't have bands to see on the weekends, what the hell am I going to do?