ON THE AVENUES REWOUND: Complexities and simplicities in Boomtown.


ON THE AVENUES REWOUND: Complexities and simplicities in Boomtown.

A weekly web column by Roger A. Baylor.

Yesterday we learned there will be a sophomore edition of the Boomtown Ball & Festival, to be held on Sunday, May 24. As reported by the News and Tribune, City Hall’s press release leaves a few details unreported, but the broad overview is complete.

BAND BUZZ: Houndmouth to present encore Boomtown Ball & Festival in New Albany

NEW ALBANY — A band with New Albany roots making waves on the national music scene is presenting the second annual Boomtown Ball & Festival, and is curating the event’s music lineup.

Houndmouth, along with New Albany Mayor Jeff Gahan and WFPK, are staging the Sunday, May 24 event, which serves as the kickoff for New Albany’s Bicentennial Park Summer Concert Series, according to a news release from Production Simple.

The release does not state whether Houndmouth will perform at the event.

As for the band, Houndmouth’s tour schedule shows the group with the weekend off, and it is as yet unclear whether the newspaper’s reporter Daniel Suddeath will await their arrival with subpoena in hand.

As for NABC’s beer of the same name, of which somewhere between 15 and 20 kegs were vended to eager fest goers in 2014, readers from Timbuktu know exactly as much as I do. Really.

The same consideration applies to speculation about the fest’s difficult and intricate layout, which (I’m guessing) will change owing to construction under way at the farmers market. Without a trace of irony, permit me to wish the best to whomever works out the “drinks enclosure” details this year.

It won’t be me. After all, I’m on leave of absence. Following is last year’s Boomtown preview.

Complexities and simplicities in Boomtown.

(original 2014 text)

Friday is a very important day. That’s because I’m getting a haircut. Personally, it is slated to be a timely and symbolic act, considering that my year to date has constituted a journey from complexity to simplicity – and for me, taking care of foot-long hair has become far too complicated.

This hirsute situation, which has taken several years to create, will be rectified in short order with the generous assistance of Strandz & Threadz, which will be staging its annual Cuts for a Cure. My original aim was to solicit donors for the occasion, but unfortunately the daily grind has been a bit too … well, complicated, so instead, I’ll make a donation on behalf of those friends who would have been subjected to the hard sell. It’s simpler that way.

By all rights, Tuesday should have been a day for New Albanians to triumphantly remind the world that while Jeffersonville’s connecting ramp to the Big Four Bridge finally was open, those many months of barred, inaccessible ineptitude could not possibly be forgotten – and, by comparison, New Albany still had its act together as the Brooklyn/Hoboken/Boomtown/Not Jeffersonville of the Falls Cities.

In fact, one can conceive of only a handful of ways for us to flush such a commanding lead in the waning seconds, among them photos of a Democratic grandee in bed with a sheep, a Padgett truck wedged into two Spring Street buildings while trying to make a turn, or 387 Little Leaguers forming a human chain across the Plan Commission.

But where there’s a will, there’s a way, and somewhere in the world an elderly Franco Harris donned a Red Devils uniform, grinning broadly in approval as we snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, yielding the usual media spin:

Reporting from Jeffersonville: Look at these delighted folks crowding the Big Four in their spandex with Bibles, ice cream cones and homespun drooling.

Reporting from New Albany: POLICE SCANDAL! NEWS AT 11!

Two days later, it has gotten even more Byzantine. Sifting through the usual stenography from the same Jimmy Olsens:

First, a police officer registered a complaint over alleged incidents some years back, and threatened a lawsuit.

Next, the chief of police suddenly quit for “family” reasons, followed by her second in command, albeit of a different family.

Then, a grand jury made a report on a recent alleged episode involving a police officer, but declined to issue an indictment.

An agoraphobic City Hall seemingly shaken to its core by the grudging necessity of appearing in public to address any issue other than “quality of life” in EDIT-funded parks gradually rushed forward to reassure the citizenry that each of these policing occurrences took place in a hermetically sealed vacuum similar to that surrounding municipal parks construction decision-making.

Now our choices are to ignore these protests of non-linkage and retreat to our favorite watering holes to formulate conspiracy theories, a habit sometimes referred to by cultural anthropologists as the “old lady Internet troll with dangling cigarette” theorem, or to go even deeper by pondering which is worse, multiple acts of weirdness taken together or separately?

As far as I’m concerned, it’s Rosenbarger’s fault, and nothing a few bump-outs wouldn’t cure.

But seriously: At this precise moment, the only thing crystal clear about any of it is that we’ll have a new police chief. Beyond that, it’s all innuendo and murk. I’m not jumping to conclusions.

When we’re finished gossiping, might someone – City Hall, police department, Democratic central committee, Kim Jung-un – take an interest in the escalating speeds on our almost entirely unenforced one-way arterial streets?

This brings me to Sunday, when there’ll be a new event downtown called the Boomtown Ball and Festival. Boomtown is the brainchild of Houndmouth, a Southern Indiana musical group with strong ties to New Albany. The city has played a leading role in this celebration, as with the Bicentennial Park Concert Series, which begins on Friday, May 30.

On Sunday evening, the band will play a sold-out indoor show at The Grand. During the afternoon preceding Houndmouth’s performance, other bands will play on an outdoor stage at Market and Third, as selected and booked by Houndmouth and Production Simple, while in the farmers market space and on Bank Street, there will be vendors of all varieties as organized and arranged in the loose aggregation known as the Flea Off Market. It’s an all-ages, all-interests event.

A consortium of downtown food and drink businesses will operate the Boomtown Tavern, located within the confines of the farmers market pavilion. Owing to Indiana state law, the entire Boomtown festival will be located within a fence and enclosures, but of course, the full range of downtown’s independent businesses are a short walk away. Many of them will observe special Sunday opening hours for the occasion.

In a conceptual sense, if the Boomtown festival were to declare its relationship status, the likely choice would be “It’s Complicated.” Nothing about it has been simple, and yet the day slowly is coming together. By Sunday, we’ll be ready to muddle through it, and I’m sure everything will work out acceptably.

It’s worth remembering that when it comes to serving the cause of simplicity, communication goes a very long way toward reducing complexity to manageable levels, if not eliminating it outright. During the course of my involvement with Boomtown, I’ve tried to make decisions and urge solutions on the basis of more communication, not less, and in the simple recognition that downtown stakeholders already have issues with unanswered questions pertaining to pre-existing impositions (read: Harvest Homecoming) without needing any more of them.

I’m hoping that in spite of the many rough spots experienced while planning and executing this complicated first-time event, all those working so hard to make it happen will learn from the input offered by those doing business downtown, every day of the year. I can’t speak for everyone, but it has been revealing for me.

Downtown has changed, and we just can’t persist in top-down planning without seeking some measure of consensus first, from those who stand to be affected by the actions being considered.

Granted, the Boomtown Ball will bring commerce downtown on a Sunday, and of course, that’s a good thing, but it must be grasped by those in positions of authority that starting the Ball rolling by emphasizing the importance of a Louisville-based flea market – a fine and reputable institution in its own right – sent an immediate and frankly insulting signal to local merchants, which sounded like this: “We’re not good enough here, so we’ll bring in someone else’s panache.”

No, this was not the city’s intent. However, it was ill-considered just the same, and it has complicated every step of the process since.

Simplicity? Please, and here’s an example.

“Do you mind if we use your space?”