But not everyone agrees, and in a small town like ours, the loudest opponents – not necessarily a massive outpouring of discontent – can move the needle.
Vicki Larson, longtime reporter and author who looks at Marin through a big picture lens that appreciates the arc of history, wrote a column this week that seeks to put live music into the larger context of the some of the positive outcomes of the pandemic, including “more vibrant, livable, sustainable and community-oriented” towns that are “more inviting to walkers and cyclists, not cars,” with live music al fresco bringing “back that free-wheeling old school Marin vibe,” she writes.
“Live music isn’t all that welcome anymore in recent years, at least outdoors, and I can’t help feeling we’ve lost something that made us “just a little out there,” as our county tourism gurus deemed us,” Larson writes. “How can we be “out there” when some residents — and it’s a minority — are nixing live music outdoors because of “noise”?
Larson points to a trio of examples: neighbors grumbling about — and considering legal action against — the loud rock music at Tam Valley’s Junction Beer Garden outdoor events during the summer. Others complained about the noise emanating from the handful of free Shakespeare (the Bard!) performances and weddings (weddings!) in Mill Valley’s Old Mill Park. She also points to her enjoyment of happy hour at the Depot Café and Bookstore on the square in downtown Mill Valley. “For about three hours on Friday and Saturday nights, there’s live music and food and drink specials,” she writes. “The few times I’ve gone, the square was full of people — young parents, hipsters, happily boisterous children, the gray-haired crowd (aka, me) and etc., exactly what a dynamic downtown looks and sounds like. And it all ends by 8:30 p.m., which seems quite tame for this county, or any county if you think about it.”
And yet. A neighbor complained about the loud music and the city put the kibosh on amplified music in the square.
“Our downtowns have struggled mightily during the pandemic and even before, when big-box stores hit our mom-and-pop stores hard,” Larson writes. “Free outdoor music seems like a no-brainer if we want to bring life to our cities and towns. I love my community and my county. Please, let the bands play on.”