News Column

St. Joseph News-Press, Mo., Shea Conner column

June 14, 2013


June 14--I'm a millennial. And according to Time writer Joel Stein, I'm entitled, needy and self-centered.

Maybe that's why I love it so much when complete strangers approach me out of the blue and tell me how much they enjoy reading St. Joe Live. I certainly appreciate those comments more than "Hey, you're that movie guy from Channel 2!" (It's FOX 26 KNPN, actually, and if I had a dollar for every time I've heard this, I'd be able to buy my girlfriend and myself dinner at The Ground Round tonight.)

What always pleasantly surprises me is how many self-proclaimed "older folks" read St. Joe Live. Admittedly, we tend to put together a publication that skews toward a younger, more progressive audience than the rest of the News-Press. Honestly, I'm always expecting scathing phone calls from "older folks" on Friday mornings after we write about productions like "Avenue Q," foul-mouthed comedians or burlesque shows.

We used to get those phone calls quite frequently. Between myself, Andrew Gaug and former reporters Blake Hannon, Kevin Krauskopf and Lacey Storer, we've been accused of encouraging alcoholism, harboring Satanism, destroying the classical music genre, attempting to silence Glenn Beck and promoting indecent acts. Seriously, this elderly lady called me in a tizzy because she thought the person throwing up the rock fist in a photo was showing off some kind of sexual hand signal. It made absolutely no sense.

So, yeah, when I hear from "older folks" who enjoy reading my work, it feels good.

In the last month, I've ran into seven or eight "older folks" -- on the street, in a restaurant, at a funeral home, etc. -- who I'd never met before. All of them sang our praises and said they read St. Joe Live every single week. It was joy to my entitled, needy, self-centered little ears.

All of them talked to me about this particular column and nearly every one told me, to some effect, that they don't always agree with me, but they're always interested in my take on things. That means more to me than they'll ever know. Honestly, I don't want everyone to agree with me each week. I just want them to take something from this space. Essentially, The Shuffle exists for two reasons:

1) To spark an intelligent conversation about arts and entertainment-related topics.

2) To recommend movies, music acts and shows that are worth checking out (just like the rest of this publication).

Needless to say, I'm thrilled that these "older folks" are approaching our articles, my columns and the things we write about with an open mind. That's the kind of attitude Live has always encouraged. That's all I'd ever ask of them.

However, there's one little thing a few of them said that got under my skin. Three, in particular, told me that they appreciated what we were doing for the young bands in the local music scene, but they were too old to enjoy them.

Too old? Baloney.

If they're too old, then I guess I'm too young to be listening to The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Buddy Holly and Ray Charles.

Please. Good music knows no generational boundaries.

One of the delights of this job has come from watching an older generation discovering and totally digging the music of a younger generation. I had a blast at Magoon's in February watching 10 or 15 "older folks" dancing like madmen to the relentless blues of 23-year-old guitarist Samantha Fish (especially the surprisingly spry guy with hair as white as his cowboy boots). I caught a few "older folks" tapping their toes and bobbing their heads to Scruffy and the Janitors at the Apple Blossom Festival. In the last year, I've witnessed multiple people in their 60s and 70s buying a CD from the band after a gig.

THAT is awesome.

I know that St. Joe's budding music scene doesn't offer something for everyone's tastes, but if you're one of those "older folks" who's hesitant to go to a bar and check out these young bands, there are several alternatives. On the third Thursday of every month, we host "St. Joe Live Presents" here at the News-Press studio. There always are free snacks and beverages as well as a few open seats. And each show only lasts about an hour, so it doesn't take up your entire night. You also can attend the Sounds of Summer concert series from 6 to 9 p.m. on Fridays and the Imagine Eleven concerts from 6 to 8 p.m. on Sundays at Felix Street Square. Just make sure to bring your lawnchairs to those shows.

We fully support breaking the pre-conceived notions of age here. I don't constantly seek recognition from others (even if it feels good) because I'm not a needy millennial. Likewise, no one should think they're too old to go see a band (even if they haven't done it for a while) because there's no age limit on a good time with good tunes.

Shea Conner can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @stjoelivedotcom.


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