By Jake Wiest for Eugene Daily News
Eugene’s Holiday Market is a seasonal event – the Holidays’ incarnation of the Eugene Saturday Market — where live music sets the mood. There are three settings to watch musicians perform at the indoor market, which is held at the Lane County Fairgrounds each year from mid-November to Christmas.
The lobby hosts several indoor buskers (A.K.A. “street” musicians) who sign up daily.
The Market books acts for the large stage at the International Food Court and a smaller venue in the Holiday Hall building.
Just beside the main auditorium, little hand-crafted elves not only guide patrons through a couple dozen of the market’s hundreds of vendors that Holiday Hall hosts, but it also provides a cozy auditory atmosphere.
The Market tastes of a musical smorgasbord of acts and genres including blues, folk, Brazilian, Celtic and other World music; as well as a spice of the eclectic such as a rock n’ roll historian or Ukrainian Dancers. The performers are picked by Kim Still, the Market’s promotions and advertising manager. The lineup is based on acoustic challenges of the room, keeping a wide variety of acts, and the compatibility of the acts with the Market’s festive atmosphere (though the music doesn’t have to necessarily be holiday-themed).
Still appreciates acts that she has worked with before because she knows she can rely on them.
“The Market is a balance of factors,” says Still. “The music has to support the commerce like the commerce supports the music.”
One example of music and commerce coming together, as well as community support, is that the food booths give vouchers to the musicians.
For many musicians performing, the Holiday Hall has offered a different feeling than their usual gig. A feeling of being more connected with the audience. Robert Meade is a Eugene R&B/rock n’ roll guitarist who plays an acoustic set in Holiday Hall. He describes the set there as “more low-key and intimate with the audience” than playing on a big stage (and he has played on many, such as the W.O.W. Hall).
Meade goes on to say that the Holiday Hall is essentially like busking (again, that’s the art of “street” music for those not in the colloquial know) in a way.
The experience is very different from the night life scene: Musicians in the hall can play for tips as opposed to a main-stage performance. A hall performance is a bit more similar to the style of collecting money to the buskers in the front lobby.
Artists like Meade are the people Kim Still spoke of about trusting on a volume level – Meade knows how to keep the levels mellow in the relatively small hall. He says that playing there is a good experience and is a great opportunity to broaden the fan base.
As for the main stage, Still’s focus is entirely on sound.
Jeremy Wegner, mandolin player for the band Ghillie Dhu, says Still gets “the best sound possible out of the room.” Wegner and Meade aren’t the only musicians to speak highly of the venue.
Other performers, like Tara Kemp of Red Pajamas, says there was “more of a festival energy” and that it felt more like a party for the community than just another gig.
Buddy Sawyer, a lobby musician who’s been playing for about thirty years (Including fifteen at the Market), feels that the musicians that come out get better and better every year.
For a list of the music coming up at the remaining days of Holiday Market – and there aren’t a heck of a lot left – see the website at: http://www.holidaymarket.org/hment.html