Local music the focus of student’s popular music guide

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By Maddy Fitzgerald

If a band plays and no one is around to see it, hear it and subsequently blog about it, does it make a sound?

The music scene in Provo is alive and well, with a constant rotation of more than 100 local bands and  live music almost every night of the week. That’s a lot of noise to navigate, which makes blogs like Provo Music Guide all the more valuable to Provo’s local music scene.

BYU student Mike Barker started Provo Music Guide last November, during Muse Music Cafe’s  Battle of the Bands. Night after night of local band warfare propelled Barker to start the blog.

“Mostly I just wanted a place to rant, I was tired that no one was talking about local bands in any substantial way,” Barker said.  “There were all these bands being ignored, with no exposure or critique.”

Barker has a long and varied musical resume, giving him some credibility as the man behind Provo Music Guide. Barker took piano lessons as a child, hated them and made the jump to guitar at age 13.  A few different bands, a mission to Brazil and a decade of local shows later, Barker is a guitarist in Wild Apples and committed to building the local music scene.  He’s quick to clarify Provo Music Guide is a reactive blog, featuring reviews of bands, shows and albums.

Barker’s reviews on Provo Music Guide quickly caught attention, at which point he recruited Alex Powelson to join him on the project. When he couldn’t make a show, she stepped in and reviewed it for him.

“When it first got started, it was mostly just bands reading,” Powelson said. “They were either upset that someone didn’t like them or just excited that someone was listening.”

The reviews by Barker and Powelson, as well as other contributors, are honest and not always brimming with praise. Critique doesn’t always go over well in the music industry, but Barker is quick to clarify its value.

“It’s important that we can openly discuss each other’s music,” Barker said.  “I wouldn’t do it if I wasn’t participating, my music is always open to the same criticism.”

The honesty and personality behind Provo Music Guide is an obvious reason for its success.  The blog has grown to include a Facebook page, Twitter and YouTube channel, all of which are updated regularly with the details of Provo’s music scene.

Lyse Cook, a junior at BYU, credits Provo Music Guide’s Twitter account for her recent experiences in the local music.

“I started following Provo Music Guide on Twitter first, it’s how I keep tabs on what’s happening and what shows I might want to see, ” Cook said.  “It helps that there’s a lot of personality and humor behind it all.”

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