Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Riverfront concerts

OUR FRIEND AND neighbor Mike Sorenson of Bad Wolf Media had a way cool Facebook post the other day. He went down to Hannibal and located the old riverfront concert area, long abandoned and overgrown.

Three decades ago it was the scene of amazing concerts. Many bands performed there at the peak of their popularity. It sounds like a massive party and good time, and I'm sad I wasn't around to catch a show or two.

The old Hannibal riverfront concert area today. 
Mike did an amazing job photographing the area and showing what it looks like now. And it makes me think of something I've long wondered about - why don't we have a dedicated concert area in Quincy along the riverfront?

I will give Hannibal credit for things like the Y Men's Pavilion. They put on great shows down there every summer, mostly local bands. Quincy has events along the river too - a few years back they had a Christian concerts that drew thousands. They used portable stages, and there's nothing wrong with that, but a more permanent concert stage might draw bigger acts.

Flooding, for one, would be a huge concern. Where to put it in Quincy would be a challenge, but only because of the massive amount of space available. Whoever put our town together back in the day missed the boat when it came to creating and utilizing green space - we have a lot of it down there, and some of it is really nice (Clat Adams Park, etc.). We have a few businesses like The Pier and The Dock. But drive into Quincy along Ill. 57, and it just looks ... blighted. I know it's important to have industrial businesses along the river, but couldn't Quincy have done a better job of balancing industry with retail and recreation?

I guess you can't cry about the past.

Anyway, I think a great spot to put a concert venue is where the old cardboard factory used to be, near Front and Jefferson. All that remains are concrete barriers and the huge smokestack. I'm not sure who owns it now, or who owns land on either side. It's big enough to build a decent sized stage and room to put thousands of people, either with chairs or general admission.

Then again, people around here complain about paying $3 at the door to see a local band. Would they cough up a hundred bucks to see a big name? I have my doubts.

I wrote a Whig column about it a few years ago, and my surrogate father in Quincy, Bob Mays, sent me a letter with a $2 bill. He told me to dare to dream, because dreams might just come true.

I don't have the pockets to build and maintain a concert venue along the Quincy riverfront. I wonder if anybody does, or would be willing to risk it. That's almost as silly as opening a music store and buying a 119-year-old building downtown.

Hmmmm ....

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