History project showcases local music over time

Collaborative history project will teach generations about Eau Claire’s vibrant music scene

More stories from Alyssa Anderson

Getting Weird
December 13, 2018

Photo by Alyssa Anderson

Sounds of Eau Claire will showcase Eau Claire’s vibrant musical history.

Recent publicity has centered around Eau Claire’s “up -and-coming” local music scene, but a collaborative history project aims to disprove that notion.  

When most people hear the words Eau Claire and music in the same sentence, they will most likely think of Bon Iver, Sniffle Party or the Eaux Claires music festival.  

However, the Sounds of Eau Claire oral history project plans to prove that Eau Claire’s music scene is far from a recent development.  

In collaboration with Blugold Radio, UW-Eau Claire’s public history department and the Chippewa Valley Museum, University Archivist Greg Kocken is working to compile information from both the university and local archives to create a project that will educate future generations.  

“More than just documenting the culture and history of the university, one of my goals is to document the culture and history of the Chippewa Valley region in general,” Kocken said.

According to Kocken, the local music scene has grown over the past couple years and continues to change the culture. One of the main goals of this project, Kocken said, is to help future generations understand this moment in time in the Chippewa Valley.  

Initially, he partnered with the Chippewa Valley Museum and the Eau Claire public history department. Soon after, Blugold Radio joined the mix.  

Last January, Kocken said he began contacting individuals for interviews and, that spring, students from Daniel Ott’s public history program began conducting the first interviews. The second round of interviews will take place this fall.  

“Initially, in the spring, we were somewhat hesitant to go after some of those bigger names in the music scene,” Kocken said. “I don’t think that’s the case anymore. We’re looking at a number of slightly more prominent members to interview this fall.”

Most people think of the Indie scene when talking about Eau Claire music, but Kocken wants to focus on the diversity of the scene as well.  

“The roots of the Eau Claire music scene … they stretch back 50 or 100 years in the community’s past,” Kocken said. “It’s our goal to bring out some of the hidden voices so we can better understand the full development of this music scene and how it’s changing Eau Claire.”  

Not only will this project serve as important public records for the community, Blugold Radio producer Eli Klatt will be turning the interviews into NPR-esque podcasts which people can listen to on the radio’s website, Soundcloud or on Blugold Radio, 99.9 FM, at 10:30 a.m. on Sundays.  

Blugold Radio Station Manager Scott Morfitt said he is humbled to be part of such a big project. Morfitt said the station aims to create something out of this project that can be enjoyed by the average listener.  

“I just hope they (listeners) learn about the music scene and that it’s not something that just popped up,” Morfitt said. “I’m hoping they see our scene as a long-lasting thing … this scene isn’t emerging — it’s always been here.”