Saturday, August 18, 2018

Local Entertainment

Blugold Radio, Confluence hope to crank up local tunes

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    Blugold Radio’s home sits near the McIntyre Library’s information desk on the UW-Eau Claire campus.

    Staff photo by Katy Macek
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    Blugold Radio station manager Scott Morfitt sits in the studio, located near the McIntyre Library information desk on the UW-Eau Claire campus.

    Staff photo by Katy Macek
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In just 20 minutes, Haymarket Landing’s Patio Show with seating for 250 people overlooking construction on the city’s Confluence Arts Center sold out.

Was it the live music featuring local bands Dames, Idle Empress and Heart Pills? Or maybe the new venue itself, having yet to be used for such a purpose? 

Kevin Miller, executive director of the Confluence Arts Center, which partnered with Blugold Radio 99.9 FM to put on the show, thinks it has to do with the city’s bigger picture.

“There’s a heightened level of excitement regarding the Confluence,” Miller said. “They see the crane and all the construction, and people are excited. It gives them a glimpse of where we are at right now, at the heart of what’s going on in Eau Claire.”

The Confluence and the city’s music scene are working hand in hand, and Miller hopes to see that partnership flourish. Another huge part of that scene, he thinks, is Blugold Radio.

Miller, who moved here just a couple months ago, turned to the station immediately.

“For somebody just coming to town, Blugold Radio gave me a great sense of the incredible wealth of musicians, artists and bands,” he said. “That’s the local spot if you want to listen to local music, and it’s wonderful.” 

Blugold Radio station manager Scott Morfitt was thrilled to partner with the Confluence Arts Center and see Miller’s dedication to local music and local art in general. What Miller heard on the radio is essentially what Morfitt hopes the greater community sees of the station.

“We’re so committed to and in love with this music scene that the idea to be able to share bands I love and play here every day is great because that’s what we’re all about,” he said. 

Morfitt, who has been with the radio station since July 1, 2016, has seen the attention Eau Claire’s music scene is getting right now, in part because of the Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival and the city’s proximity to the Twin Cities. 

However, he still hears a divide between what’s being talked about nationally and what’s happening locally. 

“There’s a weird juxtaposition in the music community right now,” he said. “The scene gets a lot of national attention, but at the same time, you have musicians lamenting  there’s not enough places to play. We really are trying to look at different ways of solving those problems for the community.” 

His hope is for Blugold Radio, which is located next to the McIntyre Library information desk on the UW-Eau Claire campus,  to be a starting point for those musicians, encouraging new bands and giving local artists a space to have their music heard. Just having that, he thinks, is enough motivation. 

“Before us, there wasn’t a place someone could turn on their radio in Cornell and hear some bands from Chippewa Falls or Eau Claire,” Morfitt said. “Being able to provide a home for that has been our joy.” 

The station plays all types of music, he said, from indie to pop, hip hop and country. The goal is to get voices heard, and with a 110-mile broadcast radius, they are on their way to doing that. The biggest struggle, however, is funding. 

Though the university gives the station a home, Morfitt said outside of that they are a self-funded entity. He’s hoping more partnerships like the Haymarket Landing Patio Show will help increase the community’s awareness of Blugold Radio and why it is so important to the community.  

The station also recently announced a Prince tribute concert and studio grand opening on Thursday and Friday, Sept. 14 and 15. 

The two-day grand opening celebration at their studio will feature two guitars from Prince’s personal collection, which are on loan from the Jaque Bethke, owner of Pure Design Environments in the Twin Cities. Visitors can stop by and see the guitars, and on Sept. 15 hear them being played by local musicians. 

“Partyup — A Prince Tribute” will take place at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 15, in the Schofield Auditorium on the UW-Eau Claire campus. Tickets are $10 for general admission, $7 for Blugold Radio donors and $5 for students. They are available at the UW-Eau Claire service center and at" target="_blank">www.blugoldradio.org" target="_blank">

Blugold Radio’s open house and viewing of Prince’s guitars is free and open to the public.

Contact: 715-833-9214,, @KatherineMacek on  Twitter

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