10:42 AM EDT, June 15, 2012
I'm writing this letter in response to Jane Hanfman's June 7 letter, "Noise levels at Merriweather are decidedly uncivil."
For some years now I've read, with some incredulity, letters from Columbia residents complaining about loud music at Merriweather Post Pavilion.
Many of these letters have one thing in common. They're written by relative newcomers residing close to the center of town.
Why would one move into a neighborhood within earshot of a venue that has hosted notoriously loud groups such as The Who, Led Zeppelin, the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, then complain about loud music? If you don't like loud noise would you move to within a half-mile of an airport, rail yard or a race track?
Present day acts can tend to be just as loud, or louder. I think Merriweather has done a pretty good job of keeping the volume within reasonable levels.
This situation reminds me of the folks who moved into new homes in Clarksville, right across the road from two junkyards, owned and operated since WWII by the Wise family, then immediately started complaining about junkyards operating in their neighborhood. Or, the fellow who moved into his new home in Scaggsville, then, complaining about the community's name, tried to start a grass roots movement to change it to something with a little more caché. A local merchant, a Mr. Scaggs, whose family settled that area of southeastern Howard County in the 1830's, held, of course, a different opinion on the matter.
Merriweather opened in 1967; a full seven years before ground was broken in Hickory Ridge. Remember the first rule of home buying, "Location, location, location." Should concert-goers be deprived of an evening or an entire day of great music just because someone doesn't bother to exercise a minimum of due diligence when choosing where to live?
No matter how low the volume is at Merriweather there will always be someone in the neighborhood complaining about the noise level.
Jimi Hendrix chose Merriweather for his first public performance on Aug. 16, 1968 of the Star Spangled Banner, sealing for the venue a small place in music history. More recently the group Animal Collective named an album for Merriweather. Endless calls for noise reduction or enclosure will only lead to the permanent closing of Merriweather which would be a great shame and loss.
Whether you've been here since day one or you've just moved to Columbia I hope everyone will be happy and civil in our beloved city.