Update: July 26, 2:53 p.m.: Before Inkblots' Sam Munoz received the e-mail from Artists and Musicians Against Displacement, he didn't realize that the debate over gentrification in Santa Ana was so passionate. "We walk [to Downtown] and to me it still looks the same. It's cleaner and there's a crappy Starbucks, but it's still la cuatro."
To Munoz, all the change happening in downtown Santa Ana is a good thing "in terms of giving musicians chance to play. There was nothing five to six years ago." For bands, what's going on is exciting, he says. "I feel like we can play in Santa Ana and people are gonna come. It's not just like a show in the middle of nowhere; people want to come and see new music. It's a good deal, and that's something I've enjoyed."
So will Munoz be boycotting the Yost as well? "To play at the Yost, and open for any band, whether its Elefante or Molotov, would be great. It would be in my hometown--it's not about politics, it's about a chance to play in front of my friends and family."
Neither does Munoz think Downtown Inc. has a secret agenda. "Anybody who believes they can take Latino culture out of Santa Ana is misguided. There's just too many of us!" he says, laughing. "We're the majority here. I don't know much about any of these companies (Koo's, Downtown Inc., etc.) and what they want to do, but if [they do want to get rid of Latinos] I don't think they'll succeed."
"I think Santa Ana has a lot of cultures and I think Downtown should reflect that. It shouldn't all be one culture. What it is right now is a good step; Santa Ana is getting a reputation beyond what it used to be, and that's a good thing."
Ashley Eckenweiler, who is the publicist for Yost (she also booked last year's Summer Concert series), says the boycott is really unfortunate. "Speaking on behalf of Yost, they have a lot of multicultural programming planned already on the calender and in the future. Their lease also requires them to host at least two community events per month at cost, which shows an honest dedication to continuing to support the community in Santa Ana. It's the same for Downtown Inc.--there's been tons of support for the existing communities."
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Original post: July 26, 8:53 a.m.: Yesterday OC Register's Andrew Galvin posted a blog about a new group called Artists and Musicians Against Displacement, which asked musicians participating in the Santa Ana summer concert series to "decline their invitation or cancel in solidarity" due to claims of gentrification in an anonymous open letter. (Gustavo Arellano knows who anonymous is, for once, and refers to it in his news blog!)
Downtown Inc., the organization of the Santa Ana PBID, is in charge of many musical events that promote the area, and have had various local bands such as the Colourist perform with some larger groups, such as the Watson Twins. Ashley Eckenweiler, Yost's publicist, says
The Inkblots' lead singer Sam Munoz wrote an interesting response to the call, and then didn't boycott the event. He says, "I remember when it was merely known as La Quatro and its most attractive events were the family quinceaneras held each weekend in its hidden halls. However, I cannot completely agree with your conclusions here."He adds, "I am very proud of the fact that I was born and raised in Santa Ana and in the almost seven years of my band's life I have always introduced us as 'the Inkblots from Santa Ana, CA.' I do see that my beloved city has changed and it sometimes angers me that so many of the people that show their faces in the late nights of our Downtown would have, not too long ago, laughed at the suggestion of spending any kind of time in one of our bars. However, I have never had so many chances to showcase my talent in Santa Ana before...I dreamt of the day that Santa Ana could some day become a launching pad for musicians and artists alike and these changes that have happened to Downtown have made it seem possible that Santa Ana could some day achieve that."
I personally think it would be interesting to hear from other bands who've participated in the boycott...more updates as the story develops.