Music Neighborhoods

IT'S HAPPENING: Downtown Speakers Pumping Local Music

Tom Giffey, photos by Eric Christenson |

A lamppost-mounted speaker on S. Barstow, shown here takin' it to the streets.

Listen up, downtown Eau Claire visitors –  for real. What you now hear coming from those speakers along South Barstow Street isn’t smooth jazz Muzak anymore. It’s homegrown music – music written, performed, recorded, and curated by members of the Chippewa Valley’s robust and diverse musical community. On Thursday (10/11) – just in time for this weekend’s Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival, which will bring thousands of music lovers on a pilgrimage to the Valley – local tunes began emanating from our lamppost-mounted speakers.

The music comes courtesy of Downtown Eau Claire Inc., the South Barstow Business Improvement District, and Eau Claire musician Paul Brandt. Initially, you’ll hear that Eau Claire sound on weekends, but that may soon expand to more days of the week.

Major kudos go to Brandt for making the project happen: He volunteered to assemble the music, get the performers’ permission, and create the playlists that will hopefully delight your ears.

You can see the local music, but it's there.

“I felt it was important to highlight all of the quality music from the musicians who really make up the local music scene; the kind of people and bands that are playing regularly here on the weekends,” says Brandt, who works at the Eau Claire Music School and The Local Store and performs with numerous area bands. “The initial batch of songs was collected from these local artists representing a variety of genres. People can expect to hear music from veterans of the Eau Claire music scene like Sue Orfield and Jim Pullman as well as newer groups like Them Coulee Boys and Idle Empress.”

The downtown sound system was installed by Audio Architects when the street was rebuilt in 2013, and Audio Architects’ Andy Pierson helped with the project. The sound system was purchased by the South Barstow BID, an association of downtown business owners that uses its own funds to improve the neighborhood.

Want to get your tracks played on South Barstow? Contact Paul Brandt at