If you think Lancaster is all buggies and dirt roads, you have been misled. Maybe you have heard of The Chameleon Club but picture it as separate from town: a brick and mortar bastion of rock towering above the tumble-down shanties and barnyard critters. I will admit that I might not have settled in Lancaster in 1988 if not for The Chameleon but wow, am I glad I stayed! It’s a music-lover’s paradise!
Since I arrived in town, The Lancaster Dispensing Company has been my go-to place for great food, music and music news. The menu is immense and there is live music most Friday and Saturday nights. “The DipCo” is where the musicians, promoters, bartenders and baristas hang out; it’s where everyone convenes either before or after events in town. It is what all those TGIFridays, Chili’s and Ruby Tuesdays wish they were. It is where I take all my visiting friends from out of town and they love it!
DipCo is where I first heard about Music For Everyone, a Lancaster non-profit that promotes music education and provides instruments and instruction for under-funded school and community programs. One of Lancaster’s biggest music events is the annual MFE CD Release Concert, where all the local artists who contributed songs perform downtown. DipCo is also where Plugged In on the Farm was brainstormed into a reality. The talent pool here is always looking to pay it forward.
Are you starting to get the picture about Lancaster? Even the Mayor’s office is in the loop. Music is woven into the fabric of life here. The addition of Millersville University’s Ware Center downtown is further interconnecting the threads of culture and quality of life.
Need more proof before committing to a visit? Check out Fly Magazine, Lancaster’s bar-search authority for 20 years. Check out Tri State Indie, a phenomenal on-line indie music magazine based in Lancaster but with contributors nationwide. Then check out LAUNCH Music Conference and start making your road trip plans.
How much of a trip is it? Lancaster is 75 miles from Philly, 85 miles from Baltimore, 2.5 hours from D.C., 3.5 hours from NYC and 4.5 hours from Pittsburgh. Harrisburg, York and Reading are within 35 miles. The Pocono Mountains and the beaches of NJ, DE and MD begin within a two hour drive of Lancaster. It has everything a city should have and is close to everything else.
Lancaster is absolutely a hub for the independent music scene and a crossroads where national touring acts settle in for a night. Diverse, abundant cultural attractions await you. Yes, you can have a buggy ride and shoo-fly pie if you wish. Or you can start your day at Central Market, visit 300+ unique businesses within ten square blocks, catch some great bands in intimate venues and tuck in for the night at Lancaster Arts Hotel. Just don’t count on making this your only visit. I came for a visit in 1988 and haven’t left yet.