Lancaster Roots and Blues: Inside Out Volume One
So, I was hired to do a nine-month job in ninety days. I’m now 45 days from opening night. Good thing I was in the Army. Pathfinders! Everybody I see these days says two things. “Dude, you are just aglow with excitement. How can I help with the festival?” When I shared this with Jason Mundok, he replied, “That is just so Lancaster.” It’s so true. People are rallying up behind LRB and everybody wants to be part of it. Good news: you’re in!
We have almost 45 people on the volunteer list already. I’d love another 20! If you want to work a night and get a free admission to the other, please hit the LRB website: Festival Info then Volunteer tabs. Give us your email (confidential) and pick two positions. We need everything from Loaders to Stage Techs to Green Room Managers. We need ticket-takers and drivers. Let’s assemble a strong, skilled crew for our remarkable musical guests and welcome the out-of-towners. If your business would like to offer a special welcome, let us hear from you too.
So what has me aglow besides frostbit cheeks and winter ales? Have you seen our insane lineup of artists? It’s the blues, man. Rich and I toured the convention center a few weeks ago and Gary Miller was with us. You remember club manager Gary from Chameleon’s heyday? He has already committed to be stage manager for the Thaddeus Stevens stage. As we all parted company, Gary and I were walking in the same direction towards our parked cars. We looked at each other and, in sync, just grinned and said, “The blues are coming back to Lancaster, man!” And we’re laughing and air-guitaring and the memories are just spilling out all over King Street. Can you say Uptown Rhythm Kings?
I want your stories! Hundreds of you have 17 years of Blues Festival/Chameleon stories to tell. As we kick off 2014, more people than ever are working in and supporting our local music scene. So whether you’re a Lancaster music veteran or newcomer, reach out to me. I’m writing three blogs, creating video ads and writing most of the press releases. I am not a voice crying out in the wilderness. You know we have a great city and LRB will restore us as the mid-Atlantic’s musical crossroads. Share your memories and invite people to come make some of their own.
Of course one of the best things about working with Rich is his stories. He has a million. I had forgotten how much he likes a good laugh and how easily they come to him. If you heard the podcast by Wood Stove House (thanks Jason), you heard a great example. Innocence Mission, a great Lancaster band who went national, was scheduled to tape a David Letterman appearance. The show taped around 6pm. They loaded out, drove like crazy for Lancaster, and arrived just in time to play their headlining gig at Chameleon. When Letterman aired that night, the club rolled tv’s out on stage so Innocence Mission and hundreds of fans could watch their appearance together. Were you there?
Anyway, the story came up because Lake Street Dive is playing Letterman 2/21 and Lancaster Roots and Blues 2/22. You can be there.
Gigspots is kind of booming right now too. My showcase events start this Saturday 1/11/14 at Lancaster Dispensing Company and woo-doggies do I have a great opening night! The Naïve Americans with elements of The Hickory Project and Still Hand String Band will play the first two sets. Leo DiSanto and Jeff Bryson of VCC will play the third. I predict a pulverizing all-jam at the end including who knows who. My agent and promoter projects will reach across three states by March. I will be sending bands on tours and promoting shows in more venues. I’m also getting a lot of work as a press/biography writer and album/show reviewer. Aglow a go-go, baby!
My last blog was all about getting out of town. I’m glad to say I was home (and hosting) for the holidays. The weekend before Christmas I combined business with those pleasures. Our newest holiday tradition is now “Clan Concert.” This being Lancaster, we had a lot of choices.
Friday 12/20 I took my wife, her sister, my nephew and Film Intern James Colburn to DipCo to enjoy Sweet Leda’s last area appearance before LRB. The band was hot as hell as usual! When they return 2/21, they play Federal Taphouse at midnight: the last act of night one. Boom. And they’re bringing Ron Holloway with them. Some of the film Jimmy captured that night and images he shot around town the next morning wound up in the LRB 15-second promo that’s currently screening with the previews at Penn Cinema.
Saturday night my daughter, niece and some of their gal-pals joined in on the act for the show that closed the “Clan Concert” deal: The Districts, SEEDS, Pine Barons, Coronado and no shit, a surprise appearance by Ron Gallo. It was a great night of rock for over 500 people including us. If you watch my video of The Districts playing “Call Box” that night, you’ll hear everyone singing along and see my daughter front row against the rail and my wife and her sister rocking and rolling in the crush right behind her. Good times! I also had the pleasure of seeing many former students who were home for the holidays and out to see their classmates turned rock stars. Thanks for the smiles, hugs and shots! Let’s do it again soon!
Sunday night 12/22 I returned to Chameleon for Shrimpboat and Mama Tried; it was the unofficial, official holiday party for Lancaster’s musicians and industry members. I always dig Mama Tried. And I knew I wasn’t going to the NYE festivities downtown featuring Shrimpboat so I wanted to catch them before their pre-LRB area hiatus. They are killers one and all and every note was in place.
I’ve been trying to catch as many LRB artists as possible since we’ve asked that they not play Lancaster in February before their LRB performance. I suggest you do the same and start by joining me at DipCo Friday 1/10 for Jake Lewis and The Clergy. Then return 1/11 for my Gigspots Spotlight Showcase. It’s gonna be a humdinger and I want you to experience some of the impressive talents I’m meeting outside our little valley. Plus, Leo and Jeff (VCC Duo) are my “Local Treasures” so no excuses.
Also of note: The Wayfarer Experiment has been asked to open for Gangstagrass 1/17 at Chameleon. It just sounds too cool to miss. Seizure soon!