LRB Inside-Out: When the Music’s Over…

“Well, the music is your special friend…” Jim Morrison

Ah, Jim.  I thought about him several times this weekend and of countless other artists who have shaped who I am.  I worked hard this weekend to honor the musicians past and present who have shared and were sharing their inspirations.  More than anything I worked to share the joys of live music and my beloved Lancaster with the thousands of visitors who came to town.  Thank you Rich Ruoff: for the great gift of letting me help you to realize your vision.  Live music is better.

Now, I crank up the thank-you machine.  A baker’s dozen of restaurants donated over 170 meals to help feed our artists and I can’t tell you how impressed and appreciative they were of your fine food and hospitality.  Thank you Annie Bailey’s, Carr’s, Characters, Isaac’s, Dispensing Company, Federal Taphouse, Penn Square Grille, POUR, Rachel’s Creperie, Roaring Brook Market & Café, Sakura Asian Fusion & Sushi, Stockyard Inn, and 551 West.  A very special thank you to The Pressroom who took our phone call at 11:30pm when it was obvious that Lake Street Dive would be signing autographs well beyond the operating hours of every restaurant in town.  I hope my readers reward all of you and themselves with frequent visits.

All the artists at both The Ware Center and Chameleon were also fed by our VIP Caterers: Accomac Events and Food For Thought Catering.  The bands and the VIPs all raved about your food.  I worked for both companies as I put myself through college so I know the intense labor, skill and faith required to cater events like this.  Immense thanks and praise to you both!  I’m truly sorry our signage wasn’t better so that more VIPs could have found and enjoyed your remarkable work.

Bullfrog Brewery and Kirchner’s Beverage made it possible for us to serve quality regional beers at the convention center.  It was important to us.  It literally would not have happened without them.  Bullfrog also donated all the beer for our backstage areas.  Kirchner’s donated the beer for the VIP area at The Ware Center and all the tapping equipment.   I’m praying to the beer gods that these two fine companies form a lasting partnership.  I love Williamsport and will take any excuse to visit.  But it’s kind of a hike to fill a growler.  I know Tellus 360 might have a keg left of Hopsphyxcitration and Jamie from The Fridge reveres Bullfrog’s Edgar IPA.  Craft beer lovers, let’s cross our fingers.

We distributed nearly 8,000 festival programs.  Weren’t they beautiful?  Locals took one look at it and said, “Wow, you got Fig to make your programs?!”  It felt great to know that Fig’s style is so widely recognized and admired here in town.  There was never any question in our minds who we wanted to help brand our festival and show off Lancaster.  I can’t wait to further celebrate the partnership next week as Fig Lancaster launches their first-ever Music Issue 3/6/14 with a party and concert at Tellus 360.  It’s free and open to the public so come get your first look at how Fig celebrates our music scene!

Besides Fig, Accomac and Food For Thought, our other sponsors large and small delivered equipment, expertise and funding that allowed us to dream big and make it reality.  Thank you to LCSWMA, Atomic Design, Meteor Tower, Country Home Furnishings, Miesse Candies, Parkhill Jewelry, Red Raven Art Company, Spring Gulch Folk Festival, Tri State Indie, WXPN and Willow Valley Communities.  Thank you to Crystal Water, Outdoor Lighting Perspectives and Standard Group Printing.  And thank you to our venues for serving our guests so admirably.  It was a big leap of faith by you all and we appreciate it!

Finally, I must thank the music fans who visited Lancaster Roots and Blues.  You were very patient with our first try at this.  The buzz in our streets and the joy on your faces kept us going.  I promise that 2015 will be bigger and better.  We welcome your feedback because we want to welcome you back next year with all the kinks worked out.  Please stay tuned and keep spreading the word; Lancaster rocks and Live Music is Better!

LRB Inside-Out: Eight Days a Week

Eight days a week is not enough to show I care.  Last week many of us celebrated the 50thanniversary of The Beatles first US appearance.  Most of the specials on tv and radio featured people spooling one common thread; it changed everything.  It was a craze.  Guitars, records and skinny ties flew off the shelves.  They inspired a generation to wanna hold your hand.

What inspired The Beatles?  Roots and blues music.  Skiffle and folk.  Singer-songwriters.  They took elements of those styles and crafted brilliant pop tunes just the way Stephen Foster (1826-1864) and W.C. Handy (1873-1958) had done before. They are known respectively as the “father of American music” and “father of the blues.” You know their songs if you have a few generations of American in you.

Eighteen of Foster’s compositions were recorded and released on the Beautiful Dreamer: The Songs of Stephen Foster collection. Among the artists who are featured on the album are John Prine,Ron SexsmithAlison KraussYo Yo MaRoger McGuinnMavis Staples, and Suzy Bogguss. The album won the Grammy for Best Traditional Folk Album in 2005. (Wikipedia)

The genre of the blues was a hallmark of American society and culture in the 1920s and 1930s. So great was its influence, and so much was it recognized as Handy’s hallmark, that author F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote in his novel The Great Gatsby that “All night the saxophones wailed the hopeless comment of the “Beale Street Blues” while a hundred pairs of golden and silver slippers shuffled the shining dust. At the gray tea hour there were always rooms that throbbed incessantly with this low, sweet fever, while fresh faces drifted here and there like rose petals blown by the sad horns around the floor.” (Wikipedia)

Sorry to go all former-teacher on you but this weekend is huge to me.  And I love The Beatles.  And I loved Shirley Temple singing “Oh Susanna.”  And I love “Beale Street Blues.”  And I taught The Great Gatsby.  I think it and The Grapes of Wrath are the two most American novels ever written.  And I think those sentiments and the music of those eras is more important and more relevant than ever.

If you agree, or if you just want to see heartfelt performances of these roots of our culture, there is no place to be except Lancaster Roots and Blues this weekend.  We’ve been working eight days a week to make this festival a ground-breaker.  I am ecstatic to help Rich Ruoff stage this epic celebration of our city and our role as the crossroads for genuine roots and blues music every February.  All we need from you right now is to show up with your party-pants on and get down to it.

Eight days a week, I love you.


Lancaster Roots and Blues Inside Out Volume II: Finally February!

It’s finally February!  Holy cow I thought January would never end with the cold and snow. February started with a downright heat wave over the weekend with temps nearing fifty.  Old Phil socked it to us though and now it’s three storms this week.  But who cares?  No bit of weather is going to keep me from being psyched about Lancaster Roots and Blues being just over two weeks away.

Downtown restaurants and stellar caterers have really stepped up to help us welcome and feed our musicians and VIPs.  The deal was that restaurants would offer meals for musicians in exchange for ad space on our website and program.  We want our players to have great experiences here and we want our favorite places to benefit from all the extra potential customers in town.  Think about the places you take your visiting friends to eat.  A cool dozen have partnered with us already and I’m looking for more.  Check our website to see if your favorite is there and let me know if it’s not!

We have over 100 volunteers signed up to load, take tickets/ID, sell merchandise and drive musicians from stage to restaurant to stage and back.  We have stage managers and sound techs.  If you have these skills or know someone who does, ask them and yourself if you’re on the list.  If you’re a pro or have some niche, we want to hear from you.  Who wants a press pass to shoot some photos and videos?

On that subject: not a single photography/videography company in town has sought advertising or credentials with us.  Are you shooters really going to let all these artists come to town and not even get something for your portfolio?  RSVP.

February might be a short, dark month to most but it’s always been more than that to me.  My birthday is 2/19 and when Rich was hosting the Blues Festivals at Chameleon, I discovered he was also born 2/19.  This year we’re saving the celebration for 2/21 but it will last two days.

the Lonelies tour

My Gigspots Showcase at DipCo on Saturday 2/8 will resonate for two weeks and get me through until Roots and Blues.  I’m hosting The Lonelies Tour as my regional gems.  They’re not a band; they don’t have a website or merch.  They’re six pedigreed mutts who got together to jam when their respective bands and solo tours were on hiatus and discovered they’re a powerhouse show together.  Be ready to say, “Holy shit.  Where did you say they were from?  What happened?”  My local treasures for the night are the waycool Second Hand Suits.  They are a band.  They meld time, style and sound fluently.  Come see the $20 show I’m offering for just $5 at the door.

I also am taking two mornings away from LRB prep to help my heroes at WXPN by answering phones during their fund drive 2/10-11.  I want to be there when the phones light up because they’re offering a pair of VIP Weekend tickets to Lancaster Roots and Blues for certain pledge levels.  I also like to do my best for the station that brightens every day, invests in our community and enriches my musical character.  If you’re not a supporting member, please consider a membership.  Tune in some Saturday afternoon during the all-request show and hear what kind of community you’ll be joining.  It’s a card worth carrying.  Of course WXPN is partnering with Roots and Blues.  Who did you think it would be?

My last night out before LRB will be at the fabulous Tri State Indie Awards 2/16 at World Cafe Live in Philly.  It’s the third annual and I truly loved the first two!  It blows away the Grammy’s.  Being a presenter makes me feel like both host and guest and whoa is it a party, a concert and an awards show rolled up tight.  LRB artists Cabinet, Sweet Leda and Jake Lewis & The Clergy are nominated.  Mike McMonagle and Tellus 360 are nominated.  Other Gigspots favorites like Kalob Griffin Band, Ali Wadsworth, The Levee Drivers, Kuf Knotz, MiZ, Joy Ike and The Districts are looking to win or even repeat.  It’s a rocking night and should bounce me through to LRB.  I’ll let you know 2/17!