Bjorn Free

bjorn1About 16 months ago, I met Bjorn Jacobsen and music changed for me.  I had never seen anyone sing and play folk music with such abandon.  As I got to know him, the crazy sad songs made a lot of sense.  He was living in his car, had been abandoned by everyone he’d ever loved and had survived a deadly fall off Chiques Rock.  The mersa infection he developed in the hospital prompted the staff there to suggest they amputate his hands to save his life.  His response: “I’m a guitar player.  I’d rather die.”  I guess they took him seriously.  He still has his hands and can play the shit out of guitar, banjo and mandolin.  This dude is heart, scar tissue and gristle with a crooked grin.

Bjorn has decided to move to NOLA in early September.  I’m thrilled for him and sad at the same time.  So we are throwing shows at him left and right.  Thursday August 7 is our first Gigspots Presents event at World Café Live at The Queen in Wilmington, DE and Bjorn’s Wayfarer Experiment is the headliner. jake and kate3 Ever-ready, ever-steady Jake Lewis opens this special duo show.  Jake plays with Katie Seifarth, his Clergy drummer/vocalist.  Bjorn is bringing Robin Chambers on violin and you know the heat she brings.

Friday August 8th, The Wayfarer Experiment plays their last Chameleon Club show.  Rock beasts Medusa’s Disco (formerly SEEDS) is also on the bill and will have copies of their just-released live cd.  Bjorn just got his electric Ibanez hollow body out of the shop so who knows what kind of show this might become!  We only guarantee that no holds are barred!  Bjorn’s other adieu shows include Gettysburg Rocks 8/9, Sofrito Gastro Pub (Reading) 8/15, Central PA River Fest (Wrightsville) 8/23 and Bistro 19 (York) 8/29.

plate scrapersThe Gigspots Showcase returns to Lancaster Dispensing Company Friday August 15 for a special Music Friday edition.  From the mountains of Ephrata, Clinton Hibshman (Burning McGuiness) will jangle your jingle and make you say, “Holy Cats, why haven’t we seen this guy before?!”  The night also features The Plate Scrapers, a dynamic string band from the south west: Hagerstown.  You will love this bluegrass band that bridges that Cumberland Gap.  Stay tuned for the Showcase schedule for September through May!

Of course Music Fridays in Lancaster are always special!  You know we’ll be at Binn’s Park at 6pm sharp to see Jake Lewis and The Clergy (full band)!  They have been working on a new album most of the spring and summer and we can’t wait to hear it!  The only hints I’ve received about the new work are that, “It’s what you love about Jake and the Clergy, just bigger and bolder.”  I’m intrigued.  There’s only one more outdoor Music Friday after this: September 19 with Silver City Rodeo.  Come feel the beauty of outdoor music in our wonderful, walkable city.  These shows are free and so are you.

High-Flying July

My high-flying July is about to really soar.  Today I’m embarking on two days of hosting and road managing Carsie Blanton and her jazz trio.  Friday and Saturday, I’ll be hosting thousands of people and dozens of hot bands on the Gigspots Stage at Jam at the Dam.  Catch me if you can, suckas!  You won’t be disappointed with the settings or sounds, I guarantee!Carsie-Blanton-truck-758x392

I’ve been smitten with Carsie and her music for two years now and written about her in previous blogs. 2014 is proving to be a huge year for her.  She raised $60,000 in a Kickstarter campaign to make the jazz album of her dreams and is touring the nation with it right now.  I’m thrilled to be bringing her to my clients The Bullfrog Brewery 7/9 and Turkey Hill Brewing Company 7/10.Jam2014

Jam at the Dam is a Pirate Rob, OneKoast Entertainment event unlike anything I’ve seen.  The campground is rustic and beautiful.  The crowds are like a family reunion…if your family really parties.  The bands blow me away every year.  Here’s what I said about last year’s Jam: http://blog.gigspots.com/2013/07/05/time-to-jam-at-the-dam/ .  I’m sure to have plenty of stories to tell after this one.  I’ll do my best to remember some.  Luckily, Intern Jimmy is tagging along to help record the scene and keep me upright.  If you need me this weekend, come to Weatherly, PA.  Find any excuse you can.  This year is two days on four stages.  Epic.

July 17 I’ll be in Wilmington, DE for The Ladybug Festival.  It’s an all-day, street fair/concert featuring bands which feature ladies.  My pals at Gable Music Ventures host it and I’m proud to be an annual sponsor.  They have peerless eyes and ears for talent and Wilmington is really cool.  Join us!

July ends with The XPoNential Music Festival hosted by WXPN July 25-27.  It’s my favorite concert every year.  You can get daily or three-day passes that can include lawn seats for the big shows at SBC next door.  Sunday night 7/27 that show is Beck, Band of Horses and The Districts.  How can you pass that up?

I’ll do my best to get something posted about all these shows…but be patient.  I’ll need a little recovery after this July and August is looking even hotter!

Music Imports and Exports

I really enjoyed my run of showcases at Lancaster Dispensing Company from January to May and I hope you did as well!  The audiences were very appreciative and I’d like to thank my bands for playing their hearts out!  January: The Naïve Americans and The VCC Duo (aka Jeff Bryson and Leo DiSanto) gave us some fine folk and bluegrass.  February: The Lonelies Tour and Second Hand Suits shared some stylish performances.  March: Lovers League (aka TJ McGlinchey, Christopher Davis-Shannon and Dani Mari) and very special guests The KGB Trio (Kalob Griffin, Robert Dwyer and Eric Lawry) reminded us that the song rules and they live to serve it.  April: Jason Ager and C.O.P.O. and Angelo Melasecca are two great showmen who really know their guitars!

Me with Angela Michele Walker

Me with Angela Michele Walker

May: Ali Wadsworth and Satellite Hearts rocked and Angela Michele Walker Trio rolled.  It was important to me to have a night featuring women vocalists and these ladies definitely shone!

The tagline for the showcases was “Two Regional Gems and a Local Treasure.”  I wanted to introduce bands to Lancaster who I had seen in my travels and pair them with a local act with whom I thought they might connect on some level.  I also wanted the “import” bands to see what a great city and scene we have.  Several of the bands are already finding ways to share gigs and their audiences.  And I’ve had offers to take a version of The Gigspots Showcase on tour.

I “export” bands from Lancaster as well.  My client venues in State College, Williamsport, Wilkes-Barre and Harrisburg usually feature someone I sent them at least once a month.  I am about to begin serving other I-80 venues as well as possibilities along I-70 in MD and WV.  I believe I will be hosting showcases at both World Café Venues (Philly and Wilmington) by the fall.  I’m ridiculously lucky to associate with Gable Music Ventures in DE and NaptownMusic in Annapolis, MD.  Of course you’ve all heard me blab about Pirate Rob, music guru behind OneKoast Entertainment (based in Baltimore), Frozen Harbor Music Festival and Jam at the Dam in Weatherly, PA.  It’s one badass indie music festival that becomes a two-day affair this year.  Gigspots is a perennial stage sponsor.  Contact me or visit PirateRob.com for tickets!

Bjorn Jacobsen and Freeman White at The Factory: Underground

Bjorn Jacobsen and Freeman White at The Factory: Underground

When I go out to “recruit” venues, I often take Bjorn Jacobsen with me on an open mic night or a night where a band I know is playing.  He sits in and I immediately get more respect!  I guess they figure if I know a musician that serious, I must be doing something right.  I’ve seen him win an audience playing AFTER Mike Miz and I’ve seen dudes like Freeman White ask to sit in with him.

One of my favorite services is helping a band fill out a tour or a venue fill a sudden hole in their schedule.  When a venue calls, I know I need to find a good audience fit that will sell some tickets and beer.  When a band calls, they usually have their weekends booked but need gigs to survive the mid-week drives between them.  Sometimes, you get the best for everyone.  I have recently made two national bands (Silencio and Carsie Blanton) very happy by filling their tour calendar.  And I can’t wait for the hugs I’ll get from the venue owners and fans who will get a chance to see them within three hours of home at a reasonable price!Carsie-Blanton-truck-758x392

So send me your poor, hungry bands and fans!  My client venues are the best around and my list is growing.  Check them out for yourself and tip the staffs please.  We’re saving the economy one gig at a time!

Twelve Nights of Gigspotting

I celebrate Gigspots’ anniversary the way my mom used to celebrate my birthdays.  She was a nut.  I’d wake up and construction paper numbers would be all over the house.  She put candles on my toast.  I guess I’m sentimental like her.

I’ve been rereading all my old blogs.  I’m proud to say my philosophies haven’t changed. Music and culture define us as humans.  Young people flourish when given positive opportunities.  Give peace a chance and hippies may actually save the world.

The lively central PA music scene gave me the guts to form Gigspots.  The scene has thrived and grown to include The Ware Center, Tellus 360, Music Fridays, The Convention Center, Lancaster Roots and Blues Festival and at least a dozen small businesses where music events happen.  Lancaster has witnessed the birth of The Stray Birds, The Districts, The Wayfarer Experiment, Brethren, The Pig Merchants, SEEDS, Silver City Rodeo, Shrimpboat and Jake Lewis and The Clergy over the last three years.  That’s more great bands than some cities raise in a decade.

Has Gigspots’ footprint increased in three years?  Have I helped some bands and venues? Do fans turn to Gigspots for music and entertainment news?  I hope so.  I sure have learned a lot.  Looking at my old blogs makes me feel naive and insightful at the same time.

I know my audience has grown rapidly since Twitter and Lancaster Roots and Blues came into my life.  So I’m taking the first twelve nights of April to post some flashback blogs: highs, lows and in-betweens.  Here’s the text of my first ever from March 19, 2012.

The Great Irony of Gigspots

Greetings and Welcome to Gigspots!  My name is Sam Campbell and I will be your host.  Gigspots.com is a website designed to be a clearinghouse for bands and live music venues.  Fans of live music can go there to see a concert calendar, pictures and profiles of bands/venues and videos of bands performing live.  From Pittsburgh to Philly, from the Poconos to the Potomac, we want to be the site you check to find great live music in your town or on your travels.  Gigspots.com was born April 18, 2011.

This blog will give me a chance to sound off about our region’s great music scene.  As I visit cities and towns seeking great music, I will share the cultural treasures I discover.  Art, architecture, dining, history and outdoor adventures are some of my interests besides music.   I hope you find my writing lively and entertaining.  I hope you give me some feedback and guidance.  Share your experiences and expertise!

Here’s the great irony of Gigspots. I am using the internet and social networking sites to say, “Step away from your computer!”  Social networking is not socializing. To “Like” a band or music venue is not the same as experiencing them.  They are as different as having a picture of a dog and having a dog.

You know how your dog is always glad to greet you, whether you went to the mailbox or Miami?  Become a regular at your local spot or at a band’s area appearances and you will get the same type of greeting, minus the shedding and slobbering (typically: your results may vary).

The next few blogs will highlight some of my best experiences from year one at the helm of Gigspots.com and preview the big events to come.  Please join in with recollections and invitations!

 

 

March on the Lamb

I’ve been hanging back on the blogging during after-action reviews of Lancaster Roots and Blues.  The consensus: let’s do it again!  The dates for Lancaster Roots and Blues 2015 are February 6-7.  Just this morning we opened a very limited offer for early-bird tickets.  You can buy a weekend pass right now for $85.  With 92% of 2014 attendees saying they will return next year, you better not snooze on this price.  I said my public thank-you to many in my last blog and have been going around with handshakes and hugs since.  Rich has asked me to return as Director of Operations.  We have big plans for you.

Gigspots got a nice boost through my work with LRB.  The Facebook page is nearing 1,000 Likes and the Twitter account is racing.  The YouTube is gaining subscribers daily.  I published “The Road to Roots and Blues” in Regional Musician Magazine’s March edition and have been receiving a surprising number of offers to contribute to projects big and small.  Please keep them coming!  Yes, I can help you script, promote, organize and deliver your event or tour.  And by the end of 2014 I will be working with bands and live music venues from Texas to Vermont.  Count on hearing more about my friends at Gable Music Ventures, NaptownMusicLadyLake Music and some other fascinating connections I’ve made.

My Gigspots Showcases at Lancaster Dispensing Company have been fun and well-received!  The show 3/8 with Reverend TJ McGlinchey, Christopher Davis-Shannon and Dani Mari (aka Lovers League) was a hoot!   Many thanks to my pals Kalob, Rob and Eric (from The Kalob Griffin Band) for stopping by to play the middle set.  You all sounded wonderful and intern Jimmy allegedly captured some great video.

The April showcase 4/12 will be a rock show!  Gigspots will be celebrating three years in business and we want to make some noise.  Jason Ager and C.O.P.O.  mix rock, funk and hip-hop influences in a groovy brew all their own.  Wear some comfy shoes!  In the middle set, we celebrate one of our all-time local favorites: Angelo M.  This dude has been one of my favorite guitar players for over twenty years and I can’t believe I snagged him for the showcase!  You have a better chance at seeing him in Nashville these days or at big blues festivals across the nation.  Come to DipCo and party with us!