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!

Spring Review and Woo!

Spring has flown by but not without dropping a pile of great shows in my lap!  I talked about the wonderful LAUNCH weekend in a recent blog.  I have seen plenty of other shows that I wanted to put on your radar.  Three of my favorites are back in town this Saturday!

Lauren Mann and The Fairly Odd Folk will play with Canyon and The Pig Merchants this Saturday 6/1 at The Candy Factory in Lancaster.  The show starts at 7pm so don’t plan on rolling in around 10.  You will have missed a phenomenal night!  Here’s Lauren and company tearing up DipCo to close LAUNCH!

They didn’t play LAUNCH but The Wayfarer Experiment is leading the charge as my pick for 2013 central PA band of the year.  I have 6-7 Wayfarer shows under my belt already and am psyched to see them at DipCo Friday 5/31! They just released a new album and it continues their dark folk/gypsy blues saga.  Friday is Bjorn’s birthday so you know this show will be memorable!  This compelling three-piece might be 4-6 members on any given night so show up and witness the experiment unfolding.

Also this Friday 5/31 is an incredible show at Chameleon with massive local talents The Districts and The Seeds plus Philly faves Juston Stens and The Get Real Gang and Cheers Elephant.  I have seen all four of these bands and they rock!  You can see videos of most on my YouTube channel.  The Stonewall Vessels also appear and I’m anxious to check them out.

Here’s a special shout-out to The Abbey Bar at Appalachian Brewing Company for hosting great shows and serving great food and beer!  Notable shows I have seen there this spring include Dirk Quinn Band, Andy Mowatt Trio and Start Making Sense: a Talking Heads tribute.

The Wayfarer Experiment

The Wayfarer Experiment

Dirk Quinn Band at Abbey Bar

Dirk Quinn Band at Abbey Bar

I loved DQB as house band for the Tri State Indie Music Awards this year and it was fantastic to see them playing whole sets of songs vs. just between awards.  Andy Mowatt is a jazz-rock flamethrower on guitar; see his trio immediately!  As for Start Making Sense: holy cow!  If you never got the chance to see Talking Heads or just want to relive that experience, here is your ticket.  I will be rolling to The Abbey Thursday 5/30 to see The Wood Brothers if anyone loves folk and wants to join me!  I just keep saying it; my season pass to Abbey Bar/Greenbelt Event shows is the best investment I make every year.  And yes, six months later, I’m still mourning the passing of Mike Van Jura.  Kudos to Sarah, Alec and Ben for keeping Greenbelt vibrant!

Last week’s show at Chameleon with The Slackwater News and Marco Benevento was pure pleasure-dome stuff!  Most locals know Slackwater and they draw a big, fun crowd for a lot of reasons.  Marco creates these sonic soundscapes that just transport your ass to another plane.  If you missed the show, I have videos up but they are just a tease of the experience.  See Marco.  Period.  He plays Abbey Bar 2-3 times a year.  And cheer on The Slackwater News as they expand their play-zone to New Hope (Triumph Brewing) and State College (The Shell).

May moved the Music Friday series outdoors and Toy Soldiers was the perfect kickoff act!  Stay tuned to MOOSE for complete events schedules.  Keys For the City has again filled our town with beautiful, original pianos/works of art; thank you sponsors and players!  Long’s Park will kickoff its summer concert series and yes, Dawes is coming back!  We are truly blessed to have so many live music opportunities here in Lancaster!

Three notable album releases (besides the new Wayfarer Ex) are Lovebettie, Bumpin’ Uglies and The Great Socio.  My love of Lovebettie is no secret. Bumpin Uglies are a reggae-rock band from MD who now tour nationally and are currently #5 and climbing on the iTunes reggae chart.  See them and you’ll know why I love them too.  The Great Socio is a nearly indescribable prog-rock band with no guitar player.  When I first heard their last cd, I thought the band must have at least 6-7 members.  Nope.  It’s four dudes who are all-in on every song and all about getting you off!  I will be rolling to see The Great Socio and PASADENA at WCL The Queen in Wilmington 6/6 and I’m looking for company.  Call me and call shotgun!  And if you really want a taste of the Gigspotter life, get your tickets soon for Jam at the Dam July 6th!  I’ll be hosting The Gigspots Lawn Stage smack in the middle of 50 acres of beauty and 800 very happy campers!

Who’s Your Favorite Pirate?

Who’s Your Favorite Pirate?

Growing up in Pittsburgh and loving baseball, I idolized our hometown Pirates.  Roberto Clemente was and is still my favorite.  The game would benefit from his leadership today; if only he wasn’t lost in a plane crash doing earthquake relief work!  It broke my nine-year old heart!

I like movie pirates: Johnny Depp and Geoffrey Rush were brilliant scallywags in the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie.  Tim Curry vamped it up brilliantly as Long John Silver in The Muppets’ Treasure Island, a must-see. David Warner was a ruthless degenerate pirate in a 1980 movie apparently only I saw and loved, The Island.  Peter Benchley (Jaws) wrote the novel and screenplay and Michael Caine starred. It is great, honest and just re-released on DVD.

Who is my favorite pirate today (with a nod and smile to the above)?  Pirate Rob!  Never heard of him?  Pirate Rob, aka Rob Bryan, is owner/partner of DNL Entertainment, One Koast Productions and a plethora of other music-related ventures.  When Pirate Rob says it’s a party, he makes Capt. Morgan look like Donald Duck.  When he brings his band of merry bands to play, it’s “…a festival of conviviality” to quote Long John Silver.

I first met Rob at The Legendary Dobbs in Philly one cold November night.  I had gone to check out my friends Lovebettie’s show and he had several bands on the bill.  He is a blunt yet easy-going guy with a ready laugh and great taste in music.  He is too busy to waste words or time.  It’s always the next horizon, the next adventure, the next show. He handed me some cd’s and said, “Stay in touch.”

Soon I was noticing the bands Pasadena and Bond and Bentley sharing shows with Lovebettie in Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Buffalo and Philly.  These two distinctive, powerful, professional bands belong to what I call Rob’s fleet.  I had no idea what a large and vibrant music scene existed in the Baltimore-Annapolis region or that it connected to OCMD, Dewey and Rehoboth Beaches.  This guy could summon up thirty bands with a lopsided grin, it seemed.

I felt the full force of his fleet at Pirate Rob’s Birthday Bash on February 18, 2012.  He sold out the 1,500 capacity Rams Head Live in Inner Harbor and fifteen bands played their asses off, each ending their set with, “Thanks a lot everyone and ‘F&*k you, Pirate Rob’!” as is apparently tradition.  It’s obviously a true sign of love and respect in this crew.  You should hear 1,500 people scream it sometime.  You’ll know.

Talk to any of the bands who work with him; he makes stuff happen.  Go to any show he’s part of and you’ll get it.  These people are believers and they stick together.  Best of all, you can join in on it!  One Pasadena or Bond and Bentley show will be all it takes, but take my word for it: you need to check out Sweet Leda, The Grilled Lincolns, Bumpin’ Uglies, Fresh Competition and the whole fleet.

I just spent the weekend with this crew at Jam @ the Dam.  It was like a family reunion for 400 people and the best party.  With thirty years of party experience under my belt, you can take my word for it.  Or not.  But if you have any thoughts of a weekend trip to OCMD, make it the weekend of July 28-29 and request Monday off.  Pirate Rob and Jayslow Entertainment are throwing Blockstock IV in The Party Block that Sunday.  If you can make it, you will be there very late.  If you miss it, just drop anchor on the couch because you are not sea-worthy.

F&*k you, Pirate Rob!  And sail on, brother!

You land-lubbers can see videos from Jam at the Dam at this link: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLC43C3D4C10B5FA32&feature=plcp

If you were there: great partying with you!!