Every Friday is Music Friday!

Every Friday is Music Friday!

When you live in/near Lancaster, PA as I do, every Friday seems like music Friday.  There are more shows going on here than you could possibly attend.  Of course, I take my role of Gigspotter seriously and do my best to try and point out all the best.  You can’t say I didn’t tell you about last Friday at Chameleon with Loretta Bilieux and The Dive Bar Pretties! Click to see what you missed!

This Friday is extra special because it’s an OFFICIAL Music Friday.  All summer, every third Friday of the month will feature live music downtown.  Tonight’s show at Binn’s Park features The Slackwater News (Lancaster rock stars!) and Dirty Bourbon River Show from New Orleans.  A new stage has also sprung up between Carr’s restaurant and Lancaster Central Market for Music Fridays.  Appearing tonight to start it right is Leo DiSanto.  Who knows who might be jumping up there with him but I know the fellas from Vinegar Creek Constituency won’t let their front man roam too freely alone!

I also suspect that when they chase Leo off the stage, the chase will lead right to Lancaster Dispensing Company mere steps away.  Trixie Greiner and The Inca Campers play there tonight!  Friday!!

Also returning to Lancaster this week are the pianos.  How many of you found yourself walking through town last summer and being drawn to some impromptu piano jam?  The wonderful non-profit Music For Everyone has again placed colorful, artful and tuned pianos in ten locations around the city for you to play and hear.  Thank you to MFE and their generous sponsors!  Who knew pianos could look so cool?!  And I will always remember one very late night downtown last summer when some player drew a crowd.  It was 2:30am and this piano Pied Piper had people streaming towards him from all over town!

I will be the blur in the Gigspots shirt.  I plan to start at Marion Court Room for happy hour music by The Love Haters and then work my way downhill: Binn’s Park, Market Street, DipCo.  I think I can do all of the above if my hour doesn’t get too happy.  If I miss Leo, I know I can catch him Sunday at Chestnut Hill Café (3pm).

By sundown I plan to be hustling up 283 to Harrisburg.  David Mayfield Parade is playing Abbey Bar and after seeing his last show in the area, I promised myself not to miss the next.  Man, that Greenbelt Events season pass is still the best $100 I spent in 2012!

Call Me the Working Man

Call Me the Working Man

My rock and roll activities were confined to night time last week.  I did catch two fantastic concerts: Loretta Bilieux and the Dive Bar Pretties at Chameleon and BuzzUniverse at The Bullfrog.  But most of my energies last week were spent doing physical labor.  I got away from Facebook, Twitter and blogging.  I dug a big hole in the yard and chopped up some trees.

I had a few reasons for abandoning computerworld.  After all the writing, editing, uploading, tagging, Liking, Commenting and Sharing of LAUNCH week, it was time to get outdoors.  I get fidgety sitting at a desk and staring at my laptop.  It doesn’t do me any good to spend too much time thinking.

I’m getting a shed.  My neighbors and I pitched in and bought a lawn tractor and we need somewhere to store it.  My yard was nominated and seconded.  The timing is right and my garage is awfully cluttered as it is.  So I set to work digging a foundation and trimming trees to make room for the new addition.  Plus, it gave me an excuse to invite Loretta and her chainsaw over for some noise and drinks in the rain.

I could draw a number of analogies between physical labor and mental health: laying a foundation, staying grounded, leveling the playing field, trimming away the dead wood.  Perhaps the best fit for my situation is “doing your homework.”  I can’t fully enjoy running around at night doing my rock and roll thing when I know there are chores to be done at home.  If my home is unsettled, live music and social networking have to wait.

Happy Birthday Gigspots!

My site was launched April 18, 2011.  I am very proud of how it looks now and how it has grown.  I hope you have enjoyed the show and I thank everyone who has helped me, encouraged me and offered constructive criticism.  It has been a wonderful learning experience and I feel more confident that I can help you find great music experiences.

I’m a pack rat by nature.  I get it from my mom who lived through the Depression and has never thrown away anything.  I also belong to an art group: The Airy Hill School.  I can’t paint or sculpt like those guys but I make a mean collage.  Here’s a view of my office wall.  I can’t describe how much fun it’s been to see all these shows and meet all these people.  I will tag everybody I can but count on me adding more later!

stubs and fliers

Thanks for the shows!

Super-Mega Music Wizard

This blog originally ran April 4, 2012.  I still haven’t won the lottery but I’d still do the same things with the money.

Super-Mega Music Wizard

Ok, I didn’t win $300 million on Saturday.  I had big plans for that money.  Of course, the odds of winning were about the same as becoming an all-powerful wizard.  So while I keep rubbing that lamp, here’s what I would have done with the money.

I would buy one of the unused warehouses or factories in Lancaster and turn it into a grand music venue: maybe 800-1,200 seats.  The demand exists and major touring artists pass us by every day.  Why should Lancaster be the only town around here without one?

I also would buy The Chameleon Club and Lancaster Dispensing Company.  I love them and wish they were mine.  I don’t envision a lot of changes.  Although, I would install a state-of-the-art sound system in DipCo and I would offer Rich Ruoff a fortune to oversee the music in both.   Of course, the restaurant and nightclub businesses are money pits with no guarantee of return.  If that weren’t true, I would have bought The Blue Star years ago.

I also would convince Clipper Stadium to start staging concerts again in the summer.  Outdoor concerts are special and money talks.  I saw Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson at The Clip!  Do you remember the crowd for Bryan Adams?  I could even afford to buy a weekend getaway for all the neighbors who complain about the noise.

I would provide shuttle busses to/from Long’s Park for the Summer Sunday Concerts.  We could do pick-ups at every Weis grocery in the county and at the downtown bus terminal.  I love the shows but parking is a drag.

Speaking of buses, we need public transportation to/from the city after 6pm.  Even one bus on each major “pike” leaving Lancaster at 10pm could be a boon to downtown businesses, especially on First Fridays and Music Fridays.  It would ease traffic congestion and appeal to non-drivers and imbibers.  How many more meals could be served and artworks sold?  How many more people could enjoy the conviviality of these awesome evenings and see that downtown is not so scary?  I could subsidize those buses.  Maybe public transportation could get a bounce from it.  After living in Europe for 19 months, I realized what a shame it is that America turned its back on buses and trains.

I would create scholarships directly linked to community building and the arts.  We need our colleges to play a larger role in the shape and flavor of events in Lancaster.  F&M, Millersville, PCAD, Stevens, HACC and YTI all bring energized, curious young people downtown.  Let’s give them a greater voice and see what kind of richness they envision for our fair town.

I would throw a ton of money at charities.  My favorites in town are Music For Everyone, Water Street Rescue Mission, and Milagro House.  They say that once you get wealth, people come out of the woodwork with open palms.  I’m just dreaming here, but maybe you’ll dream with me.  What would you have me do with the money?  What would you do with it? Maybe if we team up, we can create community wealth and magic without becoming millionaires or wizards.

Meanwhile, Down in Dutch Country

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.