I recently blogged about new happenings in the Lancaster music scene for my FigLancaster.com column. I announced here that I’m working with Rich Ruoff to help stage Lancaster Roots and Blues festival. How do I follow that up? I get out of town! I love Lancaster and our scene but hey, it’s a big world out there. So I’ve been recruiting new client venues and bands all across Gigspotsland. I’ll share some news here today. And starting 1/11/14, I’ll be hosting The Gigspots Spotlight Showcase at Lancaster Dispensing Company (DipCo) on the second Saturday of every month! My tag line: “Two Regional Gems and a Local Treasure!”
Here’s the idea. I bring two acts to DipCo from a client venue of mine “out there.” I team them up with a local act you love but maybe in a different configuration than you’re used to seeing. There’s an all-jam at the end and we party till Fryth throws us out (in her nice way). You get introduced to new music, bands get introduced to bands they can swap gigs with, and I get to play the host. It’s a triple-play winner and will only set you back $5 at the door. I guarantee it will be worth it.
So where have I been Gigspotting? I was way overdue for a trip to the homeland so I went west over the mountains to Pittsburgh 11/8. Some friends treated me to a night in South Side and tickets to Sister Sparrow and The Dirty Birds at The Rex Theater. South Side is pretty hoppin’ and The Rex is an old movie theater done over right to become a great concert venue. Man, I love this band ever since I saw them play Long’s Park two summers ago. I have to say their current material is more bluesy and soulful and they are tighter than ever. Their brand new ep Fight proves it too. Love those horns, that harmonica and Arleigh’s mighty wailing. They pass through our area 1/30/14 at The Sellersville Theater and 2/01/14 Live at The Baby Grand in Wilmington, DE. I wanted them for Lancaster Roots and Blues. Maybe next year!
Three nights on the road kept me home for a few nights. I did slip across the river to Burning Bridge Tavern for a special Series 42 show 11/13: Connor Christian and Southern Gothic. No cover, melt-in-your-mouth smoked meats and a national touring act were impossible to pass up. Music starts at 8:30 so you can be headed home with ears and taste buds satisfied by 11! This band offers Southern rock with some real depth to it: more Marshall Tucker than Molly Hatchet for sure. I’m awaiting ok to post the videos I shot and recommending the brisket in the meantime.
Friday night 11/15 brought the noise: white light, white heat and a big white van.
I rented it to drive The Wayfarer Experiment and Harlot to a huge OneKoast Entertainment event in Baltimore. Harlot hails from The Rattler in Pittston and Lancaster was practically smack between the two. It gave me an excuse to hang with Harlot and Rattler owner James Callahan. They are splendid folks who have all but adopted The Wayfarer crew and man, do I love what happens when they all get together. So we sailed on down to hang with Pirate Rob and play his latest show at Rams Head Live. Called “Maryland’s Finest Volume IX,” I was proud to be arriving with two bands representing PA. The Kalob Griffin Band made it three out of thirteen acts not from MD. Trust me; Maryland is not running out of bands!
Pirate Rob finds bands. I’ve written often of shows he produces and the immense array of talent he presents. Here’s the bill (minus PA) from Volume IX and ANY ONE of these bands would have been worth the $10 to get in: Bond & Bentley, Sticky Longfingers, Outram, Daniel and the Lions, Old Indian, Shawn Owen, Bret Staymates, Dirk Schwenk and Peyhey’s Poppies. I’ve been proud to sponsor his Jam at the Dam series and never miss Pirate Rob’s Birthday Bash. That is, until this year. The Bash coincides with Lancaster Roots and Blues 2/21-22. Don’t for a second think I’m abandoning ship on Pirate Rob. Gigspots and OneKoast will continue together to promote and enliven the regional music scene for a long time. But as I said in my last blog, I live in Lancaster because of Rich Ruoff and his Chameleon Club circa 1988! Here’s something spooky; Rob, Rich and I all share 2/19 as our birthday! Rob’s the baby.
By 11/20 I was on a new three-part mission. Deliver The Wayfarer Experiment to Café 210 West in State College to open for Cabinet. Close the deal on making Café 210 West a Gigspots client venue. Convince Cabinet to play Lancaster Roots and Blues. And I went three for three! We got there and back in one piece and a five-piece version of the Experiment wowed the joint and their headliner. The bill they’d be joining and the significance of this inaugural event swayed Cabinet.
And Café 210 West has joined the Gigspots family. This club is the birthplace of The Kalob Griffin Band and Memphis Hat among others and hosts national touring acts occasionally. My three biggest reasons for wanting them on the team? They offer great food and drinks scandalously cheap. They believe in and promote original music in a college town where that’s surprisingly rare. Their music venue makes bands look and sound great and many bands I work with tour right past there…for now. Count on it becoming a stop on I-80 Gigspots tours. Not bad for a Wednesday night! I saw a poster for Burning Bus hanging on the wall so Café 210 West has been doing it right for a while!
Friday night 11/22 was date night. I left the cameras at home and took the lovely Tina to DipCo for dinner. Vinegar Creek Constituency was playing and the night was pretty much perfect. We both wanted to come back Saturday night for Hexbelt but a day of laundry, grocery shopping, and last-chance yard work wore us out. We were hosting fifteen for Thanksgiving in just a few days so the night became perfect for pizza and a movie. Do you know the classic It Happened One Night?
My brined turkey was a big hit. I golfed with pals on Black Friday (10 years running!). On Saturday it was out of town again. 11/30 was WILMO Rock Circus at World Café Live at the Queen in Wilmington, DE. Dude. This show rules. I cannot imagine this remarkable venue being used in a more creative, efficient or musical way. It’s 20+ bands in one night, in one building, on three stages. You know I love the Queen and it is 58 miles from my door. The event producers, Gable Music Ventures, have become great friends of mine and I have sponsored WILMO and their Ladybug Festival for two years now. They stage several shows a month at the Queen and like Pirate Rob, boy can they find the talent! I have them to thank for turning me on to John & Brittany, Glim Dropper, Angela Sheik, TJ McGlinchey, Brooks Long, Madalean Gauze, Maggie Gabbard and dozens of others. You will have the same experience if you attend one of their Singer-Songwriter nights at the Queen or the shows they produce across DE and MD. Roll with me sometime! Even a 90-minute drive gets old when you’re by yourself.
So November was pretty busy. December has started the same way. I made my first visit to Underground Arts in Philly 12/5 for a leg of the Communion Tour. Eight great bands and a “Toys for Tots” benefit made me like this place immediately. That night will need its own blog. Friday 12/6 I was visiting my client Abbey Bar at ABC Harrisburg and reintroducing Leo and Jeff (the VCC duo) to Mike Miz and the Greenbelt Events team. VCC opened for MiZ once in the Poconos and it’s time those bands started sharing gigs again. Greenbelt Events had just released Season Passes for sale to current pass holders. I had to renew mine; it’s the best investment I make every year! While I was there, I found out that The Hold Steady will be appearing there in February as part of a benefit for the K&L Guardian Foundation. Yeah, I still miss Jersey Mike.
I’m pretty certain I’ll be staying local for the rest of 2013. But maybe local means something different for me than it does for you. At least you know where I’ll be the second Saturday of every month next year. Stop out to DipCo 1/11/14 for my first Gigspots Spotlight Showcase and see what keeps me logging the miles.