Dum-Dums and Smarties: What You Need

Dum-Dums and Smarties: What You Need

For the seventeen years I taught high school English, I handed out Dum-Dums and Smarties on test days.  I learned this from psychologist and model teacher Dr. Peggy Forsythe on the day of our first test in a memorable educational psychology class.  How many I handed out is anybody’s guess.  I remember a student noticing that you could save Dum-Dum labels and earn prizes.  He said, “Jeez, Campbell.  You could save for a year and get, like, a car or something.”

I left public education for many reasons: mostly personal.  I miss the dynamics of the classroom and the energy of teens.  I promised myself that Gigspots.com would serve young people and provide them with opportunities to have fun and satisfy their curiosities.  I am about to launch an internship program at York College and hope to expand it to my alma mater, Millersville University.

But really it’s about the music.  I worry that young people aren’t getting enough chances to connect with live music.  Downloading songs and sharing playlists cannot compare to sharing a concert experience with friends.  I created Gigspots to help young people (and the young at heart) find concerts and destinations that they could enjoy and afford.  I’m finding plenty of bands, destinations and discounts.  What I need is feedback.  I know what I like.  I need to know what you like.  Are we still connected?

Begin by Liking my Gigspots Facebook page.  When I post something you like, Like it.  When you hear a band you think is great, post a link on my page and Share generously.  Name the bands you want to see and I will move mountains to get a local show set up.  Please visit my website to check the concert calendar and watch some of the over 500 videos posted on my YouTube channel.  I need your visits, clicks, comments, Likes and Shares.

I can’t get Adele, Taylor Swift, Foo Fighters or Jay Z to play for you.  Yet.  But I can get Kayla Kroh, Sarah Blacker, Lovebettie, Face for Radio, Bruzer Wyatt and dozens more.  Never heard of them?  You never heard of Adele five years ago either.

I was glad to hand out all that candy.  I was happy to attend your sporting events, plays, concerts, musicals, recitals and galleries.  I wrote your letters of recommendation, coached you, tutored you and lent an ear when you needed to talk.  You loved sharing your music and discussing your interests in my classroom.  I’m still listening and still trying to serve you.  I need your feedback.

If you are not a former student, I need your feedback too.  While I was serving our posterity in the classroom, I surely missed some good stuff.  Share it with me and I will share it with them.  We can all teach and learn together.  Music makes fear go away!

Watching the Clothes Go Round

Watching the Clothes Go Round

So it’s Monday morning.  I’m doing laundry, uploading videos, blogging and remembering all the great moments I experienced this weekend.  As usual, there were some great events I had to miss, but I’m a “focus on the positive” kind of guy.  Also following a theme, my weekend started on Thursday!

Sara Watkins and Dawes at The Strand-Capitol Theater in York were exhilarating! Sara and her brother Shawn opened the show: she on fiddle and the occasional drum, he on guitar.  Their crystal-clear voices blend as only those of siblings can.  She joked about the awkwardness of singing love songs with her brother but shared being thrilled about touring behind her own music.  She was a strong current in Nickel Creek for years and recently spent seven months on tour with The Decemberists.  The theater was packed and a strong contingent of Sara Watkins fans made their presence felt.  It was beautiful to experience.

The GM crowed about selling out this Dawes show in four days and about how they sold out the last time they played there.  Hello?  You have a huge, beautiful room right next door.  Move Dawes to the big room!  Sell 500 more tickets and let the band and its fans really celebrate their next visit to York!

I have been chasing Dawes since their North Hills album and just kept missing them.  I know they are playing Long’s Park in Lancaster on July 22 but I wanted that intimate theater experience.  I got it!  They played a few from North Hills, many from the brilliant Nothing’s Wrong and even some new material from their upcoming project.  Songwriting and musicianship are back, jack!  Their music feels as genuine and accessible as sunlight.  They made the Strand-Capitol and its packed house glow in it!

I knew Friday night’s show would have to be a giant to overshadow Dawes.  Cabinet and The Kalob Griffin Band were a virtual eclipse!  Holy shit can these bands play!  Calling Cabinet a bluegrass band is like calling The Who a rock band; the label is too shallow for the depth of their work.  One minute they are relentlessly picking some bluegrass to pieces and in the next, they are soaring through some ethereal, sonic landscape like Weather Report, Return to Forever or Jean-Luc Ponty.  I think I have a clue about their name. They bring the medicine cabinet, the kitchen cabinet, the liquor cabinet, the gun cabinet and the whole pantry to the table when they come to play.  Who ever heard of a bluegrass/jazz/fusion/experimental rock band with gospel harmonies?  These fellas are a masterful invention and hot as lightning!  Bela Fleck and the Flecktones may have met their match!

I could gush about KGB all day.  The chants of their rabid fans are still ringing my ears.  With all the sadness in State College these days, these boys are bringing the happy back to Happy Valley.  For a lively review and stellar photo gallery, follow this link to TriState Indie and the posting by Autumn Walden.  I have TSI and Fryth at DipCo to thank for turning me on to this band and Autumn is now my official dance partner at KGB shows.  Their presence Friday let me go civilian, put down the camera and kick up my heels!  Kalob Griffin Band shows are a huge party and who wants to work through that?!

So 570 words and four loads of laundry later, I’ve still only told you about Thursday and Friday of my weekend: the indoor shows.  For today, I’ve been indoors enough.  It’s time to pull on a freshly-laundered Gigspots shirt and get back out there!  Tune in next post to see my review of Saturday’s and Sunday’s events, videos and all.

Pilgrims: It’s Festival Season!

Pilgrims: It’s Festival Time!

If April showers bring May flowers, what do May flowers bring?  Pilgrims!  I logged a lot of miles in May but nothing compared to what summer promises!  It’s festival season!  What could be better than joining hundreds or even thousands of like-minded music-lovers to celebrate peace, harmony and live music?

I’m finishing May tonight with tickets to Dawes at York’s Strand-Capitol theater.  The fact that it’s sold-out should tell you that this band is great and on the rise.  I can tell you that they take me back to the days when Jackson Browne and The Eagles created the southern CA sound and they move me forward with poignant songs.  Their latest album Nothing is Wrong grabbed my gut just the way I feel when I see a friend who’s obviously suffering, ask what’s wrong and they say, “Nothing.”  The story-song “A Little Bit of Everything” is quite a mix of landscapes and is one of the most perfect songs I have ever heard.  Sorry if you didn’t get tickets.

The good news for you is that Dawes will be playing the Long’s Park Summer Concert Series in July.  That’s a FREE show on a lovely, sloped lawn at a great-sounding amphitheater.  If long-distance travels or camping aren’t your style, you can still get the festival feel and a great show there all summer long.  The music starts this Sunday night, June 3 with Sister Sparrow and The Dirty Birds!  I’m proud to crow about that one!

Friday June 1st is a great kickoff to the month!  I plan to volunteer at WXPN in Philly during their Spring mini-fund drive all day and then stick around for Cabinet and The Kalob Griffin Band at World Café Live.  I love XPN and am so grateful to receive a strong signal from them in central PA!  They will be staging their own festival at the end of July and I’m planning on a three-day pass for that one!  With a three-day pass, you get lawn-seat admission to Dr. Dog, The Avett Brothers and Wilco!  That show alone is worth the pass price but the list of performers for XPoNential Music Fest is flat amazing.  I have yet to see its equal within $100 or 400 miles!

I’m so psyched for the Cabinet and Kalob Griffin Band show that I’m giving the press release its own blog spot!

Saturday June 2nd is also a festival worthy of its own blog spot: MyRuralRadio.com’s Genesis Fest!  York County will finally have an all-day music fest to call its own and wow, you should see the lineup for this all-day event!  I have visited the site and the camping area is on a beautiful, manicured island in the Conewago Creek.  I can’t say enough about the folks at MyRuralRadio and their dedication to promoting indie artists.  Check out the over 400 bands featured on their site and try and tell me I’m wrong.

I am also running an ad for Hot August Blues Fest on my website right now.  They were the winners of TriState Indie’s Best Festival in 2011 and this year will be even better.

Finally, I have to give a shout-out to my friends Lovebettie!  They not only are playing the main stage at SummerFest, the nation’s oldest and largest rock festival, but their song “Red Roses” will be the first song featured on the festival’s compilation disc.  That means between 750,000 to 3.5million people will see them live and/or hear their signature song!  Now that’s an Independence Day!

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!