On January 7, 2016, first impressions and fresh starts hung in the cold winter air as I packed my car. I didn’t have a whole lot to bring with me – just some Quinn Spinn shirts from our previous run, a laptop, and my brand new, never-before-publicly-unveiled Lehigh Valley Underground banner. Launch Day was still a week and a half away, but that didn’t matter. I was excited. This time was different.
The Quinn Spinn’s previous run, which I’ve detailed as being a spirited but ultimately misguided endeavor, always lacked something very important: an actual presence on the music scene. In fact, in the woods of western Morris County in New Jersey, we didn’t truly have a local music scene. We featured artists from all over the world, but rarely did we have the chance to go out and support them during live shows. Doing so often would mean spending money we didn’t have to hop a variety of trains and automobiles into New York (to this day, I still hate everything about commuting to and from that city), or make the two-hour drive to Philly. Neither was truly feasible with a limited budget on a regular basis when you’re nestled all the way sleepy Long Valley, New Jersey.
I had lived in Bethlehem for nearly eight months to this point, and I knew that, whenever I launched the “next” incarnation of The Quinn Spinn, I’d have an entire arts scene within minutes of my home. Suddenly, I was able to be way more active, and show way more support to artists in all facets, than in the past. It made sense to localize, because there was plenty to localize for.
After taking this idea beyond just a podcast, I had developed Lehigh Valley Underground over the fall. Now, in a New Year where I had hoped my efforts would prove significant, LVU would debut to the public at The Originals Music Series One-Year Anniversary Bash.
I had been in contact with Tracie (a.k.a. Ninja) for about a month prior to this night. After explaining what LVU would come to be – again, there was nary a single post to this point – she invited me to have a table at the event to promote LVU and officially get involved in the scene.
As I pulled up to Chicago Restaurant in Allentown that evening, I felt a normal amount of social anxiety, akin to a new kid arriving to his first day of school.
“Will these kids like me?”
“Will I fit in?”
“…Do I smell bad?”
I may have started that evening as a stranger, but the feeling didn’t last long. As I settled in and talked to a few people – I remember Jarrett from Autoerotica being particularly welcoming and conversational – I started to feel like maybe I belonged here. Moreover, the talent on the stage – and the sense that original music is alive and well, right down the road from where I attended college for four years – struck me as inspiring.
As the music played on that night, and as I found myself intrigued by the energy in the room, I came to realize two simple truths:
- This is what I’ve needed, for as long as I’ve been an independent music supporter.
- These people, and their talents, need a platform. This platform.
Needless to say, I thanked Ninja and Pitbull for having me out, and that night was the start of a beautiful partnership. I’ve returned to The Originals Music Series many times over the past year, featured my new friends in an article, and I joined the duo at Slatington Bike Night, where I had the honor and privilege of introducing a band that has been with not only Lehigh Valley Underground, but The Quinn Spinn, from the beginning: REVEL 9.
I sit here a year later, fresh off of a 2016 that was more successful for LVU than I could have possibly envisioned on that cold January night. I’ve made plenty of friends, developed brilliant partnerships, picked up some amazing contributors, and was even nominated for a few awards along the way.
And, I find it fitting that 2017, which I hope to make even bigger and brighter than its predecessor, begins for LVU in the place where we got our start in the first place.
Tonight beginning at 7 p.m., I am fortunate to be the guest emcee for The Originals Music Series Two-Year Anniversary Bash, where I will have the great honor of introducing Dead:Stop alongside the two bands I previously mentioned: REVEL 9 and Autoerotica. I hope that you’ll join us as we celebrate local, original music once again, coming full circle to kick off a year of great possibilities for all of us.