It’s been a long week, but perhaps the most worthwhile and rewarding in Lehigh Valley Underground’s history.
I personally had the chance to meet and speak with a number of great people on our music scene this week, from musicians, to industry folks, to potential and soon-to-be-announced partners. I got to hang with them, hear (and sing) their music, see them in their element, and tell them about what we do here at LVU. All week long, I’ve felt a buzz in the air; I can’t help but to feel like relationships and momentum are being built on an almost-daily basis, because of the content we’re putting out and the exchange of support that exists in our world right now.
That sense of support was no more real, however, than it was Friday night at American Spirits Roadhouse during the First Annual Lehigh Valley Underground Winter Jamboree.
I arrived to the venue around 5:30 p.m. to set up the LVU merch table and get settled in for the night. When I got there, I saw a handful of people sitting around the bar. That quickly changed. Soon, the evening’s musicians began arriving, one by one, stopping to chat in the midst of setup and food orders. Not far behind was the night’s audience, which was filing in pretty heartily by the time the show kicked off with Julia Sommer. By the time Frycki and Carter Lansing took the stage, the crowd had become much larger.
Somewhere within the timeframe of those two sets, I looked around the venue. A smile came across my face as I turned to Meg (my girlfriend of nearly seven years and trusty merch girl), and said, “This place is PACKED!”
For a solid couple of hours, there was not an empty seat in the venue. Moreover, people were engaged, listening to the songs these performers had worked so hard to craft over the weeks, months, and years. It was a room full – really, full – of people appreciating local, original music.
If you know anything about local, original music, you know how hard of a sell it can be to get people out to an event. I personally have experience with that notion. Back in June 2014, The Quinn Spinn hosted an event at a beautiful outdoor venue up in Jefferson, New Jersey. We had six great acts and world-class sound… and, despite our best efforts at the time, a whole lot of empty seats throughout the day.
Of course, now I realize that it takes more than good intentions to get people to spend their hard-earned money in support of local music on a Friday night. It takes awareness. People not only need to know who you are, but what you’re about. People need to feel like they’re a part of what you do, and that what you do is authentic.
Fortunately for LVU, authenticity has been our calling card from the start. We exist out of a love for and belief in local music, perhaps now more than ever. Moreover, we believe that what we’re doing is making a difference on our scene – and, judging from the turnout on Friday night, it appears that our notion is correct.
We weren’t alone in this, however. For one thing, American Spirits Roadhouse does a tremendous job of not only putting on events, but supporting the people on their stage the right way. This is a venue that knows what it means to support and invest in live music, and that is the exact reason why it’s becoming a destination on our scene. Every venue should follow their lead.
Also, I’ve been saying from the beginning that “it takes a scene to build a scene.” Friday night, that scene showed up in a big way to celebrate local music. Folks from all walks of life – producers, radio hosts, fellow musicians, and fans – came out because they heard about an event, and they were moved to be a part of it.
At the end of the night, shortly after Dear Anna had concluded rocking the Roadhouse, I packed up the car, said my “see ya laters,” and got on the road. It was nearly 2 a.m., and I had been up and active, non-stop, since 6:30 the previous morning.
Still, I wasn’t tired. I was buzzing, because I had a hand in creating an incredible night for so many people.
I felt an electricity knowing that Lehigh Valley Underground has gone far beyond its original, simpler incarnation as a “music blog,” to being at the forefront of an original music revolution in our Valley.
Thanks to all who joined the movement on Friday night. Let’s keep #BuildingBetter together.