With so much attention paid to Williamsport's thriving art scene, the city's music scene can sometimes feel neglected by comparison. In order to take the local music scene's pulse, I asked a number of local musicians what, if anything, the music scene needs in order to make it as vibrant and established as the art community. The answers I received were intriguing and useful.
Lycoming College music instructor
Uptown Music Collective bass instructor
Member of Williamsport City Jazz Orchestra, The Johnny Jolin Band, The Doug McMinn Jazz Quartet and The Kristin Fisher Band
First of all, in many ways the scene is already thriving. We have a great regional orchestra, The Williamsport Symphony, and places like the Bullfrog Brewery have been very helpful in hiring local talent and treating them well.
The problem is that in today's society, music has become a disposable commodity. Everyone has 10,000 songs on their iPod, and can flip from one group to another without really getting to know a group or artist.
For the music scene to improve in any community, many people need to turn off their laptops/TVs/smart phones and take a look at what's going on around them (I don't see this happening any time soon).
Also, anyone wanting to be involved in a musical group that's thinking of performing needs to spend a good amount of time developing his or her craft. That would raise the bar sonically and give folks something worth listening to.
It's always been tough for music venues and musicians, and a lot of it doesn't make sense. I see people playing three chords poorly and making a lot of money, while some of my friends who are world-class musicians live below the poverty line.
Member of Maitland, Clouds Make Sounds
The local music scene needs more venues. There are a lot of musicians in the area that are willing to play but they can rarely be seen outside of bars. If someone opened up an all-ages venue and hosted national acts then the Williamsport music scene would quickly blossom and no longer be overlooked by touring artists or fans searching for a place to see their favorite bands. A new venue will also provide a positive place for teens to spend their time.
Member of Moxie & Rebel
Entertainment Director of Liberty Music Festival
Through my own personal experience as a musician/booker/promoter, I have already seen the music industry rapidly change in the last 10 years. I feel the local music scene is absolutely exploding at the seams with talent, to the point where the demographic cannot keep up with the amount of music being introduced to it.
I know most of the local artists are struggling to make ends meet and just want to be heard. I feel there are methods to making a stronger music scene but it will take work from both the artists as a community and the audience as a community to make a conscious effort to open their ears and minds to all genres of music.
Supporting the local original music shows, open mic nights, and eclectic genre music festivals is a step in the right direction. A legitimate all-age music venue would be a huge factor in our scene. A place dedicated to supporting local, regional and national acts. A place focused predominantly on the prosperity of music, and bringing it to the ears of the local area.
Solo performer and member of Lumpy Gravy, Black-N-Blues, Doug McMinn Jazz Quartet, Shade Tree Mechanics, Sink or Swing and more
The greatest lack we have is a true listening room. Jeremiah's qualifies as one, but few shows are booked there. I've been playing regularly at the Elk Creek Cafe in Millheim, and when asked about my favorite place to play, I always reply "Elk Creek." The management ensures that the crowd is attentive to the music. It helps that performers there are often national acts, but the same thing is expected for mere locals like myself.
At a jazz performance at Elk Creek last December, a standing-room-only crowd enjoying Joe Lovano's jazz group was quieter than any I'd experienced outside a concert hall. Nothing makes a musician perform their best more than an audience that is really listening!
If you are an area musician and you want to tell the Sun-Gazette what the city's music scene needs, email your thoughts in 100 words or less to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Area residents also may vote in the Sun-Gazette's online poll at www.sungazette.com.