So last week, Philadelphia City Councilman David Oh held hearings in regard to the state of the local music scene. Local musicians, venue-heads and label owners spoke up about how things are and where they’re going. Essentially, it all boils down to how to propagate the scene – encourage creativity and growth, and show the rest of the country – and the world – that Philadelphia is a unique artistic hub.
JUMP Philly‘s Editor-in-Chief, George W. Miller III, delivered a passionate speech concerning the city’s responsibility in the success of such a goal. I’ve known Geo since my time in Temple University’s journalism program, where he not only pushed aside his workload to shoot the shit with me about music, but really encouraged me to get out and spread the word. In the past, I had always found it funny that one of the biggest cities on the East Coast didn’t have a true music magazine. Sure, there were sections in the local papers, but nothing that approached the comprehensive, in-depth reporting on the burgeoning pastiche of musical movements flourishing and emerging under the radar that an obsessive fan would want. When JUMP took off, I was blown away – here it was, finally. The megaphone that could shout out to the masses, announcing so many incredible acts that may have remained unheard of otherwise. Talented musicians could get recognition without having to wait for a write-up in a Brooklyn indie-blog! Philly’s musical forces could hold their own!
When I was encouraged to do a write-up for Philly’s own The Underwater Sounds, I jumped at the chance – not only did it give me a chance to get back into journalism, but also to explore the intimacy of our local community. Just recently, I interviewed the guys of Le Yikes Surf Club, and I learned even more about our awesome little scene from their frontman Gary, who runs The Pharmacy (a great hub for local and national acts alike). I recall Gary remarking that a previous night’s performance – a local EDM act – may not have been his cup of tea, but he loved opening up the space for the city’s electronic fans to come out and have a great time. Working together to foster the success of local acts is just inherent to Philly artists. Support like this is what helps drive a scene, inform the fans, spread the word and keep it all going.
With that in mind, I encourage everyone to read the transcript of Geo’s speech. If you can help out, do it. Write letters to state and local government encouraging arts initiatives, tax breaks, etc. Check out local shows, support the groups, branch out from your usual scene. Write a blog, hand out flyers for bands, name-drop your favorite bands on social media, make some contributions! Together, this can become a stronghold for the East Coast music scene, and not just a blip on the artistic radar. Let’s do this.