Talking to the Insiders…

February 17, 2009 at 3:38 pm (Reporting)

My ears are still ringing.

The past couple days have been busy! I spoke to two guys who have some great insight on the most commercial aspect of local music.

Sunday night I ventured down to Hampden to hang out with Matt Davis98Rock’s Noise in the Basement correspondent and a longtime follower of the Baltimore scene – at the 98Rock studio. He invited me to last night’s installment of Noise in the Basement Live, which takes place every Monday at Fletcher’s Bar in Fells Point.

Anyway, Davis and I had a nice conversation about Baltimore’s music and the trends it has be been following and creating (it makes a wave); how radio plays a part in the promotion (in addition to the program, they’ve been promoting their Band of the Month Rome in a Day) and how with the Internet, promotion has gotten easier, but when you get right down to it, it’s still all about grass roots. He mentioned how people regard local music as not good as the commercial radio – but when it all comes down to it, everyone on the radio was local once. He also said that in comparison to the more prominent music scenes, Baltimore has the advantage of being less saturated, so it’s actually a better way of being exposed.

Davis mentioned a movement that I’ve never heard about – Wham City – an even more artsy underground scene in Baltimore. The musicians involved in Wham City often don’t play in clubs and just fill townhouses with people and they thrive this way, which has ventured out to do world tours. This is what Rolling Stone had been focusing on in their Best Scene article.

Last night, Davis introduced me to one of Fletcher’s owners – Evan Tanner – who I also had the chance to sit down with after the concert. Tanner gave two perspectives: a club owner and a touring musician. We sat in between the bars in Fletcher’s downstairs area and talked about how people from outside of the local area have such an interest in Baltimore’s music, and how it seems that Baltimore’s exposure is more from the outside in. According to him, the Baltimore locals take for granted the onslaught of musicians they have touring through the city every day.

Tanner clued me into another do-it-yourself movement that’s making its way through the city. He gave a nice overview of the “four-tiers” of accessibility of venues in the city. He mentioned the “ultra-avant-garde, super hipster indie rock”-type venues, like Nerve Center and Charm City Art Space (which I’ll definitely be looking into), which were all bought up by the really independent local musicians that don’t want to be related to corporate in anyway and just play shows that way.

Both conversations were really interesting. I’m picking out lots of different names and things to look into. This could get awesome.

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