Joe Dimeck of Lectric Pulp Reaches out to North Jersey Music Scene
in a well developed/articulated essay of sorts, or as he calls it “a call to action.” He pretty much covers it all. The only thing I would add would be a second hand quote I heard from Jon Tumillo of Folly during their first farewell show on April 8th at the Stanhope House. He quoted Jeff Cannonball of Black Kites who said something along the lines of “don’t let this [the last folly show] be the only show you look forward to/don’t let this be the only show you go to.” There’s a lot going on and a lot to be thrilled about, especially when it comes to North Jersey music, don’t sleep on it or take it for granted. Momentum.
Putting yourself out there can be met with a lot of flack, especially if you’re a promoter. Often times good intentions are over-looked and no matter what, people are going to say and believe what they want to believe or take things and change them to fit their convictions. I give anyone a lot of credit who makes an attempt at creating or organizing something positive and understand that a lot of the decisions they make are difficult and it really is impossible to make everyone happy. With that said, I’m in full support of what Joe is trying to do and what he has always tried to do since he started running shows in high school. I encourage you to, at the very least, check out a show or two at the Stanhope House, even if you don’t recognize any bands on the bill. I’ve found a lot of new bands that I’m now into and friends with because of this Stanhope House stint that started late last year with Lectric Pulp. With that said, keep checking back for an exclusive Velvet Suit Interview with Joe Dimeck. In the meantime, Click Readmore for Joe’s full essay.
“As many of you know, I have been booking shows at The Stanhope House since November 2010. It’s been fun, and the open-to-anything (especially my harebrained ideas) mentality of the owners and core staff there has made my job plenty fulfilling. Nevertheless, it has and still is a touch-and-go kind of situation in regards to refining a booking system that is consistenly effective. Sure, we have nights where 220+ people come out and have a blast on a Wednesday, but those kind of shows sporadically dispersed among shows that draw 20 people is not a sustainable model.
We’ve had a lot of losing shows with solid bands, and we aren’t quite sure why. After all, The Stanhope House at its peak was a grassroots club that on any night had talented acts playing, and a place where people would go to even if they didn’t know the bands because they trusted the bands would be good and that they would have a fun time.
We tweak things as it seems necessary, but what it comes down to–and what it’s always come down to–is you, the people. If you’re not coming it’s only a matter of time before Sussex County is once again without any legitimate venue to host shows. Given the abundance of talent and the enthusiastic music fans in the area, the potential to build a music scene that is a must-play stop for touring bands is very high–and we’ve been making progress as seen by the acts we have coming in the next few months (Delicate Steve, Danny Schmidt, Emily Wells, Screaming Females, Chamberlin, etc.).
It is this potential, which caused me to turn down jobs with annual salaries and benefits–jobs that would’ve forced me to stop booking shows. Maybe I’m just a dumbass, but I feel with the right support I can do something much more significant than satisfy the status quo (and my parents) by sacrificing financial success for a greater good.
However, as I’m learning, it’s hard to get consistent turnouts when I’m booking 2-4 shows a week. Given the history of The Stanhope House, I feel an obligation to book strong shows on Wednesdays and Thursdays while also trying to book strong shows on the weekend and attempting to figure out how to make Sundays less depressing. The open mics could be good considering the quality of musicians in the area, but open mics have always had a negative stigma attached to them, mostly because open mics tend to be terrible. I understand that, and to some extent I agree, but for some sick, demented reason I have always been an idealist when it comes to stuff like that.
Why should open mics suck? If good musicians came and played they wouldn’t, and they’d be worth going to, but far too often people give in to the negative pole of thinking and act on that. The format of an open mic offers musicians a laid back atmosphere to goof around, connect with fans, and create the kind of casual musical experience that strong music communities are built from.
What it comes down to–not just in regards to open mics but as far as building a legitimate music scene goes–is a collective effort from bands, musicians, promoters, venues, and fans. All of those groups must figure out ways to find mutually beneficial ground to stand on.
For promoters/venues, they must do their best to take care of bands/musicians, and to provide a comfortable and fun environment for fans to enjoy music in–an environment where food and drinks are priced diversely enough to appease a wide range of budgets. At the same time, bands/musicians should not merely assume that venues have unlimited funds to pay them hundreds of dollars when no one comes to show. After all, if every venue did that they wouldn’t be open very long, and bands/musicians and fans would lose yet another place to play and see shows at.
As for fans, the best they can do is promote the bands they’ve seen and enjoyed, as well as try to get their friends to come out to shows with them. I understand it’s hard to go to every show, but word of mouth is honestly more valuable than any kind of promotion, and just by showing your appreciation for bands, musicians, and venues you are helping more than you could ever imagine.
Hell, anything worth doing often requires the collective effort of a diverse group of people to produce anything significant, and if people aren’t willing to join together to produce that common good then nothing will ever come of anything. We will continue to be bored and discontent, we will continue to have nothing to do, bands with potential will continue to form and disband, and venues will close or stop doing shows.
I am one measly person. I do not have super powers. I am merely a person who loves music more than anything in the world, and a person who sees the potential strong music scenes have in regards to shaping culture and society, but I alone am completely uninfluential. With your help, whoever you are, we can build something that will directly and indirectly improve the area, and therefore the quality of life here.
If I learned anything in my short 23 years is that the worst thing you can do is take something good for granted because eventually it will be gone. Additionally, I understand we are living in hard and stupid times right now. Money is tight for everyone, gas is expensive, and getting by is a grind, but when it comes down to it–in the long and rocky history of humanity–things are really not that bad. If we dwell on how shitty things are, it will only get shittier. Yet if we recognize things are not ideal, but focus on the potential to change that and do what we all can to reach that potential we will, without question, create a better existence for ourselves and the generations after us.
Is that a bit heavy on the hyperbole? I mean, I’m talking about building a strong music scene as though the fate of humanity depends on it. Ahh but everything starts somewhere my friends, and music will forever be the great force of cultural renaissance because music is blind ideologically and ethnically. Music is and always will be the great unifier, and therefore it is the most precious thing on Earth for it can bring people from various backgrounds together in the name of fun. And fun, my friends, is the only thing that gets us to the next day. In a world without fun what is the point of waking up for tomorrow?
With that all being said, if you are interested in helping, comment here and get a brain storming session going. If you are bashful, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I went to college because all the time and work put into building a scene back then had seemed to be in vain. When I came back from college with a Bachelor’s degree I didn’t expect to get back into booking shows again, but I did and when that happened I promised myself that I would do everything necessary to make sure what happened before didn’t happen again, even if it means writing a note like this on Facebook to hopefully inspire people to get involved. Like I said, everything starts small and somewhere, so let’s kick some ass and show people why Sussex County, and New Jersey in general, isn’t a bunch of scumbags and Guidos pumping their fists and pursing their lips for photos.