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MMC 22 Acoustic Stage Review

   I Survived Millennium Music Conference 22! I still feel like that should be a sticker, but you can only wear it 48 hours after the conference. I’m still downing energy drinks, trying to get back to “normal” life. The second the MMC hits, it’s a no sleep, party til ya can’t party no more kind of weekend, and when you’re coming off the flu already knocking you on your butt, well let me tell ya, it’s a rough ride! But definitely a ride worth taking!

   Kudos again to John Harris and James Brown and all of his volunteers for making this Millennium another one to never forget! Every year I’m so impressed with all of the talent that transcends on the Harrisburg area. We are so blessed to have this amazing conference right in our own backyard. Having a new hotel is always a little scary, but I was impressed with the Park Inn. It’s a shame how it’s set up and you have to walk so far to your room, but usually the walk to the room was a moment of peace and fresh air! At least the rooms were a little cheaper this year. All of the staff were extremely accommodating and went above and beyond to help us any way they could. Thanks also to Don and Bob from Reliable Backline for providing our little Acoustic Stage set up on the trade show floor. They make it as simple as they possibly can, and with help from a few musicians we can usually get it tweaked in to the point where it’s pretty darn easy to operate. This year we had a total of 47 performers on our stage. I’m sorry time and space are so limited, not every one is going to get their own paragraph. I will post pictures on our Facebook page after the magazine prints, you can check it out at facebook.com/PAMusicianMagazine. Thank you to everyone that took time out of your busy day to play us a song or two. I’m always impressed with all of the performers and it always gets me excited to go out at night for the Showcases! If you want to see where I went for the showcases check out my regular “Out and About” article. Now let’s get talking about the music…

    The first performer of the day was Saul from Shamokin. He didn’t have a showcase at the Millennium, but he still came down to enjoy every minute of the conference. He was there playing on our stage by 10:45am, he definitely wasn’t wasting any time, and I knew that meant it was time to hold on tight and get ready for the crazy day. Saul sang a great song about “Unison”. We could all handle a little more unison in our lives. If only we could all just get along and help each other, the world would be a happier place.

    After 12 years of the MMC I’ve definitely met some “regulars”. The next band to come into the room were the Foxfires from New York. I met them last year when they stopped by to play our stage we were hooked and knew we had to check out their showcase. This year they were lucky and their showcase was right on the Bud Light stage so they had a captive audience for everyone that was just hanging at the hotel. It was beautiful to hear Christian play a song dedicated to his Mom that passed away 13 years ago called, “Trust in Me”.

   Justin Angelo is a frequent flyer to our acoustic stage. He has an amazing voice and has even tried out for the show The Voice! I can’t wait til I see him on TV someday and I can say I knew him when! Justin is local to the Harrisburg area so I’m blessed to be able to see him throughout the year too!

   Tom Emerson came down all the way from Maine. We think he was the only performer at the MMC from Maine. That is one heck of a drive, especially by yourself. Tom was everywhere throughout the conference, he helped with the bag stuffing, hung out at the Kick-Off, played for us both days on our acoustic stage, he was constantly mingling and enjoying every minute. That’s what going to a music conference is all about! It’s up to you to get out there and mingle! Meet people! We’re all just there to sing, talk, play, and enjoy music!! Share your secrets, talents, and even your failures. If you go to a conference and just sit in your room, or worse, you don’t even stay at the hotel, you just play your showcase and go home, you are truly missing out on an amazing opportunity!

   Next up were the very talented Flechaus from Austin, TX. They played an amazing song called “Beautiful Things”. Their songs were definitely beautiful and well written. While Flechaus was on stage a local favorite, Ben Bollinger from Six Bar Break stopped by to play us a couple songs. The rest of the guys had to work, but Ben still took full advantage of the opportunity, even pulling out 2 go pros to record his acoustic performance! At their live shows they have Go Pros set up all over the place and then Ben takes the time to splice it all together and he makes really cool videos. You can check them out on their website, Sixbarbreak.com. You can also check out their ad in this issue to see all of the places you can go party with Six Bar Break.

   Meaghan Farrell came back to her homeland for the MMC. She is originally a Harrisburg native, but has lived in Nashville the last few years. She enjoyed coming back to the “burg” so her family and friends could have the opportunity to come see her music at her showcase. Meaghan sang a great song called “Long Shot” it was about the chances musicians have to take to survive in this industry. Quite appropriate to sing at a music conference, that’s for sure!

   Ryan Pleckham we will just refer to as the traveling musician. I can’t remember if he said he was leaving Nashville and heading to Chicago, or the opposite direction, but either way the poor guy didn’t even know how to say where he’s from at that point. So many musicians are constantly on the move trying to get that big break that they all so deserve! Another traveling musician, Alex Schofield, stepped up next. I’m telling you remember his name, he’s going to be the next big country star. He has that classic country sound, and he’s so young and handsome! He is originally from Michigan, but literally Sunday morning after the MMC he was moving to Nashville! Good luck Alex!

   Next The Random Hubiak showed up carrying his own set of keys! (We’ve been spoiled the last three years with DP Russell’s Piano Conversions bringing in their Grand Piano, but if you missed Dave as much as we did, you can still check out his work and buy a piano by going to dprussell.com.) Now back to The Random Hubiak.. The Random Hubiak came from my favorite place, the Jersey Shore. He just released his new single “These Are Trying Times”, that is a very well written song especially for today’s world to connect to. He came back Saturday too, and both days he left his keys on our stage for anyone to use. That was very nice of him, it was nice to have the option of having keys if someone needed them.

   Chris Rattie from State College took the stage. He came from State College so Jim has seen him around before. Almond&Olive took some convincing but then finally decided to take the stage. I love their music and their overall vibe. They definitely gained a new fan! When they got on the stage they only played one song, giving anyone who would listen enough of a teaser so they would go to their Showcase.

   Smolsky from Los Angeles, CA was one of the youngest performers that played on our stage. He’s now old enough to own his own music, but he’s been performing for so long that he had to have his Dad manage his songs because he couldn’t even own them! Don’t let his calm timid appearance fool you, this kid is one heck of a performer!

   On the other perspective Janine Higgins took the stage next. She’s been busy being  a Mom and raising a family, but now it’s her turn to shine! It’s awesome seeing anyone step out of their comfort zone and swing for the rafters! Great job Janine!

   Another frequent flyer took the stage next, Eli the Hawk stopped by. He has such an amazing storytelling voice, it’s always so nice when he takes the time to stop by and sing us a couple songs. It’s always so hard when you think about all of the Showcases you have to miss because darn it, I am only one person, but it’s nice how the performers have the opportunity to bring their music to me!

   I was thrilled to see Silver Screen from Johnstown, PA stop by our acoustic stage. I saw them rockin’ so hard Thursday night that they blew a fuse, so it was nice to see they had the control/skill to be able to scale down their songs for acoustic stage. I love hearing rockin’ musicians play acoustically, it really gives you a chance to truly enjoy the lyrics to each and every song.

   The Human Circuit is another band that came all the way from Austin, TX. They are regularly a 9-piece band, but they scaled their show down to a 5 piece for our tiny acoustic stage. Mom and I always get a little nervous when we see so much extra equipment take the stage, I mean these guys even had a saxophone, you can’t really turn that down. They were really good, but a little much for our tiny stage.

   Alon with the group A8 took the stage next. His music style is electronica, so he had some crazy gadget he hooked up to be able to play his music. It was just instrumental and he kept turning his volume up on his gadget, so again we had to tell him, we’re not allowed to blast it, we have to keep it at a minimum, after all, it was an acoustic stage.

   The last band of the day was Oblivea. They are represented by David Ivory, so I’m thrilled he must tell his artists that they should come play our stage, but they usually walk in like they own the place, and Oblivea was no different. At this point you could tell it was the end of the day, and time to shut down the stage. We can only handle so much stress and demands in one day!

   Friday night when we were at Midtown Tavern I met Virginia from That Virginia and her percussionist, Brenden. We talked for a few minutes and I told them about the stage, now here it is Saturday morning, and they are the 1st ones of the day on our acoustic stage. Virginia’s voice has that awesome sultry sound to it that makes her music one of a kind. Brenden didn’t sign up for the MMC, but we found out he also wrote some music, so we convinced him to get up and play too. His original songs premise was “Don’t come home wit no money!” Basically about musicians out there trying to play their music, but not getting much money in return. Later in the day after a nap, Virginia convinced him to get back on the stage again for us for a repeat performance! He says his day job the one that does give him money he works for the water company as a pipeline coordinator so he doesn’t have time for music. Hopefully he finds some extra free time somewhere because he’s a great songwriter and performer. There are so many closet musicians out there that suppress their talents. Get out there and share them with the world!

   EZ Blues came down from Connecticut. I loved how he warns people he’s not exactly how he looks, a quiet, calm singer songwriter. His songs are loud and aggressive, but have amazing meaning to every one. He was willing to jump up on the stage every chance he got this weekend. I love seeing eager musicians.

   Melismanaut from right here in PA took the stage next. She came up playing a ukulele and she had purple hair, so I was excited! Her songs were absolutely beautiful. She was so good we even put her on the spot and had her play a third song, which obviously she had no problem doing.

   Phil Freeman from Small Town Titans stopped by next. The Small Town Titans do everything in there power to market themselves and their music. Phil took great advantage of the stage by not only playing his band’s original music and talking about their showcase, but he also promoted his panel where he was talking about his Vocal Coaching job. Phil’s voice is one like no other, I can’t imagine all of the tricks he can teach a vocalist!

   Madison Mueller came all the way down from Ontario Canada to share her talents with us, and we are glad she did. She is another very young musician at 17, but she’s already a well seasoned performer, she has been performing every chance she gets since she was 8 years old! Her original music is getting air time all over the world!

   The Random Hubiak stopped by again with his keyboard and played us some more music and left his keys for anyone to use. He is a super nice guy and a great musician. If you are every in the New Jersey/NY area, make sure you keep an eye out for him and get out to one of his shows.

    D-Bo from here in Harrisburg hopped up to the mic next. He unfortunately didn’t have his full band with him, but he did have his lap top with tracks so he could still perform for us. He has his own special dance along song, “My Kind of Night” where he had pretty simple dance moves with it and the words were “do the D-Bo” (like the electric slide). His goal is to have people doing the D-Bo at weddings and any special events around the world. I would’ve got up to dance with him if I wasn’t so exhausted. Speaking of which, thanks to Rob Hampton for supplying me with Red Bull and helping me get thru the day on Saturday, without it I probably would’ve been sleeping on the floor soon! Ha!

   Jelli another local group stopped by next. They were a very groovy three-piece band. They totally surprised me when they were singing a nice folky tune, and then broke down into this crazy section of music that definitely made you wake up and say, “Woah, what was that?!” Suzi Brown stepped up shortly after them, they were good friends and are in the same musical circles in the area. Suzi gets all technical now with her looper machine which is pretty awesome!

   Girl Pow-R got the whole group together and stopped by our stage to give everyone a taste of their power. They are a group from Ontario Canada empowering girls through music. We saw them Friday night at their showcase where they all played instruments, to keep things easy they just played to tracks, but this time they brought their dance moves too! Hopefully they impressed people enough to get them out to their showcase. They are even writing originals, their most recent one that was released on YouTube is Krisi. You can check it out online!

   Animal Sun came up from Charlottesville, VA to share their talents with us. We were lucky and not only did we see them on our stage, we also saw them have an acoustic showcase Thursday and a rockin’ showcase Saturday night!

   Laura Cheadle another amazing performer out of NJ stepped up next. She sang us some calm beautiful music. We were lucky and she was also able to have a couple extra minutes and play us an extra song. Jon Garcia from Springwood Productions showed us that he not only has filming skills, he has musical talents as well. He was getting ready to go on a mini tour with Evey Zee and he was pretty stoked about that journey!

   The Vibesmen, one of our advertisers came up from Annapolis, MD. We really wanted to go to their Showcase at ABC, but unfortunately we missed it, (we were napping). I’m glad they stopped by our stage so we could here their awesome music! Hopefully they will make their way back up 83 and plays some more in Harrisburg.

   Epic Season came down from New Hampshire. They definitely had an “epic” set-up for their two songs at an acoustic stage, but we managed to pull it off. They had 5 performers, and they even brought in their amps so their bass and guitar player could plug in! Hey, ya know ya gotta do what makes you happy, and they were definitely happy and just wanted to share their music in all its glory!

   After some repeat performers, Bill Kurzenberger finally got his hands on some keys. He missed Dave’s grand piano, but he was happy to tickle any ivories. Thankfully The Random Hubiak still had his keys there so he could play us a song or two.

   Neil Obremski, a break-off from Epic Season stepped up to play us his own two songs. One of his songs he played the uke and the next one he picked up the guitar. It is just crazy seeing all of the talent on just our one tiny little stage. I know people got frustrated with us hustling them on and off the stage, but we just want to give everyone a chance!

   Last but not least is Chris Whitmer. Chris has been coming to the MMCs as long as I have been I think and he plays our stage every year. It was quite fitting that he was the last one to play our stage for MMC 22. Chris is another local musician that has such amazing talents. We are truly blessed with the music we have surrounding our small city. Chris also plays with other musicians in a band called The Crow Flies.

   Wow! That’s all!! I hope I didn’t miss anyone. Perfect timing because I have to leave for work soon and stare at a computer all day, so this should be fun! Thank you again to everyone for stopping by our stage and sharing your many talents with us! It was once again an epic event and one I’m always grateful to host! Thanks again to Reliable Backline for providing us with our equipment, and for Mom for being the queen of the sound board. I flutter around more, she’s sort of stuck back there behind the table making it all possible! Don’t forget to check out our facebook page, where I will be posting the pictures I took of all of our performers, facebook.com/PAMusicianMagazine. Any questions or comments hit me up at RachelRocks@pamusician.net and don’t forget to SUPPORT LOCAL MUSIC!!

  

  

  

  

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