The Final Showcase
Music fans to celebrate the last Steamtown Original Music Festival this weekend
When the Steamtown Original Music Showcase made its debut in Scranton back in 2006, it was a small music event held at Tink’s Entertainment Complex drawing a crowd of more than 800 fans in one night. Showcasing local original music, national acts and music industry professionals, the event has become a part of the Scranton entertainment scene each Labor Day weekend. This year’s event will be more of the same as the Showcase returns on Sept. 2 throughout downtown Scranton, but it will also be the last time the event will encompass the city streets.
“This is officially the last year for the Steamtown Original Music Showcase,” said event organizer John Phillips. “Every child has to grow into an adult. It’s like having a little kid that gets older and older and has to grow and move into a new direction.”
Music lovers don’t despair: Phillips is in the developmental stages of planning another event to fill the Showcase’s void.
The Steamtown Original Music Showcase is a music conference geared towards educating and developing artists on the facets of the music industry while also being an overall musical event for the community that raises music awareness and acknowledgment of local, regional, and national talent. The event is hosted by MCR Productions. With more than 50 performing bands and artists from around the United States, the Showcase brings in talent and fans from all over the country to the City of Scranton to create the third largest Music Conference in the State of Pennsylvania.
Notable acts performing at this year’s Showcase are Super Bob, Ourafter, A Fire With Friends, The Great Party, My Pet Dragon, Farley, The Ballroom Thieves, Graces Downfall, A Social State, Hierosonic, and Zac Lawless. Venues participating include Scranton Hardware Bar, The Bog, Kildare’s, The Backyard Alehouse, Trax Bar & Grille, New Visions Studio and Gallery, The Banshee, The Keys and the Irish Wolf Pub. The Showcase offers $10 admission hopper pass which is accepted at every participating venue (New Visions Studio and Gallery all ages show is not included).
“Our seventh year is lower key than anything,” Phillips said. “I’m really testing the waters this year to see how Scranton is holding up as far as the music scene goes. It seems that bands are just dying for a place to play at this point. This is the most amount of buzz I have seen between the bands ever, which surprises me and kind of scares me in a way. They are excited for something to go on for original music around here.”
Phillips has seen venues around the region shy away from hosting live music and veer toward DJs and jukeboxes instead, leaving bands with fewer gig opportunities. “I do see a huge development all around and not just in Scranton, but every music scene. As much as I admire it and like it, the DJ scene is completely overrunning the band scene. Some venues don’t want to be bothered with local or regional music. If you don’t cater to the arts and creativity, how do you expect an area to grow?”
Originally scheduled to run in conjunction with the Showcase, The Steamtown Music Awards event has been moved to an undetermined date in November due to an overwhelming response. Phillips said it will get the attention that it needs and deserves. The event will honor musicians from northeastern Pennsylvania and surrounding areas and will feature an awards ceremony, live performances, a red carpet entrance, and the presentation of a lifetime achievement award. A portion of the proceeds from the Showcase and music awards will be used to establish a scholarship for Lackawanna and Luzurne County high school students. College bound seniors will be given the opportunity to submit an essay and earn the first annual Steamtown Original Music Scholarship. A five-person academy has been established to help determine the award winners and will also review the essays to determine a scholarship recipient.
Although this is the last year for the Showcase as we have known it, Phillips mentioned the possibility of a new annual music event on the horizon that may take its place.
“I want to see things move into a completely new direction,” Phillips said. “The scene survives and grows because of work and effort among a collaborative base of individuals working toward a common purpose. One of the things I will always say is that you can’t have everything handed to you. For seven years I’ve fought and fought and the best thing that I can possibly say is that all these venues will be packed this year, so I hope it goes out on a high note.”
— tom graham
For more information about The Steamtown Original Music Showcase and The Steamtown Music Awards, visit www.steamtownshowcase.com and www.steamtownmusicawards.tumblr.com.