Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Best of the Scene-Baltimore

We in Baltimore are fortunate to live in a city with a great music scene. A few years ago Rolling Stone  magazine named Baltimore the “Best Scene” in the country.  I know I am prejudiced (I live here) but I agree with the Rolling Stone declaration. We do have an amazing music scene here. Ten years ago this may have not been a correct statement, but today I believe that we do have a flourishing scene. We have many smaller venues that have opened up the past five years or so. Many of these venues support local bands writing and playing original songs or smaller touring indie bands. We have also had some larger clubs open that support a variety of larger touring acts. Ten years ago the larger touring acts wouldn’t come to Baltimore, but now many of these acts want to play here. A lot of this is because Baltimore supports all kinds of local music. It is a city that encourages the type of creativity that allows a band to be itself. Because of this attitude we have had a number of bands over the past five years signed onto major labels and are doing very well. The list ranges from Dan Deacon to Wye Oak to J. Roddy Walston to Beach House. All very different musically and style wise from each other, but all have the same roots and support in Baltimore. The signing and success of these bands has brought many music people and labels to Baltimore to check out the music and try and sign some new bands.  Lower Dens and Future Islands  are two bands that have been recently signed to larger labels.

I have had the fortune of working the merch table for many of these bands. Today I want to share some other bands currently working out of Baltimore who I think you should pay attention to. This represents a shift in our blog because all the bands we have previously written about, you could go to any good independent music store and purchase. These next bands you would have to dig a bit deeper to find. I will highlight their web sites so if you interested in buying their music, you can do so from their websites. I will also give a disclaimer in that all of these are bands I have worked on multiple occasions and all of them I consider friends. For you however, they are great musicians who are very talented and creative. They will also show you the depth of the music scene here in Baltimore.

The first Baltimore musician I want to highlight is singer –songwriter Caleb Stine. I feel Caleb is the heart and soul of the Baltimore music scene. He tirelessly helps others in the beginnings of their career. He offers advice, encouragement, and support to all who ask for it. He has helped a number of local bands by having them open for him and introducing them to the venue owners. Having Caleb’s stamp of approval can go a long way in this city. However, he is first and foremost a remarkable musician. Caleb is one of the most honest songwriters out there. This Colorado transplant has written songs about things he cares about whether it is homelessness or a lost love. His songs are deep, honest, and thought provoking. Enjoy a song from his last album “I Wasn't Built for a Life Like This” titled My Service Isn't Needed Anymore:

While his main style is Americana and folk, he is much more. He has played with a full band, solo, and plays with other groups as a guest artist. He spent part of last year in an Off-Broadway show in NYC about Woody Guthrie and has even worked with a local hip-hop artist Saleem Heggins. WTMD radio put these two together and challenged them to write 4 songs in 6 weeks. They not only did it successfully but put a full album together called "Outgrown These Walls". Their collaboration has produced one of our cities favorite songs titled (of course) Baltimore. Enjoy.

I hope these two videos show Caleb’s diversity. Who would have ever thought a singer-song-writer and a hip hop artist would ever get together and write music. They not only put out a album but have become the best of friends. This is who Caleb is in his heart and soul. He is always looking to the next musical step that makes sense for him. We are fortunate to have him in this city.

My next post will be a Part II  and look at some other Baltimore bands you should know about.

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