Tuesday, May 22, 2007

This Saturday, Oil City will be the arts capital of Northwestern PA. The First Indie Arts and Music Festival will be held in and around Justus Park on May 26.

Five bronze statues created by students from the Seventh Street Elementary School with sculptor Dave Poulin through an Arts-in-Education residency last year will be unveiled. The first statue dedications will happen on the South Side at the Library and near the pavilion along Route8/62, starting at 10:00. An hour later, the three statues in the park will be unveiled.

At the same time, indie singer-songwriters will be performing their own work all day from 10 am to 8 pm in the park. The performers come from all over western Pennsylvania and include:
10:00-Garth Porter
10:30-Matt Reed
11:00-Ryan Evans
11:30-Flatiron
12:00-Nathaniel Custer
12:30-Holey Jeans
1:30 -Jeremy Jack
2:00 -Latrobe Barnitz
2:30 -Dave Dunkle
3:00 -Beldaspore
3:45 -Justin Parson
4:30 -Kial Hoffman
5:15 -Jerome Wincek
6:00 -Burnt River Drifter
6:45 -Dan Litler
7:30 -Gypsy Dave

There will be food vendors and an artisan demonstration by basketmaker Kathy Perrett.

Accordingly, last weekend, although Jerome Wincek and I are both healthy, somewhat well-adjusted young-ish adults, we found ourselves conducting an interview via MySpace on a Saturday night at 9 pm. The stink of shame refuses to wash off my skin, no matter how much I scrub.

Jerome Wincek is, by far, the most prolific singer-songwriter I know in the area. And, really, that would be cool enough. But, along with that, we share a similar vision in scene creation. Like many small arts communities, our area suffocates its young with insularity.
As Richard Florida writes,
Our region runs the danger of being trapped in the past. Places that grow and prosper in one era find it difficult to adopt new organizational and cultural patterns, consequently innovation and growth shift to new places which can adapt to and harness these shifts for their benefit. The cultural and attitudinal norms that drove our success became so powerful that are preventing the new norms and attitudes of the creative class from being generally accepted. This process stamped out much of our creative impulse, causing talented and creative people to seek out congenial and challenging places. Their departure, in turn, removed much of the impetus for change.

Scenes like these are obviously unsustainable - if no one new is ever brought in, or if people are never made to feel welcome, the movement turns incestuous and top heavy and collapses. Wincek understands that it’s not enough to be an artist. Here, we also have to feed the newcomers, nibbling on the edges.

“I've wanted to be involved in something like [the festival] for a while,” Wincek said, “and I've wasted a lot of time waiting around for someone else to do it. . . I am guilty of complaining that there is a huge void of original culture in this area. There is very little to do that would encourage people to pursue independent artistry as a living. I guess that on one hand, it's hard enough just to make ends meet, so why waste time on frivolities? But on the other, life should not be about maintaining, but also enjoying. much about this area is inspiring, but it is often hard to see. Last fall, Gypsy Dave came down from Meadville and we spent a couple afternoons playing, recording, and talking. We started thinking about the surprising number of local, and some who had been local, people we knew who couldn't shake the bug of writing and playing original music. It didn't take much thought to realize that we could fill up at least a day with many different people playing a huge variety of original music.”

“It took me a couple of weeks, but I finally got around to calling Joann Wheeler, the Oil City Arts Czar. I approached her with a vague idea concerning a festival someday somewhere involving independent original musicians. She said, ‘Why don't we make it an independent arts festival?, suggesting that we coordinate the music with a celebration of the unveiling of some local sculptures on Memorial Day weekend. I was shocked that she immediately turned this abstract idea into a pretty realistic event in about two sentences. She, Tom Huston, and I have been doing the planning with the city.”

“This festival is . . . a focused display of what has been going on here, in spite of being generally unrecognized. A full day of original music being played in downtown Oil City is hard to ignore. After playing so many local shows that no one knew about, I knew that anything less would probably get overlooked . . . hopefully, this event will wake up the area's independent community enough to break through the apathy that seems to be overwhelming as of late. . . . a one day festival [is] an obvious sign that there are creative people [making] a statement in this area.”

“One of the most fun things about those involved is that they each express themselves in a different way. Each one is a songwriter, but each one has a unique perspective. There will be styles of songs ranging from old school country to blues to emo to punk to folk to rock and so on. Many of the performers also play and record with full bands where they flesh out their sound a little more. Without the common thread of solo performance, the day would almost be a sensory overload.

"Yes. You will be turned on to something new.”

12 hours is a lot of music, so make sure you bring:

Sunblock
Right now, the NWS is calling for 75 degree and partly sunny. You’re going to need some sunblock. You don't want a sunburn and you don’t want skin cancer. No matter what the fake-bake suburban moms say, the alligator look is not attractive. Remember to reapply every few hours!

Baby Wipes
You’re going to get dirty. And you may need to use a portapotty. Nuff said.

Mini First Aid Kit
Band aids, aspirin, contact lens solution, girlie stuff, whatever, but be prepared.

Camera
I’ve started a Flickr pool for photos taken at the festival. Take some good, or not so good shots, and share the love.

Bottled Water
Gatorade, PowerAde, all of the sports drinks are jokes for most us. Just sitting and circle dancing in the sun is not the same as running a marathon, no matter what the company tells you. If you’re really worried, bring some pickles. You will however want to bring some water and since I missed out on applying for the $7/12 oz bottled water concession you might as well bring your own.

Blanket Or Chairs

Backpack
You’re going to need something to hold all this stuff, right?

What to leave at home.

Booze – I really understand that your best buddy is playing onstage and that you brought your other best buddies with you. But, you’re not passing the bong in your Mom’s basement anymore. No one thinks that it’s cool when you’re drunkenly wrestling and putting each other in headlocks. Save it for the awesome air hockey tourney after the festival. Beyond that, smuggling in your vodka in a Snapple bottle or sparking a fatty at the festival is a great way to spit in the face of the people who have been working to get some respect for the local arts.

Cell phones on speaker – When did it become common to put your cell phone on speaker and then shout into the receiver? I’m still doing the research, but I think there’s an underutilized law that allows you to be pummeled if you start doing this in a public space.

Finally:
Don’t come for your buddy’s band and then leave. A lot of bands have rabid, very closely knit group of fans, but there's not a lot of cross pollination which of course means that they’re doomed from the start.

Keep an eye on your kids. Ill-behaved kids aren't cute (and this goes doubly for dogs by the way. If you're one of those hippies who ties a bandana around your poor humiliated animal's neck and then lets it run loose yelling to everyone, "He's a friendly dog, he won't bite" just stay home and practice your devil sticks. Thanks.) Write your cell phone number on your child's wristband (or a large rubber band) in case they wander off. Keep track of what they're wearing each day, as well, just in case.

Don't bring expensive stuff. Just don't. You don't really need your iPod, Digital SLR or anything else that costs a ton of money anyway. Leave 'em at home, you're going to feel really stupid if they get lost or stolen, and you won't get them back.

Make friends. Chat with the folks sitting next to you. Festivals are a great place to meet people who share your interests and expand your circle a bit.



Looking for an...ahem...adventurous weekend trip? Why not think Gary, IN?



Author Llyod Alexander has died.



What does the area really need? A hot dog cart.



Adult Swim has an album available for free and legal download.


Xlibris is offering a limited time offer: Get 2 books published for the price of 1. Valid until May 31 only.

2 comments:

Rob said...

Good luck punk !! I would be there but I am going out of town! Just my damn luck. Something good comes along and I blow town $hip!!
So have fun and do it again. OC needs a wake-up call. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

3:00 -Beldaspore

actually, it's Belsapadore...

-justin (of belsapadore)