WHEN I turned on the radio yesterday, the first song I heard was Backstreet Boys' "I Want it That Way." Well, I don't particularly like Backstreet Boys, so I changed the station and N'Sync was playing. I changed the station again and heard 98 Degrees. I tried one more time and heard LFO's "Summer Girls" talking about Chinese food and Abercrombie and Fitch. Totally disgusted with my choices, I popped in a CD.
The CD was one from an artist that few of you have heard of. The band is called Jackopierce, and they are from my hometown of Dallas, Texas. They never got much radio play anywhere, but they are one of my favorite recording artists. Just because they didn't get national radio play or didn't have a video on Total Request Live on MTV, most of you have never had the opportunity to hear their unique sound. There is so much more music out there than what you hear on the radio or MTV. Just look in your own backyard -- Charlottesville itself is loaded with talented musicians.
I urge you to seek out new music. There are numerous benefits to discovering new music. Music is a food for the soul. It relaxes and gets you motivated. It can set the mood for a romantic evening or a head-banging wild party.
There are a great number of local bands that tour around this area. Bands like Baaba Seth, Emmett Swimming, Fighting Gravity, The Secret, everything, Agents of Good Roots, Pat McGee and even Doug Clark and the Hot Nuts play in and around the University area fairly regularly. And bands like Guster, Vertical Horizon, Moe and Jimmy's Chicken Shack come to Trax every semester or so. Between the Outback Lodge, Trax, the Bomb Shelter and fraternity parties, there are tremendous opportunities to see these and many other bands.
In addition, many students have bands here that play gigs around the area. These weekly gigs give them a chance to practice, make some money, and get some exposure, all while defining their sound. Who knows, that band that you see play every Tuesday night could hit the big time. Dave Matthews Band started this way, playing weekly gigs at Trax, and then exploding onto the national scene.
Another great source for up-and-coming bands is Aware Records. Aware Records was founded to get unsigned bands a national spotlight. Each year, Aware puts out a compilation album of some of the nation's best unsigned bands. Artists who have been featured on past compilations include Hootie and the Blowfish, Better than Ezra, Matchbox 20 (formerly known as Tabitha's Secret), Fighting Gravity, Athenaeum, The Verve Pipe and Edwin McCain. The latest compilation featured Shawn Mullins's hit "Lullaby (Rockabye)," and the one previous to that featured Train, which is getting some local airplay with "Meet Virginia" and "Free." You can locate these compilations at www.awaremusic.com.
During the summer, the HORDE and WARPED Tours are great ways to catch little-known bands. My friends and I saw Third Eye Blind, Sugar Ray and Soak on a side stage at a music festival a few summers ago. Third Eye Blind and Sugar Ray hit it big immediately afterwards and Soak faded into the background. All three are talented bands with a lot to offer to anyone who would want to listen, but until we saw them that summer we never knew how good they were.
With all this great music floating around Charlottesville, we must not forget the incredible talent of the many a cappella and other singing groups here at the University. The Virginia Gentleman, the Hullabahoos, AVP, the Virginia Belles, Silhooettes, Black Voices and the Glee Club all are outstanding and all have a unique style and appeal. Parents' Weekend always has been a big concert weekend for these groups. See which groups have concerts and take your parents to enjoy a little piece of the University and sample a bit of the local music scene. The orchestra and jazz ensembles and the African Drumming Ensemble also provide sources of new music.
Charlottesville itself offers up a good selection of musical talent. In addition to Dave Matthews Band, local musicians like Shannon Worrell, John McCutcheon, Baaba Seth and devon provide us with plenty of talented local music. In fact, "Shelter: A Compilation to Benefit the Shelter for Help in Emergency," will be released soon and will feature local musicians including those listed above. The proceeds go to help the Shelter for Help in Emergency, which is a great local organization.
With so much more out there than the teenyboppers that dominate the airwaves these days, many opportunities exist for anyone willing to do a little digging for some great new music. Who knows, maybe you'll find the next Dave Matthews Band and be one of their first fans. Maybe you won't, but you may find an artist that becomes your personal favorite. So go out and look for new acts, new sounds and spread the music.
(Matthew Crupi is a third-year College student.)