Weekender

Here’s where to hear all-original music in State College

If you haven’t been to Webster’s recently, you’re long overdue.

Along with being a fabulous book store, Elaine Meder-Wilgus and her crew host an array of community events as well as musical programming. They’ve most recently added an all-original Monday music event called “From the Source: Tap into Originality.” Each week, it features nothing but new and established Centre County musicians playing their original tunes.

“It is all original material,” organizer and local musician Jason Adams wrote in an email. “There is no cover, and no cover is allowed, and it is generally held on a Monday night once or twice a month.”

The last scheduled event of the fall semester is Monday, starting at 6:30 p.m.

It’s a great, simple format and is a gift to our local music scene, a place where musicians can share their original music in a format that is more formal than an open mic night, but without the responsibility of putting together an entire night of music.

“Every event musicians will share two songs — poets are welcomed as well,” Adams said. “A featured artist will perform a set of 4-6 songs and have a song or two video recorded to be shared online as a growing library examples of State College talented composers. This is a place to feature songwriter musicians, giving a stage and home to share their new original music with an actively listening audience.”

While it’s great to offer a place for new musicians to play original music, Adams sees it as part of a larger issue, something that cuts through the fabric of our culture in Centre County and around the world, a culture that features an evolving (or devolving, depending on who you ask) approach to supporting the arts.

“This is important to our community and to the world at large,” Adams said, “because if we only hear covers of a cover of a cover, pushing away original music, we lose our soul, we lose an opportunity to learn something new and glimpse at a performers soul (their truth). When we try to extinguish that light we lose what makes us unique, what is different. This is the same path and battle of freedom of speech just on a different platform.”

Local musicians obviously can benefit from this kind of event planning, but it also helps bring new and exciting acts into town, breathing a breath of fresh air into the scene that venues like Zenos, the Broken Axe, and recently Mount Nittany Vineyard and Winery have been doing for years, but is often perceived as being too much of a risk for other venues.

“We had two event nights this semester that featured larger band structured music,” Adams said. “Athena and the Night Owls packed that house and Adler Hall came on board from Brooklyn as they were on tour and not a single bar in town would give them the time of day. The goal will be to have a few more of those types of evenings.”

Webster’s is currently the home for From the Source, but that doesn’t mean it is the only place From the Source will appear in the future, as Adams said he is working with at least one other venue to host it, presumably adding the possibility of From the Source occurring more than one day a week.

“Webster’s is such an amazing place in this town,” Adams said. “It has for years been the hub for community development of the arts, equality, general community, and support of musicians, poets and artists alike, with CD release parties, open mic nights, LGBT events, drag shows. ... It is there because Elaine cares.”

With the energy and enthusiasm From the Source has generated in the community, Adams sees a bright future for music in Centre County.

“With the right community mindset of music culture we could harness this talent foster it and create a town known for an amazing scene of originality,” Adams wrote. “We could see a prized culture like a mini Nashville, where places are dedicated to singer rounds and trying new things. Let’s be different and unique. Let’s be a light for hope and understanding.”

Kevin Briggs is a musician, writer and teacher who performs at venues throughout central Pennsylvania. Contact him at KevinTBriggs@gmail.com.
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