State College native builds musical hub with new website

Luke Cimbala, founder of The Band Junkies, plays the guitar at a family reunion in Pittsburgh.
Luke Cimbala, founder of The Band Junkies, plays the guitar at a family reunion in Pittsburgh. photo provided

The past few years have seen an emergence of awareness around the Centre County music scene. Jason Adams’ “From the Source” event series certainly counts. So does Dorothy Neff’s Facebook page, where she spotlights video of local musicians. And now there is another layer of the musical onion.

Last week, State College native and local musician Luke Cimbala launched The Band Junkies at www.thebandjunkies.com, a website designed to provide a hub for local musicians, bands and anyone else who is pursuing, creating or performing music in our area.

“I realized there is no solid website that features all local musicians, solo artists, music lessons and recording studios in an open, free, all-in-one website,” Cimbala shared in an email. “(I’ve) been talking about it for a while, and finally took action.”

Cimbala is tied in with local musicians, because he’s from the area and he performs locally, so part of the idea came from his connections with people who are into musical projects.

“Living in town my whole life, I felt I know at least one member from each band and reached out to over 100 people see if they would be cool with me listing their band, and if so, what link would they choose to send people to check out their music,” Cimbala wrote. “(I) got a 99 percent response rate and lots of good feedback.”

Like any entrepreneur, Cimbala is a self-starter. It was as simple as having an idea, thinking it through and starting to see how to pull it all together.

“Being in sales, I can be very persistent,” Cimbala wrote. “Once I had the data to create the website, I needed some help. I was referred to Kairos Creative, where I sat down with Sam Lucas, a friend from Christ Community Church, to brainstorm. He believed in me and was able to put all my crazy ideas in a nice-looking website. We used Squarespace for the domain name, hosting and templates.”

The website looks slick. There’s a general description on the homepage; links to bands, lessons and studios, among others; and listings of both full and “light” bands. Full bands are what they sound like: bands with multiple members who round out a sound. For example, the AAA Blues Band is the first listing; Miss Melanie and the Valley Rats, Dopplerpoppins and My Hero Zero are listed, as well.

Light bands are smaller ensembles, often solo projects, such as Caryn Dixon, Eric Ian Farmer, Kelly Countermine and Mark Hill, and Donnie Lynch. I really like the way the band listings are organized, and can see this website serving as a valuable resource for people looking to book music.

Cimbala sees it that way and more.

“First off, a well-put-together list turns me on,” Cimbala wrote. “When you write it all down, step back and just look at it, you realize how vast the talent is. It could really bring some notoriety to Happy Valley. Anyone can now see all the talent around them and check out their music.”

Along with the band listings, the site lists nine local recording studios. I knew we had a bunch, but was thinking more like five, so seeing the site’s studio listings was a pleasant surprise.

The list includes “studios that bands might have not known about along with sound engineers for mixing and live shows,” Cimbala wrote.

The website is only the first step in a multi-tiered roll-out.

“Stage two will list local artists/marketing of all sorts, which would include photographers, graphic artists, video filmers, editors, promoters, logo makers, painters, etc.,” Cimbala wrote. “Down the road, we would like to feature a show and band junkie of the month or season.”

Any new venture costs some money up front, which Cimbala has taken care of, but once the site starts getting in the black, it will simply be a labor of love for the community.

“Any eventual profit will be poured back into the community,” Cimbala wrote, “so I’ll be walking into every music venue and bar in town to try and get some sponsorships.”

Aside from taking it to the streets, everyone in our community can pitch in.

“Plug that site in on that there smartphone of yours,” Cimbala wrote. “If I have data that shows its getting clicks, my sales pitch will be easier. Use the site to organize a show, build your brand, get a gig, find new bands to play gigs, or just reach out to someone and tell them they rock.”

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