Lancaster gets all the music love thanks tothe LAUNCH Music Conference and Festival. Yorkers are left with a 30-minute drive (or more with Route 30 roadwork).
But it was hard for me to be bitter while on the phone recently with Jeremy Weiss, one of the enthusiastic brains behind LAUNCH.
The annual event, which kicks off its third year April 21, just keeps growing.
About 5,000 people attended the inaugural fest. Last year, it drew about 11,000.
This year, Weiss said LAUNCH will most likely expand its audience even more. It booked 231 performers, up from 176 last year.
"The selection committee (received) 1,200 submissions," Weiss said. "We're pretty proud of the lineup."
It's marketing campaign stretched to New Jersey and Delaware. Thanks to the first LAUNCH Tour, audiences have been getting a preview of the event. Eight bands hit the road to promote LAUNCH with 19 shows prior to the event from New London, Conn., to Trenton, N.J. They perform a culminating show April 23 at LAUNCH's hub - The Lancaster County Convention Center.
In addition to the convention center, there are about 17 other venues that will host live music.
In order to better serve visitors, LAUNCH workers collect comments and hand out surveys. Weiss sifts through emails.
From the feedback, organizers redesigned the event guide and tweaked the website to better explain the conference - daytime panels, seminars and workshops - and the festival - nighttime showcase performances. Weiss said that genres were attached to each act so people know what to expect.
Weiss said they are seeing a huge increase in the amount of wristbands sold. People pay a flat rate and can hop between showcase performances, instead paying cover at each venue.
That, Weiss said, makes LAUNCH feel like other popular music festivals, including South by Southwest in Austin, Texas.
The idea is to provide maximum music within a small radius. The longest walk between LAUNCH venues is seven minutes, Weiss said.
Organizers not only beefed up the 2011 lineup, but they also booked big names for conference panels.
Weiss said former Live guitarist and The Gracious Few member Chad Taylor will be back.
Other notables include producer Joe Fitz, who worked on B.o.B's "The Adventures of Bobby Ray," and David Silbaugh, who is the Rock Committee chair and adviser for the Grammys.
"We've just stacked on so much," Weiss said. "We would like to think that (LAUNCH) contributes to the allure of Lancaster."
I think it's safe to say that's true if bands from California to Canada are looking to book the event.
But Weiss isn't giving LAUNCH all the credit. He said the Red Rose City has worked to expand its arts scene in the last five years.
LAUNCH piggybacked on that momentum to help people discover new music as well as a new place.
Lancaster is now on people's radar, Weiss said, not only for music professionals and fans, but also for all creative types.
Talking to Weiss makes me feel like defecting across the Susquehanna, if only just for a weekend.
But instead of being envious, the White Rose City should take notes on LAUNCH's success.
The CapLive concert series has proven that York loves new music, so we can certainly cut back on the commute time to a festival.
PopEye is a bi-weekly column focusing on the ever-changing landscape of popular culture. To reach writer Erin McCracken, call 771-2051 or send an email to email@example.com.
York County acts playing LAUNCH:
We Fought by the Sword - 6 p.m. in the Conestoga room at the Hotel Brunswick
Ken Deavers - 6 p.m. at Senorita Burrita
Oceans in Love - 7 p.m. on Stage A/B in Freedom Hall at the Lancaster Convention Center
Evelyn's Ashes - 7:15 p.m. on Stage C in Freedom Hall at the Lancaster Convention Center
Waitin on a Train - 7:30 p.m. in the lobby of the Lancaster Convention Center
Kingsfoil - 8:30 p.m. on Stage A/B in Freedom Hall at the Lancaster Convention Center
Clutch the Impulse - 8:45 p.m. in the Red Rose Ballroom of the Hotel Brunswick
Between the Lions - 9:15 p.m. in the Red Rose Ballroom of the Hotel Brunswick
Dana Alexandra - 10:15 p.m. at the Chameleon Club
In Search of Words - 5:45 p.m. on Stage C in Freedom Hall at the Lancaster Convention Center
From These Wounds - 6:15 p.m. in the Red Rose Ballroom of the Hotel Brunswick
Waitin on a Train - 8 p.m. at Isaac's
Wayne Supergenius - 8:30 p.m. at Marion Court (21 and older)
Paradise Movement - 8:45 p.m. at the Chameleon Club
Hold Your Breath! - 8:45 p.m. in the Red Rose Ballroom of the Hotel Brunswick
Dana Alexandra acoustic - 10:45 p.m. at Annie Bailey's (21 and older)
Times and schedules are subject to change. For the entire list of performances, visit launchmusicconference.com/festival/schedule/index.htme .
About the LAUNCH Music Conference and Festival
The LAUNCH Music Conference and Festival runs April 21 to 23 in Lancaster.
The conference is designed to help artists, music industry professionals and those interested in learning more about the music business network. It consists of a daytime program of panels, seminars and workshops. Those interested in attending the conference, must buy a LAUNCH Conference Badge. It costs $40 and provides access to all panels, events and parties, as well as free entry to all festival showcases. It also includes a LAUNCH T-shirt and two-disc compilation of festival artists.
The festival is all about discovering new talent from a wide variety of musical genres. Fans who are interested in the festival can purchase Friday or Saturday wristbands for $15 and weekend wristbands for $25. Wristbands allow visitors access to all festival showcases. Those who do not wish to purchase wristbands can pay a nominal cover charge at each participating venue for access that evening.
Badges and wristbands are available at www.ticketfly.com or at the event.