Help Support Keene Music Festival

In a short while, it will be Labor Day weekend.  With this holiday comes the 15th Annual Keene Music Festival.   With over 80 acts playing at 16 stages, it’s one of the more unique events in the area, if not the New England region; and it’s all free.  Yes, you read right, it’s free.  Produced by a group of local volunteers who believe in their community and really love music.  The musicians contribute their time and talent as well, because they too, see the inherent value of this event.

We’re very lucky in Keene to have several top-notch events that occur throughout the year.  Good people who put effort into bringing these things about.  What makes Keene Music Festival different is that it is, by design, for the community.  It’s kept small to make it easy for all of us to be part of the event, and to not have adverse impacts on us, the locals.  It doesn’t have vendors, so that the emphasis is on local businesses and the musicians who come to volunteer their time to perform for all of us.  It doesn’t do a lot of advertising outside of the area, because it is primarily focused on our community.

Along with this annual event, Keene Music Festival does a regular series of fundraising concerts for local charities; and lots of stuff to help organizations and businesses have music as part of whatever they are doing.  We’ve been involved in raising money for the Sumner Knight Chapel, Keene Community Kitchen and the Head Start Early Sprouts program.  We don’t always like to call attention to ourselves, because we all believe it’s more important to be giving than getting attention.

 Right now, though, we do need your support.  Even though we are frugal New Englanders, Keene Music Festival has unavoidable expenses that we need to cover; such as insurance, rentals, performing rights fees, and the like.  We really need your help to make these events happen, so please consider making a donation so that we can continue to bring music to our community and continue to support other local organizations through our efforts. We’re a 501(c) 3 non-profit, so all donations are tax deductible.  You can go to our website, or send a donation to:

 

Keene Music Festival

63 Emerald Street #363

Keene, NH 03431

 Events like this are what make our community special, so please consider helping us to keep doing what we do.

 

Yours in the Music,

 

Kevin Dremel

for the

Keene Music Festival

63 Emerald Street #363

Keene, NH 03431

www.keenemusicfestival.org

A Balanced Diet:

Well, it’s June.  The trees have bloomed, and the black flies are a’ feastin’.  We are entering the summer season.  We here at Keene Music Festival have been very busy with lots of warm weather projects.  We are once again working with Little Zoe’s Pizza to bring live, original music to their Friday night festival of slices.  We are also putting together another series of shows at Robin Hood Park, as well as our ongoing series at the Sumner Knight Chapel.  Along the way, we are also putting together our annual Keene Music Festival; which this year has had over 3000 submissions!  Needless to say, we are busy little bunnies; and we do it all for you….

 

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been putting in a garden at our house. Nothing big, tomatoes, basil, peas, herbs and lettuce; along with our strawberry and asparagus patch.   It’s an annual exercise, as is going to Farmer’s Market every Saturday for me.  As the years go by, I’ve come to more and more appreciate the idea of fresh, local food.  It may require a little more effort and expense, but it pays off in quality.  So what, you may ask yourself, does this have to do with music?  Well, let me explain.

 

Just like we need a good diet to be healthy in body, we need a good diet of music and the arts to be healthy in soul. We need variety, and we need things to be pure and fresh.  Maybe not all of the time, but the cleaner the diet is overall the better we function.  The challenge is that we live in a time during which there is pressure for us to value convenience over quality.  There are a lot of easy foods out there that please the mouth, but are questionable for the body.  With the food business being a business, there’s an incentive to go for the inexpensive and the easy, rather than what is healthy and balanced.  We see the results of this in the increase in obesity and health issues that result from an over processed and business driven diet.

 

In the same way that we do best when we limit our processed foods, we also seem to do better when we limit our pre-processed arts.   Entertainment is big business, and everyone if vying for your attention and your money.  In the same way we all need to think about how and what we eat, we also need to think about our entertainment/artistic diet.  Are we getting a wide variety?  Are we trying new things to see if we might like them?  Are we limiting our intake of pre-processed products from the entertainment corporations; and try to get a good sum of local, homegrown music and art in our diet?  Much of what comes pre-packaged from corporate media is designed to meet demographic and sales research.  That’s what corporations are generally all about; making money.  There’s a difference in the taste of a garden grown, versus hothouse, tomato.  There is also a big difference in the taste of prepackaged versus local music and art.  It is always worth the effort to seek out the local whenever you can.

 

Along with this, it’s important to try to change things up for yourself.  Get into the habit of going out to local establishments for entertainment; rather than staying home all of the time.  If you are in the habit of going out, then stretch yourself by going to a place you don’t usually go, or taking in a concert or show that ‘s a style of music you are not familiar with.  If you’re a jazz fan, go take in a bluegrass or metal show.  If you’re a metal fan, go listen to some great acoustic music.   Learn about the local bands and go out and listen.  Listen for the art and enthusiasm.  Listen to things that both tickle and challenge you to expand your artistic senses.  Go for the full spectrum; the refined and the fundamental.  They all have something to offer.  We would love it if you came to all of our shows.  The more important thing, though, is that you go out and sample all of the musical talent our community has to offer.

 

In our work at Keene Music Festival, we spend a lot of time trying to find quality acts that represent all styles of music.   We have, over time, developed an ear for quality; which drives how we decide on acts for our events.  The how of that is something for another time.  The point is that this is a skill that can be developed by anyone willing to be open to the experience.  In the same way that we benefit from fresh, local food, we benefit from fresh, local music.  So please do what you can to make sure that you are getting your daily minimum of local art.  It’s good for the soul in the same way local food is good for the body.  And don’t forget to brush too….

An Uneasy Question: Music, Money, and it's Impact on Venues.

Welcome to the May edition of the KMF newsletter.  The weather appears to be finally changing, the leaves are popping out, and we have a whole bunch going on this month.  We have three shows scheduled at the Sumner Knight chapel; as well as two more at a new venue.  But more on that later….

 

This month, we are also introducing our Season Pass Premium as a gift to those who are interested in supporting our work, and seeing some good shows.  We are offering a one-year pass to shows at the Sumner Knight Chapel, or to all of the shows we sponsor.  You can go to our web site to find out more about this.

 

We are also now working with Main Crust Company in Marlborough, NH to create a new venue we are calling The Old Grocer’s.  This venue will showcase local and regional bands doing original music.  Unlike the Chapel, it’s conducive to all styles, so we hope to offer lots of different music there.  Part of the proceeds from this event will be donated to local charities, so it’s kind of a win-win when you think about it.

 

The development of this new venue comes out of a trend in the music industry that seems to be spreading in our local area.  I also know it’s been an issue in other areas as well.  It’s an issue that, currently, doesn’t have an easy solution.  It’s also an issue that non-musicians might not fully understand.  This is the issue of performance rights for music.

 

Put simply, when someone writes a song, it is his or her property for all intents and purposes.  If I like your song, and I want to sing it in public, current law states that I (or more accurately, the venue) is supposed to pay for that right.  Recent changes in US law have entitled performing rights organizations (ASCAP, BMI, SESAC) to collect royalty payments wherever music is played.  The assumption is that if you are playing music, it must belong to someone and you have to pay for using it; to all three organizations. 

 

On the surface, this makes sense; artists need to be compensated for their work.  No problem with that.  The challenge comes in whom the performing rights organizations are choosing to pursue for payments.  I know of two local open mics that have had to shut down because the cost of paying performing rights far exceeds what they take in when they offer an open mic.    I’ve also heard stories of farmer’s markets in Massachusetts having to stop live performance because they could not afford the performing rights fees.  Also in the mix are other businesses that have had to discontinue live music (and sometimes even canned music) due to the expense of performing rights fees.

 

While it’s only fair that artists be compensated for what they do, these laws have had some unintended consequences.  Venues for live music are shutting down because they can’t, or won’t, pay performing rights fees.  That ends up meaning that there are less and less places to play, and hear, live music.  And that’s just not good.

 

As a musician, it’s easy to see what you offer as a commodity; because it is one.  Lots of people do great stuff, and deserve to be rewarded for it.  But when the only reward that matters is money, you then have this kind of dark side appearing.  The saddest part of the issue of performing rights is that very few artists ever collect.  In thirty-five years of writing music, I’ve received a total of $9.78 in performance royalties.  For the most part, only record companies and big name artists really benefit from this system.  It’s obviously not about money for me; and I imagine that it’s the same for many others.

 

Music is a passion for me; I have no choice but to do it.  For many of us it’s an obsession.   For some, it’s a profession.  For all of us, it’s more than a commodity; it’s a framework for our lives.  In that regard, it would seem that music has to be about more than just money.  And if it’s more than a commodity, than there has to be a way to make it possible to share music, support the artists, and support the artistic community without turning it into a money thing.  I have no idea how to do this, but it certainly is worth looking at.  It would be a shame to see local music die because of something like this.

 

On Supporting Local Music: Beyond the Comfort Zone

Well, after much delay and distraction, we’re back with our newsletter.  Things have been a bit busy lately.  The good news is that we now have a team of folks working on this little missive.  Lynn Merlone of Monadnotes has signed on as a regular contributor.  We also have Celete Thibault, our intern, is also lending a hand.  Like any venture, it’s a lot more fun what others are involved.

 

We are in the planning stages for the 2014 Keene Music Festival.  At this point, we’ve had roughly 1300 submissions, which we shall pare down to about 85-90 quite soon.  It’s a lot of listening, but we do it all for you.  We also have some other cool venues and programs we are getting involved with; and we hope you will consider making a tax-deductible donation to help us fund all we do in the community.

 

Recently, I was reading an online article about how to, “be a good musician,” in your community.   It really struck me, as it pointed out something that I’ve seen in selective pockets of performers; but makes sense in the larger scheme of things as well.   The focus of the article was on the idea of musicians (and people in general) showing up and staying for performances.  What the author was proposing is that it’s critical that people who go to shows stay; and to pay attention and support all of the performers.  This means you go not only to perform, or see, a set by your favorite persons, but you stay to support the other performers as well.  This got me thinking about this type of courtesy on a larger, more community oriented, scale.

 

We all tend to want to stay with the things we like in terms of musical styles and/or performers.  Looking at things from a community standpoint though, it’s equally important for local musicians, and the public, to be willing to support other members of the performing community, and other venues, besides what they already know about.  Generally, we all tend to gravitate towards what we know and those they are familiar with, but there is so much else out there to be explored; and the benefits far outweigh the costs of the efforts.

 

As an example, one of our board members (who focuses on Metal) recently started taking jazz lessons in order to expand technical understanding and possibilities for new ways to doing things musically.  In the past, I’ve taken lessons from a Metal guitarist to improve my acoustic guitar technique.   Each style of music makes a unique contribution, and has value and lessons that can be translated to other styles of music.  The trick is to be willing to move beyond what we’re used to, and learn to understand what good musicianship is no matter what style is being performed.  It’s not as hard as you think.  We do it all the time in choosing acts for our events. 

 

What you get from expanding your musical horizons is exposure to a whole new set of ways of expressing ideas and feelings.  You learn a new language and a new set of rules.  Musical styles, and musical venues, are like little cultures unto themselves.  They’ve got their own way of looking at things; with none being more “right” or “wrong” than another.  They are just a little different, and worth the effort to explore.

 

We would really love it if y’all would come out to all or our shows, to be certain.  More importantly, anyone with an interest in live music and performance should be out there support all the different venues and styles, and opportunities to experience live music in our communities.  We all need to take a chance and try something we are less than familiar with musically.  Go see a show at a place you’ve never been to before; or go see an act that’s a style you are not so familiar with.  There are so many opportunities for this in our community; and much more talent than you could ever imagine.  From personal experience, I can tell you it’s worth the effort. 

 

 

Yours in the Music,

 

Kevin Dremel

For the

Keene Music Festival

Helping to Support the Keene Music Festival

Dear Friends, 

This will be the fourteenth year for the Keene Music Festival!  A lot has been going on, and we’ve got a lot planned for the coming year.  Besides our annual event (scheduled for August 30th), we now have a regular series of concerts at the Sumner Knight Chapel, which raises money for the renovation and restoration of that building.  To date, we have raised over $4000 towards that effort. 

We have started a series of monthly shows at George’s Window, a new venue in downtown Keene.  It’s designed to be a family friendly venue, with dinner and a show, at a time that works for people with young kids.  We’re even working on having childcare at that venue.

We’ve worked with local musicians and businesses to develop more opportunities to hear music in Keene, and are thrilled with being able to help others in this way.  We have developed fundraising concerts for various organizations, and provided technical supports for charitable and other events in the community.

We are also in to process of developing a training seminar series for local performers and artists to help them better understand the nuts and bolts of the business aspects of a life in the arts.  Currently, we are in the process of becoming a formal non-profit organization, so that we can continue with this work in our area.

The motto of the Keene Music Festival is, “Creating Community Through Music.” We are an all-volunteer organization that believes in giving back to our community and in paying things forward, in our own way, to help build a better place to live for all of us.  We have no paid administrative staff, and all of the funds we collect go towards what’s needed to create events that benefit the community.  But, in order to do all these things, we need your support.

We do all of these things on a budget a fraction of the size of other events of this size and scope, because we believe in our community and want to do our part to make it special.  We are also unique in that Keene Music Festival is a fixed budget organization.   Once we raise the money needed to create and produce these events, we focus our attention on doing our thing.  There are a lot of worthwhile causes out there, and it seems only right to ask for only what we really need to make things work.  Nonetheless, we do need your support keep on doing what we do.

You can help us in these efforts by making a donation to the Keene Music Festival.  Anything that you can give helps us to bring music to Keene and the community and to support other worthwhile organizations.  It’s a gift that gives back to the community and to you.  Keene Music Festival is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, so all donations are tax deductible.  

The address to send your donation to is:

Keene Music Festival

P.O. Box 583

Keene, NH 03431

Or you can make a donation by contacting a Keene Music Festival representative by email, at our website (there's a donate button at the bottom of every page), or even face to face. If you would like to know more about who we are and what we do (and how you can help), feel free to contact me at: keenemusicfestival@gmail.com

Music is a joy worth sharing and a gift worth giving.  Community is something we all need to invest in to keep it healthy and make it grow.  Community is also about both individuals and businesses stepping up to support good works in the community.  Help us to give and to make our community a brighter place.

Yours in the Music,

Kevin Dremel

for the

Keene Music Festival

PO Box 583

Keene, NH 03431

 

A Message from the Director:

 
P.O.Box 583

Keene, NH 03431

(603) 499-7435

http://www.keenemusicfestival.org

 

Dear Friends, 

  I am writing this letter to you (yes, you) to say a bit about who we are and what we do.  The Keene Music Festival is a gift to the community that gives back.   Now in its twelfth year, the Keene Music Festival has gone from a small group of performers on a truck bed to almost ninety acts playing at thirteen venues in and around downtown Keene; all free to the public.   The music covers all styles and features both local and regional acts.  Performers from around New England ask to be part of what happens here, with many acts wanting to come back year after year.  When asked why, many of the out of town performers say that it’s because Keene is a special place, and the people here treat them so well.

 

  This is significant, because most of these performers talk about Keene, the town and the people after they leave here.  They talk about what the town does to support music and how well it treats them.  They talk about our downtown, or parks, and our people.  They see the specialness of the town and of this yearly event.  They keep coming back year after year, because they like what happens here.  It’s a special celebration in a special place.

 

  The motto of the Keene Music Festival is, “Creating Community Through Music.”  Towards that goal, we have developed a series of free Friday evening and Saturday afternoon concerts during the summer on Railroad Square and Robin Hood Park, a concert series to raise funds for the renovation of the Sumner Knight Chapel in Westlawn Cemetery, and a series of fundraising concerts whose goal is to raise funds for local charities.  We are an all volunteer organization that believes in giving back to our community and in paying forward, in our own way, to help build a better place to live for all of us.  We have no paid administrative staff, and all of the funds we collect go towards what’s needed to create events that benefit the community.  We do all of these things on a budget a fraction of the size of other events of this size and scope, because we believe in our community and want to do our part to make it shine.  But, in order to do all these things, we need your support.

 

  You can help us in these efforts by making a donation to the Keene Music Festival.  Anything that you can give helps us to bring music to Keene and the community and to support other worthwhile organizations.  It’s a gift that gives back to the community and to you.  This year, we are fortunate to be partnering with Southwestern Community Services, who will be acting as our fiscal agent for donations.  Through this partnership, your donation will be tax deductible.  You can make your tax deductible donation by sending a check to Southwestern Community Services; and include the words:  KMF 2012 in memo line. The address to send your donation to is:

 

Keene Music Festival

c/o Southwestern Community Services

P.O. Box 603

Keene, NH 03431

 

Or you can make a donation by contacting a Keene Music Festival representative by email, at our website, or even face to face. If you would like to know more about who we are and what we do (and how you can help), feel free to contact me at: keenemusicfestival@gmail.com

 

  Music is a joy worth sharing and a gift worth giving.  Community is something we all need to invest in to keep it healthy and make it grow.  Help us to give and to make our community a brighter place.

 

Yours in the Music,

 

Kevin Dremel

for the Keene Music Festival