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Local Music Issue

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I remember it like it was yesterday. Fifteen years ago, I walked into The Casbah hoping to oh-so-casually run into then-CityBeat music editor Troy Johnson. I had a feeling he might be there since he had plugged the show on his local TV show, Fox Rox. This was long before the days of social media so a little in-person networking (read: stalking)was sometimes necessary for young, aspiring music writers such as myself.


He did end up being there so I walked up to him with the confidence of a mediocre music writer (which I totally was) who thought his shit never stank and came right out with it.

“I want to write about music for CityBeat,” I told Troy. He replied with something along the lines of oh, well, we’re not really looking or we’re not really hiring right now, but I was relentless. I had more than a few Arrogant Bastards in me at that point. How apropos considering I probably came across like an arrogant bastard. 


“No, you need to let me write something,” I maintained. He smiled and laughed and explained to me that CityBeat was going to be trying out a new concept for an upcoming special issue. Something that, as far as he knew, had never been attempted at any other weekly: They were going to devote an entire issue to local music. What’s more, they were going to devote an entire section to reviewing any album or demo that was submitted to them. Simply put: If it was local music, they would review it.


“If you want to write some reviews, we’ll see how you do and maybe you can do some more stuff,” Troy said. 


I walked out that night feeling like Bogie at the end of Casablanca. Not only was it the beginning of beautiful friendship between Troy and myself, but here I am, years later, in the editor’s chair, overseeing the 15th Local Music Issue. Even now, this issue has never ceased to be a massive undertaking. Whereas we once called the music review portion of the issue the “Great Demo Review,” we changed it last year to simply be called “The Local Music Review.” At the end of the day, the word “demo” never full encapsulated the variety of submissions we’d get. And as always, we had a few submissions that really stood out to us and we dubbed them “ExtraSpecialGood.”


We only received 77 submissions last year, which was a little scary, but I’m happy to report we received nearly 120 this year (almost a new record). As has always been the case with this issue, the review process was completely luck of the draw. Whereas I have historically been much more critical, other writers such as Ben Salmon and Lauren Kershner almost always find a silver lining. 


For the artists who had their work reviewed by someone like me or, perhaps, Jackie Bryant or Ombretta Di Dio, I hope they take our criticisms as constructively as possible. After all, just as I walked into The Casbah 15 years ago to try to talk a music editor into letting me write for him, we all have to start somewhere. 


Local Music Issue