L A U N C H
Weekend music fest offering a variety BY DAN NEPHIN, Staff Writer
With some 175 bands scheduled to perform, this year's Launch Music Conference and Festival is shaping up to be the best ever, according to a co-director.
"Every year, our endeavor is to make it a bit larger, make it a bit more inclusive," said Jeff Breil, co-director of the festival, which runs through Saturday. (Technically, the wee hours of Sunday morning.)
The festival features bands both known and up-and-coming in the Susquehanna Valley and beyond.
"Folk to punk to rock to hip-hop, there's some R&B. … It doesn't matter what kind of music you like, there's something for everyone," he said.
The festival is entering its fifth year. Venues include the Ware Center, Lancaster County Convention Center, the Chameleon Club and Penn Square. Prices for the performances vary.
The festival had about the same number of acts last year, but Breil said it's scaled back from the roughly 200 acts of a couple of years ago.
"We're focusing on the quality of the acts, the headliners," he said.
This year's headliners are Cincinnati-based rockers Foxy Shazam; Holly Williams, the granddaughter of country great Hank Williams and the daughter of Hank Williams Jr.; and The Early November, an indie rock band that will be on this year's Vans Warped Tour.
Breil called Foxy Shazam a tremendous band.
"Anybody who's never seen them before is in for a treat, because they put out what is probably the most energetic live show that I've ever seen in my life," he said.
Williams, a country musician and singer-songwriter, is "definitely more traditional, old-school, like her grandfather," Breil said.
"She's incredibly talented, and I have no doubt she'd be successful even if she didn't have a famous father and grandfather," he said.
The Early November gained acclaim in the early 2000s but disbanded for about six years. They've been touring internationally, and Launch will be the band's first U.S. performance this year, Breil said.
But Launch isn't just about the headliners, and isn't only for the audiences.
Workshops at the Convention Center today and Saturday are designed to help bands that are serious about the music industry.
One seminar will focus on how to put together a successful tour, from promoting to offering the right merchandise. Another will focus on music law.
The most popular panel, "Can you handle the truth," is returning. It offers bands the opportunity to have industry personnel judge their music and provide feedback.
"It's not always complimentary, but it's honest," Breil said.
"I encourage everybody to come out," Breil said. "I really do feel like we have something to offer everybody. Whether you're a band, or someone who wants to work in the music industry, there's something to learn."
For a list of performers, show times and locations: