As a banjoist and an avid guitarist, I am enthralled by the seemingly endless amount of live entertainment throughout the Greater Lehigh Valley. I've been playing music since I was about 10 years old — growing up in the quaint, small town of Jim Thorpe — and it's been my biggest passion in life since I was just a young lad, flipping through my dad's record collection and finding all of the great music that significantly outdated me.
As an adolescent, I bopped around the house to crackling vinyl records emitting the sounds of the Grateful Dead, Little Feat and The Who, to name just a few. And as I grew, so did my taste; now the only music I don't listen to is main-stream pop radio … and rap, respectively. Bluegrass/folk and jam bands (e.g. Phish) are my primary interests.
While we all have different preferences to what we consider to be "good" music, the Greater Lehigh Valley epitomizes the fact that this region showcases it all. And once again, the public gets its chance to speak its voice and cast votes in the LVMA 15.
It won't be an easy vote. After many years of listening to every musical genre under the sun — and now approaching 27 years old — I can't believe how large the arts and entertainment scene in the region has grown to be. From large venues such as SteelStacks at ArtsQuest to the Easton State Theatre, to the little bars and clubs spread throughout the region, live music is literally booming everywhere you turn. And it's been the members of our local communities who have been the biggest contributors to keeping it alive and well.
Whether you're an active musician playing gigs regularly, a homebody closet musician, or you just love listening to and attending live shows, here's your chance to voice your opinion on who is delivering the best sounds throughout the Greater Lehigh Valley.
(Full disclosure: My band, "The Boiled Owls," has been nominated in the Outstanding Bluegrass Band of the Year category for this year's LVMA, and I couldn't feel more honored for receiving the recognition.)
The Greater Lehigh Valley Music Association and ArtsQuest have partnered to present Lehigh Valley Music Awards 15. Nominations for artists have concluded and voting is underway through Jan. 10. LVMA 15 is March 9 at the Musikfest Café on the SteelStacks campus in Bethlehem.
The new partnership between GLVMA and ArtsQuest is designed to unite each organization's strengths in an effort to increase awareness of the local music awards and the high caliber of the musicians living and working in the Greater Lehigh Valley. One new element for this year's awards is that the event will be broadcast on Service Electric Cable TV.
The LVMA, created in 1999, is run by the volunteer nonprofit GLVMA and is designed to honor, reward and celebrate the music industry in the Greater Lehigh Valley. With each addition of the LVMA, the organization presents more than 70 awards honoring the region's best performers in a variety of genres including blues, rock, folk, bluegrass, gospel, hip hop, jazz and more, as well as awards honoring local music schools, recording studios, music stores and other local music organizations.
There are so many prominent artists in the Greater Lehigh Valley, and this is truly an exceptional way to give credit where credit is due. There is a wide array of entertainers in our region, and I couldn't picture it any other way.
It's really an economic engine for several organizations and entities in the Greater Lehigh Valley. Musikfest is a great example of how hundreds of thousands of people come together to share experiences by supporting local and national artists, small businesses and entrepreneurs that stimulate our local economy.
And for anyone that says that they "don't really care for music," they are only kidding themselves. Music connects the world. It's a universal language that expands the masses and takes us to levels of emotions we wouldn't experience any other way. It defines cultures, personalities and so much more. To me, it's truly the most beautiful thing on Earth, and when I one day lay to rest, my banjo will be buried with me.
So, do yourself — and the artists —a favor and visit the LVMA website to cast your vote. Without area musicians, your access to live entertainment would be limited. We are all so thankful for the continued support in helping to keep the Greater Lehigh Valley the place to be for live entertainment.