It was July 7, 2011, when the first post on Frederick Playlist went live. That’s exactly seven years and seven months to this very day. It was a review of Miss Shevaughn and Yuma Wray’s “Snake Oil Songs.” It ran only because my review of Ted Garber’s “Live At Strathmore” was dubbed too mean to be the first one out of the gate. So, for those keeping track of Frederick Playlist trivia (read: nobody), the review for “Snake Oil Songs” actually wasn’t the first thing I wrote for either Frederick Playlist or the Frederick News-Post; rather, it was just the nicer of the two reviews I gave my editors (calling Garber’s “A Lot Like Me” a “cheese-tastic ballad” before spending an entire paragraph ranting about the word “faux” probably didn’t do me any favors either).
Mean was a word with which I became synonymous through the years, though with this, my final offering for Frederick Playlist, I feel it imperative to clarify something: I never consciously tried to be mean. I love music. When I was graciously asked to start reviewing local albums for the local paper after spending years doing it on a national scale for the website PopMatters, I felt like my job wasn’t to write press releases for local musicians. Instead, I felt like my job was to be as honest as possible. I knew what it was like to be in a band. I knew the feeling of writing a song. I knew how excited that can make you, how fulfilled you can feel, how invincible that moment becomes. It’s one of the very best feelings a human being can ever experience, and for those who are never afforded that moment in a lifetime, for those who believe music is little more than a combination of sounds, for those who never get to know what it’s like to look across the room at a guitar player or a singer or a drummer and feel the purest sense of fulfillment … my heart goes out to you. It’s one of life’s most thrilling offerings.
Naturally, this is all to say that I hope you didn’t take things too personally. I know some of you did, but that was never my intention. When I accidentally wound up in a local band myself, I expected everyone to take as many shots at me as possible — and they probably did, but I wouldn’t know; such is a reason why I do my best to get in and get out as quickly as I can before and after every local performance (indeed, those who actually know me know I have thinner skin than an onion). I would never want to encourage anyone to stop writing or performing music, and if anyone ever took that away from anything I wrote, you truly have my sincerest apologies. Me liking or not liking something is just that – one guy liking or not liking something. As long as you were able to achieve that feeling of looking across the room at a bandmate with a knowing smile, you had already won. Any arbitrary, ridiculous, utterly subjective four-star system should never take that away from you. If you think I’m an asshole … well, at least know that I never had any ill meaning.
As is the case with any misstep I made along the way (and I know there were many): Everything I did or said, every way I acted, every decision I made — I made with the best heart I could give. At times, that heart was stronger than it was at other times, and, if we’re speaking honest currently, it’s never been weaker than it is right now. Such is partly why it’s time for me to go. After 1,207 published posts, 185 local record reviews, dozens of podcasts, a handful of concerts and a lifetime of memories, I will be stepping away from Frederick Playlist for good after Thursday’s Frederick Music Showcase (I always thought if the Weinberg would allow us to get to five, that would be at least six more than we probably deserved).
Will Frederick Playlist or the Frederick Music Showcase or The Thing continue? That’s not up to me, and if I had any information to share, I most certainly would share it. Either way, I fully support whatever decisions are made, and I am indebted to every person who ever helped with anything along the journey to get here. There are far, far too many to name individually, but I think it’s essential to point out at least three.
One is Sara Hardison, who had everything to do with the design of Frederick Playlist. Her guidance during those first few months was utterly invaluable, and without her believing that an all local music website could work, I’m not so sure this thing would have ever gotten off the ground. Another is Cecelia Lee, who brought an entirely new dynamic to the equation with her strength, creativity and vibrance. She was once a truly great friend and since she has moved on, I’ve missed that friendship dearly. I’m convinced there’s nothing in this universe that could hold her back whenever she puts her mind to something and she serves as an inspiration to this day.
And then finally, of course, is Lane Gregory. She deserves more credit than anyone for all of this. If it wasn’t for her, 200 East would have never existed. If it wasn’t for her, the first Frederick Music Showcase would have never happened. If it wasn’t for her, I would have never had the courage to even dream of something like The Thing. If it wasn’t for her, the first (and last) Frederick Fall Festival wouldn’t have completely disrupted downtown Frederick. And, of course, if it wasn’t for her, Frederick Playlist would never have its own koozie. Another friendship I miss greatly, without her tenacity, loyalty, courage and commitment, none of this stuff would have ever been even remotely possible.
There are so many others – the Randall family, Anthony Owens, Brent Renken, John Healey, … the list goes on and on – and to all of everyone who ever moved a table, sold a ticket, wrote an email, sponsored a concert or did anything at all to help try and build this thing, I just want you to know that you turned what was once a flippant idea into … something. Good. Bad. A success. A failure. Whatever you want to call it, these last seven years and seven months have been … something. And I love you for it.
So, what do you say? See you one last time at the Weinberg on Valentine’s Day?