Music is my passion and has been for as long as I can remember. It hits me on a level that is hard for me to put into words. I have so many memories that are linked to music. Like the time my cousin and I secretly borrowed a cassette from my Uncle Tim, listening to it time and time again and admiring the artwork that was possibly totally inappropriate for a 7-year-old, or the first CD that I purchased on my own with 3 weeks’ worth of allowance, or the album that got me through my first bout with heartbreak at age 18. And of course, and quite possibly my favorite, the first time I saw a ‘local’ band take the stage and put on the best show I had ever witnessed.
I’m now 37. I write and play music with my friends, I make it a point to attend every live show that I can, and I listen to music so much in the car and at home that my kids beg me to “Turn it down Daddy!” I’m even lucky enough to make a living working in the music business as the General Manager & Entertainment Director at an award-winning live music venue here in the MOV, The Adelphia Music Hall. And what’s my favorite part about my job? That I have the opportunity and pleasure to discover and listen to all of the amazing, original artists and musicians that call the Mid-Ohio Valley home.
I’m not originally from the area, I moved to Parkersburg in 2013 from Morgantown, WV. What I found was a lack of the music scene that I had become accustomed to over the years. Please don’t misunderstand, I’m not saying there weren’t any original music acts around at the time. Jesse Smith was one of the first people I met and he had just formed Jesse Smith and the Holy Ghost. I discovered The Black Bourbon Devils and Cadillac Lester, but I wanted more. Was this it or was it that I wasn’t looking for it in the right places?
Fast forward a bit, to 2014. I moved from Parkersburg to Marietta and had been working at The Galley/Adelphia for a few years as a cook and a bartender. I had met some more local musicians, discovered some more bands, and started a band of my own – and then it happened. The Adelphia started hosting a weekly open mic night.
In my opinion, this was the catalyst at least for me, in my discovery of local talent and a huge boom for the local music scene. It’s where I got to know Jesse Forrest. It’s where I first heard Jake Dunn, Corey Shields, and Nick Murphy. It was the first stage that Dino Drive played outside of their garage (or basement, I’m not sure where exactly they jammed). That stage saw the first and last (as of now) public performance of Doom Scooter. It’s not that this open mic was more special than any other open stage around, but it served as the meeting place for likeminded musicians to get together, hone their craft, exchange and test ideas with each other and most importantly form bands. The flood gates had opened.
It doesn’t matter what type of music you are into, there’s something for everyone. Extremely talented songwriters such as Todd Burge, John Walsh, Joshua Lee, Levi Westfall, Moon Mullen, Michael Iafrate, and Steve Hussey call the MOV home. We have many Country/ Alt-Country/Folk artists in the area, such as Ben Davis Jr., Jake Binegar, Sour Mash String Band, Jake Dunn and the Blackbirds, OYO, John Kunze, and Hayfield and Crow. To boot, there is an extremely diverse Rock/Metal/Alternative scene represented by acts like Horseburner, Cassius at Best, Cutler Station, Elephant Head, We Are Funhouse, Becker, Triceratops, Aftershock, Call Me Friend, LOUTS! and the aforementioned Dino Drive. This doesn’t even scratch the surface as to the amount of truly talented people in the area.
There are also more places to see live music here than ever before, both local and national, such as The Adelphia, Peoples Bank Theatre, Sixpence Pub, The Townhouse, Gator’s Easywind Pub, Parkersburg Brewing Co., Over the Moon Pizza and The Coffee Bar. Also worth mentioning are the plethora of local festivals, such as the Ohio River Sternwheel Festival, First Settlement Festival, Parkersburg Homecoming, the Apple Butter Stir Off, Marietta Riverfront Roar, and the Downtown Throwdown, all of which do an amazing job of showcasing our local talent.
We’re extremely fortunate to have all of this awesomeness at our fingertips, and witnessing the cultural expansion over the past six years has made me proud to call the MOV my home. There will always be the naysayers, claiming that there is nothing to do in the area, but I strongly disagree – and if you get out and explore the area I’m sure you will as well.