BY LUIS GRONDA & JOE MARVILLI
New York City is about to turn into a music heaven once again, with the College Music Journal Marathon starting on Tuesday.
Beginning on Oct. 21, the CMJ fest is five days of almost non-stop music shows at venues across Manhattan and Brooklyn. The festival features more than 1,300 artists of various types of music performing in more than 80 venues throughout the City. While none of the shows are in Queens, there are at least nine artists playing during the fest that originate from the Borough.
Last week, the Queens Tribune conducted a phone interview with one of the festival’s organizers, Matt McDonald.
McDonald, who has been a part of organizing the music fest for the past 10 years, said it is a 12-month process of putting together the festival because they have to work with so many different bands and venues. Much of the festival depends on the schedules of the bands themselves, with many of the artists choosing to play if they happen to be on the East Coast or are based in New York.
“Because we use so many different venues, it’s so many different people to deal with and everybody has their own way of doing things,” he said. “It’s like putting together a giant jigsaw puzzle while you’re on water skis.”
Often, bands use the festival as a launching pad into more success in their music careers. McDonald said they pride themselves on being able to promote music from artists that might not be as well known prior to the marathon.
“We love being able to provide a platform. Certainly, we can’t take all the credit, because there’s a lot of talent residing in the performers that participate,” he said.
In addition to simply getting their music to more ears at the festival, McDonald said other ways they benefit include hooking up with a company on a distribution deal or finding a U.S. booking agent if they are from another country. Some examples of bands that have found success through the festival include Arcade Fire, Jeff The Brotherhood and Haim.
When asked if they plan on expanding the festival to other boroughs, including Queens, McDonald said he was open to that possibility. He said a lot of it depends on venue availability. Many of the shows are now in Brooklyn, but this was not the case in the past and with more music venues opening up in that borough, it allowed them to book shows there.
“When I first started, it was sort of a struggle to get the non locals out to Brooklyn and now it’s just as popular as the Lower East Side in terms of CMJ shows,” he said. “It’s perfectly reasonable to expect that to be the case in Queens at some point.”
A number of people from Queens made this year’s bill, adding to CMJ’s local angle.
Noise-rock trio Dead Waves will hit Radio Bushwick at 9:30 p.m. on Oct. 22. You can catch hip-hop group Midnight High at Bowery Electric on Oct. 22 at midnight. Another option is Hollis Brown’s Americana rock, to be performed at Gibson Showroom on Oct. 23 at 4:45 p.m.
Not every Queens artist playing CMJ is in a band. Singer-songwriter Mariko will play at Gibson Showroom on Oct. 23 at 7:30 p.m. Indie pop musician Kat Quinn is making an appearance at the Astor Place Starbucks on Oct. 24 at 2 p.m. Jon Christopher Allen will take the stage at Gibson Showroom on Oct. 25 at 5:45 p.m. If you like keyboard-driven pop, check out Blessing Offor at Gibson Showroom on Oct. 25 at 7:15 p.m. To wrap up the weekend, guitarist Juan Wauters will play at Panache CMJ Hangover Party at Baby’s All Right on Oct. 26. The show starts at 11 a.m.
Besides these local artists, a few well-known bands are playing at CMJ as well.
Garage blues duo The Kills will play an intimate set on Oct. 23 at Bowery Ballroom at 11 p.m. Slowdive, a popular shoegaze band, reunited this year and will play at Terminal 5 on Oct. 25 at 8 p.m.
To learn more about these artists and any others playing CMJ, visit www.cmj.com/marathon.
Reach Luis Gronda at (718) 357-7400, ext. 127, firstname.lastname@example.org or @luisgronda or Joe Marvilli at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125, email@example.com, or @JoeMarvilli.