Since Tuesday, New York City has been crawling with struggling musicians — even more so than usual.
By now, there are more of them around than koi at Central Park. They might even outnumber Japanese tourists.
Officially, hundreds of bands have flown in from all over the world to play the annual CMJ Music Marathon and Film Festival. Unofficially, they’re coming for the same reason sex columnist Ashley Alexandra Dupre left the ‘burbs: To make a splash.
The music marathon, in session through Sunday, is a showcase for rising bands to introduce themselves to record producers, labels and new audiences. And for the fans, groupies, and observers coming to New York just for CMJ — some 120,000, according to organizers — it’s a chance to see about 1,200 performances in the span of five days.
Jana Hunter who’s playing a whopping 11 shows with her band, Baltimore’s Lower Dens, summed it up as a giant, adult band camp.
“The whole industry descends on [New York] for a few days to geek out about music in a really intense and obnoxious way,” she said. (Above, Lower Dens performed at The Ottobar Tuesday).
The dream is that by going there, your upstart band will get signed to a major label after one blistering performance somewhere on the Lower East Side. But Maryland musicians see the marathon as a means to other ends.
“Whatever our goals are, they don’t end in dollar signs,” Hunter said.
While some of these bands had to trek thousands of miles to get there — one group named Circle Pit came all the way from Australia — for the Maryland groups it's nothing more than a Bolt Bus ride away.
“New York isn’t too far,” said Michael Nau of the Cumberland band Cotton Jones. “We’re making it into a day trip.”
Besides Lower Dens and Cotton Jones, other performers from this area are rapper Rye Rye, Silver Spring multi-instrumentalist Zo!, 20-year-old hard-rock vets Clutch, and Josh Dibbs.
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