Yesterday afternoon, downtown Allentown came to life with the sound of music. From noon to 4:00 PM you could stroll the streets of downtown and see performers of all types from solo acoustic artists to bands and, even a DJ. There was literally something for everyone. If the goal was to bring attention to center city, the Arts Walk and the musical community, you would have to call the “first take” on 50 Spots a success.
As with any endeavor of this size and magnitude, there are growing pains and lessons learned. This event was no exception but, don’t take that as a negative. Gaining the cooperation of the city, the merchants in the area and all of the participants involved is no easy task. Simply finding 50 strategically placed locations for the event was a huge undertaking. Then came the task of finding enough musicians, spread across as many genres as possible, who were willing to donate their time and energy to help make it a success. The lions share of the credit for organizing this event goes to Brandon Wunder of the Alternative Gallery.
As a participant myself, I did not have the opportunity to see every performance or visit every spot on the walking path. I did, however, take in quite a few performances and take advantage of the opportunity to talk to some of the other musicians and a few observers. The feedback I got was largely positive and that bodes well for the future of the event. And, yes, the event certainly does have a future.
Let’s start with the spots. There were a few that were slightly off the path and received very little foot traffic. It seemed the bulk of the traffic was concentrated on Hamilton St between 6th and 8th and in Pocket Park. If you were there, you had a prime location for the most part, although there were some drawbacks there as well. For example, the DJ on the corner of 7th and Hamilton pretty much overpowered the two solo acoustic artists (who were unplugged) directly across the street. One of them played 2 songs and called it a day. By contrast, on the adjacent corner in front of the PPL Center where there was electricity, you were able to stop and listen to the performers there without the sound of the DJ drowning them out. Separating the “unplugged” artists from those that are plugged in would certainly enhance the experience for both the musicians and the observers. Lesson learned.
The performers. There were many outstanding performances throughout the day. To go into individual performances would not be fair to those I did not get a chance to see but, I can safely say that there quite a few extremely talented musicians on display. There were some empty spots left to fill, some last-minute drop outs and maybe a few who didn’t stick around for the entire length that was asked of them. Some others picked up the slack and filled a second spot later in the day. All-in-all, the lineup was high quality and the performers put their best foot forward. As the event gains traction, I’m sure that more people will be willing to share their talents in the future. Overall, I think the concept is great and it is something that the city and musical community need to continue to grow. Here’s looking forward to the next edition of 50 spots.
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