music marathon.

The CMJ Music Marathon was (still is, I think) a weekend-long convention sponsored by the College Music Journal, or as they were known in 1993, the CMJ New Music Report.  The main purpose of the convention was to give the folks at CMJ a chunk of the operating budgets of college radio stations nationwide by charging a bunch of money for registration.  The second purpose of the convention was so that college students could visit New York City, act like maniacs, and drink too much.  The third purpose of the convention was so that record labels could ply college radio volunteers with lots of booze and simultaneously have their bands play “showcase” events for the alt-rock music industry at various clubs throughout the city.  A very minor purpose, buried somewhere underneath all the main objectives, was for college students to attend panel discussions about the state of noncommercial broadcasting, and possibly learn something that they could take back to their schools with them.

I attended the CMJ Music Marathon in 1990 as a college student looking to learn more about college radio and maybe make some new contacts.  I attended it in 1991 as an unemployed college graduate, looking for a job in the record business. I crashed it in 1992 as a guy who was starting a record label, trying to make contacts and visit with some former friends.  In 1993, I planned on attending it as a record label owner, looking to promote his bands.

At previous Music Marathon events I had met tons of people I liked and respected, sat in on tons of informative panel discussions, heard moving keynote addresses, and absorbed everything I could.  At the 1993 event, my goal was simply to be heard.

I had been desperately trying to get people’s attention at CMJ since Nothing Smells Quite Like Elizabeth.  As a college student I was very involved with CMJ, having been one of the first people they published in their “Mind Over Matters” column, having regularly contributed to their “Dialogue” section, and having religiously reported my playlists every week.  When I started Dromedary I added the names of every record reviewer at the publication to my promo list, and made sure that each of them received a copy of Elizabeth.  Given that CMJ had, in the past, reviewed Ya-Ne-Zniyoo and Planet Dread, given that various people at CMJ were fans of Melting Hopefuls, Oral Groove, and Eternal Vision, given that I had been so involved with the publication for so long and given that I sent copies of the CD to everyone, I felt certain that the compilation would receive a review in the publication.  When it didn’t, I was, frankly, shocked.

When we re-released “Suck My Heart,” I thought we’d have a better chance.  Indie pop was getting popular in CMJ, and here’s an up-and-coming band from the general area where CMJ’s home base was, on a brand-new label started by a guy who had been contributing to CMJ for years.  And when that record didn’t garner a review, I simply gave up.  Instead of hoping for CMJ to eventually get it, and start helping the smaller indies, I just tried to have some kind of a voice.

With the 1993 Music Marathon four or five months away, and Dromedary having a visible presence in half a dozen clubs in Hoboken and the Village, I figured it made sense to put together a Dromedary Records showcase at the Music Marathon.  

I reached out to Ray, doug, and Ralph, and got their permission to assemble a package asking for a Dromedary Records showcase for cuppa joe, Footstone, and Melting Hopefuls.  I listed out all the clubs where we played regularly – Maxwell’s, Live Tonight! and Boo-Boo’s in Hoboken, and CBGB, Continental, Under Acme, and the Knitting Factory in Manhattan.  I suggested that a Dromedary night at Under Acme would certainly fill the place up, as our bands were a strong draw in the Village and Hoboken.

I just knew we were going to get a show this year.  It only made sense.  I put the package in the mail and waited.

~ by Al on February 11, 2009.

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