Variety is wonderful, and that is exactly what you get at PlayMusician Jam Nights (PM-jamnites). For audiences open to experiencing an array of musical styles, these events are filled with exciting anticipation.
During a recent session at Dorrian's Pub in Jersey City, rockers, hip-hoppers and Bollywood dance musicians stepped to the stage and performed ten-minute gigs that not only entertained but also enriched. Here's a video clip.
'Eventually Epic' performs at Dorrian's Pub. This trio plays rock, pop, soul, funk, metal, folk -- and Hindi. Photo: Nan Melville.
Texter Vaid created PlayMusician to provide a platform for musicians--from amateurs to seasoned performers--to showcase their talent. He draws musicians from every genre: singers, songwriters, poets, dancers, and comedians twice a month at various venues in New Jersey. Texter also provides professional video clips and photographs of performances to the artists that most post to their website and disseminate through social networks.
At the same time, PlayMusician is also community oriented. Texter explained that one of his goals is to create an environment where people can come together to support local artists and local businesses such as bars and restaurants in their community.
Swapna Patel is a professionally trained violinist in Western classical music. She also
performs Bollywood, hip-hop, rock, dance, tango, and R&B, in solo or band settings.
Photo: Nan Melville.
Diversity is equally important to Texter. "Today, venues are hard to come by to see different acts in one place," he told me. "In the end, it's about hearing something new, seeing something new, experiencing something new in the arts."
The model for PlayMusician comes from Off Wall Street Jam, created by William Bennett in the 1990′s. William, a rock guitarist and entrepreneur who died in 2003, created a space where musicians with day jobs could take off their business suit and put on their jeans and t-shirt to perform their music. Fun!
DJ iMega is a hip-hop artist and drummer who also performs gospel, rock and blues.
Photo: Nan Melville.
A bass player who began his music career more than twenty years ago playing with bands in India, Texter was a member of Off Wall Street Jam. PlayMusician evolved from that experience.
PM-jamnites is quickly becoming a major stop on the music circuit for artists. Jim Gilligan, who performed at Dorrian's Pub, is a veteran of the open mic circuit in Philadelphia, New Jersey, and New York. Jim says PM-jamnites has been instrumental in his emerging career.
Vocalist and songwriter Jim Gilligan has performed on the PlayMusician stage for two
years. Photo: Nan Melville.
"At a lot of open mics, you show up, play and go home," said Jim, a personal trainer and psychology student from Elizabeth, N.J. "Unlike those venues, PM-jamnites has a stage, lights, banner, an MC and always pulls a good crowd. And our performances are professionally videoed, which I post to YouTube."
A classic rock artist, Jim began playing at PM-jamnites two years ago. He played with several bands and now developing a solo and songwriting career. Jim will soon release a CD titled I Don't Wanna Love You Again.
Talent from around the world - and from around the corner.
Photo: Nan Melville.
There are plans on the table to replicate PlayMusician, currently based in New Jersey, in other cities. Texter has already planted a seed in Mumbai, India. I hope to be there for their Opening!
Kriti Mukhopadhyay, who is spearheading the Mumbai effort, joined Texter's team after experiencing PM-jamnites events as an audience member. She recalled "craving a good live music scene with local talent" when a friend recommended that she attend one of the events. "I soon became a regular," she said.
Punjabi Songsters perform Punjabi folk and bhangra music.
Photo: Nan Melville.
Kriti says she has always been passionate about music, dance and the arts. She trained in Hindustani classical music as a child and taught herself how to play several instruments. Texter noticed her passion for music and her commitment to the arts. He soon asked her to join his team and help organize events.
"After observing up close the value PlayMusician brings to the artist, it was but a natural course of action to start looking at other venues, cities and even continents where PlayMusician could bring its message of arts and community," Kriti stated.
A group performs at a PlayMusician event in Mumbai, India. Photo: PlayMusician.
The two of them developed a plan to launch PlayMusician in Mumbai, which organized its first PM-jamnites in April 2013. "We were amazed by how well it took off in India," Texter stated. "There are so many talented musicians there who want the exposure."
Kriti added: "There is a lot of talent in India. I expected not to have difficulty in finding good local musicians." For now, they plan to remain "venue-centric" in India, utilizing just one location for now and organizing events once each month. At a recent event, 46 musicians ranging from solo artists, bands and accompanists performed.
As PlayMusician continues to grow and expand into other cities--here in the U.S. and overseas--Texter is adamant about staying true to its brand: community-oriented venues that promote musical diversity and local artists.
Sing locally, think globally. Photo: Nan Melville.
As the world grows ever smaller, it is things like community-oriented venues promoting musical diversity and local artists that will help bridge our cultural differences. My hat is off to Indian-American Texter Vaid for providing such a platform for world musicians.
Texter is a thought leader and global citizen who will soon build a bridge, along with Kriti Mukhopadhyay, from the this metropolitan center to Mumbai. I cant wait!
Thanks to Nigel Roberts of the Stewardship Report for his assistance
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