Originality has always been John Phillips' focus, particularly when it comes to music. But, really, he sees all original works as a great asset.
"Anything original, be it music, art, whatever, is what ultimately spawns a scene, spawns an actual culture," the 31-year-old Scranton resident said. "We need more of that."
A bigger, more supported original-music scene is exactly what Phillips would like to see in the area. He and those who have put on the Steamtown Original Music Showcase in Scranton for the past seven years have helped foster local original acts in hopes of building up the scene.
The Showcase this year will serve as the last time original bands play at one particular venue, the Hardware Bar, which is shutting down this weekend in Scranton to make way for the Boom Boom Beach Club. A shortage of venues is part of the reason Phillips has watched the local original-music scene dwindle in recent years.
"It's in complete disarray because people aren't going out to see these bands as much because there really just aren't places for them to play," he said.
Come Sunday there will be plenty of performance space. The Steamtown Showcase will occupy nine Scranton venues, and more than 50 original acts will perform.
This year there was an addition to the Showcase in the form of the Steamtown Music Awards, a contest in which locals could vote for original artists in several different categories, from best female singer to best band. The awards were slated to take place tomorrow night, before the Showcase, but due to an overwhelming response that's been changed.
"We wanted to be able to develop it more," Phillips said. "We're shooting for a Sunday in November, and we'd like to do it a bit more formal, a gala-style dinner where everyone can come and hang out."
Where does Phillips hope the Showcase will go in the coming year?
"I honestly don't know. I need to see where the scene lies after this," he said. "This year will be a really big test. I've heard rumors of other venues in the city closing up, which changes things. Will I continue to do it in Scranton? Possibly. Will I just let it fold, go out on the best note possible? That's also an option. I need to see where the area lies with wanting to make this something of importance. And it's not really up to just me or just the bands. It's up to everybody."
What: Steamtown Original
Where: Scranton, various venues
More info: www.steamtownshowcase.com
Schedule (by venue)
New Visions Studio and Gallery, 201 Vine St. 878-3970.
• 1:30 p.m.: Off the Coast
• 2:15 p.m.: As We Whisper
• 3 p.m.: Where Horizons Meet
• 3:45 p.m.: Bad Answers
• 4:30 p.m.: Sound Logic
• 5:15 p.m.: Warning Level
• 6 p.m.: JC
• 7:30 p.m.: Young Historians
• 8:15 p.m.: The Teeth
• 9 p.m.: Captain We're Sinking
• 9:45 p.m.: Down to Six
• 10:30 p.m.: One Last Time
The Keys, 244 Penn Ave. 344-3388
• 6 p.m.: Those Clever Foxes
• 6:40 p.m.: Silhouette Lies
• 7:25 p.m.: Days in Transit
• 8 p.m.: A Social State
• 8:30 p.m.: Drew Breeze
• 9 p.m.: Ethereal Collapse
• 9:45 p.m.: The Curse of Sorrow
• 10:30 p.m.: The Great Party
• 11:15 p.m.: Empire of the Sea
• 12 a.m.: Survay Says!
• 12:45 a.m.: The Stereo Clique
The Backyard Alehouse, 523 Linden St. 955-0192
• 6 p.m.: Edelweiss
• 7:20 p.m.: Running Late
• 8:20 p.m.: XVSK
• 9:20 p.m.: Endless Mike and the Beagle Club
• 10:20 p.m.: Rob Brown
• 11:10 p.m.: Tony Halchak
Scranton Hardware Bar, 519 Linden St. 346-8465.
• 6:45 p.m.: Minshara
• 7:30 p.m.: Small Town Titans
• 8:30 p.m.: True Becoming
• 9:15 p.m.: Madrone
• 10 p.m.: Hierosonic
• 10:45 p.m.: Nowhere Slow
• 11:30 p.m.: Super Bob
• 12:15 a.m.: Graces Downfall
• 1 a.m.: Ourafter
Irish Wolf Pub, 503 Linden St. 342-0401.
• 7 p.m.: Eye on Attraction
• 8:30 p.m.: CrimZn
• 11:15 p.m.: Unstable Minds
The Banshee, 320 Penn Ave. 969-4248.
• 7:55 p.m.: Melissa Krahnke
• 9:55 p.m.: A Fire With Friends
• 10:55 p.m.: Dave Joyce and the Slow Pitch Band
• 11:55 p.m.: The TASTE
Kildare's Irish Pub, 119 Jefferson Ave. 344-4030
• 8 p.m.: The Ions
• 9:30 p.m.: Kriki
• 10:15 p.m.: Farley
• 11 p.m.: My Pet Dragon
• 11:45 p.m.: Gino Lispi
• 12:30 a.m.: Sunset Villains
• 1 a.m.: Apache Chief
The Bog, 341 Adams Ave. 341-6761.
• 9 p.m.: Zac Lawless
• 11 p.m.: The Ballroom Thieves
• 12:05 a.m.: Van Larkins
Trax Bar and Grille at the Radisson, 700 Lackawanna Ave. 342-8300.
• 8 p.m.: Shannon Marsyada
• 9 p.m.: Indian Summer Jars
• 10 p.m.: Kira Lee Krakovesky