Delaware Beach Entertainment: The Dewey Beach Music Conference is an Event Founded by Vikki Walls of the Bottle and Cork and Spun Off into PopFest, JamFest and ChickFest
Satisfy your “indie” jones at the Dewey Beach Music Conference
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Around suppertime on a Friday evening, rain pounds the wooden deck of the Rusty Rudder in Dewey Beach. Twenty-somethings wearing tight jeans knock wet sand from their leather boots as they strut their way onto the deck, sashaying past a row or retirees whotake in the scene from blue, plastic chairs.
Meanwhile, a quintet of well-dressed young men from Northampton, Mass., presides onstage, performing a kind of polished, lite rock for an audience of about 50. The guys are a band called Darlingside, a group of college-aged musicians whose songs sound ready to soundtrack a “Grey’s Anatomy” episode.
Across the street, Diego Paolo, a band from Newark, takes the stage at Nalu Surf Bar just after sunset. Wearing a blue sun dress with black leggings and a flower headpiece, singer Katie Dill sways and croons in the spotlight, where, a few minutes prior, a man with an acoustic guitar was performing Jimmy Buffett covers.
Darlingside and Diego Paolo are hardly the sort of boozy cover bands that perform most nights at Dewey bars. They are here not only to perform, but also to network, to hang with other musicians, and to further their music careers.
They have traveled to Delaware for the Dewey Beach Music Conference, a three-day event that draws 175 original bands from around the world to perform on 14 Dewey stages within five blocks. This year’s conference is Sept. 22-24.
With any luck, Darlingside will join the ranks of indie bands like Locksley, Halestorm, The Crash Motive and others who sharpened their chops at DBMC on their way to record deals.
“It’s great to get out and play for a different area and region and other musicians and fans,” says Darlingside’s cellist and vocalist Harris Paseltiner. “You come here to take notes. There’s a lot of industry involvement. It’s about getting your band’s name out there into the hands of industry professionals and selling yourself to as many people as possible.”
Now in its 10th year, DBMC is a well-oiled machine of a program, one that encapsulates band showcases, industry insider panels, clinics, trade shows, mentoring sessions, brunches and more.
For the bands, the weekend is one big networking mixer. It gives them a chance to perform in front of new audiences in a fun beach town with a legit musical reputation. It also allows them to pad their music industry acumen via osmosis; mingling with, and asking questions of managers, booking agents, printers, producers and others who make their careers in rock.
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