Local music – Something good happened in Erie, 5/22/2020

Without further ado, your Idiotville feel-good story of the week:


Of all the things to love about Erie, being downtown on a summer night is right up there. There’s a great energy. Wandering State Street from bar to bar on one of our six snowless months, being surrounded by live, local music and hundreds (thousands?) of people determined to have a good time – it’s what I see when I close my eyes during quarantine and let myself dream of the good old days.

Remember those scenes? College kids everywhere, full of the energy that comes from knowing you could choose anything in the world to do and devoid of whatever disappointment that comes later when you realize that however much you love the path you chose, so many paths will have to go unexplored.

And the tunes. Do you know what it takes to put yourself out there on a stage in front of judgmental drunk people? It takes a lot. Erie’s music scene is, I must admit, something I took for granted. It’s great, and I can’t say I got out of the house a lot before the virus but now that I can’t at all, live music is something I find myself missing more and more.

It must be especially tough for the musicians, though. Forget about the lost gig money, which is substantial. Of the few musicians I know, none of them do it for the money. They do it to share a gift with people they don’t even know, to make them feel something they can’t quite put their finger on, to give all their energy to the crowd and somehow get back even more, to be the soundtrack to whatever each person happens to be going through at that particular moment.

Well, one Erie musician isn’t giving up on this particular moment. Matt Boland, frontman of Matty B and the Dirty Pickles, launched a weekly Facebook stream at Broke B’s Distraction Radio Shuffle, which you should absolutely go check out. He solicits videos from local musicians throughout the week, then emcees an hour show with blurbs about each artist in between the offerings. If you’ve ever tried speaking solo into a livestream you know it’s impossible not to sound like a doof, but Boland doesn’t – he’s a natural.

Broke B’s Distraction Radio Shuffle is a terrific reinvention of a local musician into an effective cheerleader for the whole local scene. It’s all the best of Erie’s musical talent, tailored to meet us where we are.

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