Each year the College Music Journal, a weekly publication of music industry news, events, interviews and reviews, hosts the CMJ Music Marathon. The marathon is a jam-packed five-day event in New York City that features music and film from artists all over the world.
On Oct. 20 at Sullivan Hall in New York City, seven musical acts from Portland will be featured on The Portland Music Foundation stage as part of the marathon. MC and producer Spose; the electro-pop eight-piece Sunset Hearts; indie-folk artist Billy Libby; crooner of catchy pop Kurt Baker; indie darlings The Milkman’s Union; alt-country rock band The Mallett Brothers and indie-rock/bluegrass hybrid The Toughcats will all be performing at CMJ.
An honor bestowed by the Portland Music Foundation, each act will receive a showcase spot, a consultation with a national public relations agency and a stipend. For many of the chosen bands, it’s considered an honor to be selected for the festival.
“Playing at CMJ is how many up-and-coming bands have gained wider exposure, so anyone who’s serious about making it should have aspirations for CMJ,” said Jeff Beam, bass player for The Milkman’s Union.
With representatives from all facets of the music industry in attendance at CMJ, the marathon is an amazing opportunity for bands to get discovered. Often, acts selected to play CMJ go on to represent the future of mainstream music. Past CMJ honorees include well-known bands like Arcade Fire, Green Day and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
This is the second year bands from Portland have been featured at the marathon. Last fall Will Etheridge, the CEO of Portland independent label Eternal Otter Records, and Hillytown curator Bryan Bruchman hosted the CMJ Hillytown showcase. Bruchman was especially encouraging of local favorite Sunset Hearts, even though they have only been together for less than a year.
“I wanted to apply because Bryan Bruchman had been baiting me all year, saying that Sunset Hearts would play his Hillytown showcase for CMJ,” said Casey McCurry, lead singer of Sunset Hearts. “Then that turned into the PMF showcase, so it only seemed natural.”
This month, Sunset Hearts released their debut full-length album “Haunted Cloud” and appeared on the cover of The Portland Phoenix, an impressive feat for a relatively new band.
“[Sunset Hearts] is a worthwhile band. I’ve been in many bands over the past decade, and this one has a lot of potential. The songs are great and the band is fun to be in,” said Sydney Bourke, Sunset Hearts bassist.
This year’s CMJ participants were chosen not only based on musical skill, but also web presence. Social media websites like Facebook, Twitter and Bandcamp are becoming more and more integral to a band’s “brand,” enabling musicians to connect with fans outside of their hometowns.
The Portland Music Foundation also recognized the appeal of technology in more than just the CMJ application process. For fans that won’t be able to attend the showcase in New York City, it can be watched on Thursday, Oct. 20 via webcast at Bayside Bowl, located at 58 Alder St. in Portland.
For more information or to purchase tickets for The Portland Music Foundation showcase at this year’s CMJ Music Marathon, please visit www.portlandmusicfoundation.org/cmj.