Hundreds of bands flock to Harrisburg for annual music conference

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – A massive jam session returned to the Midstate this week, promising to pack bars and clubs Friday and Saturday with bands from across the country.

In a basement in Enola Friday, most of the band Yam Yam jammed, rehearsing a little for their late-night show at Appalachian Brewing Company.

“I constantly get people asking me, ‘What’s going on in Harrisburg? It doesn’t seem like anything’s happening’,” said Mike Dempsey, the group’s piano player.

Dempsey does this for a living, playing and teaching. He said there’s more to the Midstate music scene than a lot of people think.

“If you don’t think it’s there then you’re not looking,” he said.

Yam Yam was scheduled to play at the Harrisburg Midtown Arts Center Saturday, too. The venue has three stages with at least five acts playing on each both weekend nights.

“It runs just like a festival where one band’s on, once they’re done, tear them off, get the next band back on,” HMAC’s Justin Leach said.

In all, more than 200 bands from across the country will play at close to 30 venues in and around the city. The shows are free and open to the public.

“Every year I hear better and new music,” said John Harris, the man who organizes the Millennium Music Conference.

This is the 21st year he’s put the shindig together. Along with the shows, he plans workshops, panels, clinics, and a trade show.

“It’s turning your music into a small business,” he said, “and taking your career to the next level.”

With musicians in town from all over, there’s a lot of networking to do to find that next gig. That’s Dempsey’s goal: play another day, another city. Keep Yam Yam jamming.

“I’m hoping we go on the road, man,” he said to the band. “Let’s go see the world, right?”

Online: 2017 Millennium Music Conference

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