Banding together



Baltimore's music scene is composed of many pockets of bands, DJs and audiences spread across the city. Groups in different circles usually don't communicate well with one another and rarely play together.

Lisa Suit, a 47-year-old former Fells Point flower-shop owner, read about this on a DJ message board late last year. She began planning a way to bring some of the acts together and bring people out to see them in a live setting.

The result is this weekend's Baltimore Music Conference. The two-day event features about 74 bands and 52 DJs, 12 staging areas, four seminars, food, drinks and vendors, Suit said.

Setting up and coordinating the event, which Suit and others worked on, took plenty of effort from everyone involved, she said. Locating some of the heavy-hitting local bands and DJs was a feat in itself, she said.

"One of the hardest things about this honestly has been trying to reach out and find all the key players [in] all the different genres," she said. "The music community is huge in Baltimore. That's why I wanted to do this. For years, I've always thought there was a tremendous amount of talent here that people didn't know about."

Any bands or DJs wanting to be part of the conference could send in CDs. Suit sat down with a committee to listen to demo discs and decide which ones would make the cut, she said.

"It was pretty crazy," Suit said. "We definitely had some that we would all be like, `Yes, these guys are awesome,' and we had a few that were like, `Hmm, maybe not.' ... I would say a majority of the ones that came in were good."

Brian Pope, a DJ and producer with a radio show on 88.9 WEAA, said he's been spinning since 1979 and has never seen a conference in the city with this level of exposure. Pope, who will spin at the conference, said he's excited to be a part of something of this size.

"I'm looking forward to it," he said. "I think it's a great thing, and it's something that can grow to be something real big -- as far as nationwide."

The conference is free, but the seminars cost $15 each, Suit said. Mike Nestor, a 28-year-old member of local band the Seldon Plan, will conduct a seminar on home recording. Nestor runs a small recording label called the Beechfields out of his basement and wants to share his recording knowledge with other up-and-coming bands, he said.

"It's less about trying to make money and more about helping people who are trying to make music in their basements and attics and get that music out there," Nestor said. "That's what the seminar's supposed to be about: how to make that happen and how to make it successful on a shoestring budget."

The seminars will run about 90 minutes, each band will play a 40-minute set, and every DJ will spin for an hour, Suit said.

She added that the main goal of the conference is for people to get tuned into new kinds of music from the city that they'd never heard before.

"I want the guy that listens to nothing but country to walk by and hear house music playing and go, `Wow what is this? I like this,'" she said.

The Baltimore Music Conference runs 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday in M&T Bank Stadium parking lots N, R and O in the 1300 block of Russell St. The conference is free, but seminars are $15 each. For more information, visit

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