For decades, the local music scene in New Jersey has helped launch the careers of countless musicians, some of whom have gained international fame. It’s been home to dozens of venues that have helped foster a community of music fans who otherwise might not “fit in”, and it’s helped thousands nurture their love of music. I wanted to share these two videos because I think they provide unique perspectives of the impact that local music has had.
The first video is by NJTV News and interviews Frank Bridges, who is a Ph.D. candidate and lecturer at Rutgers University who has played in bands, was a DJ, and owned an indie record label in New Brunswick. He and Rutgers librarian Christie Lutz have helped create the New Brunswick Music Scene Archive at Alexander Library. The growing archive includes show flyers, photos, videos, records, cassettes, and other paraphernalia that helps tell the story of the New Brunswick scene.
The second video is the short documentary “New Jersey Music Scene: Chasing A Dream”. Here, several local bands are featured, including Patent Pending, The Racer, and This Good Robot, among others. They talk about their own experiences playing in front of audiences in New Jersey, and what makes these audiences so unique and special compared to audiences in other parts of the country. Band members discuss what it’s like starting a band and struggling to gain acceptance in the scene and how rewarding and fulfilling playing music can be.
The two videos differ in their approach but are both equally valuable. The first comes from a historical perspective and aims to preserve as much as possible so people can learn about the evolution of the New Brunswick scene. The second is from the perspective of those currently involved in the Jersey scene and their own personal experiences. They can both be tied to W. Lance Bennett’s theory of the Actualizing Citizen. Here, social change is administered through “loose networks of community action” (14) and various social networks. These ties have helped create and sustain local music scenes.
To learn more about Bennett’s theory, click here.