There’s a bit of a stigma when it comes to the phrase “local music” and I’d like, as a community, to remove the connotation that goes along with the term. The truth is, the “local” of “local music” is only a geographical distinction, not an assessment of quality.
I wouldn’t hesitate to say that if I took an unsuspecting person see one of my favorite local musicians and told that person the act was a national touring act, based on the strength of the songs and the performance they absolutely would believe me.
In an age where technology makes good recordings affordable to independent artists, there’s a lot to sort through and choose from. We’re constantly exposed to big label music in stores, on radios, on commercials. Osmosis through inundation, which is how I probably know seven Taylor Swift songs despite not having any of her albums or even listening to much radio, internet or otherwise.
So it’s completely understandable that for a lot of people going to see a band they’ve never heard of or doing the active engagement to find local bands when they’re passively absorbing so much more familiar music is a hard switch to throw.
In other areas, the term “local” has a positive connotation. It means community; it means engagement, whether it’s local art, local food, or local retail. Why not music?
Here’s a Spotify list* of some great Orlando (ish) music everyone should check out. (“ish” because the last three are based in Ocala, Melbourne, and Tampa respectively, but close enough) This is by no means exhaustive, there’s plenty of other great artists worth checking out. Slight autobiographical note: I’ve had the pleasure of at least meeting everyone on this playlist. If I can find this much good music just from people I’m acquainted with, imagine how much more there is to discover in central Florida.
Make sure to check out all these artists' websites, follow them on social media, and go see them live.
Got to Keep on Moving - Evan Taylor Jones
Rock / Soul/ Singer-Songwriter
From his “Songs from an Old Soul” full length album. I’ve seen his band three times and was very impressed. He’s got a live CD, “The Sunray Sessions” out now. (Also, I think we live in the same neihborhood.)
Instagram / Twitter: @EvanTaylorJones
Remember - Billy Wright
Rock / Soul
One of my favorite songs from his full length “Sunrise” album with great chord choices and a fantastic chorus melody. And as I’ve said before, Billy is also a very, very cool guy.
Instagram / Twitter: @billywrightlive
A Hundred Reasons - Crenshaw
Folk / Singer-Songwriter
Husband and wife folk duo based in Clermont. We’ve gotten to share the stage with them several times. Great harmonies on this love song from their “Hello Again” EP.
Instagram / Twitter: @crenshawband
Hold on You - Caitlin Rushing
From her recent eponymous EP. A haunting, personal, and beautiful song.
Instagram / Twitter; @Caitlinrushing
They Are Weak, But We Are Strong - Reverist
Indie / Pop
Piano based trio, and impressively I think Omar is self taught. Great live, too. Definitely listen to their EP, “Dreaming Onward.”
Instagram / Twitter: @reveristmusic
Olivia - The 502s
Americana / Folk
Folk band from Maitland who we recently played with at Florida Music Festival. “Olivia,” from their self titled EP, apparently isn’t about anyone in particular, but they like to put Ed the singer on the spot about it on stage.
Instagram / Twitter: @the502s
Drop Me a Line - Cat Ridgeway
Pop / Folk / Singer-Songwriter
Catchy, fun song off her “Passenger Seat” EP, which is front to back a great album. We missed her at FMF this year, but look forward to hearing about the adventures she’s having in Australia when she gets back.
Phoney Bitch - Chaddy Boom
Pop / Rock
From her aptly named “Poppish Rockish” EP that came out recently. I checked it out after meeting her in person at FMF and I was not disappointed.
Useless - Plastic Planets
Haven’t seen Plastic Planets out and about in a while, but their self titled full length album is excellent. Their musicianship is impressive and their live show is something to see.
Crazy - Jonnie Morgan Band
Alternative / Rock / Jam
Another highly entertaining live band with fun arrangements and some really cool guitar work. Jonnie Morgan recently won the Eon One Take national songwriting competition recently and got to record at Village Studios in LA. “Crazy” is from the full length “Janus” album.
Is That Enough? - Evelyn
We played with Evelyn (billed as EM at the time) at an NPR event last year. Seriously, buy her Lost & Found EP. The melodies and vocals are lovely.
Besame Mucho - The Cook Trio
Gypsy Jazz is my favorite kind of music. Cook Trio is based in Melbourne but plays in Orlando quite a bit, with a once a month show at Lil’ Indies in Mills 50. This gypsy take on a classic is from “Black Box - Live at the King Center.” (Yes, it really was recorded live)
13 Days - The Hummingbirds
Americana / Roots
Tampa based but hailing from Michigan, another husband and wife duo we’ve gotten to play with a few times. Hoping to get to see them again soon. “13 Days” is great track from the album of the same name, with some stellar harmonies and clever lyrics.
*Bonus non-Spotify recommendation:
*Run this Road - Layla Brisbois
Layla’s not on Spotify but she plays out a lot, so you have plenty of chances to see her and snag her album. She’s based in Winter Garden. “Run this Road” is a fantastic song.
(I know I titled this post "An Ode to Local Music" but I'm not actually going to write an ode. I'm sorry I lied to you.)