The Greg Bell Rant…

May 11th, 2015, 12:00 pm by Greg


Last Thursday (May 7), veteran Local 518 concert promoter and uber music fan Greg Bell posted the following on his Facebook page:

before i start my rant, i want to say that sawyer fredericks is a very talented singer who deserves all of the support and attention that he has been getting locally and nationally. my problem is that in just the capital district alone, there are hundreds of talented musicians who are as good, if not better than sawyer. where are the cameras and media support for them. sadly, if this kid was not on national television, he would be playing open mics to fifteen people. the local media such as channel 13 news and the times union should be doing a weekly series on talented local musicians and give them the same exposure that they gave sawyer. help them become known, don’t wait for someone else to discover them and then jump on the bandwagon. be the bandwagon.

The comments came pretty fast and furious, mostly commending Bell for his opinions. I’m a longtime friend and fan (and former roommate) of Bell’s, and I understand where he’s coming from. I feel his frustration. But what he’s hoping for is not likely to happen. I’ve been covering the Local 518 music scene for more than 35 years – from fanzines to mainstream newspapers to the website and everything in between – as a musician, a critic and most of all as a fan. Here are a few observations…

1.) There are not “hundreds of talented musicians who are as good, if not better than Sawyer” in the Capital Region. There may be a handful, but certainly not hundreds. Fredericks is a major talent, and I’m thankful that he found a platform from which he can showcase his considerable talents to the widest possible audience.

2.) Mainstream media has never been on the forefront of “music discovery.” Never. Not here in the Capital Region or pretty much anywhere else. That’s why websites like Nippertown, alt-weeklies like Metroland or non-commercial radio stations like WEXT-FM exist. Commercial television stations like WNYT-TV and major newspapers like The Times Union have traditionally always been “bandwagon jumpers.”

3.) WNYT-TV (Channel 13) is not covering Sawyer Fredericks because he’s a major break-out musician on the Local 518 music scene. They’re covering him because they’re an NBC-TV affiliate, and it’s promotion for a TV show that airs on their television station. It’s a commercial for “The Voice.” Let’s not pretend otherwise…

4.) The Times Union is not likely to go out and “discover” new Local 518 musicians because they simply don’t have the manpower (or womanpower) to do so since the recession forced them into cutting back staff. Newspapers all around the country have taken MAJOR economic hits during the past decade, and print sales figures have been sliding downhill faster than Tiger Woods’ ex-girlfriend, Lindsey Vonn. The Times Union, for example, has an arts staff that consists of just two writers.

5.) “Be the Bandwagon” is great slogan. A really great slogan. But it doesn’t just apply to the media. It should also be the rallying cry for fans, venues and the bands themselves. Don’t wait for the media to “discover” you. Get out there and aggressively promote your music or the music you love.

Feel free to chime in with your own opinions. That’s what Nippertown is here for. Let’s hear ya…


LIVE: Bellstock XX in East Jewett, 7/18-20/13

August 13th, 2013, 2:00 pm by Greg
Rebel Darling's M.R. Poulopoulos

Rebel Darling’s M.R. Poulopoulos

Photographs by Timothy Reidy

It began humbly enough 20 years ago as a birthday party for Local 518 concert promoter Greg Bell. Now two decades later, Bell is still throwing his own birthday bash, and Bellstock XX blossomed into one of Nippertown’s most beloved festivals, featuring four days of non-stop music in East Jewett.

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Festival Fever: Bellstock, 7/18-21/13

July 15th, 2013, 2:00 pm by Greg
Dr.Jah and the Love Prophets

Dr. Jah and the Love Prophets (photo by Timothy Reidy)

It began 20 years ago as a birthday party for Local 518 concert promoter Greg Bell. Now two decades later, Bell is still throwing his own birthday bash, but Bellstock has blossomed into a bona fide festival featuring four days of non-stop music in East Jewett with nearly two dozen bands.

$50 four-day all-fest
$40 three-day Friday-Sunday
$30 two-day Saturday-Sunday
$25 single day

Oh, and while you’re at it, don’t forget to wish Greg Bell a happy 60th birthday!

Here’s the line-up of of bands for Bellstock 20. Bands are listed in order of appearance:

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