9 Things You Need to Know about Wild, Wonderful #WVmusic

Jul 5, 2017

30 days, 30 brand new #WVmusic interviews. Without a doubt, June was a wild, wonderful month to remember.

From our June 1st kick-off interview with Rozwell Kid's Adam Meisterhans to our season finale with Grammy winner Tim O'Brien, here's what we learned about #WVmusic during our month-long series:

1.       West Virginia music is more than banjos and Brad Paisley (no offense to either of them).

You can find just about any genre in each part of our state, whether it's hip-hop in Wayne County or apocalyptic folk-rock in Bluefield. Just look at Matt Jackfert, a Charleston native who splits his time between hosting classical music on West Virginia Public Broadcasting, composing scores for videogames and touring with eclectic soul band The Company Stores. Matt was also the composer of the 30 Days of #WVmusic theme song in each of our podcast-y chats, so we chatted with him about his role in #WVmusic and what he hopes will happen in the coming months.

Matt Jackfert plays the ivory(ish) keys as part of The Company Stores.
Credit Rafael Barker

2.       It's ok to leave...

Sometimes you need to gain a new perspective to fully appreciate past experiences. Just look at the successes of WVU alumni TeamMate (now residing in Los Angeles), Petersburg's Kenny Tompkins (now in Maryland) or Mid-Ohio Valley's Katelyn Read (now in North Carolina). But let it be known that if you were born, raised or loved the Mountain State, you will always be a part of our #WVmusic community.

3.       ...and it's definitely ok to stay.

Take it from one of West Virginia music's leading figures (aka Mr. Tim O'Brien): living and playing in West Virginia can be a beautiful thing. Costs are relatively low, travel is a-plenty (to major cities like D.C., Pittsburgh, Louisville, etc.) and the mountains have plenty of inspiration for you.

4.       But either way, don't let opportunities pass you by.

Seriously. If you do the work now, you'll reap the rewards later. We chatted with Nathan Thomas (who helped transcribe and produce our 30 Days of #WVmusic series) about his work as a college radio DJ in Huntington and why local musicians need to be ready now given the highly-anticipated (and rapidly-approaching) release of Tyler Childers' full-length debut.

Nathan Thomas poses in front of The V-Club in Huntington the night of WMUL's College Radio Day celebration of local music.

5.       The future is female (and it's most certainly rock'n).

From charismatic crooners to behind-the-scenes strummers, West Virginia women are a force to be reckoned with. We look forward to following the careers of The Company Stores' Casey Litz, The Dividends' Hannah Spurlock and sister duo Whiskey Victor, just to name a few.

6.       The future is also in the classroom.

Let's pull a move from Sesame Street's The Count and add up the ways music education is vital to  We felt equal parts "awwww" and "rock on" in our interview with the young rockers from PopShop up in Morgantown. And Alasha Al-Qudwah's chat about nurturing lil' seeds so they grow into strong, beautiful and musically-inclined trees was inspiring. And were it not for his jazz education at Marshall University, Rod Elkins might not be the same drummer we know and love today.

7.      West Virginia folk history is full of punk rock.

Musicians like Mark Poole and J. Marinelli make West Virginia history fun. Wish you had them as part of your Golden Horseshoe exam, huh?

8.      Don't be afraid to do something brand new.

West Virginia was literally formed out of the need to do something different. One could argue we are the best example of a DIY state. So if you feel like there is something missing in the state, whether that's a genre of music or a decent performance venue, get your friends together and make that dream come to life. Look to our friends at Jerry Run Summer Theater, Porch Unplugged and Hot Cup for inspo, or even the analog-in-a-digital-world folks at Sullivan's, Cheap Thrills and Admiral Analog's.

9.      But whatever you do, support your scene.

Go see a show at a local venue. Purchase a digital download from a hometown act. Buy a CD from your favorite act and give it to someone you know will appreciate it. Tag your band on social media and let the world what they're missing out on. 

And support #WVmusic on public radio. 30 Days of #WVmusic is made possible with the help of our local underwriters (shout-outs to Kin Ship Goods, Made in WV and Todd Burge) and the support from listeners/readers like you.

If you discovered a new artist from this series or fell in love with a new song, help others do the same by pledging your support to West Virginia Public Broadcasting's A Change of Tune. We're proud to amplify local music to NPR Music and beyond, and we hope to do even more in the future with your help.

In the meantime, you can relive each of our 30 Days of #WVmusic chats right over here. Let us know which #WVmusic act we should listen to next on social media: like, follow and tag us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram. And make sure to tune in to A Change of Tune Saturday nights at 10 and Friday nights at 11 for the rebroadcast.