On the first, wet Tuesday of December, Philly's Jesse Hale Moore - a keyboardist-singer known from bands such as Nightlands - showed his solo side at Boot & Saddle, with new songs and blue-eyed soul.
It was the opener for the Weathervane Music Residency at Boot & Saddle. With the help of Philly's Weathervane - a nonprofit that supports independent music and its communities - every Tuesday this month, a different local act presents its wares to show which way the wind blows. Moore, Teen Men (Dec. 8), Big Thief (Dec. 15), and Hemming (Dec. 22) are just a few of the acts featured.
"Usually, nothing keeps people from going out like a rainy Tuesday, but that crowd was nothing but great people who filled the room with positive energy," says Moore. "I was so honored to be asked to play as part of Weathervane Music's residency, I jumped at the opportunity."
Many a local musician would.
"Weathervane was created as a community solution to the problem that the music industry could no longer invest in new artists' music," says Brian McTear, executive director of seven-year-old Weathervane. "We saw the need to provide emerging independent artists with professional experience and career opportunity despite the problems of the collapsing value of music brought on by piracy and file-sharing in a post-Napster world."
McTear is best known for owning Miner Street Recordings in Manayunk, and also for producing records by Espers, Kurt Vile, and others. McTear created the online video series "Shaking Through,", in which selected artists come into the studio to record one new song, from start to finish, in two days, then share lessons of the session from the artists' perspective and from that of the producers and engineers who recorded the song. "We tell stories," says McTear. Like tall tales that get bigger and bolder in the retelling, these musical stories expand to create their own legends as the raw audio files from each session are downloaded and remixed by Weathervane members, then shared again for the highest level of interactivity. Both the "Shaking Through" videos and Weathervane memberships - $8 a month, $80 a year - can be accessed at weathervanemusic.org.
"When we created membership - allowing viewers to download recorded materials, remix them on their own, share, and give feedback - was when we realized we were really an organization working to build community among aspiring lifelong musicians as well as fans who wish to deepen their passion by experiencing music's creative processes and techniques," says McTear. "We hope to build the platform out to allow members to share recordings or videos they've made, and to connect people with specific needs or creative aspirations to compatible members. If someone is a good engineer in France, and someone else in Australia is a good mixer, we'll introduce them and hope to inspire collaboration."
Nonmembers can also join in the fun. Weathervane produces one-song/two-day recording workshops at Miner Street, live-streamed free. It also compiles recorded materials from the aforementioned programming for schools teaching recording arts and science as the Weathervane EDU Program. Philly's University of the Arts, South Africa's University of Cape Town, and a handful of other learning centers are early adopters.
As the music business changed, and artists had to hit the road to get paid, Weathervane shifted with the prevailing winds. That's where the live residency comes in. Gabriel S. Greenberg, community manager at Weathervane, calls the weekly party "a cross section" of its organization, friends, and bands with whom they work or would like to work. "Even our Web developer's band" - Matt Coppolla's Museyroom - "is playing," says Greenberg.
Moore, who played the kickoff gig Dec. 1, also played keyboards in a forthcoming "Shaking Through" session with Parisian duo the Dove & the Wolf, and with Acres of Diamonds, featuring onetime Weathervane partner Peter English (they were also on stage Dec. 1).
Tuesday night's gig with Teen Men will feature Spinto Band's Nick Krill, who once was an audio engineer on "Shaking Through." Dec. 29 stars Steady Hands, a project from Modern Baseball drummer Sean Huber, who edited "Shaking Through" for three years. "Sean's an amazing kid who I'd adopt if he wasn't an adult," says McTear. "He's like the rest of these guys in the residency: crucial to Weathervane as well as indie music's community."
"Weathervane and 'Shaking Through' represent this awesome beacon of creativity, collaboration, and support for the independent scene," Moore says, still jazzed from his Dec. 1 showcase. "In a city bursting with talent, Weathervane raises the ceiling of possibility and opportunity for musicians who call Philadelphia home."