In the most unlikely of places, a lovely music scene is budding. Despite the allure of casino signs, many locals of Las Vegas, Nevada are beginning to gather in dark bars to support their local bands, of which there is a wealth.
The main hindrance to the music scene in times past has been the transient nature of the city and the corporate monopoly that is “the Strip.” It is common to see world class DJ’s and musicians, but they are usually transplants, and they don’t support the community off-Strip.
In the past few years, however, there has been a gradual shift in mentality towards the renovation of downtown and supporting all things local. At only 2 years old, the “Life is Beautiful” downtown music festival has showcased many local bands. First Friday, a recurring art walk, has also been around for some time now in support of the downtown.
Brain Jelly Music is one of the ventures making a community impact. They are a free label for independent artists, as well as an art collective and musicians’ union. Some of the things they offer are: promotion, booking, recording, design, and a general sense of camaraderie among members.
“We want to provide the local music community with an umbrella of unity to which bands can be a part of something and grow their art together,” they state on their website. “The industry is very hard to break into and we believe the best way for an artist to thrive is to cut out the middleman.”
Brain Jelly stands out because of its inclusive nature. It is welcoming to all genres, rather than cliquish. They are proud to be the underdogs, and have helped in the development of Las Vegas’ counterculture.
The summer of 2014 was extremely productive for Brain Jelly Music. They began partnering with venues on the Strip, such as The Brooklyn Bowl, The House of Blues, and The Hard Rock Cafe to gain their artists’ exposure. They have since booked shows at Bunkhouse, Beauty Bar, and Backstage Bar & Billiards – the premiere venues of the downtown.
Currently, they are celebrating the release of the BJMV2 compilation, released August 8. BJMV2 spans many genres, showcases 27 of their independent artists, and is available for free (or by donation) on Bandcamp.
Although the musical counterculture has come a long way, there is still a long way to go. Some locals will tell you they have never even been downtown! Others are skeptical that the music scene in Vegas will turn out to be a phase. Thankfully there are a select few that are working hard to keep it alive.
Next time you visit Vegas, do your wallet a favor by skipping the casino and checking out the local scene yourself. Your ears will thank you.