Can’t find an all-ages music venue? Throw a DIY show in a Curry Donuts parking lot!
Young musicians improvise and keep the scene alive
The lack of all-ages venues for concerts in Northeastern Pennsylvania is an ongoing detriment to the local music scene, but when there’s a problem, you either adapt or die. As Derek Jolley of Social Loafers and Cody Novitski of Black Diamond have proven, the scene is alive and kicking ass.
For the last few years, they’ve been organizing and playing DIY concerts in a Curry Donuts parking lot in Wilkes-Barre, and the not-so-secret shows have gained a steady underground following over the years. On the eve of their last Curry show on the season tonight, we asked Jolley to tell us more about how this all got started, what to expect, and that one time he was arrested for his music – now that’s punk rock.
NEPA SCENE: When did you start doing shows at the Curry Donuts parking lot?
DEREK JOLLEY: Cody Novitski did some shows at Curry a few years ago, and he approached me to bring them back last year. It was his idea because he works there, and the owners of Curry have always been extremely cool and supportive of local music. Since I’ve been involved in booking them, we have done a bunch. I forget the actual count, but we try to do four to five every summer.
NS: Did you need to get any special permits or approvals to have these shows there?
DJ: After I got arrested at one of the first shows while on stage (the charges were crap and later dropped), the police made a big stink about event permits. The owners of Curry approached the city and found out they don’t need any permits on their private property unless we had vendors, which we don’t.
NS: With so few places for all-ages shows in the area anymore, is it necessary to think outside the box and find alternatives like the Curry Donuts?
DJ: Absolutely. Some of the best shows I’ve ever booked in this area have been in garages, pavilions, parks, and odd venues. The atmosphere is always excellent, and there are seldom any problems. All-ages shows for life, baby.
NS: What have these shows been like? What can people who come expect?
DJ: The Curry shows are always fun. All-ages, drug-free, alcohol-free, and free admission – you can’t beat that. Everyone just hangs out and listens to music. Some people skate around and sometimes we have fire dancers show up to dazzle us. It’s downtown Wilkes-Barre; you never know what is going to happen until it does.
NS: Is there any particular show that sticks out to you as your favorite from these Curry concerts?
DJ: The show after I was wrongfully arrested happened before I went to see the magistrate about it so, naturally, I was pretty anxious, but I didn’t want to forfeit the show due to fearing the police. During the last band, Cody informed me that the cops weren’t coming to Curry at all due to a “riot” at the Meyer’s football game, so I grabbed him and we went around the circle pit together a few times, kind of like victory laps. That’s my personal favorite Curry show memory, but I’m certain I’ll make more as time goes on.
NS: What is unique about this particular Curry show? What can you tell us about the lineup?
DJ: All of the bands on this particular show are killer. The Greater Victory, fronted by my good friend and fellow Yardstock booker Chris Castillo, will play acoustic. Broken Homes is a young punk band, but they are gaining some experience and impress me all the time. Maniac is one of the coolest bands from our area right now due to their crossover hardcore punk sound. Esta Coda is also extremely tight; they recorded two solid Eps, and their vocal harmonies are always excellent. I’ve never had the pleasure of seeing The Blithedale Romance live, but Cody swears by them and I’m excited to see them play! Black Diamond is another local band that’s killing it right now, and they have some exciting things coming up I can’t say much about yet. I’m glad to call them my close friends.
The acoustic after-show comes with an announcement I can only talk about once I take the stage after Black Diamond. It’s myself, Centralia Moving Co. (Cody), and These Elk Forever (Greg Gover) playing. Greg’s music moves me a certain way, so catch me deep in thought during his music.
NS: Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
DJ: Only that local music should always remain all-ages. Younger people are the future of our music scene, so excluding them for the sake of alcohol is not only wrong, but also counterintuitive to our scene as a whole.