By J.M. Giordano
As anyone will tell you, Baltimore has one of the hottest music scenes in the country. From Dan Deacon to Beach House, the Baltimore scene is making waves across the country. Here in the city, Dana Murphy of Unregistered Nurse, is one of the top bookers of new talent. Murphy, 24, works with the edgiest performers in town.
J.M. Giordano: What’s it like being so young and being a promoter?
Dana Murphy: I don’t think age affects what I do too much, honestly. I’ve had to work to establish myself, just like anyone else, and I’m still doing that. It’s great how well things have gone so far, and I’m grateful for all of the help and support I’ve gotten. Gender has been an obstacle at times. Some peoples’ attitudes towards what women can do, and why they want to be involved in music are pretty antiquated. It isn’t always an issue, but it has been, probably partially because a lot of the music I like is very male-oriented.
JG: What attracted you to the local music scene?
DM: Well, I’ve always had a strong interest in music in general. Growing up I was obsessed with Motown and the stuff my mom listened to; 52s, Squeeze, The Talking Heads. I used to make fake radio shows on a little handheld cassette recorder where I talked about songs I liked and played them. As far as the local music scene is concerned, I’d honestly say my initial involvement was unintentional. I went to Catholic school as a kid and never really fit in there, so in 7th or 8th grade I started going to shows because it seemed like a way to meet new people. The people I met were passionate about
music, which drew me in, and eventually I grew to have a real love of seeing bands. Ben Valis (who ran the small intestine) and Mike Apichella (currently in Human Host/ American Folklore), more than anyone else, would take me to good shows and encourage me to start a band, or do something. Their enthusiasm made me enthusiastic… I hope I can do that for someone else.
JG: What are some of the challenges of your job as a music promoter?
DM: Finding the time to balance this and several other jobs is a big one. I guess really the biggest challenges involve the type of music that I book. Unregistered Nurse specializes in garage rock, punk, lo- fi and underground music that I find interesting and exciting… stuff that’s maybe off the radar for some people. I’m always working on ways to get different kinds of people to check out the bands that I book. There are more shows now than even a few years ago, so finding local bands can also be a challenge, especially for certain genres like powerpop that are underrepresented here. You don’t want to book the same opening band 100 times, but what do you do if no one else makes sense musically? That’s a
challenge. Also remaining consistent with what I book, while still being interesting and relevant can be challenging.
JG: Which venues would you recommend to people who are looking to hear Baltimore bands on the rise?
DM: Golden West, any of the places in the H&H, Wind Up Space, Charm City Art Space, the Bell Foundry, Metro Gallery, Sonar, the Ottobar. Various houses and warehouses. There are a bunch, and it depends on what kind of music you’re looking to hear.
JG: What are some of the local bands that you think people should keep an eye on?
DM: Two new bands I’m excited about are Kent State, a solo project of Nick Vance from Deep Sleep, and Murder. Beyond that, Ed Schrader and Thank You, for sure, White Life, War on Women, Fossil Eyes, Friend Collector and Lady Piss. Slow Jerks, although they are barely ever a band. Sri Aurobindo, Hollywood and Weekends, who all have great new albums coming out. Bigger bands like Future Islands, Celebration, Lower Dens, Double Dagger and Arbouretum, who are all great. And my dad’s band, Bad Neighbors. Hi dad.
Baltimore’s Edgiest venues booked by Unregistered Nurse:
Golden West Café
1105 West 36th Street
Baltimore, Md. 21211
2549 North Howard Street
Baltimore, Md. 21218-4506
The Windup Space
12 West North Avenue
Baltimore, Md. 21201-5904
1700 North Charles Street
Baltimore, Md. 21201-5802
J.M. Giordano is a freelance photographer and co-founder of GutterMagazine.com, a guide to the underground scene in Baltimore, London, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Paris.