There’s nothing wrong with cover bands. Except, maybe, the sheer number of them that exist in Ocean City. Which is totally fine if you’re a diehard lover of classic rock and jam bands–maybe that’s why you visit/moved here in the first place?–but if you’re someone who frequents the Delmarva region and loves seeing original, local artists, it often seems like the only way to fulfill your musical needs is to know a guy who hosts shows out of his house, or to buy tickets months in advance to see big-name groups like the Beach Boys at the Convention Center.
If that’s a problem you face, then Originals Only might just be the answer to your prayers. Once a month, musical mavericks ranging from acoustic soloists to one-man noise bands set up their gear in the 94th street Center for the Arts’ Rina & Jeff Thaler Gallery and play to an audience of locals, tourists and fellow musicians who sit on fold-out chairs, sip coffee and bask in the local talent.
OC native Elijah Llinas initially brought the idea to the Art League just over a year ago, but since LLinas moved to Baltimore, musician Dylan Jones has been running the shows.
“It’s still growing,” Jones said. “I have a lot of people emailing me, people thanking me, because there’s people who write music who are tired with doing the cover band thing, and they don’t have a lot of outlets in Ocean City.”
Again, nothing against cover bands–one of the musicians playing Saturday night’s show plays in a 50’s and 60’s cover group when he’s not making his own music–but Originals Only hosts a variety of genres, and they’re pretty much open to anything.
If you’ve never heard of Originals Only, don’t be sad. It’s still a relatively small function, having only celebrated its one-year anniversary this past Saturday, and Jones assumes that the audience mostly consists of locals (especially, presumably, in the off-season). Plus, since the line-up changes from month to month–there’s usually four acts that each play a half-hour set–you can’t always please everyone.
“[People are] shocked sometimes. It’s always hit or miss with the more shocking acts, they either really love it or I have seen people walk out. Some of my friends walked out on me once, last show.”
Jones himself performs under the name Dungeons and Rabbits, and he describes his music as “trying to emulate the sound of a band, a live metal band, a hard rock band, using just a banjo and my mouth for beatboxing and a bunch of pedals.” Elijah Llinas, the original Original Only, plays folk punk under the name Human Kitten. Again, there’s a lot of variety.
Here’s a taste of the music that was played on Saturday, August 5, at “Originals Only Presents: A Year of Original Music.”
- Moya – just a boy, an amp and an electric guitar. Moya dabbles in basically every genre, but on Saturday he played mostly lo-fi spooky sounds and rockabilly, some songs accompanied by his own vocals and some simply instrumentals. (I’m going to break the fourth wall for a second and say that while I think Moya is an incredible talent, he’s also a photographer and videographer at OceanCity.com. And I live with him. So take my opinion with a large grain of salt.)
- Lily Carolina – this was her first time playing Originals Only–in fact, she said that it was her first time playing in front of any audience at all–and she killed it. She has a beautiful voice, a cool ukulele and songs about the nine months she recently spent alone in Costa Rica.
- Emily Foot – Emily transitioned from a synth keyboard to an acoustic guitar midway through her set, and the versatility worked. I think the most memorable song she performed was about a Halloween party, where “my boyfriend went as Your Mom and I accidentally dressed up as Kylie Jenner.”
- Garfield Parkway – “Garfield” plays in a local Delaware band called Touron, but on Saturday he was performing alone with an acoustic guitar. He played a few Touron songs and then some original indie punk songs of his own.
If you’re upset that you missed out on the August show, take solace in the fact that another Originals Only show is only ever a month away. Doors open at 6 p.m. on the first Saturday of every month, so the next show will be on September 2.
“Traveling, being a musician is hard and the only way to make money is to be poor, living in your van traveling around,” Jones said. “Getting exposure here, no matter how big it is, we’re just happy to have an outlet. That’s the biggest thing.”