Refusing to accept that a legitimate music scene could only be found by crossing into Philadelphia, one man made Collingswood a site where respected music thrives—just before the bridge.
Borough resident and 37-year-old Nick Cain’s life journey has always been dotted in musical notes. After moving to Collingswood from Brooklyn in 2008, Cain decided to bring his New York profession—which included running record labels, orchestrating monthly hardcore and punk shows, even playing bass guitar in his own band, Rain Still Falls—to the borough.
Upon moving into Collingswood, Cain founded PlantLife Music with friends Brian DePue, Rich DeGregorio and Colin Moran.
PlantLife’s origination is now the backbone of the second-annual —a collaboration between PlantLife and coffee house—which will be held at noon on Saturday, Sept. 24, along Woodlawn Avenue.
“I moved to Collingswood because I fell in love with the area,” said Cain. “PlantLife got its name because we thought it had a home-grown feel. I founded it because I loved doing shows and providing a good atmosphere for great music in small places. I got into Collingswood at a great time, and recognized that it was a perfect environment for music.”
Not a record label, PlantLife is everything else: a music production company and music publishing company, which songwriters and artists are signed to, so that their work can be picked up on movie soundtracks, television commercials, even in video games.
PlantLife’s first borough show took place next to , in the Warner Landscaping parking lot, in 2009, and featured Lowry—a band who will play this year’s Before the Bridge festival.
Eight borough-based PlantLife shows later, made its debut in September of 2010.
“For the first festival, Grooveground and I had discussed doing a big event, and it just grew from there,” said Cain. “Carolyn Busa (a well-known area comedienne) came up with the festival’s name. We had been throwing around ideas for names, and discussing why we wanted to hold a festival here.
“ signified that, before going into Philadelphia, people could find a great, local band base mixed with nationally-known, bona fide indie rockstars. You don’t have to cross the bridge to find a legitimate music scene,” he said.
This year, nine bands are set to perform onstage, inlcuding Lowry; Walter Schreifels; Gunfight!; Roadside Graves; Goodnight Lights; Steve Waitt; Sara O’Brien; If’n; and the day’s headliner, Wakey! Wakey!
The lineup, said festival organizers, has even attracted attention from guests who plan to travel to Collingswood from Missouri, Florida and Canada.
“It’s an amazing music festival, and there’s going to be a lot of great people there from a lot of different walks,” said Cain. “There’s something for everyone—in the beginning of the day, at 1 p.m., we’ll have a Kid’s Hour with face-painting led by one of our performers, Sara O’Brien (who will be celebrating a new record release, Please Stop Complaining, with the Community Rocks organization that day). Vendors will be there, selling clothing, jewelry, food, doing henna tattoos.”
Cain said the day’s musicians feature an across-the-board tasting of genres.
“We’re trying to start something amazing here, and we want everyone to be a part of it,” said Cain of the festival, which is a free event. “This festival is not being held for monetary gain; it’s to bring something amazing to the community.”
will run from 1 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 24, at the corner of Woodlawn and Haddon Avenues. Admission is free. In the event of rain, the festival will be held Sunday, Sept. 25. Visit the official Before the Bridge website, or visit them on Facebook. For more information about PlantLife Music, visit the official website, or visit their Facebook page.
A schedule of the festival band lineup can be found in the photo gallery featured alongside this story.