There's a movement growing in Edwardsville, one that taps into the city's creative spirit, youthful energy and sense of community.
"Everywhere you go you find people who play music together," said musician Lindsey Wolfford, 15. "Everybody is getting together and playing music nowadays. You find so many other musicians — it's really cool."
And venues like Edwardsville High School's "Tigerstock," which was held in April, and Swing City Music's upcoming summer youth concert series are giving teen musicians like Lindsey an opportunity to showcase their melodic inclinations to the community.
The Swing City Music summer youth concert series will hold three free concerts this season. Five bands were featured at the first concert held June 12 at Annie's Frozen Custard in Edwardsville and two more concerts are scheduled for July 17 and Aug. 13 at the Miner's Park in Glen Carbon.
"We get the local kids and teach them how to play in bands," said Swing City Music owner Art Risavy Sr. "When I started out years ago, it was hard getting a job performing. These kids get a chance to play in front of everybody — it's a great atmosphere."
Swing City Music music teacher Jim Galbierz is the founder and organizer of the concert series. The musician and former rock band member said he came up with the idea after watching his son, Zach, perform with his band Exit 12 at an outdoor concert.
"I thought this is kind of cool," he said. "I thought, 'What if we threw an outdoor concert for the kids?' It would be cool for kids to experience a real concert experience with the full lights, P.A. system, stage and everything. So I went up to Art Sr. and he said 'Yeah, let's try it,' and I got his blessing. He thinks it's the best thing we can do for the kids."
Many of the young performers are music students at Swing City Music. Lindsey, an Edwardsville High School sophomore who plays the guitar and sings, takes weekly guitar lessons from Galbierz. She will be performing with fellow Edwardsville High student Alex Peterson in the summer concert series as the duo Alex and Lindsey. The teen said getting on stage is both exciting and educational.
"You get to see how other people do it and see how their stage presence is and how they compose themselves," she said. "And you get to do gigs without having to find people who let you play for them. So you get to play a lot and it's a relaxed atmosphere because you're playing with other musicians."
This is the fourth year that Galbierz and Swing City Music has been holding the concert series. Galbierz said the first year, Swing City Music — and his personal bank account — were the only sponsors. But word-of-mouth has brought in more sponsors, more bands and more of an audience. Galbierz said about 100 people come out and watch the young people perform at the free concerts.
"It got pretty big this year and we did get some new sponsors," Galbierz said. "I'm excited for this year because it's making some noise. It's this Edwardsville community, it's all supported by parents. There's quite a bit of backing and support."
Lindsey's mom, Kim Wolfford, is a one of those supporters. Her business, Groovyware.com, is a show sponsor.
"Jim is amazing and puts a lot of time and effort into giving the kids an opportunity to play in public," Wolfford said. "This is a really nice group of hardworking, talented kids. The community has been great about coming out to support these young people and watch them grow as musicians."
Galbierz, who has been giving music lessons for 10 years, said watching the teens grow both creatively and professionally has been rewarding. He manages one of the bands, The Mellow D's, who have recorded a CD and are kicking off a tour this month.
"I can remember some of these kids, they were nowhere near where they are now," he said. "It's kind of neat to watch them develop and see them progress. Most of them play other venues like the Glen Carbon homecoming. The movement is there and people are hiring them. People are saying these guys are as good as adult groups and they're willing to pay them for it."
Contact Ramona C. Sanders at 618-344-0264, ext. 136
If you go
What: Swing City Music's summer youth concert series
When: July 17 and Aug. 13 at 5:30 p.m.
Where: Miner's Park, Glen Carbon
Watch a video of Alex Peterson and Lindsey Wolfford covering 'Wonderwall' at:
Want more music?
What: CD release party for the Mellow D's, a four-member funk rock band
Where: Wildey Theatre, Edwardsville
When: 8 p.m., Tuesday, June 19