Inside Music Today – 19 Years of Being There For YOU!
By Lou Pica of Dr. Lou’s Place
The opportunity to do for others happens to most people; some scoff at the chance, find it troubling, or are just plain too focused on themselves to see the value in helping others realize their dreams. Nineteen years ago a young man had an idea for a way to bring joy to a vast audience of people. Bill O’Brien did not sit on his couch and watch; he got up and did something with that concept. It’s called Inside Music Today.
For years, TV was a medium of communication and the vast majority of our entertainment. We loved to think of the possibilities of being on TV and having our work seen and appreciated by people we didn’t even know. We marveled at the celebrities that graced the silver screen and the boob tube, making us laugh, cry, and even get mad. It was a pipe dream to think that we could be lucky enough to get on mainstream TV, but for 19 years, one TV show has been the way for musicians to realize that dream. First airing on June 8, 1994, Inside Music Today (IMT) allows the local, independent songwriters and bands to play original music on TV. You can watch IMT on WMCN throughout the Delaware Valley on Saturdays at midnight.
Room Two Productions, the owner of IMT, produces original music acts and airs them on TV. With IMT there is a chance to be interviewed and have your music heard by thousands of people for what amounts to not much more than a “tip” for the cost of producing these historic shows.
Inside Music Today hasn’t received the fanfare that it should have, at least in this reporter’s opinion. IMT is like no other show in the Philadelphia region; its tenacity of staying in production for so many years has to do with the drive and dedication of Bill O himself and of course his partner in more than the film business, Gretchen O’Brien.
Bill and Gretchen fought the good fight for the bands and artists that they felt deserved the chance at being part of the show, many times operating on no budget under crushing deadlines. Little did they know that they’ve created a legacy of entertainment and social connections and have touched a really a very large group of people who have either appeared, watched people they knew, or participated in these sometimes “raw” but very straightforward representations of an artist’s talent.
IMT is actually one of the pioneers of reality TV. What you do is what goes out; there’s no fixing of the sound, no special effects, no tricks, no games; it’s reality TV the way it should be: raw and honest, just like the sponsors of the show, Russo Music and Dr. Lou’s Place and Wing Shops.
Many times Bill has challenged bands to reach new levels of performance or personality. His approach as a producer is to make you the best you can be using his experience yet still offer the artists the chance to “live or die by the sword.” “If you don’t like the way you sound, you should have practiced more,” is one of Bill’s lines that he uses when musicians get caught up in the moment or simply have a bad night. He asks artists to get off the couch and experience the beauty of live music, and on IMT there’s no safety net. There’s a long list of artists who have appeared on IMT over the years. Some prominent names made it to the show, but Bill’s style is to treat everyone the same and make the artists take ownership of their “product.”
The war stories from these 19 years are worth putting into a novel covering the different musical personalities and the actions Bill and Gretchen had to take in the face of frantic, emotional, ego-driven players. Some of the bigger acts such as Danny and the Juniors and The Tymes have had the chance to be on IMT, but Bill’s professionalism was the same whether you were the big name or the little guy; you get out of it what you put in.
IMT is unique to Philadelphia, there for the greater good, and gives players an opportunity to be viewed by potentially 3 million people. This show continues to drive forward the chances for musicians new and old to approach their goals in music. There isn’t much more that a person could ask of themselves or from anyone else for that matter; so what’s your excuse? Why would you doubt your own skills, your own drive, or your own spirit? You really don’t have anything more pressing to do than this!
Wednesday, April 17, 8 PM at Dave & Buster’s, 1995 Franklin Mills Circle, Philadelphia: taping for IMT at Bucks County Open Mic Night. Visit us and sign up for future tapings!
Sunday, May 5, 5 to 9 PM at the Shamrock Pub, Reed & Second Street in Philadelphia: IMT In Concert Road Show featuring Mike & Flora, Angel Casiano, Cory Walters, If All Else Fails and more!
Saturday, June 8 at Croft Farm in Cherry Hill: IMT’s 19th Anniversary Concert with music by 4 talented young bands: Volt, If All Else Fails, Half Daze and No Commitment.