Our Spotlight on the Arts shines brightly on Carla Simpson, the creator of So. MD Music Scene and the Sound Check podcast!
Tell us about So. MD Music Scene and how it came to be!
I started @somdmusicscene on Instagram in 2021 as a way for people to experience the incredible number of talented local musicians and a way to connect music lovers to our bands and independent artists.
The inspiration for this adventure came to me after being mostly absent from the local music scene since my last band, Yimwu and the Dirty Eyelens, disbanded in 2005.
Fast forward to 2020 when my kid Miles joined a band and at their one and only show I ran into old friends of mine from those Yimwu days. One was Erik the Ghost from MollDyer. We caught up for a bit and talked about his band and he introduced me to other fellow musicians. Two weeks later, the entire country was on lockdown due to COVID-19 and all concerts were canceled.
After things started going back to some sort of normalcy as COVID restrictions subsided, Miles joined a new band and in supporting him at various shows I met other musicians and saw some very talented acts. I started thinking about how I had missed out on some really good music during that time. It made me wonder if there was a centralized location where I could see who was playing where and when. I wasn’t on Facebook at the time, so I searched for an account on Instagram and when I didn’t find one, @somdmusicscene was born.
How did So. MD Music Scene grow into what it is now?
I started following as many bands as I could find from the tri-county area on Instagram and going to as many shows as possible. Every week I would walk away excited about a new artist that I had seen! I took photos and videos and posted them, while regramming all of the various bands’ flyers.
Soon enough, bands would mention @somdmusicscene when they shared my posts and even gave So. MD Music Scene mentions while live on the stage. I did not expect to have 20 organic followers, let alone almost one thousand! My whole intent has been to promote the scene and elevate the artists. I tried to remain anonymous for a long time because @somdmusicscene has never been about me but rather the music and the people who create it.
Tell us more about the Sound Check Podcast!
The popularity of the Instagram account ignited many other ideas. When I described what I was doing to Bird City Records/Shop 53 Custom Tattoo and Art Gallery owner Shannon Wang in early 2022, she asked if So. MD Music Scene was also a podcast. My quick answer was, “No, but it can be!”
A year later, in March of 2023, I launched Sound Check. The podcast has been not just a way for the community to get to know our local artists, but also for the artists to showcase their original music.
What is your favorite aspect about your artistic endeavors?
The greatest aspect of running @somdmusicscene has been getting to know the community of musicians and music enthusiasts alike. I have made friends with some very special artists including Aaron Testerman (band RoachZilla) who is very devoted to creating and promoting a healthy music community, Jenn Dorsey (Dingus Has a Camera) whose photographs are absolutely gorgeous, the unofficial Mayor of our music scene Lynn Erion, who is at all the shows and a lot like me as far as being a “cheerleader” of our music community, Greg Barrick (band HydraFX) who is inviting me to sing with his band at the One Love Reggae tribute show; I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity, and Mike Trujillo and Justin Myles who’ve become close friends, music mentors and my personal cheerleaders along with many others.
I have also reconnected with old friends from the early 2000s such as Charlie Collins from Last Known Yeti and Intentionally Blank, Rodger Tellis from the Runaway Guns, and Erik the Ghost.
I very much enjoy being able to use my platforms to put a spotlight on creative people who are flying under the radar. My very personal conversations on Sound Check may hopefully inspire listeners to check out these artists.
One other very humbling and rewarding byproduct of becoming so passionately involved in this community is being asked to help coordinate events for a cause. In April, I helped Megan Noyes, Justin Myles and Mike Trujillo coordinate Rock with Me! A benefit concert to raise awareness and money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. I am also working with Boundless Expectations, Inc., on another event later this Fall that will benefit the work that they do to help the underserved population of children with dyslexia and learning disabilities.
What do you see in the future for Sound Check?
The list of artists for future episodes is long, which is a testament to the copious amount of talent in this area. If everyone on my list who I would like to interview says “yes”, I won’t run out of guests until 2025!
For the next few episodes we will feature RoachZilla, Squid Inc., MollDyer, Buffalo Velcro, and The Runaway Guns with Landing Mary rounding up this year’s episodes if everything goes according to plan.
Where did your passion for music stem from?
Music is my first love and my constant companion. I was fortunate to be born into a musical family on my mother’s side, starting with my grandmother and grandfather who always had music on in their house. Although she never sang outside her home, my grandmother Juana could harmonize to any song she heard. All her children inherited that love of music, talent and passion for it. Family gatherings and Sunday dinners at my grandparents’ house were my music classroom as a child.
When I was 14 my grandmother bought me a guitar, however my lack of discipline stagnated my ability to grow as a guitar player. Being on lockdown in 2020 gave me the opportunity to play daily. I also started playing the bass at that time. As a singer I have fronted a few bands.
Another trait I picked up from my mother’s side of the family is an affinity for multimedia work specializing in graphic design, video filming and editing, photography, as well as writing which have all prepared me well for producing Sound Check.
Is there anyone that you would like to give a special shout out to?
My endeavors are made possible with the support of the community and my friends and family, especially my husband Jay who not only records, mixes and masters the audio for Sound Check but is also a great sounding board. It was his guidance that convinced me to start a sister Facebook page to reach more people in the community.
Thank you, Carla, for sharing your story with us and being a valuable part of our artistic community!
Current Sound Check list as of mid-July 2023.
- A Conversation with Justin Myles (March 20223)
- A Conversation with The Pink Dream (April 223)
- A Conversation with Mike Trujillo, Danny Alban, Rodger Tellis, Kevin Jones, Jordan Pickens and Dan Tellis (May 2023)
- A Conversation with Lindsay Digman (June 2023)
Carla will be present at St. Mary’s County Arts Council on First Friday, September 1st from 5 to 8 PM for a special Meet & Greet. Drop by and say hello! Details TBA at www.stmarysartscouncil.com.