Bearding Man mastermind Jason Stauffer can't remember a specific instance that inspired him to create the unique event. However, he does know that when it comes down to it, the facial hair-themed exposition is all about creating a positive impact with the community, and helping out individuals whose interests and talents stray from the beaten path. In this case, those unique talents come in the form of growing facial hair, which is what makes the Bearding Man Facial Hair Competition such a one-of-a-kind experience. 2014 marked the event's inaugural year, but that didn't stop it from garnering a considerable amount of buzz. This year, Jason expects Bearding Man to continue to build upon its previous success. When asked what makes such a quirky and unconventional event so appealing, he says "The biggest reason people come is the people, and to be a part of something. A facial hair competition is inherently strange, which makes it very approachable, and that really is the heart of Bearding Man; relationships."
Of course, while bearded participants and are the event's backbone, no competition can function properly without some knowledgeable judges. Meaghan Cool, the judging panel's sole female contributor, is eagerly anticipating her first Bearding Man experience, and first time on the judges' side of the table. "I rotate back and forth between women's creative and women's realistic," she says of her experience as a competitor. The dedication and effort Meaghan puts into crafting her beards prove that beard competitions are by no means a "guys only" club. Bearding Man's "fake beard" category opens up the floor to any women who wish to take part in the excitement. Stemming from personal experience, Meaghan offers some advice for first-time competitors, "If Bearding Man is a first comp for someone, I would tell them no worries! I have terrible stage fright, but soon realized the beard community is awesome. I have never met a more accepting group of people!"
Also joining Bearding Man's judging panel is founder of Richmond, Virginia's RVA Beard League, Chad Roberts. With years of competing under his belt, Chad says that a beard competition is "always a remarkable spectacle." In addition to the abundance of creativity and sense of community, Chad also emphasizes the importance of such events' charitable contributions, as beard competitions often benefit communities and local non-profit organizations. "In my grandfather's day, Shriners and Elks Lodges were the social vehicles for community work. I find facial hair clubs to be today's equivalent. We're known for something quirky, but ultimately accomplish great things because of it." In Bearding Man's case, proceeds benefit Bless the Children Home, an orphanage located in Guyana, South America.
We're known for something quirky, but ultimately accomplish great things because of it.
Bearding Man will bring community, music, and a spectacular display of facial hair to The Thought Lot on Saturday, September 5th. Competitor and spectator tickets are available online and at the door for $15. To learn more about the event, judges, performers, vendors, and more, visit Bearding Man's official website or Facebook page.
It all started in 1975, when brothers Jad and David Fair founded experimental punk group Half Japanese, says Shakemore MC and longtime friend of the Fair brothers, Barbara DeCesare. "Everyone has been influenced by Half Japanese, bands like They Might Be Giants. Even Kurt Cobain was a Half Japanese fan." DeCesare went on to divulge how the Fair brothers' musical style and values ultimately evolved into the Shakemore Festival, which on August 8th and 9th, returned to Shippensburg for its second year at The Thought Lot. "Jad and David believed that musical precision wasn't as important as art," DeCesare says, and they had plenty of musician friends who felt the same way. Essentially, Shakemore began as a collective of bands (many of which shared the same members) who just enjoyed jamming and performing for each other, and they didn't want to adhere to any musical conventions in the process. "Shakemore lets everyone be a rockstar," DeCesare states when asked why the festival is such a special event.
The first Shakemore took place in a Maryland field in 2007, with the intention of being a last hurrah for all the musicians who had been playing together for decades, who wanted to formally get together and celebrate with their music one last time. However, instead of being the end of an era, it was the beginning. Shakemore was such a hit, that David began organizing one each year as an annual event. Eventually, the need to seek out a larger venue was apparent, which ultimately led to Shakemore finding a new home at The Thought Lot in 2014. "Shakemore is important because it's about alternatives," David himself said on Saturday, the first day of the 2015 festival weekend. "It's more intimate. In a place like this, people are exposed to all kinds of music they aren't going to get at a huge show." It was a concept that surely seemed to be a hit with the audience, with David stating that Saturday's turnout was one of the best he's seen.
Shakemore weekend proved that rock and roll has no age limit, as young children, 20-somethings, and members of bands that have been around for decades grooved together in front of the stage to high-energy acts like Go Pills, The Signifiers, and of course, Half Japanese. "The creativity in this room makes people more willing to express themselves," said Vincent Smith of Shakemore's feel-good vibes. Smith is one half of quirky folk/alternative duo Friender Man K, who have been a staple in Shakemore's eclectic lineup since the early years. Speaking of his experience as part of the festival, he says, "It's not really a show, it's a bunch of people being themselves."
The creativity in this room makes people more willing to express themselves. -Vincent Smith of Friender Man K
It's true that no one has to be afraid of judgement during their time at Shakemore. After all, the very foundation that it's built upon is absolute freedom of expression, and that's what makes it such an important institution for creative minds, young and old alike. After the festival drew to a close on Sunday, an attendee standing outside of The Thought Lot said to David Fair, "I felt like I was crashing somebody's family reunion, and I was completely welcome!" So for anyone looking for a place where their ideas, creativity, and weirdness are all embraced, keep an eye out for when the celebration that is Shakemore returns again.
Ace Music first joined us as tenants at The Thought Lot in April of this year, becoming our first retail location open to the public. As retailers and consigners of guitars, amps, strings, and a menagerie of other music products, opening their doors within an actual music venue only made sense. However, Ace didn't get their start at the Lot. With their five-year anniversary approaching in late August, we'd like to share the history of Ace Music, and the path that led them to where they are today.
Ace initially set up shop in 2010 in Newville, less than 15 miles away from their current Shippensburg location. Starting with a small inventory of about 10 guitars, one brand of strings, and a few other miscellaneous items, Ace worked to carefully pick and choose a selection of products that they were knowledgeable of, and felt comfortable selling to customers. "In this way, we managed to slowly but steadily to find out what people were looking for, and for a time established what we unofficially became - a music convenience store," Ace Music's Sara Cooper says of the shop's early beginnings.
Although their Newville location garnered them a loyal customer base, Ace still struggled to make a big impact in the public eye. "Leading up to the last month or so of being there, we still had people coming in saying they 'only just found out we were there,' despite any amount of advertising." However, Sara admits, it may have just been due to the Newville shop's "less than obvious" location. The building was situated back away from the street, and resembled more of a small house than a storefront. Though Ace still made an effort to be seen with a number of signs and banners.
Becoming a part of The Thought Lot community has been an absolutely invaluable opportunity for us.
Eventually, it was time for a change of scenery. After over four years in Newville, Ace packed up shop and moved to The Thought Lot, where they re-opened for business on April 1st, 2015. "Becoming a part of The Thought Lot community has been an absolutely invaluable opportunity for us, having a large influence on our way of doing business, moving forward. We are in direct contact with our customer base at shows, be it with those that are playing, or those attending that might be inspired to play," Sara says regarding the move. She also states that Ace has been able to expand a great deal in the short time since relocating, however, they're still taking baby steps. "It's still a slow process, as we are familiarizing ourselves with an entirely new customer base, while retaining a considerable portion of our original base before the move."
It's obvious that Ace has come a long way since opening their doors in 2010, and it seems apparent that they're bound to go even further. Some might say they've beaten the odds as a small business finding success in a small town. On August 29th, The Thought Lot will be home to Ace Music's anniversary show, commemorating a five-year milestone for their business. As a way of saying "thank you" for helping their business progress to where it is today, the concert will showcase a handful of musicians that Ace has met and worked with throughout the years. For a full lineup, details, and other news, visit the Ace Music 5 Year Anniversary Show Facebook page. Tickets are available online via our Eventbrite page, and will also be available for purchase at the door.