CMJ Music Marathon 2002: Life and Art takes MANHATTAN

(Editor’s note: Due to the extensiveness of our CMJ Marathon coverage, only the intro has been uploaded to the server. If you’d like to obtain a hard copy of the full coverage – printed in a sleek double truck format – see the e-mail address below.)

Nothing in the steadfast Miami music scene could have prepared our minds, bodies, and vulnerable eardrums for the insomnia-stricken, free Rheingold beer-laden, music barrage that was the CMJ Music Marathon 2002 in New York City. Over a four day obstacle course, we were blessedly drenched in live rock ‘n’ roll, hip hop, punk and electro-blah like a suburban family on “Family Double Dare.” When we say blessed, we mean it. Our first cab driver in New York, who took us from LaGuardia Airport to the Marathon’s sinfully swank headquarters at the Hilton New York, was named Ho Phat. Helen Keller could not have thrown up a better sign.

So what is the CMJ Music Marathon? For starters, CMJ (College Music Journal) is a publication that tracks and reviews new, generally challenging music directed at college students, but more specifically college radio. Each year, CMJ throws a conference in NYC, similar to Miami’s own Winter Music Conference, that encompasses music industry panels – but more importantly – hundreds of concerts spread across Manhattan and Brooklyn, which balloon into parties (thrown by record labels, locals, and tourists) of all sizes, shapes, and colors.

According to the CMJ web site, more than 10,000 people attend (from October 30-November 2) annually. Throw 10,000 attendees into the mix with Devil’s Night and Halloween, lots of alcohol sponsors, a few snow flurries, and the usual kinetic blitz of the city and one might begin to visualize the experience. Oh yeah, and there’s the CMJ Film Fest.

The Marathon’s coolest aspect is the notion that many of the acts performing are a year or two away from obtaining pinnacle exposure and/or artistic achievement. Throughout the fall semester, Life & Art (along with the dedicated staff at WVUM 90.5 FM) has interviewed, reviewed, and featured several of these bands. For the sake of our hearing and bank accounts, we hope that you seek out the quality music covered in the photographs and blurbs littered about these pages.

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Hunter Stephenson can be reached at