Luke Cimbala knows State College has a strong music community, and he wants to do his part to help it thrive.
A State College native and musician himself, Cimbala recently launched thebandjunkies.com, an online hub connecting local artists and related businesses, and bringing awareness about the scene to the public.
"I felt a need for it and could find it useful myself when searching for other bands or studios," Cimbala said. "Sure they are all on Facebook, but there is not a clear list of those that are actively playing in a good looking format."
The site lists about 100 acts and links to their online presences, divided into "full bands" and "light bands," so whether you're looking for a multi-piece band or a duo or solo act, they're easy to find.
"I think our local community is extremely talented and widespread in many art forms. There are so many different bands, genres, scenes and opportunities all around us," Cimbala said. "The role The Band Junkies could play is to bring notoriety, to start. Just imagine being in a different town or state and stumbling across the website. I'd be like, 'Wow there are a lot of bands in that small town, let's visit there sometime and see the action.'"
The Band Junkies also lists contact information for more than two dozen musicians offering lessons in guitar, bass, drums and keyboards, as well as information on recording studios and audio engineers available around the area.
It was a fairly obvious idea that just needed someone to take action, Cimbala said. With a background in sales (during the day he's a manager at Blaise Alexander Hyundai Mazda), he felt comfortable reaching out to dozens of musicians to see if they wanted to be listed. For help developing the site, he turned to someone he knew through church, Sam Lucas of Kairos Creative in Bellefonte.
Cimbala began playing in local bands during his days at State High and that's continued through into adulthood, performing with acts such as Lowjack and starting his own. The Band Junkies started as the name of a group of which he was a founding member. He's also been involved in putting together and promoting shows over that time, and remembers when starting out as a teenager technology wasn't so readily available to get the word out.
"There wasn't much social media back then, so we would just walk around town and the high school handing out paper flyers, stuffing them in lockers," he said.
While also recording and reaching out to others about new projects, he wants to do what he can to use the technology that is available to promote local musicians. He hopes to develop The Band Junkies into a recognizable brand and further grow the site.
"I want to organize some shows, bring different artists in to make music videos at different studios, highlight specific artists in town that would feature their talent, Maybe an interview about what they are up to, a photo shoot, a featured song, and show they would choose that they want people to go to," Cimbala said. "Stage two of the project is to list, on a new page of the website graphic artists like photographers, videographers, painters and promoters, along with other helpful links."
He encourages visual artists to reach out through the website's contact page, and said he also welcomes help for expanding the site's functionality.
To bring more awareness to the site, Cimbala said he's giving out t-shirts to everyone listed and asking them to post social media photos, as well as boosting the site's social media himself. But he's also planning to promote individual musicians and bands by promoting shows, connecting artists with gigs and posting live clips of every band on the list to The Band Junkies Instagram account.
"... Hopefully [we will] get them more followers and show people that are staying home staring at their phones, which I am guilty of, what they are missing out on," Cimbala said. "I hope people go to and organize more shows, make each and everyone a big deal."