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Ithaca musician makes playlist of 2023 releases by artists in Tompkins County

Tompkins County musicians Andy Adelewitz (left), Driftwood (top middle), Johnny Dowd (top right), Fusebox (bottom middle), and Anthony Kannon (bottom right).
Andy Adelewitz, and @driftwoodtheband, @johnny.dowd, @fuseboxmusic, @anthonykannon via instagram
Tompkins County musicians Andy Adelewitz (left), Driftwood (top middle), Johnny Dowd (top right), Fusebox (bottom middle), and Anthony Kannon (bottom right).

When you think of places with a vibrant and active music scene, you may think of New York City, Nashville, or Seattle… but what about Ithaca?

“Creativity — and equally importantly, supporting creativity — really seem to be a strong part of our culture here.”

Ithaca musician Andy Adelewitz compiled a Spotify playlist of songs released by local musicians in 2023. It’s a whopping 21 hours long and takes the listener on a journey through a wide variety of genres and styles.

“I just wanted something I could put on shuffle and get to experience all of the new music in town this year, and get to learn some artists I wasn't familiar with yet,” Adelwitz said.

He started making the playlist in December.

“Part of putting this playlist together was just for myself, to be able to try to take it all in -- across genres and ages and career levels and cliques and approaches and all of that stuff, we all have this little city and county in common,” Adelewitz said.

It only took him a few hours to put the list together. He started with his own band and musicians he knows, as well as artists he had seen playing or being promoted around town. Then he expanded his search to include local venues' show listings, local media coverage, and the lineups from events like GrassRoots, Porchfest and Ithaca Festival.

With those resources, plus recommendations from Spotify and Adelewitz’s social media followers, the list came out to a total of 323 songs. Adelewitz says he doesn’t know if the list is complete.

What’s the criteria to be on the list? According to Adelewitz, as long as they are local to Tompkins County and the music was released in 2023, they made the list.

Adelewitz doesn’t claim to have listened to every single minute of the playlist so it’s hard for him to pick a favorite, but he did want to highlight Anthony Kannon, Material Objects, and Fusebox, a new band made of a few of Adelwitz’s friends.

He also wanted to highlight new releases from a cappella groups like Chordials and Ithacapella, who have a long history in the area.

“They can feel really separate from what we think of as ‘the Ithaca music scene,’ and it can be a little harder to keep up with their performances and recordings if you're not embedded in campus life; but it's just more of the great music being made in this town.”

There are a few bands and artists who are not on the list because their music is not on Spotify. Adelewitz acknowledges the strong objections many musicians have to the Spotify business model “and how the streaming era has devalued music.”

One such artist Adelewitz wishes to give an honorable mention to is The Horse Flies, whose album is only available on Band Camp. Their 2023 album was a collection of rediscovered songs they recorded in the early 1990s but never released.

Adelewitz says “it's important to know that there's even more great music out there that just doesn't happen to have been released on this platform.”

He says as a self-described “music freak” coming of age in the 90s, nothing like Spotify existed. The only way for him to access the music of local musicians was to buy their CD, which was often only available at the merch table at a performance in a bar he wasn’t old enough to get into.

“I love that there can be a resource like this now, where you can stare at 21 hours of new local music and just click "play," and have that experience of going "they're from here" in a much more accessible way than when I was growing up. I still buy CDs from local artists, because you're putting food on their table and gas in their cars when you do that. But having the money or access to do that is no longer a barrier to connecting with the music,” Adelewitz said.

If you know of someone who released music in 2023 from Ithaca, and they’re not already on the playlist, send an email to andy@porchfest.org.