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WITF Music: Public Disco Porch

Collaboration and community.

  • Joe Ulrich
Public Disco Porch performs for WITF Music

 Jeremy Long / WITF

Public Disco Porch performs for WITF Music

Public Disco Porch will be performing at West Shore Theater on Sunday, April 23 for The Wind Down, a live music series created by The New Cumberland Collective. Tickets here.

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Public Disco Porch is a collaborative music project created by Spencer McCreary. He was joined in our studio by drummer Robby Everly, bassist Caleb Miller and guitarist David Portelles.

York and the importance of home

Me and my wife have always wanted to make it back just because hometown kind of things that you grew up with started to mean more than I thought they did when I was away. I went to high school in Red Lion and the narrative was, ‘I can’t wait to get out of town.’ I never really had that. But it was definitely part of the reason that we wanted to get back: to change that narrative.

Especially with York, you can be in a nice downtown area, you can be at the river, you can be in the middle of nowhere and that’s pretty rare. That kind of bundle is pretty special.

The York music scene

There’s these embers that need to be stoked. There was an amazing open mic scene when I was growing up. Like The Depot, Skid Row Garage. There was Holy Hound. There was Bistro 19. Now there’s not a good place to have a standby walkable loop as a songwriter.

There’s beautiful things happening in York. But musically we’re trying to be a little bit more intentional about throwing music downtown in different spaces, in the yoga classes, in the square. Just like spontaneous happenings to bring that open mic vibe back; like you’re walking downtown and you stumble on something that you weren’t really expecting to see. You’re going to get milk and then all of a sudden you stay and watch a band play.


How the band functions

I am the songwriter for this, or [I have] the initial small ideas or structure. But these songs allow [for a] hyper collaborative effort to happen … Like I have friends in Alabama and or in Ohio, Chicago, and so if this band were to go on trips to play, I can send a message to my friends and be like, ‘Here’s the set list for the week. If you’re not doing anything, you should come play.’

And we were making a joke that these songs sound different every time, which is a space that I like to operate in. Because when you’re improvising, your brain kind of shuts off. The song starts to service itself. So that’s kind of how the band operates.

Translating music into action

The lyrical content is singing about being a good neighbor, taking care of  the things that are underneath our feet. And I had recently … I wasn’t gonna hang [music] up or something. But I was kind of at a loss or like, what is the point? What is another white guy’s perspective on the state of the world have anything to do with it? What am I actually doing with music song? If music songs are all that I have to offer, [then] use them for something good and align them to the things that they’re singing about.

So I started reaching out to the people that are actually doing the work and putting their boots on the ground and getting folks out to plant trees and clean up the river. And it just feels really good to not feel like you’re hopping up on a soapbox but not actually doing something.

“Hick School”

The lyrical content was kind of this nostalgic tongue-in-cheek kind of stuff that’s pointing at my experience with going to a very hick school. Like, we had a ride-your-tractor-to-school day.

But the love and the kind of sweet nostalgia that comes with that kind of experience, even though it seems silly when you talk about it or you put like the maybe derogatory term “hick” onto something. But also be prideful in where you come from. If that’s just how you grew up, that’s part of your story. And so it nestles into this album called Have a Great Life, which is my personal experience with Central Pennsylvania and how I’ve navigated through life until this point.


“Cured By A Pow-Wow”

One of [my wife and I’s] grandmothers is literally the sweetest person I’ve ever met in my life.

And she is like the epitome of what you would believe to be a Christian woman. Yet she also had this book, A Long Lost Friend because they powwowed. And pow-wowing in Central Pennsylvania is a thing.

It has this really spooky like grimoire lore to it … But it’s basically just like a little guidebook on how to powwow and there’s different spells and ways to cure a toothache and that kind of thing. People get spooked out by the ominous nature of it. But people were using these things and still probably are using these things in some places just to get through their day.


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And there’s also a very interesting juxtapositions of this area that is steeped in Christianity, but still has this like spookiness to it. So I’m not really like calling out one or the other. I’m just putting it into the light that, ‘Isn’t this interesting that we live in the same space sometimes and don’t even know it?’ There’s no reason to be scared of your cultural stuff. It’s sometimes pretty cool.

Listening to local musicians

I’ve been finding local bands in the surrounding area that I just have adored that have really impacted my songwriting from a contextual level. Not necessarily like sonically or anything, but what they’re doing, what they’re saying, how they carry themselves.

I’ve been building my own playlists onto tape and cataloging them on a typewriter. Tactile, and I’ve just been obsessed with that stuff lately. Currently Ron Benway is just like a champion of York. There’s a band called the Part-Time Managers. And Her Fantastic Cats have an EP called Dallastown. And then the other big one is Megan Jeff from The Wild Hymns.

That’s been what I wanted to do is meet these people that I’ve been listening to to have your ear on the soil of what’s going on … What are you guys doing? What does the area need from a music song perspective? Do we care? I want to, and I think that there’s a lot of people that do.

The pull of the future and the past

I write code for a living, but then also I want to separate as much as I possibly can away from that. I also watched my daughter hit the key of a typewriter and it went and hit the paper and she immediately looked at the other side to figure out how that happened. Whereas if a screen is happening, a kid presses the button and it’s built so that you just understand that okay, it just printed it onto the screen. There’s no curiosity.

These tactile things, typewriters tape, old and archaic and outdated for scale. Maybe people are becoming more interested because we don’t necessarily need scale. We’re losing this sense of curiosity that I want to try and hold onto for as long as possible.

There’s one pole where we get to a point where we can’t keep up with it and the internet wipes us out, or we find this nice balance. How do I exist with it? And do interesting things with vocal processing or use the technology to do something creative?


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