By Emily Hoover | email@example.com
Photo by Josh Weaver
Next to the White Lion bar and grill, in a little blue historic house that used to be a toy store, three music lovers create music for the independent record label The Spot Records.
Founded in April 2009 by local punk rocker Joe Moody, producer Shaun Strong and self-described “numbers cruncher” Stephen Kussmaul, The Spot Records aims to organize local music, promote independence and reach out to artists all over the country.
“The scene here is getting bigger and bigger,” said Moody, a St. Johns County native and a member of local punk band Damn Dirty Shame. “I’ve been involved for 12 years or so and I’ve seen a lot of bands come and go. St. Augustine is home and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Kussmaul, an Atlanta native, agrees. “St. Augustine is underappreciated,” he said. “We want to bring talent into the city, so they can experience St. Augustine.”
Their objective is to sign popular local artists and eventually book gigs for restaurants and other venues through the label’s website, thespotrecords.com. So far, with the help of what Kussmaul calls “state of the art equipment” and Strong’s production expertise, they have signed acoustic pop/rock artists John Bailey and Chelsea Saddler, punk and rock bands Damn Dirty Shame, Geny Pigs and Wormzilla, and “country crunk” artists Dubble Wide Boyz.
Moody, Strong and Kussmaul stress the importance of The Spot being a multi-genre label, because it exists to accommodate the diverse musical tastes of St. Augustine. “If you’re getting into this business, you have to be open-minded,” Kussmaul said.
On Sept. 18 at The Oriole’s Nest, they sponsored Punk Rock and Panties II, a benefit for breast cancer. They hope to continue the trend with further promotion and sponsorship. Kussmaul is also considering hosting open-call recording sessions at the end of the month in an effort to attract other serious musicians.
“Our number one goal is to get these musicians noticed, because I know there is a lot of passion and talent in this town,” he said. “Artists depending on tourism should record now, before next spring.”
Bailey, who relocated to St. Augustine from Maine in May and has been writing songs for almost eight years, is doing just that. He has already finished a demo and says that his album, which blends acoustic pop/rock with R&B, soul and indie flavors, is set for release on Oct. 24. To get the word out, he plans distribute some copies on the Flagler campus.
The Spot, to perpetuate the theme of supporting local art, is always looking for input from others and encourages volunteerism. They hope to spread their message to Flagler College students.
“Students support the local scene by going to shows,” Kussmaul said. “Any student could work this business into whatever they’re doing, like projects or a thesis. We need merchandise people and marketing. We need photographers.”
While Moody promises to bring a lot of exposure to the company and Kussmaul has contemplated a merge with a major label in the future, they refuse to compromise the artist’s intention, especially for material gain. Their ambition is to aid in the success of musicians.
However, Bailey, who began recording on Oct. 6 and met Moody, Kussmaul and Strong through a mutual friend, believes that the family-oriented theme of The Spot will allow them to uphold their vision.
“This has been a great experience because we were friends before doing business,” Bailey said. “I wasn’t playing guitar when I was working [70 hour weeks] at Nissan. Now, we’re always talking music. We’re always on the same page.”