Before BRYAN BRUCHMAN moved to Portland in 2008, he lived in Brooklyn. There, he played in an indie-rock band, had a job doing Web design, took photos at concerts, made one-of-a-kind pins, and worked at an indie venue. When he got to Maine, he started up a Web site, got a job at SPACE Gallery, became a nearly ubiquitous concert photographer, joined an indie-rock band, and started making more pins.
"All around, my situation was kind of similar," he says.
The thing is, while kids handling such a high level of DIY activity for little pay are a dime a dozen in New York, Bruchman, who is 29, seemed like the first of his kind in our neighborhood. He penetrated and altered our insular little peninsula, practically instantly.
His efforts began with Hillytown.com, a local listings service (appropriately named, after a suggestion by Bruchman's girlfriend, PMIer Mary Phillips-Sandy, for a Phantom Buffalo song that's practically Portland's Peninsular Indie Anthem) curated for likeminded music fans. The site also features Bruchman's concert photography, show announcements, and the occasional cookie review.
Bruchman says he "went through a couple versions of what [Hillytown] would be, and never really finished it," though it still serves a useful function. Most of his time is scattered among a slew of other projects: the band Marie Stella, Portland Pins (wherein people volunteer drawings for pins, which Bruchman and local artist Kris Johnsen, also a PMIer, then produce and sell in machines at Find and Eli Phant), show photography, and the occasional bit of concert production (Bruchman brought the Antlers here just before they became indie darlings last fall). Sometimes, he even gets paid to do something, shooting for organizations like Maine. magazine or the Camden International Film Festival.
If most of his efforts haven't paid much in the way of financial dividends, they've done a tremendous service to a community of musicians who are, by and large, allergic to self-promotion. There's a small but growing contingent of photographers and bloggers documenting Portland's indie scene, and "more of a culture of appreciating and promoting" interesting events in town, he says. These developments have had a legitimizing impact on the local music scene: more people have heard of Portland's fringier acts; more people attend their shows; and more of those musicians, if they care to take it, have a chance of connecting to wider audiences in a culture increasingly more accepting of music that's not necessarily radio-friendly.
Bruchman and I met last week in his (just about empty, at the moment) new studio at the new Mayo Street Arts building, where he's eager to get to work on more ideas that will continue his mission: shooting proper band photos and portraits, not working out of his apartment. But if this man-about-town has a statement of purpose, it's somewhat incidental (if unfailingly enthusiastic): "Some people just want to tell people about the awesome things they see. I do."
SPENCER ALBEE | leader of the School Spirit Mafia; organizer, Clash of the Titans | Concerts feel like Events when he's involved
MARK + GINA BARTHOLOMEW | owners, Acadia Recording | Documenting the scene, in video and on record
DARIEN BRAHMS | rock star | bringing sexy back to boozy, bluesy rock
BRZOWSKI | poet; rhymer; promoter | A creative and tireless workhorse for local hip-hop
RAY CORNILS | Portland's municipal organist | He can make the Kotzschmar Organ sing like no one else
MARK CURDO | DJ, Spinout on WCYY; owner, Labor Day Records | Pushing local bands at all hours
LEIF SHERMAN CURTIS | creator, 48-hour Music Festival; member, Olas + AoK Suicide Forest | Expanding his repertoire, and executing Portland's most exciting new tradition
JR DALESSANDRO | owner, Geno's Rock Club | The heir is as devoted as his father
ERIN DAVIDSON (DILLY DILLY) | musician | Our favorite ukulele and MPC songstress will be missed
DEAD SEASON | heavy metallurgists | Still Maine's top-selling band
RYAN DOLAN | promoter, Empire Dine & Dance | Championing rock localism with increasing success
THE DOORYARD COLLECTIVE | artists & performers | Welcoming others to their DIY space
WILL ETHRIDGE | creator, Tower of Song; founder, Eternal Otter Records | Championing unknown talents, who howl through the Arts District
ROB EVON | owner, Port City Music Hall | Providing the venue we knew we were waiting for
CHARLIE GAYLORD | DJ, Greetings from Area Code 207 on WBLM; owner, Cornmeal Records | Finding gems and stars throughout Maine's local music scene
DAVE GUTTER | guitarist; singer | Teaching by example as he dominates original rock in Portland
RON HARRITY | producer; owner, Peapod Recordings; member, Honey Clouds | Some of the best-sounding music in town, made on a shoestring
HERB IVY | program director, WBLM | 20 years in Maine radio
SAMUEL JAMES | bluesman | Traveling the world as a blues star from Maine
ALICE KORNHAUSER | president, Portland Arts & Cultural Alliance; marketing director, Portland Symphony Orchestra | Ensuring the fine arts remain strong
BOB LUDWIG + ADAM AYAN | mastering engineers, Gateway Mastering | Maine's most award-winning music-engineering and production duo
PATRICK MAY | president, Portland Music Foundation; booking agent, Skyline Music | Teaching the new folks (and old-timers) how to make Portland's music scene even better
MOSHE, TODD RICHARD, JASON HJORT | founders, WePushButtons | Proving that button-pushers can actually be great musicians
DAVE NOYES | musician; Apohadion co-curator | Quiet and unassuming multi-genre stunner
IAN PAIGE | musician; writer; vice-president, Portland Arts & Cultural Alliance; events programmer, SPACE Gallery | Local Renaissance man, busybodyus maximus
LOUIS PHILIPPE | owner, Reindeer Group | Backing up-and-coming musicians and all artists
DOUG PORTER | member, Covered in Bees + Confusatron | Slinging coffee by day, pushing rock's boundaries by night
SAM PFEIFLE | writer; musician; secretary, Portland Music Foundation | Promoting Portland's musicians for more than a decade
JIM RAND | station manager, WMPG | Keeping the transmitter on and the mic hot for the only alt-prog radio joint we've got
SANDBAG | hip-hop MCs | Opening the mic at Big Easy to uncover more of Portland's rising talent
ELLIOTT SCHWARTZ | composer, lecturer | Making "classical" music cool — and basing it on Facebook!
LARA SEAVER | DJ, Music from 207 on WCLZ | Upholding 'CLZ's long commitment to local tunes
JEFF SHAW | founder/executive director at Maine Academy of Modern Music | Teaching the next set of Portland's rock stars
ARI SOLOTOFF | executive director, Portland Symphony Orchestra | Charting the future of symphonies through audience expansion
SONTIAGO | hip-hop artist; teacher; activist; crafter | Breaking barriers, shattering stereotypes
ALY SPALTRO | Lady Lamb the Beekeeper | Just 20 years old, the most astounding raw talent Portland has seen in years
LAUREN WAYNE | marketing director, Live Nation New England | She gets us the shows we're dying to see
BRETT WICKARD + CHRIS BROWN | co-founders, Bull Moose Music | Always driving the local music scene
JAN WILKINSON | DJ, Local Motives on WMPG | Introducing local artists to the all-local audience
JON WYMAN | music producer/engineer, This Sounds Good | Helping Portland's rising stars reach their potential