Discovering New Music With The CMJ Music Marathon!

The CMJ Music Marathon is an annual NYC event in it’s 35th year that takes place in mid-October and showcases awesome under the radar talent all over the city. Attending major festivals featuring the best of the best in the business at the height of their careers like Florence + the Machine, Major Lazer, Beyoncé or bands who staked their claim in the music industry years ago like The Kooks will always be a delight. Still, if you’re a ravenous music fan like myself there is nothing quite like the high associated with discovery fresh talent. An artist doesn’t have to be brand new to fall into this category. As long as their music is new to you it’s like finding a lost $20 on the ground. You may not instantly fall in love with every musical flavor you encounter but when you find that diamond in the rough it’s all worth it. Like most music junkies, I’m always on the hunt for new talent and a new song to obsess over.

Thankfully, when the teams over at Next2Shine and Groovevolt invited me to their 2 night #PLAYSERIES CMJ showcase, held at the DROM in NYC, I was able to fulfill my insatiable need to listen to something new. During both nights, the lineups where secret so when I went with one of my friends I had no idea what genres to expect or if I would like anything that I heard. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend the first night but the second night more than surpassed my expectations. Oh, and did I mention this CMJ Music Marathon event was free? Yep, you heard right. I witnessed 7 acts that night in the span of a few hours and the fact that this was free made this event all the more sweet.

In the past when I’ve covered big live music events I’ve divided things up into highs, lows, and fun bits. In this case, there really weren’t any lows. Sure, there are certain acts that I liked more than others but I must say that I liked something about pretty much all of them. This is incredibly rare and just proves that the guys over at Next2Shine really are impeccable curators of music. They’ve been credited with helping to break Sam Smith, Tinie Tempah, Karmin, Gotye, Labrinth, and Magic.

For this CMJ Music Marathon recap I’m going to divide it into highs and fun bits with a brief verdict at the end that explains your marching orders. Did I say marching orders? Maybe that’s a bit harsh…homework. Yes, this time, you have homework to do. I know a lot of you have kissed your school days goodbye but trust me this homework is fun! Some of us have been through over 100 posts together so I think you can trust me on this once. Promise!


Maad Moiselle is a singer/songwriter and your go-to dj choice if you want to get the party started! I know folks are “going up on a Tuesday” (too much?) but these days the thought of raging on a Tuesday are a bit less appealing. I thoroughly enjoyed her mixes and was 100% down with all of the songs she featured during her time playing before, in between and after the acts went on. My friend and I were both shaking our heads wishing we were a couple of years younger or that it was properly the weekend so that we could fully indulge in the party vibe she was fostering. Now that I’m familiar with her I’ll make sure to catch her on a weekend night! You can check out her fab Instagram here. P.S. She has style for day too!

Alex Vargas = everything. Okay, I said it. Some of you may have seen the video I posted of him on Instagram (#VRxMusic) and I honestly think I’m still at a loss for words. Alex opened the show and when I say that I was blown away I 100% mean it! First off, my friend and I didn’t even realize that the show had begun until he opened his mouth to sing and our jaws immediately hit the floor. Acts like Alex Vargas are why expanding your horizons and going to shows of lesser known artists is so important. You never know when you’re going to stumble onto sonic gold! This might be a bit early in the recap to admit this but ALEX VARGAS (!!) is amazing! Hands down his performance was the highlight of this CMJ Music Marathon showcase. “Give Up the Ghost” is another song of his you should check out ASAP! If you’re overseas he’ll be performing through November so – make it happen! *(Image 1 in cover photo)*

Totem, a NY based singer, went on second and was able to hold his own after that incredible set by Alex Vargas. If you’re into soulful jams then Totem is for you. The performance was complete with amazing lyrics and an overwhelming feeling like the universal themes he was singing about were written just for you. Check out his other hit “Comfortable”.

Fun Bits:

  • Lili K was a bundle of jazzy fun. She was probably the most interactive of all of the acts and serenaded an audience member with a Maxwell cover along with another by old school Kanye West. #WIN! She cracked a couple of jokes and was musically very different from the previous two CMJ Music Marathon acts. If you’re into that throwback big-band sound and if you like a side of quirky with your live music intake then she’s your girl! Check out her videos here!
  • Ginette Claudette started off the night with a Lauryn Hill cover of her song “Ex-Factor” and if there isn’t a better way to start a show off then I don’t know what is! She’s a self-proclaimed ballad lover and if you like love songs then you should look her up and check out this video! *(Image 3 in cover photo)*
  • August Rigo did a cover of Michael Jackson’s “P.Y.T” that I was totally sold on. Keep your eyes open on my Instagram for that one! His original pop song “Versions” is for every girl who just wants to be loved for who she is in all her natural glory. Sadly, there is no official video for it yet. *(Image 4 in cover photo)*
  • Louis York, comprised of Claude Kelly and Chuck Harmony, are the most accomplished duo of this CMJ Music Marathon showcase. With multiple Grammy nominations under their belt along with notable producer/songwriter credits, their talent is unquestionable. They have music that pretty much anyone can vibe to and I particularly like the message behind the video for “Clair Huxtable” below. Some women lead with their sexual power in order to gain attention, and their power isn’t the problem, it’s just that as a woman you have more to offer than that. In other words, advertise the entire package and vet your buyers thoroughly. *(Image 5 in cover photo)*

  • Masha was introduced by Louis York and came out at the end to close the show with her newest song. The song she performed that night, “Love & Liquor” doesn’t have a video but is certainly worth a listen so don’t hesitate to check it out here. Both that song and the one included below really showcase how strong Masha’s voice is – you won’t be disappointed! *(Image 2 in cover photo)*

VERDICT: The musical genres on display at this CMJ Music Marathon event were wide enough to accommodate most tastes. Still, if you only take away one thing from this post it should be this – ALEX VARGAS (!!) = Ear Bliss.

What do you think of the CMJ Music Marathon? Let me know!

Want more content like this?

Design a fulfilling creative lifestyle that's enriching, and colorfully yours! Get exclusive digital artwork, discounts, magazines & more free goodies in the vault!

P.S. New Reader? Start Here!