Friday, July 12, 2024

G. Gordon Gritty, right, runs Sunday’s Conference of Non-Musicians. (Photo: G. Gordon Gritty)

Anyone can step on stage and play some rock music – or at least some punk.

At least anyone can Sunday at the first Conference of Non-Musicians, a project of Somerville artist G. Gordon Gritty.

Attendees can expect an introductory discussion followed by audience participation with provided musical instruments. The name is ironic. There are no name tags.

“It’s a conference in the sense that you would go to a business conference, or some kind of educational seminar,” Gritty said. “It’s really trying to legitimize the effort of people who love music – and who possibly have a willingness to perform – and get them connected with others that are in the underground scene. Or, at the very least, to a world that might seem a little far away and unfamiliar.”

Gritty’s own journey began 15 years ago. In high school, while working at the supermarket Johnnie’s Foodmaster, he became enthralled with the “oldies-centric” beats the store played for shoppers and the connection with the punk rock aesthetic he was immersing himself into outside work. Abrasive and raw as they were, the punk songs’ inspiration was the same rock ’n’ roll from the ’50s and ’60s.

“I went down a rabbit hole of being curious about music. I started to discover the punk bands of that time on record labels like In the Red Records, Post Present Medium Records,” he said.

Gritty explores that connection in his own work, which spans various creative mediums. Outside of the G. Gordon Gritty Band, he leads oldies cover band Johnnie and the Foodmasters, which goes on tour this April, and is part of the group Kids Like You & Me, a band and occasional record label with plans to play at parks throughout Somerville for the third straight summer. Gritty is also well-versed in blogging, podcasting and festival organizing.

It is his own experience learning to create music that inspired the conference. “I was hearing these noises, the sound of my voice and the different instruments, and it all seemed a little out of touch and out of tune. But there is something in that that was really awesome. Just to know that was the truth of my expression, my voice in those moments,” Gritty said. “Even though I’ve been doing it for so long now, I still feel very much a kinship toward that whole amateur vibe.”

The Lilypad is the right size for the conference, he said, with an intimacy that “allows you to connect not only with the music that’s playing, but the people around you and the community as a whole.”

Gritty wants punk – and all music-making – accessible to a wider audience. “There’s such a wide gap between the local underground punk DIY scene and the true non-musician who might be working in an office downtown and has never even been exposed to the concept,” he said. “The Non-Musician Conference hopefully bridges the gap.”

Gritty relates to being part of the music scene but understanding the world outside of it – he has an office job (under his office-job name, Glen Maganzini). “You’re totally outside, you’re doing it on your own, but you’re contributing toward this global movement, or DIY, which doesn’t have a price tag and can’t be really explained under capitalism, per se. It’s its own system that just kind of exists outside the normal, dominant way of life we’ve all been living in.”

He hopes the conference sparks a greater movement and opens the door of creativity and performance to a broader scope of people.

Sunday will test the concept. “I hope people feel supported and encouraged by what’s going on to at some point go up and give it a try. There will be instruments, microphones, amplification,” Gritty said. “But even if not, I just hope for all attendees to be able to walk out of it and have their relationship to creativity and music scene, or anything really, be shifted by the voices and the presence of others.”

  • The Conference of Non-Musicians, 7 to 10 p.m. at Lilypad, 1353 Cambridge St., Inman Square, Cambridge. $10. Information is here.