21 Years Strong: Millennium Music Conference 2017

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For over two decades, the Millennium Music Conference has brought musicians from all over North America to Harrisburg, Pa. for the biggest live music weekend of the year.

More than 300 acts performed at 30 different venues throughout the Harrisburg area. I had to set out a plan for myself for maximum live music enjoyment with an event this big! Founder of the Millennium Music Conference, John Harris, has been perfecting the event making it bigger and better every year. The longevity of this even is a testament to John’s love and dedication to live music in our city.


The kick-off party started Thursday night at O’Reilly’s Irish Pub with a nice low-key crowd enjoyed acoustic sets by Cubbage and Highway 4. As the night moved on Autopilot, a 3-piece indie rock band from Saskatoon, Canada. I enjoyed a few pints of properly poured Guinness while enjoying their music that reminded me of a less aggressive Silverchair.


One of the things I realized was so great about the Millennium Music Conference is it really makes you step outside the venues you are familiar with and explore some other great spots around Harrisburg. Living in Midtown I tend to frequent the same haunts, mainly ones I can walk to.

So, Friday night came and I headed out to Joe K’s Brewhouse excited to check out a band that came all the way from L.A, Ships Have Sailed. The two-piece band created a huge sound blending pop music with catchy hooks and sing-alongs with huge drums and clever guitar riffs. Make sure you check our their website to hear some of their very catchy tunes!

As soon as their set was over I headed to another not-so-frequent spot for me, The Pour House on Derry Street to check out Fink’s Constant. It has been a long time since I’ve seen a live ska band Harrisburg-based Fink’s Constant brought a great upbeat set to the crowd. There was plenty of smiling faces and dances during the set. I definitely need to check them out again. Check out their Facebook page to keep up with them!

Finishing out Friday night I headed to The Abbey Bar (I know, I go there all the time) to catch Shawn Owen Band from Annapolis, MD. The smoothed-out reggae sound surrounding Shawn’s impeccable guitar playing created the perfect vibe for me to wind down as the crowd danced and I sipped on a Hoppy Trails IPA from Appalachian Brewing Company.


Saturday was packed with amazing bands too so, it was hard to chose which shows to go to. I needed energy and it came in the way of a performance at Blarney’s Twisted Irish Pub by Long Island, NY natives Approaching Troy.

These guys transported me back to the early 00’s with their post-hardcore sound that reminded me of Taking Back Sunday or The Ataris. These kids play their hearts out note for note. Their high energy stage presence, swinging guitars around their necks, jumping off the stage and enthusiasm was absolutely captivating. It was one of the greatest performances of the weekend and I hope we can get these guys back to the Harrisburg area, stat! I fully expect to hear these guys on Alt Nation on Sirius XM by this time next year. Check out their website to hear them for yourself!

I grabbed a copy of their CD and headed to Harrisburg Midtown Arts Center (HMAC). HMAC is a mecca of live music in our area with multiple venues in one building and the bill for the night was something I had been anticipating all weekend.

First up was Yam-Yam, the Harrisburg favorites that never disappoint. The audience in the large Capital Room began to crowd toward the stage to get their groove on to the infectious sounds of Yam-Yam. While Yam-Yam is always on points, there was one band that stuck out to me among all 300 acts at the Millennium Music Conference.

While Yam-Yam is always on points, there was one band that stuck out to me among all 300 acts at the Millennium Music Conference.

The Trap Music Orchestra is a 20 person, live hip hop group founded by Berklee College of Music graduate, Ryan Easter. With two MCs, what I believe was an 8-person brass section, a full string section, and drummers, the impeccable musical talent left me with my jaw on the floor. The covered everything from T.I. to Juvenile to Migos using their own arrangements and twists on the songs. This was the apex of the Millennium Music Coference, a culmination of the entire weekend of music brought together by a huge crowd and a huge band that had everyone dancing and grooving.

Twenty-one years strong and the Millennium Music Conference keeps getting better every year. John Harris and his crew bring us talent from all over the country right to our back yard. The hard work and dedication of a few that believe in our city and the passion of live music are pulled together creating one of the best music conferences in the country.

If you’ve never experienced the Millennium Music Conference, make sure you plan on attending next year!

Micah Jacobs
Author: Micah Jacobs

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