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Joe Montone: “We Try to Celebrate the Localness of Everything.”

January 21, 2016

Heat Thunder 5As part of our partnership with Philly Beer Scene magazine, we’re documenting Philly’s relationships between music and beer. For the most recent issue of Philly Beer Scene, G.W. Miller III spoke with Joe Montone, former frontman of Heat Thunder, about building the music scene in his hometown of Doylestown.

It started as a way to make the summer fun, a break from the norm. In June, Joe Montone, the special events coordinator at Maxwell’s on Main in Doylestown, created the Double Take Thursday series, where local musical acts perform whole sides of famous albums in a competition that could win them some cash.

“It’s about discovering new artists,” Montone says. “while celebrating classic music.”

Badd Kitti defeated Glim Dropper that first night, with both bands performing half of Prince’s classic Purple Rain. Badd Kitti went on to the final round where they faced Moonbreaker, with both bands performing from Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors.

“We’re not a cover band, so it was a lot of work to learn the music and add our style,” says Dallas Hosey, Moonbreaker’s bass player. “But it was a blast.”

Other nights have featured bands performing Weezer and No Doubt.

“It adds a fun element to it,” Montone says, “rather than just a battle of the bands.”

Winners of the ongoing monthly event are selected by audience applause as measured by a smartphone app.

The series at MOMs – as Maxwell’s on Main is called, is just the most recent thing that Montone, a Doylestown native and longtime musician, has done to boost the local music scene.

The Archbishop Wood graduate, now 26, began booking jazz shows at the Bucks County Coffee Co. shop when he was 19 years old and working at the cafe.

When nearby Siren Records was evicted from their Main Street location in 2008 because of back rent owed, Montone helped organize a benefit concert for the music shop and part-time venue that had become a focal point for a generation of young music fans. Local legends Into It. Over It, The Feverfew and Peasant performed.

He continued booking shows at the coffee shop but Montone also launched A Very Communal Commotion, a monthly live concert series in unusual locations – a cigar shop, a clothing boutique, a small community garden, etc. – all on the same night.

“What I really like is when we can transform an already unique space into something else and bring new life to it,” he says.

The shows eventually migrated to Siren Records when they reopened in their State Street location. Montone continues to book shows there as well.

HeatThunderSmall01Along the way, Montone formed his own band, Heat Thunder (above), and performed around the region for about three years. He moved to South Philly for a little while but he quickly returned to the town that he advocates for so strongly.

“We’re trying to make MOMs a gathering place for the whole music experience – musicians and music lovers,” Montone says.

The restaurant specializes in craft beers, with locally-produced brews from Free Will Brewing, Yards, Neshaminy Creek and Philadelphia Brewing Company regularly on tap. Almanac, Uinta, Half Acre and Avery Brewing beers are often available as well.

There’s a thriving music scene centered in Doylestown, Montone says, one that transforms the charming, all-American village into a lively borough.

“Once the sun goes down,” he says, “it’s not the same small town anymore.”

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