High Anxiety Music Center on hiatus

After nearly a year in operation, the CU treasure that was the High Anxiety Music Center closed its doors on May 3. Located at 302 S. State St. in Champaign, the Center quickly became a great place to hear a wide variety of local bands and brought a fresh house- party vibe to the local live music scene. The house was the home of High Anxiety Music, a full service music promotion and management firm focusing on bands from CU, in addition to being the home of the president and founder, Ralph Petrella. Both will be moving to the suburbs of Chicago in the near future to expand the company. But fear not, this does not mark the end of High anxiety music, but rather the beginning of the future for the fledgling company as Petrella plans to return to CU soon.
High Anxiety Music began with Petrella, a graduate of the UI music Education program, and a desire to build a tight community in Champaign capable of providing support for new and established local bands. “I want to foster a strong tight-knit community in Champaign. But one hindrance to that is that some people don’t want to tap the campus market. also, there needs to be stronger support between all of the area bands,” Petrella said. Petrella’s plan for the music center was always about this love for the local independent scene, and a vision to help it grow.
Petrella, singer of the disbanded CU-area band 5 Penny Theatre, founded High Anxiety Music to share experience and knowledge that he and his band mates, and current partners, Dave Cubberly and John O’Brien, gained during their time together. They now provide management, promotion, recording and other services to bands trying to make it in CU and Chicago.
The original idea behind the music center was to have a rehearsal space for bands in the area that had no other place to practice, to provide crash space for visiting bands and to house the offices for the label. They later decided the rehearsal space would be a great place for house-party style all- ages shows. Petrella sees a real need for local musicians to interact more with the University and its many resources, which is why High Anxiety has concentrated on bringing bands to this new audience. “I think it is really important to see the undergraduate students as big consumers of local independent music,” he said.
Petrella said the plan for the future is to continue promoting the small cadre of bands already signed on with High Anxiety and to work towards returning to CU in the near future. He will spend his time in Chicago working on building connections and preparing for the music Center’s return to CU by 2009. Petrella is currently planning a
bi-monthly podcast of interviews, music and information that will begin June 1. The beta podcast is already available at http://www.highanxietymusic.com/podcast.html, and the full version will be available soon on iTunes.
Despite the current difficulties, Petrella stresses that what drives High Anxiety Music is the love of CU’s music. “It is difficult for people to understand this, but it’s not about the money. It is more important to us to provide the service to the community because they deserve it. They need it.”

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