FREDERICK — “Beer and music go hand in hand. Literally. When’s the last time you drank a beer in silence?”
Chip Watkins, the marketing director at Flying Dog Brewery, has a point. He also admitted that it’s often live music at the brewery that makes or breaks the evening. Because Flying Dog staff seems to constantly be in a conversation about music, their current project — a series of compilation music CDs featuring local acts — started by default.
To get one thing straight, Flying Dog is in the business of making beer, not music. The staff had no interest in starting a record label or signing bands or defining themselves through music but rather wanted to support artists in a new way: by creating promotional CDs, not for sale but to be handed out at shows and by the bands themselves, to strengthen the local music community — and that includes Baltimore and Washington.
“We support local creativity,” Watkins said. “That’s one of our mantras.”
Mobtown Studios, based in Baltimore, was the first to jump on board, which is why the majority of the artists on the first compilation are based in or near Baltimore. That Baltimore was featured first was happenstance, Watkins said.
Mobtown, and specifically Mat Leffler-Schulman and Al Shipley, compiled the artists — which include Holy Ghost Party, Among Wolves, Frederick-based Holy MTN, and about a dozen others — and did all the recording and mastering.
“It looks like Mobtown, it feels like Mobtown, it sounds like Mobtown,” Watkins said. “It doesn’t look like Ralph Steadman Flying Dog.”
The project started in late 2012 and the release party for the first CD, “Baltimore: Vol. 1,” was to be May 24 at the Ottobar in Baltimore with Among Wolves, Mr. Mocassin, Us and Us Only and MacGregor Burns and a DJ set by Outlier.
“We see multiple versions of this (CD) coming out of Baltimore, D.C., and Frederick, of course,” Watkins said. Some bands are brand new on the scene, others well established. “The idea is to help everybody, at multiple levels.”
As for which locale will be up next, nobody can say for sure. Washington and Frederick discs are simultaneously in the works, and all involved are allowing the projects to unfold in an organic way. Of the Frederick album, Watkins said it’s likely to be a collaborative effort among local studios, rather than the result of just one.
Coinciding with the start of these compilations, Flying Dog is bringing in national acts to play live shows at the brewery. On Saturday, of Montreal will be playing at Flying Dog — and in upcoming weeks, Deer Tick and Jon Spencer Blues Explosion.
“We kind of raised the bar,” Watkins said of their concert series, plus Flying Dog has given local bands the opportunity to open for these larger acts. Frederick blues trio Old Indian, for example, will kick off the night for Deer Tick on June 15. “It’s empowering the local folks that do it.”