Glory Torch promotes local NEPA talent

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First Posted: 3/2/2015

WILKES-BARRE — If you feel there’s not enough live music happening locally, you can’t blame Greg Shaffer.

Over the past year, the Wilkes-Barre native, and his company, Glory Torch Productions, has helped local and national artists gain a foothold on NEPA stages. Glory Torch is a production company specializing in live music, DJs, event planning and stage management.

Shaffer’s immersion into music began in the early 1990s. While in high school, he became lead vocalist for a local band called Impossible Kreation with friends Paul Young, Jake Lisowski, Jim Lynch and Ryan Siley. Shaffer took that experience a step further. When he graduated, he enrolled in New York City’s Institute for Audio Research.

“It was a game changer for me being able to immerse myself in the Village music scene,” Shaffer said. “Just witnessing how such a diverse community could come together, regardless of genre or style, to form a healthy partnership of musicians and venues was something that has forever ingrained itself on me. It’s that philosophy of family and partnership that is at the core of everything Glory Torch Productions does.”

Shaffer came back to NEPA in 2000 and was active as a writer and performer with area bands. He said it was the culmination of all those experiences that provided the foundation for his Glory Torch endeavors.

The promotion side of Shaffer’s career began in earnest with the opening of The Factory: Underground.

“I can remember almost shaking as the doors opened, worried about the millions of things that could go wrong,” he said. “But, as 3 to Breath and Deva Loka started loading in and the patrons started coming, all those fears quickly subsided. The show was mind blowing as both acts brought their A-game as always.”

With admitted minimal booking experience, Shaffer came to rely on his established relationships with area musicians to help in the process.

“I was in awe of the hunger to perform and professionalism that I found among the area’s acts. And, that just drove me to want to do more to help those acts get the attention that they deserve,” Shaffer said.

Shaffer lists the multifaceted aspect of booking a show when asked what it takes to pull off a successful live venture.

“From researching which bands will sound good together, to comparing other events going on at the target date, to making sure that all bands members don’t have any scheduling conflicts such as work or kids; it’s a lot to keep tabs on sometimes,” he said. “That’s why it became very apparent early on that in order to be able to make sure we continue to provide the caliber of shows we’re known for, some help would be required.”

Shaffer enlisted Erica Simpson and Chris Kishbach as new booking coordinators, of whom Shaffer tells “are already dazzling us.” The pair is now actively involved in scouting talent and venues for local and regional shows alike. Shaffer has partnered with house photographer Amanda James and Justin Nickles of Dedcel Designs to supplement the Glory Torch vision. He said the added professionalism of these associates will enhance the NEPA music scene, as well as newly charted frontiers of New Jersey and Maryland for Glory Torch.

“The music industry is not simply about what the songs sound like any more,” Shaffer said. “You really need to take a multimedia approach to getting fans out to shows, and that’s probably the toughest part of booking right now. Not every band has the means to have a polished press kit or professional head shots. Does this mean they shouldn’t get a shot on stage? Of course not! But, it does create some interesting challenges when marketing those bands on a bill.”

As for his perceived health for the NEPA scene, Shaffer isn’t worried.

“There are always going to be hills and valleys,” he said. “I’ve watched venues open and close, and bands form and break up, so many times over the last two decades – sometimes with devastating effects, that I’m fairly confident that I can say we are not only healthy but growing.”

There is even more optimism when Shaffer notes the often-neglected view of an outsider looking in.

“A lot of times, I don’t think people understand how our scene is perceived by those who are from out of the area,” he said. “I’d like to shed a little light on the subject. Recently it’s been my privilege to interact with bands from all over the East Coast and beyond, and the thing I hear over and over is how lucky we are to have so many venue options in Wilkes-Barre and Scranton, and how our fans and bands are second to none. NEPA is on the radar of every touring band out there, so, when you see a national act on the bill, get out to the show. That is one of the most important things that we can all do to get our local acts the exposure they deserve. When we show touring acts a good time, they send us their friends’ bands, and they help their openers possibly break into new areas.”

Any artist that gets involved with Glory Torch Productions should be assured that Shaffer is on their side.

“Glory Torch was born out of the idea that artists and musicians are the shapers of worlds and need to be treated as such,” he says. “As a group, we hope to bring only the highest caliber entertainment to today’s music fans while maintaining the utmost respect for those providing that entertainment and the venues they perform at.”