Since you’re reading this article in the music section of Smile Politely, chances are you’re already familiar with the music coming out of Illinois, or at least the C-U sector it. Chances are then that you’d also love a new media outlet in town called Ghost Track, started by former buzz Magazine music editor Sean Neumann. It’s a place for Illinois music fans to go for the latest news, features, video and more about artists across the state.
Neumann and his roommate, Eli Tracy, got the idea to start a website where they didn’t have to answer to anyone: “We need somewhere to do this,” said Neumann, “let’s just do it ourselves.”
So, Neumann texted and messaged everyone he knew who he thought might be interested in contributing. That’s how he found Joe Plukarski, a friend he grew up with, and together they launched the website and zine together.
The print version or zine will come out occasionally based on funds and availability of material. Its purpose is to “help legitimize ourselves and show people we really care what we’re doing,” Neumann said. But the website is an ongoing DIY effort.
To give a rundown of the stuff you can find on Ghost Track…
Music News: This part of the website had news about shows upcoming around Illinois, from C-U to Chicago to Springfield, and music that Illinois artists are releasing. The “news stuff is aimed to inform people” according to Neumann. There are also show reviews in this section.
Album Reviews: There are not only reviews of new albums here, but “Flashback” reviews of albums from the past. These include Hank.’s Pinched and ACKER’s Sea Songs.
Features: Neumann said this place is reserved for more creative stuff. There are Q&As with bands, articles and “Ghost Stories” which are miscellaneous think pieces by Ghost Track writers.
Videos: Videos were recently granted their own section — there are quite a few videos about C-U band Tara Terra, “Kitchen Jams” (bands playing in a kitchen) and some footage from the recent Hogchute Opry.
Podcasts: Right now there are two regular podcasts: the “Ghost Track podcast,” where Neumann and others talk to bands, musicans and other music-related figures. The other podcast is called “Not That Off the Record, This Off the Record” which focuses on a particular record with each episode.
All together, there’s a lot to digest on the website, but the focus on Illinois keeps it grounded. “We wanted to do something useful rather than just spitting out more content for the hell of it,” Neumann said. “It’s detailing what people are doing here and in some ways making a little scrapbook of what’s going on in the area right now.”
Ghost Track isn’t reaching for the stars of looking to make money. If anything, it’s just a place to put thoughts on music, for and by people in Illinois, linking together C-U, Chicago, Springfield and beyond and documenting the art that might otherwise be forgotten in the mix of the ever-evolving music scene.
“When I’m older, what and I going to look back on and have?” said Neumann. “The main goal is to help capture that stuff.”