Vegas PBS' Web Series Features Music from Their Own Backyard

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Backyard Sessions is the first web-exclusive series from Vegas PBS. Continuing their commitment to the arts in the southern Nevada community, Backyard Sessions showcases bands and singer/songwriters who are generating big buzz all over the Las Vegas valley. 

Performances include Life is Beautiful acts American Cream, Sabriel, Jordan Mitchell, and HaleAmanO, indie rock from The Perks, The Solid Suns, Play for Keeps, and the Nashville sound of sisters Jill and Julia. Starting Wednesday, October 1st and continue through Wednesday, November 19th all of these performances can only be found in one place, VegasPBS.org. It’s live, local music, in your own backyard, Backyard Sessions.

To learn more about the series, and the talented people behind it, we talked to Cade Cridland, a videographer and editor at Vegas PBS who also produces Backyard Sessions.

1. This is your first web-exclusive series. How did you come up with the idea and convince your station to go along with it? 
Coming up with a viable concept was the big challenge. I didn’t have to do any convincing. I am lucky to work at a station where management takes the advancement of technology and an understanding of changing viewership patterns very seriously. Station collaboration was a big motivating factor and an awesome support system for me in the creation of Backyard Sessions. About a year and a half ago, management at the station had come back from a conference where one of the big topics was digital programming. Through general conversations they opened my eyes to some of the stuff happening at TPTKLRU and Alaska Public Television. It was these conversations that set the ground work for our first digital series. Vegas PBS has been a great steward for the arts in Southern Nevada for a long time and continuing that tradition was a key element for me when formulating ideas for a series. We have an in-house committee comprised of members from different departments that meet once a month and vet all production proposals. I submitted a show treatment and after going through the approval process was given the green light to continue on the production of a digital series to be showcased on VegasPBS.org, COVE and several OTT platforms. 

2. What is the story behind the name of the show? 
When my wife and I were married, we knew we wanted a small ceremony but a big party. So we got married in Coronado, California on the beach and two weeks later had a big outdoor party in her parents’ backyard. We had string lights set up, a blues band, and a local bbq place cater the event. As the sun was setting and with the blues band playing, I just remember looking at everyone having a good time in this perfect setting and that light bulb moment occurred. Who doesn’t like sitting outside with friends and family, just listening to live music? At the time I wasn’t thinking about a digital series but I locked that thought away and that was the origin for “Backyard Sessions,” a concept that I felt everyone can relate to as an enjoyable experience. 

3. How do you choose the bands? 
As part of the resurgence of Downtown Las Vegas, a music festival was created to showcase not only music talent on a national level but the great diverse local music scene in Southern Nevada. So I started tracking down some of the artists through social media. Obviously, word started to spread that Vegas PBS was looking to highlight local artists for a new digital series and everything trickled down from that point. I wanted the program to showcases all the sounds we have in Southern Nevada, a little bit indie rock, a little country, and the influence of the pacific islands. The growth of Southern Nevada in the last 20 years has been huge and I wanted all those big sounds for our first season. 

4. What is the main goal of the show? 
First and foremost, my goal was to continue the tradition of cultural and artistic support Southern Nevada has come to expect from Vegas PBS. I want Backyard Sessions to be a series millennials and digital natives are drawn too and share with friends and family, both locally and nationally. Just because the landscape of media is changing doesn’t mean we should change our goals of creating content that showcases America’s largest stage. Second, the creation of a program that allows us to dig into the analytics of mobile viewing was really important to me. I don’t mind saying I geek out a little looking at numbers. The program isn’t about having 1,000 views (but that would be great so feel free to share), it’s about seeing what draws in the digital viewer. 

5. Anything else you’d like to add? 
I am preaching to the choir, but the help I have received through SPI and PBS Digital Studios has been invaluable. I would urge everyone to share SPI and PBS Digital Studios postings with their stations and get as many people signed up for the email list. Along the same lines, PBS TechCon is a great experience and gave me a great deal of new knowledge to work with in creating a digital series like “Backyard Sessions”.

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