Savage Mountain Punk Arts, one of the first punk rock non-profits dedicated to
the preservation and promotion of punk arts. Punk is more than just music: it incorporates design, literature, fashion, film, and other artistic expression. And after almost 50 years, punk has become as much a traditional art as any, with a history of masters and generations of artists who have helped the aesthetic evolve, grow, and remain current.
Consider this: much of the recent trend in artisanal making—from small breweries and distilleries to coffee roasters, small presses and fashion lines—can be directly traced to the DIY ethic of punk. Spend 20 minutes on the most mainstream radio stations and you might hear music that comes out of the punk tradition. Punk rock changed the arts and these days any number of books and documentaries are capturing the importance of punk to major urban areas and the cultural exchange rooted in places such as New York, London, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.
Punk was much more than an urban phenomenon. In northern Appalachia punk continued a tradition of working-class rebellion rooted in folk traditions but inflected by the broader experience of punk in those major cities. Disseminated through mixed tapes, punk rock proliferated in small towns across America and transformed them, often in ways that were longer lasting and more important than in urban centers. By bringing bands to small towns and fostering the rise of independent record stores, tattoo parlors, and other non-traditional arts venues to main streets, punk helped change small towns decimated by the rise of mall culture and then the Internet; and it helped give a voice to protest those losing their jobs in a changing economy.
Since the first Savage Mountain Punk Fest in 2016, Savage Mountain Punk Arts has shown the lasting importance of punk rock to Western Maryland and the region, and since becoming a non-profit arts organization in 2020, SMPA has begun the long process of telling the story of northern Appalachian punk in order to preserve its history but also to foster the next generation of musicians, artists, and entrepreneurs.