Management Team: Editor-in-Chief: Phil Barnes
Editor-in-Chief: Neal Patten
Design Director: Sarah Maloy Assistant Design Director: Mikaela Longo Photography Director: Christina Snyder Copy Chief: Chris Madison Marketing Director: Aaron Westendorf Advertising Director: Kyle Ranally Web Designer: Aaron Wentt Treasurer: Julie Brown
Writers: Ryan Amin, Devon Antonetti, Erin Beese, Merri Collins, Heather Farr, Scott Hutchinson, Ryan Judy, Rachel Kelly, Allison Maloney, Kyle Ranally, Miranda Richardson, Hannah Rose, Chealsia Smedley, Joel Stevens, Aaron Westendorf, Eric Wietmarschen
Photographers: Amy Brighter, Jason Chow, Dara Michelle-Farr, Nissa Moraga, Ryan Murphy, Seth Paritockli, Christina Snyder
Designers: Aundrea Bentley, Natalie Foy, Mikaela Longo, Sarah Maloy, Catherine Pomiecko, Miranda Richardson Cover Design: Anna Moore Logo Concept: Alison Yunker
Table of Contents 14
12 On The Bricks Steve Zarate 14 Underground The Trap Kings 18 Headliner Skeletonwitch 26 First Street Heat Album Review 28 Je ´an P Album Review 30 Mind Fish Album Review 32 Rockin’ the House 40 Gimme a Beat
In Studio: Michael Stover
42 Mentor Musicians The Bob Stewart Band
50 Front Stage Pass Donkey Saturdays
46 Bobcat Beats OU Little Monsters
54 White Noise Publishing History
from the Editors...
n behalf of the staff at Brick Beats, I am proud to introduce Ohio University’s first all music magazine. Six months ago, Neal and I were in Alden Library, flipping through pages of an old copy of Rolling Stone and adding to a growing list of ideas for our infant creation, Brick Beats magazine. Thanks to the help of our staff and supporters, that list has grown into the full-fledged publication that you see in front of you. While much has changed since September, our goal has remained the same: to focus the public eye on the obvious talent of Athens musicians. We are all affected in some way by this college town’s explosive music scene. Concert posters taped to telephone poles capture the attention of students as they walk to class and show goers watch in awe as their favorite local bands perform uptown. A publication that explores this musical influence seemed to me like a necessity, and that’s where Brick Beats comes into play. So, do you want to read about the lives of your favorite Athens musicians? Turn to our features section. Album reviews? We’ve got you covered. “Bobcat Beats” will answer any questions about OU music affiliated organizations. “Headliner” gives you up-to-date news on big name bands out of Athens. Make sure to check out our “Underground” section for upcoming artists and “On the Bricks” to figure out who was playing guitar outside College Book Store while you were stumbling home last Friday night. I won’t spoil any more for you. And a special thanks to Sarah Maloy and the design team for making this magazine look so fine. Aaron Wentt and Aaron Westendorf, thank you for sacrificing a Saturday night to help Neal and I sell hotdogs in the freezing cold. Also, thank you to anyone who bought a hotdog. Christina Snyder and the photographers, thank you for
working under pressure to make Brick Beats photogenic. Julie Brown, thank you for coming to EVERY event. Kyle Ranally, thanks for spreading the word to local businesses. Chris Madison, thank you for your grammar proficiency. Anna Moore, thanks for the amazing cover art. And to the writers, thank you for meeting deadlines and dealing with our constant schedule changes. The road to release has taken us through some nauseating turns, but I’d be a fool to say I haven’t had fun. Thanks for reading. Keep the Beat, Phil Barnes
We would like to extend a special thanks to the following people: Jamie Ratermann, Rachel Miller, Greg O’ Hearn, Griffin Messer-Kruse, Dr. Mike Sweeney, Jamie Kennedy, Chris Reidy, Dave Polster, and Dr. Bob Stewart.
was not a runner in high school, so I’ve never experienced the rush of crossing a finish line after a grueling race. Even so, I feel as though successfully seeing this premiere issue of “Brick Beats” through to publication matches the thrill of completing a run. I’ll hold off on my victory lap for now, though. If anything was a race it is how fast these last five months passed. I know it’s a cliché, but it truly seems like just yesterday that Phil and I were sitting in his dorm room discussing how to make this magazine a reality. From our first meeting in September to our social last Saturday, we have met so many awesome people. Fellow E.W. Scripps students, musicians of all genres and background, business owners — it’s these friendships we’ve formed and encounters we’ve had that motivated us to form a new publication in the first place. “Brick Beats” is about you; it’s about the one-of-a-kind people who populate our beloved Athens. We chose to exclusively focus on Athens because it offers is such a lively culture of music and art — enough to fill a magazine on its own. Athens truly is a special city. Nestled where it is, it’s unassuming to passers-through. Even if they stopped, it is likely that they couldn’t appreciate the beauty of this brick paved city: bass guitars blaring over a spirited crowd at Casa, a washboard and harmonica duet trickling out of Jackie O’s, beats thumping from the open door of Union where a hundred-deep line of shivering underclassmen anxiously await to rave. Uniquely adorned houses that are more like artist communes host house bands and not-yet-famous DJs. Students smoking hookah and playing djembes on College Green in spring. The music of Athens is both literal and metaphorical. The noises of Athens are as much its music as its bands. High-heels striking the crooked bricks while zig-zagging all the way to
a party above Court Street, the buzz of uptown restaurants at 2 am on Saturdays, the hush of Donkey on school nights, the click-clack of gears changing on a bike: all these sounds equally compose Athens’ music. With “Brick Beats” we wish to capture everything that is so wonderful about Athens that other cities have long forgotten. It’s a progressive city that’s delightfully stuck in the past. I hope over time we can succeed in that lofty goal but for now I just hope that you enjoy the first issue. Let the Beat go on, Neal Patten
Stover by CHEALSIA SMEDLEY photos by NISSA MORAGA
he first song I ever wrote was about a day at school, and it ended in me coming home and getting a sandwich. It was horrible,” says rapper Michael Stover. Stover became involved in music during his senior year of high school. “I have always been a writer but I never knew how to get my thoughts out properly. I didn’t really talk to people about my feelings. But music allowed me to do that,” says Stover. “
in studio With some influence from a family member and an unexpected performance at a charity show, the shy, Yellowcard enthusiast was thrust into the world of underground rap. “Growing up I hated rap. I always listened to a lot of rock, and was a big Linkin Park fan,” says Stover. The dark lyrics of Linkin Park gave him something to grasp and relate to his own life; something he thought that rap wasn’t capable of. He was proven wrong when a friend introduced him to Christian rap during his sophomore year of high school. It was the positive lyrics that presented him with a new perspective. “It made me think about the world that I lived in,” says Stover. He began to listen to a variety of underground hip hop artists including Braille and Theory Hazit. In his senior year of high school, Stover and a group of friends were asked to participate in a charity show. They threw together a band, and Stover rapped over the instruments. While the band thought it was only meant for one performance, the audience was hooked. The group gave one more final performance, but after that, Stover couldn’t stop making music. “ People really liked it and said I should go solo, so I started writing and released two mix tapes that summer,” says Stover. The combination of these two events and his prior love of writing gave Stover what he needed to finally express himself in an effective way. Stover incorporates elements of his initial music attraction into his own music, realizing the advantages of rap. He describes the lyricism as “stringing things together like a portrait. It’s all about using my experiences and diving into things that people don’t really bring up in music period,” Stover says. He raps about “living a more positive life and not banking on material things, but what God guarantees.” His newest mix tape is called Psych Ward, and it includes some of his most personal music to date. “If people are willing to listen,” Stover says, “I’m willing to speak.”
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on the bricks
Human Jukebox by HANNAH ROSE photos by JASON CHOW
teve Zarate is an Athens based singer-songwriter best known for entertaining collegiate night goers beside the Burrito Buggy on Union Street. Originally from Columbus, he has been working full time as an Athens artist for five years. Zarate is the town’s “request specialist,” having memorized a few hundred songs from the ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s. He enjoys playing covers as they, “bring people in,” and often times result in audience participation. It is his ability to unite with his listeners in a spiritual and communal way that makes him a favorite street-side performer among Ohio University students. “I’m interested in projecting positive vibes through my music,” says Zarate. A conversation with the musician is much like listening to him play; positive and harmonious, he refers to his approach as “internally and externally healing.” His intentions are to portray a spiritually and environmentally healthy performance space. Comparing his childhood memories to the more recent late nights in Athens, he uses an “invisible campfire” analogy which he examines in a song and album by the same name. He explains that he tries to “project a warmth on anyone who walks by” while performing. Zarate’s talents go far beyond the realm of cover music and over the years, he has established himself as a successful recording songwriter. Zarate’s lyrical themes range from the environmentally cautious in songs like “Walk Lightly” to the more humorous in songs like “Cell Phone Song.” He has released five records and is working on a project that he hopes to entitle 12 | BrickBeatsMag.com
Do what you love, and you will be rewarded. – STEVE ZARATE
“The Green Self.” The album, which is yet to have a release date, is planned to be devoted entirely to his “human family” with an approach to environmental and humanitarian recognition. As a regular at Red Brick Sports Pub on Court Street and The Oak Room on Station Street, Zarate can be found performing in many areas throughout Athens. No matter the location, his approach to performance is the same; it is his main objective to help his audience find beauty and positive energy within their environment. Content with his career choice, Zarate supplies a bit of advice — “Do what you love and you will be rewarded.” He spoke of several Ohio University graduates that have approached him with kind words, explaining that he was a memorable part of their undergraduate experience. As for the money, he has found that the amount of fun he has is parallel to the tips he receives. “If you dwell on the money, it runs away. If you don’t, it comes.” Zarate is an essential part of the Athens community as both an “on the bricks” artist and a recording one. The listener is destined to leave with an overwhelming feeling of renewal and optimism after hearing Zarate perform.
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Kings by HEATHER FARR photos by JASON CHOW
itting in a dark, crowded college apartment conveniently located above Big Mama’s Burritos in Athens, Ohio with the barely year-old band, The Trap Kings, makes one wonder: what did bands like The Rolling Stones or The Beatles do before they made it big? At one time, weren’t all great bands just a group of kids, playing for whomever would listen and hoping someone would dig their music? Formed in the basement of the AEPi house during spring quarter of last year, The Trap Kings have already started making a name for themselves by working the Athens fest circuit, playing at both Mill and High Fest. With upbeat, light-hearted songs, such as “Coffee,” that would not seem out of place blaring on Long Beach alongside bands like Sublime, the band feels most at home among babes, bros, and booze. “We played on Halloween and we were just on gravel. There were people literally standing inches in front of me, going in between my microphone stand and just dancing on top of us,” says Marcus Fakler (guitars/vocals). According to the band, the “feel” of the Trap Kings is “definitely outside.” In fact, the band has only played one mic’d up show. “We love playing at parties where there are really not too many rules,” says Russ Brown. “We’re at our best when we are in charge of our own sound and people are going crazy.” BrickBeatsMag.com | 15
We’re at our best when we are in charge of our own sound and people are going crazy.
The playful personalities, confident rock-androll mentalities and undeniable chemistry of the band members are illustrated in the covers one might hear them play at a party. From Third Eye Blind’s “Semi-Charmed Life” and a reggae version of the “Sweater Song” by Weezer to “L.A. Woman” by The Doors, the basement-born 16 | BrickBeatsMag.com
– RUSS BROWN
quartet has a little bit of something for everyone. “I would describe us as a blues-y kind of 311,” says Dan Mullally (drums). In addition to the dynamic personalities of the band members, the boys’ diverse tastes and musical backgrounds add to the distinctive sound of the band. From the Deadhead and folk-
inspired Brown to Mullally, whose iPod is filled with metal and rap, The Trap Kings prove to be an interesting mix. “My musical background is really different from my influences because background wise, I’m a music major. I was in concert band and I’m into classical music and all that stuff,” Kevin Teplitzky (bass) said. “But since I play bass, I love classic rock and jazz. I also still really enjoy a lot of modern pop stuff. And country.” Fakler, who gains inspiration from the likes of the Allman Brothers, has evident influence on the band’s sound, which floats just on the top of jamesque on songs such as “Crowded Room” and “Trick.” In an effort to beat the winter blues, The Trap Kings recently broke into the bar scene where most Athens bands gain street cred, playing a Saturday night set at Casa Nueva. In February, fans gathered to see the Trap Kings perform an acoustic set at AVW Productions’ Valentine Variety Show in The Front Room. The approaching warm weather is sure to bring continued success to the self-proclaimed party band, especially amongst the abundance of house parties and street fests that spring quarter often brings. The band is currently working with producer Kevin White of Great White Productions. To check out their music and get updates about upcoming shows, visit their fan page.
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by ERIN BEESE photos by DARA MICHELLE-FARR
here’s something very dark going on in Athens, and it’s louder and more raging than anything the town has heard before. It’s Skeletonwitch, a metal band straight from Hell to W. Union. Skeletonwitch signed to Prosthetic Records (the same label that launched Lamb of God) in 2007 shortly after the release of their EP, Worship the Witch. They have released three full-length albums since their formation in 2003 at Ohio University. Their song “Soul Thrashing Black Sorcery” was included on the “Brütal Legend” soundtrack and “Crushed Beyond Dust” from their album Breathing the Fire is available for download on the “Rock Band” network. They have toured around the world with bands like Cannibal Corpse, Testament, Children of Bodom, Amon Amarth, Dying Fetus, and toured on the 2008 Blackest of the Black tour. Skeletonwitch have a homegrown metal sound that borrows from almost every metal subgenre in existence and combines for an energetic, relentless musical experience that remains unparalleled, and it is not for the faint of heart. Combining elements from black metal, death metal, melodic death metal, doom metal, and thrash, it’s hard to put a finger on what genre Skeletonwitch actually belong to. Lead vocalist Chance Garnette says it is just “heavy metal,” and he’s right—there is nothing light about it. 18 | BrickBeatsMag.com
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You have to be dedicated enough to sleep in the back of a van. You have to be willing to give up your job and be able to give it all up to do it, and be prepared for some serious rejection. – CHANCE GARNETTE The band holds true to its black metal influences with tracks like “The Despoiler of Human Life,” “Submit to the Suffering,” and “Sacrifice for the Slaughtergod.” The titles are dark, the lyrics are brutal, and the music’s intense drumming is unforgiving. Guitarists Nate Garnette and Scott Hedrick add an underground metal sound that can combat the virtuosity of any schooled Scandinavian metal guitarist, which is hard to come by in American metal. Guitarist Nate Garnette hails Cannibal Corpse as one of his main influences. Cannibal Corpse is known throughout the music community for their dark themes and gruesome album art, which have resulted in the banning of the sale of their albums in several countries. Skeletonwitch haven’t been banned quite yet, but their imagery holds a little more than a candle to that of their idols’. Nate and Chance also name Anthrax, Led Zeppelin, Amon Amarth, Immortal, Exodus, Witchery, and At the Gates as other major influences in their work. But sometimes it takes more than just listening to influential artists to spawn a great ensemble. For brothers Chance and Nate, it takes dedication. They came to Athens in the early 2000’s to attend Ohio University, but neither of them made it past their first year. In fact, Nate
said he never even decided on a major. “You can’t major in metal,” he said. The brothers started their own music project called Rotting Vomit shortly after their arrival in Athens. It had three members: the brothers and a drum machine. “Rotting Vomit was just so brutal it was funny,” said Nate, and brutal it was. They took the longrunning joke in death and black metal culture and ran with it, writing songs with overly gruesome themes like “Force-Fed Your Premature Infant.” Nate Garnette played guitar in one other band before teaming up with his brother again to form Skeletonwitch. They picked up guitarist Scott Hedrick (whom you might recognize as an employee at Haffa’s Records on W. Union) and drummer Derrick “Mullet Chad” Nau in Athens through a network of friends and former roommates. They eventually landed bassist Evan Linger, formerly a member of Insurrect. Their respective talents combine to make for a skullbashing sound, especially when seeing them live. Skeletonwitch visit The Union annually between tours and, for the past two years, the show has sold out. In a heartbeat, The Union’s atmosphere transforms from the feel-good “Dance or Die” atmosphere we’ve come to expect to a catacomb sporting gruesome album art, black t-shirts and Skeletonwitch’s stacks BrickBeatsMag.com | 21
headliner onstage, adorned with inverted crosses. Although the transformation is as dark as possible, the crowd Skeletonwitch draws isn’t only full of dedicated metal heads. Everyone from hipsters to headbangers could be found at their most recent show last November, whether to give metal a shot for the first time, to see some great local acts like The Pandemic Nemesis, The Dead Sea, and Skumplast, or simply to worship The ‘Witch. At last November’s show, the moshing never ceased although there was little breathing room on the floor upstairs at The Union. The energy never died down, in typical metal fashion. When Skeletonwitch finally took the stage it was already well after midnight, but their incredible stage presence erased any signs of fatigue from the crowd. One could never fathom just how many different gestures exist to signal to someone that they will die until one has seen Skeletonwitch’s Chance Garnette perform. Using everything from fist-pumps to slit-throat motions, Garnette delivered his lyrics with extra brutal emphasis. His signature spiked vambrace draws your attention, and Nate wears one too in a true showcase of brotherly love. Complete with smoke and strobe lights, Skeletonwitch bring a big time heavy metal experience right to Athens’ backyard. The band headlined on its own brief tour last December and recently supported Job for a Cowboy’s tour. Skeletonwitch were also featured on Cartoon Network’s “Metal Swim,” a television ad campaign and online download project by Adult Swim last fall. The Garnette brothers shared a few words of wisdom with Brick Beats to be passed on to
local artists in the area, regardless of genre. They started in this small town, too, and are now signed to a major label and touring the world. Chance Garnette said that tools like Facebook and MySpace Music definitely make it easier to get spotted, especially if the artist in question is looking for a label that might be interested in their work. “Too bad that stuff wasn’t as popular when we needed it,” said Nate Garnette. “We just mailed out demos and hoped for the best. You also have to be gutsy enough to book you own shows and tours.” “You have to be dedicated enough to sleep in the back of a van,” Chance added. “[Skeletonwitch] toured for the first time with a pickup and a trailer and slept in the bed of the pickup. You have to be willing to give up your job and be able to give it all up to do it, and be prepared for some serious rejection. Not everyone’s going to love it.” The brothers said that they toured on their own like that and mailed out demo CDs for quite a while but were turned down from multiple labels before they managed to sign with Prosthetic Records. They said that four out of the five members that make up Skeletonwitch still live in Athens, so The Union is home sweet home to the band. “We just want to make sure everybody knows that we appreciate it every time they come out to one of our shows and just not forgetting about us, around here at home especially,” Chance said. “We’ll be here if they’ll be here.” Don’t worry guys. Athens will continue to worship The ‘Witch, and metal heads around the world will follow suit.
Next local show: >> April 22
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The Ravari Room Columbus, OH
First Street Heat by MERRI COLLINS
o get people to listen to an album more than once, to pick it over others out of a CD case, or to hit “skip” until it shows up on their iPod, you need a good beat that makes them want to move or lyrics that entice people to listen. The First Street Heat has done just that with their new album “Say What You Wanna Say.” Honestly, I do not listen to this genre of music so I was a little skeptical about how much enjoyment I was going to get from playing this album repeatedly. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I enjoyed the album. The mixture of funk, reminiscent of tunes from the ‘70s, combines with modern pop and dance elements to create a catchy fusion of two generations. The first thing that stands out about this album is how well the female vocalist sings. Her voice is sultry and smooth, never cracking or making you feel as if she is trying too hard. She is especially noticeable in the love song “Where Do I Belong,” as she sings a large portion in an uplifting, jazzy voice. The guitar solo at the end of this track is electrifying. I was also impressed by the lyrical content of this album, especially throughout the tracks after “Autumn on the Ocean.” It really starts becoming more “love oriented” at that point, but instead of being a cheesy train wreck, it is a great portrait of reality painted by back and forth singing between vocalists. The first song on the album, “That Sound,” instantly catches attention with the rapping parts by the male vocalists. They hit every beat and perfectly connected the more melodic chorus. It reminded me of rap lines you may hear from a member of the Black-Eyed Peas or Gym Class Heroes. Toward the end of this song the rappers build intensity steadily alongside the brass instruments, giving way to a saxophone solo. It made 26 | BrickBeatsMag.com
for a very interesting combination of elements. The song The First Street Heat is currently promoting is “Used to Be.” This song is beautiful. It sounds like a radio hit but with more complicated flair and passion that many mainstream songs lack. The intro combination of piano and vocals is softer and much slower than anything else on the album. This track paints a picture of a thousand lighters lifted into the air with lyrical expressions such as, “I cannot make up my mind if time’s a friend or foe/ the miles and years apart/ they went so slow” and “I tried to make it work/ though the love had left our words/ I didn’t mean to waste your time.” I would recommend this album to just about anyone whether you are familiar with the band or not. I think it would be especially enjoyable to fans of ska and funk.
by RYAN JUDY
e all try to categorize what genre of music we like, whether we attempt to narrow our tastes down to rock, rap, or pop or label them more vaguely with the words ‘alternative’ or ‘indie.’ The First Street Heat want to make sure their album hits the ears of every listener, no matter what their musical taste, in a unique and dynamic way. The band’s debut,” Say What You Wanna Say,” achieves that goal by capturing and building on the fundamentals of pop, funk, and hip hop. When you think of a band, you might think of four or five members, but the First Street Heat turns that stereotype around by creating their own group with 11 different people. The band attempts, and succeeds at most points, to turn
their 11-piece ensemble into a cohesive unit that completely complements itself. The band’s unique sound is comprised of soaring dual lead vocals, a three-piece horn section, and a six-person rhythm section. To say the First Street Heat is your ordinary funk group is an understatement. The ensemble merges funk, jazz, hip hop, pop, and yes, even a little bit of soul. The album starts off with “That Sound,” a perfect way to introduce the band. The hip-hop group The Dysfunktional Family opens the track with a strong flow, transitioning to Eden Lee’s cool and calming vocals. The song continues to shift back and forth between the two, picking up even more energy when Ben Kain’s brisk vocals and Jack Gould’s saxophone solos join the fray. The album progresses to “Welcome to ATown,” a fun, five-and-a-half-minute, upbeat track focusing on the energy that is an integral part of Athens’ culture. The song infuses various funky jam sessions channeling the various instruments the 11-piece band utilizes. “Where Do I Belong” follows with Lee and Kain’s vocals providing a tranquil feel during their chorus duet. The verses exhibit both vocalists switching back and forth, showing how the two artists seamlessly work and feed off each other. “Autumn On The Ocean” is a somewhat confusing track, with Lee’s voice echoing throughout putting the album on a break, consequently taking away the energy the band has been demonstrating. “Stranger” and “Used to Be” bring the album’s energy back, slowly creating jazzy instrumental harmonies with the horn section and catchy light guitar riffs all fronted by calming vocals. The album closes with “Across The Nation,” which brings the album full circle and showcases the energy and passion developed throughout the record. The outro of “Say What You Wanna Say” repeats “Where to go, not back home,” while reusing similar light riffs from the rhythm section and the upbeat horns from previous tracks. The First Street Heat didn’t settle just to make songs to put on an album; they wanted to put their debut above the expectations we had set for them. “Say What You Wanna Say” gives Athens’ music scene some fresh air and gives us just a taste of the energy and liveliness that we’re surrounded by. BrickBeatsMag.com | 27
Rise & Shine by ERIC WIETMARSCHEN veryone knows what they expect when clicking on any new hip-hop song. They might love it just because of artist familiarity or because the song somehow resonates with them. They also might hate it because it fails to have a point. More and more artists are putting out songs that do nothing but push the same old “I’m a pimp, come on girl drink” lyrics that seems to rule our day. Meaningless verses and overrated hooks and choruses are overlooked just because the beat might make you bob your head a little bit. That being said, there are still artists that put
out real music. Here at Ohio University we have one who is in the beginning stages of creating a persona for himself. Jéan P has been putting out music for some time now, but the album I will be concentrating on is “Rise & Shine.” Like many of his earlier songs, the lyrical content of the album goes deeper than “club language” or whatever one would prefer to call it. With the development of lyrics and beats that highlight his skills rather than overtake them, this album proves to be a relatively good listen. For first listeners it also offers an easy way to adjust to his style. Overall I feel the album is decent. Although it lacks some of the storytelling that has been prevalent in his earlier albums, it is not just full of songs that drone the same message over and over again. Each song has its own personality, making the album easy and enjoyable to listen to from the beginning. With experience comes improvement and Jéan P is becoming better with each album he puts out. With steadily improving lyrics and a seemingly incomprehensible poetical ability, Jéan P can be expected to be a name you will hear more in the near future.
Key Tracks: The Blues My Rhyme A Crush on Roxy 28 | BrickBeatsMag.com
album review by AARON WESTENDORF
am not necessarily a deaf ear, but definitely an ignorant ear to the world of hip hop. Jéan P’s “Rise & Shine” may not take my hip-hop virginity, but I will never earn the title of “hip hop expert.” My first impressions of “Rise & Shine” were good. The introduction to the album made me feel like I was in an old swinging joint in Chicago; the music is a simple piano and bass with easy moving lyrics that introduce Jéan P as the hip-hop poet. It is a simple look into the “Life of Jéan P.” The album took a sudden turn for the worse with the second cut, “Talladega Nights.” Jéan enlists fellow hip-hop artist Amor Jones for this track. Jones lacks the ease in his flow that Jéan possesses. His lazy lyrics sound like they are stuck in mud and offer nothing of substance, just the typical lines about chicks and drugs. The next couple of songs get back to Jéan P’s self-acclaimed poetic lyrics and true hip hop. He started to remind me of a more relaxed version of Lupe Fiasco, letting creative musical backgrounds carry simple beats, which allowed his smooth, pure lyrics to flow freely. Jéan P’s most creative song is number four, “A Crush on Roxy.” He starts with the awkward kind of speech that most guys have found themselves stammering as they talk to their hot crush. The stuttering Jéan P undergoes a drastic transformation as the song progresses, busting into a confident flow of romantic poetry. It is not a stereotypical rapper hook about the woman’s curves, but instead he asks her in a polite love letter about her personality, her beauty and relays how badly he wants the chance to hang out with her. The letter ends with his admission of “so um / I’m kinda shy / I kinda like you…” It exposes the role of music in Jéan P’s life, how he can begin as a shy guy and transform into an open and honest lyricist. I believe that people love to hear musicians’ passion in their music. It is obvious how honest his crush on Roxy is. No song lived up to my expectations after learning about his crush on Roxy. “U Know How We Do” annoyed me with the constant and uncreative “true” throughout the song. “MC Killanigga Gets
His voice reveals the blues within and causes you to feel his pain. Played” is a comedic commentary that left me confused and wondering what was going on in the album. It distracted me enough to forget how annoying “true” was. However, I reconnected to the album with the next track, “The Blues.” Jéan P returns to being honest here in grand form. His voice reveals the blues within and causes you to feel his pain, as well. Two sad stories intertwine into a soulful, depressing chorus that compels the sad, empty feeling. Not that I want to see Jéan P struggle and face hardships, but he produces his best music when he is relating something real. In this case, it is the miserable curveball life can unexpectedly throw at anyone. Jéan P creates his own brand of hip hop in the appropriately titled “My Rhyme.” The selfproclaimed “real hip hop” is established through his clean lyrics, “I’m on cloud nine even though I’m underground,” he states. The uplifting beat elevates the song to an inspirational level and becomes music that anyone could blast through their speakers and feel a connection to. The final track seems like a gift from Jéan P to devoted fans. The live version of “Elemental Groove Theory” reminds his listeners that he is still small and still cares about all of those who support him and has not gotten too big for small venues. Overall, I found that Jéan P’s “Rise & Shine” exhibits his classic hip-hop sensibilities. His work draws from a chill lifestyle that anybody can relate to. At times I wondered why he allowed anyone else to be featured on the album, being as they seemed to do more harm than good on their tracks. In the end, “Rise & Shine” helped me to appreciate the hype behind Jéan P.
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Mind Fish M
by KYLE RANALLY
ind Fish’s “Measles, Mumps and Rebellion” is exactly what the pop-punk band set it out to be —a “rock opera.” It is a varied mix depicting the bitterness, emptiness and frustration encompassed in heartbreak. It tells the story of a hero grief-stricken by loss and confusion in his journey to persevere over his disparity by becoming the greatest pop star of all time. The 13 songs on the album are separated into three acts representing different themes within the hero’s experience. The first act, titled “Measles,” consists of the first four songs on the album. This act introduces listeners to the hero’s down but not out mentality. The tracks in this act acknowledge how the main character has faced hardships, but yet he refuses to give up. “Oil and Water” drives this act with a fast-paced, Hivesesque punch. This song is a chance to vent built-up frustration and put the blame on someone other than the hero. “Ooo, Who” is another stand out track in this section. This track emphasizes the hero’s determination to succeed saying, “I’m not alone / I’ve got these guys to my right / I’ve got this girl by my side / Believe me, we ain’t going down without a fight.” The rapid punk sound moves to a slower acoustic set for the second act, “Mumps.” This is where the pain and uncertainty set in for the hero. The hero gets a chance to reflect on missed opportunity and the obscurity of his current life. This act features soothing harmonies to complement the somber, mystic euphony of the four tracks. The act concludes with the song “Therapy,” where the hero seeks guidance for his depression. The song’s upbeat melody contrasts with the dismal lyrics showing the hero’s instability through his arduous adventure. At the end of the track, a shrieking scream is let out as a result of our hero’s emotional pain. The final act in this pop rock opera, “Rebellion,” brings back the punk sound as our hero begins to persevere over his trouble. This turning point gives hope to the beaten, underdog hero in his battle to restore the balance in his life. “Sell You as Art” demonstrates 30 | BrickBeatsMag.com
the hero’s acceptance of what has happened and how he will move on. Our hero thinks optimistically saying, “So I know that it’s over, and I meant what I told her, day by day I’m better with time, because life moves on, and the past is gone, and she is no longer mine.” This comes as a happy ending to any tragedy. It reminds us that pain is only temporary, and the past is gone. “Measles, Mumps and Rebellion” encourages listeners make the best of a bad situation in a catchy and euphonious way.
s Mumps & Rebellion by RACHEL KELLY
he term “rock opera” was coined in the mid1960s. Musical stories evolve through well organized songs, allowing the listener to engage in an imaginary theater. The Who’s “Tommy,” Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” are considered by many to be the standard against which all other rock operas should be compared. Some rock operas make it to Broadway, such as Evita and American Idiot. Mind Fish successfully join the ranks of storytellers with their album, “Measles, Mumps and Rebellion.”
MM&R starts with a very relatable message/ theme. Songs about heartbreak and the desire for fame are not by any means new. In fact, we’re bombarded by them every day on the radio. Mind Fish does, however, put an innovative spin on this overused theme through catchy melodies and simple yet witty lyrics. The title song, “Measles, Mumps and Rebellion,” perfectly sets the tone of the album. It builds up a momentum that rarely subsides throughout the duration of the track. From the moment the song begins, we are catapulted into the angry, sad, and ambitious mind of “our hero.” The lyric “I’m not dead!” repeat over and over, sounding like a battle cry from the hero, who shows no signs of backing down or letting anything stop him. The album, progressing much like a theatrical production in the listener’s head, is split into three acts: Measles, Mumps, and Rebellion. Measles features fast-paced scenes from the past and declarations for the future. Mumps consists of slower songs about the girl who broke the hero’s heart. Resisting lethargy the pace of the songs quickens again with Rebellion. This act focuses on his becoming a pop star and getting revenge. This isn’t the genre of music I generally listen to, so I had no idea what to expect when I started listening. I’m used to listening to acoustic music, so I decided to listen to this album while just sitting around my room which proved more difficult than I thought. This album is meant to be listened to while with friends or while doing other activities because overall it is a very upbeat album. Ideally, it should be heard live because of the emotion and performance involved. My favorite song on the album was “You, Beautiful You.” It’s a very relatable song, in addition to being much slower and less repetitive than the others. The lyric, “What would you do if I wrote you this love song?” sums up the theme of the track. Overall, Mind Fish accomplished what they set out to do: Make sure the “rock opera” stays alive. BrickBeatsMag.com | 31
house by ALLISON MALONEY photos by KYLE GRILLOT
What happens in Athens stays stuck to the cement floor of basement rave venue The (Devil’s) Playground. Beneath almost a hundred of Athens’ finest PBR-drinking partygoers, a dark, dank staircase leading underground easily goes unnoticed amongst the chaos. Stairs lined with broken water balloons, ashes, and long-forgotten inhibitions heads directly to the loudest, dirtiest, most packed music venue on campus. Amongst the water heaters and concrete walls below our city’s crooked cobblestone streets, bodies slam together as waving hands create shadows against beams of light, through fog-machine smoke, and across one another. While each mind in the room may be clouded, one thing is quite clear: the do-it-yourself venue is here and plans to stay.
f you’ve ever wondered why house shows and parties aren’t fitting your idea of excitement, there’s a reason why. “It’s a hell of a lot more fun to do it yourself,” Chris Reidy, a junior at Ohio University, proclaims over sips of homemade wine. So says (Devil’s) Playground-er and member of house band Ass.Bong, describing the weeklong process of planning as a chance to reach out to talented people within the community. The inhabitants of The (Devil’s) Playground explain the venue was chosen because of its prime location and their desire to offer something that bars and house venues of the past have failed to provide. “You can get crazy here, balls-to-the-wall,” senior video production major John Heeg explains. “We set it up for that reason: total artistic and human freedom.” Some of Athens’ most popular live acts—Zapaño, The Bob Hat Attack, Brothertiger, Mindfish—have let loose at least one of the numerous basement shows since they started booking in June, networking solely through Facebook and word of mouth. Boasting massive crowds well into the hundreds, the grungy atmosphere of raw live music at The (Devil’s) Playground is one you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else. That is, unless the Union starts throwing themed baby pool parties with raging thrash rock where that girl from your English class is drinking tequila from a full watermelon, naked. The (Devil’s) Playground serves as the premiere new hot spot to see music in Athens, but not without much hard work from all parties involved. Senior political science major and other half of Ass.Bong, Jamie Kennedy, speaks of the communal effort required to put a show together, especially the importance of the presence of a crowd. “Everyone is so weird, we all have different things to contribute,” he says. Heeg finishes the sentence with a small, knowing smile: “Shy doesn’t work here.” The claustrophobic atmosphere breeds a contagious attitude between the housemates and their network of resources. Amongst the mutual community of friends was senior Greg O’Hearn, looking for the chance to play for a crowd with his band, Millions of Michael Jordans. A simple idea evolved into an all-day Halloween showcase of nine of Athens’ finest local musicians and Deejays. The house
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rests tucked behind a sprawling hill of a yard and a horribly designed parking lot, allowing for slight protection from residential neighbors and wandering police. O’Hearn realized they had more than enough space for over 100 Athenian music junkies to party about at their own risk as local bands, promoted by fliers crafted by his artistically inclined friends, played from 4 p.m. to midnight. The fliers—spotted everywhere from the fair stalls of Alden to Chase Bank’s window— pulled in a crowd of “nearly half strangers,” all looking for the good time only kegs and live music can offer, but with no cover charge. “I was way more excited than nervous,” O’Hearn laughed, “I knew I’d be the one responsible for anything going wrong.” Doing it all himself proved to be a rewarding project for both the public administration major and his friends, but the feat came with technical difficulties that
You can get crazy here, balls-to-the-wall. We set it up for that reason: total artistic and human freedom. – JOHN HEEG
DIY shows are often subject to. Without the luxury of the equipment at the bar venues, the Morgue was forced to use electricity running from bathroom outlets and extension cords. This mix proved to be troublesome for Brothertiger, otherwise known as DJ John Jagos, a frequent performer at the bar and house Athens music circuits. While performing his music, which some describe as chill-wave, while he prefers “a new form of disco,” the junior music production major and host O’Hearn were forced to reset the power over three times. Jagos stresses the importance of good equipment and setup to anyone trying to throw a memorable house show and insisted he was amped and honored to play at Morguefest, which he considered to be “a best of Athens festival.” Since October, the Morgue has continued to produce multiple rounds of grassroots good time in throwing a succession of successful raves. For a newcomer on the Athens’ music scene, the people and places can serve as intimidating reminders of one’s young age or lack of connections—fears that all the aforementioned people rexperienced in their first few years at Ohio University. “People are always weirded out by other people they don’t know,” says O’Hearn, “but that’s the beauty of branching out. Shit like live music is great conversation starter.” Each contributor to this piece stressed the importance of communication within the Athens community of artists, writers, and musicians, and just how vital excitement is to any conversation because it just might lead to a project. “Once you’re excited about what you’re doing, once you’re dancing, people realize it’s okay to be themselves and go fuckin’ nuts,” Heeg quipped. There’s something about the explosive energy that emerges from the seedy corners of these Athens homes makes the exhausting projects worthwhile and memorable. “When you [do it yourself], when you have to drive to Columbus for P.A.’s and clean the house for a week afterwards, you smile the entire time
Once you’re excited about wh dancing, people realize it’s ok
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hat you’re doing, once you’re kay to be themselves. – JOHN HEEG
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thinking about what might happen, what you might see or hear,” Reidy explained. With each comment his roommates made, Kennedy chain smoked while nodding along excitedly, almost dancing to buzzing vibrations of creativity in the air. The (Devil’s) Playground’s keepers and O’Hearn attribute some inspiration to the success of the Spacement, a now defunct basement venue that left big shoes to fill after going on hiatus following noise violations late last year. Andrew Logan, tenant and organizer of the Spacement 38 | BrickBeatsMag.com
during the 2009-2010 school year, spoke candidly of the dozens of shows he helped throw, but remained respectfully in tune with the requirements of the noise ordinance. “To be super legit, plan bands earlier and deejays later, considering drums are the loudest instrument,” Logan suggested, “and have trash cans available. Seriously.” Where there is fun to be found, responsibility and support are necessary. Sitting next to me in the basement of The (Devil’s) Playground as we took the last swigs of our 3 a.m. beers, Logan cracked a grin while
expressing all the fun he has had making ordinary strangers dance like maniacs. His birthday celebration, thrown in January, was the Spacement’s only exhibition of music so far this year, boasting seven deejays and over 100 guests. As the years and leases come to a close, the venues and basements of the years gone by turn over to new faces and names. With each new group of tenants and influx of fresh, creative minds, Athens perpetuates the capability of producing experiences that remain genuinely interesting examples of how deviation can be
a beautiful thing, with music made by peers, assembled by friends, and fueled by the emptiness that only a womp-womp beat or thumping bass riff can fill. By simply engaging themselves with their fellow Athenians, people such as The (Devil’s) Playground-ers, O’Hearn and Logan, exemplify a commitment to a guilt-free good time that all live music should provide. So please, we beg, do Athens a favor and keep a steady rhythm tapping in your brain as you house hunt for next year. Try something new, shake your ass and keep the dream alive. BrickBeatsMag.com | 39
BEAT by DEVON ANTONETTI
he sidewalks are already covered in ice and high-heel skid marks when the Union Bar and Grill opens its doors for the first Dance or Die of 2011. A handful of students scatter across the bar, piling their coats on the side booths while trying to restart their circulation. A crowd gathers next to the front speakers: dancing, singing and shouting requests. On stage, there are no skinny-jeans or guitars, bushy beards or flannel-clad bandmates. Instead, two tall, shaggy-haired deejays exchange spots at the turntables. In a seamless transition, the crowd cannot tell when one leaves and the other takes over. The men behind the tables are Michael Bart and Danny Johnson, better known by their onstage personas, DJs Barticus and Self Help, respectively. Together they host the monthly dance party, which usually draws larger crowds than on this cold Saturday in January. A huddle of hopeful partygoers gradually grows into an impressive crowd, and by midnight, the dance floor is a cluster of flailing arms and kicking legs, resembling the energy that is typical in a Dance or Die Party. Barticus, who graduated from Ohio University in 2003, and Self Help, who graduated in 2006,
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are just two of Athens’ career deejays. With only Apple laptops and a few crates of vinyl, they accomplish what a full band spends an hour-long set trying to achieve: a musical connection. As Self Help combs through his muttonchops while spinning Wreckx-N-Effect’s “Rump Shaker” into Mariah Carey’s “Fantasy,” the crowd alters their steps and shouts along to the musical fusion without missing a beat. “A good deejay has to be cohesive. You have to think about the audience, what they want to hear, and what you think they would like,” he explains. But having eclectic music taste doesn’t always get crowds moving. There is a technical element to deejaying, involving the understanding of audio mechanics and aesthetics of musical flow. “It requires technique. There’s interaction with the crowd, song selection, knowing how audio works,” Barticus says. “You’re essentially programming the mood.” The Union is an Athens hotspot for musicians of all kinds, but deejays are featured in multiple events that separate their presence from other genres. In addition to Dance or Die, the uptown bar hosts the electro-dance nights Dave Rave each month, featuring Dave Alexander spinning
as DJ Time Traveler and Brandon Thomas as DJ B-Funk. Dave Rave is a growing event, evolving from an occasional after-party to a monthly staple. It has become Athens’ main source of trance and house music, taking a different approach than the Top 40 mash-ups of Dance or Die. “DJ nights definitely have a different feel than when we have live bands,” Union Manager AJ Castro explains. “People come out ready to dance, ready to party. They’re usually younger, but it’s high energy and more of a party attitude.” Deejays are a growing group in Athens, setting themselves apart as “be-all” frontmen and controlling all aspects of a typical band. OU’s school of audio production is partly responsible for this. As one of just a few schools in the country with the audio production major, OU draws mixing-and-scratching enthusiasts from all over the country. Barticus came to Athens from Olney, Maryland, a small town about 20 miles from Washington D.C., where he learned first-hand about hip hop and rock through artists like De La Soul and Wu Tang Clan. “My high school had a full studio, and I loved playing around in there,” he says. “When it was time to look at schools, there were only two places I found, which were OU and Middle Tennessee [State University], and Tennessee was too flat for me.” Christopher Summers, who moonlights as DJ iShine, is another a D.C. area native who was lured to Athens by audio production. iShine is currently in his junior year but has already made a name for himself, performing in cities from New York to Atlanta. At the age of 21, he was already backed by his own label: 1Sided Productions. “I use my music to return to old roots,” he says while fidgeting with a pair of black sunglasses. “Music isn’t only vocals and instruments, it’s having style and a positive energy.” His peers at the table seem to agree. Most grew up listening predominantly to hip-hop music while sampling songs in their high schools. Eventually, the budding deejays brought their mixes to the OU dorms and used outlets such as the All Campus Radio Network (ACRN) and Hip Hop Congress for technical fine-tuning. “I got comfortable through house parties and
Hip Hop Congress experimenting with lots of funk and soul, playing on College Green with b-boys and rappers,” Self Help says. “Baker Center also had some random Friday night dance parties.” Since graduating, Self Help has worked with Columbus hip-hop group Alleyes Path and a number of other musicians around the state, ranging from cellists to punk bands. One of the first and most successful deejays in Athens is 2004 OU graduate Dan Haug, known around town as DJ Ruckus Roboticus. As a cofounder of Dance or Die, which began in the fall of 2003 with then-roommate Barticus, Roboticus released the full-length album Playing with Scratches in 2007 and has created remixes for Bloc Party and Vampire Weekend from his home in Dayton. Many of Athens’ current deejays also work with various hip-hop crews, either mixing singles or producing. These collaborations have lead to exposure across various genres and established the modern disc jockey as a musical force to be reckoned with. Part of the recent mainstream success of hip hop and its deejays can be credited to technological change. Deejay software has brought mixing and scratching down to a computer science, while MP3s have transformed music collecting. With MP3s, deejays no longer cart crates of vinyl to different venues, instead consolidating their entire libraries into digital files for better variety and mobility. Barticus alone claims a record collection that fills “four station wagons.” “MP3 opened up a lot. There are endless songs to choose from and you have more range,” he says. “I have a few crates for back-up, but the shows are a hybrid of MP3 and vinyl now.” Technology, however, does pose the same threats as it does for other musicians. Promotion has become easier, with blogs, social networks and websites, but also makes it harder for music fans to filter the good artists from the “not-mytaste” artists. But in a small town like Athens, word of mouth is a deejay’s best advertisement. “I expect things will get more gimmicky since it’s harder to get noticed. But that’s what’s nice about Athens. It’s small, but it’s a college town and the students do keep coming back,” Barticus says. BrickBeatsMag.com | 41
Professor Rock The Bob Stewart Band by SCOTT HUTCHINSON photos by RYAN MURPHY
o you remember second grade? Remember story time on those little carpet squares? Remember when you and your family went to Applebee’s and ran into your teacher? You were so shocked that he or she was a real person who actually had a life outside of the classroom. This story is a little bit like that, but this time you aren’t at Applebee’s. You’re at a concert watching a band play, and your teacher happens to be the lead singer. We so often imagine college professors standing in front of chalkboards or sitting behind desks, but one faculty member at Ohio University prefers to spend his free time on the stage, trading in pens and flash drives for a guitar and a microphone. Bob Stewart is the director of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. He has lived in the foothills of Athens for years, giving lectures, advising students and perhaps most surprisingly, capturing audiences as the front man of his fivepiece folk-blues band. Known amongst his students as a lanky, cleancut professor, Stewart may not look the part of a blues singer -- but looks can be deceiving. Stewart began playing guitar as a nine-year42 | BrickBeatsMag.com
old boy, and with aspirations of writing film music, was a music major in college for two years before switching to communications. Although he gave up on music as his field of study, he never gave up on his dreams of performing. In 2002, Stewart and fellow OU staff member Elliot Abrams began playing guitar together at local open mic nights. Over time, their sounds meshed, songs were written, members were added, and what is now known as “The Bob Stewart Band” was formed. Since its founding, the band has crafted a sound that they joke can only be described as, “The Bob Stewart Band sound.” It is part folk, part blues, and yet, completely original. Stewart’s deep vocals are layered over acoustic guitars, a standing bass, drums and harmonica to create a catchy, soulful sound. Touring the local circuit, the band has played gigs all throughout the Athens area, while also keeping busy in the studio: writing and releasing two full-length albums. Although Stewart knows his unique combination of teaching and performing may seem unusual to some, he said that playing with his band really isn’t that different from his day job.
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I feel lucky that I don’t have to make it as a musician and I can just use it as something fun to do with my friends. It’s a definite stress reliever. – BOB STEWART, lead singer
“When you’re in front of an audience of any kind you realize that you have a role to play,” Stewart says. “People have a certain set of expectations. You’re standing in front of them and you need to deliver something. I think a great teaching moment is like a great gig moment. When things click, it feels wonderful. Then again, when things go bad in front of a class it’s just as bad as things going bad at a gig.” While he draws connections between his performing and his teaching, Stewart admits that he doesn’t always carry that same professorial persona onto the stage with him. There’s a change that takes place. When the band is clicking and the music is going strong, he sinks into the moment. “I think there’s little bit of a transformation. I don’t think you would see a complete stranger up there, but I do change,” Stewart says. “Much of the time on stage I have my eyes closed. I don’t like the distraction of looking out into the audience. I’m a little shy about that. I’m having fun too, though. There’s something special about being up there and playing music with my friends.” Every musician dreams of someday making it big, but despite the band’s success, Stewart is happy right where he is and has no plans of turning his music into a career. “Whenever we play a great gig there’s always that thought that, “Wow, I wish I could do this more.” At the same time, though, I think that if music were my job it would become a drag. I feel lucky that I don’t have to make it as a musician and I can just use it as something fun to do with my friends. It’s a definite stress reliever,” Stewart says. Prior to the 2010-2011 school year, Stewart was promoted to the position of director at Scripps. Along with the new job came timeconsuming responsibilities that made him question his future with the band. In the end, though, Stewart decided to stick with it. “For a while I was really questioning whether I’d have enough time to keep going with the band,” Stewart said, “but I’ve realized since that I need the band more than ever. Some people have their golf buddies. I don’t golf. Some people have their fishing buddies. I don’t really fish that much. I have my band.” BrickBeatsMag.com | 45
OU's Very Own
Monsters by MIRANDA RICHARDSON photos by PARKER ROM, AYRIKA WHITNEY and ADAM BIALEK
ake up Little Monsters!” Paige Siegwardt cackles as the band of Lady Gaga lovers’ monster paws begins to pulse to the rhythm of “Bad Romance.” Breaking free of all comfort zones, these little monsters spring to life, dancing in worship of their Gaga god. They snarl seductively, grope willingly, and dance fiercely in front of a cheering crowd at The Union Bar during their “Dance in the Dark” charity event. Lady Gaga, most famously known for her pop music and distinct style, has become a pop music sensation within the last five years, releasing top singles such as “Just Dance” and “Bad Romance.” Gaga has attracted a huge following and has created a unique connection with her fans all around the world. Parker Rom, one of Lady Gaga’s biggest fans, was inspired to form a charity organization at Ohio University in her name. Rom, while only a sophomore at OU, is the founder and president of OU Little Monsters. OU Little Monsters emerged halfway through the fall quarter of 2010 and quickly became a successful organization on campus. “We have 52 members, which in fact impressed one of the University’s deans,” Rom says proudly, “[he] told me they had never seen such a large membership in such a short amount of time, especially since we started midway through the [fall] quarter.” 46 | BrickBeatsMag.com
As the organization grew, OULM began to create its own charity events. One of the most popular events was the Gaga-themed bake sale in which members sold baked goods with a “Gaga twist.” “Although many organizations have bake sales, ours was unique because I don’t believe anyone else has sold ‘pretzel disco sticks’ or ‘bluffin’ muffins,’” Rom says with enthusiasm. OU Little Monsters donates 70 percent of profit earned through their charities to selected foundations and saves the remaining 30 percent to fund their next charity event. Rom says, “This is what makes our slogan, ‘70 percent charity, 30 percent glamour.’” Each quarter, the members of the OULM executive board select a national foundation and a state/local foundation to sponsor. OULM has donated their proceeds to The Trevor Project and Kaleidoscope Youth Center, both of which sponsor the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender community. Since Lady Gaga is a member of the LGBT community and supports it through her own charities, OULM felt that these organizations were well suited in her honor. “Both of these charities were founded to serve the LGBT community and since [October] was LGBT month, we found it fit to focus on giving our money to those two groups,” OULM member Meghan McComb says.
One event that OULM helped organize was the candlelight vigil in memory of the LGBT youth suicides that occurred during the fall of 2010. This event was a non-profit charity event in which 100 percent of the donations were given to The Trevor Project. The Flames of Love Candlelight Vigil not only remembered the LGBT youth who took their lives but also emotionally touched many members. Sarah Chadwell, OULM treasurer, says, “We are not a fan club, we are a charity organization. Although we do everything in Lady Gaga’s name, we do everything for charity.” Some of the events that have been more devoted to Lady Gaga were the “Bad Romance” dance workshop and music video shoot. During these events, members were able to bond through their love of Lady Gaga and grow closer as an organization. “I think more than anything [charity] is helping us grow closer to each other,” Chadwell says. “We do feel more connected with the world and our community by doing these events and we feel that we are making a difference no matter how small or large it may be.”
OU Little Monsters members aren’t afraid to stand out and show off their style. Crowds often form when OULM gets together to do a public event, and when this happens, all members feel proud to be part of something so unique. “It’s very fun when we are doing events in public,” Rom says. “During the [‘Bad Romance] shoot, we had crowds watching us wherever we went. It’s not every day you see people dancing in ridiculous outfits to Lady Gaga music.” While many members have joined because of their love for Lady Gaga and charity, OULM members have remained active due to the friendships formed in the open-minded atmosphere. Chadwell says, “Our group is all about acceptance! We have a policy of no discrimination and complete acceptance. Lady Gaga also helps the group relate to one another. I also find myself to be a more confident person by growing with this group and my friends.” OU Little Monsters is one of the most diverse organizations on campus, consisting of many LGBT and heterosexual members. Everyone is very accepting of each other, and no one is afraid to hide who they really are. With Lady Gaga BrickBeatsMag.com | 47
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as their inspiration, OULM has truly overcome the obstacle of discrimination that many other groups cannot seem to supersede. “We have a value that everyone is welcome in our group, no matter their race, gender, or sexuality,” Rom says. “We do reach out to the LGBT organizations such as Open Doors, Shades, and Ally, and many of our members are also in those groups. Our members know that Gaga is very gay friendly; however, our organization is not exclusively LGBT.” Meghan McComb, a freshman at OU, felt overwhelmed in a new town full of people she didn’t know, but as soon as she joined OU Little Monsters she felt right at home. “Everyone is so open and welcoming in this club that I immediately felt like I should be here and that helped me to open up to others and speak up when I had something to say,” says McComb. Since the commencement of the organization,
OU Little Monsters members have helped one another grow as individuals while shaping OULM into the accepting organization it has rapidly become. Belonging to an organization that strongly values diversity has helped all members become open with themselves and others. “I’ve always considered myself to be fairly open-minded, but I believe that this group has shown me that it is extremely important to be open minded and to accept people for who they are,” McComb says. While OU Little Monsters ultimately contributes to charity, the organization’s inspiration for creation has been musical icon, Lady Gaga. The original members came together to grow closer to their idol but gained more than they ever expected: close friendships and a better outlook on diversity. These monster’s outfits may change, but their attitudes will always remain positive and open. BrickBeatsMag.com | 49
front stage pass
Donkey Saturdays by JOEL STEVENS photos by CHRISTINA SNYDER
he soft, orange glow of Donkey Coffee filled the stage as Brannigan Dastardly kicked off Brick City Record’s sponsored show on Jan. 15 at 10 p.m. College students and older couples packed the venue, listening attentively as the acoustic duo began their set. Nic Prellwitz and Joel Pendery, Cleveland natives and recent graduates of Ohio University, exchanged a few words of encouragement before strumming the first few chords of their opening song, “Steamboat.” Influences of blues and folk were easily recognizable in Pendery’s soulful lead vocals. The first song gave way to impressive cheers from the audience and from that point on, the crowd was hooked. Feelings of tension seemed to melt away from the two performers, as they joked about their distaste for the Pittsburgh Steelers before continuing their set. A series of nature-inspired love songs allowed Prellwitz to harmonize effectively with Pendery. Together, these guys sounded amazing. Their bodies pulsed with the music, and emotion was undoubtedly the leading factor in the success of their performance. The Easy Winners took the stage next. Three violinists (one bass violinist) and one guitarist comprised the Athens based, four-piece ensemble. Lead singer and violinist, Diane Cline, expressed her love for the college town before the performance. “Places like Athens are so unique,” Cline said. “I’ll be here to stay eventually.” She was also quick to point out the debt free credit signs featured on the walls of the coffee shop, which were art pieces done by her sister Emily Cline, the back-up singer and fiddle player. 50 | BrickBeatsMag.com
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front stage pass The Easy Winners started off with melodies from the Great American Songbook, a collection of jazzy, rag-inspired tunes from “way back when.” The lead singer danced on stage in accordance with the playful rhythms of Louis Armstrong’s “On the Sunny Side of the Street,” capturing the crowd’s attention with her wide smile. Unfortunately, the other musicians seemed to lack any sort of notable stage presence and remained stagnant as Diane Cline flitted amongst them. The band slowed down its set as acoustic guitarist, Chris Tomazic, performed an original folk song with accented, Dylan-esque rasp. The audience seemed to appreciate this temporary change of pace. Diane Cline went right back to dancing for the final song titled: “Hoover Dam Pancake,” a fast, groovy waltz that had everyone in the room tapping their feet. Pendery and Prellwitz came back on stage, accompanied by bassist John Moyer to form the tech-infused Pandaz. The band had a difficult time setting up their equipment at first. “This is just a trainwreck,” Prellwitz said as he fumbled with the synthetic drum machine. But after a bit of tweaking and light laughter from the crowd, Pandaz got the beat going with the performance of their original song, “Smooth Tamale.” It featured a fresh blend of simple acoustic chord progressions and quick electric riffs. The two singers wowed the crowd with their vocal sustain, sometimes holding out notes for what seemed like minutes. After singing another Pandaz original, “Koala Tea,” Prellwitz joked with the audience. “I think that entire song was sung on one breath,” he said. In songs such as “Ricky Ticky Tango” and “Hiro the Brabarian,” Pendery and Prellwitz took turns rapping, which confused a few of the crowd members. “I don’t really like it when bands do rap breakdowns like that,” said a concertgoer in response to Pandaz’s performance. Each of the three bands had little trouble securing attention and appreciation from the crowd, and every person interviewed after the show said that he or she would definitely attend a future performance by Brannigan Dastardly, The Easy Winners, or Pandaz. BrickBeatsMag.com | 53
History This week in music history: Brick Beats and B.I.G. by RYAN AMIN photo by AARON H. by CREATIVE COMMONS
his first issue of Brick Beats magazine has been published during the same week as a significant moment in music history. March 9, 1997 marks the day rapper Christopher Wallace was killed in a drive-by shooting in Los Angeles at age 24. Wallace was known as Notorious B.I.G. and quickly took over the rap industry in his short 5-year-long career. Wallace was a key member in the coastal rivalry between the East and West Coast rappers. He was also close friends with Tupac Shakur, but after the attempted murder of Shakur, the two started feuding because of accusations about who was the assailant. This ultimately led to a rivalry between Tupac’s label, Death Row Records, and Bad Boy Records, the label that signed Wallace. The rivalry resulted in the death of Shakur in 1996. Wallace was killed six months later. Both cases remain unsolved, but the investigation has 56 | BrickBeatsMag.com
recently been “reinvigorated” due to unreleased new evidence according to CNN. Wallace’s album “Life After Death” was released two weeks after his death and rapidly climbed to the top of U.S. album charts. The album was nominated for the Best Hip-Hop Album in the 1998 Grammy Awards. “Life After Death” is considered one of the greatest albums in history by some of the biggest names in the music industry, including Jay-Z, Eminem, and Snoop Dogg. A shortened career did not keep Wallace’s music from affecting current hip-hop and rap artists like Wiz Khalifa and Chip the Ripper. Musicians who are inspired by Wallace often note his “untouchable” flow and style. Time Magazine wrote that Wallace was able to make smooth, multi-syllabic rhymes with ease and mentioned that his elite status in the hip-hop industry stemmed from the fact all of his songs were written about the difficult life he lived.
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(Issue 1) "Brick Beats" is an all-music magazine covering the artists and venues of Athens, Ohio.