TH E M US I C I A N’S R ES O U RC E
OCT 2012 FREE
ANNIE & THE BEEKEEPERS T WO GALL ANTS TODD SNIDER DR. DOG
“Never be afraid to take artistic risks. Always be on the brink of catastrophe or greatness.”
plus 10 REASONS YOU’RE
CHOOSING THE RIGHT
TIPS FOR ADDING
LOSING FACEBOOK FANS
REVERB IN THE STUDIO
MUSIC EDUCATION 101
t ’ n o d t tha k.
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© 2012 PreSonus Audio Electronics, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Nimbit, PreSonus, QMix, StudioLive, FaderPort, and XMAX are trademarks or registered trademarks of PreSonus Audio Electronics, Inc. Studio One is a registered trademark of PreSonus Software Ltd. This ad prepared way in advance on the day before Hurricane Isaac hits Baton Rouge.
“Sweaters? Lame. Gift cards? So last millennium. Shove this ad in front of your significant other, mom, rich aunt or uncle, etc., and get something useful.” Laten C. Boudreaux
A Studio One® Artist 2 intuitive, powerful
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B FaderPort™ USB DAW Controller. Control your DAW with a USB-powered, touch-sensitive, motorized 100 mm Alps® fader and transport controls. C HP4 Headphone 4-Channel Headphone Amp. With four clear, clean, screaming-loud (150 mW) headphone outputs, even the drummer will hear every note.
D AudioBox™ Studio complete recording system — just add a PC or Mac® laptop. Includes AudioBox USB 2 x 2 interface, Studio One Artist 2 recording and production software, HD7 professional monitoring headphones, M7 large-diaphragm condenser microphone and cables. E Studio One® Producer DAW. Singlewindow interface and drag-and-drop everything speeds your workflow and doesn’t get in the way of your creativity. Handles VST plug-ins, exports MP3s as well as to Nimbit® (free account included).
F AudioBox 44VSL 4 x 4 USB 2.0 Interface with StudioLive effects and Fat Channel signal processing with inaudible latency. Pristine XMAX™ microphone preamps, solid metal chassis, Studio One Artist 2 recording and production software, and free Nimbit® account included.
True Diversity UHF Wireless Systems Easy setup, clear sound & automatic scanning. • All 10 channels are compatible for easy use with multiple systems • Automatic frequency scanning • True Diversity operation reduces dropouts
True Diversity UHF Wireless Systems For the wireless user ready to step up to an advanced system. • 996–1001 selectable UHF frequencies per band • Now available in three frequency bands for maximum flexibility • True Diversity operation reduces dropouts
Visit audio-technica.com for details. For products purchased between October 1, 2012 and December 31, 2012.
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True Diversity UHF Wireless Systems Outstanding clarity and versatility for live performance, regional touring, fixed installations and more. • 996 selectable UHF frequencies per band • IntelliScan™ finds & sets best available frequencies on linked receivers • True Diversity operation reduces dropouts
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Break free from FOH conďŹ nement. With the DL1608â€™s seamless wired to wireless mixing capability, you can dial in the perfect mix from anywhere in the venue. Walk the room. Ring out monitors on stage. Mix from the bar. Hey, we just want you to be free. Think of it as 16 channels of digital liberation.
TA B L E O F C O N T E N T S
VOL.22, ISSUE 10
Annie and The Beekeepers
by Benjamin Ricci
by Ellen Eldridge
Adrianne Gonzalez is many things: a songwriter, a visual artist, a feminist, and STORY one helluva musician. We discuss her new EP of Beatles covers, taking artistic risks and arranging music for the studio.
Dr. Dog by Heidi Schmitt
Phillyâ€™s indie heroes discuss achieving their singular sound through the use of solid-state amps, and the jump to a larger label.
Songstress Annie Lynch and her band of Beekeepers discuss their cathartic songwriting process and the importance of music education.
Two Gallants by Benjamin Ricci 24
Todd Snider by Jason Peterson
After an excruciating five-year hiatus, this gnarly Bay Area duo is back, having learned much about approaching the recording studio during their time apart.
The perennial singer/songwriter is back on the road, touring like a teenager again and taking his guitar playing to a new level.
D E PA R T M E N T S 5 Obituaries
47 10 Reasons Youâ€™re Losing Facebook Fans
6 Local News
48 Legal Pad: Agents, Managers & Lawyers
11 Tour Stop: Santa Fe, NM
50 My Favorite Axe: with Sean Wagner
12 Spotlights: George Kamel, The Tins,
51 Recording: Tracking & Mixing Guitars
Photos - clockwise from top. Jen Rosenstein, Jen Painter, Todd Purifoy, Eric Ryan Anderson, Nicky Devine Cover photo by Jen Rosenstein
52 Studio Diary: The Stationary Set
35 Top Picks: The best in new music
54 Gear Reviews
46 Music Education 101
56 Flashback: 1965 Silvertone Amp OCTOBER 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 3
FROM THE TOP Howdy, y’all!
Volume 22, Issue 10
As we close in on the end of the year (and let’s face it, an impending zombie apocalypse), a lot of magazines are scrambling to put together their “Best of 2012” issues. We’re not doing that, since each issue we put out includes the best of 2012. This one is no different. Speaking with Adrianne Gonzalez, who is currently gracing our cover, was a refreshing look into the mind of a pure artist. AG, as she’s now going by, is so wholly unafraid to take risks and figuratively leap off tall buildings for the chance at artist reward, that we had no other choice but to put her on the cover and tell her story. I hope it serves as inspiration for your own music, as well as your future career choices. As she says, “Never be afraid to take artistic risks. Always be on the brink of catastrophe or greatness.”
In other news, you may be reading this issue at CMJ in New York. Or at the very least, using the issue as a makeshift rain hat during the week following CMJ. In either case, if you’re there as a performing artist, be sure to make the most of your time in the city. Network as much as possible, but most importantly, play the hell out of your showcase set, even if there are only five people there. You never know who those five may be, or what position they’ll hold in the future. And above all else, use it as a learning experience. As our publisher is fond of saying, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” Think about it.
Performer Magazine, a nationally distributed musician’s trade publication, focuses on independent musicians, those unsigned and on small labels, and their success in a DIY environment. We’re dedicated to promoting lesser-known talent and being the first to introduce you to artists you should know about.
In the words of our esteemed forefathers at CREEM: “This is just to say we want you. That should’ve been obvious all along, of course, but just in case it wasn’t here’s the deal: NOBODY WHO WRITES FOR THIS RAG’S GOT ANYTHING YOU AIN’T GOT, at least in the way of credentials. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be sending us your stuff: reviews, features, photos, recording tips, DIY advice or whatever else you have in mind that might be interesting to our readers: independent and DIY musicians. Who else do ya know who’ll publish you? We really will...ask any of our dozens of satisfied customers. Just bop it along to us to firstname.lastname@example.org and see what comes back your way. There’s really no such thing as an ‘unsolicited submission,’ you know, and if you have eyes to be in print, this just might be the place. Whaddya got to lose? Whaddya got?”
Performer Magazine Attn: Reviews 24 Dane St. Somerville, MA 02143 4 OCTOBER 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
DESIGN AND ART DIRECTION
Joe LoVasco - email@example.com
We listen to everything that comes into the office. We prefer physical CDs, cassettes and vinyl over downloads. If you do not have a physical copy, send download links to firstname.lastname@example.org. No attachments, please. Send CDs to:
Benjamin Ricci - email@example.com
Alex Lane firstname.lastname@example.org
P.S. – As of press time, Fiona Apple is being held in a Texas jail on marijuana possession charges. Having seen Fiona in concert recently, all I can say is that it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world for the girl to get a case of the munchies. Look for our interview with her guitar player, Blake Mills, in an upcoming issue, and in the meantime – Free Fifi!
William House - email@example.com
-Benjamin Ricci Editor
24 Dane St., Suite 3 Somerville, MA 02143 Phone: 617-627-9200 - Fax: 617-627-9930
Adam Barnosky, Alex Lane, Alexandria Sardam, Amanda Macchia, Amber Wade, Ben Marazzi, Benjamin Ricci, Brad Hardisty, Brent Godin, Carolyn Vallejo, Chris Devine,Chris Robley, Christopher Petro, Dana Forsythe, Elisabeth Wilson, Ellen Eldridge, Glenn Skulls, Heidi Schmitt, Jason Ashcraft, Jason Peterson, Jody Amable, Julia DeStefano, Katrina Nattress, Pamela Ricci, Rosalyn Lee, Sean Zearfoss, Shawn M Haney, Troy Murrah, Vanessa Bennett, Warren McQuiston, Zac Cataldo
Alex Munro, alterna2, Amber Wade, Brad Hardisty, Chris Crisman, Deneka Peniston, Eric Ryan Anderson, Jen Painter, Jen Rosenstein, Jesse Deganis Libera, KCW Photography, Marion Doss, Matthew Rutledge, Nicky Devine, Patrick Cudahy, Rosalyn Lee, Ryan Russell, Todd Purifoy, Troy Murrah, Vanessa Bennett ADVERTISING SALES
Kathleen Mackay - firstname.lastname@example.org Deborah Rice - email@example.com
© 2012 by Performer Publications, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced by any method whatsoever without the written permission of the publisher. The magazine accepts no responsibility for unsolicited recordings, manuscripts, artwork or photographs and will not return such materials unless requested and accompanied by a SASE.
Annual Subscription Rate is $30 in the U.S.; $45 outside the U.S.
Marshall Tucker Band Guitarist Stuart Swanlund, member of Southern rock group the Marshall Tucker Band, died August 4 at home of natural causes. Swanlund, who was not a founding member of the band, found a home within the group in 1985, contributing his slide guitar skills to tracks such as “Fire On The Mountain” and “Searchin’ For a Rainbow.” Being the longest standing member of the group, Swanlund played on 14 of the Marshall Tucker Band’s 27 records. In addition to his position with the Marshall Tucker Band, Swanlund also played with Chicago natives the Tone Generators.
Carl Davis, 77 Iconic Music Producer 77 year old, Chicago-based music producer Carl Davis died August 9 in Summerville, SC of pulmonary fibrosis. Davis, who was a popular producer through the ’60s and ’70s, was one of the first African-American A&R directors. He used his skills to produce hits like Jackie Wilson’s “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher” and Gene Chandler’s “Get Down.” Davis is also responsible for the founding of Chi Sound Records.
Brent Grulke, 51 Creative Director, SXSW Brent Grulke, creative director for Austin, TX’s South by Southwest Music Festival, died August 13 of cardiac arrest following oral surgery at the age of 51. Grulke was an integral part of the establishment and growth of the festival, from its founding in 1987 to present. Acting as stage manager for the first eight years, Grulke was promoted to creative director in 1994, where he remained responsible for finding and booking talent for the festival. He had also worked as a record producer, sound engineer, and music journalist.
Scott McKenzie, 73 Summer of Love Icon, “Kokomo” Co-Writer Voice of ‘flower-power’ anthem “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers In Your Hair),” Scott McKenzie died August 18 in Los Angeles, CA of unknown causes. McKenzie, who had suffered from Guillain-Barré syndrome, was influential during the late ’60s with his aforementioned hit single, which helped to define the culture leading into the Summer of Love. McKenzie also toured on and off with the Mamas and the Papas, and in the late ’80s co-wrote “Kokomo,” which became a No.1 hit for the Beach Boys.
Chris Lighty, 44 Violator Management Founder, Hip-Hop Executive Chris Lighty, founder of record label and marketing/management conglomerate Violator Management, died August 30 in the Bronx of a single, self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Violator Management, which boasts a client roster including Mariah Carey, Sean “Diddy” Combs, and Nas, was established in the late ’90s as a multi-faceted company with a focus on the hip-hop entertainment industry. Before becoming the COO of Violator, Lighty had also worked for Def Jam, Jive and Loud.
Stuart Swanlund, 54
Hal David, 91 Grammy Award-Winning Lyricist Grammy Award-winning lyricist Hal David, famous for penning songs including “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” and “Do You Know the Way to San Jose,” died September 1 in Los Angeles, CA of a stroke at the age of 91. Creator of 40 Top 10 songs, David won a number of awards including multiple Grammys and the Ivor Novello Award. For his work, which includes film scores for numerous movies including Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, he was inducted into Nashville’s Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1972. David’s songs have been recorded by acts such as the Beatles, Frank Sinatra and Neil Diamond.
Bob Birch, 56 Elton John Bassist The longtime bassist for Elton John died August 15 at his home in Los Angeles, CA of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Birch, who had performed and toured with Elton John since the early 1990s, had played on many of John’s albums including The Big Picture, Peachtree Road and The Captain and the Kid. Birch had also performed with many big name acts including Sting, Eric Clapton, B.B. King and Corinne Bailey Rae.
Mark Abrahamian, 46 Starship Lead Guitarist Abrahamian, who was the lead guitarist for rock group Starship, died September 2 backstage following a show in Norfolk, Nebraska of a heart attack. Abrahamian, who played for a number of groups during his career including Survivor, Toto, Loverboy, and AC/DC, joined the Starship lineup in 2000. The guitarist, who was set to marry his fiancé later this year, will be remembered by bandmates who said via Twitter, “We are shocked and saddened at the sudden loss of our guitar player Mark Abrahamian. We will miss you, brother. Rest in peace, Mark.”
OCTOBER 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 5
NASHVILLE 5 MINUTES WITH...
G.E.D. Soul Records
Committed to Recording Analog Funk & Soul in Music City
AJ Eason of AJ & The Jiggawatts
UNSOLICITED SUBMISSION INFO
interview by Brad Hardisty AJ Eason is full of style and a straightup bombastic personality. His latest project pairs him with Nashville disco-funk stalwarts Deep Fried Five as well as folks from the Coolin’ System and Sky Hi. This eclectic combination lives comfortably in the space between funk and soul, but shares a bathroom with rock and roll. What’s with the name? If you’re a child of the ‘80s, you might get the name check. That’s “Jiggawatts” as in “1.21 Jiggawatts,” as Doc Emmett Brown said to Marty McFly. I’ve been dropping soul bombs on stages throughout the Southeast for over a decade in a number of different groups. Why should we know you? Because we are the newest members of the G.E.D. Soul label and we are creating a brand of Neo-Retro-Soul-Funk-R&B music that the world’s ears and hearts have been yearning to hear for years! What are you trying to do in music? We plan to regain/re-establish the respect and integrity of musicianship, live performance, and recording, and do so in both a nostalgic and modern way. Proudest achievement? Opening for Al Green at the Tennessee Theatre, being a guest with The North Mississippi Allstars, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, and JJ Grey & Mofro. Top 3 current favorite local artists? The Cadillac Black, DeRobert and The Half-Truths, and The Coolin’ System For more info, visit www.gedsoulrecords.com 6 OCTOBER 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
Artists must fall in the raw soul, heavy funk or classic R&B genres to fit the label’s sound. The label typically specializes in artists from the region. Inquiries can be directed to Nick DeVan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CURRENT ROSTER DeRobert & The Half-Truths The Coolin’ System Sky Hi The Magic In Threes The Grips AJ & The Jiggawatts
Inspired by Doyle Davis’ D-Funk Radio Show on 91.1 in Nashville, Nick DeVan and Dave Singleton started G.E.D. Soul Records, which has been producing and recording original soul and funk music since 2007. They record using a similar technical and aesthetic approach as their favorite classics, celebrating the best qualities of what made soul music great. Originally started as a boutique label specializing in 45s, G.E.D. Soul has since released 12” LPs, CDs, and MP3s. The label also operates its own analog recording studio in Nashville called Poor Man Studios. CONTACT INFO 1523 Meridian St. Nashville, TN 37207 email@example.com gedsoulrecords.com facebook.com/GEDSoulRecords soundcloud.com/gedsoulrecords
Boutique Offerings to Satisfy Nashville Guitar Slingers Get to Know Rock Block Guitars article and photo by Brad Hardisty
Located on the “Rock Block” in Nashville, TN, just a few doors down from The Exit/In and The End venues, Rock Block Guitars has a plethora of eye candy for six stringers with a great parts wall, featuring boutique cables cut to order, the biggest collection of boutique pedals in town as well as boutique amps, locally-built electric guitars, sheet music and all things for studio and stage. Rock Block Guitars was started by Jerry O’Donnell in 1988, and its current staff is comprised of professional studio and stage musicians. When O’Donnell decided to retire in 2008, employees Drexel Sloan and Steve Davis purchased the store. Rock Block employs world-class techs who handle repairs as well as setups, adjustments, and full restorations. The clientele are local, national and world wide and keep the “little store that roars” going. In-house brands include Sandora amps built by amp tech Mickey Sandora and Lower Broad Caster
STORE INFO 2113 Elliston Place Nashville, TN Open 10-6 Mon thru Sat & 1-5 on Sunday (615) 321-0317 firstname.lastname@example.org rockblockguitars.net guitars built by Nashville Sound. National brands include Duesenberg, Reverend Guitars, Dr. Z, Fryette, Divided by 13, Little Walter, Reinhardt, Edwards, Orange Amps as well as Keeley, Pigtronix, Z.Vex, Xotic and any new, unique vibe pedal that you could want.
2000W TruSource™ Technology DL2 Integrated Digital Mixer
Step up to an entirely new level of sonic innovation. Mackie DLM Powered Loudspeakers are packed with cutting-edge technology, delivering a staggering 2000 watts of power in the most compact design ever. It also features the first-ever integrated digital mixer and groundbreaking system processing. After all, you’re the one putting
blood, sweat and tears into perfecting your performance. Your PA had
How can something so small be so powerful? Watch the video and find out how Mackie packed in all that sound!
better be able to keep up. The New Shape of Sound – Mackie DLM
MACKIE.COM/DLM © 2012 LOUD Technologies, Inc. All rights reserved. “Mackie” and the “running man” are registered trademarks of LOUD Technologies. Refrain from standing on the DLM after 12 or more drinks. And by “drinks” we mean grape juice.
PACIFIC NORTHWEST LOCAL NEWS
Seattle Recording Studios
Seattle Music Partners Seeking Musicians
FASTBACK STUDIOS 12345 8th Ave. Northeast Seattle, WA 98125 (206) 367-4667 email@example.com www.fastbackstudios.net JUPITER STUDIOS 4000 Wallingford Ave. North Seattle, WA 98199 (206) 633-1363 firstname.lastname@example.org www.jupiterstudios.com STUDIO NELS 911 Western Ave. #402 Seattle, WA 98104 (206) 414-9106 email@example.com www.studionels.com AVAST! RECORDING CO. 601 NW 80th St. Seattle, WA 98117 (206) 633-3926 firstname.lastname@example.org www.avastrecording.com EARWIG STUDIO 74 South Lucile St. #200 Seattle, WA 98134 (206) 763-3333 email@example.com www.earwigstudio.com
Local Artists Encouraged to Volunteer at After-School Program by Glenn Skulls photo courtesy of Seattle Music Partners
Founded in 2000, Seattle Music Partners offers a free after-school program that continues to provide underprivileged children with music education, teaching students how to read music and play musical instruments, while at the same time offering local musicians an opportunity to give back to their community. As the organization points out, “To attain this goal, we recruit, train and support skilled high school, college-aged and community musicians as volunteer music tutors and mentors who lead one-on-one music lessons each week. These lessons are supplemented with a second afternoon of group instruction and ensemble work. We also provide instruments to participants and transportation where needed.” Interested volunteers need not have prior teaching experience, and are encouraged to
For more information about Seattle Music Partners, or to request information on getting involved, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. www.seattlemusicpartners.org
Kill Rock Stars
Female-Run Label Provides Home for Feminist & DIY Acts “KRS’s mission is to continue putting out exceptional records by important artists, and our tradition of being queer-positive, feminist, and artist-friendly continues, as well. We are now distinguished by being one of the few female-run indie labels in the U.S. At KRS we believe in doing it yourself, and we see our job as helping bands to realize their visions. In a culture that rewards making mediocre music with a quick buck, we feel lucky that we get to work with artists who challenge mediocrity on a regular basis.”
STUDIO X SEATTLE 2208 4th Ave. Seattle, WA 98121 (206) 448-6686 email@example.com www.studioxinc.com CLATTER&DIN 1518 1st Ave. South Seattle, WA 98134 (206) 464-0520 firstname.lastname@example.org www.clatterdin.com
download a PDF application from the group’s website in order to apply for a position. The main requirements are that volunteers have strong musical skills, are able to read music, have a passion for working with children, and have an interest in serving their community. One hundred percent of the organization’s funding comes from donations, and they do not charge students to participate in the afterschool programs. As such, volunteer positions are unpaid.
UNSOLICITED SUBMISSION INFO “KRS does not accept mailed demos, not only because we won’t listen to it, but because it is a waste of resources and your money. We will listen to music online if you send us a link and your tour dates so we know when we can come see you play in Portland. If you are not touring through Portland, don’t send us anything. We repeat: if you are not touring, do not send us anything. We do not provide tour support, and we will not put out records for bands that haven’t figured out how to tour without it. This is what is
UNDERCASTE STUDIOS 20340 24th Ave. NW Shoreline, WA 98155 (206) 417-0766 email@example.com www.undercaste.com
For more listings, visit performermag.com 8 OCTOBER 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
known as the HARSH TRUTH. Thank you.”
CURRENT ROSTER The Raincoats • Elliott Smith Horse Feathers • Deerhoof Thao & Mirah • Portland Cello Project The Thermals • Grass Widow and many more…
CONTACT INFO Portia Sabin firstname.lastname@example.org www.killrockstars.com facebook.com/killrockstarsofficial @killrockstars
5 MINUTES WITH... Tony Sarrecchia Writer/Executive Producer of Harry Strange Radio Drama
Second Annual Cancer Care Benefit Show
Local Metal Bands Booking Gig for Good Cause
interview by Ellen Eldridge The Harry Strange Radio Drama is a local production and its flagship station is Kennesaw State University radio. Most of the cast are local actors. The main theme was written by a local musician and a lot of the incidental music in S2 was written by a local composer. One of their actors also performs in a local band and the music at the end of the season finale was written and performed by a local band. What’s your background? Raised in Nutley, New Jersey, I was an electronic warfare systems specialist in the USAF. I’ve also been a country DJ, bouncer, designer, production artist, talk show host, newspaper section chief, editorial columnist, owner of HitMan Music (club DJs), Communications/Media Studies student at Kennesaw State, corporate trainer and a husband and father. Why should we know you? Because I am bringing radio drama back to the masses. Proudest achievement? We’ve won three awards for our first season, including the prestigious Broadcasters Education Association’s Best of Festival in Audio and, as excited as I am every time we win, I believe our biggest achievement is the positive comments from our listeners. For someone to choose to spend 30 minutes of their life with us because they love our story and characters is about as bad ass as it gets.
by Ellen Eldridge The 120 Tavern in Marietta will host the Second Annual Cancer Care Benefit Show with Halcyon Way and Throatpunch on October 6. Halcyon Way guitarist Jon Bodan was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma in October 2010, just before the band released its second album. “We ended up canceling the tour, and I went right into chemotherapy, which culminated in a stem-cell transplant,” Bodan says. “I found out that the transplant was successful and that I had achieved full remission...but while I was still in
EVENT DETAILS Doors open at 3:00 pm. $10 advance, $15 at the door. Tickets will be available from the bands directly, via Ticket Alternative, and also online.
Promoting Indie Music for Over 10 Years
Contact info: 2543 Bells Ferry Rd. - Marietta, GA 30066
Booking is done exclusively through email. No hard
copy press kits will be accepted. Please do not call
the venue with booking inquiries.
In addition to allowing most local bands to play,
regardless of how many tickets the band can pre-
Stage: 22’ x 14’ x 3’ hardwood
sell, Swayze’s helps bands promote and market themselves by accepting CDs from artists to play in-between sets during the shows leading up to the
Capacity: 200 Backline Gear: PA System provided by club
night the band will play. Owner Lee Satterfield also encourages band members to pass out fliers during
concerts, which helps newer bands gain notori-
Percentage of door or guarantee for touring artists,
ety. In September, Swayze’s celebrated ten years
For more info, visit www.harrystrange.com www.tonysarrecchia.com
treatment, I saw a lot of people in the infusion rooms who had issues with their health insurance not covering things. I felt compelled to use what little bit of a pulpit I had as a musician to give back a little.” The Atlanta Cancer Care Foundation is owned by Bodan’s oncologist’s practice, and they use the funds to help patients pay their bills while in treatment. Halcyon Way set up the inaugural benefit show last October, which was Bodan’s first show back after his treatments ended. “The show raised about $5,000 for the foundation, and because the biggest corporate sponsor from last year, Top of Mind Networks, agreed to back it again this year, we knew right away it would be an annual event. This year we had more bands that wanted to play than we did slots, and we ended up going from six to twelve bands so we could fit as many as possible on there.” Bodan feels grateful to the other bands for supporting the benefit not only last year but also for immediately committing to it for 2012 and beyond. All proceeds from the door will go to the Atlanta Cancer Care Foundation.
in business. Alcohol and smoking are not allowed inside the venue.
percentage of door after expenses and 50 percent of pre-sale monies to locals.
OCTOBER 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 9
BOSTON 5 MINUTES WITH... JTronius, Artist
Bowery Opens New Club in Harvard Square
The Sinclair to Book Live Music Starting in October by Benjamin Ricci
interview by Garrett Frierson JTronius is an entertainer known around Boston for collaborating with hip-hop and R&B artists around the world. This fall he’s releasing his debut album so, to get the word out and make connections with more artists and fans, he and Dave the Producer have embarked on a mission to make the first single “Thick Thighs” the most versioned (remixes, covers, etc.) song ever.
Seemingly in an effort to add to the city’s embarrassment of riches when it comes to art and culture, Bowery Boston has announced that their newest live music venue, The Sinclair, will open its doors this October with an inaugural performance by The Meter Men featuring Phish’s Page McConnell. Originally announced several months ago, the Sinclair will host roughly 200 shows per year, with a 500+ capacity. Booking will be handled by The Bowery Presents’ newly acquired talent buyers, Carl Lavin and Josh Smith of QT Presents (who still handle booking at area clubs Great Scott and TT The Bear’s). The Sinclair will join sister venue The Royale, located in the theater district, under the Bowery Presents banner. “We are excited to open The Sinclair in such a historic, dynamic neighborhood,” says Jim
Boston Label Seeks Small Bands Looking to Grow Run For Cover was started in a dorm room when Jeff Casazza was just 18. He began by putting out a friend’s 7-inch and things grew quickly from there. What originally started as a hardcore DIY enterprise turned into a legit company. Casazza enjoys working with bands when they are first starting out, so he can help build them into something more. Around the label’s 5th release, Run For Cover began branching out to hip-hop, alt-country, and even ’80s New Wave.
What’s the current leader? Dave: “Amazing Grace” has 3,049 versions, so we need 3,050.
Who has versioned “Thick Thighs” already? Dave: Ed O G, Rex, Duane Parker, the Stepkids, and Mr. James have made different versions and we’ve got some other big names who are working on their own spins. Who can remix or version the song? JT: It is completely wide open. Get in touch with me through JTronius.com and we’ll get you what you need. For more info, visit JT on Twitter @JTronius, or at jtronius.com 10 OCTOBER 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
CONTACT INFO The Sinclair 52 Church St. - Cambridge, MA 02138 (617) 451-7700 email@example.com www.sinclaircambridge.com
Run For Cover Records
How’d you get the idea to go for the record? JT: We’ve been doing music together for years and this happens to be our most popular single that we’ve put out. You’ve got to listen to the audience, you know?
How many versions do you have? Dave: We’ve got about 30 so far, with another 15-20 on the horizon.
Glancy of The Bowery Presents. “The Bowery Presents has evolved over the years – from promoting concerts in small, intimate venues to arenas, amphitheaters and beyond. To build a venue in Boston, typically we would have retrofitted something in an existing space. For this project, we are taking the lessons that we’ve learned from our previous endeavors and creating The Sinclair with the best experience in mind for concert patrons and artists. We can’t wait to share it with the citizens of Cambridge and the Boston area.”
UNSOLICITED SUBMISSION INFO “We typically find bands through word of mouth. We know a lot of people in bands and on tour (from the label) who make recommendations to us. So getting to know one of our bands can be beneficial. Submitting things to the label should be done via email ONLY. A lot of things get lost in the mail, or get forgotten about in a pile. Geography doesn’t matter; we’ve even released music from UK acts.” - Jeff Casazza CURRENT ROSTER Anne • Basement Pity Sex • Overboard Seahaven • This Time Next Year Title Fight and many more…
CONTACT INFO Jeff Casazza, CEO/Owner firstname.lastname@example.org www.runforcoverrecords.com facebook.com/runforcoverrecords @rfcrecords
SANTA FE, NM Capital of New Mexico, Santa Fe is a culturally rich, historical city that is a must see. On the smaller side for a major metro area, with a population of 67,947, the city is known as a tourist hot spot, attracting visitors from all over with its unique architecture, prosperous art scene and consistently beautiful scenery. Hosting numerous festivals throughout the year, Santa Fe features an ever-changing art and music scene, which makes it a perfect candidate for routing when touring the Southwest in general or mapping dates between Texas and the West Coast. Santa Fe also boasts cheap recording options, so don’t overlook a quick session opportunity when passing through. -Alex Lane photo by Marion Doss
VENUES SANTA FE BREWING COMPANY Brewers of in-house beers, and presenters of new live music almost every night, the Santa Fe Brewing Company hosts live music on both indoor and outdoor stages. All shows are ALL AGES unless otherwise noted. 35 Fire Place Santa Fe, NM (505) 424-3333 email@example.com WWW.SANTAFEBREWING.COM THE COWGIRL Nightly live entertainment performed by local bands, with the added excitement of national touring musicians. 319 S. Guadalupe St. Santa Fe, NM (505) 982-2565 firstname.lastname@example.org WWW.COWGIRLSANTAFE.COM MEOW WOLF Based on the premise of community togetherness, Meow Wolf creates an atmosphere that allows musicians to play to attentive audiences across Santa Fe. 1403 2nd St. Santa Fe, NM MEOWWOLF.COM
PRESS OUTLETS THE MAGAZINE 320 Aztec St., Suite A Santa Fe, NM (505) 424-7641 email@example.com WWW.THEMAGAZINEONLINE.COM A monthly publication that focuses on the local, regional, and national art scenes. “THE magazine is the eyes, ears, and voice of the art community throughout New Mexico.”
PASATIEMPO 202 E, Marcy St. P.O. Box 2048 Santa Fe, NM (505) 995-3839 firstname.lastname@example.org WWW.SFNEWMEXICAN.COM Pasatiempo is the in-print, nationallyacclaimed arts and culture magazine published by The New Mexican.
GEAR HIGH DESERT GUITARS 111 N. Guadalupe St. Santa Fe, NM (505) 983-8922 Santa Fe’s alternative to Guitar Center, consistently topped ranked on Yelp as the go-to place for touring musicians to find gear in town.
THE CANDYMAN STRINGS & THINGS 851 St. Michael’s Drive Santa Fe, NM (505) 983-5906 WWW.CANDYMANSTRINGSANDTHINGS.COM
GUITAR VISTA 3005 Monte Vista Ave. NE Albuquerque, NM (505) 268-1133 email@example.com WWW.GUITARVISTANM.COM
THE GOOD STUFF 325 West San Francisco St. Santa Fe, NM (505) 795-1939 WWW.THEGOODSTUFFSANTAFE.COM
RECORDING STUDIOS STEPBRIDGE STUDIOS 528 Jose St. Santa Fe, NM (505) 988-7051 firstname.lastname@example.org www.stepbridge.com
ADOBE RECORDING 4223 Roadrunner Lane Santa Fe, NM (505) 216-7523 info@AdobeRecording.com www.AdobeRecording.com
photo by Matthew Rutledge
OCTOBER 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 11
GEORGE KAMEL Relocating to Put His Writing in Perspective by Alexandria Sardam / photo by Ryan Russell
At first glance, George Kamel is just another guy with an acoustic guitar strapped to his flannel-clad chest. At second glance, he’s still that guy, but this time his thick beard is even more apparent. OK, so it’s true. Judging a book by its cover will never get you anywhere, especially when it relates to the realm of music, pigeonholing your narrow-minded judgments into a sad little corner of unimaginative, static noise. Kamel’s amiable traits radiate within his raw technique that doesn’t try to overwhelm with unnecessary gobbledygook or narcissistic runs and pretentious lyrics. “It takes an incredible amount of creativity to write a great song, with an interesting chord progression, beautiful melody, and incisive lyrics, all the while remaining unique and honest along the way,” says Kamel . Precise with his words, Kamel goes on to define the term “honest,” saying “what that really alludes to is this sense of transparency between the artist and listener. The less walls there are, the better.”
12 OCTOBER 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
GENRE Indie Folk HOMETOWN Boston, MA ARTISTIC APPROACH Writing earnest music without pretense www.gkamel.com
Makes sense that Kamel’s list of influential songwriters includes Justin Vernon and Chris Thile, who are, according to Kamel, “incredibly good at wearing their hearts on their sleeves in a way that never feels egotistical.” What’s next for the young musician? Kamel recently relocated from Boston to Alabama. (That’s right, Alabama.) “Being in one place for too long has a way of making you bitter towards the things you love the most. Getting away helps put things into perspective and reminds you of what’s truly important in life,” he says. Ever independent, Kamel is more than just the shirt and the guitar. And yes, he’s more than that magnificent beard, too. He’s got a sweet simplicity that’s addictive. Whether he’s melodically whistling or carefully crafting a delicate, falsetto-filled, swoon-worthy song, his music and attitude have one underlying circuit. They’re impossible not to like.
ON HONESTY IN LYRICS:
“What that really alludes to is this sense of transparency between the artist and listener. The less walls there are, the better.”
“Bands ask us, ‘How can you be around each other constantly and not want to kill each other?’ Well, we do want to kill each other.”
GENRE Indie Rock HOMETOWN Buffalo, NY
Learning to Streamline Tracks in Pre-Production by Carolyn Vallejo / photo by Jesse Deganis Librera
ARTISTIC APPROACH Democratic songwriting with unpredictable style www.thetinsmusic.com
The Tins are a married trio. After spending 12 hours a day for weeks refurbishing their new home and practice space in Buffalo, the indie pop band has become hazardously close. “A lot of bands ask us, ‘How can you be around each other constantly and not want to kill each other?’ Well, we do want to kill each other,” says guitarist/ vocalist Adam Putzer, laughing. “We deal with it.” Living together has led to some tension, but it’s forced Adam, Mike Santillo (keys/vox) and Dave Muntner (drums) to learn what bands often don’t figure out until after years of being on the road together: how to deal with gripes within the group, especially over songwriting criticism.
But with only one EP, The Tins’ youth naturally demands a harsh learning curve to survive the beast of the music industry. Despite a four-track demo that failed to land a record deal, The Tins hired producer Joe Blaney (Modest Mouse, Soul Asylum) who, they explain, took his time to streamline their tracks in the studio during pre-production. “[Blaney] has his idea of what he thinks a pop song should be,” says Santillo. “He knows how to write a good song.” Their first full-length, Life’s a Gas, travels from “’60s rockery” to “skeletal disco” to “straight-up pop” and touches on some experimentation. Collectively, The Tins say the songs deliberately avoid the threat of one-hit-wonder status impending upon them
thanks to “The Green Room,” the infamous sevenminute epic track on their EP that stole the credit for the band’s rave reviews up until now. Even after the full-length was finished in July, The Tins hit another hard lesson: their newly-hired PR rep recommended at least three months of promotion before Life’s A Gas’s release – a torturous waiting game, but one The Tins are willing to play for the sake of their music careers. “It really was not easy,” says Dave on waiting for the record release go-ahead. “It is a very challenging thing, but it’s one that we’ve all accepted. It’s a learning process for us, this whole music industry thing.” OCTOBER 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 13
Translating Complex Recordings to Live Performances by Katrina Nattress photo by Alex Munro
GENRE Experimental Pop HOMETOWN Brooklyn, NY ARTISTIC APPROACH Crafting intricate melodies and engaging shows conveyorisaband.com
Though the members of Conveyor have only been making music together for a year and a half, in other configurations they’ve clocked in a good 15 collective years. Separately relocating from Gainesville, Florida to Brooklyn, New York, Timothy John Masters, Evan Michael Garfield, G Alan Busch Jr. and Michael Ryan Pedron reconnected in the Big Apple to work on new material and to re-imagine old ideas. After self-releasing a slew of handmade EPs, the avant-garde four-piece released its self-titled debut full-length in mid-July. “I think self-releasing things was a good way to start building brand recognition,” explains Masters. “But the overall goal was never to necessarily maneuver people into a position to anticipate a full-length. It was just to release music.” Whatever the intention was, the four-piece has been gaining momentum from the album, as
well as a six-week jaunt through North America. As a band that’s still making a name for itself, Masters believes the most important thing is developing “a live show that separates you from everyone else.” In his particular case, it’s creating intricate, complex instrumentation that can be difficult to translate to a live setting. “It can be a challenge,” he says, “but it’s one that we welcome. As a result, a lot of songs that were recorded before they were regularly performed ended up taking on different forms as we performed them and they evolved. Performance is such a different art form than recording, but we approach it with the same standards with which we approach recording: that it be interesting, engaging, and entertaining.” So far, Conveyor has succeeded in this particular goal and continues to wow its audiences with a distinct blend of experimental pop.
“Performance is such a different art form than recording, but we approach it with the same standards”
OCTOBER 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 15
Annie and The Beekeepers On Cathartic Songwriting, Music Education & Digging Deep for Lyrical Expression
by Ellen Eldridge photos by Jen Painter
16 OCTOBER 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
Just as the stirring sounds of four-part melodies soothe the senses into security, the tones and lyrical themes on Annie and The Beekeepersâ€™ My Bonneville creep into the listenerâ€™s subconscious. What may at first seem dark or morose cathartically calms the soul of songwriter Annie Lynch.
ynch attended Berklee College of Music in Boston directly after high school, giving up a scholarship to UMass Amherst to network with the people she describes as one of the best reasons to attend a prestigious music college as opposed to a state university. When it comes to networking and building a community, the individuals one meets make the difference, much like the idea that if one wants a career in politics, pursuing education at Harvard or Yale is a good idea. Lynch describes her Berklee experience as emotional, one where she learned to collaborate through music. “I’m sure in subtle ways I use my formal education, [like] in chart writing, but what I use more is the personal experience of collaborating and communicating with other musicians. It’s more of an emotional experience,” says Lynch. “One of the greatest things about Berklee is that the people you meet are really amazing musicians who are 100% sure that music is going to be their life. They don’t have a fallback plan, and that’s really inspiring and motivating to be around.” Americana blends boldly with dark, plodding themes throughout Annie and The Beekeeepers’ latest release, My Bonneville. The music falls away in the introduction to “In the Water,” quietly humming a heartbeat-like pulse while Lynch sings, “Some days I get lost out there, out there
where the river only takes water it’s handed…so I’m gonna run down there so I can find my face in the water,” and then cascading vocal harmonies rise above conjured images of misty lakes and tall grass. This idea of feeling lost “out there” in the music scene translates emphatically to all those who desire to create, as well as get lost in, music where they can find themselves. Much of the content of My Bonneville focuses on coming to terms with one’s self and how to best make a life out of what one loves to do. Just as Neil Young recently reminded fans with his renditions of songs including “Clementine” and “Gallows Pole” on Americana, Annie and The Beekeepers tinge their world with boldly shaded blends of Americana. The idea of seeing yourself as nature sees you, in a state where you see that nature can only take what it’s handed and that’s what you’ll get back is an idea that gels well with the overall theme of My Bonneville. “You have control over your life, but you have to take the cards you’re handed and that makes you who you are,” Lynch says. A defining moment in many people’s lives happened to Annie Lynch on her 15th birthday. The tragedy of September 11, 2001, shook the nation while Lynch had just started writing songs about the things most 15-year-olds write: love, friendships and the like. She admits she hadn’t even heard the word terrorist before and couldn’t quite fit the news into her experience. “I
ON HER MUSIC EDUCATION:
“One of the greatest things about Berklee is that the people you meet are really amazing musicians who are 100% sure that music is going to be their life. They don’t have a fallback plan, and that’s really inspiring and motivating to be around.” 18 OCTOBER 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
think that September 11 took many people time to process, and it affected the country in a way that we’re still processing,” Lynch says. The spark of interest generated about the world at age 15 translates to the introspective bug many from the previous generation felt after Kurt Cobain’s death. Lynch may not yet consciously realize the impact on her songwriting as she wades through the emotions of pursuing her life, but the themes display a deep understanding of the importance of community. The band, known as The Beekeepers, serves as a continual reminder to both its members as well as listeners of the importance of community and staying true to what feels natural. In forming the first line-up of the backing band, Lynch describes the rehearsals with friends chatting and catching up. The topic of bees came up, and she and her friends discussed the parallels between bee and human civilizations. At the time, Lynch says she was reading When the Drummers Were Women by Layne Redmond. “There’s a lot to be said for the parallels of bee and human civilizations and the importance of community and the importance of nature,” Lynch says. “It felt like a really good reminder for us on the importance of staying true to what feels natural for you.” Lynch says the Beekeepers from the first album and EP went off in different directions while she played solo gigs for a year or so. Finding the current line up “just kind of happened to come together when it needed to.” Perhaps the most outstanding track on My Bonneville, “A Light At The End,” speaks directly to the themes and personal issues Lynch dealt with in coming to terms with her life as a career musician. “It’s a super personal song,” she says. “I wrote that song when I was trying to figure out what I was going to do with my career. I think a lot of musicians reach a point in their life - as they’re reaching adulthood - and think, ‘Wait, what am I doing?’” Lynch says she wrote the song right in the middle of the process of deciding that, yes, she wanted to pursue a career as a musician. The beauty of the songwriting process for Lynch comes intuitively as her technical knowledge of music aides her while she feels her way through the creative process. When she lets go and questions her own life, a beauty arises from within in a medium that fans can easily relate to and empathize with. “I usually come up with a melody first. I’ll play along with the guitar first and develop a melody and I’ll use words or say things that come to mind,” Lynch says. “I’ll just play and sing and see what comes of it, and take the verse or chorus and tweak it to fit. I do it all at once, but I really love playing with melodies.” Lynch argues that what sounds dark and moody or even somber to one listener may feel contemplative and reflective to her. My Bonneville strikes as a serene and peaceful collection of songs with overtones of the fears inside each of us: failure,
Annie and The Beekeepers
My Bonneville Standout Track: “My Bonneville” LISTEN NOW @PERFORMERMAG.COM
“That’s what music is and always has been to me: complete catharsis.” -Annie Lynch dying, and losing out. The opening track, “Wake Up Mama,” sets off a gloomy feeling with its lyric: “She comes down from the upstairs, running fast, running scared. ‘Wake up Mama, wake up Pa, there’s a ghost up there living in my bed.’” Lynch qualifies her moody music as reflective and that works well in consideration of her thoughts on music as a natural process in itself. Lynch says “A Light At The End” is “a really intense song, but to me it’s optimistic in some ways, because it’s a process to get you out of that hole. That’s what music is and always has been to me: complete catharsis. There’s no other way of describing what creating music is to me.”
The title track feels like one of the only outwardly happy songs, with its airy quality and energetic rhythm. “My Bonneville” quaintly compares Lynch’s first car to a girl’s first love. The chorus, “You were always good to me; I never had it better before,” recounts the idea that Lynch never had a car before, and this idea extends metaphorically to first love. The literal meaning behind the driver’s side door being broken in Lynch’s first car work perfectly to assign double-meaning to the need to climb out of a bad relationship. Lynch says “My Bonneville” is about “nostalgia and looking back on the part of your life that may have been messy, awkward or embarrassing, which is
what my Bonneville was. It was this big ugly car that was falling apart and that’s what I was driving around as a 16-year-old girl.” She says that, in terms of the theme of the album itself, “My Bonneville” felt like “the most direct approach.” Perspective, experience and digging one’s way through life all contribute to Annie Lynch’s songwriting and the four-part harmonies emanating from her Beekeepers’ echo, set against the insights of a community coming into its own. www.annieandthebeekeepers.com
OCTOBER 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 19
Constructing a Singular Sound Using Solid-State Amps by Heidi Schmitt photos by Chris Crisman and Nicky Devine
20 OCTOBER 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
FAVORITE GEAR Solid-state Peavey amps from ’70s and ’80s
If you’re a fan of Philadelphia breakout band Dr. Dog - particularly their latest album Be The Void, released in February on ANTI- Records - there’s a chance that you might have found yourself listening to their music and wondering exactly what it is that you like about them. You know they sound good, but you can’t quite put your finger on why you like their sound. That isn’t an accident, according to bassist/ vocalist Toby Leaman. When recording Be The Void, the band used “a strange era of gear,” as he explains. “It’s solid-state Peaveys from the mid’70s into the ’80s. Those are not what you would call coveted pieces of gear. But so much of the time, people are looking for that sound, and they just don’t know it.” The band ran all components through solid-state amps that provided a “unique sound,” according to Leaman. In so doing, they were able to avoid “massive, bloated drums that sound completely different from some shrill guitar. We believe in making it a singular tone.” This technical approach has been borne out of nearly 20 years of Leaman playing with guitarist/vocalist Scott McMicken. The two form the current incarnation of Dr. Dog, along with rhythm guitarist Frank McElroy, keyboardist Zach Miller, drummer Eric Slick and multi-instrumentalist Dmitri Manos. “Part of the band has
always been development of the record - the equipment and the gear, we’ve always done it by ourselves. We’ve always thought of ourselves as a recording band and a live band, and those are two things that we can do on our own. And so far, the production value of our records has always been knowledge and gear-based. We certainly have aesthetic things that we’re drawn to, but for the most part, we’re just learning,” Leaman says. The band chose to self-produce Be The Void, after working with Rob Schnapf to co-produce their 2010 release Shame, Shame. The experimentation with a number of methods of recording and producing has been fundamental to the band’s evolution. “I feel we’re just better at recording because we’ve done it so many ways and so many different places, with different machines and different gear. So the progression of the recordings is just the natural state of affairs after having done it for so long. It would be kind of depressing
if each record didn’t sound a little better than the last. It would mean that we were stagnating or doing something wrong. We’ve always been very excited about the recording process.” This doesn’t mean that the band misses out on the fun of the songwriting and recording process. Leaman penned the first song on Be The Void, “Lonesome.” It came about after he thought of the chorus first: “What does it take to be lonesome?/Nothing at all” and then provided the rest of the lyrics by deconstructing “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.” According to Leaman, “‘Lonesome’ just kind of happened. I came up with the chorus. It’s funny to me. It’s really obvious - it’s not a joke, but kind of a joke.” After that, he took the imagery of the old Hank Williams, Jr. song and “turned it on its head. I wanted to exemplify how lonesome the guy is, but he’s not having it. He would prefer to just be lonesome on his own terms.” Along with a progression in their production OCTOBER 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 21
and recording styles and tactics, the band has been relentless in touring. This summer saw them play Red Rocks along with Wilco and then playing the Susquehanna Bank Center along with The Avett Brothers. Their fall schedule will take them from places like Utopia, Texas to Anchorage, Alaska. They’ll also make a stop in Central Park in New York City and have played the Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Fallon and David Letterman shows. While being critical darlings and having exposure on the national stage is a long way from their beginnings in Philly, the success has come at a slow and steady pace that Leaman is comfortable with. “It’s been so slow for us, there’s never really been a defining moment where we’ve said, ‘We’ve made it.’ We’ve been doing it for years. Every step seems logical. It doesn’t feel fleeting or unreal at all.” Critics and fans have been unable to pinpoint an appropriate genre for Dr. Dog, and they
have been given labels ranging from indie folk to psychedelic rock to Baroque pop (whatever that is). Leaman doesn’t put a lot of stock in labels. “I don’t have to be accountable for how people label us. They come up with a good turn of a phrase and use that to describe the music. I’m OK with just about any description of our music unless I think it’s completely erroneous. We always viewed ourselves as a band that made pop songs.” In 2009, the band signed to ANTI- Records, marking a departure from Park the Van, the small indie label they had recorded several albums with. Leaman says the jump to a larger label has been mutually beneficial for both the band and the label. “They take a lot of pride in maintaining artistic integrity. Very high on their list of priorities is keeping an artist true to themselves. So they might have a couple opinions, and they’re not afraid to say them, but they’re just opinions. It doesn’t become a directive.” The band has no
intention to jump to a major label “unless someone offered us a ridiculous amount of money for one record. But we would do that,” Leaman adds with a laugh. “So put that out there: If anyone wants to pay us a shit ton of money for one record, we would do it!” Assuming no major label steps forward to accept his offer, the band is set to release a new EP comprised of several songs that didn’t make the cut for Be The Void. Leaman also says they might record another installment in their Passed Away series, consisting of a collection of songs that “never really found a home, or never made it out of the demo stage.” Then the band will return to the studio to record another album. According to Leaman, “Our goals used to be to play different things. Now it’s just, ‘When are we going to make the next record, and how are we going to pay for the next tour?’” www.drdogmusic.com
ON MOVING TO A BIGGER LABEL:
“They take a lot of pride in maintaining artistic integrity. Very high on their list of priorities is keeping an artist true to themselves. So they might have a couple opinions, and they’re not afraid to say them, but they’re just opinions. It doesn’t become a directive.”
Dr. Dog (on tour now) Be The Void Standout Track: “Warrior Man” LISTEN NOW @PERFORMERMAG.COM
22 OCTOBER 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
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24 OCTOBER 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
by Benjamin Ricci photos by Eric Ryan Anderson
On Performing Abroad, Recording as a Two-Piece, and Exercising Demons Through Song
Two Gallants are a San Francisco folk/rock duo made up of Adam Stephens on guitar, harmonica and vocals and Tyson Vogel on drums and vocals. After a hiatus lasting five years, the two are back with a brand new album, The Bloom and the Blight, which brilliantly captures the raw energy and ferocity of a Two Gallants live show. We recently sat down with Vogel to talk about the recording process for the new album, how the duo approaches songwriting and why they continue to release deluxe physical packages of their work. Can you give a little bit of background on the band - maybe a glimpse of what you guys are about and where you started out?
Well, we’re from San Francisco. We, Adam [Stephens] and I, grew up together here in the city. We just starting playing music together when we were like 11 or 12 years old. For whatever reason, there was a certain chemistry or certain sort of inclination that we both shared. I guess we were [formed] in 2001 after trying our hands at colleges. I went to a liberal arts college on the East Coast for a little bit and we both kind of dropped out of school and started playing music in my parents’ basement. Two Gallants just grew organically from there.
It’s been a while since we’ve heard new music from you guys. Can you explain a bit about the time off between records and why you made the decision to come back to the band?
Well, when we started making music around 2001, we didn’t really intend to ever get past the coffee shops we were playing. We put out four
records in five years and in that time we were touring - like, a lot. Which, you know, I don’t want it to sound like I didn’t appreciate it. It was such an amazing opportunity and we got to see so much of the world. But I think our passions [were] kind of pushing us pretty hard in one direction. You know, it’s weird sometimes. Like, the thing that saved you was the thing that was about to slit your throat. And so I think that we were both psychologically and physically worn out and things just seemed to be on this dangerous edge.
I can totally relate to that.
So we sort of decided to take a break for a while. We hadn’t had time to really nurture anything in our personal lives and, you know, musically have any chance to expand creatively. So we tried to take some time off. We didn’t really expect to take this much time. [laughs]
It’s been about five years. That’s a good, long break.
Yeah, that’s sort of what happened. Coming back together just seemed to be [right]. We kept
in touch during our time off and everything, but we stopped playing music. [Then] all of a sudden all these new songs started coming out of us, so…
That’s a good segue into how you approach the songwriting process. Is that more of a collaborative effort or does one person handle the majority of writing duties?
It’s pretty collaborative. [pause] I mean, absolutely collaborative, and we have our different strengths in the band. Adam, he mostly focuses on the lyrics and the songwriting. But we write the songs together at the same time, if that makes sense. So he’s the songwriter in the sense of the lyrics. The songs themselves, though, and the music is where we build it together.
Given that you’re just two people, do you make the effort to sound bigger than two people when you’re writing, or does that occur more naturally? To be honest, and I know it sounds weird, but we don’t really try to do anything. We try to represent these things that we hear in our heads
OCTOBER 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 25
ON PERFORMING IN EUROPE VS. THE STATES:
“[In America] you show up to a club and they give you two drink tickets, some Tostitos, a pat on the back and a hundred bucks and you’re supposed to survive off of that.” as appropriately and as fully-realized as possible. Regarding the two person thing - we didn’t even really intend for there to be only two people in this band. I mean, at the beginning we would flyer for bass players all around the city. But I don’t know, it just seemed like the songs sounded better on their own between the two of us. And I think if we were to add another member it would change the dynamic and the feel of the music.
It was definitely very organic. It’s kind of funny to think, but maybe as you get older you get more receptive of your youth, and the things that you have pushed out of your experience naturally come out of you, you know? We took a break for a reason. The few years that we were off, I put out a solo record and in between all of that [Adam] and I separately went through some pretty dark times. And I think this record, in its loud and kind of aggressive nature, represents a catharsis to a certain extent. Trying to express these things that we went through that we couldn’t have any control over.
Especially with this new material, which I think is a bit of a departure from our previous stuff. Even though it’s just two people, I don’t feel like it’s lacking anything.
No, definitely not.
If that were the case, if we felt the song lacked something, I don’t think we’re married to one sort of equation at all. It’s more about the song dictating what it needs.
Do you get a lot of annoying White Stripes 26 OCTOBER 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
[laughter] Yeah, yeah, it’s a lot of White Stripes and Black Keys and stuff like that. I mean, I would much prefer Hella or Lighting Bolt comparisons, but there’s no comparison.
At least to my ears, the new record is a little less bluesy and a little grungier and grittier in places. Was that a stylistic effort on your part, or was it more organic?
Now, the new record probably features, I don’t know if I would call them the biggest riffs, but definitely the heaviest stuff you’ve done. Especially in parts of “Ride Away” and “My Love Won’t Wait.” With that in mind, how do you guys approach the studio as a two-piece? And is that different from how you approach the stage?
Not particularly. I think one has to approach recording as a whole other experience. I mean, I think on our previous records - and Adam brought this up the other day, which I hadn’t really thought of - we tried to be as pure of possible about things, you know? I mean, to try to record, or represent the experience or at least the feel that one would get if you came to one of our shows. You would see a sort of parallel in the feel and experience. With this record, we definitely approached it in that same way. That sort of purist way, but we’ve learned a little bit, too. Especially over the time [we spent apart], we learned a lot by recording our own records. I think that we were able to actually capture this feeling a little bit, even more realistically than we have before. But on top of that, still take advantage of the studio, where you’re like a painter. Everything that you see in the painting when it’s on the wall is not what you see in all the layers that the painter used in the months and months that he or she spent in the studio. So what I’m trying to say is that we took
Two Gallants The Bloom and the Blight Standout Track: “Broken Eyes” LISTEN NOW @PERFORMERMAG.COM
advantage of the knowledge that we gained [over the years], tried to make this experience as pure as possible, [while] taking advantage of the studio.
What sorts of things did you guys learn on hiatus that you were able to bring to the recording process?
I guess for me it was the drum production that was different this time. Working with [producer] John Congleton was really great because he’s very similar to me. He’s sort of this old school recording master where he wants to get the raw sound - to represent the band and their sound as if they were in this room and you were standing right there listening to them. I think that by having recorded [solo] in a legitimate studio but having full control, that I learned different ways of approaching how to get the sound that I wanted. And then working with someone who is in a high echelon like John Congleton, Adam and I were able to actually communicate what we wanted to achieve, where before [we] just didn’t have the language to do so.
I’m assuming that you recorded most of it at Tiny Telephone, is that right? We did part of it there. We did most of it at Fantasy Studios over in Berkeley, though.
Gotcha. I know you guys have a pretty
packed fall touring schedule, and that you’re heading back over to Europe again. What appeals to you about playing the European market, as musicians?
I think that there’s just an inherent, ingrained, educated approach to culture and music that’s different in Europe than it is in America. Even the idea that governments over there subsidize music venues just to create culture and opportunity is a good example of that.
That’s an interesting point.
Europe has so much more history than America does. And I’m not trying to compare or put down one or the other; it’s just different, you know what I mean? So we both really enjoy going over there not only because of the way that we’re treated on the venue side, but for the instinct that people have and appreciation of music and especially new music. In America, it just tends to feel like you’re underwater, like you’re battling uphill to get any sort of traction. Like, you show up to a club and they give you two drink tickets, some Tostitos, a pat on the back and a hundred bucks and you’re supposed to survive off of that.
So that takes care of touring. What about the release plans for the new record? I hear you’ve got a pretty expansive deluxe package planned, with bonus vinyl and
If I could sort of wax a little bit…
Wax. Go ahead. You have my permission.
We’re at the point where digital is here to stay, you know? It’s not going to go away. It’s a part of how we all exist. It’s a part of the technology we’re surrounded by. But I feel like the honeymoon is over and that people still appreciate and hopefully would want something to hold onto, physically. For example, with the deluxe package, I hope that it gives the sense that you are close to the music and that there is a little bit more to appreciate. And there are those out there who do want that kind of thing, and we support that. We feel that way, too. I just think it gives a little more meaning when you have something physical that you can hold onto.
Like it’s a more personal experience?
Right. I remember getting records when I was younger…and you would open up these records and there’d be a smashed penny in it or something like that, you know? Even something as little as that gives you this real feeling of personal association. I guess that in some ways people are just trying to appeal to that [sense] again. Adam and I are of that ilk, as well. [laughs] www.twogallants.com OCTOBER 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 27
ADRIANNE GONZALEZ Arranging Music for the Studio, Tackling The Beatles, and Confronting Artistic Risk Head On
How do we put this delicately…Adrianne Gonzalez is a fearless beast of artistic expression. Here’s a woman so unafraid of taking risks - so unafraid to be who she is as a musician, an artist, a feminist, an “out” role model - that it’ll be no surprise to us if Gaga’s “little monsters” grow up and start idolizing her instead. AG, as she’s now know professionally, has just released an EP of Beatles tunes, a ballsy move that has resulted in one of the most haunting, gender/genre bending expressions of musical ingenuity in recent memory. We had no choice but to devote the following pages to her, in which we trace her early career path, how she approached new arrangements of classic songs, and how she’s managed to balance life as a solo musician with her role in the popular LA band The Rescues. 28 OCTOBER 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
by Benjamin Ricci photos by Jen Rosenstein
OCTOBER 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 29
international school. Thank God. If I had gone anywhere else, it would have been a way worse culture shock. Boston is very…you know…white. I don’t know if you know anything about Boston.
Performer is actually based out of Boston.
I love Boston, but I had a hard time getting anywhere there in the ‘90s.
I won a Boston Music Award and the whole thing. And I still couldn’t really get a fan base, because I wasn’t a Hispanic woman singing Hispanic songs. I wasn’t the novelty thing; I was doing what white folks did there. It didn’t really work. I moved to LA and everything changed.
It’s still very difficult here in the city, especially for female musicians. I still feel it’s very much an indie rock boys club. It has been for probably the past 10-15 years, if not longer. But I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know…
ON COVERING THE BEATLES: “I knew that we were either going to totally nail it, or miss the mark completely and walk out with our tails between our legs. But honestly, I like to live like that.” When did you first know that music was something you were going to pursue?
I was in choir from a very early age. It was kind of my life since I was about 8. But I didn’t know what that would mean for me when I was an adult, or as a career. I didn’t even know what a career was in high school. But when I was in high school I heard the Indigo Girls for the first time. And I was like, “Okay! I wanna do that.” It was definitely a pivotal moment. The first time I heard “Love Will Come To You,” that’s when I knew. I know a lot of musicians who also have those moments, those “aha” moments, where something shifts. It just makes sense and they realize what their purpose is.
Were you playing at all at that time? Or was that when it first struck you that that is what you needed to be doing?
I was singing and writing poetry, but I wasn’t writing songs yet. I got a guitar right after I heard [that song], and taught myself how to play. I wish it could have been someone like Joni Mitchell. I know it’s super gay of me to be like “The Indigo Girls were my main inspiration.” But it just so happened to be that. They were very strong women that had commercial success.
We speak with a lot of female musicians who run the gamut from hardcore metal to hiphop, and the Indigo Girls come up time and time again. We were talking to this female musician and she was in a real hardcore 30 OCTOBER 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
metal band, like a Slayer-type band. And she was saying, “I didn’t realize women could be that” because there weren’t a lot of strong female role models, especially in metal. But I guess she had gone to the Lilith Fair, and saw this huge community of strong, powerful female musicians who were taking it seriously. And even though it wasn’t the genre that she was going to end up in, it was still a strong influence in as much as the confidence and the drive it gave her to take it seriously, as well. Totally, I feel the same way!
But getting back to you…
I grew up in Miami, where it was primarily Hispanic; I am Cuban and Dominican, myself. So I grew up where a lot of Hispanics held high positions of power. You know what I mean? Which is not necessarily the case everywhere else. Think about it. Everybody was Hispanic. I didn’t know there was such a thing as the rest of the country and that I was actually a minority. And so I grew up thinking that I could do anything I wanted to do. I grew up thinking that there was no ceiling for me. And that was a huge part of my drive and my confidence. I still don’t feel like I have a ceiling. When I moved to Boston to go to school, that was the first time I felt it.
Where did you go? Berklee?
Yeah, I was at Berklee. Honestly, I didn’t feel it at Berklee as much, what with it being an
Well, I hear that the folk scene in Boston is amazing; it’s just very white.
Let’s talk about the new EP. It’s kind of…I don’t know if ballsy is the right word, but to put out a full EP of Beatles tunes? Maybe you can give us a little insight into how and why this project came along. And then how did you approach arranging songs that a lot of people are probably very familiar with? Yeah, well that’s the cool thing. Do you know the history of these songs in particular?
I think they somehow ended up with your publishing company. But can you elaborate on that a little bit?
So in ‘62 they signed this really terrible publishing deal. These are the only songs that aren’t owned by the mass conglomerate and they were floating around, and this small publishing company caught wind of it, and was like “Ahhh, we’ll take those.” And then my publishing company partnered up with them and wanted “inspired versions” - not covers, but inspired versions. I was like, “OK, that’s interesting to me.” And that’s the thing, it was really ballsy. I said to my producer, “Dude, we should not be doing this. Beatles songs should not be covered, they should be studied, and learned from and left where they are…So let’s go ahead and do it.” I knew that we were either going to totally nail it, or miss the mark completely and walk out with our tails between our legs. But honestly, I like to live like that.
Yeah, and with great risk comes great reward. And it was definitely a challenge and it was so fun and so terrifying.
What really strikes me is how you take the essence of the song to produce these really
haunting versions, with the exception of one more dance-y number. How did you approach them in the studio?
Well basically, some of the songs I wasn’t super familiar with. So when I sat down, not to rewrite, but to reinvent the songs, I decided I wasn’t going to listen to the originals. I waited about a month. I listened to them a couple times, and then I waited a month. And basically, I played what I remembered. And then I changed some chords and other [minor] things, but I did hear the melody most of the time. And yeah, I wanted the songs to be reinvented. And so “I Wanna Be Your Man” is super haunting. And that’s exactly what we wanted. Same thing with “Misery” and “She Loves You.” But at the same time, I love fun songs, too. And the songs “I Saw Her Standing There,” “From Me To You” and “There’s A Place,” they’re more fun, they’re less “deep.” I toggle between wanting to write songs that are super gutwrenching and songs that just make you feel good… that aren’t precious. Do you know what I mean?
mixing the record, which is freaking awesome. Do you know who Billy Bush is?
Yeah, he’s done all the Garbage stuff…
And The Lodge is mastering. We aren’t really planning on doing any touring, so we are basically going to be more of an online presence. We are thinking about releasing the record in a more creative way, like releasing three songs at a time, or one song at a time over the course of a year. We’re thinking about a different way to approach it, being that we are going to be mostly digital, officially. So yeah, we are definitely still very active, but just in a different way. Gabe [Mann] writes all the music for Modern Family, and a bunch of other TV shows, Rob [Giles] is a producer and does some Broadway stuff, and Kyler [England] does her own thing - you know she just put out a new record, too. We are all just doing it all, and diversifying, if you will.
Yeah, I totally get that.
I love doing that; I think it’s so fun.
I think that balances it out, because if you had six songs that were all in the same mood, it might wear thin. But when you get to “From Me To You” and it’s a little bouncier, it really kind of gives it a point-counterpoint to the songs that came before it. So I really like the mix and the track sequencing.
“From Me To You” definitely has an ‘80s vibe. Like reinventing a ‘60s song with an ‘80s vibe, in the 2000s, with a girl singing it. All that is so interesting, and I didn’t even know that this was going to happen going into it. Originally, I was going to just do it in GarageBand with my guitar and vocals. But then I met up with Jim and I was like, “Dude, maybe we should really do this” and then as it went along, I started to feel great. Because now all of a sudden, I’m able to sing songs about girls, right? And with my music, I never wanted to alienate straight people by singing about women, so my music has always been super androgynous, with the exception of a few songs here and there that are more of a statement. But I gotta tell you, it was really fun to be able to sing those songs to a woman.
The other half of you, if that’s an appropriate term, is kind of well known for being in an LA band called The Rescues. What’s the status of that group? Are you committed completely to the solo thing right now? Well, I’m sort of committed to both. I mean, I committed myself to The Rescues for three or four solid years. And now we are all doing different things, and also The Rescues at the same time. Now both things are seeding into each other. We are mixing a new record right now. Billy Bush is
AG The Beatles EP Standout Track: “I Wanna Be Your Man” LISTEN NOW @PERFORMERMAG.COM
Once The Beatles project is out there and people are digging it, what is the next step for you as a solo artist?
Well, first of all, before The Rescues, I went under Adrianne Gonzalez, and I think I have eight albums under that name. And then after The Rescues, after being a part of something bigger than myself, I didn’t want to go back to doing something so about me. Which is partly why I have a moniker now. I diversify within the brand of AG: I direct music videos, I’m a painter, I write stories and blogs for The Huffington Post, and write a lot of music for plays and [other projects]. Basically I want AG to be a brand that covers a lot of ground. I just signed, as a painter, with a big art wholesaler; they are the main seller to Ikea, Urban Outfitters, Target, Kohl’s, and
all these cool people. And at Pier One, I’m going to be doing a specific series of paintings for their stores. All that is going to be under the brand AG.
So for all intents and purposes, Adrianne Gonzalez is no more? Adrianne Gonzalez is no mo’!
Our readers are musicians and creative professionals. Is there anything else that you want to throw in about how you make music, or how you write music that might be useful or inspiring to other folks out there?
Never be afraid to take risks. Always risk. Always be on the brink of catastrophe or greatness. I was reminded of that when I was working on these Beatles songs. The Beatles were that exact thing; sometimes they missed the mark completely, and when they got it they were legendary. And also, don’t be afraid to make a stand. Don’t be what Obama was being for so long and just try to please everybody. You are never going to please everybody. When you take a stand, many more people are going to respect you for that. And that’s why I wanted to make the “I Wanna Be Your Man” video. Because even though I am gay, I’m super feminine; I don’t identify as butch or transgender, or anything like that. But I do stand for equal rights for everyone.
Do you find that you have to shoulder a certain responsibility for other gay artists? I don’t know if “burden” is the right word, probably not. But some sort of responsibility to project a certain way, or be some sort of leader-type figure?
No, you are exactly right. There is that element. But here’s the thing - I embrace it. I think that as somebody in the public eye, we have a responsibility. If I can be a strong, “out” musician, who can define myself as being gay but who is still proud of who I am, and take a stand…then I think that will inspire other artists to take a stand. I mean, listen to me. When we signed with Universal, I was really nervous. I said to my band, I was like, “Listen, I am not going to go into the closet for ANYONE” and they were like, “We are totally behind you.” And Universal is a lot of things, but they never asked me to change the way I looked. They totally welcomed the fact that I was out, and everything that came with it. And if I can shout that shit from the rooftops, I will. And yeah, I want to be a good role model; I want to give the queer culture in the mainstream a good name. Because there are a lot of people who are super ignorant, and have these preconceived notions of what being gay is, of how people are. I want to break that stereotype. www.by-ag.com OCTOBER 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 31
Taking a New Approach to the Guitar & Touring Like a Teenager Again
by Jason Peterson / photos by Todd Purifoy
During a recent concert in State College, Pennsylvania, Todd Snider did something somewhat rare: he played a solo on electric guitar. The solo wasn’t flashy, and it wasn’t long, but it was good, bringing to mind that thin wild mercury sound Dylan spoke of pursuing – a sound Snider himself sang about on his 2006 album, The Devil You Know. As anyone who has heard Snider’s song and story “Ballad of the Devil’s Backbone Tavern” from his live album Near Truths and Hotel Rooms or has seen him pick and strum his customary Epiphone J-200 knows, Todd Snider will not soon be mistaken for Eddie Van Halen. But that doesn’t mean he’s sticking to three chords and the truth. Speaking from his East Nashville home 32 OCTOBER 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
weeks later, Snider elaborates, “When I was a young entertainer on the road, I noticed [musicians] in the dressing rooms… if the excuse for being in the band was that they were the wordmaker, that guy’s usually not as good a guitar player as the rest of the band…and then it seems like either people work on it, or they start getting really into the business side of the life. I just wanted to be one of the ones who tried to get better at the guitar.” One listen to Snider’s most recent original release, the much-heralded Agnostic Hymns & Stoner Fables, shows that his efforts haven’t been in vain. The bluesy riffs on “In Between Jobs” and the jazzy chord changes on “Precious Little Miracles” feature guitar work that’s more
confident and adventurous than anything he has recorded before. After 11 studio albums and more than 20 years in the business, Snider is still developing. Some of the credit for this development goes to Elmo Buzz and the East Side Bulldogs, Snider’s loosely assembled side project stocked with Nashville session players that started up a few years ago. (Snider doubles as Elmo Buzz.) “It’s a good place to practice without having to put a paying audience through it,” he says, laughing. The band, which plays ’50s and ’60s rock and roll as well as a slew of originals (some of which are collected on their raucous six-song digital EP, Shit Sandwich), allows Snider the
“I like playing solo, although a few years ago that was getting boring to me. And then I got [a backing band] and that evened it out and got me really enjoying my solo shows again.” chance to jam along with records to practice, something he didn’t do until recently. “From the time I was 20, if I picked up a guitar, I was trying to come up with some new chords or new riffs or something I could make a new thing over. And that just became an obsession…I’d never practice. I’d just play six hours a day trying to find a new set of chords for a song.” That process has yielded some of the most highly regarded folk/Americana music of the last three decades, especially the string of albums that started with 2004’s East Nashville Skyline and culminated with this year’s Agnostic Hymns. As a lyricist, Snider has proven to be among the best in the business, and recent accolades from the likes of NPR and The New Yorker have given a little prestige to the self-described barefoot, lazy-ass hippie. Even as someone who has befriended and learned firsthand from musical heroes including Kris Kristofferson, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, and Jerry Jeff Walker, Snider isn’t quite ready to take on any mentees. “I don’t think I have much advice for the young people,” he says, “other than, ‘duck.’ Or, ‘the water’s freezing, come on in.’” Despite that (somewhat joking) trepidation, Snider has taken a few younger singer/ songwriters out on the road with him, such as Hayes Carll and Jason Isbell, and in recent years he has moved into the role of producer, helming Jason D. Williams’ Killer Instincts and Great American Taxi’s Paradise Lost. More than telling anyone what to do or how it should be done, Snider’s example of constant touring, cultivating a grassroots following, and being true to himself is advice enough for anyone looking for a how-to guide. True to that ethic, Snider and his band The Burnouts (Paul Griffith on drums and Eric McConnell on bass, along with a few additional musicians on select dates) have been spending the year, in Snider’s words, “touring like teenagers.” The band accompaniment keeps things fresh for Snider. “I like playing solo,” Snider says, “although a few years ago, that was getting boring to me. And then I got the Taxi [Great American Taxi, Snider’s backing band on a few recent tours], and that evened it out and got me really enjoying my solo shows again…and now I’ve got the new band, and it’s just nice to have a bunch of friends to come out and play.” Deciding what band to use and when is “a good problem to have,” Snider says. The songwriter has
Todd Snider Agnostic Hymns & Stoner Fables Standout Track: “In The Beginning” LISTEN NOW @PERFORMERMAG.COM also been backed on an occasional festival stage by the Yonder Mountain String Band, and Snider even reunites with his first band, The Nervous Wrecks, every now and then. And while he may never again play with KK Rider, the Memphis country cover band he immortalized in a shaggy dog tale on the live release, The Storyteller, he at least got an epic story out of it. As for what’s ahead, Snider says he may just “tour and get old.” His latest original record, coupled with his tribute album Time As We Know It: Songs of Jerry Walker (Walker being Todd Snider’s inspiration for picking up the guitar), seem to be the bookends he wants to place on his recording career. “I just feel like I’ve said all I meant to say, at least in the way I’ve been saying
it,” he says. “I think I want to tour, become a good guitar player, and work on learning all the songs of mine that I made up but that I don’t know.” If past is prologue, whatever Snider chooses as an outlet for his creativity will be filled with humor, poignancy, and maybe even a few new guitar licks to keep things interesting. The water may be freezing, but Todd Snider is going to keep on swimming. www.toddsnider.net
OCTOBER 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 33
Boston @ Church October 4 feat. James Iha Doors @ 8:00 pm $15 - 21+
Atlanta @The Drunken Unicorn October 17 feat. Blackfoot Gypsies Dead Rabbits Brain Doors @ 9:00 pm $6 - 21+
San Francisco @ Slimâ€™s October 18 feat. Heavy Hawaii The Soft Pack Crocodiles Doors @ 8:00 pm $16 - ALL AGES
Brought to you by:
Annie and the Beekeepers
OUR review section is a little bit different. We don’t use a numbered scale or star system, and we don’t feature music we don’t like. Instead, think of this as our top picks of the month. These are the new releases that we’re really enjoying, and that we recommend you check out. We also mix in a few of our favorite live shows, as well as books and videos from time to time.
My Bonneville Brooklyn, NY (Self-released)
You can listen to the music featured in this issue at performermag.com. Enjoy.
New York, NY
better known as Aesop Rock, has finally returned from a self-imposed four-year hiatus. On Skelethon, Aesop Rock has come into his own as a producer, adding to his seemingly limitless talents. In the last four years, Aesop has been through a lot: a death of a friend, the death of his marriage and the split with Def Jux, just to name a few things. For Aesop fans, there’s a lot here to take in and love. The eccentric, lyrically mystifying, weird, spacey-sound loving hip-hopper that you started to enjoy in the early 2000s is still here, brain intact and sharp as a blade. The beats are funky, dark and big, and at times grimy; it’s clear that Skelethon is meant to hera ld Aesop’s return to the scene, as demonstrated in the lead single “Zero Dark Thirty.” Distorted drums, pinpricks of synthesizers and noirish sampling set a scene where “roving packs of elusive young” scrape out a meager, tech-haunted existence. “Lanacane, band aids, mandrake root/ Bindle on a broomstick, pancaked makeup and shoes,” he raps. Skelethon is instantly catchy. Building with ambient synth hits, lead track “Leisureforce” offers a glimpse into what’s in store for the listener: adventurous, lyrically-laced, apocalyptic hip-hop. “ZZZ Top” is a weird slice of nostalgia that looks back at three ghost kid rebels who carved their respective “Z” antiheroes in a wood desk. It’s a funky banger that hooks immediately. After a short break (“Ruby ’81,” “Crows 1”), “Racing Stripes” provides a fun, bouncy, drum rolling beat for Aesop to rip on, talking for three-plus minutes about the dangers of a bad haircut. The long and short is that Skelethon triples as a triumphant return for Aesop, a lament for the death of the underground hip-hop scene he once knew, and a diary about self-doubt and struggles the rapper has waded through in his absence. With Skelethon, Aesop Rock has produced some of the best hip-hop to come out this year; pick it up.
Mixed by Joey Rala at Vista Sulla Citta, Brooklyn
Mastered by John Greenham
Aaron Embry Tiny Prayers Ojai, CA (Vagrant Records)
“Spinning tales with a masterful, minimalist approach” Aaron Embry is singer/songwriter, a spinner of tales, and in nearly every sense of the phrase, a quintessential folkster. He’s collaborated with some of music’s biggest names and dabbled in almost every area of the industry. His solo debut, Tiny Prayers, is a work of wispy dreamlike memory, organically growing emotion and roots-based living, all delivered in a simplistic and unpretentious manner. Like many who have blazed the folk trail before him, Embry relies on a plethora of instruments to convey his thoughts and emotions. Soft harmonica notes open up the album on “Moon of the Daylit Sky” with vocals, vulnerable and soft, wavering ever so slightly. Uplifting piano melodies and gingerly plucked guitar chords fuel tracks such as “Raven’s Song” and “Your Heart and Mine.” Despite the calm and minimalist approach to the album, he displays a mastery of each instrument and a seasoned understanding of how to blend them all together into something captivating. With a healthy background in record producing, composition and collaboration, Embry’s solo work has been a long time coming. He draws on his expansive talents to create something that embodies his vision and ideas. The ten tracks on Tiny Prayers are Embry’s journey, a new chapter in his career and an exploration of new territory, both lyrically and musically. weareeachother.com -Vanessa Bennett
Aesop Rock Skelethon
Engineered by Michael Nazzario
“A triumphant return and the best hip-hop to come out this year” On his sixth album, Ian Matthias Bavitz,
aesoprock.com -Dana Forsythe
“American roots music, sweetly intimate with vast boot-stomping songwriting”
OUR PHILOSOPHY ON REVIEWS
Unlike most fair-weather folk musicians, Annie Lynch is a young veteran of the Americana genre. Her credentials are strong (SXSW, CMJ recognition and she boasts a degree from Berklee), yet eclipsed by her sun-baked fun and commanding voice. In the vein of Lissie, Neko Case and the Be Good Tanyas, My Bonneville features a hybrid of folky introspection, twangy alt-country and hooky pop playfulness resonating with foot-stomping affection. Lynch says My Bonneville offers a departure from her solo songwriting - here collaborating with guitarist Andrew Michael Buri, which results in more textured and daring ensemble of songs. Straightforward vocals and acoustic guitars live on (“A Light at the End”) but are abutted by piano, strings, horns and electric guitars (“My Bonneville” and “In the Water”). Undeniably, the memorable tracks dabble outside the folk minimalism. Café singers are hard-pressed for uniqueness, but Lynch takes the classic wordsand-guitar tunes and sequences intermittently with busy, band-based frameworks - perpetuating interest, yielding variance, extending the range of Lynch’s beautiful, haunting tone. Her voice easily carries on its own as it does complimenting the Tom Waits Small Change-era rhythm and blues backdrop. Engineered, Recorded & Mixed at Sounds Like A Fire and Godel String Studios in Brooklyn, NY by Dan Molad Mastered at Peerless Mastering by Jeff Lipton Produced by Dan Molad and Annie and the Beekeepers www.annieandthebeekeepers.com -Christopher Petro
Ben Sollee Half Made Man Lexington, KY (Tin Ear Productions)
“Kentucky cellist transforms pop-rock with his jazz, folk, Americana-bluegrass roots” When reviewing an album there is always a tendency - as a writer - to draw comparison to some other artist’s recording. You want to paint a clear picture in the reader’s mind of what he or she can expect before buying the album. On Sollee’s fourth studio endeavor, that’s a tough task to do. OCTOBER 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 35
DVD OF THE MONTH
Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone (Cinema Guild)
“The wholly unbelievable, true tale of LA’s most original rock band” At times, Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone plays like a less depressing, less Canadian version of Anvil! The Story of Anvil… only, you know…black. Joking aside, it’s long overdue for LA’s most original band to get their proper recognition as influential musical pioneers; and in this documentary, the true story of the group is finally told. This entails a myriad of visual storytelling elements including Fat Albert-esque animated sequences, vintage interview clips and newly filmed “fly-on-thewall” footage featuring the latest incarnation of the band. From their early days rehearsing in Mama Fish’s living room in South Central, Fishbone was an entirely unique entity that broke down racial and genre barriers, fearlessly and effortlessly fusing punk, ska, funk and metal into a wildly infectious cocktail of…well, what can only be described as Fishbone. We finally get the full scoop about the departure of original members Dirty Walt and Chris Dowd, as well as the “you-can’t-make-this-up” tale of guitarist Kendall Jones’ bizarre religious brainwashing at the hands of his father. The documentary follows a sort of Godfather II-esque series of cuts between the band’s early history and modern day life on the road. We get a lot of talking head interviews with musicians influenced by Fishbone’s music, along with some heartbreaking looks at the present state of the band’s popularity. The main difference between Anvil and Fishbone, though, has always been the quality of the music – and ever the artists, Fishbone continues to make brilliant new records, when they could have taken the easy way out and re-united the original lineup for summer festival cash grabs. You’ve gotta respect that, and nearly everything else in the 107 minutes of porn for Fishbone Soldiers. The real treats, though, are to be found in the extra features on the DVD – including bonus interview clips from label-mates Alice in Chains, as well as ultra-rare live footage of a teenage Fishbone skanking out at Madame Wong’s in LA, circa 1983. Any self-respecting music fan should have this in their collection. Just head down to your local video store and tell ’em Dr. Madd Vibe sent you. -Benjamin Ricci -photo courtesy of Flickr user alterna2
www.fishbonedocumentary.com 36 OCTOBER 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
Ben Sollee sounds exactly like…himself, which is to say that Sollee, in an otherwise endlessly diverse indie music-sphere, has truly pioneered his own alt-Americana style of music. Drawing from his classically trained cellist roots, Sollee blends elements of pop-rock, jazz, R&B, and bluegrass for an harmoniously groovea-licious, pop-rockish departure from 2011‘s Inclusions. Joining him on the album are My Morning Jacket’s Carl Broemel on guitar, Turtle Island Quartet’s Jeremy Kittel on fiddle, Alana Rocklin on bass, Jordan Ellis on percussion and vocalist Abigail Washburn. Most memorable is the heartfelt prowess of “Unfinished” and the candid assertions from “Get Off Your Knees.” The album peaks on “The Pursuit of Happiness,” a vocally arousing, storytelling, rock-n-roll rhythmic monster of a song. Even though this album is called Half Made Man, Sollee proves yet again that his selfdefined and Kentucky-bred musical mystique is wholly made. Produced by Ben Sollee www.BenSollee.com -Jason Ashcraft
Brainstorm Heat Waves Portland, OR (Tender Loving Empire)
“High-energy experimental pop, happily engaging and dynamic” A dynamic and inventive group, Brainstorm offers a gratifying look at Portland, while remaining one of the city’s best-kept secrets. It is hard to imagine that it’s just two people, but you’ll have to hear it to believe it. Their talents are undeniable. Their new release Heat Waves is a diverse set of ten stunning songs, brilliantly arranged and orchestrated with an entire myriad of sounds and instruments. They present well in one package a broad spectrum of musical ideas, perhaps a summed up version of the Portland music scene on record. The dedication and sweat this duet puts into their record shows with conviction their growth and potential. Captivating and magnetic, the energy is remarkable throughout. Much of the music consists of varying polyrhythms and mesmerizing vocal harmonies that blow the mind. It’s this vision that sustains listener’s interests. When in the right mood, this record is unparalleled in keeping one engaged, never tiring one to settle into boredom. The jangly, reverbed guitars splash with wonder against high-energy drums, and the vocals are quite soothing. Overall, the record never fails
to bring out feelings of elation and cheerfulness. Fresh new sounds often surface, new treats to discover with each repeated listen. Certainly capable of pulling off the dazzling gifts of a Radiohead OK Computer show, Brainstorm’s effort perhaps fits more into the realm of Canada’s New Pornographers. Check out the breathtaking lead guitar riffs opening up in “Maybe a Memory,” and the liquid flow of glistening drums in “Forms Without A Frame.” Wow. brainstormbrainstorm.bandcamp.com -Shawn M. Haney
Cicada Rhythm Demo Atlanta, GA (Self-Released)
“Modern folk built on a deep foundation” By name, modern American folk music sounds counterintuitive. Our musicians and storytellers have played this music for centuries and the sounds, stories, and voices often only define years long forgotten. With their record Demo, however, Cicada Rhythm proves that folk music is a living, breathing, pliable creation. In other words, this duo asserts that folk is best revered by building high from this deep foundation, by adding more while using less. Using only upright bass, acoustic guitar, and the dual male/female vocals of Andrea DeMarcus and David Kirslis, Demo is a sparse, hushed EP rife with strong narratives. “Wait ’Til Mornin’” opens the EP as a waltz where DeMarcus sings of a relationship gone wrong over the low moan of her bass and Kirslis’ lightly picked guitar. “Mouse Song” is lighter, with its rollicking guitar lines, but it’s “Do Not Destroy” which shines the most. Here, DeMarcus now draws a bow on her bass and Kirslis finds a rich, full guitar line and vocal to lead. He sings of a modern world swallowing the past, leaving nothing of our history behind. Cicada Rhythm proves this narrative doesn’t reflect their music - they have created modern folk music while destroying nothing. Produced by Cicada Rhythm
Dark Dark Dark Who Needs Who Minneapolis, MN (Supply & Demand)
“Moody, piano-driven Americana”
Ben Sollee (continued)
On Dark Dark Dark’s third full-length release, Who Needs Who, there are few elements of Balkan or New Orleans-style music that previously defined their sound. The album is predominantly piano-driven, with waves of orchestral accompaniment, and lush background vocal harmonies. “Without You” features syncopated accordion flourishes, but the clarinet and horns on “It’s a Secret” match the lethargic mood of the piano rather than lift it. The single “Tell Me” might be the closest to having a hook, but lyrically it is the most melancholy. Vocalist Nona Marie Invie has written a great breakup album, establishing the mood in the opening and title track, with her alto voice accompanied only by slow piano, lamenting, “Oh I have the memory of trust/I try to keep it close.” Even on the more musically upbeat “Last Time I Saw Joe,” the overwhelming sentiment is loss. It’s fitting that the album’s release comes with the beginning of autumn. Its solemn and mournful arrangements are perfect for when the days get darker and our parties move indoors. Produced by Tom Herbers Recorded at The Living Room, New Orleans and Creation Audio, Minneapolis Additional Tracking by Eric Swanson at Sacred Heart, Duluth Mastered by Jeff Lipton at Peerless Mastering, Boston brightbrightbright.com -Elisabeth Wilson
Diego’s Umbrella Proper Cowboy San Francisco, CA (Ninth Street Opus)
“Futuristic twist on the Spaghetti Western, featuring mariachi, gypsy, and flamenco elements”
Mixed by David Kirslis Mastered by Dave Roth at Landfill Studios www.cicadarhythm.org -Sean Zearfoss
Diego’s Umbrella is a band widely hailed as “San Francisco’s Ambassadors of Gypsy Rock,” and with their fourth album, Proper Cowboy, that
WANT TO BE FEATURED AS A TOP PICK? SEND US YOUR MUSIC! EDITORIAL@PERFORMERMAG.COM OCTOBER 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 37
The Front Bottoms Now That’s Class Cleveland, OH August 24, 2012 review and photo by Amber Wade
Tight musicianship, an intense crowd and artistic showmanship
With a musical style that’s hard to pin down, it only made sense that the crowd gathered to see The Front Bottoms would be equally diverse. Once the band took to the stage, though, it was clear it didn’t matter what genre they were - pop punk, indie, rock - the crowd in attendance were fans of it. Undeterred by the sauna Now That’s Class
had become after kids filed into the room, vocalist/guitarist Brian Sella belted out the wordy tunes from their self-titled release as well as a few older jams. An enthusiastic crowd met Sella wordfor-word on all but a snippet of a new song that he teased the audience with. While Sella’s playing and singing were certainly on point for the night, one of the highlights of seeing the band live was
Diego’s Umbrella (continued) has proven to be every indication of this and then some. “These are the times. These are the days. These are the words that we’ll take away,” the quintet harmonizes in the midst of the infectious opener, “Thrash Mexican Budapest,” a speedfest that seamlessly showcases the band’s control over the mariachi, gypsy, and flamenco genres before smoothly transitioning into “Downtown,” another up-tempo number that could fit comfortably within the Neon Trees’ catalogue. If you’re still not convinced of Diego’s Umbrella’s prowess, one listen to the power-pop gem “Richardson” ought to do it. A Gogol Bordello and TAB the Band-flavored tune, complete with full instrumentation and a sing-a-long chorus of “A little bit of love goes a long way. A little bit of blood leaves a long, long trail,” captures the cultural multiplicity and unbridled humor that this band succeeds in conveying so well. Enthusiasm is front and center on the futuristic Spaghetti Western that is Proper Cowboy. Not only is it a testament to Diego’s Umbrella’s love for the craft, it easily places them in the “best kept secretturned next big thing” category. Produced and Mixed by the Rondo Brothers and Diego’s Umbrella Engineered by Calvin Turnbull and the Rondo Brothers Mastered by Richard Todd www.diegosumbrella.com -Julia R. DeStefano
the level of showmanship drummer Mat Uychich put into playing. Exaggerated arm movements and quality musicianship combined to make him a truly enjoyable sight to behold. Rounding out the New Jersey trio was Drew Villafuerte on bass and keys, filling out the rest of the sound the duo had created on their album. The band intended to end with the dance-y tune “Maps,” but the crowd wasn’t having that, as cries for one more song had the band finally closing out the night with “Looking Like You Just Woke Up.”
understood as they do seem very new to the scene. There’s a good, solid foundation here and lots of potential, but the actual framing of the band isn’t quite there yet. It should definitely be interesting to see where this group goes next.
Ex-Magicians California Grass
“Former illusionists sing lo-fi songs about girls” California Grass is the first offering from a relatively new indie rock band from Boston. Ex-Magicians are a 4-piece gritty indie rock outfit that sing songs about girls and life in general on jangly guitars. It’s a pretty basic first release from a Pavement-style band inspired by the Beach Boys and The Beatles. But they first come to terms with the fact that it definitely has a younger sound than they may have been going for. At times the Ex-Magicians sound a little like a band hoping to sign to Dischord or Sub-Pop (circa 1992) covering songs from the Drive-Thru Records catalogue (circa 2002-2003). This release is available via Bandcamp and cassette only. I would be interested to hear what dynamic the cassette format brings, as the digital version is pretty densely tracked; the lo-fi medium might bring out some different qualities in the record. To be honest, this cassette would still feel like this band is in a growing phase, which is to be
The Farewell Circuit In Our Bones Minneapolis, MN (Princess Records)
”Melodic vocals and progressive fx that demand active listening” Death Cab’s Transatlantisim is a masterpiece of early-2000s indie. Besides its near-flawless production, that record touched so many because of its genuineness, its ability to make you both sad and relieved simultaneously. Nearly a decade later, The Farewell Circuit has achieved this same kind of emotional conflict with In Our Bones, a definite heartstring puller. The Farewell Circuit boldly puts forth their DCFC inspiration with opening title track “In Our Bones (Abandon Your Arms)” (think the
38 OCTOBER 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
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TOP PICKS VINYL OF THE MONTH
Dead Sound Welcome Worn (7-inches) Chapel Hill, NC / (PotLuck Records)
“Electronic, indie-pop brilliance from North Carolina duo” Robes features the electro-pulses of members Patrick Cudahy and Chris Williams, masterfully mixing synthesized sounds and organic guitar tones to create an insanely fun fusion of Louisville’s VHS or Beta and Echo & the Bunnymen. The first of two 7-inch singles featured here, Welcome Worn, kicks off with the bouncy, self-titled dance track. Spacey guitar
lines tinkle out over wobbly bass beats and stylized ’80s synths. Not to be outdone, the B Side, “Haitian Miracle,” immediately breaks into a Kraftwerk-style electronic drum and synth pattern with a more melodic vocal line than its A Side brother. More interesting, musically, than “Welcome Worn,” the track segues beautifully into a textured guitar/drum/synth breakdown that takes it right through the outro. It’s records like this that can easily turn an indie hipster into a dance club junkie – the songs are simply that good and engaging. The second of the two singles, Dead Sound, appropriately starts with “Dead Sound,” awash in a sea of Blade Runner-like electronic soundscapes, which quickly part to make room for a more traditional pop song dressed up in an electronic costume. Once again featuring a strikingly
infectious melody, the number grooves along against a backdrop of droned out, synthetic textures and jangly guitars – then BAM! An old school saxophone solo, in the most un-ironic way possible, melts into the mix and breaks the track wide open. Perfect. Backed with “Perfect Silhouettes,” another electro-pop stunner, the second 7-inch is the stronger (if only slightly) of the two. Highly recommended. Format: 45 rpm Size: 7-inch Color: Clear and White Vinyl Engineered by Brian Paulson Mastered for Vinyl by Nick Peterson robessounds.bandcamp.com -Benjamin Ricci -photo by Patrick Cudahy
OCTOBER 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 41
MOUNTAIN VIBE Music Gathering
Soda Springs, CA / August 10-12, 2012 by Joey Nunez / photo by Rosalyn Lee
Blurring the line between fan and band, with a thrilling hoedown of raucous joy Artist: Jack Gibson from Coffin Hunter
The transformation and growth of the Mountain Vibe Music Gathering has been inspiring to see for those of us fortunate enough to be along for the ride. What began as an idea to bring a group of friends and family united by their love of the East Bay music community together for a weekend of camping, music and offroading has blossomed into a full-fledged festival experience that manages to be both grand in scope and surprisingly intimate. Set against the backdrop of the Yuba River, the event site at Shinneyboo Creek Cabins is a sprawling playground of campsites. Vendors offer hot food and cold drinks. Others sell clothing,
The Farewell Circuit (continued) industrial percussion of Transatlanticism’s title track). Gradually the record takes its own shape, therapeutically repetitive with endearing lyrics heard on “10.08.10.” “Guard” similarly achieves this gentle glide with an Alexi Murdoch-style acoustic relying heavily on the melodic structure to portray innocence. TFC throws the album midway through its course into a phase reminiscent of Broken Social Scene’s Feel Good Lost with “KDL,” a direction of haunting but glorious studio effects that place the listener in a world of limbo. We’re taken out of that waiting room soon, however, with “The Light,” and into a new phase of some harsher sound: more viscous bass, reverb, and a bit of syncopation that keeps listeners on their toes. Ben Gibbard returns to haunt the record on “Exodus,” this time channeling The Postal 42 OCTOBER 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
jewelry, henna tattoos and even musical instruments. Some merely offer a shaded area to relax and watch the DJs on the second stage, perched atop a boulder. Jam sessions erupt everywhere, whether it be a lone singer and their guitar or a dozen disparate musicians strumming and banging on whatever instrument happened to be within reach. Between cooling off in the river, hiking the trails and taking in the incredible night sky, revelers watched over two dozen bands deliver high-energy sets and win over new fans in the process. From Bay Area favorite Lyrics Born to Reno’s Hellbound Glory and everything in
between, the lineup has blossomed from a tightknit local community into a diverse collection of some of the finest bands the Pacific Northwest has to offer. By the time Sunday headliners the Stone Foxes reached their showstopping closer “Mr. Hangman,” the fire-spinning, crowd-surfing masses were welcomed on stage in a thrilling hoedown of raucous joy. That final, glorious moment managed to capture the spirit of the entire event: the line between band and fan disappeared, and everyone celebrated the vibe together as one.
Service. And after its most intriguing percussion on “Run For The Hills,” the record is bookended with another title track installment, this time titled “In Our Bones (Pick Up A Plow),” to declare In Our Bones less of a collection of tracks and more of a novel to be read.
“Google ‘vacilador’ and wish you’d chosen it as your album title”
Produced by The Farewell Circuit and Brett Bullion Mixed and Engineered by Brett Bullion Mastered by Huntley Miller thefarewellcircuit.bandcamp.com -Carolyn Vallejo
The Giving Tree Band Vacilador Yorkville, IL (Crooked Creek Records)
Note to bands: If you’re going to cover a song as beloved as the Grateful Dead’s “Brown Eyed Women,” take a cue from The Giving Tree Band’s bluegrass flavored version and bring it to an entirely new level. The song is the centerpiece of a fine album, and it highlights all that is great about The Giving Tree Band: meticulously crafted yet loose-feeling instrumentation, road-tested vocals with solid harmonies, and a distinctive sound that, while fitting into the Americana genre, uses a killer electric guitar tone to take it to new and interesting places. The Giving Tree Band is more than just one cover song, and the percussive opening tune, “Cold Cold Rain,” sets the tone for an album full of great original material. With its 14 tracks, Vacilador offers something for every listener: soulful ballads (“Miss
Spirit Family Reunion Lizard Lounge - Cambridge, MA
August 2, 2012 review and photos by Vanessa Bennett
You Now”), story songs (“Higher Than the Levee”), toe-tapping gems (“Silent Man”), and campfire jams (“Ragweed Rose”). But it’s track three, “Brown Eyed Women,” that may be the best entry point to Vacilador and to The Giving Tree Band. Listeners will be grateful for the rest. Produced by E. Fink and Philip Roach Recorded and Mixed at Crooked Creek Studios, Yorkville, IL Mastered by Ruben Cohen www.thegivingtreeband.com -Jason Peterson
Goodnight, Texas A Long Life of Living San Francisco, CA (Self-released)
“Hypnotic work of authentic ghost-town folk”
Stomping, hollering, driving folk music from Brooklyn ending in a sing-a-long
Spirit Family Reunion tore it up at the Newport Folk Festival and without taking a moment for rest made their way to Lizard Lounge to bring their feverish string plucking, drum beating, washboard rattling sound to Cambridge. The night started off with performances by North Carolina’s Paleface and fellow Brooklynites, Annie and the Beekeepers. Paleface was all over the place with spoken verse, Caribbean stories of life, and improvisational dance moves. Annie and the Beekeepers took all of 30 seconds to have the entire venue silently hooked. [editor’s note – read our interview with Annie in this issue!] Her feathery vocals were paired with haunting guitar chords and harmonies. In celebration of their love of Boston, they gave fans an early release of their latest album, My Bonneville. It wasn’t until just after 11 pm that Spirit Family Reunion took the stage. By the time lead singer Nick Panken came up to the mic, the tiny basement venue was flooded with people pressed as close to the band as possible. They jumped into a set that was loud, riveting and captivating. With wailing vocals, pounding washboard notes and deep, bellowing bass lines, they ran through an assortment of tracks off their latest release, No Separation.
Tracks like “I Want to Be Relieved” and “I Am Following The Sound” were belted out with a vigor and heated style of play that created a raucous and (at times) chaotic sound: both beautiful and striking. Like buskers on street corners, they gave a set that was passionate, driven and improvisational. The intricacy of their performance and mastery of their art was undeniable. From Stephen Weinheimer’s animated use of the washboard to Ken Woodward’s steady bass, the band’s emotional connection to their music was palpable. One of the most impressive moments of their performance came when banjo player Maggie Carpenter and fiddler Mat Davidson gave an intoxicating rendition of Fred Neil’s “Green Rocky Road.” Davidson belted otherworldly notes that seemed to echo for miles and possess his body while Carpenter’s lively and nimble fingerpicking capabilities were hypnotic. The set came to an end with a short two-song encore, as things officially wrapped up with a fullblown sing-a-long to the band’s hit “I’ll Find A Way.” Everyone from the bartender to audience members sang in unison until the final chord.
metropolitan regions - the record, like the band’s namesake, sounds miles and miles away. From the opening track - the stark, haunting “Maggie’s Farm Forever,” a morbid riff on the Dylan classic – Long Life feels like something you might find in waterlogged box in someone’s attic. Rife with rustic songwriting and the squeal of calloused fingers over steel strings, Long Life is full of words and music that sound as if they’ve been seized from a bygone era, one where banjos and barn dances are still popular forms of entertainment. The album’s standout tracks are so authentic that it’s hard to believe they were written in the 2010s by two twentysomethings - among them are “Jesse Got Trapped in a Coal Mine,” a classic cowboy ballad with a plaintive story arc, and the rabble-rousing “Railroad,” a galloping calland-response. On Long Life, Goodnight Texas has proven themselves a well-oiled songwriting machine, managing to weld the old and new into a hypnotic work of historical fiction.
“Appealing folk, moving lyrical messages, promising young artist”
www.hiwearegoodnighttexashowareyou.com -Jody Amable
Second albums, or “sophomore releases,” are traditionally among a band’s best work. However, new San Francisco band Goodnight, Texas has upped the ante with A Long Life of Living - a formidable debut release. Goodnight, Texas is named for a ghost town in Texas’ panhandle. Though they hail from both San Francisco and Chapel Hill, NC - two major
Hayley Reardon Where the Artists Go Boston, MA (Kingswood Records)
At 15, Hayley Reardon shares her first release, Where the Artists Go, displaying remarkable talents in self-expression both through lyrics and melody, while developing her haunting, soothing voice. Signed to indie label Kingswood Records, Hayley is mostly self-taught on guitar after asking her father to show her a few chords. She began to write songs at 13 and strengthened her sound. Playing in schools throughout Michigan and New England and later a showcase at the 2011 International Folk Alliance, she is certainly the buzz to many ears in the folk scene and a bright star on the horizon, a glorious addition to the future of acoustic music. Hayley’s gift for introspective songwriting is impeccable. Nakedly honest and real, she is beyond her years in self-realization, bringing together beautiful words of empowerment for young girls and people of all walks of life, with simple guitars and a clear knack for engaging melodies. Producer Lorne Entress has truly encouraged Reardon to shine to her full potential in the studio during the creation of the record. Songs like “Where the Artists Go” is stunning, a tune in which any artist can identify with. “Scribbles” charmingly displays her lyrics: “I’m the farthest thing from free, I’ll never know OCTOBER 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 43
Hayley Reardon (continued) myself as my scribbles seem to know me, my fingers ache for something new, because one thing I’m good at it’s being afraid.” A reassuring voice, Where the Artists Go is a stellar first album for such an ambitious young artist already making an impact. She sings with conviction and is refreshingly fearless in her nature as a representative of her craft. Overall, a relaxing, peaceful listen.
emotion. Overall, this is an enriching peace of folk art, and a delight to listen to. Recorded at Mojo Studios, Franconia, NH Produced by Jay Psaros Co-Produced by Tony Cimino www.jaypsarosmusic.com -Shawn M. Haney
Produced by Lorne Entress
Engineered by Chris Rival at Middleville Studio,
North Reading, MA
Mastered by Mark Donahue at Soundmirror, Boston www.hayleyreardon.com
“Bay Area duo brings big rock sound”
-Shawn M. Haney
Jay Psaros Simply Boston, MA (Self-released)
“Stunning folk sounds warm the core” Simply resonates as a colorful new EP of appealing songs written and recorded by singer/songwriter hero Jay Psaros, complete with enchanting harmonies, mellow lyrics and catchy rhythms. The result, Simply, merits great introspection that a small review cannot give. Psaros has released several records detailing themes of his journey on the road over the years. This effort displays the artist’s versatility and strong gift for the craft of upbeat folk. Psaros hooks up with producer Tony Cimino to write this cohesive collection of beautifully orchestrated folk statements. “I believe that this could be the time, I’m going back to me,” he delivers in the upbeat “Backwards.” The delightful “Cowboy Song” speaks of his dreams of the Great Divide, romance, travels, and time alone examining one’s life while out West. His vocals are engaging, and the harmonies of his female guest artist are romantic and alluring. “Right Next to Me” explores his gift of fingerpicking. The patterns and sounds of the acoustic really shine here. An intricate arrangement, the chorus-laden guitars glisten with tones that feel undeniably like Iron and Wine. A breathtaking highlight of the album, one feels truly connected to visions of summertime and cherished romances. “The Best of Me” is a touching tune of travels and memories, searching for themes of being who you are, not giving up on dreams, being scared of failure, and keeping the faith. Jay Psaros rises to the occasion with a stellar songwriting effort, teeming with 44 OCTOBER 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
Legs is an alternative duo from Oakland, California. Comprised of Matt Bullimore and Jeffrey Harland, Legs plays rock music that sounds lo-fi enough for a house party, but big enough for an arena. Their latest self-titled EP (they have two out on Bandcamp) is a collection of six mid-tempo numbers that stomp along with plenty of multi-tracked guitars and reverb to go around. In some ways Legs almost sounds like if The Dandy Warhols suddenly lost their recording budget and were forced to lay down tracks on DAT, or if for some reason Herman’s Hermits started listening to too much T. Rex (seriously, listen to those drums). Vocals are a bit of an anomaly on this record mainly because the leadoff track’s male vocals sound different than the vox on tracks 3 through 5, and track 2 and 6 sound like they are sung by a female vocalist. Either Matt (or maybe Jeff) is a very skilled voice actor or (more likely) there are some features on this record that need to be explained (liner notes are mysteriously absent from the CD). All in all, Legs makes worthwhile, spacey indie rock perfect for listening to while staring out the window of a studio apartment on a rainy day. Plus it’s only $5 on Bandcamp. www.legstheband.com -Ben Nine-K
Marco Benevento TigerFace Brooklyn, New York (The Royal Potato Family)
“Jazz drenched, circuit bent, yes-wave” TigerFace is a leap forward for left-field composer Marco Benevento. Benevento’s most recent drop opens with an anthemic promise to the wave of “yes” that is shooting through the dance-pop underworld of New York City. Wildly riveting opener “Limbs of a Pine”
reminds us of the pianist’s inclination toward quirky melodic excursions and dynamic rhythms. It is one of two songs that features vocals (a rarity for Benevento). Rubblebucket’s Kalmia Traver’s monotone, slightly distilled voice beats against a slew of synthesized jabs, mutilated samples of horns and guitars, and the enigmatic sounds of Benevento’s excitably quirky brain. It’s the kind of song that gets you bobbing along without your permission, nuzzling its way into your head and then surprising you with something new. The rest of the record walks a fine line between compact dance-pop and jammy electrojazz-rock. In “Eagle Rock,” Benevento beautifully melts sweeping symphonies into wanderinghand piano melodies. Overall, TigerFace is a revolving door of fun energy, joy, and laughter. While it doesn’t quite hit the nail on the head as a start-to-finish record, it is a welcome first wave of “yes” for Benevento as he continues to define himself as a musician. Recorded at East West Studios, Los Angeles, by Tom Biller Mixed by Bryce Goggin, Chris Bittner and Tom Biller Mastered by Josh Bonati at Bonati Mastering www.marcobenevento.com -Amanda Macchia
The Mau Maus Scorched Earth Policies: Then and Now Los Angeles, CA (Ratchet Blade Records)
“….and now the Mau Mau’s return to their regularly scheduled programming” For those wondering, yes this is the same “should-be-legendary” Mau Mau’s from the late ’70s. Formed in Los Angeles in 1977, the Mau Maus come from the Stooges/Pistols school of punk, pogoing around and f lashing devilish little grins from old tape of an era long gone. Although one of the more notorious bands of LA’s early scene, there was very little Mau Mau material ever released (save for a few songs on a compilation), but lucky for you, the Mau Maus have decided to reform (because that’s what bands do in the 2010s) and release a full-length LP. Now a brief breakdown, there is a heavy emphasis on the ‘Then and Now’ part of the title as this album is broken into two parts. The first half is original material recorded by the group in 1983 by Robbie Krieger (yes, The Doors’ Robbie Krieger) and the second half is new material recorded by Dead Kennedys/Germs (and also Meredith Brooks) producer Geza X. Production-wise, both sides of the record are great (the ’83 stuff has of course been remastered), but by no fault of Geza, the ’83 material is definitely more compelling. It almost just seems
sounds like a great All Things Must Pass “shouldhave-been.” If anything, this song is not busy with overdrive and green Ibanez pedals. It’s open and floating where other parts of the album feel like take-off. “It’s a dream that keeps me breathing,” Chasny sings. That is exactly how this song feels. It gives you that pause to feel that you’re breathing again. [editor’s note – this record is batshit amazing]
like a byproduct of context. The ‘83 material was recorded by a band cutting a mark in a scene alongside the likes of The Dead Kennedys, Black Flag, and X whereas the new material sometimes comes off as B-sides left over from the old days with some up-tempo punk songs thrown into the set to keep up with the young cats on the scene. If you’re an LA punk archivist or you were there for the first round, this LP is well worth picking up for the ’83 sessions alone. The Mau Maus are a treat for punk historians and rock and roll glue sniffers alike. [editor’s note – the CD booklet contains a wonderful history of the band, as well as many rare photos]
sixorgans.com -Warren McQuiston
Neal Morse Momentum
Produced by Robbie Krieger, Geza X & The Mau Maus
Life’s a Gas
Genre: Prog Rock
Engineered by Mark Avnet at Mad Dog Studios
Mastered by Geza X
www.themaumaus.com -Ben Nine-K
Six Organs of Admittance Ascent Northern California (Drag City)
“The return of the legendary Comets on Fire! Mostly!” Six Organs of Admittance is the name Comets on Fire guitarist Ben Chasny records under, usually Fahey/Jansch style acoustic compositions. This is wholly different. For this album, the rest of his old band backs him up, but it’s not a Comets reunion record. Chasny plays all the many solos and is the main voice. The usual acoustic free-folk pasture of Anne Briggs in a sun dress is a bare memory as Chasny cuts loose on wild, E.T.-style, out-of-hand solos while Ethan Miller (of the Comets and main Howlin’ Rain guy, right-channel guitar on Ascent) gives space for all the wildness to expand. All rhythm or second-guitarists should pay close attention to what he doesn’t play. (As a side note, Ascent seems to be mixed so that the louder you play it, the clearer the mix is.) Just as Miller knows what not to play, Chasny seems to know when to pull back on the maximalist space-rock. “Your Ghost” is an acoustic song with a lullaby tempo (it still manages to get in lines about space travel, but in a very touching way). After all the guitar abuse and MC5-style grooves, the true highlight is at the end of the album and an uncharacteristic track for Ascent; “Visions (From IO)”
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“Grab your friends for bright, melodic power pop hooks” Released on the heels of two praised EPs most recently, December’s Imaginary Cupcakes - the Buffalo, NY trio finally have their muchanticipated full length, Life’s a Gas. Jubilant harmonies, keyboard flourishes and relentless hook-filled rhythms make selecting standouts challenging; Life’s a Gas bares many. A distorted bass leads out of a thudding kick and cymbal crash on the street-walking party ballad, “Vicki” singing, “Vicki’s never gonna let up / she wanted to be different but / if she thinks I’m gonna give up / or walk into the party / I won’t ricochet.” Duel singers, Mike Santillo (keyboard) and Adam Putzer (guitar) have great vocal chemistry, featuring call and response, complementing harmonies and a conversational style that’s hooky and affable. Throughout the day, you’ll find yourself humming the edgy single, “I won’t ricochet-chet-chet.” The verse/chorus framework maintains, but is tinkered by driving guitar-fronted rhythm (“Midnight Crowd” and “16 Colors”) and bubbling keyboard melodies (“Hit and Miss” and “We Fought the Moon”). Incidentally, “We Fought the Moon” has a coupled harmony in its chorus that feels like a conduit to Team Boo-era Mates of State, power pop at its greatest.
Susan Cattaneo Little Big Sky Medford, MA Genre: Country/Americana
Rin Tin Tiger Toxic Pocketbook San Francisco, CA Genre: Alternative/Folk
Engineered, Recorded and Mixed at Black Dog Recording Studio by Joe Blaney Mastered at Crystal Mountain Studios by Stevin McNamara Produced by Joe Blaney www.thetinsmusic.com -Christopher Petro
LISTEN TO MUSIC FROM THIS ISSUE @PERFORMERMAG.COM
163 Massachusetts Ave. (across from Berklee, next door to Daddy’s Music)
OCTOBER 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 45
M U S I C E D U C AT I O N 1 0 1
Intro to Higher Learning For-profit educational institutions are operated by private, profit-seeking businesses, while traditional educational institutions are set up as nonprofit organizations, which use surplus revenues to achieve their goals rather than distributing them as profit or dividends. Most of the recent controversy around for-profit institutions has been the lack of merit-based scholarships, accreditation issues that prevent other schools from accepting for-profit college credits, and the general veracity and tone of their marketing activities. There are also many broader questions about for-profit education on the whole, which have recently garnered attention from politicians and lawmakers. The scope of that discussion, however, is outside of the realm of this article. Today, roughly 9% of U.S. college and graduate students attend for-profit educational institutions. The purpose of this article is not to make a qualifying statement either way about the value of a for-profit education, but rather to explore the issues raised and present the information we’ve been able to gather.
GATHERING INFORMATION Statistics such as the number of students accepted, the percent of alumni job placement, class size, merit- or need-based scholarship availability, majors offered, availability of on-campus housing, and tuition costs are all important factors in selecting your place of learning. With traditional nonprofit colleges, most of this information is easily available online or in prospective student catalogs. Performer reached out to several for-profit schools to learn more about how they stack up next to traditional nonprofit schools. For the most part, the for-profit colleges had the information available and were happy to answer questions for this article; the one exception was Full Sail University, who as of press time were either unable or unwilling to answer any questions regarding their programs.
MUSICIANS INSTITUTE Originally started in 1977 as the Guitar 46 OCTOBER 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
Institute of Technology, the Musicians Institute offers a variety of music-related degree programs at its campus of about 1,425 students. While the school accepts roughly 70% of applicants (higher than the estimated one-third accepted by traditional colleges like Berklee College of Music and New York’s New School of Music), it boasts 15 meritbased scholarship awards each quarter – a generous number, especially compared to its competitors. Controversies surrounding the school mainly surround its apparent placement of professionally written reviews on sites like collegeprowler. com. Also, the school is not regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, which can make it challenging for students looking to transfer MI credits to other learning institutions. Internet reviews of the school are mixed - some claiming that the administration is weak and unorganized, and the classes aren’t challenging, while others say they were challenged in their particular program and are doing well post-graduation – but the same can be said for schools from Ivy League to local community colleges. Overall, the Musicians Institute has a 40+ year history of music education, and a respectable list of accomplished graduates. Its statistics are comparable to competitive for-profit schools, and are, for the most part, reasonably in line with what is seen from traditional nonprofit institutions, as well.
THE SCHOOL OF AUDIO ENGINEERING (SAE) INSTITUTE With campuses around the globe, the SAE Institute focuses on audio engineering and other creative media programs. The school accepts about half of applicants, although that percentage varies by individual SAE campus location. Tuition costs are comparable to its competitors (roughly $20-$25k), and are less than those of traditional nonprofit colleges (which range from about $30-$40k per year and higher). Alumni job placement is high, and while it varies by campus, the numbers we received were between 65-80% of alumni working in their area of study.
Scholarship opportunities are more limited, however (only two per campus each semester). Most of the controversy surround SAE is regarding the value of the education the school provides. Many students/alumni claim that the courses are not as challenging or in-depth as they are at accredited colleges and universities, and are more vocational in nature (meaning you could learn the same by working in the field for a year or so). The school’s mission does clearly state the level of their courses, though: “We provide specialist vocational and higher education courses worldwide to inspire and develop our graduates.” If you are an individual who needs more direction in order to feel comfortable, then SAE may be a better fit for you than for a person who can spend time learning on their own. SAE has been in business since 1976 with campuses in Europe, North America, Latin America, Asia, Australia/New Zealand, the Middle East and Africa. For students looking to sharpen their technical skills in creative media, SAE offers learning programs that appear to be comparable to competitive for-profit institutions.
FULL SAIL UNIVERSITY With over 16,000 students and 37 degree programs, Full Sail University offers higher education in the areas of entertainment and media. Comparing Full Sail to traditional colleges and universities is difficult, because the university has chosen not to make the necessary information easily available to prospective students. The Performer staff reached out to try and learn more, but was denied any information about alumni job placement, percentage of applicants accepted, merit-based scholarship availability, or class size. Full Sail is aggressive in its marketing, and its flashy website boasts of its alumni achievements. The school lists former Performer cover artist Marc Broussard among its graduates, along with musicians and engineers involved with high-profile films and entertainers. In the absence of more statistical information, it is hard to make a determination about how a Full Sail education compares to its competitors or traditional higher learning institutions.
MAKING THE RIGHT DECISION FOR YOU There is a lot of conflicting information about for-profit education, and making a decision can be difficult, especially with the significant amount of money at stake. Ultimately, the value will be determined mainly by the individual student. Personally, studying music at the college level was very important, and choosing the right school was something I gave a lot of care. My experience at Berklee College of Music was an excellent one, and I am proud of what I learned during my time there. -Pamela Ricci is an artist manager and consumer marketing manager in the Boston area.
By Chris Robley
Multiple bands creating separate events for a single show
If I had a dollar for every time I’ve received separate event invites from every band on a bill, I’d probably have enough to buy that sweet guitar I’ve had my eye on for a while. No, it’s not the end of the world – none of these “Facebook crimes” will spell the end for you, but it’s just…annoying. Put five minutes of forethought into your show promotion, coordinate with all the bands, and create ONE event that each of you can promote and share. Plus, it’ll look better when everyone is RSVPing in one place!
Constantly asking for people to vote for you
Contrary to what shows like American Idol and The Voice may tell you, music isn’t a competition. Sure, you can take your career to new places and get your fans engaged with the occasional songwriting, performance, or fan-voting contest, but stop entering every damn one you come across. It looks a little desperate.
Posting crappy photos that don’t even feature the band members
Requiring someone to do something before they can hear your music
Advertising by posting on someone else’s wall
Oh, great. Another highly pixilated image of…what is that? A pint glass next to a taco wrapper? Next! popular social network– so you can cross “lack of audience” off your list of possibilities. The answer is simple: you’re not creating content worth sharing. And worse, you might be annoying the hell out of your existing fans– the ones you need to keep in order to build a larger following.
10 WAYS TO TURN OFF YOUR FACEBOOK FANS I know there are thousands of bands who are doing things right, winning new fans with engaging posts and videos (and I don’t really mean to suggest that YOU aren’t one of ’em). But if your Facebook fan interaction is on the decline, you might be guilty of one or more of the following social media sins:
SHOUTING IN ALL CAPS!!!!
OK. WE GET IT!!!!! You have something really IMPORTANT to tell us. May I suggest instead that you choose from the following list of words: excited, thrilled, stoked, psyched, amped, beside-ourselves, overjoyed, blitzed, inspired, amazed, flushed, or atingle?
Reasons Why You’re Losing Your Facebook Fans
Maybe you haven’t followed “The Rule of 4 Cs”– consistently create compelling content! Bands, solo artists, hip-hop crews, jazz ensembles – you’re losing fans on Facebook; your engagement is going down and you don’t know why. Wait. Really? You don’t know why? With a gazillion users, Facebook is the world’s most
whining, sour grapes, jealousy, and putting other bands down – no one needs a daily dose of that, Debby Downer.
Leaving your Facebook page half-completed
Did you get all excited about Facebook at some point and then abandon it? Is it hard to tell from your page if you actually exist as a band anymore? If so, either complete the missing info and post some new content, or de-activate your page. It looks unprofessional.
Posting your stream-of -consciousness updates every 20 minutes
If you’re posting more than a few times a day, it better be good stuff! Don’t use your Facebook band page as your personal profile. The few folks who might care what you’re up to every day will stop caring quick.
Every once in a while it’s OK to be honest and vulnerable on Facebook; you can vent your frustrations from time to time. But keep those kinds of posts as the exception. Bitching,
People don’t like to jump through hoops. Let fans listen to your music right away – even if it’s only a couple of tracks. One easy way to do this is with CD Baby’s MusicStore for Facebook app.
Remember MySpace? This is the kinda nonsense that would happen on MySpace all the time, and why people stopped using it. Do NOT put your marketing messages on other people’s Facebook walls. That is what YOUR wall is for.
Begging for “likes”
It’s probably OK once or twice a year to ask your friends on Facebook to “like” your band’s page. Don’t make a weekly habit of the practice, though. Your band page won’t get “liked,” and you might just get de-friended.
I’m sure I forgot a few good examples of bad Facebook practices. What annoys you on Facebook? Let us know on our Facebook page…
About Chris Robley Chris Robley has written over 500 articles for CD Baby’s DIY Musician Blog. He’s also a songwriter, producer, poet, blogger, marketer and all-around good guy. Special Thanks to CD Baby for granting permission to re-publish this article.
OCTOBER 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 47
THE “BIG 4” OF PROFESSIONAL REPRESENTATION
Know Who’ll Do What For Your Career EVERY MUSICIAN WHO MAKES THE TRANSITION FROM hobbyist to career performer will gradually assemble a team of professionals to take care of their business affairs, manage the mundane, and assist with all other duties which would otherwise take the artist away from what matters most: the music. In the music business, there are an assortment of professionals that will play an intricate role in your career. Here are the essential people that will help guide the way: PERSONAL MANAGERS: If your career were a movie, the personal manager would be the director, overseeing each and every aspect of your career from label contracts to personal appearances. Two of the practical considerations are (1) finding a manager and (2) finding the right manager. Regarding the former, large management companies actively pursue artists for their roster and rarely take unsolicited material. However, young bands can find management from a variety of other sources. While many managers have tested track records, many transition into the field from other avenues (former music transactions attorneys, trusted venue booking agents, indie label owners, etc).
assemble a variety of regional, national or international tours for its acts. Booking agents can either be independent or work for a larger talent agency. There are certainly benefits for newer bands to get on board with an agency, as this brings with it more possibilities for opening acts, touring, etc. If you go with a solo, keep in mind that in many states agents are required to be licensed and bonded – make sure yours is.
Why hire one? A personal manager only makes money when you make money. That being said, having an experienced industry veteran to guide you can be necessary to finding success (i.e. income) in the industry. While most professional managers prefer to represent talent that are already generating income (so that they can earn commissions right away), many up-and-coming managers are willing to take on and develop new talent.
Cost to you: Booking agents normally charge from 10-15% of each show that they book.
Cost to you: Personal managers work off of commission [editor’s note – do not trust a manager who charges upfront fees]. The industry standard for music managers is usually 15 percent. This number reflects the gross (not net) of proceeds, which means your manager can take home a hefty paycheck, especially in comparison to any individual band member. A manager’s reputation and past successes can reflect his or her take. In essence, a great manager is worth a higher percentage, at least initially, based upon the power of his/ her phonebook and clout within the market. AGENTS: In the music industry, an agent’s primary responsibility is to arrange live performances. In some cases, there can be cross over to TV, radio spots, etc., although that is often the responsibility of a personal manager. A booking agent also negotiates performance rates with promoters on behalf of the band, often booking gigs several months to a year ahead of time. In many cases, the agent is trying to 48 OCTOBER 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
Why hire one? At a certain point, your career focus should be on creating, recording, and performing music. Every outside task you need to perform (i.e. booking tours) takes you away from your music.
LAWYERS: Lawyers who represent musicians will perform a vast variety of services from reviewing contracts to negotiating deals to pursuing matters in court. The first lawyer you’ll want to hire is one with connections in the industry who understands the intricacies of record contracts and intellectual property. The majority of your lawyer’s time is spent in the office, on the phone and meeting with clients, labels, and other attorneys. Their job is more transactional in nature, with a focus on drafting and negotiating deals. These deals include management contracts, record deals, publishing arrangements, deals with booking agents, concert promoters, etc. In a way, your attorney’s job is similar to that of an artist manager, but with a much narrower focus on the legal terms and ramifications of any particular deal. Why hire one? A good lawyer will know the finer deal points in contracts and know where to give way and when to stand their ground. Contracts will go through multiple revisions and as you’d expect, these contracts strongly favor the label – you hire a lawyer to sift through the fine print. Another job of a transactional lawyer is to help you understand the business, the benefits and the downsides to entering into certain agreements. A lawyer can oftentimes be a one-stop for other people you might
need along the way – business managers, accountants, agents, etc. Cost to you: There are typically two methods for payment: hourly billing or a flat fee. Hourly rates differ widely based on geographic location and experience (ranging anywhere from $100 to $1,000 dollars an hour). Usually, you’ll be required to provide a retainer up front, which your lawyer will debit as time accrues. Flat fee structures are becoming more routine in today’s field and are transaction-based (a lawyer will charge X amount for copyright registration, contract negotiations, etc.). Avoid any payment method in which your lawyer takes a percentage of your deal. Your best bet is to arrange a consultation with a lawyer (these are usually free of charge) and ask as many questions as possible. BUSINESS MANAGERS: A business manager’s role is to take care of your finances. Their role can be that of bookkeeper, investor, CPA and tax specialist, among other responsibilities. The business manager differs drastically from your personal manager because their focus is solely based upon money. Income, expenses, and investments are the world in which a business manager deals, with little else influencing their responsibilities. Why hire one? Simply put, a business manager can handle your money better than you can. It’s important to find a business manager who regularly deals with clients in the music business, as he/ she will better understand the streams of income and how to best invest and budget your funds. And finally, the most important role of the business manager is that of a trusted professional. Many artists, both big and small have been burned by unscrupulous moneymen. Cost to you: Most business managers will work on a percentage of income (usually around 5%) or a monthly fee, depending on the volume of work and expertise required. Adam Barnosky is a Boston-based attorney and writer. For music industry news, entertainment law updates, or to suggest an upcoming Legal Pad topic, find him on Twitter @adambarnosky. Disclaimer: The information contained in this column is general legal information only. Consult your attorney for all specific considerations.
MY FAVORITE AXE Sean Wagner of Abatis photo by KCW Photography
BACKGROUND I’m the singer/guitarist for San Franciscobased garage rock band Abatis. I cut my teeth on the records of Soundgarden and Mudhoney, drowning myself in ’90s grunge rock.
MAKE & MODEL Gibson SG Special Satin Ebony
WHAT IT MEANS TO YOU I have many guitars, but none of them have endured this much punishment.
WHAT IT SOUNDS LIKE Bought at the devil’s garage sale, she’s a fuzzy beast, a natural rock monster. Pair it with a Redwitch Fuzz God stompbox and thank me later.
FUTURE MODS All stock currently, dreaming of putting ‘59 Seymour Duncan Hot Rod pickups in the neck and bridge positions.
AND THOSE, AHEM, “SPECIAL” MARKINGS? Chips, dings, dents, and falls from great heights.
CAN BE HEARD ON “Headpowers” on Electric Dead and on our upcoming sophomore record.
VISIT www.abatismusic.com Got a favorite instrument you’d like to share? Email us at email@example.com…
50 OCTOBER 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
Recording & Mixing Guitars in the Studio What’s the best way to record and mix electric and acoustic guitars? We have found that there is no “one way” to do anything in the studio, but here are some tried and true methods that are usually good places to start. One thing we have learned over the years is that a cheap electric guitar can sound great but an acoustic guitar is an entirely different beast. There’s no covering up for a crappy acoustic. No amount of processing and/or mic placement can make up for the lack of depth and soul that a well-crafted guitar like a Taylor or Martin exudes.
MIKING THE CABINET Usually, we record rhythm guitar as part of the rhythm section tracking, along with drums, bass and keys. And even in a well-designed studio, mic leakage from other instruments is still usually an issue to consider. Also, most guitarists will be stomping on their appropriately named stomp boxes during the take, so you’ll want to place the mic as close to the cabinet grill as possible, often within one inch. Our favorite mics for this are dynamic mics (often the Sennheiser e609 or Shure SM57). Because the mic is so close to the speaker cone, its location will color the sound. The best way to find this sweet spot without losing your hearing is to place the mic about mid-cone, record a bit of a warm-up take with the full rhythm section and then play it back in the control room. Is the guitar too dull? Try moving the mic closer to the center of the speaker cone.
hitting the two mics at different times and some of the frequencies are canceling out. While the band is warming up, go back into the recording space with a set of headphones on and begin slowly moving the close mic until the phase cancellation miraculously disappears and you hear a perfect blend. Now STOP and don’t let anyone move anything, EVEN A BIT. Now you can see why recording sessions can take so long!
BLENDING THE TWO After the take is recorded you should now have two separate electric guitar tracks, one airy and the other gritty. They often sound great hard panned left and right. You can send both these tracks to a single bus and apply compression (usually a 4:1 ratio, ~20ms attack and ~20ms release are good starting points). Adjust the threshold until you get a crunchy sound, but don’t go too far and make it flat and lifeless.
THAT PHAT SOUND
HIGH & DRY
If you have the time, energy and a condenser mic to spare, you can get an even “phatter” sound – but it takes more work and there will probably be more bleed from other instruments – so you may want to try this miking method on overdubs only. Setup a large diaphragm condenser mic about 18” to 24” away from the amp. In the control room, turn down the fader on your close dynamic mic (in case your skimming, see section above) all the way and listen to the guitarist play. Do you hear a little more air and sizzle? But probably not enough grit? Now start turning up the dynamic mic fader and you will likely start to hear a funny, out-of-phase effect called “comb filtering.” This is because the sound waves are
If at all possible, record your guitar tracks without reverb. If your guitarist whines, try dialing in some reverb from the effects send of your mixer into the headphone mix. That way the band will hear reverb on the guitar during tracking but it will still get recorded dry. Why do this? Because you can always add reverb but you can’t dial it back later. During mixdown, add reverb sparingly and try to use the smallest room size possible – distorted guitars usually sound “sexier” with small plate or room settings with short decays. Clean guitar can usually take more reverb in slightly larger spaces. Delays can also work on clean guitars (not distorted) in very small amounts – the formula to start with
Part 1 of 2
is BPM x 0.6 = milliseconds of delay time. So for example, in a song at 120 BPM, a clean rhythm guitar part might benefit from a delay of 72ms. Use EQ filters on the delay to hone in on frequencies that enhance the sound (start with dropping off below 500 Hz and cutting off above 5 kHz). Limit the feedback to 2 or 3 taps so you don’t muddy things up and try spreading the delays out in the stereo field for a super sexy sound.
DOUBLE TRACKING & PANNING Very often after we have tracked a killer rhythm take, we’ll have the guitarist track a second rhythm guitar part right away, while the rest of the band hangs out in the control room making fun of him (why do soundproof walls with windows bring out the worst in people?) You should bring up the volume of the original guitar track in their headphone mix while s/he overdubs so that the two will be as close, rhythmically, as possible. The two tracks have to be tight together or the effect becomes pointless. This second track may not get used, but it’s good to have and hard to get later when things have been moved and settings on amps and effects pedals have been changed. This applies to all rhythm guitar tracks, so if there is a clean electric guitar part or an acoustic guitar track, you will want to double track those as well. Now you can see why it’s important to have comfy couches in the control room for the rest of the band! Editor’s note - Read “Part 2” in the November print issue of Performer. Zac Cataldo is a musician and owner/producer at Night Train Studios, a recording studio in Westford, MA. He is also co-owner of Black Cloud Productions, a music publishing company. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Brent Godin is a bassist/guitarist and engineer/ producer at Night Train Studios and talent scout at Black Cloud Productions. Reach him at brent@ blackcloudproductions.com.
OCTOBER 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 51
IN THE STUDIO WITH THE STATIONARY SET
From Practice Rooms to the Laundromat interview by Benjamin Ricci photos by Deneka Peniston
THE STATIONARY SET Andrew Lutes vocals, guitar Joshua Hoisington vocals, guitar, keys, programming Josh Davis guitar, keys Gabriel Kubitz bass, vocals Logan Baldwin drums, aux electronics
KEY GEAR Zoom Stereo Recorder** AKG 414 Shure SM57 Pro Tools HD Ableton Live ** We used a Zoom Stereo Recorder in lieu of
a room condenser and were pleased with the results. We “marker snapped” before the take and gridded the Pro Tools tracks and the Zoom tracks in Ableton Live to get a more accurate room effect.
The Stationary Set, Haunt On RECORDING STUDIO: Secret Society, Brooklyn, NY RECORD LABEL: Self-released RELEASE DATE: April 2012 PRODUCER: Mike Beck and The Stationary Set MIXING ENGINEER: Mike Beck MASTERING: Tony Gillis
52 OCTOBER 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
HAVE A UNIQUE STUDIO STORY TO SHARE? EMAIL EDITORIAL@PERFORMERMAG.COM
We always do all our pre-production in our studio at Scientific Laboratories in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It’s been our home for years now and it’s where we do all our rehearsing, arranging and have even done tracking for some of our earlier releases. It’s home. It can be seen in our new video for the alternate version of “Don’t Be Alarmed” off of Haunt On, which we filmed and tracked live. It kind of looks like a mad scientist’s college dorm room, but don’t let the rat’s nest of wires fool you - we know what (almost) everything does and where it (usually) goes. That said, we are sort of in pre-production year round, regardless of our release or gig schedule. So, when it comes time to fine tune before tracking begins, we’ve got 80% of the work already done.
We have a pretty big sound. We learned early on that we can get into trouble with piling things on - to the point that the track loses its swagger and becomes a little disjointed. We’ve approached the recording of the last few records with the idea that it should sound like a band playing instruments in a room and not a band playing computers in a studio. So, for that we tracked as much as possible live and played around with the environments. We think you can hear it on the record; we were all there at the same time. Though we have pretty big arrangements, the spine of our songwriting is pretty age-old. We like to play with that regularly by documenting our songs in different ways. Our Silent Killer session on YouTube, for example, had us walk into a Laundromat and play a set on battery-powered and acoustic instruments - all filmed and recorded live. A similar approach was taken for our new video for “Don’t Be Alarmed.” [That track] is by far one of the most produced songs on Haunt On, with big guitars and a dubstep-influenced chorus. However, we reinterpreted its sentiment for the live tracking of the video by employing melodica, acoustic guitar, multiple acoustic percussion instruments, some vocal looping, and an adorable little toy Casio. The song lives just as well that way.
I think hearing/seeing that and then listening to our record, you can get a sense of how many folds the band really has. Plus, it can be just as rewarding to play songs on a ukulele in a living room as it is in a big studio with a Tele through a gazillion machines. Both of which we love.
ON THEIR RECORDING APPROACH:
“It should sound like a band playing instruments in a room and not a band playing computers in a studio.”
RELEASE PLANS The video for “Don’t Be Alarmed’ will be released in conjunction with CMJ Music Festival along with a surprise cover song that we’ll be releasing for free. We’ve never dabbled in covering other artists before, but we feel strongly about our connection to this particular song.
Continuing our quest to capture our music in different ways, we’ll be filming and recording a live concert video over the course of three nights this month (October) at Rockwood Music Hall here in NYC. For more visit thestationaryset.bandcamp.com OCTOBER 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 53
ZOOM Q2 HD Video Recorder - $199
PROS Plenty of applications, good quality, easy to use
CONS Accessory kit isn’t included Back in the day, video cameras were the size of an anti-aircraft weapons. Today, Zoom combines HD video and audio all in one compact package, at
an incredibly affordable price. It’s about the same size as an iPhone and features HDMI, USB, and 1/8” headphone jack connections. Headphones are a good option for monitoring and private playback, but there’s also a built-in speaker, and two AA batteries power the entire unit. The interface is very easy to maneuver; all the settings are located in common sense places, and are easy to get to. With full hi-def video at 1080p and a 4x digital zoom, video quality is excellent. Although it does not have a flash, the lighting settings work well even in very low light. Video editing can also be done without any extra software. It takes very little practice, and the results were great. This would be a very cool tool to capture band rehearsals and even live gigs for your YouTube channel. Audio-wise, it records at 24 bit, and with a low cut filter cutting out background noise, gives clarity of what you want to hear. The mic gain is located on the side, and can be adjusted on the fly. The microphone’s field of range can also be adjusted depending upon what’s being recorded, and where, as acoustic environments greatly differ and finding the right settings is key for optimum performance. The Q2 has plenty of applications, not just
FEATURES Number of Audio Tracks Audio Connections Microphone Zoom Recording Time Memory Type File Formats
2 Headphones/Line Out Stereo 4x Digital 2 hours (video), 4 hours (audio) SD/SDHC/SDXC card (up to 64GB) MPEG-4 AVC / H.264 (MOV) / PCM and AAC (AUDIO) 85.4g
recording live performances. Connect it to a computer, and now it’s a webcam. With HDMI connectivity, hooking it up to an HDTV for playback is super easy. It records to SD cards, so transferring files isn’t an issue, either. We also received an accessory pack (typically not included) from Zoom that contained a mini tripod, wrist strap, foam windscreen, HDMI, and USB cables, and a padded case. With the accessories pack, it’s quite a powerful setup. Bands, fans, podcasters, video bloggers and media hounds can all use this tiny rig for even the largest applications. -Chris Devine
LINE 6 L3T Speaker - $1199 FEATURES System Type Frequency Range (-10 dB) Frequency Response (±3 dB) Maximum SPL Output Coverage Pattern (-6 dB) Directivity Factor (Q) Directivity Index (DI) Low Frequency Transducers High Frequency Transducer
PROS Simple to use, great sound, modular, advanced feature set
CONS None Since most bands usually just run vocals through a PA, “personal” PA systems have become in vogue. Line 6 uses that idea as a building block for a full on, scalable PA system that includes the L3T loudspeaker. Considering its sound, the L3T is quite compact. 1,400 watts get pumped out of (2) 10” speakers 54 OCTOBER 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
Dual 10”, 3-way, tri-amplified loudspeaker system 40 Hz to 19 kHz 47 Hz to 18 kHz 132 dB peak @ 1 meter 100° horizontal x 50° vertical 8.7 (averaged 1 kHz to 16 kHz) 9.4 dB (averaged 1 kHz to 16 kHz) 2x10” extended range woofer, 2” voice coil, 4 ohm 1” exit compression driver, 1.4” voice coil & diaphragm, 8 ohm
and one high frequency driver. The handle can be used as a prop, configuring the speaker as a monitor, and the unit also features two pop out feet. A receptacle at the bottom allows mounting to a standard PA system support – a nice touch. The controls are simple: 2 channels, one for vocals, and one channel that can be optimized for acoustic instruments or used as an additional regular channel. The L3T also features a 3-band EQ, -20DB pad, and modulation and reverb are available for both channels, as well as feedback suppression. The inputs work with XLR and standard 1/4” TRS connections, so no worries there. We received just one of the L3Ts, and tested on its own it didn’t drop the ball one bit. Headroom was no problem, and provided plenty of low end. The reverb was excellent, just what’s needed for vocals; the modulation, when used
sparingly adds dimension, but can get a bit processed at higher settings. There is connectivity between multiple L3Ts via Line 6’s Link system, giving true stereo sound. Line 6’s documentation also details multiple configurations with several speakers, configured from small clubs to fully functional front of house systems. While there is an increased cost for the larger full rig, it’s a pro touring sound system scalable to your exact performance needs. For a singer/songwriter, it’s simple to set up and get great sounds quickly. Getting a solid, reliable personal PA system that can fit in the trunk of a sub compact that’s well-built is worth it! The L3T is at least 50% smaller than a standard PA. In addition, we highly recommend the Line 6 system for venues looking to upgrade their current pro sound installations. -Chris Devine
PROS Good selection of musical modulations, true bypass or buffered bypass
TC Electronic’s Dreamscape pedal brings the modulation effects contained in John Petrucci’s monstrous racks to the tip of your foot. While it’s digital, the controls are very simple. Speed, Depth and Level knobs are the main controls and a mini toggle switch provides options for Bright, Dark and Normal tonal sounds. It’s selectable between true and buffered bypass, depending upon the pickups and the other items in the signal path; this option can really make a difference. The first three effect modes are optimized for clean tones, and are all very lush and rich. The second set of three modes is more refined for distorted sounds. It’s nice to have this pointed out, and makes a bit more sense than trying to figure out which setting works best. The tone print selection is interesting. Connect the pedal via a USB cable, and settings can be downloaded to the unit. There’s also a free app that allows settings to be sent wirelessly to the pedal via a smart phone – a nice, modern feature. The range of the modulations have been set by Petrucci, meaning their sounds are what he believes make the most sense. The choruses are well done, and are reminiscent of TC’s legendary Stereo Chorus pedal. The flangers may not have as much range as some players may like, but they’re
usable ones - just shy of “Unchained” territory, more in the “The Spirit of Radio” realm. Consider it an “advanced modulation.” The vibrato modes really vary, and are almost two entirely very different effects, one being a Leslie-type warble, and the second one being a bit more subdued. The tone selection switch does make a difference; the bright mode is great for cutting through with a humbucker guitar, for example, and in each effect setting it interacts a little differently. Overall, for the chorus modes alone this pedal is worth checking out, and while the flangers might not be super flange-y, they’ll work great for most musical applications. Recommended. -Chris Devine
TC ELECTRONIC John Petrucci Signature Dreamscape Pedal - $249
FEATURES I/O Stereo Controls
(2) 1/4” Inputs, (2) 1/4” Outputs Yes Speed, Depth, FX Level, Tone Print, Dark/Normal/Bright Switch 1.5 lbs. 3.75” x 6” x 4”
TC HELICON VoiceTone Mic Mechanic Vocal Effects Pedal – $149 The layout is simple. XLR connections mean this is meant for singers. The mic level control is placed on the side, keeping it out of the way from stray feet. A USB connection is there for software updates and helpful suggestions from TC’s VoiceSupport software. There is a mic control function on the side that enables remote control of the unit via TC’s MP-75 Mic (not included). The only little quip is that it won’t work with phantompowered microphones. The Tone button is like a master “fix-it” button, adding EQ, compression, and noise gating. It doesn’t seem to get in the way sonically, as it’s quite subtle. Options include Hall, Club and Room reverbs, plus individual Slap and Echo effects;
PROS Simple, easy to use, good effects selection
CONS Doesn’t work with phantom-powered mics Guitarists have long been able to use small pedals to alter/enhance their sound, while vocalists have been relegated to huge racks and systems that are expensive and difficult to control. TC Helicon’s Mic Mechanic brings analog control to advanced vocal processing.
there is even a pitch correction effect available. All of the effects are great; finding the right setting for the style of the vocalist and type of music takes a bit of tweaking, but it’s well worth it. The ambience it gives is very natural, regardless of genre. The Echo’s tempo can also be set via a very simple tap tempo function. The Pitch Correction is equally subtle, as it won’t do over the top “Auto-Tune” effects. So, can you cover up a lack of talent? No. Smooth out some minor rough spots in vocals? Yes. Overall, it’s a great “set it and forget it” pedal. Live performers won’t be able to switch effects easily on the fly, but for the singer who wants to control his/her effects and not get caught up in presets, it’s well worth it. -Chris Devine
FEATURES Construction Mic Input Level at 0 dBFS EIN at Max Mic Gain Rg = 150 Ohm Mic input SNR Connections Dynamic Range Frequency Response Power Supply (included) Dimensions Weight
Two-part die cast metal, rubberized base -42dBu to +1dBu -126 dBu >104 dB Analog Outputs >104 dB, 20 Hz to 20 kHz plus.minus 0.3 dB, 20 Hz to 20 kHz 12V 0.4A 5.4 x 3.5 x 2.3 in. 0.92 lb. (0.42 kg)
OCTOBER 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 55
SPOTLIGHTS FLASHBACK GUITAR AMP
Silvertone 1482 “Pawn Shop Gem Still Stands The Test of Time”
YEAR: 1965 BACKGROUND: I bought this gem as a backup amp. I’m sucker for anything Silvertone or Kay. Now it’s one of my main amps for recording and live performances. HOW IT’S USED: I’ve used the amp both in the studio and onstage with my band RESTAVRANT. We’re a two-piece, for which I play bottleneck slide guitar, harmonica and vocals. We’re gearing up to play the Muddy Roots Music Festival outside of Nashville before we continue touring for another month and a half. Chances are the Silvertone 1482 will be with me the entire way. INTERESTING FEATURES: The tremolo on this amp is like no other that I’ve heard. I never cared much for using tremolo until I played around with it on this amp. 56 OCTOBER 2012 PERFORMER MAGAZINE
MODERN EQUIVALENT: There is no modern equivalent… you gotta hand it to Sears Roebuck. LESSONS LEARNED: I’d say what an engineer can learn, or maybe what this amp has taught me is to not shy away from any weird, old, ugly, duct-taped gear that an artist might bring into a recording session. There are good reasons why they hold on to these little gems of junk. ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Troy Murrah is a musician and project manager for the Los Angeles-based recording studio and design firm, Sound and Structure. Most recently, Murrah completed work on VKLA, a state of
the art audio showroom in Los Angeles. When he’s not building and creating studios, Murrah plays in two-piece outfit RESTAVRANT, whose second album, Yeah, I Carve Cheetahs, is out now on Hillgrass Bluebilly Records. For more information, check out www.soundandstructure.com and www.restavrant.com.
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