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TH E M US I C I A N’S R ES O U RC E

JAN 2013 FREE

interviews

EXDETECTIVES RICK Y SK AGGS SAR AH WILFONG MYSTICAL WEAPONS

plus

3 THINGS ARTISTS NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE PANDOR A FIGHT RECORDING WITH VINTAGE VOCAL COMPRESSORS HOW THE FIRST SALE DOCTRINE AFFECTS MUSICIANS

MOE

POPE

“I FEEL LIKE YOU CAN MAKE MUSIC ANY WHERE, AS LONG AS YOU HAVE THE RIGHT EAR AND A REALLY GOOD ENGINEER.”


©2013 PreSonus Audio Electronics, Inc., all rights reserved. StudioLive, Capture and Nimbit are trademarks or registered trademarks of PreSonus Audio Electronics, Inc. Studio One is a registered trademark of PreSonus Software Ltd. iPad and iPhone are registered trademarks of Apple, Inc. PayPal is a registered trademark of PayPal. If you’re reading this footnote, the Mayans were sorely misinterpreted.

Your free Nimbit account is included with Studio One 2.5 DAW.

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TA B L E O F C O N T E N T S

cover

28

VOL.23, ISSUE 1

story

MOE POPE by Alex Lane

Boston’s MC offers up some insight into his recording process: including tracking in living rooms, closets and basically anywhere with the right acoustics to capture his signature sound.

Ricky Skaggs by Brad Hardisty

18

Sarah Wilfong by Benjamin Ricci

24

Mystical Weapons by Heidi Schmitt

32

The venerable bluegrass icon chats about all Nashville-via-Chicago’s fiddle master The new indie duo dishes on vintage gear, aspects of his creative process, including working takes us inside the studio and gives some tricking out their ARP synthesizer, and with the right producers and collaborating with pro tips on recording string sections. the importance of improvisational music. artists outside his comfort zone.

D E PA R T M E N T S 5 Obituaries

48 What to Know About the Pandora Fight

7 Local News

49 Legal Pad: First Sale Doctrine & You

13 Tour Stop: Nashville, TN

50 My Favorite Axe: Jay Manley

14 Spotlights: Nightlands,

51 Recording: Tracking With Reverb pt.2

The FountNHead & ExDetectives

Photo credits: counter-clockwise from top: David Salafia, Skaggs Family Records, Ben Grimes, Charlotte Kemp Muhl Cover photo by David Salafia

52 Studio Diary: Motive

36 Top Picks: The best in new music

54 Gear Reviews

46 Piano Accompaniment for Ballet

56 Flashback: Teletronix LA-2A JANUARY 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 3


FROM THE TOP Howdy, y’all!

Volume 23, Issue 1

Taylor Swift is on the cover of our Main Competitor this month, and I can hardly keep my lunch down. As we begin a new year, I’m thankful that Performer has stuck to its principles and continues to write about, and for, working musicians. Real musicians. Artists who are out there writing, recording, touring, creating.

In other depressing news, it’s come to my attention that Spin will no longer be publishing its print edition. As someone who came of age in the alterna-verse of the mid-’90s, Spin was my bible. Figuratively, of course, as my real bible was a battered Operation Ivy cassette, but that’s a story for another day...

24 Dane St., Suite 3 Somerville, MA 02143 Phone: 617-627-9200 - Fax: 617-627-9930

Now, I have nothing against successful artists or pop stars, but don’t shove something in my face that was created by committee and tell me it’s art. And don’t insult me my pretending that the public face of said art has something meaningful to say about its creation. I’m smarter than that, and so are your readers.

It’s always a bummer to see another print mag stop the presses, and it reminds me just how lucky we are to still be around. I’m a firm believer that the printed word carries weight, and here’s hoping 2013 is our best year yet – both in print and online.

Benjamin Ricci - ben@performermag.com

PUBLISHER

William House - bill@performermag.com EDITOR

DESIGN AND ART DIRECTION

Joe LoVasco - scoutco1@gmail.com EDITORIAL ASSISTANT

Alex Lane editorial@performermag.com

Joe Walsh summed it up best on a recent episode of Live From Daryl’s House, where he was baffled that Beyoncé “made a record that has five writers, three producers, and eight words in the song.”

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS

-Benjamin Ricci Editor P.S. – As of press time, I’m expecting my first child (any day now!) So if there are more typos and mistakes than usual in this issue, I’m placing the blame squarely on little Ella Grace. The second we get her home, she’s grounded. No parties, no TV, no nothing. I mean it, missy…

Adam Barnosky, Alex Lane, Alex Lipsen, Ari Goldberg, Ben Marazzi, Benjamin Ricci, Brad Hardisty, Brent Godin, Candace McDuffie, Chris Devine, Christopher Petro, Dana Forsythe, Elisabeth Wilson, Eric Burgett, Eric Wolff, Gail Fountain, Garrett Frierson, George Howard, Glenn Skulls, Heidi Schmitt, Lucy Fernandes, Meghan Pochebit, Shawn M Haney, Tara Lacey, Taylor Haag, Vanessa Bennett, Zac Cataldo CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS

performermag.com

/performermagazine

@performermag

ABOUT US

CORRECTIONS

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.

Did we make a heinous blunder, factual error or just spell your name wrong? Contact editorial@performermag.com and let us know, cuz we’re big enough to say, “Baby, I was wrong.”

MUSIC SUBMISSIONS

In the words of our esteemed forefathers at CREEM: “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 editorial@performermag.com and see what comes back your way. If you have eyes to be in print, this just might be the place. Whaddya got to lose? Whaddya got? ”

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: editorial@performermag.com. No attachments, please. Send CDs to: Performer Magazine Attn: Reviews 24 Dane St. Somerville, MA 02143

4 JANUARY 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE

Alida Duff Sullivan, Ben Grimes, Catharine Maloney, Charlotte Kemp Muhl, Dan Harr, Daryl Lazaro, David Salafia, Deneka Peniston, Elisabeth Wilson, Hathir Pfau, James A Willis, Janet Lindenmuth, Kenneth Watson, Mark J. Sebastian, Mark Mitchell, Rick Carroll, Robbie Brunzus, Steve Wilson, Terence Rushin ADVERTISING SALES

Kathleen Mackay - kathleen@performermag.com Deborah Rice - deborah@performermag.com

EDITORIAL SUBMISSIONS © 2013 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.


Jazz Pianist and Composer – “Take Five” Influential jazz pianist Dave Brubeck died Wednesday December 5 in Norfolk, Connecticut of heart failure on his way to a cardiology appointment. He was just one day shy of his 92nd birthday. Brubeck, a skilled pianist and composer, was most well known for his experimental time signatures, and is often credited with re-popularizing jazz for a younger generation. His group is responsible for jazz hits such as 1959’s Time Out, featuring the recording of “Take Five,” the first jazz single to sell one million copies.

Mickey Baker, 87 Named One of Rolling Stone’s Best Guitarists of All Time Mickey Baker, a popular rhythm and blues session guitarist, died November 27 at his home near Toulouse, France at the age of 87 of undisclosed causes. Born MacHouston Baker. Baker was largely responsible for joining rhythm and blues and rock and roll. He and Sylvia Robinson had a hit single “Love is Strange” as the R&B duo Mickey & Sylvia. In addition, Baker was a popular session guitarist for acts such as Ray Charles, Ruth Brown and Joe Turner. He was awarded the Pioneer Award in 2003 by the Rhythm and Blues foundation, and was listed by Rolling Stone in 2003 as one of “100 Best Guitarists of All Time.”

Billy Scott, 70 Rhythm and Blues Singer – The Prophets Billy Scott died at his home in Charlotte, North Carolina of pancreatic and liver cancer on November 17 at the age of 70. Born Peter Pendleton, Scott sang with various groups during his time in the Army before returning and changing his name. He later gained fame singing with his wife as The Prophets, crafting their first gold record in 1968 with “I Got The Fever.” Later becoming the Georgia Prophets, the group had further success with “Seaside Love” and “California.” In 1999, Scott was inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame.

Nick Curran, 35 Singer/Guitarist – The Fabulous Thunderbirds Guitar savant Nick Curran died on October 6 at the age of 35, following a threeyear battle with oral cancer. Curran, who was originally from Sanford, Maine, made a name for himself by playing for the Dallas rockabilly musician Ronnie Dawson, starting at just 19. He eventually went on to play with the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Jimmie Vaughan, and the Lowlifes. The release of his Dr. Velvet album garnered him a W.C. Handy Award, and his music was featured on the popular television show True Blood in 2008.

Anthony di Bonaventura, 83 Concert Pianist/Professor of Music at Boston University Acclaimed American pianist and professor of music, Anthony di Bonaventura died at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston on November 12. His career as a concert pianist began early with his first professional concert at age four, and took him around the globe – eventually performing in 27 different countries. He had been a Professor of Music at Boston University’s College of Fine Arts for the past 40 years, where he received the Metcalf Cup and Prize for Excellence in 1992, the university’s highest award for teaching.

OBITUARIES

Dave Brubeck, 91

Chris Stamp, 70 Signed Jimi Hendrix British music producer and manager Chris Stamp died of cancer on November 24 at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. Stamp, along with business partner Kit Lambert, is best known for his part in launching and managing the early career of The Who. The duo went on to create Track Records, which was responsible for signing Jimi Hendrix and releasing his Are You Experienced album. Following his success in the music industry, Stamp went on to become an addiction counselor and psychodrama therapist.

Duke Vin, 84 Pioneering Jamaican DJ Born Vincent George Forbes in Kingston, Jamaica, Duke Vin died November 3 in London at the age of 84. Vin, who immigrated to England as a stowaway out of Jamaica in 1954, became a sound system operator and selector. He is known for operating the first Jamaicanstyle sound system to exist in the United Kingdom. Vin’s style and skill influenced the popularization of reggae and ska in Great Britain and beyond.

Major Harris, 65 Delfonics Singer Major Harris, the R&B singer best known for his work with The Delfonics, died of congestive heart and lung failure on November 9 at the age of 65. Harris, who performed both with groups and as a solo act, helped to popularize the “Philadelphia Sound.” Before replacing Randy Cain in The Delfonics, Harris had spent time performing with a number of groups including The Teenagers and Nat Turner’s Rebellion. In the mid-’70s Harris left The Delfonics to pursue a solo career. In 1975, his solo hit single “Love Won’t Let Me Wait” reached No. 5 on Billboard’s Hot 100, and he was awarded a gold record.

JANUARY 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 5


take your best shot.

seeks CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS contact editorial@performermag.com

get

published

WRITE FOR PERFORMER MAGAZINE contact editorial@performermag.com


NORTHEAST

LOCAL NEWS

BOSTON N E W S B I T S Guitar Centers Opens at Berklee

Brooklyn duo TKTTSM has released their latest single “Eyeyeye” along with a stop-motion video for their single “Plastic Fantastic.”

Takes Over Former Daddy’s Flagship Location by Alex Lane

INDYNS, a Brooklyn-based group, has released a video for their song “Destroyher” which premiered on Baeble. A rustic trio from Brooklyn, The Lone Bellow has released “You Never Need Nobody,” the first track off the group’s new self-titled album. Casey Desmond, pop artist out of Boston, released her debut full-length album Déjà Vu at the end of November via Sound Museum Records. Boston-based rockers Christian McNeill & Sea Monsters are set to release their debut album Everything’s Up For Grabs in early 2013. Desaparecidos, a Nebraska-based group who have been on and off for over a decade, have announced an East Coast tour for February. Boston’s own Dropkick Murphys have announced plan for their 2013 “St. Patrick’s Day Tour” which will culminate in two nights at the TD Garden and a finale “Irish Festival” at House of Blues on March 17.

The beginning of December was an exciting time for Boston musicians, with the reopening of the former Daddy’s Junky Music storefront as a new Guitar Center. The brand new GC is located at 165 Massachusetts Ave, a location that is convenient due to its proximity to Boston’s prestigious music school, Berklee College of Music. One of the school’s alumni, Hirsh Gardner, has been brought on board to help customize the store and will remain as the location’s general manager. Gardner was the former manager of Daddy’s at the same location for many years, and is excited about the opportunity, stating, “I am thrilled to be here with the great folks at Guitar Center and look forward to contributing again to the musical needs of the Boston music community.” The new location will offer a BonusCard

VENUE PROFILE

program to Berklee students, which affords (upon registration) $20 to spend towards their first purchase, and 10% off future purchases. The existing Boston Guitar Center near Fenway Park will stay open as well, as Guitar Center believes both stores can serve the different communities in the city without cannibalizing sales from one another. STORE DETAILS 159-165 Mass Ave. - Boston, MA 02115 (617) 450-4311 Store Hours: Mon-Fri: 11 AM-8 PM Sat: 10 AM-7 PM Sun: 12 AM-6 PM stores.guitarcenter.com/Mass-ave

Church of Boston

Revamped House of God Caters to Local & Touring Acts

Pearl Necklace, a Brooklyn-based duo, are set to release their debut Soft Opening on January 29 via Smalltown Supersound. Baltimore group Have Mercy has announced their plans for an East Coast winter tour with New Jersey’s Dads. Indie-rockers from Boston, The Susan Constant, has released the first single “Locked Up” off of their forthcoming EP Shapes, currently slated for a January release.

Food. Music. Booze. That’s the motto for the team

formal dining area, bar, or living room style lounge.

at Church, a unique restaurant/music venue/hang-

At a capacity of 225, the nightclub side at Church

out for musicians and audiences alike. Situated in

entertains audiences seven nights a week, with

the backyard of Fenway Park, Church of Boston is,

both local and touring acts of varying styles and

as the name suggests, a renovated church that has

genres. Offering a casual atmosphere, good eats,

been repurposed as half restaurant, half nightclub.

drinks and a soundtrack for your night out, Church

The restaurant side is home to delicious comfort

is the ideal spot for a night on the town.

food at affordable prices, served in your choice of

DRUM LESSONS with DEAN JOHNSTON 617.388.5395 themightydux@gmail.com CALL OR WRITE FOR A FREE EVALUATION BOSTON, MA

STAGE STATS

BOOKING INFO

Elevated stage with basic PA system and FOH

Dan Millen

sound person most nights.

Head Booker - Rock On! Concerts 69 Kilmarnock Street Boston, MA 02215

PAY POLICY

(617) 236-1066

Negotiated on a case-by-case basis. Typically a

rockondan@gmail.com

percentage of door or guarantee for larger touring

churchbooking@gmail.com

artists. Bands are allowed to sell merch.

www.churchofboston.com

JANUARY 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 7


AUSTIN LOCAL NEWS

DIRECTORY

“Space” Brings New Studio/ Rehearsal Complex to Austin

AUSTIN PHOTOGRPHERS DUSTIN FINKELSTEIN PHOTOGRAPHY (865) 850-1987 dustinfinkelstein@gmail.com www.dustinfinkelstein.com

Affords Musicians Place to Rehearse Without Fear of Noise Complaints by Tara Lacey image courtesy of Space Rehearsal & Recording

With the growing population in Austin and the cost of real estate soaring off the charts and noise ordinances keeping pace, Austin musicians are finding themselves pushed out of not only their apartments, but also their rehearsal spaces. In December, Space burst onto the scene, incorporating a state-of-the-art studio with ample space (no pun intended) for one-of–a-kind rehearsal spaces, as well giving local artists a place to hone their craft sans citations for noise complaints. Austin has a lion’s share of available recording spaces but the intimate walls of Space house a small studio amid ample rehearsal rooms. Space’s owner Will Harrison sought to create a rehearsal space that would lend the artists using it inspiration as well as some solace. Harrison identified the

RUDY AROCHA PHOTOGRAPHY rarocha78@gmail.com rudyarocha.tumblr.com perfect location in South Austin near Manchaca. He enlisted Steve Burr, the acoustic architect behind then new ACL Live Moody Theater, to tackle the project, which included both the recording studio and 30 practice rooms. Rooms are rented out on an hourly basis with very limited availability for permanent residency, reserved for music tutors. Space provides a secluded location within Austin’s burgeoning urban sprawl. Ten acres of woodland provide a serene atmosphere for musicians to really let their creative juices flow apart from the mental noise Austin ordinances can’t control. For more info visit www.spaceatx.com.

Live Performance Opps at Austin’s Int’l Airport

MARY SLED PHOTOGRAPHY (512) 462-2100 marysledd@gmail.com www.sleddphoto.com REBEL WITH A CAMERA rebel@rebelwithacamera.com www.rebelwithacamera.com

AUSTIN BAND PHOTOGRAPHY Chris Butler www.acmeenterprises.com/ austin_band_photography

by Tara Lacey photo by Giovanni Galluci

8 JANUARY 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE

GRIEGO PHOTOGRAPHY jason@griegophoto.com www.jasongriego.com

RAE OF LIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY info@raeoflight-photography.com www.raeoflight-photography.com

Rock The Friendly Skies

The holidays are the busiest time for any airport, but for Austin-Bergstrom International Airport’s many travelers, they provide a warm and welcomed introduction to Austin’s music scene. Any artist who has flown into Austin during SXSW can attest that the airport is just as happening as any downtown spot during the famed event, providing tourists and artists alike a taste of what the musical city has to offer outside of the terminal. Austin’s airport is home to four of its own music venues. Inside Bergstrom a traveler won’t find a McDonald’s, Subway, or Starbucks. Austin likes to support local businesses, even on the way out of town. Instead travelers can find Thundercloud Subs, or Salt Lick BBQ. The same goes for their watering holes. At Bergstrom a flier won’t belly up to a bar run by a generic catering company, but instead can find themselves in a miniature version of one of Austin’s most legendary and long-standing music venues, The Saxon Pub or Ray Benson’s Rattle Inn - both featuring stages situated so passersby can take in an earful, even when in a hurry.

CHERRY STATIC PHOTOGRAPHY Damian Schillaci cherrystaticphoto@gmail.com www.cherrystatic.com

KEVIN DELEON PHOTOGRAPHY kevin.deleon@gmail.com www.kevindeleonphotography.com

artist - Little Brave The woman behind the music is Nancy Coplin, who is busy lady these days. The airport continues to add nooks and crannies on top of their full-blown venues so they can continually provide entertainment for the occasional layover or delayed flights. Coplin does try to keep the tone neutral, yet eclectic, booking a mix of bands. She also likes to see a cover or two thrown in the set to appeal to a diverse audience. Coplin tends to shy away from hard rock and hip-hop as they are not as widely received, but she’s open and willing to listen to and consider all types of artists. For more info visit www.austintexas.gov.

CHRISTOPHER DURST PHOTOGRAPHY (512) 626-3549 iam@christopherdurst.com www.christopherdurst.com MOLLIE KENDALL PHOTOGRAPHY mollie@molliekphotography.com www.molliekphotography.com SABRINA BEAN PHOTOGRAPHY sabrinabeanphotography@gmail.com sabrinabeanphotography.wordpress.com

For more listings, visit performermag.com


RADIO PROMOTION (terrestrial, satellite, internet)

Dresden Dolls Bad Plus Girls Guns & Glory String Cheese Incident Esperanza Spalding Medeski Martin & Wood Steve Winwood Gov't Mule 311 Janis Ian Jim's Big Ego Stanley Clarke Umphrey's McGee Gretchen Parlato Miss Tess Mike Stern Soulive Maceo Parker PUBLICITY AND TOUR SUPPORT (print press and viral)

call: 800-356-1155 www: powderfingerpromo.com


LOCAL NEWS

SEATTLE Expand Your Music Business Knowledge in Seattle

P A C I F I C NORTHWEST

Joe Solo’s Music Success Workshop Comes to Town in Feb

N E W S B I T S

by Glenn Skulls Musicians and songwriters now have a unique opportunity to gain inside information about what it takes to break through in today’s ever-changing music industry by attending LA record producer Joe Solo’s Music Success Weekend Workshop. The two-day event will be held Saturday and Sunday, February 16 & 17, 2013 at The Seattle Marriott Waterfront Hotel in Seattle, WA. Solo’s work developing popular artists such as Macy Gray led him to found the Music Success Workshops. “I feel so blessed to have been successful in music,” states Solo, “and I want talented and dedicated artists to join me on this amazing journey. My workshops are designed to empower people with the creative, marketing and music industry insider knowledge about what it takes to have success and how to avoid costly mistakes.” At the two-day weekend workshop, attendees will discover the right tools and strategies to accelerate their music careers and get them the recognition their art deserves. “You’ll learn how to relate to, understand, and work with others so you’ll write better songs and have better recordings. You’ll learn the importance of good production. You’ll have a chance to hear your materials played with feedback from both the audience and me to enhance your creativity. I’ll give you everything I can and I’ll answer all your questions,” Solo says.

Seattle’s Summer Aviation recently released a new single, “Love So Fine.” The new Typhoon 7-inch (Common Sentiments) is out now on Tender Loving Empire. The band also recently completed a tour with Laura Gibson and Lost Lander. Seattle’s night bus wunderkind Kid Smpl has announced his debut full length Skylight on XLR8R. Seattle’s STAG released their eponymous fulllength last month on Fin Records. Coalition Music is proud to unleash Incura into the world. The Vancouver-based band is set to release its selftitled full-length debut in North America on February 26th.

WORKSHOP TOPICS INCLUDE

WHERE & WHEN

-How to get your music heard by the right people.

SEATTLE WORKSHOP DATES: Sat & Sun, Feb. 16 & 17, 2013 Seattle Marriott Waterfront Hotel 2100 Alaskan Way Seattle, WA 98121

Radio Raheem recently released a creative video for the song “Push the Party,” featuring Shock G of Digital Underground.

To learn more about the workshop, visit www.JoeSoloWorkshop.com/Seattle or contact chandra@glowmarketing.com.

“Death by Proxy” is the latest single from Rare Monk’s latest EP, out now. A new full-length album will be available in February.

-Developing a music career path that suits you. -How good production makes all the difference -- hear “before” and “after” examples. -New techniques to inspire musical creativity. -Fresh techniques for marketing your music. -Learn how to best work with label execs, managers, A&R reps, music attorneys, music supervisors and other industry professionals. -Other workshop benefits include on-the-spot song evaluations for the first 24 registrants, drawings for merchandise including Propellerhead’s Reason software, industry discounts, and other exciting bonuses.

10 JANUARY 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE

To sign up for Joe’s FREE Music Success Video Nuggets and weekly tips email newsletter, go to www.JoeSoloWorkshop.com/nuggets.


LOCAL NEWS

NASHVILLE 5 MINUTES WITH... Debi Champion

Learn New Licks at The Old Time Pickin’ Parlor

Songwriter’s Night Host

Reviving Jam Sessions in Music City by Brad Hardisty photo by James A Willis

From 1971 to 1977, the Old Time Pickin’ Parlor was a place where old-time pickers and younger fans of bluegrass and traditional music, amateur and professional alike would gather to swap stories, songs and licks down on 2nd Avenue. At the original location you would find Tut Taylor, Norman Blake and Charlie Collins casually swapping licks. Neil Young played and hung out there, as did Eric Clapton, Clarence White, Bob Dylan, Vassar Clements, Sam Bush, John Hartford and many others. Richie Owens was a part of the early 2000s attempt at a comeback, which closed in 2002 at the downtown location. Owens just recently opened the doors at the new location, next to the American Pickers’ store, Antique Archeology at the old Marathon Motor Works factory.

STUDIO PROFILE

He has also reinstituted the old time pickin’ jam on Sundays, starting at noon. Players, amateur and professional, are invited to grab an instrument off the wall, vintage or new and sit in and play in the middle of the store/hangout joint. Owens felt it was important to make it comfortable to hang out and jam. He says, “I really appreciated the old-timers showing me licks, learning some of classic ways to play. I wanted to let others have that same experience.” CONTACT INFO 200 Clinton Street Nashville, TN 37203 (615) 730-8821 www.oldtimepickinparlor.com www.richieowens.com

Blackbird Studio

Some of the Biggest Vintage Gear Offerings in the U.S.

Launched in 2002, Blackbird started out in John McBride’s garage, but moved forward when he closed on a small property in Berry Hill, Creative Recording; it was a George Augspurger room from the ‘70s, with a compression ceiling. Augspurger was brought back in to retune the room. Blackbird now has eight unique studio environments with over 100 guitars, 30 amps, 20 drum kits, 40 snares, and all of the microphones you could ever imagine. They’re ready to handle any budget from two days to three months of booked time. During the past six years, McBride has added rooms and whole wings, all the while amassing one of the largest collections of vintage gear in the U.S. 12 JANUARY 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE

EQUIPMENT LIST 29 Telefunken 251s and 10 250s; 18 AKG C24 microphones, including serial number 001; two of the “exceedingly rare” Hiller M59 microphones used at Abbey Road; 40-plus Telefunken, Neumann and Church U47 microphones; 36 RFT 7151 bottle mics from the ‘30s used on Martina McBride’s Timeless record. Also, Neumann KM54s, AKG C28s and Telefunken Ela M 201 ribbon microphones. 16 channels of EMI Mastering EQ and compressors to go with the EMI Curve Bender EQ. PAST CLIENTS Harlot, LeAnn Rimes, Kenny Chesney Pearl Jam, Rush, The White Stripes, The Raconteurs, Kings of Leon and many more… CONTACT INFO 2806 Azalea Place Nashville, TN (615) 467-4487 mcbride@blackbirdstudio.com www.blackbirdstudio.com

interview by Brad Hardisty photo by Dan Harr Debi Champion has written songs that have been featured in TV and movies as well as some independent cuts, but she is most well-known locally for hosting the some of the best writer’s nights Nashville has to offer, four nights a week at the Commodore Grill for the past 20 years. Champion is probably the most important writer’s night host in Nashville.   Why should we know you?   Because I try to help writers connect. It’s a great feeling when writers meet and then two weeks later they come back with a song they have co-written. Some make it and some don’t, but at least I can do my part in helping them with their journey. Some players pick up session work and some get publishing deals, but for me I enjoy watching them grow as writers.   What are you trying to do in music? Make a living doing something I love. I would, of course, love to get a major cut someday.   Proudest achievement? The 2011 NSAI Writers Round Host Award as well as others.  Favorite current local artists? That’s a hard one. I have a lot of favorites. There’s so much talent in Nashville; I hear it every night!

For more info visit www.debichampion.com


TOUR STOP

photo by Mark Mitchell

NASHVILLE, TN

Nashville sits in the heart of Tennessee and is aptly nicknamed “Music City USA.” While it is the nation’s country music hub, the city also boasts a vibrant and eclectic music culture for all sounds and styles. It is an excellent place to stop if you love high-energy fans and have a passion for the history of the industry. And with a seemingly endless number of small and large venues, you can route a Southeast tour easily even if you’re not a country act. –Vanessa Bennett

VENUES BLUEBIRD CAFÉ 4104 Hillsboro Pike Nashville, TN (615) 383-1461 WWW.BLUEBIRDCAFE.COM The Bluebird offers music seven nights a week and is a premier singer/songwriter venue, drawing in a full house every evening. Artists and songwriters new to the venue will want to sign up for their prestigious open mic to showcase songs they’re working on. MERCURY LOUNGE One Cannery Row Nashville, TN (615) 251-3020 info@mercylounge.com WWW.MERCURYLOUNGE.COM The second story venue is a Nashville favorite, hosting local bands and national acts. RYMAN AUDITORIUM 116 5th Ave. North Nashville, TN (615) 889-3060 WWW.RYMAN.COM Ryman has been around for over a century and has been home to some of the greatest musicians in history. It is one of the most renowned venues in the country and an excellent place see a larger show.

GEAR SHOPS WORLD MUSIC INSTRUMENT 7069 US 70 South Nashville, TN (615) 425-0256 info.customerservice@worldmusicnashville.com WWW.WORLDMUSICNASHVILLE.COM Offers a wide selection of acoustic and electric instruments, lessons, and repairs. ROCK BLOCK GUITARS 2113 Elliston Place Nashville, TN (615) 321-0317 WWW.ROCKBLOCKGUITARS.NET Specializing in guitars and offering a wide range of makes, models, and styles.

ALT WEEKLY NASHVILLE SCENE 210 12th Ave. South, Suite 100 Nashville, TN (615) 244-7989 WWW.NASHVILLESCENE.COM One of the city’s biggest sources for entertainment news, the alt-weekly covers all of the city’s concerts and events. Contact them for info on sending in show announcements or gig ads as far out as possible.

RECORDING STUDIOS DARK HORSE RECORDING STUDIOS 2465 Old Charlotte Pike Franklin, TN (615) 791-5030 robin@darkhorserecording.com WWW.DARKHORSERECORDING.COM BLACKBIRD STUDIO (see page 12) 206 Azalea Pl. Nashville, TN (615) 467-4487 WWW.BLACKBIRDSTUDIO.COM Blackbird has a colorful history rooted in their passion for recording and has been used by some of the industry’s biggest acts.

RECORD STORE GRIMEY’S NEW AND PRE-LOVED MUSIC 1604 8th Ave. South Nashville, TN (615) 254-4801 funky@grimeys.com WWW.GRIMEYS.COM Grimey’s has the city’s biggest collection of new and used music including vinyl, CDs, and cassettes. They also host in-store shows from time-to-time, and are one of the coolest places to hang out in the city.

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NIGHTLANDS Overcoming Cabin Fever During Recording Sessions by Candace McDuffie photo by Catharine Maloney

Nightlands’ Dave Hartley is an artist who blossoms in the complexity of sound: he produces music that is noise-soaked, psychedelic and shapeshifting. When he is not spending his time as The War on Drugs’ bassist or vocalist in The Silver Ages, he is the heart of Nightlands. Though, at times, he is conscious of his tendency to bite off more than he can chew. “I used to be in a lot more bands - so I don’t think it’s necessarily always a good thing to be in so many. You can spread yourself too thin. Sometimes I kick myself for saying yes all the time, but it’s really hard to say no - especially when they’re my friends.” And Hartley has plenty of those who are willing to aid in his unconventional recording process.

“When it comes to recording, I tend to isolate myself and work really long hours.”

GENRE Experimental Pop HOMETOWN Philadelphia, PA ARTISTIC APPROACH To create noise-soaked, beautiful soundscapes.

www.nightlands.us

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“When it comes to recording, I tend to isolate myself and work really long hours. But I get cabin fever so friends come over and play and I get to see how they react. But it’s not too collaborative - it is definitely my vision.” And what a vision it is. 2010’s Forget The Mantra is high-spirited with ingloriously precise detail, while still being intensely experimental. This year’s Oak Island has a different vibe. “Forget The Mantra was me basically testing out theories on how to record music. Oak Island is more confident and more song oriented. It’s experimental pop music - it’s weird with pop elements peeking out. I’m sure the next record I make will be very poppy also, but still very weird.” And even if Hartley continues to make music that can be considered weird, he does so with only one goal in mind. “Even though my process is complex, I just want to make songs that sound really beautiful. I don’t know if others will think that, but that’s what I aim for.”


Fusing Ayn Rand Ethos with Metallic Hip-Hop by Gail Fountain / photo by Terence Rushin

Starting out as Gorillaz-style drawings in a comic strip even before learning their instruments, The FountNHead came to life via common hip-hop and rock influences. “I feel like when cultures combine, that’s when evolution occurs,” relates main rapper and singer Jewels. “Our goal is to create, and create freely.” Jewels, A.M. and Sainto were high school and college friends, and the group’s name originated while reading Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead. Jewels explains, “I thought [Howard Roark] was really heroic. We all left school early to pursue

musical dreams, and he loved to pursue his dreams of creativity.” A.M., singer/keyboardist, expounds, “Like the hip-hop story goes, we came from a bottom-up type situation. The character, he came from nothing, and he never wanted to give up anything in himself because he didn’t feel like he had to in order to make it to the next steps in his life.” Sainto explains the band’s sound: “We started off really hip-hop, ATL mixed with a conscious vibe, that’s how we were. Growing up in a lot of different places, I had a lot of different musical influences. Going into production, [A.M. and

SPOTLIGHTS

THE FOUNTNHEAD

myself] made beats. We started putting in more live instruments, guitar and bass, and hip-hop mixed into rock, kind of evenly.” Jewels adds, “We wanted the hip-hop to have not as much of a cut and paste kind of sound, and wanted to have a more organic, flowing feel.” Sainto goes on, “We didn’t want a Beastie Boys type band where it’s a bunch of mics and all the live stuff is coming from a DJ. We wanted to be able to do it live.” The FountNHead got a huge chance to show off their live experience this summer when they played the 2012 Vans Warped Tour. Jewels, Sainto and A.M. equally write the music, and Nixon, the newest member, feels confident enough in the band to travel back and forth from L.A. as they work on negotiations for future recordings. Sainto plays an Ibanez Jet King guitar through a Line 6 POD HD500 and a Fender Mustang V amplifier. A.M. plays a Roland keyboard and keytar. Nixon plays Tama drums with Sabian cymbals and Roland electronic drum pads. They recorded their self-released The Usual Disappointment with producer/engineer Giff Tripp (311).

GENRE Hip-Hop & Rock Fusion HOMETOWN Atlanta, GA

“We didn’t want a Beastie Boys type band where it’s a bunch of mics and all the live stuff is coming from a DJ. We wanted to be able to do it LIVE.”

ARTISTIC APPROACH To fuse metal guitars with live hip-hop.

www.thefountnhead.com JANUARY 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 15


SPOTLIGHTS

FARIS McREYNOLDS Clearing Artistic Roadblocks to Record Four Albums in One Year by Alexandra Lane / photo by Robbie Brunzus

On his prolific recording output in 2012: “I learned to get out of my own way; I finally stopped doubting myself.”

GENRE Indie Rock HOMETOWN Richardson, TX ARTISTIC APPROACH Overcoming artistic limitations to generate prolific output. farismcreynolds.blogspot.com Faris McReynolds’ approach to the creative process is “not looking for clues, not looking for answers, not looking to solve anything, and just going with it.” And as for production, “a lot of it is just pushing things with one finger.” That’s McReynolds’ take on his aptly named projects ExDetectives and One Finger Riot. McReynolds, who grew up outside of Dallas, and spent time in his mother’s native India as a child, has been creating since childhood - his travel and submergence in different cultures providing him plenty of ideas. Throughout high school, McReynolds was afforded two creative outlets as he wrote and played music with his

punk band, while simultaneously painting and drawing. Following school, he felt as though he had a decision to make as it concerned his future: music or art. “I didn’t really want to live in a van and play bars my whole life, so I chose to go to art school,” he says. He attended Otis College of Art and Design, and had begun publicly showing his work by the age of 21. But he hadn’t forgotten about music, and continued to create (but not showcase) his music, because he “never thought music was something [he] could do for money.” Ten years later, he is a globally recognized artist having had his art shown in Tokyo, Los Angeles, New York City, and Berlin. But something was missing. McReynolds says, “I had put music away a little, and I realized that I couldn’t do that while still being true to myself.” He began dedicating more time to music and quickly discovered that “music comes much more effortlessly for me than art.” Without the

limitations he was used to in his art, McReynolds cranked out four full-length albums this year alone. In the process of creating these records, he was able to build up his self-confidence as a musician, stating, “I learned to get out of my own way; I finally stopped doubting myself…I’m really shy. I became comfortable with my own voice, and the decisions that I made with production.” When speaking of production, McReynolds says his creative process for both projects may seem unorthodox because he usually puts down the melody first, then works out the rhythm, and goes back for lyrics later. But a like any artist, a lot of himself is evident in his work. He says ,“I can’t really filter out where I’m at in life when I’m making something.” And he doesn’t want to. McReynolds is stage-shy, so there are no current touring plans. However, the next ExDetectives album is already in the works because McReynolds just “can’t turn off the tap.” JANUARY 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 17


RICKY SKAGGS

by Brad Hardisty photos courtesy of Skaggs Family Records

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Bluegrass Icon on Choosing the Right Producer and Honoring the Past Ricky Skaggs, the multi-instrumentalist, neo-traditional bluegrass ambassador has been out on the road in Europe this year, going from an all-acoustic set crossing over to electrified country during the second half. Skaggs added to his 14 Grammy Awards and countless other music awards with an induction into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame this year alongside Aretha Franklin. Skaggs recently sat down with Performer to discuss his new Skaggs Family Records release Music To My Ears, which features a song written and performed by Barry Gibb.

I see you worked with Gordon Kennedy as co-producer again.

The [album’s] deadline was moved closer so I was under some sort of pressure, but I had Gordon there to help me. It was just great to have Gordon on the other end of the glass. Sometimes, I think I might like an idea but when I listen back to them I don’t like them that well. In the past I may have had a tendency to settle for that, so it’s great to have someone to balance my ideas.

Gordon also got involved in songwriting?

I love his production skills but his strong suit is bringing great songs to the project. It’s like a hand inside of a glove for me. He and I wrote “You Can’t Hurt Ham.” It meant something to me and of course the bluegrass community laughs every time they hear it. It lets people know a side of Mr. Bill Monroe that maybe they didn’t know. Bill’s humor was great even though he didn’t think

it was funny. He would come out and say these things that would crack all of us up, kind of like Grandpa Jones. Grandpa Jones was the funniest man in the world. And everybody knew it but him.

You paid tribute to Bill Monroe as well by covering “Blue Night,” right?

Yes. I loved his version and the band that was part of the process on that song with Mr. Monroe; they were really creative and very influential. They were a bunch of young guys that grew up listening to his music, kind of what Kentucky Thunder is to me right now. They’re young players who grew up hearing me in the ’80s and ’90s and now they’re part of my band. They just inspire me so much, their playing abilities, you know? Andy Leftwich, Cody Kilby, Justin Moses… Paul Brewster of course is a few years younger than me but he has been with me a long, long, time. Now, back to Bill Monroe’s cut of “Blue

Night.” It was just phenomenal, for lack of a better word. Richard Green grew up playing violin as a classical musician and when he heard of bluegrass he flipped out. He just wanted to learn it but he came to bluegrass through the left hand of a classical violinist so that affected his choice of notes. Things like “Midnight On The Stormy Deep” and of course “Blue Night” were so inspirational to me.

That was definitely a creative peak for Bill Monroe.

It was one of the last great bands that Bill Monroe had. People talk about Bill Monroe being an old stick in the mud and just an old traditionalist. Bill was a traditional kind of guy, but man, people need to just shut up and go back and listen to his music. Even from the first recording of this new bluegrass sound, “Heavy Traffic Ahead.” I mean it was so new JANUARY 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 19


ON WORKING WITH THE GORDON KENNEDY:

“I love his production skills but his strong suit is bringing great songs to the project. It’s like a hand inside of a glove for me.”

and so fresh for 1946 [compared to] what they had been playing in the past.

He really had a creative mix of players.

Duke Ellington was much the same way like Bill Monroe. He was a magnet for young musicians. He drew the young cat or the guy who really could play, he drew them like a moth to a flame. I mean everybody wanted to be in Duke Ellington’s band. It was the same way with Bill Monroe. They either wanted to be in Bill Monroe’s Band, Flatt and Scruggs or The Stanley Brothers back then. Bill would just dog somebody who was afraid to really play. You know it was like, “Give me what you got! Just pour it out there!” If you were willing to stand up and play what was coming through your heart, your head, your hands, Bill could appreciate it.

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You picked Barry Gibb’s song “Soldier’s Son” to be on this album.

Barry and I met in 1997. The Bee Gees were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame the same year as Bill Monroe. We got to meet up there in Cleveland and we visited for a little while, but it really wasn’t until Johnny Cash and June both passed away and Barry and his wife Linda bought his house here in Hendersonville, just north of Nashville that we got to know each other. Barry had plans on moving up here and they wanted to live in the Cash house. That kind of all got bashed when the house caught fire and burned down. But, during that time I got to be with Barry and got to know him a lot more. Barry was always talking about music. That was such a part of his life. He tells me he’d written some things and he said, “I would love to send something for you to listen to”

and I thought you know, what a deal to have a song from the second highest grossing songwriter next to Paul McCartney in the whole world. I mean, it’s not like he’s got this company that is plugging his music saying, “Let’s send something to Ricky Skaggs,” you know, this is Barry himself saying, “I’ve got something I think you’ll really like but, if you don’t, just throw it in the trash.” I thought, “I won’t be throwing this in the trash!” Anyway, he sent me this song and I really loved it; I called him back and Barry was talking about wanting to do a record with me. I pinched myself. You know, if I die people are going to say I died from pinches. So, my response back was, “Hey, I love the record but I think if you have 10 or 12 more of these we could go in and do a record on you.” He said “No, I was thinking that it would be something you would want to cut for your bluegrass record.” I asked if he would be interested in coming up and recording it with me and he said, “I don’t need to think about it. I want to do it! Just tell me when you need me there.” I really wanted it to sound like him but I also wanted to sound like me, too. I wanted to combine adverse elements, obviously, use some drums like he used on the demo, electric guitar and keyboard. But, I wanted to add the fiddle, mandolin, acoustic guitars and the gut string fretless banjo on there as well.

It sounds really unique.

Barry came and did the Thursday night bluegrass show at the Ryman in August, then he did an appearance at the Grand Ole Opry on Friday. It had been a life-long dream of his to sing on the Grand Ole Opry. [His] brothers are passed and gone now and he is left to do whatever kind of music he wants to do. I think it’s great because it gives him a clean slate and he can choose his destiny, musically, wherever he wants to go.

That was a pretty cool story about you recording with Jack White and The Raconteurs in 2008. How did that come about?

I met Jack at the Grand Ole Opry one night. He and his wife were there and they were just backstage kind of hanging around and watching the show. I thought, “That looks like Jack White.” I went up to Jack and spoke to him and was telling him that I really liked his music. I loved what he did with Loretta Lynn and the fact that he honors the old music. We got to talking about studios and he said, “I heard you really had a killer studio.” I


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Ricky Skaggs Music To My Ears Standout Track: “Nothing Beats a Family”

LISTEN NOW @PERFORMERMAG.COM

was saying, “Yeah, I really love recording - we have some great old mics,” and this and that and the other. I guess it was about six months after that I got a phone call and it was Jack’s office. They were trying to find some time to come and record a song that they were actually going to do a video of as well. We worked it out when I could come down and do it and it was just such a nice thing. It was great spirits, nothing heavy. It was just fun and they were very respectful – it reminded me of when Bill Monroe came in to record with me. We did “Wheel Hoss,” an instrumental - I did it on the “Country Boy” record back in ’84/’85, I guess. I just remember looking out through the glass and we had already cut the track. I didn’t know if Bill Monroe had ever done any overdubs before because he was such a live artist. He pretty much cut his music live on all the recordings so when I looked up there and saw Bill setting headphones on his head and playing along I was like, “Good Lord! I’m not dreaming!” They were great. Jack and The Raconteurs. It was just a fun experience. If I ever get another call from them it would never be too soon.

There are a lot of young bluegrassers and Americana artists like The Avett Brothers and Mumford & Sons. Are there any new artists that you would like to work with? I would love to work with either The Avett Brothers or Mumford & Sons. I think I could bring stuff to their music that would be fun.

You have also done some work with Bruce Hornsby...

Bruce Hornsby and I are great friends and we’ve worked together over the past four or five years. We did a studio recording and we went out and did a tour and recorded about 16-18 shows. We’ve taken those shows and compiled them into one record and I am hoping be able to put that out in 2013 as a live record and go back out and tour again. It’s a great recording, hearing Kentucky Thunder [with] a hot piano player in the band.

www.rickyskaggs.com

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Sarah Wilfong

by Benjamin Ricci photos by Ben Grimes

Nashville Fiddler on Recording String Sections & Managing A DIY Career Nashville-by-way-of-Chicago’s Sarah Wilfong is a world-class

touring gig that lasted eight years?

nearly a decade, and even making it all the way to the Carnegie Hall.

Well, my time at Berklee was fantastic. I would say probably the biggest thing I got out of Berklee was my connections to other people. I still maintain very strong relationships with a lot of the people I went to school with, professionally and otherwise.

Wilfong is poised to release her latest full-length solo record, and we

How did the band come about?

violinist and one helluva fiddler, having toured the world with the country band Mustang Sally, performing over 200 dates a year for

got the chance to speak with her about how to properly mic a string section and the struggles of managing a DIY career. For lay people like me who just bang on guitars all day, what is the difference between a fiddle player and a violinist? Is it technique, are there differences in the approach to playing, or the instrument itself and how it’s set up?

There’s no real difference to the instrument itself. I like to joke that the difference between a fiddle and a violin is about $30,000. But there’s no real structural difference, it’s all about style and technical approach.

What would you say are the main, or most recognizable differences between someone who plays violin and a fiddle player?

Fiddle players will often use less vibrato. Specifically in Irish music, you don’t hear a lot of vibrato at all. And you can tell the people who are the classical crossovers, who haven’t quite picked up the types of ornamentations that vary within different fiddle idioms. There are very specific roles, and crans and cuts used with Irish music that are different from more improvisational elements used with bluegrass or old-time music.

Is there a particular style of music that you

enjoy playing more than another?

I probably have the deepest roots with Irish fiddle stuff. In the last several years I’ve taken to playing more bluegrass, and a little bit of gypsy jazz just to keep things interesting.

After 20 years of playing, do you still maintain a regular practice schedule? Or at this point is it more maintenance?

I’m definitely still learning all the time. My practicing is completely harum-scarum and based on what my schedule is that week, and what gigs I have, and what material I have to learn. And sometimes I go through phases where I am really dedicated about it and…

And phases where you’re not so much. Haha, yeah.

I know that you went to Berklee, and left, as many Berklee students do, because you actually found a career. You joined a national touring band that had a fairly hectic schedule. Maybe you could tell us about your time at Berklee and how that transitioned to a national

The band found me. Weirdly. The girl who was the bass player for the band at the time, Mustang Sally, she had been a former Berklee student, as well. So she knew who I was, even though I hadn’t really known who she was. And she recommended me. And then Lisa Romeo, the bandleader, contacted the chair of the string department [at Berklee] to scope me out. Then I got this really random e-mail asking if I wanted to join this country rock band out of Nashville.

So they were doing some reconnaissance work at Berklee?

Yes! And at first I was kind of like, “Why would I want to do that?” but after listening to some of the material it actually sounded like fun. And looking at their tour schedule, they typically played about 200 dates a year, and did a lot of international travel and military stuff, and it just looked like it would be a lot of fun. So I packed up my bags, and flew to Nashville to meet a group of people I had only talked to on the phone. I think my parents should have been a lot more nervous about this than they actually were. And I’ve been living in Nashville ever since.

So eight years on the road, almost 200 dates a year - you probably have some good advice for staying sane.

Bring books. Invest in a Kindle. It’s really worthwhile. Keep your sense of humor and just remember that everyone had bus breakdowns,

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ON THE PRESSURE TO BE PERFECT:

or van breakdowns, or plane delays, and that you just have to laugh about it and keep going. Maybe not everyone deals with playing gigs in Chinese restaurants with men dressed in big chicken suits, but you keep your humor about that, too.

“There’s so much technique involved in playing the violin, that you can spend a lifetime picking over it and being incredibly critical of yourself.”

So needless to say, some gigs are more prestigious than others, but you take what you can get. Especially when routing permits and you’re getting paid.

That was the typical swing of things. We’d play an awesome festival for 50,000 people, and then the next night we would play some little pit in Georgia, where there’s the man in the front row who comes up and bites my leg in the middle of “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.”

What would you say are the key differences, stylistically, between your previous solo work, and the new record, Facets?

It’s not even that there is probably a pronounced difference. It’s just that I think my writing has developed in the past couple of years. I released Fiddle Soup in 2007, and have done a lot of growing, musically, since then.

How do you approach songwriting? I would assume it’s primarily instrumentally based. Do you write certain parts on the violin and add things later in the arrangement phase?

If I’m writing a fiddle tune that seems to me to be much more of an Irish tune or and oldtime tune, I’ll write the melody and not really worry about the instrumentation until later. And then I’ll decide on an arrangement, and players, and instruments and such. For certain things, though, I go in with a very specific idea. If I have this Irish tune that I want to arrange as a string quartet, I’ll go sit down and write a string quartet with very specific parts. It’s more of a classical mode of composition than just scribbling down

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a tune and figuring out a few chords. So it can really go either way. There are a couple of tunes on the album, one in particular called “Sketchbook Waltz” that kind of just went off the deep end, and we ended up with all sorts of crazy stuff on it. So my score is ridiculously huge. That one started out as a fiddle tune idea that got a little bit Frankenstein.

How do you approach the studio? Do you find it’s an issue for people not knowing how to properly mic a violin or a string section?

I’ve had experiences all over the map with that. Some people have very specific ideas about what they like and what they don’t like. I am always willing to listen to their ideas first in the off chance that they do something different than what I have seen before, and it works really, really well. But generally, I have a set-up that I like and tend to suggest, and most people are willing to work with me on that.

What do you recommend?

If I’m miking myself, I like to have the mic about 12-15 inches away from the f-hole of the violin, and have it positioned from the front. Some people like to come around over the back, and I find that I bow the mic with my bow that way. Which is not helpful!

Probably not the best way to record.

Well, it adds some interesting percussion elements…

How about miking a string section?

Rehearsing your string section always seems to solve most problems.

So just going into the studio knowing what you’re going to do?

Yes. Once you have that, you can work based on your budget and space allotments, and how many players you have. With this album, I think the maximum number of string players I had at one time was four. So we were very comfortable to each be miked individually. And we played in the live room together, which potentially made editing more challenging. But since we’d rehearsed, it actually was very, very easy.

You’ve also done a little bit of film scoring. How does that compare with writing and recording your own music?

I have to get into a different headspace to work with that. My inclination is that I kind of want to write all over the scene, which is not helpful. So learning how to dial it back a little has been good.

I know that you are pretty much DIY with the writing, recording, producing of your music. Where do you see your musical future leading? Do you want to be on a label at some point? I know you’ve had some dealings with labels that maybe we can’t get into, with Mustang Sally.

Lets just say we had a record deal, the record label went under and it took a while to extricate ourselves from that situation, which was a bit unpleasant. As for myself, if the right label offered me something, I’d probably say yes because there are certainly things that labels have to offer that I can’t do on my own, logistically. So sure, I’d be interested. But I would want to make sure that I wasn’t sacrificing any creative control in any way. That’s the other piece of it - working with a country band where there is a very specific sound that we were going for, didn’t allow me personally a


whole lot of creative space.

Right, because that’s what the label wanted to put out.

Exactly. That’s what they wanted to put out so that’s what they were interested in having. So I want to have a place where I release albums where I can have a swing tune, an Irish tune, and a French-café sounding mazurka next to each other on the same record.

Because why not? Exactly! everything!

Why

not?

There’s

room

for

Do you see yourself going on the road fulltime again? I could see myself going back on the road if I was in the position to set my own ground rules for how long I wanted to be out, and what type of gigs I wanted to take.

I guess that’s the other thing, you were kind of at the mercy of the band’s juggernaut.

Right, and we worked with a fantastic booking agency that kept us really, really busy. And that was great! It was a great way to make a living exclusively through making music, which is really

special. I don’t necessarily need to tour every honky tonk between Louisiana and Mississippi at this point, though. Kind of been there, done that. But I’d be up for doing folk festivals and things that cater to my interests, musically. So yes, I would happily go back on the road if I had the ability to say “no.”

A lot of artists aren’t in the position to do that. I think you are lucky in that respect. Any final words?

I think one of the things that I have realized is that a lot of other violinists and fiddle players, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves. To really be perfect - and there’s so much technique involved in playing the violin as an instrument, that you can spend a lifetime picking over it and being incredibly critical of yourself. And it has been the most freeing and liberating realization - that I am not the best violinist or fiddle player out there, and I never will be. And I’m okay with that. It’s a really good place to be. So I’m just going to write stuff that I like, and hopefully other people will like it, too.

Sarah Wilfong Facets Standout Track: “Annabelle Greene” LISTEN NOW @PERFORMERMAG.COM

www.sarahwilfong.com

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by Alex Lane / photos by David Salafia

On Producing in the Right Environment & Injecting His Live Show with Rock & Roll

MOE Intrinsically motivated, quick-witted, Boston-based rapper Moe Pope has been in the game for the better part of the last decade, and is now releasing what is arguably his best work.

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/

POPE

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I

t’s no surprise he just won the Boston Music Award for Best Hip-Hop Artist. Pope, who is known for his lyrical

social commentary and casual persona, is creating old-school hiphop in a new voice. Laying down rhymes on unique tracks of his own composition, Pope it upping the ante for up and coming hip-hop artists to not only talk about real issues, but to do it in an distinctive way. What drew you to music?

I come from a musical family. My dad is a drummer, and my mom is a singer. My first love was the records that they would play when I was growing up. I’m a lucky dude, my mom’s family is from the suburbs, and my dad’s family is from the city. My uncles listened to new wave and punk stuff. I don’t know a lot of black families who did that. And my mom listens to soul, jazz, and my grandmother listened to country and gospel music. I was exposed to all of this very young, and I was a quiet kid, so I just soaked all of it in. But as far as hip-hop goes, I really don’t feel like you can grow up in the city and not be influenced by hip-hop. I heard an interview with Jack White. He grew up in the hood, and said that even though he tried as much as he could to not be influenced by

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his surroundings, how could he not be influenced by the beats and the sounds, and how a man carries himself in the inner city? I lived in the projects, and then when I was thirteen, my mom bought my grandparents’ house and moved us out to the suburbs. It was a huge culture shock, but I got used to the music. Like Nirvana. There were certain things about all of it that really made sense, and shaped how I listened to music.

How do you write music lyrically, and how do you approach your studio time?

As far as studio time, I mean, we’ve done some songs in my living room, we’ve done songs in a closet. It’s really wherever the acoustics can be right. Honestly I feel like you can make music anywhere, as long as you have the right ear and a really

good engineer…and the right vibe. You can be in a million dollar studio and the vibe just isn’t right, so you are never going to get the song right. As for my writing process, I go through an ebb and flow. Sometimes I can write a song in 15 minutes; sometimes it will take me weeks. I try, as much as possible, to talk about important aspects of my life, as well as have fun. I just try to tell the truth to people. I think that’s a huge thing that’s not in hiphop right now. There is a lot of fun in hip-hop. And I’m not like one of those old-school rapper dudes who doesn’t like the new stuff. I feel like you can find an influence in anything. It’s just that the stuff that’s on the radio right now, the new hip-hop…it’s vastly superficial. You’ve got the gangster rappers and they are really only talking about the negatives. They are only talking about the shootings and getting their money, selling drugs, you know? And that’s one part of it…when they’re talking about ladies shaking their asses, and that’s a part of it, too. But that’s not the whole story; there are mothers and fathers, there are children playing in the park, there are huge success stories of kids who have come out of tragedies. There are flowers that grow in the city. So I don’t feel like the whole story is being told. Whereas a rock band can really talk about anything they want. And because of that, I feel like there is a huge double standard within


Moe Pope + Rain

writing in hip-hop. Like I can’t say that I want to shoot somebody in the face, but Martin Scorsese can make a movie [about] that.

Let The Right Ones In Standout Track: “Dead Kennedys”

The video for “Rock Me” was shot all around Boston; are you trying to represent Boston/Roxbury?

I’m not trying. I am Boston. I went out to the Bay when I was younger, and when I was out there, I wore a Boston t-shirt everywhere that I went. I am vastly Boston, but Boston doesn’t define me. I don’t make records to represent Boston. I make records because I love hip-hop, I love rock and roll. I love music. It just happens that I was born in a fuckin’ crazy city.

You have partnered with producer Rain on your previous and forthcoming album; what does he bring to your projects?

My first group was called Mission, which was a band actually. That was my first anything. My first song, my first record, my first tour, the first time I left the country was with this group. Then they became a group in their own right, without me, and that group was the Crown City Rockers. So I decided to leave and move back to Boston to take care of my daughter and figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I tried different beats, and different styles of producers, and different groups. And nothing really clicked…nothing really felt like home until I was working with Rain. When I was in all those groups, I would write a song and they would be like, “This really isn’t you… you’re more like a Common guy.” And it’s just not true. I have these thoughts as well, so I write them. If it wasn’t in me, I wouldn’t write it. Or they’d be like, “You cant say this word because I don’t want to offend anybody,” and I just always hated that. So when I met Rain, he was young, and I had been in the game for a while, but it allowed me to start over and do what I wanted. I could be me, and not be judged on wanting to try things. Because he was kind of green, he had no idea how to make a record. So it was like learning how to be myself, and do what I wanted to do, that’s what Rain allowed me to do. And within that, I think I’ve taught Rain how to make records. And he has grown…before he was a good producer and I think right now he’s an amazing producer. He’s a goddamn genius to me.

LISTEN NOW @PERFORMERMAG.COM

Has Rain been doing the backbeats while you are strictly the lyricist, or do you have a hand in construction of the track as well?

I would say 75% of things that I rap on, Rain has created. Within that, there are songs that I have coproduced. And there are things that I have played for him, that he has built something around what I wrote. But the vast majority is him.

Having been in a few groups, and now making music on your own, do you enjoy working as a solo artist? Or do you miss the group dynamic?

I loved the group aspect of it. There is nothing like having your brothers and your sisters there to talk to about stuff, to travel with and see the world together. That’s definitely something that I miss about having the full on group. But there’s nothing like being able to express yourself fully. Like in a group, you have to compromise yourself drastically sometimes. I feel like I’ve done that over the years - compromising who I was, and what I wanted to achieve.

Right, you are just showing that you are human…

Exactly, and I don’t think a lot of people realize that hip-hop can be that way. I mean, shit, if Dylan can write about his fucking feelings, why can’t I, and have it be hip-hop? Just because there’s a thunderous beat there, or something people can shake to doesn’t mean that it can’t be good and have quality. It also doesn’t mean that somebody who wants to write a song that’s serious, can’t write a song that he just wants people to dance to.

“We’ve done some songs in my living room, we’ve done songs in a closet. It’s really wherever the acoustics can be right.”

It’s a double-edged sword, wanting to be creative and wanting to do something that’s different. People will put you in a box no matter what.

How do your albums translate to a live performance?

The onstage show, people tell me all the time, is the best show that they’ve ever seen for hip-hop. Because the worst thing, for me, is going to see a dude walk back and forth rapping and grabbing his dick. Hip-hop is really a testosterone-filled environment. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve knocked a few people out, but at a certain point you’ve got to talk about something different, you’ve got to be creative, and I feel like that’s something that hasn’t happened in this genre. And that’s why people haven’t gravitated towards it like they used to. We work really hard on the live show; we try to bring a very live, rock and roll feel to hip-hop, without it being rap-rock. Because I hate rap-rock.

What does your touring schedule look like?

Everything is just starting now. And the record comes out [this month]. So between the two, we will be going out to New York and doing something for Converse. But we are just starting booking now. The record just got mixed; we are doing press and just doing all the final stuff. Everything had to be designed, fixed up and made to look pretty for people. We have crazy packaging for the CD cover that I think people are going to bug-out about when they see it.

Sounds busy.

I am trying to be! We did six videos for this project and still are going to do two more. We are just trying to make sure that people hear this record. If there is any record that I have worked my ass off for, it’s this one. There is good hip-hop out there, palatable hiphop that is really hard to make, that would bring people back to loving hip-hop. Without it being cheesy and old. I just feel like our time is now. So many young people are listening to rock, and R&B and hip-hop. I don’t know if a lot of my friends know that I have a Radiohead record and that I’m bumpin’ Frank Ocean right now. And that I have A Tribe Called Quest record and I listen to A$AP. I just feel like the time is now for people to shed those boundaries and those little groupings.

www.moepope.com JANUARY 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 31


Improvisation, Vintage Gear & Weirdo Synths

Mystical Wea pon s by Heidi Schmitt photos by Charlotte Kemp Muhl

Mystical Weapons, as a project, is the brainchild of Deerhoof drummer Greg Saunier and Sean Lennon, whom Saunier recently teamed up with to record an album of the same name.

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The two met several years ago and first played together as Mystical Weapons after Deerhoof opened for the Plastic Ono Band. Lennon’s own Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger needed an opener the next night, and although Lennon said he was shy about asking Saunier if he wanted to do an improvisational duo with him to open the show, Saunier jumped at the chance. In that evening, Mystical Weapons was born, and Lennon describes the show as “once-in-a-lifetime fun.” The two decided to record together, trying to, in Lennon’s words, “emulate the feeling that we had at that first show.” The album was recorded a few years ago in just several days, with Scott Holdsworth and Andris Balins at the engineering helm. Saunier, who has done mostly DIY work with Deerhoof, notes that it was recorded “in a very beautiful recording studio” and “when you are usually DIY, then you appreciate these things that much more.

You squeeze the most out of the experience. You don’t settle until it sounds better than what you could do at home, which it should with all that vintage gear and microphones and weird synthesizers and everything.” Lennon describes how they used one of those “weird synthesizers,” the ARP 2600, which he describes as “an old, weird, warm-sounding synth” that was “a lot of fun to play.” It’s a fairly famous synthesizer according to Lennon, and Stevie Wonder used it on tracks for Songs in the Key of Life. No disrespect to Mr. Wonder, but he never made this machine sound the way it did in Lennon’s hands [editor’s note – I’m gonna let that slide, for now…]. On the song “Mechanical Mammoth,” Lennon adjusted the intervals on the ARP so that it was no longer 12-tone. “So the music that I made on that song was actually not in the scale of Western music. It’s pretty random. So I think it sounds interesting, because


“It’s not that hard for us to book shows because it’s just the two of us, and we improvise, so all we need is a venue.”

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Mystical Weapons Mystical Weapons Standout Track: “Mechanical Mammoth” LISTEN NOW @PERFORMERMAG.COM

ON RECORDING IN A HIGHER-END STUDIO:

“You don’t settle until it sounds better than what you could do at home, which it should with all that vintage gear and microphones and weird synthesizers and everything.” – Greg Saunier

it’s almost like machines. It doesn’t sound like regular musical scales. Because it’s not. It’s like a bunch of machines. Singing.” Saunier says, “There were so many instruments in that studio.” For him, playing piano was a highlight. “A song called ‘Dirty’ is just me on piano and Sean on drums, completely improvised. A grand piano after you’ve played a Casio for the previous ten years is a wondrous thing, and I think you can hear my joy on that track.” Along with the standard drums, guitars and keys, the two used everything from a musical saw to the banjo to the kalimba to create beautiful sounds. The duo coaxed unusual sounds out of another set of unique instruments when they used nothing but children’s toys to create the album’s atmospheric final track, “Consortium Musicum.” “It was literally just me and Greg sitting with a pile of toys on our laps and improvising together,” Lennon says. That improvisational theme runs through the entire album. “It’s us doing free-form music,” Lennon explains. “It’s our version of free jazz in a way. Even though it doesn’t sound like jazz at all, because we’re not jazz musicians,” he laughs by way of explanation. The two insisted that they would only overdub live and together, so that “we were never punching in or being meticulous or editing little parts,” says Lennon. “If we were going to add another sound, we’d do it two at a time, and we would add another duet. So it would always be us, improvising together.” Saunier calls Lennon “an instant songwriter” and says of the recording process: “Sometimes it was pure improvisation and sometimes we’d have ‘take two.’ Like it would

start as improvisation but within a few minutes, we had a song written that we could more or less repeat. Like each time we played it, it grew a little more. We trust each other’s instincts and just go.” The band’s website features “Mechanical Mammoth” as the soundtrack for a short antifracking film by animator Martha Colburn. It is a cause close to Lennon’s heart, who says his passion for preventing fracking in upstate New York grows out of a desire to protect “New York City water and the health of all the people that live in Manhattan.” According to Lennon, “It’s a very old concept – obviously drilling for oil and gasoline and using it, that’s what created the Industrial Revolution, and I have nothing against that having happened. But what I do want is for us to shift gears and try to move towards a system that has a long-term sustainable future. There are a lot of already economically viable alternatives to gas and oil. And I understand that they don’t want to stop because it’s a lot of money to be made very quickly from it. So I empathize with those people who want to make that money right now, but they have to look at the big picture.” Mystical Weapons will continue to perform together between the busy schedules of both Lennon and Saunier, and according to Saunier, Colburn is the band’s “secret third member” who does the visuals. She is currently in the process of making music videos for the band, and Saunier says “very soon Mystical Weapons will make a home for itself on YouTube.” Lennon says the band plans to perform on tour together, but Deerhoof’s calendar has made scheduling that a bit difficult. But, he says, “It’s not that hard for us to book shows because it’s just the two of us, and we improvise, so all we need is a venue. We don’t have to rehearse very much.” www.chimeramusic.com JANUARY 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 35


TOP PICKS

Southgate House Revival - Newport, KY

LIVE SHOW

IRONFEST III November 2 & 3, 2012

by Lucy Fernandes / photos by Rick Carroll

The Cincinnati area’s third annual Ironfest benefit

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was held at the Southgate House Revival, just across the Ohio River in Newport, Kentucky, on the November 2 & 3 weekend. Over 30 bands took to the trio of stages in the newly re-located and re-opened venue, and attracted a sizeable crowd each evening. Proceeds were raised in memory of local musician “Iron” Mike Davidson, and donated toward a CD for his daughter, and family expenses. With seventeen groups performing each night, a gamut of musical genres was represented. Catching my eye on Friday were Billy Wallace and the Virginia Blues, a group composed of prolific songwriter Billy Wallace and friends. He

spun honest, often poignant love stories with his simple, folksy delivery; his band mates accompanied him seamlessly. Later, Chiva Knievel, an animated, punkish four-piece pounded their way through their set. The bass player was working mightily at his huge stand-up bass, a highly unlikely instrument for this kind of music, but he managed to hold his own against the chunky guitar riffs. Straight ahead with no frills, this band amped up the energy level in the smaller upstairs room. Out on the large ballroom stage downstairs, vocalist Veronica Grim of Switchblade Syndicate strutted her stuff. She was a perpetual


LIG

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H HIG

HT

Seeing 30+ Cincy acts hitting the stages to raise money for a good cause.

Artists left to right: Honeyspiders, Chiva Knievel, Switchblade Syndicate

motion machine - striding, gesturing, swooping down and exhorting the crowd as her strong, smoky voice belted over the guitar-drenched music. They’ve only been together since last spring, but the individual members come from a wide array of genres, and it’s reflected in the material they play. Regardless, it’s unmistakably rock and roll of the best kind. Saturday’s standouts included SHIVS, a tight, four-man unit featuring a sonic wall of guitars. Unfortunately, the vocals were buried in the blasting mix, but the power of this band was apparent anyway. As the main ballroom filled up with dense machine-blown “fog,” the crowd gathering there waited in anticipation for Honeyspiders, a

newly-formed group raised from the ashes of the infamous Banderas. Stripped-down but still powerful, thanks to a strong rhythm section and some blazing guitar work, the group’s premiere performance did not disappoint. Front man Jeremy Harrison was in full throaty growl as he postured and preened with his mic, while the fog effect only heightened the heavier, somewhat darker, new sound. Topping off my night were The Tammy Whynots; as one could guess, a sharply dressed country six-piece featuring a pedal steel and the warm, homey vocals of local country legend Kelly Thomas. They were the genuine article, right down to the matching Western-style spangled lapels on the men’s jackets. If you’re a fan of

old-time country music, you couldn’t find any better example in the Cincinnati area. Judging from the good-sized crowds attending on both nights of the event, Ironfest III accomplished its fundraising goal, while showcasing a lot of fine local talent as well. It seems assured that this charitable yearly tradition will continue.

www.facebook.com/ironfest3

JANUARY 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 37


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Buke and Gase

OUR PHILOSOPHY ON REVIEWS

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.

General Dome Brooklyn, NY (Brassland)

“Featuring homemade instruments and pounding foot percussion”

Asker

Books on Fate

The Escape Room EP

Memory

Minneapolis, MN

San Francisco, CA

(Schematic)

(Ephemerata)

“Spacy, ambitious, dreamy indie rock with soaring vocals” Asker writes and performs songs of passion and mystery in their uniquely ambitious and dreamy indie style, with influences of the likes of The National and Young the Giant, with vocals and instruments that bleed Coldplay and Radiohead. The chemistry of the band is strong, as each member gives it their creative all, delivering a strongly produced EP of five songs with fervor and stunning appeal. “Racing England” features powerful vocals, haunting guitars, and alluring percussion and bass. “Cathedral” and “Man from Munich” feature glorious melodies and vocal riffs, complete with mesmerizing strings and keyboards. This is a beautiful effort, a sparkling musical epic (even at its short length) that blends a complete palate of sounds with scintillating vocals. It’s an album Listen to the music that surely Asker spent featured in this issue countless hours shap@performermag.com ing and molding to bring forth a marvelous, unique package. Enjoy. The compositions and arrangements are refreshing and bold, capturing a mood of both darkness and light, a balance that the listener can easily identify with, feeling a great range of emotions. The Escape Room EP is concise and flawless in its focus to execute melodies that reach the heart and mind. An excellent work of musical art.

“Like a contemporary Depeche Mode, only broodier and moodier” Books on Fate is essentially the solo project of San Francisco musician Adam Dishart. At first listen, his first release Memory takes you back to a time when you ratted out your hair and wore black eyeliner to the extreme like Robert Smith, while scrawling in your journal to the soundtrack of Depeche Mode. Then it reminds you of those heady days of the early aughts when bands like The Stills and Interpol ushered in a new era of guitar-driven alternative music. By this point, you’re about halfway through the 38-minute album, and you are happy to take a walk down Emo Lane with songs like the title track and “Natural Sin.” Dishart’s wistful lyrics match his crooning growl well. And then things go a tad south. Self-indulgence becomes more obvious as the longest song on the album, “Two Forgets,” just won’t end. You wonder during some transitions if you’re just listening to one long song, because some tracks sound a lot like the one before. Then, the percussion-heavy “Coast Starlight” comes on and its moody imagery takes you back to the days of ratted hair and Depeche Mode-fueled journaling again. It’s not a perfect album, but there will be days when Memory will perfectly satiate your need for alternative nostalgia with a modern twist. Produced by Adam Dishart, Jarrod Taylor & Nick Shively Recorded at Earythmic Studio, Oakland, CA Mastered by Mike Wells www.booksonfate.com -Heidi Schmitt

Produced by David Elkins Engineered by Tom McNabb asker.bandcamp.com -Shawn M. Haney

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Produced and Mixed by Buke and Gase www.bukeandgase.com -Garrett Frierson

Camper Van Beethoven La Costa Perdida Redlands, CA (429 Records)

“Celebrating the Golden State with raucous, psychedelic jams”

Mixed by Nick Shively

Recorded at Schematic Studios, Nashville

Mixed and Mastered by Tom Garneau

The sophomore album from Brooklyn’s DIY duo (formerly known as Buke & Gass) sees them pushing boundaries and expanding on the sound they showcased on their debut album just two years again. Their writing has always relied on repetition of rhythmic and harmonic ideas, but General Dome goes a step further with tracks like “Houdini Crush” and “Cyclopean,” presenting riffs that are just outside the time structure of most popular music and then creating worlds of sound around these central ideas. The subtle complexity of their rhythm seems natural when combined with their melodic sensibilities. The music plays Arone Dyer’s sweet and powerful voice against instrumental lines that are as compelling as her sung melodies atop the pounding of homemade foot percussion. The knowledge and expertise gained from building their own instruments shines in their timbral choices on songs like “My Best Andre Shot,” masterfully juxtaposing distorted and clean instruments with heavy percussion and Arone’s voice ranging in intensity from distant calls to an urgent whisper in your ear. General Dome doesn’t include much filler, it comes on fast and doesn’t let up. From start to finish Buke and Gase seem determined to hit you with everything they’ve got.

WANT TO BE FEATURED AS A TOP PICK? SEND US YOUR MUSIC! EDITORIAL@PERFORMERMAG.COM

Since their beginnings in the mid-eighties, Camper Van Beethoven has been a hard group to pin down. The band’s greatest strength is their ability to craft a unique sound by incorporating diverse influences. Though it’s been nine years since CVB’s last release, their latest album La Costa Perdida is true to form. Though these new songs are written in an unlikely combination of styles, together they form a romantic and at times comedic ode to the band’s home state of California. continued on 41


D V D

Mudhoney Live: Berlin 1988

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OF THE

MONTH

(!K7 and Sub Pop)

Let’s take a trip back, shall we? A trip back to Cold War-era Berlin, circa “Forefathers of 1988. James Bond was still fighting the grunge teach the Soviets, and the Wall had yet to come real Cold War kids down. And a little band from a little about buzzsaw label in a little corner of the States guitars and thrift ventured out to perform a radical new mix of punk, garage rock and feedback: store attire” grunge. Legend has it that Mudhoney frontman Mark Arm coined the phrase himself, and who are we to argue with legend? Armed with an arsenal of pawnshop Fenders, a Salvation Army aesthetic and appropriately ironic “Loser” t-shirts, the boys in Mudhoney (still barely a band at this point) attack the German stage with a bombastic 40-minute set of sludgy bass riffs, single-coil freak outs, punk attitude and…yes, even a little charm. What’s most amazing about this cultural artifact is how clearly influential Mudhoney was to the entire “Seattle sound,” and just how much Kurt Cobain copped from Mark Arm on his band’s own Sub Pop debut, Bleach. Pay particular attention to how the band ekes feedback from their amps like snake charmers summoning a king cobra. Anyone looking to trace the roots of ’90s grunge and the rise of “alternative” need look no further than this DVD. Musicologists will revel in the power of the performance and how far reaching Mudhoney’s appeal became to other acts from the Pacific Northwest, and grunge fans will delight in an early live performance of the seminal track “Touch Me I’m Sick,” complete with choreographed ballet moves (well…sort of). A special bonus for DIY and indie musicians is the interview portion of the disc, featuring a modern-day interview with Arm. Here he touches upon the band’s early days, including the struggle to book shows due to the lack of all ages clubs in Seattle and taking an independent approach to the creative process. Bottom line: this is a must-own DVD. www.subpop.com/artists/mudhoney -Benjamin Ricci -photo courtesy of Sub Pop Records archives

JANUARY 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 39


TOP PICKS

review by Elisabeth Wilson photo by Kenneth Watson

LIVE SHOW

B AT H PARTY at The Know - Portland, OR November 28, 2012

Surf rock gets re-imagined by a psychedelic gypsy band.

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Psychedelic surf band Bath Party will be the first release of the New Year from Portland’s indie cassette label Cassingle and Loving It Records. The three-piece performed an 8-song set on a Wednesday night at the local punk venue, The Know, to a small but captivated audience. Their set was raucous and noisy but not uncontrolled, with heavy psychedelic, classic rock and ’60s surf rock influences. The lead vocalist, Mike Misosoup, shreds his guitar with ringed fingers and hair in his face, while bassist Mega Domino is slightly more reserved, sometimes providing backing vocals. The drummer, Justin “Papa” Sochan, plays a scaled-down kit with minimal flourishes or fills. His steady polka/punk beat is the backbone to Misosoup’s freak-out leads.

 Much of their music captures the darker elements of psychedelic rock more than the sunny enthusiasm of surf rock. The brooding intensity of Jim Morrison is called to mind by heavy vocal reverb on their opener, “On to the Abyss.”   Their energy, though, is ecstatic, with microphone stands falling over and the guitarist jumping off the stage to finish “Baath Parade” in the middle of the audience. Bath Party’s appeal was perhaps made most apparent when two middle aged women clutching cans of beer pushed their way to the front to dance and scream unintelligible votes of approval - apparently Bath Party’s newest fans.

bathparty.bandcamp.com


The album’s theme is obvious in the alt-country opener “Come Down The Coast,” and later in the tender ballad “Northern California Girls,” (which is more about long-term relationships than one might expect from the title), but not every reference to the Golden State is so overt. “Peaches In The Summertime” is a ska re-imagining of the traditional ballad “Shady Grove,” a staple of California-based artists Jerry Garcia and David Grisman. And the title track, a gringo corrido folk tale about a “half-aware-o caballero Yankee,” is set in So-Cal. Of course it wouldn’t be CVB without some raucous, psychedelic jams, which they deliver on “You Got to Roll” and “Summer Days.” It’s easy to imagine these songs performed to barefooted dancers under the warm California sun. Recorded by Jason Carmer, Myles Boisen, Drew Vandenberger and Russell Pilling Engineered by Ryan Massey Mastered by Joe Lambert at Joe Lambert Mastering www.campervanbeethoven.com -Eric Wolff

Dropkick Murphys Signed and Sealed in Blood Boston, MA (Born & Bred)

“Boston legends schtick to the formula” At this point in their career it’s very clear that longtime Boston celt-punks The Dropkick Murphys have a formula, and why shouldn’t they? With their own label, a record that debuted at number 6 on the charts, placements in Academy Award-nominated films, and guest spots at basically every major Boston sporting event over the last five years, The Dropkick Murphys has found their groove. Their latest offering is basically divided in the same way that most of their catalogue is, half anthemic crowd ragers (see “My Hero”) and half kitsch-driven Boston-pop (see “Out on the Town”). To be fair, at times the record is a little contrived. Album opener “The Boys are Back” is basically a re-hashing of “The Gang’s All Here” and holiday tribute “The Season’s Upon Us” continues the overly-schtick heavy cartoonish angle the band invented for themselves on their earlier album Blackout. Again, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, but longtime fans should be warned that this album definitely lacks the fire found on their early Hellcat releases. For those that discovered Dropkick from watching them on Boston Sport Center recaps, this latest set of songs won’t disappoint. For those who still own a copy of Do or Die on vinyl, maybe pass on this one. www.dropkickmurphys.com -Ben Nine-K

Elmo Karjalainen Unintelligent Design

Listen to the music featured in this issue @performermag.com

Helsinki, Finland (Self-Released)

“Finland’s atmospheric answer to Yngwie” Envisioning shoe-gaze metal isn’t easy. Consider the synthetic texture and humming washes of color behind busy electric guitar mazework, thrusting rhythms and abusive percussion. The effect can be bruising (“Headlight Violence”) where lines of electric notes deliver with discernable verse while maintaining the jutting ferocity. A whole album of face-melting tempos is singular, lacking expressive dimensionality, but Finland’s Elmo Karjalainen punctuates the Satriani-like virtuosity with breezy, languid moments of levity (“Home” and “Sanna”). Karjalainen foregoes vocals, though he tinkers in various genres, principally ’80s and ’90s guitar-driven metal. It may be a stretch to use the phrase jazz-metal, but in ways his approach is like a jazz musician: leading with a melody that gives way to a solo, or series of solos, bookended by another closing melody. Unmistakably, Karjalainen’s strength is his lyrical leads, which often avoid the “fill with as many notes as possible,” long-haired guitarist philosophy. The ambitious punch of his fretwork can be astonishing to its limits, which is repetition (“Lovely Spam”). Though ultimately, having an album of only guitar solos leads non-guitarist listeners to ask for something more - opening the door to progression, and perhaps new territory for the next album. Engineered and Produced by Elmo Karjalainen

The guitars are lush, full of heavenly fuzz, similar to the approach the Strokes took in recording their early work a decade ago. “The Sound” is a beautiful piece of melody and instrumental prowess. “Wrong Touch” features an edgy, bluesy riff decorated with tantalizing bass lines, appealing lead guitars, and haunting, morphed vocals using a voice changer pedal. “Crooked Times” feels like a ghostly, creepy Halloween tune, with eerie lead vocals and jangly, reverb-laden guitars. This tune is well constructed with a powerful arrangement of chords, and features a very creative melody line in both the verse and chorus. McReynolds pulls out all the stops with a dazzling effort of some of the best shoegazer and psychedelic music one will hear this year. The songs are tight in their instrumental chemistry, brilliant in musicianship, and the overall production and mixing of the album is stellar. A wonderfully refreshing record to hear. “New Light” provides balance to the record with its upbeat, inspiring and amiable flow, feeling like a small glimpse into the inner workings of Super Furry Animals or the Flaming Lips. McReynolds has loads of talent [editor’s note – see our spotlight article this month], and each listen brings further happiness and rewards to those who truly appreciate interesting music.

Recorded and Mixed at KC Sound Studio

Recorded and Produced by Faris McReynolds at

Mastered at Sale Custom Guitars by Sasa Opacic

Waling Neighbor

www.elmojk.com

www.exdetectives.com

-Christopher Petro

-Shawn M. Haney

ExDetectives

Jesse & Noah

Farthest Star

Driven Back

Los Angeles, CA

Franklin, TN

(Post Planetary)

(Self-released)

“Creative and juicy psychedelic shoegaze musical magic” Full of personality and wit, ExDetectives (aka another Faris McReynolds solo project) deliver their new full length Farthest Star, a delightful feast of excellent shoegazer and psychedelic melodies. “Second Chance” and “Easy Feel Alright” begin the album with enchanting, sultry vocals, mesmerizing bass and shimmering percussion.

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Camper Van Beethoven (continued)

“Down-home folk from TN’s brotherly duo” With references to The Louvin Brothers and The Everly Brothers and roots performers such as early Wallflowers and Red Dirt poets, Jesse and Noah mix up roots- rock, power pop, country and Americana. The brothers Bellamy self produced Driven Back in Franklin, Tennessee, with the clear breakout song being “Traveler’s Prayer.” Jesse and Noah pay homage to everything from continued on 43 JANUARY 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 41


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VINYL OF THE

MONTH

Typhoon Common Sentiments (Single) Portland, OR

“ “PDX group jangles and fiddles through new single”

“ 42 JANUARY 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE

Typhoon is no stranger to the Tender Loving Empire family, and their new vinyl single is a wonderful taste of what’s in store on their upcoming full-length. “Common Sentiments” builds dramatically to a joyous cacophony of strings, horns, harmonies, jangly guitars and silky, reverb–kissed vocals. What Typhoon has mastered is the art of dynamics – the balance between soft and loud, intimate and explosive. Other indie bands should take note of the deliberate hills and valleys in the track, especially as everything crescendos towards a fittingly emotionally climax. The B-Side is no slouch, either. A little quirkier than it’s A-Side cousin, “Green” is constructed to work your senses a bit more

slowly, introducing piano riffs and offbeat percussion, while the vocal lead gradually enters the mix and implores, “I only try to keep you close to me.” Tender Loving Empire is quickly becoming one of our favorite labels, and the new Typhoon release is clear evidence why. Be on the lookout for the band’s imminent LP sometime in early 2013. For now, this is a great teaser. www.wearetyphoon.com Size: 7-inch / Speed: 45 RPM Color: White Vinyl (limited edition only) Engineered & Produced by Typhoon at Pendarvis Farm in Portland, OR Mixed by Phil Ek at Avast! in Seattle, WA by Benjamin Ricci / photo by Daryl Lazaro


their home state of Florida with “Florida Water,” mashing Southern tradition with Latin-Caribbean styles and New Orleans Goth. They have built a solid following in Texas with tracks closer to Red Dirt Country like the stripped-down “Guilty of Myself” as well as with the classic country leanings of the Jimmy WebbGlen Campbell styled ”Bend In The Road.” The late ’60s and ’70s Nashville that inspired Bob Dylan’s Nashville Skyline seems to permeate the overall senses, except with “The Homer Bellamy Centennial Blue Yodel,” which acts as a tribute to their grandfather’s band with a reference to 1930s pre-bluegrass Uncle Dave Macon hillbilly music. Jesse and Noah even go for a Southern Gothic waltz with “Lilly Vereen,” complete with a true New Orleans-style tale. The varied but cohesive ten tracks make for a great aural vibe. Produced and Recorded by Jesse and Noah Bellamy www.jesseandnoah.com -Brad Hardisty

Matthew Eldridge Wide Awake Atlanta, GA (Ego Sum)

“Renaissance man entices with insightful lyrics and polished sounds” Matthew Eldridge is not an everyday musician. He’s super talented all around. He is an excellent singer and guitarist, and played all the instruments on five of seven tracks presented on the alt-rock EP Wide Awake. He’s appeared as a guitarist on TV (Vampire Diaries) and two movies (The Change-Up, What to Expect When You’re Expecting) and he’s also a published storywriter whose books sell on Amazon. Eldridge’s passionate writing skills are evident on Wide Awake with creative, thoughtful lyrics. Themes explore external relationships and internal soul searching, spirituality and sexuality, reality and illusion. He does this in clear, concise language with easy-to-follow melodies. In that aspect, he touches on pop, but has modern rock music backing it up. Eldridge’s vocal presentation ranges from a pleasant hard rock sound similar to Eddie Vedder on the single “Wide Awake,” to sultry breathiness on “Love Isn’t Sex.” His powerful, versatile guitar playing ranges from smooth and polished to hard rock, definitely accentuating well-honed skills learned by playing many Christian church services. Excellent keyboard work is also highlighted on the instrumental “Blue Monday.” Wide Awake can be purchased on CD or MP3 format via CD Baby, Amazon, or iTunes. www.reverbnation.com/mattheweldridge -Gail Fountain

The Parson Red Heads Yearlings (Deluxe Edition) Portland, OR (Second Motion Records)

“Matured alt-country gone deluxe” Although they claim otherwise, it seems only right to assume that The Parson Red Heads take their name from Gram Parsons. Not only is the Red Heads’ alt-country pop built on the genre Parsons pioneered, their compositions reflect the songwriting prowess of their shouldbe namesake. Songwriter and lead singer Evan Way writes with a maturity that speaks to the band’s eight years together. Unafraid of a simple song, Way pens straightforward melodies and chord structures that sound effortless, yet resonate emotionally. The voice of Brette Marie Way blends softly and sweetly in harmony with her husband Evan’s, in contrast to her drumming, which is rock solid and drives the band. The new, “deluxe edition” of Yearling combines the original album (released in 2011) with six other tracks recorded during the same session, which were released earlier this year as the EP Murmurations. The album starts off with a softer acoustic piece, “Burning Up The Sky,” and hits a highpoint on the mid-tempo rocker “When You Love Somebody.” But the band really comes alive when they let loose on their more raucous tunes, “Kids Hanging Out” and “Long Way Back.” This substantial, 17-track re-release serves as a great introduction to a band that is (rightfully) beginning to step into the spotlight.

electro-fueled compositions. While it is largely an album about break-ups the reliance on disco harmonies and layers of texture make it a far more upbeat affair. Tracks begin simply and then explode into a pyrotechnic cocktail of keyboards, electronica, and percussion. “Kingfisher Call Me” is a gleaming and electronic anthem over which McPhun’s vocals smoothly croon. As he journeys through his break up number “Futon Fortress,” he creates a haunting, albeit introspective, atmosphere with darker chords and muddled constructions. From here a burst of energy is provided through the pop-ier “Starlight,” complete with heavy synthesis and “In Real Life,” which introduces the use of piano and guitar. Heartbreak, loss and moving on are not new sentiments in music, nor are they topics rarely explored. But The Ruby Suns do so in a creative and engaging way. McPhun’s expansive repertoire and flair for complexities serve him well on Christopher. He draws upon his life; his experiences and his passion for music (of all kinds) add to his continuous growth and ability to create a captivating collection of tracks.

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Jesse & Noah (continued)

www.subpop.com/artists/the_ruby_suns -Vanessa Bennett

Shannon Whitworth & Barrett Smith Bring It On Home Asheville, NC (Self-released)

“A delectable feast of soothing jazz and soul standards”

Produced by Raymond Richards at Red Rockets Glare (Los Angeles) Mixed by Stamey at Modern Recording (Chapel Hill, NC) www.theparsonredheads.com -Eric Wolff

The Ruby Suns Christopher Auckland, New Zealand (Sub Pop)

“Layers of heartbreak infused with electronic disco-pop” From the sunny and ethereal coasts of New Zealand hail The Ruby Suns (led by Ryan McPhun), a constantly morphing indie-pop group eager to push their own boundaries. From sunny ballads to dark and complex musings, the band is unafraid to venture into new territory. Christopher, their latest LP, is no exception to this. The album presents the band in a more radiant form, once again incorporating a wealth of styles with provocative melodies and enticing,

Here is an intimate and breathtaking look into some of the century’s greatest standards, flawlessly recorded by two powerful songsmiths. Whitworth and Smith complement each other well with character and personality, complete with vocals that feel like a golden sunset. “Moonglow” is executed beautifully, interlaced with heavenly piano and enchanting trumpets over the guitars and chilling vocals. James Taylor’s “You Can Close Your Eyes” features Smith’s earthy acoustic guitars and Whitworth’s intimate and gorgeous lead vocals. “Bird on the Wire” is well done, a passionate song of beautiful prose originally sung and written by Leonard Cohen. Here the song features haunting vocals, dazzling acoustic guitar work and a stunning string section. Antonio Carlos Jobim, the famed Brazilian composer who introduced ’60s bossa nova, is featured with the song “Corcovado (Quiet Nights).” Whitworth begins with her vocals meshed with Smith’s lovely classical guitars, glistening percussion, and breathy, serenading saxophone. This album is a refreshing look into classics that never fade in luster or staying power. A beautiful retrospective into some of the finest songwriting from JANUARY 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 43


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Shannon Whitworth & Barrett Smith (continued) this past century, the duet of Shannon Whitworth and Barrett Smith rise to the occasion. The production and mixing is outstanding, and surely this album will be a favorite for listeners for years to come. Bring It On Home makes a stellar statement: that it’s not just your average cover tribute album. Nice work! Recorded at Echo Mountain Recording in Asheville, NC Mixed by Neilson Hubbard, Engineered by Julian Dreyer, Mastered by Jim DeMain, Produced by Barrett Smith www.barrettsmith.com www.shannonwhitworth.net -Shawn M. Haney

Slam Dunk Slam Dunk Welcome to Miami Victoria, BC (File Under Music)

“Spray paint the walls…and play the saxophone” Welcome to Miami is the sophomore release from Canadian indie rockers Slam Dunk (geographically confusing, right?). A more polished set of tunes than their debut, with just enough chaos to make this the perfect soundtrack to smash the furniture in your ultra-hipster apartment. Slam Dunk isn’t really beer-soaked enough to be considered garage, but still possesses the reckless abandonment that draws most to the genre. The guitar tones on this record are fantastic. Ranging from fuzz to echoed-surf, Welcome to Miami is part beach party and part punk rock record. Also, those looking for something new should note Slam Dunk’s efficient use of the saxophone (think Boots Randolph being thrown in a blender with Mean Jeans and The Trashmen). Plain and simple, this record is good and sounds like a band that most likely kills it live. Granted there are a few missteps here. “Can’t Stand It” drags a little (especially for an album opener!), and “Why Can’t I Change” gets a little lost in its own groove after a while, but the high points definitely outweigh the lows. Get wild with Slam Dunk. Recorded and Mixed by MHF in Victoria, BC www.slamdunkband.com -Ben Nine-K

Substance Abuse Background Music Los Angeles, CA (Threshold Recordings)

“Nostalgic rhythms & poignantly phrased hip-hop”

44 JANUARY 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE

The long-awaited second album from the Los Angeles hip-hop duo, Background Music is a socially-grounded throwback of intelligent, progressive rhymes and reverberated, hazy beats that operates as a living relic from the golden age of California hip-hop. With a gauntlet of cameos from some of underground hip-hop’s finest, including Sadat X, Erik Solo, Percee P and pioneer KRS-One, Background Music showcases pulsing production and soulful, well-season dynamism. “Young Hollywood,” the slow jam of the LP, samples Jay-Z’s “99 Problems” and is a critical analysis of the fame, facades and distractions of our contemporary trite culture. “Where you get your news, CNN or TMZ?,” adding, “What I’m about to say might get a lotta people pissed, but I don’t give a shit about Britney [Spears]’ kids.” Background Music’s organic samples and lowkey deliveries are wonderfully anachronistic in an era full of vexing hi-hats and over-production [editor’s note – plus that damn bass wobble the kids are in to], serving as a blissful message in a bottle from hip-hop of decades past. www.substanceabusehiphop.com -Taylor Haag

Tea Cozies Bang Up Seattle, WA (Self-released)

“Mash up of Brit-pop tendencies & garage-rock riffage” It makes sense that a Seattle based band would emit beats, riffs, and chord progressions reminiscent of a garage-style battle of the bands. However, Tea Cozies’ fusion of pop and sunny melodies provides an excellent contrast. Bang Up is the band’s latest release and an endeavor the quartet can be proud of. The album is short, with a total of just five tracks, but each packs its own unique punch. “Muchos Dracula” kicks things off with sharp guitar notes, eerie keys and howling vocals. From there things get softer with the gently ambling and beachy “Paul.” Gauzy vocals croon emotional sentiments over steady bass drums and a hazy melody. “Cosmic Osmo” provides a jolt of ’60s-esque psychedelia and “Silhouette In A Suitcase” closes things out with a quite, introspective and pared down creation. With only a few simple notes and minimal instrumentation, it’s a departure from the rest of the album. Tea Cozies are on their way to becoming a force to be reckoned with. They’ve released this latest work on their own and done an impressive job crafting something void of filler or fluff. The band has Brit-pop tendencies and a love of

all things quick and guitar-riddled. It works for them and it bodes well for Bang Up. Recorded and Mixed by Kurt Bloch at Egg Studio in Seattle Mastered by Hanzsek A/V www.tea-cozies.com -Vanessa Bennett

Various Artists Alive at the Deep Blues Fest Bayport, MN (Alive Records)

“BBQ blues and brews” The greatest triumph of the 2012 Deep Blues Fest may be that it happened at all. From 2007-2009, Minnesota BBQ restaurateur Chris Johnson had been putting on one of the better, young blues artist festivals in the country before financial issues shuttered the event. But after a two-year hiatus and a venue relocation to his own restaurant, the Blues Fest made a triumphant return this summer; thankfully Alive Records was on hand to document all the barbequed reverb you can handle. The songs on this disc shouldn’t be mistaken for a “best of” festival set, but rather a best of label set. Alive Records showcases seven bands out of their impressive stock of young blues guns. Skewing towards a ’60s heavy blues-rock influence, the bands are muscle and power through and through. For some, this might wear thin over the course of 12 songs, but for lovers of hard hitting electric blues howl and growl - there’s a blessed passion and fire in these performances. Particularly impressive are The Buffalo Killers and Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires who, with one listen, firmly establish themselves as a band to watch [editor’s note – precisely why we put Lee on our cover in August]. As the original home of The Black Keys, Alive Records may just have some more blues gold on their hands here. Mixed by Jim Diamond Engineered by Neil Weir www.alive-totalenergy.com -Ari Goldberg

Wild International Lake Tones New York, NY (Self-released) 

“Oddly-shaped, catchy, textured rock” Wild International is just a few years old,


“Mayoridad” feels slightly out of place when compared to the other tracks. All in all, Lake Tones is a fun, catchy pop record. It takes a lot of work to put out such a collection of divergent songs on one album, let alone one that works. Keep an eye out for Wild International.

EDITOR’S PICKS

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having formed in 2009 on Long Island by high school friends Ryan Camenzuli, Greg Coffey and Bryan Daly. Ultimately relying on a foundation of bass, drums and guitar, Wild International layers polyrhythmic beats, vocal harmonies and experimental noises to create a full and textured sound. Lake Tones is a six-song, post-punk offering, layered with indie-rock instrumentals and fun, punchy tunes. The first track “Waterflaws” sounds like a mix of Battles covering Yeasayer. The best description one can offer is oddlyshaped, catchy, anthemic rock. The drumming, keyboard synth backgrounds and chorus of vocals push “Waterflaws” past gimmicky and into endearing. “Emosteg,” the second track on the EP, blasts off into ear-splitting distortion, slowly breaking into bombastic drums and a punchy, punk chaos chorus. The song has a sprinkle of Sparta screamo, but it’s a pop number at heart. “Creeks” is probably the closest fans will get to a ballad on this record. But even then, Wild International is able to show off their penchant for writing a catchy song. “Creeks” is a pleasant listen with jangly guitars and a sing-a-long chorus, but with the addition of bass and pumping drums, it’s pushed into pop territory as well. With “Dreams” and “Mayoridad,” Wild International closes out the EP, offering up two of their sleepier tracks. “Dreams” is a standard shoegaze-tinged tune, while

wildinternational.bandcamp.com  -Dana Forsythe

Ivan & Alyosha All The Times We Had Seattle, WA Genre: Indie Folk/Pop

Listen to the music featured in this issue @performermag.com Oreo Jones Betty Warsaw, IN Genre: Hip-Hop

Brendan Kelley Quicksand Boston, MA Genre: Soulful Pop/R&B

163 Massachusetts Ave. (across from Berklee, next door to Daddy’s Music)

JANUARY 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 45


PERFORMANCE

An Inside Look at a Ballet Pianist’s Process with Eric Burgett

The Art of the Dance Accompanist

pictured: Eric Burgett (photo by Alida Duff Sullivan)

Deep in the

He is small town, central-Illinois native who moved to Nashville this past August to pursue graduate school at Belmont University as well as a career in performing, songwriting, and teaching. Thus far, he has had the opportunity to teach private lessons and group classes at Belmont, co-write with a few folks around town, attend workshops, and carry out duties as the music director of Glencliff United Methodist Church, a small but mighty church in town. Burgett claims the most exciting part of his

heart of

Music City, USA lives a

23-year-old pianist by

the name of

Eric Burgett.

46 JANUARY 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE

weekly schedule is playing piano at the School of Nashville Ballet, where he accompanies in the dance studios, providing music that fits the many dance steps taught by the instructors. Eric provides his view on the art of accompanying dance and shares some of his own experiences. “I have found that accompanying dancers is by far a more challenging experience than accompanying vocalists or instrumentalists for a few reasons. First of all, the accompanist must really feel the movement of the dancers in his body and visually know what is going on. Knowing different dance steps is pertinent to choosing the right music for a certain combination. If the instructor verbalizes, ‘Plié,’ that is my cue to play something slow and graceful, usually (and preferred) in triple meter. Sometimes the combinations may make more sense in a duple meter, but usually I can tell by the way the instructor demonstrates. Many dance steps exist. I don’t know every single

step in the book, but I know enough to provide the right kind of music to accompany the choreography. I’ve made mistakes, but I get back on track and correct myself. I would recommend a book entitled A Handbook for the Ballet Accompanist by Gerald Lishka for a listing of different ballet steps and suggested music to abide by. Being aware of how the ballet-master demonstrates or introduces dance combinations is important as an accompanist. All teachers are different.” Burgett goes on to state, “Ballet classes are structured in a certain way. First, exercises are completed at the ‘barre,’ the structure that the dancers grasp onto while they work one side of their bodies. After the combination is done on one side, dancers repeat it for the opposite side. Upon completing barre exercises, the dancers remove the bars from the floor and then move to the center of the studio, where they complete exercises without the support of the barre. This segment


of the class is called ‘center.’ The third part of a basic ballet class is ‘adagio.’ This includes slow and graceful movements to help dancers develop balance and control. Lastly, the dancers complete ‘allegro’ steps, which are faster than the previous steps in the center work. This portion of the class includes big and small variations of jumps, leaps, and turns. Upon the conclusion of the four basic segments of the class, the teacher and dancers complete a reverence, which is a bow or curtsy in which they pay respect to each other and the pianist. It is a formal tradition in ballet and every ballet class utilizes this. I usually choose a dramatic and gently flowing piece in triple meter.” About his musical choices, Burgett explains, “Keeping a large amount of repertoire memorized is one of the desired attributes of a dance accompanist, and having plenty of books of ballet

scores or piano music will save one’s life during his accompanying experience! Also, being able to improvise is a huge asset as a dance accompanist. I do a great deal of improvising while accompanying any dance class. I may start to play a recognizable piece for he choreography such as ‘The William Tell Overture’ and then add my own flair to fit the rest of the dance combination. If I’m improvising, I never take my eyes off of the dancers’ feet. I try to catch every little movement and compose music that fits them. Doing this makes each dancer’s experience even better. I have been fortunate enough to explore my ability of improvising quite a bit within my years of playing for dancers.” He concludes, “I began as an accompanist for a small ballet company at a community college up in Illinois. During high school, I performed

the entire ballet piano score to the performance of The Nutcracker. It was a great experience! During my senior year of undergrad, I accompanied an upper-level studio class and honed my reading and improvisation skills even more. Soon after my acceptance to Belmont, I auditioned for the dean of the school for Nashville Ballet and showed my interest and talents in accompanying dance. They gladly accepted me as one of their studio accompanists, and I’ve had a blast so far. Accompanying dance is an art within itself. It is a rewarding experience for any pianist.” For more information, please visit: www.ericburgett.com

“If I’m improvising, I never take my eyes off of the dancers’ feet. I try to catch every little movement and compose music that fits them.” Dancers Kimberly Cowen & Luke Luzicka (photo by Steve Wilson)

JANUARY 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 47


R OYA LT I E S

3 THINGS Artists Need to Know About the Pandora Fight by George Howard

THE ISSUE Pandora’s fight to reduce royalty rates is an especially difficult issue to understand, made even more so since there are a plethora of free music providers across the Internet. Pandora is attempting to reduce the royalty rate they - by law - must pay the artists whose music they stream. Pandora states that they need this rate lowered in order to remain competitive. Of course, artists, and those who collect on their behalf (for example, SoundExchange) oppose such a reduction.

SO, WHAT IS GOING ON HERE? To answer that question, we need to lay out some frameworks with respect to precisely what it is that Pandora is doing, and how what they do affects artists.

1. THE PRINCIPLES Pandora must pay the artists when their music is streamed. The first thing to understand is that Pandora, and any other broadcaster of music, must, by law, pay the artists whose music they broadcast. This is because the law grants exclusive rights to artists when they create a song. Before addressing which rights are involved here, it’s important to realize that there are typically two copyrights at play when a song is broadcast. The first is the copyright that is controlled by the person who wrote the song. This copyright is for the composition itself - the music and the melody. It is denoted by a (c). The second copyright is controlled by the owner of the master recording of the song - the version of the song as reproduced on a CD, vinyl, download, etc. This copyright - typically held by a label, unless the artist is his/her own label, and thus held by the artist - is denoted by a (p). Therefore, when a song is played over Pandora, or any other public broadcaster - be it another streaming service like Spotify, a terrestrial (traditional) radio station, a web radio station, or a TV network - two copyrights are at play: the copyright to the composition (the (c)), and the copyright to the sound recording (the (p)).

2. THE RIGHTS As stated above, the law grants certain rights to these copyright holders. 48 JANUARY 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE

The two relevant rights here are: 1. The exclusive right of public performance. 2. The exclusive right of public performance in the sound recording via digital transmission. The key word to focus on is “exclusive.” What this means is that only the copyright holder has the right to publicly perform (i.e. broadcast) his/her music, and should anyone else do so without the copyright holder’s approval, they would be infringing upon the copyright holder’s exclusive rights. How, therefore, does Pandora, or any other broadcaster, avoid infringing upon an artist’s exclusive rights when they play/stream the artist’s music? Certainly, it would be impossible for the broadcaster to negotiate a deal with every artist they play/stream. However, if some sort of deal is not in place, these broadcasters are infringing upon the copyright holders’ exclusive copyrights.

3. THE PROs A system was developed to make it possible for those who desired to broadcast copyrighted music to be able to do so, while avoiding the frequent infringements that would occur absent an agreement with the rights’ holders. The system involves Performance Rights Organizations (PROs), so-called clearing houses. In the U.S. there are four dominant clearing house organizations. Three of these collect on behalf of the copyright holder in the composition (the (c)): ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC. One collects on behalf

of the copyright holder in the sound recording (the (p)), but only when the sound recording is publicly performed via non-interactive digital transmission (e.g. on a service like Pandora, or web radio, or satellite radio): SoundExchange. These clearing house agencies act on behalf of the copyright holders. In the case of ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC (i.e. those who represent the copyright holder in the composition), the copyright holder must affiliate with them. By doing this, they are granting these agencies the rights to negotiate on their behalf with the broadcasters. Additionally, the copyright holder grants them the right to collect fees from these broadcasters on their behalf. In the case of SoundExchange - who, remember, only acts as a clearing house on behalf of copyright holders in the sound recording (the (p)) - they collect on behalf of all master holders, whether the master holder has affiliated with SoundExchange or not. All of these broadcasters pay a blanket license fee to the clearing house agencies in exchange for the right to publicly perform the copyright holders’ work, and avoid issues around infringement. These clearing house agencies then determine the amount owed to the respective copyright holders, and pay out based on formulas that take into consideration things like frequency of broadcast, type of broadcast (as background music to a TV show, a low-power radio station, etc.). The formulas are complicated, but, in general, the more your music is publicly performed, and the more people who hear it when it is publicly performed, the higher the payout. Exactly how much is paid out, and who determines the amount sets the stage for our next article, and allows us to introduce the fundamental issues surrounding Pandora…

ABOUT THE AUTHOR George Howard, COO of Concert Vault, Daytrotter and Paste Magazine, is a frequent contributor to the TuneCore Blog. This article has been re-published by permission.


The End of the First Sale Doctrine?

AS A MUSICIAN, YOU WILL BUY AND SELL HUNDREDS OF ITEMS over the course of your career. From instruments to gear, tour vans to used albums, nearly everything you own – minus a handful of cherished items – is either on its way into or out of your life. But what if up could no longer legally resell copyrighted items without the permission of the copyright holder? This issue made it all the way to the Supreme Court this fall – to much online fanfare. Here is what you should know (and whether the Supreme Court’s decision could affect you). BACKGROUND: Supap Kirtsaeng, a Thailand native, re-sold copyrighted textbooks published abroad on eBay. Because the international editions of the textbooks were nearly identical to U.S. versions (and at a fraction of the price) Kirtsaeng was able to turn a handsome profit, netting approximately $900,000. The case, Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., now at the United States Supreme Court, originated when publisher John Wiley & Sons brought suit against Kirtsaeng for copyright infringement, and won after a New York jury awarded Wiley the amount of $600,000. Now on appeal, the Supreme Court must parse between several areas of copyright law relating to copyright and the first sale doctrine.

made outside the United States is sold for the first time…Whether U.S. copyright protection applies to items that are made abroad, purchased abroad and then resold in the U.S. without the permission of the manufacturer. The [Supreme Court] split 4-4 when it tried to answer that question in a case in 2010 involving Costco and Swiss watch maker Omega… The court already has rejected copyright claims over U.S.-made items that were sold abroad and then brought back to the United States for resale.”

Essentially, this is a very narrow issue focusing on goods created overseas and sold in the U.S. for the first time. However, several other issues may likewise be relevant and the circuit courts are split with different findings. The Second Circuit held that a foreign-made product may not ever be resold within the United States without the copyLEGAL ISSUES: As a basic rule, copyright protection  lasts for the right owner’s permission, while the Ninth Circuit life of the author plus an additional  70 years and held that a foreign-made product may sometimes includes the right to exclusively reproduce and sell be resold within the United States without permisthe copyrighted work. In addition, the Copyright sion, but only after the owner approves an earlier Act prohibits the importation of a work without the sale in this country. Finally, the Third Circuit has authority of the copyright’s owner. However, while stated that a product can always be resold without a copyright holder retains the right to initially sell permission within the United States, so long as the his/her work, the “First Sale Doctrine” under the copyright owner authorized the first sale abroad. copyright code allows those who have purchased Now you can understand why the Supreme Court a copy lawfully to sell that copy to someone else.  has been asked to step in. The First Sale Doctrine is important: without it there would be no free market for used records and Kirtsaeng argues that his resale of the copyrighted - more importantly - the copyright owner’s right of books is not infringement and is protected by the distribution could overreach, extending past the “first-sale doctrine,” asserting that after a comfirst sale, all the way down the stream of commerce. pany sells a copyrighted product, the buyer may lawfully resell it. A brief written by NetChoice in The legal issues before the Supreme Court were support of Kirtsaeng’s positions states: summarized rather succinctly by the Huffington Post in a recent column, stating: “There are several legal precedents which disfavor reducing rights under the first sale doctrine. “The issue at the Supreme Court concerns what proThe first sale doctrine has long been recogtection the holder of a copyright has after a product nized as a defense to copyright infringement,

LEGAL PAD

NOT FOR RESALE:

striking a balance between the property rights of consumers and the promotion of progress in the sciences and useful arts by ensuring that copyright owners are compensated for the initial sale of the copyrighted good. As this Court held over a century ago, ‘one who has sold a copyrighted article, without restriction, has parted with all right to control the sale of it. The purchaser of a book, once sold by authority of the owner of the copyright, may sell it again, although he could not publish a new edition of it.’ Bobbs-Merrill Co. v. Straus, 210 U.S. 339, 350 (1908).” Could this affect you? If you purchase products online which were created overseas and hold U.S. copyrights, this case could absolutely affect you. In oral arguments held this past October, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer made an example of a used Toyota car manufactured overseas, which can include copyrighted sound systems and GPS devices. This could be an issue for someone who sells the used vehicle: do they violate copyright law during the course of their sale? So while a decision in favor of Wiley & Sons could drastically reduce rights under the first sale doctrine for copyrighted items bought and sold abroad, it will not affect your everyday ability to buy and sell within the United States.

The Supreme Court will issue its ruling and a decision on the matter during the first half of 2013. For full legal coverage on the case, visit the SCOTUS Blog at: www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/ kirtsaeng-v-john-wiley-sons-inc To check out the full NetChoice amicus brief, visit: www.netchoice.org/wp-content/uploads/ KirtsaengvWiley_SCOTUS_Amici.pdf

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.

JANUARY 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 49


BACKGROUND

GEAR

Guitarist/composer Jay Manley is exploring new and old sounds on a 21-string hollow-body electric guitar designed by Wes Lambe. The result is an enchanting form of fusion: jazz indie rock with a Hindustani raga undercurrent

MAKE & MODEL 2009 Wes Lambe 21-string Saraswati Guitar

WHAT IT MEANS TO YOU “An instrument to explore a wide range of fingerstyle guitar, Indian music without having to use an altered tuning, and a fusion of these ideas where anything goes: from classical to punk! Hopefully it will be a notable piece in the lineage of sitar-inspired guitars.”

WHAT IT SOUNDS LIKE “Piano-like clear basses and warm trebles, tons of sustain, earthy mahogany tone with lots of chime from the drone and harp strings, a wide bending range and low-output humbuckers. RIYL: Gretsch Country Gentleman meets sitar and a Gibson EB-3 bass.”

SPECIAL FEATURES “7 main strings, two drone strings and 12 sympathetic harp strings with a piezo sitar bridge, handmade Kent Armstrong Filtertron-voiced pickups, all mahogany body, maple neck with fanned frets, and an ebony fretboard.”

TUNINGS “Main string tuning  is AEADGBE, drone strings are AE, harp strings are in various A modes. Wes Lambe used the sound of a saraswati veena (South Indian instrument) as a tonal reference in addition to his 7 and 8-string guitar ideas to design the instrument.”

VISIT WWW.JAYMANLEY.COM Got a favorite instrument you’d like to share? Email us at editorial@performermag.com.

MY FAVORITE AXE

with Jay Manley photo by Hathir Pfau

50 JANUARY 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE


RECORDING

REVERB An Evolutionary Advantage Part 2 of 2

photo by Mark J. Sebastian

QUICK RECAP Reverb isn’t echo exactly and it’s not delay, even though it’s in the same family of effects. Reverb is a psycho-acoustic phenomenon. Turns out that just like our ability to tell one human face from another, our brains are really good at distinguishing the space in which sound is made. And because you have two ears, your brain can calculate not only the distance and type of space the sound is in, but also its location and movement. [editor’s note – read the December 2012 issue to catch up on everything you missed in Part 1.]

SAVING “SPACE” ON THE BUS Now that we understand the basics of what reverb is and how we can use it, it can be really easy to go overboard and start throwing reverb plug-ins on every channel. Let’s pump the breaks just a second before we end up drowning the mix in a sea of endless reverberation! First thing that you need to keep in mind when you are adding reverb to your tracks is that plug-ins need a ton of CPU power to run, and the more you add, the slower your computer will run. And there is nothing worse than a slow computer when you are trying to get the “platinum record” mix. We’ve found that rather than slapping a new reverb plugin onto every channel you want to add a little more room to, simply place your reverb plug-in on a BUS (title it “Reverb” and have it return to the Master Bus). Then SEND every track you want reverb on to that BUS. This way you save your CPU usage, and all the instruments sent to this reverb will sound like they are in the same space, creating a superior mix (you can also set

up more than one bus if you wish to have certain instruments sound like they are in their own unique space).

TIMING REVERB TO YOUR TRACK’S BPM Using this little formula (60,000 / Tempo in BPM = 1 quarter note in milliseconds), you can “time” your reverb’s pre-delay to fit the musical tempo of the song you are mixing. So for example, if the song has a tempo of 120 BPM then 1 quarter note lasts for 500ms (an eighth note 250ms, sixteenth note 125ms, etc). Start by plugging in the BPM for your song into the formula and jotting down the values for the 1/4, 1/8, 1/16 and 32nd notes. Then crank up the reverb send on a track until it is way too wet and then dial in a quarter note pre-delay and see if it “feels right.” No? Then try the eighth note amount and listen again. Once you’ve got the right value for the pre-delay, lower the reverb send, forget about reverb for a while and come back to the mix later and see how ALL the tracks being sent to that reverb sound in the mix.

PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS It’s important to not get carried away using too much reverb on too many tracks. Remember, the main idea behind using reverb is that it creates the feeling of space in your mix, so if you end up throwing reverb on every track in your song, chances are you are going to have a mix that sounds like it’s being played across the street at your neighbor’s house party. So discretion is the key here! When adding reverb to a track,  as a general rule, busy songs need less reverb and slower ballads with lots of space in the arrangement can afford to use

more. If you are adding reverb to your instrument tracks, it’s usually a good idea to use the same one for all your instruments, then all reverberations of the instruments will sound as if they were recorded in the same environment (this works especially well for rock bands and creating that oh-so-magically “live” sound). Different types of reverb work well with different instruments. We find that room reverbs work well with drums and guitars, and sometimes a guitar can benefit nicely from a good spring reverb (especially for that psychedelic surf sound). Vocals, on the other hand, can be much more open to different types of reverb, depending on the style of music and the overall feeling of the song itself. It should also be noted that in general, we try not to add reverb to our bass instruments (bass guitar, kick drum, etc), as it tends to muddy up the mix. Now that you know some of the basics for using reverb, you can go crazy and experiment! You never know when you will find a sound that works just right for your mix, and if you have read any of our previous articles, then you know our golden rule: If it sounds good, do it! 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 zac@nighttrainstudios.com. Brent Godin is a bassist/guitarist and engineer/producer at Night Train Studios. He is also a talent scout at Black Cloud Productions. Reach him at brent@blackcloudproductions.com.

JANUARY 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 51


STUDIO DIARY

PRE-PRODUCTION What was your pre-production like on this project?

Pre-production for us is one of the most important steps.  We write all our own music, so we like to craft all of the parts before we even go into the studio.  These are songs that we had been writing, tweaking, and performing for several weeks before the recording sessions. This process allows us to go into the studio with a clear goal in mind.  We usually know exactly what we want the songs to sound like, although during the recording process, the plans tend to change. 

How did you choose the studio?

We had recorded in several other studios before landing at Fireplace Studios for this recording.  Our producer, Chuck Brody, who works out of Fireplace, came highly recommended to us.  We got along really well so in reality, we chose a producer, not a studio.  Our previous recordings lacked the power we needed; we were happy with a few of them, but one session we chose to just throw away.  We’re always searching for new ways to experiment with recording processes and find that perfect sound.

PRODUCTION What kind of sound were you looking for and how did you achieve it?

IN THE STUDIO WITH MOTIVE

Using Single Tracking Techniques to Recreate a Live Sound interview by Benjamin Ricci / photos by Deneka Peniston 52 JANUARY 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE

We’re trying to create honest, no-gimmick rock in the tradition of our favorite bands. We also wanted a more powerful sound than our previous recordings, one that hits as hard as our live show.  By that, we mean driving drums, a more powerful sound, edgier guitars, more affected vocals, and generally just something that would turn heads.  We experimented with doubling and tripling parts on different tracks, and running the tracks through different effects boxes.  We also like to use older guitars, amps, and effects from different time periods. There’s a subtle character that comes from vintage gear, and an unpredictability that makes the sound unique.  Nick [Wold] also has a custom distortion pedal made by a friend you won’t hear that kind of sound anywhere else.  

How does it compare to your last release in terms of style and the creative process?

The creative process is pretty much the same, but the recording process has evolved.  Nick is the


HAVE A UNIQUE STUDIO STORY TO SHARE? EMAIL EDITORIAL@PERFORMERMAG.COM

ALBUM INFO

STUDIO DIARY

Motive, It’s Illicit EP RECORDING STUDIO: Fireplace Studios RECORD LABEL: Self-released RELEASE DATE: January 15, 2013 PRODUCER/ENGINEER: Chuck Brody MASTERING: Joe LaPorta at The Lodge ARTWORK: Kymia Nawabi, Naomi Abel & Meg Lazaros

KEY GEAR - 1967 Fender Mustang - Late ’60s Univox Hi-Flyer - 1950s Silvertone guitar - Fender P-bass, flat wound strings - Schector Custom Tempest - 1983 Vox AC30 amplifier - 1981 Marshall JCM800 amplifier - Moog Rogue analog synthesizer - 4-piece Gretsch Catalina Club kit with 1982 Ludwig 20” kick drum - Pedals: Big Muff Pi, Verbzilla, custom distortions, Boss Reverb, Delay, and Tremolo

“There’s a subtle character that comes from

vintage gear, and an unpredictability that listen at motivemusic.bandcamp.com

main songwriter, but everyone contributes.  We are always writing and have a lot of material to choose from, and we only pick the best to record.  Previously, we used to just set up and record live all at once, but on this recording we used the studio more as an instrument to get closer to the exact sound we wanted.  The advantage of single tracking is that we can get all the parts perfected and fine-tune all of the sounds and effects.  We have found when we record everything live, it just sounds empty and tinny, and ironically, less like the live experience.  It seems counterintuitive, but for us, single tracking allows us to blend the sounds in a way that recreates the excitement of our live show.  A lot of people swear by the live take, but we find it limiting when going for specific sound.

Did you use any special gear or recording techniques on this one?

We doubled some of the bass parts with a Moog synthesizer to get more depth.  We also experimented a lot with mic placement. For example, we used one mic on the batter head of the kick drum, one on the resonant head, and also one a few feet in front of the resonant. We also tried draping a blanket to isolate a tunnel between the mic and then kick drum to play with different sounds.  The wizardry of our producer, Chuck, had a lot to with the sound.  He provided a lot of different ideas and expertise on tracking and capturing the sounds we wanted.   

makes the sound unique.”

What was your philosophy on live, fullband takes versus individual tracking?

We found that we can create a sound more faithful to our live show using individual tracking. Recently, we’re finding a good deal of creative freedom with recording track-by-track.  Chris would do several takes of the whole song on drums, and we’d build up from there.  Then we add bass, guitars, and vocals last. 

What did you try to accomplish in the studio that you’re not able to do live?

Playing the songs without fucking them up just kidding.  We always want to be able to recreate everything in the live show, but we like to use the precision of the studio to create the perfect version of the song.  Live, the songs are looser, and we live in the moment a bit more.  Recording and playing live are two different mediums, and we are still finding ways to get the same result from both.

Any funny stories from the session that you’ll be telling for a while?

Since the studio is on the top floor of a skyscraper in Manhattan, we took a [Shure] 57 onto the roof to record a hawk skree-ing.  We hid his voice somewhere in the tracks.  Bonus points to whoever can find it.

POST-PRODUCTION How did you handle final mixing and mastering?

We mixed with Chuck in the studio. He has worked with Michael Jackson, Wu Tang Clan, Phantogram, Ra Ra Riot, Bear Hands, etc. so we knew he could get us the mix we wanted.  Some producers don’t like input from the band when mixing, but Chuck welcomed our ideas.  Everyone in the band always has different opinions about levels and things, and we usually hammer it out or try to find the common ground.  Chuck was also a good tiebreaker, because there are four band members.  Then we sent it to Joe LaPorta, who is a boss, to master it.  We like to always get our tracks mastered; it really makes a difference in delivery. 

What are your release plans?

The album will be released [this month] both digitally and physically.  It will be available on iTunes, Spotify, and all other outlets internationally.

Any special packaging?

The packaging will include some sensational original art by Kymia Nawabi, Meg Lazaros, and Naomi Abel, who are Brooklyn-based artists and friends. JANUARY 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 53


APOGEE Duet 2 USB Interface - $599

GEAR REVIEWS

FEATURES System Requirements Memory Operating System Compatible Software

Home recording has become more common now than 4-tracks were back in the day, and now Apogee’s offering up their best features in a small package and at a small price. The Duet 2 USB interface is designed to work exclusively with Macs, and its sleek and sexy design follows suit. Connection is via USB and a multicable connection allows for two speaker outputs, and two multi-use connections that handle XLR and 1/4” cables. For microphones that require it, phantom power is available as well. A headphone output is also easily accessible for private monitoring during recording sessions. The big, “can’t-miss” knob is the main controller, while the visual display provides input and output information. The touch screen features two assignable “quick keys,” tailoring their functions to

Latency performance Power Sample Rate Input channels Output channels Microphone preamps Microphone preamp gain

Intel Mac 1.5GHz or faster 2GB RAM minimum Mac OS X (10.6.4 or higher) Logic, GarageBand, MainStage, Soundtrack Pro, Pro Tools 9, Albeton Live and Cubase 32 buffer @ 96kHz = 3.6 ms / 64 buffer @ 44.1kHz = 5.8 ms USB Bus Power (DC power optional) 24-bit/44.1-192kHz 2 4 (Stereo headphone out & L/R speaker outs) 2 up to 75dB

PROS

CONS

Great sound quality, simple design and functionality.

Mac only.

specific controls, such as muting channels or resetting levels. Setup is incredibly easy, but will require a recent version of the Mac OS. It works well with GarageBand, Logic and Pro Tools and getting things up and running is very easy. The only potential downside is that the Duet does not work with a Windows setup. The sound quality is great, with very low latency. There are a lot of cheaper I/O devices out there, so what do you get for that extra cost? Well, the sound quality of the preamp and analog

to digital (A/D) converters that Apogee has been known to offer are here and well worth it. For vocals and instruments, it sounds great. Since there are only two inputs, this isn’t something that could be used to record a complete band in one shot, but for doing a few tracks at a time (as is the case in many home studios), it’s perfect, especially considering the overall build quality and preamps. The combination of this, with an Apple laptop, makes for a very powerful and portable recording situation, with no sacrifice in sound or connectivity. -Chris Devine

EAR TRUMPET LABS Edwina Condenser Microphone - $499 FEATURES

PROS

CONS

Fantastic sound, unique look, no need for shock mounting.

None.

Steampunk has been a popular design aesthetic for years now, usually combining a Victorian appearance with a modern device’s functionality and/or looks. It’s been popular on cell phones, computers, and now microphones. The Edwina model is quite a sight, with its rustic “old-timey” look. Amazingly enough, it fits into a standard microphone stand clip. It’s a condenser mic, with a large, rotating 26mm capsule that also has a pop filter behind the grille. Sound-wise, it’s great, with plenty of range and applications, and sounds wonderful in any acoustic application (guitars and drums, especially). Although, with its unique look, it’s definitely meant 54 JANUARY 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE

for live use, specifically for vocals. It has unique warmth, and it’s quite tunable just by adjusting the location of the capsule. There are plenty of clear and pure tones, and even when getting right on top of it, the Edwina features really solid feedback control. As it’s hand made with matched transistors, resistors, and capacitors, it’s not surprising that it has a very natural quality to its overall tone. Also not surprisingly, as with most handmade items, it’s a little more expensive than your runof-the-mill vocal mic; but the $499 price tag isn’t really out of this world considering the quality you get. Condenser microphones can cost up to several thousand dollars, and there are plenty of others

Diaphragm Condenser Capsule

26mm, mounted in a pivoting bracket with a cardioid pickup pattern

Pop Filter

integral silk and mesh, for effective control of plosives without loss of clarity

Hand-wired Components

film caps, precision resistors, hand tested and matched transistors, with component values tuned for the individual circuit.

Dimensions

8 3/4” x 4” x 1 3/4”; head is 3” in diameter metal tool case with foam padding 48V

Case Provided Phantom Power Required

in this price range, but none with this aesthetic. However, like most condensers it will require phantom power, so make sure the system you’re using can handle it. Bottom line: the Edwina delivers great sound quality and it’s durable enough for live use, and will certainly look unique on stage, especially if your band has a similar theme or style. -Chris Devine


Camel Audio

Instrumental Plug-ins www.camelaudio.com

Camel Audio makes the most useful plugins and sample libraries on the market, equally suited to studio and bedroom producers in their quality and flexibility. Their compressor/distortion plugin CamelCrusher and the Alchemy Player are both free via their website, and are a great introduction to Camel Audio’s offerings. Camel effects plug-ins can be used to subtly make your music shine or used heavily to open up worlds of sound that aren’t accessible with traditional hardware. CamelPhat adds warmth and presence

by combining multiple filters, FX, a compressor, and layering four different types of distortion into a tweakable tone factory. CamelSpace takes any sound and chops it into evolving rhythmic textures. Alchemy is an all-in-one synthesizer, endlessly customizable and with dozens of sound libraries available to suit any sound or project. Camel Audio was founded in Edinburgh, UK, and is run by musicians. They are in constant contact with their customers and are always listening for what their community needs and wants.

is flexible enough to get the job done however you want to do it. If a project needs spicing up, using Alchemy as an FX processor can give instruments the extra color they need to stand out. When you’re ready to take your project live, use the “perform”

view to switch and adjust presets on the fly, or combine it with the Touch Remote app for unparalleled live control. Alchemy’s wide range of abilities make it the right tool for almost any situation. -Garrett Frierson

GEAR REVIEWS

ARE TW SOF F I L E O PR

ALCHEMY - $249 Swiss-Army Sample Manipulation Synthesizer Alchemy is the synthesizer with everything you need: multiple modes for manipulating sounds, thousands of adjustable presets to inspire you, integration with all major DAWs, and even an iPad app. It features a virtual analog engine, granular and spectral synthesis, the most powerful additive engine and most accurate re-synthesis available in any plug-in, and sampling. Combining the sampling and synthesis engines with the racks of filters and built-in effects, Alchemy quickly begins to sound like nothing else available today. To play Alchemy you can upload and edit your own samples to perfection or buy a sound library that suits your needs and get straight to writing and tweaking the sounds later in the project; Alchemy

AUDIO-TECHNICA ATH-ANC27 QuietPoint Noise-Canceling Headphones - $99 FEATURES Type Driver Diameter Freq. Response Noise Reduction Battery Life Weight Accessories Included

PROS

CONS

Great sound, many applications, low price, includes carrying case.

Requires battery for noise canceling.

A lot of the times, especially in pro studios, outside noise and distractions aren’t a huge issue when recording, as studios are soundproofed to protect against such nuisances. But for home recorders, this isn’t always an option (or practical). Enter AT’s new QuietPoint Noise Canceling Headphones, a steal at just $99, which offer the comfort and excellent sound quality Audio-Technica is known for, now in a quieter package. When the noise-canceling switch is activated (one AAA battery is required for active

noise canceling; without a battery the headphones still operate passively without noise reduction employed), all outside sounds disappear and what you’re left with is simply the music. A dramatic soundstage is likely what you’ll first notice with these cans on, followed by the realization that bass is tight, realistic and not overexaggerated (which seems to be the current trend) – a true blessing for anyone trying to properly mix their own recordings. Battery life is great; we ran

Active noise-canceling 40 mm 20 – 20,000 Hz Up to 18 dB Up to 40 hours 192 g (6.8 oz) 1/4” stereo adapter; airline adapter; AAA battery; carrying case with attached accessory pouch

through an entire 8-hour session, watched back a concert DVD and listened to an iPod with juice left over more than a week later. Add to the great sound quality a nifty carrying case plus quarter-inch and airplane adapters, and you’ve got yourself a solid, inexpensive new pair of headphones for musical enjoyment and for recording purposes. Highly recommended. -Benjamin Ricci

JANUARY 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 55


FLASHBACK

Vintage Teletronix LA-2A “Legendary Vocal Compressor from the ’60s” YEAR 1962 HISTORY The LA-2A is considered one of the most legendary vocal compressors in recording history. I first learned about it through a friend and mentor of mine, John Agnello (Sonic Youth, Kurt Vile, Dinosaur Jr.). In fact, the specific LA-2A that I’ve used in sessions is his piece of gear. John was our busiest client at Headgear Recording. He’d bring over racks of gear and just leave them at our studio, so this LA-2A was always in my control room. HOW IT’S USED This particular LA-2A was destroyed, like so much equipment, by Hurricane Sandy. John lost all of his gear when Water Music in Hoboken, NJ was flooded with over six feet of water. He was a mentor to a lot of engineers and we’ve all come to know his gear - not just theoretically, but tangibly. I used the LA-2A whenever I had an opportunity during mixing. After tracking a vocal, I would almost always send the lead through this compressor. It basically just touched it a few dB and it was mixed. It didn’t require any EQ, which is why I’d say it’s my favorite piece of gear - it’s invaluable. When you ran vocals through this LA-2A, it attenuated the low end so it could sit in the mix perfectly. It’s this weird EQ bump, which reminds me of old school ’60s and early-’70s recording, where the vocal didn’t really have a lot of low end, it just pops out. I’m always chasing that sound. This specific piece of gear - not just any vintage LA-2A, but John’s in particular - had it. It produced one of those “ah-ha” moments. For me, what especially distinguishes a great piece of gear is that I use it and it gives me a nostalgic feeling of a cool, seminal record. It’s not scientifically good or bad, it’s just from a historically important time in music. So if I put a piece of gear on and it sounds like something I’ve heard by, say, The Kinks, I’m going to get really excited. I’d say that’s my non-scientific approach to recording music. MODERN EQUIVALENT There is a re-issue of the LA-2A by Universal Audio, but I wouldn’t say that it’s a modern equivalent. I love the new LA-2A but it doesn’t sound the same. There’s a lot of gain and distortion. It’s gnarly sounding, which is fantastic! Just totally, totally different. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Alex Lipsen is a producer, composer and engineer whose many credits include projects with Nada Surf, Phosphorescent, The Jealous Girlfriends and Santigold. After 13 years as the owner and engineer of Headgear Recording in Brooklyn, Lipsen embarked on a new endeavor this fall at Russell Street Recording in Greenpoint, Brooklyn with partner Carlos Hernandez. NEWS AND UPDATES Visit www.facebook.com/RussellStreetRecording

56 JANUARY 2013 PERFORMER MAGAZINE


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Performer Magazine: January 2013