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THE MUSICIAN’S RESOURCE

INTERVIEWS

VOL. 21/12 DECEMBER 2011 FREE

Earbits CEO Joey Flores Cheyenne Marie Mize Pterodactyl Fishbone

SUN

PLUS

On Old School Recording and Old Country Inspiration Obtaining Sync Licenses 2012 Festival Booking Directory Using Digital Tools on Analog Tracks Recording Software Guide


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VOL.21, ISSUE 12

F E AT U R E S 20

24

32

Cheyenne Marie Mize

Fishbone

Pterodactyl

This alluring Kentucky songstress is ready to release a fantastic new EP on Yep Rock. We recently spoke with her about the transition from bandmate to solo artist, and what it means to have the support of a larger label.

Thirty years in, and Fishbone is still breaking ground. The influential ska/ punk/funk pioneers recently chatted with Performer about the band’s new careerspanning documentary, their new EP, racial stereotypes, and how they’ve managed to stay creative after all these years.

As New York noisemakers Pterodactyl ready their latest LP, we sat down with band leader Jesse Hodges to discuss home recording, dinosaurs and how the group translates their studio sound to the stage.

-Ashley Amaru-

- Andrew Fersch -

Photo by Philippe Nyirimihigo

-Benjamin Ricci-

COVER STORY

28

Kae Sun - Sara Brown -

From Ghana with love, Kae Sun’s story covers his inspirational journey from West Africa to Canada. Join us as we go inside the making of his latest EP, recorded to 2-inch tape in

28

an Ontario barn.

Cover photo David Waldman

D E PA R T M E N T S 6 Obituaries

34 Reviews

52 Recording Software Guide

7 Festival Tracker

44 Book Your Band at 2012 Festivals

54 Gear Reviews

8 Local News

46 Interview with Earbits CEO Joey Flores

56 Tour Stop: Kent, OH

14 Spotlights

48 Using Analog Audio in a DAW

Excuse Me Princess, Wild Child,

49 Sync Licensing 101

Marcus Rezak, Gauntlet Hair

5 0 Studio Diary: Comanchero

DECEMBER 2011 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 3


FROM THE TOP The end of the year is upon us, and this is usually the time when magazines publish their ”Best of” lists. Before we get to that, I want to offer my sincerest thanks to those of you who help us publish the mag every month. The writers, the photographers, the interns, and all of the artists who feed us great music and stories throughout the year. We couldn’t do this without you, and I probably don’t say thanks as often as I should. 2011 was a great year – we were able to report on musicians from all corners of the globe, we featured female artists on consecutive covers for the first time in recent memory, and we revamped the website to provide more exciting audio/video content. We were also exposed to a wealth of great music from independent and DIY artists. In fact, I urge you to visit the Performer Playlist section of our website to listen to the all the great music featured in each issue.

So without further ado, below is a list (in no particular order) of our favorite records of the past year. Enjoy, and we’ll see you again in 2012. Well, maybe. Hopefully the Mayans got it wrong…

Brown Bird – Salt for Salt Baby Baby – Money Hannah Miller – O Black River DOM – Sun Bronzed Greek Gods The Trews – Hope & Ruin Marc Broussard – Marc Broussard Making Friendz – Social Life Metal Mother – Bonfire Diaries White Orange – White Orange Kae Sun – Outside the Barcode Tommy Stinson – One Man Mutiny Bass Drum of Death – GB City Adele - 21

-Benjamin Ricci Editor

P.S. – Last month we mistakenly referred to Caroline Smith’s drummer as Alan (pg. 23), when in fact his name is Arlen. Unfortunately, we only realized our mistake when shipping copies of the magazine to the band. So to you, Arlen, whose name is infinitely superior to Alan, we offer our sincerest apologies. And to all the Alans in the world, we’re just sorry your name isn’t Arlen. I’m sure you feel the same.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. facebook.com/performermagazine twitter.com/performermag

ABOUT US 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.

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES We listen to everything that comes into the office. Unfortunately, due to space limitations, we are not able to review everything. If you do not see your record in the mag in the months following your submission, we were unable to feature it. We prefer physical CDs over downloads. If you do not have a CD, send download links to editorial@performermag.com. Send CDs to Performer Magazine, 24 Dane St., Somerville, MA 02143. 4 DECEMBER 2011 PERFORMER MAGAZINE

Volume 21, Issue 12

PERFORMER MAGAZINE 24 Dane St., Suite 3 Somerville, MA 02143 Phone: 617-627-9200 Fax: 617-627-9930 PUBLISHER William House - bill@performermag.com EDITOR Benjamin Ricci - ben@performermag.com DESIGN AND ART DIRECTION Joe LoVasco - scoutco1@gmail.com EDITORIAL ASSISTANTS Ashley Amaru, Becky Woodford editorial@performermag.com CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Adam Barnosky, Amanda Macchia, Amelia Shackelford, Andrew Fersch, Ari Goldberg, Ashley Amaru, Becky Woodford, Ben Marazzi, Benjamin Ricci, Beth Ann Downey, Brad Hardisty, Casandra Armour, Chris Devine, Christina Dore, Christopher Petro, Colin Frawley, Dana Forsythe, David Pier, Dustin Lefholz, Elianna Masse, Gail Fountain, Garrett Frierson, Heidi Schmitt, Jack M Silverstein, Jason Peterson, Joe Lang, Justin Korn, Kat Coffin, Keane Li, Kristian Richards, Lesley Daunt, Matt Lambert, Rich Coleman, Sara Brown, Tara Lacey, Taylor Northern, Vanessa Bennett, Wilhelmina Hayward CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Amanda Macchia, Billy Jackson, Brandon Belcher, Charles Izenstark, Chase Guthrie, Chris Heidman, David Antis, David Waldman, Davis Ayer, Gail Fountain, Jeff Farsai, Johnny Arguedas, Kevin Hoth, Meagan Jordan, Philippe Nyirimihigo, Ryan Deckert, Ryan Gac, Ryan Purcell, Sabine Rogers, Tara Lacey, Taylor Graves, Teven Hudgins

ADVERTISING SALES Kathleen Mackay - kathleen@performermag.com Deborah Rice - deborah@performermag.com © 2011 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.


OBITUARIES

Cory Smoot, 34

Joel DiGregorio, 67

GUITARIST

KEYBOARDIST

Guitarist and co-producer for heavy metal band GWAR, Cory Smoot was found dead on the band’s tour bus on Thursday, November 3. Known as science fiction/horror film character Flattus Maximus to fans, Smoot had been the longest serving member to portray the Flattus Maximus character in the band’s history, performing the role since 2002. He had also co-produced their last two albums, Lust in Space and Bloody Pit of Horror. Smoot is remembered as “one of the most talented guitar players in metal today,” by front man and GWAR founder, Dave Brockie.

Mikey Welsh, 40 BASS GUITARIST Michael “Mikey” Welsh, former bassist for Weezer, passed away on Saturday, October 8 in Chicago from a suspected drug overdose. Welsh joined Weezer in 1998 and recorded on Weezer (also known as the Green Album), Winter Weezerland and several other singles. Welsh also performed with other artists such as Jocobono, Juliana Hatfield, The Kickovers and Heretix. After leaving Weezer for personal reasons, he retired from music and pursued a rewarding career in the visual arts.

Paul Leka, 68 SONGWRITER/PIANIST/ARRANGER Paul Leka, writer of the 1960’s hit “Green Tambourine” and the famous sports anthem “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” passed away from lung cancer on Wednesday, October 12. Leka began his music career at a young age, recording with The Chateaus. Later, he worked with artists such as Harry Chapin (“Cat’s in the Cradle”), the Peppermint Rainbow and REO Speedwagon to produce and arrange their music.

Bert Jansch, 67

George “Mojo” Buford, 81

GUITARIST

BLUES HARMONICA PLAYER

Herbert “Bert” Jansch, the founding member of folk band Pentangle, passed away on Wednesday, October 5 after battling cancer. Known for his improvised solos, Jansch influenced artists such as Jimmy Page, Paul Simon and Neil Young. Jansch received two Lifetime Achievement Awards at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards in 2001 and 2007. He also received the MOJO Merit Award and an Honorary Doctorate in Music from Edinburgh Napier University.

George “Mojo” Buford, famous for his work with Muddy Waters, passed away on Tuesday, October 11 in Minneapolis due to heart failure. Buford replaced Little Walter in Waters’ band in 1959 and continued to play on and off with the group throughout the years. He was given the nickname “Mojo” after repeated requests to hear his cover of “Got My Mojo Working.” Buford will be remembered for his animated stage presence and Chicago-blues style harp playing.

Bob Brunning, 68

Beryl Davis, 87

BASS GUITARIST

SINGER

Bob Brunning, bass guitarist and founding member of Fleetwood Mac, passed away on Tuesday, October 18 from a heart attack. After leaving the band, Brunning joined Savory Brown for a brief period before founding Brunning Sunflower Blues Band. He also performed in Tramp and the De Luxe Blues Band, but devoted his time to teaching at a primary school in England. Brunning also published several books, including Fleetwood Mac: Behind the Masks.

6 DECEMBER 2011 PERFORMER MAGAZINE

Joel “Taz” DiGregorio, the self-taught keyboardist for the Charlie Daniels Band, was killed in a car accident on Wednesday, October 12 in Tennessee on his way to meet Daniels’ tour bus. DiGregorio, an original member of the band, co-wrote the famous hit, “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” which placed at number three on Billboard’s Hot 100. DiGregorio also recently recorded two solo albums titled Midnight in Savannah and Shake Rag.

British-born singer Beryl Davis passed away on Friday, October 28 in Los Angeles due to complications from Alzheimer’s disease. During World War II, Davis became popular by singing in the Army Air Force Orchestra and entertaining the troops. Davis, however, was best known for performing with Frank Sinatra and Benny Goodman as well as on radio shows with Bob Hope, Abbot and Costello, and Ed Sullivan. Her most famous hit was “I’ll Be Seeing You.”


FESTIVAL

APPLICATION DEADLINE

LOCATION

EVENT DATE

WEBSITE

International Folk Alliance Conference

December 2

Memphis, TN

February 22-26

www.folk.org

Old Settler’s Music Festival 2012

December 5

Austin, TX

April 19-22

www.oldsettlersmusicfest.org

NACA Mid Atlantic Festival

December 6

East Stroudsburg, PA

March 16-17

www.naca.org

NACA Northern Plains Regional Conference

December 13

St. Paul, MN

March 29 - April 1

www.naca.org

Tropical Heatwave 2012

December 16

Tampa, FL

May 11-12

www.wmnf.org/heatwave

35 Denton 2012

December 16

Denton, TX

March 8-11

www.35denton.com

Rowan Blues and Jazz Festival 2012

December 19

Salisbury, NC

TBA

www.rowanbluesandjazz.com

WOMAD Festival

December 31

United Kingdom

July 27-29

www.womad.org

Venice Beach Music Fest

December 31

Venice, CA

TBA

www.facebook.com/venicebeachmusicfest

7th Annual Jazz in the Gardens

January 1

Miami, FL

March 17-18

www.jazzinthegardens.com

Noise Pop Festival

January 6

San Francisco, CA

February 21-26

www.noisepop.com

Tulsa International Mayfest

January 9

Tulsa, OK

May 17-20

www.tulsamayfest.org

Rhythm 'n Blooms Festival

January 10

Knoxville, TN

April 20-22

www.rhythmnbloomsfest.com

10th Annual DIY Music Festival

January 13

Los Angeles, CA

TBA

www.diyconvention.com

Winnipeg Folk Festival

January 15

Winnipeg, MB

July 4-8

www.winnipegfolkfestival.ca

Folk on the Rocks Festival

January 15

Yellowknife, NT

July 19-22

www.folkontherocks.com

FESTIVAL TRACKER

BOOK YOUR BAND AT ONE OF THESE EVENTS

DECEMBER 2011 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 7


Special Report

Local Independent Retail Chain Forced to Close After 39 Years

Who really closed Daddy’s doors creditors or the Internet? For many New England musicians, October 26, 2011, the day that local music retail chain Daddy’s Junky Music closed its doors for good, will go down in history as “the day the music died.” Founder Fred Bramante called the business “his baby,” recalling spending his life savings of $600 in 1972 to enter the world of business, eventually becoming the 14th largest music retailer in the United States. Bramante based his success on what is known as the New Hampshire Advantage. Musicians from all over New England would trek to Daddy’s to take advantage of the tax-free instruments and recording equipment in his New Hampshire stores. Lack of tax, however, is not what Daddy’s is most memorable for in the minds of consumers. Longtime Daddy’s patron Cory Minichino of Tewksbury was a frequent shopper at both the Salem and Nashua stores. “I’ve done a lot of business with Daddy’s over the years. Whenever I worked with them they were very helpful and educated about the equipment they sold. Selling 8 DECEMBER 2011 PERFORMER MAGAZINE

by Becky Woodford

equipment to them was essentially hassle-free.” The business won several awards over the years including “New Hampshire Retailer of the Year” in 2005 and the Line 6 “Service Center of the Quarter” in June 2010. What exactly caused Daddy’s to wave a sad farewell after nearly four decades of such pleasant service? Bramante blames the slow economy and competition from the Internet. “To most people, service is secondary to price. The Internet has decimated the local business owner,” explains patron Mike Cross. Having the sales tax advantage over the state of Massachusetts when Daddy’s first started was what gave them the leverage needed to get the business off the ground and allow for growth. “That same advantage, similar to the advantage that we had, is now on the part of the Internet, and it is really unfair competition to brick and mortar retailers. You’re having this huge sum of money that is being sucked out of virtually every state in the country and something needs to happen fast, because it’s not just us that it’s happening to. It’s happening to a lot of people,” Bramante stated in a recent interview. Similarly, Shelia Byrne, co-owner of The Music Workshop in Salem, NH, has noticed a decline in sales due to competition from the Internet. “People have a perception that the Internet is a better deal and are bypassing brick

and mortar stores,” she explains. Hirsh Gardner, longtime manager of Daddy’s flagship Boston store, recalls many a time the Internet would compromise his sales. “I can’t tell you how many times a customer would come to me with iPhone in hand and tell me that the $300 Zoom recorder we were selling was available on Amazon for $220. I could match that price and make no profit, or send him away. Rarely did that happen! So you see, it was a delicate balance between retaining your customers with great service and losing them. The big question is, ‘How many people bought online without even coming to the store?’” The future of Daddy’s Junky Music is still uncertain. Candi Bramante, Fred Bramante’s daughter is working diligently to make calls to as many of customers as possible to arrange for them to pick up any instruments that were out for repairs from their main warehouse in Manchester. While the Internet surely played a large role in declining sales, in the end it was the chain’s creditors who pulled the plug. According to reports, GE Capital stepped in without warning to call in outstanding debt, effectively closing the chain without much notice to Bramante, his employees or customers. As Gardner succinctly explains, “You borrow money from a bank to buy gear so you can show it in your store and sell it. A monthly payment is now due to that bank. If you can’t make a payment the bank can step in. That is what happened. The saddest part is the impact on our customers. The banks don’t care about that. I no longer work for Daddy’s, but just this morning I was loading customer repairs that were in the Boston store into a van so we could mail them back to these customers. Believe me when I tell you that we did everything in our power to protect our customers in the few hours notice that we had.” Currently, the store’s homepage simply reads, “Thank you for a wonderful 39 years.”

Boston Store Manager Hirsh Gardner

LOCAL NEWS

BOSTON


OTHER BOSTON AREA RECORD STORES

Looney Tunes

LOCAL NEWS

BOSTON

1106 Boylston Street Boston, MA 02215-3601 (617) 247-2238 Specializing in vinyl. TONS of it, stacked f loor to ceiling in very cramped quarters. A bit pricey, but the inventory and selection are top notch.

Nuggets

Somerville Grooves

Story and Photo By Ashley Amaru

New Union Square Shop to Sell Local Musicians’ Vinyl Brazilian psychedelic music floats around the bright magenta walls of Somerville Grooves, a new record store that recently opened in Union Square. Stacks of records and neatly organized bins show off a wide range of music - nearly 10,000 albums currently in stock. David Plunkett, owner and founder of Somerville Grooves, can often be found tending shop with his “no attitude” motto and vast knowledge of vinyl, stemming from his childhood love for music. Plunkett first got his idea to start Somerville Grooves after a stint of unemployment. Having spent his free time at record stores, he noticed that vinyl had a much quicker turn around than CDs. According to Plunkett, many people prefer vinyl because of the collectible nature, but what it really comes down to is quality. “I’m a music person,” says Plunkett. “I like vinyl better mainly for the sound quality. A record has the best sound of any consumer audio product…you can hear it even on a budget-priced system.” Using his savings and his already large record collection, Plunkett leased space in Union Square and set up shop earlier this fall. The community couldn’t be happier. People come and go from the shop, selling their records and browsing the numerous bins. Somerville Grooves welcomes all kinds of shoppers: if you are the type to dig through every section, looking for the perfect deal, or someone who is simply

RECORD STORE PROFILE

looking for a specific album to complete a collection, then this is the place for you. Laid back and relaxed, Plunkett will leave you to it without hovering over your shoulder or spouting unsolicited record advice. Customers can also expect only quality records at Somerville Grooves; Plunkett cleans his inventory with a dedicated record vacuum cleaner, weeds out any trashed vinyl and everything is returnable if you are not satisfied. Most importantly, however, is Somerville Grooves’ involvement in the local music scene. A Somerville resident himself, Plunkett is interested in helping local bands get their music out there and encourages them to sell their music at Somerville Grooves on consignment. Plunkett also invites bands to advertise shows in his shop and is open to the idea of having in-store performances, but due to limited space there won’t be room for huge bands. Sorry, Edward Sharpe. And for all you aspiring Rob Gordons out there, Plunkett has one piece of advice: “Do what you like and hold out for a good situation and spot.”

CONTACT Somerville Grooves 26 Union Square Somerville, MA 02143 (617) 666-1749 www.somervillegrooves.com somervillegrooves@gmail.com

486 Commonwealth Avenue Boston, MA 02215-2720 (617) 536-0679 With an incredibly nice owner, a saloon-style door, and bins and bins of cheap vinyl, this is a music lover’s paradise. Conveniently located right in the heart of the city.

Weirdo Records 844 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02139 (857) 413-0154 Weirdo specializes in the offbeat, the unusual and…well, the weird. Stop in if you’re in the mood for something other than the standard classic rock fare.

Stereo Jack’s 1686 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138-1868 (617) 497-9447 One of the many surviving record stores still standing on Mass Ave, Stereo Jack’s recently extended their lease through 2012. So go show your support!

Cheapo Records 538 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02139-4029 (617) 354-4455 Cheapo Records has been in Central Square for ages, and the dusty bins of wax can certainly attest to the store’s long history. Cheap, surly and a bit stale-smelling, this is what record collecting is all about.

DECEMBER 2011 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 9


LOCAL NEWS

ATLANTA

OTHER ATLANTA NEWS

EDDIE’S ATTIC New Owners Announced for ATL Venue

photo by Taylor Graves

ATLast Clothing & The DJ Union Dominating the Party Scene and Supporting Community Outreach By Amelia Shackelford Lately, all over the Atlanta music and party scenes, a certain name keeps popping up. They’ve shown up on the back of a shirt that – in a style very similar to a favored Atlanta sports team – proudly declares, “Fuckin’ A!” They’ve set up at hip-hop shows, raves and disco dance parties. They’ve designed and printed shirts and stickers for local DJs, bands and MCs. They’ve even been shooting music videos (notably, Love PROMOTER Megan T’s “Stay Tight” and The PROFILE Mighty High Coup’s “Boom”). They are, of course ATLast Clothing and The DJ Union, and they’re set on domination. Founder and CEO, Scott Freeze started with nothing but vision and a few good men, and now his name and his company’s name are on the lips of musicians and partygoers alike. However great that may seem, owning the party scene isn’t enough for Freeze. At 9:00 on a recent Tuesday night, he was downtown waiting on a meeting with representatives from a local outreach program to discuss involving ATLast with programs for young men, volunteering at soup kitchens and any other potential avenues for 10 DECEMBER 2011 PERFORMER MAGAZINE

integrating ATLast with the community. In addition to those R-rated shirts you keep seeing around town, ATLast is looking to bring the community up in any way they can. Just one example: an ATLast Skate Team is in the works. Why skating? Freeze says, “Skating is like marketing. If you don’t commit to the board, you land on your ass. Marketing is the same way. We’re fully committed.” ATLast Clothing began with Freeze and a few friends and musicians. These men are The DJ Union. They’re the (not so) secret brotherhood behind the brand. Their entire movement has been the definition of grassroots. They sell their t-shirts out of the backs of their trucks and cars. They employ all local DJs, models, artists and writers. From the start, they’ve worked from the ground up. In just a few short years they’ve gone from nothing to taking over Atlanta. But not just Atlanta. Freeze and company already have deals for ATLast branches in Denver and San Francisco, and they’re courting more cities by the day. Like everything else in Atlanta, it’s DIY or die, and The DJ Union and ATLast Clothing are looking to do anything but die. www.thedjunion.com

Legendary concert promoter Alex Cooley and his business partner and longtime friend, Dave Mattingly, will be purchasing Eddie’s Attic effective December 1.  In a brief note to the club’s staff, customers, vendors and performers, current owner Bob Ephlin comments: “It’s been my privilege to work alongside the dedicated staff at Eddie’s Attic for the past six-and-a-half years.   I’m extremely proud of what we’ve accomplished, and of our stewardship of a brand that, for almost 20 years now, has been dedicated to amplifying the magic of the artist/listener connection in an intimate listening room setting.   I’m grateful for the support and loyalty of our customers and the City of Decatur, and thankful for the many aspiring and accomplished songwriters and musicians that have graced our stage. I’m confident that Alex and Dave will do a great job taking Eddie’s Attic to the next level.  I believe its best days are ahead of it, and I look forward to supporting its continued success as an advisor, loyal customer, and fan of performing songwriters. Thank you for your friendship and support these past years, and for helping to remind others that ‘Live Music Matters.’” For more information on the new owners and their mission, please contact Dave Mattingly at dave@eddiesattic.com, or Alex Cooley at alex@eddiesattic.com.


LOCAL NEWS

AUSTIN

NEW GROUP HOLDS PANELS TO OPEN HONEST DIALOGUES Article & Photo By Tara Lacey

Just a few months ago, Carla DeSantis Black relocated to Austin from Seattle, where she started her career in music in the early ’80s as a member of an all female rock and cover band (ala The Go-Go’s). It was early on where she began to experience first hand the stereotypes placed on female musicians. She has found that even today many of those stereotypes persist - women as sex symbols, inferior talent, far fewer lead guitarists and front and center performers. She has faced an uphill battle in her quest to have women in music taken as seriously as their male counterparts. She eventually parted ways with her former band and set out to create an organization that celebrated female talent in the music industry. Black started an independent magazine dedicated to just that, called Rock-R-Grl, which touted initiatives much like the GEMS club for girls excelling in science and math, only instead of science and math Black focused on music. Rock-RGrl eventually grew to include a yearly conference, which carried on long after the magazine ended. Her first conference was warmly received in the

Seattle area and featured The Indigo Girls and Courtney Love. The aim was to eliminate the novelty factor of women in music and encourage women and young girls to pursue endeavors in music and entertainment. Just this year Black made the move to Austin because of the vast networking opportunities with women in music. On November 12, she hosted Austin’s first MEOW (Musicians for Equal Opportunities for Women) Day at Momo’s Club, right in the heart of Austin’s entertainment district. The event lasted all day and featured panels by some of Austin’s most influential women in the

industry, including Sara Hickman (singer/songwriter), Rose Reyes (music director for Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau), Suzanna Choffel (singer/songwriter), Christa Hillhouse (4 Non Blondes), Emily Marks (Girls Rock Camp Austin), Caroline Burrus (Austin City Limits), Carolyn Schwartz (Health Alliance for Austin Musicians), and Patrice Pike (singer/songwriter). These were just a few of the panelists who discussed pressing issues during the first MEOW conference. Carla DeSantis Black seeks to develop MEOW even further to include scholarship opportunities for women and girls seeking to develop a career in music

For more info please visit www.meowonline.org.

DECEMBER 2011 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 11


Photo courtesy of Hideaway Studio

LOCAL NEWS

MINNEAPOLIS

The Hideaway Studio

Story By Joe Lang

Twin Cities Studio Expands Hands-On Internship Program

RECORDING STUDIOS IN MINNESOTA

The Hideaway Studio in Minneapolis, one of the hidden gems of the Midwest studio scene, is expanding its internship program. The studio, which has thus far STUDIO been known largely as a hip-hop PROFILE studio, has recorded several heavy hitters including Snoop Dogg, Atmosphere, Brother Ali, Cloud Cult, The Matches, Doomtree, Dessa and Dave King. The push is part of an effort to make the studio a more accessible resource for mainstream and commercial use among the general public. ”We kind of opened the doors more publicly to welcome outside engineers and producers

and bands in need of a place to record,” says Joe Mabbott, the studio’s founder. ”The previous approach was a little bit more low-key, word of mouth without advertising or looking outside.” Adam Greenwald, a McNally Smith College of Music student studying music business production and minoring in hip-hop, says that the opportunity has been extremely helpful and informative. ”I took production classes and learned about the process, but you can only do so much recording at school, whereas here eight hours can go by and you really see what the process is like,” Greenwald says. ”What is so great about interning with The Hideaway Studio is that Joe [Mabbott] is someone who

understands the hands-on nature of learning and wants to involve you whenever possible - from setting up microphones for recording bands to changing drumheads, Joe teaches by giving a task and allowing you the chance to first figure it out for yourself.” Mabbott says that he understands the philosophy, having worked as an intern himself. “I know the opportunity of getting to be part of a studio; it’s where I learned most of the things that got me started in the right direction,” he says. ”School definitely helped, but actually being in this environment made things click.” The studio currently has four interns and Mabbot said the goal is to have two to three experienced interns at a time, on a rotating basis, to provide as many opportunities as possible. Anyone interested in participating in The Hideaway Studio’s internship program is encouraged to email Mabbott directly at joe@ thehideawaympls.com. www.thehideawaympls.com

The Devil’s Workshop Sound Studio

Dreaming River Studios

PO Box 580925 Minneapolis, MN (612) 501-8595 workshop@thedevilsworkshopstudio.com www.thedevilsworkshopstudio.com

Two Fish Studios

19030 Dreaming River Drive Terrace, MN (320) 278-3019 jeff@dreamingriver.com www.dreamingriver.com

The Devil’s Workshop provides a professional and comfortable working environment for any musician. With five separate rooms, this studio offers a wide range of options for tracking, mixing and mastering.

This laid-back and private studio is great for high quality recordings, no matter what type of recording project. Situated along the beautiful Chippewa River, musicians can take a break and ref lect in the peaceful woods inbetween recording sessions.

729 South Second St. Mankato, MN (507) 382-8675 info@twofishstudios.com www.twofishstudios.com

12 DECEMBER 2011 PERFORMER MAGAZINE

Specializing in the transition from live sound to recording, Two Fish Studios works with independent artists of any genre to record quality music. The homey studio features a long list of in-house instruments ranging from a grand piano to saxophones.


courtesy of Bryan Deckert

VENUE PROFILE

ASH STREET SALOON 225 SW Ash St. Portland OR 97204 (503) 226-0430 ashstreetsaloon@aol.com www.ashstreetsaloon.com One of Portland’s popular mid-sized venues, Ash Street Saloon welcomes local, regional and international touring bands. Accepts all genres of music, though rock is preferred.

LOCAL NEWS

OTHER VENUES BOOKING INDIE ARTISTS IN PDX

PORTLAND

THE BUFFALO GAP SALOON

The Doug Fir Lounge

By Wilhelmina Hayward

Get Yourself Booked at a PDX Gem

6835 SW Macadam Ave Portland, OR 97219 (503) 244-7111 info@thebuffalogap.com www.thebuffalogap.com The Buffalo Gap Saloon features “The Attic” – an intimate, live music venue that books independent artists every night of the week. Americana, jazz and acoustic rock bands are preferred.

JIMMY MAK’S A gem in Portland’s brilliant collection of live music venues is the Doug Fir Lounge. The club’s interior uniquely draws from the late-’50s modernist style and was built from original woodwork and distinctive glass design. Doug Fir’s manager, Bryan Deckert, says that the lounge is the brainchild of three local businessmen: the architect Jeff Kovel, nightlife industry entrepreneur John Plummer and Mike Quinn, booking director and co-owner of booking agency Monqui Presents. “The three were brought together and envisioned a place that would set the bar for live venues in Portland. The beauty is that, with our intimate size, we are usually the first to get bands that are on their way up,” says Deckert. “We provide an experience the bands appreciate and build a relationship with them and their management.” The Doug Fir books talent of all genres, but seeks to satisfy the tastes of their patrons, first and foremost. Deckert says that they are fortunate to have all the booking done in-house with Quinn’s booking agency, allowing them to control the content and calendar. “We look to book touring acts and local acts. We are very fortunate that there is plenty of talent in Portland and respectable venues, that we are a community curating the scene together instead of fighting over the few good acts,” says Deckert. The venue provides a unique experience for the band and their audience. Deckert explains: “Every night we look to give the patron and the

band a full experience. Everyone knows what to expect from us. The beer is cold, the place is clean and the sound in incredible.” The Doug Fir may just be the first venue you play before your music career takes off. Decekrt says that often the talent they secure are “one and done, as they are on their way up and quickly grow too big for us.”

BOOKING INFO: Unsolicited submissions are accepted. Send a CD & press kit to: ATTN: BOOKING Doug Fir Lounge 830 E Burnside St. Portland, OR 97214 It can take 3-6 weeks for the venue to respond. If you need to follow up, e-mail booking@dougfirlounge.com.

VENUE SPECS: Room Capacity: 299 Seated Capacity: 125 21+ only, full-service bar PARKING & LOADING: Ample street parking available. Load-in/ out directly to the backstage wings.

DRESSING ROOM: Shared 12’x25’ lockable room.

221 NW 10th Portland OR 97209 (503) 295-6542 jmak@jimmymaks.com www.jimmymaks.com Jimmy Mak’s is a must for local, regional and touring jazz groups. Make sure your fans make reservations, though – this hot spot fills up quickly.

LAURELTHIRST PUBLIC HOUSE 2958 Northeast Glisan St. Portland, OR 97232 (503) 236-2455 Laurelthirstbookings@msn.com www.laurelthirst.com Booking primarily local acts, the Laurelthirst Public House features shows nearly every night of the week. Contact Lewi Longmire for booking information.

THE MISSISSIPPI PIZZA PUB 3552 N Mississippi Ave Portland, OR (503) 288-3231 booking@mississippipizza.com www.mississippipizza.com Hosts live music every night at its comfortable Atlantis Lounge, showcasing a wide range of music from blues to folk to hip-hop. Check their website for booking guidelines.

DECEMBER 2011 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 13


LOCAL NEWS

CHICAGO

VENUE PROFILE

Double Door

By Jack M Silverstein

Chicago’s Home for Local Music & Impromptu Stones Gigs

photo by Ryan Gac Chicago’s beloved Double Door opened in its current form on June 12, 1994. Talent buyer Phil Kosch arrived in 2002. Kosch tells the story of the Rolling Stones’ legendary “surprise gig” at Double Door in 1997, the night Jack Black threw him a beer, and what Double Door brings to Chicago.

OTHER VENUES BOOKING INDIE MUSIC IN CHICAGO

“The Stones came in the night before, their crew, and were like, ‘We want to do a show here. You’re going to post it on the billboard - Rolling Stones 7 o’clock.’ They paid the bands one hundred bucks each and said, ‘You guys aren’t playing. Here are some tickets for the show.’ They helped build that stage out a little more, and the Stones played here. People were giving deeds to their house, titles to their car and their car keys to employees. People were throwing thousands of dollars down for tickets. They blocked off all the streets on both sides. The Rolling Stones came in their limo, hung out in the dressing rooms in the basement with everyone, shook hands, and played a full set. From that point on, it really hit. Muse played a show. Queens of the Stone Age. The Kills. The Pumpkins would do like three nights here.

Tenacious D several years ago did a secret show opening for Urge Overkill. I was here for that. It was phenomenal. Jack Black was running around with PBRs or Old Styles, and I was in the coat check just working. He was like [imitates Jack Black], ‘You look like you’re working hard! Here-’ and he tossed me a tall boy. It’s one of the best moments I’ve ever had at Double Door. Jack Black just threw a beer at me. He was wasted, but hugging everybody and having a blast. We try to make people feel like stars. We want them to come back and be like, ‘Holy cow, that was one of the better sounding stages I’ve ever played on.’ This is your time to shine. Unless you’re playing at a thousand-cap room, the things we do here you can’t do. You’re walking on a stage that the Rolling Stones played. You’re stepping on a piece of history.”

BOOKING INFO: Phil Kosch phil@doubledoor.com (773) 489-3160 Mon–Fri: 12-5 p.m.

CAPACITY: 500, standing room only

STAGE SIZE: 16’x 20’ 3 feet high

EQUIPMENT: As told by Kosch: “Full PA. Separate monitor mixes, with up to eight on stage. Three dressing rooms. We have a super amazing light guy. You can record your whole set here. We’ll give you the tracks. Free filming. Stream your whole show live. That’s free. And if you want the actual DVD, there’s a little bit of a cost.”

The Empty Bottle

The Hideout

Kryptonite

1035 N. Westen Ave. Chicago, IL 60622 (773) 276-3600 brucef@emptybottle.com www.emptybottle.com

1354 W Wabansia Chicago, IL 60642 (773) 227-4433 hideout@hideoutchicago.com www.hideoutchicago.com

308 W. State St. Suite 110 Rockford, IL 61101 chris@kryptonitebar.com (815) 965-0931 www.kryptonitebar.com

This popular hangout books local bands nearly every night of the week. Though small, The Hideout is dedicated to providing a space for musicians to hone their artistic talents and to simply be themselves, free from judgment.

The Kryptonite Bar won’t sugar coat it – the music business is tough and booking at their bar is one step closer to making it big. Selfproclaimed “music snobs,” the booking staff at Kryptonite has a stringent policy of only accepting original and unique music.

With booking for every night of the week, The Empty Bottle proves to be the place to play for bands of all different genres. Save a tree, though – Empty Bottle prefers electronic submissions.

14 DECEMBER 2011 PERFORMER MAGAZINE


STORE PROFILE

Corner Music

By Brad Hardisty

Nashville’s Full Service Independent Instrument Shop Larry Garris opened Corner Music in 1976 with an eye on services for the professional Nashville session player. Garris noticed that while instrument stores opened at 10 am, most sessions started at the same time and musicians were not able to pick up things before the day’s work - like strings or a cool new guitar pedal that they wanted to use on the next recording. Corner Music first opened in the Berry Hill area before finally moving to their current location

in the 12th Street District, just a few minutes south of downtown. The area has changed over the years, from being a little scary after dark to becoming a trendy neighborhood with upscale burgers, fish and local brew, and an emerging music scene all its own. Corner Music is an independent full service dealer, where everything from well-made Chinese Eastman brand instruments are offered alongside the latest boutique handmade LSL guitars shipped fresh from Van Nuys, California.

Nashville is a town of “monkey see, monkey do.” A perfect example is when session guitarist George Greenberg bought a certain type of Stratocaster on a Monday and by the end of the week Pat Buchanan and Mac McAnally had one also. Corner Music’s core base is still comprised of string players - guitar, bass, mandolin, ukulele and everything in between, and one of the biggest things buzzing right now are low wattage tube amps. ZZ Top’s Billy Gibson recently came in and bought a Carr Raleigh amp after seeing it in sessions around town. It’s nothing to see Keith Urban purchasing a bouzouki or a roadie picking up 1,500 custom picks for a well-known country artist on any given day. While relic finish Telecaster and Stratocaster guitars seem to be the hottest items nowadays, George Harrison’s favorite songwriting tool, the ukulele, is so hot that store employee Billy Jackson says, “If we put it on the website, we wouldn’t have any to sell to our day-to-day walk-in customers.” The repair team of Joe Hinchliffe (guitar set up) and Jeff Marple (repair) not only service local musicians, but traveling bands with problems such as Peter Stroud of Sheryl Crow’s band, who said his Gibson Firebird was set up better than it ever has been. They have shipped instruments as far away as Germany to be worked on. The Pro Audio department starts with everything for the recording musician to another division that features professional sound installations, known as Corner AV. Jackson, who also handles promotions and workshops, has his own “Billy’s Blog” on the store’s website to give a Zen perspective to the current music gear environment. Corner Music sponsors workshops that have featured guitarists such as Albert Lee and most recently, bassist Saul Zonana. Attendance is high, especially when a world-class bassist or drummer is giving his perspective and instruction. Needless to say, guitarists in Nashville are a little more finicky with so many hotshot pros around. www.cornermusic.com

LOCAL NEWS

photo by David Antis

NASHVILLE

photo by Billy Jackson

DECEMBER 2011 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 15


Chris Heidman

SPOTLIGHTS

EXCUSE ME, PRINCESS

By Elianna Masse

A Sassy Nerd’s High School Soundtrack – Violins Included

“ I hope other musicians see our respect and love for music and don’t write us off as know-nothing kids who put no thought into this record.”

WHY YOU SHOULD LISTEN Witty high school musicians making you remember four years in ten tracks.

GENRE: Indie Pop Rock HOMETOWN: Duluth, MN excusemeprincess.tumblr.com

16 DECEMBER 2011 PERFORMER MAGAZINE

Rock musicians are notorious for their careless attitudes and antics. However, Excuse Me, Princess resembles anything but a rock cliché. These high school students from Minnesota prove that the music industry has not changed them from acting like their age - a group of nerdy, yet sassy musicians whose band name is derived from a Legend of Zelda catchphrase, perfectly reflective of their personality. Carrying catchy tunes of confusion and a hint of the usual teenage angst orchestrated through guitar riffs, EMP weeds through four years of high school insecurities in their latest record Stop the Flow. Recorded in Minneapolis at So-TM Records’ studios in an isolated booth, lead vocalist Jack Campbell describes the selection of songs as, “A ‘best of’ what we had been doing the past two years.” While the creative process of EMP began with pulling out the acoustic guitar, the violin melodies in the band’s repertoire cannot go unnoticed. Songs such as “Vampires” and “Some Time to Kill” place a delicate emphasis on lustful and hopeful lyrics, not to mention Greta

Konkler’s violin runs, which balance and compliment EMP’s “both energetic and delicate, not as cookie-cutter loud as most alternative rock [sound],” as Campbell puts it. Their self-proclaimed relatable sound has been heard through their touring efforts, playing intimate shows and trying to win the respect of bar patrons, even though they aren’t old enough to order a drink. Of their touring experience, bass and keys player Sam Wattrus states, “Smaller shows are tons of fun and help you connect with the area more.” EMP has felt at ease playing local shows as they consider this a growing period. Don’t be fooled by their age, EMP exudes mature songwriting skills despite their teenage content in Stop the Flow, which they hope will land the notice of fellow musicians. Campbell notes, “I also hope other musicians see our respect and love for music and don’t write us off as knownothing kids who put no thought into this record.” Don’t worry, Jack. If they give the music even half a listen, they won’t think that. Trust us.


Because “Whiskey Dreams” and ukulele strings are the right thing.

SPOTLIGHTS

Davis Ayer

WILD CHILD

WHY YOU SHOULD LISTEN

GENRE: Pop Folk HOMETOWN: Austin, TX

By Beth Ann Downey

Songwriting Soulmates Born From Strings, Heartbreak and Happenstance

www.wildchildsounds.com

“We can write songs alone, but they suck. We’re kind of a package deal.” Kelsey Wilson and Alexander Beggins can write songs without the staples – those being a bass, a guitar or even a definitive genre in mind. But since meeting a little over a year ago, these two creators of Austin-based band Wild Child admit they can’t write a song without each other. “We can write songs alone, but they suck,” Beggins says. “We can’t really do anything without the other now. We’re kind of a package deal.” Wild Child’s debut album Pillow Talk is a true testament to this bond. What started as ukulele tunes written in the back of a tour van has manifested itself as a light, catchy 15-song collection chronicling the constant ebb and flow of love and loss. “Both of us were in long relationships at the [time we met], so that was

kind of what was in both of our minds at the time,” Wilson says. “We were going through the same exact things at the same exact time. So it turned into this big story book of a relationship falling apart.” Though Wilson and Beggins are Wild Child’s founders, they’ve expanded the band to include six main characters, playing a unique collection of instruments including ukulele, viola, cello, accordion and banjo. The full band “came together like the Sandlot team,” Beggins says, in the Texas town bursting at the seams with musicians: Austin. When it came to recording Pillow Talk, the two thought they could get it done in a week amidst their SXSW debut. After realizing they’d set an unrealistic time frame,

the band flew out to record in a couple different San Francisco studios, and even set up at one point in someone’s living room. “It’s been tedious,” Beggins says. “We’ve had fights and arguments. We’ve had a ton of booze mixed in there. We’ve had a ton of fun times. It’s just been a total, big rollercoaster experience getting this done.” Wild Child looks forward to loosening up on a national tour, with times and locations to be announced. And a sloppy, raucous live show is Wild Child’s idea of a good time. “I feel like sometimes musicians tend to get way too serious about [a live show], and think about every aspect of how it’s coming off,” Beggins says. “But we’re just up there having fun.” DECEMBER 2011 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 17


By Jack M Silverstein

The Windy City’s Busiest Axe-Slinging Progger

Chicago guitarist Marcus Rezak takes us through a typical week in his life – four nights touring the Midwest with his band Digital Tape Machine, a Sunday night gig with his band The HUE, and then a work week full of studying at DePaul University and teaching private lessons.

How were you feeling on your way back to Chicago? I felt really great. I thought [Champaign, Illinois] was the best show we’d had of the three. I was feeling very amped to get back to Chicago and play the Park West. It’s one of the venues I’ve wanted to play for a while. I was really looking forward to that, especially with a group that I feel so confident about musically. The very next night, you played a HUE show. Yes we did. The HUE is my original band that formed in 2007, an all-instrumental progressive rock group. We’ve been touring all over the Midwest for almost five years. Going back with The HUE the day after DTM was awesome because I can shred as much as I want. With Digital Tape Machine I have a purpose. [I’m] one of seven; it’s a different kind of formula. The HUE is a little freer. There are fewer instruments, and the music allows for more improvisation.

WHY YOU SHOULD LISTEN Prog-dance party music and video game shredding.

GENRE: Prog Rock & Electronic HOMETOWN: Chicago, IL www.marcusrezak.com

That was Sunday night. Yeah, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and now we’re on Sunday. During the week, you teach and you’re a student. Take me through that week. I had a big project that was going to be due the following week that I had not started yet. I like to prioritize where I can just do one thing, focus on it 100%, go to the next thing, and focus on that 100%. I don’t like to do 50-50. That was for a jazz styles analysis class. We had to do a presentation on a selected artist, and we had to give a transcription with a verbal analysis as well, present about the artist himself, and perform the solo piece that we were transcribing. A lot of elements to have ready. And then I had a few other classes at school that are performance-based as well, and compositional-based. I’m there four days a week. My teaching schedule begins right after students get out of school, so from about 3:15 I’m teaching until about 8:30, most nights. That’s enough for me right now. That’s the average weekly schedule. Sometimes I’ll have a show on a Tuesday night, like a Tonic Room, [something] small like that. I’ll play just for fun; go out to play any jam or something like that if it seems right to do, and try to get some sleep somewhere in all there. I’ve always wanted to make people dance and have fun. That’s the best thing to see from a stage perspective. Hopefully I can do that and just keep meeting more great people along the way and learning from those who I’m working with in the band. Everyone’s got something really awesome to offer. It’s very exciting. Hopefully this isn’t as good as it gets.

“I’ve always wanted to make people dance and have fun. That’s the best thing to see from a stage perspective.”

18 DECEMBER 2011 PERFORMER MAGAZINE

Charles Izenstark

SPOTLIGHTS

MARCUS REZAK


Textured rock bursting with layered sounds and rhythms.

Serving up Dance Punk With a Side of Noise Pop

GENRE:

Experimental Rock & Noise Pop

HOMETOWN: Denver, CO

By Dana Forsythe According to Gauntlet Hair guitarist and singer Andy Rauworth, when the recording of their debut album got off to a rocky start in their adopted home of Denver, he and drummer Craig Nice decided to move the entire operation to Rauworth’s grandmother’s house in Chicago. “We’d been living in this party house and we weren’t making too much progress,” Rauworth says. “So we packed it up and brought the studio to Chicago.” Gauntlet Hair released their self-titled album on Dead Oceans in October, something that Rauworth says relieved the pressure that had been building since the duo burst onto the scene with their single “I Was Thinking” in April of last year. “We were in the recording phase for about a month or two and had the final record mixed in a couple of weeks,” Rauworth

says of the process. On Gauntlet Hair, the debut from the duo (named after a store owner’s description of blues guitarist Johnny Winter’s hairdo), the band solidifies their sound. If you’re wondering what that sound is, just listen to the first song on the album, “Keep Time.” Reverb-laden vocals join delayed guitar, chorused chords slamming in between the bombastic drumming of Craig Nice. You could call it dance punk with a side of pop, but there are times when it switches gears into a more experimental, psychedelic brand of ’80s pop, complete with claps and a bouncy chorus. Skip trying to put a label on it if you’re speaking to Rauworth, though. “It’s a bit difficult to label us or what our music sounds like,” he says. “We don’t want to settle on one particular sound.” In the press, the band has drawn

www.gauntlehair.net

SPOTLIGHTS

GAUNTLET HAIR

WHY YOU SHOULD LISTEN

comparisons to Animal Collective, The Cure, No Age and Japandroids; it’s fairly excellent company to be in. When asked where the band’s influences lie, Rauworth pointed to early ’80s band Orange Juice and more recent work from the Durutti Column. As far as the band goes, Gauntlet Hair is very much self-contained, a dynamic duo, and Rauworth likes it like that. Playing for almost 10 years together, he says, the band has had time to develop a connection and a proven system. “We’ve worked together so long we’re not really sure if we could do it with more people,” he says. “There are advantages to working as a duo, too, almost like a telepathic connection when we’re playing. We don’t have to say much of anything, just follow each other’s ideas.”

Kevin Hoth

“There are advantages to working as a duo, like a telepathic connection when we’re playing.”

DECEMBER 2011 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 19


Cheyenne Marie Mize Defying Labels as a Transitioning Solo Artist This month, Performer spoke with one of NPR’s Top 10 New Discoveries, Cheyenne Marie Mize, about her creative process and her recent transition to Yep Roc Records. With the release of her new EP, We Don’t Need, scheduled for January 2012, this singer/songwriter divulged everything from her training as a music therapist to working with Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy to venturing out as a solo act. Mize self-produced this genre-defying EP, which features a wide range of musical tastes, including her breakout track “Wishing Well,” and the entirely instrumental piece “Back Around.” 20 DECEMBER 2011 PERFORMER MAGAZINE

By Ashley Amaru Photos by Meagan Jordan

You obviously have an amazing voice. Were you professionally trained? What other instruments do you play? I started singing at an early age but not with any professional intentions. My mom and my dad were both radio DJs in the ’70s, so I grew up with tons of music around the house. I always grew up hearing my mom sing, and my grandmother used to sing on the radio with her family. I was always really interested in being able to do that. As far as other instruments, I started playing piano first when I was about eight years old and a couple years later I started playing guitar and violin as well – mostly classical. Guitar and piano kind of were secondary things at the time. I only took lessons on piano for a couple of years until I could read music and then I just taught myself the rest of the way.


“ Half of the

instruments were recorded in my living room with pots and pans. So that’s always really fun to NOT WORRY so much about making things too perfect.”

with all of our stuff [laughs], which we barely fit in, traveling around the French countryside for a month. We met some really wonderful people. They have a great network of fans and people who have helped them put shows together over in France and also in the U.S., so just to get to meet some of those people was really great.

I heard that you had training in music therapy. How would you say working as a music therapist has affected your creative process? More than anything, my training as a music therapist taught me to really be in the moment. You have to be very present and if you’re not, then most of what you are going to be doing is not very effective. And you have to be willing to be flexible and change what you are doing. And as far as performing or writing, that definitely has influenced me a lot. I think that kind of informs my songwriting in that I don’t always take the expected progression or direction that a song might go. I know that you have collaborated with Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy on Among the Gold. What can you tell us about that experience? It’s always a pleasure to work with Will and we had a really fun time making that record. It was a really beautiful project to work on. Being able to…make something beautiful from songs that are so very old and most people are not familiar with, while being able to protect and also make new some old things - that’s definitely a passion of mine.

How is performing as a solo artist different from playing with your other bands Arnett Hollow and Maiden Radio? I have a little bit more freedom as a solo artist, but along with that comes a little bit more responsibility. In a band setting, I am able to completely lean on the rest of the band and make the decisions together and share the financial responsibilities. As a solo artist, even when I have a band with me, I am responsible of taking care of them and making sure everyone is fed [laughs]. I am certainly blessed these days to be working with a couple people who are such talented musicians. I have a drummer named JC Denison, and a multi-instrumentalist whose name is Emily Hagihara. Having two people who are so competent and bring such musicality to the project, as well, is really great. I read that you have recently been touring Europe and the U.S. with Vandaveer. What have those experiences been like for you? It’s so funny when you are put into a situation where everything is unfamiliar; I mean, we had a car but we didn’t have a tour manager or anything - it was just the three of us sitting in this van

You recently signed with Yep Roc Records and the release date for the EP has been pushed back. What has that transition been like for you and how will that affect this new EP? We had already been working with Roaring Colonel Records in Indianapolis to help us put this out, which is great. And then to find out that the folks at Yep Roc were interested in helping out…we decided that with the larger team of Yep Roc, it was definitely going to be worth it to wait a few months and have their team join and help get the record a little farther out there. I’m really looking forward to working with them in the future, starting with this record. I think the main thing is that it is just a larger team in getting people interested in listening to the record. Every one person that has ten other people they can tell makes a huge difference. We Don’t Need features such a great array of sounds and feelings. Could you walk me through your songwriting process a little bit? I think my process is all over the place. Sometimes the words and melody come to me first and I’ll have that completely done before any part of it. “Call Me Beautiful” had just one or two lines of those lyrics running around my head for a really long time. Once I started to just sit down with it and try to create the musical part behind it, it came out pretty easily. Then songs like “Back Around” don’t even have words. I started with a little bitty piece of a melody and DECEMBER 2011 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 21


Yes. My recording engineer Kevin Ratterman is an amazing drummer and he’s also really good at doing all the digital drums sampling. There was one song that I had another drummer [JC Denison] play on. Those are the only two folks I had help me with this one. These songs tended to be a little simpler and didn’t really need a full band treatment, so I was able to do all of the stuff. I really like figuring out new parts; I never even thought about putting a lot of the layers like the organ in “Keep It,” but once we started recording it, it felt like it needed something else. I was playing around with an organ part and immediately that became one of my favorite parts of that song. Would you say that experimentation plays a big role in your music? Yeah, definitely. I’m certainly a fan of doing things differently every time. There are times that I will play a song a certain way for a while and then it will mutate a little. Just allowing something to be a little bit different every time was important to me. “Going Under” was recorded differently because we used the piano that was in our house and we couldn’t set up drums at the same time, so piano was recorded first. I’m not the most steady piano player [laughs] and we weren’t doing anything to any kind of metronome or click track or anything. Once we were trying to put the drums and stuff on there, it was kind of funny because it was so out of time. But once we got all of those parts together, you couldn’t really tell that much. It was a little more compelling that way than if it was super perfectly in time.

“To think that someone who listens to music only wants to hear one thing is definitely selling your audience short. I don’t think its necessary to pigeonhole your creativity.” built on that and a lot of that was finished in the studio. [Songs] are all like little worlds that when you are recording them, you have to live in and figure out what the world is about. Writing is kind of the same thing – sometimes it makes sense to do things one way and sometimes that would be completely inappropriate. “Wishing Well” is definitely the strongest track on the EP. What was your process like on that song? I was actually driving home after a show late at night from Frankfurt to Louisville, Kentucky…and I was starting to get really sleepy, so I was like banging on my steering wheel keeping myself awake and this little 22 DECEMBER 2011 PERFORMER MAGAZINE

melody came to mind. So I was just singing in my car [laughs] and had some different parts that started to come up, and then it actually became a whole song by the time I got home. “Wishing Well” just created itself in a way, and once I started to think about how I wanted to record it, it only made sense to just have percussion instruments, and half of those instruments were recorded in my living room with literally pots and pans [laughs]. So that’s always really fun - to just not worry so much about making things too perfect. Could you expand a little more on your recording process? Is it mostly just you laying down the tracks?

You seem to draw from many different genres. How would you describe the overall sound of We Don’t Need? It’s not…a completely cohesive record; it’s more that it’s a little piece of a lot of things that I like to do. I have influences from so many different places and still continue to play music of so many different genres with different bands. “Wishing Well” is almost like marching band drum line stuff but then the vocals are a little bit of a tribute to some of the earlier Motown and R&B stuff. The last track on the album, “Back Around,” is just more of the musical side of things that I like to do, that’s not so much songwriting but just creating a musical environment or atmosphere. I think that sometimes instrumental music can be just as effective in bringing out an emotion in a person - just using instruments, sounds and different textures. So you don’t associate with a specific genre? I think while putting a genre title on an artist is very helpful and it’s necessary in a lot of situations, to think that someone who listens to music only wants to hear one thing is definitely selling your audience short. I don’t think it’s necessary to pigeonhole your creativity. www.shinyplaces.com


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Fishbone

24 DECEMBER 2011 PERFORMER MAGAZINE


Still Bonin’ After All These Years LA’s Veteran Ska/Punk/Funk Pioneers Reflect on the Band’s 30+ Year History

By Benjamin Ricci / Photos by Jeff Farsai

Fishbone has been blazing a bass-poppin’, funk-stompin’, ska-studded trail for over 30 years. Often cited as a primary influence on bands such as Red Hot Chili Peppers, No Doubt, Sublime and countless others, the group recently unveiled a new documentary on their history entitled Everyday Sunshine. Founders Angelo Moore (vocals and sax) and Norwood Fisher (bass) chatted with Performer on the origins of the group, their new recordings and what it’s like to still be fighting racial stereotypes in rock and roll. I’ve been a huge fan of Fishbone for many, many years. I think I actually saw you guys for the first time in the movie Tapeheads as the country house band. I know that you’ve got the new documentary out and I was wondering if you could explain to our readers a little bit about why now, and what the documentary means to you guys. Angelo: Well, why now? Because it’s about time. What it means to me, man, is it’s a really good artistic representation of Fishbone as we know us now. I don’t think it could ever really truly describe Fishbone in detail, our whole history, man, but it’s a pretty good representation of how we put the band out there. After 25 plus years, you guys are still making new music. I know you’ve got an EP out now – what still drives you to create when other bands who have been in it so long kind of just trot out the hits and do the same old thing? Norwood: Well, one, as artists, we are very fortunate to continue to have a high level of output. Like Angelo with Dr. Mad Vibe as a side project, constantly writing, constantly creating. I have my side project that I do on my own and with other people and I’m constantly writing, producing,

creating – there’s still a lot of room to do it with Fishbone as well, as we’ve got new members in the band with a lot of creativity, too. We really look forward to tapping deeply into that. And as artists it’s important for us to keep it fresh. You actually touched upon something – the core of the group, you and Angelo, have been in it since the beginning. But there have been a lot of people that have come and gone through Fishbone. Is that part of what keeps it fresh for you guys, playing with new musicians all the time? Angelo: Yeah, man, y’know…being a part of the evolution I guess it’s all…it’s fresh whether you like it or not - when you get somebody new in the band, get new blood in the band. It’s like a new blood transfusion; it’s like a new refreshing component in the whole operation. Some bands stay together with the original members, but with Fishbone we’ve had some people quit and then some new people come in and put a different flavor on it. A new interpretation and perspective on the music. Yeah, and you’ve had people leave and come back, too.

Norwood: Yeah, Walt [Kibby, trumpet, vocals]. Originally, he took a little break and seven years later he came back and that excites me to no end, having Walt back. Walt was a big part of being in Fishbone and coming to this point in my life. Awesome, I’m glad to have him back in the band, as well. You guys have obviously been around the block in the industry. I’m curious – if you could go back and talk to the young Angelo and the young Norwood, is there any advice you would give them, knowing what you know now ? Norwood: Well, actually, we’d be like ‘take that music business course in city college when you get outta high school.’ [laughs] ‘Or take an accounting class along the way.’ Something to that effect. Angelo: Yeah, yeah – because we learned it the hard way, y’know? Yeah, so you gotta watch who’s handlin’ your money and shit like that. Even though your head might be immersed in the music and the art, which in a lot of cases that’s what [music industry executives] like – they want you to keep your head in the art and the music and not really in the business and the money. But it’s good to be able to see both of those things equally, man. And not get ripped off. Do you guys feel that you’ve been taken advantage of? Angelo: Yes. One of the cool things about Fishbone is that you guys constantly get cited as an influence – Red Hot Chili Peppers, No Doubt – tons of bands that came out in the late ’90s, that new wave of ska. Is there any frustration when you see a band blow up, knowing that they are making it bigger than some of their DECEMBER 2011 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 25


influences, or is it just a neat thing to see people dropping your name when they get to that level? Norwood: For me, personally, I enjoy seeing people come up. And if they happen to be influenced by Fishbone, I feel like in some ways that validates where we’ve come from, what we’ve done that year, if they drew from us and were able to create something. And the fact that the music business might have been confused by looking at the color of our skin and hearing our music and going like, ‘We don’t know what to do with them,’ well that’s not those artists’ fault. I just look at it like, ‘You know what? Nobody promised that this road would be easy and we continue to break down the barriers.’ And partially why we keep making new music is because every time we make new music, we keep knocking the doors wider open. That’s a good segue into talking about the new record. I know for me, at least, part of the Fishbone experience is seeing you guys live. I’m interested to hear what the recording process looks for you guys. How do you take that energy and put it on tape?

Angelo: We just do a lot of overdubs, man. We’ll record it and in most cases, just strip it down and then do a lot of overdubbing until we can get a precise part right.

there are plans for a full length after that. Care to comment on that? Angelo: Yeah, sure man, we’ll have a new record coming out.

Do you guys prefer live band takes for rhythm or horn sections to keep that energy? Norwood: There’s a process. We do as much live… we try to get as much live energy as possible. And overdub what’s necessary. Lately we don’t practice a whole helluva lot, so we end up doing a lot of overdubs. Really…we know how to perform and attack our instruments in a way that when you bring out that energy, you focus and put the energy you want to hear back out into your instrument.

Great. And I’m assuming there are plans to tour behind that? Angelo: Yeah, behind the full length, and we got the EP that’s out right now; we’ve got touring coming up on that, too.

Do you go into the studio with fully realized songs or are you still doing a lot of songwriting during the recording process? Norwood: You might go in thinking you have something completely figured out and you get in there, listen back and go, ‘There’s a lot of different things that need to change.’ The EP just dropped and the rumor is that

“ Everybody in the music business is stupid but FISHBONE” -Angelo Moore

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After 25, 30 years of doing this, what are you guys most proud of? If you had to pinpoint one accomplishment from Fishbone’s rich history, what would that be? Norwood: Personally, I’m proud of still being here, of enduring and the fact that this far in the game we can still be discovered like a new band to some people, along with having a very dedicated and strong fan base. The longevity and the influence on the music industry is really the thing that I hold dear. Does it bother you guys at all that after all these years, the press, for some reason, still has to describe you as a ‘black band’? Angelo: Well, man, I just look at it as the American music business is stuck on stupid. I’m going to quote you as saying ‘everyone in the business is stupid.’ That’s going to be the headline.


Angelo: Well, everybody in the music business is stupid but Fishbone. That’s how you’ll title it. That’s how I’ll do it: ‘Everybody in the music business is stupid’ with an asterisk and then at the bottom put ‘except for Fishbone.’ Norwood: Hey, that’s right. There you go. Well guys, I know that you have to run… Angelo: Awwwww shit…[laughs] What? Angelo: It’s true that after all this time, they’ve still gotta be, ‘Well you guys are a black band and blah blah blah.’ It’s like, man, didn’t that shit…that shit shoulda been gone with the fucking whole racial shit with Little Richard and Chuck Berry, right? Even after the Black/White Coalition came around that shoulda been a big enough red flag to know, that it’s like…white, Mexican, fucking every goddamn body, man. Just be together. A lot of people don’t know what’s really going on. And I still see it in descriptions of the band – for live shows or if you’ve got a new record coming out or a press release on some website – it’s always in there. I’m frustrated with it and I’m white. Angelo: Yeah, you know it’s that teabaggers shit. Norwood: You know, one day black youth will

create the next [style] of music that everybody wants to jump on and hip-hop will turn into a white dominated music form. And then fucking 20-30 years into it there’ll be black rap bands. Well, here’s hoping. Norwood: Just like, I don’t know of any 19-yearold reggae bands from Jamaica that are selling out concerts all over the place, but there are a whole lot of white kids playing reggae. And it’s beautiful, but reggae… Angelo: [cutting him off] You gotta sell the white boy reggae coming up. It’s selling bigger than the originals by Jamaican reggae acts in a lot of places. Norwood: I’m not mad at the white guys playing reggae, but I do wonder. Where are these young 19-year-old black guys doing reggae getting bigger? The young black guy that’s playing reggae that’s killing it on bass, the young black drummer... It’s like, ‘What happened?’

“ You know what? Nobody promised that this road would be EASY and we continue to BREAK DOWN the BARRIERS!” -Norwood Fisher

www.fishbone.net

I wish I could answer that. Norwood: That’s what happened to rock and roll. We’ve seen it happen to reggae…it’s gonna happen to rap one day. The black youth will create the next thing that people gotta fucking hang on their nuts on.

DECEMBER 2011 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 27


N FINDING INSPIRATION IN GHANA & RECORDING AN ACOUSTIC MASTERPIECE IN AN ONTARIO BARN

By Sara Brown Photos by Philippe Nyirimihigo

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DECEMBER 2011 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 29


GET A REAL JOY OUT OF SONGWRITING. IT’S LIKE A COLLAGE OF LITTLE MOMENTS AND MOODS. IT FEELS RIGHT.

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Every artist’s background and upbringing shapes them into the musician they become later in life. It shapes the way they see the world. Even in the smallest of lyrics, one can get a glimpse into that artist’s world and what growing up was like for him or her. Whether they grew up listening to rhythm and blues in the South or hip-hop in the Bronx, where they grew up is extremely influential. For up-and-coming singer/songwriter Kae Sun, halfway around the world in Ghana is where it all started for him. The Ghanaian-Canadian musician doesn’t really know how best to describe his sound. “It depends on what mood you’re in and what genre you want to classify it,” Sun jokes. All kidding aside, Sun’s music is a sweet combination of melodic acoustic guitars, harmonious vocal arrangements and emotionally stirring lyrics. “I like to give people a wide variety,” Sun says. “I like to mix traditional music from Ghana with folksongs.” Growing up in the West African country, Sun was surrounded by a wealth of rich music.

The artist was heavily influenced by his father’s record collection, which in turn was heavily dominated by American Motown artists. “My dad had a lot of American records that I would listen to,” he says. “He had Stevie Wonder and The Temptations. Stuff like that.” He also was very influenced by Bob Marley and credits Marley for the way he crafts songs. “I can see a direct connection between the way I write songs to Bob Marley,” Sun says. “I write a lot of songs about the community and things that are happening.” The Bob Marley fan started performing when he was in high school and began playing the guitar at 15. Once he picked up the guitar, it was something he knew he would never put down again. The instrument quickly became his vessel for expressing himself. “The first six years of your life are what really define you. That’s how you see the world,” Sun says. “That’s what I write about.” It was when Sun was about 19 years old when he realized he wanted to pursue music professionally.

In Ghana, Sun wasn’t exposed to many of the things that American children are at a young age. This outlook on life is what blessed him with such a vivid imagination. “I didn’t watch TV or anything like that,” he says. “It helped with my imagination and storytelling.” His homeland is also what inspired his latest EP, Outside the Barcode. After living in Canada for nine years, he returned to visit Ghana and upon his arrival, he knew he had to write and make music fast. The heart-moving songs were recorded on 2-inch tape on a farm in Ontario. The process was unlike anything the songwriter had ever experienced. All the songs were performed acoustically and recorded in one day. “It was raw and live,” he says. “A real urgency came across in the songs.” It was the first time in the musician’s life where he wasn’t worried about production. “We weren’t worried about editing or anything like that,” Sun says. “I’ve never done anything like that before.” For the Ghana native, the process of writing songs immediately and recording them was eye opening. It was a nice change of pace for Sun not to over-analyze every lyric and beat. “It was great to come home and immediately not over think everything and not let too much time go by,” Sun says. For him, songwriting is a sacred thing and something he is still figuring out. “Songwriting is still a mystery to me,” he says. He credits his tender and thought-provoking lyrics to being open to whatever emotions run through him. “It is the ability to be in a certain mood and to be able to accurately portray that mood,” Sun says. He also carries a notebook with him everywhere he goes. “I don’t want to let that moment go by,” he says. Songwriting is a cathartic release for him that he treasures. “I get a real joy out of it,” he says. “It is like a collage of little moments and moods. It feels right.” This winter Sun would like to go back to Europe and Africa to perform. He really enjoys performing to overseas crowds, no matter the size. For him, every live performance breathes new life into each of the songs. “Every time I play a song it is different. I can play for 1,000 people or 40 people and it is always different,” Sun says. “It keeps it exciting.” When it comes to performing, making a connection to the audience is huge for Sun. He likes to create a sense of togetherness in the crowd. “It’s cliché but it is true. When there is this feeling in the room that everyone is together and you are not separate from the audience,” he explains. “That is just…‘wow.’ When that happens, it is priceless.” Sun isn’t one to dream too far ahead into the future, though. He has a steady head and remains in the present. His only goal is to continue making music and do what he loves. “I want to do more of what it is that I am doing,” he says. “I want to share music with people.” www.kaesunmusic.com DECEMBER 2011 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 31


PTERODACTYL DITCHES THE STUDIO TO CREATE A BEAUTIFUL NOISE AT HOME By Andrew Fersch / Photo by Sabine Rogers

Jesse Hodges hasn’t always been a member of Pterodactyl (even if he has a penchant for being in dinosaur-related bands), but he’s always been a fan. Although the story may sound a bit different than Rock Star, Hodges joined the band after being a fan first. Over the years, the band has gained and lost members but a core trio has remained and their newest album, Spills Out, is a testament to how much their dedication to the band - and to finding their sound - has paid off. Who exactly does what in the band? The band primarily consists of Joe Kramer on guitar, Matt Marlin on drums, and me on bass and guitar. On this record we have a bunch of guest performers as well. We have a lot of friends on there but it’s primarily the three of us. There was a point where I was in the band and it was me, Joe, Matt and Zach, but then Zach left; this one we wrote all the songs. And who does the vocals? Generally one or two of us will do the lead and the others do backup. Joe and I switch off on leads for the most part, but when Matt sings one, his voice is really great. So what else do you do? I work in television production, with advertising. Done anything we’d have seen? I’ve done a lot of Wendy’s commercials; I did 32 DECEMBER 2011 PERFORMER MAGAZINE

a lot of ESPN ones with Shaq, Jason Kidd, and Paul Pierce. I’ve worked on a few with celebrities, but I never end up seeing them, really. And I can’t say I’m proud of the [ads], because I’ve never seen most of them. Did you study television production? I got my degree in American Studies from the University of Texas in Austin. I did a lot of stuff on teenage culture and a lot of pop culture crap; I don’t know how great that was as far as college educations go but I liked it. Gender studies, and history, a minor in psychology - general bullshit liberal arts degree, nothing too fancy, too refined and particular. I didn’t want to be in school most of the time. I wanted to drop out at times but my mom would get really upset and would start crying and so I didn’t because of that. I toughed it out, walked across the stage (with one class left to take), and got a pretty good job out of college. I was touring and playing with bands. It took five years to take that last class, though.

How did you end up in Pterodactyl? I had been in another band called Why Dinosaurs Rule the Earth, and they’re still around in Austin. Another dinosaur band but I didn’t name that one either, although it does explain the dinosaur tattoo I have. Kill two bands with one tattoo. The first show I ever played in New York was with Pterodactyl and Japanther, who I met setting up shows for in Austin in 2003 or 2004. I was a really big fan and loved [Pterodactyl’s] first record, but I didn’t play on it. They were my favorite band for years. I had all their 7-inches and they gave me special demo CD-Rs that they made just for their friends, and years later those guys were kinda wanting to do something a little different with the band. They heard some stuff I’d done on my own, came up to me after a show I played at Glasslands and told me if I ever moved to New York, we should play together. Not long after that I ended moving to New York. Fast forward and we’ve done two LPs, an EP and a split. How does your sound translate from live to record? We all like singing a lot so we all sing live. That’s something we wanted to move towards with this record. It’s hard to go from what you want to do to doing it exactly. Maybe for some people they imagine it a certain way and it goes that way. For us it felt more organic; we went in, and let the songs sort of come into their own. There were some songs where I wrote a lot or Joe wrote a lot of it and that’s just how it happened. Some songs I ended up coming up with a melody and Joe ended up singing the lead or vice versa. We just try to fit the voice that goes the best; at the end of the day we want to make music we like and that we think sounds cool. Where did you record the album? We did the basic tracking in my house, which is a big loft space in Bushwick called Le Wallet. It’s a house that I live in with a bunch of other musicians and bands. Most all of them play in a band called PC Worship; we’re all friends. I met them from different places around Brooklyn. We have a big open space room with high ceilings. We just set up our shit in there for like three days and tracked almost all of the songs, or at least all of the skeletons of all the songs. We did some overdubs there, too. We did two other sessions of overdubs in our practice space; we didn’t go into any other recording studio for this. We have had good experiences in them, but we like the sounds of the records friends are making in the house. We knew how much energy and time we wanted to spend on this record and realized that a traditional recording studio wasn’t the best for this situation. It was nice to be in a comfortable place where we were not on someone else’s clock


or dime. We paid our friend and the engineer, but that’s it. There have been a lot of records that have been recorded there, and don’t get me wrong - there are some great recording studios. I’m not the mighty defender of DIY recording. When you’re doing a record, you decide on some place, and sometimes it just has a good fit. We had a great time and it went well. Some songs sound like they were recorded live in a crowded club (‘The Break’) and some sound like they were recorded in a cave (‘Allergy Shots’); what sort of effects did you use while recording? ‘Allergy Shots’ in particular, that song was pieced together from a bunch of different recordings from all over the place. It also has the most history in the band; it’s funny you said it sounded like it was recorded in a cave. It’s one I wrote while I was living in the Market Hotel in New York. That’s how I felt when I wrote those songs; I felt like I was living in a cave. The ceiling in my room was lower than my height, it was really cold, and I didn’t have any heat. The mood of that shit is reflected pretty well there. I wanted it to sound like how I felt. ‘Allergy Shots’ was recorded live but there were more elements that ended up in the actual recording. ‘The Break’ was live; all of us playing the song

together live as a band. We intended to do that. There were some songs we didn’t think would come off the same way, like ‘White Water.’ Originally that song had a weird marching tempo to it, like a fucking storm trooper marching - these bad, evil soldiers marching across this landscape while we were playing it. I think visually a lot of the time when I write songs; it just wasn’t working. We decided to flip it on its head a little bit, and one time we played it more like a dreamy pop song you’d find at the end of a record, almost like a half song - a nice little ditty. We didn’t want to sound like a live band, more like a cool little Beatles song. But most of the songs on the album were recorded live.

So lets say you leave Pterodactyl. What’s the next dinosaur related band name? Dinosaurs are cool, but I don’t like them that much, they aren’t my thing. I think I’d refuse to be in another band [with a dinosaur name]. I remember when I first found out the name I was like, ‘Am I gonna have to talk about this?’ It’s flattering to some degree to have to answer these questions, but I’d probably just not play music instead, or just record music on my own. I couldn’t face the world. Just like the dinosaurs couldn’t anymore.

www.pterodactyl.info

WE KNEW HOW MUCH ENERGY AND TIME WE WANTED TO SPEND ON THIS RECORD, AND REALIZED THAT A TRADITIONAL RECORDING STUDIO WASN’T BEST FOR THIS SITUATION.

DECEMBER 2011 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 33


LIVE REVIEW

REVIEWS

What We Learned By Tara Lacey Photos by Chase Guthrie

HIGHLIGHT

Panels of experts giving bands real career advice. Performer Magazine had the privilege of hitting up CMJ this October.

We saw lots of stellar music while borough hopping all over the Big Apple. Some favorites included the amazing vocals of acoustic trio The Pearl and The Beard at The Living Room, the original and fun Gangstagrass at Arlene’s Grocery, and the electro groove of Casio Kids at Spike Hill, but most importantly 34 DECEMBER 2011 PERFORMER MAGAZINE

Performer brought back some valuable advice for independent musicians looking to make a living from their music. CMJ offered invaluable panel discussions regarding the latest trends in music distribution, emerging digital retail models, and tips for collecting royalty payments, as well as creative alternatives to traditional label structures. 

The Importance of Being Your Own Label One of the most informative panel discussions was designed to teach independent musicians to operate as their own label and avoid the dreaded debt that comes with many label agreements. It’s no big secret that in the age of digital distribution, signing with a label could actually bring one’s music career to a screeching halt if sales expectations are not met. Even some of the best-known artists have experienced the disappointment that comes with being dropped by a label.  Many artists are now developing their own labels out of necessity to combat such situations.


WHEN:

WHERE:

Artists (Left to Right) The Cake Shop, The Pearl and The Beard

REVIEWS

October 18-22 NYC

in most circles. On the contrary, it provides a source of revenue for an artist to continue touring and, more importantly, survive on income from original music. 

Developing your band as a “brand” on your own terms may carry a lot more work, but it allows you to decide who is working for you. You build your own team and your own support system.  When it comes to making money as a musician, licensing is your best friend. This is your key to revenue streams that will keep the creative projects going and paying. It’s only after licensing your material that you may attain a bigger audience through branding - this may extend to merchandising on tour, or even endorsement deals. Keep in mind that synchronization licenses (from TV commercials, films, etc) is no longer considered “selling out”

How to Obtain Licensing It’s important in the volatile entertainment industry to maintain all the relationships you can. This extends to writers, booking agents, and so on. Also, to generate interest in licensing your work, there has to be something interesting about your band - something to set your songs apart from the vast pool of artists on the Internet. Don’t be afraid to give away your music. In the digital age, revenue streams don’t typically come from selling your music, rather they come from making a name for yourself. Graduate from the MP3 format and familiarize yourself with SoundCloud or Bandcamp. It’s important that journalists and music enthusiasts don’t have to go digging for content, but have the access to instant gratification.  Be sure in the recording process that you record slot vocals so that potential brands may access pieces of your songs for marketing purposes. If you approach a brand to work with your band, know ahead of time exactly what they are looking for and just do it (no pun intended).  Know How Digital Distribution Works for You Don’t be afraid to work with digital marketing services like Rhapsody or Spotify, and don’t limit your distribution to only one of these platforms streaming equates to royalties, which equates to a supplemental income. Tunecore can help you access a multitude of these services. Be aware of

your digital presence and create a following for your band by constantly updating your playlists and sharing them on social media. Social media is most effective when you have a member of your band pay close attention to your sites and engage your fan base in active conversation. This helps maintain interest in your band and brand. Use sources like VEVO and Mixcloud as well, so as not to limit yourself to one or two digital avenues. Allow fans an opportunity to actively participate in your shows by submitting set list requests via social media.  Don’t waste a ton of money pressing physical CDs; instead use digital distribution to minimize costs. Press physical copies for promotional purposes and then when demand for your music increases, you may entertain the notion of pressing more for merchandising. Also, use the Internet to gauge all markets. Your music may be accepted internationally before it becomes a hit Stateside.  When revenue streams allow, create mobile apps and expand merchandising - brand your band on anything and everything that you can, and use PR to your advantage. Do yourself a favor in monitoring trends by subscribing to Billboard and checking the ranks daily.  Know How Meta-data Works Every recording you make is embedded with an ISCP code that is trackable online. Use services like SoundExchange to track what royalties are due to you by tracing where your music is being streamed online. This can also help you locate viable markets for your brand.   www.cmj.com DECEMBER 2011 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 35


REVIEWS

RECORD REVIEWS

Annie Williams This Mountain / Midnight Window Springfield, MO

“Americana vibes with intoxicating female vocals”

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The first thing that hits you when you listen to Annie Williams is the purity of her voice. The second thing is the purity of her lyrics. Her voice is infectious...listening to the vocal inflections Williams is so versed in keeps you wanting more. Sweet and pure, yet full of dynamics. This Mountain / Midnight Window, a collection of two EPs by Williams, is a record you should hear, one that aches for the world as it should be and so rarely is. This double disc is full of one burnished little beauty after the next. And while each disc is completely different in tone, they’re clearly coming from the same spirit. “Midnight Window,” the second song on the disc by the same name, opens so sparsely, with just the haunting beat of a drum under her graceful voice. Distorted electric guitar plays faded in the background when the chorus kicks in. It’s in that understatement of musical elegance that lies Williams’ real strength of mind, but don’t let that pretty little voice fool you. She can hold her own and packs just as much punch as other female artists like Feist and Neko Case. “Closer,” from This Mountain, is pure eloquence, bringing to mind the commercial likeness of Dido with the emotional weight of Shawn Colvin. It rolls around in your head, taking you a philosophical place of pondering life against death. It shows just how serious a songwriter Williams can be. This Mountain / Midnight Window takes us on a journey with Annie Williams, a journey to places in her life and in her head. (Self-released) -Lesley Daunt www.theanniewilliams.com

Buraka Som Sistema Komba Amadora, Portugal

“Colorful, upbeat electro ghettotech tunes from Portugal”

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It’s been three years since Portugal’s lauded 36 DECEMBER 2011 PERFORMER MAGAZINE

electronic dance group Buraka Som Sistema premiered their debut album. For their second full-length studio release, Komba, they’ve mastered the art of combining two genres from different continents, taking techno and a popular African genre called kuduro to create a polished blend of energetic songs that never drop the tempo. The 12-track album begins with “Eskeleto,” a hip-hop track accompanied by aggressive synthesizers, a few MCs and a female vocalist over a droning, driving chorus. Standout tracks like “Tiro O Pé” sound like baile funk with popping dollops of melodic tones, sassy “LOL & POP” sounds like it could have been a lost Peaches track while “Hangover (BaBaBa)” shows off the trio’s skill of making songs with almost-dizzying, pulsating rhythms without overwhelming listeners. The lyrics bounce back and forth between English and Portuguese, further cementing their knack for fusing their culture’s sound, cadences and rhythmic traditions with other styles without alienating their audience. The tracks are pleasantly intrusive, not allowing for any straying attention. Between the hailstorm of vocals, treasure trove of unrelenting beats and combination of rhythmic influences, this album is worthy of many spins. (Enchufada) -Kristian Richards www.buraka.tv

The Dang-It Bobbys Big Trouble Brooklyn, NY

“Heartfelt songs with sophisticated instrumentation and a bluegrass heart”

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While Brooklyn is overrun with hipsters claiming to be bluegrass fans (yet have no idea who Bill Monroe is), The Dang-It Bobbys blend genuine bluegrass instrumentation with indie sensibility to create a sound that is a unique strain of Americana. Their sophomore effort, Big Trouble, reflects their talent as trained instrumentalists (both multi-instrumentalist Kris Bauman and guitarist Luca Benedetti studied classical jazz), although the songwriting is a bit inconsistent. The album kicks off with the up-tempo cautionary tale “Middle Ground” and flows nicely into two ballads: “My Michelle,” a simple but lovely song about two lovers overcoming obstacles hand-in-hand, and “I Love You,” which features beautiful finger-picking and repeated lyrics, giving a dramatic and haunting effect. But the wheels start to fall off in the middle of the album with the title track “Big Trouble,” about getting pulled over in Mexico. The mariachi


Produced by Kris Bauman and The Dang-It Bobbys Additional Recording by Luca Benedetti at Tub Rat Studio, Brooklyn Mastered by Patrick Lore, One Soul Studios NYC

-Heidi Schmitt www.thedang-itbobbys.com

Gaba Gavi Temporary Hero Louisville, KY

“Melodious and choral”

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Temporary Hero is the first of a two-part release from Gaba Gavi. Here, Gavi presents a collection of his latest works, a six song EP produced and mixed in a wholesome and straightforward style. Simple but eloquent melodies are blended with clean and punchy guitars, and complemented by a tastefully played rhythm section, which supports an excellent use of Gavi’s vocals and harmonies throughout. The song structures are cleverly formulated, meeting the criteria and more than fitting for the radio waves, while demonstrating a great quality and collaborative effort between the production and performances - it simply works. Tracks “Control” and “Pressure” are prime examples; they are well-written songs with great “rock and roll” hooks and capture a natural tempo, sharing the style and character of Elvis Costello (among others). Temporary Hero has a flow; a “music box” (of sorts) which generates an even continuity of mainstream rock songs that glow with Gavi’s charm and musical integrity. “Raining on Broadway,” another prominent track, stands on its own by evoking good nature and emotion as rock ballads did in the days of recording artists such as Peter Frampton. Gavi’s soft-spoken yet direct approach is perfectly restrained, exploding appropriately in all the right places, resurrecting the “groovy” British pop sound back from the dead. These elements more than make Gavi a permanent hero. (Self-released)

Gauntlet Hair Gauntlet Hair Denver, CO

“Jagged guitars propelled through dissonance”

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On their self-titled debut, Gauntlet Hair reaffirms their echo-y, disheveled, bombastic rock sound, which as lead singer and guitarist Andy R. says, was the goal. “We wanted to really hone and maintain solidarity with that sound on this record,” he explains. So, what is that sound? Maybe it’d be best described as organic Animal Collective with way more soul and spunk. The Denver duo is originally from Chicago, which also could explain their sound. Armed mainly with their guitars and drums, Gauntlet Hair delivers on their debut. While the album offers up several variations on their distinct sound, a few tracks really stand out. That’s not a slam, either. Overall the record is solid - better than solid, really. It’s just that songs like “Mop It Up” with its catchy chorus, booming bass and drums and “Top Bunk” are just a few levels above the rest. The aforementioned song “Top Bunk” – one of two songs released to promote the album especially highlights the band’s ability to do what they do best; propelling through dissonance and jagged guitar lines into a mucky, yet beautiful break down. Other highlights include “Keep Time,” the catchiest tune on the record, “Lights Out,” which, while it still straddles the volume redline, shuffles along into an excellently cool chorus. It’s also peppered with fun fills from drummer Craig Nice. Perhaps my favorite song on the album, “Showing,” is a perfect closer. The band is a little more willing to ease up a bit, letting the melody flow and shine through a catchy, soaring chorus. Do yourself a favor and pick this up. That’s it. (Dead Oceans) -Dana Forsythe www.gauntlethair.net

Greenland is Melting Where Were We Gainesville, FL

Recorded and Mixed at Fudge Recording Studios, New Orleans, LA Produced by Tom Drummond & Gaba Gavi Mastered by Bruce Barielle

-Arthur Orfanos www.Gabagavi.com

“Screw Auto-Tune. This is real music made by real people.”

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In a musical landscape often overrun by click tracks and Auto-Tune, it’s refreshing to hear music

that sounds like actual human beings playing and singing together, perfection be damned. It’s all the better when that lack of perfection makes for inspired tunes with catchy melodies and singalong choruses. Such is the case with Greenland is Melting’s second full-length release, Where Were We, a loose, good time record that would sound at home played around a bonfire, but is equally welcome through headphones. While Where Were We feels laid-back, the songwriting on it is tight. Songs about zombie attacks (“No Matter What You See”), the end of the world (“Hogtown Creek”), and…more zombie attacks (“The Dead Are Watching”) may not sound like typical Americana fare, but Greenland is Melting pulls them off with clever twists of phrases and solid harmonies. Not all of Where We is devoted to the undead, with most songs covering more typical song fodder; however, it’s in their more unconventional choices that Greenland is Melting really shines. A lot of bands nowadays play acoustic guitar, banjo, and stand-up bass, but how many have the confidence to incorporate The Walking Dead into their subject matter, and the ability to make a catchy song out of it? Probably only Greenland is Melting. (Paper + Plastic)

REVIEWS

instrumentation and Spanish lyrics make it too kitschy to be charming. The lyrical problems continue in “Heading Out,” which includes pedestrian songwriting such as “I don’t know how you feel/But I know you can’t deal/With it.” Happily, though, the album takes a dramatic uptick with fun instrumentals “Whiskey Strut” and “Roadkill Jerky.” (Muy Nice Records) 

Mixed and Mastered by Stephen Egerton

-Jason Peterson www.greenlandismelting.com

Gringo Star Count Yer Lucky Stars Atlanta, GA

“Nostalgia fans can follow Gringos’ star path”

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The sophomore release from Gringo Star, Count Yer Lucky Stars, teleports listeners to the ’60s with three-minute pop songs and touches of Western and Mexican flair for variety. Nostalgia fans will dig the tuneful whine of the Furgiuele brothers, Pete and Nick, who affect a convincing British Invasion vocal style. Rounding out the band is sometime lead vocalist Pete DeLorenzo, referred to as Pete D., and Chris Kaufmann (formerly of Sovus Radio). Live as well as in the studio, the entire band all take turns switching between guitars, bass, keyboards, and drums. Multi-layered, Wall of Sound-like production by Ben Allen (Animal Collective, Gnarls Barkley, Deerhunter) shines throughout Count Yer Lucky Stars, beginning with opening track and lead single “Shadow,” which features overdubs of loose strings, lots of screams, pops and heavy organ. Deliberate efforts at duplicating a mono sound excel on “Jessica” and “Make You Mine,” which both feature vocal echo and DECEMBER 2011 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 37


REVIEWS

Gringo Star (cont’d) Beach Boys-style harmonies. “Beatnik Angel Georgie” is a gem, with its Kinks-inspired vocal style. Other nice touches throughout the album include heavy organ, tambourine and various psychedelic sound effects on the perfect pop love song “Come Alive,” string sounds on Catholic, tango and blues-inspired “Esmerelda,” sung by DeLorenzo, and hand claps on “Jessica” and title track “Count Yer Lucky Stars.” (Gigantic Music) Produced and Mixed by Ben Allen

Ken Will Morton Contenders Athens, GA

Kathryn Calder Bright and Vivid

“Americana/Roots music defined”

Victoria, BC

Ken Will Morton’s latest, Contenders, is an acoustic musical trip through all the varied genres that fall under the Americana/roots label, including rock, blues, folk, and country (among others). The album opens with “Broken Windows,” a country toned tale of “watching the world through a broken window.” In “Que Lastima,” the guitar plucking and bongo rhythms complete the Spanish feel of the song. The honky tonk beat of “Rough & Tumble” is the perfect backdrop to lyrics like “Your bread has mold and your shirt has holes / And your floor hasn’t been cleaned up since Katrina.” “Powder Keg” features terrific harmonica in the forefront, and a great lyric with “Resting on my laurels just makes my ass sore.” The songs “Swan on the River” and “Too Soon” both have a charming, timeworn feel to them, as if the tracks had been created decades earlier and stored away. The record closes with “Change,” a purposefully cliché riddled song pointing out an appeal for change. The songs on Contenders effortlessly blend genres, taking a different musical path of exploration and enlightenment through the storytelling tales of a talented songwriter. (Ghost Meat Records)

Recorded at Glow In The Dark Studios, Atlanta Engineered by James Salter Mastered by Joe Lambert Mastering, Brooklyn

-Gail Fountain facebook.com/gringostarmusic

Jeff Crosby Jeff Crosby Donnelly, ID

“The right addition to any singer/songwriter fan’s collection”

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Singer/songwriter Jeff Crosby’s self-titled full-length release is a wide-ranging collection of country f lavored rock music. The scope of the music on each song and the certain way Crosby’s smooth vocals caress over his lyrics instill each track with a unique sound, ensuring that they stand out individually. The album opens with the steady beats and bass driven rhythms of “Plowshares 8.” The acoustic music in “Anything I Could Do” f lows up and down through each verse, with an ear-catching guitar picking solo towards the end. “Love Will Let You Know” faces tender observations of the human condition: “It’s not what you have, it’s more what you have to give, somebody who’s hurting more than you” and “It’s not what you do, it’s more how you do it.” On “One of a Kind,” the harmonies and instrumentation give the music a classic feel, while “I Didn’t Know” features a rousing guitar solo over a free f lowing organ. The stark acoustic “No Need for Excuses” is embellished with a delicate keyboard tap dance through the bridge. The record closes with the up-tempo steady beats, finger snaps and horns in “All The Love She Needs.” Jeff Crosby’s new album is the perfect addition to any singer/songwriter music fan’s collection. (Ride This Train) Produced and Mastered by Mike Kirkland Executive Producer: Kathryn Lichfield

-Kat Coffin www.jeffcrosbymusic.com 38 DECEMBER 2011 PERFORMER MAGAZINE

“Mystifyingly beautiful, intensely layered and adventurous”

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Angelic Canadian Kathryn Calder (New Pornographers/Immaculate Machine) sings with abandon, fearlessly ushering in the new. Bright and Vivid is an exposé, an adventure, and offers listeners a broad palate crossing multiple genres and instrumentally-erected boundaries. Calder also, at times, bares one of the most furtive and innocent synth/voice combos since the Postal Service era (sans-any undermining emo pretenses). Her songwriting explores the limits of keyboard-driven melody while dodging the alluring, yet passing chill wave. She tinkers with unusual chamber pop instrumentation: invoking strings and superficial electronic orchestration. Although her voice in the New Pornographers is traditionally unmarred by production effects, here she asserts distortion and veils her tone in the music. “Walking in My Sleep” recalls Figurine, where indeed twee is conjured, but Calder takes a matured route. Drums, electric guitars and vibrant lyrics build on her roots as the chorus arrives on a riff. Throughout her sophomore release, the songwriting focuses on the kind of change and independence the album, in every sense, is uniquely sewn. Then there are larks like “All the Things,” where vocals hide beneath the folds of instrumentation, emerging momentarily midway, where Calder’s soft tone rises from plucking violins and bowing cellos, singing “Finally, I see how it truly is / And it has taken me a while.” Calder has come into her own, forking from the New Pornographer boy/girl interplay, tightening a signature sound that’s textured and gem-filled. She’s created something uncommon and extraordinary in pop music: an album loaded with melody-driven hooks, depth and complexity. Bright and Vivid resurrects the sound of pop music long ignored and finds a way not to simply renew, but to break ground and challenge the listener. (File Under: Music) Engineered by Colin Stewart Recorded and Mixed in Kathryn’s Living Room Mastered at The Hive by Stuart McKillop Produced by Kathryn Calder and Colin Stewart

-Christopher Petro www.kathryncalder.ca

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Recorded and Produced by Russ Hallauer Mastered by John Keane

-Kat Coffin www.kenwillmorton.com

Old New England Weather Knew Myths Jamaica Plain, MA

“Psychedelic and kettle-whistling Americana”

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There’s not a whole lot of info to be found on Old New England Weather, other than it’s a project of a singer/songwriter named Jeff Chasse, and that there is one album to their name, entitled Knew Myths. Though there isn’t a detailed bio or instrumentation list, simply listening to the record reveals graphic Americana imagery and a portrait of the dark poet behind the mystery curtain.


LIVE REVIEW

The Royal Family B all Story and Photos By Amanda Macchia

WHEN: October 15 WHERE: Terminal 5 - New York City Soulive, Lettuce, Roy Hargrove, Pharoahe Monch, Rahzel, Raul Midón, and The Shady Horns Terminal 5: a gutted factory with looming shadows amongst metal ducts and steel walls. Wandering in, a winding maze through white corridors and large industrial doors eventually dumped me into an enormous room. It was packed. The Royal Family label consistently brings New York City’s musical heritage to the forefront of cool, playing what has always made

The lo-fi folk in this album borders on psychedelic at times, but it will come back down to reality with its concrete, stream-of-consciousness pictures of desolate city streets, druggies huddled in the darkness, yet illuminated by the moon, rotting civilization, and relationships based on an uneasy predator vs. prey mentality. Songs like “Hot Water Heater” and “Poet Country” induce desires for a Waldenesque, kettle whistling, Americana winters, where people barter for goods and spend mornings watching frost melt off tree branches. Even without the reference to his friend, the seven and half minute long psychedelic track “WWGD” would’ve made the late Hunter S. Thompson grin with its chilling reptilian images: “He wants to be a Ralph Steadman mess / And that’s okay, I guess /But I got no respect for the bee sting tongue / Lizard lunging routine ya did.” Whatever Jeff Chasse’s or Old New England Weather’s story is, it is certain that Knew Myths is a prodigious introduction and a good companion for the upcoming winter. (Self-released) Recorded by Joe Stewart at Hummelvision Mastered by Rob Gonnella and Nick Zampiello at New Alliance East, Cambridge

-Christina Dore oldnewenglandweather.bandcamp.com

people move and reinterpreting it as the industry and the world around them evolves. One-man-band and songwriter Raul Midón seemed small standing alone center stage. A few solitary spotlights touched his face. Midón started out slow, building his rapture cautiously. He used a combination of unique strumming techniques and stirring vocals to produce his

Phantogram Nightlife New York, NY

The entire Royal Family raging the crowd’s funking faces. sound - a percussive slap-guitar style enriched by an endless well of vocal depth. Lettuce was the culmination of the evening, playing after Soulive. Fans who had been wearing the cardboard crowns strewn about the venue were finding them beneath their feet, drenched in beer. Terminal 5 was a maze of ragers, partying just as the Royal Family had intended. Rahzel and Pharoahe Monch both made appearances onstage with the funk act, creating a very special atmosphere: this was a celebration. Lettuce is an all-star cast of funkateers, and each member brings a distinctive, adaptable element to the band – funk music gone classic, breakbeat, jam, and old-school – with Adam Deitch on the drums, Kraz on the guitar, Neal Evans on the organ, and Sam Kininger on sax. It was as if Terminal 5 pumped up the sound on the monitors for their set. The warehouse was vibrating. People were packed in, like an ocean of seaweed caught in a roaring current. The lights turned neon, flashing schizophrenically over the crowd in bright greens, reds, and purples. It was a catalyst of funk in every sense.

REVIEWS

HIGHLIGHT

www.royalfamilyrecords.com

from many of the same influences, the synth lines and electric compositions that propelled them onto the music scene have not been lost. However, their latest endeavor is also contemplative, creative and a progression to the next phase of their artistry. (Barsuk Records) -Vanessa Bennett phantogrammusic.virb.com

“A percussive and slick urban soundtrack to hopeful nights and starry skies”

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Nightlife has New York’s duo, Phantogram, back in action. Sarah Barthel’s crooning over love and the mystery of post daylight is mesmerizing. The album boasts only six tracks, not all of which are captivating delights, but tracks that once again put on display - yet again - the savvy talent of this duo. There are moments of complacent meandering, but these are quickly redeemed by the bursts of passionate and percussive nighttime melodies. “16 Years” is a re-awakening of the heart as Barthel asks the often difficult-to-answer question, “Is this love that I am feeling again?” The night becomes clearer and full of hope when partner Josh Carter’s well-crafted beats on “Don’t Move” create an explosive atmosphere. Nightlife is, in many ways, a continuation of their previous record, Eyelid Movies. Pulling

Princess Chelsea Lil’ Golden Book Auckland, New Zealand

“Chelsea, crowned princess of the land known as melancholy”

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Princess Chelsea is in some ways unnerving. With a fully illustrated insert and a complete adherence to its Lil’ Golden Book theme (yes, the pop culture reference of children’s cardboard literature is apparently universal) her record (titled after said brand of childhood nostalgia) is essentially a glimpse at the life of the universal 20-something through the lens of a nursery rhyme. Princess Chelsea is musically DECEMBER 2011 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 39


LIVE REVIEW

REVIEWS

Artist Man or Astro-man?

Mondo Ray

Hypnotized b/w Nothing Munich, Germany

by Benjamin Ricci

“Euro Punks Trash Das Garage”

Athens Popfest Story and Photos By Gail Fountain

WHEN: October 15 / WHERE: Athens, GA In its eighth year, the final evening of Athens titled songs such as “(Classified)” and “Secret Popfest 2011 began a bit softly at Caledonia Agent Conrad Uno.” After an audience memLounge (behind 40 Watt) with Viking Progress, ber proposed to Birdstuff, he explained that she the solo project of Patrick Morales. Wearing an would be disappointed when she found out he’s Oxford shirt and bowtie, he played acoustically like a Ken doll “down there.” Halfway through until “Golden Calf.” It began with a bow stroked the set, an office copier sized dot matrix printer against an amplified banjo’s strings, creating was rolled out on stage and given a mic. It then sampled loops of rhythm while Viking Progress proceed to play a three-minute number titled “A played acoustic guitar Simple Text File” as a and sang. tribute to Steve Jobs. HIGHLIGHT Moving over to On the last MOAM? the 40 Watt brought Number, “Principles the energy level up Unknown,” Coco considerably, as played Theremin by newly reformed (and shaking his fist beside underrated) Chicago it, sharing it with the indie band Kleenex Girl Wonder, in the form of audience a bit, then applying lighter fluid to it a trio, faced a half-capacity, enthusiastic audi- and setting it on fire as a finale. ence.  Singer-bassist Graham Smith had low, The Dead Milkmen – not from outer space, offbeat vocals and the bassist and drummer but also pseudonymed, hilarious and reformed played loosely. The quirky lyricist even per- – finished out the festival. Original ’80sformed one song that he said was eponymous, era members Rodney Anonymous, Joe Jack which used a falling melody in the chorus and Talcum and Dean Clean joined newer member sob screaming. During song breaks, an upcom- Dan Stevens (Dandrew, bass) for a riveting set ing double album was announced. of old and new punk classics. Stating it was An extraterrestrial band that met in going to be a really long show, the veterans lit Alabama, Man or Astroman? included jump- into a 25-song set with energy no longer seen suit-clad original members Star Crunch, in today’s punk bands. Anonymous proudly Birdstuff, Coco the Electronic Monkey Wizard displayed his rainbow Rebel flag on the front and new member ​Avona Nova on rhythm gui- of his keyboard set, taking time to discuss its tar. Wearing a shiny miniskirt, she was young significance as a pride issue. Songs performed and energetic. The ’90s surf rock band mostly included big hits “Punk Rock Girl,” which the played instrumentals in front of projected audience sang word for word, a cover of Gary videos. Comedy skits and recorded intros kept Numan’s “Cars” and “Bitching Camaro.” everyone entertained between humorously www.athenspopfest.com

Fun, quirky night of wondrous pop, surf and punk.

40 DECEMBER 2011 PERFORMER MAGAZINE

Mondo Ray comes to us from the land of lederhosen and sauerkraut, which might evoke thoughts of Mike Myers’ “Sprockets” or Chevy Chase’s Oktoberfest dance in European Vacation. Fortunately, the band is less Kraftwerk and more Replacements. Loud, crunchy, slapdash garage rock – just with better clothes. They are European, after all. “Hypnotized” is (excuse the lazy writing) a hypnotic, pulsating nugget of power slop goodness. With a runtime of less than two minutes, the band takes a cue from punk icons the Ramones by not overstaying their welcome. They’re in, they’re out, they rock. Before you know it, the chugging guitar and bass have pounded out the last chord changes, and it’s time to flip the record. “Nothing,” like the A-side, is another two-minute gem of garage madness. Counting off with an aggressively plucked single note guitar line, a wave of noise soon gives way to a groovier side of Mondo Ray. Featuring a quasi-dance beat and distortedbeyond-belief buzz saw guitars, “Nothing” fades out as quickly as it came. And that’s it. In less than five minutes, Mondo Ray has delivered one of the best rock singles of the year. No pretense. No bullshit. Just Mondo. www.facebook.com/MondoRayBand

RECORDED AND MIXED BY Mojo Matt Bordin RECORDED AT Outside Inside Studio Montebelluna, Italy LABEL: Windian Records FORMAT: 7-inch (45 RPM) COLOR: Green (First 100 Copies) PRESSING: 500 Copies VINYL MASTERING: Daniel Hajji Husayn SLEEVE ART: Alex Fine Illustration

VINYL OF THE MONTH


Serious Problems 2011 EP Richmond, VA

“Punky Brew-sters”

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The adage goes that if you like one hardcore band, you like them all. Stripped down, raw, and blistering - lightning tempos, aggressive strumming, lyrics spat at you as much as sang – you either like the scene or you don’t. The boys in Serious Problems stay pretty close to the archetype on their debut EP but with a wider range of influences than your everyday, pissed off punk trio. As such, the boys have found enough spice for a solid post-hardcore sound, and have delivered an equally solid debut. A self-proclaimed excuse for some buddies “to get together on Friday and Saturday nights to drink booze,” Serious Problems apparently woke up Sunday morning with a 5-song EP hangover. And as it goes with hardcore garage punk, five songs are generally all you need anyway. Over the course of the EP, the hardcore hallmarks are all there - thrashing two-minute songs full of disaffected ferocity. However, that ferocity is shouted at you by a singer who occasionally (gasp!) approaches a melodic line. And that thrashing is peppered with precise and slicing guitar solos - there are even backing vocals! With that variety, all told it’s a developed and impressive debut for just a couple of drinking buddies. Beer and guitars will do that. (Self-released) Produced by Serious Problems

-Ari Goldberg seriousproblemsband.blogspot.com

Spoek Mathambo Put Some Red On It EP Johannesburg, South Africa

“Indie hip-hop shows off its best side and a few alter egos”

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South African musician Spoek Mathambo follows last year’s full-length album Mshini Wam with an EP enigmatically-titled Put Some Red On It. The six-track EP explores the sonic possibilities of two songs by providing first the original version before showcasing the tweaks and changes made to the track by other Sub Pop artists. The title track, “Put Some Red On It,” begins with eerie, wavering smoke trails of synth beneath frenetic tick-tocks of percussion. The duet features Mathambo’s wife Ana Rab and tells the truths behind the diamond market in South Africa. For the remix, futuristic hip-hop vanguards Shabazz Palaces contribute to the minimalist effort by trading quivering tick-tocks for a more bass-heavy version, emphasizing the last third of the original version. “Dog To Bone” is a much lighter track with tinges of Calypso, airier vocals and a decidedly rock slant, while still showcasing Mathambo’s skill as a talented hip-hop lyricist. Despite the cheerful tone of the track, the lyrics veer into darker territories and bring the song to a somber end with a chorus of “We should also get paid.” Telepathe then remixes the track with heavy synths, turning the song into a darkwave audio assault. (Sub Pop) -Kristian Richards www.spoekmathambo.com

Truth,” one of the best tracks on the compilation. Other notable tracks are the catchy garage-rocker “Knife in the Sail” by Adventure Galley, based in Eugene, OR, but sounding influenced by the New York scene; and the slow-tempo, distorted “Bad Energy” by San Francisco’s Slow Trucks. Other appealing songs are “Library Books” by the Casio-tone, female-led Upsidedown Cat. The last track on Disk One is the catchy, ’60s pop-sounding “Please, Please George,” from Brooklyn’s Dinosaur Feathers.   The second disc has more easily digestible, grooving tunes than the first. Highlights include the instrumental, funky, loop-filled “Silverskate Gateway” by the one-man act Boy Eats Drum Machine; “Centrifical Farce” by E*Rock; and Austin’s Agent Ribbons’ “I’m Alright,” sounding like it came straight form a Cold War era spy flick. “Employment Bored,” by the breakbeat Portland duo Sweater and also the dynamic indie electronic pop band Mnemonic Sounds “Keeping it Quiet,” were also very pleasant to the ears. And lastly, the Mutineers’ “Give it a Rest,” is a fun, drunken pirate sing-along.   The in-depth compilation of 33 artists is worth checking out if you’re looking for new music, and don’t want to die of dysentery. (Tender Loving Empire) -Matt Lambert www.tenderlovingempire.com

REVIEWS

Princess Chelsea (cont’d) sparse and often times ambient, with variable electro beats bubbling slowly under minor chord changes and xylophone melodies. Most of the songs could easily be placed as background filler music for a lo-fi Disney film; however, it’s the lyrical content that sets Princess Chelsea apart. With themes ranging from alcoholism, to the desire to leave New Zealand, to the day in day out struggles of a slightly dysfunctional relationship, Princess Chelsea adds a blunt reverse optimism to the emotional redundancy of life. If children’s books are meant to let us clearly and plainly understand the simplicities of the world around us as a child, Princess Chelsea’s Lil’ Golden Book is meant to let us clearly and plainly accept the emotional simplicity of the world around us now that we’ve lived a little. (Lil’ Chief Records) -Ben Nine-K facebook.com/wonderfulprincesschelsea

This Time Next Year Drop Out of Life Walnut Creek, CA

“Power punch of pop-punk with honest lyrics”

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Tender Loving Empire Records Friends & Friends of Friends, Vol. 4 Portland, OR

“Great collection of songs from Portland and beyond”

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Portland, Oregon: the Oregon Trail, Redwood trees, and rainy weather come to mind, but there is also an active music scene tucked away in the Pacific Northwest. Tender Loving Empire, a Portland-based independent record label, introduces many bands from the Beaver state with Friends & Friends of Friends, Vol. 4. The two-disc set includes 47 tracks from PacNW artists. Typhoon, the 14-piece orchestrated rock band begins the collection with “The Honest

It’s been a while since anyone has heard new material from Walnut Creek, California’s This Time Next Year; however their 2011 release Drop Out of Life is ready to knock listeners out of their seats with catchy pop-punk gang vocals and pile-ons. With the help of producer and lead singer of New Found Glory, Chad Gilbert, This Time Next Year has created an album reminiscent of the days of old in the pop punk scene, encouraging listeners to stay positive, do what they want and never settle for less. Kicking off the album with title track, “Drop Out of Life,” teen angst rings loud and clear, giving listeners a heartbreak anthem to sing along and relate to. “Get It, Got It, Good” engages sharp guitars backed by powerful drum kicks, making it inevitable for listeners to bob their heads, stomp their feet, or pump their fists along with the beat. The repetitive catchiness of the album makes it difficult to set one track apart from the next until the chorus comes along (such as “Last Call” and bonus track, “Whiskey and Coke.”) However, DECEMBER 2011 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 41


A3C

REVIEWS

LIVE REVIEW

WHEN:

Hip-Hop Festival

October 6 -8 WHERE:

The Masquerade / Atlanta, GA

ByTaylor Northern Photos by Brandon Belcher

Since 2005, the A3C Festival has been one of in a rhythmic flurry. Hip-hop is a 30-year-old Atlanta’s largest and most renowned hip-hop fes- genre now and I would like to think that a live rap tivals. In the past, A3C’s event coordinators have performance has evolved past this dingy baserecruited the talents of hip-hop’s heavyweights ment show aspect. However, there were some standout acts. I to grace their stages, including rap artists such felt Canadian artist as Clipse, Wale, and HIGHLIGHT Eternia performed a Killer Mike. This great set. She had a year’s festival was no wonderful stage presdifferent and featured ence, dope beats and a diverse and extengot the crowd hyped. sive roster, ranging Another entertainfrom hard knock and gutter rap emcees like M.O.P and Freddie Gibbs ing emcee was rapper Max Burgundy from the to more eccentric hip-hop and soul artists such Bronx. His sound was described as, “equal parts as 9th Wonder and Aleon Craft. Nonetheless, Slug, MURS and Del tha Funky Homosapien.” while A3C offered nearly 300 different flavors of I personally did not hear many of those artistic hip-hop sounds, many of the performances felt references; his flow reminded me more of Aesop rehashed and redundant. Several of the artists Rock or Atmosphere, but Max Burgundy lacked took the same traditional, yet stale approach to the lyrical prowess of the aforementioned raptheir live performance by simply blasting beats pers. Nonetheless, I enjoy and respect the huge over the PA and rapping unrecognizable phrases amount of energy and passion that he brought to

Great showcase for hip-hop acts in the ATL.

42 DECEMBER 2011 PERFORMER MAGAZINE

the stage, walking out into the crowd and directly confronting the audience members with his unique sound and presence. My favorite live performances were from New Orleans via Cali emcee G. Eazy and local Atlanta rapper and soul artist Jack Preston. Preston attempted to veer from the traditional rap formula by recruiting three talented backup singers and he performed over tasteful soul samples. In addition, his vocal cadence and delivery was clear and crisp, while his lyrics remained thought-provoking and charismatic. G-Eazy had a very different message and sound from Jack Preston, his chill flow and rude class clown imagery reminded me of Asher Roth or a younger Eminem. G-Eazy had a spectacular stage presence, even standing on top of the 12-foot high PA subs at one point. He threw a live drummer into the mix, who added an explosive sound to the performance. Overall, I had a good time at A3C, but felt it was too much at once. There were several music business panels that, while informative, ultimately detracted from the live music and cut into the artists’ sets. Festival attendees received a good deal on the price of tickets considering the sheer number of artists, but there were so many acts that some were relegated to performing at the whim of a merciless and calculated timer. Many of the performances avalanched together and as a listener, I felt overwhelmed, but also guilty that I was missing the opportunity to see another great performance occurring at the same time within the venue. Ironically, I felt the most consistent and entertaining portion of A3C was the break-dancing, occurring on the top level or “heaven” section of the Masquerade. Hopefully next year, the event coordinators will focus less on publicizing the brands of pay for play artists, will better schedule panels, and focus more on trimming the artist roster and allowing the real talent to shine longer than ten minutes on stage. www.a3cfestival.com


Produced by Chad Gilbert

Wild Child Pillow Talk

Mixed by Paul Leavitt

Austin, TX

Mastered by Andrew Wade

-Becky Woodford www.thistimenextyearca.com

Tycho Dive San Francisco, CA

“Beautiful foray into the natural and unnatural”

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Maybe it’s the beautifully designed cover art of a sun conjoining with a mountainous plateau, but a sincere feeling of warmth should envelop anyone that’s listening closely to Dive, the startlingly refreshing new release from San Francisco-based graphic designer and electronic artist Scott Hansen, aka Tycho. With Dive, Hansen isn’t just mechanically crafting IDM tunes. Synths go through a wide variety of different filters, at times sparking off bitcrushed melodies that seem like burning stars colliding with one another. At other times, the notes are crystal clear and complemented beautifully by traditional instruments like a bright acoustic guitar, which stands out well among electronic textures. This isn’t electronic music that just paints the picture of someone in their bedroom hunched over a laptop and MIDI keyboard. While there are some of those elements present, the traditional instruments work incredibly well with the synths and keyboards to create a lovely synergy. The title track “Dive” is an eight-minute representation of what this album essentially is: a seamless spiral of meticulously-arranged soundscapes and rhythms, which work well on their own, but when presented together, evoke a wonderful image of sunshine and the breeze that comes when it momentarily hides behind the clouds. This is what real art sounds like. (Ghostly International) Recorded by S. Hansen Mixed by Count & S. Hansen Mastered by Count Additional Production by Dusty Brown and Matt McCord

-Rich Coleman www.tychomusic.com

“Delicate folk duo leaves lingering smiles”

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With an onslaught of folk duos popping out of the woodwork, Wild Child throws their hat into the ring with Pillow Talk, an album sure to leave lingering smiles among economically depleted, bedridden souls looking to rekindle an age of coquettish innocence. Alexander Beggins is the male counterpart of the dynamic duo, while Kelsey Wilson is the cooler side of the pillow, filled with robust vocals that draw on what makes Regina Spektor such a colorful diva. Banjos, ukuleles, violins, and impromptu sing-alongs paint a panoramic portrait of a typecast Michael Cera role: Awkward, but adorable. The instrumentals are delicate and sensible, welded together with Kelsey’s incandescent throwback to American jazz and chamber pop of the ’50s vocals. The album plays a variation on its album title, for a theme - Pillow Talk - by imparting light and feathery sentiments, but with haunting candor. “Warm Body” conveys the ‘will they/won’t they’ romance that has Michael Cera dawdling in skin tight running track shorts, essentially waiting for the precocious Kelsey-like leading lady to reassert Cera by singing, “Do you trust me? / You just might be the one for me tonight.” So simple, but yet so sweet. (Major Nation)

sings frontman Blake Rainey on “Fucked Up In Public,” his voice bursting with the kind of hysterical abandon apropos of the situation. It’s a visceral tone, if a little overused throughout the record - even on “Daydream Fields,” Biography’s most melancholy, ref lective track. Rainey often sounds a little more juiced than jaded. Biography works best when it exudes effortless swagger. “Supermodel” is an ode to one badass lady friend who was ultimately too much to deal with. In spite of the “I’m overwhelmed, this chick is crazy” lyrics, the band sounds more in the pocket than ever, riding a relaxed, flangerized groove and providing spot-on harmonies from bow to stern. Young Antiques can tear down the rafters to great results, but it’s when they rock at their own pace that they sound most like themselves. (Two Sheds)

REVIEWS

This Time Next Year (cont’d) repetition is outweighed by the quality of the wellproduced album and is a sure sign of great things to come from the California natives. (Equal Vision)

Produced and Recorded by Mike Wright, Dan Dixon and Patrick “Tigger” Ferguson Mastered by Jimmy Ether Mixed by Adam McIntyre and Jimmy Ether

-Colin Frawley www.youngantiques.com

CHECKOUT MORE REVIEWS AT PERFORMERMAG.COM

Produced and Mixed by Major Nation Mastered by Eric Wofford at Cacophony Recorders

-Justin Korn www.wildchildsounds.com

Young Antiques A Man, Not A Biography Atlanta, GA

“Forward-looking throwback rock with a sense of purpose”

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What’s the big dea l about samplers anyway? Rock music started with a stringed instrument and a late-night dea l at the crossroads. Atlanta trio Young Antiques are back to remind everyone of this fact with A Man, Not A Biography, a concise record with enough overdriven chords and bent Telecaster licks to please the most discerning of bar brawl purists. “Got to get wasted / Got to get free,” DECEMBER 2011 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 43


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Booking Your Band at 2012 Festivals WRITTEN BY

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BOOKING

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It’s never too early to begin thinking about getting your band booked at a summer festival. Performer recently had a few experts weigh in on the issue. Here’s what some of the industry’s finest had to say to musicians looking for info on festival booking. Chris Sampson of Superfly Productions, the brains behind Bonnaroo, explains, “We put together a list of artists we really want on the festival, starting with the headliners. Getting those locked in helps us program the rest of the festival.” A.J. Niland, one of the foundTIMING & ers behind Hangout Festival, says of the MARKETING process, “Planning starts even before the previous year’s festival is complete.” Bonnaroo begins about 10 months out per Sampson, but it gets earlier every year for Superfly. The booking time frame is cyclical and the opportunity is usually there if you go about it in the right way. Start by knowing your market and building a live performance history to back up your potential draw. Aaron Brown of the intimate Texas hill country gem UTOPiAfest says, “Our strategy was to book the biggest names first. You learn quickly that the other bands on the lineup are just as important (if not more) than the amount of money you’re offering.” The little guys go about it the same as the bigger productions - name recognition and marketability of the headliners helps for the rest of the talent booking as they follow the potential draw of fans. 44 DECEMBER 2011 PERFORMER MAGAZINE

BOOKING SERVICES

When approaching services that require a payment from the artist to submit material, heed Brown’s advice, “Don’t waste your money submitting your hip-hop act to a folk festival.” Talent buyers advise that when using sources like Sonicbids or ReverbNation to approach it with as much information as possible about your band’s ability to perform live. Tour a lot first so you can be sure how to go about piquing their interest. Niland says, “Be sure to list relevant info about ticket sales in nearby and similar markets.” UTOPiAfest struck a deal with Sonicbids guaranteeing spots to two artists who submitted through the site. Brett Mosiman of Pipeline Productions (Wakarusa, Harvest Fest) says, “I think they have a place in the process for young acts.” Don’t shy away from these tools but diligently research the market that a festival draws and know whether or not you fit that market before you begin exhausting your efforts.

BUILDING A FANBASE

All of the talent buyers that Performer questioned require that a band has a touring history before they approach a festival for booking. They all look for a band’s ability to move tickets, and if you don’t have a history of booking venues and doing well in ticket sales, then you’re more apt to be considered a financial risk on a lineup. Sampson suggests, “Artists should focus on being the best live act they can be. Continue to grow and take care of their fans. If they do that successfully, there’s a good chance they’ll find the right festival. Bands should do their best to grow their fan base in their own market.” Mosiman says, “Building a fan base is the most important thing in landing some coveted festival spots.” Niland suggests, “Do be assertive, do not be aggressive. Do enlist industry supporters to reach out and endorse you.” Brown says, “Prod your booking agents to reach out to festival bookers proactively. [UTOPiAfest] booked at least three or four bands who came as recommendations from proactive booking agents.” Mosiman advises, “Obviously, it’s best to have an agent, 90% of our acts do. We do spend a fair amount of effort trying to get unsigned bands on to the event, too. We do this through Waka Winter Classic.”


BOOKING FINAL THOUGHTS

When looking to book a festival, talent buyers agree that a band needs to first establish a touring history and prove their draw; they also mention that their planning process happens sooner and sooner each year. Don’t be discouraged and keep submitting material and booking shows all year long, and find industry allies to back you up along the way. There is no set “season” for booking, as many festivals are looking for new talent all the time. Take the professionals’ advice and you can land your band on one of their stages. ARTIST: JONATHAN TYLER AND THE NORTHERN LIGHTS FESTIVAL: BONNAROO

ARTIST: GRACE POTTER FESTIVAL: HANGOUT MUSIC FESTIVAL

When you have toured your band into the the general sales of the band and the festival budground, when you have nailed your market, and get. Sometimes there is some give and take in the when you are finally ready to be featured on the early stages of an artists career on compensation grand scale of a festival profor exposure; all artists on our festiduction it will ultimately pay val are compensated.” EXPOSURE AND off, but not always in dollars. Mosiman agrees, “Exposure COMPENSATION is the most valuable thing. Brown says it’s not all about the money: “Look at the overall Compensation should be a secondopportunities. A festival can ary consideration for the younger create great exposure and new fans. [Artists who] bands.” Bonnaroo’s Sampson says, “Festivals worked with our budget got booked.” Niland com- provide a great platform to be discovered and ments on artist compensation, saying, “Festivals grow your fan base. We do our best to compensate are a great platform for exposure. Being in front artists based on their ability to draw in the marof a few thousand and sometimes more is a great ket where the festival is taking place.” way to win fans. Compensation depends on slot, DECEMBER 2011 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 45


PROMOTION

INTERVIEW

Earbits CEO Joey Flores on Turning Airtime into Sales for Artists Interview by Keane Li · Photo courtesy of Earbits

Earbits.com, a new online radio site, has formed a collaboration with the San Francisco Chronicle to provide a curated, locationspecific music discovery destination. CEO Joey Flores describes how the idea for Earbits came about and how the site can benefit independent musicians. What is Earbits? Earbits is an online radio platform designed to be a marketing tool for the music industry. Instead of ads, we’re working to turn airtime for artists into sales of their new releases and merchandise. For example, we’re launching a partnership with Relapse Records, promoting a new album by one of their artists. Users will be entered into a sweepstakes by joining the band’s mailing list, which will probably include tickets to shows and a meet-and-greet with the band. Anyone who hears one of their songs will be presented with the sweepstakes opportunity. This is a campaign that we would run as opposed to an advertising campaign for a regular sponsor. Right now, we’re working with about 170 labels; we have 2,000 bands on board, over half a dozen Grammy winners, and festival headliners and platinum artists. We’re trying to create a marketing 46 DECEMBER 2011 PERFORMER MAGAZINE

platform that really helps artists and labels get music out there to listeners and consumers, with the music industry as our core clientele. How did the idea for Earbits come about? My background is in performance-based marketing and localized ad network marketing — paid search, media buying and things like that. When it was time to market our album and our shows, we spent about $20,000 trying all kinds of things from Sonicbids to all of these other services. We were taking out ads on television and were doing everything we could to try and promote our album and our shows. It was really ineffective. So my buddy says, ‘Well, how can we translate what you do during the day — ad networks, performance-based marketing — to the music industry?’ The problem is that people have to hear it. The reason why performance marketing doesn’t work on the Internet

— why Facebook ads don’t really work — is because a visual ad can’t convey the quality of music unless you already know that band. You’re not going to click on it, and half of the time [if] you do, you find the bands are not that great. Our concept is to create a curated place where consumers will actually want to go to discover music and find out who’s playing near them. How do you differ from other online radio services like Jango? For starters, their core model is advertisingbased. They play mostly mainstream music and they have a lot of ads. We believe that by focusing 100% on the particular platform or product, we can do a better job of it. For example, there are more ads on a page when music’s playing on Jango than there are for merchandising for yourself. For our site, it’s all about the artist; it’s all about their album and where they’re playing next, and there’s nothing on the page to take away from that experience. How does the listening experience differ from sites like Pandora? We’re basically working directly with the rights holders, so we have our own licenses. If you hear a song your friend will like, you can share a link to that song on Facebook and they can come back to Earbits to listen to that song in its entirety. There are a lot of things you can do with the music


that Pandora is not allowed to do by relying on the compulsory licenses. As a consumer, you’re in control. You can skip as much as you want. When you ‘thumbs up’ songs, you can save them in your bookmarks. While you’re in the middle of a song, you can scroll down and listen to samples of other songs by that band. So there’s more in terms of a musical experience. Obviously, the downside is we only work with close to 200 labels so we don’t have as much of a catalog as Pandora - you won’t hear as much mainstream music - but it is all prescreened, high-quality stuff. You allow independent musicians to submit music for your site as well? Yeah, absolutely. I mean, you have to be

approved. We believe that for this to be successful, there has to be some sort of quality control. It’s more like, ‘Is this a good recording? Is the musicianship of a professional quality?’ But we do work with a lot of unsigned bands. Right now, it’s about 60% of bands from labels and 40% of bands that come to us unsigned. What are the benefits of using Earbits for an independent musician? I think the big benefit is that, say on Facebook, you can put up a page, but there’s not much you can do to drive exposure to yourself on those pages other than putting in a lot of hours networking and asking people to refer friends to you. It’s not that novel to give a band a nice profile page,

but what we’re doing is creating a place where consumers will listen to hundreds of bands in a month, making that audience available to bands without them having to do a lot of work. My experience with Facebook has been that you’re paying 30 cents for a click and the person doesn’t even know what you sound like yet. On Earbits, you’re paying 2 cents for someone to listen to you and they have the ability to act on that by going to your Facebook page and things like that. It’s taking that step out of the middle of making someone guess what you sound like. We’re creating an environment that’s so compelling for users that they’re going to want to spend their time there. And we’re making that available for sale. www.earbits.com DECEMBER 2011 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 47


RECORDING

Using Digital Tools on Analog Tracks By Dustin Lefholz

The choice to mix the analog warmth of tape with the editing/automation capabilities of Pro Tools will help to open up options when it comes to mixing, but will require a well laid out plan. If it’s decided that analog will be introduced to the digital editing world, the pursuit of a tape machine that is in impeccable condition will be necessary to assure the fewest headaches along the way. Here’s a quick guide to make sure what you’ve recorded to tape will import properly into Pro Tools.

Pre-Production: Your engineer and producer must first figure out when and where to use analog technology and/or digital and how it will affect the end mix. Tracking is one of the most crucial points in a recording project; getting a clean signal to tape before you even begin to think about touching Pro Tools is key. When recording to tape, one must be savvy with analog gear to get the most out of the machine and its abilities. Everything that is added, whether analog or digital, is another element in the chain that can potentially add more problem points, which in turn requires more attention from the engineer. So a troubleshooting background in both the analog and digital worlds is essential when introducing multiple audio formats. Also, consider these basic questions: What brand of tape machine will yield the best quality at my price point? How many reels will I need for the project I wish to record? Has the tape machine had any mechanical calibrations done recently? Will an engineer or an audio professional be doing the calibration? These factors will directly impact the quality of the sound coming from the recorded tape. One of the most common factors to a malfunctioning tape machine is the fact that many pro reel-to-reel tape recorders have been dormant for years and have not been properly maintained. 48 DECEMBER 2011 PERFORMER MAGAZINE

So, making sure it has been optimized before basic tracking is essential, and having a professional calibrate the machine will be worth the extra money and will ensure that the machine will operate at an optimum level for the duration of your project.

Analog: The analog side of the session will require a little bit of set up. Calibrating the machine will be the first step in making sure it’s ready to go. Mechanical calibration of a tape machine will require an understanding of the way the head stack and tape work together. This is usually best left for a professional. The record calibration will take place on a channel-by-channel process. This will assure that each channel is functioning properly and that they are ready for recording and/or playback of your material. Once the calibration process has been taken care of, connect the tape machine’s outputs to the input of your Pro Tools system. An external clock that has a time code input will be needed, as this will be utilized during playback. Your analog tape should have had LTC (Linear Timecode) printed to it so that Pro Tools can “chase the machine,” assuring proper syncing of the analog and digital mediums. This should be

printed using the last channel of the tape machine. For example, on track 16, since the channel below it (15) is usually left blank as a guard track to prevent audio bleed. Once the LTC is located, the output of the last track will plug into the in port on the external clock. Connecting the outputs of the tape machine to the inputs of Pro Tools will get the tracks passing from the tape machine into the DAW (Digital Audio Workstation). For a digital transfer, make sure the tape machine plays back from the reproduction head, as it will have the best sonic quality.

Digital: Now that the tape machine is ready to go, the DAW will be the only thing left to set up for the project. Once outputs of the tape machine are connected to the inputs of the of the AD converter, it is time to get Pro Tools set up. The session will first need to be initialized. The desired bit depth and sample rate will have to be set so you can properly edit your analog tracks with your digital tools. Add the number of tracks needed for the transfer; it’s always best to take the time to name all tracks now to avoid confusion later. Putting each of the tracks in input mode will allow for the checking of each one to be sure that they are all being sent properly to the DAW. As always, before moving forward make sure that a good signal level is being sent from the tape machine to Pro Tools by keeping an eye on each machine’s meters. During the transfer it is usually best to keep Pro Tools clean of unnecessary plug-ins, sends, or anything else that could slow down an already intensive session. The melding of the digital and analog worlds is a big task for any engineer, but with a solid background, some experience and a good team, you can get the benefits of both worlds to truly capture the sound you’re looking for.


LEGAL PAD

THE BASICS BEHIND SYNC LICENSES What You Need to Know About Sound Recordings vs. Musical Compositions

EVERY SOUND RECORDING HAS TWO COPYRIGHTS: A COPYRIGHT FOR THE MUSICAL COMPOSITION AND A COPYRIGHT FOR THE SOUND RECORDING. Any time you record an original song, sample a track, or license your own sound recordings for use by others, you’ll be dealing with these two copyrights in some way. Here’s what you should know.

The Basics: First, you have to understand how a musical composition and sound recording can be licensed separately. An example to illustrate this point: A director thinks your song would work perfectly for a scene in her upcoming film, but is not sure whether to use your original recording or create a new version using just the lyrics and music. If she chooses the former, she’ll need permission (a license) to use both the sound recording and the musical composition from each copyright holder (because both copyrights are being used simultaneously). If she chooses the latter, she’ll only need a license to use the musical composition, as the original sound recording is of no consequence. Contract Differences: There are different contracts for licensing a sound recording and licensing a musical composition. Keep in mind that the “licensor” is the party granting the license, while the “licensee” is the one getting permission to use the copyrighted work. Here’s what you should know about each agreement. Sound Recording: The Master Recording License controls the licensing of actual sound recordings. This grants the right to use the sound recording in media

- usually film, television, or often, an Internet video. This license is also required if you are looking to sample a sound recording. Generally, a master license is granted for one song at a time (or in more specific instances, for a selected portion of the song). To obtain a Master Recording License, you’ll need to contact the person or entity that owns the recording, usually the record label. Some deal points to consider in this license agreement are scope (where the sound recording can be used, for how long, whether it may be used in advertising/ promotion); compensation (in the form of payment or credit – and how prominently the credit is displayed in the audiovisual work); warranties (licensor has the full right to license the work and the work does not violate copyright rights of others), and performing rights issues (this should be a “direct license” and any amounts payable to a performing rights organization should not be the responsibility of the licensee). After you get permission to use the master recording, you’ll still need clearance for the underlying composition. Musical Composition: The Synchronization License (or “Sync” license) controls the licensing of musical compositions. As noted above, the Sync License is different from the Master Recording License because it allows the licensee the ability to recreate the song for use in an audiovisual work (but does not give the right to use the original sound recording). To obtain a Sync License, you’ll need the permission of the person/entity that holds the copyright to the musical composition. This is usually the publisher or the songwriter. Generally, a Sync License is obtained for a flat fee, meaning that once the license is secured, the song

can be used as stipulated in the agreement with no further fees regardless of viewings, downloads, rentals, or purchases. As with the Master Recording License, you’ll want to ensure that the licensor is the exclusive owner of the copyright. You can protect yourself from legal liability by including an “indemnity clause” – transferring responsibility to the licensor for any damages you incur on the basis of ownership/copyright claims in the underlying work. Legal Interpretation: Plain and simple, copyright protection and infringement are approached differently when dealing with sound recordings vs. musical compositions. A lawsuit involving infringement of a sound recording is approached with a tighter standard than a case involving the claimed infringement of a musical composition. For musical compositions, the copyright issue for unauthorized use is whether the alleged infringing work is “substantially similar” to the original work. This involves the somewhat unscientific process of the courts determining whether an art form rises to the level of infringement. There is no “bright line rule” that establishes the number of notes or measures it takes to be considered infringement. With a sound recording, however, the scope of inquiry is much narrower because sampling a sound recording is never accidental. When a portion of a sound recording is used in an audiovisual work, the only issue is whether the recording was used without authorization. If someone samples a sound recording and uses it in a new work, it is clear cut and, if unauthorized, it’s illegal. Adam Barnosky is a practicing attorney and writer specializing in business development and entertainment law. For industry trends, legal updates, or to request an upcoming Legal Pad topic, find him on Twitter @adambarnosky. DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this column is general legal information only and should not be taken as a comprehensive guide to licensing and copyright law. Consult your attorney for all specific considerations. DECEMBER 2011 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 49


STUDIO DIARY

I N

T H E

S T U D I O

W I T H

CO M A N C H E R O CRAFTING AN EXPERIMENTAL AMERICANA ALBUM WITH LASER PRINTERS, PAPER CUTTERS AND SHORTWAVE RADIOS Interview by Benjamin Ricci · Photos by Johnny Arguedas

PRE-PRODUCTION What was your pre-production like on this project? We spent the better part of ’08 and ’09 writing and performing the material that eventually became The Undeserved. We record every live show with a Zoom H4n portable recorder and used our best live recordings as demos for the album, giving us a baseline vision for the final studio arrangements. Planning our studio sessions was key. Every detail was written down in advance of setting foot into the studio - mic selection, pre-amps, EQs, instrument selection, room setup, etc. We wanted to be as efficient as possible once the sessions started.

50 DECEMBER 2011 PERFORMER MAGAZINE

How did you choose the studio? In some ways the studios chose us. Bandmates Sam Margolis and Andrew Kramer were audio students at Boston University’s Center for Digital Imaging Arts (CDIA) at the time when we were ready to start recording. This gave us access to CDIA’s top-tier facilities as we needed them, and it was a no-brainer to take advantage of this. Around the same time, we rented a band house on the Charles River near Moody St. in Waltham, MA. The old Victorian building happened to have an amazing basement and attic space which through our own blood, sweat and tears we converted into Riverview Studios. We recorded the majority of the basics and overdub sessions at CDIA, while we used Riverview Studios for mixing and some of the less involved overdub parts. Regardless of where we worked, we often reminded ourselves that it’s not always the studio that makes the album great; it

has much more to do with the quality of the song, and how well it conveys emotion and takes the listener to a certain place in time.

PRODUCTION What kind of sound were you looking for and how did you achieve it? We were looking for a clean, polished sound, while remaining true to our sound on stage. When we used studio effects such as delays and reverbs, they were subtle and effective - not over the top. We achieved clarity with careful mic placement techniques and a well thought-out mixing approach. Everything has its own place in the mix, in terms of panning (left/right), depth

--IMPORTANT GEAR USED-“We were either using an Audient ASP8024 analog board or the Yamaha DM2000 depending on the studio, with a more than adequate stack of outboard gear (mic pre’s, compression, EQ, etc. from Universal Audio, Tube Tech, Pultec, Focusrite, Empirical Labs) and a mic locker that included gear like the AKG C12, AEA R92, Neumann SKM 184s, and our personal favorite for vocals, a Shure SM 7B.”


Did you use any special gear or recording techniques on this one? We wanted to experiment more than on our previous two albums. For example, with the drums we used three different kits and switched out snares, kick drums and cymbals. On some songs, to capture extra punch from the kick drum, we used an old subwoofer rewired backwards and sent through an acoustic guitar preamp as a kickout mic. Also, not all the drums were recorded first, as on our previous two records. We let the individual songs direct the process rather than the process direct the songs. It created sonic diversity, and that was the goal. We sent some vocals and acoustic guitars through a Hammond B3 simulator to add a layer of depth. Other songs had a distortion bus that was used to color anything from vocals to drums. The bells heard at the beginning and end of “Undeserved” were recorded using an Earthworks TC20 mic at a friend’s oceanfront Maine house. The actual bell used was a large, steel chi gong. We experimented with some sound design in “Hard To Breathe” and “When You Look.” To create atmosphere, we captured sounds of shortwave radios and a huge laser printer and paper-cutting machine (a tip of the hat to Pink Floyd). These sounds eventually became the bridge between the final two tracks on the album. In some cases, we blended sounds to create one new sound. For example, in the intro to “Jimmy Carter,” there is a descending piano, mandolin and acoustic guitar blended together to create an entirely new texture. In the mix these were thought of as one part, similar to how an entire section operates in classical music. What was your philosophy on live, full-band takes versus individual tracking? We simply didn’t have the time for live band takes. There is something to be said for capturing the raw energy of a live performance, but tracking separately can be helpful to achieve cleaner sounds with better editing capabilities. At the end of the day, I think we did achieve a very “live” sounding record.

STUDIO DIARY

and proximity (how near/far the sound is), and even vertically, giving atmosphere to the mix - the seagulls in “Undeserved,” for example, or the subkick in “ Any Day.” We wanted the clothes to fit the man. If it was a real outlaw country number, we wanted it to sonically nail that style - raw, rootsy, and rugged and feature instruments you’d expect to hear, like the fiddle or banjo. In the more reggae sounding tunes we were going for a warmer analog type of sound, featuring tube-driven vocals while highlighting the drums, bass, and percussion. Wherever possible, we wanted big choral harmonies like you hear with The Byrds or the Eagles, and the studio allowed us to add many cool vocal layers, which I think showcases our vocals in a different way than on our previous albums.

What were the toughest challenges you faced? Getting the mix to stand up to the writing. So much tweaking. So many late nights. Lots of inter-band debates about how the mixes should sound. Also, as a self-produced album, we relied on our own skills, efforts, time and resources to get this record off the ground. However, with our BU CDIA connection, we had access to some outstanding teachers and mentors (think producers of Radiohead, Warren Zevon, Hole and The Dresden Dolls) who helped coach us along the way and gave us critical mix feedback.

POST-PRODUCTION How did you handle final mixing and mastering? Our bassist Andrew Kramer is a freelance audio engineer, and he took the lead with mixing the album at Riverview Studios. We relied on critical feedback from the other band members and mentors from CDIA. The band would take home CDs from rehearsal or get new versions sent online (via Dropbox) and then send mix

critiques by email or sit in on a mix session. We had the album mastered at New Alliance East in Cambridge. How does it compare to your last release in terms of style and the creative process? This album is a bit less heavy, includes more acoustic and Americana songs, less Latin influence. In some ways, it’s more diverse with more nuances coming from different recording methods. Stylistically, we went for a more rootscentric sound, true to the core of the band.

CREDITS BAND NAME: Comanchero ALBUM NAME: The Undeserved RECORDING STUDIOS: CDIA Studios, Riverview Studios - Waltham, MA RECORD LABEL: Horse Fuel Records RELEASE DATE: 9/26/11 PRODUCER: Comanchero ENGINEERS: Andrew Kramer, Sam Margolis, and Greg Moon ARTWORK & PHOTOGRAPHY: Adam Frey MASTERING: Nick Zampiello and Rob Gonnella at New Alliance East DECEMBER 2011 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 51


RECORDING GUIDE

Performer’s Intro

TO RECORDING SOFTWARE

Admittedly, it can be a struggle to stay up-to-date on the current state of affairs in the DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) market. As I write this, my Pro Tools rig is now two major releases behind, and there are rumors floating around that Apple may discontinue its Mac Pro line, a decision that would affect just

about every major recording studio I’ve ever set foot in, but I digress… On to the software! This quick guide is meant to serve as a primer for those of you looking to get your feet wet in the digital recording world.

SONAR

PRO TOOLS Shortly after Avid completely re-branded their entire product line (aka – killed the DigiDesign brand name), they released Pro Tools 9 in late 2010. This October, at AES 2011 in New York City, Avid announced Pro Tools 10. Pro Tools 9 brought about some major changes for the industry-leading DAW, and less than a year later, in what has been perhaps Avid’s shortest major release cycle, Pro Tools 10 has arrived. On to the specs. In my opinion, Pro Tools disappoints here, considering it’s the most expensive DAW reviewed. Want more than 96 tracks of simultaneous playback or more than 32 channels of I/O? You need to upgrade to their new HDX system. While many hobbyists may not even come 52 DECEMBER 2011 PERFORMER MAGAZINE

By David Pier

close to reaching these limits, they are the poorest compared to other, less expensive DAWs. I still see Pro Tools as being the only real solution for those who work out of multiple studios; however, there are other DAWs that are starting to encroach on Avid’s (once unique) feature-set. The main draw to Pro Tools is that it’s the industry leader. Period. Walk into any major recording studio and chances are they have a Pro Tools rig. Attend any major music/audio school for recording and chances are they will teach you on Pro Tools. So there is the benefit of knowing the Pro Tools system, but its price may be a limiting factor for some home recorders.

Whenever I think of Roland, I typically think of their outstanding keyboard line and the Jazz Chorus amp, not software. However, Roland’s offering from their Cakewalk brand is no slouch. The specs on Sonar are great, with unlimited track counts and a handful of unique features such as ProChannel, which is essentially a channel strip that offers basic effects (EQ, compression, tube saturation) on every track. Sonar comes with a decent collection of instruments and some nice plug-ins, such as native pitch correction. However, Sonar is Windows only. To date, I’ve met just one musician who takes himself seriously and works on Windows machines: Four Tet. Maybe there is a large market for Windows-based digital studios I’ve yet to find? Please, enlighten me.


SonarX1 (Producer)

Logic Studio

Reaper

Cubase 6

$699.00

$399.00

$499

$60 / $225

$499

32-bit floating point

64-bit double precision

32-bit floating point

32/64-bit floating point

32-bit floating point

MAX I/O

32

Unlimited

Not Documented

Unlimited

Unlimited

MAX SIMULTANEOUS PLAYBACK TRACK (AT 48 KHZ)

96

Unlimited

255 audio / 255 instrument

Unlimited

Unlimited

MAX SIMULTANEOUS RECORDING TRACKS

32

Unlimited

Not Documented

Unlimited

256

256 / 160

Unlimited

64 / 255

Unlimited

64

AAX Native, RTAS, AudioSuite

VST, DX

AU

VST, VSTi, DX, DXi, AU, JS

VST, AU

Windows, Mac

Windows

Mac

Windows, Mac

Windows, Mac

PRICE RESOLUTION

BUSSES / AUX SUPPORTED PLUG-IN FORMATS PLATFORM

RECORDING GUIDE

Pro Tools 10

CUBASE REAPER LOGIC STUDIO What I find unique about Logic is not a particular feature, but how I hear other people talk about the software. It is the only DAW I hear being referred to as “for musicians,” or “musician friendly.” Undoubtedly, I think some of that sentiment comes from the fact that Logic comes bundled with an utterly massive collection of instruments (1,000) and loops (20,000), but I also think it has to do with the product being made by Apple. Apple’s offerings are inarguably more intuitive/user-friendly than their counterparts; that experience has clearly made its way into their DAW software. Also included with the Logic Studio bundle are an Amp Designer and Pedalboard maker, with a decent collection of 25 amps, 25 cabinets, and numerous effects. MainStage 2 is also included, which is designed for live use. MainStage offers on-the-fly looping and playback, and most importantly, a customizable UI. Aside from Pro Tools, Logic is the only other DAW reviewed that has a hard track limit, but with a maximum 255 audio and 255 instrument tracks allowed, I think most users will be just fine.

I originally became interested in Reaper after seeing the artist Tycho perform a few months back. At his shows, Tycho always projects full-screen animations, and I was able to catch a glimpse of his dock and saw he was running Reaper live. What I like about Reaper is that there is only one version. Pro Tools has HDX, MP, and SE; Logic has Express and Pro, and so on. There is just one Reaper. On paper, Reaper’s specs win hands-down. Reaper offers unlimited track counts across the board and support for just about every plug-in format imaginable. Reaper even states that it will support any sampling rate, which seems to suggest that if someone can make a box that can record higher than 192kHz, then Reaper will be able to handle it. Perhaps the most interesting feature of Reaper is its plug-in scripting engine. Yes, you can build and edit plug-ins right in the DAW. Reaper feels very “Linux-like” to me in their branding and positioning. They don’t do any marketing or advertising, and they have what I think is a very awesome pricing model. There are two licenses - an individual license and a commercial one. If you are using the software for personal use, or you are using it as a business but earn less than $20,000 annually, you can buy the $60 individual license. Otherwise, the $225 commercial license is for you. Both licenses are full and restriction-free.

A lot of musicians first get into Cubase due to the software commonly being bundled with audio interfaces. I find most Cubase users to be extremely loyal to their DAW, and with good reason. Steinberg actually invented VST plug-ins nearly 15 years ago, and they’ve been quick to integrate the virtual instrument standard ever since. Cubase is a fairly straightforward DAW with some slick new features in its latest versions, including a custom vocal editor called VariAudio, which is very similar in nature to Melodyne. Cubase comes with solid specs (unlimited tracks and I/O) plus a decent suite of plug-ins and instruments.

FINAL THOUGHTS Every DAW on the market today comes with a ton of plug-ins, virtual instruments, built-in quantization, pretty meters, etc. What matters most is that the person using it is actually comfortable with the program. I’ve heard amazing records mixed in Pro Tools, amazing records mixed in Logic, amazing records mastered in Sonar, and so forth. Picking the right DAW for your needs will require you to evaluate the right mixture of specs, price, features and user interface design that works best. Download free trials, use the software, and see what you like. The choice is yours. DECEMBER 2011 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 53


GEAR REVIEWS

MAXON RTO700 TUBE OVERDRIVE $449 CONTROLS GAIN - CONTROLS GAIN LEVEL MASTER - CONTROLS OUTPUT LEVEL ALLOWING USER TO MATCH EFFECT AND BYPASS LEVELS BASS - CONTROLS LOW FREQUENCY RANGE MID - CONTROLS MIDDLE FREQUENCY RANGE TREBLE - CONTROLS HIGH FREQUENCY RANGE NR - CONTROLS AMOUNT OF NOISE REDUCTION WHEN NR IS SWITCHED ON NR ON/OFF - TURNS NOISE REDUCTION ON/OFF

PROS Great tube sound. Small package. Plenty of gain. Noise gate. True bypass switch. CONS Proprietary power supply required (included). Changing tubes may be difficult.

It’s pretty common for guitarists to use a solid state overdrive pedal, as the size of a tube driven unit can eat up a lot of space on a pedal board. Maxon’s RTO700 Real Tube Overdrive delivers real tube tone, in a small box. It’s not much bigger than your average overdrive pedal, and has the usual controls: gain, bass, treble, mid, and master. A noise gate is also included, via a small toggle switch and an adjustable control, allowing the right amount of sound through, while killing unwanted noise. The dual triode preamp tube doesn’t require any warm-up time between switching it on or off. When bypassed, the

PROS Analog feel. Tap tempo. Great sounds. Tons of options. Very quiet.

CONS Too large for smaller pedal boards. Pricey for the average player. MOOG MF-108M CLUSTER FLUX ANALOG FX PROCESSOR $599 FEATURES -Sync LFO modulation effects to MIDI Clock or Tap Tempo -Control Delay Time w/ MIDI Notes -Send/Return Insert for external processing of BBD feedback loop -A second output configurable via DIP switches -Control of Delay Time, Mix and Feedback in Chorus setting Moog’s been making synths for decades, and entered the world of effect pedals in 1998. Their new Cluster Flux pedal brings a whole new world of chorus and flanging effects to guitarists and keyboardists, with an old school analog feel. The Moog aesthetic is very apparent; knobs and switches rule here. No menus, patches or anything hidden away behind an LCD screen (though there is quite a bit hidden in MIDI). The wooden side panels also echo Moog’s past, enhancing its analog vibe. The control panel is quite packed. There are four choices of LFOs (Low Frequency Oscillators) 54 DECEMBER 2011 PERFORMER MAGAZINE

as well as rate and amount control of the LFO. The delay section covers time, feedback, and the selection of chorus or flanger modes. The drive knob gives a bit of grit, nothing too harsh, but warm clipping that enhances the tone without getting muddy. An output level and mix controls round things out. The two switches are the bypass switch and LFO tap tempo function. On the back are the usual input and outputs, expression pedal/CV jacks (more on those later) as well as MIDI In. This pedal is a tweaker’s delight. Yes, you can get classic lush and rich chorus sounds, and the flanging is very sweet, from heavy modulation to the full on “swishing” effect. The best part is there’s no loss of note definition, even at higher settings. The balance of the original signal to effect is perfect. Each LFO waveform has its own character, and all are very musical. Switching between them, you can go from shimmering to warbling to Leslietype effects. Pushing its sonic envelope, it gets into

tube receives power but no signal. It has MUCH more gain than your average overdrive pedal. The gain has a very wide range, from slight clipping to a full-on, old school metal punch, which kind of belies its moniker “overdrive.” There is plenty of note clarity and definition across the entire range of gain settings. Sound-wise, it fits in the classic Fender and Marshall territory, with plenty of bite, but no buzzy or harsh overtones. Rhythm playing has plenty of crunch and delivery; leads are liquid without being oversaturated. The EQ really interacts with the gain nicely, as there is a lot of room to work with. The noise gate doesn’t choke off the tone or overall sound, just the hiss and unwanted noise. Tubes require higher voltages than standard solid state pedals, so the only way to power this unit is via the included power supply, and it doesn’t appear to be compatible with other aftermarket power supplies. It looks like the tube can be changed, but involves unscrewing the back plate. Overall it’s a great pedal for dialing in overdrive or distortion, and the noise gate is an added plus. For that real tube sound without having to break the bank or sacrifice an acre of space on a pedal board, this is well worth it. -Chris Devine

“droid” effects VERY easily. It can do subtle, but it excels in the extremes. Even at maximum levels, it’s still musical, and there is no extraneous noise or hiss when going this far. The adjustments of the mix control and the amount of LFO applied really give the effect its overall definition. The feedback control is what will bring the effect into the extremes; small adjustments make a big difference here! The MIDI In gives the ability to sync the LFO to a MIDI clock. Using it in the studio, the ability to lock in the effect with a song’s BPM really makes a difference, and saves tons of time trying to set it manually. Although it’s not included, adding an expression pedal really gives a ton of “on the fly” control of the feedback, time, LFO rate, mix and LFO amount. An expression pedal is required for each function, which could really crowd a pedal board, but the ability to fully control everything in real time is well worth it. Adding one (or two) expression pedals with this will give plenty of control, depending on what parameters you want to cover, but just the fact that you can control almost everything in real time is a nice option. So who is this pedal for? For a musician looking for a basic chorus or flanger that has “their” settings and never changes them, this might be overkill. For those seeking tons of options and the control of almost every parameter in an analog fashion (and in real time via expression pedals), this is well worth checking out. -Chris Devine


GUITARFETISH.COM THE CURE FOR GAS (GUITAR ACQUISITION SYNDROME)

GuitarFetish.com (GFS) was started in 2004 by Jay Abend with the intention of making his custom gear available to guitar players around the world. “I was happy hand-winding humbuckers for $160 each, but there’s proven to be good business for $30 pickups with the same construction practices and tone,” he comments, before talking about how working exclusively online allows him to develop relationships with customers, respond to e-mails and chat on his forums with players. GFS products aren’t available anywhere but the official website, and their inventory has expanded to include everything you need to build, modify, and play guitars. For those not wanting to get their hands dirty, the custom guitar and pedal lines can’t be beat, including a popular $40 digital foot pedal tuner. Unmatched quality and affordability have earned GFS a broad following, and it’s known as THE website for savvy guitar players who demand quality without breaking the bank. -Garrett Frierson

XAVIERE GUITARS $159 and up These guitars could easily sell for three or four times the price you’d pay for a new one. Seriously. A friend of mine discovered GuitarFetish.com online while searching for guitar parts and bought a XV-JT on a whim, thinking he’d get a cheap plank of wood he could scavenge for parts. Imagine our surprise when the guitar arrived and looked, felt, and sounded so good that my friend decided that he’d leave it intact and play it relentlessly, while his more expensive guitars gathered dust. These axes have become a focus at GFS and in the playing community, with new designs appearing regularly and always at a more affordable price than comparable guitars. Xaviere

-XAVIERE GUITARS AND BASSES -PICKUPS -GUITAR AND BASS HARDWARE -WIRING -NECKS AND BODY BLANKS -KNOBS -BRIDGES -TUNERS -PRE-WIRED PICKGUARDS -CABLES -SOLDERING ACCESSORIES

GEAR REVIEWS

GFS SPECIALTIES

MANUFACTURER PROFILE

mimics many popular body shapes and are made from dry tonewoods with a focus on playability and, of course, the famous GFS pickups. By designing and selling the guitar themselves, GFS cuts out the middleman, which is great for all of us.

CONTACT INFO Jay Abend 45 Hopkinton Rd. Westborough, MA 01581 Email: jay@guitarfetish.com Phone: no calls, please Web: www.GuitarFetish.com

DECEMBER 2011 PERFORMER MAGAZINE 55


photos by Catherine McMillan

TOUR STOP

KENT, OHIO Tucked firmly in the Rust Belt, Kent is the hub of the bucolic surrounding communities that make up Portage County. Much like Cleveland, its cousin to the north, Kent revels in a rich history built upon working-class strife, getting by with grace and humility despite a devastating economic downturn. Hard work and strength are cultivated and

celebrated. The bands in the area are tireless besides being talented. The venues are wellworn but well attended. And the audiences aren’t bored; they’re enthusiastic and appreciative. This classic college town continues to reinvent itself, but never glosses over its gritty yet impassioned core. Instead, they let it shine. -Casandra Armour

RECORD STORE

VENUES JB’s

The Kent Stage

Spin-More Records

175 East Main Street Kent, OH 44240 (330) 677-5005

165 East Main Street Kent, OH 44240 (330) 678-3495

WWW.MYSPACE.COM/FATJIMMYS_KENT

WWW.KENTSTAGE.ORG

WWW.YELP.COM/BIZ/SPIN-MORE-RECORDS-KENT

At a glimpse, JB’s is just a college dive crawling with bros drinking cheap beer and copping cheap feels. But the bar is also a sweaty stage for hard-hitting music, where famous Portage County natives like Joe Walsh and Devo have made appearances. JB’s is also Kent’s only 18+ rock venue.

This reformed movie theater was the place to see cheapie second-run movies in the ’90s, but in 2002 The Western Reserve Folk Arts Association cleaned up the gum under the seats and revamped the venue into a different concept. Now, the theater fosters Kent’s music scene and thrives, hosting icons like Pete Best and Joan Baez along new contemporary classics like India Arie and Ani DiFranco. The theater is also home to the Kent Blues Festival, Up From The River Music Festival, and the Kent State Folk Festival.

The Kent Stage’s next-door neighbor, Spin-More Records boasts a sublime collection of immaculately organized music memorabilia, posters, books, turntable geek gear, and, of course, CDs and vinyl. A sage but refreshingly humble staff guides patrons through the store’s eclectic selection of the necessary, rare, and obscure with equal measures of eagerness and respect. Be sure to bask in the glory of Spin-More’s “Sistine Chapel of Rock,” a ceiling covered in over 450 record sleeves.

The Stone Tavern

GEAR

110 East Main Street Kent, OH 44240 (330) 677-7320

Woodsy’s Music

244 North Water Street Kent, OH 44240 (330) 678-2774

The Outpost 4962 State Route 43 Kent, OH 44240 (330) 678-9667 WWW.OUTPOSTKENT.COM

An ideal pit stop between Pittsburgh and Cleveland, The Outpost is a 500-capacity smalltown tavern that’s all about accommodating bands. The sound and lighting specs for their stages (they have two) are outlined on the website along with a gentle reminder of the obvious: outof-towners should definitely hook up with local bands to help generate a great turnout. Bonus: it’s located about half a mile from a handful of budget hotels off Interstate 76.

WWW.REVERBNATION.COM/VENUE/970781

The Stone Tavern’s attention to detail (like its funky concrete bar), exhibits from local artisans adorning the walls, and a carefully crafted beer selection makes the intimate pub a perfect backdrop for unique music - from sizzling jazz sets to menacing metal bands, and even a vinyl record showcase.

WWW.WOODSYS.COM

Hometown favorite Woodsy’s has enjoyed supplying local musicians with gear for nearly 40 years, pairing old-fashioned courtesy with unparalleled technical knowledge. Woodsy’s is Northeast Ohio’s largest independent, familyowned and operated music store.

PROMOTER

PRESS

Cerebral Entertainment

Buzz Bin Magazine

Kent, OH (216) 533-9508 cerebralent@hotmail.com

56 DECEMBER 2011 PERFORMER MAGAZINE

135 South Water Street Kent, OH 44240 (330) 673-1525

339 Cleveland Avenue NW Canton, OH 44703 (330) 236-5005

FACEBOOK.COM/CEREBRALENTERTAINMENT

WWW.BUZZBINMAGAZINE.COM

Known for his ingenuity as much as his integrity, independent promoter Ian Rice ignites buzz for some of Kent’s hottest alternative, pop, indie, and metal shows.

On the first Wednesday of the month, this alternative print publication (“The What To Do Paper,” as its tagline teases) covers the coolest happenings in arts and entertainment around Kent, Akron, Canton, and Cleveland.


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Performer Magazine