October 16, 2009

News: Lowell & Behold to release new album/host benefit shows to support scholarships

Lowell & Behold, a music-driven community service project, is preparing to release its second volume.

Last year, Seth Bailin of Nice Bass Productions got together with friends Nick Congelosi, Brett Fermeglia and Jason Gibbs (Audio Park Productions) in the hopes of creating a successful fundraising initiative that would promote Lowell musicians and aspiring students of music.

Seth Bailin of Nice Bass Productions and Lowell & Behold

Their efforts certainly came to fruition, as sales of the one-disc compilation Lowell & Behold: Volume 1 in conjunction with their two-night CD release party raised $2,000 dollars.

Each year, proceeds from the CD and the release parties are given to a local high school student who has demonstrated an outstanding passion for music and a need for financial assistance in order to continue to study music in college.

Last year’s event sold a multitude of CD’s and packed a local downtown museum two nights in a row.

Due to the overwhelming support and generosity from fans and musicians, Lowell & Behold: Volume 2 has expanded into a two-disc compilation (one acoustic and one electric) that includes select songs from 28 Lowell musicians and bands. There will be another two-night release party, this time in three locations instead of one.

Lowell & Behold: Volume 2

The first of the CD release parties is on Friday, Dec. 11, at 7 p.m., and will showcase artists featured on the electric disc (Beneath the Sheets, Onslo, Manifest, etc.) at Lowell’s Gemstones club. On Saturday, Dec. 12, from noon to 2 p.m., there will be special acoustic performances (Brandon Downs, That Really Awesome Guy With A Guitar, etc.) at Brew’d Awakening Coffee Haus. Then at 7 p.m., the 119 Gallery will be hosting a final bash with more artists from the acoustic disc like Joshua Beetler, and the Bella Birds.

Other bands on the compilations include Hot Day at the Zoo, Goosepimp Orchestra, Ladderlegs, John Kearney & the Lost Onion, and Ralph Eats Dynamite.

The application process for this year’s Lowell & Behold Scholarship will begin after the release party in late winter and a student will be chosen by the spring of 2010.

-Words by Amanda Macchia

Live Review: Fool's Gold

The Roxy Theater // Los Angeles, CA // Oct. 9, 2009

Fool's Gold

When considering the standard structure of a band, it typically evokes the mental image of four people, each solely responsible for a customary instrument of choice. However, the scene presented before my eyes at the renown Roxy Theater in West Hollywood was anything but ordinary: 10 eclectic musicians descended from various musical backgrounds, joining together to produce an incredibly full, worldly sound.

Fool's Gold

Lead singer Luke Top possessed an entrancingly melodic voice that smoothly transitioned between English and Hebrew throughout the course of Fool’s Gold’s set; yet, he did so with such relative ease that you found yourself becoming lost in the music, unable to distinguish one harmonious language from the next. This duality provided a compelling cohesiveness to Fool’s Gold’s afrobeat sound. The song “Nadine” stuck out particularly to me because of its beautiful arrangement: the bass and various percussion instruments provided a strong foundation, while the robust saxophone elicited Top’s effortlessly nimble vocals.

Fool's Gold

Another highlight of the night was their single “Surprise Hotel,” which commenced with an overwhelmingly catchy guitar riff followed by lyrics sung entirely in Hebrew that resonated off the walls of the Roxy, generating a satiated, hearty sound. I found myself in complete awe of the refreshing ingenuity of the band that stood before me and they possessed a sound that was hard to bracket into a specific genre. There were elements of African tribal music, along with rock and pop roots that resulted in something simply their own. Fool’s Gold provided an intimate, distinctive experience that should be witnessed in person to truly grasp the richness and fullness of their rhythmic beat.

-Review and photos by Becky Moine

October 15, 2009

Check out the CDs we got in the office today

The Light Rays - The Light Rays
Esthema - The Hereness and Nowness of Things
The Art of Attraction - A Gentleman's Agreement

Live Review: The Realistic Orchestra

San Francisco, CA // Oct. 7, 2009

Joe Bagale’s brow was dripping with sweat as he rubbed his hands together, rocking side to side like a priest performing an exorcism, fully capable of destroying evil. His enthusiasm for the music reverberating in the room created an atmosphere alive with electricity and his voice reigned in this energy, projecting it out even more powerfully. Currently nominated for an SF Weekly music award, Bagale fronts the Realistic Orchestra.

The Realistic Orchestra is part of the extensive family referred to as the Jazz Mafia, the brainchild of Adam Theis. Their big band style and monstrous horn section blew the crowd away. Playing all new arrangements, which included elements of hip-hop and R&B, they wowed the crowd so much that most sat still, yet wide-eyed and open. Laughter, bordering on gasps of astonishment, could be heard throughout the room after every solo and throughout most of the set. Bagale introduced sax player Kasey Knudsen as his “favorite saxophonist in the area.” Her solo was bad, as in it was really really good, at least according to the audience, who gave her one of the biggest applauses of the evening. Vocalist Karen Paige rocked the charisma and besides her beautiful voice, captivated people with her free flowing vibe and clean style.

The Jazz Mafia’s Realistic Orchestra shows that different genres of music can work in partnership to create an auditory experience that’s as pleasing as it is exciting. Openness and rejection of labels is the lifeblood of their eclectic collaboration and it could be the answer for those seeking to push the limits of their own musical exploration.

Review by Rose Fellom; photos by Rosalyn Lee


Live Review: Big 10-4, The James Boyd Band, Christian Wilson

The James Boyd Band

Orlando, FL // Oct. 3, 2009

Christian Wilson started off the evening with a solo acoustic set, which began the massive audience singalong that would continue through the night. His set included “Paper Planes,” “Hello My Friend” and “Stuck In My Head.” He closed his set with a
new song, “Lover,” which he said was written for his soon-to-arrive twins about things he wants them to know.

Next up was the James Boyd Band, playing an acoustic set with James Boyd on vocals, Billy Jones on a cajone and Eric Fay and Ben O’Rear on acoustic guitars. Boyd’s powerful vocals shine in any setting and this night was no exception. Most of the songs
from their set came from their newly released self-titled CD, including “I Think About You,” “Endless Light” and “Something To Live For.” Dan Verduin (Big 10-4) joined them onstage for their last two songs, “The Best I Ever Had” and “You’re My Everything.”

Before Big 10-4 took the stage, Christian Wilson and James Boyd joined Dan Verduin onstage to sing “Hanging Around,” in a terrific example of how the Orlando music community bands together in support of each other.

Big 10-4

The crowd roared as Big 10-4 took the stage and started right in on “Irony Is Thick.” The band, Dan Verduin (vocals, guitar, piano), Matt Verduin (guitar), Matthew Reed (guitar), Jacob Morton (bass), and Rob Columbus (drums) included many songs from an earlier record, Testing The Atmosphere, as well as several songs from their most recent release, Magazines & Movie Screens, including “Let Me Know,” “Flipside” and “Good Girl.” For the last song of the regular set they were joined onstage by Christian Wilson, James Boyd, Eric Fay and a few others on “We’ve Been Here.”

Review and photos by Kat Coffin


News: Boston jazz week starts Oct. 18

Wayne Shorter

Boston's Mayor Thomas Menino has named Oct. 18-24 as "Hot and Cool: 40 Years of Jazz at NEC Week" in Boston. The New England Conservatory will celebrate by hosting ticketed and free concerts in the city, which will feature many alumni, faculty and students. Clinics and community events will also be held. All proceeds will support jazz scholarships at the NEC.

The Wayne Shorter Quartet will perform with NEC's Philharmonia on Oct. 24 in Jordan Hall. He will play his first set and then the NEC's Philharmonia and director Hugh Wolff will accompany him. Shorter is writing music specifically for this event.

Another highlight is the NEC Jazz 40th Summit, which features Gunther Schuller, Bob Brookmeyer, Ran Blake, Carl Atkins, Don Byron, Rachael Price, Billy Hart, the NEC Jazz Orchestra and many more. A Generations of Jazz series will feature faculty and alumni of the NEC, including Hankus Netsky, the Dominique Eade Trio, the Michael Winograd Trio, Rachael Price with Lake Street Dive, Jerry Bergonzi and Noah Preminger.

NEC's Jazz Week will also have workshops, master classes, concerts and clinics. For more information, visit necmusic.edu/jazz40.

October 14, 2009

News: Bill boosting small radio stations makes moves

Mike Doyle and Lee Terry

The House Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet voted 15-1 to pass the Local Community Radio Act on Oct. 8. This act would allow hundreds of new Low Power FM (LPFM) stations to form. LPFMs are non-commercial, 100-watt radio stations with a radius of a few miles.

Groups interested in LPFMs were denied licenses in 2000 after Congress ordered the FCC to end distribution after large radio stations complained crowded media markets would affect their business.

The bill will now move forward in the legislative process.

October 13, 2009

Live Review: Damon & Naomi

Amoeba Records // San Francisco, CA // Oct. 9, 2009

There was a diverse range of young and old cozying up between the rows of used CDs and records as Damon & Naomi took the stage at Amoeba Records, all eager to hear the soft and alluring melodies of a seasoned pair of performers. The band was there promoting their new release, The Sub Pop Years, a collection of some of the most popular tracks off their last four albums released on the label, and even found it slightly humorous that the stage was set alongside the “oldies” section of the music store.

Damon & Naomi

Their set consisted of a few of their older hits as well as a handful of covers, ranging from Tim Buckley to Barbra Streisand. Although the cover songs were thoroughly entertaining, they held no weight in comparison to the original pieces performed by the two musicians. Naomi’s voice was captivatingly haunting, maintaining a sense of radiance through its unsteady, yet bewitching sound. Her style of singing was similar to that of Dolores O'Riordan of the Cranberries in that it was elegant, yet powerful. Damon’s guitar playing commanded the room, alternating between a sweet, almost lullaby-like sound, to upbeat rhythms that lifted spirits and ensured a positive atmosphere all listeners. The keys had a breezy, slightly hollow sound that helped tie together the overall tranquil experience.

The performance illustrated why Damon & Naomi have been around and thriving for so many years. Their mature, yet captivating style is appealing to both their older fans and younger generations who appreciate the raw beauty that music can convey.

-Review and photo by Stephanie Dotto

Live Review: People Under the Stairs

529 // Atlanta, GA // Oct. 3, 2009

I admit that it wasn’t until this year that I familiarized myself with the underground hip-hop duo People Under the Stairs. I first discovered them when they appeared in an early slot on the Bonnaroo 2009 bill. Although I missed that show, I later got my hands on some of their albums from the turn of the millennium, like The Next Step and O.S.T., whose humorous yet socially conscious attitude brought to mind hip-hop’s golden age — specifically my personal favorite group, A Tribe Called Quest.

Fortunately, the A3C Hip-Hop Festival in East Atlanta last weekend provided me with a second chance to catch PUTS in action. Even though they were billed for a 12 p.m. Saturday night slot opposite legendary rapper Rakim, the line was already overflowing out the door when I arrived at 529 an hour and a half early.

Part of this was the size of the venue (really fucking small), but the bigger part probably had to do with opening act Clan Destined, who displayed intellectual, biting raps filled with wordplay and whose smooth, R&B-spiked production was a fitting prelude to PUTS’ own funky, jazzy beats.

People Under the Stairs

People Under the Stairs, comprising emcees/DJs Thes One and Double K, respectively of Hispanic and African American descent, were a nonstop whirwind of energy from the moment they took the stage. Both were literally inches from the front row of people and handled all of the beat making without any extra hands.

Both rappers generated plenty of witty rhymes and adept wordplay, swinging between gritty, streetwise raps and biting intellectualism, but Thes One’s agile, rapid-fire delivery ultimately made him shine just a little brighter.

Thanks to the wall-to-wall crowd that filled the room to maximum capacity, the experience quickly became intimate — but that’s not to say it got quiet and cozy. Thes One and Double K didn’t rest for a second, aggressively interacting with the crowd until every single person, all the way back to the fire exit, was jumping like all hell to the beat. Coupling their intricate lyrics with pummeling, in-your-face rhythms and velvety deep-funk textures, PUTS delivered a ferocious performance and stirred even the wallflowers out of complacency.

People Under the Stairs played several new cuts from their forthcoming seventh album Carried Away along with a potent dose of fan classics. Regardless, every song was met with open arms.

-Review and photo by John Barrett

Live Review: Jason Walls, The Delayed Green, The Escape Pod

Central Station Rock Bar // Orlando, FL // Oct. 2, 2009

Central Station Rock Bar is a small place, with a little stage tucked into a back corner. This show had a capacity crowd spilling out onto the front sidewalk where luckily everyone could still hear the music.

The Escape Pod

Jason Walls started the evening off with a solo acoustic set. The Orlando-based singer/songwriter doesn’t play very many shows so it was a treat for his fans to see him performing live. The former front man for Fifth Year Crush played several songs from the band’s record, Wearing This Life, including “Swallowing Stones” and “Blinded,” as well as some unrecorded material and a Switchfoot song, “24.”

The Delayed Green

The Orlando band The Delayed Green was up next, or rather half of them, with Stephy B on keyboard and Jae Ralph on vocals and acoustic guitar. The keyboards add a nice, ethereal vibe to their rock music. Their energetic set included “I’m Alive,” “Space Between You” and “Saturation.” They also played the band’s single, “Lead You Home,” and passed out free copies of it on CD for the audience. The closed their set with a cover of the Barenaked Ladies song, “Brian Wilson.”

Jason Walls

The last band of the evening, The Escape Pod, played a high energy set of modern prog rock with a funky vibe, including their song “Fire Away.” The small stage could barely contain the Orlando-based four-piece band during their big, funky jams – even vocalist Josh would hop off the stage and leave them to it.

-Review and photos by Kat Coffin

New records in the office today!

Rita J – Artist Workshop
The Black 100s – Out With the Stars
Sam Shrieve – Bittersweet Lullabies
Andrea Capozzoli – So Real
Katie Pearlman – We Make This
Zweng – Silent Scream of Gulls
Benjamin Burgess – Skeleton Forms
Badapple – We’re All Right Here
Jeremy James – Such Noble Men
Cemetery Superfly – Ghost in the Radio
O’Brother – The Death of Day
Duet for Theremin and Lap Steel - Live
Three At Last – Self-Titled
Eula – Language of Threat
Ginger Ibex - Firefly
No Friends – Self-Titled
CRGruve – Naughty and Nice
Gunslingers Anonymous – The Karma
Mudcat – Freedom Creek

October 12, 2009

Check out the CDs we got in the mail today

Emerald Rose - That Night in the Garden
The Very Foundation - This Restless Enterprise
Santa's Misfits - Christmas Frendzy
The States - We Are the Erasers
Comanchero - Americana Nueva
I'm Chinese - Already Free
Casket Architects - Future Wounds
The Galen Kipar Project - October Snow
Brilliant Colors - Introducing
Holopaw - Oh, Glory. Oh, Wilderness.
Gunslinger - Fresh Water

Portland Music Foundations holds annual kick-off event

On Oct. 22, the Portland Music Foundation will have its third-annual kick-off event and open house at One City Center. The event allows musicians and people interested in Portland, Maine's music community to network and sign up for membership with the PMF. Local bands and PMF members will be performing and businesses will be available to discuss their contributions to the local music community. Some of the bands featured are Loki, Roy Davis and Brzowski.

Portland music veterans created this foundation in June 2007. It currently has 300 members working together to help local musicians. Since it started, they have received a grant from the Maine Arts Commission, had a series of educational forums, created benefits such as discounts for members and even worked to teach members about a new beneficial tax law.

Singer-songwriter Audrey Ryan promotes new record, documentary with DIY flair

Audrey Ryan, an experimental indie folk singer-songwriter in the Boston scene, has quite a bit on her plate after a relaxing summer in the Acadia region of Maine. "I needed to recharge my batteries by taking a break from city life and constantly touring and gigging all over the place," she says. Not only did she take in Maine's beauty while rehabbing an old cabin, she also worked on some new material.

Since returning to the Bean after Labor Day, Ryan has had four CD release shows for her new album, I Know, I Know. At these shows, she has been using her one-man-band setup. "They always seem to appreciate it since there is so much going on at the same time," she says.

I Know, I Know was recorded over the past year in Maine and in her loft. For the record, she played her music one-man-band style, with Stephen Brodsky of the Boston band, Cave In, engineering it on a 4-track. Nick Zampiello at New Alliance mixed and mastered the record. "It remains pretty lo-fi and live-sounding, which is what I wanted because it sounds pretty much the same at a live show,” Ryan says.

Her last and homecoming CD release show will be on Oct. 17 in the Sanctuary at the Clarendon Hill Presbyterial Church in Somerville.

At the show, she will also be screening a documentary called Loft Show Upstairs. Mike Boudo, producer for Channel 7 News and an avid music lover, taped some shows Ryan held in her loft during the winter and spring. The story focuses on her DIY space and philosphy.

After her final release show, Ryan will be touring Europe for a few weeks. She's going to Ireland and the U.K. since her U.K. label, Folkwit Records, is best positioned there. "I'm pretty bummed I'm not going to Paris this year, but I also hate traveling too much when I'm in Europe, as in flying every couple days," Ryan says. "It just wears me out, so I'm glad that this tour is kind of concentrated on those two markets that are very easy to get around.”

This girl is full of plans. After Europe, she will be touring the U.S. with Richard Julian, a singer-songwriter in a band with Norah Jones called The Little WIllies. She plans to go back to SXSW next year, play a lot of shows, and work on her next record. She's also thinking about having more loft shows in the winter.

Ryan says she can make an impact through her loft shows. "From my perspective, all I can do is just create a scene among the artists I know and like, which at this point spreads way beyond New England," she said. "My loft really helps me do that and I just hope that I can continue to host shows and have events there."

Though ideal, the space is not without troubles. She recently went through a change in ownership and foreclosure problems. "I truly believe a city can actually be judged by its art, so if this city gets too expensive and turns all its artists on the street like what happens in San Francisco where the artists actually protested in the streets for affordable spaces, it will be a sad day," she says. "But for now, I'm just going to keep doing my DIY shows and being a DIY artist the best I can considering the general saturation of the market at well as the economic challenges."

Darlene Dobkowski