Hannah Thomas may be a fresh-faced 21-year-old, but she’s got a seasoned voice that sounds like it’s seen it all already. And maybe it has seen a good bit. Thomas made her debut at an open mic night at Atlanta’s songwriter haunt, Eddie’s Attic back in 2006. From there, it was full-steam ahead”taking first place in competitions, appearing on local TV and radio shows and releasing a record. The Rest is Yet to Come is Thomas’ first offering, a low country, bluesy, coming-of-age anthem that sounds like it could have been written by KT Tunstall. Will I get married settle down and have some babies? Or spend my whole life searching and never find love? the singer muses. Thomas’ deep, smoldering drawl is her calling card. The electric guitars may whinny, the bass and drums may thump, but it’s Thomas’ voice that will thrill you to your country-lovin’ core.
What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas is one of the most famous travel mottos out there thanks in part to the abundance of casinos, clubs and lavish resorts. This week, we’ll stop in and take a virtual look at “Sin City” and learn why it has become the Entertainment Capital of the US.
The music scene of Las Vegas is obviously flooded with outlandish onstage performances, big name acts and huge venues. In terms of a local scene, it’s much different than many other scenes. It’s difficult to find a band that actually claims their origins in Vegas, as it is flooded with big name acts and non-musical extravaganza performances. Perhaps this is why Vegas immediately conjures up images of Wayne Newton, Siegfried & Roy and Cher.
Much of the Vegas entertainment market is tied directly to the casino/resort market. Many of these establishments, like the Bellagio and the MGM Grand, have their own notable stage. Extravagant performances like Cirque du Soleil attract many visitors to huge auditoriums every year. On top of this, Vegas also has venues exclusively devoted to music and touring acts. The Las Vegas House of Blues is one of the most well known locations of the nation-wide venue chain started by Dan Aykroyd. In the coming weeks it will host Lamb of God, Hatebreed and Steel Panther. Another large chain in Vegas, The Hard Rock Café, will host Neon Trees and the Paper Tongues.
Las Vegas also has its share of smaller-sized clubs to offer. When pouring over the scene, what stuck out to me the most was the blues/rock presence. Many of the clubs in the area cater to guitar heavy blues music with a west coast flair. The Sand Dollar, located on Spring Mountain Rd is a bit off the beaten path. However, they offer a lineup of resident blues musicians with that heavy, driving Vegas sound.
OurStage Vegas rock band Left Standing”an in-your-face melodic, alternative rock band that has been tearing up stages cross country for the past several years”was kind of enough to give me their personal experiences in the local Vegas scene. The band has participated in shows for 94.1 and 107.5 which has hosted shows for bands like Papa Roach, System of a Down, Switchfoot, Cypress Hill, Godsmack, Staind and Stone Temple Pilots. They’ve played venues like Whiskey a Go Go, The Viper Room and The Stone Pony. To put things into perspective, the band said, “There are so many things to do in this city besides going to see a local band that if you are not on your game people will lose interest quickly.” This sentiment sums up the whole Sin City vibe and really portrays the difficulty of the local music scene. According to Left Standing, Vegas is a musical “family of diversity”.
The band paid tribute to the Vegas House of Blues by naming it their favorite local room to play. “Huge stage, great sound, a place that can hold a lot of people, but at the same time still feels intimate. A lot of venues lose the most important thing in rock, the connection between the fans and the band.” The band even went into discussion about some of the local radio stations (KOMP 92.3 and 107.5 Extreme Radio) and their tendency to play music by bands that will be playing locally in the coming week.
Check out Left Standing’s OurStage profile to stay tuned for the release of their latest album Brand New Day which will be available on iTunes as well as on their Web site. Catch them on their upcoming cross-country tour.
The OK Go craze swept the nation after the release of their famous treadmill video. But a viral YouTube video can only take you so far. You need to have the look, the attitude and, of course, the sound. Upbeat pop music can take on many forms. This week’s Poptarts pick, Koalia, supports that OK Go aesthetic with an almost Sugar Ray-like flair. Yes, that was a Sugar Ray reference.
The band’s latest single, Radioman, left the whole OurStage office nodding their heads when I played it. With upbeat rhythms, optimistic vocals and a pinch of distortion, what else would you expect ? In fact, if you listen hard enough you can hear the echoes of a ’60s pop-rock song, complete with 3 part harmonies and clear electric guitars. The bottom line: this band creates music synonymous with the term party pop/rock.
Koalia hails from Finland and boasts significant regional notoriety. While the Finnish indie scene isn’t commonly discussed, the band has secured many gigs and collaborations within their local market. Recently, Koalia played gigs in the cities of Oulu and Tempere. In addition to ranking high on OurStage, their music has been featured on local radio station YLEX as well as other online indie radio. Currently, they are working on a video for “Radioman.” Keep an eye out for it, and listen to the song here:
If you liked our folk artist pick Meg Hutchinson a few weeks ago, you’ll be excited to hear that our choice this week is Antje Duvekot. These two artists have unique careers and sounds, and they share a few things in common. Both are a strong songwriting presence in the greater Boston area (winning several individual songwriting contests/mentions). They are also prominent members of the Boston-based, songwriting all-star cast that makes up Winterbloom.
Duvekot’s music merges the folk and country aesthetic with indie and singer/songwriter vocals and lyrics. In fact, all the angst, poetry and longing in Duvekot’s lyrics easily accent the lofty melodies with which she sings them. When are you going to come for me, Lord? is the opening line of the chorus in her song Pearls. Juxtaposed with the somewhat dark lyrics that riddle the verses, this line is sung with an appropriately memorable tune. The request sung so many times in the song, seems to be answered by the end with catchy, satisfying progressions and smooth, natural accompaniment. Check it out:
With several songwriting and folk awards (including regional artist awards and the grand prize in the John Lennon Songwriting Contest) under her belt, Duvekot obviously has a talent for writing and the performance chops to go with it. And thanks to frequent performances on the festival circuit, domestically at the Mountain Stage festival and abroad at The Celtic Connections Festival in Scotland and the Tonder Festival in Denmark, she’s shared the stage with acts like Patti Griffin, Lyle Lovett and the Indigo girls. Her song Merry Go Round was even featured on a 2008 Bank of America commercial which aired during the Super Bowl. Take a listen and get your dose of tasteful arrangements and thoughtful lyrics.
To wrap up this week’s Needle in the Haystack, we’re bringing you an awesome interview with the band Brightside Drive. These up-and-coming stars have a lot going for them, so it will be exciting to see how they continue on with their promising career. Check out the video below as well as their free track What If? from Monday’s post.
Check it! Every Friday on the OurStage Blog, we will be featuring exclusive content from the one-and-only VIBE.com. Stay tuned for weekly photos, music, news and reviews coming straight from the source that’s redefining hip hop.
UPDATE: Fantasia Leaving Hospital Soon, According To Manager Statement
As Fantasia Barrino recovers from her Monday night overdose of aspirin and sleep aids, her manager, Brian Dickens, has released a statement reporting on her condition.
Dickens’ statement says that the former American Idol winner, who’s recently found herself in the center of a love triangle with on-and-off boyfriend Antwaun Cook and his alleged wife, is in stable condition and will be released from the hospital soon. Continue reading on Vibe.com…
B.o.B: ‘Charles Hamilton Is Not Crazy’
At the moment, B.o.B is in the proverbial zone. The Georgia-born rapper, guitarist and producer has garnered immense global commercial success as his first two singles Nothin’ on You and Airplanes have dominated the Billboard pop charts and radio. The unlikely crossover star, whose debut album B.o.B Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray has received critical acclaim, also scored a high profile television commercial spot with Adidas which features his new single Magic. Yet, as he takes in his breakout accomplishments, the state of his friend and past collaborator Charles Hamilton is heavy on B.o.B’s mind.
The troubled Hamilton, who was recently released from New York’s Long Beach Medical Center psych unit, has had a few rough years since getting publicly slapped by a girl on video and becoming a music blog pariah. But B.o.B says the eccentric pink headphone-wearing MC is not as off the ledge as he is being portrayed. Continue reading on Vibe.com…
‘Love The Way You Lie’ Director: ‘Megan [Fox] Was The Key’
Eminem and Rihanna shattered Youtube records last Thursday (Aug. 5) for the most views in a 24-hour period with their visual ride for Love The Way You Lie, bringing in over 6.6 million hits on the first day of its release.
Directed by Joseph Kahn, who has worked with Marshall on three previous projects and crafted videos for the likes of Elton John, Janet Jackson, and U2, Love The Way You Lie also stars actors Megan Fox and Dominic Monaghan. With the song’s real-life connection to both Em and RiRi, the video has sparked some debate over it’s depiction of domestic violence and casting of Hollywood eye-candy. However, Kahn says it was his idea to bring in the starring thespians. Continue reading on Vibe.com…
In June, OurStage partnered with John Mayer to sponsor the John Mayer Side Stage Warfare Competition, giving up-and-coming artists the opportunity to play side stage gigs on select dates of his Battle Studies Tour. Hartford natives Bronze Radio Return were selected by John Mayer and his team as winners of the Boston Channel and recently performed their set at the Comcast Center in Mansfield, MA. We sat down with the members of Bronze Radio Return prior to their performance to learn a little more about the band, their music, and their live show among other things.
Listening to their songs, it’s evident that the band does not easily fall into one genre of music. We asked the guys to fill us in on their influences and how they define themselves. “We all come from pretty diverse musical backgrounds, describes lead singer Chris Henderson. We try to incorporate styles from blues, Americana and folk music all with kind of a modern indie rock type twist to things.” Henderson added, “A lot of us grew up listening to old records from our parents record collections. I grew up listening to a lot of blues music at home, and there’s something about the ambiance, the realness of a record that makes you feel like you’re a part of the recording…we’re attracted to that.”
Since several band members have jazz backgrounds, the genre finds its way into their live performances. “We really like to open up the live shows, get a lot of energy in there, feed off the crowd and get people moving, explains bass player Bob Tanen. We try to make it an experience not just like your hearing the record, you’re seeing a full show.”
Through their performance on the Battle Studies Tour, the band hopes to attract new followers. “We actually play in Boston quite a bit, but it’s great to get out in front of a new crowd,” commented drummer Rob Griffith. So that’s what we’re really hoping for today is to get some of these Mayer fans to check us out and come up to Boston to see us play.” Tanen commented, “it’s allowing us to be in front of a bunch of different bands that we might not have been in contact with. We do play in Boston so its great for these people to come out and get a chance to see us in a different venue. If they like John Mayer and then they end up seeing us, and we’re somewhat musically associated, its not bad company. We’re trying to do our own thing and I think it will be a great chance for us to really see a lot of new fans and a lot of new faces.”
Bronze Radio Return, like many other up-and-coming bands, use online resources to promote their music and keep fans in the loop about upcoming shows. Lead guitarist Patrick Fetkowitz weighed in on the OurStage experience. “OurStage is really awesome because they provide an outlet for independent bands to put their music out there and let people hear it and let people discover something that they might not have heard through any other outlet. It really is an equal playing ground for all the bands, everyone is on the same level and everyone is trying to bring their music to the masses…so it’s a really awesome environment.”
The band is currently touring the east coast, and has plans to begin recording their new record in the fall. “We are getting material ready for a new record that we’re cutting at the end of September. We recorded our last record in Nashville with a great young producer named Chad Copelin, and we’re going to work with him again at his home studios in Oklahoma.” You can check out their music and their OurStage profile here. You can also see a video of the band performing “It’s OK Now” live from their side-stage performance in Mansfield below.