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Discourse & Dischord

The Good

Weezer chooses photo of Hurley as cover art for Hurley

In the ultimate show of fandom, Weezer has selected a photo of a smiling Jorge Garcia, who played the character of Hurley on Lost, as the album art for the band’s upcoming album, also titled Hurley. (Confused yet?) Garcia is rightfully stoked about getting the cover. This is really close to the top, for sure. One thing Garcia is less thrilled about is his ponytail in the shot, which looks like it’s starting to come loose or something. Look, Hurley, count your blessings. Some people can’t even grow ponytails (looking at you, John Locke).

Britney Spears to appear on Glee

Yup, it’s really happening. Ms. Spears is not only getting a whole episode dedicated to her music, she’s also getting an acting part. Squeal! Jazz hands! Theater kids!

The Bad

Idol winner Fantasia ODs

After scandal erupted over her affair with a married man and an alleged sex tape, American Idol winner Fantasia Barrino overdosed on aspirin and sleeping pills and was rushed to the hospital in Charlotte, NC. The singer was released two days later with no life-threatening injuries. Besides the shame, embarrassment and guilt, she’s fine now. Which leads us to the question”Has there ever been a happy ending involving a sex tape? (On second thought, don’t answer that.)

The Ugly

Bieber gets water-bottled

During a concert in Sacramento, California, an overly excited fan (or that fan’s jealy boyfriend) threw a water bottle at Justin Bieber that hit him right in the face. Luckily it was captured on video. Two questions: 1) Why are we just seeing this now and 2) Wouldn’t it be cool if someone made the footage into a sweet remix? Oh wait, they did. Check it out below.

Miscellany

Kanye West back to following nobody on Twitter
Erykah Badu goes blonde, gets ˜hawk
Lady Gaga stage dives into crowd at Lollapalooza
Julian Casablancas wants to write theme song for NY Mets
Arcade Fire debuts at Number 1 on Billboard
M.I.A. debuts extremely SFW video for XXXO
Broken Social Scene endorses fan slap video for All to All
Soundgarden release comeback single Black Rain
Alanis Morissette is pregnant

Bronze Radio Return Perform Side Stage On John Mayer's Battle Studies Tour

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.

Soul Searching: Jonas

While searching for soul, it was hard not to have Jonas and his band pop up on our radar. We’ve featured Jonas briefly in a blog last February, and it’s about time he gets another shout out. His soulful voice meets jazzy chords, and tight vocal harmonies perfectly. You’ll really start grooving when you hear the strings come in on the track below! He brings in that old school feel and has been known to compose his music in a typical impromptu Motown fashion.

Jonas resides in the UK and has assembled a band full of talent. Each member brings their own style and expertise to the recording. Because they arrange a lot of their music on the spot in the studio, it takes high caliber musicians to create the kind of music that’s created on this record. Jonas and his band has toured the USA, the UK as well as Africa. His most recent album WAITT was based on the concept of We Are In This Together. The band’s cohesiveness clearly follows this concept. Take a listen bellow and let us know what you think. As always, send in your recommendations for R&B and Soul artists to feature in the upcoming weeks!

Festivus: Mile High

Whether we like it or not, we’ve reached August and this year’s festival season is nearing the finish line. We’ve had some good times, like Jay Z tearing it up at Bonnaroo and chatting up HANSON at Bamboozle. No need to get sentimental too soon, though. Festival season still has a few tricks up its sleeve. This weekend marks the start of the Mile High Music Festival, a 2 day fest held in Commerce City, Colorado at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. The festival announced earlier this year that instead of its usual mid-July slot, the fest would be pushed back to August 14th and 15th.

When you look at all the factors of a successful festival, moving Mile High was a smart move. The promotors at AEG referenced the hot weather of July as a reason for the reschedule. They also expressed a desire to postpone until after last weekend’s Lollapalooza in hopes of scoring some of the acts. Another interesting dynamic, the FMQB annual Triple A Conference takes place in Boulder August 11th-14th, so its possible some of the Mile High acts would play to the 2010 music summit, killing 2 birds with one stone.

Since AEG was also working with Rothbury, the cancellation of that festival opened up the talent pool for Mile High. Indeed, many big acts have packed themselves into the 2 day lineup. Both single and 2-day passes are still available, so check out Mile High’s Web site for more info.

Viewer Discretion Advised: La Blogotheque – The Take Away Shows

No doubt about it, the Internet provides hours upon hours of mind-numbing entertainment. And while I’ve personally never been one of those people who becomes absorbed in watching coordinated dance moves or dads getting hit in the junk by baseballs on YouTube, I have found an online obsession that is both stimulating and inspiring. La Blogotheque is a French blog/Web site that it pretty difficult to do any decent research on since Google isn’t much for translating. But music in universal and all you need to know is the URL to enjoy this somewhat spontaneous cataclysm of creativity.

Founder Chryde aspired to mix up the music-sharing world and enlisted Vincent Moon, an independent film maker from Paris who wanted to film music in a different way. Moon is best known for R.E.M.’s Supernatural Superserious Music Video, as well as his work with other mainstream artists such as Tom Jones. Moon went on to film musicians in Paris, and The Take Away Show was born in 2006. The Take Away Show, as I’m sure you’re probably wondering, is a unique single take recording of an artist or band performing two or three tracks in an improvisational setting.

To break it down, think The Kooks traveling through the streets of Paris while young fans collect in their wake performing “Oh La La” like modern pied pipers. Or Mumford & Sons singing “Awake My Soul” to a French woman hanging out her courtyard window as they translate the chorus to her native language. Footage is left raw, few edits are made and the camera shakes with Moon’s hand as he travels from face to face, reaching odd angles of the street or trees.

The organic footage, which views as something between a live performance and a finished music video, somehow retains a lovely and haunting sound. For their Take Away Show, Phoenix hijacks a tourist bus and then plays under a bridge at the bottom of the Eiffel Tower  The band brings forward a sort of raw charisma that is lost in their smoothed over and diluted sounding records.

Earlier I referred to The Take Away Shows as being “somewhat” spontaneous because in Chryde’s explanations of each show, he goes into detail about the stressful planning that actually goes into creating something so deliciously impromptu. While he writes each bio in French, its easy to see his creative skills expand past just film making. Take this excerpt from 2007’s Take Away Show with Arcade Fire.

“During those weeks, I had been in continual contact with Vincent Morisset, who runs the Neon Bible site. Win and Régine had been responsible for coordinating our Take Away Show. We had discussed dates and places, imagining the Madeleine at night, the knoll at the íŽle de la Cité, an old café, a roundabout behind the Olympia…We checked the weather every day and despaired about the cold front that was passing through Paris. We had surveyed the entire inhumane neighborhood from top to bottom, trying to anticipate the crowd, the willpower of the group, the cold and the fatigue. Then, suddenly, we had a plan. Win asked if there was a freight elevator. We found it, Win smiled, and The Take Away Show was no longer in our hands.

We knew that The Take Away Show with Arcade Fire wouldn’t be like the others. The project was made for them because they’re of a different kind, a different essence. We had spent the afternoon with them when suddenly we realized, in a flash: yes, this group is different.

We had been playing the role of outsider the entire day, like a foreign body that latches onto the daily grind of these magnificent musicians. We had to adapt, through astonishment and wonder, as the band took up their instruments and started to play. But Arcade Fire didn’t take us as outsiders. It all seemed to unfold naturally: we entered into their logic as they awaited us and eventually swallowed us up. It was now Win Butler’s Take Away Show, and we followed.”

In honor of Arcade Fire’s 3rd release The Suburbs last week, below you can watch their very own Take Away Show, in which they perform a thrilling rendition of “Neon Bible” in a freight elevator. Be sure to check out La Blogotheque’s Web site which houses over 100 different Take Away Shows from artists like Bon Iver, Black Lips, Yeasayer, The National, Sufjan Stevens, Xiu Xiu, Andrew Bird, The Shins, Caribou and more.

Tune Up: Line 6 Pod and Tone Port

We’ve all been to a live show and seen the massive wall of speaker cabinets and amplifiers behind the band. In many ways, this display is an indicator of notoriety for an act. However, the sound usually goes into the house mixing board and out the huge PA speakers anyway. So, if they’re just placing mic’s on these amps or taking the direct-out signal, do they really need the huge cabinets? Sure, many artists love the sound of their specific amplifier but, I’ve seen a few shows where the guitar players go up there amp-less. Now in order for YOU to get that amp-powered sound with the sweetest effects on the market, you’ll need some effects processors and probably an amp modeler.

Some of the best amp modeling technology out there (for both guitar and bass applications) is from Line 6. Most specifically their POD® guitar effects processor. If you play guitar, you’ve definitely heard about it. This portable effects processor can save a bunch of presets for ease of access and can be controlled by various foot petals, making it an ideal candidate for a live guitarist. Line 6, of course preloads many of their amps with the same technology they use in the PODs®. Our personal favorite application is the POD® technology as included in the software package that accompanies the Line 6 TonePort/POD Studioâ„¢series. These devices are USB connectible recording interfaces that come in a wide variety of input types and channels. First, we’ll review the TonePort®, and then we’ll give you some of my favorite guitar settings using the POD® effects and amp-modeling technology.

TonePort/POD Studioâ„¢:

This audio interface is one my choices for tracking guitars, bass and vocals in a home studio setting. The line offers the UX1, UX2 and UX8 interfaces, respectively featuring 1, 2 and 8 simultaneous recording inputs into your digital audio workstation (DAW). This guitar amp/effects sound legend broke onto the recording interface scene with huge success. We picked up a UX2 a few years ago as an interface to use for electronic compositions and song demo recording. However, it quickly became our go-to device for portable recording and professional-quality singer/songwriter tracks. UX2 has two 48v-enabled XLR inputs for stereo micing (or two separate mono mic’s), as well as two Hi-Z TRS inputs for recording direct in (one of which is even padded). It’s got the standard analog outs and even S/PDIF for a stereo digital output. Finally, it has a couple of amp meters that can be assigned to any audio ins or outs from the software the comes with the interface.

Even though many studios don’t use Line 6 recording devices, the actual recording technology in the POD Studio â„¢ is awesome (and becoming more and more popular every day). They also come with the POD Farm modeling/effects package. These are, of course, the awesome sounds that guitarists have come to enjoy in the POD® effects processor used for live settings. This way, you can run these effects through your DAW as a plug-in, and you are essentially given a very intuitive, computer screen control.

POD® Amp Modeling/Effects

This brings us to a discussion of the actual modules and effects you can achieve using the POD® technology. The POD® guitar effects processor designed for use in live settings has become somewhat of a standard for processing. Many pros use the sounds, and as mentioned, you can go onstage using the device directly with the PA. This is because the amp modeling simulates many of the tube and solid state amps made famous in the music industry. The technology goes much further, however. You can string together stomp boxes, amps, processors, rack units and expression pedals. With so many combination possibilities, you can really achieve any sound you want. The software and the POD® device come with a lot of presets as well, giving you the tools to sound specifically like some of the most famous guitar tracks out there.

Now, we promised to give you a couple great patching examples. Below, you’ll find accompanying screenshots using our slightly older version of the Gearbox software (which includes much of processing modules and accompanies the Toneport devices). Note: An updated POD Farm screenshot is shown above.

Clean/Full Delay:

For this effect, we start with their Mr. Clean preset and edit from there. This setup gives us a great, washy sound with complicated instances of delay. This is perfect for a U2-esque bed of delay-produced polyrhythms. We’ll provide you with the amp model we used as well as the virtual effects boxes. Here’s what it looks like:

Amp: 1987 Jazz Clean with matching 2×12 Cabinet

Modules: Gate (add a bit more decay), Volume, Delay (increase feedback and sync tempo with song), Reverb (add a bit more “dry” to the mix), Microphone Placement (40%, Condenser Mic), Comp and EQ (adjust to taste).

Full Distortion:

We’d like to also show you a great distortion tone that can be used for a full rock sound. For this one, we like to start with Line 6’s American Punk preset. The sound is gritty but full and well-rounded. It’s enough to turn any modern rock song into an epic arrangement. Here’s the screen shot:

Amp: 1968 Plexi Lead 100 with 1×15 1962 Thunder Cabinet

Module: Gate, Volume, Stomp (Classic Distortion with higher tone and higher drive), EQ (adjusted to taste) and Reverb (with only a tiny bit of wet in the wet/dry mix).

In closing, we hope we’ve given you some insight on the POD ®technology. We’ve only scratched the surface and given you a fraction of the things you can achieve with this modeling technology. Obviously, we recommend toying around with the presets and making your own. Feel free to use our examples as a springboard. POD ®technology is really the best of all worlds.

Behind the Mic: Hitting the Streets

One of the toughest parts about being a musician is getting people who aren’t your friends to care about your band. With a bit of luck and some effective persuasion, you can turn casual fans and acquaintences into a solid street team: a group of people who use grassroots marketing to promote your band.

Most street teams are sent on “missions” to hang flyers or pass out stickers. While these materials are relatively cheap to produce and provide, they are ultimately forgettable. Developing more creative missions will not only better engage your street team,  it will make your promotion more effective.

Florida pop-punk band Automatic Loveletter has a massive street team, with representatives in over one hundred cities and twenty countries. The band has always encouraged members to come up with creative missions of their own, offering free tickets, merch and exclusive online content to whoever comes up with the most unique marketing idea.

In January of 2009, Automatic Loveletter street team members competed with each other by posting pictures of all the creative ways they promoted the band. One fan took photos of supermarket foods re-labeled with Automatic Loveletter’s name and Web site address.  Another fan who worked in a video store placed a promotion card inside every DVD rental. Others decorated their cars, held posters on the side of the road and put mini flyers in clothing at their local mall.

Take a tip from Automatic Loveletter”make your street team missions fun, challenging and creative. Your fans will get much more passionate about their work and your band’s name will be far more memorable.

The Winter of Our Content

Winterbloom

Supergroups can go both ways”the members’ star power can collide and spectacularly self implode with one hit, a la Velvet Revolver and Audioslave. Or they can integrate more gracefully and enjoy a longer ride, like Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Winterbloom is almost certainly destined for lasting adoration. The side project of five, renowned Boston-based singer-songwriters already selling-out shows on their own”the group coalesced after what was supposed to be a one-off performance together at a Cambridge club. Listen to just one of their songs and you’ll understand why the audience fell hard that night. Start with The Alchemist, a full collaboration between member songwriters Antje Duvekot, Anne Heaton, Meg Hutchinson, Rose Polenzani and Natalia Zukerman. Sparse and lovely, the tune familiarizes the audience with each voice in turn”every ridge and notch, every barb and lilt. Apart, their timbres are completely unique, but together they melt into sailing harmonies that bring on the chills. Rexroth’s Daughter is alt-country perfection, a quixotic and dusty union of lap steel and burnished croons. For Tumbalalaika (The Riddle) Winterbloom trades Americana for a Slavic folk song”haunting and dark. There’s an enormous amount of talent at this table so you’ll want to sit with these songs a good while.

GuacaMusic: Flamenco

Is flamenco Latin?

Think about it. What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the words Latin music? Is it salsa? Reggeaton? Cumbia?

Whatever it is, it probably isn’t flamenco. Well, you should know that, just like many great things Latin, this magical music has its roots in Spain, the “Madre Patria” (Homeland) of most Latin American countries.

If you’ve been to Spain, or know any españoles, you probably know that the main elements of flamenco”the poetical cante (song), the guitar, the baile (dance)”are true staples of España. The truth is, flamenco is also a huge element of today’s Latin American music.

Here at OurStage, you can find an array of talented artists that incorporate flamenco into their music creations. Take for example the remarkable Paralamera by Six Strings and a Piece of Wood, a combination of flamenco and rumba that will transport you to Madrid or Sevilla in no time.

Now, if you are feeling in Spain already, spice it up by playing any song by Jeffrey Briggs, a classical and flamenco guitarist who also plays Latin American music. Briggs has studied with Spanish flamenco guitarist Juan Serrano, Nubian Oud player Hamza el Din and Argentinian charango virtuoso Jaime Torres. Pay extra attention to the piece Rumba Flamenca and try to trace the origins of rumba, as it traveled from Africa to Cuba and then back to Spain.

Did you know that flamenco has a deep gypsy influence?

Por favor, do not miss exploring the music of Inner Gypsy, a guitar player and a flute player who found each other in New York City and became music soulmates. Play Gypsychology on OurStage right now and see how flamenco rhumba meets acoustic jazz fusion with exquisite results.

For other flamenco flavored pieces with a gypsy touch, follow some of the songs by The Carmen Milagro Band on OurStage. Carmen writes songs inspired by the Romanian Gypsy vibe, and combines elements of Latin rock and hip hop. Listen to Milagro and you will shake shake like a maraca!

No matter if it’s rumba or Latin rock, Spanish influences are all over la musica latina.  Now that you’ve try it please let us know: isn’t anything better with a touch of flamenco?

Winning Artists Open For HANSON, Hang Out With The Brothers

In  June, the first batch of winners for the “Shout It Out With HANSON” Competition earned coveted spots opening for the pop trio on July and August dates of their summer Shout It Out tour.  We reached out to winners Delta Rae, Brightside Drive and Jeffrey James after their sets to hear about their experiences and are happy to share their stories with you.

Sayreville Winner Brightside Drive

Sayreville, NJ winners Brightside Drive opened for HANSON at the Starland Ballroom. The band played to a receptive crowd, selling numerous copies of their CD and picking up new fans on Facebook. They explained,  “Opening for HANSON was such a great experience. All the fans that came out were so great (even after waiting in the line for hours) and it was awesome performing for all of them.  I think at one point even HANSON was watching us which was surreal! The publicity from playing the show was huge! Our fan base has definitely expanded. So many people wanted copies of our CD, Transitions. Plus many other fans headed over to our Facebook page to talk to us, get to learn more about us, and become our friend!”

Jeffrey James Band & HANSON

Nashville winner Jeffrey James played to a sold out crowd at their set at the Wild Horse Saloon. The band told us, “We played to a few thousand people. HANSON’s fans were very receptive to us. They seemed to enjoy the set a lot and I got many many great comments from the fans after we were done. As well, when I got home that night my Twitter followers had almost doubled.” Jeffrey James and his band amped up their performance for the large audience and received warm responses to their new material. “My band and I knew that we had to take our energy levels up a couple notches to play to a crowd that size. As the opening act, we had to win over an audience who, for the most part, had never seen us play. We may be recording a new song that we played at the show that got an amazing response.”

Delta Rae

North Carolina natives Delta Rae drove 11 hours from New York to Asheville, NC to play their opening slot at the Orange Peel. Little did they know, HANSON would be interviewing THEM upon arrival. The band said, “We were lucky enough to do a live interview with HANSON right before the show, and have gotten a lot of great attention from that. Part of the interview is performing a few acoustic songs for the Hanson bros, after which Isaac Hanson generously said, ‘Wow, I think we should be opening for them.’ Couldn’t have been nicer guys.”