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Download of the Week: Brightside Drive

Can you hear the buzz around Baltimore, Maryland’s Brightside Drive? These young talented individuals are still in high school yet are already making waves in their area”converting listeners to fans at a rapid pace. They released their new album Transitions on June 11, 2010, and are slowly becoming yet another OurStage success story. Their recent win in the Shout it Out with HANSON Competition in June is just the beginning.

As this week’s Needle in the Haystack, Brightside Drive is giving away the free track What If? off of their new album. Comment and let us know what you think of this song!

Scene & Heard: New Jersey

When you hear the words music scene, you instantly think about major US cities like New York, Miami and Los Angeles. However, when it comes to the musical landscape of America, it’s impossible not to mention New Jersey. We were hard pressed to think of one city within this diverse state that stands out the most. So, we decided the Garden State’s chapter of Scene & Heard, would cover the whole state since it has so many important cities, venues and bands.

Back in the day Newark, NJ was a huge jazz hotspot, producing names like Count Basie, Wayne Shorter and Dizzy Gillespie. And who could forget the most famous music figures of all time, Mr. Frank Sinatra, who began his music career in NJ and NYC. The 1980s claimed its place in the state’s music timeline thanks to Jersey heavyweights Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi and Whitney Houston.  The hip hop realm also finds its roots here courtsey of Rapper’s Delight (widely considered the first recorded rap song) and artists such as Redman, Salt ‘n’ Pepa and Naughty By Nature.  Jersey is even home to punk rock legends The Misfits, The Bouncing Souls and The Casualties as well as newcomers My Chemical Romance and The Gaslight Anthem.

While the major players and huge venues are obvious focal points of any major city in New Jersey, we’ll mention some of the smaller places known for housing up-and-coming talent and even giving some of these big names their start. First off, the name The Stone Pony probably rings a bell. Bon Jovi and Springsteen both played early shows at this small venue in Asbury Park. Yet despite it’s notoriety, it still remains a somewhat intimate setting. Over in Hoboken, Maxwell’s hosts acts like Greg Laswell and Stephen Kellogg & The Sixers. The venue also features art shows and other non-musical events.

Reality Addiction at Bamboozle '09

As for musical acts, Elizabeth, NJ’s Reality Addiction is a powerful alt/rock band with a great live set. They’ve perfected this show at venues in Jersey like Mexicali Live and the previously mentioned Stone Pony. [These venues] both have a lot of good music going on throughout the week, comments the band who declare both places as their favorite Jersey venues to play as well as a reliable place for a visitor to stop by. The band also  talked about how the dominance of the emo, screamo, metal and classic rock genres. It seems that our particular sound has given us a kind of edge and originality at the venues here.

When speaking with the band, one fact was reinforced over and over” being based in the New Jersey music scene gives a band the opportunity to be part of two other scenes as well, NYC and Philadelphia. Being so close to major music cities like [that gives] us a wider local fan base from NJ, PA and NYC.

Obviously, New Jersey’s proximity to major markets like NYC and PA gives artists the opportunity to cultivate their careers in those cities. Through such opportunities, the band has been able to share the stage with Max Bemis of Say Anything and Ben Kenney of Incubus. They said,Being a part of shows with national acts has given us a reputation of credibility with other bookers and event planners.  The band was also a part of the Bamboozle festival in 2009 and had their music featured in the indie film Prime Of Your Life. Reality Addiction’s music can even be heard on Delta Airlines Flights this summer as part of an elite lineup that includes only 11 other artists.

Check out Reality Addiction’s OurStage profile and stay updated on the band’s future shows. They will be getting airplay and giving in-studio performances for 105.5 WDHA The Rock of New Jersey as part of a Jersey-based rock radio show. Whether it’s your destination or you’re just passing through, Jersey has the sound and reputation to satisfy any concert-goer.

GuacaMusic: Craving Mexican?

Whatever comes to your mind when you think about Mexican food probably doesn’t resemble reality. Did you know that Mexicans don’t eat burritos for lunch? (Unless they are in the U.S., of course.) Or that tacos are usually eaten in small corn tortillas?

Well, a similar thing occurs with Mexican music and the way it is perceived here in the U.S. There is no denying it, mariachis are a big part of Mexican music, but so are Rap, Rock and Pop en Español. If you were to travel to, let’s say, Mexico City to explore its music, you could definitely find many places playing rancheras, but you could also find the best of other music genres.

If you are looking to go beyond mariachis and try a new flavor of Mexican music, you could listen to some of the artists on OurStage that best portray this variety of styles.

For a unique approach to música mexicana, play any song by Mexican American David Rolas, an artist from LA who, like many young Latinos with Mexican parents, grew up absorbing two very different cultures. While listening to regional Mexican music at home, Rolas absorbed the rhythms of Hip Hop in the streets of LA. Both of these influences are ever-present in his music. David’s songs are playful and creative, but most importantly, true to his cultural roots.

Another cool approach to Mexican tunes on OurStage is Irkalla, a metal band with origins in Tampico, Tamaulipas. Thrasher rhythm guitarist and bass player Jesus Sosa Sharpton, hard rock drummer Federico Storms and guitarist Fernando Rivera make up Irkí¢lla, which is the equivalent of “Hell” in ancient Sumerian mythology. This trio rocks hard.

OurStage artist Hermanos Herrera

Finally, if you are looking to try a more traditional approach to Mexican music, listen to anything by Hermanos Herrera, a family group consisting of five brothers andtheir younger sister. United by blood and through music, they have established themselves as true representatives of Mexico’s rich musical landscape. The group plays various styles of traditional Mexican music such as Son Huasteco, Son Jarocho, and música Norteña.

Now that you’ve had a taste of real Mexican music, how about trying some real Mexican food? Go out and enjoy some real tacos al pastor! We are sure that, just like with the music, you won’t have any regrets. Unless, of course, you don’t go easy on the chiles.

¡Provecho!

Viewer Discretion Advised: Andrew Belle

OurStage artist Andrew Belle is slowly but surely becoming the next big thing. First, OurStage and MTV selected the singer-songwriter as the local VMA Best Breakout Artist in Chicago. Then Belle’s music went on to be featured in shows like Grey’s Anatomy, One Tree Hill90210, MTV’s The Real WorldThe Ghost Whisperer and Keeping Up With The Kardashians. After releasing his debut LP under the direction of GRAMMYaward-winning mixing engineer Vance Powell (The Raconteurs) in February, Belle snagged the Number 1 spot on the iTunes Singer-Songwriter Channel. If that wasn’t enough,  Belle was hand-picked by MTV Music as OurStage’s Needle in the Haystack in June.

To solidify his continuing climb, Belle debuted his music video for “Static Waves” on Paste last month. Check out the lovely, if not heart-wrenching, video for his duet with GRAMMYnominated Katie Herzig below, and stay tuned as this OurStage star continues to rise.

Folkin' Around: Meg Hutchinson

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again; Great folk music is about the song, not the image. We can’t imagine a more obvious example than Meg Hutchinson. Her voice has been called soft, something of a whisper. welike to think of it as the musical equivalent of a conversation. When listening, you aren’t overwhelmed, you aren’t straining to hear and you aren’t struggling to grasp her message. You can simply relate. Hutchinson has the uncanny ability to avoid cryptic and elitist lyrics while still remaining rich and eloquent. Of course, we haven’t even mentioned her well-placed instrumental subtleties, often accompanying her focused lyrics with nothing more than the sustain of a double bass and the sparse arpeggiation of an acoustic guitar.
Beyond the music, Hutchinson has garnered a plethora of songwriting achievements and industry buzz. In addition to many regional songwriting awards, she was a Billboard Songwriting Competition finalist twice and a John Lennon Songwriting Competition finalist as well. She has shared the stage with artists like Lori McKenna and Joe Pug and has performed at both the Folk Alliance Conference and SXSW. Recently, one of her songs was featured on the iTunes Nature Walk Essentials playlist. To top it off, she recently performed at the Lilith Fair as part of Winterbloom, the OS Lilith Local Talent Search winner.
Be sure to check out her OurStage profile as well as her Web site to pick up her latest release The Living Side.

Watch HANSON Stream Live Here On OurStage

As you hopefully know, OurStage’s “Shout It Out with HANSON” Competition has been giving top pop and rock acts the opportunity to open up for HANSON on various tour dates across the country all summer long. In addition, some lucky fans with excellent judging skills have scored tickets to the show along with meet and greets with the famous band of brothers.
The trio has also teamed up with aLive@Hnet to share the on-the-road experience on their own channel. And now they’re letting the OurStage winners and fans in on the action. Before each show HANSON will interview the winning OurStage act, giving these artists the opportunity to ask them questions as well. Afterwards each act performs an acoustic song. If you’re interested in catching all the action live then look no further than OurStage. You can watch the streaming live right here on the site, kicking off tonight (August 7th) with Everfield performing in Kansas City, OH. Check out the rest of the summer’s schedule below, and be sure to catch you favorite OurStage acts streaming live right here.
Everfield Adelaide Cedar Avenue Wes Kirkpatrick
8/7 Kansas City, MO –
The Beaumont @ 5pm
8/8 Omaha, NE –
Slowdown @ 5pm
8/10 Minneapolis, MN –
Music @ Zoo Outdoor Amp. @ 6pm
8/12 Milwaukee, WI –
Pabst Theatre @ 6pm
happygolovely LoveSick Radio Canons Caleb Lovely
8/14 Chicago, IL –
House Of Blues @ 5pm
8/16 Grand Rapids, MI – Intersection @ 5pm 8/17 Royal Oak, MI –
Royal Oak Music Theatre @ 5:30pm
8/19 Cleveland, OH –
House Of Blues
@ 5pm
Brooke Annibale Acalasia The Working Hour Crawpuppies
8/20 Pittsburgh, PA –
Carnegie Music Hall
@ 5:30pm
8/21 Columbus, OH – Newport Music Hall
@ 6pm
8/23 Cincinnati, OH – Moonlite Gardens
@ 5:30pm
8/24 Indianapolis, IN –
Egyptian Theatre @ 5pm

Poptarts: Andrew Varner

In the vast sea of singer/songwriters, it’s hard to make a name for yourself. It’s even harder to discover new artists that hit the mark. This week, we’ll make it a little easier for you by directing your attention to the piano-driven, hook-laden music of Andrew Varner.

Hailing from the Columbus, OH area, Varner’s music packs an upbeat punch. He takes a refreshing step away from the acoustic guitars so stereotypical of male pop artists. Rather, you’ll find his music utilizing bouncy piano phrasing, heavily process guitar sounds and even the occasional organ. His voice remains the focal point as he presents playfully sarcastic lyrics and uniquely memorable lines. In his own words, he wants to paint a picture without giving too much away.

Varner frequents venues across Ohio and Tennessee, dividing his time between the Columbus and Nashville areas. His most recent release, the Make Believe EP has put this pop artist on the map. He’s a powerful artist with strong stage presence that has participated in benefit concerts (most recently to help raise money for a local cancer victim), festivals and local fairs. He was even featured as OurStage’s Ernie Ball: Singer/Songwriter prize winner in July. Check out his OurStage profile and pick up his EP. You can also head over to his web site for a few free downloads.

Announcing The Winner For The Ernie Ball Channel In July

Every month, Ernie Ball selects one artist from one OurStage music channel to be the recipient of a years supply of free strings. In July, they focused on the artists in the Singer Songwriter (Male) Channel. Now that the judging is over and the ranks are in, Ernie Ball has chosen Andrew Varner as the winner of 52 sets of guitar strings and 12 sets of bass strings. Andrew won’t have to fret about buying strings for his axe for an entire year! Just think of how many open-mic nights and clubs one could play with all those strings. Stay tuned to the OurStage blog to find out the selected channel for August.

Needle in the Haystack Follow Up: Philadelphia Slick

To cap off this week’s Needle in the Haystack, we’ve got a great interview with the band Philadelphia Slick. Check out the video below and download the free track from earlier in the week if you haven’t already. It’s definitely worth checking out and sharing with friends. As always, another great artist will be featured in next week’s Needle in the Haystack, so stay tuned!

This Week on Vibe.com

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.

Diamond on Female Rappers: ‘It’s Important For Us to Have Variety’

Diamond is one of the few female rappers with a major label deal and she’s currently riding high from her recent cameo on Ludacris’ My Chick Bad. Now preparing to reintroduce the world to her grown-up self, Diamond chats with VIBE about her solo career and why women need to check their emotions when it comes to business. Continue reading on Vibe.com…

Ochocinco and Bernard Berrian’s 5 Mrs. Right Must Haves

At the present moment there are no bachelors on television more in-demand than NFL Cincinnati Bengal Ochocinco (formerly known as Chad Williams) and Minnesota Viking Bernard Berrian. The star and co-star of VH1’s Ultimate Catch have successfully combined dating and sport competition to the tune of 1.5 million viewers weekly. We’re guessing most of these eyes come with longer lashes and would love an opportunity to bag a chocolate receiver (no pun). So VIBE has decided to help  the ladies out by asking Mr. ˜Cinco and Sir Berrian for 5 Must-Have’s  for their Ms Right. Pay attention and you too could be ballin’. Continue reading on Vibe.com…

Malcolm Jamal Warner on ‘Life After’ The Cosby Show

Believe it or not, it’s been nearly 20 years since The Cosby Show finished its groundbreaking, eight-year successful run on television. And Malcolm Jamal Warner has definitely been one of the more visible former Cosby Show kids as an actor and director. Most recently he turned in guest star appearances on such critically acclaimed shows as, Dexter, The Cleaner and HawthoRNe. Plus, Warner also starred in the Post-Cosby sitcoms Malcolm and Eddie and the short-lived Sherri and Listen Up. And in addition to his work behind the scenes on The Cosby Show, he also served as a director on episodes of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Keenan and Kel.  While he and his TV siblings qualify as perfect poster adults for former child stars, the 40-year old New Jersey native admits there are still challenges to navigating a successful career after starring on one of the most iconic shows in television history. Malcolm Jamal Warner comes clean on TV One’s biography series Life After, which airs throughout the month of August (check your local listings.) But he also spoke to VIBE.com about his music career, why sometimes you don’t see him on TV and of course, The Cosby Show. Continue reading on Vibe.com…