Soundtrax: California Dreamin'

With winter just around the bend, it’s hard not to wish you were out where the palm trees grow and the beach is hot year-round. As we head into the season of snow, let’s kick back and dream about California with eight pop songs that feature the state’s name. This mix features OurStage artists Ron Pope, Natalie Creel and Big Bottom.

Congratulations To Shallow Royale, Winners Of The Guitar Player "Take The Lead" Competition!

The results are finally in! For weeks, OurStage guitarists have been battling each other and melting faces with their gnarliest riffs and licks, all for a chance to win our Guitar Player “Take The Lead” Competition. However, there was only one band mighty enough to take the lead and conquer all. The winner of this ongoing shredfest is Shallow Royale for their song “Son Of Liberty.” Based out of American Canyon, Calif., this three-piece has stuck it out through many obstacles, recently with the addition of a new bassist, to keep their big sound alive. The winning guitar solo is played by Chase Crow, one of two brothers who are founding members of the band. Check out Chase’s incredible riffs in the playlist below.

As their prize, not only will they be featured in an upcoming issue of Guitar Player magazine, but they will also be taking home a year’s supply of Ernie Ball strings and accessories! So congratulations, Shallow Royale. Your axe-wielding skills have fared you well. May the rock be with you.


Get Back Loretta Take Ernie Ball Pop Grand Prize

A month of fierce competition has passed and California’s Get Back Loretta have risen through the ranks to be crowned the Grand Prize Winner of the Ernie Ball Pop” Competition with their track “Gotta Believe.” Founded in 2004 by five friends out to create a sound that could not be easily defined, Get Back Loretta have spent the past eight years making their goal a reality. “Gotta Believe” embodies this idea, blending contemporary alternative rock with lyrical prowess of a Top 40 pop single into one catchy and rhythmic tune. If you like The Fray or Jack’s Mannequin, give Get Back Loretta a spin. Congratulations to Get Back Loretta”enjoy a year of touring and writing without worrying about costly string purchases.


Darryl Williams Proves Jazz Is In His Blood, Walks Away With Free Strings From Ernie Ball

Ernie Ball was feelin’ “all that jazz” in August”sponsoring the OurStage Jazz Channel for the month and offering artists a chance to win a years supply of strings and accessories. The fastest fretting, hardest hitting, six string slinging jazz cats entered for a chance to win, but only one killer artist could take home the grand prize.

That artist is California composer, bassist and producer Darryl Williams. Williams’ distinctive chops have landed him gigs with the likes of Chaka Khan, Brenda Russell, Tevin Campbell and many more. With a fresh supply of strings, Williams is sure to be be-boppin’ his butt off into 2012.

For a sample of his fine fretting, check out the playlist below.

Live Wired: Controversy Of Airing Festivals Online

Technology is changing the world as we know it every day. We all know that new technology and advanced knowledge may lead to incredible achievements but they also result in criticism. When technology is used properly, an industry can do great things. But there will always be the people who want things done “the old-fashioned way”. Within in the music industry, new technology has completely changed the way things are done and the opportunities available. From social-networking Web sites to digital music and illegal downloading, the way that people consume and connect with music has changed drastically in recent years.

One prominent example of this involves music festivals. Not able to afford a ticket? Live thousands of miles away? You no longer have to worry because most of these events now bring the entertainment to you for free…and you don’t even have to leave the house! This year, many of the big music festivals began live streaming their performances online. Coachella used YouTube, where fans could choose between three different stages at any given time to watch their favorite acts. NPR Music and Limelight Networks provided SXSW with the means to stream featured performances over the course of the festival.  HullabaLOU Music Festival, Pitchfork Music Festival and Bonnaroo Music And Art Festival also followed this growing trend. In addition to festivals, Ben Folds even took to Chatroulette during one of his live performances last year and improvised songs about the random people he was connected with through the Web site. Overseas, BBC aired performances from the huge Glastonbury Festival, which takes place every year in England.

Legendary lead singer of the rock band The Who, Roger Daltrey has been vocal about his aversion to the concept of airing live music festivals. In speaking to BBC Radio in Scotland last month he certainly didn’t hold back, saying that the TV coverage makes him “want to puke”. He elaborated by explaining that “most of the mystique is taken away” with this recent development. He also criticized the idea because he doesn’t believe artists are able to benefit much from it. Daltrey commented on the industry as a whole, saying, “I think the record industry has been decimated by free downloading and touring is becoming incredible expensive”. Having been a part of the music world for a long time now, he certainly has a different perspective on the way it has been shifting. But, are his complaints valid? (more…)

Interview With Ernie Ball Indie Pop Winner Buckeye Knoll

April was a good month for indie pop on OurStage.  Why you ask? Because Ernie Ball sponsored the Indie Pop Channel in search of one choice artist to award a year’s supply of free strings and accessories. What they got was a tidal wave of great artists and a tough call to make.

They landed on I Roll from California pop-folkies Buckeye Knoll. The trio is fronted by songwriter Doug Streblow”self-proclaimed James Taylor mega-fan and a sucker for hooks, harmonies and storytelling. We caught up with Streblow to chat about the win, his influences and his strategy for making it in today’s music biz. Check out the interview below and stop by Buckeye Knoll’s profile for a closer look.

OS: Who are some of your biggest influences when it comes to songwriting?

DS: I was introduced to James Taylor’s music a long time before I picked up a guitar and it had a profound effect of me. My choir director growing up had the choir sing all kinds of arrangements by him, and I started taking a liking to them immediately largely due to the fact that the songs were often arranged with the tenor part being the melody which I sang. James Taylor writes well-crafted songs with accessible melodies, lyrics and a whole lot of genuine emotion. I got hooked on that, and those attributes have found their way into Buckeye Knoll songwriting. Other than that, I’m a sucker for great hooks, big harmonies and great storytelling regardless of genre or particular songwriter.

OS: If you could list the top three guitarists who’ve inspired you the most who would they be? Any particular reason why?

DS: Obviously James Taylor first and foremost. He manages to bridge an incredibly complex folk finger-picking style with pop hooks, R&B rhythms and that solid rock/blues foundation. This guy isn’t just jamming out 4 chords over a 4/4 rock beat, he’s playing melodies and harmonies and driving a rhythm section with just his acoustic guitar and voice and everyone is feeling it. I strive to bridge genres and write guitar parts that are both melodic and very rhythmic at the same time and I learned this from James Taylor’s playing style. Other than that I’d say I’m influenced by Cat Stevens and more contemporarily Brett Dennen.

Photo courtesy of Gino DePinto


OS: In your experience, what are the best new ways for artists to promote themselves online?

DS: Primarily we use Facebook to keep up to date with our fans mostly because it’s so easy for any band member to use and edit content. Second to that we use YouTube and Vimeo regularly to promote upcoming shows, tours, releases and anything else where we want to get the word out about something happening in Buckeye Knoll world. We make videos that are both fun for us to make and fun for people to watch, and hopefully will encourage people to spread the word about our band.

At the end of the day you have to have a couple of key things. Without them no amount of Internet wizardry will get you to where you want to be. In our experience we’ve found these things to be:

  1. Great music that people will like.
  2. A well developed and interesting brand (photos, videos, online media) that will attract people and keep them engaged.
  3. A genuine and authentic story and message.
  4. Determination and a kick ass work ethic.
  5. A huge love for what you’re doing and the music you’re making.

If you’ve got these things, you’re on the right track.

OS: How does it feel to cross guitar and bass strings off the shopping list for a whole year?

DS: Awesome! If you’re a musician, you know it costs money to maintain your instrument. For guitarists the main reoccurring cost is your strings, and if you’re playing a lot like us, you can go through them quickly which can add up on the old pocketbook. Not only are we stoked to take the cost of strings out of the equation for a year but we’re stoked to be playing Ernie Ball strings and trying out some strings we wouldn’t have bought otherwise. All around, it’s awesome.

OS: How did it feel to win the Ernie Ball grand prize?

DS:  Like having a milkshake for the first time; delicious, refreshing and cool.

OS: Any shout-outs you’d like to make to the fans who helped you snag the Grand Prize?

DS: We’d like to thank Oprah, Charlie Sheen and Barack for taking time out of their busy television, drug dealing and political schedules to lay down some thick votes for Buckeye Knoll.