Music insiders know the right balance of passion, musical talent, image”and most importantly”work ethic is what really makes an artist shine. OurStage folk act Annie and the Beekeepers are putting their own spin on this classic formula while making its mark with mature composition, clever lyrics and a nostalgic yet earthy sense of melody.
Massachusetts native, Annie Lynch began writing music when she was thirteen-years-old, playing for friends at small coffee shops. It wasn’t until she met the rest of her band mates that she started considering music as a true career. When we spoke to Annie, she told us this was the starting point for the band’s songwriting collaboration. Squid Hell Sessions, the Beekeepers latest EP release, is the result of this effort. The band’s unique fusion of Folk and Blues, along with their straightforward writing style, afforded them the opportunity to perform at SXSW and CMJ in past years. They’ve continued to parlay their sound into upcoming spots in the Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion and Midpoint Music festivals.
Music aside, Annie and the Beekeepers have gained industry success in many other ways. The choice of “the Beekeepers” as the band name refers to the group’s tireless work ethic. Annie likens their sense of motivation to the same “strength in community” found within bee colonies. In this spirit, Annie unknowingly sets an example for indie bands who want to succeed while staying true to their sound. She also expresses some seldom heard advice: in the music industry, “we’re all just people in this together.” This concept encourages artists to go out into the world and make personal connections. Even if an artist feels like their won’t land that next club gig, they should take the time to write a letter. The talent buyer at the club is, after all, just another person trying to help their venue and the artists who play there. The effort may just be the “in” an artist needs to get their foot through the door. In fact, Annie and the Beekeepers got their music played on the Emerson College radio station in Boston, MA (WERS) using this same strategy.
Balancing out this equation and further highlighting the band’s organic style is the Beekeepers’ decision to stamp their album art by hand on 100% recycled cardboard packaging, purchased from Calumet Carton. These small steps allow an artist to add a personal touch to their albums while staying cost effective and environmentally friendly.
Let Annie and the Beekeepers add color to the musical landscape in your world. Check out their latest release and join their fanclub.
The lineup for this year’s WERS Local Music Week is in and many of the bands selected can be found throughout OurStage! We pulled together the bands and put them into a playlist. We also got commentary from WERS music director John Parsons, who booked the week! Check it out! More commentary after the jump!
He’s a great friend of the station and a very thoughtful songwriter. He’s part of the unmistakable folk scene that frames Boston in a very unique light.
Their set rocked! It was a killer way to kick off the week and showcase complex alternative rock.
Annie Lynch and the Beekeepers
This is the group’s second jaunt on Local Music Week. Their harmonies and delicate instrumentation perk up ears and make you realize that there’s something very interesting and ethereal going on here.
Mieka is practically WERS’ poster child, or at least we’d like to think she would be. She’s the whole package: and incredible songwriter, a shining personality, and a prolific thinker. You can see it when you watch her perform too. Anyone would be lucky to work with her.
Antje gives us the sharpest imagery in her songs- she has a great way with words. That matched with her haunting voice make for a captivating talent.
This past weekend was a big one for independent music in Boston as WERS hosted its 60th birthday party and indie artists and music lovers came out of the woodwork to celebrate. Kicking off the festivities was Ryan Montbleau an OurStage artist and mainstay in the Boston indie music scene with a following that stretches well beyond our fair city. We caught up with Ryan after the show and he shared his plans for the year, some funny stories and thoughts on the industry with us. See what Ryan had to say in our Q&A below and check out his music at his OurStage fanclub:
OurStage and WERS are both all about supporting independent music and you’re not afraid to tout your own independence, what would you say is the greatest benefit to following an independent career?
Well, the obvious stuff, fist and foremost: you control your own destiny, you own all your music, etc. I couldn’t imagine a career where someone approved or disapproved of the music I make before I put it out. And then, in the long term, if you can stick it out, it’s just a much more natural and bona fide way to go. It’s grassroots. The roots we’ve been putting down, in a sense will never go away.
On the flip side, what has been the greatest challenge for you along the road and are there any lessons learned through your experience?
Lessons learned every day, I suppose. This is a challenging and straight-out wacky business, there’s no doubt. Doing it grass roots and one show at a time is a long road and the biggest challenge is just staying sane, keeping it together. One major lesson is that you can keep your eye on the prize, but ultimately you have to be realistic about where you are and just enjoy the trip. In that sense, your job is to go out and keep “making it” as opposed to dwelling on a day when you finally “make it.”
This year, WERS celebrates 60 years of commercial-free, independent radio, and last night they hosted their own birthday party featuring Ryan Montbleau, Will Dailey, JJ Grey & Mofro and Pete Yorn. Although the formal setting of the Cutler Majestic Theater made the crowd a bit subdued, the performers couldn’t help but rock out anyway.
Last Friday, OurStage hosted a last minute contest to give away 2 free tickets to the concert; I caught up with the winner, and Boston-area artist, Brian Bergeron after the event. “It was great,” he said. “There were some hiccups in production, but my favorite part of the night was the way that Will rebounded from the sound issues.”
Will Dailey didn’t let the lack of a working mic get in his way; he stepped to the edge of the stage, strummed his guitar and belted out the Rolling Stones classic, You Can’t Always Get What You Want in seemingly perfect unison with the tech team scrambling with plugs and wires behind him. It was like watching an oddly choreographed dance.
We all have our own ways of sifting through the immense amount of great music and finding what we like, and the OurStage editorial staff is no different. We’re collecting our favorite music discovery outlets and will be sharing them with you over the next few weeks. You’ll get to learn a little more about us, and discover some great new music along the way! If you and I don’t share the same music tastes don’t worry. We’re a diverse bunch and I’m sure you’ll find a blogger you agree with!
WERS is the independent radio station broadcasting from Emerson University in Boston. Their motto is independent music for the independent mind and they hold true to it. One of my favorite things about living in the Boston area is that I get WERS on the radio; they accompany me to and from work everyday and my exposure to new music is limitless because of it. Over the past few years they have delivered artists like Jose Gonzalez, Adele, Antje Duvekot, Tunng, and The Bird and the Bee straight to my ears. If you’re in the Boston area, you should definitely check out their 60th Anniversary Concert featuring Pete Yorn this weekend. If you’re not in the Boston area, you can still discover great new music by listening to WERS online.
2) Grey’s Anatomy
Cliché? Possibly. Does it tell you a little more about me then I’d really like to share? You bet. I have to come clean, though. I love Grey’s Anatomy and their 5 seasons of music programming has done a lot of good for my iPod! My favorite finds include Ingrid Michaelson, Emiliana Torrini, KT Tunstall, Roisin Murphy, Jamie Lidell and Lenka.
3) NPR: All Songs Considered
I don’t listen to it often, but when I do I always end up downloading something new. I can thank the good people at NPR for motivating me to add Beirut, Andrew Bird, Okkervil River, Devotchka and John Vanderslice to my music library. You can get the podcast version and take it with you on the go. This show is definitely worth checking out; they will introduce you to great new artists, give you inside information and offer a fresh perspective all at the same time!
I’m lucky that my job takes me to lots of music festivals all over the country. In the past 2 years I’ve been to Noise Pop, Bumbershoot, Virgin Music Fest and Newport Folk and Jazz. I’ve walked away from each one with a new artist to add to my list of favorites including She and Him, Kristin Hersh, Xavier Rudd, The Dodos and The Mountain Goats.
5) OurStage Favorites
Working at OurStage, I spend a lot of time crawling through the site’s charts, talking to our members and sharing music finds with my co-workers. I’ve put together a playlist of my all-time favorites for you to enjoy and, hopefully, start your own music discovery journey: