Showing posts with label Jamie's friends. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jamie's friends. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Composer Bear McCreary wins his first Emmy!

Bear McCreary and his first, of many, golden statues
photo from Bear's facebook
Bear McCreary needs to get a big cabinet for this sucker, because there will be many more to come. Many more.

I know this happened a few weeks ago, but I just wanted to post a little ditty saying that that I'm proud to know this guy, and very excited about what's to come. It's been a trip watching from afar as he's composed the scores for Battlestar Galactica, The Walking Dead, Human Target, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and now Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (and more).

I hope it's okay to say that I see this Emmy as being a sort of "lifetime achievement so far" award for all of the above listed projects. In my humble opinion, the work that he did on Battlestar is enough to earn this award.

Check out my 2009 interview with Bear, post Battlestar

If you're into television and movie soundtracks and fascinated with the whole process, check out his blog.


Raya, Bear & me before their wedding ceremony in Malibu, CA 2010

Sunday, July 22, 2012

I'm the editor of 'All Together Now: Women in Music' and it's a kickstarter campaign that needs your support

The photo above is my choir Conspiracy of Venus (I was not in the group when it was taken) by my friend, photographer Audra Marie Dewitt. The photographs are part of a book she's self-publishing called All Together Now: Women in Music . Right now there is a kickstarter campaign to get this book printed, and it needs your support!

Click here to see the kickstarter campaign. ONLY 7 MORE DAYS!

Read this post I wrote on Hear it Local's blog addressing why a book about female musicians is needed. This is a book for anyone who's ever wanted to stay true to themselves and "follow their bliss" (Thank you Miho Hatori)!

Audra gave me editor credit in the book, which is really awesome! In the last three years I've helped out and worked on researching and contacting artists as well as copy editing and marketing. I saw the mock up, which is gorgeous, and figured I had a hand in about half of the images. I'm very proud of this project.

Women included in All Together Now are on the famous side as well as unsung heroines of their genres. Here are some of the ladies that are in the book:
  • Corin Tucker, of Sleater Kinney, and The Corin Tucker Band
  • Exene Cervenka, of X, and Exene Cervenka and the Original Sinners
  • Miho Hatori, of Cibo Matto, Gorillaz, and Smokey and Miho
  • Claire Evans, of Yacht
  • Sean Yesult, bassist of White Zombie
  • Noelle Scaggs, of Fitz and the Tantrums
  • Amanda Palmer, does she really need a byline?
  • Peaches, electro raunch queen
  • Theresa Andersson, Swedish born/New Orleans dwelling songstress
  • Jolie Holland, Americana singer-songwriter
  • Faye Carol, jazz/blues vocalist
  • Rachel Flotard, of Visqueen and backup vocalist for Neko Case
  • Rykarda Parasol, songwriter of dark metaphoric tunes
  • Grass Widow, SF postpunk phenoms.
  • Laura Bergmann, of The Family Crest
  • Netta Brielle, hip hop/R&B vocalist
  • Megan Smith, of SF based Misner & Smith
  • Melora, of Rasputina
  • Evie Ladin, old time banjo player
  • Kelly McFarling, Americana singer-songwriter
 Please consider contributing!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Jamie and Juan's music podcast

I know I've not been posting much lately. I promise you that I've been REALLY super, DUPER busy with musical projects and jobs. In fact, GOOD NEWS: Hear it Local has asked me to blog regularly for them, which is super exciting. So, stay tuned.

One of the fun projects I've been part of is a podcast with my friend Juan Raigosa who used to be a KUSF (R.I.P.) DJ. (Juan had me on his show semi-regularly at the end of 2010 to hang out before the station got derailed).

Juan sets up a mini recording studio in his bedroom and I wheel in some of the amazing people of our music community to play music (live and recorded), chat and just tell us about what's happening.

We're thinking of changing the name, but for now it's called Just Push Play.

Click to listen on our website 

So far we've had on KC Turner, Jonathan Mann, Jessie Woletz, Dina Maccabee and Lyz Luke. It's been a lot of fun.  Can't wait to record more!

Some photos of us being silly and playing some live music.

Juan, Jessie Woletz and me.

 Dina Maccabee

Lyz Luke, bear, me, Juan and Pavlov the Puggle 

KC Turner plays us some tunes

Friday, June 10, 2011

Jonathan Mann's Song-A-Day Project. I participated in song #890

I met Jonathan Mann earlier this year through the Family Crest. I first saw this video he wrote the day after a Family Crest show and I quickly learned that Jonathan is no ordinary songwriter (if that even exists).

Jonathan has been writing a song a day for the last 891 days and posting them on his youtube page. The idea is that if he writes a song every day, yeah, most of them will be mediocre, and some of them might even suck, but there's that small percentage that actually might be pretty good. So he's been writing about whatever pops into his head: Paul Krugman, elves and Maru the cat.

For the month of June, he decided that writing songs is a lonely process and wanted to get some friends involved. So, he ran a campaign to raise money for a larger song-a-day project that would pay a handful of musicians and eventually lead to the production of an album of songs written during June.

You can also watch the whole process of writing, recording and mastering each song, every day on streaming video here:

Read more about the project in this East Bay Express article that ran yesterday.

SO, I stopped by yesterday with Sarah Dabby, violist of the Family Crest and recorded some vocals for "They Double Dared Us" (I come in toward the end). It was a blast and I'm looking forward to stopping by again.

Don't worry too much about the video, these songs fly past so quickly that they just need to get posted. This one might just be a little creepy because Jonathan is just sitting there staring at the camera while footage of his eighth grade graduation runs above him. Oh well, just enjoy that face then. Lol. (And watch the video below it to see some footage of us recording.)

Because the internet is such a useful and empowering tool, the cello part came remotely across the interwebs from Barton Lewis. There are also opportunities (like today) to record yourself singing and send it to Jonathan to be included in the final track.

At the end of the month, we will all be able to vote the songs will be included on the album. I'll be looking to you guys to help get my tracks on it! :)

Here is a video from the behind the scenes, I show up around 1:45 into the video.

Seriously, today's song is about Maru the cat who turned 4 a couple weeks ago. We love him.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Cool, trippy sh*t: Dave Matthews and King Crimson

I've been cleaning out the email of a certain member of the band I work for and his friends have sent him some really, really awesome video and articles, so of course I get distracted while I'm working. I wanted to share a couple of these with you.

This one is called "Eh Hee" and comes from Dave Matthews back in 2006. The story is that he was inspired by a Khoisan riff he heard in Southern Africa by the San people (Botswana, South African & Namibia). He recorded this song and made this video, but didn't really publicize it and now it's just floating around the internet.

He seems to be channeling Peter Gabriel's wonderfully weird theatrics with make-up and what looks like fake blood. I love the choreography: mostly very slow movements, but sped up so that when the dancers do move more quickly, it looks really jerky. I also like the affect of the dancers moving around in white powder, creating all sorts of bizarreness.

This next one is called "Elephant Talk" by King Crimson, in a live performance back in 1981. Now, I've never really been a Crimson fan, not because I don't like them, but because I just never got into them. Now might be the time. This is just, really, really rad.

My friend from growing up, Will Hattman from the Portland bands Jana Osta and At Dusk has much love for this video and calls it a "space-alien novelty... it's one of my favorite TV performances of any song ever. I've watched this dozens of times and never get sick of it." So I'll let him tell you why he loves it (the following came from an email):

1) Tony Levin's queasy opening trill on the then-virtually-unheard-of Chapman Stick, sounding like an electric snake with a bad sense of humor. (Jamie says: excellent description!)

2) The syncopation game that drummer Bill Bruford and second guitarist Adrian Belew play throughout by punching the unlikeliest of beats—a sixteenth-note before 2—corrupting at regular intervals what would otherwise be a comfortable, even seductive, funk groove.

3) Belew's manic, deranged lead guitar work, dealing in above-the-nut chimes, seasick whammying, and deliciously apropos animal noises (I'm sure you'll hear the elephants in there), and culminating in a solo of jaw-dropping imaginativeness. (This clip's is even better than the album's!)

4) Belew's vocals, a bit of alliterative, metalinguistic slam poetry that from a lesser performer would come off irritatingly mannered, but which Belew somehow makes genuinely funny, and which becomes more endearing as it goes on.

These ingredients are all pathbreaking, and all in ways that poke out and draw attention. They're proudly odd, built on harsh, unfamiliar sonorities and disarming rhythms, and any one of them alone would make an otherwise ordinary song stick in the mind. It takes the most confident of players to throw them all into one song and make something not merely listenable, but beautiful. The passing of three decades has done virtually nothing to soften the stubborn weirdness of this song. I'm still waiting for the pop world to catch up to it.

Thanks Will!

Hope you enjoyed these cool, trippy videos.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

SXSW highlights from Saturday March 19: yeay for house shows!

Best house show ever - frog sandbox full of beer (and milk for the kiddies)

Yesterday was a fun day. Got a Jimmie John's sandwich and wandered around a bit downtown. Then headed to South Austin for some outdoor house parties, which by the way, are totally the way to go.

First I checked out the 3rd Annual Brooklyn BBQ party in someone's backyard off of South Congress to see alt-country/bluegrass/punk band the Defibulators. Erin's brother and my brother went to junior high together, so I keep up with what she's doing and her band is really fun. The bbq had two stages, food, drink and dancing.

Brooklyn BBQ back yard show (double click to see larger image)

Then I headed over to a house show at Brian and Elaine's house. They came to my show on Thursday and enjoyed it so much that they invited The Family Crest and Megan Slankard to perform in their front yard It was a blast.

It was also really nice to hear Megan play an acoustic set with just her guitar. This girl can sing.

Megan Slankard plays Elaine and Brian's front yard

Even on such short notice, a bunch of Brian and Elaine's friends showed up, many of them with their kids. It was so fun to watch them enjoy the music and just wander around. Watch this video and just look at all those little faces. Some of them were super into the music. I got another video on my camera of them playing percussion along with the Family Crest, I'll post it when I get home.

Then it was over to a funny little bar called G&S on South First that I had never noticed. I finally got to see The Hello Strangers live, which was a total treat. Larissa and Brechyn have all these new songs that I'd not heard before, like this gospel-y tune "Big Flood." I love the way these ladies harmonize. This song gave me goosebumps.

I have a lot more videos and photos to share, I'll try to roll some of it out in the next couple weeks.

Today we decided to go toobing in the Guadelupe River. It was WAY too cold for toobing. I don't recommend it. My butt is still freezing, and strangely, I got a little bit of color.

Monday, March 14, 2011

South by Southwest here I come! And I'm hosting a Bay Area bands house show

This afternoon I leave for Austin for a week. I AM VERY EXCITED. I see that it's going to be over 80 for the next few days, so not only do I get to enjoy the craziness of South by Southwest, there will be fun Texas-y things to do like hanging out in Barton Springs and maybe even toobing on one of the rivers down south.

This will be my 5th time at the festival, and I *think* I've gotten a the hang of it by now. It helps that I can work from wherever there is internet and I have friends who still live there to stay with. It also helps that I know where all the good taco stands are.

I'm also very excited to be hosting my very first house show on Thursday the 14th with Bay Area bands The Family Crest, Dina Maccabee and Foxtails Brigade! It looks like we're going to have a full house! (Let me know if you're in town and you'd like to come) It's been such a pleasure working with my friends to put this together, and house shows are a really wonderful, intimate way to hear music. I think it will be especially excellent after dealing with the street crowds downtown all week.

My general SXSW advice:
  1. wear comfy shoes
  2. drinks lots of water
  3. don't worry too much about sticking to your schedule of bands to see. Even if you have a badge or wristband or whatever (and you don't really need one by the way, there's so much free stuff going on): shows are full, places are further away than you think, you might want to stay for the next band or you might find that there's a glorious sound coming from that tent over there! FOLLOW YOUR EARS! You never know what might come your way, and that's the whole point of this festival, to discover new things.
And of course I have to tell you who I am most looking forward to seeing:

The Bees:
I have been a fan of the Bees since discovering them randomly on a sampler CD I picked up at a Radiohead concert in 2003. They don't tour to the US very often so I will not be missing this one, even though they are playing at 1 in the morning. They have an 1960s thing going on: garage rock with a psychedelic, folky vibe:

These ladies are Girls Rock Camp alums, so of course I'm excited about them. They were recently featured on a cnn blog. Woa! They are still in high school and embody what camp is all about. AND, they are sharing the stage of the Girls Rock Camp showcase with the Bangles. Not too shabby.

The Hello Strangers:
My friend and former classmate Larissa Chace Smith and sister Brechyn, whom I've written about before, will be in town from central Pennsylvania! Think Neko Case times two! I love the vocal harmonies. Their music tells the stories of women caught in bad relationships who might take matters into their own hands every now and again. I've not gotten to see them live yet, but love their recordings.

The Defibulators:
Erin B. is the younger sister of Eli, who is my pianist when I sing in Los Angeles. Eli and my brother played music together in junior high. The Defibulators throw a raucous party of what I'm gonna call country-punk. I've been getting to know their music over the years and it keeps changing. The new album "Corn Money" has a fun combination of honky-tonk tunes and 1930s-type ballads.

Defibulators "Corn Money" from Possum Den Productions on Vimeo.

I have a new smart phone so I will be trying out live blogging with it. Stay tuned!

And, of course, I will be eating lots of tacos.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Perfect Life After Death: The Psychobilly Zombie by Kim Kattari

If you're not aware of the current obsession with zombies, you've not been watching TV or don't ever go to the movies. What is it about the zombie that is so appealing?

There are even people out there who believe that the zombie apocalypse is upon us. I kid you not. You'd think that this stuff is tongue and cheek, but some of it is very serious.

My friend and former-classmate Kim Kattari is finishing up her PhD in Ethnomusicology at The University of Texas in Austin and she's published her dissertation chapter about zombies on Kim was a Halloween guest blogger for Always More To Hear in 2009.

I describe psychobilly as rockabilly colliding head on into punk. The music is fast, bass players play upright basses and like to perform fancy tricks with them, and the thematic content covers everything from pissed off relationships to zombies. The aesthetic includes tattoos, 50s inspired clothing, Bettie Page, pompadours and old cars.

Kim has been studying the Psychobilly culture in Texas and California and I've been to check out some of this music with her, it's some pretty fun people watching.

The zombie theme is so prevalent that Kim has a whole chapter on it. She also loves zombies :)

So check it out:

SECTION A - Zombies Are Back

SECTION B - Zombie Definitions

SECTION C - Zombies Correspond to our Fears

SECTION D - Catharsis of Zombie-Killing

SECTION E - Psychobilly's Zombie Narrative

SECTION F - Zombie Minstrelsy

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The concert photography of Amber Gregory

Since getting involved in all this live music reporting and whatnot, I've met some really amazing, talented people who are so passionate about what they do, they don't care if they make any money doing it. Granted, it would be nice, but as long as the music keeps coming, why not?

I met Amber Gregory when her posts started popping up on In the last year I've watched her photography get better and better. I've also noticed that we were ending up at a bunch of the same concerts over and over again like OONA and My First Earthquake. So it's good to know she appreciates the best! I also like to see what awesome and fun outfits she shows up in! :)

Amber is completely self-taught and she's only been doing this for two years. TWO YEARS! (picks up jaw off of floor) She gets those "money" shots: the dynamic images of musicians in the moment of their element. I like the ones that are fierce. She really knows how you use the light to enhance the shot and her processing is amazing.

She says in one of her stories:
Live music is fleeting, and there is a great challenge to being able to capture the mood (emotion, physical dimensions, sense of space, the thickness of the air) of a live performance in a series of still images. I want to capture tangible proof of the unique qualities of these fleeting moments.
As it goes with digital cameras, you can get hundreds of photos from a show. If the performer is dynamic, it's fun to click through these quickly in a facebook or flickr album and watch the performer move, usually in a much crisper image than most video.

PR folks are starting to offer me photo passes, and since I know very little about taking a good photo, I asked Amber to come along to the Greg Laswell show.

Below is a slide show of some of my favorites of hers from the Treasure Island Fest, Coachella and other shows around town, including a gorgeous shot she took of Greg, with a broken camera.

Oh, she does weddings too! :)

See more of Amber's work on her site here.

(Picasa was being really frustrating and deleting my captions, so in the slideshow you will see in order: Greg Laswell, My First Earthquake, Scissors for Lefty, Groove Armada, OONA, Florence + the Machine, The Specials, The Gossip, Devo, Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, Fitz and the Tantrums, Rykarda Parasol, The Thrashers, Tartufi (and little guy), Belle and Sebastian, The National, a bra, Wallpaper, !!! (Chk Chk Chk) and the Ferocious Few)

Friday, November 5, 2010

Shirley Verrett 1931-2010: My college voice professor

Shirley Verrett was my voice teacher at the University of Michigan from 1999 to 2001. Even though I don't think she quite understood why I didn't want to be a professional opera singer, she kept me in her studio anyway. I realized early on that if she didn't think I was worth her time, I wouldn't have been there. I was honored to learn from her.

Verrett was a black woman in the world of opera when there were few. She was a black woman in the era of civil rights. She was a woman in an industry that didn't (and still doesn't?) really believe that a woman could have a successful personal and professional life.

Professor Verrett's office was covered in photographs reaching as far back into the 1950s showing herself onstage and posing with presidents, other famous opera singers and celebrities. She was fearless. And I learned as much from her vocally as I did from her about life.

She taught me that you can be as successful in your personal life as you can be in your career. You CAN BE a famous opera singer and be a wife and a mother at the same time. And if others tell you differently, it doesn't matter.

She also taught me that you should not allow yourself to be pegged in a corner if you do not want to be. Being labeled as a mezzo-soprano, a dramatic soprano and more, Verrett kept critics on their toes by tackling operatic roles that were unexpected for her vocal type. She appeared in music theater productions (she was in a production of Carousel with Taye Diggs and seemed more excited about that than anything else she ever did!) and encouraged her students to sing music theater.

Professor Verrett also valued beautiful and natural things. Her vocal technique was based on supporting the natural positions of the body. I know this is pretty common, but at the time I had been learning from a voice teacher in high school who got me to make funny faces when I sang. It's been an uphill battle to unlearn those habits ever since.

Verrett also loved clothes. She LOVED clothes. Her father was in the fashion industry and she had the opportunity to travel all over the world. So she managed to pick up some interesting garments along the way. It was fun to see what she wore to campus each week.

Shirley Verrett died yesterday November 4th in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She will be missed.

Here she sings Tosca at the Met in 1978 with Pavarotti and MacNeil.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The anatomy of a mashup - with guest blogger Christine Boone

My friend and former classmate from the University of Texas at Austin Christine Boone is writing her dissertation on mash-ups. I asked her to write up a little something for Always More to Hear sharing her vast knowledge about the different types of mashups.


There are several different types of mashups. The most basic kind is vocals from one song, instrumentals from another. Of that basic type of mashup, I think the most impressive examples are the ones in which the vocals are sung, not rapped. I love rap, but since there is no pitch material involved, it's much easier to work with than singing. You can put a rap on top of most any musical background, and it will generally work as long as the meter is the same in both songs. Therefore, I think the best kind of basic mashups using rap are ones where the instrumental background is totally unexpected and extremely far removed from anything related to hip hop.

A personal favorite is a really early mashup from 1993: Public Enemy "Rebel Without a Pause" + Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass "Bittersweet Samba" by the Evolution Control Committee. This was 1993, the ECC was clearly way ahead of their time! The innocence and total uncool-ness of Herb Alpert is so completely foreign to Public Enemy, and it's really funny to hear the two of them together.

The play between unrelated genres makes a great mashup, regardless of whether the vocals are sung or rapped. However this next example contrasts a prefabricated studio band with a squeaky-clean image of the The Monkees with Iron Maiden, a heavy metal band that sings about Satan.

"I'm a Believer" + "The Trooper": This might actually be my favorite mashup - dare I say - ever?

Besides the wildly contrasting genres, other great parts about this one include the relatively unaltered status of each source track. Sometimes would-be great mashups end up sounding weird, because one song has to be sped up or slowed down a little too much in order to get it to work with the other song. If either song has been changed in this case (in either pitch or tempo) it's not noticeable.

It's also great because its sung vocals fit perfectly over instrumental accompaniment. This is particularly difficult to do, because you need to worry about the notes in the melody line fitting with the harmonies in the accompaniment. Sometimes you can find two songs that use the same chord progression. (Or a million songs? See the Axis of Awesome: ) When this is the case, the songs can be easily put together. But in the case of "Trooper Believer", the harmonies are completely different to begin with, which makes it even more awesome that they fit together.

Another type of mashup is one in which some of the source material is very heavily manipulated, sometimes to the point of becoming unrecognizable. This happens quite artfully in DJ Danger Mouse's Grey Album, which famously combines Jay-Z's Black Album with the Beatles' so-called White Album. One of my favorite tracks is "Dirt Off Your Shoulder," because of what Danger Mouse (Brian Burton) has done in order to create a musical accompaniment for Jay-Z's rap vocals.

Rather than simply placing two songs on top of one another, Burton has completely cut up the Beatles' "Julia" and composed an entirely new accompaniment using individual notes from the guitar and vocal lines.

And then there's the crazy jumble, how-many-songs-can-you-name? technique of Girl Talk. Perhaps the most famous mashup artist, Girl Talk (Gregg Gillis) makes a living creating manic mashups that seamlessly incorporate as many as 30 songs per track. "Play Your Part (Pt.1)" is a great example.

This type of mashup is extremely appealing to listeners because of the sheer number of songs involved. It becomes sort of a game to see how many songs you can recognize in each track. Gillis' DJ'ing/mashup skills amaze me, because not only does he combine songs of different genres like any successful mashup artist, but he does it with so many songs. He keeps a constant beat and weaves samples in and out, keeping crowds at his live shows dancing the entire time.

Mashups are mostly an amateur art, which is great, because it gives everyone a chance to be creative and make music. However, it does mean that there are a lot of really bad tracks out there. But that means you get to have more fun digging, so enjoy!


Christine Boone received her Bachelor's degree in vocal performance at Indiana University, her Master's degree in music theory at the University of Texas, and is currently a Ph.D. candidate in music theory, also at the University of Texas. She has presented papers on The Beatles in both the United States and the United Kingdom and given guest lectures on the music of Richard Wagner. Christine is currently writing a dissertation on mashups.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Business Card!

Check out the new business card from PsPrint! Sorry it's a little blurry.

Thank you to Dina Maccabee for helping with the design the card and to Jemal Diamond (the new Papa!) for the awesome logo!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Dina Maccabee's Chasing the Moon podcast with Ramon & Jessica

Every so often I like to brag about the people I know and went to school with. I have been so lucky to know some amazing musicians and creative people.

Dina Maccabee and I have crossed paths a number of times, we went to the same overnight summer camp in Southern California, both got music degrees from The University of Michigan and have ended up now living a couple blocks from each other.

Dina is a classically trained violist, but has been seen with a violin and even behind a drum kit. She currently plays with the quirky Ramon & Jessica and Jascha vs. Jascha She now has her own band, the Dina Maccabee band (and will be playing at Cafe du Nord on July 8 in San Francisco) You'll have to ask her how many bands she's in, your guess is a good as mine!

Chasing the Moon is a San Francisco video podcast that features local bands. The current episode features Ramon & Jessica with partner in crime Jesse Olsen and accordianist Mariƫ Abe.

Ramon & Jessica @ Chasing The Moon 05.27.10 from Scott McDowell on Vimeo.

More about Dina Maccabee's

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Lia Rose of Built for the Sea looking for your help to fund her solo album

It's a brilliant concept: pay for Lia Rose's album now and get it hot off the press when it's done! That's the idea behind many of's projects. Many of us donate to non-profits, why not help unsigned musicians pay for a new project? The music industry is changing so rapidly, it's impossible to see where it's going. Record labels used to be the only way to make a record, but now you can do it from your bedroom. Unfortunately, it still takes money to make a record.

Fund the project here!

Lia Rose is the ethereal voice in front of the dream anthem pop band Built for the Sea. Their sound is big and warm. Rose's voice is sweet and hypnotic. I started listening to Built for the Sea recently and it was hard to take the CD out of my car stereo. Now Rose is hitting the studio on her own to create something all her own, perhaps something a little more delicate. It'll be exciting to see what comes out of this new project.

There are many different levels of funding, each with their own sized "reward" from a signed CD to a handmade art piece by Rose herself. As of Thursday afternoon, Rose is 78% of the way to her goal with 93 backers. She has 14 days to go. Can she raise the money to get cracking? Will you help?

Click here to hear a couple demo's off the upcoming album

Lia Rose on myspace

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Asking for help in saving a friend's life: be the stem cell match for Elissa Froman!

"He who has a why to live, can bear almost any how" - Friedrich Nietzsche

If one of your best friend's little sisters had beaten cancer twice and it had come back for the third time you would be posting your first ever non-musical entry on a music blog too.

And hey, I met Becky at music camp, so this is musical. She was my roommate in college and majored in oboe performance and psychology. She's now a Music Therapist at a home for the elderly in Skokie, IL. I've been there and watched what joy she brings to many people that can't remember their own names. I couldn't do it, I'm glad she does.

But this is about her sister Elissa! Lissy, as she is called, is an amazing person. She's been working on Capitol Hill since she started college and has worked for various Civil Rights Lobbyist including the National Council of Jewish Women and Reform Judaism. She's smart, strong, funny and a very loving person. She might also be a woman you wouldn't want to mess with, but you didn't hear that from me :)

Read her blog She Who Has a Why here.

A couple months ago, Lissy's cancer came back for the third time, she has Hodgkin's lymphoma. As most of you know, this is serious folks. Beating cancer once and then twice is an amazing thing to do before you're 27. But a third time? We are really scared now.

Lissy and her family are looking for a match for her platelets, not her bone marrow if you were wondering, the registry is just called that. If you are inspired to help, or at least see if you can help, please go to Be the Match and register. It takes about 15 minutes and they will send you a free kit to see if you are indeed a match for someone in need of bone marrow (just a simple cheek swab!). Maybe you will be Lissy's match and help save her life! Tell your friends! Repost on your blogs! As Becky has told me, a good match can mean the best and worst for Lissy's future.

I've signed up, I'm waiting for my kit to come in the mail.

Lissy was recently admitted to Rabbinical School. We want her to go. This woman will make an amazing Rabbi.

Read more about Lissy here

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Support singer/songwriters Pam Shaffer and Lia Rose make their studio albums,

In the past week, two singer/songwriters, Lia Rose and Pamela Shaffer, have reached out to their fans asking for help paying for the making of their studio albums. Kickstarter is an awesome site where artists can appeal to their fans (and find new ones) and fans can directly support artists they like. There is no middle man.

The awesome thing about the concept behind Kickstarter, is that if you donate money to Pamela or Lia's projects you are really just pre-paying for the album you would have bought anyway. So it's really more of an investment in the music that you like. And it's just another way to donate to the arts.

Pamela says,
"I love donating to the arts whether it's by purchasing a friend's album, being a member of LACMA or dropping cash in a tip jar for a musician on 3rd street."
If you take a look at the Kickstarter site, it has allowed Pamela and Lia to award various amount donations with different prizes: house shows, signed CDs, pre-release downloading and handmade cover art.

I'm going to donate some cash right after I finish this post. Every dollar helps them get that much closer to a finished product, and studio recordings ain't cheap to make. (Update: you can sign in through facebook and then pay through Amazon, so you don't have to open another account or give your credit card out to yet another site. Easy-peezy)

Check out the widgets below and their music. Please think about supporting these ladies on Kickstarter to make their studio recordings.

Los Angeles musician Pamela Shaffer needs help finishing her album

Bay Area musician Lia Rose (of Built by the Sea) needs support making a solo album

Friday, March 12, 2010

My friend Sarah is an intern at NPR - She wrote this fun gospel music work out mix article

Stephen J. Boitano/Stringer/Getty Images

My friend Sarah from the University of Michigan music school is an intern at NPR and she gets to write blogs for the site here and there (like this one about the darker side/hard rock of classical music). The NPR website has had this fun "work out playlist" column going for a little while and this is her contribution: Your Body Is A Temple: A Gospel Workout Mix. I'm very happy t brag that she got some inspiration from my blog and its playlist over there on the right.

Sarah is a violist and grad student at the University of Maryland.

Read her article and listen to the gospel playlist here.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A request to help support and protect All-Ages performances spaces

These guys need a safe place to party too

Remember being under 21 and wanting to go out? I lived in Los Angeles and still ended up getting a fake ID. I mean I missed freaking PAUL SIMON at the House of Blues because I was under 21. I ended up hanging out outside with the doormen and watching the show on the monitor for smokers. That was not right, people. People under the age of 21 need a variety of places to go, that aren't just punk clubs. Not all kids are interested in that kind of music.

This is a notice from my friend Cary (from the band At Dusk) who has worked tirelessly to support and maintain All-Ages entertainment spaces across the country. I've gone ahead and signed up (you have to give Pepsi an email, but you have to specifically sign up for mailing lists, so don't worry about spam) please do the same if you feel that this is a cause worth supporting:
As I'm among friends and family here I'll spare you a long pitch and just ask for your help in securing a $50,000 grant from Pepsi for a non-profit organization called the All-Ages Movement Project (AMP) that advocates for and support people nationwide in starting, running and maintaining all-ages arts and music spaces.

They are in an online competition to be one of the ten most vote-getting applicant projects among hundreds by the end of February. If they finish in the top ten, they will receive $50,000 that will allow the organization publish a how-to book, organize a series of workshops and conferences, and take on some much needed staff. Everyone (or, technically, every email) can vote once a day through February 28 at:

Since you know me, you also know how important the cause of all-ages access to music and art is to me, and I can assure you that if AMP is able to make these projects happen it will help address some critical issues in creative communities across the country.

Any help you could offer over the few days by voting and encouraging others to vote through facebook, twitter, emails etc. would be greatly appreciated. You will not receive Pepsi spam unless you specifically check a box requesting to, so don't worry about that.

***Vote daily through February to help bring all-ages music and art to every town.***

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Music Never Left You: a repost from Kirk Hamilton's Murfins and Burglars

Reposted from SF musician and friend Kirk Hamilton's blog Murfins and Burglars. I know you're out there fellow musical friends and former classmates.


Things kind of suck right now, don’t they? It has become difficult, especially over these past few weeks, to shake the feeling that we are lying in the basin of some vast, vague ditch of malaise, frustration and crappiness – nationally, globally, but also individually. Everyone seems depressed, and not just because it’s January.

We’ll see if Mr. Obama can get up there tonight for his first State of the Union and make us feel better about things. I imagine that at the very least he’ll make those of us who support him feel a bit better about him, which should in turn make us feel a bit better about “things.” I doubt, however, that it’ll be the spiritual salve that I, at least, am craving.

But I think I know something that could be. I was browsing the Facebook statuses of my friends and fellow musicians when I saw a post by a San Francisco saxophonist I know, Bari Sax-man extraordinaire Doug Rowan, who shared the following:
Everyone that ever played a musical instrument and quit playing for some reason or another should pick it back up again and see what happens.
To which I say: YES. Doug, I love this. “Pick it back up again and see what happens.” Yes. Yes.

Right after seeing that (but unrelated to it), a singer friend of mine shared on my wall that she’d picked up her alto sax again after several years of not playing, and was loving it. And I realized: that’s it! We should go for it, we should turn that thought into some sort of unofficial national initiative.

People of the world!

Ex-band geeks, garage rockers! Dorm room strummers and lapsed fifth-grade recorder virtuosos!

Hear me, and heed the call! It is time to pick up your instruments once more!

Seriously, I am talking to YOU. Perhaps you played an instrument in your high school band, or banged on the bass in a garage punk group in college? Maybe you sang in the madrigals or were a marching band nerd? Did you rent-to-own a euphonium, or spend days learning scales on the xylophone? Is there an accordion moldering in a closet somewhere in your house?

If so, go dig that accordion up, dust of those drum cases, re-string that bass, have your folks ship out your old Squire. Find your old instrument and see if it still works, because I’ll bet it does. And more to the point, I’ll bet that you can still work it. Just place your hands on it and see what they remember. You just might surprise yourself.

And sure, you might be utter rubbish, you might give your cat a nervous breakdown. Playing again may remind you why the lip pain, sore fingers, and frustrating metronome bleeps made you stop in the first place. But maybe, just maybe, you’ll realize how much you loved music, how much you miss it, and you might start to play again. Find a teacher. Learn some new songs you like. Join a band.

I know this won’t solve anything tangible. It won’t get back any bailout money, or fix the California state budget, or re-hire all the amazing teachers who are going to be let go this year, to say nothing of what it won’t do for the suffering multitudes of the world.

But what it will do is something less quantifiable, perhaps smaller but no less grand – it might allow you to rediscover a part of yourself that you’d forgotten was even there.

You don’t have to sound “good.”

You don’t have to sound like anything at all.

Just give it a try. See what happens.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Introducing The Hello Strangers: The Chace sisters with some sweet attitude

I love these photos by Ryan Smith: Brechyn and Larissa Chace

The music of The Hello Strangers takes me into another decade, maybe into a black and white movie set in the Appalachians or Hill Country of Texas, where the women are tough and passionate. It's spooky, got some gorgeous harmonies and just the right amount of twang.

Sisters Brechyn (Breh-ken) Chace and Larissa Chace Smith started writing tunes together in South Austin after Larissa completed her Master's degree in Ethnomusicology at The University of Texas (that's where I met her). Soon, however, the mountains of their Central Pennsylvania home beckoned the sisters North. So they packed up their lives, dogs, and Larissa’s husband, and drove to their two-stoplight hometown of Mercersburg (factoid: birthplace to President Buchanan). In Pennsylvania the sisters were joined by Dave Holzwarth (bass), Kevin Shannon (guitar), and Katie O’Neil (drums) to fill out the sound into a full on rock band.

With songs titled "Pregnant in Jail," (supposedly based on a true story, that's something I have to remember to ask about) "Oh He'll Drown," and "Poor Dear," I wonder where the Chace sisters get their inspiration. I mean REALLY get their inspiration. I know Larissa's husband. I was at their wedding, he's a sweetheart. It seems that the local lore of Pennsylvania, Texas and good ol' country music steeped into their creative consciousness.

The musical influence of folks like
Neko Case, Lucinda Williams, Johnny Cash, Conor Oberst and The Weary Boys is evident. But so is the rich musical traditions of Austin, Texas. It's the voices and vocal harmonies of Brechyn and Larissa that really make this band for me. I can't tell them apart and it sort of freaks me out!

I'm looking forward to hearing the full-length album when it comes out sometime in the next couple months. Until then, check out their EP "Introducing Max Schmidt." And if you're in the Pennsylvania/Maryland area, The Hello Strangers are playing a bunch of gigs you can check out:

Jan 15 2010 7PM - The Ragged Edge Coffee House Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Jan 23 2010 8:30PM - Hempen Hill BBQ Bar & Grill Hagerstown, Maryland

Feb 13 2010 9PM - The Broad Axe Hagerstown, Maryland

Feb 19 2010 9PM - The Local Beat: Millennium Music Conference New Cumberland, Pennsylvania

Feb 26 2010 8PM - Unique Bar and Grill Blue Ridge Summit, Pennsylvania

Apr 2 2010 8PM - Hempen Hill BBQ Bar & Grill Hagerstown, Maryland

May 8 2010 9PM - The Broad Axe Hagerstown, Maryland

Jul 31 2010 9PM - The Broad Axe Hagerstown, Maryland

Sep 18 2010 8:30P - Hempen Hill BBQ Bar & Grill Hagerstown, Maryland

You can take the girls out of Texas but you can't take Texas out of the girls

"Poor Dear" by The Hello Strangers