The Black Keys showed again that they are continuing to move further from their traditional blues roots in the second “leaked” single, “Run Right Back” off of their upcoming new album, El Camino, set to be released December 6. Despite the move from the heavy blues vibe that may have drawn in many of their early fans, the Keys still prove they have the songwriting clout to keep fans around in this new single that is likely to get you dancing in your chair, even if you’re in a socially awkward situation to do so.

The song is upbeat, quick-rhythmed and has an undeniable pop-like hook. Dan Auerbach shows he is still ready to flex his falsetto, but doesn’t keep it over constant as could be alleged of “Everlasting Light.” There’s still plenty of return to a more gritty-toned vocal strut kept in there to give the song some hair on its chest.

There is certainly some influence from the album’s producer, Dangermouse, and some fans more linked to the early Keys style may feel abandoned with the new direction, but any musician will say with good frequency that to do what one has already done for the sake of its earlier success is dishonest – the artist will follow his/her own inner drive.

The song is previewed in the UK’s BBC radio personality Zane Lowe’s podcast at around the 29-minute mark. A brief lead-in precedes the song’s play, and also featured is some commentary on the song and even the “motivation” behind the new album’s title from The Black Keys’ drummer, Patrick Carney.

Check it out, critique my critique, insult me if you will, but most importantly, let me know what you think of the song. Follow this link to get to the show. It’s available only for a limited time, so I wouldn’t advise dawdling. But it’s new Keys, I’m sure I don’t have to spur haste. Enjoy.

The Barr Brothers are a progressive blues-folk act formed in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Their creative instrumentation carves them a truly unique niche. Photo compliments of their website

It was early in the decade of big hair, shameless spandex and material excess that brothers Brad and Andrew Barr discovered their passion for music. Having received a pair of boxing gloves for Christmas, according to their biography, the two young brothers passed time pummeling eachother with a regularity only male siblings can sustain in a makeshift basement boxing ring in their parents’ Rhode Island home.

Whether it was rhythmic blows to their heads, or simply a desire to swap knuckle and facial callouses for finger callouses, in 1983 the two young scrappers traded gloves for guitars and drums, sponging up influence from popular blues and rock’n’roll classics preserved in the vinyl time machine of their father’s record collection.

To the luck of their faces and our ears, music proved less evanescent a hobby than their brief boxing stint, and to date the brothers continue their pursuit of its secrets, dashing their own spices into the concoction once constrained to classic covers. And they’ve brought in some friends to round out their lineup.

Contributing the harp-strumming magic that gives their music its mystic haunt is the classically trained Sarah Page, whom Brad Barr met in Montreal when her majestic harp melodies would seep through the shared wall of their apartments, Barr’s first in the city, according to their website. Impressed, Barr invited her on board. The brothers were plus one.

Watch Page take center stage in the song titled for her unlikely introduction to the band, “Sarah through the Wall,” in the video below:

THE BARR BROTHERS – Sarah Through The Wall from Mitch Fillion ( on Vimeo.

The now decided trio would later bring in multi-instrumentalist Andres Vial to layer in keys, percussion, bass, vibes and vox. Something unique was taking shape and touring cemented their bond further. But any truly aspiring band must make an album eventually, so on September 27, under the support of Secret City Records, The Barr Brothers released their self-titled first album.

The debut single from the album is a contemplative piece of artsound with poetically religious undertones that can make even the nonbelieving want to take a stab at piety. The song is titled “Beggar in the Morning,” and comes complete with Sebastien Lange’s movingly creative music video featuring the somehow tragic yet inspiring figurines crafted by British Columbian artist, Stephen Bircher. The harmony of the song’s mood with the in-and-out focusing and shifting angles of the video phrasing is impeccable. The video was debuted the day of the album release on the blogging platform of NPR’s music news program, All Songs Considered. Watch below:

Taken from the description beneath the video, read Brad Barr’s story of the video’s making and his hopes for its success:

“The idea for the Beggar in the Morning video came after I met the artist Stephan Bircher in British Columbia. A friend of mine was sharing an art opening with him. The next day I went out to his studio and was introduced to this wonderful dark and playful world of his imagination — objects from the natural world – bones, shells, skulls – reused and redefined with rusty old machine parts. With the flick of a switch, it all comes to life. I always thought that a video would be the best way for people to see his work, since its very involved and expensive for him to dismantle his figurines and set them up somewhere else. Ideally, this video is beneficial for both The Barr Brothers and Stephan, as I hope more people will be introduced to this very unique and imaginative artist. The director, Sebastien Lange had to travel to British Columbia to film the figurines as they cannot be transported…” – Brad

An acutely defining trait of The Barr Brothers’ music is the creative instrument utilization the band employs and the marriage of harp-string elegance with gritty blues swagger is something truly thought provoking. One of the later tracks on the album, “Deacon’s Son,” is an excellent example of this unlikely pairing. Who knew harp could be so bluesy. Watch the band perform the song for below:

Further, the band pays worthy homage on the album to a more traditional blues sound in the slide-heavy song, “Lord I Just Can’t Keep From Crying.” Watch the video below captured by Mitch Fillion of Southern Souls – a noble website dedicated to promoting performances from obscure talent – in the alley behind the band’s studio. Notice the rusty brake drum joining Andrew Barr’s drum set. Dig it.

Though not short on supporting reasons, it is The Barr Brothers’ tendency toward the exotic and unconventional that lends them their character and magnetism. Watch a very eerie video below of Brad Barr demonstrating use of his tackle box guitar with the string bow technique also seen in the early parts of “Deacon’s Son.”

Where this band will go from here is anyone’s guess, but with whispers of their music growing sharper on the web, and with the impressive volume these whispers can now carry in the music world – you would do well not to pass up any small club shows they may stage near you. Intimate shows may be much harder to squeeze into down the road.

Their album is definitely “Worth Your Listen” – and worth your purchase.

Due respect.

From the late '40s to the mid "60s, Hines Farm Blues Club was the premier blues venue in the Toledo, Ohio area.

Swanton, Ohio – The blues music scene in Toledo, Ohio thrived from the late-‘40s to the mid ‘60s. Some of the genre’s top heavyweights passed through the area during the time, including the de facto King of Blues, the legendary B.B. King.

His and others’ iconic faces could regularly be seen poking through heavy screens of smoke onstage, straining against the tearing whine of soulful note bends in many of downtown Toledo’s popular venues at the time.

But the area venue most endeared by the blues community – its fans and its musicians – was a bit more obscure. To reach it meant to leave the corporation limit, and just when you’d thought you’d left civilization entirely, you knew you were getting close.

They called it the Hines Farm Blues Club, and while blues music is no longer the cultural heartbeat it was in the decades the club was hopping, once a month the venue reignites and the ghosts of the greats are given a chance to jive once more.

Well-versed on the history of the club is Bowling Green State University popular culture instructor, Matt Donahue. Donahue published a book on the club in 2000 and in 2002 he was approached by a PBS affiliate wanting to turn his book into a documentary. Donahue agreed and after airing on PBS stations nationwide, the documentary was nominated for an Emmy by the National Television Academy. The film also received a Telly award, as well as the Crystal Award for Media Excellence.

Though he acknowledges that some wish the club would open more regularly, Donahue said he believes the once-a-month resurrections are preferable and work to protect the venue’s history.

“I think it’s cool they are only doing shows once a month out there now,” he said. “Otherwise it would kind of lose its flair, because anyone could go there anytime. … It gets to keep its uniqueness this way.”

The venue has some history to celebrate. From the late ‘40s to the early ‘60s the club was the epicenter of the Toledo blues scene. According to Donahue, the story started when the 40-acre farm property was purchased in 1947 by farmer Frank “Sonny” Hines when the previous owner was forced to sell the land to overcome tax difficulties. Hines and his wife moved to the North seeking a better life and brought with them their blues traditions.

“The story is really kind of a microcosm of the larger national history of blues and rhythm-and-blues that was going on between the ‘30s and ‘60s – the movement of blacks from the South to the North” Donahue said.

The idea for the club was conceived through the Hines’ basement parties with friends featuring live music, succulent barbecue and cold drinks: a strong custom blacks carried from the South and common during the time. As crowds grew each weekend, Hines expanded the parties with an outdoor venue in a rustic wooded section of his 40-acre farm property. It was appropriately dubbed the Juke Joint, and featured a low stage, a bar and a barbecue pit in its center where food was prepared fresh for patrons to the shows.

As audiences swelled even further, the need for a larger, year-round festival became apparent. Hines constructed his Hines Farm Blues Club near the front of his property along Route 295 and started booking larger acts. In 1961 an outdoor pavilion was constructed on the back of the main club that could easily accommodate the size crowds it was bringing in. The grand opening featured a performance from Count Basie and his orchestra and larger acts were soon to follow.

As the club gained prominence it began to bring legendary artists such as Big Jack Reynolds, B.B. King, Bobby Blue Bland and John Lee Hooker, among others. Donahue suggested that the events transpiring at the outdoor pavilion during this time may have been the start of a trend in live music still visible today.

“[Hines Farm] was really home to some of the biggest blues artists of the time,” Donahue said. “What was going on at the outdoor pavilion was really kind of the origins of a blues festival type of atmosphere that really got going with the ‘hippie’ generation of the ‘60s.”

Upon interviewing some of the exalted artists who played the venue, Donahue was surprised to learn many of the musicians not only remembered the venue, but spoke highly of it and could recall specific memories about its layout and atmosphere. In the PBS documentary, prior to his death in 2001, John Lee Hooker reminisces to Donahue on his times there.

“It wasn’t a lot of money, but it was a lot of fun, a lot of good people,” he said. “They just had a good ole time down there, they would just hang out down there. … I wouldn’t even call it business; it was more like a party.”

Watch a clip below of Donahue’s documentary on the venue, “I’ll Take You There,” featuring comments from John Lee Hooker and B.B. King.

When the ‘60s matured, however, the demand for live blues began to deteriorate. Music was becoming much more available on recorded copy and an economic downturn following the booming auto-industrial period during which the club prospered pressed fans financially, preventing their ability to pay for live music. The genre itself was also being replaced by newer forms of rock music and if declining demand was stressing the venue’s strength, economic expansion broke its back.

“There are a lot of theories that during the period of urban renewal in the late 1960s, that process brought on a lot of the demise of many of the blues clubs in the area,” he said. “Clubs on Door Street in Toledo and Hastings Street in Detroit were strongly affected and many people believe Hines Farm was similarly affected when the airport expanded.”

According to Donahue the Toledo Express Airport extended its runway in the ‘60s and cut through Route 295, which made getting to the already in-the-sticks venue even more difficult. The club struggled along for a little over a decade longer, but Hines closed the venue in 1976, his health failing and his business failing with it. He and his wife moved to a rest home; their son boarded up the farm and left it to die.

The Blues Club’s grave, though, was a shallow one and the property was purchased in 1978 by a man named Henry Griffin. Griffin was born in Mississippi, but was raised in the Swanton area and had fond memories of attending shows and events there as a child. He wanted the history to be preserved.

“The blues will never be the same as it was at that time,” Griffin told the Toledo Free Press for a 2006 story on the venue. “Places like this are about dead, except in Southern states. I’m happy to keep this going. It’s clean music, clean fun.”

Driving by today, one would likely never recognize the Hines Farm Blues Club as anything more than a dilapidated garage, perhaps a mechanic’s shop – out of use and out of mind. The Juke Joint still sits near the back of the property, surrounded by trees that drop leaves to decorate the historical venue’s scenery with picturesque brilliance in autumn. With its weathered wood walls and cracked, fading green paint, the Joint looks like a piece of the past set down in the present, forgotten by the hand of time.

“I think that’s important; they haven’t turned it into a tourist trap,” Donahue said. “If you go down to a place like Memphis, which is like ‘the home of the blues’ – it’s a blues tourist trap. … Keeping the club how it was is important for preserving its history.”

Hines Farm Blues Club has proven itself to possess an admirable past, but what of its future? While the venue may bounce blues off its walls on a monthly basis, Donahue speculates the business blues will not soon overcome the venue’s owner.

“There has been a blues resurgence going on since about the ‘80s – I think Stevie Ray Vaughn did a lot for that – and I don’t think it’s going to stop,” he said. “I think the club will do well.”

Are you a fan of EDM and think acoustic guitar is limited to the sappy, overly-emotional types such as John Mayer or Jason Mraz? Think again.

While the acoustic guitar may be the approach most utilized by men made into whines by heartache, a little creativity shows even those more attracted to today’s electronic styles of music can find something to appreciate from a low-tech geet box.

Below is a video of outstanding guitar player Ewan Dobson applying extremely coordinated noting and finger plucks to an average acoustic and running it through just a few pedal effects to produce a sound that, without the video, would surely seem synthetic to the untrained ear. The song has a distinctly “trance” feel and if you close your eyes and can employ the correct experiential muse, images of blurring poi dance and rhythmic hula jives can quickly come to mind.

I can’t personally explain Dobson’s Raiden appearance, but this demonstration proves that technological advancement is not always necessary to achieve sounds that are both progressive and hugely dance-ready.

Turntables and synthesizers may be slowly winning the day in modern music, but this video proves (to me) that guitarists still win. Let me hear your rebuttal EDM kids, and if anyone knows of any other videos similar to this one, let me know. I’m all about it.

Below is a general introduction to an intriguing aboriginal instrument native to Australia, known most commonly as the didgeridoo. The instrument is little more than a hollow stalk of wood, yet through a combination of vibration and wind manipulation it can produce remarkably rich and unique tones.

The didgeridoo’s sound begins with a low, primal moan called the “drone.” Drone pitch is influenced by a combination of bending the airflow through the mouth and contorting lip position and vibration. Tongue rattles can also add sharp vibratos to the tone and high pitched shouts down the chamber create the didgeridoo’s signature “growls,” producing the feral animal sounds that define it.

Below is a video I made giving a very brief overview of the instrument’s history and composition. Also included are a sound clip and photos of renown musician Xavier Rudd, who made a name for himself with the unparagoned style the instrument helped him to forge. Also included are some short explanations on my behalf for creating some of the sounds heard in the clip; though my abilities are admittedly lacking. Give the instrument a chance and if you like what you hear, pick one up. Designs similar to the bamboo example I play in the video can be picked up for roughly $30 to $40 at most music shops.

If you have any further tips, or corrections to mine, please comment and share them. I know I could use some. (Also, situation forced me to temporarily use a trial version of Adobe Premier for this video, which explains the watermark. Apologies.)

Current Swell is a band based out of Victoria, BC in Canada. The band has tailored a very interesting blend of blues, reggae and roots rock that can appeal to fans loyal to a broad base of genres.

The band currently has three full-length studio albums under their belt and have been gaining an increasing amount of recognition through online resources such as Youtube and iTunes.

According to the band’s biography on their website, they have shared stages with more established acts such as Xavier Rudd and their most recent album, “Protect Your Own,” shares producer credit with Rudd’s album, “Food in the Belly,” by way of Todd Simko.

The band is currently in the studio wrapping up recording on their fourth album, not yet titled, and according to their website the album is set to drop early this year.

Below is a video of the band’s song “Young and Able,” a more mellow track than some of their other work with a catchy melody and a strong folk/reggae feel. For further examples of their musical approach and a demonstration of the diversity in their sound, be sure to check out their profile on

Heard of Current Swell? Tell me your favorite song. Know of a similar band I should check out? My ears are always open and hungrier than I can ever seem to satisfy.


17 Apr 2011

The Black Angels pack Grog Shop in sold-out show

Author: troyc | Filed under: News, Worth Your Listen

The Black Angels are an experimental psychadelic rock band out of Austin, Texas. Their sound is somewhere between Radiohead and TV on the Radio with a heavier grunge feel and a vocal approach reminiscent of Jim Morrison. - Photo by Ryan Pirog.

Cleveland Heights, Ohio – Chris Schwartz first saw The Black Angels at Lollapalooza in 2007 when he and his group of friends came upon the band’s performance there by chance. They were casually walking the festival’s large concert grounds when they were intrigued, he said, by the band’s female drummer and stopped to observe.

“We ended up watching the whole set,” he said. “It just drew us in.”

Schwartz was impressed with The Black Angels’ unique sound and made repeated attempts to see them again, but every time they came near, schedule conflictions kept him from attending. Friday, April 15 he finally found his chance.

The concert’s first supporting act, Terminal Lovers, was playing as Schwartz leaned contentedly against one of the many support posts strewn throughout the Grog Shop in Cleveland Heights, waiting for the Angels’ set. He smiled eagerly as he gave the openers their due listen, but for him it was all a preamble to what he had really come to see.

“I’ve been anticipating this show forever,” he said. “It’s going to be a good setting, I just wish it was a little bigger … I saw people getting turned away.”

It’s not surprising. Thirty minutes after the doors opened for the event at 8 p.m. fans were still lined far out the venue’s entrance; and the line’s progress was slow. The show, according to the venue’s website, sold out that evening and to pass the time fans reminisced on past Angels shows; some spoke of seeing one of the openers once as well. Few by few, more and more people presented their tickets at the door and descended the venue’s stairs to the concert floor below.

Walking into the Grog Shop feels a bit like entering a basement re-imagination of the final room in Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Masque of the Red Death.” The ceilings are low, giving the room a pocketing feel. The walls and support posts are painted a deep blood red and the venue’s dim lighting works with the color to create a surreal atmosphere. Heavy crimson curtains hang behind the stage in folds, furthering the scheme.

As the first opener concluded, fans continued to pour in through the door. Elbows grew close before the second opening act, Suuns, even took the stage. When the band did begin to play they came out with a rough, garage sound, contrasting the experimental sound of the first opener and the coming headliner. Their sound shifted a few songs in, however, presenting an EDM influence similar to the womping rhythms of dubstep, and carrying an ambient feel more in line with the other acts.

“The first two or three songs I wasn’t sure about them, but by about the fourth song it hit me” said Cleveland resident Jessica Julian. “My friend described it as psychedelic disco and that’s what it is. That’s cool, that’s unique, and once I caught onto that I really started to get into them.”

Instrument swapping was common at the show, with members trading off strings, keys and drone machines. - Photo by Ryan Pirog.

Julian had seen The Black Angels twice before at Cleveland’s Beachland Ballroom, and she was acquainted with members of Terminal Lovers, but this was her first exposure to Suuns. She described the show Friday night as “perfectly booked,” saying the styles of the Angels and their supporting acts worked exceptionally well together. She had a few criticisms, however, of the venue itself.

“It’s just the practicalities of a small space with a lot of poles,” she said, speaking in reference to the support posts’ influence on the acoustics in the room. Others in attendance echoed her opinion.

At 10:45 p.m. The Black Angels were nearly ready to take the stage. Simply turning around had become a chore as the audience density tested the venue’s capacity. The band came to the stage minutes later and streamed through the packed room single-file, parting the crowd without impediment. Cheers roared across and off the walls as the band took their positions and stepped into their set without delay.

The Black Angels have a sound somewhere between Radiohead and TV on the Radio, though with the more tormented grind of a strong grunge influence. Heavy chords and hard-hitting drums kept the atmosphere raw; haunting drone machine tweaks made the music intoxicating. The vocals have a bit of a higher-keyed Jim Morrison swagger and singer Alex Maas smiled with eyes hidden beneath his low-pulled Gatsby cap as he projected his lyrics over the psychologically seductive instrumentation beneath.

Listen to The Black Angels’ song “Bad Vibrations” off their latest album “Phosphene Dreams.”
The Black Angels — Bad Vibrations by 69police

The crowd appeared captivated as they bobbed and moved to the Angels’ hypnotic brand of ambient, as freely as their confined space would allow. Shoulders pressed tight against one another and each individual’s rhythmic sway was often translated to the person beside them, for their immediate proximity.

Instrument responsibilities were flexible for The Black Angels, with string musicians Kyle Hunt, Christian Bland and Nate Ryan trading guitars for basses and visa-versa depending on the song. Hunt too provided keyboard on many songs and Bland occasionally substituted strings for organ. Maas regularly assisted drummer Stephanie Bailey with rhythm duties, mashing in maracas or tambourine. Drone machines and synthesizers came from nearly all directions.

The concert concluded roughly an hour after The Black Angels began, leaving some fans a bit unsatisfied, wishing for an encore. Most seemed pleased with the band’s performance, however, and the show’s energy followed the crowd as they began to move back out into the street. Some hung around to purchase vinyl copies of the band’s albums, available for purchase beside the stage.

Schwartz smiled wide as he joined the flow of fans leaving the venue. He said the band had stepped up their live performance since he last saw them at Lollapalooza four years ago.

“They were a lot tighter, I was very impressed,” he said. “They played maybe five songs I heard the last time I saw them and I think they did a lot better. Not to say the first time wasn’t any good, they were awesome, but I think they did a lot better this time.”

Schwartz said he enjoyed hearing live performances of songs from albums that have released since the Lollapalooza show. The band’s first two albums, “Passover” and “Directions to See a Ghost” are among his estimated 3,000-piece vinyl collection.

“I just wish I had the money on me to purchase their newest one,” he said.

Below is a map showing 10 of the best music festivals occurring in Ohio this spring and summer. Brief descriptions of each and links to their respective festival’s websites are included. The music covered in the festival list ranges from bluegrass, blues and jazz to jam and electronic. Hard rock festivals were not taken into consideration for the purposes of this map, though there are some great metal gatherings in the state to be found, most namedly Woodshock at the beautiful outdoor festival grounds at Legend Valley and the more mainstream Rock on the Range in Columbus, headlined this year by A Perfect Circle.

Click on any point on the map to read its description (some zooming may be required to more easily distinguish cursor clicks between events).

View 10 Great Ohio Music Festivals in a larger map

4 Apr 2011

Incubus leaks first single from upcoming new album

Author: troyc | Filed under: News

Incubus' new single "Adolescents" suggests the coming album "If Not Now, When?" will reclaim ground lost on "Light Grenades" but feels a bit reserved.

Incubus leaked the first single off their upcoming new album “If Not Now, When?” via their social networking pages today. The response of the fans was immediate.

The name of the new song is “Adolescents,” and the sound seems to be a bit of a return to their earlier style than their last album, “Light Grenades.”

The song’s lyrics prove Brandon Boyd has not lost his poetic ability, and the title likely refers to adolescence in spiritual development rather than chronological age. Despite the style regression, the song still seems to lack the adventurous creativity that gave Incubus the loyal fanbase that stood by their side through the tepid 2006 production.

Fan comments on the stream the band posted range from harshly critical to unthinkingly extollent, though the praises heavily outweigh the critiques. One disgruntled fan griped: “Dang, what happened to the real Incubus? You know, the creative, edgy, innovative music they once did? This song sounds so cookie cutter and poppy. I hope there are better songs on your new album.” Some others agreed, calling the track “safe” for a single, but they were very much in the minority.

It cannot be avoided, though, that this is a bit of a timid release, and the style is wanting of a bit more imagination. Brandon Boyd’s vocals feel rather reserved and complacent, though there are moments of seemingly honest inflection that lend the lyrics a firmer relatability. Jose Pasillas’ rhythms deliver rather well within the time structure of the song, but Einziger’s riffs could use a little more mind-tweak in their expression. Ben Kenney, while a great musician in his own right, is still no Dirk Lance.

Listen to the track as it was posted today:
Adolescents by incubus

The song’s largest void is in its lack of a sufficiently intriguing interlude and it is here that a bit more of DJ Kilmore’s digital deft could have been appreciated. When the existing interlude does come in around 3 minutes 15 seconds deep, it never properly crescendos or stokes the eardrums before moving back into a replay of the rather redundant “Out of sight/ Out of mind” chorus.

While the song feels apt to promise a better record than the previous effort, the whole will have to bring a bit more to the table than was demonstrated in this timid part. New Incubus, though, is still new Incubus, and a worthy cause for excitement.

But beyond being an 11-year, devout follower of the California quintet that helped shape my mentality (I believe positively) through the many rises and pitfalls of teenhood and young adulthood, who am I?

Tell me what you think.

Greg Hayes is a blues/hard rock musician out of  Toledo, Ohio. He has a very natural style of one-man, one-guitar blues picking with a feral feel that lets him stand out against the flood of fellow blues musicians in the area. He doesn’t play the blues like a watered-down imitation tribute to an era lost – he plays it like he damned well means it. 

According to Hayes’ profile, he was invited in 2009 to play at the SXSW Music Festival in Austin, TX. His profile shows no solo sets to come in the immediate future, but he is currently playing lead guitar for The Bloody Buffalo: a grungy, blues and metal concoction layered over with bandmate Norma Jean’s firmly projected vibrato vocals; sounding in many ways like echos of Ann Wilson of Canadian rockers, Heart.

I personally could never bring myself to like Heart (or Rush, for that matter, whose vocals sounded frighteningly similar, to me), so I don’t personally feel compelled to promote Hayes’ current project. His solo work, however, is definitely “Worth Your Listen.”

Check out Hayes’ song, “Dog In Heat” below.

All Good Music Festival in Masontown, W.V. began as little more than a local party in the woods. Fifteen years later, it has grown to become one of the most reputable weekend music festivals in the nation.

All Good will kick off this year on Thursday, July 14 and runs through Sunday, July 17. Dave Weissman, media director for the festival, attended his first All Good in 1999 and was hired to work with its organizers in 2002. He said the festival has improved every year, with the last installment outshining any he has previously seen.

“Last year was really awesome. Everyone got along really well and it created this amazing vibe,” he said. “It was probably the best All Good I’ve ever been to.”

Weissman expects 2011 to follow trend.

“I think there are going to be some things revealed this year that people are going to be very psyched at,” he said. “We’re definitely continuing to evolve in a positive, upward way.”

While he admitted All Good can never rival the behemoth size of the far larger Bonnaroo in Tennessee, he described All Good’s growth as “organic” and said it has come a long way since its inception a decade and a half ago.

“Bonnaroo came out of the gate at 50,000 to 75,000 people – this was not like that,” he said. “All Good started out as a home-spun party, turned gathering, turned small event, turned large event, and things just kept snowballing.”

Last year’s event, Weissman said, sold out its ticket allowance: 25,000 strong.

Why All Good?

Though Bonnaroo may be the larger of the two – in both attendance and band roster – Weissman said All Good’s stage methodology offers the festival an opportunity that has allowed it to develop its loyal following.

“One of the things that is really different about All Good is there are no overlapping sets,” he said. “At All Good any big band people pay to see, any national touring band that’s going to play in the concert bowl: they’re going to see them; there’s no competition. … You’re not going to have to go running from stage to stage, and that’s unique about All Good.”

Though sets never overlap at the festival, it is not due to a shortage of acts (the festival has already booked over 30 bands and plans to add at least six more, Weissman said). The festival’s “concert bowl,” has two main stages for efficiency, allowing one band to set up as the previous prepares to conclude. A smaller “grassroots stage” is also featured in the festival’s camping area and will host smaller acts not officially part of the published lineup. These smaller acts are the only instances of overlapping that will occur at the festival.

All Good Music Festival offers a wealth of cultural, artistic and musical variety. With no overlapping sets, attendees can be certain they will never have to choose between acts.

It’s all about the mood, man

25-year-old Athens, Ohio resident Anthony DiBiasio said he has attended roughly 10 festivals over the years, including four trips to All Good, multiple Hookah in the Hills visits at Nelson Ledges Quarry Park in Garretsville, Ohio as well as a few trips to the Nelsonville Music Festival near where he lives. DiBiasio attended his first All Good in 2005 and returned every consecutive year until his last visit in 2008. For him, no other festival has matched the vibe and scenery of the hills at the Marvin’s Mountain Top venue where All Good is held.

“It’s the best festival in this part of the country,” he said. “It’s just really amazing seeing those mountain vistas. It really improves the experience when you have it in that kind of natural setting.”

Another defining aspect of All Good is the general absence of police inside the festival’s compound. Security can be seen wearing official festival t-shirts, but they are a far cry from the gleaming-badged executive personnel one may be used to seeing in such massive gatherings.

Despite this, there has been a remarkably low incident rate at All Good; and this cooks some serious food for thought.

“I think that’s pretty powerful and a good message about the integrity of a scene like that,” DiBiasio said. “Just to be able to create a peaceful community where it’s up to the people to police themselves and discourage the people who might be there for no good reasons.”

Getting fans involved

In addition to being guaranteed the opportunity to see every act the festival hosts, attendees also have the chance to influence the acts the festival books in subsequent years.

“In the fall we actually survey the crowd and ask them who they want, so a big portion of our lineup is who people want to see, and that is something we really pride ourselves on,” Weissman said. “It’s not fully democratic – just because we want a band doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll get a band – but we definitely want people to feel empowered and involved in the process.”

One suggested act playing the festival for the first time is Australian acoustic guitar extraordinaire John Butler, an act Weissman is personally eager for.

“I’m super psyched on that,” he said. “I think he’ll turn a lot of people onto him who have maybe never had the chance to hear him before.”

Listen to John Butler’s song “Better Than” from his album “Grand National”:
John Butler Trio – Better Than by ganaz

All-truism Good

As in previous years, the philanthropic organization Conscious Alliance will be at the festival collecting canned food donations it will use to help feed “some of the nation’s hungriest people,” according to Weissman. Reward incentives have existed in past years for those who donate, such as posters or similar items, and Weissman said this is likely to occur once more, though specific plans are yet to be announced.

Portions of donations and profits will also be funneled to the local county where the festival is held.

“Preston County is one of the poorest counties in West Virginia from what I know,” he said. “We like to try to give back in that way,”

According to data taken from the 2010 National Census 11% of families and 15% of individuals in Preston County are listed as below the national poverty line; 1.1% and 1.5% higher than the national percentage, respectively.

Heady Environmentalism

Helping to coordinate recycling efforts at the festival throughout the weekend is the organization Clean Vibes: a North Carolina waste management company with the expressed goal “to divert waste from landfills by increasing the amount of material that is recycled and composted, thereby greatly reducing the ecological footprint of outdoor festivals and events,” according to the company website.

Clean Vibes also provides these same services to many festivals around the country and the Kentucky Post was quoted as dubbing the business as “one of the world’s foremost outdoor festival waste management companies.”

While Clean Vibes is well reputed, one of DiBiasio’s few complaints relative to the festival was a lack of clarity over what qualified as trash, recycling or compost, though he forgave the shortcoming for its difficulties.

“It was sort of confusing,” he said. “But it’s understandable because the festival gets bigger every year, so that makes it hard.”

Confessions of a festival virgin

Bowling Green, Ohio resident, John Hrovatich has never attended any music festival beyond one-day events with lineups of less than ten bands. Despite his novice, Hrovatich said he is excited for the experience.

“All Good has some very vibey, earthy tones set around its music,” he said. “I think I’ll be able to get into that very hardcore.”

Hrovatich said he is most anticipative of some of the festival’s headline acts he has never seen before, citing John Butler, Bob Weir and Primus, but not all of the acts at the festival this year are foreign to him.

Also playing the festival are the two techno-jam artists, the Werks and Papadosio. Hrovatich said he saw both bands perform alongside each other at the venue Clazel in Bowling Green and is eager to see them perform in a festival format.

“Hopefully they do the ‘Werksadosio’ thing where they combine forces,” he said. “That was freaking amazing.”

Listen to The Werks’ song “Duck Farm” performed at one of their self-headlined Werk Out festivals:

Though new to the festival scene, Hrovatich is already comfortable with the idea of dancing like no one is watching.

“I’m definitely going to be doing some Caucasian dancing,” he laughed.

Tickets are still available on the festival’s website for a reduced rate of $189 for a four-day pass and $159 for three days. Weissman encourages all who are interested to purchase their tickets at their earliest ability, as ticket prices will only increase with time. Special VIP and RV packages are also available for those interested. Admission costs cover all camping, parking and entertainment fees, excluding costs for products and services provided by individual vendors.

Been to All Good? Comment and share your experience.

26 Mar 2011

Incubus Completes New Studio Album

Author: troyc | Filed under: News, Videos

Incubus completed a new album. Though the band cites it as their sixth studio LP, their indie 1995 release, "Fungus Amongous," would put the tally at seven

Los Angeles County creatives Incubus announced via their Facebook page Wednesday they have completed their new studio album. A release date has not yet been announced, but updates from are promised to follow.

Interestingly, the band boasts the album as their sixth, though, unless they are skipping the indie-released “Fungus Amongous,” this would be their seventh full-length LP.

Perhaps there are some contract complications that prevent Incubus from promoting their first album, or perhaps they feel it too sketchy to continue to cite. Personally, I’d be more embarassed of the last album than the first, particularly the song “Love Hurts,” which I venture to guess caused long-time Incubus fans everywhere to cringe with a little embarrassment.

The band noted the new work will keep with Incubus’ tradition of radically ammending their sound across albums, saying: “True to the Incubus legacy, this record is nothing like its predecessor, but still maintains the quintessential Incubus vibe.” No tour plans have been revealed as of yet.

To shout a little love at the first album that slipped beneath the tally, I decided to post a video the band made of the song “Take Me to Your Leader,” the fourth track on the 1995 release. Notice the youthful funk jive and the dreads draping the heads of Boyd and Einziger both. Leave this album out of the mention? The Incubus Gods must be crazy. …

Barefoot Truth is a reggae-acoustic folk-rock act out of Mystic, Conn. The band sets themselves apart with their jazz influence.

Whether it follows logic or not, New England has had a strange reputation for producing some great reggae-tinged indie acts over the years. Coming out of Mystic, Conn., rising roots-rock artists Barefoot Truth have been placing themselves on the radar lately, and tonight they played a sold-out show in Philadelphia.

That’s not quite as spectacular as it sounds – the Pennsylvania show is well within the band’s usual stomping grounds and the Upstairs section of the venue has a capacity of only 100. But the World Live Café stage the band took tonight appears to have some air of prominence and a respectable list of past and future artists.

The 100-person-capacity Upstairs stage is the more intimate of the Philadelphia venue’s two, and for fans lucky enough to be present, that makes the concert that much more genuine.

Click below to watch a video of the band performing their song “Solitude”at the venue Higher Ground in Burlington, Vt.

St. Patrick’s Day, 2010 I managed to bring Barefoot Truth to Bowling Green, OH for a free holiday show at the local venue, Clazel, and published two stories on the event in the BGSU newspaper, the BG News. I was fortunate enough to conduct two interviews with the band and had the opportunity to joke, compare musical tastes and discuss their experiences touring with Pete Francis (whom I will be seeing this June in Chicago as part of the Dispatch Spring Reunion Tour; get pumped!). The guys were really friendly and down to Earth and I thank them for taking the time to talk to me before I had really even developed anything in the way of credentials. Heady love, friends.

  • Read descriptions of the band’s sound and the story of their growth in my preview article on the show.
  • Read about their St. Patrick’s Day Show in Bowling Green in my BG News feature.

One of the most interesting elements of this band’s approach is their ability to blend jazz and reggae into something unique, as expressed by a source in my above feature. Many genres have been fused, reimagined and reinvented, but this particular combination was intriguingly original.

Watch the video below to listen to another Higher Ground performance with the title track off their latest LP “Threads.” The live version lacks the saxophone present in the studio, and it hurts, but the song still delivers nonetheless.

Lead vocalist Will Evans most commonly plays drums for the band – no easy task -though instrument swapping is a common Barefoot practice, illuminating their Dispatch influence.

The band has over 7 million spins on and received mention in the ending of a USA Today feature profiling the online radio site.

Barefoot’s “Threads” was also given a gushing review from Tony Gisondi, a fellow blogger whose musical taste I greatly respect, on his blog

If you’ve not yet had the opportunity to hear this hard working band from the salty East Coast, they’re definitely “Worth Your Listen.”

Mellow-acoustic artist Iron and Wine joins the ranks of musicians to prove George Michael songs can be made great – after you remove the ‘80s from them.

Iron and Wine is actually the stage name of musician and prolific artist, Sam Beam. On tour and in the studio he regularly adds supplementary musicians he feels necessary to expand his capabilities, but as he explained in a 2007 interview with Pitchfork Media, all songwriting is built from inspiration shared between himself, his guitar and a notebook. These ideas are then expanded on before achieving the final composition.

A few days ago I followed a tweet from Paste Magazine that led me to an A.V. Undercover studio cover series recording of Iron and Wine performing George Michael’s “One More Try.” The song itself is admittedly a little pusillanimous and not quite the style I would regularly listen to, but this track performance is as spot-on as they come. The most striking element in the video is the sheer perfection of the harmony between all the musicians present. Iron and Wine’s hushed, confessional vocals hum perfectly in tune with the backup singers and instruments around them. Harmony is necessary and present in essentially all songs, but when it is heard in such precise execution as is heard here, it carries with it a sense of divinity that pauses thought and instills awe. The clarinet: awesome touch.

Click the video below to watch the A.V Undercover Iron and Wine perfomance.

Iron And Wine covers George Michael

Sam Beam’s expressive capacities don’t end with his music. According to a well-sourced Wikipedia article, he graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a Bachelor’s of Art before transferring to Florida State University, where he received his Masters of Fine Arts. While in school, Beam’s artistic talents were most strongly focused on painting, and his impressionist album covers show he has not lost touch with the skill.

According to the same Wikipedia entry, Beam’s main source of income before transitioning fully to music came as a professor of film and cinematography at the University of Miami and Miami International University of Art and Design. He released his first full-length album in 2002 and his latest album, “Kiss Each Other Clean” was released near the close of January this year.

Learn more by visiting Iron and Wine’s myspace page and view more A.V. Undercover videos by visiting their website.

Whitey Morgan and the 78’s are a band out of Flint, Mich. and they have a good rootsy style of Outlaw Country that brings the genre back down to its roots. If you’re used to the country more commonly heard on popular radio stations, you know nothing of what to expect from this group. Despite the bar brawler image, Whitey is a very nice guy and as open sharing his commendations on other artists as he is his criticisms (the climate of the mainstream is a source of great anguish for Whitey).

Whitey grew up in Flint and he saw the devastation the economic slump has caused there. Seeing the pain of these experiences on the faces of his family, friends and neighbors allowed him to give the frustration and anger of the working man genuine voice. Whitey’s music doesn’t have the Hollywood shine of artists like Kenny Chesney or Brooks & Dunn. It doesn’t feel like a product catered by the rich to be received by the poor, but rather feels as though it is the voice of the blue-collar population put in its purest form to honky tonk song structure and blues emotion.

Below is a slideshow of a concert the band played at The Village Idiot in Maumee, Ohio on January 15, 2011. Whether you like Blues, Country or both, Whitey Morgan and the 78’s are an act worth your listen.

Want to learn more about this show and the band? Follow the link to my story published in a Jan. 14 issue of The BG News.

As this blog implies, no two genres of music stoke my interest like blues and bluegrass. I do not seek to convince others to feel the same, but it is my pleasure to provide examples of them at their best to those willing to hear it in hopes they may come to agree. This is a tough example to match.

One of my favorite songs is technically of the bluegrass bracket but it has an interesting quality that sets it apart from nearly anything else in the genre. It blends the rhythm and soul of blues into twangy banjo plucks and, though it may seem strange, together they work magic. From the very first time I heard the song I knew I was hearing something different, something that could be much more.

This song is titled “Don’t Ride that Horse” and is written by the outlawish bluegrass band Old Crow Medicine Show; a band that has not yet seen the mainstream success of bluegrass acts such as the Avett Brothers or Mumford & Sons, but is often cited as a pivotal powerhouse by those loyal to the genre more specifcally. It comes from their album “Big Iron World,” released August 29, 2006, according to the band’s website, and hearing it inspires a want for a marriage between blues and bluegrass that could last longer than the song’s 3-minute track window. Perhaps we could call this new genre bluesgrass, or something a little less cheesy if someone more clever than I can contrive it.

Beneath  is a Youtube clip of the song as it appears on the album. Listen and notice the feel of the song, how it tugs the cranium into a near involuntary head nod.

This grass is dripping with blues and for the sake of the sound’s power, it should be hoped that someday a band can bring this approach to the masses as their own style; complete with wannabees in tow. Maybe that band’s already out there, waiting for us to lend them our ear.

It’s hard to know. What is sure is if I find them I will do anything I can to spread the sound to those around me, those who read my writing and who share in my passion for music with soul and values; rather than the egocentrism and materialism prevalent in much of the popular fodder.

With the popularity today of blues representatives such as The Black Keys and bluegrass headliners Mumford & Sons, the scene may be prime for such a sound.

One more idea: how about some banjo on a wah pedal? A little bluegrass sunk in some funk? Bringing genres together into one whole, when done well, is creativity in full stride. Let’s see it.

This simple percussion instrument, the cahón, is believed to have been created by African slaves in Latin America. Its snare-like sound adds a great dimension to any drum circle or acoustic set.

For those not yet privy to its sound and application, I thought I’d introduce a sweet little acoustic percussion instrument known as the cajón. While playing percussion and guitar with some friends this past weekend, another friend of mine brought one of these curiously simple devices over and it added a very nice complimentary snare sound to the lower, earthier tones of the djembe and ringing sounds of the bongos.

The brand of the box my friend brought over was a Meinl, though there are many brands to choose from and I don’t suspect building one should be terribly difficult (my friend seemed for whatever reason hesitant to reveal the price he paid, but the Meinl brand drum is listed anywhere from roughly $100 – $350, on Essentially, the instrument is little more than a box of wood with a snare-wire accessory secured to the inside of the front sheet of wood to add a drum kit-like effect when struck.

The top, back, bottom and sides of the instrument are made out of what appeared to be ¾ in. plywood with a much thinner sheet of wood acting as the instrument’s front, where it is slapped, allowing for the crisp sound the drum provides. In the back, a hole is cut to allow escape from the resonating chamber, similar to an acoustic guitar. Using a knob on the right side of the box, the snare effect can be heightened or reduced, depending on your preference; muting it entirely or giving it great voice depending on how tightly you secure it in place. The top corner of the front sheet – right or left, depending on user choice – allows for its screws to be loosened somewhat to adjust the instrument’s crash tone when slapped. The approach of playing this instrument is quite similar to that used on any other hand drum, simply with a different set of sounds available.

Though the exact story of this instrument’s creation seems to be debated somewhat, it appears to be agreed upon the instrument was created by African slaves to the Spanish during the 19th century. The instrument was likely made out of shipping crates at the time and it is unclear whether the instrument had earlier ancestors prior to their Latin American appearance, or whether the simple designs came about to allow a musical voice to a group of people prohibited from its expression. The cajón’s unremarkable design may have allowed slaves to keep them without knowledge of their purpose being betrayed to the slave owners who deemed instruments contraband. The Spanish word “cajón” even translates to “drawer” in English, adding to the drum’s ambiguity.

Included below is a brief video explaining the design of the Meinl brand product, and there is a brief demonstration of technique. This instrument, whatever brand or homemade edition it may be, is a wonderful addition to any drum or jam circle. I’ll soon try to make one myself, as I simply can’t not have one of these after playing one. If you plan on picking one up yourself and giving it a go, you’ll likely feel the same. If anyone has any more information on this drum or other quirky percussion instruments worthy of notice, please comment!

The Vamps are a group of beach bum musicians from a city called Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia. Despite their risk of falling for cliche, they’ve got some talent to throw around, and they demonstrate it in this video of an acoustic surfer-sway rendition of Ray Charles’ “Let’s go get stoned.” This song has been covered several times, but The Vamps impressed me thoroughly with this piece; posted to Youtube and their social networking sites at the close of a day spent carving the Aussie swells.

Though they have few songs to stream at this time, additional music can be heard by visiting their pages on Myspace and Facebook, and I’ll be watching to see what they further create. Australia has really been bringing some brilliant talent. The secret’s got to be hidden somewhere in the accent.

14 Feb 2011

Outstanding Tap Guitar Demonstration

Author: troyc | Filed under: Videos, Worth Your Listen

This video is very inspiring and shows what a little creative approach can add to a conventional instrument. The style of guitar demonstrated in this video is known as “tap” and involves using note taps on the strings and percussion strikes on the body of the guitar. The style has been made popular in recent years by guitarists looking for a new approach.

The style is not as new as it seems, though it has been receiving more attention these days than in the past. Tap guitar has actually been around for over 40 years. The video below is one of the best demonstrations of this style I have ever seen. Enjoy and tell me your impressions.

When two of the tallest blades in the bluegrass prairie, Mumford and Sons and the Avett Brothers, heard they were going to be performing with Bob Dylan at this year’s Grammy Awards, they must have felt like the Sun was finally reaching them.

Both acts came out with all they had – it was visible. Very few guitar strings have taken the kind of abuse dealt to those on Marcus Mumford’s anxious acoustic as he slammed out a ready rendition of their song “The Cave.” Select few syllables have been projected as fully as those Seth Avett belted across sincere key chimes to the ears of a coveted national audience; many of whom likely hearing his lyrics for the first time.

When Dylan’s turn came, however, it became easy to forget the quick picking of Mumford and the evoking vocals of the Avetts. Not so much because Dylan washed out their shine in legendary brilliance, but because his raspy rambling scoured all the eloquencies of the previous acts right out of their ears and memories.

I will forever respect Dylan, but at this show he honestly sounded like a washed-up drunk maybe-coulda-been singing to six women smoking Pall Malls at a beat-down BINGO hall. Below’s the best video I could find, believe it or not, but better sound quality would only make the truth that much sharper and more unforgiving. I’ll let you decide. Skip ahead roughly 30 seconds to reach the music.