Marketing and Advertising | Greater Boston Area, US
MARKETING | BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT | PROJECT MANAGEMENT
Designed, directed, and executed a wide range of marketing, business development, sales, and public relations campaigns for employers and clients in media, Internet, entertainment, publishing, and non-profit sectors. These include ArtsBoston, HBO, WGBH Boston, Fast Company and Inc. magazines, MovieMaker magazine, the Seattle International Film Festival, and Well-Rounded Radio. Achieved a wide range of expertise in print, Web, audio, video, and film production as well as launching new projects through integrated marketing campaigns. Effectively coordinated a diversity of resources to consistently deliver high impact strategic campaigns on time with budgets up to $1 million.
Entrepreneurial | Innovative | Creative | High Energy | Self-Motivated | Results Driven | Resourceful
Specialties: > Strategic planning > Business development > Developing marketing plans + budgets > Team building, leadership, + personnel management > Creating partnerships > Utilizing evolving web + mobile media > E-marketing > Film, video, audio, + Web production > Advertising > Writing + design > Developing sales collateral > Web site launches > Event marketing > E-commerce > Word, Excel, Power Point, InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, GoLive, HTML, Acrobat, ProTools, Final Cut Pro, Garageband
2015 - Present
Director of Communications / The Grommet
Founded in 2008, The Grommet is a curated online marketplace and Product Launch Platform for undiscovered products reshaping the way people fundamentally launch, discover, share, influence, and buy products online. Its mission is rooted in the philosophy of Citizen Commerce™, a movement that enables product purchases that express powerful contemporary values around sustainability, quality, technology, and social enterprise. Since its founding, The Grommet has grown into a trusted and influential source for launching new products, having been among the very first to discover Fitbit, SodaStream and Bananagrams, and building them into household names.
Launched in June 2014 as part of the first-ever White House Maker Faire, The Grommet Wholesale Platform is a response to President Obama’s call to action for more Americans to become makers of things, not just consumers. The Wholesale Platform highlights the need for a supportive home for Makers and Main Street to meet and ensure U.S. small business and the retail sector survive and thrive together.
To date, The Grommet has launched over 2,000 new-to-market items and earned America’s respect as a trusted authority on product discovery. The Grommet grew 900% from 2012 to 2014 and its community has proven it can create real sales momentum for these new businesses within hours of a product’s launch.
To learn more about The Grommet's products and mission visit the website at http://www.thegrommet.com and CEO Jules Pieri's blog at http://jules.thegrommet.com/.
Teacher at Emerson College's Professional Studies certificate program / Emerson College
Instructor for "Marketing + The Internet," "Generating the Publicity Buzz," "Selling Your Marketing Plan," and "Mobile Marketing" courses for Emerson College's Professional Studies program. Courses cover marketing plan development, public relations, email marketing, online advertising, affiliate marketing, SEO, PPC, social media, viral marketing, online reputation management, web public relations, web development + design, online copywriting, web analytics, mobile marketing, customer relationship management, market research, and e-marketing strategy.
Principal / Layers Marketing
Over the past decade, I've been using the web to market products and services to consumers and help businesses develop their strategy. I've developed a deep well of knowledge about business development and digital marketing, including viral video, audio + video podcasts, adwords, SEM/SEO, analytics, e-mail marketing, re-designs + re-launches, blogs, social networking, banner advertising, e-commerce, wikis, microblogging, mobile promotions, and...whatever's next...to engage consumers with brands.
Even though we are still in the early days of this kind of interactivity, we've already seen how these technologies can engage current customers--and attract new ones--with a new level of "honest" marketing and community-building along with fostering relationships with your customers that goes well beyond just marketing "to" them.
Current and past clients include American Public Television, Appsembler.com, ArtsFuse.org, Boston University School of Fine Arts, City of Boston, The Eliot School of Fine & Applied Arts, Future of Music Coalition, JP Music Festival, Over My Shoulder Foundation, OurStage.com, Martin J. Walsh's mayoral campaign in Boston, and Zebigo.com among others.
Producer / Music 2.0: Tools + Tech for Musicians, Marketers, and Managers
Produce a series of demo nights featuring music-related businesses and organizations based in Boston and New England.
Created strategy and directed all marketing activities for music and technology start-up, including brand management, media relations, social media, video, SEO, PPC, print and web advertising, and e-mail marketing. Tracking and monitoring included Google Analytics and online surveys.
Founder, Host + Producer / Well-Rounded Radio
Entrepreneurial side-project: Host + Producer of an online radio show (nee podcast) featuring in-depth interviews with songwriters,musicians, and music industry thought leaders. Produce show though all stages including research, coordination with artists and publicists, in-person interviews, writing scripts, audio editing, site updating, and extensive web marketing for each episode, including adwords and social networking promotion.
Subjects have included Akrobatik, Merrie Amsterburg, Antibalas, Flogging Molly, Great Lake Swimmers, Bill Janovitz of Buffalo Tom, Mission of Burma, Múm, Joe Pernice, Brad Powell of Calabash Music, Josh Ritter, Nicholas Reville of Downhill Battle, Jenny Toomey of The Future of Music Coalition, Tim Westergren of Pandora, Willard Grant Conspiracy, Dan Zanes, and many more.
> Built ongoing series of more than 70 audio interviews with more than 75,000 listeners in 2006. > Currently receiving 10,000 site visits per month with limited marketing budget.
Marketing Consultant / Zebigo
Strategic marketing planning, budgeting, and execution for Zebigo, a new online ride share community, including public relations, events, social media, print collateral, and media buying. Zebigo is an on-demand ride sharing community for drivers and riders to find each other using Zebigo.com for commuting to and from work, going to events together, or for one-way trips. Launches first in Seattle in Spring 2010. Follow at http://twitter.com/zebigo
Director of Marketing / ArtsBoston
• Executive Produced and marketed the launch of a new web site with arts and culture offerings across Greater Boston through broadcast, online, print, and social media channels. • Creating partnerships in media, tourism, and for-profit sectors to increase sales to local residents and visitors. • Developed strategies to build ticketing programs for 170+ member organizations and the BosTix ticketing programs. • Implemented crowd sourcing techniques to tap the power of Boston’s cultural community to create unique video and editorial content.
> Increased overall ticket sales by 9% during economic downturn. > Increased ticket sales 30% for Mayor’s Holiday Special. > Obtained 40,000 visitors per month for ArtsBoston.org in its first three months.
Marketing Manager, National Promotion / WGBH
Managed team of eight publicists in marketing WGBH’s original lifestyle programming to secure national and local print, television, radio, and Internet media. Managed Station Relations representatives in working with 350 public television stations in broadcast system. Oversaw creation of strategic plans for PBS’ longest-running programs such as This Old House and The Victory Garden as well as creating strategic marketing plans for new series’ premieres, including Real Simple, Gourmet’s Diary of a Foodie, Food Trip with Todd English, and The Hidden Epidemic: Heart Disease in America.
Led production team to expand programming into audio and video podcasts, social networking, and citizen-generated media. Developed and managed strategic partnerships with AARP, YMCA, and Reader’s Digest. Improved online resource spaces to increase department’s efficiency.
> Created long-term strategy for launch of WGBH Lifestyle Productions for press, consumers, and public television system.
Marketing Consultant / The Attention Group
Leveraged industry experience to assist development of a public relations firm serving Boston cultural organizations. Develop and execute marketing and PR plans for clients including coverage in print, television, and radio mediums.
==> Consistently secured a higher level of coverage for clients and higher attendance than previous firms had delivered.
Marketing Manager / Fast Company
Hired based on knowledge of production and promotions in all media forms (film/video, audio, print, web) to drive revenue generation programs for two award-winning monthly business publications. Supported sales teams by designing effective, customized sales materials, including CDs, proposals, PowerPoint presentations, and video segments to gain sponsorships for live events such as the Inc. 500.
==> Brought award-winning editorial and design consistency to all live event sales and marketing materials while reducing turnaround time to complete customized sales presentations for ‘key’ prospects. ==> Increased online traffic and revenues by driving implementation of a more user-friendly online store and working with numerous vendors to expand branded merchandise selection.
Publications Manager / Seattle International Film Festival
Created marketing materials and coordinated promotional activities for the largest and one of the most prestigious film festival in the U.S. with an audience of 125,000+. Produced consumer print pieces such as flyers and event programs; authored editorial content for newspapers and scripts for radio giveaways; coordinated Public Service Announcements on television and in local theaters; and orchestrated free ticket distribution promotions. Supervised editorial and design assistants and coordinated numerous volunteers for publications and promotions tasks.
==> Produced 25th Anniversary Commemorative Guide in only 3 months with limited funds. ==> Saved thousands of dollars by bringing design and production of program guide in-house. New program received excellent response from attendees, sponsors, and partner companies.
Managing Editor / MovieMaker magazine
Hired by owner to improve quality of this national trade publication aimed at filmmakers. Performed and participated in all activities associated with publishing an entertainment industry magazine, including defining editorial content, working with writers to secure articles, coordinating artists and photographers for cover art, managing subscription department, and resolving customer service issues. Supervised dozens of freelance writers and designers.
==> Aiding with transforming publication from a black and white publication to a polished, professional title that is still in publication. ==> Designed first direct mail campaign, which generated 2% response rate and hundreds of new subscribers.
Senior Marketing Associate / HBO
Led and expanded the Off-Channel Promotion division charged with producing programming for non-traditional channels such as airline in-flight entertainment, amusement parks, and commuter hubs. Contributed to general consumer promotion projects for HBO original programming, including movies, comedy events, family programs, sports, and concerts. Worked with internal and external resources, including sponsors, to execute on promotional concepts. Administered budgets of $600,000 to $1 million.
==> Added new airline clients, including Delta, United, Continental, and US Airways to Off-Channel division. Wrote and produced 100+ in-flight video promotional segments for 10+ airlines.
Production Manager / Boomer Pictures
Coordinated talent, crew, location, and equipment for short- and long-term film productions, including commercials, feature films, and music videos for clients such as MTV, VH1, Elektra Records, HBO, Time-Life, Swatch Watch, and Saturday Night Live.
New York University
Film, TV and Radio Production at Tisch School of the Arts
How would the audiences of modern music have grown and expanded were it not for all these magazines and dozens more like them? I'd be lying if I said all these wonderful publications didn't greatly shape my tastes in music, art, culture, and prose--and my record collection.
But why are they important? Just like blogs or podcasts, it was and is the people behind them...the writers and editors, photographers and designers, sales reps and trafficking and subscription folks. People who, by and large, really loved music and played the roles of tastemakers and critics and curators, bringing their favorites to the masses.
No Depression was co-founded and co-edited by Grant Alden and Peter Blackstock. The pair of writers brought Kyla Fairchild on as Publisher shortly thereafter and today she's keeping No Depression on as an online-only publication to galvanize fans and musicians of Americana and beyond.
Through the years the No Depression brand expanded through books, bookazines, radio series, tours, and more.
The Internet has clearly opened a lot of doors for music, without a doubt. I could argue, though, that it's reducing our attention span to nothingness in this era of “there’s always something else over there that is more shiny and new.” The reality of a shifting business model also means fewer record labels have a budget to advertise in magazines, making producing quality productions like No Depression magazine impossible.
Is this a good thing? I don't think so.
No Depression was highly regarded for its in-depth articles and interviews: they received Utne Reader’s Independent Press Awards for Arts & Literature coverage, and was cited as one of the nation's Top 20 magazines of any kind in 2004 by the Chicago Tribune.
Fairchild is keeping the brand going by using the Ning social networking platform, volunteer writers and contributors, and 80,000 unique readers per month connecting and conversing at nodepression.com.
I met with Fairchild in Seattle this spring to discuss: * how she made her way into the publishing and advertising biz * why she decided to take the leap to publishing No Depression online * what she's learned being a pioneer in the field
Festival owner and producer George Wein may not be one of those names in the history of music that everyone knows as he so often kept himself behind the scenes, but Wein has had an enormous impact on the world of live music and festivals, especially jazz.
Wein was born in in 1925 in Lynn, Massachusetts and grew up in Newton, where he learned to play jazz piano and performed in a variety of jazz groups. As he details in our conversation, after serving in the second World War, he opened Storyville, a jazz club that solidified his lifelong relationship with jazz musicians.
Wein could easily be called the grandfather of the modern music festival, introducing ideas like sponsorships into the equation as a way to sustain events of this scale.
For those who haven't been lucky enough to attend, the Newport festivals are held at Fort Adams on a peninsula overlooking Newport Harbor, Narragansett Bay, and the 11,000 foot Newport Bridge. Surrounded by water, sail boats and listeners and a very easy-going crowd, the festivals' location is hard to beat. Do yourself a favor and go.
In 2007, Wein sold the the festivals to Festival Network, but in 2009, the company was headed for bankruptcy and Wein stepped back in to ensure the folk and jazz festivals in Newport took place again. As in 2009, the jazz festival is sponsored in 2010 by the healthcare company CareFusion. As Wein discusses, he's also organizing new kinds of festivals in New York City.
The 2010 Newport Jazz Festival takes place August 6-8 this summer. The line-up includes more than 30 jazz artists and ensembles performing at three stages. For a full schedule and details on buying tickets or directions, visit newportjazzfest.net. For tickets for the Newport Folk Festival, taking place July 30-August 1, visit newportfolkfestival.net.
I met with Wein in his Manhattan apartment--which you get to by walking down a hallway lined with beautiful, framed posters from many of his past festivals--to discuss:
* how he curates festivals for audiences and how its changed over the years
* how the festival has evolved over more than five decades
* why he came back to give the Newport festivals another life
Songs featured in the interview include:
1) J.D. Allen Trio: Sonhouse (Shine!) (in preview) *
2) Darcy James Argue's Secret Society: Zeno (Infernal Machines) *
3) Glen Gray-Casa Loma Orchestra: Casa Loma Stomp (1930 Okeh version)
4) Benny Goodman: Sing, Sing, Sing (With A Swing)
5) Elliot Lawrence: Elevation
6) George Wein: Back In Your Own Backyard (Wein, Women, & Song)
7) Ella Fitzgerald: Cotton Tail
8) Pete Seeger: Old Dan Tucker
9) Miles Davis: Fran-Dance (At Newport 1958)
10) John Coltrane: My Favorite Things
11) Dave Brubeck Quartet: How High the Moon
12) Charles Mingus: Cryin' Blues
13) Bob Dylan: It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry (Highway 61 Revisited)
14) Balfa Toujours: J'ai vu le loup, le renard et la belette
15) Duke Ellington: I Let a Song Out of My Heart
16) Esperanza Spalding: Ponta De Areia (Esperanza)
17) Ben Allison: Fred *
18) Dizzy Gillespie: Newport Blues (from Newport Jazz Festival 7/3/1959; available on Wolfgang's Vault)
19) McCoy Tyner: Four by Five
20) George Wein: Please
21) Uncle Tupelo: Graveyard Shift (preview for Kyla Fairchild of NoDepression.com interview)
You might recall the 50th episode of Well-Rounded Radio with Mike Dreese of Newbury Comics where I talked about the origins of Well-Rounded Radio. My friend, Marion Seymour, who played a big part in the story, has two sons. Her oldest, Harrison Boyce, is a terrific designer and you can see his work at harrisonboyce.com. Harrison also created the current Well-Rounded Radio site (in Movable Type).
Last fall, I downloaded Song Sparrow Research's first full album, Welcome to the Potato Famine, from Bandcamp and was, to put it plainly, blown away.
Where The New Ragtime Revolution showed the band was finding its own sound, Welcome to the Potato Famine is the sound of a band becoming quite confident. It’s a sonic adventure that demonstrates both intensity and restraint. Some of the band’s songs are 6, 7, or 9 minutes long and have the effect of both exhilarating you and leaving you spent at the end.
Song Sparrow Research’s line-up for both recordings was David Balatero on bass and cello, Hamilton Boyce on guitar and vocals, and Nash Turley on drums and harmonica.
With the album recorded at the Caldwell Sculpture Studio in Seattle in the middle of winter and vocals in a studio, the album has a big, epic sound, but also a level of intimacy through the vocals.
Song Sparrow Research is working on their second album now in Seattle, with an expanded line-up that includes more strings and stand up bass.
I sat down with Balatero and Boyce in December in Seattle to discuss: * how the band recorded and produced their debut album in a giant metal working warehouse * who some of their favorite artists are that also influence their work * how are looking to make a living in this brave new world of music 2.0
Songs included in the episode include: 1) Song Sparrow Research: No Thoughts of My Own (Welcome to the Potato Famine) (in preview) 2) Song Sparrow Research: Tall Landlords (Welcome to the Potato Famine) 3) Garfield High School Jazz Band 4) Grotto Fork: Not Guilty (Ungulate) 5) Grotto Fork: ADAT (Ungulate) 6) Song Sparrow Research: Dry Sun (The New Ragtime Revolution) 7) Song Sparrow Research: Short Sighted (The New Ragtime Revolution) 8) Song Sparrow Research: Told to Send (Welcome to the Potato Famine) 9) Song Sparrow Research: From Mildew (unreleased demo) 10) Song Sparrow Research: From Mildew (Welcome to the Potato Famine) 11) Song Sparrow Research: Colored Paper (Welcome to the Potato Famine) 12) Song Sparrow Research: Told to Send (Welcome to the Potato Famine) 13) Song Sparrow Research: Amp Dead (Welcome to the Potato Famine) 14) Song Sparrow Research: No Thoughts of My Own (Welcome to the Potato Famine) 15) The Raggedy Anns: Standing in the Rain 16) Song Sparrow Research: Colored Paper (Welcome to the Potato Famine) 17) Song Sparrow Research: Heavy Shit (Welcome to the Potato Famine) 18) Song Sparrow Research: Experiments in Feedback Control (Welcome to the Potato Famine) 19) Song Sparrow Research: From Mildew (Welcome to the Potato Famine) 20) Song Sparrow Research: Green to the Ground (The New Ragtime Revolution) 21) Song Sparrow Research: Another Day/Gooseneck (The New Ragtime Revolution) 22) Song Sparrow Research: Heavy Shit (Welcome to the Potato Famine) 23) Song Sparrow Research: No Thoughts of My Own (Welcome to the Potato Famine) 24) Song Sparrow Research: Tall Landlords (Welcome to the Potato Famine) 25) Song Sparrow Research: Amp Dead (Welcome to the Potato Famine) 26) Song Sparrow Research: From Mildew (Welcome to the Potato Famine)
At a moment where what being a record label means is certainly in flux, Rounder Records is celebrating its 40th anniversary and, in many ways, showing what it means for artists who share a label and what that means to its customer and fans. (News on 4/14/10: Concord Records acquires Rounder Records)
Rounder Records was started in March 1970 by Ken Irwin, Marian Leighton-Levy, and Bill Nowlin (left to right). In our interview, Irwin tells us how the label came to be, and how they began with blues and bluegrass, and evolved the label to include folk, Cajun, Celtic, and reggae music.
Rounder also manages 18 subsidiary labels, including Heartbeat and Zoe Records.
As someone who knows a bit about bluegrass music, but wanted to learn more, I also ask Irwin to take us through the history of bluegrass.
From starting a record label because, as Irwin put its, “nobody told us we couldn’t” to winning a Grammy Award for Allison Krauss and Robert Plant’s Raising Sand collaboration, there are many lessons within Rounder’s story for musicians in 2010 and beyond.
In our next episode of Well-Rounded Radio, we’ll feature an interview I did with Scott Billington, the Vice President of A&R for Rounder Records with a focus on Cajun and zydeco music, much of which Billington has produced himself.
I spoke with Irwin in Newburyport, Massachusetts to discuss * why they started the label and how it has kept going * how Rounder evolved through the years * what some challenges are for roots music in the year 2010
Songs featured in the interview include: 1) J.D. Crowe and the New South: The Old Home Place 2) Alison Krauss and Robert Plant: Rich Woman 3) George Pegram: Mississippi Sawyer 4) George Pegram: Are You Washed in the Blood? 5) Joe Val: Along about Daybreak 6) Don Stover: Things in Life 7) Hazel Dickens: Hills of Home 8) Bill Monroe: Molly and Tenbrooks 9) Flatt & Scruggs: Go Home 10) MIke Seeger: The Memory of Your Smile 11) Bill Monroe: Blue Grass Breakdown 12) Jim & Jessee: Hard Hearted 13) Bill Monroe: Orange Blossom Special 14) Conne and Babe & The Backwood Boys: Home is Where The 15) The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band: Will the Circle be Unbroken 16) Summertown Road: Summertown Road 17) Vern Williams: When Springtime Comes Again 18) Steve Martin: Late for School 19) Alison Krauss & Union Station: Every Time You Say Goodbye 20) J.D. Crowe & The New South: Long Journey Home 21) Danny Paisley and the Southern Grass: At the End of a Long Lonely Day 22) Whitstein Brothers: Arkansas 23) The Soggy Bottom Boys: I am a Man of Constant Sorrow 24) Laurie Lewis & Kathy Kallick: Is the Blue Moon Still Shining 25) Alison Krauss and Robert Plant: Gone Gone Gone 26) Jimmy Rogers with Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters: Left me with a Broken Heart 27) The Balfa Brothers: J'ai Vu Le Loup, Le Renard Et La Belette 28) Bela Fleck: Crossfire 29) Minnie Driver: Cold Dark River (Rounder Records 40th Anniversary Concert) 30) Irma Thomas: River is Waiting (Rounder Records 40th Anniversary Concert) 31) Sierra Hull: Secrets 32) James King: Leavin' 33) Hazel Dickens & Alice Gerrard: Montana Cowboy 34) James Hand: Don't Want Me Too 35) Marcia Ball: That's Enough of that Stuff
For about eight years I've been interviewing musicians and industry thought leaders for Well-Rounded Radio. To date I've interviewed more than 70 musicians from every genre plus music industry thought leaders. The series now draws 18,000 listeners per month from around the world.
It's always been a labor of love, but the time has come for our first fundraiser!
Join us on Sunday, April 18th at 1 PM at The Middle East (upstairs) in Cambridge, MA for an afternoon of amazing live music from some of Well-Rounded Radio's past guests.
his afternoon event will raise funds to cover our costs for hosting the site and bandwidth plus some of our ongoing marketing expenses to spread the word about Well-Rounded Radio.
Want to help spread the word? Invite your friends online or print out our pdf flyer and hang some in your corner of the (New England) universe.
Here's a rundown of who is on the mixtape:
1) Hallelujah the Hills: Blank Passports (from Colonial Drones) 2) Michael Tarbox: Whose Fault but Mine (from My Primitive Joy) 3) Jeffrey Simmons: Gonna Get You (from the forthcoming album 4) Lovewhip: Wrecking Machine (from Love Electric) 5) Spouse: Keep Being You (from the forthcoming album 6) Jeffrey Simmons: Little Wishes (from the forthcoming album 7) Michael Tarbox: Darkness is a Rider (from My Primitive Joy) 8) Hallelujah the Hills: Station (from Colonial Drones) 9) Lovewhip: Love Electric (from Love Electric) 10) Spouse: Impressed by You (from the forthcoming album 11) Michael Tarbox: November Song (from My Primitive Joy) 12) Lovewhip: Chaueffer Blues (from Love Electric) 13) Jeffrey Simmons: Each Day (from the forthcoming album 14) Spouse: Sudden Moves (from the forthcoming album 15) Hallelujah the Hills: Classic Tapes (from Colonial Drones) 16) Jeffrey Simmons: Get Through This (from the forthcoming album 17) Lovewhip: Automatic (from Love Electric) 18) Michael Tarbox: Beautiful Girl (from My Primitive Joy) 19) Spouse: Coaster (from Relocation Tactics)
This episode is dedicated to Dan Nash, a friend of mine in England who passed away on January 22. Dan was working on a number of different music projects including New Musical Order and Rockin' Daily. We were fans of each others' work online and were working together on Musicians for Music 2.0. Dan had a congenital heart defect and has left us at the young age of 28. I hope he is listening to this episode up there and enjoying it...
In many music and entertainment circles, the name Lawrence Lessig needs no introduction, but for those who don't know his work, here's some background.
Over the past 10 years, Lessig has worked for both Harvard Law School and Stanford Law School. He is currently a lawyer at Harvard Law School and director of the Edmond J. Safra Foundation Center for Ethics at Harvard University.
Lessig talks about Creative Commons during the interview, but in a nutshell it's an organization with copyright tools that allows content creators to give various levels of freedom to others for them to remix and build upon the original work.
The idea behind remix culture is how an artist can take a work that a pervious artist has produced and build upon it to create something new. The term has become more commonplace in the last decade, but in fact the concept has been in use for decades, most notably in rap music starting 30 years ago.
I have long been a fan of the groups who fine tuned the ideas behind audio sampling to perfection, in Long Island's Public Enemy and De La Soul. I’ve always thought both groups pushed the ideas behind sampling in ways that few others did before or since, albeit in very different directions.
But, after a series of lawsuits for a variety of musicians and labels, the art of sampling and remixing was largely hobbled, in either using others work with or without their consent.
Twenty years later, it is still mostly the domain of those willing to tread in dangerous waters or for artists who want to engage their own fans by allowing them to remix work as part of the growing participatory culture community. For remix artists who might be looking to push their ideas further, it’s unlikely they can put their work into the public without a sizable budget.
Having read all of Lessig’s work and seen two recent documentaries about the remix culture (Brett Gaylor’s RIP: A Remix Manifesto and Benjamin Franzen’s Copyright Criminals), I wanted to speak with Lessig about how current musicians could utilize Creative Commons and share with their own audience as well as look at how we music fans can better understand this era of shared creativity, which dramatically changes the idea of those performers vs. us in the audience.
I sat down with Lessig at his office at Harvard Law School to discuss: * why it’s unlikely the current copyright system will change * why Greg Gillis, also known as Girl Talk, has not been sued * how Creative Commons works and how musicians can use it to engage their fans even more
Songs included in the interview include: 1) Public Enemy: Welcome to the Terrordome ( ) (in preview) 2) Grandmaster Flash: The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel 3) De La Soul: Me Myself and I (3 Feet High and Rising) 4) Public Enemy: Night of the Living Baseheads 5) Beastie Boys: Sabotage remix 6) Radiohead: Reckoner (In Rainbows) 7) Nick Olivetti: Nasty Fish remis of Reckoner 8) David Byrne + Brian Eno: Help Me Somebody (My Life in the Bush of Ghosts) 9) Owl Garden: Secret Somebody remix 10) Hit me somebody 11) Girl Talk: No Pause 12) Girl Talk: In Step 13) Danger Mouse: Encore (The Gray Album) 14) Nina Simone: Lilac Wine: The Album Leaf remix 15) Bjork: Venus as a Boy remix 16) Fatboy Slim: Praise You 17) Radiohead: Weird Fishes: Amplive remix
The first time I heard Yoko K.'s music, through a submission I received via SonicBids, I found myself pulled into her alluring soundscapes and songs and kept coming back for more over the following weeks. With layered recordings hinting at influences like Bjork, Massive Attack, Portishead, Brian Eno's ambient work, and jazz vocalists, Yoko K.'s music is all her own.
Yoko Kamitani, who works under the name Yoko K., was born in Japan and moved to the United States in 2004. Her debut album, 012906, was released in 2006 by Asahra Music in Washington D.C., which won her the Best Album in Electronica/Dance award at the 6th annual Independent Music Awards.
Yoko K. performed, produced, programmed, and recorded the album almost entirely by herself. As singer and keyboardist, she also has the help of some string and horn players, but the scope of 012906 doesn't feel like an album recorded at a home studio with the help of a few musical friends. Instead, it's the kind of project an early-era Bjork might have created with a level of confidence, risk, and adventure that made me think Yoko K. was overdue for more attention. And, as with most albums that reward repeated listens, I kept finding new layers to what Yoko K. was doing on the album, truly moving electronic music a step forward through her choices of instruments that she pairs. I love the mood that the entire album creates when heard in sequence.
Yoko K.'s influences are trance, trip-hop, and classical, but she also weaves in jazz, Celtic, and funk at unexpected moments to great effect. There's an air of improvisation, though as a sole artists/producer in the studio, it is likely more planned than not.
Also like Bjork, Yoko K. has a playful persona that resonates throughout the work, as if she herself is finding her way through the words and music. 012906 mixes electronic instrumentation with acoustic instruments, resulting in organic electronica, as she calls it.
Yoko K. is working on her second album and, in something of a Well-Rounded Radio first, she has shared ten demo versions and early mixes with us in advance of the final product coming out later in 2010. To me, each piece sounds like Yoko K. is creating more complex pieces and I'm sure her next release will be even more accomplished than the first.
Yoko K. has also created music with other collaborators as well as producing music used in conjunction with artists and organizations with some political and societal inspirations. She is also a keyboard player and backing vocalist for Dust Galaxy, a solo project of Rob Garza from Thievery Corporation, and toured across the United States and Europe in 2006-7.
I sat down with Yoko K. in Washington D.C. to discuss: * how her first album came to exist * how those first songs come together for her while working mostly alone * how her work with visual artists is impacting her aural work
Songs included in the interview include: 1) Take Off (012906) (in preview) 2) Uchu Ryokou (012906) 3) 012906 (012906) 4) La Complainte D'r2 (012906) 5) Blues of Grande Chai (012906) 6) Eleventh Year (012906) 7) Deviant Flower First Mix (demo for upcoming album) 8) Hello Hello (012906) 9) Bubblenest Short (demo for upcoming album) 10) This Beast (demo for upcoming album) 11) AppleZ videoedit (demo for upcoming album) 12) Hug Robot (demo for upcoming album) 13) Cry 129 (demo for upcoming album) 14) Yoake (012906) 15 Carry On (demo for upcoming album) 16) Vaspa (demo for upcoming album) 17) Prisoner (demo for upcoming album) 18) Underwater (demo for upcoming album) 19) Tap (demo for upcoming album) 20) Yun Ae Se Po
I've been a fan of Jill Sobule (left) and Erin McKeown (right) for a long time and, in the last year or so, they have become pioneers of new fundraising models for the music industry. They both also have new albums out and are out on a US tour together through the start of December, including:
* Wed Nov 04: Ann Arbor MI at The Ark * Thu Nov 05: Cleveland OH at Beachland Tavern * Fri Nov 06: Buffalo NY at The Ninth Ward * Sun Nov 08: Chicago IL at Old Town School of Folk Music * Mon Nov 09: Madison WI at High Noon Saloon * Tue Nov 10: Minneapolis MN at Cedar Cultural Centre * Thu Nov 12: Seattle WA at Tractor Tavern * Fri Nov 20: Santa Monica CA at McCabe’s Guitar Shop * Sat Nov 21: Santa Barbara CA at SOhO Restaurant and Music Club * Sun Nov 22: San Diego CA at Casbah * Fri Nov 27: Denver CO at Walnut Room * Sun Nov 29: Kansas City MO at Record Bar * Mon Nov 30: St. Louis MO at Off Broadway * Thu Dec 03: Asbury Park NJ at The Saint * Fri Dec 04: New York NY at Highline Ballroom * Sat Dec 05: Philadelphia PA at World Cafe Live * Sun Dec 06: Goshen MA at The IMA Big Barn
I was lucky enough to have some time with them both just before their first show of the tour at Club Passim the famed club in Cambridge, Massachusetts that started as Club 47 in 1958. You can find their upcoming dates at on McKeown's site or Sobule's site.
Sobule has released eight albums since her first, Things Here are Different in 1990, including releases on the Atlantic and Artemis Record labels. Her latest album, California Years, was financed entirely by her fans with tiers of donation levels and corresponding tiers of how donors were involved with hearing or participating in the record itself. Aiming for $70,000, Sobule ultimately raised close to $90,000 from 500 of her fans.
Sobule's California Years was produced by Don Was (Was (Not Was) and producer of Bonnie Raitt, Rolling Stones, B-52’s, and many, many more) and written over the past three years after she moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles and is often very much about the Golden State. As she has long done, Sobule switches between subjects that touch you and humor with some real substance...she keeps you guessing and coming back for more.
McKeown's Hundreds of Lions was produced by her longtime musical partner Sam Kassirer (Josh Ritter (hear the Well-Rounded Radio Interview), Langhorne Slim, Kris Delmhorst). Together they experimented with pairing acoustic and synthesized sounds, resulting in a lush, sophisticated record that continues McKeown's musical journey as a performer that you can never quite predict what sounds she'll be creating next. Just the way I like 'em.
We recently spoke in the dressing room at Club Passim--with all the sounds you'd expect in a nightclub and restaurant-- to discuss: * how each of them came to decide to organize fan-funded projects * some pros and cons to recording and releasing your own work * what they’ve learned by being pioneers...and what they still aspire to learn
Songs featured in this episode from McKeown's Hundred of Lions and Sobule's California Years albums include: 1) Erin McKeown: Santa Cruz 2) Jill Sobule: Nothing to Prove 3) Jill Sobule: San Francisco 4) Jill Sobule: The Donor Song 5) Erin McKeown: The Foxes 6) Erin McKeown: The Rascal 7) Jill Sobule: Where is Bobbi Gentry? 8) Erin McKeown: To a Hammer 9) Jill Sobule: Palm Springs 10) Erin McKeown: You, Sailor 11) Jill Sobule: Empty Glass 12) Erin McKeown: The Foxes 13) Jill Sobule: League of Failures 14) Erin McKeown: (Put the Fun) Back in Funerals 15) Jill Sobule: Spiderman 16) Erin McKeown: 28 17) Jill Sobule: Mexican Pharmacy 18) Erin McKeown: Seamless 19) Jill Sobule: A Good Life 20) Erin McKeown: The Boats 21) Jill Sobule: The Donor Song
As more and more power has been taken out of the hands of the traditional music industry and put in the hands of musicians, it's feeling like the goals are no longer a major record label deal, massive amounts of commercial radio airplay, a hit video on MTV, or the cover of Rolling Stone, even if those things are still all very welcome.
So what's next, for both musicians and music fans who want to discover their next favorite band or recording?
Certainly it's going to be a more direct relationship between them than ever before and, at least for the near future, will entail the artists or their "people" closely managing these relationships through tools like email, texting, Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, Last.fm, and an ever-growing list of online technologies that are helping us all to connect.
Scott Kirsner's new book Fans, Friends, & Followers looks at how some pioneers are using the internet to connect with their audience, grow that fan base, and turn it into something profitable without the traditional infrastructure in the music, comedy, publishing, and film & video industries.
Kirsner writes the CinemaTech blog, which explores the way technology is changing the entertainment industry. He is the author of Inventing the Movies, a technological history of Hollywood published in 2008, and The Future of Web Video: New Opportunities for Producers, Entrepreneurs, Media Companies and Advertisers, first published in 2006.
The episode features music from many of these artists as well as a number of musical artists who I am friends with or follow or are fans of on things like Facebook and Twitter. I essentially sent out a note to a variety of musicians that I am connected to and, to Scott Kirsner’s point, I basically crowdsourced the majority of music in this episode in a matter of about five hours. Many of these songs are new that have not been released or demos, which I think is a great example of how the internet has changed how musicians, online media like me, and audiences like you are all now interacting.
I sat down with Kirsner at his office in Beacon Hill in early Summer in Boston to discuss:
* why he decided to write about a book about this subject now
* how all these changes in connecting are changing how musicians are behaving
* some ways to use the internet to better engage your fans--and find new ones
Jay Sweet (pictured with founder George Wein) has been producing the festival for the last few years and you may also know his name as Editor-at-large for Paste magazine. Sweet also co-owns a music services company called Sweet & Doggett.
It's safe to say most people know about the festival because of a single event: the time Bob Dylan plugged in and allegedly got booed by fans of his acoustic music, but when you think about it, that's kind of silly. Newport has been going for all these years bringing new talent to their stages long before and after Bob Dylan was booed (or not).
I've attended the festival several times in the past and it's always great fun. It's a beautiful venue at Fort Adams State Park surrounded by Newport Harbor and Narragansett Bay and the mood feels more like a gathering of friends than it does like many big music festivals these days.
To learn more about the spirit and performances of the mid-1960s version of the festival, there's a 1967 documentary film entitled Festival based on the 1963-1965 festivals out on DVD.
With Boston's Summer of 2009 non-stop rain ceasing for a little while, we took advantage of it and did the interview in Sweet's backyard on Boston's north shore. There’s a bit of wind hitting the microphones at the beginning, but it doesn't last. And so when you hear birds, now you’ll know they are the real thing.
I sat down with Sweet to discuss: * how and why the festival has kept its loyal audience over the years while also keeping up with times * how they curate the festival with both familiar and unfamiliar names on the bill * why playing the festival is a seminal moment for so many artists in their careers
$4.99 was then the going rate for a single LP. Then the prices slowly starting climbing over the years, despite Tom Petty’s very public efforts in the early 80s, and vinyl rose bit by bit until it was about $7.99 or $8.99.
When CDs came along in the late 80s, even though they were less expensive to produce, the list prices put them at $14.99 or more. Over the last 10-15 years, the street price has settled at about $11.99 or so, but of course lots of places sell them for more and less than that. Of course now CD prices are dropping in price to compete with digital downloads and they are often costing less than mp3s albums.
After the demise of the original Napster and the rise of iTunes, the $.99 a song model arose and somehow took hold. But in an era where many listen to music free from myspace or off of artists’ web sites and others file share, most working musicians are wondering how they will make a living making music when it's clear you can’t rely on the sale of a physical product any longer, along comes an idea that I really like.
Amie Street was started in Providence, Rhode Island on Amie Street on July 4, 2006 by Elliott Breece, Josh Boltuch and Elias Roman while at Brown University. They are now based in Long Island City, just across the river from Manhattan. Roman is the Director of Business Development and Operations, Breece is the Director of Product Development, and Boltuch is the Director Public Relations and Marketing.
We'll talk more about how Amie Street works during my interview with co-founder Joshua Boltuch, but the idea is that when a song is added, it starts free up to .98 and will go up in cost as demand rises up to a maximum of .98. Occasionally, shoppers who frequently recommend artists will also get credits from Amie Street, so it’s a bit of a buy back strategy.
Musicians receive 70% of the revenue from each sale. And yes, I know that for musicians recording music costs a lot of money, especially if you go into an 24 track studio to do it, but I also know there's something to pricing things at the right point to get those impulse buys. Part art and part science, on Amie Street more than a few times I have bought an artist’s entire album because I heard 60 seconds of a song, like it, and it was priced at $3.00. Would I have done that if it were priced at $9.99 or $16.99?
I find the interface of Amie Street to be among the best out there in terms of leading you from one genre, artist, or song to the next. It might not be quite the same as wandering the aisles of your favorite brick and mortar record store, but there is something about the interface and sampling opportunities that are more thought-out than what most of the big online music retailers have done. It has also incorporated some social networking functionality into the site, so you can see what other friends are listening to and be turned on to artists in a more webby way.
This interview was recorded in October 2008 and I'm afraid it just delayed for a handful of reasons, but I’m happy that it’s seeing the light of day now, just as Amie Street comes up on their third anniversary.
I sat down with co-founder Boltuch at the Amie Street offices in Long Island City to discuss: * How and why mp3s started getting priced at $.99 * How Amie Street is using the net’s technology to help music fans find more music * Why musicians are submitting their music to Amie Street and what they like about the business model
As a piano player and songwriter, Berlin's style has run the gamut from the theatrical to the confessional. In several of these incarnations, Berlin came close to breaking it in the music industry, but as he's learned, sometimes the stars don't always align the way they should. During our interview, Berlin takes us through anecdotes about some of these bands and we'll get to hear musical highlights from throughout the years.
In many ways, these latest two records and his upcoming project are a third (or maybe a fourth?) act for Berlin’s career and at 64, it’s great to hear him making such intimate, sparse, and powerful music. Berlin is a truly great story-teller songwriter, engaging you in parts of the story without giving it all away.
Berlin is also working on a video documentary about our shared home town, Jamaica Plain or JP. Take a look at some clips of Jamaica Plain Spoken on YouTube; Berlin is open to receiving donations to help complete the project.
We recently met at his apartment, down the street from the Brendan Behan Pub, to discuss: * The various musicians and artists he's worked with while making music over the years. * How he found himself playing on Mark Sandman’s piano to record Me & Van Gogh with the help of the Hi-n-Dry group * How he recorded Old Stag at home and on a limited budget, with great results
Songs featured in the interview include: 1) Rick Berlin: House on Fire (Old Stag) (in preview) 2) Rick Berlin: Don't Talk about Joan (Me & Van Gogh) 3) Orchestra Luna: Doris Dreams (Orchestra Luna) 4) Orchestra Luna: Boy Scout Songs (Orchestra Luna) 5) Orchestra Luna: Little Sam (Orchestra Luna) 6) Orchestra Luna II: Greyhound (live) (Special Class) 7) Orchestra Luna II: Dear Kate (Special Class) 8) Luna: Dumb Love (demo) 9) Berlin Airlift: Over the Hill (Berlin Airlift) 10) Berlin Airlift: Don't Stop me from Crying (Berlin Airlift) 11) Rick Berlin: The Movie: Eddy Isn't Coming Home (Filmclip) 12) The Shelley Winters Project: Nothing (Forced 2 Swallow) 13) The Shelley Winters Project: Blood (EP) 14) Rick Berlin: Me & Van Gogh (Me & Van Gogh) 15) Rick Berlin: Rock n Roll Romance (Me & Van Gogh) 16) Rick Berlin: Do You Still Love Me (Me & Van Gogh) 17) Rick Berlin: City is Empty (Live at Jacques) 18) Rick Berlin: Never Stops Raining (Song Saves) 19) Rick Berlin: Unknown Soldier (Old Stag) 20) Rick Berlin: Happy Lesbians in the Snow (Old Stag) 21) Rick Berlin: Your Light is On (Old Stag) 22) Rick Berlin: Michiko (Old Stag) 23) Rick Berlin: Elle (Old Stag) 24) Rick Berlin: How Can I Hate People I Don't Know? 25) Rick Berlin: Walkin' in the Hood (Song Saves) 26) Rick Berlin: Criminal (Me & Van Gogh) 27) Rick Berlin: John Lennon's Nose (Old Stag)
As anyone who buys music knows, the way we are finding it and buying it has changed radically over the last 15 years.
For musicians, it used to be that if you wanted someone to release your music, you'd have to get the attention and approval of an artist and repertoire (or A&R person) at a label, work to sign a deal either big or small so that the label would then press up your product and work with distributors to get your vinyl or 8-track or cassette or CD to ship them out to record stores where the music fan could have access to them.
Now, all you have to do it is get some audio files online and instantly be able to have your music available to the current online global audience of 1.5 billion people, which is still just about 23% of the world's population, so the potential for reaching new audiences continues to grow. As mobile devices get smarter, it's inevitable that consumers will be downloading more music and playing it without a desktop or laptop computer even being involved, too.
As a result of the rise of digital download stores such as iTunes and Amazon mp3, the need has come for new companies to aggregate songs and distribute them out to all these growing online stores.
After SpinArt, Price went on to work with eMusic.com, first as a consultant, then as interim VP of Content Acquisition, and finally as the Senior Director of Music/Business Development. He contributed towards the creation of eMusic's initial business model and created and implemented the first subscription-based music sales and distribution structure.
TuneCore's competitors are services such as IODA, The Orchard, and CD Baby and I discuss with Price about what makes TuneCore different from these services. I hope to interview founders and representatives of these services in the future as well.
This episode includes music from a variety of independent music that has been submitted to be for Well-Rounded Radio. I can't say that all have used TuneCore, but they are indicative of independent musicians these days who are producing great music on their own and using the Internet to reach new audiences.
I met with Price during an event for held by The Future of Music Coalition's in New York City to discuss: * how artists can use a service like TuneCore to get their music out to download-to-own music services * what it costs to use and what other services TuneCore offers to musicians * how it's a part of a very different music industry than what we had fifteen years ago
The first time I learned about Monique Ortiz (visit her Facebook or Myspace pages) was in The Boston Phoenix four or five years ago in an article about Bourbon Princess, the band she played in for several years and who released three albums: Stopline (2000), Black Feather Wings (Accurate Records, 2003), and Dark of Days (Accurate Records and Hi-N-Dry Records, 2005). Reading about Ortiz, who is a singer/songwriter who plays fretless bass and 2-string slide bass, and Bourbon Princess, and their approach to jazz, rock, and blues, I knew I had to hear more.
In recent years, Ortiz has released a sparse, solo album with Reclining Female (Obskur Vudu Records, 2007) and a new venture into "low-rock" with the band A.K.A.C.O.D. with Happiness (2008). A.K.A.C.O.D. includes Dana Colley along with Larry Dersch of Binary System, Angeline, and the Bad Art Ensemble on drums. The band's acronym name stands for "also known as Colley Ortiz Dersch."
Depending on how you look at it, Ortiz's sound has either borrowed from Mark Sandman's sound or helped take it to the next level. As she explains in the interview, she was drawn to the sound that Sandman and Morphine were making and, over the years, has worked with many of the musicians and artists that Sandman created with, many of which are a part of the former Hi-N-Dry recording studio (which was Sandman's home before his 1999 death) and the record label.
Ortiz wrote a terrific post on her Myspace page a few months back about the difficulties of being a traveling musician in this era of constant flux in the music industry. I had been trying to have her on Well-Rounded Radio for several years, but the blog post made me want to sit down and find out more about how musicians are tackling the new economy of the music business. We go into the subject in depth.
I spoke with Ortiz in September in Cambridge, Massachusetts to discuss: * how her musical paths led from Pennsylvania to Boston and what lured her * why it's so difficult these days for bands and artists to thrive these days * how her recent projects developed and what's next in the coming months
Bracy is the Policy Director for The Future of Music Coalition. He also co-owns the Misra Records label and is a partner at Bracy Tucker Brown & Valanzano, a government and public affairs consulting firm in Washington D.C., so he knows his way around the worlds of both music and legislation.
The Future of Music Coalition is, to quote, "a national non-profit education, research, and advocacy organization that seeks a bright future for creators and listeners. FMC works towards this goal through continuous interaction with its primary constituency — musicians — and in collaboration with other creator/public interest groups."
To quote Google, “Network neutrality is the principle that Internet users should be in control of what content they view and what applications they use on the Internet. The Internet has operated according to this neutrality principle since its earliest days. Today, the neutrality of the Internet is at stake as the broadband carriers want Congress's permission to determine what content gets to you first and fastest. Put simply, this would fundamentally alter the openness of the Internet.”
The Future of Music Coalition's Rock the Net campaign was established in April 2007 to increase musician's awareness about the importance of net neutrality because certain telecommunications and cable companies would like to charge content providers higher fees for faster delivery of their sites. The result would be an Internet where those who couldn't afford to - or didn't want to - pay a toll would be stuck in the slow lane. Artists could lose an important connection to their fans and suffer financial loses, while listeners might be denied their freedom of choice.
I wanted to do an episode on the subject because the battle over net neutrality seems to be well known in geek circles, but the general population doesn't seem to be as aware and it's ultimately going to effect everyone using the Internet. I'm hoping this episode will help bring the idea to a broader audience, including music fans and musicians who will certainly depend on the web more than any other distribution channel in the future.
And while Barack Obama's selection of Susan Crawford and Kevin Werbach to lead the FCC review team are encouraging, by all accounts the battle is far from done.
* why network neutrality matters to musicians and music fans * what it is about developing net policy that needs to improve upon past technological inventions * how you can stay informed and take action to help keep net neutrality as a defining principle going forward
Songs featured in this interview from the Rock the Net CD include: 1) The Classic Brown: Modulation (in preview) 2) David Bazan: Cold Beer and Cigarettes (in preview) 3) DJ Spooky featuring Saba Saba: Uganda 4) Bright Eyes: I Won't Ever be Happy Again 5) Palomar: Red 6) Aimee Mann: 31 Today 7) Wilco: Impossible Germany (Live) 8) Portastatic: Hang Down Your Head 9) The Wrens: Sleep 10) Matthew Shipp Trio: New Orbit 11) FREE Form Funky Freqs: The Binds That Tie 12) They Might Be Giants: We Live in a Dump 13) BC Camplight: Soy Tonto 14) David Miller: Sunday Driver 15) Guster: Timothy Leary
I will admit I was kind of turned off by the initial onslaught of publicity when The Dresden Dolls debuted here in Boston back in 2001 and 02. I hadn't heard much of the music, but whenever something gets too overexposed so far, I always tend to look the other way, so I'll chalk that up to why I hadn't known their work better.
But a few months back, I had the opportunity to interview Amanda Palmer of The Dresden Dolls for her collaboration with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. You can hear that interview here on iTunes. After listening to The Dresden Dolls albums, I dare say I began to get it.
For those who haven't heard their music, The Dresden Dolls are part rock, part cabaret, and generally pretty intense. The duo features Amanda Palmer on vocals, piano, harmonica, and ukelele and Brian Viglione on drums, percussion, guitar, and vocals.
Their influences seem to range from everything from Kurt Weill to punk rock to performance art to "Brechtian punk cabaret," as Palmer has called it. The Dresden Dolls catalogue includes their albums The Dresden Dolls (2003), Yes, Virginia (2006), and No, Virginia (2008).
Palmer's first solo album, Who Killed Amanda Palmer? was released by Road Runner Records in late September and co-produced by Ben Folds. The album is quite different from The Dresden Dolls, with both sparse songs featuring Palmer paired with vocals as well as lush, orchestral pieces that help push her songs to entirely new sonic tiers. Folds also plays piano on several songs as well.
Palmer has also worked on a Who Killed Amanda Palmer? book with Neil Gaiman, best known for The Sandman comic series, Stardust, and American Gods. The book will be released in November.
Palmer has also posted a series of music videos on her site for songs from the new album, which is a terrific idea in this era where music videos are all but dead on cable television, but while video is more popular than ever on the web. They are low-budget, but do the trick of letting you hear the music and get a bit of a preview of her live performances.
I met with Palmer in Boston's South End neighborhood just as she was starting rehearsals for her current tour to discuss:
* what lead her to starting work on solo material * how she met Ben Folds and why she wanted to work with him * how she is bringing the album to life on the road
Songs featured in the interview include:
1) Ampersand (Who Killed Amanda Palmer?) (in preview) 2) Leeds United (Who Killed Amanda Palmer?) 3) Runs in the Family (Who Killed Amanda Palmer?) 4) Girl Anachronism (The Dresden Dolls) 5) Astronaut: A Short History of Nearly Nothing (Who Killed Amanda Palmer?) 6) Have to Drive (Who Killed Amanda Palmer?) 7) Guitar Hero (Who Killed Amanda Palmer?) 8) Strength Through Music (Who Killed Amanda Palmer?) 9) Blake Says(Who Killed Amanda Palmer?) 10) What's the Use of Wond'rin? (Who Killed Amanda Palmer?) 11) Oasis (Who Killed Amanda Palmer?) 12) Another Year: A Short History of Almost Something (Who Killed Amanda Palmer?) 13) Leeds United (Who Killed Amanda Palmer?)
Thinking back on it, I'm not exactly sure how or when I found out about San Serac, but I know I came across his Myspace page and I kept going back to hear his music, which is not something I do too often on Myspace.
I then sought out and bought his third CD, Professional, and found his music to be at an interesting intersection between David Bowie, disco, and electronic dance music. Thankfully, the album did not disappoint.
Nat Rabb works under the name San Serac, an artist who plays synthesizer, percussion, guitar, electronic saxophone, electronic drums, and sings. Rabb grew up in Baltimore and played in several post-punk bands including Candy Machine and INK. He now lives and works in the Boston area.
With Johnny Dark, San Serac has also released an album on September 23rd under the outfit Stereo Image and they will performing in Ontario, Canada in late October. Check their Myspace page for details. San Serac will also be touring in November and December 2008 in the US with Wilderness.
I met with San Serac in May in Somerville, Massachusetts to discuss: * how he writes and records his albums—essentially all by himself * what the gestation period is like for his own creations * how the changes in the music business are effecting how he manages his own career
1) San Serac: Professional (Professional) (in preview) 2) San Serac: Fairlight (Professional) 3) San Serac: Love Tactics (Professional) 4) INK: Alger Hiss 5) INK: Real Life in the Deco 6) San Serac: Market Research (it's Time to Shop) (Ice Age) 7) San Serac: Astonishing Murders (Ice Age) 8) San Serac: What Price Revenge (Ice Age) 9) San Serac: Nihilistic Love (Professional) 10) San Serac: Sunlight in Electric Wires (Ice Age) 11) San Serac: You, Assassin (Ice Age) 12) San Serac: Tyrant (Professional) 13) San Serac: The Black Monolith (Professional) 14) San Serac: That Obscure Object of Desire (Professional) 15) San Serac: Command Shift Sexy (Professional) 16) Faunts: Instantly Dubbed (San Serac Mix) 17) Stereo Image: Dark Chapter (S/T) 18) Stereo Image: Exposure (S/T) 19) Stereo Image: Pack Moves (S/T) 20) Shout Out Out Out Out: In the End It's Your Friends (San Serac Mix) 21) Stereo Image: Red Nights (S/T) 22) Stereo Image: Your Collapsed State (S/T) 23) San Serac: Friends
Thanks again to everyone who took our recent online survey. I learned some great information about who is listening to the show, what you like and what you'd like to hear more of. I was especially surprised to learn from the group that responded that 57% of you identified yourselves as musicians.
I have had fun doing interviews with music industry thought leaders in recent years as it's obvious that the music business is in a great deal of flux for both musicians and music fans. Truthfully, though, I haven't heard or read many good interviews about these changes. If you go to music conferences or subscribe to things like the Pho list you get to be on the inside of all these changes, but otherwise, it's a classic case of being shut out of ideas that are advancing around you.
I hadn't realized that musicians are tuning in to Well-Rounded Radio as an educational outlet, but that does seem to be the case and this episode, with an interview with Ariel Hyatt of Ariel Publicity, it's a perfect case of providing some additional insight that I think can be very helpful to musicians.
As Hyatt explains in the interview, she started out doing traditional publicity in the music business, but realized that the world of music marketing was changing and so her own agency changed with it.
Ariel Publicity helps artists and labels get their music in front of the growing legion of citizen journalists or prosumers, as folks like me have started to be called, who are creating text, audio, and video for others to access via the Web.
Hyatt and her team also help to educate musicians through various online and in-person boot camp sessions and seminars and they're helping to connect independent musicians with independent media outlets like Well-Rounded Radio.
At the same time, music fans are discovering music in a wide range of new ways, from podcasts and audio blogs to recommendation engines, streaming stations, and mobile devices to simply speeding up the word of mouth process that have always happened, but now is happening faster and globally with new technologies.
As print publications cease production, terrestrial and satellite radio tries to evolve, and more people around the world start using these technologies as a matter of course, how will we each discover our next favorite band? I have heard the story again and again how music fans who used to simply listen to what was in the charts or featured on the cover of music magazines now are finding they listen to very little mainstream music and are finding all kinds of niches online that take their curiosity in new directions. The idea behind the Long Tail is very much changing what we consume.
This episode features a number of artists that Ariel Publicity has worked with over the last year or two. You can find out more information about them and links at wellroundedradio.net/arielpublicity
I met with Hyatt at her office in mid-town Manhattan back in February to discuss:
* how the agency came to be born and her own experience leading up to it * some myths about the old music guard that need to be shattered * how musicians can be smarter and strategic about using social media to advance their careers
If you enjoy this interview, be sure to listen to other interviews I have done with music industry thought leaders. Tell me who else you'd like me to interview and I'll do my best to get them on the show.
Back with another mix...if only had more time to do these, I certainly have the music to choose from!
For all 15 artists on this show who wanted to share their music with you, consider buying their music, whether it's on a shiny piece of plastic or as a digital file. Buy a t-shirt or a hat or whatever swag they're selling. Go see them live or make friends with them at myspace and last.fm or facebook or wherever. Tell a friend about them and share your good taste in music. Sign up to their email list or subscribe to an RSS feed. And tell them Well-Rounded Radio sent you if you can. The way the music business works is changing drastically by the day. Support the music you like and love and help change it.
Newbury Comics started as a comics store on Newbury Street, a famed block for shopping in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood, but now each of their 27 locations sells CDs, vinyl, DVDs, posters, toys, books, magazines, sports merchandise, clothes, shoes, housewares, and much more.
Given how much time (and money!) I have spent at Newbury Comics over these last eight years and how much great music I have discovered there and subsequently brought to my listeners, I was glad to be able to interview Mike Dreese, the co-founder of Newbury Comics, as we had a great conversation about the state of record retailing and the state of the music business in general.
If you live here, you already know why it's such a fun place. If and when you visit New England, be sure to stop by one of their stores and experience it for yourself. Newbury Comics now has locations in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island with the majority of stores in Greater Boston. Check newburycomics.com for address location and to shop online as well.
Our timing of featuring Dreese on Well-Rounded Radio's 50th episode is good as this year is Newbury Comics' 30th anniversary and they are opening two new stores this summer. One is a super store in Norwood, Massachusetts in a space formerly used by a car dealership, which sounds like it might give the Amoeba Records stores a run for their money, and a second store will be located at historic Faneuil Hall in downtown Boston. Maybe there is a future for the record store, yet.
So, I have made it to episode 50....yeah.
While I am not one to make too much of numbers, my arrival at it after producing the show for the last six years does make me stop for a minute to think about the path I've traveled and where it might be going.
Well-Rounded Radio was an idea born just outside Seattle on a sidewalk in Kirkland, Washington with my friend Marion Seymour back in 1999 during a conversation we were having about the great music interviews we both used to hear when growing up in the New York City area.
For me, it was hearing interviews with musicians from Jeff Foss on Hofstra University's Radio station (now called WRHU), on WNYU’s New Afternoon Show (which, I’ll admit, influenced my choice of NYU for college...), and from Vin Scelsa and all the New York radio station’s he’s been on over the years and who continues today on WFUV in New York and on Sirius Satellite Radio.
For Marion, it was listening to great rock and roll radio in New Jersey where she grew up and as a pioneering DJ herself in Seattle on KZAM, where she broke all kinds of programming boundaries and interviewed everyone who was anyone when they came through Seattle for more than a decade.
Since this kind of programming wasn’t something that existed to our satisfaction, I thought, why not create it myself?
In late '99 I moved back east and my wife Stacey and settled in Boston. Well-Rounded Radio started to formulate into an idea in 2000 and 2001. September 11th motivated me to do something I'd been thinking about, instead of just talking about doing, so I created a demo with a plan to pitch it to NPR. Little did I realize at the time that NPR is more competitive than most commercial radio syndication...and of course it is, because anyone with any taste would prefer to be on it!
Then came blogging and then came broadband and then podcasting. Then there was less of a need to find the distribution channel and more of a desire to take my passion for music and my joy in helping others discover really, really good music in an era where it seemed like mainstream radio didn’t care about anything but really awful hits. Of course, that’s only gotten worse.
I also hoped my show would make you feel like you were listening in on a conversation instead of it seeming like the host was trying to grill the subject or simply fawn over them. Hopefully I’ve succeeded at those goals to some degree.
As we all know, the media landscape is changing radically and while it's fascinating to watch it happen, and in some ways be a part of it, I'm sad about the passing of No Depression and Harp magazines and I'm sad that so many record stores are struggling and closing.
Part of the reason that I love record stores like Newbury Comics is that as someone who started out on vinyl and moved on to CDs and now mp3s, I think it will be sad when there are no longer these kind of physical places to interact with other music lovers and to discover new artists in surprising ways. Staring at your laptop can be fun, but it can also be pretty damn lonely, so I’m hoping "record stores" can evolve into something more than just a place to pick up an encoded physical product.
Getting a tip from the record store clerk, picking up an album because the sticker on its shrink wrap had name-dropped all the right artists, or finding a used LP that was just cheap enough to make you want to buy it and give a band a chance...all those methods of introduction seem to be passing us by, even as new methods of introduction are becoming the norm. I'm not saying they are better or worse, but it is worth thinking about what we might be losing even as we move forward.
As a musician myself, I'm thrilled that musicians will have more power in their hands via the Internet, but I'm not that thrilled that the reduction of record stores, magazines, and record labels means that the power will rest in the hands of fewer corporate gatekeepers, like Wal-Mart, iTunes, Amazon, Microsoft, Napster, Rhapsody, Target, or whoever. Not that I have anything against any of these companies, but it's never good to have the power rest with too few, even if the Internet can connect us one to one in so many other ways. Of course there are bloggers and podcasters and other tastemakers, but distribution has always been the most valuable commodity in any media industry and that’s not likely to change.
Over the last year or two I have been looking at how I can take Well-Rounded Radio from hobby into something that I could make a living doing. I can tell by my web site traffic, emails from listeners, and the music coming to me from around the world that people like what I’m doing. My numbers keep growing and it’s clear that music fans still need real human people to filter their choices for them, just as record labels, DJs, music journalists, and record stores have done for decades. (If you want to help with this, you can take our online survey and tell us a bit about yourself.)
As a hobby, I've been careful to not let Well-Rounded Radio consume too much of my life as I raise a family and work a paying job, but it’s also something that I know is helping to connect independent musicians and an audience of listeners who also love that sense of discovery when you find a new artist that you connect to and, to put it plainly, fall in love with.
In many ways I’ve taken my activity from my 20s in making mix tapes and CDs for a group of friends combined it with my own professional experience in marketing, and upped the ante using the net. In an era where the role of DJs, music critics, and music journalism is in flux, maybe all that we need is some ways to help us find things that we want as well as be open enough to discovering something new that might just fill some current need we have in our lives.
Although some of the artists and thought-leaders I've interviewed have been from outside Boston, the vast majority who have been on Well-Rounded Radio are from Boston's amazing music scene, which doesn't get nearly the kind of national press that it should.
Which brings me back to Boston and the 50th show.
It also makes perfect sense that Dreese is on this episode because when I was in my band Falling Stairs in the late 80s and early 90s, we used to come up to Boston from New York City to record at Fort Apache. We made it a point to go to a variety of great guitar stores in Allston and always made a stop at Newbury Comics, which was the kind of record store that I always wished we had in the New York area.
Now I've been in Boston for almost nine years and I take Newbury Comics for granted (and yes, I still shop in brick and mortar stores!), but when I go to other cities, I realize that record stores are becoming more rare each year.
Given Newbury’s success, part of me wanted to pick Dreese’s brain for how they've maintained their success and provide some ideas to other music retailers around the world to help them evolve as the music industry changes. I’m sure there’s a brilliant business plan in there just waiting to be born...
The show features a mix of music from the late 70s up to today, much of it from Boston artists.
I met with Dreese at Newbury Comics' offices and warehouse in Brighton, Massachusetts to discuss: * how the regional chain got its start and grew to where they are today * how the music business has changed since the late 70s and how they’re evolving with it * the return of vinyl and what it might mean in the scheme of all the changes
Zedek's latest CD, Liars and Prayers, was also released by Thrill Jockey Records in late April. Although I think all of Zedek's work with Come and her solo albums have been outstanding, Liars and Prayers is a powerful and emotional collection of songs tackling political and personal subjects. It features a five-piece band, fleshing out Zedek's sound to a new level of complexity and intensity.
Zedek has been inspired by a variety of artists, including Patti Smith, Leonard Cohen, and Lou Reed, but over the years she has created her own distinct sound and found a strong cult audience that appreciates her impassioned vocals and moody songwriting. I've always loved the intensity in Zedek's work, really pulling me in and forcing me to pay attention to the music she makes.
Zedek is out on tour in mid to late June with shows in New York, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Baltimore, Boston, Montreal, Toronto, and Chicago. West coast shows and some European dates are also in the works and you can visit myspace.com/thaliazedek to find out more.
I met with Zedek in May in Allston, Massachusetts to discuss:
* how the new, larger version of her band came to exist * who else has influenced her over the years * what some of those veiled political songs are really about
Special thanks to Anna for the mp3s of Dangerous Birds and Uzi that are included in the show. I own it all on vinyl, but I must buy me an Ion one of these days! Thanks, Anna!
Music featured in the interview include:
1) Body Memory (Liars and Prayers) (in preview) 2) Begin to Exhume (Liars and Prayers) 3) Wind (Liars and Prayers) 4) We Don't Go (Liars and Prayers) 5) Back to School (Been Here and Gone) 6) Lower Allston (Liars and Prayers) 7) Manha De Carnaval (Been Here and Gone) 8) Green and Blue (Liars and Prayers) 9) Do You Remember? (Liars and Prayers) 10) Next Exit (Liars and Prayers) 11) Come Undone (Liars and Prayers) 12) Brother (Trust Not Those In Whom Without Some Touch Of Madness) 13) Smile on Your Face by Dangerous Birds (Alpha Romero/Smile on Your Face single) 14) Criminal Child by Uzi (Sleep Asylum EP) 15) You're a Big Girl Now (You're a Big Girl Now) 16) Was by Live Skull (Snuffer) 17) Submerge by Come (11:11) 18) Bone (Trust Not Those In Whom Without Some Touch Of Madness) 19) Island Song (Trust Not Those In Whom Without Some Touch Of Madness) 20) Ship (Trust Not Those In Whom Without Some Touch Of Madness) 21) Stars (Liars and Prayers)
Might you have three minutes to fill out a survey for Well-Rounded Radio?
Your answers will help me determine how or if I can add sponsors to the series and increase the frequency of the show to 2-3 times a month plus increase our marketing efforts to raise awareness about the great musicians and music industry thought leaders on the show.
I first heard Eli "Paperboy" Reed (nee Eli Husock) when one of his songs was in a Salon song competition with Hallelujah the Hills, who I interviewed last year. About twenty seconds into his song, I started Googling him and was surprised to learn that he was from Brookline, Massachusetts, one town over from me in Jamaica Plain. By the time I finished listening to the song, I wanted to know more: how did a guy so young learn to infuse so many great influences and be able to turn it back into something that is both familiar and exciting?
Exposed to a lot of great soul, rhythm and blues, country, and gospel music from his father, former Boston Phoenix writer Howard Husock, Reed became a fan of Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, and Al Green as well as becoming something of a historian about less-known musicians working in all of these American genres.
Reed, now 24, is living in Boston again, but after graduating high school he lived in both Clarksdale, Mississippi and Chicago—two cultural homes to different styles of the blues. During those years he DJed at a pirate radio station, learned how to play to blues fans for hours on end, played organ in a Chicago church, and hosted a Chicago radio show for blues purists. Good training for the future indeed. The “Paperboy” nickname also was given to Reed during his time in Clarkesdale given his penchant for wearing his grandfather’s newsboy hat.
His first CD, Eli "Paperboy" Reed Sings Walkin' and Talkin' (for My Baby) & Other Smash Hits, was self-released in 2004 and is currently out of print, but hopefully will see a re-release soon as well. The disc was a mix of covers and original songs.
Walkin' and Talkin' features more of a southern, harmonica-infused blues, while Roll with You takes Reed toward more soul or rhythm and blues style, complete with horns, big bluesy ballads, and lots of dance numbers.
With its release, Reed has already racked up nice notices in Mojo magazine, The New York Times, The Village Voice, Billboard, The Boston Globe, No Depression, and Time Out NY. Mojo, my personal favorite, states, "There are singers who sing and there are singers whose sheer power of expression can knock you off your feet. Eli 'Paperboy' Reed falls firmly into the latter category...[he] threatens to be one of the defining voices of the year."
With some evolution over the years, The True Loves current 7-piece lineup includes Andy Bauer on drums, Ben Jaffe on tenor sax, Paul Jones on tenor sax, Mike Montgomery on bass, Patriq Moody on trumpet, and Ryan Spraker on guitar.
Reed and The True Loves are on tour now and playing all over the USA; check their myspace page for the latest dates and locations and see them live if you can as they are a very fun band in concert that will surely get you dancing.
My apologies in advance for the drop off in Reed’s voice at the very end of the interview. Afraid it happened due to a crashed hard drive and eaten file, so remember kids...back up those files.
I met with Reed in the fall of 2007, as he was working on Roll with You, in Allston, Masschusetts to discuss:
* what led him to move to two of the homes of the blues * what doing night club DJing has taught him about performing on stage * why he’s stopped downloading and still enjoys the hunt at record stores
Songs included in the preview include: 1) I'm Gonna Getcha Back (Roll with You) (in preview) 2) The Satisfier (Roll with You) 3) Cool Drink of Water (Walkin' and Talkin' (for My Baby) & Other Smash Hits) 4) I'm Tired of Wandering (Walkin' and Talkin' (for My Baby) & Other Smash Hits) 5) Walkin' and Talkin' (For My Baby) (Walkin' and Talkin' (for My Baby) & Other Smash Hits) 6) Fat Mama Rumble (Walkin' and Talkin' (for My Baby) & Other Smash Hits) 7) Woman Woman Blues (Walkin' and Talkin' (for My Baby) & Other Smash Hits) 8) I Just Got to Know (Walkin' and Talkin' (for My Baby) & Other Smash Hits) 9) Something You Got (Walkin' and Talkin' (for My Baby) & Other Smash Hits) 10) Won't Give Up Without a Fight (Roll with You) 11) Take My Love with You (Roll with You) 12) Am I Just Fooling Myself (Roll with You) 13) I'll Roll with You (Roll with You) 14) Stake Your Claim (Roll with You) 15) (Doin' the) Boom Boom (Roll with You) 16) Don't Let Me Down (Walkin' and Talkin' (for My Baby) & Other Smash Hits) 17) It's Easier (Roll with You) 18) Am I Wasting My Time (Roll with You) 19) She Walks (Roll with You) 20) Slippershell by Kristin Hersh (Pocket Mix) (in close)
Several years ago, right after my wife and I moved to Boston, I did some work with John McGah and a group of wonderful volunteers on fundraising events for Give US Your Poor, a project taking on homelessness. To quote their statement, "The Give US Your Poor mission is to create a revolution in public awareness, dispel myths and inspire action towards ending epidemic homelessness in the United States. It works to affect change at the policy level, engage volunteerism and contributions at the individual and corporate levels through media, technology and education; and to funnel support to partner homeless organizations."
Buy the CD direct from Appleseed Recordings, at Amazon.com, or iTunes. Proceeds from the CD will go towards the national awareness and action campaign to end homelessness. In addition, local and national homeless organizations will be able to sell the CD to raise funds and awareness to their organization. Homeless artists involved will receive direct payment, all travel costs, and mechanical royalties for any original music.
Wondering what you can do to help solve our nation’s homelessness problem? Here's some suggestions from McGah:
1) write your U.S. Senator in support of the the National Affordable Housing Trust Fund. As of March 2008 it had passed the House, but not the Senate, but is co-sponsored by both a Republican and Democrat Senator. The fund primarily provides matching money towards the creation of housing for people to live in the lowest income bracket.
2) For veterans, The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans is supporting a bill "Homes for Heroes" for preventing homelessness among Iraq War Veterans. Visit The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans to find out more.
Give US Your Poor is also currently working on a documentary film about homelessness along with creating educational curriculums and local outreach. Watch select video previews of Southwest stories and East Coast stories. There's also a great video segment about Natalie Merchant's participation and recording session with homeless and formerly homeless artists on YouTube.
In February I met with McGah in my current hometown of Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts to discuss: * what Appleseed Recordings is and what their particular social goals are * how Give US Your Poor solicited and selected homeless and formerly homeless artists to participate in the project * how this project can help combat homelessness and spread the word about this critical issue
Photo: Bryan How
Songs featured in the interview include: 1) Keb' Mo' and Eagle Park Slim- Baby Don't Let Me Go (in preview) 2) Natalie Merchant and Friends - There is No Good Reason (in preview) 3) Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen - Hobo's Lullaby 4) Sweet Honey in the Rock - Stranger Blues 5) Michelle Shocked and Michael Sullivan - Becky's Tune 6) Buffalo Tom - Ink Falling (Father Outside) 7) Mario Frangoulis - Feels Like Home 8) Bonnie Raitt and Weepin' Willie Robinson - Walking the Dog 9) Tim Robbins - Impossible Boulevard 10) Madeleine Peyroux - I Think it's Going to Rain Today 11) Mark Erelli - Here and Now 12) Kyla Middleton and Dan Zanes - Boll Weivel 13) Natalie Merchant and Friends - There is No Good Reason 14) audio documentary set to music - Land of 10,000 Homeless-Minneapolis 15) Danny Glover - My Name is Not "Those People" 16) Del Goldfarb and John Sebastian - Portable Man 17) Sonya Kitchell - So Lonely 18) Natalie Merchant and Friends - There is No Good Reason
I first discovered the music of the band Ida in kind of a backward way. As a dad with crazy snobby tastes in kid’s music, I had discovered Dan Zanes’ music about seven years ago when my daughter was born. As a fan of his from The Del Fuegos, I got the chance to interview him for Well-Rounded Radio in 2004. When I asked him about other artists playing "good" family music, Elizabeth Mitchell’s name rose to the top (as did Ella Jenkins, who has also become a favorite of my clan).
Not long after I saw Mitchell and Littleton perform a terrific concert at FirstNight Boston in a cavernous convention room and picked up her first two CDs, You Are My Flower and You Are My Sunshine. Any band that plays Velvet Underground covers is alright with me. I was hooked. Digging a bit, I discovered that Mitchell and husband, Daniel Littleton, actually got started out playing music in the slow core band Ida, so I picked up a bunch of their earlier CDs and was equally blown away. I’ll attribute the fact that I was living on the west coast for the latter part of the 90s for why this Brooklyn-based band wasn’t on my radar sooner, but Ida has an impressive catalogue.
Mitchell started out making music at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island (at the same time as Lisa Loeb, who she later collaborated with) and then relocated to New York City. Littleton played in a number of Annapolis, Maryland bands in the late 80s, including the punk band The Hated and played in a number of bands in the early '90s, including Three Shades of Dirty, Choke, and Slack (with Jenny Toomey, who Well-Rounded Radio interviewed a few months back).
Ida was formed in 1992 by Mitchell and Littleton as a duo in New York City. The band is named for Ida Machado Schafer, the grandmother of Mitchell's old friend, the artist and playwright Erin Courtney. Schafer was 92 years old at the time Mitchell and Littleton formed the group.
Their latest, Lovers Prayers was produced and mixed by Warn Defever (His Name is Alive) and Ida and released by Polyvinyl Records in late January 2008. The current line-up includes Jean Cook on violin, Ruth Keating, on drums, Daniel Littleton on guitar and vocals, Elizabeth Mitchell on guitar, harmonium, and vocals, and Karla Schickele on bass, piano, and vocals. The album was recorded at Levon Helm Studios, a studio owned by Levon Helm of The Band in Woodstock, New York and we talk about the place and the process in our interview.
Mitchell’s children’s CDs are simple, homespun affairs that my children love. And I love them for teaching traditional songs and providing my little ones with singalongs. They have a wonderful calming effect and I’ve found them perfect for getting my guys going in the morning and for calming them down at bedtime. Littleton also released a solo album with Nobody's Fault But Mine/Down by the Riverside in 2002 that explored his more experimental side, with tape loops and such.
I recently met with Littleton after a recording session at Excello Recording (who were gracious enough to let me record the interview in their great studio) in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to discuss:
* recording Lovers Prayers at Helm’s historic studio * how the band worked up new material for the album * how he and Mitchell switch gears between their various musical lives