“There is no time for Plan B”

We had the chance to see Amanda Palmer at the North Park Birch Theatre a few weeks back. It was an awesome show overall but one of the opening acts who Amanda courted out of Australia surprised us with heart-felt, honest, touching music. Mainly other beautiful adjectives could apply to the duo known as The Jane Austen Argument. I walked away with a six-song EP which I only recently put in my car.

Upon reaching the final song on the CD,  I was treated with a short monologue by angel-winged, Tom Dickens that has since provided me with uplifted spirits and a new drive to take on the holidays and the new year. I provided two of my favorite quotes from the small speech, but I urge you to to take a listen to Plan Behind for yourself.

“I could fail spectacularly, but I’m’ a fan of spectacle.”

“Look for what whatever makes you happy. What couldn’t you live without doing? What do you do in your spare time that makes you smile and are you doing it enough? An if not, why?”

You might find inspiration in his words, adorable Australian accent or even in the song itself, sang by his partner in awesomeness, Jen Kingwell.

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Occupy This! – Protest music to fuel your fire

Voices are making themselves heard all over the country by taking to the streets representing the 99%. Some voices can be heard louder than others but the collective voice remains the loudest. One voice heard this weekend over a small, strained amplifier at Occupy SD, was that of local musician, Kevin Martin.

“I’m sorry, but I refuse to believe this is all we’re meant to be,” Kevin’s scratchy sounding voice sang out the purpose of the gathering through his newest solo song, “TV News.” Millions of Americans sit at home mesmerized by the illuminated screen every day, soaking the content presented to them, accepting it all as “the truth.” Kevin broke out of the screen’s grip and wrote with his heart.

After talking to Kevin, of local pop band Get Back Loretta, his ignited passion and involvement with the Occupy Wall Street movement may light a fire in you.

“Music has a great capacity to inspire people,” Kevin explains. “I really want to empower people to stand up for what they believe in and be fearless while doing so.” He shared one of his favorite quotes, by Albert Einstein, that prompted him to take action, “The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.”

He continued by saying, “Protesting is great, but at the end of the day we need to get involved with our local government and vote. Our real power is going to come from exercising our democratic right to vote.”

Kevin sings about hope in “TV News,” but what sorts of hopes does he have for the current Occupy Wall Street movement and how does he think that will be manifested?

“I feel there is a great awakening happening right now. My hope is that in 2012 there will be a paradigm shift, meaning our old mold will be broken and we will embark in a new direction of consciousness, more unified and less driven by greed. This movement is a good example that we are headed in that direction.”

The Occupy Wall Street movement was the first cause Kevin has felt compelled to write about. The media disconnect from reality hit him hard, but the effects on his friends’ lives hit him harder.

“I never thought I’d write music for a cause or get involved in politics. I’m not sure if this is my purpose, but I do know that it feels really good to follow your instincts and intuition, and that’s what I’m doing right now. I want to keep a positive message out there, but also inspire people to get involved and make change in their communities.”

Kevin has hope, not only hope for a new direction in our country, but a positive outlook for the way he writes music. “Hopefully one day I won’t have to write songs like this, and I will be writing songs about how far the world has come and how much love and respect is in the world.”

Top 5 things I learned at San Diego Music Thing

I spent a fair bit of time at San Diego Music Thing this past weekend. Sadly due to work and the blackout, I was unable to attend panels on Friday, but managed to hit up quite a few venues after my 3 hour volunteer shift at the Lafayette’s Mississippi Ballroom. Saturday, I made sure to catch some of the panels before another shift in the depths of the hotel. Exhausted, I didn’t make it to additional shows that evening but I had my fill.

5. Sometimes everyone is to blame. When planning events something goes wrong, small or big, noticeable or not, something always goes wrong. Well, on Friday night in the Mississippi Ballroom, a lot went wrong. Viejas overbooked and backed out of doing sound two days prior to the event. Another reputable company (Audio Design, I think) took on the job. The PA/mixer system brought was not adequate for bands, OK for the panels, but not good at all for headliner type bands. I’m not sure if it was what was ordered or it was brought based on perceived sound needs. Anyhow, it sucked.

The first band, 321 Stereo sounded awful. There was static coming through the speakers and the lead singer was blowing out the high-end, not to mention she was singing off-key. We solved some of the issues with the second band, Bart Davenport. But with the third act, The Frail, one of the monitors and one of the mics blew out. Oh, and they could get their Mac to hook up so they were operating as a live band (which they say they never practice that way and rely on the steady beat) The Frail’s managers were watching from afar via webcast and were apparently not happy. Fun, fun.

Did I mention the sound guy looked stoned? All the while, we were trying to figure out how to make Nico Vega‘s lead singer’s in-ear monitor work, which we never did. I skipped out on most of their set, having had my fill of excitement. But I heard the show was awesome with a crowd of about 75-100 people.

4. Copyright, register w/ BMI & ASCAP, register w/ SoundExchange, & distribute w/ aggregator = money This was the basic formula to make even the slightest bit of money using the digital medium shared in the panel: “The future of music distribution…is it the cloud?” Although very dry, I found this to be a very informative panel which is what the panelists set out to achieve. They laid out the details of the cloud simply so attendees could follow. Well done.

3. Facilitators are necessary to keep a panel on track. Well, this is mostly true. Some panelists are good about staying on target, but others will stray for a story about some famous band that did something great or to promote their own business.

In the panel with Michael Addicott from Pandora, they never even addressed the question posed in the title of the panel: “As online radio grows, what happens to the independent musician?” unless “keep trying” was the answer. It was sad to see guest panelists knowledge wasted due to missing parameters. There are a number of individuals who would be great facilitators in this town who would ask relevant questions to keep thing on track. People who come to mind include Rosey Bystrak of San Diego Dialed In, Seth Combs,  Chris Maroulakos of Owl and Bear, George Varga of the Union Tribune, Bart Mendoza, Lyn Pagsolingan, and the list goes on.

2. “Aim low, reach for the stars,” “Play in a phone booth, say your show was packed wall to wall!” “Your t-shirt doesn’t need to have your band name on it, search your lyrics for some gems.” Martin Atkins, author of Tour: Smart and Saturday’s featured presenter, shared his honest and straight-forward advice to musicians regarding the music business, while making you bust your gut laughing. Truthfully, I gained a lot of solid information from his session even though I was in and out of the room. I even walked away with both of his books as a gift to my husband.

1. You don’t have to be a musician or in the music business to enjoy this event. Several times during this weekend, I found myself asking “Why am I here?” This event had nothing to do with my career path, I’m not a musician nor involved in the music industry. Luckily, Mat Bates of Slacker was there, as I verbally expressed this thought, to remind me that I didn’t need a reason and if I did, it’s because I love and have an interest in music.

Thank you for setting my thoughts straight, Mat. So I will pass this mantra on… “Do what you want, do what you love and have fun.” ~ Me (and probably someone else famous said this at one point too).

Learning to rock, the classic way

I was born in 1979. Just in time to actually remember the eighties, but quite a bit late to catching anything from the years of pure rock greatness.

It’s just a shame you missed out on rock ‘n’ roll. It’s over. You got here just in time for the death rattle. Last gasp. Last grope.  – Lester Bangs (Phillip Seymour Hoffman), Almost Famous

I even missed that. The synth of the electronic drums and keyboards became the ruling sound on the airwaves for a decade of hot pink and leg warmers.

But I have always had a strong affiliation with the seventies, and more than just the attire. The music was known to me great. Names such as Led Zeppelin, The Who, Cream, Aerosmith and more are legends in their own right. They influenced so much more from their work in during that decade. But I always felt I knew of them more than really knowing them, more like an acquaintance than a long time friend. I took a Rock since the 1960’s class in college where I found a deeper respect for producers and Brian Wilson, but other than that, I didn’t gain much else.

So Saturday, Roger and I will be going to see RUSH. Less than a month ago, my only comment would have been, “Yeah, they are one of those hair metal bands from the late seventies/early eighties, right?” I wouldn’t be incorrect, but the depth of my knowledge was only at the surface, barely making a scratch.

Since then, I have had some hard-core training of the best kind. The initiation started with the RUSH documentary. Music documentaries are not foreign in our abode. I feel like we see at least one a month if not more. As documentaries go, this one was pretty comprehensive talking to the band members as well as family and friends. The skill is evident. Mind blowing, in fact (I might be forced to use that term several times in this post). I was amazed by their focus… no after parties, just on to writing the next song/album. Did I mention their skill?

After the documentary, I was ready to take on the catalogue. I loaded all of the albums on my iPod and just listened. Well, I was listening and working. Not the same, at all. It was like I was doing my due diligence. It never reach the veins or the marrow.

Last weekend, I took a trip to Phoenix, driving all the way… solo. Desert road trips solo seem to constitute finding myself. This time, I wanted to find the deeper connection to the music that only had skin deep meaning from the era of true rock n’ roll. I had Roger stockpiling my car with recommendations on where to begin. So here are the bands/albums, that reached my ears…

  • Black Sabbath: Paranoid
  • Rush: 2112, Moving Pictures, A Farewell to Kings
  • Heart: Greatest Hits
  • Alice Cooper: Love it to Death
  • The Who: Who’s Next
  • Led Zeppelin: III and IV (to be fair, I already knew and love these albums)
  • Creedance Clearwater Revival: Not sure which, might be a hits album
  • Aerosmith: Toys in the Attic
  • Cheap Trick: Greatest Hits

I covered a lot of ground, both musically and literally. Listening to these albums straight on the open road is a similar experience to strapping on headphones and just listening, no distractions. Rush’s 2112 took my ears by storm. Seriously, it may have just knocked Jeff Buckley’s Grace right off the pedestal. I was surprised to find out how much I liked Black Sabbath’s Paranoid. Maybe I’m turning into a 13-year-old boy for my new-found love for these albums, I don’t care. I know that I will be soaking it all in on Saturday, praising to the drum god Neil to send some of that skill to my boy.

School of Rock all grown up: Lua

Those School of Rock kids seem to be growing up fast. Meet Lua, one of the bands that arose out of friendships made at San Diego’s School of Rock. Previously (as in only a couple of months ago) called Pitchfork Perfection, Lua is composed of Emily Anne James-Kanis on vocals, Jordan Krimston on drums, Sarah Linton on Guitar, and Karter Rosner on bass. Influences of Yeah, Yeah Yeahs and Avril Lavigne are evidenced in their music.

Lua will be playing Sunday, June 19 poolside at the Handlery Hotel in Mission Valley with several other former School of Rock kids who have now formed their own bands. Here is a video of them doing “Try it Again” at a house party in March.

My apologies to Emily for this not going out sooner.