Thursday, May 3, 2012

It's been something of a wild ride lately. Let me tell you, I didn't think things were going to work out for a few weeks there. Life was sticky. Now it's the beginning of May and I'm sitting on a couch in Chicago listening to one of my favorite band's run rehearsal for their album release tomorrow. And life, well, it's okay. It's better than okay, really.

Band rehearsals really make me appreciate the beauty of live music. You can't witness the passion flowing out of people on an album, you can't really hear it unless you've got ears that are really trained on picking up such things or unless the band is tuned into something bigger than just creating aesthetics.  I'm not saying you cannot be moved by an album; I'm saying, for me, that I am always moved so much more by live performance, when I see the band light up the stage. When they catch fire. When that fire spreads to the audience.

So, tomorrow, if you're in Chicago and you want an experience, you want to be moved, you want to feel something other than life boggin' you down, you're going to be standing by me in the Hideout listening to The Damn Choir as they light up the stage for their album release. It's been a long road for this six-piece band. Theirs is a tale that has been laced with hardships and joys, but what is most important about these cats is that they don't quit. It is that perseverance that is going to get them somewhere, mark my words.

Take singer Gordon Robertson for instance. Give his lyrics a real good listen. They're drenched in heartache and pain, but man, are they good. They'll touch some part of you that's been where he's been and you'll feel for him. Each of us has been there, but have we been brave enough to battle our demons with our art? Have we faced the things that hurt us and transformed them into catalysts for something beautiful? Maybe not, but this man definitely has and his passion for his art is unquestionable. You can't help but be moved when you hear the words he's delivering.

The band's got an explosive sound that's going to grasp your attention regardless of how true the lyrics ring with your heart's condition. From the tambourine flourishes and solid setwork, straight up to the warm harmonies traded between the bass, guitar and cello, you're going to find something that speaks to you. You're going to be tapping your foot and you'll be rooting for these guys.

So, like I said, if you're in Chicago, I better see you at the Hideout. If you won't be there to welcome The Damn Choir's new album, You're My Secret Called Fire, into the world officially, you can head over to and get your copy.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

But if you never try, you'll never know, just what you're worth.

I'm sitting here in a near-dark apartment contemplating a whole heck of a lot. My car's broken down, my dad's truck won't start, I'm scraping by in a whole lot of ways and it's just really overwhelming. I'm listening to Coldplay's "Fix You" because a very dear friend mentioned it on Twitter and I remembered just how much I like this song.

This song has always spoke to me. For a little while a few summers ago, I thought of it as my anthem. I thought, "You know what, kid? You're going to get through this. I'm going to fix you." I was, of course, pep talking myself, but the point is, I think this song is really powerful.

I probably always will.

Tomorrow is a new chance to try and make a better go of everything, to take care of whatever it is I can to improve the situation I'm in. Tomorrow is a chance to do everything differently. It's okay to put today to rest and start fresh in the morning. It's okay.

I think we forget that often. I think people forget that it's okay to let go of things that don't help you in your quest for happiness. I think we forget what real happiness is. I think we forget a lot of the important things in lieu of focusing on the things that don't matter.

So, here's what I'm trying to say. Tomorrow, I want you to wake up, plant your feet firmly on the ground and know that it is a new day in which you can do anything. Tomorrow I want you to do at least one thing that makes you happy.

I'm going to do the same.
And maybe we'll be lucky.
Maybe this will fix us.
Maybe we'll realize we aren't so broken afterall.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Sharing is Caring (How to Embed Songs in the Heads of Your Friends)

Funky bass lines will get me every time. They will send me dancing around my room, strumming an air bass, and nodding along like I know what's good. I probably look ridiculous. Good! Everyone needs some music that lets them cut loose. 

I have listened to this song probably 237 times since last week. Addicted is an understatement. Since I can't get it out of MY head, I figured I would put it in yours, too. Now we're sharing. 

You're welcome.

Feel free to retaliate with something you think I should be checking out. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

To the musician who reached out to me here to ask me to write about his music:
THANK YOU. This blog feels so much more personal to me than a lot of things I write, so it really touched my soul to be asked to write about your music on here. Means a lot! Can't wait to write you up something lovely. :)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

the art of truly listening.

It's 3am, and I really shouldn't be awake. I committed to an extra shift on my only off day this week and will have to be up and getting ready for work in four hours. I know, I know, it's responsible of me, but I honestly just want 24 hours to myself. That never happens anymore.

But anyways, it's 3am and I'm listening to one of my favorite bands, trying to figure out spots in their music that could be enhanced with the addition of a flute and I'm hearing all these parts I've never noticed before. Perhaps I need to spend more time listening to music fully engaged?

I mean, how often do you listen to a song and hear everything in it? Even if it's your favorite song in the world, do you know all of its tiniest secrets? Have you familiarized yourself with its harmonies, with the sneaky bass lines, or moving melodies? Do you know what makes it tick? Is it more than a catchy melody to you? Do you know why the lyrics exist as they do?

This experience is beautiful. I strongly suggest it. Insightful---and I don't mean just into the music. I feel like I'm learning a lot about myself right now, too. That could just be a side effect of the sleep deprivation, though.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Getting Here From There...

This blog is nearly a year old. Can you believe it? Maybe it is a year old. I haven't looked back through everything to double-check. I'll tell you one thing: I remember how this began.

Last year I found a contest on Superglue to win a chance to meet Interpol. If you know me at all (and if you're reading this you must, or you're just creepin'--- both are acceptable) you know I love Interpol. Let me also throw in, I didn't know about Interpol until 2009. Yes, I was that far behind. I spent a lot of time listening to pop rock back in the day. Forgive me, music afficionados, for I have sinned against us all. I don't care. Fall Out Boy will always have a special place in my heart. Theirs was the music that fueled my angsty teen years.

But anyways. We're talking Interpol. (Don't let me wander. I get off topic and get lost quickly. I'm directionally challenged. You know this, too, if you know me.) Superglue was running a contest to meet Interpol and I decided, this is something I need to try to win.

If you know me, and by now you must, you know that I had a particularly shitty breakup the summer of 2010. We're talking the life demolishing, forget how to eat and sleep, drop thirty pounds in two weeks and lose your mind kind of breakup. It was a lot of fun, I tell you. The only thing I could do every day was listen to music. The only music I listened to every day was Interpol's. Perhaps this wasn't the best way to deal with the breakup, since the man who broke my heart was the one who introduced me to Interpol's music. I didn't care. It was the only thing I could do to make myself function.

So, this Superglue contest. I saw it and I said, I need to meet them. I need to know they're real people, who go throw shit like I do. I need to pick their brains. In some strange way, I felt like meeting them would help me heal.

So I started a Tumblr. And I blogged about Interpol. I did things to earn points in the contest. One of my friends from high school read my blog and she said something along the lines of "gee, you're a good writer. you should write for the NH Community Media Lab." I said, "golly, that'd be fun." (those aren't the actual words, obviously. point is, she suggested, I was all about it, and the rest is history)

*poof* This blog was born.

I won that Superglue thing, met the gentlemen of Interpol on February 13, 2011. I'll never forget. They were charming. Daniel talked a lot. Fog was real quiet. I talked literature with Paul motherfuckin' Banks. I will never forget that because picking their brains for a few minutes got the ball rollin' on where I am now. (I also met one of my favorite people/photographers at that show. He had also won the chance to meet them! We are now pals and I am grateful.)

So, I won. I met my favorite band. And I decided, I need to pick musician's minds. Part of it is because I think people need to know they're real people, too. They're insecure and jaded and lost just like you or me. But they're also a hopeful bunch. They face adversity and they take it on. They've got souls that are all fired up.

Twenty points if you caught that reference.

That's where I started. That was my beginning. From the NH Community Media Lab to The Vinyl District. I was just a contributor to the Cleveland page and then over the summer, I was asked to become the editor. I danced like a fool around my room and accepted. In the past year I have interviewed at least 20 artists, I have attended an outlandish amount of shows (last year alone I saw 127 bands perform), I have made friends with a lot of amazing people doing a lot of amazing things, I have traveled to Chicago on the Megabus to see Bon Iver and stay with some of my friends from The Damn Choir. I have dreamed big. I have taken chances on myself. I have put myself in situations in which I was clueless and come out of them with a good amount of knowledge. I have challenged myself as a writer, a musician, and a person.

Now, I edit TVD-CLE, I blog here, I use tumblr, I've been asked to contribute to a few more blogs. I take pictures at shows. I do a lot. I want to do more. I want to do it all. You might think that's a bit crazy, but look at it like I do: doing all of this makes me feel vibrantly alive. I wouldn't trade that for the world.

So, here I am. It's been nearly a year and I just was thinking, I'm very proud of where I am and where I'm going. Where I've been, yeah, I'm proud of that, too.

After all this rambling, I want to leave you with a few things. Let's call them my goals for the year.

1. I want to go to a music festival. Or two. Or seven. I want to immerse myself in that experience.
2. I want to go on tour with a band and document the experience for them.
3. I want to write band biographies.
4. I want to do more interviews. I'll set the bar high (since I know I can handle it) and say I'll do 100 interviews this year.
5. I want to see 500 bands this year. Repeats from last year are totally cool because I like supporting the artists who move me.
6. I want to plan a concert. It'd be nice if it were also a fundraiser. I'm actually working on this. You'll get details one day.
7. I want to use this blog regularly.

Which brings me to my final thought. If The Vinyl District is where I post my interviews/show reviews/ show previews, why can't I use this blog to talk specifically about how things make me feel? How music moves me? I think this started out to be a blog like that, so I think it's going back to that. I'm going to use this blog for my feelings on music.

If you read all of this, thank you. I hope you'll be back to read my future ramblings. If nothing else, you'll hear a bit about some new music. I promise you that.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

It's that time of year...

Just about an hour left in 2011. In true procrastinatin' fashion, I've decided to recount my year's top music experiences. Here's hoping I can get this drafted & posted before the ball drops, right?

Getting mail from Columbia Records. Getting tickets to a sold out show is cool. Having them mailed to you from Columbia is cooler. It makes you realize that you're "making it". The show was pretty rad.  Oh, and it was cool that I caught on to the Foster the People kick before it was in full swing and nabbed an interview, too. 

Getting invited to the Cleveland Orchestra Social Media & Blogging Event. This was cool because I was in my element, but out of my element at the same time. I'm a huge orchestra buff and a classically trained musician, so that part of me was totally on board, but as a blogger, I'm not really in touch with that aspect of myself. I tend to cover a different type of music entirely, so I was kind of misplaced for the evening, I'd say. Nevertheless, it was cool to see that there are lots of people writing about the music that began my true love of music. Maybe one day I'll be one of those people.

Playing in a contemporary ensemble. I'm in a trio right now and it's out there. It's based off of free improvisation and it's crazy and oh-so-liberating. I'm learning more about myself as a flutist in this ensemble than I ever learned in a lesson in college. I'm even learning how to vocalize my true voice, through the flute. It's pretty damned cool. Kyle & Matt, I'm eternally grateful for all that you've taught me and all you continue to teach me. I hope in 2012 we keep pushing boundaries! 

Interviewing Daniel Kessler of Interpol. As if meeting Interpol wasn't cool enough, I nabbed the interview for them when they were breezing through Cleveland. Talking to DK was cool because he's badass and it was rad to pick his brain. It was also like the whole experience came full circle since talking to Interpol in February is what lead me to pursue music journalism. 

Being a part of something really cool...The Lighthouse & The Whaler Kickstarter. It made me feel really good to donate some of my hard-earned cash to my buds in TLATW so that they could go out to Bear Creek in Seattle and record their new album. I'm dying to hear it!!

Housing Paper Thick Walls for a night. Sometimes shit hits the fan. For bands, sometimes things don't work smoothly while you're touring. For PTW, whomever was supposed to put them up the evening they played in CLE bailed. I rose to the occasion because I know what that fear is like that you experience when you think you have nowhere to stay. It was awesome having them all over, their sleeping bags and instruments filling my living room. Even made them vegetarian french toast for breakfast so they'd feel at home. I just remember that experience filling me with such joy because I got to help a group of musicians out. And I made some new friends, too. 

Becoming Editor of The Vinyl District-Cleveland. It's been a lot of work, and at times, trying, but becoming the editor for the Vinyl District Cleveland has been a truly amazing experience. I've seen many shows, interviewed some rad bands, and spread the love of vinyl. What more could a girl ask for? 

The Beachland Ballroom asked me to cover a concert (okay, they asked me to a few this year) but there was one in particular that totally rocked my world. That show was the Death of Samantha reunion show. I won't lie, I didn't think I'd be into their music and I had no idea how to approach the interview with singer John Petkovic, but I knew that seeing a band play together again after a twenty year break was a once in a lifetime experience. So I did what I do best: I prepped for the interview (and nailed it), I listened to the music, and I went to the show. What I found there was a RIOT. The band was wild on stage, the music was fuckin' awesome, and I found my love for punk rock rekindled. Props, dudes. 

CHICAGO. There's nothing about the windy city experience that wasn't awesome. Okay, correction: the bus in the city sucked, but everything music related, AWESOME. I went to see Bon Iver, I got to hang out with my pals, The Damn Choir, and head to Indy with them for a show, and I got to stay with a couple of guys from the band. Everything about Chicago was great and I just can't wait to go back. 

This year's BEST experience was the catalyst that was responsible for all of the other experiences you've (hopefully) read about. The number one spot goes out to the gentlemen from Interpol, whom I met in February after winning a contest from Meeting Paul, Daniel & Fog and talking with them about literature made me realize that picking the minds of musicians is not only an awesome experience, but a constant reminder that though the path may be difficult, it is a worthy path and taking it does not make me naive, but in fact, brave. I'm choosing a life filled with music- be that in a classroom, in a therapy setting or at a concert. I'm learning more about myself by engaging with other musicians and I can never thank the guys of Interpol enough for lighting that spark within me. 

*phew* I made it through. I wish you all the best in 2012 and hope you'll keep reading. There's going to be a lot more going on here and a TON more music. I caught 125 bands this year and I'm hoping to catch waaaaaaaay more in 2012.