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screams, whispers and songs from planet earth

Category: Music News (Page 1 of 5)

Bowie, Rykodisc, Salem: The Untold Story – May 12, 2016, CinemaSalem

Despite the fact that he is no longer with us, the stories about David Bowie are far from over. So prolific was this legendary artist, there are many songs yet to be heard that will no doubt see the light of day in coming years. His Twitter and Facebook feeds are more active than those of artists supposedly still in existence — yet more evidence of his eternal presence and lasting legacy. And yes, the stories from those who knew and worked with him keep coming in, uncovering a depth of knowledge about his work previously unknown of by even his most devout followers. One such story is of his time working with once Salem, Massachusetts-based maverick indie label upstart Rykodisc, and in particular, their A&R and Special Projects Director, Jeff Rougvie.

Rougvie had a job that Bowie fans could only dream about, which involved digging through the Bowie archives, listening to all the original master tracks of legendary albums and putting together a “wish list” for Ryko’s David Bowie Sound + Vision reissue series. This unveiling of an audiophile’s collection of CDs began with the ambitious Sound + Vision 3-CD plus CD-ROM box set, which went on to win the 1990 Grammy Award for Best Album Package. They then re-mastered and re-released all of his RCA albums, from Space Oddity through Scary Monsters.

Recently at CinemaSalem, located in the heart of this town on Boston’s north shore, Rougvie gave a presentation, ‘Bowie, Rykodisc, Salem: The Untold Story.’ If I were more savvy with a smartphone, I might have Periscoped it for Bowie’s fans worldwide, such were the gems uncovered — in story, visuals and song. It began with a comprehensive history of Rykodisc, a brave little CD-only indie label that achieved stupendous things back at its inception in 1983, but which has fallen into the shadows of rock history. When most people think of Salem, they have images of its witch-burning history and modern day pagans that still inhabit this still rather sleepy New England seaside town. Suffice it to say, a little bit of pagentry to celebrate the good deeds of this label that brought the first compact discs to the U.S. is long overdue.

Ryko's contribution to music aficionados' collections is vast.

Ryko's contribution to music aficionados' collections is vast.

I won’t go into Ryko’s impressive artist roster here (Frank Zappa, the Residents, Chris Bell and Big Star, Bowie, Elvis Costello, Jimi Hendrix, Devo, Nils Lofgren, Bob Mould, Yoko Ono, Galaxie 500, Misfits, Morphine…). You can see their Wikipedia page — or, better yet, Rougvie’s ongoing online retrospective.

In this amazing presentation, what was billed as a 90-minute show turned into three hours of hilarious anecdotes and delicious behind-the-scenes stories (I was going to say ‘dirt,’ but I don’t want to get him into any trouble). This was accompanied by a slide show with rare photos and internal record company documents and two blistering mini-sets from Boston-based Bowie aficionados The Daily Pravda. After the Ryko story leading up to Bowie, the band performed four Bowie songs, in stellar fashion (they’re really quite wonderful). Rougvie then launched into the Bowie portion of the show, which included an exhaustive (and exhausting) biography, some interesting stories about RCA and other entities and what went on when Ryko took over. This was accompanied by photos of Bowie (several of which I’d never seen before) and documents like master tape track listings and album tracks which included possible bonus material, some of which remains unreleased. By hardcore fan standards, it was intense, so you can imagine what the audience thought — a mix of big Bowie fans, casual fans and regular cinema visitors. The band came back and played another four songs to seal the deal for those who were still riveted to their seats in awe.

It is my hope that Rougvie takes this show on the road, because I know of many devout Bowie fans and collectors who would have loved to be there. Until that happens, if you’d like to learn about Bowie’s collaboration with Ryko on the reissues, discover what really happened behind the scenes and learn about the rare tracks that have yet to be heard, check out Rougvie’s Bowie Sound + Vision Blog. It’s crammed full of really interesting information for the serious fan and collector. And follow him on his Twitter and Facebook for any news of upcoming posts, publications and events. He did tell me that this was “just the tip of the iceberg” and that much more is on the way.





The Daily Pravda’s setlist: (set 1) Rebel Rebel / Ziggy Stardust / Man Who Sold The World / Moonage Daydream // (set 2) Starman / Drive In Saturday / Hang Onto Yourself / Heroes

Follow Jeff Rougvie’s exploits:
web | facebook | twitter | album credits (AllMusic) | creative salem podcast

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A Fitting and Festive Eulogy for Johnny D’s!

The closing of a legendary neighborhood institution after 47 years (2 months, 13 days) seems too big to try to sum up in a lowly article. There’s the importance of this fine club for the many bands that graced its small stage, artists that somehow fell outside of the usual rock fare of most of the other venues around town. These were bands that were rootsy, country, bluegrass, folk, world music, singer-songwriter and others that were ‘none of the above’ (Shirim Klezmer Orchestra, anyone?). Johnny D’s was also extremely important for, ok, I’ll go ahead and say it, the older folks who still love live music, but can’t deal with the bootcamp atmosphere of Boston’s rock clubs. Johnny D’s had a comfortable homey roadhouse feel, with tables where you could enjoy a nice dinner and an intimate musical performance. They had an amazing history of artists, both local luminaries and world-famous names, and they will be greatly missed. However, the stellar send-off for this wonderful venue was done in pure New Orleans style, with fantastic music from local legend Ken Field and his phenomenal Revolutionary Snake Ensemble, the equally stellar Harpageddon and a traditional second line parade around Davis Square.

Ken Field and the Revolutionary Snake Ensemble

Ken Field and the Revolutionary Snake Ensemble

Harpageddon -- and one melodica

Harpageddon -- and one melodica

My personal remembrances of magical evenings at Johnny D’s date back to pre-blog days, when I worked at Northeastern Records. Several of our bands played shows there (Barry and Holly Tashian, John Lincoln Wright, Shirim, the impossible to classify Bud Collins Trio and the equally impossible to classify but definitely not country or bluegrass Cul de Sac, and those were the heady days for me during my brief stint in the music business. Johnny D’s was also where I had the great honor of seeing people like Butch Hancock and the inimitable Townes Van Zandt.

Johnny D’s was also the place where I unwound for a low-key but deeply satisfying evening with a few exceptional cover bands, such as Rust Never Sleeps.

In the absence of this home for rootsy rock, Americana, country, folk and bluegrass, it’s uncertain if any other venue will step up to take its place to welcome those kinds of bands in a smaller setting. Let’s hope so! In the meantime, we’d like to wish owner Carla DeLellis and her loyal staff the very best in their future pursuits. And do check out the official Johnny D’s site, which for now has been left up as a tribute, with much gushing praise and many articles. Share your own memories on their guestbook!

Queen of the Festivities, Carla DeLellis

Queen of the Festivities, Carla DeLellis





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Rest In Peace, David

from a 1987 press conference at the Cat Club in New York City

from a 1987 press conference at the Cat Club in New York City

I can’t believe that just a few days after celebrating the birthday of this extraordinary artist and heralding an amazing new album, that we’re now mourning his death. My heartfelt love and appreciation to David Bowie, and my sincere condolences to his family, friends and fellow fans. I’m in absolute shock about this (I wasn’t even aware he had been fighting cancer for 18 months), so for now, I’ll just toss up a quick video of my favorite Bowie song. I wish I had videos of my own, but my time with him was pre-YouTube and pre-any kind of video camera that wasn’t the size of a toaster. I have decided to attempt to digitize what I do have, which are my 40 Bowie Bits/Sound & Vision newsletters from 1987-1992 and a bunch of my live recordings (that is, if the oxide hasn’t come off the cassette tapes). We all thank you, David, for everything.

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Happy 69th Birthday, David Bowie, and Thank You for the Present!

Haunting, mysterious, complicated, intense. And I base this only on the title track to ★ (otherwise known as Blackstar), David Bowie’s new musical offering to Planet Earth, which drops today. It also marks the man’s 69th birthday, and it is his present to us.

Tonight I will listen to the album in its entirety, wrapped in a dark shroud and quite possibly recapturing the feelings I had for this brilliant artist nearly 30 years ago when he was my entire world. For now though, join me in a little taste and celebrate his considerable influence on the musical landscape and our glorious and terrible culture, as he continues, as he always has, to hold a mirror up to show us its strange reflection.



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Crowded House Release ‘Help Is Coming’ to Benefit Save The Children for the Refugee Crisis

The saddest thing about this song recently re-released by Crowded House to benefit Save The Children’s campaign for the refugee crisis is that I received notice of this back on September 11, and it’s even more relevant now, more than two months later. This is not a problem going away any time soon, but with efforts like this, we can help ease the pain for so many people. The song itself is a both a heartfelt plea and a promise — “Help Is Coming Soon.”


This beautiful song is available as a limited edition 7-inch single and download, and proceeds benefit Save The Children to help in their efforts to provide aid during this ongoing refugee crisis. You can read more about their campaign. For those wondering about the song itself, it is from their b-side album Afterglow, released in 2011. The video is by Mat Whitecross with an introduction by Benedict Cuberbatch.

Download the single to donate to Save The Children and show your support. All proceeds will go to help thousands of refugee children in need of food, safe water, medicine, shelter and psychological support. The 7″ single includes an exclusive previously unreleased b-side “Anthem” with new artwork by Crowded House’s bass player Nick Seymour. All entities (the band, Apple, Universal Music Group and producers) are donating their royalties and all proceeds to the cause.

DOWNLOAD SINGLE FROM iTUNES | ORDER LIMITED EDITION 7-INCH VINYL

DONATE FROM THE UK or INTERNATIONALLY | DONATE FROM THE U.S.
NOTE: Above links go directly to the Save The Children official site.

Additional background from the press release:
Like the rest of the nation, the broadcasters/writers Caitlin Moran and Pete Paphides were saddened and angered last week by the images of three-year-old Syrian refugee Alan Kurdi and his brother Galip.

Pete Paphides “I started imagining my family in a similar situation, and almost without me realising it, a song I hadn’t heard for several years started playing in my head. Help Is Coming was recorded by Crowded House over 20 years ago, but it evokes with uncanny empathy the howling uncertainty faced by thousands of families arriving in Europe for the first time. The following day, I contacted friends at The Vinyl Factory — a label that owns the old EMI pressing plant in Hayes — with a view to manufacturing a seven-inch single with all the proceeds going to Save The Children. They responded immediately, offering to waive all their manufacturing costs.”

Caitlin Moran “The day after the pictures of three-year-old Alan Kurdi went around the world — it was like a switch had been flicked. My social media timelines were full of people who just could not stay inactive any more; who were exasperated with the lack of governmental action. There were people posting up Amazon wish lists of tents, sleeping bags, clothes; people hiring vans to drive down to Calais; people organising libraries, and soup kitchens. People doing that brilliant, simple, ageless human thing: of wanting to help other people. Whilst committees convene and resolutions are published and squabbles break out between this government and that, normal people just become very practical: they roll up their sleeves, and say: “Right. if I’d just fled my country with my family, what would I need? Shelter, food, and clothing. maybe some books, for the kids. Let’s get started now.” So, Pete and I were just doing what everyone else was doing, really. He’d found the perfect song — Help Is Coming, about refugees on their way to Ellis Island, with “Empires crumbling” behind them — and I just went on Facebook and told everyone what we were doing. And everyone was desperate to help — everyone felt the same way.”

Neil Finn “I am continually amazed and grateful for the mysterious pathways that songs can travel. You never know where they are going to turn up and when they will reveal their true nature. First recorded in 1995, quietly released in 1999 Help Is Coming has had a long journey to find a good home. It was always a song about refugees even if at the time I was thinking about the immigrants setting off on ships from Europe to America, looking for a better life for their families in America. The words of the poem inscripted on the Statue of Liberty are an extraordinary statement of intent for the development of a great nation ‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.’

There is such a huge scale and urgency to the current refugee crises that barely a day goes by without some crushing image or news account to confront us. We can’t be silent anymore. Like the diverse immigrants that made America great, these are good people that just want to find somewhere safe to create a better life for their families. I am grateful to Pete and Caitlin for imagining my song might resonate — and to Mat Whitecross for creating such a powerful film to accompany it. It’s an honour to be a part of a growing chorus of voices to create action and make it real… help is coming.”

HelpIsComing.org | Save The Children – Child Refugee Crisis Appeal | Neil Finn | Crowded House

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Thank You and Farewell to T.T. the Bear’s Place

Good heavens, where to begin? T.T. the Bear’s Place in Central Square, Cambridge has been a beloved member of the Boston music scene family since 1973. Dark and divey, this intimate 300-capacity club has hosted notable legends from Boston and beyond — The Pixies (who recently performed there again in a surprise gig), Lemonheads, Arcade Fire, Dropkick Murphys, Dinosaur Jr., Mission of Burma, Jane’s Addiction, Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Shins, Scruffy the Cat and many more. They’ve also hosted many up and coming bands from around the world. They were also the proud home of Boston’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Rumble from 2011-2015. [And as my friend, esteemed poet, psychic and past-life regression therapist Victor Robert Venckus pointed out, they were also home to Stone Soup Poetry for a number of years.]

TT’s will unfortunately be closing their doors forever on July 25.

The only good news out of this is that they’re going out with a bang rather than a whimper with a Farewell Blowout week-long+ celebration that will see quite a few local legends, with many performing together on the same bill. Due to the heavy demand for these really low-priced tickets, all sales are in person at the box office (7pm – closing), with a small amount of tickets put aside for “first come, first serve” the night of the show. The final evening on the 25th with Scruffy the Cat is already sold out, but there will be limited tickets available at the door.

There are many others far more qualified to sing the praises of T.T.’s, since I only arrived to Boston in 1992 and for the last 10+ years have lived in the wilds of the North Shore, not getting in as often as I used to. However, I’ve covered quite a few of their shows here on ‘musings,’ so here’s a few personal highlights.

Local Natives’ first ever Boston show, in the dead of winter, with two other L.A. favorites, The Union Line and Voxhaul Broadcast – 1/17/2009


“Better late than never. Work obligations, the oppressive cold bearing down, and all that. But last Sunday, a distant and rapidly fading memory now, I braved the elements (snowy, windy and cold as they were) to see three really great L.A. bands at T.T. The Bear’s Place in Cambridge. And as I so often am at these times that finally inspire me to get my ass off my small island and down from the North Shore into the city, I was cold, lonely and bereft of inspiration, desperately in need of an indie band live music fix. These guys really delivered for me.” Read more >>

Happy Hollows’ debut Boston appearance, with two Southern rock bands – 10/18/2009


“Toward the end of my ‘Silverlake East Coast Revue’, there was this marvelous miracle of an appearance by highly regarded (and rightly justified!) eastside L.A. band, The Happy Hollows, at our lovely little dive, T.T. The Bear’s Place in Central Square. I don’t know how on earth they got plunked onto a bill that sandwiched them between two swampy Southern rock bands, but bless all the pagan gods that they did. [as Sarah said to me afterward, “we were the odd ducks in the middle”. Odd and immensely talented ducks, I’d say!]” Read more >>

Crooked Fingers – 11/6/2011
(covered on Ryan’s Smashing Life)
“Many indie rockers, when looking for a breath of fresh air away from their main band, will gravitate towards folk-informed singer songwriting, and rootsy alt-country. It’s a yearning for something stripped-down, more personal and self-contained, simple and emotionally direct. It’s a desire to get back to basics, and to find that connection with traditional storytelling and down-home comfort food for the spirit. Elder statesmen such as Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Townes Van Zandt, and Steve Earle light the way. But few can really pull it off, to ingest and then transform those influences into their own voice. Eric Bachmann is such an artist, and at the risk of coming off as corny, I felt like I was in the presence of a really old soul at T.T. the Bear’s Place.” Read more >>

Rock ‘n’ Rumble Semi-Finals Night #1 – 4/12/2012
(covered on Ryan’s Smashing Life)
“We’re getting down to it, folks. No more messing around, the gloves are coming off, and Boston’s music fans were treated to ferocious jams on Thursday night, as preliminary winners fought hard for a place in next week’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Rumble finals. There was ferocious 50s-style garage rock on the front end, hardcore headbanging on the back end, and sandwiched in-between, a rather breathless battle between the considerable musical prowess of Bow Thayer and Perfect Trainwreck, and the elegant old-timey Americana of Cask Mouse.” Read more >>

The Drowning Men – 11/11/2012


“I had seen The Drowning Men on several occasions as support for The Airborne Toxic Event, mostly in larger venues. I had become so accustomed to seeing/hearing them take over the room and captive big crowds in a big space, that nothing quite prepared me for the sonic onslaught of that huge sound of theirs in the small confines of T.T. the Bear’s Place. This is a happy problem to have—being too good for a small venue. As Nato himself said, when headlining, they’re still a “small band,” though they sure as hell don’t sound like one.” Read more >>

And speaking of Ryan’s Smashing Life, there was that highly esteemed Boston music blog’s 4-Year Celebration —

Oh, T.T.’s, with your dank and cozy vibe, wall-bursting sound and dodgy lighting, I shall miss you. 🙁


Wednesday July 15 (last “regular” show)

Air Traffic Controller w/ Purples (Philly), Gladshot (NYC) and People Skills (NH)
8:30pm doors | 18+ | $10

Thursday July 16 – Wolf’s Farewell to TT’s Party

with the Legendary Vudu Krewe (9pm) & special guests Jenny (Dee) D’Angora, John Powhida, Amber Casares (8:30pm); Fireking (Asa Brebner, Kevin Connelly, Jittery Jack, Anthony Kaczynski) (7:30pm); Michelle Paulus (Dents), Ramona Silver and more!
7:00pm doors | 18+ | music starts at 7:30pm | FREE!

TT’s Farewell Blowout
Friday, July 17 – Saturday, July 25

Friday, July 17
The Upper Crust (midnight), Last Stand, Stop Calling Me Frank, The Bristols, Reid Paley, Pooka Stew…plus special guests!
presented by PBR | 8:00pm Doors | 18+ | $15

Saturday, July 18
TBA
7/16 5:30pm – It has just been announced that indeed, Mighty Mighty Bosstones will be playing an 11pm set at T.T.’s, coming directly from their support gig with Foo Fighters! They’ll be performing with “special guests” (maybe the other support on that bill?). In any case, you can only get on the list here. It’s $20, with no actual tickets. Your name will be at the door and you’ll need ID. The show is 18+.

At press time, we have no idea who will be playing on Saturday. However, Boston heavyweights Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Mission of Burma and Dropkick Murphys all happen to be performing with Foo Fighters at Fenway Park this weekend. Just sayin’.

Sunday, July 19
The Daily Pravda (1am), Bearstronaut, Animal Talk, Spirit Kid, TBA, The Luxury, Paddy Saul… plus special guests
presented by PBR | 7:00pm Doors | 18+ | $12

Monday, July 20
Mike The Considerate & The Interns (midnight), TT’s Staff House Band!, Mary Lou Lord (with Annabelle Lord-Patey), Jules Verdone, Matt & The Lower Standards (9pm)… plus special guests!
presented by PBR | 8:30 Doors | 18+ | $10

Tuesday, July 21
Runner & The Thermodynamics (midnight), Thalia Zedek Band, The Dazies, Evan Dando, Willy Mason, The Grownup Noise (acoustic set)… plus special guests!
presented by PBR | 8:00 Doors | 18+ | $12

Wednesday, July 22
The Lights Out (midnight), Ad Frank & The Fast Easy Women, Parlour Bells, Francine, Cujo (featuring Jen Trynin)… plus special guests
presented by PBR | 8:00pm Doors | 18+ | $12

Thursday, July 23
Harris (1am), Emergency Music, Vic Firecracker, Orbit, Field Nurse featuring TT’s bartender John!, Atomic Spectra (featuring members of Taxpayer & Aberdeen City)… plus special guests
presented by PBR | 7:00pm Doors | 18+ | $15

Friday, July 24
The Dogmatics (1am), The Neighborhoods, Howie & The Scrapes, Martin & Morrell (members of The Neats & Del Fuegos), Bleu… plus special guests
presented by PBR | 8:00pm Doors | 18+ | $15

Saturday, July 25
Scruffy The Cat (midnight), O Positive, Randy Black & The Heathcroppers (with Willie Alexander)… plus special guests
presented by PBR | 8:00pm Doors | 18+ | $15

web | facebook | twitter | boston globe article | vanyaland article

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The Rise (again) of Music Discovery Sites


If you’re a struggling unsigned band, it can be a jungle out there. You create your music, put it online via Soundcloud, Bandcamp or some other online music service, make videos and put them up on YouTube and send mp3s out to as many blogs as humanly possible in the hope that someone, anyone, will hear your music, like it and maybe even buy it, so that you can start to create a buzz. With so many bands out there vying for the same listeners’ ears (and hard-earned cash), the odds are stacked against you. All you have to keep you going is your belief in yourself and a love of the music. Or at least, you’d better have a love of the music, because if you don’t or you’re not sure, there are definitely easier ways to make a living. Truth be told, being a music listener is no less daunting. Where do you go to hear new bands? How do you wade through all the, let’s face it, utter dreck out there to find those songs that give you goosebumps, or at the very least, find music that sets itself apart so that you stop thinking about the half dozen other things on your mind and really listen?

There are so many places to learn about and listen to new music, it’s mind numbing. Terrestrial radio is a thing of the past, gone the way of the dinosaur (though I still listen to it in my car). There are countless online stations, there’s iTunes, there’s Spotify (and all the others of that ilk), there are zillions of music blogs and of course, your friends on Twitter, Facebook and wherever else recommending bands. For musicians trying to promote their music, the possibilities are endless. This is both wonderful and horrible at the same time. Wonderful, because there are so many places where you can promote your music online, opening avenues of promotion and marketing to those with little to no funds. Horrible, because the listening audience is incredibly fractured and all over the place. It’s impossible to hit every music discovery platform, every blog, every social networking site. An army of marketing firms specializing in this wild frontier have risen up to represent those bands that can afford them, because seriously, a musician’s time is best spent creating music. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t be involved in your business and oversee every aspect. Anyone who’s serious about getting their music heard and being a musician for a living these days has to be fully involved. It’s more the fact that there are only 24 hours in a day.

In 2008, it was internet radio — Pandora, iLike and Last.fm. By 2009, people were talking about Shazam, The Hype Machine and many other music discovery sites like Stumble Audio, which has since bitten the dust. On the “hottest music streaming and discovery sites” list for 2010, Bandcamp joined the scene, as did TheSixtyOne. In 2011, it was 8Tracks, an internet radio station, and Blip.fm, a social network/internet radio blend. Soundcloud made the lists in 2012, and We Are Hunted, a music aggregator, joined forces with Twitter on their own music discovery project, Twitter Music (which was shut down in 2014). Over the past few years, the introduction of new music discovery sites has continued unabated. Mixcloud is a place for both amateur and professional DJs to share their mixes and radio shows. Discovr Music is a service from music reference site AllMusic. It shows you related artists for a particular band, and you can drill in to get more information, their biography, song streams and videos. You can also track your favorites. Songza suggests music to fit your current mood, and you can see what’s trending and popular. And that’s just a very small sampling.

In the already chaotic scene of music discovery portals, places where musicians can post projects and fans can discover new bands, a few more have appeared in recent months. Consider this the eighth or ninth generation of music discovery sites.

Tradiio

Tradiio, a Portuguese startup, first launched in the U.K. on March 2 of this year. This music discovery platform is a little different, in that it’s reward based. It’s an interesting little twist to distinguish itself from the many others, and a pretty cool concept. It can be accessed via the web, IOS and Android. Not only are Tradiio users able to listen to new bands, but by “investing” in them with virtual coins, they’re able to be talent spotters and tastemakers, helping their favorite acts rise up the ranks into recommended and trending lists, gain exposure and credibility, and potentially go much farther than just online accolades. The more popular bands are given real world rewards and opportunities, such as a performing slot on the Tradiio Stage at Field Day, access to studio time through Tradiio’s partnership with Moloco Studios, benefits from Tradiio’s label partnership with Believe Recordings and the chance to make a music video with Radar. Tradiio is open to both new bands and more established artists, and it’s a free service for artists and music fans. This music discovery site has worldwide impact. In Portugal, Universal Music Portugal selects artists from Tradiio’s top 50 chart for worldwide distribution.

Listeners on Tradiio are encouraged to use the service with “missions” and “challenges,” turning the music listening experience into a fun game. Social engagement includes being able to follow other users to see their musical picks and the ability to share your discoveries on other social networks. There are also real life benefits for music fans. By investing in artists you like, you earn credibility and virtual coins which you can then redeem for Field Day tickets, Bleep download store vouchers, AIAIAI headphones and Sonos speakers. While in the Tradiio Market, you can also get Add-Ons, which let you earn coins more quickly.

Tradiio: web | facebook | twitter | instagram

WorldArts

WorldArts is a music discovery and opportunities platform, based in Los Angeles. Their mission is to change the way musicians connect with fans worldwide, and to offer bands huge opportunities for wider exposure. Like many of these music discovery sites, WorldArts levels the playing field for new bands, making it easier to get started without having a manager, record label or publicity company. The Artists section is a listing of World Arts artists. Select a band, and you can read their bio, listen to music, watch videos, look at photos and see who’s a fan. You can share and follow your favorites. From the Discover page, you can watch videos from new artists and choose to follow or share. The Opportunities page is how bands can win big career boosts by submitting their music. Current opportunities include music video production, a recording session, a professional photo shoot, the opportunity to record a track at NightBird Studios and airplay on KROQ’s “Locals Only” radio show in Los Angeles. Previously they’ve chosen artists to perform at a SXSW showcase, which was then live-streamed, and one musician was selected to attend and perform at the ASCAP “I Create Music” Expo, which included a studio recording and vinyl pressing of a single. WorldArts Live regularly live streams concerts and festivals. In the News section they offer original and aggregated content that helps you keep up to date with music business news, items of interest for working musicians and upcoming events. There are also artist profiles, Q&As and other music-related content.

WorldArts: web | facebook | twitter

Busker

Busker is the newest of these music discovery sites, about to launch this summer. Busker, with headquarters in NYC, is calling themselves a “next-generation discovery and booking platform for musicians.” This service will feature live music videos from musicians, letting users browse artists, view their videos, create playlists and follow their favorites. Channels will act as guideposts — they give the example of a Julliard channel for students and alumni of the prestigious music school. This music discovery site will go one step further to help musicians get gigs so they can build a sustainable career. There’s a booking platform for anyone interesting in hiring musicians for any type of performance, from private parties and events to venues and large festivals. It is said to function like an airbnb for musicians. Busker’s “Musician on Demand” service will allow potential hosts to text a request, and the Busker team will line up a musician for their event. Their mission is to show people that it’s not as expensive as one might think to hire musicians, and to give musicians help in finding work. The long-term goal is to “use technology to help musicians make money,” which would include not only online bookings, but direct links to purchase music and merchandise, including concert tickets.

Busker is being guided by a group of people with impressive pedigrees — a Harvard MBA and Sydney Law School graduate and advisors from Berklee, Julliard, Manhattan School of Music, Google, Kickstarter, Grooveshark, Spotify, MTV, ABC, Sony and others. You can check out the beta version right now. Musings from Boston readers can use the code “BSTNSURV” for VIP status when you sign up (as a user) or submit videos (as a musician). They’ll add you to their mailing list and will keep you informed about the launch and their services.

Busker: web | facebook | twitter

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Checking in with The Calder Quartet (they’re at Jordan Hall Friday night)

photo by Autumn de Wilde

photo by Autumn de Wilde

The Calder Quartet, as distinguished and classy string quartets go, keep some mighty strange company sometimes. Readers of this particular publication might know them for their musical adventures with The Airborne Toxic Event and the inimitable Andrew W.K.. However, on Friday night they’ll be performing more traditional string quartet fare, as part the Celebrity Series of Boston in beautiful Jordan Hall. You can buy tickets here. The performance will include music by Andrew Norman and Thomas Adès, in addition to Ravel’s “String Quartet in F Major” and Beethoven’s “String Quartet No. 11 in F minor, Opus 95, ‘Serioso.'” That’s certainly a far cry from “I Get Wet.”

Violinist Andrew Bulbrook was interviewed by WBUR recently, where he spoke about the quartet and this upcoming performance.

If you happen to live on the other coast, The Calder Quartet will be performing two shows at the world class Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles on May 28th and May 30th. They’re also doing a Carnegie Hall Neighborhood Concert at the Brooklyn Public Library in New York on Sunday, February 22 and other shows in Colorado, Oregon and elsewhere. See their schedule for more information.

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Modest Mouse Returns! (with Strangers To Ourselves, coming soon)

This is about when we last saw them.

This is about when we last saw them.

Typically we’re all about struggling indie bands here, but I do on occasion make an exception or two for my favorites. Here’s one of those. The good thing about covering a better known band is that I can dispense with the background information, cut to the chase with the new music and call it a night. Modest Mouse are back, their new album Strangers To Ourselves comes out on March 3 on some obscure little indie label called Epic Records, and for now, you can listen to “Lampshades On Fire” (because, you know, it’s not being played anywhere). It really chugs along, doesn’t it? Assume there will be a tour announced soon.

That’s all, bye.


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Arcade Fire at Xfinity Center, Mansfield MA 8/19/14

To commemorate Arcade Fire’s amazing performance at the Xfinity Center (formerly Great Woods), I offer a few brief thoughts and a scrapbook worth of photos. This was my first time seeing them, definitely a band that had been on my “bucket list.” I knew it would be something grand and theatrical, but what I experienced went far beyond my expectations. The intensity of their music in that acoustically ideal amphitheater and the awe-inspiring stage show combined to create a breathtaking evening.

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