Third annual Soozapalooza at TT’s with Good Night States, The Phil Aiken Army, Somerville Symphony Orkestar and The People’s Karaoke on Friday, January 20th

Soozapalooza 3 with Good Night States, The Phil Aiken Army and Somerville Symphony Orkestar
Soozapalooza, an annual party I host featuring some of my favorite bands is almost here. This year the v3 installment is happening on my 39th birthday this Friday, January 20th at TT The Bear’s Place in Central Square, Cambridge. The night features three of my favorite bands: Good Night, States (from Pittsburgh), The Phil Aiken Army and Somerville Symphony Orkestar. After the bands, it’s karaoke time with The People’s Karaoke.

Listen to music by the bands and say you’ll be there by RSVPing on the Facebook event page for Soozapalooza 3. You can buy a ticket in advance for ten bucks or pay $12 at the door. Doors open at 8pm and it’s an 18+ show.

Good Night, States

If you follow me on Twitter and/or we’re friends on Facebook, then you already know how much I LOVE Pittsburgh’s Good Night, States. L-O-V-E. They performed at the first Soozapalooza in 2010 and I’m more than just a little excited that they’re back this year. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. The music below is from the band’s earlier releases. They’ll be performing music from their new, not-yet-released album at Soozapalooza.

The Phil Aiken Army

Phil Aiken released his first EP recently with The Phil Aiken Army and a full-length album is in the works. If you want to hear supercharged pop songs with an all-star cast of players, you definitely need to be at Soozapalooza on Friday to see The Phil Aiken Army. Oh, snap — more A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!

Phil Aiken and friends covering “The Shape I’m In” at the Cover Up

Somerville Symphony Orkestar

There’s no better way to start a party than with the all-original Eastern European punk funk band from the Slavic heart of Greater Boston — also known as Somerville Symphony Orkestar. The band describes it better than I could: The SSO spectacle is a carnivalized punk show that turns its audiences into equal parts mosh-pit and horah. Complex six-piece arrangements reign in the chaos only to explode in shuddering “fun-gasm” after “fun-gasm.”

Don’t be surprised if Penelope the elephant makes an appearance during Somerville Symphony Orkestar’s performance.

2nd Annual Soozapalooza is around the corner on Saturday at The Middle East Downstairs

2nd Annual SoozapaloozaLast year I hosted a big party at Precinct in Union Square a couple days after my birthday and jokingly called it Soozapalooza. It was so much fun, it had to happen again. This year the 2nd Annual Soozapalooza is taking place at The Middle East Downstairs in Central Square. The theme is simple: enjoy an awesome night of my favorite music and celebrate nine years of my music blog and event guide Exploit Boston!. As an added bonus, this year festivities will be MC’d by vigilante pundit and comedian Baratunde Thurston.

Don’t you hate it when people say “OMG! You must check out my show. It is going to be the a-m-a-z-i-n-g!”? What happens when that’s really the case? ;)

The event has a website, of course — The Twitter hashtag is #Soozapalooza2.

The Bands

Soozapalooza Supergroup: A bunch of Boston musicians somehow agreed to play a curious mix of music I selected. The group includes photographer and musician Johnny Arguedas rapping “In Da Club” by 50 Cent, My absolute favorite woman of Boston music Linda Viens singing “Joy” by Lucinda Williams, Three Day Threshold heart throb Kier Byrnes and Static of The Gods indie rock goddess Jen Johnson performing the Kenny and Dolly duet “Islands In The Stream” … and more.

VIDEO: “Islands In The Stream” by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton

The Candles: I first heard about NYC’s The Candles back in October when I noticed Boston music friends were liking their page on Facebook. About ten minutes after listening to their music I emailed the band and asked if they’d headline my big bash several months later. As Wikipedia says: “fronted by Josh Lattanzi, The Candles encapsulates the varied styles and influences he picked up while recording and touring with the likes of Ben Kweller, Albert Hammond, Jr. (The Strokes) and The Lemonheads. Their guitarist is Boston guy Matt Pynn who played for many years with Will Dailey. Stacy Jones will be sitting in with the band on drums. He was the drummer for Letters To Cleo and more recently American HiFi and Miley Cyrus.

VIDEO: “Let Me Down Easy” by The Candles at The Knitting Factory

Mistle Thrush: This is where music nostalgia kicks in. When I moved to Boston in May of 1994, a friend clued me into Mistle Thrush and they became my “first Boston band.” Mistle Thrush is lifting their many-year hiatus to play at Soozapalooza. Guitarist Scott Patalano’s current band is Gene Dante and The Future Starlets and Valerie Forgione is one part of the on-again-off-again and happily back-on-again duo Van Elk.

Listen to “Cicada” by Mistle Thrush

The Lights Out: I saw one of their first shows in 2006 at the former Sky Bar in Somerville. The Lights Out have a brand new album that came out on 1/1/11 called Primetime. It’s an epic assault of rock and roll.

Listen to “Primetime” by The Lights Out

Kristen Ford Band: I first saw Kfo and her band play a basement show in Arlington of all places last summer. If you’re like me and you very much Do Not Like To Dance you might be surprised what comes over you when the band starts up. That doesn’t mean you’ll be dancing well, Kristen can’t do anything about your style (or mine, sadly) — but you will have to make a special effort to not move around and enjoy yourself when they kick off the night at Soozapalooza.

VIDEO: “Please Please Please” by Kristen Ford Band at The Institute
for The Musical Arts

Buy tickets at the box office and don’t pay the pesky TicketWeb fees

Advance tickets are $10. You can buy a ticket for you and ten of your friends in person at The Middle East Box Office in Central Square or online through TicketWeb. Day of show tickets at the door are $12.

Free Agent Holiday Party at WorkBar

Free Agent Holiday Party

Free Agent Holiday Party

My event planning company Awesome Office Party has teamed up with WorkBar to host a party for those of us who never get holiday office parties: freelancers, consultants, free agents and solopreneurs. It’s called Free Agent Holiday Party and festivities happen on Thursday, December 9th at WorkBar, an office share and coworking community in downtown Boston near South Station.

This is an event I’ve wanted to organize for many years and I’m excited it’s coming to life. It will no doubt be the first of many as this sort of party needs to happen every year … and not just in Boston!

If you work on your own and want to get out for a work party where you don’t have to worry about embarrassing yourself in front of your boss, please join us. There will be beer and cocktails, food (for vegans and vegetarians, too), giveaways, merriment and music by DJ Nomadik.

More info about the event is on Awesome Office Party’s website.

New Event: Boston Tech Games at Microsoft NERD

My event planning company Awesome Office Party is hosting a fun board game night for the Boston tech and startup community called Boston Tech Games. It’s happening Thursday, October 14th 6:30-9:30pm at Microsoft NERD (One Memorial Drive, Cambridge — near Kendall Square.) The game night at NERD will be happening every 1-2 months to bring together tech and startups in Boston for something other than the usual networking event. And of course there will be beer and pizza (vegan and vegetarian options, too).

If you’re a company who’d like to connect with the Boston tech and startup community, get in touch about our sponsorship opportunities. We’re working on lining up sponsorships this week so we can include the Boston Tech Games sponsor companies in promotion and outreach activities

RSVP for game night (or purchase a sponsorship!) on the EventBrite page for Boston Tech Games.

Open coworking at Design Annex in Union Square on Friday, July 30th

[tweetmeme] Design AnnexTodd Vanhoosear and I are coworking at Design Annex on Friday and we thought we’d invite others to join us. It’s happening 9am-12noon on Friday, July 30th. If you’d like to join us, post a comment here, send me an email or text message or RSVP on the Facebook invitation. Space is limited so let us know if you’d like to join us. We’ll get lunch somewhere around Union Square at noon. My suggestion is of course Ronnarong; but there are other options, too including Cantina La Mexicana and Precinct. I wish The Independent was open for lunch!

If you can’t make it on Friday, Design Annex hosts a monthly brown bag lunch and coworking afternoon on the third Thursday of every month. For more information and to RSVP, check out the event page. The next coworking afternoon is coming up on Thursday, August 19th.

Photos of two of my cohorts who also work at Design Annex:
(L) Julia Frenkle-Kunelius / Opus Design; (R) Iliana Rabago / Lex Creative

You can see more photos in my portfolio at Sooz Photography.

Upcoming event for Somerville bloggers hosted by The OneVille Project

I’m helping The OneVille Project host an event for Somerville bloggers that will bring together Somerville area online media makers for a discussion about how to better connect all of Somerville with news and information that parents and kids need. For example, there are a lot of summer programs available for kids but not all parents necessarily know about the opportunities for their kids and the information is not always available in the parents’ home language.

If you are a Somerville blogger who is curious about this event that will be happening in a couple weeks at Design Annex in Union Square, Somerville — let me know. The date should be finalized soon — most likely it’s going to be Thursday, July 22nd, 6:30-8:30pm. The RSVP page for the event will be open to any Somerville blogger who wants to attend just as soon as the details are finalized.

What is The OneVille Project? Here’s how the project describes itself on the OneVille website:

We believe strongly that to pursue young people’s success, people who share communities need to communicate about how young people are doing and work together to provide opportunities to every child.

Right now, we’re learning from folks across Somerville, MA about existing communications and relationships affecting young people. Mica Pollock, a Somerville parent and faculty at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, started us off and leads our research.

We are now a community research team supported by a two year planning grant from the Ford Foundation, to pilot projects in partnership with the school district, the city, and Somerville’s rich network of young people, agencies, teachers, families, and volunteers.

Over the next 1.5 years, we hope to learn from everything already going on in Somerville and to make recommendations for tools and strategies that support ongoing conversation and partnership among the people in Somerville young people’s lives. We also hope to offer other cities ideas for how diverse communities can partner in student success in the 21st century.

Update: Someone asked me if you need to be a parent blogger to attend — not at all! The only “requirement” is that you’re a Somerville blogger interested in the topic(s).

Gathering of geeks and techies in Boston this weekend: BarCamp Boston 5, April 17-18

The annual gathering and unconference for Boston area geeks and techies is coming up this weekend. BarCampBoston 5 is happening at MIT’s Stata Center on Saturday, April 17th and Sunday, April 18th. As of earlier today there were already 505 people registered to attend. Looks like this could be the biggest BarCampBoston in the five years it’s been happening! On Saturday, the event happens 9am-6pm and Sunday it happens 9am-5pm.

How BarCamp Boston works

There is no registration fee, but you don’t just attend a BarCamp — you can participate in discussions, host a session of your own, or join in another cooperative event.

Topics may include: technology, marketing, cooking, startups, sci-fi, social media, gadgets, communities, design, hardware hacking, UI design, entrepreneurship, AJAX, open source software, art, robotics, mobile computing, bioinformatics, RSS, social software, programming languages, the future of technology, and more.

To see the current list of suggested topics, check out the BarCamp Boston wiki. Each morning before the day’s event, people go to the big schedule board and grab a room and time slot for the talk they’d like to help lead a discussion about.

Explore the website to learn more about …

Got a few hours to spare? Scheme with me at the registration + info desk

Once again I’ll be helping run the registration and information desk at BarCamp Boston. If you’d like to help out (and meet lots of people!) — send me an email or send me a direct message on Twitter. The times I need the most help are in the morning (8:45am-10am) and mid-day (12noon-3pm) both Saturday and Sunday.

Register for BarCamp Boston 5

Register for BarCamp Boston on the event page. There’s no required registration fee; but everyone is asked to contribute what they can to help offset costs. You can make a donation online when you register or in person at the event.

South by Southwest Interactive 2010 is almost here!

photo of the Interactive Playpen (aka huge pile of LEGO blocks) at SXSW Interactive 2006. The Interactive Playpen was something Ryan Gantz and I schemed with festival director Hugh Forrest that has happened at the fest since 2006

Here’s another one of those mega deluxe understatements of the year: I’m really excited about heading down to Austin in a few days for the South by Southwest Interactive Festival. This will be my 10th year. I missed it in 2009 so I’m *extra* excited about making it this year. This time around I planned early and grabbed a two-bedroom suite at The Residence Inn, also known as The SoozSuite and I’ll be sharing it with a group of friends. @AlWillis who is traveling to Austin for his first SXSW Interactive asked if I had any advice. Basically, all you need to know is you are going to have one of the best week’s of your life — and then you’ll do it all over again next year.

It’s certainly not the same as ten years ago. “Back then” — it was a smaller group of people and we all pretty much knew each other. Now it takes a little more effort to make sure I see people I often only get to see once a year; but it’s still awesome. A-W-E-S-O-M-E.

Maybe it’s the fact that we’re all there for five days together immersed in the festival — reconnecting, learning new stuff, having fun. It’s a safe place for people who live in the future to gather together. And being able to get away from cold, rainy Boston for a few days is nice, too!

This year I helped out again on the advisory board and reviewed 150 web design + programming panels. It’s become cliche to say at most conferences all the “great stuff” happens in the hallways between panels; but I think the crew at the festival does a fantastic job of rounding up good panel content, too. Getting attendees involved in the “PanelPicker” process and then including the advisory board and festival staff gives everyone with an interesting idea a chance to be part of the conference programming.

And then there’s Hugh Forrest — SXSW Interactive’s festival director. He’s an amazing guy who SXSW is very, very lucky to have on their team. Ryan Gantz and I were talking several years ago about doing something with games at SXSW Interactive and we came up with the idea to convince LEGO to give us a bunch of their little blocks. Hugh swooped in, made some calls and the next thing we know, there are literally thousands of LEGO blocks at the next festival on the floor in a corner of the conference hallway — aka the Interactive Playpen. A highlight of the Interactive Playpen was seeing Will Wright (inventor of The Sims) sitting on the floor making a LEGO creation. And yes, the Interactive Playpen will be back this year! View lots of fun photos from past Interactive Playpens on Flickr.

In 2005 I wrote that “South by Southwest Interactive is the best tech/web event to go for learning, recharging and lots of fun.” That’s still true. SXSW Interactive is the place to be if you love what you do for work or labor of love on the web.

And speaking of old stuff I’ve written about SXSW, here’s something I wrote in 2001 about Independents Day at SXSW, a project I worked on with Carole Guevin and Jeffrey Zeldman. It was my first panel I moderated at the festival and included panelists Evan Williams, Dori Smith, Nick Finck and Kelly Abbott.

On a sad note, this year Brad Graham won’t be there. He passed away recently. I was going to tell him that I was so excited to finally make it down to Austin early enough that I could attend his “Break Bread With Brad” dinner that he hosted every year. Thanks to his friend Matt Haughey, the dinner lives on as “Break Bread For Brad” on Friday, March 12th at The Mowhawk.

The best “advice” I have for someone who is attending SXSW Interactive for the first time is to take your vitamins, get rest when you can and don’t feel like you have to do everything. There’s a lot of awesomeness that you’ll stumble into during the five days. Oh, yeah — and check out SXSW Baby!, a great website to learn about what’s going on and get tips on where to eat and what to do.

See you in Austin, March 12-16th!

New event: 1st Annual Soozapalooza on January 23rd at Precinct

I’m hosting the 1st Annual Soozapalooza at Precint on Saturday, January 23rd, 2010 in my neighborhood of Union Square, Somerville. It’s a few parts birthday party (I turn 37 on January 20th) and a celebration of my favorite music. And there will be bourbon. A lot of bourbon.

Some of my favorite Boston bands will be joining the festivities including Ryan Walsh from Hallelujah The HillsHoundstone plus special guests Good Night, States will be in town from Pittsburgh. The Soozapalooza Supergroup featuring a group of Boston musicians will cover some of my favorite songs by The Cult, The Rolling Stones, LL Cool J, Edie Brickell & New Bohemians and more. So far the group includes Ashley Willard ofBoston Band Crush, Dan Nicklin of Old Jack, Johnny Arguedas of The Sneaks, Tim Atkins of Trucker Mouth — and more, to be announced soon.

The night kicks off at 8pm including my homemade chocolate truffles and coconut rum sorbet (who cares it’s January!) The first half of the music will be all about the indie and the pop with Ryan Walsh (Hallelujah The Hills) and Good Night States. The second half of the night is all about the rock and roll with the Soozapalooza Supergroup and Houndstone. Festivities will end with late night karaoke from 1-2AM.

Tickets cost $8 at the door and it’s a 21+ show. RSVP on the Soozapalooza Facebook event page.

Add your email address to the email list on the Soozapalooza website to get updates and win free tickets and other cool stuff.