Music means a lot to us. As more and more people discover the power of Virtual Reality (VR), we want everyone — from fellow musicians and enthusiasts to tech pioneers who enjoy a good tune — to see that the things they love are well-represented in this brand new medium.
This is a message to the dreamers, the innovators, the lovers of all things indie, and those of you who are always humming a catchy rock and roll tune: join us on our journey! We’re going to learn a lot as we go. Nobody said being a pioneer was easy, but with your help and — and the help of others like you who believe in the future of Virtual Reality and want it to be a haven for music lovers — we’ll make something amazing.
Further evidence of just how goddamn delightful this band is…
Central Square is truly the place to be on Wednesday, February 16th. First up is the Rock and Roll Book Club’s first book club “meeting.” This is a project I started up this past November. We chose Steve Almond’s book “Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life” as the inaugural book club selection for January 2011. Steve was an exceptional author and participant to work with: he blogged on the website and helped get the word out. Everyone who read the book (or who aspired to read the book or who wants to hang out with other people who mostly read the book) will be meeting up on the 16th 6:00 – 9:00 p.m. at the Enormous Room in Central Square. The original plan included Steve attending the meeting and playing his favorite “guilty pleasure” songs along with guilty favorites of book club members. A family obligation has come up so he won’t be able to join us. Steve has graciously offered to make a CD for us — so all is not lost! He’s local so hopefully we’ll see him at a future book club meeting.
Despite running a music website off and on for a long time, I’d never consider myself a music critique or reviewer. You couldn’t pay me enough money to write about a band I’m not into and I hate to describe what music sounds like and what you might want to compare it to. (Aside: I also don’t get excited when referred to as a “music blogger.” Who doesn’t have a blog these days? Next time you see me, please greet me with “Hello, long time U.S. Postal customer.”) So when I recommend a concert to attend after the Rock and Roll Book Club meeting on the 16th, I mostly want to insert 345 exclamation marks. The Old Ceremony doesn’t seem to be all that well known around here and admittedly, I didn’t know about the band until a couple years ago when Abby clued me into their music after she moved to their homeland of North Carolina a few years ago.
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (plus a lot more)
This is a tremendously excellent superbly awesome delightful band. I’m excited to finally see them live. Strangely enough, it’s an all ages show on a school night. I’m guessing that’s because of Rooney, one of the other bands who is also playing.
Win a pair of tickets to see The Old Ceremony at The Middle East Downstairs
If you’d like to win a pair of tickets to see The Old Ceremony, please send me an email and include 12 exclamation marks in the subject line. I’ll contact the winner on Wednesday, February 9th. If you’d like another chance to win tickets, follow @BostonTweeters — that’s a Twitter account I run for Boston area “people on Twitter.” I’ll be giving away a pair of tickets on Twitter, too.
VIDEO: “Tender Age” (live)
VIDEO: “Wither on the Vine, Pt. 2”
Who is The Old Ceremony?
Here’s how the band describes itself.
The Old Ceremony makes music so potent that you may go blind listening to it. But don’t worry, canes are in this season.
After three highly acclaimed albums and six years of touring, the Chapel Hill, NC band has built a large and loyal following. TOC has performed with CAKE, Squirrel Nut Zippers, Chuck Berry, Polyphonic Spree, Mountain Goats, and Avett Brothers, and was included in PASTE Magazine’s “Top 100 Albums of 2006.”
TOC is figureheaded by songwriter Django Haskins, and includes bassist Matt Brandau, drummer Dan Hall, vibes/organist Mark Simonsen, and violinist/keyboardist Gabriele Pelli.
It had been a while since I checked back in with 8tracks, a streaming music website where you can build mini internet radio stations and share your music recommendations in playlists of eight or more songs. Here’s a recent mix I made titled “Anyway” — songs to listen to on a cold (too cold!) winter’s night. It has a melancholy rock vibe and includes Whiskeytown, Over The Rhine, White Lies and Lloyd Cole & The Commotions.
A couple months ago I entered a “contest” to help the guys in The Rationales get the word out about their superb Boston band. At the end of the contest, five of us won a custom song written and performed by Dave Mirabella from The Rationales. Here’s the song that includes shoutouts for my projects Sooz TV and Exploit Boston!. Thanks, guys! :)
Bleu at TT The Bear’s Place, November 2006, Photo by Sooz
Unfortunately it’s not all that unique of a story — amazing band gets signed to a big label, releases an album and then gets dropped right as their next album is about to be released. Or in the case of two of my favorite Boston bands in the late 1990s — Talking to Animals and Splashdown — the labels produced each band’s first album but never released them. Not that I’m still bitter or anything.
So to see Bleu release A Watched Pot today (July 14, 2009) is nothing short of inspired and inspiring. Back in 2005 he was all set to share the album with the world but found himself dropped from Aware/Columbia Records along with other artists and employees during a label “reorganization.”
A lot of musicians would understandably have just given up. But Bleu worked to get those songs back from the label so he could eventually release the album elsewhere (Artist Garage/Fontana Distribution). And it’s all finally happening for him today. Amazing and awesome!
A Watched Pot is a gem of pop rock awesomeness — eleven songs of awesomeness to be precise. Read the full tale of how “A Watched Pot” finally came to life on Bleu’s community site.
Listen to A Watched Pot then buy it!
And it doesn’t matter if you can’t get into his music (though I’ll never understand why) — everyone should buy this album to support someone who stayed true to his creative pursuits.
Bleu is sharing his adventure to bring A Watched Pot to life at YouTube, Ning, Facebook and Twitter — the least we could do is give a little something back. Buy A Watched Pot digital downloads at iTunes or Amazon.com. If you buy the album from Newbury Comics website, your CD will be signed by Bleu (while supplies last).
Music video for “Come ‘N Go”
See Bleu in Boston on July 24th
Bleu called Boston home for a while during and after attending Berklee and then he relocated to Los Angeles in June 2006. His Farewell to Boston show included the first time the rock and roll spectacle known as Bang Camaro performed on stage. Here are some of my photos from that night.
Ryan’s Smashing Life has reviews of the second and third preliminary nights of WBCN’s Rock N’ Roll Rumble at The Middle East Upstairs including my photos and videos.
Video of The Dirty Truckers performing “Boston Wrangler” at Rumble preliminaries
Here’s the video I shot of The Dirty Truckers performing “Boston Wrangler” at the third preliminary night on April 7th. They will compete in the semi-finals on April 16th at The Middle East Downstairs.
A friend alerted me that Adam Lambert on American Idol sang Universal Hall Pass’s arrangement of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” a couple weeks ago. A cover of a cover? Aha! Apparently Ryan Seacrest thought it was a version of the song by Chris Cornell. Oops. I finally checked out Adam’s version on YouTube and it was really, really bad. So bad I don’t think I should even link to it.
If you want to hear Melissa Kaplan of Universal Hall Pass’s outstanding version of “Ring of Fire”, listen to it in the playlist below of eight covers. Or download the MP3 from the Universal Hall Pass website. Melissa was the singer of one of my favorite Boston bands, Splashdown.
Photo Credit: I’m not sure who took this photo. It’s an old press photo when Melissa was in Splashdown.
One of my favorite Boston bands, Splashdown, broke up a couple years ago after Capitol Records decided not to release their Blueshift album. All three of the band members moved on to other interesting projects. Melissa Kaplan (vocals/lyrics for Splashdown) started her own band called Universal Hall Pass, a project featuring her vocals and lyrics plus guest contributors. She was in North Carolina recently recording music for a forthcoming album. Maybe she’ll be lucky and the record label who picks her up will actually release it. In the meantime, she’s made a few songs available on her website. The latest MP3 is a cover of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.” When most bands cover a song it’s hard to really even tell them apart; but Melissa does a great job adding her own style to this song including middle eastern influences and stunning vocals. The song was a joint collaboration with the electronic duo Mugat. (Universal Hall Pass : Ring of Fire)
Update March 29, 2009: A lot of people saw someone sing Universal Hall Pass’s version of Ring of Fire on American Idol. If you’re wondering what Melissa Kaplan’s version of the song sounds like, listen to it in this mix of eight covers.