Feb 19, 2014

The soul of The Acoustic Basement - Brian Marquis

 The 2014 U.S. Acoustic Basement Tour is coming to a close.  It is the second incredibly successful edition of this tour.  So successful that it was approved for a UK version to provide the same "mid-season" acoustic Vans Warped Tour little sister to the UK VWT.  Brian will be traveling with Geoff Rickley and Koji who were on the bill of the debut ABT last year.  They will be joined by English artist Rob Lynch.  I know Brian as production manager, bus dad, musician, friend and road-kid.  He has garnered himself a very special place in my heart.  What follows is the conversation I had with him at the The Underground/Webster Theater, Hartford CT stop of Acoustic Basement Tour.  

Singer-songwriter Brian Marquis made his appearance on the earthly stage in the small village of Litchfield, Connecticut. Most of his early years were spent in the the northwest corner of the state.  Having discovered his penchant and talent for music at the age of thirteen, he did like many of New England's aspiring musicians and became a student at Berklee School of Music after high school.  Also like many of those starry eyed youth, he left the hallowed halls before finishing his degree.  However, he didn't leave Beantown.  Brian became an active musician in the Boston scene and also started getting his feet wet in production, helping other local bands and soloists getting gigs around the area.

Having a friend in Southern California was what first drew Marquis to the Left Coast.  He made very trips out there but did end up back in Connecticut when Therefore I Am broke up.  After moping around his mom's for a while he realized he needed to either get back into music or end up in a factory job in New England.  About the same time another friend offered in a room in her L.A. apartment so Brian took the opportunity and today calls Los Angeles home.

Since settling in CA, Marquis has really focused on his solo career.  In November of 2011, he released his first EP, Snow Damage and followed in January of 2012 with Beneath The Cover Is Earth.  One of the many things he attributes to the spirituality of Southern California is it has given him the freedom to really look deeply inside himself and write songs that come from the heart and soul.  During his recent performance in Hartford he spoke of his mom's influence in "'84 Rookie Card".  The lyrics of "From Boston" speak for themselves and even though some may smile or laugh, there is a very special truth about the city and it's people.  Being part of that community is definitely part of Brian's core.

Only having the chance to discuss the differences between SoCal, New York and Boston with one other musician, the conversation was steered down that path.  As Brian is also a good friend, this time there was a much deeper look into these nuances.  New York compared to L.A. is the focused, 'success' culture.  Los Angeles, under the mainstream radar, is more free-form, testing the waters, creating community.  But what about Boston.  People outside the Northeast really don't give it much thought.  From Brian's perspective, it is close-knit and despite to major arts colleges; Berklee and the New England Conservatory, along with strong arts departments at BU and NorthEastern, there are not a lot of small club venues.  The city and the surrounding areas do, however, have a great "all-ages" community so a lot of music goes on in churches, VFW halls and other non-traditional spaces.  Coming up through that Marquis not only played a lot of these locations but also helped others book gigs in them.  Everyone just wants to play and they want an audience to play with and for.  Asked of "Boston strong" includes their arts community Brian agrees that it is a part of being a Bostonian that bleeds into everything they do.  But Boston also shares that focus of New York when it comes to making a career of art.  One thing Brian says he sometimes feels is a bit lost in all that freedom and collaboration in L.A.  He has that discipline of the East also in his core and it gets frustrating when presented with the open-plan culture of SoCal artists.  However, as previously mentioned, he does embrace the spirituality of the West Coast and the 'breathing room' it gives him to create.

Going solo has also offered Brian the chance to expand his talent as a tour producer.  After joining the Acoustic Basement stage on Vans Warped Tour and seeing the positive response it received, he pitched taking some of the musicians out on a winter tour.  It was an opportunity to fill in that wait for the summer and Warped Tour's return along with sharing the acoustic experience.  This year the tour included Marquis, a local band from New Haven, Step Bar Secret, from OH Front Porch Step, Nick from Hit The Lights also repping the Buckeye State and Transit also Boston kids. During the show I came away with a new awareness of acoustic performances.  They are raw, heart on the sleeve, genuine passion. There's no effects to hide behind and create smoke and mirrors with.  The idea of taking "the basement" on the road has been a great one just in what audiences get to experience. It is definitely a feather in Brian’s cap.

Marquis was very excited to share that the stage and the tour have been so successful that when the suggestion was made to follow up Warped UK with an Acoustic Basement UK, it was met with a very positive response.  Brian will be planning and then packing up himself, Geoff Rickley and Koji to take the tour across the pond this Spring.

I couldn't forget to ask what other arts Brian creates in.  He definitely sees production as an art.  It takes a good sense of creativity along with organization to be successful at it.  He doesn't see himself doing it full time just yet.  Music is still his number one passion right now.  But he also might like to try his hand at stand up comedy again too.  Marquis had a memory flash of the Warped stop in Toronto. Throughout the tour he and a few of the other musicians had been doing impromptu gigs at local bars during the tour.  The bar they picked in Toronto was doing open-mic stand-up when they arrived.  With a little goading from his friends, Brian took a turn, creating his schtick on the fly.  People actually laughed.  He felt he did ok cuz no one booed or threw anything at him and he enjoyed doing it.

This is the first time I've had a chance since last summer to ask Brian about his lightning strike in Key West.  We did see each other back in the Fall on his solo tour but the subject didn't come up.  He says that the new music he is working on is partially due to his electrifying experience with Mother Nature.  After realizing that he had to leave Warped Tour and go home to recuperate he found himself pretty depressed.  Leaving behind the Buss #22 crew and contending with physical after effects caused him to withdraw. Getting back in the studio has helped get him out of that funk.

Watch for new music later this year. The U.S. Acoustic Basement Tour is still going on.  For those in the UK watch for your chance to catch the tour soon.  AND DON'T FORGET Vans Warped Tour this summer. Tickets are on sale now.  Five new bands announced every week on "Warped Roadies" on Fuse TV.


Feb 16, 2014

Gods how I hate violins...or not!

 The violin is probably my least favorite instrument and yet over the past decade or so, I've learned that that statement is the farthest thing from the truth.  It probably started with an old friend took me back to my Celtic roots about twelve years ago.  Between discovering Eileen Eivers and Natalie McMaster along with all the background strings in other modern Celtic music, I began to realize that the scratchy, squeaky, annoying sound of the highest register of that instrumental family was somehow necessary.  It was needed to soar above the mellow tones of the viola and cello and even to call attention to the resonance of the stand-up bass.

A few years later my youngest introduced me to Yellowcard.  Sean Mackin's fiddling sometimes gets lost in live mixes when dealing with sound techs who don't understand the instrument's role in this band's music.  However, Mackin had a chance to really shine in the re-release of Ocean Avenue the band did to celebrated their 10th anniversary.  Both the record and the subsequent tour were performed acoustic.  Without Sean's violin, it would have been every other indie album.

As I progressed through the alt and punk rock worlds, my Irish blood was stirred by Floggin' Molly, Dropkick Murphys and Flatfoot 56.  'Molly's fiddler is female and now the wife of the band's founder, Dave King.  Bridget who can "go to worship" with the boys and come to a Sunday set in her "Sunday best" and throw back Guinness with the best of them.  Surprisingly neither of the afore mentioned have a violin in the line-up.

2008 would bring the first face-to-face meeting with a young man who has become one of my longest standing and favorite "road kids".  Last summer I was finally allowed the chance to get him to tell a side of his story I'd wanted to share for quite a while.  'Jinxx' Jeremy Ferguson is a classically trained violinist who, I am convinced, carries at least a piece of his biggest idol's soul in his - Wolfgang Mozart.  Jinxx also got to reveal a tiny bit of his Irish heritage in our chat too.  Most have no idea that underneath all that black dye and make-up lives a freckle-faced strawberry blonde. Today many who are into the metal scene are very familiar with Jinxx and his part in Black Veil Brides.  So far this band is his most successful addition of the violin to rock and roll.

by Courtney Campbell 2013
I stumbled across Lindsey Stirling this afternoon in yet another fall of dominoes started by my friend Meghan Tonjes.  Lindsey had collaborated with the artist that Meghan had suggested.  When I dug into his catalog I found his collaboration with Lindsey for one of my favorite current mainstream pop artists, Bruno Mars.  You have to love how YouTube works with the listings down the side.  I was quickly drawn to another video/song collaboration Stirling did with one of my favorite a cappella groups, Pentatonix, to that chart burner, "Radioactive" by Imagine Dragons.  You know, that one long fucking hook that you can't hate.  Lindsey is a brilliant violinist and performer.  She reminds me of my dear friends in Lucent Dossier.  Actor, dancer and fiddler.  This gal has it all going on and her look is one that could work alongside my dear, dear friend, previously mentioned, Jinxx and the rest of Black Veil Brides.

So can I honestly say that I hate violins?  I guess not.  I mean I'm still glad neither of my kids took it up because I'm sure I would have taken my eardrums out with a fork a long, long time ago.  But could I sit and listen to someone scratch out a great rendition of "The Irish Washer Woman"?  Yeah, probably.

Jan 28, 2014

Goo Goo Dolls joining Super Bowl events plus Spring tour




January 23, 2014 - Burbank, CA - Goo Goo Dolls have announced that they will hit the road in April for a spring acoustic tour, called The Otis Midnight Sessions. The shows will be performed in a "Story Tellers" format that enables the multi-platinum, Grammy-nominated band to dig deep into an extensive song catalog spanning their nearly 30-year history. It also offers a rare opportunity for fans to see them perform in more intimate settings than the Goos normally visit on their many live treks.

The Goos will be joined by Los Angeles favorites Run River NorthThis incredibly talented band has developed a devoted fan base and has already been featured on NPR, public television, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, and Last Call with Carson Daly. They will release their self-titled debut album on February 25th.  

The Goos are touring in support of their 10th studio album Magnetic. The album, which debuted at No. 8 on the Billboard Top 200 chart, features the red-hot single "Come To Me," which is shaping up to be the fastest-growing single in the Goos' history, no small feat for a band that has scored 14 Top 10 radio hits, more than any other artist in the history of the Hot AC format.

In addition, the Goo Goo Dolls will perform at two upcoming Super Bowl-related concerts: The Super Bowl Kickoff Spectacular - a free, ticketed show that also features the band Daughtry and a first-class Macy's Fireworks show. The event, the first to ever be associated with a Super Bowl, will take place on Monday, January 27th, along the Hudson River at Liberty State Park in Jersey City, NJ, and serve as the official launch to the weeklong events. The Goos will also be one of the headliners of VH1's Super Bowl Blitz: Six Nights + Six Concerts, which will find them performing at the St. George Theatre on Staten Island on Friday, January 31st. The concert will air live on VH1 and will be streamed in the VH1 App, made available on-demand in the app and at SuperBowl.VH1.com on February 1st.

While the band is in New York City, they will tape an episode of the third season of public television's critically acclaimed Front and Center, the one-hour music performance series. The Goos' episode will premiere in June on public television. Check local listings or go to googoodolls.com and/or frontandcenter.com for air date and time. 

Goos vocalist/guitarist John Rzeznik will also take part in "A Song Is Born," the 16th Annual Grammy Foundation Legacy Concert, along with Skylar Grey, Kris Kristoferson, Allen Shamblin, J.D. Souther, Joy Williams, Paul Williams, and Dan Wilson at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre in Los Angeles on January 23rd. The concert explores the history and evolution of songwriting and celebrates the various contributions of key players behind the music and their impact on the American cultural landscape. Click here for more info.

Goo Goo Dolls have sold over 10 million albums worldwide and are the only artist to have three songs on Billboard's "Top 100 Songs from 1992-2012" including the Number One slot for "Iris." Rzeznik has been honored with the Songwriters Hall of Fame Hal David Starlight Award and they have been inducted into Guitar Center's Historic Hollywood Rock Walk. 

Magnetic was released June 11, 2013, and debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard Top Rock Albums chart. The Buffalo trio celebrated its release with a performance on Good Morning America, and they have recently appeared on The Tonight Show, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Live with Kelly & Michael, CBS Saturday MorningThe Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, and Rachael Ray. They will tour Canada through mid February till the beginning of March.

The Goo Goo Dolls' U.S. tour dates are as follows:

04/07  Syracuse, NY                        The Carrier Theatre @ TheOncenter Complex
04/08  Ridgefield, CT                       The Ridgefield Playhouse
04/09  Albany, NY                            Lewis A. Swyer Theatre @ The Egg
04/12  Niagara Falls, NY                  Seneca Niagara Bear's Den *
04/17  Ponte Vedra Beach, FL        Ponte Vedra Concert Hall
04/18  Biloxi, MS                              Beau Rivage Resort & Casino **
04/19  Nashville, TN                        3rd & Lindsley
04/21  Lexington, KY                       Lyric Theatre & Cultural Art Center
04/22  Chicago, IL                            City Winery
04/23  East Lansing, MI                  Pasant Theater @ The Wharton Center (MSU)
04/25  Middletown, OH                   Finkelman Audiorium - Miami University
04/27  Green Bay, WI                      Meyer Theatre

*No Support
** Full Electric Set

Tegan and Sara in Brooklyn 2-5, tour with Katy Perry Fall '14

Tegan and Sara to Join Katy Perry on Tour This Fall

Performing at Barclays Center as part of Amnesty International's Bringing Human Rights Home Benefit Concert on 2/5 
Collaborate With The Lonely Island on "Everything Is Awesome" for The 
LEGO® Movie Soundtrack

 Have A New Track Featured In The Upcoming Film Endless Love 
Big Tour news coming out of the Tegan and Sara camp. They are confirmed as direct support for the third leg of Katy Perry's North American tour starting September 9th in Vancouver and wrapping up in New Orleans on October 8th. In other big tour related announcements, Tegan and Sara will be a big part of Amnesty International's Bringing Human Rights Home benefit concert at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY on February 5thwith The Flaming Lips, Imagine Dragons, Lauryn Hill, Tegan and Sara, The Fray and more.

Post & Share:
"I Was A Fool" Official Video on YouTube

"I Was a Fool" Official Audio on Soundcloud
Tegan and Sara will be a part of two movies coming out in February. They have teamed up with The Lonely Island to sing the theme-song, "Everything Is Awesome", for the forthcoming The LEGO® Movie, the first-ever, full-length theatrical LEGO® adventure, from Warner Bros. Pictures and Village Roadshow Pictures, opening in theatersFebruary 7, 2014. Directed by Phil Lord & Christopher Miller (21 Jump StreetCloudy with a Chance of Meatballs), it stars Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Nick Offerman, Alison Brie and Charlie Day, with Liam Neeson and Morgan Freeman.

There is a new song performed by Tegan and Sara in Universal Pictures' upcoming movie Endless Love, a romantic drama starring Alex Pettyfer (Magic Mike) and Gabriella Wilde (The Three Musketeers) and directed by Shana Feste (Country Strong). The film hits theatres February 14th 2014. The previously unreleased track "Don't Find Another Love" is featured on an impressive indie soundtrack, which also features NONONO, The Bird and The Bee featuring Matt Berninger, Guards, Echosmith, and Tanlines.

This past year was a huge one for Canadian born twin sisters Tegan and Sara, with the release of the girls' seventh studio album, Heartthrob - which marked their highest first week charting position of all time. The band scored their first mainstream hit with "Closer"and circled the globe in support of Heartthrob, which included international and domestic headlining stints, a US tour with Fun. performances with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis,Taylor Swift, and Katy Perry as well as multiple festival appearances along the way. They conquered TV - 2013 saw Tegan and Sara everywhere from Jimmy Kimmel Live! and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (where they represented HRC), to ELLEN, the MTV Woodie Awards, 90210, and their first career appearance on The TODAY Show. As the year came to a close, the duo's effort was highly championed all-around, named #30 on Rolling Stone's "50 Best Albums of 2013" and #13 on Spin's "Top 50 Albums of 2013."  "Compulsive, sexy, and confident, the once-folky sister duo crafted a Top 40 transformation themselves with no Max Martin handiwork in sight, which makes Heartthrob's success feel downright subversive" raved Spin, who also slotted Heartthrob's first single, "Closer," in the #6 spot for "Songs of the Year."                
After a great run with "Closer," the first Tegan and Sara song to ever chart, let alone break into the top 20, at pop radio,  "I Was A Fool" is the next official single, impacting stations next month.

A full list of upcoming tour dates is below. They'll be cruising in March as part ofParahoy! and join Katy Perry on the latter leg of her tour through September to October. The girls are also confirmed for Big Guava Music Festival in Tampa, FL, Hangout Music Fest, Suburbia Music Festival, and Firefly Festival in Dover, DE this summer. More tour news coming soon. 

Confirmed Tegan & Sara Tour Dates:
02/05          Amnesty International's Bringing Human Rights Home - Brooklyn, NY
02/07          Cleveland Masonic Auditorium - Cleveland, OH
03/07          Parahoy - Berry Islands, Bahamas
03/08          Parahoy - Berry Islands, Bahamas
03/09          Parahoy - Berry Islands, Bahamas
03/10          Parahoy - Berry Islands, Bahamas
03/11          Parahoy - Berry Islands, Bahamas
03/14          Coliseo De Puerto Rico - San Juan, PR
04/05          Club Skirts Dinah Shore - Palm Springs, CA
05/02-04    Big Guava Music Festival - Tampa, FL
05/03-04    Suburbia Music Festival - Plano, TX
05/16/18    Hangout Music Fest - Gulf Shores, AL
06/19-21    Firefly Festival - Dover, DE
09/09          Rogers Arena - Vancouver, BC*
09/12          Moda Center - Portland, OR*
09/13          Tacoma Dome - Tacoma, WA*
09/16          Honda Center - Anaheim, CA*
09/19          STAPLES Center - Los Angeles, CA*
09/22          SAP Center - San Jose, CA*
09/25          Jobing.com Arena - Glendale, AZ*
09/26          MGM Grand Garden Arena - Las Vegas, NV*
09/29          EnergySolutions Arena - Salt lake City, UT*
09/30          Pepsi Center - Denver, CO*
10/02          American Airlines Center - Dallas, TX*
10/05          FedEx Forum - Memphis, TN*
10/06          BOK Center - Tulsa, OK*
10/08          New Orleans Arena - New Orleans, LA*
*Prismatic Tour w/ Katy Perry

Jan 1, 2014

2013's Ten Best Pop Songs

Of course, you know, this is Mama Kath so this list is not tracks you heard on the radio this year.  They were not millions sellers.  They will not be nominated for Grammys, AMAs or have a shot at an MTV moonman.  Nope, this is the truly GREAT pop music that the industry does not want you to know exists.  They want you to keep believing the drek they promote is quality art.  IT'S NOT SO WAKE UP!  Fire up Spotify and lets do this.

10)  "The Best Thing (That Never Happened) We Are The In Crowd.  This band is another that stands to take on Paramore and win.  Fun, dance and in your face.

9)  "Give Me Your Hand" remixes.  This was the only way I could legally get The Ready Set into 2013 releases.  This is an artist that is way under-rated.  Jordan is everything Justin Bieber can only hope to be.  He writes his own music and sings it live.  The guy OWNS a stage and an audience.

8)  "Cool Kids" from Echosmith's debut album "Talking Dreams" is a great pop song.  This is a band with some super potential.  After a full run on Vans Warped Tour this summer, they got to play Nickelodeon/TeenNick's Top10 Countdown for New Year's.  Echosmith is a family act from L.A. that is genuine competition for Paramore and Katy Perry.

7)  "I Still Dream" from Young London's 2013 release "Instincts".  These two do an amazing job taking techno dance out of the studio and performing it live.  I dare anyone who goes to one of their shows to stand still.  Sarah and Matt have perfect synergy and are such a fantastic musical team.

6)  "Get Lucky" Daft Punk were another group that came back in 2013 with killer material.  This song was the product of the full-house collab between the robots, wunderkind Pharell Williams and guitar legend, Nile Rodgers.  There was no way this song couldn't be a great pop track. All the collaborations on this record were genius.

5)  "Savior" and "Geisha Dance" by Ricky Rebel.  Two singles released from his upcoming "Blue" album.  This guy has such a solid grasp on pop music and his creative eye should have him everywhere.  His music videos are beautifully theatrical and his sound engineering is impeccable.  I can't decide between these two tracks.

4)  "Benny and Joon" William Beckett's "Genuine and Counterfeit".  This guy was totally on to it as far as phenomenal pop right out of the gate with The Academy Is...  He found his stride again immediately in his first solo release last year and it just keeps getting better.  Beckett also has a hard, steel grip on social media and is using every bit of it to his advantage including the new Stage-It site.  He is touring starting in February with another favorite, previously mentioned, We Are The In Crowd.

3)  "Girls/Girls/Boys" Panic at The Disco "Too Weird To Live-Too Rare To Die".  This album is brilliant but I wouldn't expect less from Brendon Uri.  I picked this track due to it's balls.  The lyrics play with subject matter that is in the headlines and deals with it fearlessly.  The video is even more fearless.

2)  "Fight or Flight" off Sam Sparro's EP Quantum Physical Vol. 1 is that smooth Sparro I love so much.  But honestly I don't think Sam can do a bad song.  This whole EP is on loop often.  The rest of this EP series is highly anticipated and should just keep giving us more killer Sam.

1)  "My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light 'Em Up)" Fall Out Boy.  This song is so anthemic.  Fall Out Boy came back with a vengence in 2013.  They closed this year by performing at the Victoria's Secret fashion show.  They are far from done smashing the pop-punk world.

2014 has a lot more great pop to look forward to.  Feel free to weigh in with your choices.  Nothing from mainstream though.  People already know who the industry is pushing.  Look behind the curtain, beyond the smoke and mirrors.