Hi all! I'm taking a break from wondering why on earth we don't have decent health insurance in the US to remind everyone that the 15th annual ProgDay Progressive Rock Music Festival takes place this weekend at Storybook Farm on the outskirts of Chapel Hill. Bands and fans from all over the world descend on the farm this weekend to get fully into the sounds and sun. This year's headliner is the legendary UK band Ozric Tentacles.
If you are feeling a bit economically stressed this year, check out the ProgDay "Pre-Show" on Friday evening at Local 506, featuring two great local progressive bands: the improvisational trio George/Preston/Herrett and the eastern influenced sound of Jaafar.
I'll be at 506, so I hope to see you there!
Thursday, September 03, 2009
Monday, August 03, 2009
Austin band The Octopus Project visits Cat's Cradle in Chapel Hill Wednesday, August 5th, for a show that is sure to offer something for everyone! The experimental pop sounds blend a variety of electronic and rock instrumentation, an infectious and original groove that gets you on your feet. Before you read any further, check out their free download of the single "Wet Gold" from their latest EP, "Golden Beds", just released on Peek-a-boo Records on July 28th.
Hear the spooky? That's the vibrant sound of the theremin, haunting.
The Octopus Project's Josh Lambert answered a few questions for us. The band is beginning their US tour promoting their EP
How did the band begin? What is your early history?
We've all known each other since high school times (actually, Yvonne has known Toto since they were 12), and been in bands together since. So, we've more or less, grown up together musically. At one point in college, we were all the backing band for a friend of ours, and we decided that we wanted to break out and do our own thing. So, we formed The Octopus Project. We started out with no goals in mind other than just making the craziest stuff we could think of. It was a recording project first, then we decided to start playing shows.
How did you get the name?
The name comes from a phone conversation that I had with the friend whose band we were in just before The Octopus Project. We were trying to name the other band, and we each wrote down a list of words. One of us would read one word, then the other would read a word, and the combination of the two would make a band name. He didn't like "The Octopus Project," so we kept it for our own band later on.
On your website you mention moving into "an old, ghost-filled house" to use as your studio.
Do you have tales of the paranormal?
We didn't literally move into a ghost-filled house, but that's the sort of vibe we were going for with the last record -- kinda spooky, but charming at the same time. I think we all have paranormal tales, but mostly just the standard creaks and shadows in the night kind of business.
It sounds like you have a great tour ahead of you. What are the biggest challenges being on the road?
I think the biggest challenge of being on the road is finding healthy food. We have all the logistical stuff down -- getting to the show on time, loading gear, getting along, finding a hotel room, etc. But, it's so hard to find good stuff to eat on the highway! If some folks have some secret restaurants they'd like to share, we're all ears! I'm totally sick of Wendy's salads and Subway.
What is the strangest thing that has happened to you at one of your shows?
Probably the strangest thing that's ever happened at a show happened once when we were in Baltimore. We were playing a fairly normal show, but suddenly a guy stumbled in with a gunshot wound in the ass. He was bleeding everywhere and they had to call the cops. We later found out that he had shot himself. I still have no idea why.
How would you describe the band's composition process?
All of our songs are written differently, but for the most part things will start out as an idea -- whether it's a sound or a melody or a beat, etc. Then the song gets passed around between us all until we're satisfied. It's a pretty lengthy process, but we don't normally jam or work incredibly well with all of us sitting in a room. We like to take our time with things. Sometimes, though, a song will just creep out of us, and that's a pretty great feeling.
Has your sound evolved over your different releases?
I like to think that we've learned a lot from each record. Our first record was pretty much a demo that we never intended on releasing to everyone. Since then, we've experimented with as much stuff as we can -- each time getting closer to what we all have in our heads. In a way, I hope we never get there, because then what is there to chase after?
Has it helped being an Austin "hometown" band for the SXSW festival?
That's a hard one to answer. It's definitely made it easier living a few blocks from the festival! There are so many out of town folks in Austin for SXSW, that's your pretty much playing to new people that wouldn't have seen you otherwise. So, it's almost like every band is from out of town. SXSW does seem to put a rather large focus on Austin bands, which is great! I think they've really helped foster the music community in town. And, it does make you really proud to be from such an amazing city. So, to answer the question... Maybe?
We are really looking forward to your visit to North Carolina! Anything else you want to tell those who may be thinking about coming to the show?
We're really looking forward to our visit as well! We haven't played at Cat's Cradle in a few years, so we're excited to come back! We're ready to get crazy with you folks!
Thanks for your time Josh. Don't miss The Octopus Project, Wednesday, August 5th at Cat's Cradle in Chapel Hill.
(Photo: Jordan Hollender)
Posted by David at 9:58 PM
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
The triangle's newest rock-progressive-jazz fusion band GPH makes its debut this Wednesday, July 15th, at Local 506 along with Jaafar and Butter.
Formed by bassist Brian Preston, guitarist Dave George, and drummer Darren Herrett, GPH brings an adventurous improvisational spirit to the NC scene.
I asked Brian to fill us in about the new band..
Tell us how GPH came together.
Thanks Dave... Well GPH came through my meeting of Dave George who friended me on my Metaphoric Music MySpace site and we struck up a dialogue. I invited him over to my place to jam with a drummer and sax player (Todd Barbee of KUJO, Onomata and Smokin' Granny) who I had been trying to get a new project started with after my last group, Kinetic Union Jazz Orchestra, seemed to peter out. We jammed a few times and I could tell he was a very good player with an ear for improv. Dave said, "Hey, how would you like to try to start a trio doing improv jazz-rock ala Jeff Sipe, Wayne Krantz, Jonas Hellborg, etc." I was enticed by the idea... so we set off to find the right drummer. Someone who could hold their own in the chops department, not a lay back drummer, but a drummer who could lay down the groove, step out and fly when needed. We both knew several drummers but wanted some fresh meat, so we did the Craigslist thing. Our ad was perhaps intimidating enough so that we only got replies from folks who really knew the kind of thing we are doing and we had only a few replies...one was Darren who was (is) already playing in 2 bands, Lactose Quervo, and a metal band. Darren impressed me right away with his snappy chops, and as a bass player, that is what I am looking for in a rhythm partner. We just started jamming once a week and I recorded the sessions each week and each time it got more interesting and we realized we had something, the chemistry was there. That is essential in any group, but with improvisation, it is everything! Both of these guys are very experienced players with many different bands, live shows, and recordings under their belts, so they are able to step right up and are very professional.
I see you will be performing on September 4th as part of the pre-ProgDay music festival. ProgDay draws musicians and music fans from all over the world. Can you tell us about this year's lineup and your involvement in ProgDay?
I used to set up the ProgDay Pre shows with my band (that this interviewer was in!) Smokin' Granny (1997-2003). So now I saw an opportunity with GPH for this audience. I was able to get Jaafar to play with us. They are very cool, lead by Troy Cole on bass, they do a kind of world fusion that veers into prog rock and improvisation. I think folks will really like them.
How would you describe the GPH sound to the uninitiated?
Probably difficult to the completely uninitiated...We are a guitar/bass/drums instrumental (for now) format, and we play loud, but its not straight rock at all. You could say 'loud jazz' but we would not be considered 'jazz' in any kind of traditional sense. Definitely from the world of jazz-rock fusion ala Brand X, electric Miles, Return to Forever, John Scofield, and even jam band and prog sounds like Umphrey's McGee and King Crimson. Other influences would be Hendrix, Trower, and Government Mule.
You said you were planning to play a few interesting covers, including some Zappa, Jeff Beck, and maybe a Bruford piece. What can we look forward to?
For this Wednesday's show (July 15) we will probably do only one Zappa cover, "Black Napkins". We have several in the pipeline for September 4th though including Jeff Beck, Robin Trower, Bruford, Scofield. But, we really enjoy the originals and now have a good set of developed originals for improvisation. You can hear those in rehearsal recordings on our MySpace site.
It's a bit early to ask, this being a new band, but are you planning some recording or more performances?
Yes to both! The current recordings are live 2 track in my rehearsal room so they are not releasable other than as a quick listen on MySpace. We have plans to actually do a studio session soon, and try to have a CD ready for Sept 4th. So there will be recording activity between these two shows. And we may play more shows around the Triangle over the next few months. Also likely to be at Carrboro Music Fest end of September.
Thanks for the info Brian! Check out GPH on their MySpace: www.myspace.com/georgeprestonherrett
Posted by David at 9:53 PM
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Local artist Jason Adamo has been turning up the heat for summer with a series of performances throughout North Carolina in the coming weeks.
Tell us about your upcoming gigs Jason!
Just got back from a whirlwhind month of playing 4 shows in NYC and LA, trying to get my original music into the right hands, so while I continue work on a brand new full length record I will be playing a ton of shows mostly in the NC area throughout the next couple of months. Hosting open mic every Tuesday, while I'm in town, at The Blue Martini in Raleigh and holding residency at Oliver Twist every Thursday night in North Raleigh.
This Monday, June 22nd I'll be at The Lincoln Theatre opening for Major Label recording artist Ryan Cabrera.
Are you performing with your band?
Yes and no. haha
This Monday at The Lincoln Theatre, I'll be performing as an acoustic quartet, two acoustic guitars, a harmonica, and Fender Rhodes piano.
Depending on the gig, this summer I'll be playing anywhere from solo to a full band, it all just depends on what type of show it is, and where the show is at. For instance July 24th I'll be back at Wilmington's Downtown Sundown with an acoustic trio.)
I see you have released the EP "Sunflower". How was it recording these songs?
It was an amazing time recording my last EP, "Sunflower" I was very honored to have some amazingly talented North Carolina based musicians lend their talents on that record. Robert Sledge from Ben Folds Five laid down the bass for a few tracks, Josh Preslar, local blues guitar legend played lead on "Purple Sky" and "Not Ready", John Briggs, Chris Johnson, Fabio Consani, Lars Egon, Beverly Kain and Jake Dean all helped breathe life into the songs I had written for "Sunflower".
We recorded most of the record here in NC, at Studio 313 in Morrisville, and Bongo John Studios in Morrisville as well. We then went down to Miami to record vocals at The Miami Sound Lab where it was also mixed and mastered down there by Derek Olds and Grammy winning Engineer Carlos Alvarez.
I was very pleased with the finished product especially knowing all of the hard work that we all put into the making of "Sunflower" and it continues to spread around the country with every gig we play!
Do you have plans for a full-length album?
Yes! We are hard at work on a new full-length record as we speak! Three songs are pretty much finished already, "Raleigh Nights", "August", and "Cold Cutting Rain". Demos of these tracks are already available to listen to on my myspace page www.myspace.com/jasonadamo
What is the strangest thing that has ever happened to you at a gig?
(I love asking this question. :-)
Hmmmm thats a tough one...one that is always a funny story to tell is this: I was playing a Blue Festival in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. I was on the road with my good buddy Nathan Davis, and I was wearing one of Nathans new tour t-shirts on stage at the gig. Afterwards we're talking to the crowd and signing cds etc and one woman asked me "how much for your shirt?" So I said, "well you'll have to ask Nathan over there, there his t-shirts, he's selling them." She replied "No, how much for the one you're wearing?" I thought that was pretty funny, especially considering it was drenched in sweat at that time. Anyways, I gave it to her for $20 as we needed the gas money for the trip back to Raleigh. Haha! ...luckily I grabbed another t-shirt out of the box Nathan had in the van and still wear it today!
Posted by David at 11:52 AM
Tuesday, June 02, 2009
Tonight at Local 506 you can catch bands from both around the corner and around the world, as Norweigan band I Was A King plays with Durham's punk grrl band Pink Flag, and DC's Deleted Scenes. Pink Flag's Betsy Shane says to come early to catch their set, because they will start promptly at 9.
I Was A King is on tour in support of their self-titled album, bringing a guitar-driven psychedelic sound to Chapel Hill this evening. I had a chance to send them a few questions, and here are their replies.
How has your tour been going so far? I see you have already played Chicago, Philly, New York, and DC.
The tour has been great so far! we really enjoy travelling around here. So many great people have come to the shows. Alway very nice when people come up to us afterwards.
How did the band get together?
It happened over time. IWAK started as Frodes soloproject in 2004, and have since then grown into becoming a full rockband.
Tell us about your influences.
Our musical influences range from everything from The Beatles to Sonic Youth. Always liked the idea of combining strong melodies with noisy stuff.
One thing I always enjoy hearing about are the strange road tales that many bands encounter. Do you have any good tour stories?
It is still very early stage on this tour, but we had a few funny episodes in Europe earlier this year. One venue we played, we had a soundguy who also made us dinner while we played our set. So we could see him from stage running between the soundboard and kitchen, and on his way he always came in front of stage dancing like crazy for a few seconds.
How do you approach composition?
Songs seem to come when least expected. But I've been walking around on this tour now with a lot of new ideas, so really look forward to sit down and get things sorted out, when back home.
Is there a supportive music scene in Norway? It seems like we are seeing and hearing a lot of good things coming from Scandinavia over the past few years.
There is a lot of good things happening there these days yes. Many of our friends are now either finishing up new albums and some just released new stuff. It is good times.
I see you are playing a lot of music festivals this summer. What is that like?
Actually this is the first year for us playing all these outdoor festivals, so we look forward to it. It will be a very different experience playing out in the sun, instead of the dark clubs we normally play at.
Thank you for your time and for coming to visit us in North Carolina!
We really look forward to it! Heard great things about Chapel Hill!
Posted by David at 3:03 PM
Friday, May 29, 2009
The 5th annual Pin Projekt fund raiser for the Troika Music Festival will take place on May 29th, 2009 at the Pinhook on 117 W. Main Street in Durham. The event features an auction of used bowling pins that local artists, musicians, and craftspeople have turned into painted or carved pieces of decorative and functional art. This year’s event features the work of over a dozen artists, including Shirle Hale-Koslowski, Wendy Spitzer, and Triangle favorite Jodi Hoover (www.jodihoover.com).
Viewing and cocktails begin at 6:30 p.m. with the auction at 8:00 p.m. There is a $5 cover charge that will be collected at the door.
Cocktail hors d'oeuvres are being provided by several amazing local restaurants:Alivia's, Amelia's, Chamas Brazilian Steakhouse, The James Joyce, Piazza Italia, Piedmont, Pop's Backdoor Pizza, Revolutions, and Six Plates.
Music will be provided by Cool John Ferguson beginning at 10:00 pm. Cool John and his band will be among the first blues acts to play at the Pinhook, which is one of Durham’s newest venues. Cool John has collaborated with many well-known artists, including Taj Mahal, Kenny Wayne Shepard, and BB King.
All proceeds from the Pin Projekt benefit the Troika Music Festival, which is a three-day, Durham-based festival featuring local and regional bands happening November 5th-7th, 2009.
“We're lucky to host this one of a kind event in its 5th year. The auction is an important fundraiser for us, but more than that, it's an opportunity to host an art event affordable for many. If you have not attended a Pin Projekt, make this your year!” says Chair Melissa Thomas.
More information is available at http://www.troikamusicfestival.org.
Posted by David at 6:24 PM