Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Spring Awakening

Hello All,

I hope that you have picked up the amazing music that has been released this month so far. Frankly, it is one of the best month's Portland has seen for music in awhile, so buy local and buy often!

Let's start out with some quick news. The Goodnight Process has finished tracking their new album this past week, which I am super excited about. The Lucid have come out of hiding after a six month (six months too long I might add) hiatus from playing out.

One band that I've been listening to quite a bit recently is the band This Way. They were named by the Portland Press Herald as a band to watch back in 2009 and were nominated for the coveted Best New Artist Portland Phoenix Award. If you check out their Myspace account, I would say they bring a very Springsteen/Jersey inspired earthy folk sound. I think it would be best be described as Nebraska mixed with Dan Bern raspy vocals. Good stuff, go check them out April 2nd at North Star Cafe.

Now onto the meat and potatoes of the post. While being 1600 miles from Portland, word travels a little bit slower than one would want to. I only recently became aware of North Star Cafe's financial troubles. It really brings back the haunting memory of when Acoustic Coffee closed a few years ago. This is a place that has grown to be an integral part of what Portland is about. In some ways I feel that it has many parallels to Acoustic Coffee. Not only has it been the home and the focal point for the singer/songwriters of Maine, being the primary headquarters for the Maine Songwriters Association; but it has served up more than just coffee and food. It has become part of the community.

I think one of the things that I have personally been wondering are how can such popular places, which are run quite well, get into so much trouble? I watched it happen to a lot of local businesses around the area for years, and music venues a like (well, some of them had their own problems outside of the ownership like The Well, the State Theater not being up to snuff with fire code, etc). I know that the economy has hit the country quite hard, but there has to be something more at work.

I look around and see all the successful places venues in the Portland area and there is a pattern I've noticed. While they all help cultivate a sense of community within the city for its patrons, they don't actually cultivate and sustain a community within their walls. They provide an outlet for patrons to come and gather, but they aren't physically breeding a community like North Star Cafe.

Every night of the week there is something different happening at North Star whether it be dancing lessons, music, poetry, book clubs, or ASL classes ON TOP of being a fully operating restaurant.

Needless to say, some might say that North Star's resources are being stretched by providing all these things to the public. But let's face it, It has brought upon and sustained a community. It is a non-profit minded organization that provides, but trapped in the world of for-profit local businesses.

I think the question that has yet to be answered is, can an entity such as North Star Cafe keep sustaining and breathing as a community and be prosperous financially? I guess we will find out over the next few months.

Tell me what you think by commenting or sending me an email!


Links time!

The Goodnight Process - http://www.myspace.com/thegoodnightprocess
The Lucid - http://www.myspace.com/dominicandthelucid
This Way - http://www.myspace.com/thiswayband
North Star Music Cafe - http://www.northstarmusiccafe.com

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Mightiest March

Hello All,

I hope that your month has been going quite well, frankly it has been phenomenal on the music front. Portland saw rapper Spose rise to national stardom, after his single "I'm Awesome" conquered the Maine radio waves, which hasn't been done in a very long long time. Holy Boys Danger Club is getting prepped to play a huge CD release bash this week for their sophomore disc The Boo Box. This is going to be a phenomenal show that I wish I could attend. The Sophomore Beat have dropped one of the best albums of the year with Hi, Technology. Would anyone doubt that? Dan Lohmeyer has been honing his sensible pop lyrics and hooks since the That's What She Said days, drawing on influences of Ben Folds Five and Rx Bandits. I think that this album is Lohmeyer has hit his stride; everyone song is just begging to for you to sing-along, and it can't be stopped.

There are afew things I'd just like to share quickly in this blog. First off, I'd like to introduce my readers to the band In The Audience, based out of Portland. As you may recall, I mentioned them in my posting featuring Cam Jones, the up and coming drummer. In The Audience has been pushing the lead single of their new album (which will be dropping this year) quite hard and I just wanted to share the music video with you. The song, "Shine" is a radio ready single, with a lot of heart. Jordan Stowell, singer of In The Audience, channels Billy Libby in his early days with Even All Out. These guys know how to write a song and I wouldn't be surprised if you didn't hear this song on heavy rotation around Maine in the next few months. So without further ado, here is In The Audience's music video: Shine

Finally, I'd like to post something that my good friend and designer Robbie Kanner, also known as Vision for Viewers wrote a few weeks ago. As many of you know, Robbie is one of the premier artwork designers and photographer for local musicians in the Portland area. This work highlights what goes through his head when going through the entire creative process to a finished product, which ends up being The Sophomore Beat's new album, Hi, Technology:

I've had a few people ask me about design processes for albums, so I thought i would take a moment to actually explain to you how this one was done. First, I had Daniel James help me out with the concept, so he drew this little sketch for me to sort of work off of.

From there, I started to work with color. I went into my studio and started to work with what ended up being 30 water colors.

From that session of work, these are four out of the seven water colors I ended up using.

After I had all the water colors done, I started to build a composition, which would eventually be the background for the album, which is the following.

Once I got the color to where I wanted it, I started to looking at the format. They decided they wanted to do a 6 panel digipak, so I started to sketch out how things would work.

After that was set, I knew it was time to illustrate these robots we wanted to put in. Now, I know I'm not a good illustrator, however, if you use quirky illustrations to your benefit, they can work. I had just left picking up demo's for Kevin Kennie's solo tracks when I had to head out for Holy Boys Danger Club's new press photo's for their album I did, The Boo Box. I ALWAYS show up early to everything, so I started to doodle with what eventually would be the robots on the cover.

Once I had the sketches down, I began to illustrate in illustrator. And trust me, I'm the first admit, I'm a bad illustrator, but knew I could work with these quirky robot illustrations to my advantage.

As was shown in the first image, Dan and I really wanted to have lightening bolts to be on the cover, so I illustrated those out too (which are on the t-shirts as well) I did two colors of the bolts, this was one of them.

Once the bolts were done, I brought everything into InDesign and started to focus with type

Now, for type, I knew I was working with a pretty intense piece, and I didn't want to go with an intense typeface, so I went very conservative. I also knew that the whole thing was going to be type heavy with credits and lyrics, so the type itself had to be clean. I also knew they were going to want a photo on there, and we had done a photo shoot specifically for the album and ended up using this shot (thank you mark curdo+wcyy for letting me use your patio space and studio y)

In the end, here's a bigger format of the album cover.

Here's what things look like with they're just spread out.

I hope that whole break down wasn't torture for you. This ended up being my 13th album I've put together and I just thought since I was being asked so much, I might as well tell you the breakdown on how things come about. If there's a good response, I'd love to do it with some other stuff.

There you have it folks! until next time

- Jaeger

Music and Links:

Spose - http://www.myspace.com/spizzyspose
Holy Boys Danger Club - http://holyboysdangerclub.com/
The Sophomore Beat - http://www.myspace.com/thesophomorebeat
In The Audience - http://www.myspace.com/intheaudience
Robbie Kanner (Vision For Viewers) - http://visionforviewers.com/

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Episode Three: Return of Rock in Maine

Hello, all!

I know that this is a long over-do post, so here we go!

March is shaping up to be a power house month for the Maine local music scene. We have the hotly anticipated sophomore release from Holy Boys Danger Club entitled The Boo Box coming out on March 2nd, with a CD release show on March 13th at Empire Dine and Dance in Portland. From what I've heard of the album it signals the coming of indie rock returning to the limelight in Portland. Holy Boys Danger Club was also named one of the top 10 artists to watch in 2010 by the Portland Press Herald, and rightfully so.

We also have Marion Grace dropping their debut album, Lying Down Looking Up. Marion Grace has been kicking around the Portland scene in various forms for a few years now, but I do not believe they have officially released anything previously (correct me if I am wrong please!). I can see the influence of older Bright Eyes on this album, with the warbling albeit smartt vocal stylings of Ralph Graceffa, mixed with a 70's folk/rock sound. Check out their CD Release show at Port City Music Hall on March 20th.

Local alternative rock titans Loki will be releasing their new album Ebb and Flow on April 20th, and have a pretty busy spring line up. Be sure to go check them out if you are fans of Alice in Chains and Tool. Next time you can catch these guys is April 3rd at the Bridge Street Tavern in Augusta.

Some other big news from around town is that Dominic and The Lucid have officially changed their name to The Lucid. These guys will also be released a new album this summer entitled "Garlands for The Conquer". I am expecting this to be another dynamite release, following up the magnificent Seasons of The Sun. Go check out set at Empire Dine and Dance in Portland on March 19th.

Now here comes the meat and potatoes of this blog post:

Sly-Chi are living legends of the Portland music scene, having been in existence for 11 years now. These guys have been serving up original funk to the masses of New England, expanding their reach farther than Motor Booty Affair has in recent years. Their 2004 release Wave Sound, is one of the definitive titles I believe everyone should have in their Portland music collection. Now, Sly-Chi offered up a brand new EP at the end of last year, entitled Seven in the Shadows, and let me tell you that it does not disappoint.

This five song offering hits the ground running with the opening track Move This Way, which through me off at first, with the more pop-centric feel to the tune, almost with a Chicago mixed with Stevie Wonder "Sir Duke" feel. However, it keeps up the danceable pace and immediately is an attention grabber. The album then heads into more of the soul-funk feel that Sly-Chi is known for with the second track . While the song structure is quite traditional, the group spices it up through the magnificent horn hits. Seriously folks, these are probably some of the greatest horn parts out there today in modern music. Crisp, tight hits accenuate the musical breaks and vocals to perfection. The groove provided by drummer David Henault drives the band and drives the listeners to be cautious about the subconscious dancing they will be doing while listening to this record. It is hard for me to pick a favorite track off this well-crafted album, but if I had to choose it would be the latin-funk closing track Con Corazon. It plays out like a homage to Dizzy Gillespie's Afro-Cuban hit Manteca and a Weather Report tune. In conclusion Sly-Chi has cemented themselves as heavy-hitters in the Portland music scene, and this record just goes to show that they aren't going anywhere. You can buy Seven in the Shadows on iTunes at this link here or at your local Bull Moose Music store.

And finally, I had the privilege of interviewing Dean Ford of The Goodnight Process for this blog. Dean has been active in the music scene for some time now, starting at the tender age of 14. I have had the privilege of knowing him for many years, and wanted to pick his brain about being one of the younger musicians in the music scene here in Portland and how it's shaped his musical stylings. So without further ado, here is an indepth interview with Dean Ford:

Portland Salt: So yes, let's interview!

Yes, let's.

Portland Salt:
So, I know you've been at music for a while and been in bands for quite a some time now. I mean hell, Luke and I booked you at the Grange as a solo artist way back in the day. When did you start to see things pick up and get more recognition around the Maine scene?
and by the way, one of my favorite memories from that time period was when you and Chris Moulton ended up covering Mojo Pin at the grange

Dean: I think things started to pick up when I turned 18 and wasn't looked at as a kid anymore
i think that was something that held me back a lot, because i started playing out when i was 14, and people don't really want to book or go out to see someone that young; but that's something that helped me out as well, starting out so young. because now I'm friends with a lot of the people i looked up to back then, and they're helping me out quite a bit. yeah, it was actually Grace we played, that was fun.

Portland Salt: Was it? man my memory is a little hazy.

Dean: I'm shocked you remembered it at all. I had forgotten until just now.

Portland Salt: It was mostly because I remember the look on your face when Moulton just jumped up on stage and was like, "hey lets play a tune". You looked shocked and confused! I know I was! haha

Dean: Totally, but stuff like that is usually a lot of fun. I love things when they're sporadic.

Portland Salt: So, The Goodnight Process has been kinda going through a transitional phase, with Dan Capaldi and Marcel Hamel currently working on different projects now. How did they help shape the sound of the band, and was it hard when they parted?

Dean: Well, since the band started, I've always been the primary songwriter, so the songs always had that sorta "Dean Ford" sound as some people have said, haha. You know, that kinda upbeat, bouncy pop feel. But Dan and Marcel definitely added a lot to that. Dan used a lot of effects, and is a big fan of more indie and theatrical kinds of music, so that's where the most "experimental" and spacey sounds came from. Marcel went to Berklee, and is a big jazz and classic rock fan, so the parts he played would usually take from those influences. So Dan and Marcel had a big role in the jazz and indie side of Goodnight Process. It was definitely hard when we parted ways, but it's something that needed to be done. We had been playing together for about 2 years, and had grown to be great friends but in the end, we kinda weren't on the same page anymore, and it was pretty clear that we had to split if we all wanted to be productive and happy.

Portland Salt: Now, I know you are a really big fan of Sondre Lerche, and that really resonates throughout The Way Things Are, your last release, tell me a little more about your new material
would you describe it to your fans as different? I personally hear a lot Billy Joel and 70's pop in the new songs.

Dean: Totally. Well, nothing on the new EP sounds remotely like Sondre Lerche to me anyway. That was kinda Dan's doing, he got us all into Sondre, to the point when that was one of my biggest influences. But it's a lot different now. a lot more rock & roll and power-pop. I love all the old, classic stuff. but i'd say that some of the biggest influences are the Beatles, ELO, Queen, Badfinger, Squeeze, The Knack, Beach Boys, Billy Joel, and so many others...but there's a lot of new stuff too, but it sounds just like the old stuff! haha

Portland Salt: The Kooks and what not?

Dean: Definitely the Kooks and other bands like Rooney, Jellyfish, Phantom Planet, Jet, Silverchair, Everybody Else, The Grays, Hanson, Fountains Of Wayne, Tinted Windows, Maroon 5, etc, etc.

Portland Salt: So the addition of Kurt Baker seemed pretty much a natural fit for the direction you wanted to head musically then. Tell me how you guys got together.

Dean: yeah, totally, I met Kurt a couple years back when he played a show at my house, but we never really kept in touch until last year when he called me about playing at The Leftovers' CD release show then after that, we needed a fill in to play a show, so I called him up. We played the show and it felt really great. So when Marcel gave me the news that he was leaving, Kurt was the first person I called. He jumped on board, and we've been having a lot of fun since.

Portland Salt: So tell me a little more about the new album. Any over arching themes in the songs?

Dean: It's really just fun pop tunes that rock. Of course there's girl songs on there but I don't think it really gets too redundant, there's happy ones, a sad one, some sarcastic, and a mildly "raunchy" tune.

Portland Salt: When can we expect new album out?

Well, initially it was just 3 tracks, hence the title "Can't You Count To Three?", and we had planned to put it out this month, but with the huge amount of free time we've had, due to the lack of a band, we wrote a few new tunes prompting us to change the title to "Another Beautiful Girl" and adding 3 news songs to the track listing. But to answer your question, hopefully early June.

Portland Salt: And you guys are looking to tour around that time in support of the album?

Dean: Absolutely, we're booking a tour for late May and early June right now. I'd love to have the EP out in time for that, but we'll see how it goes. If it isn't, we'll just hit the road again real soon. I can't wait to put it out, i'm really proud of what we're playing right now. i'm having a blast.

Portland Salt: That's all that matters then! Well Dean, I think that's everything. Just wanted to thank you for your time today.

Dean: Totally man, thanks for doing this!

So there we have it folks, That concludes this posting! Also, if you would like previews of what the next posting will be, follow me on Twitter just click on my name: Jaeger Wells

Here are links to all the artists mentioned in the post!

- Holy Boy Dangers Club: http://holyboysdangerclub.com/
- Marion Grace: http://www.myspace.com/mariongrace
- Loki: http://www.myspace.com/lokiband
- The Lucid: http://thelucid.bandcamp.com/
- Sly-Chi: http://www.slychi.com/
- The Goodnight Process: http://www.myspace.com/thegoodnightprocess

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Sign of Things to Come

Hello my fair and few readers,

January has come and gone. While it has been very cold and desolate like every winter in Maine, there are many bright spots on the horizons. This year we have already seen Roy Davis release his hotly anticipated album, We Are A Lightening Bolt, the debut of a new line up change for Dean Ford's The Good Night Process, and many more wonderful shows.

However, I think that we still haven't seen the best things come out of the woodwork yet. After many weeks of extensive research, and sifting through recordings and contacts, I have my list of artists/bands that are going to have a HUGE 2010 in the Portland music scene. In short, these are people that I have been very lucky to become acquainted with, and definitely think that you need to catch onto the big wave of talent about to sweep the city off its feet. Be sure to check out the links I have within the paragraphs and spread the love and the music!

First off, The Stereo Flys, while not located in Portland currently, (Boston by way of Portland), Jeff Beam and Sam Peisner are no strangers to the scene here in Maine. Jeff has been honing his front man chops since early high school with the band Specter while Sam respectively laid down the backbone groove for The Sauce (formerly known as the Slurpees). They both joined forces during a short-lived run as "Jeff Beam & The Sauce" back in 2007. When Jeff found his way down in Boston for college, Sam and him reunited to create a more layered psychedelic rock movement of Beam's newest jams. They found drummer Zander Kaigle, who helps weave the music together into something reminiscent of Elliot Smith mixed with Cream. These guys already have a very solid following in Boston and have been playing up in Portland regularly all over the place. This spring will mark the release of their debut album which is tenatively titled "Hello Greetings From a Bunker!", showcasing re-workings of tracks of Beam's first three solo albums. They are also in the process of editing together footage for a DVD, which I can only wait for anxiously. Seriously, they put on one hell of a show, and I think have finally found their voices collectively.

Next, I will move on to a name not many of you are probably familiar with, Cam Jones. I had the pleasure of meeting Cam when I played drums for the Will Gattis Trio, and he has come a very long way from there. I think the only way I can totally describe him in his entirety is a very young Eric Bettencourt . There is a very strong bluesy, classic rock influence in his drumming style, but I also see the same passion and fire in his eyes that I do whenever I have worked with Eric. They both genuinely are in love with music, any and all kinds (which is very refreshing to see). Cam has been very busy, playing skins with The Nebs as well as In The Audience. The Nebs have been together since 2008, and have been synonymous with success in the all ages scene of Portland (which is still very much alive). They are hoping to record a set of singles this year and release it to the masses; once you listen to the Nebs, you will understand where I see the Eric Bettencourt musical inspiration. In The Audience is getting ready to release their debut album over in Japan. I haven't heard much from them but I like what I hear. When Cam is not being sequestered to behind the drum set, but as a multi-instrumentalist as well, getting ready to release his debut EP "Drum Keys and Cymbal Keys", on We Are All Nice Friends Records.

Lastly, I want to highlight a man who got me my first real start with in the Portland scene, Will Gattis. After the release of his debut album, Dullard (which was a critical darling across the internet), Gattis went and company in the now defunct Will Gattis Trio parted ways, which I think personally left a mark on him. After that, setting out on his own, has logged in countless miles up and down the eastern seaboard, playing headlining shows from Florida to DC, to New York and back; even being named Maine's Best Singer/Songwriter in 2007 during the Maine Singer/Songwriter showdown. This work ethic has turned Gattis into a bona fide front man, which even plays out in his songwriting. He surely is "“an upcoming purveyor of quirky indie pop.” as the Portland Phoenix accurately states. Some of the upcoming things to look forward from Will is a forthcoming 4 song EP, as of yet not titled, extensive touring schedule (and hopefully more shows in Portland - that's a plea from your Portland fans Will!).

There you have it folks. Those are my picks for the artists that are going to have a hugely successful 2010. Like I said, make sure you click on the links for the names, but a comprehensive list will be posted immediately following the next paragraph:

Roy Davis
The Goodnight Process
The Stereo Flys
The Nebs
We Are All Nice Friends
Will Gattis

Until next time my friends!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Beginning: The First Post

Hello all,

Let me introduce myself if you don't already know who I am. I am Jaeger Wells. Yes, THAT Jaeger Wells. I have decided to create a blog about the Portland Music Scene. Why you ask? Because while I am a fan of the Portland Phoenix and the word of mouth approach there isn't a whole lot out there in Portland for information or just anything about GENERAL music in Portland. There are so many great entities within the scene (musicians, radio personalities, promoters, venues, and most importantly fans) that deserve to be recognized for their respective fields.

Now, let's get to the meat and potatoes of all your questions. Why should I, Jaeger Wells, be in charge of this blog? who do I think I am? Why now?

Frankly, I've been around the scene for a few years. Just like many of the older members of the scene. I can name drop like every one else around here, I hung out at The Well, I worked for and founded my own production company (Plex Productions and On The Rocks Productions). I've come in contact with a lot of the musicians through my own attempt at being a singer/songwriter, booking people starting out, or just being a fan of the music.

Why now you may be asking? As many of you might now, I am currently not even living in the state. I am getting my master's at the University of North Texas in Denton, TX (which is home to one of the most storied music programs in the country, and where Bowling For Soup and Norah Jones got their start). However, I find the Portland music scene to be infectious, something that never leaves your system. While not being in it physically currently I feel like I can examine things from the outside looking in.

SO, this is an open call to Bands, Musicians, Promoters, Radio Personalities, and Fans. I would like to hear what YOU would like to see in this blog. I know what I have in mind, but ultimately, this site is ABOUT YOU and the music. So let's get to it.