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/