Tuesday, September 3, 2013


WORLD BOOGIE IS COMING. Actually, it is finally here. North Mississippi Allstars' first album since 2011, WORLD BOOGIE IS COMING was released today. NMA has never been too far removed from their roots in the hill country of North Mississippi, but this album returns to the sounds and traditions which got them started as one of freshest, most unique and truly talented groups playing the blues. Two-thirds of NMA is the brother tag-team of Luther Dickinson (guitar and vocals, who recently played a stint with the Black Crows) and Cody Dickinson (drums, electric washboard, vocals, guitar), sons of the legendary piano man and producer, Jim Dickinson. To understand this record, you need to understand Jim. Here is the most abbreviated description I could come up with (and I'm leaving a lot out) for such an interesting guy like Jim. Jim, a.k.a. East Memphis Slim, grew up in the best era of Memphis soul music, playing with the Dixie Flyers. The Flyers backed Atlantic artists like Aretha Franklin and Sam and Dave. Jim played piano on the Rolling Stones "Wild Horses" and organ many of Dylan's newer albums. He played with Taj Mahal, Aretha Franklin, Ry Cooder, Toots and the Maytals and Los Lobos to name a few. His producer credits feature Big Star, Toots and the Maytals, Lucero, Bob Dylan, Mudhoney and G. Love and the Special Sauce among others. Check his rap sheet for more info. Chances are he produced or played on some of your favorite records. Jim was just as well-known for some of his sayings. Hell, I've heard his epitaph reads, "I'm just dead; I'm not gone." My personal favorite is "Hits are in baseball, singles pick each other up in bars, and your royalty lives in a castle in Europe," because it's probably the most accurate description of the record business I have ever heard. And Jim would know. He experienced all sides of it. He was a realist when it came to the business. On a visit to Zebra Ranch in 2008, when he asked where I was moving, I told him Nashville and he replied "Hmm. Yeah. Memphis. A good place to be from. Not a good place to be." He was referring to it being tough to 'make it' out of a town like Memphis. It wasn't something I wanted to admit to myself, but he hit it the nail right on the head and it was something I often thought about. It's crazy how many talented, world-class musicians rot in obscurity in Memphis. More often than not, the best music never makes it out of the Bluff City. Musicians go play for the money-makers elsewhere. It was just the way he said it that stuck with me. But yeah, back to Jim's sayings...He often ended letters with "World Boogie is Coming!" Part of his legacy is this "World Boogie," a timeless, limitless, musical exploration of sorts by Jim and some of his friends in their attempt to rediscover and reshape old and new. NMA is known for putting a new twist on the hill country blues and they wanted to pay homage to their late father, who passed on in August of 2009, by recording an album in their interpretation of World Boogie. 

North Mississippi Allstars' seventh studio album, WORLD BOOGIE IS COMING was recorded at Jim Dickinson's famous Zebra Ranch in Coldwater, MS. The band went old-school using just a 2-inch tape machine to record and cut most of it live. Cody produced it and even directed the videos. Cody also dons his 'electric' washboard and this isn't just a gimmick. He uses it as a lead and rhythmic instrument adding layers to the already fat drums. And for the purists out there, WBIC features much more drum and fife. Luther's guitar work is nothing short of genius. Whether it's the muddied-down, crunchy riffs or the cleaner slide work he is known for, Luther doesn't disappoint. WORLD BOOGIE IS COMING features Robert Plant on harmonica. Yes. That Robert Plant from Led Zeppelin. His harmonica parts was the only thing tracked outside of Zebra Ranch (he recorded at Memphis' legendary Royal Studios). WBIC also features their friends, Chris Chew, Duwayne and Garry Burnside, Lightnin’ Malcolm, Kenny Brown, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Sid and Steve Selvidge, and more (if you don't know who any of these guys are, do some homework. You're welcome). The record gets back to what made NMA what they are. They take their favorite hill country blues tunes from their biggest influences like Junior Kimbrough, R.L. Burnside and Mississippi Fred McDowell and make them heavier, funkier and yet preserve that raw spirit of the Mississippi hill country.

You can buy WORLD BOOGIE IS COMING at the band's online store or on iTunes.

Rollin 'n Tumblin from North Mississippi Allstars.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

ARISE Music Festival, Saturday Recap - Loveland, CO

As Friday turned into Saturday, Jason Kidd aka Shiba closed out the Syntonic Stage with swelling bass and melodic structures that settled everyone into a meditation dub trance. Fueled by Family support, Shiba, spun tasteful beats that were just enough above down tempo to allow a 7AM crowd to move a little more than usual. Keep an eye on this guy, he's an emerging Denver local that should not be missed.

Shiba at Syntonic Stage, ARISE Music Festival, Saturday Recap
Shiba at Syntonic Stage
Soon after Shiba, I find myself laying in a field to design a human image by Jon Quigley. He plans to plot a sunburst made up of human beings with the word ARISE spelt out in the center. The sun was blazing us and instilling us with the potential energy for our creative task at hand.

Picture from ARISE Facebook page
Later, after a quinoa kale salad and a dosa, we make it to one of the first sets on the Solar Overdrive stage with Denver's own Digital Beat Down. These Wisconsin transplants had a hearty crew of fans who represented while mingling with a nearby "cereal party." Normally a noon set time wouldn't be so conducive, but Saturday was the first day we were blessed with some nice overcast shade. Nick Pilz, guitar and synths, announces that ARISE marks 5 years for DBD. A "disco Stu" doppelganger rocks it in see thru sequined pants.

Digital Beat Down at Solar Overdrive Stage
Three-piece instrumental band featuring guitar, upright bass, and drums plays dramatic, moving soundscapes at the Main Stage. The guitar player and band's namesake, Tierro Lee, beckons the crowd to come closer, "the closer you guys are, the better we'll play. We all do this together." Spacey, tripped out mystic sounding melodies lull us into the sunset.

Acidophiles & Friends
Acidophiles set was surprised with a reconfigured line up called "Acidophiles and friends." Miss Jaedha led a crew of the Ft. Collins based band's friends through an exciting and diverse sounding set. Goldy Loxx, the other half of the Acidophiles, was seen dancing all around the field during the set, but never took to the stage. Guest musicians, Mr. Danger, Two Scoops, Chando, and Mr. Gemini, added new flare to the Acidophiles set on guitar, looping synths, and turntables. Space Race took the to the tweener stage shortly after setting off the house sound with some improvised guitar on top.

Back at the Main Stage, Zap Mama literally zapped us into outer space - or at least those were her word for the intro to their set. Zap Mama and her band played upbeat reggae tunes that often wander into the psychedelic electronic realm with their eclectic sound effects. The band was a good setup and lead into Michael Franti, who was by all measures the biggest act on the bill for ARISE 2013.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

5 Tips to Write a Better Band Bio

I've been reading a lot of band bios lately, and as important as they can be to connecting your music to new fans, there are a ton of pitfalls to the practice that can ruin your bio. First, let me say this: I get it. Trying to write a short paragraph about your music that sums up everything that your sound is about while still conveying the pertinent information isn't easy. In fact, it kind of sucks, but it is extremely important for fans, and even more important for promoters and reviewers of your band, to be able to find out quickly and accurately what your music is all about. Remember that when the opportunity comes to get some press for your band, writers often have little time and even less knowledge of your band. They don't necessarily have time to sift through your multitude of Soundcloud, bandcamp, etc. pages to learn what makes you who you are. You need to help them out so that they not only CAN write a good piece about you, but also they WANT to write a good piece about you. If I have the choice of 50 bands to write about, I'm going to choose the one who actually tells me something substantial about their music right off the bat. Then, with that nugget of interest, I may go do more research. But if I have to do a wealth of research just to talk about your genre, well, I'm most likely going to pass on you.

Writing band bios can be challenging

So, after working through a lot of band bios, I have formulated some really simple tips that can help improve your own bio.

1. Keep it simple. Tell us why we would want to see your band. This must be extremely simple. "We make you dance." This is the kind of idea you need to convey with your bio. Give your reader a motivation that is very easy to understand. Put yourself in the reader's shoes. If you were going to go to a show, why would you go? Are the players extremely talented and a marvel to watch on stage? Is the DJ known for playing tunes that make the crowd dance? Is the performer a touching songwriter? Are you going to hear that hit song that you can't get out of your head? There is a very basic reason that most people go to shows, and that reason is: FUN. So tell us, why is your band fun? And tell us in one simple sentence.

2. Avoid Buzzwords. Think about the words that you use and decide whether or not they actually mean anything to the reader outside of the context of your bio. Words like amazing, excellent, exquisite, and thousands of descriptive adjectives are basically only acting as puff pieces. It doesn't make a difference how much you build up your band with buzzwords, because in the end, they don't convey any real information to the reader. With only a few sentences to describe your music, every word counts. Don't waste them on what is essentially bullshit. Think of it this way: if you were going to describe food to someone, you wouldn't want to just hear that it's delicious. This is one time that the “benefit of the doubt” is in your favor. The reader is already assuming that your music is "delicious" or they wouldn't be reading on it. So be sure to tell them about the details that make the dish. Flavor is a good analogy, what gives your music it's unique flavor?

3. Save the History. While some history on the band may be important, it is most likely the least important information in your bio. I don't care if your band members were all high school buddies, I don't care if you have played together for 5 years or 25 years. Things like this are only important after you can tell me WHY I would want to see your band. If you're just another rock band, playing cover tunes, why do you think I need to know that your guitarist and bass player met in middle school? Let me assure you, I don't care. If you are Phish, then it makes more sense to tell us you've been playing together for 20 plus years. This works for a big band like Phish because their story has already captured the reader. Whoever is writing about Phish knows why they are writing about Phish, but do they have any reason to write about you? Probably not, at least not yet. Which is why it is so important to leave the history of your band towards the end of your bio if you put it in there at all. Don't open your bio with: "Ten years of jamming together have made these high school buddies intense and spectacular players together." This sentence really tells me nothing about your band that I can share with my own readers. And now you may have possibly burned up half of your reader's attention. Lead with the important stuff and then leave the history for later. As a side note, if you're going to talk about the band's history, tell us what the band members actually do. It's much more useful to know what instruments the band plays than how they met or how long they have been together.

4. Pick a genre. I know, I know, your band plays lots of different genres and on top of that you're more of a fusion of dub, electro, and psytrance than just electronic. This kind of description is typical because bands don't want to pigeonhole themselves. It's good to be unique, but once again, it's so important to quickly inform your reader, even when talking about genre. If you're a rock band that plays reggae, ska, bluegrass, and jazz, you're still a rock band. My point here is that you have to break it down for people. If you say too much then you're really not saying anything at all. If you outright tell your reader, "We don't fit into any one genre" you're also telling them NOTHING about your music. It might be hard and it might take a little soul searching, but take the time to figure out what you do well and put it into a genre people can recognize. When you're working your day job or talking to your grandparents and someone asks, “What kind of music do you play,” what do you tell them? This knee jerk reaction to the question from someone that doesn’t understand your specific sub genre is probably a good answer for the majority of people asking the same question. Start simple, then when you have their attention, dig deeper.

5. Tell us where you're from. Believe it or not, I've read numerous band bios that say literally nothing about where the artist is originally from or where they currently call home. While this may seem like a trivial detail, it actually goes along way to give context to your music. You don’t need to go overboard with this information. We don't need to necessarily know which suburb or neighborhood you live in or which high school you went to. Just tell us the city. This can give a writer a great launching off point to talk about your music and where it’s coming from. It can also make the music you create more relevant if the city you hail from is really becoming noticed for a certain type of music at the moment. And while I say don't go overboard, at the same time, if you come from a particular neighborhood that is significantly well known for a music scene, then this would be good information to share. Remember, once again, keep it simple and then dig deeper, but only if it’s really worth it.

OK, so there you go! These are my five tips to help improve your band bio and ideally help inform the readers that you are trying to reach. Remember, think of every sentence and every word as valuable real estate. You don't want to waste space on words that don't matter. It may take many revisions to really tighten up your bio to the most pertinent information, but it will be worth it. If you can make an impression on a press contact within a short paragraph, then you are only improving your chances of getting that blog you've been trying to land forever.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Chali 2na Interview from ARISE Music Festival - Loveland, CO

Chali 2na at the Main Stage, ARISE Music Festival, Friday August 16th
Chali 2na at the Main Stage, ARISE Music Festival
Matt: Can you speak a little bit to the difference of playing festival sets to playing club sets and how it really affects how you prepare for these sets.

Chali 2na: First off, I think festival sets always attract the people who care less about what you think about them. The inhibitions are just gone. Everybody's here to party and its regardless of anything. So, I think that that creates a vibe that makes the audience almost one thing. Its not like nobody necessarily separated at that point.

Matt: You want to make people party.

Chali 2na: Exactly!

(crowd laughs)

Matt: Chali, if you speak a little bit about the difference between the collaborative effort of Jurassic Five on tour versus your solo career on tour.

Chali 2na: Well, y'know, my M.O. that I've been able to establish throughout my twenty years doing this, is that I'm that dude in the group that collaborates with everybody. You know what I'm saying, like I wanted to make that happen so that it wouldn't be strange if you saw me doing something with somebody who you didn't think I was going to be with. That being established, its the same way on both ends. I just think that my work is just that much harder as a solo artist because I got my brothers with me with Jurassic and I do my part. Then, I can listen to them.

Performing by myself is a whole full fledged thought process of:  "OK, I gotta think about every moment." I gotta make sure that every moment is something that people are attached to as opposed to like scaring somebody off or being like "alright, whatever, dude" or someone going to get a drink. I'm looking at it as a way to just be the magnet and keep that attraction going throughout the show, and hopefully after have sex.

Matt: I'm a guy who likes to get drinks. So, what are you going to do in the future to keep me from going to get a drink.

Chali 2na: Play hard as hell! Play some music that's guaranteed to keep you there.

Stay tuned for more interviews from ARISE Music Festival.

ARISE Music Festival, Friday Recap - Loveland, CO

Gate to the Main Stage, ARISE Music Festival, Friday August 16 2013
Gate to the Main Stage
Friday starts hot and slow with acoustic music from Shimshai on the main stage. My wife Leigh went off to do a morning yoga session at the Temple of the Heart and I find myself once again in the tent of the Syntonic Stage to escape the sun. 2NUTS plays a glitchy, downtempo set at the tweener dome. Things are generally chill throughout the festival. My good friend and media partner Matt has gone to hit the pool.

The Pool Party, ARISE Music Festival, Friday August 16 2013
The Pool Party
In a search for some refuse from the noonday sun, we settled under the rarest patch of trees and find ourselves watching the Earth Guardians. Xiuthezcatl Roske Martinez, a young activist from Boulder, CO, leads a motley crew of youth on the Solar Overdrive stage. A hip-hop group with a very strong conscious message, The Earth Guardians are led by the young Martinez brothers, Xiuthezcatl, age 13, and Itzcuauhtli, age 10. At first, the show doesn't strike me as anything more than a novelty, something at the fest for the kids. But within one song, as I hear the brothers backed by around fifteen other kids sing out: "the hope is in our hands," I realized that this was something special.

We decided to wander again and find Freelance Whales at the main stage. In a haze of heat and dust, we settle at the back of the main concert bowl to soak in the dreamy, lush tones of the Queens, NY native band. The melodies off a glockenspiel carry the rich three, four, and even five part vocal harmonies across the dome and out to the campgrounds. The main stage keeps us captive as Nahko and Medicine for the People storm on to the main stage. The crowd is clearly enraptured with the band with wild hoots and hollers rooting for Nahko and the band even as they ride away on a golf cart after their set.

The Main Stage, ARISE Music Festival, Friday August 16 2013
Main Stage

Shortly after Nahko, the Solar Overdrive stage was featuring Mister Loveless from Oakland, California. Post-punk, thoughtful songs serenade us as we lounge and hide in the shade of the trees for only brief stint. Moving along again, we find Greensky Bluegrass stirs up the concert bowl once again with bare feet abound at the main stage. The less traditional bluegrass sounds of Greensky are a welcome progression to Friday's Keller and the Keels show. Followed by festival darling Xavier Rudd, the main stage reaches it's heady apex before hip-hop takes over from Chali 2na.

ATOMGA at the Solar Overdrive Stage, ARISE Music Festival, Friday August 16 2013
Before the big show on Friday, we groove out at the Solar Overdrive stage again, this time with Denver afrobeat band, ATOMGA. A swollen bandstand of at least nine people sets the tone for a heavy night. ATOMGA features a four piece horn section with trombone, trumpet, tenor sax, and baritone sax. The trombone player is dancing so hard I am literally afraid he is going to bounce off the stage.

ATOMGA keeps the secondary stage bumpin', but we depart to catch the lyrical stylings of Chali 2na from the famed Jurassic Five. Backed by his three piece band, House of Vibe, Chali brings us his own "radio station" with a blend of his own material, Jurassic Five tunes, and even covers from Michael Jackson. Clearly inspired by the happenings at ARISE, Chali invites the young brothers of Earth Guardians out on the stage to improvise two of their own original songs with the band. Chali is split from cheek to cheek smiling at the antics of the Martinez brothers. Chali even gladly took the role of hype man, rapping "I'm Young. I'm Positive."

The Magic Beans at the Solar Overdrive Stage, ARISE Music Festival, Friday August 16 2013
The Magic Beans
The night takes a swerve toward the party side when we arrive at the Solar Overdrive stage for the Magic Beans. Denver local jam-band brings a tight almost medley-like sound, skipping smoothly through intricate originals and cheeky covers like Hall and Oates' "Maneater." The fellows of the Magic Beans bring the intense energy of a young, inspired, and motivated jam band. From the many shows that had played the Solar Overdrive stage, the Magic Beans show on Friday began to crystalize the tangible vibe of ARISE.

By this time, I was trying to urge myself toward the main stage for Lynx and then Michal Menert, but the party vibe of the Solar Overdrive stage had firmly taken hold on me. Although I was hesitant to spend the day out in the sun at the Solar Overdrive Thursday and Friday afternoon, the nighttime line-ups had made a clear impression to me that this stage would be the host to some exciting and surprising events.

I began to lose my footing halfway between Michal Menert's main stage set and laid out in the campground listening once again to the sound waves bounce off the cliff side into the tent. For me the night had ended, but the weekend was ripe. Although I felt Friday would be the apex of the festival, it turned out to be truly a penultimate day to what was still in store.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

ARISE Music Festival, Thursday Recap - Loveland, CO

What seemed like a slow start to ARISE picked up quickly as Toubab Krewe hit the main stage at 4:45 pm. Jans Ingber, singer for the Motet, grooved along with the swollen and ecstatic crowd. Bare feet stirred up little dust storms every time the Krewe picked up the tempo. Although much other music had been flowing Thursday, Toubab Krewe seemed to bring a true inaugural energy to the stage as the day began to cool down. As we watched the band play their last song, a little girl playing hide and seek dodged around us. The vibe here is very family friendly as lots of little ones hang at the barrier at the front of the stage. Like the many parts of a ticking clock, the three percussionists beat out the rhythm of an African song. All moving together yet each on their own beat, the syncopation they create is hypnotizing and soothing under the light hearted and uplifting guitar melodies. As the band wraps their set, they stressed to the audience that ARISE is something that they hope we can take care of and keep going. And although they have nothing official on their tour dates, guitarist Drew Heller hinted that they would be back in Colorado around New Years.

Toubab Krewe on the Main Stage, ARISE Music Festival, Thursday August 15
Toubab Krewe at ARISE, Thursday
Next, we found ourselves settled in a tent dome at the Syntonic Stage before the stage had gotten busy. Candy shaped pillows and exercise balls in wrapper like coverings acted as our seats. Face painters sat inside the dome of the tweener stage excitedly making people their canvas. Numerous other decorations surrounded the stage, pyramids, stars, a kissing booth and lots of burner-worthy constructions made up the DJ booth. Music was only starting up in the tweener DJ booth, so we continued to migrate.

Tents at the Syntonic Stage, ARISE Music Festival, Thursday 8/15
Dome Tent at the Syntonic Stage
We found a trio of graffiti artists at work on a wall sized mural just outside of the main event area. BerkVisual, 84Pages, and David Bywater of Plaant were in the beginning stages of a three way painting collaboration. Three to four figures were beginning to take shape from a design that the guys had worked out together before arriving on site. It was clear that the design was coming to life but at the same time you could tell the guys were improvising and adapting their original art as they went along somewhat as well.
ARISE Mural by BerkVisual, 84Pages, and David Bywater of PLAANT, ARISE Music Festival, Thursday 8/15
Berk shows P Buck the Design
As we made our way back to camp, Keller and the Keels had started their set at the main stage. The dust is kicking up once again as the bluegrass tunes get the crowd moving. People are very happy to watch Keller pick his mandolin with the Keels, married couple Larry on guitar and Jenny on the bass. The trio blazed through lots of covers, doing a Tom Petty medley at one point switching back and forth between "Last Dance with Mary Jane" and "Breakdown." "Tweaker by the Speaker" made its obligatory appearance in the set and die-hard Keller fans rejoiced. I overheard one Keller fan waxing "Keller doesn't age."

Keller and the Keels at the Main Stage, ARISE Music Festival, Thursday 8/15
Keller and the Keels
We wandered off again to the Solar Overdrive stage where Loveland locals, Genetics, were rocking their blend of progressive rock. This four piece was tight and continually kept their set moving through many different sounds from heavy riff rock to chilled out disco grooves. The guitarist was outwardly thrilled to be playing, expressing multiple times his exhilaration with ARISE. The band was an unknown for me but a nice surprise to see a very talented group of young players tucked into the early Thursday line up.

The Motet at the Main Stage, ARISE Music Festival, Thursday August 15
The Motet at the Main Stage
From there we caught Denver funk legends, the Motet, on the main stage. Playing tunes from their previous album like "Nemesis" blended with new material from a forthcoming album that is currently in the works, the band was hitting hard. The fellas of the Motet never disappoint me with the personally awe-inspiring talents of Garrett Sayers on the bass and Joey Porter on the keys. The entire group is without a doubt a talented bunch, but I cant get enough when Sayers or Porter get their chance to solo. In a nice surprise of the set, one of the percussionists of Toubab Krewe came to sit in for a song

After another quick stop at the Solar Overdrive stage with Astronomix, Quixotic hit the main stage for their highly involved performance set. New Age chill beats set the tone for the roaring violin. Dancers graced the stage as well as a hanging trapeze area to the side of the stage. The set was both musically and visually very inspiring.

Octopus Nebula, ARISE Music Festival, Thursday August 15
Octopus Nebula at the Solar Overdrive Stage
Octopus Nebula was definitely one of the breakout sets of the day. Rocking the midnight set at the Solar Overdrive stage, O Neb had the crowd at the secondary stage as packed as the main stage. Denver locals truly represented for the Colorado crowd. The jamtronic blend was a perfect sound for the late night set.

Midnite on the Main Stage, ARISE Music Festival, Thursday August 15
Midnite hit the stage a bit later than their namesake would suggest. Coming on the main stage at 1:15 am, the classic reggae group brought us the dub sound to the mountains. By this time, I was running out of steam and laid down for the night, but luckily the stage was close enough to our camp that I could still listen to the band. The sound waves bounced off the surrounding cliffs to create an even more dubbed out reggae sound as I drifted off to sleep.

The ARISE location and production are top notch. The environment they have procured at the Sunrise Ranch is an amazingly beautiful setting for a music fest. On top of that, the production level is very much on par with the best of summer camping festivals. While admittedly the attendance seems lower than expected, the event is set up for years of success if they are able to grow in the coming years. I look forward to seeing what the rest of the weekend has in store.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Quiet Entertainer releases Intelligent Design

Today marks the release of Quiet Entertainer's newest album entitled Intelligent Design. According to Quiet Entertainer, this is the "most rewarding collection of music [he's] done because you can start to hear a new production style and writing style that [he's] been working on." Not to take away from his other works, but this album is definitely a departure from his previous music in the best way possible. It's no secret that I have been a fan of QE's stuff ever since I have been here in Nashville. He has a bit of a flair for the dramatic on stage which I like. It's rare in what has become a boring cut+paste EDM, 'what is that guy actually doing up there' scene. Living up to his name, he rarely speaks on stage, but instead uses a sampled computer robot voice. He's not afraid to put himself out there (literally) and dance with the crowd. He uses samplers, midi controllers and an actual turntable alongside his computer. He is also a fellow, native of the 901 (M.E.M.P.H.I.S. If ya don't know, ya betta ask somebody) which basically makes us kin in Nashville. We also share a fondness for a lot of the same instrumental hip hop producers and old school hip hop groups. And above all, he has good taste in drummers. I am playing alongside him in select sets for this mini-tour and have been for a couple of months or so now which also makes him a Winslow by default. ALL of that aside, Intelligent Design is just damn GOOD. It's an album that I can bump in my car or at home. That's a lot coming from me. My musical attention span with new artists isn't very long. I get bored easily and I need more than a club banger with deep oscillating bass or beat repeat to listen again. Having listened (and played) his material, I can say that this one is far beyond anything he has attempted yet. It's not all sample-based and features more actual musical compositions. He is evolving as an artist and a producer. That's what it's all about. And...maybe a little head bobbing too...which this album definitely provides. It's chill, but not too chill. It's thoughtful (as the title suggests) and doesn't just stick to the modern parlor tricks that a lot of these generic "push play" DJ's use nowadays. It even includes one of the sets he performed during his opening slot on tour with Mutemath. Yeah, that's right. Mutemath.

So give it a listen, a share and a download. It's FREE (a.k.a. pay what you like). You won't be disappointed.

Catch it LIVE:
Tonight, Quiet Entertainer kicks off his mini-tour to promote Intelligent Design at the Social in Murfreesboro,TN. Tomorrow, he'll be in back in Nashville at Cafe Coco to celebrate his birthday and Saturday night he'll be at the Coup in Clarksville, TN. I'll be playing in Nashville and Clarksville, so come say what up and buy a CD.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Digital Beat Down ARISE Music Festival Preview

Denver-local, livetronica duo Digital Beat Down have been hitting the regional festival season hard this summer. Fresh off UNIFY Festival and a late night set at Phibstock, the boys head for their festival hattrick with ARISE Musical Festival. Winslow Family Productions sat down with Nick Pilz and Andy Lubner of Digital Beat Down to discuss their upcoming date at ARISE and their forthcoming sophomore release Pressure EP.
A preview of DBD’s 2nd EP, Pressure, with the track “Befunkt”

WF: So, What does playing the ARISE Festival mean for Digital Beat Down?

Nick: Being a part of a festival that’s getting as big as ARISE is hoping to be, I think its good to be a part of it and representing Colorado in general. Just pretty much being there and the fact that we’re a part of Colorado’s scene and this is a Colorado festival, it’s good to be a part of it.

Andy: I think the fact that this is a transformational festival, if you will, I think thats nice. Our music is to party but we hope that there is something a little more to it as well, so its nice to be part of a festival that emphasizes that, that community, that artistic expression, you know, what they’re sort of going for with their vibe seems very conscious. So I’m very excited to be a part of that aspect of it.

WF: What does the ARISE festival mean to Colorado?

Andy: I think in some senses, it’s kind of about time. Colorado hasn’t had a big festival, they’ve kinda pussy footed around and had things like Summer of Mile High, but I love to see something like ARISE come in and draw a big diverse crowd of bands, DJs, artists, and performers; and then also there’s a place for Colorado to go and throw down. It’s a beautiful state here. There’s lots of little stuff, but its fun to have something that’s a little bit bigger and something hopefully steady.

Nick: Yeah, definitely something steady. Something thats going to be there and that’s going to go for years and gets bigger, but doesn’t get bigger. Not the sort of style where they forget why they started the whole festival.

WF: Well, you know, ARISE is actually an acronym for Activate. Reconnect. Interact. Synchronize. Empower.

Andy: It sets a good example and a good tone. I like being places or going to festivals like that, that have more of a conscious vibe. You know, like people who throw away their trash and keep the site clean and are concerned about the footprint they’re leaving. Having fun but doing so with the environment and others around them in mind. Its a good example to set no matter where you are.

WF: Is there a particular artist at ARISE that DBD links themselves with more as far as genre, style and influences go?

Nick: Yeah, we’re definitely on that electronic dance music tip. It’s that sort of music, but I’m excited to see bands like Greensky Bluegrass, Keller and the Keels. Michael Franti is going to be amazing. Stuff like that is actually getting me excited. It’s funny because we’re Digital Beat Down, we’re an electronic band, and I still really enjoy instruments and all that stuff. And I understand the DJ culture and I love elements of that as well, but its really cool to get that mix. That’s where DBD comes in and we are that mix. Take that electronic music, take the classic rock and roll instruments and let’s mold it together. I’m really stoked to be playing with a lot of the Colorado homies as well. Octopus Nebula, those guys are our good friends, you know. It’s nice we get to play a festival with those guys. James and the Devil are there, Astromix, ProJect Aspect; it’s good to play with people that we know are here and doing what we’re doing.

Andy: They’ve got some national headliners, but most of the second tier acts are Colorado DJs, bands and a few other ones, but there’s definitely a heavy, heavy Colorado presence which is nice to be able to identify with a group that can bring people out that know how to have a good time.

WF: If there was one act at ARISE you could choose to play a collab set with, who would it be?

Nick: Octopus Nebula, get on that jamtronic tip. Collab set.. uh, I don’t know.

(Everyone laughs)

Nick: To have Keller lay down some tasty loops would be fun.

Andy: Or Chali 2na coming to rap with us. I’d take that.

Nick: Get some flow in there.

Stay tuned for a more in depth interview later this month on Thursday, August 29th when we will talk more wtih Digital Beat Down about their new release live on the air at winslowradio.com

During the ARISE Music Festival, Digital Beat Down takes to the Solar Overdrive Stage on Saturday, Aug 17th at Noon. Also this month, DBD will be releasing Pressure EP, their second record since their debut Get Born in 2011. This will be a “name your price” download available from their website www.digitalbeatdown.com. Be sure to follow them on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/digitalbeatdown

Sunday, July 21, 2013

ARISE Music Festival Preview - Loveland, CO August 14th - 18th


We’re excited to present our preview of the ARISE Music Festival in Loveland, CO (a little over an hour north of Denver) at Sunrise Ranch. Running from Wednesday, August 14 through Sunday, August 18th, ARISE is a “music, activation, and co-creative camping festival.” The festival schedule allows for early bird camping with special extras on 8/14, music / yoga / presenters / workshops 8/15- 17, and a decompression day with more special extras on 8/15. Several festivals are hosting early bird events, but Arise seems to be on the forefront of scheduling a Sunday with no mainstage headliners booked. We see this as a great way for folks to get back to normalcy without dredging through a case of the Mondays. As well as musical performances, ARISE features four unique stages, one of which is a 400 seat domed theatre that will offer alternative events such as speakers, panels, and film screenings. Buy your tickets at this link.

As each day of the festival has an extremely varied line-up, festival goers will have a tough time deciding which artists to check out. The ARISE festival hosts multiple big name acts as well as giving support to the several members of the local music scene.

On Thursday The Motet and Toubab Krewe scheduled. Hailing from Denver, CO, The Motet has been on the scene for over 10 years. The funk, lead by drummer Dave Watts and highlighted by keyboardist Joey Porter, is sure to get everyone hot.
we see bands like

Toubab Krewe, from Asheville, NC, has been a world-jam staple for several years on festival line-ups. Bringing authentic African instruments, percussive heavy grooves, and undeniable hooks, Toubab Krewe has no genre specific origin; world heavy.

Cirque du Soleil esque, Quixotic hold two slots at ARISE. Featured both Thursday and Saturday. This group mashes original music production with exciting stage theatrics. Recently featured on TED Talks, they have been described as a performance with “grandeur and explosive artistry”. This is definitely an act not to be missed.

Regionally local acts like Octopus Nebula will bring some electronic vibes to Thursday’s line-up. Colorado’s own, Octopus Nebula is representing live-tronica in full respect. They’ve been gracing just about every Colorado festival stage this summer and are branching up and out in the region.

Friday’s lineup continues to provide fans with lots of choices for entertainment. Performers like Greensky Bluegrass, Atomga, The Magic Beans and event Chali 2na will be keeping Colorado rooted in analog instrumentation and classic styles.

Greensky Bluegrass, hailing from the Midwest, hold strong to original bluegrass styling while staying relevant in today’s festival scene. Relentless touring for the past 6 years has shown that Greensky is in it to win it as they continue to push the bluegrass envelope by adding distortion and even horns to some of their songs.

Atomga has recently been dubbed “Denver’s newest party band” and is striving to live up to the crown. With afrobeat at it’s roots, Atomga adds horns and tons of funk to the mix to keep audiences moving.

Along the same lines as Atomga, The Magic Beans also bring analog instrumentation to the stage on Friday. Also local to Colorado, they keep the stage bouncing with funk based grooves comboed with improvisation.

Living legend Chali 2na, from Jurassic 5, will step on stage Friday to continue pushing his solo, classic hip-hop mood. After J-5 stopped touring, Chali 2na has kept the beat going with his first solo release in 2009. Chali has been touring around the world with his 3-piece band, House of Vibe, and will bring the head-bobbing, O.G. hip-hop to ARISE Music Festival.

On the flip side of Friday, there are a number of DJs and electronic acts playing. Some of our highlights include Michal Menert of Pretty Lights Music, ProJect Aspect hailing from Denver, and Desert Dwellers who are hitting the CO Festival season very hard this year.

Michal Menert has been making big moves ever since the CO-based label Pretty Lights Music started picking up major momentum. Menert offers festival goers the hometown sound that Derek Vincent Smith has made so popular over the last few years but also puts his own spin on this sound with more soul and less wobble. The production of Menert is both chill and head-bobbing at the same time. Fest goers looking for a thought-provoking and danceable set should not miss Michal Menert on Friday.

In the same electronic vein and also another CO local is ProJect Aspect. With an enormous amount of original music sprinkled with remixes, ProJect Aspect promises to bring the bass. Desert Dwellers are no strangers to Colorado, especially this festival season as they grace the line-ups of many CO music fests including ARISE. Hailing from New Mexico and Southern California, Desert Dwellers, scheduled for a sunrise set Saturday morning, bring an eclectic and varied set of influences together featuring numerous electronic genres laced with psychedelia, dub, and world grooves.

On Saturday, the final day of music, look out for more CO local music from Denver Disco, Future Simple Project, Digital Beat Down, and Inti as well as some more excellent beats from West Coast based producer Random Rab.

On the local tip, we are excited for Denver Disco to be representing their ever popular dancefloor friendly sound on the festival scene. Denver Disco has been growing strong this year throwing local parties in Denver and Boulder with their resident DJs, Fun Factory and Falcon Punch, but also continually featuring bigger acts that know how to bring the Disco sound like Orchard Lounge and Tiger Party. We are not entirely sure what the Denver Disco set at ARISE will be like, but we can count on some Nu Disco to keep us hopping all night.

More beats from Denver include Digital Beat Down, a local duo of drummer Andy Lubner and instrumentalist Nick Pilz on guitar and synths. DBD has a rich appreciation for the DJ culture and although they create the majority of their sound with analog instruments, they aren't afraid to drop samples and remixes from the likes of Disclosure and Booka Shade into their jammy sets. DBD has been hitting the festival season hard in Colorado this year, and we are excited to see what they have in store for us at ARISE.

Another Colorado local, The Acidophiles, produce a style they have coined “climactic-dubtronica”. Genre bending will prove to be a huge highlight at ARISE Music Festival and Thursday is kicking it off right!

Similar to Quixotic, who plays their second set on Saturday, is Future Simple Project. The electronic fusion project also features a spectacle of fire dancers and hoopers. Often featuring live instrumentalists and vocalists, Future Simple Project works to blend the bass music genres with more organic electronic music. Another spectacle of an act is INTI who features major girl power for their high energy dance pop meets Latin hip hop stage show.

Random Rab hailing from the West coast will be bringing his down tempo bass music will sure to be a highlight of Saturday. One of the more prominent national acts on the bill for Saturday, Random Rab
comes from a diverse musical background which is apparent in his electronic stylings. A multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, Random Rab’s sets incorporate both psychedelic and danceable elements for a thoughtful and body-moving show.

ARISE Festival is helping to set a new tone for the camping festival season. It's easy to feel the intense positivity and healing nature of music at most any camping festival, but so far, music festivals do not strive to enact the ideals that they instill in music fans. Hopefully, ARISE Festival along with a few other conscious festivals in Colorado, can start momentum toward summer celebrations that are as sustainable as they are fun. With an ambitious line-up ranging from mainstream heavy-hitters all the way down to local up-and-comers, ARISE is setting up Colorado for a legacy of legendary camping festivals.

See you all at ARISE.

Written by Matt Nigro and Phil Buck

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Sonic Bloom 2013 Review

(Polish Ambassador w/dancer)

Sonic Bloom 2013 took place at Shadow's Ranch in Georgetown, CO over June 13th-16th. In my opinion, this event was a great success. Dubbing itself "Colorado's Premier Electronic Music Festival", Sonic Bloom 2013 was just that. Bringing world class acts to around 4,000 people in the mountains of Colorado, Jamie Janover and the rest of the Sonic Bloom crew stepped up the production, the acts, and the vibe to create a community of ragers submerged in electronic sounds.

(The Grouch & Eligh)
I was unfortunately only able to attend the event Friday and Saturday due to day job responsibilities, but was not shorted any sort of party. Attendees enjoyed heavy hitters like Random Rab, The Grouch & Eligh, Opiuo, Wick-It The Instigator, and Dessert Dwellers on Friday's line-up. Random Rab, as scheduled, should have only graced the stage three times. But when it was all said and done, Rab turned into house DJ #1, performing at least 4-5 sets over the weekend with several collabs included. The Grouch & Eligh were new to me, but brought the party to the main stage with bouncing hip-hop lyrics and style. Another new name for me was Opiuo. The Australian headlined the Main Stage Friday night and offered sexy disco influenced, funk/electro; similar to the sounds of the "old" Pretty Lights. Wick-It The Instigator, of Nashville, TN, stepped up the jam on the Dome Stage. Living in the Nashville area myself for several years, I have seen Wich-It grow from a hip-hop/mash-up DJ playing a tiny cigar bar in Murfreesboro, TN to Main Stage festival slayer. Wick-It threw the party into overdrive with less womp than other recent sets I've seen him play. His mash-up style is still very prevalent and had everyone dancing. The schedule ended Friday/Saturday morning with Desert Dwellers playing a sunrise set that put everyone's heads right for Saturday morning. Look out for these guys to begin takeover of the down-tempo world!

(Random Rab)
(Wick-It The Instigator)
Saturday started hot and got even hotter. Fans saw some analog instruments pop-up from artists like YAMN, and the Werks. Both bands brought funk styles with jam attitudes and had everyone moving. Favorites, Orchard Lounge played the Dome Stage in the evening and followed their set by a surprise private camp ground set that I was lucky enough to catch. New-comers Intergalactic Fantasy Safari tore up the Hummingbird Stage Friday night with their dubstep style. They even handed out several stuffed animal party favors to their fans. Big-timer, Polish Ambassador, joined by VJ Liminus absolutely crushed the Main Stage Saturday night. Recently stating that Denver, CO holds the highest fan base in the States, look for Polish to be around and don't be caught dead missing his set. Lazer guided space travel describes his music quite well. Also, look for a new Polish Ambassador side project coming out called "Wildlight". Saturday's line-up was closed out by yet another excellent sunrise set. Random Rab brought the down-tempo, world influence to the Dome Stage Sunday morning. After the last note, I was completely exhausted, yet exhilarated at the same time.

(Polish Ambassador w/Liminus)
Experiencing only one half of the Sonic Bloom offerings, I felt slightly jipped that I had to take off mid day Sunday. But thinking back on the experience at this point, I feel 100% satisfied with the event and will definitely be heading back to Sonic Bloom in 2014. Word on the street is that this was the last year that the festival will be held at Shadow's Rach as attendance is pushing the grounds to it's limits. Look for new location announcements soon.

Thank you Sonic Bloom for bringing new music to my ears as well as solid party favorites to move me!

Love ya, Mean it!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Battle 15 - The Championship: Redhanded vs. Ultimate Band

Here it is, folks! It all comes down to this final battle between Redhanded and Ultimate Band. This time, we pulled out all the stops. There are practically no rules or restrictions on this battle. The only thing we asked of the producers was that they don't use any samples that we wouldn't be able to clear for a vinyl release. So, now it's your turn to listen to the tracks and vote on your favorite. Remember, the the winner of the public poll receives 2 votes, where each of the judges can only cast one vote.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Battle of the Beats Bracket in the Finals

Hello friends and beat makers,
We just wanted to take a minute to update you on the Battle of the Beats tournament as it stands in the finals. We are just a little over a week out until we premiere the beats for the championship round (Coming June 13th) and we have our brackets nearly finished. See you in a couple of weeks!


Sunday, May 12, 2013

Help G.E.D. Soul Records Kickstart 3 New Albums


Our homies at G.E.D Soul Records have just launched their epic Kickstarter project to fund 3 new records. These albums from the Coolin' System, DeRobert and the Half-Truths, and A.J. and the Jiggawatts are already finished and just waiting to be released. We are very excited to share this project with you as we are big fans of what these folks in middle Tennessee are doing. We used many of their vinyls to create samples for our currently on-going Battle of the Beats competition. It's also fair to say that their activities were a big inspiration for starting our own vinyl focused record label, Nematode Records.

We have until Monday, June 24th to help them raise $15,000. Let's do this Winslows!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Battle 14: z.matt.33 vs. Ultimate Band

The semi-finals commence with Battle 13: Redhanded vs. Joshua Scott Cochran. In this round, we had the competitors remix a track off the new Fresh Hats Tight Beats EP, Assemble. Listen to the original and each of the competitors remixes below. Then vote for your favorite.

The original, "The Cost" by Fresh Hats Tight Beats

z.matt.33 - "The Cost" (Jackie Moon Remix)

Ultimate Band - Da Cost (Ultimate Band RMX)

Battle 13: Redhanded vs. Joshua Scott Cochran

The semi-finals commence with Battle 13: Redhanded vs. Joshua Scott Cochran. In this round, we had the competitors remix a track off the new Fresh Hats Tight Beats EP, Assemble. Listen to the original and each of the competitors remixes below. Then vote for your favorite.

The original, "Exhibit Ey" by Fresh Hats Tight Beats

RedHanded - "Exhibit Ey" (Mac Shift 3 Remix)

Joshua Scott Cochran - "Exhibit Ey" (Inhibit Exhibit Remix)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Flaming Lips release The Terror

Sonically rich textures formed by synthesizers and spacey, but rockin' guitars and drums help shape the somewhat haunting sound of the latest Flaming Lips release.  The album as a whole has a distant, washed out, and abrasive tone.  But that lends itself well to the apparent theme of something unknown, or universally scary.   Unsettling concepts are not new to the group though as can be heard on earlier releases such as "Do You Realize" which has a positive "message" but confronts the idea of death as well.    

The lyrics for most of the tracks on "The Terror"  are not easily discernible on a first listen but that fits this sound well.   I wasn't bothered or left overly curious about the exact words but was more transported by a very different sounding album as a whole.  Songs blend together in a way that really makes the album feel like one big composition.  The album ebbs and flows to some degree but maintains a very consistent grittiness and mood.  The vocals are washed and textural on most tracks but they are still poignant.  They are there if you want to hear them but easily dismissible if you want to just space out.  

Overall, the album has an edge and is powerful on a first and repeated listen.  Fans may find this to be sounding like an extension of "Embryonic" in some ways and that is probably accurate.  But this album is far more realized as an overall sound and comes across quite convincingly.  The album is erie indeed but in a good sort of way like some old Pink Floyd. If nothing else, it's different from nearly everything else being produced these days, especially from Major-Label acts.  And the Flaming Lips are still an old-fashioned, instrument-playing rock band that keeps evolving.  

Where some may find the album a bit exhausting or too much of a similar sound, I think it's great to hear a band really dig in to a sound.  And it will be very interesting to see how this new material works into the live setting as it does sound quite different to many of their earlier releases.  The album is out April 16, 2013 on many formats including a nicely packaged double-LP that also includes a special Remix track on side D.  

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Battle 12: Ultimate Band vs. Shuj Roswell

The quarter-final battle between Ultimate Band and Shuj Roswell is now public and up for vote. Listen to the tracks in the Soundcloud widget below, then vote! The polls close at 7:30pm MST on Thursday, April 18th.

Battle 11: AudioSpaceShip vs. Joshua Scott Cochran

The quarter-final battle between AudioSpaceShip is now public and up for vote. Listen to the tracks in the Soundcloud widget below, then vote! The polls close at 7:30pm MST on Thursday, April 18th. The winner will progress to the semi-final round for Battle 15.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Battle 10: Redhanded vs. MattntheHat

The quarter-final battle between Redhanded and MattntheHat is now public and up for vote. Listen to the tracks in the Soundcloud widget below, then vote! The polls close at 7:30pm MST on Thursday, April 11th. The winner will progress to the semi-final round for Battle 14 on Thursday, April 18th.