Promoting Independent Music

Promoting Independent Music / Ten Suggestions

When I started this Blog in June of last year my intentions were to feature and write about music that “I Can’t Get Enough Of”. My original concept has not changed. What has occurred is my music palette has expanded. I continue to be passionate about the music I’ve written about. Fickle is not part of my vocabulary.

My quest to understand how the independent music market is promoted via the Internet continues. My goal has been to learn about how it is utilized to promote great music.

I listen to mostly independents and their situation is unique. A band can have good work ethic and talent, but that does not mean people will respond to their music or find them. As a serious career choice a bands survival depends on people listening, going to shows, buying CD's, purchasing merchandise and then spreading the music around in as many ways possible.

Suggestions for bands and singer/songwriters to think about:

1. Creating a band name that can be easily found on the Internet. If you have already established a non-researchable name, explore alternatives to help people find you. Be creative.

2. Support the Bloggers,
Podcasters, Vloggers and On-line Communities that you respect by linking them to your site. They are and will be an important part of your future.

3. Align yourself with the artistic community: illustrators, graphic designers, photographers, filmmakers, video artists and writers. Everybody needs an opportunity to start somewhere. You are all at the beginnings of your careers, so exposure for all is good. The art of bartering and sharing benefits everybody.

4. Create your own culture. Working outside the mainstream can develop into something that benefits many and broadens opportunities.

5. Thank people that help you along the way. This should not be awkward. The relationships you foster will be there for you in the future. As you develop so do they. Don’t make the assumption that they are not important or not necessary, fans included.

6. Arrange that someone video tape your shows and take pictures that you can share. This
naturally occurs for many bands, but for newcomers just getting to the venue and booking shows is hard enough. This detail is important. It is self-promotion but can be done without appearing self-congratulatory.

7. Create your own band philosophy will help you focus and be the focal point of how you want to present yourself.

8. Elicit fans and friends to work for free. They will make buttons, fan sites, websites, silkscreen tee shirts, put out flyers, sponsor shows, write copy, design promotional material, and do a creative video. Make sure the people you work with share your sensibilities and philosophy.

9. Collaborate with other musicians. This will broaden your world and audience.

10. It never hurts to ask

Comment and Add your own suggestions to the list.

The Problem With Music Steve Albini


Ramona Cordova "The Boy Who Floated Freely" review

Ramóna Córdova
"The Boy Who Floated Freely"

After following Ramón Córdova’s music virtual style for most of this year, I was thrilled to purchase the CD "The Boy Who Floated Freely". I had a few brief conversations via myspace, watched his touring on youtube and enjoyed his escapades with The Big Purple Van Club. Ramón has been playing in Europe for most of the year, had a brief US winter tour and is currently in Asia. He gets around.

This CD took my breath away. I was deeply moved. Each glorious low fi track is rich with sincerity and tenderness. Ramón's soft tenor reaches high androgynous octaves. Playing skillfully a nylon string guitar in most of the recordings, he weaves clapping, walking feet, tambourine, organ, cello, accordion and birds chirping. All of these elements create a charming, quirky and imaginative component.

The CD presents a lyrical narrative that portrays life’s hardships, disappointments and joy. Revealing a philosophical openness to life that welcomes happiness despite recollecting the residual affect of pain.

Every song has a lead-in that invites the listener to linger. The melodious journey unfolds beginning with a chirping bird on the first introductory track. The Song “The Givers Reply” proceeds with an organ and two verses. Suddenly the unexpected sound of an antique twister noisemaker leads the rinky-dink orchestra of pots and pans to create a joyous ruckus. / I will shout out to the sky / and I'll sing along my little songs / to help me move the day along /

“Heavy On My Head” is a confessional song with poignant words / what I couldn’t ask with my mouth / and sadly / I was raised with hands / I pushed through some pad lock doors / the lyrics and delivery are penetrating.

The saddest most revealing song is “Brother” where he forgives his brother who shares the painful memory of their father’s neglect and abandonment. His brother chooses a different path that creates distance between them / you decided to fight like our father/ you decided to leave like our father. But he tells his brother of his regrets that / Underneath the lies I breathe / I know I mean the most lovely thing /.

Ramon expresses the beauty of the sunlight on the trees, a simple walk with a friend, paper airplanes and love. He gently paints a magical picture of a music landscape of unexpected animated sounds that capture the imagination and move the heart.

ECA (US) Clapping Music (FR) Sleeping Star (IT)
Buy: The Boy Who Floated Freely
"The Givers Reply" Video premiered on MTV Europe
Spectacular Cover Art: John Heron


Langhorne Slim Unplugged at The Rock Star Bar

Langhorne Slim and the War Eagles at the Rock Star Bar

Langhorne Slim and the War Eagles tear it up unplugged at the Rock Star Bar. After performing “I Love To Dance,” technical sound difficulties ensued. Langhorne Slim, Malachi Delorenzo, and Paul Defiglia made a decision to unplug the defunct PA system and go ahead with the show. And so they did…

The supportive crowd quickly took their places on the stage platform and closely packed the surrounding areas. Being close to the band, the crowd assumed the responsibilities of a supporting cast of veteran “War Eagles.”

Together they did a fifteen-song set of old and new material, including encores that didn’t take much prompting. In the song “Checking Out,” the audience weighed in with / I’m going home, I’m coming home / that’s where I’m going / building momentum. During “Restless,” the crowd/ band did their best. Langhorne, as a band leader, reprimanded us like a loving parent. Smiling, he said, “You got to learn the song.”

Crammed together and in it together, Mr. Slim still found space for his convoluted antics. He strutted with his guitar in the confined space, made priceless facial expressions, and sang on a drum set to maximize his voice level. Malachi subdued his usual drumming intensity and picked it up only for effect. Paul lent support on bass, playing some fine solo interludes. With little room to breathe, they never missed a beat.

Tonight sealed my belief in this band’s ability to connect with an audience. They have heart, authenticity, talent, and a love for music performance that sets them apart from other bands. Whether they are opening for the Pogues at Irving Plaza or playing acoustically at the Rockstar Bar, Langhorne Slim knows how to deliver.

This curated night of music at the Rock Star Bar rarely happens in the music scene today. The night's mix of eclectic music styles created an atmosphere that celebrates the diversity of the genre. In between acts, music tracks set a mood with songs by Hank Williams III, Musical Youth, Mongo Joy, and a few awesome recordings of the one-man band Abner Jay.

The night started colorfully with a cover band that did a fine job channeling Janis Joplin. Janis appeared in the form of a man extravagantly dressed to replicate. This was the only band not part of the original lineup but was a fun opening.

Jazz duo Tyler Miller, vocalist, guitar player, and trumpeter Dan Blanketchip played jazz standards. We were treated to tunes like “Saint James Infirmary,” "Dinah," and "Honeysuckle Rose." They exchanged duties throughout the set. The trumpet playing was pristine, while Tyler played guitar with ease and dexterity. His vocals were perfect.

The mood switched gears as the stylish Honne Wells stepped onto the platform and slowly sat with the guitar in hand. He steps, picks, slides, whistles, and sings with a voice that has never seen the light of day. He brings reverence and humor, channeling a slice of Americana with a refreshing new twist.

The time was r
ight for the upbeat original folk styling of Hop Along Queen Ansleis. Her fans gravitated towards her as she began her set with “Spinach Water,” holding a small touring guitar. She glowed and emanated joy as her powerful voice reached a range of high octaves with ease and veracity. Her set was a mix of favorites from her 2005 debut, “Freshman Year,” and new tunes soon to be recorded. She sang an outstanding cover of Hank William's “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.” It rang with originality and was so beautifully arranged I almost didn’t recognize it. She is a captivating performer ready for a wider audience.

The crowd wa
s unprepared for the Charm City Drug Band but thoroughly embraced their NY debut performance. This Baltimore collective assembled its instruments on-site. Finding anything that can be banged, rubbed, or hammered at the bar. The night’s set up was a plastic bin, metal piping, wooden dowels, a metal urn, and discarded refrigerated shelving propped up against the back wall of the platform. The improvisational clatter beat and surged organically, creating a beguiling sound. The audience was perked with interest. As the players went into overdrive, so did the PA.

The PA failure led to a delightful accident that propelled Langhorne Slim's impromptu acoustic session. The melding of great musicians was no accident. They were a sampling of one person’s eclectic and passionate taste and, in my opinion, a masterful night of music.

04 /19 / 07 Rock Star Bar lineup curated by: Marlon Ziello
Related articles by Obsession Collection: Langhorne Slim

Hop Along Queen Ansleis
Honne Wells
Rock Star Bar 04 /19/ 2007
Click on picture for Album Link / pictures by Artifact.


Willy Mason at Webster Hall 4 /07 /2007

Willy Mason Webster Hall 4 / 07 / 2007

Willy Mason walked on the stage alone, bent over his guitar, as his signature picking moves and deeply soulful voice started to register. The song "Into Tomorrow" continued as band members Sam Mason on drums, Mike Macky on bass, and Nina Violet on viola and vocals emerged on queue.

Webster hall
has a strong sound system but lacks the intimacy of the other venues I’ve seen Willy play. The best show was at the Housing Works Used Book Cafe in Soho, which seats two hundred people. What made that show so special was the three acts shared a common thread, not a common label. It was a curated show.

It is difficult being a support act, especially with the time constraints imposed. It was evident to me
 that Willy wanted to present as much of the new recording "If The Ocean Gets Rough" as he could. He, unfortunately, sacrificed his typical engaging personal connection with the audience. The music made up for his serious demeanor. Nina Violet stepped in with her lively, upbeat support. Sam Mason bore down, immersed in his drum set.

I watched the attentive and captivated
young crowd gazing up at the stage. After the first song, I realized that most were unfamiliar with his music. That was clearly evident when they didn’t recognize "Our Town," a crowd-pleaser that his ravenous British and Irish audiences enjoy. Many were there to see Sondre Lerche, whose music is of another sensibility and genre.

Willy and Nina’s voices worked magic together, and the band presented the recording's diverse texture without all the effects the CD affords. The viola was used effectively in Simple Town, creating a sonic backdrop for the sad and impressive words. "Our Town" rocked 
as Willy sang my favorite line describing the food offerings during a short prison stay / I got some white bread/ some cheese spread / and some mayonnaise /

After the set, I spoke with two lovely young women who were there to see Sondre Lerche. They were impressed and moved by Willy Mason’s music. I left them as they clutched their freshly bought CDs close to their hearts.
It’s nice to see that instant connection. Great music can have that kind of effect.

A must-see / Archived: A live set at KCRW with a short interview, it is very impressive.

Setlist: Into Tomorrow (Oxygen single), We Can Be Strong, When the River Moves On, Save Myself, Simple Town, Our Town (Where the Humans Eat), If The Ocean Gets Rough When The Leave Have Fallen. The other songs off the New CD "If the Ocean Gets Rough."

Album Web Link


Bright Eyes "Cassadaga" Review:

Bright Eyes: “Cassadaga” Review Conor Oberst The Crooner Can Turn a Phrase 

Conor Oberst’s voice, timing and phrasing is at their best in “Cassadaga,” Bright Eyes seventh Full-Length release. I have always felt that Conor Oberst’s phrasing style and lyric delivery could be compared to Frank Sinatra, but in “Cassadaga,” the connection is more evident. He artfully structures words in a frame without sacrificing the timing, while the acute measurement of empty space guides the listener to linger. The emotional weight of his poetic verse is highlighted by the subtle nuance of his singing style.  The songwriting blossoms with inference. It is uncanny how Oberst can attach imagery to thought, creating a pathway between the visual and cerebral cortex. Like: Standing on a doorstep full of nervous butterflies / or / vanish in a thick mist of change /. Utilizing this format, he accentuates the unpredictable nature of his song craft. 

Adding to Conor Oberst’s inspired vocal delivery is the inventive music mixing by Mike Mogis and orchestra arrangements by Nate Walcott. Together they rework the Bright Eyes discography into a polished combination of alt-country styling, digital effects, orchestral lushness, and gorgeous choral flourishes. With outstanding guest appearances throughout, including Dave Rawlings’ signature guitar, the vocals of Rachel Yamagatta, Gillian Welch, Sheri, and Stacy DuPree, Jason Boesel, and M Ward's contributions on “Soul Singer.” 

The Bright Eyes tradition of starting the first track with unusual sound effects like cassette recordings, children reading, keys turning on the car engine, or storytelling is continued in Cassadaga. “Clairaudients (Kill or Be Killed)” opens with a psychic reading, while supernatural orchestration leads into the atmospheric song. It explores the subject of destiny. A destiny is determined by individual choices or, in contrast, beyond the range of control, like in manmade and natural occurrences. This song sets the tonal direction for the entire collection of songs. “Four winds” is a rollicking fiddle-driven fare disseminating a tirade of social, religious, and political epithets and emphasizing the hypocrisies of destiny offerings. Your class, caste, country, sect, name, or tribe / There are people always dying trying to keep them alive /. Here he extols the state of civilization as it repeats history. “The Brakeman Turns My Way” emphasizes self-determination and the desire to search for answers. / It’s an infinite coincidence, but it doesn’t make a plan /. Some people are lucky to have the opportunity to change their fate and level out. The paradox is presented cleverly in the line / People snuffed out in the brutal rain /. The dichotomy is forcefully clear as the pulsating strumming and forceful rock/country styling take hold. The fateful direction unfolds with “Classic Cars” as memory awakens to recall a passing love affair / like two quaint ships in the night / She leaves him with these thoughtful words / everything is a cycle / you’ve got to let it come to you / And when it does you’ll know what to do /. The wise offering guides him and ultimately influences his life. In “Make a Plan To Love Me,” Conor’s crooning shines as sentimental strings pipe in on queue, and the lavish vocals of Rachel Yamagata are added to dress this romantic escapade. As they sing during the chorus / make a plan to love me / make a plan to love me sometime soon /. The saddest and most heart-wrenching song, “No One Would Riot For Less,” is circa Bright Eyes at its best. As he sings / So love me now / Hell is coming / Kiss my mouth Hell is here /. And / Little soldier / little insect / you know war it has no heart / it will kill you in the sunshine or happily in the dark /. This is where the forbidding future, impending doom, and love collide. The last song, “Lime Tree,” starts with simple guitar plucks and Conor’s voice.

At the end of the second verse, string arrangements exemplify the heartfelt words. Rachel Yamagata and Stacey Dupree's choral affectations are sublime, cascading the song to breathtaking levels. The song ends dramatically as he takes a major step into the world. Stepping gingerly into his destiny. / I took my shoes and walked into the woods / I felt lost and found with every step I took. Turning a phrase and dreaming big dreams, Bright Eyes has established their destiny with every track on this stunning recording. Label: Saddle Creek Records Artwork and design by Zack Nipper Utilizing the invention of a focal decoder, viewers can scan the art and see encrypted images and messages. Focal Decoder by www.3dimages.co.uk patent no.2315240 "Four Winds" Review / Artifact


Honne Wells with special guest Gregory Jamie At Tonic

Honne Wells with special guest Gregory Jamie from O’Death at Tonic.

Dolled up in suit and silk bowtie it is hard to look away, when Honne Wells steps on the stage. Then he speaks and takes the audience off guard, as they lean in to hear him speak. With an unusually deep range he intertwines tall tales that lead to song.

Joining Honne Wells on stage was Gregory Jamie lead singer and guitarist of the band O’Death. Honne Wells voice is a deep guttural baritone in contrast Gregory Jamie has a high intense nasal voice. While the disparity is startling and distinctive, their shared sensibilities about music is what makes the pairing so extraordinary.

They both embrace the roots of Americana and use that platform, as a vehicle to transform music. What evolves is inspiration, and collaboration meant to be fostered.

Donning two guitars, a banjo, some slides, tambourine and a metal sheet. The gentleman played, sang and two stepped in succession.” Holler At Da Holy” was very effective, because it capitalized on just the voices and the step. In-between Honne played a nice instrumental “Dram From A Dog”. The last song was a bonus “George P. Lennin Blvd.” about dirty water. Honne’s foot tapping, progressed into leg slammin, and the atmosphere became edgy and immediate as the pace thickened.

Witnessing this pairing was a highlight in my quest to find great music.

Set List

Oh-Literate Man Blues

The Seed That Ne're Got Sewn

Been Licken
Dram From a Dog Holler At Da Holy

George P. Lennin Blvd.

Web Album Link show pictures by Artifact


Cake Shop /Illinois,Trainwreck Riders and Peasant

Cake Shop March 26th, 2007
Illinois /Trainwreck Riders / Peasant, AKA Damien Derose

The Cake Shop is a venue on the lower east side. Entering at street level and then negotiating a steep stairway to a dark basement, it is hard to imagine the caliber of the music that unfolded during the evening.
I was thrilled to see Trainwreck Riders from San Francisco. The music can be described as hardcore cowboy punk with alt-country twang. Immediately I knew I was hearing an accomplished group of musicians. The crowd shook to the driving force of the engine that could. The music slowed down to capture the rooted vocals of Pete Fraudenfelder. It came back furiously kicking up dirt, descending on the audience, and leaving us coming up for air. The distant guitar passages by Andrew Kerwin sounded like echoes from a deserted town. The musicianship is apparent but does not sacrifice the essence of their raw live sound.

Illinois from Bucks County, Pennsylvania, makes a ruckus with their banjo-laden songs, great vocal harmonies, and exceptional drumming. Using other traditional rock instruments and the telephone distortion invention, they create a rock force in the higher order. Chris Archibald is quite the frontman, he has charisma. His verbal antics are natural, unrehearsed, and entertaining.

Standing up close and watching
Illinois professionally handle the logistics of the small stage was eye-opening. They seamlessly dealt with the mic not working and becoming detached, tangled in the wiring and the low ceiling. Because of all these issues, the fantastic harmonies that usually accompany Chris Archibold's vocals were lost. The first few songs of the set were the strongest and the most receptive to the small setting. Their sound calls for a larger and better sound system. With all that aside, Illinois put on a great show to an appreciative audience in a packed room.

Closing the rollicking show, with guitar in hand, was Peasant. He describes his band on myspace as "just one lowly Peasant." This 
description rang true last night as he stepped onto the stage alone. We were treated to a six-song set of new materials. Adding a nice touch was the song he played with the harmonica. His echoing tenor voice captivated me and the others that gathered closely around him for his quiet, moving set. His voice has unique charms that capture the beauty and sincerity of his songwriting. The songs are thoughtful and sometimes sad about love lost and found. His set left me warm and smiling.

Web Album Link show pictures by Artifact


WILLY MASON: If The Ocean Gets Rough [A Voice With Dignity]

2007 Full-length “If The Ocean Gets Rough” review; a fan's perspective

Willy Mason sings strongly with clarity and purpose in his second release, “If the Ocean Gets Rough.” Following the well-received 2005 debut “Where the Humans Eat, “Willy has honed his writing skill and stepped up his melodic verse.

The music is two steps up from Low fi. Each instrument, including the guitar, is finely mixed as a backdrop to the vocals. Sloppy determined drumming marches on for the tired soldier and beats unsteadily for the uncertain future. The viola is subtly woven into the blend, while female harmonies are lovely but not clichéd. What is a standout are the stellar time changes and the delightful bonus of finding a song within a song.

Willy’s voice is clearly up front and strong, it is a voice with dignity, adding weight to his well-crafted songs. Slow and steady, his words provoke an intentioned platform. He doesn’t yell, the clarity of the message is heard as he quietly screams his potent lyrics.

He carefully weaves personal introspective conflict while emphasizing broader social, political, and world issues. Longing to be loved, he branches out into the world, leaving and remembering the familiar, the nest, the broken home. In “Save Myself,” he reaches out for help to save him from the / vultures that copyright the word free / and other evils awaiting. He longs for unconditional love from family, he asks his mother in the song “When the River Moves On” / Will you hold on to what is gone / Will you hold the rock / when the river moves on/ as he claims / I’ve got to leave home to be free /.  

Simple things aren’t as simple anymore / death is easy to ignore when its numbers are on a screen /. Stated so flawlessly in “Simple Town.” The Simple town is sonically lonely, with an echo-like quality. The rain comes down under the simple sky, and life goes on, but secrets, history, and the past linger. In the song “The End of the Race,” he desperately sings / I see the ocean rolling past / I see the grass / I see the grass / I see it swallow up the past /. The past leaves scars and imprints that even the ocean can’t wash away. It churns it up to face reality.

The nation that is broken, the broken home, the broken self. He asks can they be fixed? Maybe, if we can / set our demons free / and /cut our secrets free /. Maybe we pay less attention to things we don't need and more to non-material things we long for, like the love of a father. As the son cries after his father's death / daddy what was it you really wanted / in the song “Tomorrow”.

He is learning to walk and negotiate the world. Sometimes he stumbles as unexpected conflicts or decisions appear like hot coals underfoot, making walking difficult. Willy knows the world is a tough place filled with secrets and regrets. And he asks…..If the ocean gets rough / would you help me sing / would it help to sing……….. It always helps me to hear him sing, especially when the riptide’s got me down.
"If the Ocean Gets Rough" 2007 Astralwerks


Bright Eyes "Four Winds" My Expectation Fulfilled

Bright Eyes
"Four Winds" single Saddle Creek Records

I heard Conor Oberst's voice 6 years ago, I was forty eight. A burned mix of Bright Eyes songs, ended up in my car CD player. It included the groups first recordings and tracks from"Fevers and Mirrors". The voice, the lyrics and the music had an overwhelming effect on me.
I just lost it. It was very emotional reaction. The music had awakened something in me. My passion for music was dormant until that moment. It changed my life and I am grateful.

Every year since that time, I have looked forward to Bright Eyes' new releases, with excitement and anticipation. This year is no exception. Buying the CD is part of the experience, opening it and looking at the artwork and lyric pages. I make sure I put time aside to listen and read. I will listen over and over. I never get tired of it. Oberst's words are always layered with multiple inference. This is never an easy listening experience. I like to work for art!

I am excited by the sound and direction of these recordings. The music is similar to the 2005 release "I'm Wide Awake It's Morning"
continuing with it’s alt country and rollicking folk flair. There is a difference, the production and orchestration are as layered as the lyrical content, mixing experimental effects that add an unexpected texture to the genre.The recordings have exceptional instrumentals including spectacular guitar riffs, awesome vocal harmonies and digital niceties like the repetition of the walking boots in the song "Tourist Trap". There are outstanding guest appearances from Dave Rawlings, Ben kweller and M. Ward, to name a few.

The alt country, violin driven "Four Winds" is the first track. The determined vocals emphasize the volatile lyrics .... / The Bible is blind /the Torah is deaf /the Quar'an is mute / if you buried them all together / you'd get close to the truth /. Religion turns away from the poor, displaced and forgotten. As another abandoned soul is remembered on a graffiti laden wall in a /chemical swirl/.

"Cartoon Blues" describes the abyss of depression as / a tumor we could not remove / an old friend / a constant / the blues / The music intensifies swept up in depression as the piano hammers out the demons. The strange sound effects express the lonely world of the blues. Then it breaks / I sweep up my broken spell /

I marvel at the lyrics. Like in "Tourist Trap", how the concrete city is depicted..../ The traffic is like a pack of dogs /. The title "Stray Dog Freedom" is thought provoking. I like the way the juxtaposition of words and meaning are intertwined. Opening the song with.... /There is a skinny dog/in a dirty parking lot /, these personifications bring to mind a broader context.

From the slow moving eerie gem "Smoke Without Fire" with M. Ward, to the beautiful orchestration and chorus, draping "Reinvent The Wheel", this six song collection are the appetizers, before the arrival of the full length main course, "Cassadaga". "Four Winds" are a welcome addition to my cherished and growing Bright Eyes collection.