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It is always good to catch up with a musician I interviewed in the past, to see how their work had evolved in the interim. The last time I interviewed Karyn Oliver was nearly three years ago. The mid-2013 release of Oliver’s new CD, Magadelene, prompted this new series of questions. A great deal has changed for Oliver in the past three years–but I will let her tell you about that.
Tim O’Shea: Since we last spoke in late 2010 (for your previous album, Red Dress) you got married. Has that major life change influenced any of the songs you wrote for this new album?
Karyn Oliver: Well, sure. Anytime you change, your writing changes with you. “Red Dress” was all about a major life change – I was getting divorced, so the album was all about transition and overcoming and becoming. I think “Magdalene” is a far more empowered album. Even the heartbroken songs have some sense of personal power. My narrator is a bit more mature, a bit more confident.
What keeps me coming back to Cayamo is the opportunity to discover different musicians. This past year, one of the new musicians I discovered was Ellis Paul. Part of Paul’s band was an incredible piano and accordion player Radoslav Lorkovic. Over the next several days of the cruise, Lorkovic also turned up jamming with several other musicians. I meant to conduct this interview immediately after the cruise, but life events delayed my intentions. I was glad to finally conduct the email interview this week. Be sure to visit Lorkovic’s Facebook page, as he is indeed an impressive photographer (as we discuss) in addition to his musical prowess. This interview includes a new Talking with Tim milestone, a musician quoting NFL legendary coach Vince Lombardi.
Tim O’Shea: You are currently touring with Ellis Paul, what attracted you to working with Ellis?
Radoslav Lorkovic: Ellis has been a great friend through the years. Music is just a natural part of what is really a great ‘hang’ Being on stage is little different than having a drink at three AM in some ridiculous club laughing. The music, however, is quite serious and precise. It is presented without out the baggage of seriousness. He also plays everything in C sharp–for me the most difficult piano key. It’s a massive exercise in a way.
Added bonus, GAO is also on YouTube, leading to this slightly amusing video (as important and as much as I value the GAO, the music on this video cracks me up). Honestly, I ask you to watch the video and try to ignore the music (really hard to do) because the mission of the GAO is a valuable one.
Earlier this month I received an email from musician Eli Lhymn of Helen Stellar (a band I covered back in October 2010). In the email, her wrote: “Since Helen Stellar’s hiatus last year, I’ve finally had the time and opportunity to work on my own music. I teamed up with Stephen Biebel . . . he’s an amazing songwriter and producer in Brooklyn. We’ve worked together before, and we couldn’t be more excited to bring this new band to you guys – 2 Hearts and Chemicals.” After giving a listen to Paradise Lost, I decided to interview Eli and Stephen regarding the project.
Tim O’Shea: What led to you two’s decision to pursue making music in your new project 2 Hearts and Chemicals?
Stephen: For me, the origin of our collaboration began before 2 Hearts. Eli had been making instrumental tracks and posting them to Myspace, and he was looking for a vocalist. I thought there was a lot of potential in the music for some great melodies, so I asked him if he would mind me singing some parts. That actually became our first collaborative project- Chemicolour. We made some nice songs together, including one titled 2 Hearts and Chemicals, which then became the name for this new body of work.
Eli: Stephen and I just work really well together. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything from him that I didn’t like. I really wanted to work with someone who I had a history with. I did not want to start another craigslist band.
Longtime readers of the blog know how much I love music–and Americana music, in particular, has really grown on me in recent years. So when I found out about Beth Harrington‘s musical/historical documentary in progress, The Winding Stream: The Carters, the Cashes and the Course of Country Music, I immediately sought Harrington out for an interview. As noted at Harrington’s website: “The Winding Stream is the tale of the dynasty at the very heart of country music. Starting with the seminal Original Carter Family, A.P., Sara and Maybelle; this film-in-progress traces the ebb and flow of their influence, the transformation of that act into the Carter Sisters and Mother Maybelle, the marital alliance between June Carter and music legend Johnny Cash, and the efforts of the present-day family to keep this legacy alive.” Below is a Kickstarter video about the project. While the initial fundraising goal was recently met, as we discuss in the email interview, there’s additional work that needs to be funded. My thanks to Harrington for her time, as well as her willingness to discuss her own musical career.
Tim O’Shea: How far along are you in the production of this documentary? While you have met your Kickstarter goal, can you estimate how much more you hope to raise to help cover “Editing, sound design, music and footage rights, animation, graphics and titles” expenses?
Beth Harrington: The Kickstarter funds will allow us to film our last several days of interviews and performances if we’re careful. Beyond that we need to raise several hundred thousand more to do all the other things I mentioned. But that sounds daunting and has been counterproductive until now, so we’re trying to deal with the film in chunks. 1) Finish shooting. 2) Refine the edit. 3) Complete the graphics, animation and titles. 4) Deal with the rights issues. 5) Finish sound design and other post production. We’re waiting to hear on a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. We’re also looking for one or more corporate underwriters (sponsors) who would want to be associated with the film. And then there are a couple of possible distribution deals we could access when we get close to being finished. But meanwhile we’re mostly relying on crowdfunding – individual donations – to get us to the next steps.
Years ago I remember when former 99X music director/DJ Sean Demery was interviewing singer Richard Butler (lead singer of The Psychedelic Furs and Love Spit Love). Demery was a huge fan of Butler and in an effort to prove what a great and distinctive singing voice that Butler possessed, the DJ had Butler sing his grocery list. And much to my surprise, Demery was right–Butler made carrots and milk sound passionate.
Another singer that has a distinctive voice is Michael Penn. So I was recently ecstatic to find out that Penn has a new song. It’s called The Count of Pennsylvania and he’s posted it on YouTube. When linking to it on his Facebook page, Penn wrote: “It struck me that even fake, manufactured or manipulated grass-roots/populist movements need folk anthems… I hope you enjoy.”
I do enjoy, Michael, I do.
“Notable Music loves you very, very much.” It’s not everyday that you run across a company with a motto like that. But do a search for Notable Music Co. and that’s a phrase that the company communicates fairly consistently. A music publishing company founded by composer/songwriter Cy Coleman in the early 1960s, Notable Music has been expanding in recent years. Even though Coleman died in 2004, with his widow Shelby Coleman serving as president with Damon Booth as VP/GM and Tom DeSavia as VP/Creative, Notable Music is “as committed to representing new and developing talent as it is in promoting the legacy of what we believe is one of the great independent music publishing catalogs of our time.” DeSavia was kind enough to recently answer a few questions. My thanks to him for his time. Given the shifting landscape of the music industry, after talking to DeSavia, I’m intrigued at the opportunities and successes that Notable Music have achieved and the upcoming projects it has planned (anytime someone mentions a new Sam Phillips project, I’m a happy man). Before jumping into the interview, however, please consider this paragraph from Notable Music: “A few of the artists who have recorded & performed the Notable Music & Portable Music repertoire include: Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Bing Crosby, Elvis Presley, Sarah Vaughan, James Brown, Peggy Lee, Tony Bennett, Rosemary Clooney, Isaac Hayes, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, Shirley Horn, Sammy Davis Jr., The Jackson 5, Michael Buble, Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans, Liza Minnelli, Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand, Queen, Fiona Apple, Wilson Pickett, Shirley Bassey, Nancy Wilson, Dusty Springfield, Sam Phillips, Patty Griffin, Madeleine Peyroux, Booker T. & the M.G.’s, and Robert Plant & Alison Krauss.”
Tim O’Shea: Last year when you and Notable Music VP/GM Damon Booth were interviewed at RM64, Booth said: “One of my goals for Notable when I started was for it to be a full-fledged music company. We’re publishers primarily, but if our songwriters need to make a record, then let’s get a record made and find a home for it.” The music industry seems to be changing drastically on a regular basis. How hard is it to expand your opportunities in such a climate?
Tom DeSavia: It’s actually one of the fun parts of the job. I’m always saying it’s 1956 all over again… meaning it’s like the dawn of rock and roll… ‘pop’ music sales, for lack of a better term, is not the massive business it was, so a lot of the financial muscle behind it has lost/is losing interest in music as an ‘industry’… so it’s moving back to a ‘small business’ mentality, and the canvas is blank… the business is being reinvented on what it’s going to be for the next 40 years. You have to do everything – and half the fun of it is making it up as you go along, because most of the old rules no longer apply.
I love listening to podcasts as I do yard work. So last weekend, I enjoyed the October 1 edition of Running Dialogue, Creative Loafing’s Podcast About Movies, as I mowed the lawn. The podcast is hosted by longtime friend (and Creative Loafing pop culture critic [not his official title, just my label]) Curt Holman along with Collider‘s Matt Goldberg and /Film‘s Russ Fischer.
Last week’s episode partially focused its attention on the Aaron Sorkin/David Fincher film, The Social Network. Holman, Goldberg and Fischer did more than review the film, though, as they actually provided some great perspective on Facebook trends in general. Over the years, Holman’s periodic presence on local AM/arts radio has allowed his vocal chops to mature immensely. As my friend, I’ll admit my bias, but he is my favorite of the three hosts.
At present they’ve recorded 17 episodes and I heartily recommend you give the show a listen.
Audio drama is a craft that I’m glad to see alive and well, and aiming to adapt to new technologies. One current example is Starstruck, soon to be released by The AudioComics Company. As described at the site: “Buck Rogers meets Barbarella meets The Hitchhiker’s Guide the Galaxy… The Off-Broadway Sci-Fi Comedy Masterpiece that spawned a comic book revolution comes to audio October 31! Written by Elaine Lee with Susan Norfleet and Dale Place, featuring characters from the comic by Lee and Michael Kaluta. First on compact disc, and pay-per-MP3s downloads, Starstruck rides the airwaves later this fall!” To mark the impending release, I interviewed AudioComics Company’s Lance Roger Axt and Bill Dufris.
Also as noted at the website: “Starstruck compact discs will be $22.95, not including tax and postage and handling. These are 4-panel 2-disc eco wallets … The cut-off date for CD orders is October 20, 2010. Your CD will be mailed directly to you on November 3, 2010, so when you place your order, make sure you write down your correct mailing address. Compact discs will be mailed first class USPS … Please note that these CD’s are not available in direct maket comic book stores or big box book stores like Borders, this is an item you can only purchase from the AudioComics Company webstore. And unfortunately these are only available in the States, but for our overseas Starstruck fans, the MP3 downloads are forthcoming, and worldwide. Info on MP3 downloads to come next month.” As Lance told me prior to finalizing this interview: “AudioComics has been a five year journey which is now finally taking shape, and I’m pleased to say that Bill and I have, beyond this inaugural production, at least ten other comic-to-audio projects to keep us busy between now and the end of 2012!” My thanks to Axt and Dufris for the interview. Also, please be sure to check out the AudioComics page on Facebook.
Tim O’Shea: First off, Lance, I saw your post about attending San Diego–can you talk about how much you enjoyed meeting Stan Freberg?
LANCE ROGER AXT: Some people came to San Diego to see Tron or Green Lantern footage, others wanted to see the cast of True Blood; me, I wanted to meet Stan Freberg. And I’ll tell you something, I can honestly say that I was humbled to be in his presence. It’s been brought up on many forums and comments pages, especially in the wake of the passings of Frazetta and Williamson, to appreciate the artists who are still with us. In my case, those artists are people like Stan Freberg, the Firesign Theatre, Yuri Rasovsky, Tom Lopez of ZBS. These people took radio drama out of the golden age, the “old timey” way of writing and acting, and showed audiences that with audio there are no limitations…so, yeah, meeting Stan was a real highlight of my first trip to SDCC. Not to mention he was the nicest, most approachable person, both he and Hunter. It’s hard to find the words now…the sound man’s gone silent.