take note, there's still a hole in my heart

My favorite thing about Saturday mornings is putting on a record, grabbing a mug or 4 of coffee, and just taking some time to myself to listen to whatever is moving me at the moment. It's a way to sort of exorcize the stresses of the week, to forget about the trivial stuff, and to really spend some time taking care of all of the thoughts and ideas I haven't worked through during the week. This morning, I can't stop spinning Volcano Choir's new album, 'Repave'. I was lucky enough to see them last night, and this record is just as incredible live as it is recorded. If you haven't picked it up yet, please do yourself a favor and go grab it. It's a soundtrack for the fall, a means to shake off the last hazy days of summer and embrace the crisp changing of the seasons. Justin Vernon's voice is still as entrancing as ever, and, similar to Bon Iver's eponymous album, there is a constant feeling of introspection and calm that this record brings. Here's "Comrade":

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4dZbJHT7_4&w=560&h=315]

I've been listening to a ton of other stuff lately as well, and I feel bad I haven't been sharing it here. So I think I'll just throw a bunch of great stuff out to you to accompany that Volcano Choir album, and hopefully you find something new (or old) you love this weekend!

 

I recently acquired a copy of Gregory Alan Isakov's 'That Sea, The Gambler' on vinyl, and I fell in love with this song all over again.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r2RgYkkK7OM&w=560&h=315]

 

It's no secret that I love Noah Gundersen, and SerialBox just did a great session of his song 'Cigarettes':

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vvnZRnK7ySk&w=420&h=315]

 

It's almost fall. Which means I'll be listening to the Field Report album from last year a lot. I love this stripped down session from SXSW earlier this year:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IEziJYWV9vk&w=560&h=315]

 

Like I needed another reminder that I wanted to be at Doe Bay - here's a video of Mikey and Matty with the Passenger String Quartet at this year's Doe Bay:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2tQfXmQ0Bmg&w=420&h=315]

 

To make it clear that I'm ready for fall - here's an old favorite from Lucy Rose:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GWpvtTNJPVM&w=560&h=315]

 

Enjoy the rest of your weekend y'all. Also, if you haven't yet - please come over to facebook.com/MusicMeansFamily, click the 'Like" button, and check out the upcoming house shows. There are going to be some special ones.

Be well.

 

 

 

Building Communities - Or Why I Write This Blog

As I mentioned before - I'll be announcing a few more house shows over the next week. I just want to say I'm incredibly excited about these, and about many more we'll be scheduling in the future. At the last show we did, with Small Houses and Ty Maxon - a friend of mine asked me, "So why do you do these shows? It seems exhausting. What makes it worth it?" I didn't give this person an answer that I was satisfied with in that moment, and I've spent a lot of time over the last week or so really thinking about it. After digging through endless reasons in my head, and weighing their importance in my heart - I realized it all comes down to one thing.

It's about community. It's about camaraderie. It's about shared experience.

I've seen hundreds of concerts. I have incredible memories of so many of them. But the one thing that almost always eluded me is a sense of really, truly sharing those memories with the people around me. It's rare that I could sit down with a stranger next to me after seeing a show at Lincoln Hall, or the Vic, and open one more beer jsut to talk about how incredible the concert we just saw really was. It's rare that I'd get a chance to chat with the musicians, not as fan and artist, but instead as two people who care deeply about art, music, and the human experience.

With these intimate gallery shows, I feel as if I've found a way to open hearts, to create spaces where artists can share their lives and their experiences through their music in a setting where everyone listening is just as invested in the artists themselves. And maybe in those quiet moments, when a few people sneak over to pour themselves another glass of whiskey, the artist can tell us something that they've never told an audience before. Or maybe they'll be able to play a song they haven't been willing to play for anyone, especially strangers.

Most importantly, I feel these shows are becoming a place where strangers can become friends, and where I have a chance to meet young, talented artists who came out to the show not because they're trying to make a name for themselves, or connections, but because they really care about music and the people who play it.

It really is about community.

I loathe posting without sharing music, as well as my thoughts - so I wanted to finish this sentiment with a couple songs from artists who I've had the fortune of meeting, spending time with, and getting to hear their music because of interactions I've had with them in person - not over the internet - which sometimes feels like a minor miracle.

[bandcamp width=100% height=120 track=1476767367 size=medium bgcol=ffffff linkcol=63b2cc]

[bandcamp width=100% height=120 album=149657411 size=medium bgcol=ffffff linkcol=63b2cc t=4]

 

I really hope to see all of you at one of our upcoming shows. It would mean the world to me.

 

 

 

 

 

Timber!, Or How The Pacific Northwest Won My Heart

I landed at O'Hare Airport last night after 11 days of jaunting around Oregon, Montana, and Washington State - with a very special two night stop in Carnation, WA for the very first Timber! Music Festival. Timber! was put on by the wonderful people at Artist Home, the same folks responsible for the magic that is Doe Bay Fest. It featured a slew of talented artists from the Pacific Northwest, and was built on the same principles as Doe Bay: community, kindness, and a respect for music.

When we arrived at the beautiful Tolt MacDonald Park,, less than an hour outside of Seattle, the first thing I noticed was the sense of calm. This was no Bonnaroo, no Lollapalooza. There were no corporations, they hadn't packed everyone in like a sardine. This was a beautiful County Park, wide open spaces, and a pair of quiet stages brimming with talent.

To get to the stages from the camping area, we crossed a beautiful suspension bridge into the park area itself.

Photo by Jason Neuerberg

Our group of four crossed over, exploring the merchandise, and wandering over to the Campfire Stage, where the incredibly talented Andrew Joslyn and the Passenger String Quartet started the weekend off in about the best way possible. Their blend of covers, original compositions, and contemporary pieces washed over us as we sipped our first beers, laid down in the grass, and enjoyed the breeze gently rolling off the river.

Passenger String Quartet

We lazed around this stage for most of the day, relaxing as we listened to fantastic performances from S and Avians Alight, then meandered around the grounds, checking out the main stage area then changing into evening clothes (it got chilly!) to prepare for my most anticipated set of the evening, the incredibly talented Bryan John Appleby. He commanded the campfire stage, quelling chatter from the beer garden with his soul-searching voice and beautiful songwriting. His cover of Simon and Garfunkel's Sound of Silence silenced the crowd as the stars glistened over head.

Thanks to Kelly Alexander for this incredible video:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Z4y4MmJRvk&w=560&h=315]

After basking under the stars briefly, we wandered back to our tents, and in a delightfully impromptu twist, we found ourselves wandering the grounds, my friend Chris playing his banjo, with some new friends in tow (playing a drum and another banjo). We wandered the darkness until we stumble upon a midnight jam around a lantern tucked behind some bushes. Lucky for us, this wasn't an ordinary jam session - it was Jacob Miller and the Bridge City Crooners, and they were happy to have a couple of banjos jamming along. I can't say enough about how nice these guys were, and how electrifyingly talented they are. If you get a chance, put on some dancing shoes and check them out. Trust me. Check out this song and buy this album. Do it!

[bandcamp width=100% height=120 album=2442650288 size=medium bgcol=ffffff linkcol=63b2cc t=8]

My girlfriend and I wandered away from the jam session after an exhilarating 45 minutes, and as we stumbled through the dark back to camp, I heard a familiar voice arcing over the trees of the park. We ran up the hills, to a campfire outside of one of the yurts, to find none other than Matt and Aubrey of the unbelievably talented band The Local Strangers playing a set around the campfire. Even as I type this, I struggle to believe the incredible amount of things we witnessed in such a short time. And this was only the first day!

We woke up early on Saturday, wandered around, hung out with neighbors and new friends, and then wandered down to the Main Stage where the day was starting off. After a fantastic set from Jacob Miller and the Bridge City Crooners, we walked behind the stage to take a swim in the river while we listened to Zoe Muth and the Lost High Rollers. We swam around, listening to the fantastic set, and ran into some of the artists who had played the day before taking a swim. It felt like a really special opportunity.

We stayed at the Main Stage for the next four sets, and man oh man, was there some incredible music played. We witnessed a stunning early afternoon set from the fabulous Lemolo, who played for an absolutely entrancing 45 minutes. They're a band that everyone should be listening to. Seriously.

Lemolo

We then found ourselves dancing, jumping, and hollering along with infectious drum-filled choruses of Kithkin, and the catchy pop-folk of Ivan and Alyosha. Both of these bands also fall under the category of not to be missed.

After Ivan and Alyosha finished, we felt the need to take a break. While wandering through the field near the quiet camping area - we stumbled upon Noah Gundersen filming a session of his song 'Dying Now'. We settled into the grass and watched him play the song a few times, just incredibly grateful for that twist of fate.

'Dying Now' Session

We found our way back to camp, changed into clothes for the evening, and headed down to  the campfire stage to catch the final two sets of Timber! The first, a stunning set from Boston transplant Vikesh Kapoor, performing with the Passenger String Quartet. His careful, contemplative brand of folk whistled through the air, sending shivers up all of our spines. That paved the way for the last, and most memorable set of the fest. Noah Gundersen, performing with a full band. He wove his way through songs new and old, and performed maybe the most heartbreaking rendition of the Joni Mitchell song 'A Case of You' that I've ever heard. Thinking back on the weekend now, Noah's set still renders me a little speechless. Here's another video from Kelly Alexander - this one of Noah performing his track 'Fire'.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZVBC-1aG_sE&w=560&h=315]

As I struggle to find a way to get back into the spirit of work, and Chicago, I needed to write this just to express my incredible gratitude for having had the opportunity to experience such a perfect, perfect music festival.

Our Timber! Family

On Why I'm Thankful for the Internet

Thanksgiving is tomorrow! I've begun to reflect on the things that I'm really, truly thankful for - and as I sat down to write this post, I realized how truly thankful I am for the music community that  the internet has fostered and allowed to grow and shrink simultaneously. I've found so many bands through blogs, forums, social media, and a few incredibly innovative websites that continue to blow me away on a daily basis. So I want to use today's post to introduce you to some of those resources, and the community that's so important to me.  

Bandcamp

First - a giant, gleeful shout-out to Bandcamp. For those unfamiliar, Bandcamp is a tool that allows artists to sell their music directly to their fans, in a simple, straightforward manner. The artist receives the majority of the money (At least 80%) and can name their prices, etc. Additionally, you can listen to entire albums before buying. As more and more artists embrace this medium, I hope more and more people buy their music here, as opposed to funneling money into iTunes, money Apple certainly doesn't need. Also, as of today, Bandcamp is beta testing a social component to their site, in which users can share things they've bought, interact with artists and other fans, and discover phenomenal music. You have to check this site out. Below, here are links to a few awesome songs I found in about ten minutes of exploring the new functions, all of which are phenomenal.

 

[bandcamp track=1039584313 bgcol=FFFFFF linkcol=4285BB size=venti]

[bandcamp track=3809657895 bgcol=FFFFFF linkcol=4285BB size=venti]

[bandcamp track=1693462345 bgcol=FFFFFF linkcol=4285BB size=venti]

 

Also, feel free to check out my beta profile over there, and see what I'm buying/collecting. Here's the link: http://bandcamp.com/musicmeansfamily

 

Daytrotter

Daytrotter is the brainchild of Sean Moeller, who lives over in Rock Island, IL. If you haven't checked out this site yet, you need to. Daytrotter features daily live sessions from tons of artists, both established and new, with awesome mini write-ups and illustrations, and all of the recordings are fabulous. A $24 yearly membership gives you access to all of the downloads you can fit on your computer, and it's one of the best gifts I've given myself in a while. Additionally, you can download their app to your phone and listen to new sessions all day long, which is pretty great for work/transit/etc.

Here's a link to their phenomenal session from late last year with The Lumineers. Listen, check it out, and then get a membership. You really won't regret it. Daytrotter - Lumineers

 

The Blogosphere

There are so many wonderful independent music blogs around right now, that are infinitely more valuable than the garden variety Stereogum/Pitchfork crap - and you should be reading them. Here's a few I love.

 

Songs For The Day - This blog, run by my friend Adam, highlights a new song or two or seven everyday that you should check out. His recommendations are generally perfect. And he's a pretty cool dude.

Folk Hive - Another small blog, this one from Missouri. Sam(antha) who writes it, is a wonderful writer with great taste in music. Please pay her site a visit.

Fuel/Friends - This is the blog that got me into blogging. Heather is a beautiful writer, and her interaction with, and support of, the music community is really sweet. Every so often she posts an amazing chapel session, recorded near her home in Colorado, and you can download them for free. Today she posted this gem from Hey Marseilles. Watch the video below, then check out her blog and download the session (and all of the other sessions too).

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5tSeYWQ1CwA&w=640&h=360]

 

Check out all of these awesome things. Enjoy your turkey tomorrow. Enjoy friends & family. I probably won't pust again until Saturday, so if you do shop on Friday, my only request is that you do your best to shop local. Visit cool stores in your neighborhood. Participate in Record Store Day. Get some really cool limited release records from The Lumineers, The White Stripes, and tons more. Most importantly, don't stress. Love you all!

Thank You Note

After responding to a twitter cry for help from The Bowerbirds, last night my friend Ben and I found ourselves in the awesome position of getting to do a favor for The Bowerbirds, a band I've loved for about 4 years now. We volunteered to take care of their absolutely adorable dogs, Olive and Spice,  during the duration of their time at SPACE in Evanston. In doing this, we got to spend some time with Beth, Phil, Yan, and Leah, the aforementioned adorable dogs, and Chicago native Rebecca Rego, as well as the North Carolina band Prypyat. I can't begin to say enough about the immeasurable warmth, kindness, and talent of all of these people. They were gracious, welcoming, and so thankful to us for doing them a favor that we were more than happy to do. Also worth mentioning is how wonderful the backstage area of SPACE is, how well they seem to take care of touring artists who come through, and how excellent the food is there. Not to mention the incredible decor, sound, and service within the venue itself.

The show itself was absolutely breathtaking, from Prypyat's first song, all the way to the last note of the Bowerbirds' encore. If you find yourself near a Bowerbirds show in the near future (whenever their next tour may be) you should take it upon yourself to make sure you're there.

All in all, last night was a reminder of how powerful kindness, community, art, and the willpower of good people really can be. Watch this clip below, and seriously, go buy one of their records. They are incredible, beautiful people - and their music is perfect for these coming winter months.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLFf1ZVivNY&w=640&h=360]