Monday, February 25, 2013

Bryan's List of Musical Happenings 2/25/13

Monday February 25

Findlay Family Fun Fest  with Scot Sutherland at Greenwood 7:00

Tuesday February 26

Ryne Doughty and Darren Mathews at El Bait 8:00
Dan Jones and Friends at  Greenwood 8:00 Canceled!

From John Price... "Dan Jones cancelled his gig at the Greenwood tonight due to the storm. The Highroller Express - Jamie, Jason and myself will be playing in his place along with the great Emeal Myles on bass. 9 pm start time."

Wednesday February 27

Reeferseed Express at Hull Avenue Tavern 6:00 ($1 beers too!)
Onyx2 at Fire Creek, WDM 6:30
Bob Pace Band at Zimm's 7:00
Chad Elliott at Raccoon River's Songwriter Night 7:30
Dave Zollo at El Bait 8:00
The Snacks at the Underground 9:00
The High Crest at Greenwood 9:00

This event only happens once a month. 

Thursday, February 28

Rob Lumbard at Coda Lounge, Savery Hotel 6:00
Kim Simmonds and Savoy Brown at Gas Lamp 7:00
Open Jam Featuring Scott Long at Gas Lamp 7:00
Chad Elliott at Confluence Brewing Company 7:00
Poison Control Center, Christopher the Conquered, Alex Body, Brooks Strause, Mumfords at the Vaudeville Mews 7:30
Songwriters Night at the House of Bricks: Bryan Barker, Randy Burk, Eli Gardner, Brian Holtz 8:00
Max Wellman at Gramercy Tap 8:30
Soul Searchers at Greenwood 9:00

Friday March 1

Work Release Party with Bob Pace Band at Gas Lamp 4:30
James Biehn at Fire Creek, WDM 7:00
Max Wellman at the Grapevine, Clive 7:00
Minus the Bear, Rah Rah, 18 Individual Eyes at Wooly's 8:00
Holy White Hounds at Gas Lamp 9:00
Dustin Louis Blank Combo at Star Bar
Scratch and Sniff at Thirsty Sportsman 9:00
Hold For Swank, Thee Annunaki, Tyrannosauras Flex ay House of Bricks 9:30

Saturday night at House of Bricks

Saturday March 2

Bel Airs with Matt Woods and the Thunderbolts at Val Air 7:00
Jim Hall aat Sheslow Auditorium 7:00
Chad Elliott CD Release Party at N.Y. Avenue Events Center, DM 7:00
Bill Matykowski at Smokey Row 7:00
TYR, Hood-Tek, Mindblur at Wooly's 8:00
Crooked Mile at Gas Lamp 9:00
North of Grand at Greenwood 9:00
Bonnie Finken and the Collective at raccoon River Brewing Company 9:00
Max Eubank at Star Bar 9:00
Cirrus MInor, The Nemo Orchestra, Linear Symmetry at House of Bricks 9:30

Sunday March 3

Jason Walsmith at El Bait 8:00

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

5 Questions With Mike Score of a Flock of Seagulls

While Mike Score's name might not ring a bell on the surface, he fronted one of the most popular bands in the world during the '80s.

A Flock of Seagulls originated in Liverpool in 1979. The name itself, according to Mike comes from "Toiler on the Sea," a song by the Stranglers. He, along with his brother Ali on drums, Francis Maudsley on bass and Willie Woo on guitar practiced in the space above the hair salon that Mike worked at. Paul Reynolds eventually replaced Woo, and a new genre was substantiated. 

A Flock of Seagulls began play gigs and eventually released a few singles through Bill Nelson's Cocteau label. "It's Not Me Talking" garnered moderate air play throughout the United Kingdom, and "Telecommunication" became a favorite in the British club scene. It was "Telecommunication" that got the attention of a major label, and in 1982 the Seagulls released their self-titled debut through Jive Records. Their third release, "I Ran (So Far Away)" received major play on the relatively new cable TV show, MTV. This exposure propelled the Seagulls to world-wide fame. 

"I Ran" climbed to number one in Australia and hit the top ten in both the United States and New Zealand. The band also hit the world charts with "Space Age Love Song" in 1982. A Flock of Seagulls continues to be immensely popular in the United Kingdom.

Today Mike Score lives in Brevard County, Florida along the Indian River. He still owns a house in Liverpool. Aside from occasionally touring with the Seagulls, Mike has also embarked on a solo career. His latest single, "All I Wanna Do" will be released through Right Track/Universal on February 25th.

Mike Score today.

What are you up to these days? Are you touring? Solo or with the Seagulls?

I'm writing songs and touring with A Flock of Seagulls which is always great fun. I would love to do a tour with my solo stuff but we will see on that one.

Personally, what's been the biggest challenge you have faced as a professional musician?

Well, not being a great player is always a problem. I 'm not any kind of trained musician so I just make it up as I go along. That suits me fine for writing but sometimes I wish I could lay down some great lead lines,  but I just don't have the technique. But I get by.

As a pioneer of a genre, who were your musical influences?

Musical influences:  The Beatles, The Stones, Ultravox, The Cars. Marvin Gaye, Pink Floyd, Bowie, and any thing I consider a great song from country to heavy rock to life itself - to my own feelings, movies, TV shows - absolutely everything is an influence really - even just some thing someone says can send your mind on a trip that ends up coming out in a song a few years or days later.

A lot of people do not realize that the self-titled debut album of A Flock of Seagulls is a concept album about alien abduction. How did the band come up with this concept?

The first SEAGULLS album was initially influenced by Sci-Fi. It was what we were into at the time - watching movies like ALIEN or FIRE IN THE SKY - we had a song called "Fire In The Sky" too - it was a great time as Sci-Fi was just getting into its real stride then and more and more people were starting to believe in aliens and space.

Imagine you are stranded on an island. Name 5 records that you'd hate to be without?

Five records. Probably... The Beatles' White Album - I never tire of that one. And Abbey Road too, and Dark Side Of The Moon. The other two I'd have to sift through a lot of stuff to decide.

What is your strangest childhood memory?

Strange childhood memory... I was walking across a railway bridge not on the pavement but up on the wall I got about half-way over, looked down and fell off. I landed on the rails probably 15 ft or so below and i just remember thinking what the fuck, how did this happen? I still haven't worked it out.  I did get a big cut on my forehead for my pains - but I have often gone back and looked down from that bridge and I still can't work out how I fell off. I guess I was just a stupid kid.


Pertinent Links:

Mike Score  Official Facebook

Mike Score Official Twitter

Mike Score Youtube

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Link to The Bigfoot Diaries Webcast Premier

In case you missed us live and have an hour to kill...

This is what happens when you put a bunch of fellas on a tightrope without a net. Somehow the Bigfoot crew pulled off their first webcast with nary a hitch... despite having ZERO hours of rehearsal time. 

Of course, our idea of a "hitch" is probably a lot different from what yours is. 

Thanks to Bob Nastanovich of Pavement for joining us in the studio, as well as The High Crest, who performed amazingly. Also thanks to the founding father of The Dictators, Andy Shernoff for calling in. 

We would also (and especially) like to thank everybody who tuned in to watch us live, as well as those of you who are tuning in to watch us now. 

Our next webcast will be on Sunday, the 24th of March at 7:00 CST. We will announce our guests very soon. Plus we have some other surprises in store. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Bryan's List of Musical Happenings 2/18/13

Monday, February 18

Family Fun Fest at Greenwood 7:00
Fever Fever at the Gas Lamp 9:00
Circular Revolution at the Down Under 9:00

Tuesday, February 19

Andy Fleming and Dewey Ford at El Bait 8:00
Rival Sons, Tyler Bryant and the Shakedown at Wooly's 8:00
Acousti-beast at Greenwood 9:00

Wednesday, February 20

Reeferseed Express at the Hull Avenue Tavern 6:00
Luke Fox at Fire Creek, WDM 6:30
Bob Pace Band at Zimm's 7:00
Andy Fleming Raccoon River's Songwriter Night 7:30
Har-Di-Har at El Bait 8:00
Mutts at Gas Lamp 8:00
Ben Wantland at Greenwood 8:00
Head For The Hills at Vaudeville Mews 8:30
The Snacks at the Underground 9:00

Thursday, February 21

Rainbow Penley at Coda Lounge Hotel Savery 6:00
Stephane Wrembel at Vaudeville Mews 7:00
Andy Fleming and MIke Fitzpatrick at Confluence Brewing Company 7:30 CANCELLED! due to weather
Max Wellman at Gramercy Tap 8:30
Soul Searchers at Greenwood 9:00 CANCELLED! due to weather
Open Jam featuring Scott Long Band at Gas Lamp 9:00

Friday, February 22

Work Release Party with Bob Pace Band at Gas Lamp 4:30
Chad Elliott at Fire Creek, WDM 7:00
1st Annual Bluegrass Festival at the Ramada on Merle Hay Road 7:00
Luke Fox with Rebecca Rego at Peace Tree Brewing Co., Knoxville 8:00
Ganja White Night, Defender Vs. Darkgrey, Trillabyte, and Kinfolk at Wooly's 8:00
Thankful Dirt at Star Bar 9:00
3-Legged Dawg at Greenwood 9:00
Damon Fowler at Gas Lamp at 9:00
Greensky Bluegrass, The Deadly Gentlemen at Wooly's 9:00
Fancy Pants at Lot 33 9:00
Jester, Black Star Alliance at House of Bricks 9:30

Saturday, February 23

1st Annual Bluegrass Festival at Ramada on Merle Hay Rd. 1:00
Martine Locke at Ritual Cafe 5:00
1st Annual Bluegrass Festival at Ramada on Merle Hay Rd. 7:00 
Typical Males at Ritual Cafe 7:00
Bill Matykowski at Smokey Row Coffeehouse 7:00
Back Stage Ball at Val Air Ballroom 7:00
David Zollo at the Grapevine, Clive 7:00
Stuttrin Jimmy and the Goosebumps at The Fremont 9:00
El Dorados at Greenwood 9:00
Andy Frasco at Gas Lamp 9:00
The End (Beatles Tribute band) at Raccoon River Brewery 9:00
Heath Alan Band at Star Bar 9:00
Bob Pace Band with John Mattingly at 1st Avenue Speakeasy, Newton 9:00
Resurrection Mary, Viva Montessa, Nest of Snakes at Hull Ave. Tavern 9:00
Rudy York Band at Gramercy Tap 9:30

Overkill will not be at this show due to
singer Bobby Blitz having Walking Pneumonia.
The locals will still play.

Sunday, February 24

Botanical Blues: Mojo Jono Smith at Botanical Center 1:00
Luke Fox and Rebecca Rego  at Byron's, Pomeroy 5:00
Dark Mirror, Thee Annunaki, Green Death, and Murder Earth at Wooly's 6:45 (Overkill CANCELED) Tickets now $5.00 
Chad Elliott VIP CD Pre-Release Concert at Grapevine, Clive 7:00
Smooth Money Gesture at El Bait 8:00

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Signed Limited Edition Webcast Posters For Sale

We have a limited number of our webcast posters for sale at five dollars each. (If shipping is required, add another 5 dollars.) They are printed on high quality card stock, numbered 1-9, and are signed by Kat and Aaron of The High Crest and Bob Nastanovich of Pavement

Prints 1-2 have been sold. As of right now there are 7 available. Money will go to support our webcast.

Posters will be shipped first come, first serve. If interested, contact us at Thank you!


Saturday, February 16, 2013

Global Arts Therapy Project Gaining Momentum

Two weeks into incorporating, filing, organizing, phone calls to three different continents and a plethora of e-mails sent to this person and that, it becomes abundantly clear that the volcano of chaos has erupted and Global Arts Therapy has built some momentum.

Samantha Thomas is spearheading
the Global Arts Therapy Project. 
There is no day that I relax; this is a labor of big love that leaves me sleepless at night and excited to get up in the morning and keeps my brain working hard.  The process of building a nonprofit is tedious; there is always something that has to be done, whether it is filing documents or developing promotional campaigns, there is no end to the amazing challenges to helping others.

Alright, maybe I’m romanticizing this too much and maybe I’m not telling you about the e-mail that left my blood boiling and maybe I’m not letting you in on my fear of failing people or god forbid not being able to launch this thing after countless hours and late nights and two very hard years of 65 hour work weeks in South Korea. So let’s be real - nobody is perfect and my inner-most fears float through my head, they harass me like some psychopathic sugar plum fairy whom has nothing better to do.  Fear has been my biggest enemy for far too long and that’s why I decided to bring this organization to life. 

Global Arts Therapy’s roots are deep seeded in a project that I designed for an alternative culture class way back in my university years and after my father died I walked away from it; what can I say? I wasn’t ready yet, I wasn’t able to go full throttle and now here I am, still teetering on some balance beam, halfway between fear and halfway between enlightenment.

So what happens when an e-mail sends you into a tail spin just minutes before you are preparing to speak with someone who is well versed in nonprofit financial matters? Who do you call? What do you do? Its 8:30 am on a Saturday morning and most people I know are just arriving home from a long night out in Seoul; I am beating my alarm clock to check e-mail, prepare for a priority phone call and then get back to drafting documents. 

Before I can even climb out of bed to get a cup of coffee my laptop is on and ready to go. I message my consultant friend and my attorney while talking business with a nonprofit finance guru. Excellent! Meeting number one finished! Mission accomplished! We’ve got a person who speaks numbers on board! 

Now onto other pressing matters, in a panic I speed dial my consultant friend to ask how I should pursue this-with an hour of concrete advice and a new e-mail from the Messiah himself, the man who has no problems taking a phone call from 15,000 miles away at 10:30 pm on a Friday night; my attorney. After a few laughs, a billion questions and god only knows how much money later, my worries have somewhat subsided. The future of Global Arts Therapy hangs in the balance of the 501 © 3 gods and we’ve got a long way to go however all components are coming together. 

Tail spins or not.  I might be young but I know what I want and I’m stubborn enough to go after it. I refuse to stop until the mission has been accomplished, as Nick Cave says, “Bring it on!”


Friday, February 15, 2013

Don Larkin: HGTV WTF ISP (For Jay-Bo)

He’s gotta room but he can’t lock it
He’s got his number right on his pocket
3 grown men filling up the 8 x 12
Dorothy this ain’t Iowa it’s closer to hell

A guitar and his thoughts and early lights out

A pain in his soul he won’t talk about
HGTV on the cable just adds to the hurt
Ohhhh Big Brother can you spare a little dirt

Tuesday already so he’s writing to Tee

He writes so pretty man you just gotta see
Another day another dollar and he’s writing to Vee
Gettin’ his inspiration from the cable TV

Phones are outside on the wall in the yard

He calls his buddies & his Mama, 10 minutes per call
A little time in the sunshine wishing there was trees
The bright sunny days only add to the tease

A guitar and his thoughts and early lights out

A pain in his soul he won’t talk about
HGTV on the cable just adds to the hurt
Ohhhh Big Brother can you spare a little dirt

Tuesday already so he’s writing to Tee

He writes so pretty man you just gotta see
Another day another dollar and he’s writing to Vee
Gettin’ his inspiration from the cable TV

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Grant's Tomb: Post Grammy Halestorm Conniption

Did you catch the Grammy’s Sunday night? No? Well, me neither, I think I was playing Skyrim at that point, or possibly dicking around on But yeah, the Grammys! To be perfectly honest with you, the last Grammy Awards show I think I actually caught might have been when I was 15 and still owned two Disturbed albums (I was a late bloomer), but of course the metal blogs were blowing up this morning with the shocking(?) news that Halestorm beat out several well established acts for “Best Metal/Hard Rock performance.” I should probably preface this by saying I really don’t care, it was a couple years back when I heard that the Grammy’s were combining their metal and rock categories, and at that point I knew I would quit paying attention. Truth be told, I had no interest in even bringing this up, and if this seems rushed-sorry, but when you actually look at who was nominated versus the pitiful act that won…well yeah. 

Lets take a look at the nominees:

1. Anthrax, “I’m Alive”-meh
2. Halestorm, “Love Bites (So Do I)”-oh that’s sooo cute!
3. Iron Maiden, “Blood Brothers”-Maiden is cool
4. Lamb of God, “Ghost Walking”
5. Marilyn Manson, “No Reflection”-see my review on this album
6. Megadeth, “Whose Life (Is It Anyways?)-that’s not cute

Lamb of God has been nominated three times previously, but considering their fan base probably had no idea they were even nominated again and singer D. Randall Blythe’s current manslaughter charges in Prague, this wasn’t a likely candidate. Anthrax has also been nominated three times previously, and as I’m not to familiar with their music (what I’ve heard I didn’t enjoy-doesn’t make them bad, its just not my thing) I can’t comment on it. My guess would be that they would fall into a similar category as LoG-their fans probably weren’t watching anyway. Manson has been nominated before, but if you heard the song (go read my review) you would know why this never, ever stood a chance. So that leaves us with Megadeth. Where to start…they’ve been nominated no less than 9 times making this past awards show their 10th. No wins. That has got to be some kind of a record, no pun intended. Now I can totally understand why the panel of judges (hahaha, yeah they have a panel of judges hahaha) would be slightly leery of giving Dave Mustaine a microphone considering his penchant for anti-Obama/right wing rhetoric when he has the opportunity to speak. If you want to have some fun, just type in an internet search using the words Dave Mustaine guns Obama socialism and you’re sure to find some choice nuggets of cheap entertainment no matter what side of the political spectrum you lean. 
So yeah, Megadeth has been nominated a lot, and truly, it would have been fitting for them to win this year. Ever since United Abominations, Megadeth have reminded us why they rocked so much/hard in the first place and “Whose Life (Is It Anyways?)” is no exception. It’s heavy, got killer hooks, ripping leads and lyrics that are more than just…well, you’re usual metal/rock fodder of sex, drugs and debauchery.  

So, Halestorm. Who? Yeah, I don’t listen to the radio either. 

In fact, while I was aware of their existence, I couldn’t tell you the names of any of their songs, what the lyrics are or who was in the band for that matter. Yet, they won, on their first nomination. A couple other groups have pulled this off, Nine Inch Nails, Ozzy Osbourne, RAtM, Tool, Deftones, just to name a few, but here is the thing, these were already well established bands. They were/are to some extent house-hold names and several of them have gone on to be nominated again and win. Which brings me to the thing that really blew my mind: how did a band, on their sophomore album beat out well known, well revered (not Manson, but ya know…he has some fans…I think), bands that have sold more records than the winner could ever hope to? OH, sales you say?

Who is Halestorm and why don't they know how to spell?
On September 24, 2012, reported that ‘Worship Music,’ where their Grammy nominated song “I’m Alive” comes from, had passed the 100,000 copies in the United States according to the Nielsen Soundscan. That was the U.S. alone. Nielsen doesn’t include global sales, so you can imagine that was quite a bit of plastic getting purchased *coughdownloadedcough*. 

While I’m having a hard time finding the actual sales amounts for Iron Maiden’s En Vivo!, the live album that “Blood Brothers” comes off of, according to Blabbermouth-again-in its first week of release it landed on the Number 1 spot in Australia, Austria, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Spain, Sweden and the UK. Eventually going Gold in Austrailia (7,500+ sold), Platinum in the U.S. (100,000+ sold), 2x Platinum in Canada (20,000+ sold), and gold in Poland (5,000+ sold). 

Manson’s ‘Born Villian,’ where his nominated song came from, sold 39,000 copies in its first week and landed at number 10 on the Billboard 200. I’m sorry that I was part of that number. Oddly enough, it sold much better than the previous abomination. 

Lamb of God’s ‘Resolution,’ which features “Ghost Walking,” sold 52,000 copies in the U.S. IN ITS FIRST WEEK. For a metal band to pull that off…let me back up, for any band that isn’t being played on ClearChannel stations to pull that off in today’s digital age is excellent. Honestly, “Ghost Walking” isn’t even that great of a representation of that album. 

I’m having difficulty locating figures for ‘Th1rt3en’ by Megadeth, where their Grammy nomination can be found, but on its debut it sold an impressive 41,840 albums. Remember, this is the digital age where you can buy one song at a time, or steal the whole album for free. 

So…how about Halestorm? Their sophomore album “The Strange Case of…” boasts their Grammy winning song, but compared to the heavyweights above, how does it stack up?  As of February 6, 2013, Halestorm's “The Strange Case of…” has sold a whopping: 3,100 albums. Yes. 3,100. That’s it, and the truly screwed up part is that its been on the charts for a longgggggg time, currently residing around the #120 mark. 

Does quantity = quality? No, absolutely not, and if it did there would be a whole lot more sales for Iron Maiden and Lil’ Wayne would be back to living out on the streets. My point is simply this, Halestorm sucks. Their music is banal and pretentious, filled with lyrical clichés and repetitive riffs, and IN CASE YOU’RE WONDERING I’ve been listening to them while typing this. God help us if these are the kinds of metal/hard rock bands we recognize as having true artistic talent and class. 

In closing: “Who gives a fuck about a goddamn Grammy?”-Public Enemy

-Grant's Tomb

Monday, February 11, 2013

BD Webcast To Premier Sunday Night!!

Artwork by Cveckian
(Click to enlarge) 
Be sure to tune in right here on the website this Sunday night at 7:00 CST. 

Bob Nostanovich (Pavement, The Silver Jews, Pale Horse Riders) will be joining us in the studio, as well as Des Moines' own The High Crest. Also, rock and roll legend Andy Shernoff (Dictators, Master Plan) has agreed to call in and give us a proper christening. 

We've never done anything like this before, so feel free to call in and tell us how awful we are doing - 855-244-0077 - and if we like ya, we might give ya a t-shirt!


Bryan's List of Musical Happenings 2/11/13

Monday 2/11/13

Findlay Family Fun Fest at Greenwood 7:00
The Paul Collin Beat at Gas Lamp 8:00

Tuesday 2/12/13

Drama Kings at Buzzard Billy's 6:00
Charles Johnson at El Bait Shop 8:00
Lincoln Grimes at Greenwood 8:00
Primer 55, Murder Earth, Nest of Snakes at the Hull Avenue Tap 8:00

Wednesday 2/13/13

Reeferseed Express at the Hull Ave Tap 6:00
Bob Pace Band at Zimm's 7:00
Jason Walsmith at Raccoon River's Songwriter Night 7:30
Bill Matykowski at Greenwood 7:30
Jet Edison ft. Brent Garland at Gas Lamp 8:00
Thankful Dirt at El Bait Shop 8:00
The Snacks at Underground 9:00

Thursday, Valentine's Day

Spencer Brown at Coda Lounge, Savery Hotel 6:00
David Zollo at Confluence Brewing Company 7:30
Vusi Mahlasela at temple Theater, 10th and Locust 7:30
Josh Davis w/ Brent Garland, Mary McAdams, Joel Baker at Vaudeville Mews 8:00
Open Jam feat. Scott Long Band at Gas Lamp 9:00
Soul Searchers at Greenwood 9:00

Featured Show

Friday 2/15/13

Work Release Party w/ Bob Pace at Gas Lamp 4:30
Junkie Nun, Agrinex at the House of Bricks 5:00
I Say Yes featuring Seth Hedquist at Ritual Cafe 7:00
JJ Express w/ Scott Davis, John Mattingly, and Dave Altmeier at 1st Ave Speakeasy, Newton 8:00
David Zollo at Peace Tree Brewing Company, Knoxville 8:00
Iris Dement at Wooly's 8:00
Bright Giant with John June Year at Gas Lamp 9:00
Tim Stop at Star Bar 9:00
The High Crest w/ Josh Sinclair at the Greenwood 9:00
Jen Allen with the Cover Girls at the House of Bricks 9:00
Doggomite at The Hull Avenue Tavern 10:00

Saturday 2/16/13

Dustin Louis Blank at the GrapeVine, Clive 7:00
Thom Dukan at Ritual Cafe 7:00
Thankful Dirt at Arts Central, Waukee 7:30
Luke Fox, Ben Wantland, and Ryne Doughty at Hull Avenue Tap 9:00
Aaron Williams and the Hoodoo w/ The Shams at Gas Lamp 9:00
Heath Alan Band at Greenwood 9:00
Randy Burke and the Prisoners at Raccoon River Brewery 9:00
All Things King at Star Bar 9:00

Sunday 2/17/13

Botanical Blues: J.D. Flanigan and Pat Hemann at Botanical Center 1:00
Spongecake and the Fluff Ramblers at Byron's, Pomeroy 5:00
Kelley Hunt at House of Bricks 7:00
Sam Knutsen at the GrapeVine, Clive 7:00
Obsidian's Dream at El Bait Shop 8:00
Spoken and Index Case, Rest at Wooly's 9:00

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Tamra Spivey of Lucid Nation: "Bruised Fruit"

"Bruised Fruit"

"You have to go through a pile of bruised fruit to get to
any good ones, if there's any unbruised at all."

Am I lucky or star-crossed when it comes to musicians? I've recorded with amazing musicians, from the unknown to the famous. I've had a number one record on college radio without touring or promotion. But the one thing I've never had was a real band where each member is every other member's fan. As a singer I've always wanted to know what it would feel like to have true believers eager for me to do my thing once they hit that first chord. But I've never been able to find that band. Yet I have musical accomplishments and experiences I'm proud of. So for anybody stuck without their dream band, here are a few things I've learned.

If you're a musician you know how difficult it is to get a band together and how much harder it is to keep a band together. Personal issues like jobs and relationships, family and otherwise, or the lack there of, can be fractures in the foundation that create big problems down the road.

I've been lucky to have some wonderful old school music biz mentors even though I've always avoided the music biz. Once when I complained to Nitebob about band drama his succinct reply in his great New York accent was: "Bruised fruit." You have to go through a pile of bruised fruit to get to any good ones, if there's any unbruised at all.

The first rule of my musician strategy is to keep my mouth shut and let potential musical partners reveal what they're really made of. They always do. Despite all the writing about and by me online, and all the music I have online, well over a hundred songs and videos, I have an advantage, because people still walk into my house and treat me like a dipshit.

Dare to be passive and quiet. That invites bullies and acting out, and you want to see that now before you waste too much time. Never try to force the band to work. Don't dangle rewards, or try to cure or otherwise heal your musicians, don't force them by dominating them, or stunning them with your virtuoso brilliance. Success won't make it better, it will make it worse. Chill out. The good ones will chill out with you, and rapport will be revealed.

Your band is not your family. Don't romanticize your band. You are neither a tribe of hunter gatherers nor a sports team. If your family experience was unsupportive or repressive you're all the more likely to try to have deep bromances with your musicians. I think that kind of thing worked when bands of boys traveled the world banging underage fans, doing all the drugs in town, and getting paid in cash by managers carrying guns, yes I'm talking to you Led Zeppelin. But these days? Are you a musician or a Civil War re-enactor? You can have all the joy of making music together without the dysfunctional enmeshment if you try. That way you can stay focused on the music, instead of getting tripped up in drama.

We live in the digital age. For some musicians band trouble leads to a complete retreat into one man band complex. While the mad scientist approach can be very productive playing with other musicians can open whole new worlds so don't give up on playing with other musicians. Make digital work for you. Record every rehearsal, every jam, somebody you play with only a few times or once may come up with a perfect riff or hook that you can sample. Be sure to credit them. Acknowledge that magical band moment the music granted you.

Despite all this, somewhere out there right now the miraculous chemistry of a great band is happening to people in different genres of music all over the world. Some might even survive long enough for us to hear them.

-Tamra Spivey


Tamra Spivey is an occasional contributor to the Bigfoot Diaries and a full time member of Lucid Nation, an L.A. based rock/punk band which has featured artists who have been a part of L7, Hole, Lucious Jackson, and Blondie.

From Rolling Stone Magazine: "If Spivey sounds spacey, she's not. Her songs range from aggressive, screaming punk to beautifully melodic rhythm and blues, the very definition of garage-rock. Like Sleater-Kinney and Bikini Kill -- Lucid Nation has opened for both -- her band's music is raw, poetic, sloppy and infectious, and Tacoma Ballet is simply a bare-bones, kick-ass rock and roll record."

Pertinent Links:

Lucid Nation Youtube
Lucid Nation Facebook
Lucid Nation on Wiki

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Samantha Interviews Pavla Jonssonova

Pavla Jonssonova is the singer, guitarist, and bassist for the underground  Czech Republic rock group, Zuby Nehty. She formed the band in 1980 under the name, Plyn ("Gas") with Marka Míková and poet Naďa Bilincová. They performed at alternative music festivals throughout Czechoslovakia and at the famous 007 Club in Hradcany, Tisnova. They were a huge underground success and flaunted their anarchist views through a fused mixture of rock, jazz and punk. They gained popularity fast, and eventually the authorities began to catch on to the crowds they were drawing and their anti-establishment views.

In 1983 the band became blacklisted. "Plyn tried to pass exams that would officially allow bands to play in public." Pavla told me through email. "(Our) lyrics were found not suitable for socialist youth and the council in charge of the exams put the band on blacklist."

Not to be undercut by authority, the band simply changed it's name, to Dybbuk. It was a fitting change; in Kabbalah and European Jewish folklore, a dybbuk is a malicious possessing spirit, believed to be the dislocated soul of a dead person that must wander restlessly, burdened by former sins, until it inhabits the body of a living person... the perfect name for a band that had recently been censured by the Czechoslovakian government.

Zuby Nehty  in 2008  (Photo by Karel Suster) 

As Dybbuk, they released their first EP on Panton Records in 1986. A year later the effects of their new name wore off, and once again changed the name of the band, this time to Zuby Nehty ("Tooth and Nail").

Through tooth and nail, and various lineup changes, Zuby Nehty continues to perform today, though now the band doesn't live in an oppressed society. Through the Velvet Revolution of 1989, the communist Czech state was brought to it's knees and subsequently converged into a parliamentary republic. This occurred at around the same time as the fall of communism in Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Poland.

Then, through a process beginning in 1990 the Czechoslovakian Socialist Republic eventually separated into two different countries, becoming the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic. Music branched out into almost all forms, from pop, to bluegrass to metal to Indie to funk. A small underground scene still exists, but Zuby Nehty had become veterans of  the industry, and have grown from their underground roots.

The band today consists of Pavla on guitar, bass and vocals, Marka Míková on keyboards, bass and vocals, Hanka Řepová on drums, and Kateřina Jirčíková on the alto sax and the flute.

Samantha L. Thomas once again exposes the beautiful world of a music scene unbeknownst to most in the western hemisphere. Her travels have pitted her with scholars and revolutionaries, and in the case of Pavla Jonssonova, she was blessed with meeting both.


When I first met Pavla Jonssonova it was her eclectic style and calm demeanor that caught my attention.  As a faculty member of Anglo American University in Prague and a major driving influence in the Czech community of alternative culture and music, Pavla along with her band, Zuby Nehty are driving change and empowering young people to keep embracing artistic media.

I have had the pleasure to study under Pavla through a Central and Eastern European studies program located in Prague, Czech Republic and each class offered some type of unique aspect into global alternative culture and evolution of Czech Alternative music.

As I prepare for graduate school at Anglo American University, the conversations have begun again with Pavla and I am beyond delighted to know her not only as a former student but also a global friend.  Pavla is the kind of woman that empowers people to value and appreciate they’re uniqueness and diversity.

Pavla  on bass, Hanka Řepová on drums

Who are your biggest musical influences?

King Crimson, Frank Zappa, Pink Floyd and also The Beatles, Rolling Stones.

Why did you start making music? 

I adored music, lived by it breathed by it. It made me high.

What are your thoughts on the underground musical movement in CZ before and after the fall of communism?

I loved the underground, wanted to be part of it, they were the best, so funny, so on edge, so authentic- After 1989 it is just a nostalgic memory.

How did your band form?

I started playing with my high school friend, Hanka, we wrote a couple of our own songs and played them on guitars. Then other friends joined in.

What other forms of art inspire you?

Literature, film, art, theatre.

What advice would you give to young musicians today?

Never give up.

Tell me a punk rock fairy tale..

There are some in Czech..Some said that when we played at Lucerna we were so high on adrenaline we could float through the roof. 

Pavla continues to be a driving force in music and alternative culture around the world and I am thrilled to know her on many levels.  I hope that her energy, strength and creativity continue to bring encouragement to individuals around the world.


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Samantha and the Nepal Arts Therapy Crusade

One year ago I began developing a project devoted to arts therapy in developing countries. Little did I know that this project would forever change the way I viewed life, culture and society.  The plan was merely just supposed to be a week of teaching arts classes to kids in Kathmandu, Nepal, just a week of volunteering my time in one of the most beautiful places on Earth. 

How on Earth was one week enough? 

In one week I changed my views so heavily that I caused a personal crusade and a fight that no matter what adversity I face, I simply refuse to give up.

"One of the most beautiful places on Earth." 
What started as a simple series of therapeutic arts projects has turned into a blue print for sustainable art studios and a counseling program with a partnership resident artist program developing as well.  The importance of such a project is exponential, if Nepal Arts Therapy could gain funding it would mean the program could be fully infiltrated and I could be spending the next year in Nepal working with communities to help launch the studios and the therapy program which would mean individuals gaining access to job trainings and educational resources that they do not have.

I’ve got precisely 12 months before I would like to bring this program back to Kathmandu and throughout the next 12 months I plan to blog about it. 

Yes I will write about music and art as well- we cannot ignore the existing global underground movements around the world. However, Nepal is on my mind and the process of procuring funding, developing framework and problematic semi-social and political situations along the way are worthy of writing about; it is imperative that we all become a little more aware of what is going on around the world..

"Nepal Art Therapy is my crusade to street children who are directly affected
by poverty, human trafficking, rape and violence. "

By now you have come to the conclusion I am some hipster do “gooder” person who is only out to look trendy-let’s get one thing straight I developed this program while sitting in a pension that had no hot water and minimal electricity, I wrote the program in my notebook while in bed with a temperature of 102.  Nepal Arts Therapy is my crusade to street children and women who are directly affected by poverty, human trafficking, rape and violence.

Do I have your attention yet? Are you ready to hear the stories? Are you ready to take a stand? Can you find a way to step up and help? Have you ever wanted to assist in grassroots organizing?

Why is this program important you might ask? Why is Nepal in such great need? How can sustainable development further help benefit those in need? Why is it our responsibility to help them? Why not focus on our own communities who are enduring their own fiscal challenges?  In future weeks to come I shall be exploring the issues faced by Nepali communities, I shall also go into a greater explanation of alternative music and culture in their developing world. 

- Samantha

Monday, February 4, 2013

A Thousand Words: Featuring Aaron B. Engler

I first noticed Aaron Bradley Engler's photography about a year ago when I was looking through some pictures that the Family Groove Company had posted on Facebook. There were a couple that caught my eye, that seemed to "stick out" more than the others. I emailed the band's bassist, Janis Wallin, and asked if she knew who had taken the photos. I was writing a preview for a Family Groove Show show that was coming up in Des Moines, and I really wanted to use these particular photos for the article. So it was Janis who turned me to Aaron, although it was his pictures that initially grabbed my attention.

Aaron Bradley Engler: Self Portrait
Aaron was born in Chicago and raised in the northwest suburbs. He is a self taught photographer who learned his craft by watching others and constant experimentation. He attended classes at the Harrington College of Design, but due to a growing substance abuse problem, he took a medical leave after just one semester at the college. He worked through his struggles and no longer relies on drugs to get through his day.

"I'm clean now and I channel my energy into my photo work," he told me in an email. "I've turned my life around."

He's maintained a constant photography "career" by making connections in the Chicago music scene and using that network to shoot band promotion photos, live shots, and anything else that he is asked to do. His real job is in the field of heating and cooling, and even that allows him to get on top of buildings and other places that he normally wouldn't have access to, and to have those rare opportunities to get shots that otherwise might not be available to him. 

My personal favorite photo of his is one he took of the Chicago stop on the city's Redline train route. When I lived in Chicago for a breief time in 1998, this was the stop where I got off to go to my job on State Street. When I saw it posted on his Facebook photography page, I recognized it immediately as the Chicago stop. 

The Redline Chicago stop in downtown Chicago
(Click this, and all photos to enlarge)
At 25 years old, Aaron Bradley Engler is one of the rising stars on Chicago's music scene in terms of photography. Enjoy the photos he picked out for this article, as I let him tell you his story in his own words. 


Well first off, I just wanted to say how honored I feel to have Troy ask me to be a part of his blog! I really dig what he is doing. So this is the part when I tell a bit about myself and how I got into photography. I have always been into art. At a young age I got into graffiti art but after a couple of arrests by the local police I kinda decided to stick to making graffiti on paper instead of on local businesses. I appreciate any form of art, the biggest being music. I cannot read music or play a single note for the life of me but listening to music has always been a huge part of my life. Music does wonders for my mind and emotions. Music can calm me down, pump me up, motivate me, bring me out of a bad mood, help me concentrate, or put me to sleep. Music has always been a constant in my life. From punk music, classic rock, rap, hip-hop, metal, electronic, jam, I listen to it all! I started going to tons of concerts when I was twelve...mostly punk rock shows back in the day.

As I got older, my taste in music changed. In 2008, I was in Milwaukee attending a concert of one of my favorite bands, Sound Tribe Sector 9, and during the show I looked over and saw a pro photographer snapping pics. My mind began to race as if it wasn’t already racing a million miles a second! (Come on, I was at an STS9 show!) I had all these thoughts about how cool it would be to be a live music photographer. I decided right there that I was going to invest in a camera.

So about a month after that show I went into Wolf Camera and left with a brand new Canon Rebel, two beginner lenses, and a bag. I was set! At first, I had to sneak my camera into shows because I had a “pro” camera and no media pass. But that all changed when I met this guy named Adam at Wicker Park Fest 2008. It turned out that Adam, who is now one of my best friends, knows a bunch of people in the Chicago jam scene. One of his good friends is Felix Moreno, the bassist in Chicago’s own Future Rock. I began shooting Future Rock shows on the regular and they liked my work. So Felix introduced me to one of Chicago’s best music promotions company called Silver Wrapper. Things took off from that point. I was able to shoot every concert Silver Wrapper put on or promoted, which included pretty much all of my favorite artists in that scene.

I am also the lead photographer for Partyline Chicago. They help promote local artists and cover a wide range of events by featuring photos and running contests for tickets to shows and music festivals. I’ve had the privilege of shooting many major music festivals such as Rothbury, Electric Forest, Bear Creek, Summer Camp, North Coast, Pitchfork and Summer Set. Many artists like Bassnectar, Lotus, Future Rock, Family Groove Company, AutoBody, The Coop, and Punch Cabbie have used my work on either their websites, podcasts, or press kits.

My work has never been published in print yet but that’s something to shoot for! (pun intended) I’ve come to discover that photography is my biggest passion in life and I hope to make a career out of it.

I’d like to share a few photos of my work with you. I tried picking photos of different styles and subjects that I’ve shot, not just of shows. This was pretty hard to do. I picked out about twenty images but eventually narrowed it down to just eight.

This first photo was taken in Chicago in January of 2008, just a few months after I bought my camera. It’s of Guillermo Scott Herron, otherwise known as Prefuse 73. He was opening for the Disco Biscuits. This was the first show I photographed at the legendary Congress Theater. I had no photo pass so I had to sneak my camera in past security. Since I would have needed a photo pass to shoot in the pit, I had the idea to tip the security guard twenty bucks to let me inside. For those of you that don’t know what a photo pit is, it’s the space between the crowd and the front of the stage, reserved for the media. So once I got in, I began shooting very nervously and this is one of the first shots I got.

This photo is one of my HDR shots. High Dynamic Range imaging is when 3 or more shots, each taken at different exposures, are then layered on top of each other to make one solid image. This technique creates a much stronger, detailed image. This photo is three images compiled into one. I took this sometime in 2009 when I got into urban exploration. I was driving around Gary, Indiana, searching for cool abandoned buildings and I came across this deteriorated factory. I parked my car and wandered inside. I saw this half-knocked down wall and the jagged edge where it broke apart from the rest of the wall. I set up my tripod and pressed the remote trigger. What I got didn’t look like this at first. I had to compile the three shots when I got home on a special program and when the process was done, this is what I got!

This photo was taken on NYE 2011 at the Kinetic Playground. As you can see, it was used for Future Rock’s podcast from that show. I’m really proud of this one and super stoked they used it! It was always difficult to photograph a show at this location because of how dimly lit this location is. That venue was always a dark dungeon and on this night Future Rock was playing to a sold out crowd and I could barely move around. For this image, I simply raised my camera above my head and snapped the shot and hoped I got something worthwhile!

I took this shot while I was installing an air conditioner on a roof of a building along 90 and the Ohio Street exit. I normally don’t carry my camera with me when I work, but I knew I was going to be at that specific building...I made sure to bring my camera, knowing the view would make a great picture.

This is a promo shot of local Chicago jam/electronica band, The Coop. They had contacted me asking if I do promo work and I really hadn’t before but I figured how hard could it be? I asked them if they had an idea of a location where we could do the shoot. They left it up to me. I took them to an abandoned candy factory that I had been to many times doing my urban exploring adventures. I always thought that the candy factory would make a great location for a promo shoot for a band. The guys LOVED the idea, so it was a go! With this shot I used my external Canon Speedlite 430x attached to an extension cable. I had the band’s manager hold the flash for me about six feet to my right to give the shot more dynamic lighting instead of directly in front. That would be too boring. So I made due with what I had and this is one of the many shots that came from the shoot at the abandoned Brach’s candy factory!

This photograph is one of my favorite DJ shots. This is DJ Solo performing at Wolf Pack’s pre-party for North Coast Music Festival. This shot was taken at Smartbar Chicago at the end of summer 2012. He took his hands off the decks for two seconds and looked up at my camera and CLICK! The dopest shot I’ve got of a DJ.

I had to include this photo of Bassnectar’s set at Summer Camp 2011. I love this image because I think I did a good job of capturing the madness that takes place at a Bassnectar show! I just love the energy this photo portrays.

This last photo is of the Jackson Redline/Blueline transfer tunnel, underground downtown Chicago at 6:30 am. It was taken and edited solely on my iPhone 4S. I’m especially proud of this shot because I’ve tried so many times to get a shot of this tunnel with nobody in it but there aren’t many chances when it’s completely empty, unless it’s in the middle of the night. And in the morning, I’m definitely not going to sit and wait for it to clear out. I don’t think my boss would like the reason for being late to work being because I needed to wait for the Jackson tunnel to clear so I could get a cool photo!

So these are just a few examples of my work. I hope you enjoyed this article. Peace!


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Ab Photographie on Instagram: @Aaronbradleyphoto