You are currently browsing the monthly archive for October 2007.

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Listener Project preparing to do a set (Kristen on the left)

(Kristen)

We hear about it all the time on tv, read about it in the magazines, and run across the booths at music festivals. Musicians and their charity work has become something to expect. I admit, the thought of supporting a charity didn’t cross my mind initially because of my awesomely unselfish heart. No, the thought came to me because I saw other bands doing it while on tour. It wasn’t until I began to research different organizations that my reason for wanting a charity to support became more about my own heart, and less about doing what everyone else is doing.

After spending hours scrolling through massive amounts of websites after googling the words, “charity organizations,” I landed on Covenant House (www.covenanthouse.org). Covenant House International is the largest privately-funded agency in the Americas providing shelter and other services to homeless, runaway and throwaway youth. Perfect. Coming from a background in psychology, and having quite the soft spot for troubled youth, Covenant House has become my focus.

“Give Change ‡ Make Change” is my band’s (Listener Project) campaign slogan to raise support for Covenant House. The idea is that it is easier to ask people to give the loose change that is in their pockets, than it is to just give money. Now, at every show, we have a large glass jar with the Covenant House logo on it, asking everyone to give change to make change.

As I have done more and more research on organizations such as this one, I have come to realize the life lessons and benefits that come from supporting good causes. It is something that teaches and reminds us that God’s world is much bigger than we are capable of imagining. The only way we can attempt to get close, is by imagining with our hearts for others. I want to encourage anyone and everyone to do a bit of research, get your families involved, teach your kids, and stretch yourself. Find a cause that fits your own hearts and minds. Support, in your own way. Make it yours, and then share it with others.

Here is a list of some of the causes I came across while doing my own research:

1. The National Christian Foundation
2. CARE
3. PATH
4. Conservation International
5. City of Hope and Affiliates
6. American Red Cross
7. Mayo Clinic
8. Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America
9. Save the Children
10. International Rescue Committee

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photo: Dust

(kendra)

I want to introduce you to a new site that I love. It’s dusbrand.com and it happens to belong to my husband, producer/DJ Dust. The site was meticulously built to give the viewer the full experience of what he does musically and artistically.

Be sure to check out the “current projects” page which provides audio tracks of his work with Mars ILL and Deepspace 5, and collaborations with artists like Sev Statik and Poems (seen recently in the artist spotlight). You can also take a listen to the music he’s done for each artist on the little audio player located at the bottom left corner of each project page. And if you’re an artist looking for a place to record, click that link on the Dust page to Mother of Invention Studio to get a peek at where the work was done. The MoI site also features his work as a music video producer, package designer, and music engineer.

His newest release “Back to Dust” with Sev Statik is now available in the dustbrand store, and was selected as one of the Rawkus 50. He and Manchild of Mars ILL will be doing a show this Saturday, Nov 3rd in Charlotte. See marsill.com for details.

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This week we decided to tackle “songs that take me back to childhood.” Songs our parents played on the stereo while we were young; songs we heard on the radio or (*ahem*) 8 track player while we stood in the back seat along for the ride. Join us as we walk down memory lane…

Andrea
my sharona (the knack)
daniel (elton john)
I got a name (jim croce)
jive talkin (bee gees)
we will rock you/we are the champions (queen)
BONUS* the entire xanadu album

and the list could go on and on and on. a few more that I have to mention: the entire ‘grease’ album, the entire ‘saturday night fever’ album. and wow, do I miss the mammoth-sized brown stereo that used to play our beloved records over and over. feels like such a long time ago.

Zabs
anything beach boys
i wanna dance with somebody – whitney houston
i got my mind set on you- george harrison
oh mickey your so fine– toni basil
i’m gonna fly- amy grant

Kendra
Rhinestone Cowboy – Glen Campbell
Delta Dawn – Helen Reddy
Devil Went Down to Georgia – Charlie Daniels’ Band
When I Need You – Leo Sayer
Magic Man – Heart (actually the entire Dreamboat Annie album)

(honorable mention Year of the Cat – Cat Stevens, Love Will Keep Us Together – Captain and Tenille)

Kristen
American Pie by Don McLean
Help Me, Rhonda by The Beach Boys
The Power of Love by Frankie Goes to Hollywood
Next Time I Fall by Peter Cetera w/ Amy Grant
Any song by Chicago!!

Meridith
the muppets-“rainbow connection” from the muppet movie
ELO- “i’m alive” from the xanadu soundtrack
kc & the sunshine band – “shake your booty”
the bee gees – “how deep is your love”
the beatles – “she came in through the bathroom window”
again, it’s sooooo hard to pick just five

Joy
Bob Dylan: Subterranean Homesick Blues (Dad memorized this in college and used to sing it to impress us.)
Ray Charles: Straighten up and Fly Right (My brother Joel recorded this on a late night Jazz show one night and listened to it over and over and over)
Jim Croce: Bad Bad Leroy Brown (Dad would sing this to us when we were in trouble (not big trouble, but little trouble)
Ricky Nelson: Traveling Man (I bought an oldies tape in 3rd or 4th grade and this was on it.)
My Mom: Good Morning, Good Morning, Good Morning (Agapeland) (Mom would sing this to us ALL THE TIME in the mornings:)

join us friday for some fives.

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Seabird

(Zabs)

After just recently finishing in the studio with producers Jacquire King (modest mouse, kings of leon) and allen salmon, piano rock band SEABIRD will release their debut EP “Let Me Go On – EP” on Nov. 6th with EMI. It will be sure to satisfy even the pickiest of palates. The EP includes three songs from their upcoming full length album, and a special remix from Chad Howat of the indie buzz band Paper Route. Their Full Length album entitled “Til We See The Shore” will be releasing early 2008. The voice of Aaron Morgan, teamed with his concert level piano playing, and tightly timed band have developed a sound that should blow up on the music scene. With lyrics meant to build you up or vent your soul with none of the standard filth that comes with much of today’s music, Seabird is surely safe for any listener, church-going or not.

In Seabirds own words, “People love music, we enjoy it too. We hope our songs make you want to hear more. Not only from us, but from others who also have a heart to hear more beautiful music. ‘Dont conform any longer to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.’ We hope our songs lift you up and never tear you down. Why listen if it takes you further away from what you really wanted in the first place? Seabird is 4 friends from Northern Kentucky. Aaron Hunt is our best drummer, Chris Kubik is our best bassist, Ryan Morgan is our best face melter/guitarist, and Aaron Morgan is our best mullet, pianist, and singer. We hope you like what you hear… ”

Seabird has recently been featured in Pause Magazine and several local Cincinnati papers had this recent feature on the guys and their success.

Visit Seabird on Myspace or through Purevolume , and their website .

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Erin Zappin, photo by: shutterthink.com

(Meridith)
For a long time now I’ve wanted to do interviews with the people who make things happen behind the scenes, the “unsung heroes” in the world of music and who fits that description better than the wife of a recording artist? When I had the chance to do an interview for musicmamas.com, Erin Zappin, was the first person who came to mind. I spent seven years working for experimental Hip Hop artist John Reuben working side by side with Erin. She does an amazing job balancing being “the wife of an artist” with being a loving and supportive wife and creating a home for him to come back to from the road.

Since Erin is not only a former co-worker but a very close friend it was pretty fun to try and come up with interview questions for her. So, without further ado here she is. The “mystery chick” that John Reuben has rapped about. I am very pleased to introduce to you Erin Zappin, an amazing woman, wife, friend with many hidden creative talents of her own.

What role did music play in your life growing up? What is the evolution of music in your life?

Music was just music for me. It’s always just been sort of this thing that was there that I could adjust depending on my mood. The evolution of music in my life…..hum, funny….let’s see. My first cassette was LL Cool J “Bigger and Deffer”, my first concert was Pink Floyd “The Division Bell”, two of the first CD’s I ever purchased with my own money were, Sarah McLachlan, “Fumbling Towards Ecstasy”, and Radiohead, “The Bends”. Now, I have a wide range of music. Anything from Andrea Bocelli and Ella Fitzgerald, to The Mars Volta, Muse, Queen, Stavesacre, Five Iron Frenzy, Mindy Smith, The Postal Service, Fiona Apple, Common, Pigeon John, Jay Z, Mos Def, A Tribe Called Quest, Tim Hughes and the Amelie Soundtrack

Do you play any instruments or make music yourself? Have you ever taken lessons?

Unfortunately, the only music instrument that I have every learned to play was the clarinet in middle school but I probably couldn’t play it now if I tried.

What are you currently listening to and/or who are your favorite artists?

Currently, I’m really loving the newest Modest Mouse “We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank” album as well as The Polyphonic Spree, and The Beatles “Greatest Hits Album.”

How did you and your husband meet and how did you “get together”?

We grew up in the same town and met in middle school but didn’t “get together” until after college. We became really great friends just after high school and then something just clicked and I gave in and started dating him. A year later, we got married.

What role does music play in your life now? How involved are you in your husband’s music? Have you ever been on any of his albums?

I guess there are two sides to music in my life now. For me personally, music is still pretty mood dependent. Sometimes I get stuck on an album or artist for period of time and other times I kind of just flip through my collection. The other side is John’s music career. Apart from having a husband who’s profession is “Rapper” and all of the pretty accurate stereotypes that a musician brings to a relationship, i.e. “the never ending, which verse do you like better or (my favorite), what level of bass do you prefer on this song?” and the endless scraps of paper and journals, I’m really not too involved musically. The flip side of that, apart from any sort of album negotiations, I handle most of the business side of his career. You know… email, the wonderful world of myspace, merchandise, finances, payroll and taxes. I have been on one of his albums. You would never in a million years pick out my background vocal part. I’m pretty sure it was on his “Professional Rapper” album but for the life of me I can’t think of which song. Real confidence booster I guess. Ha.

Is it difficult to make the transition between being a single woman while your husband is on the road to be a wife when your husband is home? Is it frustrating when people ask you how you manage having him gone so much?

I used to hate it when people asked how I managed having John gone so much because it totally made me feel like I had no other identity apart from the role of “wife”, but I think that for most people, it’s really hard having your other half touring for sometimes 2 months at at time away from you. I think that we were created, by God, for relationship and so independence and time apart can become isolation really quickly. John and I have always sort of taken his traveling and our time apart pretty easily. I’m not sure if it’s just the way we’re both built or if it’s just the grace of God (a mix of both I’m sure). I think that both of us have had a harder go at the dependence part. It’s all about balance. I heard someone once say, that “the best marriage scenario is two independent people coming together choosing dependency.”

How do you deal with the highs (and lows) of your huband’s success in the music industry?

You know honestly, I don’t really see much of a difference between the two in life. Both of them include some loving and a swift kick in the ass.

If you could pick any bands for your husband to go on tour with who would it be?

Purely for my own enjoyment Jay Z, Justin Timberlake, Modest Mouse, the Beastie Boys, the Danielson Family (if they were still together) and maybe David Bowie.

If you had to pick your top 5 records what would they be?

Of all time? Not a clue. But for right now, Modest Mouse “We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank”, Muse “Black Holes & Revelations, Sigur Rois “Takk”, Sunny Day Real Estate (All of them), Sufjan Stevens “Seven Swans”.

Do you have any creative hobbies? How do you express yourself creatively?

I love to bake and would love to have my own bakery/patisserie one day.

For more about John Reuben’s music including music clips, videos, tour dates and more go to johnreuben.com or his myspace page myspace.com/johnreuben. John Reuben’s latest album “Word of Mouth” was released in February of this year on Gotee Records. He is currently at work on his 6th record and doing tour dates across the country.

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Arcade Fire “Neon Bible”

(Kristen)

Over the past year, I have become a huge fan of Arcade Fire. In relation to last week’s question about Radiohead, and how the music industry is effected by the technological advances of the interweb, there are some bands out there who have embraced the advances, and embraced it well. Arcade Fire has a new music video of their song Neon Bible. It is completely interactive when watched on your computer, and quite creative. I think this is a great example of a band who is “keeping up with the time.” What are some other examples of artist who are showing creative ways to market their music to a more technologically advanced crowd?

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photo: Andrea

We all have them. The songs that we cannot bear to hear one more time. Songs that radio will not let die, songs that take us back to that time in history that we’d rather not revisit. These are songs we have heard thousands of times while grocery shopping, riding in an elevator, standing in line at the DMV. They get stuck in our heads for days and we are ashamed to realize somehow we have learned every single word without ever owning the album. Some of these songs even leave us with a pit in our stomaches from years of overexposure. Here are…

5 Songs I Cannot Take Hearing One More Time

Meridith
These are the songs that grind on my nerves. when i hear them it makes me want to bang my head against a brick wall just to keep from not
having to hear them.

*EVANESENCE-wake me up
i wouldn’t have even thought of this but i heard it play on a coworker’s radio this week and it just turned my stomach.
*MEATLOAF- paradise by the dashboard light
it’s just awful. awful. awful. awful.
*GREEN DAY-time of your life
yawn. i am bored just typing this.
*VERTICAL HORIZON-everything you want
this song gives me the same feeling that fingernails scraping on a chalkboard brings
*the song on the current target commercials that plays every commercial break! i have no idea what it is but i know that i REALLY
don’t like it. it’s a girl singing in a soft voice repeating some frilly phrase. it just annoys me for no apparent reason every time i
hear it.

ok, i want to throw up now just typing these song

Kendra
*Total Eclipse of the Heart – Bonnie Tyler (this song has topped my detestable song lists for years. )
*I Wanna Dance with Somebody – Whitney Houston (just picturing Whitney in that blonde wig bouncing around makes my stomache churn)
*Happy to Be Stuck with You – Hughie Lewis and the News (need i say more)
*Su-s-s-s-su-ssss-sudio – Phil Collins (or almost anything by him or Genesis. it was a tie between this one and the one with puppets in the video)
*I Touch Myself – The Divinyls (i cannot tell you how frightened I was to google “i touch myself” to find out who sang this…)

Kristen
*Total Eclipse of the Heart – Bonnie Tyler
Every time I hear this song, I am reminded of when Nate sang part of this song as the message on his voice mail. Dan and I would call his
phone knowing he wouldn’t answer, just to hear his ridiculousness! 🙂
*I Would Do Anything for Love – Meatloaf
*She Bangs – Ricky Martin
*I Could Fall in Love – Selena
*Crank That Soulja Boy – Soulja Boy
We turned on the radio for the first time in months and months. This is the song that was playing. We all felt like we were in the
movie “Idiocracy“.

this was harder than picking my top five! there is so much crap to choose from…

Andrea
*don’t cha by the pussycat dolls
*my humps by the black eyed peas
*oops!… I did it again by britney spears
*money for nothin by dire straits
*achy breaky heart by billy ray cyrus

I got sick just thinking of these. especially those first two.

Zabs
songs that make me want to puke:

*stroke me stroke me- Billy Squire
*once there was this man who- crash test dummies
*i get knocked down- chamba wamba????
*smell the color 9 -chris rice
*aaron neville in general

Joy
*the thong song, cisqo (well really anything by cisquo)
*heard it through the grapevine, anyone’s rendition
*jesus take the wheel, carrie underwood
*wind beneath my wings, bette middler
*you remind me of my jeep, r kelly

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(kristen)                                                             photo: Zach Arias

Reasons that make sense, or not

Bitterness loses its power if everything happens for a reason. __

I’m on a highway somewhere outside of Houston, Texas. We have a show in Austin tonight. The van is packed full of our gear, and I sit on the bench seat right behind the pilot and co-pilot. My feet are propped up on the mini refrigerator in between the two. Needing to keep my insulin chilled does have its perks… we travel with a fridge. __
“My dad was buried just north of here,” declares Dan (Listener). __The three of us talk briefly about the crash that took Dan’s father’s life, and some of the aftermath stories that followed. A few moments of silence, as if in memory, and then back to “whatever” chatting. This made me think: _

“Everything happens for a reason.” __

This quote is used all over the world as a sort of “feel better” antic. When things happen, good or bad, people use this quote to make sense of things they can’t understand. I want to take a moment and make note that I fully believe this quote.

I have often wondered what my husband, Dan, thought about this quote in regards to his father’s death. The whole family, both parents and two kids, were in a car accident when Dan was 6 years old. His mom was severely hurt, his 3 year old sister didn’t have a scratch on her, Dan had major injuries to his shoulder leaving him with a “short arm”, and his dad was left for heaven. Sad story. However, what little sentiment Dan has shared on the situation, leaves me impressed with his overall outlook. I am left wondering, “If something so tragic happened for a reason, then I have to believe God allowed it for something absolutely great to happen in the end.” __

I begin to trace steps. Without going into detail, some of those steps have to do with money. Surely money wasn’t the reason. I’m sure there are many personal life lessons that affected all three of the surviving victims. That might be the reason. Dan has mentioned before that he never would have ended up making a career out of music if none of it had happened. Is this one of the reasons for the death of a father? If so, then I have to believe that God would want some amazing music. Am I reading too much into this? Let’s say I am not, just for the sake of my thoughts. __

Let me take this a step further. Was part of the reason God allowed Dan’s dad to die, because I was suppose to eventually be affected? After all, I never would have met Dan, much less married him if the accident had not been reality. Even further, music would have never been a part of my life. Okay, come with me, yet even further again. I would not have learned bass guitar in order to tour full time with my husband, and therefore, would have never been sitting here, right this second in my life, writing this article. All of the sudden, I feel selfish. Even so, everything does happen for a reason, even if the reasons are seemingly small. __

Let’s look at what-ifs now.__ What if you are sitting there at your computer reading this article. Because of the article, you start to rethink your life and how everything has happened for a reason, in turn, leading you to exactly where you are right now. What if because you have this train of thought right now, you decide to also believe the quote, “Everything happens for a reason.” What if, by choosing to now believe this, you are able to let go of any bitterness you might hold in regards to a situation that has happened to you. What if, by letting go of that bitterness, you are able to live life at a better quality than before. The what-ifs can go on forever. __

My name is Kristen. I play bass in the band, Listener Project. I am married to an amazing man named Dan. Sometimes I am unfair, sad, irritated, angry, stupid, selfish, and human. Other times I am happy, excited, grateful, smart, peaceful, selfless, and human. I love the God who makes sure everything happens for a reason.

There’s a new love in my life and it’s name is Pandora.

For a couple of years now my husband has been telling me to check out this music website, pandora.com. It’s a site where you can create your own internet radio station. To set it up you enter in your favorite artists or songs and it plays music that according to their research you might like based on what artists and songs you pick. I checked it out a couple of times and thought it was cool but never really used it. It was just another one of a million sites that I’d love to investigate further but seemed sort of vaguely intriguing.

My life has continued on normally without this website until about a week ago. That’s when everything changed.

It all started last week at work when I found myself with a ton of data entry to do in an environment where it’s very difficult to focus. Listening to music with headphones on to block out the world around me really helps but my ipod is in desperate need of some new material so I didn’t want to use that. That same day a coworker just happened to be raving about Pandora so I thought, “Hey, why not? I’ll give it a whirl.”

I was hooked in about two seconds. I started out by creating “Stevie Wonder Radio” and soon was adding Earth Wind & Fire, Sade, Kenny Loggins, Koop, RJD2, DJ Shadow, Michael McDonald, Michael Jackson, Anita Baker, Prince, Morris Day & The Time, Ready For The World. You know…….the usual (what?? it’s my radio station remember……i can pick ANYTHING i want!)

I liked the some of the songs they played for me and some I didn’t like at all. Here’s where it gets good though. When a song plays that you don’t like you can give it a thumbs up or thumbs down. Basically saying “play more like this” or “never EVER play this again on MY station!” I love that! Things were grooving right along until I threw Ben Folds into the mix a couple days later. Sure, I already had alot of songs that I was rejecting (I love some old Elton John, but that doesn’t mean i want to listen to “Can You Feel the Love Tonight”)…….but for some reason I don’t understand, things got weird when I put Mr Fold’s name in. Pandora started sending me the Counting Crows and Southern Rock. That’s a big NO for me, I have to admit things were a little rocky between Pandora and I at that point.

Then my husband explained to me how the program works. It picks songs based on the style of the artists and songs you select, not just the artist or genre. Each song or artist is categorized with specific adjectives that music pros (sounds like a fun job) assign to them. It looks at your selections and matches them with others that have those same adjectives.

Pandora will even tell you why it played a certain song for you. Just click on the “Guide Us” button under each song and select “Why is this song playing?” For example Pandora choose ‘Controversy’ by Prince for me because (this is a direct quote) “Based on what you’ve told us so far we’re playing this track because it features electronica influences, heavy melodic ornamentation, repetitive melodic phrasing, extensive vamping and minor key tonality.” This song got a “thumbs up” from me. I don’t know what “extensive vamping” is but I know I like it!

If you don’t like the song played you can just tell it to never play that song again or you can just say you are tired of it, don’t play it again for a month. You are in charge and all of this power is yours………for free! That’s the beauty of Pandora!

I have to warn you though…..it’s addicting. It’s easy to get quite swept away dismissing songs, adding obscure artists you haven’t thought of in years, tweaking and adjusting the station until it’s just right. It’s the game for a music afficionado. One of the purposes of the site is to introduce people to new music. For instance, “If you like The Shins you’ll love this new band!” Sure, that’s definitely a cool feature but I just love saying yes or no to songs and seeing what’s going to pop up next. The only problem with that is, even pandora has it’s limits. I could literally sit there all day skipping to the next song just because I am so curious about what will play next but that’s not an option. After a certain amount of skips you get a friendly message letting you know that due to licensing regulations you may only skip a certain amount of songs per hour. My husband loves to just enter in one artist or song he loves, instead of a whole list, and then just let the station play based on that one song just to see where it will go. No matter which way you enter your criteria, it’s alot of fun.

I started using pandora last Wednesday. By Saturday we were in a really good place in our relationship. I let it just play for about an hour while I got ready to go out and every song was perfect. By that point I guess I had tweaked it enough I guess. The day before I had given it some of my hip hop favorites (stuff like Blackalicious and Talib Qweli) and it played for me the Beatnuts, Dilated Peoples and then followed up with some Paul McCartney and Hall & Oates. Now that is my kind of mix. I felt like shouting “Pandora! Finally you know me. You really know me!” This is just the start of what could be a beautiful relationship.

(meridith)