Promenade Music Festival

Monday, October 11, 2010

PMF: All Across Town, Oct. 9

Posted By on Mon, Oct 11, 2010 at 10:30 AM

The Jacks, Reef, 3:30 p.m.
This trio of local middle-aged men delivered a set of casual rock and roll that spread across genres from honky tonk country to smooth jazz, before finally settling in to songs about drinking gin and doing foolish things.

Gin and foolish things make The Jacks sing
  • Gin and foolish things make The Jacks sing

James Orr, Bittercreek, 4:15 p.m.
Midway through James Orr’s first song at the Bittercreek Ale House, the people in attendance rudely cheered over him as South Carolina toppled Alabama, but Orr took it in stride. He acknowledged the game and pressed on with more relaxing folk songs, before taking to his mixing board and throwing in some beats to satisfy the audience’s attention span.

Its tough to hear a six-string over the first string.
  • It's tough to hear a six-string over the first string.

Shad, Knitting Factory, 9:25 p.m.
The Knitting Factory’s hip-hop showcase was running behind schedule, but that didn’t stop Ontario, Canada MC Shad from throwing down a set of beat-heavy, intellectually minded party tunes. The MC went into the audience and delivered his rhymes in the midst of clamoring fans, while his DJ hung out on the stage, cranking out samples and thumping beats from behind.

Takin the beats to the people.
  • Takin' the beats to the people.

Thomas Paul, The Egyptian, 9:45 p.m.
Local crooner Thomas Paul and his six-piece band—flute, cello, stand-up bass, telecaster, drums and backup singers—engaged the seated audience at the Egyptian Theatre with a set of orchestral rock 'n' roll. Paul’s layered and spacious sound worked well for covers of Grant Lee Buffalo’s “Mighty Joe Moon,” and The Beatles “Happiness Is a Warm Gun.” The rest of the set featured songs off Paul’s forthcoming album, due on January 15.

The mighty Thomas Paul Band.
  • The mighty Thomas Paul Band.

Marcus Eaton, The Egyptian, 10:45 p.m.
One-man show Marcus Eaton capped the night off with his intricate, mellow brand of rock; alternating between restrained singer/songwriter numbers, raucous foot-stompers and spacey soundscapes. Eaton’s set had a little something for everyone.
Audiences are eatin up Eatons music.
  • Audiences are eatin' up Eaton's music.

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Sunday, October 10, 2010

PMF: Panel on Press Kits, Oct. 9, VAC

Posted By on Sun, Oct 10, 2010 at 10:10 PM

Yesterday, I sat on a panel about press kits with Jared Mees, owner of Portland, Ore., record label Tender Loving Empire, and Erica Sparlin-Dryden, co-owner of Bandwagon PR Photography. It was held at VAC and was part of the Promenade Music Festival. More events like it will go a long way toward turning PMF into a kissing cousin of SXSW. Finn Riggins' Eric Gilbert served as the moderator and added some great questions of his own to the audience's.

While I think we all could have talked for much longer than the 50 or so minutes it lasted, each of us on the panel offered at least one tool bands can use to help get their music in front of people and do it in a way that separates them from the bazillion other bands out there trying to do the same.

Sparlin-Dryden recommended spending a little extra dough to get high-resolution, high-quality press kit photos and having a well-done website with a music player on it.

Mees—who is also the frontman for indie rock band Jared Mees and the Grown Children and is one of the nicest, most positive people I've ever met—suggested that one way to get some attention is to have people talking about you; get people who know your music to call or e-mail the venue, PR firm, label or media outlet whose attention you're trying to get. Mees also said that, however hokey it may sound, he truly believes synergy is the key. One way to guarantee a band's success is for them to guarantee the success of their fellow bands.

"If you support other bands, go to their shows and tell people about them, all of that will come back to you," Mees told the crowd of 20 or so people. "Synergy."

I agreed wholeheartedly with both Sparlin-Dryden and Mees and added that press kits need to be as professional as possible and constantly updated. But just sending one out isn't enough. Following up is vital. Yes, there is a fine line between being persistent and being a pest, but you can't cross that line if you don't even walk up to it. I try to be approachable and if a musician takes the time to come down to BWHQ with a copy of his/her band's CD, I will take the time to crawl out of my cave in the newsroom and meet him or her.

And we all emphasized the importance of Facebook and YouTube as tools of the trade, both for bands and for those who represent or write about them.

P.S. I met Emma Hill of Portland's Emma Hill and Her Gentlemen Callers and a member of local Celtic band Guess When—both gave me copies of their CDs. I also met most of local band A Seasonal Disguise and now have a copy of their new EP, Tickle Arms. These guys get extra points for packaging: the paper CD cover has a beautiful block print designed by band member Julia Green, it was sealed with wax and included a tracklist insert, contact info and a ticket to a Friday, Oct. 22, show at Knitting Factory in which they are opening for Low-fi.

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PMF: Pravda, Oct. 9, Bouquet

Posted By on Sun, Oct 10, 2010 at 9:06 PM

Heres hoping Pravda made it home safe.

It was among the last of the shows on the line-up for the inaugural Promenade Music Festival. It was late, and after three days of non-stop revelry, it could have been that everyone was just winding down a bit. But that didn't stop this guy in the photo from strutting his stuff. Local band Pravda kept the Bouquet rocking as long as this guy was dancing. They might be there still.

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PMF: Boy Eats Drum Machine, Oct. 9, Neurolux

Posted By on Sun, Oct 10, 2010 at 9:04 PM

Boy Eats Drum Machine ... and sax and turntable

The smallish dance floor at the Neurolux was packed with bodies movin' to the high-energy electro/pop/house music Jon Ragel was spinning/playing/performing. The one-man-band from Portland, Ore. jumped from sax to drum to turntable like he was the only one doin' what he does. Oh wait. Maybe he is.

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Friday, October 8, 2010

PMF: Soul Serene, Oct. 7, Liquid

Posted By on Fri, Oct 8, 2010 at 4:50 PM

Soul Serene rockin' it hard at Liquid last night.

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PMF: Dewars and The Drums, Oct. 7, Neurolux

Posted By on Fri, Oct 8, 2010 at 4:16 PM

The darling Dewars.

The Dewars

If you'd looked around Neurolux last night for the most awkward and unlikely people to even see at a rock show, you'd probably have settled on The Dewars, a pair of wild-haired, "comfortably" dressed oddballs. The moment you saw them it was clear they were the band.

The Dewar Brothers—or "the noise boys"—as they referred to themselves lyrically, rocked pretty decently. Their sounds and arrangements have a British-invasion style of clean guitar rock—they even put on faux-British accents for some stage banter—but their songwriting style owed more to indie-folk. You could call it nerdcore minus the core.

The Drums

The Drums are a band that owes a heavy debt to The Smiths and are like a heavier, poppier, version of Joy Division. They've nailed down that sound and feel of the early '80s, the one that inspired the new romantics and was sometimes called "left of the dial:" Heavy beat with heavily verbed clean tones and echoed vox; it's the anger-dance of the waif and the essence of rock 'n' roll, stripped down and going for broke.

Plus it was really adorable to watch three guys who all dance like they're conducting a symphony, playing music with such a heavy backbeat. When they finished, the guitar player blew the crowd kisses. *smitten*

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PMF: Surfer Blood, Oct. 7, Neurolux

Posted By on Fri, Oct 8, 2010 at 4:16 PM

Last night, Floridian youngsters Surfer Blood treated a rather large and eager audience to their style of bouncy retro-garage surf music. It was lead singer John Paul Pitts 24th birthday, and the band delivered the goods, running through almost the entirety of their much-loved debut Astro Coast.

Highlights included the loud, reverb-coated “Swim,” the rarely played instrumental guitar duo “Neighbour Riffs” and a scorching extended rendition of “Anchorage.”

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PMF: Hosannas, Oct. 7, Linen Building

Posted By on Fri, Oct 8, 2010 at 4:14 PM

Portland, Ore.'s Hosannas may only be brothers Brandon and Richard Laws, but last night but they managed an awe-inspiring blend of electronica/keyboard, pre-recorded percussion, experimental/shattering guitar and a soothing yet powerful duet of vocals. It may sound hectic, but the Laws created beautiful, almost haunting harmonies. The wide-eyed audience listened intently, mouths agape.

We had an opportunity to chat with Brandon Laws after the show.

Boise Weekly: How many times have you played in Boise?
Brandon Laws: We have played here three times before and have always enjoyed it.

Where do you draw inspiration for writing your songs?
We take either a musical or lyrical perspective. We can start a song vocally based and progress to the instrumentals, or get inspiration from instrumentals and write lyrics to go along with it. We are interested in the production. We can draw inspiration from the process.

Where are you going next on the tour?
We will be going through 40 states and four provinces in Canada.

If pitching yourself to attract listeners, what would you say?
We like playing at clubs or bars, maybe meeting a significant other, or if there is free food that is always a good thing.

[ Video is no longer available. ]

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PMF: Sprockets, Man Without Wax, Bank, Oct. 7, Knitting Factory

Posted By on Fri, Oct 8, 2010 at 4:06 PM

Sprockets: There are only two members in Sprockets, but there's no shortage of musical prowess. They sat far from each other on stage at the Knitting Factory, armed with an acoustic guitar and an acoustic bass guitar. The lead singer had a wide vocal range, changing from screaming to soothing on a whim. Their last song, "Tumble Down," was a tribute to Mike Herrera (of MxPx) and it contained extremely fast punk instrumentals accompanied by great vulgar lyrics. The song involved drinking, tumbling down stairs, sex and vanity. It was a very good performance.

Man Without Wax:
This Seattle band seemed right at home on stage at the Knitting Factory. They started with a small solo acoustic guitar intro, only to explode into lead/rhythm guitars, bass guitar, drums and potent vocals. Their songs were fast-paced, with lead and backup vocals that mixed well. In some songs, there would be a slight slowdown, almost like a deep breath, before they plunged straight back into the fast paced music. It worked incredibly well. The song "Kansas City Shuffle" combined vocals from four of the band members, back and forth. If ever there were a song that caused a table to be flipped for room to dance, this would be it.

Interview with Rory Menteer from Man Without Wax:

BW: “How many times have you played in Boise before?”

RM: “We have played here many times, probably ten times or more.”

“Where will you be headed next on the tour?”

“We will be going back to Seattle, our drummer just had a baby, so he will need to be with his family.”

“Is there any source of inspiration for your songs that really stands out to you?”

“Um, I don’t know. I’m sorry, I’m really tired, I’ve been up since four this morning.”

“If you were to pitch yourself as a band to attract listeners, what would you say?”

“Good music and a good time.”

Bank: This Boise band performed after Man Without Wax at the Knitting Factory and continued the amount of energy left by the Seattle band and produced a hell of a lot of their own. Bank’s lead singer and songwriter Dan Keck, had an extraordinary vocal range, along with backup vocals from Andrew Keck. This worked extremely well along with the band's dominant chords and drums. Bank had a great relationship with the audience. Before playing their last song, Keck announced that he had recently gotten married and is expecting a new child. Bank finished their set with an acoustic song, "Miss You," accompanied by trumpet and tambourine. It seemed a very personal song for Keck, as if he was singing straight out to his new family.

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Need Something to do Today?

Posted By on Fri, Oct 8, 2010 at 10:44 AM

Here's today's planned route through Promenade.

4:30 p.m. Spondee and A Seasonal Disguise at Neurolux.

7 p.m. Neo-Tundra Cowboy at Pengilly's

8:30 p.m. The Janks and The Maladroids at Bouquet

10 p.m. Nick Jaina at The Linen Building

11 p.m. Sapient and Pigeon John at Reef until question mark, question mark, question mark.

Don't like it? Plan your own here.

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