Phoebe Legere bringing Cajun music and more to Orleans, Mass.

Phoebe Legere (Submitted Photo)

By JAY KENNEY

If there’s anyone who could be classified as a “Renaissance Woman,” it’s Phoebe Legere. The Maine native who is of Acadian and Abenaki (First Nations) descent, sings, plays a number of instruments (piano, accordion, cello, Native American flute, organ, buffalo drum, synthesizer, guitar and cavaquinho), stared in several films (Mondo New York and Toxic Avenger 2 & 3), paints, draws, sculpts, and writes movies and musicals. She also founded the New York Underground Museum in 2006 and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in Music in 2000. She’s released over 15 CDs of original music and will be appearing at Brick Hill House Concerts on Sunday, Aug. 30th, in Orleans, MA. We recently caught up with Legere who didn’t hold back in her answers to our questions.

Limelight Magazine (LM): You’re going to be performing at Brick Hill House Concerts on Aug. 30th in Orleans, MA. For anyone who has not seen you perform live before, what can they expect at this show?
Phoebe Legere: This is an excellent and fair question, but it is impossible for me to answer. I cannot see myself when I am performing, nor can I predict how I will be perceived by others. I can only tell you what I feel when I play music. I go on a journey inside myself into a cosmos of memory, desire and ideal beauty. There are spirits there, spirits of my ancestors and of animals. These spirits seem to hover near! They are very interested in the music. Spirit voices suggest things to me, ideas about color, pitch, timbre, re-harmonization and expression. My eyes may appear to be seeing the audience, but in fact, I am looking into a place beyond space and time. I feel deep love and compassion for my audience. I read them with my heart as I play.

I play rhythms and notes and what I feel will soften hard places in their hearts and heal sad places in their minds. My job is to bring the music medicine to the people. That is why my native name is Phoebe Songbundle. I can be very photogenic, but cameras do not see very well. In person, I hover between pretty and ugly, male and female, young and old, white and Native. That is a good place to be. People soon forget how I look and they begin to go on the journey with me.

Music is a magic canoe that can take you down the river of your own dreams. In that journey you will find your own ancestors and spirits of animals who can guide you to heal yourself. I channel the music of my ancestors – French Acadians, Abenaki Native Americans, Wampanoag ancestors who ran to Maine and Canada and joined the Abenaki during the Massachusetts holocaust, and yes, my Mayflower Puritan ancestors too. I’m descended from a few of the travelers including Bradford and a young woman named Remember Allerton. They named her Remember so we would never forget how the Puritans were treated by the English.

I have to heal the pain of those ancestors who are still grieving because of the territorial and linguistic incursions of Imperialist England into North America at that time. You will also hear elements of church music in my note choices. I grew up in a small colonial town in Massachusetts where I sang in the choir and played the organ in the church.

LM: Will you be performing solo or with a band and do you have a preference for one over the other?
Legere: I have invited musical friends from the area to play with me. Notably, my friend singer-songwriter George Leonard, a 2015 inductee into the Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame, will play fiddle with me. I love to be part of a team. When we play together we are than the sum of our parts – music is prayer – everyone knows it’s easier to get the Lord’s attention if there’s a crowd praying the same song.

LM: You’ve released 15 CDs of original music. How do you go about deciding on a set list for your shows?
Legere: I use my intuition in everything I do. On the Cape I will play more of my maritime songs: “Big Sperm Whale,” (click on song title) “Heart of the Summer,” (click on song title) and “Sailing on the Sound.” When I am in French Canada, I do mostly French, but this far south I’ll sing mostly English.

LM: In some of your promotional materials, it says you “reinvented Cajun music in your own image, mixing New York City jazz funk with New Orleans blues, down-home Acadian bluegrass, story-telling and melody.” How would you describe your music to someone else?
Legere: I play North American music. An oyster makes a pearl from the pain of a grain of sand. Similarly, my music grows from the pain of forced human migration. What do I mean? Well, in 1755 the Acadians were deported to Louisiana – that’s how we get Cajun music at the same time Africans were being moved, forcefully, in chains, from beautiful Africa to places where they were treated like animals. The Cajuns (Acadians) were an underclass everywhere they went, since social status is all about territory and having a big house and an established business. The English had burned our houses and took our land. All we had was family and music. The Cajuns intermarried with the Africans and that’s when the music started to get really interesting. It’s called jazz. This is the vein I am working. Where Acadian music meets Black music. I like it and I feel right at home in this type of groove. To this Jambalya, I add plenty of Native American, French and classical elements. Yes, I went to Juilliard. Yes, I sing at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall. Yes, I write for and conduct Symphony Orchestras. Yes, I was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in Music. But when I play folk music at a house concert, I am just that. I am a woman of the people, a down to earth, real person born on the 4th of July.

LM: You sing, play several instruments including the piano, accordion, cello, Native American flute, organ, buffalo drum, synthesizer, guitar and cavaquinho, as well as write memorable songs. When did you take an interest in music?
Legere: I started playing the piano before age three. I reached up and could feel the keys. That is when I started. I began composing at six and I’ve been professional since age nine.

LM: What was the first instrument you learned how to play and why did you decide to pursue other instruments?
Legere: In those days there was a strict division of instruments into “male” and “female.” The piano was feminine, a nice thing for a little girl to learn. My mother forbid me to play guitar. They directed me instead, to the cello, which was my main instrument for many years. My sister wanted to play drums and vibes. She was forced to play the flute. My other sisters played violin and viola so naturally I picked those up and started playing them. My grandfather played accordion. The accordion had fallen out of favor by the time I reached adolescence, but I found one in the attic. The minute I squeezed it I was hooked. The expressiveness of the reeds is like the sighting of the sun, the cries of immigrant populations! The accordion is the true instrument of the people! And what’s more, you can move while you play it. I love to hear the sound waves swirling around me as I stroll with my accordion.

When I got involved with performance art many of the galleries and museums where I played did not have a piano. The accordion was perfect.

I was signed to Epic records at 16. They said “Phoebe, don’t let anyone see you carrying THAT THING!” (the accordion was that thing). Now, as with so many of my visionary ideas, everyone realizes I was right all along. The whole world now knows the accordion is the hippest instrument. I have much more to say about the accordion and music as a mind control tool of government BTW

LM: You have a very impressive biography. Of all of your accomplishments, what was your proudest moment so far?
Legere: Singing my poem, The Waterclown, with the Cleveland Chamber Symphony in 2000. (Pulitzer Nomination 2000). The topic, water, the privatization of water and the importance of water in climate change has become one of the hottest topics in enviro-politics now. You can listen free to the mp3 on my website: http://www.phoebelegere.com/waterclown.html. Also hear me conducting and singing my classical chamber trio called STARS on the same page.

LM: Outside of music, you’ve also appeared in several cult films including Mondo New York and Toxic Avenger 2 & 3. Did you like your experience working on these films? Are you still actively pursuing film projects?
Legere: I write movies and I make my living writing music for movies. I have a degree in film scoring from NYU. As my late friend Roger Vadim once said, “Film is a perfect synthesis of sound and image.”

I direct and produce all of my music videos. My movie The Shamancycle Story, (about my 15 person rideable eagle sculpture made from up cycled and re-purposed junk), had a limited run in art houses last year. It could be viewed as a 20 minute extended music video for my song “Love is Your Power,” but you can also hear me singing the traditional, 10,000 year old Creation Hymn in there too.

My early music videos, “Marilyn” and “Trust Me,” were collaborations with Nile Southern, Terry Southern’s son. I was very influenced by Terry Southern. Terry wrote Easy Rider, Doctor Strangelove, Candy, The Magic Christian, and most of Barbarella. He was an important writer until Nixon put him on the Enemies List after which he could not work in Hollywood.

Nile and I lived with Terry in an old farmhouse in Connecticut. Terry’s ideas about movies and writings were a profound influence.

LM: You’re also a painter who founded the New York Underground Museum in 2006 to preserve the works of artists whose works are not held by major institutions. Why is preserving these works so important to you?
Legere: NYUM presents, preserves and curates the work of visionary artists whose work is not held by major institutions. In 2006 there was a show called the East Village show. I could not help but notice that women, artists of color, handicapped artists, ethic artists and Native Americans were not represented in this show. However, Madonna and Debbie Harry were in the show. This showed me how corporate culture not so subtly invades the world of high art. I wanted to create a zone of beauty and vision that was protected from the dominant money culture.

LM: What artists do you currently listen to?
Legere: Daniel Lavoie, Congolese hip hop such as Baloji but also the hip hop made by 12 year old soldiers in the Congo.

I listen CDs made by families who sing the old Acadian songs, like “C’est d’même que ça commencé” by La famille Doiron who sang with me on my Canadian tour 2015, I listen to George Leonard and Ray Legere my cousin.

I listen to CD’s I made from Brown Wax cylinders created at the turn of the century by someone who went in and recorded the oldest Abenaki/Penobscot elders singing the old medicine songs, (the cylinders were in a flood so they were covered with mildew, hard to listen to, but I was (able to extract some basic Abenaki medicine motifs later, when I went to visit the Maliseet, who speak a very similar language to us, they had the same songs and we understood each other, you can hear me singing in this (language on “Blue Canoe Blues” (click on song title) on Soundcloud.)

I listen to the very old gospel recorded before it all became a business, I listen to the Smithsonian Folkways recordings.

I listen to the radio just to see how bad it is. Yes. I listen to Top 40 and I realize with horror that somebody has now created computer program to determine the words and images from the top three songs in each year for the past 30 years and that is how the music is being made now. You think a song was written by an inspired artist songwriter? No. Music is now ghost written by teams of writers who market test the lyrics on subject fitted with electrodes. I was on a major label for three years. Epic/Sony. I know how these people operate and they are beyond scared shitless. They leave nothing to chance. How about that song “Shut Up and Dance.” Yes consumers listen closely.

I listen closely to the top 10 songs to hear the subliminal messages embedded behind the lyrics. I listen to the machines used in the productions. Your consent is engineered.

I listen to RFI the French global internet radio station. They play a lot of African music that interests me. I play with an African drummer named Joachim Lartey. He knows 2000 West African shamanic drum beats. It’s kind of cool and sad that the Zulus are now doing house music. It sounds better than the crap I have to listen wherever I go in America, but African rhythms are one of the cultural treasures of the worlds and it’s tragic to see the Zulus handing their power to a machine. Africans used to say: “The drum is the voice of God!”

How do I know so much about Africa? I went to Africa in 1987 with Nile. We lived at Peter Beard’s Hog Ranch. We visited the Masai Mara. We lived with the Kikuyu tribesmen who had lived with Karen Blixen. I learned many things [such as] creativity, music, dance and costume.

That is how I got the idea for Hello Mrs. President, [which was] my musical about the first black woman President of the USA starring Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famer LaVerne Baker and me as (the First Partner).

I listen to early early blues artists like Howling Wolf, Big Bill Broonzy, Robert Johnson, Son House, John Lee Hooker, Sunnyland Slim…you want me to go on? I was the Blues DJ on Sirius Radio for two years.’

I had a friend named Boris Rose who recorded all the radio broadcasts of the 40’s. That was when radio had good music. The major labels were still signing musical geniuses.

Boris made me cassettes of the broadcasts from the Royal Roost and the big ballrooms. He made tapes of the great boogie boogie and blues pianists who came through New York City and that’s how I developed my blues piano style, as well as spending a great deal of time in Louisiana with my grandmother. We are connected to all the Legere’s and Trahans in Eunice and Lafayette, LA. I listen to early New Orleans R&B. I love the period just after World War 2 when jazz was just morphing into rock ‘n roll. I love it.

I can’t get enough music. I never tire of it. I studied jazz piano with John Lewis of the Modern Jazz Quartet but I have also hung out with and played with the best modern piano players from Nola’s great blind Henry Butler to my friend Billy Joel. Do I listen to Frank Sinatra, Billy Holiday, Big Joe Turner, Charles Trenet and Jacques Brel? You bet I do. I am an ear person. I listen to poetry being read by poets too. It is amazing what is available on YouTube.

My best listening time is when I am not listening. In the silence I hear my own symphonies, melodies, ideas and songs.

LM: Is there anything else you’d like to add for those reading this?
Legere: I like music, I like musicians and I like people who like music. I like to listen in a group. Music is more important than people think. Music is the vibration that is creating the illusion of reality and music is the telescope that lets you see through the illusion. That is why, in the old days, before industrial music and machine music, music was the glue that held families together. That’s why they call it music harmony. I have created a free art and music camp for the high poverty at risk children of New York City. This is my passion. I am a natural teacher and that my greatest love is nurturing the visionary artists and musicians of the future.

Did you see the drums I made – White Eagle Drum and Golden Wolf Drum with Abenaki symbols? I’ll be playing them at Brick Hill House.

For more information about Legere, please visit www.phoebelegere.com.

Phoebe Legere
Phoebe Legere will be playing the custom drums she created at the Brick Hill House Concerts in Orleans, Mass., on Sunday, Aug. 30th.

Waxwork Records brings horror soundtracks to life on vinyl

By JAY KENNEY

Any horror movie fan knows the score is an essential component of the film. Can anyone picture watching Psycho without Bernard’s Herrmann’s string score, Halloween without the music of John Carpenter, or more recently It Follows without the electronic sounds of Disasterpeace (see related story HERE). Over the past few years, the resurgence of vinyl has given rise to a number of production companies that specialize in releasing horror soundtracks solely on vinyl. These companies include Mondo/Death Waltz Records, One Way Static Records, and Waxwork Records, among others. Unlike many soundtracks that were released in the past, these companies spend an extraordinary amount of time on the sound quality and mastering, as well as the artwork and packaging, making them a must have for genre fans, vinyl collectors, and people looking to hear great music that may not ordinarily see the light of day!!!

This month, Waxwork Records is celebrating its second anniversary. Their first release was the soundtrack to Re-Animator by composer Richard Howard Band in July 2013 and, since then, they have released 10 other soundtracks, including Day of the Dead (September 2013), Rosemary’s Baby (January 2014), Creepshow (April 2014), Chopping Mall (May 2014), Friday the 13th (September 2014), Trick ‘r Treat (October 2014), Phase IV (March 2015), Starry Eyes (May 2015), Friday the 13th Part 2 (July 2015) and Nightbreed (July 2015).

We recently caught up with its founder and CEO, Kevin Bergeron, who graciously took time out of his busy schedule to do a Q&A with us. In our interview, he discussed why he founded Waxwork Records, how titles are chosen, the meticulous amount of detail that goes into creating each record, and a sneak peak of what future releases are in the pipeline, including additional Friday the 13th titles and The Babadook.

Richard Horner Band's soundtrack to Re-Animator was the first album released on vinyl by Waxwork Records
Richard Howard Band’s soundtrack to Re-Animator was the first album released on vinyl by Waxwork Records in June 2013. The company is celebrating its 2nd anniversary this month.

Limelight Magazine (LM): Your label was launched in 2013 and is celebrating its second anniversary this month. How did the decision to start a record label focusing on vinyl horror movie soundtracks come about?
Kevin Bergeron (Bergeron): I already had experience recording music and pressing records. I’m really fascinated by the process. I’m also a massive fan of horror movies, but also of just classic cinema in general. I decided to marry the two things I’m most interested in, vinyl and horror.
I had just come off of a tour in Cuba with my old band, and it was quite evident that the break up was coming. I was toying with the idea of starting a label. It was this really special time, and a really organic thing. There was a start-up period where no one knew about us for six months, and I really enjoyed that time. Just getting it rolling. I love brainstorming and diving into new projects.

LM: How much of an impact did the resurgence of vinyl sales across the country have on the decision to form Waxwork Records?
Bergeron: When I started the label, I only had a vague notion as to the resurgence of vinyl and record sales numbers. I was honestly very nervous that we wouldn’t sell many records.

LM: You’ve now released 11 soundtracks on vinyl since July 2013. Bergeron: How do you go about selecting titles to release?
We are pretty selective with the titles we seek out. From an outsider looking in, it would be easy to peg Waxwork as a label that’s all over the map because we will release a B-Movie, and then the next month we’ll release something in the Criterion Collection. If we like it, and the music is interesting, we’ll go for it.

Photo - Nightbreek
Danny Elfman’s score to Clive Barker’s Nightbreed was Waxwork Records most recent release on vinyl. The company has released over 11 albums over the past two years.

LM: Mondo Tees/Death Waltz also specialize in releasing horror movie soundtracks on vinyl. Do you consult with them so you’re not trying to license the same titles?
Bergeron: No. Although, we’ve done a trade with Mondo before, and we may co-release something in the future, but that’s all in its infancy right now. It could be fun.

LM: Part of the reason for the popularity of your catalog has a lot to do with the meticulous detail that goes into the sound quality. Can you discuss the process for how these records come to be?
Bergeron: The Waxwork standard is seeking out original master tapes as our source material. Often times, these original masters are thought to be lost, or destroyed. So, it’s not always easy. We located the masters for Rosemary’s Baby in Australia and the masters for Creepshow in an attic in Pittsburgh. We really go for it and play detective. So, we get those original masters, and then transfer them, mix them down, and master for vinyl.

LM: How much involvement does the composer have on the finished product?
Bergeron: Composers are usually very cool and give us the reigns to do our thing with the music. They’ll sometimes have specific requests, but nothing major. No one breaths down our backs, surprisingly. I feel like I’d be that way if the tables were turned.

LM: Another reason why genre fans love your releases is the collectible aspect of them. Most of the titles come out in limited edition variants and include breathtaking artwork and inserts. Why is the visual aspect of your releases equally as important as the sound quality?
Bergeron: Vinyl gives you a playground to do a lot of really great things visually. With CD’s and especially MP3’s you don’t get any of that. So, we like to go crazy with vinyl colors, and commission new artwork from prominent artists that we feel can tackle the film and its score, but through their artwork.

A limited batch of black and burgundy haze variants were randomly inserted into orders for the Waxwork Records release of Rosemary's Baby on vinyl.
A limited batch of black and burgundy haze variants were randomly inserted into orders for the Waxwork Records release of Rosemary’s Baby on vinyl.

LM: How are the artists chosen to design the artwork for your releases?
Bergeron: We discuss this in pretty great depth. “Who can nail something like Rosemary’s Baby? Friday the 13th? The Warriors?” You can’t stick Gary Pullin on something like Phase IV or Jay Shaw on something like Chopping Mall. That might actually be really interesting, though.

LM: Are all of your releases limited runs? What is the reasoning behind the limited availability?
Bergeron: Yes. Our releases are all limited. We don’t press tens of thousands of units. Not yet. I like giving people what they want though, so if there are people out there that want this music, we will keep re-pressing records. I don’t like the idea of keeping things so limited that honest to goodness fans cannot have it. I also don’t like the idea of denying anyone art or music.

All releases on Waxwork Records are limited editions.
All releases on Waxwork Records are limited editions.

LM: A few of your releases (i.e. Day of the Dead, Creepshow, Friday the 13th and Trick ‘r Treat) were previously released on CD by La-La Land Records which is based out of Burbank, CA. Are they ever consulted on any of your releases?
Bergeron: La La Land has a few of the same titles in their catalog as ours. It just turned out that way. We had questions when we were getting started and they were very helpful.

LM: Speaking of Friday the 13th, Waxwork released the soundtracks to the original film and its first sequel. We were at composer Harry Manfredini’s signing of Friday the 13th at Dark Delicacies in Burbank last year and he was thrilled to have it released on vinyl. Since he also composed the music to the next four sequels in the franchise, can we expect future Friday the 13th releases?
Bergeron: We are releasing all of the Friday the 13th scores that Harry Manfredini composed. He’s been great to work with. He’s really into what we’re doing and it feels good to have him 100 percent on board with what we are trying to accomplish.

Friday the 13th film composer Harry Manfredini signs Warwork Records release of the album on vinyl last September at Dark Delicacies in Burbank, CA. Waxwork plays to release more Friday the 13th titles that Manfredini composed in the future.
Friday the 13th film composer Harry Manfredini signs the Waxwork Records vinyl release of the soundtrack at Dark Delicacies in Burbank, CA, on  Sept. 28, 2014. Waxwork plans to release more Friday the 13th titles that Manfredini composed in the future. (Photo by Jay Kenney)

LM: You also have a subscription service. Can you elaborate on that aspect of your business for those who may not be familiar with it?
Bergeron: The subscription is fairly limited. You sign up when it goes live on our website, and that guarantees you five releases on vinyl from Waxwork throughout that year. Sometimes a digital download is offered depending on the title. The subscribers get special, limited colored vinyl that isn’t available via retail. You get 18 percent off anything Waxwork has available for sale, and that’s a pretty good deal. I don’t know of another label that offers that much of discount with a subscription service. You also get cool merchandise mailed to you randomly throughout the year. Like, you’ll randomly get a Waxwork Records slip-mat, stickers, or patches delivered with one of your records. Exclusive stuff! You also don’t have to worry about missing out on a record by it selling out before you have the chance to get a copy. You’re guaranteed that record (if it’s part of the subscription) being delivered to your doorstep. No refreshing our website non-stop on pre-order days. Shipping is all factored in already for subscribers. It’s just very convenient.

Waxwork Records slipmats are just some of the goodies you may receive by signing up for the company's subscription service.
Waxwork Records slip-mats are some of the goodies you may receive by signing up for the company’s subscription service.

LM: About 10 weeks ago you teased the release of Jennifer Kent’s phenomenal film The Babadook. Is that still in the pipeline and, if so, when can we expect a release date?
Bergeron: Yep, that’s happening. That’s coming out in 2016. We have some cool stuff we’re planning for the packaging.

LM: You’ve also had a few posts on your Facebook page about another great movie We Are Still Here that was released earlier this year. Can you reveal if this is another title in the pipeline?
Bergeron: I can’t give out any details, yet. But We Are Still Here is great, and the score is really atmospheric and interesting.

LM: Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. You’re doing an amazing job and it’s so exciting every time a new title is announced and released. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Bergeron: Thank you. Really. We love doing this. It’s still crazy to us how much of an impact our label has on fans of vinyl and movies.

For more information about Waxwork Records or to make a purchase, visit http://www.waxworkrecords.com.

The Fixx to perform the hits with classic lineup at the Narrows Center

Photo - The Fixx Ticket Page

British rock band The Fixx will make their debut performance at the Narrows Center in Fall River, Mass., on Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015. The band, which still features the classic line up of Cy Curnin, Adam Woods, Rupert Greenall, Jamie West-Oram and Dan K. Brown, will perform an evening of Fixx greatest hits and fan favorites. Tickets can be purchased HERE.

Formed in 1979 in London, The Fixx came to prominence in the MTV-era when their 1983 release, “Reach the Beach,” delivered the hit singles “One Thing Leads to Another” and “Saved By Zero.” The album reached No. 8 on the Billboard charts and was certified double platinum for selling over two million copies.

Throughout the band’s career, The Fixx have released 10 studio albums and were a fixture on the pop charts with such songs as “Red Skies,” “Are We Ourselves?,” and “Secret Separation.” They have been heralded as one of the most innovative bands to come out of the MTV era.

Live, in concert, the band delivers that same sonic authenticity fans have come to expect from their recorded performances because The Fixx are the real deal.

The Narrows Center for the Arts is located at 16 Anawan Street. Tickets to his show can be purchased online at www.narrowscenter.org or by calling the box office at 508-324-1926. For those wanting to purchase tickets in person, box office hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 12 noon to 5 p.m.

Senior Discount to perform Blink-182 set for anniversary show

senior discount

While bands typically play a retrospective set of their own songs to celebrate an anniversary, Senior Discount, of Rhode Island, will play a set filled with tunes from Blink-182 at their 11th anniversary concert at The Met in Pawtucket, R.I. on July 31st. Founding member Chuck Staton said Senior Discount wants to “shake it up as often as possible,” and this was the best way he knew how for their anniversary show. We recently caught up with Staton who reflected on his past 11 years with the band and what the future may hold.

Limelight Magazine (LM): Senior Discount is going to be celebrating its 11th anniversary with a special show at The Met in Pawtuck, R.I., on July 31st. You’re going to be performing the music of Blink-182. How did the idea for this show come about? Chuck Staton (CS): The reason we came up with this idea is two-fold. One is that we’ve always wanted to celebrate big occasions with something different. We respect different bands, and we respect the different ways that bands decide to handle shows. For us, playing our set – some old songs, some new songs, a couple covers – is great in the normal show setting. But when we can reach outside that and do something special, we want to do that. We know people can get used to seeing bands playing the same songs, and we want to shake it up as often as possible. So we’ve done things before that were special – we opened one of our sets at Lupo’s with a big marching band drum, doing “We Will Rock You”, with our lead guitarist coming out on the balcony dressed as Abe Lincoln to do the solo. We did an outdoor show in Providence where our guitarist disappeared from the stage and played his solo in one of our songs on top of a U-Haul way above the stage – we like to do memorable things, and something different, to set our shows apart. So we thought playing a set of Blink-182 songs would be cool because there are a lot of people who have seen us play our set tons of times – but to hear us play songs by a similar (and much much more famous) artist, for the first time, for a whole night, is something super different. The second reason is because we really think there’s a huge decline in live local rock shows. We started long time ago, when Facebook (and MySpace at the time) weren’t the way you reached out to people to promote. We would burn demos, print flyers, etc., and go out and physically promote. We got to those 18-year-old kids and said “Hey, we’re fun guys, we’re playing fun music, please come check out our show” and it turned a LOT of people on to the local scene in Providence, who maybe never knew about the great musicians playing locally and the scene around them. Since then, a lot of bands rely solely on social media, and you’re really not going to reach NEW people that way. You can spread the word to the people you know, the people within the community – but if you want NEW people to come out, you have to let them know about the scene and get them to come experience it. Playing music by some of the biggest bands of the past two decades, and mercilessly promoting that, is something I really hope will achieve that. I hope it will be a bridge for people to say, “Hey I love Blink-182, I’ll go check this out with some friends,” and I want those people to be impressed with Senior Discount, and at that point their foot will be in the door to the local scene. That can open them up to a whole new, very accessible, local music community.

LM: Will the band’s set list be entirely composed of Blink-182 material or will you throw in some of your own songs as well? CS: It will be a set of Blink-182 songs, but I wouldn’t rule out a Senior Discount song appearance.

LM: Other artists performing are SoundOff (performing the music of Green Day) and Rob of The Pogs and John of Bad Larry (performing the music of Goldfinger). What can you say collectively about these acts and what they add to this show? CS: SoundOff is a younger band who has been following in our footsteps for a long time. The lead singer Eric Macksoud was added to our band, so he’s going to be pulling double-duty for this show. SoundOff is a bunch of young guys and I’m really hoping they step it up, promote really hard, practice really hard and pull off an awesome set and show. When we played our CD release at Lupo’s with Badfish, I also talked to the bookers on that show to get SoundOff on the bill for that, and they really pulled their weight, so I’m hoping they do it again. There’s nothing more important on a show then to have bands care about playing a good show, and doing the work to get people there to see it. I trust SoundOff to be that band. “The Goldfinger Tribute Band” (as I’m calling it because they refuse to come up with a name) is made up of guys from The Pogs, Bad Larry, Pickle Spill: Aisle 6 and Riley so they are band veterans who know what to do. I’m super psyched to see their Goldfinger tribute set and the less I know about it, the better! I want to be surprised. However – later this month, I will be interviewing Rob from the Goldfinger tribute band on my podcast. So I’m excited to learn more about his history and relationship with being a musician.

LM: When you founded Senior Discount, did you ever expect to be around 11 years? CS: I think I did expect to be around for this long. We started the band for fun but as soon as we started playing good shows, I think I realized that I loved writing and playing music, and that Senior Discount is a part of me that I had been waiting to express. I think that some bands represent a certain type of sound, or a genre – and Senior Discount is the opposite of that. People think of Senior Discount as a punk band or a pop-punk band but it’s bullshit to. It’s easy to pigeon-hole us that way because some of our songs and our live show, and we love that music so we’re fine with it. But our influences are actually all over the place. Senior Discount represents the music that the people in the band want to create. Period. So to me, there’s no limitation on how long we could be around. As long as we love music, I think Senior Discount exists. We dealt with a lot of hardships in 2011/2012 and the band didn’t play for a while, but the band still existed. At one point, we were down to just two members – Christian and I – and we came out with an EP together as Senior Discount. To me, I’m never going to be out of Senior Discount. It’s too close to my heart.

LM: Reflecting back on the past 11 years, do you have any specific moment or special memory that stands out above the rest for you personally? CS: Oh man. A moment that stands out for me personally….I think when we played the House of Blues in Boston and it was sold-out, while also we were selling out Club Hell in Providence in the same month. The reason it was so great was because it was two completely opposite situations. Club Hell held 350 people, we were headlining, and we sold it out on our merit, which I was extremely proud of. House of Blues was us opening for Girl Talk, it was 3,500 people, and it was sold out before we even got on the show – so not one ticket was sold to someone whose intent was to see us. Both shows went so well (even though we were super nervous about the House of Blues show) and the situations were so wildly different, that I really felt a pride in the idea that we could do anything. It was an insane time and I was incredibly proud of the band.

LM: You’ve had a few different members in the line-up over the years. Do you still keep in touch with any former members? CS: For the most part, we still keep in touch. Some more than others.

LM: What do you like most about the current line-up which features yourself, Christian Staton, Abe Correia, and Eric Macksoud? CS: What I like most about the current line-up is that there’s a new dynamic onstage. A huge part of Discount is our personality, and I think Christian, Abe, Macksoud and myself all have a new set of personalities to deal with onstage and to be exaggerated in the videos. I really honestly believe that not everyone belongs in the art collective that is the band, the videos and the podcast – and Abe and Macksoud (as the newest members) absolutely 100 percent have the comedic personalities for it.

LM: Senior Discount released their last studio album in 2013. Are there plans to release any new material in the future? CS: We’ve been in the process of writing a new full-length called The Great American Single since around 2008. We never had enough money to do it, so we did an EP in 2009. We had a member leave and we wanted to re-establish ourselves as a more serious band, and put out material with the line-up at the time. Then we did an EP in 2012 when two members left and we wanted to show that we were going to make it through that time – and then we added seven songs to that in 2013 to make it a full-length of songs from the new line-up, but we never had enough money at once to record a full-length so it didn’t happen (also partly because we kept having statements to make with what was going on in the band). So there is a ton of thought put behind The Great American Single, but I don’t think we’re going to sit down to write it until we know we can. If we finish a new song, we’re going to be so psyched on it that we won’t be able to help ourselves from playing it live – which isn’t great if we have no means to record it, because by the time we do record it, it’s an old song. So I want to do that yet, but we need to put a plan in place to do it.

LM: Other than music, what are some of the things you like to do in your spare time? CS: Senior Discount is interesting because it spawned a lot of things. My bachelor’s degree is in film, and I’ve been making short films since before I played guitar. When we had our first big show responsibility, we were trying to think of a way to promote the show, and we came up with the idea of making a very short, viral video – except this was before YouTube was popular. Our show was June 25, 2004. We came up with a video under five minutes and it was our first video. In the past 11 years, we expanded them to be from five minutes to 28 minutes (in sitcom episode-esque fashion) and we’ve done about 45-ish more since then, plus a feature-length documentary about the band, and recently a pilot episode for a TV show about the band. So writing/directing/acting in comedy is a huge thing that I do, and we’ve incorporated that largely into the band – to the point we’ve done multiple live events that revolve around our scripted comedy videos, including a sold-out screening at the largest movie theatre in the Providence Place Mall for our full-length documentary. On top of that, I do a weekly podcast called “Agreeing to Disagree: The Chuck and Brad Podcast” that also started because we wanted more content for the band. We were making a new website and wanted a reason to create weekly content, so my friend Brad Rohrer (co-writer/star of the Senior Discount videos) sat down to record a podcast about our life in the arts (me with the band, he with the Providence Improv Guild). It’s now a weekly show about our lives in the arts, our personal lives, our love of mainstream movies/music/games/books, and interviews with local artists of all kinds (musicians/stand-up comedians/visual artists, etc.). This has also led to Senior Discount-related live events – we’ve done a few live podcasts so far, all of them including all the members of the band in new live segments and videos, and it’s an excellent addition to the world of Senior Discount. Our website is balanced between the three entities (Senior Discount music, Senior Discount videos, and the podcast) and those three things are very different creative endeavors I love to dedicate my time to. I also really seriously dedicate time to devouring new live art (stand-up and music mostly), which is fuel for the podcast – and I take my relationships very seriously so I’m consistently getting together events and trips for my close friends and I to partake in, as odd as that sounds. It’s very time-consuming but worth it. People tend to grow up and leave their friendships behind, and I think it’s a heart-breaking and sort of pathetic.

LM: Is there anything else you’d like to add? CS: I guess I’d just like to say I think that there’s this kind of elitist, judgmental part of being inside any local music community. Maybe some portion of the scene thinks that certain genres are cooler or “better” than other, maybe a portion looks at “mainstream music” fans as being outsiders – and I f*cking hate it. It’s bullshit. I think it hurts the scene, I think it hurts the community aspect of the scene, and I think it’s just plain ugly. It makes the idea of getting into local music unattractive. You don’t want to deal with those people who are going to knock you down for doing something you love – and to be honest, I’m kind of ashamed to share the community with them. I’ve been in a band for 11 years. I’ve played all up and down the East Coast, I’ve worked my ass on practicing, on writing, on promotion, etc. – and I have never have said that I didn’t respect a band based on genre or my personal likes/dislikes, or give a cold shoulder to people who aren’t part of the local music scene. I really want to discourage that behavior, and this show represents that. I love Blink-182 and Green Day – I don’t care if they’re two of the biggest bands in the world. I’m proud of them for achieving that, and I’m super proud that I’m so into this music that so many other people connect to on a deep level – but I feel like a lot of the people in the scene kind of shit on bands like that because of a combination of genre and popularity. Senior Discount is DIY, 100 percent independent, artists making art, no money, no leg-up, just work – we’ve proven it a hundred times over – and I still can’t wait to bust out some of the biggest pop hits of the past two decades. I want new people to feel welcome. I want new kids to feel invited into the scene. No negativity, no elitism, no genre-hating or pop-hating. If you love serious, super successful, widely loved pop-punk music that had often ruled the summertime radio playlist – come out to this show, express that, and learn about some more bands you might love!

Photo - Senior Discount set

R&B legend Bettye Lavette returns to the Narrows Center in Fall River

Bettye Levette photo

FALL RIVER – Two time Grammy nominee Bettye LaVette returns to the Narrows Center in Fall River, Mass., this Saturday, June 20, at 8 p.m. Click HERE for tickets.

LaVette is an interpreter of the highest order. Whether the song originated as country, rock, pop, jazz or blues, when she gets through with it, it is pure R&B. She gets inside a song and shapes and twists it to convey all of the emotion that can be wrought from the lyric.

LaVette was born Betty Jo Haskins on January 29,1946, in Muskegon, Michigan. Unlike many of her contemporaries, LaVette did not get her start in the church, but was weaned on the C&W and R&B records of the time that were playing on the juke box in her parents’ living room.

In 1962, at the age of 16, she became Bettye LaVette. Her first single was “My Man–He’s a Loving Man” on Atlantic Records. The record charted #7 R&B and put her on her first national tour, with Ben E. King, Clyde McPhatter, and other Atlantic stars of the time. She continued recording throughout the 60′s, 70′s and 80′s including stints on Atco, Epic, and Motown.

She worked alongside Charles “Honi” Coles, and Cab Calloway in the Toni Award-winning Broadway musical, Bubbling Brown Sugar, in the role of Sweet Georgia Brown.

2012 marked her 50th year in show business. It also saw the release of both a new album, Thankful N’ Thoughtful (ANTI- Records), and her autobiography, A Woman Like Me (Penguin), written with David Ritz. The book is currently being developed as a feature film by producing partners John Wells (The West Wing, ER, etc) and Alicia Keys’ company AKW. At President Obama’s personal request, she also performed at the prestigious annual Fords Theater Gala in Washington DC. Her most recent album, Worthy, was released in January of this year.

LaVette is one of very few of her contemporaries who were recording during the birth of soul music in the 60s and is still creating vital recordings today, as opposed to resting on her laurels and recreating sounds of the past.

To quote LaVette: “And still I rise!”

Tickets are available through the venue’s website, narrowscenter.org, or by calling the box office at 508-324-1926. They will also be available at the door.

Gallery X to host book signing by former New Bedford resident

NEW BEDFORD – Los Angeles filmmaker Adam P. Cray returns to his native New Bedford to sign copies of his new book Last Seen at Gallery X on Sunday, June 28, from 4 to 6 p.m. The supernatural crime thriller Last Seen is a work of fiction based in and around New Bedford and focuses on two homicide detectives investigating a string of mysterious disappearances in the city.

“Last Seen began as a short film I produced in New Bedford, “said Cray. “The film screened at the Building Bridges to the Homeland Film Festival in New Bedford (on April 19, 2009), and various other venues. The response was so positive, I decided to move forward with a feature screenplay, which eventually evolved into this novel.”

Cray grew up in Westport and graduated from UMASS-Dartmouth before moving to New Bedford. He relocated to Los Angeles in 1999 and has worked for both 20th Century Fox and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Cray has also studied acting at James Franco’s Studio 4 and with film and TV veteran Clu Gulager.

Cray is currently finishing a new supernatural feature screenplay with producing partner Bryan Duran and is considering the future of Last Seen as a feature film or possible TV series.

Though he’s lived on the West Coast for 16 years, Cray has continued to produce films in the SouthCoast.

“Growing up in rural Westport first sparked my imagination as a child,” Cray says. “I continue to be creatively inspired by Southeastern Massachusetts and its surrounding areas.”

Last Seen went on sale on Amazon.com on June 8 and can be purchased HERE. Books will also be available for sale at the Gallery X signing. The afternoon event will also include a reading from Cray’s novel as well as a screening of clips of films that he has produced in and around New Bedford and the SouthCoast. The original Last Seen short film will also be screened.

For further information on “Last Seen” and future events, please go to Facebook.com/LastSeenFilm or email adampcray@gmail.com.

Gallery X is located at 169 William Street in New Bedford. It is a contemporary, cooperative art gallery of visual, performing and literary artist members and volunteers.

Promo Last Seen

 

Psychic Medium Kim Russo coming to the Narrows Center in Fall River July

If you’ve ever wondered what lies in the world beyond, you can connect at the Narrows Center in Fall River, Mass., on Friday, July 17th, at 8 p.m., when psychic medium Kim Russo, host of the Lifetime series The Haunting Of, makes undeniable connections with her audience, giving them a first-hand glimpse into the world beyond. Purchase tickets HERE. (VIP tickets are also available for a post-show meet and greet with Russo).

Often referred to as “The Happy Medium”, Russo believes that she has been given the gift of clairvoyance and makes it her mission to share it with the world. The detailed messages that she receives from the spirit world are living proof that the spirit continues beyond the physical death of the body. While she was growing up, Russo would often see random spirits in her bedroom and sometimes felt their presence while walking home from school. The spirits used to scare her, but she is now comforted by their presence, speaking to them more than she speaks to the living on some days.

A practicing Psychic Medium for nearly 20 years, Russo is a Certified Medium with The Forever Family Foundation and the Windbridge Institute for Applied Research in Human Potential. Her readings have offered much comfort and hope to those who seek her services in the Long Island and Metropolitan New York areas.

Russo has also appeared on A&E’s hit show, Paranormal State, and is currently helping many children develop their psychic abilities. She has also recently appeared on a few episodes of the hit TV show Psychic Kids in addition to hosting The Haunting Of, which currently began its fourth season.

The Narrows Center for the Arts is located at 16 Anawan Street. Tickets to his show can be purchased online at www.narrowscenter.org or by calling the box office at 508-324-1926. For those wanting to purchase tickets in person, box office hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 12 noon to 5 p.m.

Photo - Kim Russo

Music and entertainment coverage since October 2006!

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