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50 States In 50 Weeks…Week 48: West Virginia

Fun Facts: State Animal; Black Bear, State Songs; “West Virginia, My Home Sweet Home,” “The West Virginia Hills” and “This Is My West Virginia,” State Flower; Rhododendron

Home of: Brad Paisley, Bill Withers, Don Knotts

The Venues:

The Empty Glass in Charleston hosts local talent and up-and-coming touring bands of a variety of musical genres. Not far from Charleston in Nitro, WV is The Brickhouse where folks are doing their best to keep the all ages music scene alive by booking nationally-touring indie acts like Rookie of the Year and Four Letter Lie.

The V Club is a newcomer on the West Virginia music scene, opening its doors in Huntington in 2006. Since then, acts like The Avett Brothers, Tantric, Josh Ritter, the Hackensaw Boys and Junior Brown have graced their stage.

The Music:

Chelsea McBee – Though she’s only been playing her claw-hammer banjo since 2005, Chelsea McBee is fast making her mark in the folk/Americana scene. Her song “Mountain Girl” earned her a Top 10 finish in the OurStage Americana/Alt. Country Channel.  Born and raised in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, Chelsea is taking her old-timey sound on the road this summer: She’ll be playing Tennessee, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and New York City.

Zeroking – Huntington’s Zeroking aims to make music that appeals to both hard rock and metal fans without compromising their own vision. Sounds like a difficult task, right? These guys are up to it, having opened for Staind, Soil, Nonpoint, Three Days Grace & more.

Check out these and other great West Virginia artists in the playlist below! Who are your favorite OurStage West Virginians? Where do you like to see music in West Virginia? Let us know in the comments!

50 States In 50 Weeks…Week 47: Wyoming

Fun Facts: State Flower; Indian Paintbrush, State Song; “Wyoming,” State Dinosaur; Triceratops

Home of: Dick Cheney, Teenage Bottlerocket, Matthew Fox

The Venues:

The Lander Bar in Lander  is located in a historic building, but the atmosphere isn’t the only thing that draws in the crowds. In addition to the eclectic groups of locals who hang out at the venue, The Lander Bar offers live music every weekend. Catch OurStage artist Screen Door Porch on August 21, 2010!

In addition to serving up gourmet cups of coffee, Coal Creek Coffee Company in Laramie also provides patrons with a wide variety of live music. From locals to touring artists, Coal Creek books a wide range of genres including jazz, bluegrass, folk, jam bands, Celtic and blues.

The Music:

Bryan Ragsdale – This “Modern Day Mountain Man” has been dominating the OurStage country charts with six Top 10 finishes on  the Traditional Country, Bluegrass and Country Video Channels. Not content to leave his music to the mountains of Wyoming, Bryan plays over 200 shows a year and has shared the stage with Wynton Marsalis, Willie Nelson, John Rich and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. Bryan’s album Where Cowpokes Grow was a nominee for Country Album of the year at the 2009 The Independent Music Awards.

Screen Door Porch – Alt-Folk Americana duo Screen Door Porch is made up of Seadar Rose and Aaron Davis. The band recently traveled to Austin, TX from their home in Jackson Hole to showcase at SXSW and record their self-titled debut album, which was released in April 2010. The band is currently on a cross-country tour, but they will be using their suitcase for more than just traveling — Aaron often plays they suitcase as sort of a makeshift kick drum.

Reboot The Robot – Cheyenne’s Jon Ware is the proverbial “man behind the curtain” of solo acoustic rock project Reboot the Robot. Jon wears his heart and his Dashboard Confessional influence on his sleeve, playing catchy, emotional acoustic pop songs. This robot’s also a DIYer, having self-released his newest EP, When All We Have, on December 1, 2009.

Check out these great Wyoming artists in the playlist below! Who are your favorite OurStage Wyomingites? Where do you like to see music in Wyoming? Let us know in the comments!

Tour De Force: Book Your Own Life

With the fall of the record industry, touring has steadily become one of the most important, if not THE most important, source of income for many up-and-coming and established bands. Today there is an influx of artists trying to book their own tours and get the best slots in pubs, nightclubs and concert halls all over the country. In some of the past “Tour De Force” posts bands spoke about the hardships of cold calling and the last minute scramble to fill out their tour schedule. Some have even been clever enough to make their own venue, playing in parks and squares of various cities. It’s a tough market out there and often times the only way to get ahead depends on your connections, who you know and what strings you can pull.

MAGNA MATER bowed down at the Middle East Upstairs 4/25/10.

There are some sites on the web dedicated to helping bands book their own shows, like Book Your Own F*ckin’ Life. When we spoke with The Winter Sounds, a band from Georgia who has been consistently touring since around 2006 and booking most of their own shows, they said that this site is a great resource for bands who need to fill out their touring schedule. Book Your Own F*ckin’ Life has also expanded to a new site that is dedicated to helping bands connect with venues.

THE FINE & DANDY TRIO foot stompin' fun at TT the Bears 4/2/10.

Although there are a lot of sites focused on helping DIY bands, getting shows in a small local market can be tough. This is where booking agents come in. Shred of Team Shred Productions is responsible for a large part of the talent buying, booking and promoting in venues around Boston. As a veteran in the industry, he’s a good guy to know. This former WBCN radio DJ has placed bands in venues all over Boston including The Middle East, O’Brien’s, Great Scott and Oliver’s/Cask ‘n’ Flagon. There is rarely a band in Boston that flies under his radar, and he’s famous for championing a raucous night of 6 shows at 5 venues across Boston aptly called Team Shred: Knight Out.

Touring bands should listen up! Shred took the time to give some really great advice about how to book your own shows and some of the most effective ways to get your band booked. Check out the Q&A after the jump!

Read Tour De Force’s Q&A with Shred

50 States In 50 Weeks… Week 46: Idaho

Fun Facts: State Bird; Mountain Bluebird, State Song; “Here We Have Idaho,” State Fish; Cutthroat Trout

Home of: Built To Spill, Paul Revere & The Raiders, Sacajawea

The Venues:

The Venue in Boise may not serve alcohol, but this all-ages club does serve up a large helping of live music from local and national touring artists like Silverstein, The Spill Canvas and Alexisonfire. The Boise branch of The Knitting Factory (Formerly The Big Easy concert hall) hosts national acts like The Used, Fear Factory and Ani DiFranco as well as local OurStage artists Equaleyes, whose CD release show will be held at The Knitting Factory on May 22nd.

The Music:

Blaze & Kelly – Niccole Blaze and Mo Kelly’s tight, soaring harmonies and acoustic leanings have drawn them comparisons to one of their main influences, The Indigo Girls. Since forming, Blaze &Kelly have steadily toured the midwest and California, opened for The Subdudes and performed at the Special Olympic Winter Games 2009. The ladies are taking their show on the road or, more accurately, on the boat this summer. The will be performing on two cruises — a Holland America cruise to Alaska and a Royal Caribbean cruise to St. Thomas.

Finn Riggins – No one could accuse Hailey, Idaho’s Finn Riggins of slacking off.  The band played over 200 shows in 2008 alone and continues to maintain a rigorous touring schedule — including a stop at SXSW 2010 — as they bring their quirky, lo-fi indie rock/pop sound all over the country. Not surprisingly, the band is currently on tour in support of 2009′s Vs. Wilderness.

Snocap Summer – Snocap Summer’s super catchy, synth-accented pop serves a dual purpose: to make you move and to make you think. The two Idaho college students who make up the band certainly achieve their aim with “Rise and Shine,” a tune about how acknowledging the problems in the world is the first step to solving them.

Check out these and other great Idaho artists in the playlist below! Who are your favorite OurStage Idahoans? Where do you like to see music in Idaho? Let us know in the comments!

Ask Marcus Special: How MJ Rocks

Welcome to the eighth video blog installment of Ask Marcus: the place where artists from any genre can ask Marcus Johnson, a Billboard charting jazz pianist, professor at Georgetown University and founder of Three Keys Music, questions about the music business.

Tour De Force: Greenvans

Over the past four and a half months we’ve heard from a lot of bands about the triumphs and the struggles of touring life. One of the recurring “Tour de Force” themes is the issues and stories associated with transportation. Some artists travel in vans, some travel via misbehaving buses named Norman, others ride Vespas and some make their way in”Dadmobiles”. Overall, it seems that every band is looking for a perfect solution to their transportation needs.

Although no option is ever truly perfect, there is an alternative solution that’s has pretty close. Andy Reitz, a touring musician who got fed up with pouring thousands of dollars into his gas tank on each tour, took it upon himself to convert a van that runs on waste vegetable oil. Waste vegetable oil vehicles are perfect for the touring band. It works most efficiently on long drives and can often be obtained for free from restaurants that normally are required to pay disposal fees. Bands can, at once, save money and do their part to help the environment. Just remember, waste vegetable oil must start and stop on diesel because the oil must be heated before it’s used.

As you can read from the Q&A with Andy below the process involved a lot of trial and error. The first tour he went on was definitely a learning process, but when he came back his musician friends couldn’t get enough! Everyone wanted to travel in a veggie oil van so it didn’t take long for Andy to realize that there was definitely a market waiting to be tapped.

Since he converted his tour van in the summer of 2007, Andy has expanded his fleet to include 12, 15 and 7 passenger vans equipped with a trailer for all your gear, enough veggie oil to take you 2,000 miles and access to their nationwide network of oil suppliers. Andy and his team at Greenvans have taken the guesswork out of reducing your carbon footprint and saving money by doing the work for you. And let’s be real — saving money and going green is the new “in” thing to do. Andy took some time to talk with us about starting his business and how Greenvans can help your band, check out OurStage’s Q&A with him below!

Check out Greenvans and learn more about vegetable oil vehicle conversion here!
Continue reading ‘Tour De Force: Greenvans’

Liner Notes: Allen Thompson – “Forgive Me”

I wrote this song when I was living in Richmond, Virginia. The band at that time was a pretty standard four-piece bluegrass group – guitar, fiddle, bass, and banjo. Only one of us really knew how to play bluegrass, however, making us a pretty non-standard bluegrass group.

Our bluegrasser-in-residence was banjo player Ambrose Waddell. Ambrose is one of those guys who has been around bluegrass all his life, has learned from the hottest pickers around, and can pretty much play circles around everyone he knows. I knew I needed to introduce some fast-paced bluegrass tunes into the repertoire in order to keep Ambrose engaged. Otherwise, he was going to get bored real fast. Since I didn’t know and couldn’t play any bluegrass or old-time chord progressions, I knew the song was going to have to be a blues. “Forgive Me” was intended to be Ambrose Waddell’s jam vehicle.

Lyrically, the song is about a son’s relationship with his mother. My family was going through a tragedy at the time the bulk of the songs for 26 Years were written, so a lot of the songs on the record are about this type of thing. The funny thing is, this song really fills its roll as our good time jam song, regardless of the lyrical content. The audience enjoyment doesn’t come in spite of the lyrics, though. Most of the dancers and twirlers I see are also singing along. I guess Mary Poppins was right about the sugar and the medicine and the delight and all that other stuff.

Tour De Force: Ridin’ Dirty

Over the years, the touring artist’s contract rider has proved to be one of the most intriguing and amusing aspects of the music industry. This infamous document describes a list of conditions that must be satisfied before an act will perform, and has often resulted in ridicule, rumor and scandal for those more high-maintenance artists. For most touring artists, even if they are just starting out, a modest rider is perfectly acceptable and a good chance for the band to eat something other than beef jerky and hot dogs from a gas station. As with most things in the music industry, a nice rider only comes after paying your dues and dealing with the sometimes crappy space/food the venue provides. Below we’ll take a look at some what-to-do and some what-not-to-do’s, but before we get into the juicy stuff let’s take a look at the history of “the rider.”

The Beatles are widely considered to be the first band to require something similar to a rider. Basically just some simple amenities (black-and-white TV set) and refreshments. Considering that they are arguably one of the greatest  bands of all time, not that big of a deal. It wasn’t until bands like The Rolling Stones and Van Halen came bursting out on the scene that pre and post-show demands got a little out of hand. Probably one of the most infamous incidents of prima-donna behavior from a band is the David Lee Roth “Brown M&Ms” fiasco of ’82. It is said that after finding forbidden brown M&Ms in the bowl in their dressing room David Lee Roth would trash Van Halen’s dressing room, and in one instance, cause $85,000 of damage to the backstage area. However, as years have gone by, it seems there may have been a method to his madness. Van Halen was one of the first bands to travel with an extremely elaborate stage set-up that required a lot of attention to their technical requirements, and failure to comply with these often resulted in some dangerous situations. The case where Roth had allegedly caused $85,000 of damage was actually spun from the unfortunate fact that the technical requirements were not met and the staging sank through the floor.

Continue Reading Tour De Force: Ridin’ Dirty

Spurs of the Moment

“Spurs of the Moment” is your up-to-date source for all happenings in the country music community. Make sure to check in bi-weekly to see just what’s going on with your favorite country singers and stars!

Last week, Universal Music Group made a ground breaking decision. In the wake of free downloads and digital listening, CD profits have taken a nose dive. So Universal, whose country division includes Sugarland, George Strait and Josh Turner, has decided to lower its CD prices to $10 or less. Hoping the drop in price will be made up in increased sales, Universal also plans on releasing higher- priced deluxe or special edition compilations that offer exclusive content. This is an extremely smart move on Universal’s part, but the question remains, : Is it too late to raise CD sales from the dead?

Danny Gokey

The latest Idol-gone-country has released his first single. Danny Gokey, the 2nd runner up of last season’s American Idol competition, has stepped out as a country singer because of the focus on true messages and personal stories our the genre offers. Known as the emotional ballad- belter, Danny has a real future in country. Take a listen to his first single “My Best Days Are Ahead of Me,” and find out for yourself!

Darryl Worley

Another country star has decided to support our troops in the Stars for Stripes U.S Troops tour this coming April. Darryl Worley is making his 8th trip overseas to entertain the brave men and women who fight for our country on a daily basis. The tour runs extends from April 29th-May 3rd , and giving multiple locations will have the chance to enjoy Darryl’s music. Just as we commend the soldiers fighting for us, we also commend Darryl for his naturally altruistic attitude and his willingness to pay it forward.

Thanks for checking in with “Spurs of the Moment” for all of your up-to-date country music news!


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