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50 States In 50 Weeks…Week 50: California

Welcome to the final installment of our “50 States In 50 Weeks” feature. Over the past 49 weeks, I’ve discovered fun facts, cool venues and awesome OurStage artists from all over the US. For those of you who can’t get enough of discovering new artists across the country, check out OurStage Blog’s newest column “Scene and Heard,” which will be bringing you even more details about the music scenes in major US cities. The “50 States” virtual road trip comes to a close this week with The Golden State, California. It’s been a long, strange trip, but I wouldn’t have wanted to do it with anyone else but the OurStage community. Without any further delays, California, here we come!

Fun Facts: State Animal; California Grizzly Bear, State Songs; “I Love You, California,” State Flower; Golden Poppy

Home of: Green Day, N.W.A., The Go-Gos, The Byrds, Snoop Dogg

The Venues:

The legendary Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco was the the epicenter of psychedelic music in the mid 1960s.  Concert promoter Bill Graham booked a who’s who of classic rock at the venue, including Led Zeppelin, The Doors, The Greatful Dead, The Jimi Hendrix Experience and more. While the auditorium was out of commission for a while due to earthquake damage, the original Fillmore building is still hosting concerts as a Live Nation venue.

Continue Reading 50 States

50 States In 50 Weeks…Week 49: Hawaii

Fun Facts: State Flower; Hibiscus, State Song; “Hawaii Ponoi” State Bird; Nene (Hawaiian goose)

Home of: Pepper, Don Ho, Hoku

The Venues:

Pipeline Cafe in Honolulu offers Hawaii’s nightlife crowd a variety of different rooms for dancing, pool, lounging and live concerts. Pipeline has hosted big names like Black Eyed Peas, Evanescence, Pennywise and Ziggy Marley as well as local favorites. The thirtyninehotel, also in Honolulu, offers an eclectic mix of hip DJ nights and live music.

The Music:

Kings of Spade – Kings of Spade take their influence from the classics of rock and soul: Jimi Hendrix, Aretha Franklin and Janis Joplin with a little Bob Marley thrown in for good measure. While the bands rhythms are funky and tight, it’s lyricist and vocalist Kasi Nunes who takes the spotlight with her Joplin-tinged wails. The band has played regularly at Los Angeles’ Viper Club and House of Blues and beat out over 50 of Hawaii’s top bands to open for Bon Jovi back in February.

Dean Taba – This Hawaiian native has become one of Los Angeles’ most in-demand jazz musicians. Honing his musicals skills in the Hawaii Youth Symphony and later at Berklee College of Music in Boston, this bassist has played with The San Francisco Symphony, The American Jazz Institute Orchestra, The Honolulu Symphony, GRAMMY-Award winner Daniel Ho and more.

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

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!

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!

50 States In 50 Weeks…Week 45: Missouri

Fun Facts: State Flower: Hawthorn, State Song:“Missouri Waltz,” State Animal: Mule

Home of: Burt Bacharach, Sheryl Crow, The Get Up Kids, Nelly, Ike & Tina Turner, Story of the Year, NeverShoutNever!

The Venues:

The Old Rock House in St. Louis boasts 3 different levels, so you’re sure to get a perfect seat for touring bands like OK Go, Frightened Rabbit and Annuals whether you want to be front and center on the dance floor or catching a breeze on the patio. Columbia’s The Blue Note makes it’s home in a restored vaudeville theater and generally hosts national touring bands like Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Girl Talk and Gregg Allman. For more up-and-coming bands and classic Southern cuisine, try Mojo’s, which is also owned by The Blue Note’s Richard King.

The Music:

Storyline – Maybe Storyline’s high-energy, radio ready pop/rock sounds familiar to you because you’ve heard them on TV (Their song “Welcome Home” is the theme for The Halogen Network show Alumni), or maybe you remember them from their Poptarts feature right here on the OurStage Blog. Regardless, if you haven’t heard of Storyline yet, you will. The band is currently hard at work on a new album which is scheduled for release June 8, 2010. continue Reading 50 States In 50 Weeks…Week 45: Missouri

50 States In 50 Weeks…Week 43: South Dakota + Bonus Q&A

Fun Facts: State Bird: Ring-Necked Pheasant, State Song:“Hail! South Dakota,” State Animal: Coyote

Home of: The Spill Canvas, Myron Floren, Sitting Bull, Tom Brokaw

The Venues:

You can try your hand at being a rock star at Latitude 44‘s weekly open mic.  This Sioux Falls venue brings in local and regional acoustic & indie rock, blues, soul, folk, bluegrass, reggae and jam bands.  Nutty’s North, also in Sioux Falls, presents a variety of nationally touring artists of all genres like Leon Redbone and Strike Anywhere as well as regional and smaller touring bands. Fans of harder music can check out the 350-capacity Phoenix Lounge in Harrisburg.

The Music:

Alyssa Atherton: Rock's Next Princess?

South Dakota is known more for the rugged beauty of the Black Hills and Badlands National Park than for its musical talent, but 19-year-old Alyssa Atherton could be the artist who puts South Dakota on the musical map. At an age where most teenagers are just starting to think about what they want to do with their lives, Alyssa is already well on her way to fulfilling her dream of making music her career with song placements on MTV’s The Hills, The Real World, The City, Pageant Place and Cribs. Alyssa’s high-energy pop/rock sound and passionate, empowered vocals have attracted industry professionals like vocal coach Brett Manning (Taylor Swift, Haley Williams, Keith Urban) and Fleetwood Mac producer Keith Olsen, who flew all the way to Alyssa’s hometown of Sioux Falls, South Dakota to meet her. Alyssa’s music resonates with fans as well, as evidenced by her place in the Top 10 of the OurStage “Get Your Song Produced by Mike Flynn of EPIC Records” Channel. Alyssa took time out to answer some questions about her music and her home state.

OS: Where would you take a visitor to your hometown of Sioux Falls, South Dakota to show them a good time? Do you have a favorite live music venue in South Dakota?

AA: It’s actually been pretty tough in the past for live music venues, at least in Sioux Falls, but things are starting to pick up.  Venues like Club David, Wiley’s and The Red Eye are helping to promote local music, and there are several new festival-type events that are getting some recognition. Some of the coolest events are the summer festivals downtown that feature music, like Hot Harley Nights, and Lifelight is the biggest Christian music festival in the country.  They bring in big names every year.

OS: Who are your favorite bands/artists from South Dakota?

AA: Showbaby and Miles Over Meridian are two fairly new bands out of Sioux Falls that are starting to develop kind of a unique sound for this area, I also like Foley, and Spill Canvas, of course.  It will be interesting to see what new kinds of music emerge now that there are more of us gaining prominence in the music business.

OS: Your bio on your OurStage profile includes the quote: “In Sioux Falls I always sang. There’s not a lot else for me to do.” Do you think that being from South Dakota has influenced your sound or the way that you write music?

AA: I think my musical style is more influenced by the things I enjoy than where I’m from, things like fashion, travel and life experiences.  It did influence me in the sense that it was the most important thing that occupied my time, so it was almost a given that it’s the business I would go into.

OS: What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about South Dakota?

AA: That we don’t have the modern conveniences of the rest of the world, but actually Sioux Falls is considered one of the more progressive cities in the country right now.  The arts and music scenes are both growing rapidly, and bands like The Spill Canvas are finally getting some national attention.

OS: What’s next for you?

AA: Writing, recording and continuing to develop my voice and style.

OS: At 19 years old, you’ve already accomplished more than many artists do in a lifetime. What advice do you have for other teens who want to make music their career?

AA: You have to really want it, and it takes an enormous amount of dedication and self-discipline from you, and lots of family support.  People only see the glamorous side, but it actually takes a lot of hard work and constant development of your talent.  You can’t have a successful music career and still do a lot of the things that “normal” kids do.  You have to eat, sleep and breath the business.

Check out Alyssa Atherton and other great South Dakota artists in the playlist below! Who are your favorite OurStage South Dakotans? Where do you like to see music in South Dakota? Let us know in the comments!

50 States In 50 Weeks…Week 40: North Dakota

Fun Facts: State Bird: Western Meadowlark, State Song: “North Dakota Hymn,” State Tree: American Elm

Home of: Peggy Lee, Johnny Lang, Lawrence Welk

The Venues:

The Plains Art Museum in Fargo hosts a “Rush Hour Music Series” featuring local and regional artists playing from 5PM to 7PM. Continue Reading 50 States In 50 Weeks…Week 40: North Dakota


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