Changes to the monthly competitions

Hi and welcome back to Amazing OurStage. We want to let you know that there will be changes to the prizes we are offering. Every month will be different.
This month we are awarding prizes of $100 to winners of the competition finals. In the future there will be prizes to help your musical career. Check back to find out.

OurStage is now part of Amazing Media

Come back to see the improvements to OurStage over the next few months.

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The Sons of Sylvia—The Clark Brothers’ Father Credited For Family Music Success

If you think against-the-odds stories are only the stuff of holiday fables, you have yet to meet the Sons of Sylvia. How else to explain how three brothers—Ashley, Austin and Adam Clark—who videotaped a basement jam, landed on a 2007 Fox reality show Next Great American Band where they played songs including a blues-filled rendition of “Gimme Shelter” that arguably rivals the classic Rolling Stones version, beat out 10,000 or so other hopefuls and inked a deal with 19 Records/Interscope Records. Huh. They’re likely grads of Berklee College of Music in Boston or some other hoity-toity school for musical protégées, you might think. Not even close.

“We grew up with a really musical family. My dad started me on it,” said Austin of how his preacher dad sparked the brothers’ musical interests. “He gave me a few pointers and kind of took it there. My dad has always picked and played and it’s a passion of his and he kind of passed it on.”

Not to mention proficient. Of course, it’s tough to get any traction in the music industry if you don’t have a solid mentor and the brothers had one right in their own home.

“We had heroes, for sure, but I guess our father [was always the main one], influencing us and telling us [to] keep at it and making us do it,” he said. “We would go to bluegrass festival and play with [well known artists] and it was addicting even though we were really young at the time.”

The addiction led the brothers to individually ease into high-profile gigs with Carrie Underwood — a major fan and supporter of the band — and SheDaisy. But players come and go and these guys knew they had to roll the dice to stay in the game. So they taped the submission — as The Clark Brothers — right before the show’s deadline and sent it off.

“We started taking it really seriously right after we won Next Great American Band on Fox,” said Austin. “That experience was really such a growing and learning experience as writers and we wrote the whole record. It definitely was a time when we figured out how to express ourselves.”

In a major way.

Fast-forward to April 2009 when the brothers’ debut album Revelation was released and debuted at No. 33 on the Billboard Top 200 chart. A slot on Carrie Underwood’s “Play On” tour and a high-profile appearance on American Idol are among the other major successes the brothers can recount from this past year.

Expect plenty more ahead as songs from the album, including the first single “I’ll Know You“, continue to build momentum — and even more success — for the band.

“Every song is different,” said Austin of the writing process surrounding the single. “When you are writing some songs just pop out. [The song] “I’ll Know You” didn’t take long…We got together, we wrote it and walked in the next room and recorded it.”
See? Against-the-odds stories really do happen.

Sons of Sylvia “I’ll Know You” (Behind The Scenes)

Tour Dates

DEC 1: St. Louis, MO – Chaifetz Arena

DEC 2: Evansville, IN – Roberts Stadium

DEC 4: Des Moines, IA – Wells Fargo Arena

DEC 5: Sioux Falls, SD – Sioux Falls Arena

DEC 7: Rapid City, SD – Rushmore Plaza Civic Centre

DEC 8: Casper, WY – Casper Events Center

DEC 12: Bozeman, MT – Breedan Field House

DEC 14: Yakima, WA – Yakima Valley Sun Dome

DEC 15: Penticton, CAN – South Okanagan Events Centre

DEC 16: Vancouver, BC V6B 6G1, CAN – Rogers Arena

DEC 18: Edmonton, AB, CAN – Rexall Place

DEC 19: Calgary, CAN – Pengrowth Saddledome

By Nancy Dunham

Nancy Dunham writes about music for Country Weekly, AOL Music’s site The Boot, The Washington Post, Relix and other publications.

Bittersweet Symphonies

Lily Holbrook

The 2005 documentary Playing for Change began with a folk singer, Lily Holbrook, busking on a corner in Santa Monica. From there the film went on to follow the lives of sixteen street performers across the country in their pursuit of happiness. But it didn’t end there—Playing for Change has since grown into a global multimedia project that captures live performances by musicians anywhere from Kathmandu to Tel Aviv.

Holbrook’s story was just beginning too. In the five years since the film’s debut, the Boston-born singer songwriter has released multiple records, played festivals headlined by Radiohead and caused pedestrian traffic jams with the occasional street concert. Here’s why: As a singer, Holbrook is a tour de force, combining the dreamy bohemia of Stevie Nicks with the tormented rock operatics of Tori Amos. “Apocalypse Kiss” lets Holbrook’s sugary vocals provide the treacle for a grandiose, turbulent chorus of grinding guitars and thundering drums. If you like the gothic storm and stress of Evanescence, you’ll want to get this track, like yesterday. “Cowboys and Indians” shows a softer, more organic side of Holbrook. It’s spacious and quiet, with the swell of cello and a simple strummed guitar providing the emotional hook. If her songs have any calling card, it’s their blend of chamber instruments with diaphanous layers of vocals—one providing the melancholia and the other, the relief. From her days busking in subways with just a guitar, she’s come a long way, baby.

GuacaMusic: Santa Mamba

If you had to choose between Latin music styles, which one would you pick? Would it be the excitement of salsa? The catchiness of merengue? The passion of tango?

Luckily, you don’t have to pick just one. In fact, there is a OurStage band that’s made a home in the Top 10 Charts for several months due to its ability to present it all: rock, salsa, reggaeton, funk, rap, jazz, rhumba, merengue, bachata, disco, reggae, bolero, son and more.

I am talking about Santa Mamba, a group that combines all of these sounds to create an interesting fusion of musical elements.

While artists from many bands that fall under the broad classification of “Latin” often share an ethnic heritage, the story of Santa Mamba is different. All of their members come from different places. Some were born in small towns in the US, others grew up in American cities with strong ties to Italian and Portuguese tradition, and a few more were born in Latin American countries such as Venezuela and the Dominican Republic.

You are probably wondering how artists from such diverse backgrounds manage to come together and form such a fantastic band, right? Well, Santa Mamba’s members are aware of their differences. On their Web site they write: “We have little in common, besides that we were all born with a passion for music and an openness to it in all its varieties of expression.”

In fact, they say, their differences have brought them even closer, since they had to learn how to listen and understand each other. Over time, they figured out the value of diversity and forged their own style, which they named Latin Roots Rock, a sound that takes a firm understanding of various Latin and American musical traditions.

Whatever this band is doing is definitely working well. On OurStage, Santa Mamba has received awesome feedback from fans with their song “Aroma” which means scent or smell, and talks about the exquisite aroma of the person you love. Play this song and you will be amazed by the mixture of sounds and the interesting influences from iconic figures such as Santana, Ruben Blades and Mana.

For a more danceable tune, play their song “Senseo” which was the title of their most recent album and combines elements of salsa, rhumba and a touch of rock.  The fervor of this beat demands some serious dancing; so don’t forget to play it when you are feeling the urge to move.

What do you think? Isn’t it great when you don’t have to pick just one music style? After all, this is what Latin music is all about, a big dish of ingredients and flavors that, when mixed together, create the most exquisite combinations on earth. Enjoy this playlist by Santa Mamba. ¡Provecho!

Winner Announced For Big D NYE 2010!

In October, OurStage joined forces with Big D NYE, the premiere New Year’s Eve event in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, to launch the Big D NYE “Fast Track to Fame” Competition. Artists in the Dallas/Fort Worth region were encouraged to enter their best original song in the competition for a chance at performing at Big D NYE on New Year’s Eve 2010. After a month of intense competition, the best and brightest artists rose to the top of the channel. The Top 10 artists in the channel were then reviewed by music experts at OurStage and WFAA employees, and a Grand Prize Winner was chosen! Texas natives Sleeperstar beat out the rest of the competition to perform live at Big D NYE 2010 in front of a live audience of 30,000 people and a televised audience of over 450,000 viewers! In addition to performing live at Big D NYE, the guys will receive $1,000 cash, an editorial feature on Big D NYE’s online platform and along with tickets to the Big D NYE VIP Party. Be sure to check out their OurStage profile and join us in congratulating them on a hard earned win. Stay tuned to the OurStage blog for when we interview Sleeperstar to find out about their big night.

The Dr Is In: Dr. Dre Offers Up Kush—Set to Detox in 2011

After years of reneged release dates and rap-world rumors of its completion, it seems Dr. Dre is finally ready to release his ten-year-in-the-making album, Detox…maybe.

The first official single, “Kush,” released on Nov 18th,  features Snoop Dogg and Akon, and debuted at Number 48 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart after a partial sales week, making it Dre’s first appearance there since “The Next Episode” in 2000.

As the title suggests, the track is an ode to a particularly popular strain of marijuana, and features the classic, west coast sound he helped cultivate over twenty years ago.

The prolific west coast rapper, turned producer, turned executive, turned actor who burst onto the scene in 1988 with N.W.A. and birthed the gangsta rap era with Straight Outta Compton hasn’t stopped since.  His debut solo album, The Chronic was released on Death Row Records in 1992 and introduced the world to G-Funk style rap. He produced Snoop Dogg’s debut album, Doggystyle, in 1993; the first-ever rap album to debut at Number 1 on the Billboard Top 200 chart.

The Aftermath president, (who also launched the careers of Eminem and 50 Cent) began work on Detox in 2004, but stopped to focus on production for other artists, and was re-scheduled for release in 2005.  When that date was canceled, three years passed before Snoop told Rolling Stone magazine the album was done in 2008, sparking industry-wide confusion of the seemingly phantom record. Another year passed before Interscope Records announced they would release the album in 2010,  with an unauthorized version of “Under Pressure,” the rumored first single hitting the internet in June.  Now, that the real single has officially dropped,  Detox is slated for an early 2011 release date.  It’s likely that this release will actually materialize an album, but Dre says it will definitely be his last. If “Kush” is any indication of what fans can expect, it may well have been worth the wait.

By Cortney Wills

Cortney Wills is a pop culture journalist born and raised in Los Angeles, California. She has lived in LA, Chicago and NYC and enjoys all things entertainment.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Call: The Perfect Holiday Playlist

Tomorrow is the first day of December, which means it’s time to amp up the holiday spirit!

If you’re sick of hearing Mariah Carey and the same old traditional holiday songs on repeat, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve assembled a playlist of holiday songs—some originals and some covers—courtesy of our amazing OurStage rock artists. You can listen to each song in the player below!

1. Gidgets Ga Ga, “Christmas Wish” Chicago powerpop trio Gidgets Ga Ga dons acoustic guitars, tambourines and sleigh bells for this Christmas original.

2. Eddie de Pool, “Greensleeves” Eddie de Pool shows off his shredding skills on this holiday classic.

3. Allred,“Start Over” This somber Christmas tune is about forgiveness, growing up and loneliness during the holidays, but it’s Owl City feel makes for a warm delivery.

4. Wormburner“(Christmas) Bells of St. Ignatius” In the style of Foxy Shazam, Wormburner brings us a shuffling Christmas song about the holidays in New York City.

5. Endway, “Leaves Fall On Christmas” Beginning like a traditional carol, this song soon explodes with electric guitar energy from one of Boston’s best upcoming rock bands.

6. Austin Renfroe, “Brand New Christmas” Singer-songwriter Austin Renfroe brings us a soulful and passionate pop rock Christmas song about appreciating the holidays.

7. WHY, “Can’t Everyday Be Like Xmas?” Canadian rockers WHY ponders the question every child asks during the holidays on this acoustic track.

8. The Hudson Branch, “White Christmas” The Chicago indie band’s acoustic spin on the Irving Berlin classic is perfect for a quiet December night.

9. Ryan LaPerle, “Christmas, Baby Please Come Home” Hailing from New Hampshire, singer-songwriter Ryan LaPerle gives another Christmas classic an impressive acoustic makeover.

10. My First Tooth, “Sleet & Snow” What would the holidays be without the hope for snow? Indie pop group My First Tooth ends our playlist with a beautiful original song dedicated to winter weather.

Make sure to leave us a comment and let us know what songs are on your holiday playlists! And don’t forget to check out more holiday songs in our Holiday Channel!

Hip Hop Habit: IbnTheWeirdO

Hip Hop Habit LogoSome people just aren’t born to be team players. That’s not to say they’re incapable of getting along well with others, it just means—at least in any artistic realm—that their ideas and the emotions behind them are too bold to allow for any compromise. It may be a lonely journey, but the small percentage of artists who push forward with such vision end up being the names we all remember on down the road. With a stage name that contains “TheWeirdO,” Ibn (pronounced “ibbon”) makes it clear that mainstream and/or social compatibility is not what he’s aiming for. Such a moniker does however, before any of his material is ever heard, allude to the notion that perhaps his music is just “weird” enough to stand out in a good way. In that regard, he does not disappoint.

This week’s HHH featured artist comes from the same midwestern metropolis, more specifically from the city’s storied south side, as two of hip hop’s brightest luminaries—Kanye West and Lupe Fiasco. So, it should also come as no surprise that Ibn, a product of the same environment and someone who openly admires both aforementioned artists, would be of a similar breed.

IbnTheWeirdO Hip Hop HabitHis skeletal biography mentions a past rap group effort that fell through, the leftover bitterness of which can be heard in introductory talking points like “I stay to myself,” and verse lines like “I never slow down but I cruise so lonely/ Hopin’ that these photoshop dudes don’t clone me” in beginning of “Free My Mind.” As its title suggests, the song—with its forlorn, warning siren guitar lick and temporary resolutions—sounds as if it’s running from something; a desolate highway anthem built for outlaws trying to escape their own anxieties. For TheWeirdO, the crossroads arrives as the song turns down the final stretch and he rhymes “I wonder where I’m goin’ cause this life is such a maze” and “I’m kinda stuck lookin’ both ways/ Cars comin’, lights go four ways/ No stop signs, only road rage.” For all his declared independence, Ibn ends “Free My Mind” still fiercely solo but tangled up in more self reflection than can be healthy for anyone.

The remedy isn’t far behind. Like many deliberate outsiders, Ibn finds exception and therefore solace to his proud autonomy in love. And through love, he realizes that he might not be so different from the pack after all. “Circles,” a breezy tune studded with a beat more at home in ‘

80s snare reverb land, not only highlights the welcome versatility and polarizing nature of Ibn’s content, but also proves our young emcee has a soft spot as well. Beginning as a narrative of failed romance, Ibn comes around to step down off his towering pedestal, admitting “I guess I’m parallel to the same dudes hurtin’ you.” Yet as mature as this realization and the succeeding acknowledgement are, what’s even more impressive is the fact that Ibn’s realized the ever-evolving nature of the human personality, cleverly wrought in the song’s theme “Circles what we go around/ Never go up…or down.”

Maybe he’s finally got it all figured out, or maybe he’s just as confused if not more than before. Whatever the verdict is, you’ll be able to decide for yourself with the upcoming release of his anticipated Mixtape, Me Soon. Check for more on that in the future, and let us know if you can relate to Ibn in the comments!

Metal Monday: 1990, A Great Year In Metal

Though the metal genre has had many landmark years, no year in it’s musical history matches 1990 in terms of legendary and influential record releases. At a time when metal was starting to explore heavier sounds, such as brutal death metal, and bands like Judas Priest were evolving, the incredible album releases across the metal spectrum was an integral part of metal’s evolution. The year was epic in terms of both metal releases across sub genres and overall history.

For the new wave of British heavy metal, Judas Priest released their monster album Painkiller, which is considered to be one of the best metal albums of all time. It’s a considerably heavier sounding album than most Judas Priest material, and certainly heavier than their most famous songs such as “Breaking The Law” and “Hellbent for Leather.” Painkiller is the album in which Rob Halford finds his most sinister place, K.K. Downing finally breaks loose of the cheesier guitar riffs from the earlier days and Scott Travis adds more attitude on the drum kit. A true metal masterpiece.

Candidate for most metal artwork ever

The thrash world also had an all-time great album released in 1990 courtesy of Megadeth. Rust In Peace is a fairly short album, clocking in at just under forty minutes, but those forty minutes are densely packed with great riff after great riff, and blistering solos to spare. You also can’t forget Dave Mustaine’s incomparable voice, which is at its absolute best here.

That same year saw the debut release of the now legendary Atheist album Piece of Time, as well as Deicide‘s eponymous debut–both of which put a clear stamp on the death metal that would follow them. In a completely separate area of metal, Primus also released their debut album Frizzle Fry, considered by many to be their best album to date.

Splitting the top of the 1990 release charts with the powerful debut releases by Atheist, Deicide and Primus were bands like Pantera and Kreator. Both bands found the perfect formula for their very distinctive thrash styles, each releasing what was the best album of their careers (and still might be). Pantera’s Cowboys From Hell is certainly the band’s best known effort, boasting one of the most distinctive opening riffs in the history of metal. Even Bathory was on board with the year 1990, releasing Hammerheart, an album considered by many to be the first true “Viking Metal” album.

Less serious, but plenty awesome

In terms new metal bands, the “class of 1990″ list is pretty extensive: At The Gates, Converge, Kyuss, Opeth, Dark Tranquillity, Tool, In Flames, Fear Factory, Lamb of God and more. Many of these bands would go on to be extremely influential in their respective sub genres. In fact, the bands from Gothenburg (At The Gates, Dark Tranquillity, and In Flames) went on to define a scene and sound for Swedish melodic death metal for the two decade to follow.

The year was marred by tragic events, such as Judas Priest being sued when their song “Better By You Better By Me” allegedly prompted a kid to commit suicide (the band won the case) and the attack and ensuing paralysis of Possessed frontman Jeff Becerra. Still, with landmark release after landmark release, 1990 will go down as one of the best years in the world of metal.

South Africa Rocks: The Parlotones

Starting a band is fairly simple, but building one into a success in Johannesburg, as The Parlotones have, took more legwork due in large part to the lack of a strong music scene. A household name in their homeland of South Africa—outselling bands like Oasis and The Killers in the country—The Parlotones still catch a “who?” outside of their homeland. But the Johannesburg-bred quartet are quickly permeating the global market with their rock, including the recent US debut of their release  Stardust Galaxies.

“It’s [Johannesburg] an eclectic mix of cultures, languages, makeshift venues, musical genres and DIY events that can be likened to running on a treadmill,” says vocalist Kahn Morbee, who like the rest of the band, covers up in black with some sprinkles of red, wrapping his eyes in spindly threads of noir liner like a new Tim Burton character. “A lot of effort goes into it, but it seems to go nowhere. It’s kind of like a genius kid—it shows a lot of promise but never quite taps into it effectively.” Still, a deficient music scene had little affect on the band’s love for their homeland. They’ve since relocated to London for easier access to Europe and the US but always consider Johannesburg home. In fact, Galaxies is a melodious homage to their hometown with its Nelson Mandela-inspired, synth-fused anthem, “Should We Fight Back,” stirred by the former president’s autobiography and “Long Walk to Freedom,” a more nostalgic ballad. “Remember When” wishes a real Batman would have come along during tough times.

All is not solemn but more reflective on Galaxies. It’s an echo of better times and worse days via South African upheavals and insidious epidemics—the relief of which is something the band thoroughly supports in their work as AIDS and malaria activists. Still, Galaxies is more than an indoctrinated call to the country’s socioeconomic issues. Pop-infused “Push Me to the Floor” leaves Morbee in a subtle Bryan Ferry moment of swoon while “Fly to the Moon”—perhaps The Parlotones’ own indie rendering of the Sinatra standard (“Fly Me to the Moon”)—about soaring into space with his Cinderella—is more love-bitten sentimentality. The title track is the perfect end to Galaxies, sweetly driven by Kate Bush-like vocals from South African colleague and Freshlyground’s vocalist Zohlani Mahola.

With a record officially out in the US and worldwide, 2010 has been quite an eventful year for The Parlotones.  They even launched their own wine (three debut bottles named after Parlotones’ songs) earlier this year. In 2011 they’ll return to the US, marking the second leg of their tour in support of Galaxies and including several SXSW dates. The band is also finishing work on a 3D film set for next spring; the idea for which was sparked by the band’s first 3D project with Sony 3D World in Nelson Mandela Square during the FIFA Kick off concert. “Coming from a territory that does not have a track record for producing global names in music, we have found we always need to be innovative and forward thinking,” says Morbee. “With the world being at the dawn of the 3D era it seemed like the perfect vehicle to present the band to a global audience. We cannot give away too much at this stage but we are going to bring our fans worldwide a new and unique experience.”

Even if The Parlotones are not a household name on every continent, they’re diligently working on getting there.

By Tina Benitez

Tina Benitez is a contributing writer, who covers music, wine and pop culture from her New York home office for publications like NY Press, Royal Flush, amNY, Men’s Fitness, Venus Zine and Wine Spectator.

Fix Uppers

Josh Fix

Josh Fix has enough material for a couple of life stories. Born in South Africa, he emigrated to the US at eleven, graduated college and dabbled in investment banking and insurance for a couple years. That brief tenure in finance helped him save up enough money to purchase some studio equipment—ostensibly the shrewdest investment of his career. Now an accomplished singer, songwriter, whistler, keyboardist, percussionist, producer and art designer, Fix is anything but lazy. Still, the music he creates has a lyrical slacker sheen even if the music itself is pop perfection. “Don’t Call Me In The Morning” wraps supreme snark in swirling, uber-melodic keyboards. Even if he’s being sarcastic, Fix’s weightless Beatles-esque harmonies and theatrical piano pounding are teeming with joy. “Whiskey & Speed” skyrockets into a chorus worthy of Queen. Channeling his inner Freddie Mercury, the singer delivers a complex, layered rock odyssey that makes you want to turn your bed into a trampoline. Be glad for Fix’s restless heart and overactive mind—the end result is virtuosic pop that will leave you feeling totally elated.


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