The Latest Buzz
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Musicians and Fans: Pheed!
I am not very skilled in social media. I am a fairly private person, so perhaps that accounts for some reluctance. Our social media consultant is appalled that The Buzz About has less than one thousand tweets in nearly four years. I tweet one superbly talented musician, but that is because I recognize people I've beaten in wiffle ball. Luckily, we have contributors eager to Tweet, and post on Facebook about new music and concerts, or update about new content on The Buzz About website.
Two weeks ago, I read about a fairly new social media service, Pheed. Launched in October 2012, Pheed takes many elements of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and incorporates them into one easy to use social media outlet.
Why should musicians care about posting content on yet another site? Pheed is unique in that it allows users to capture and post audio or video via the app. Yes, one can still post YouTube clips, but the ability to instantly capture and post a few cords of a new song, or a quick, "We are backstage and ready for you..." to fans, known as "subscribers" on Pheed is quick and painless. Pheed imposes no time limit to video or audio uploads. One has the ability to seamlessly share and/or connect Twitter and Facebook accounts.
Last week, we created a Pheed account for The Buzz About. As our social media guru reminds her mostly musically inclined clients, "Claim your name!"
I've posted to our Pheed, and I'm very impressed with the clean, easy to use interface, whether via computer or using Pheed's free iPhone app.
MySpace was a great place to hear demos or music clips (please forgive the archaic reference).
Pheed is the place for musicians. Share a quick snippet from a new song, a video from backstage, copyright a Pheed. Allow fans to read your Pheed, "Remix" (Pheed's version of retweeting), "love" a Pheed, leave "Pheedback," and use beloved hashtags.
One thing uniquely Pheed is one can charge subscribers to read or listen to their Pheeds. That is, if you want to charge to listen to a new song or watch a performance of a few songs, anyone can charge a fee. Let's not get ahead of ourselves though, Pheed is simply a great way for people, namely musicians and fans, to connect.
Let fans hear you in a new way, and interact through a new platform that incorporates all the great elements of the social media sites we have come to know and love.
Pheed can be found at www.pheed.com.
You can find The Buzz About: http://pheed.com/thebuzzabout
Cirque de la P!nk : Pink's Truth About Love Tour Review (Philadelphia)
Spectacular. That is, if I had to sum Pink's current tour, The Truth About Love, in one word.
Pink played to a sold out Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on March 17, 2013. "Hello Philly. I am glad to be home," Pink shouted over screaming fans. Pink acknowledged each of her parents in attendance at different points in the night. "When I am home my Mom makes me homemade s'mores and rice crispy treats. The s'mores are for me, but I brought a few rice crispy treats to share," Pink explained as she broke off pieces of the treats and handed them to adoring fans.
The hometown touches were special, but Pink's performance throughout her two hour set was extraordinary.
Pink took to the stage at 9:30pm and as she was waiving good night at 11:27pm one was left to shake your head and wonder how?
How does a performer leave an audience breathless with acrobatics, and showcase powerhouse vocals?
Some of Pink's most powerful, if not poignant vocals were on tracks like "Just Give Me A Reason," her duet with Nate Ruess, and "Family Portrait," her heart-wrenching tale of growing up in a broken home, accompanied only by pianist Jason Chapman as her family photos flashed on the video-screen. She took a similar approach to "Who Knew," swapping out the piano for the accompaniment of Justin Derrico's acoustic guitar.
What makes Pink's The Truth About Love Tour the concert event of 2013? The acrobatics, the elaborate stage with five video-screens directly above it (including a massive heart-shaped screen in the middle) plus one more on each side, the staircases and light posts, the crew of dancers, the five-piece band, the two backup singers? Yes. More specifically, Pink and company are enjoying themselves. Whether being slingshotted via bungee during the show's high energy opener, "Raise Your Glass," or being catapulted through an intricate harness system out into the audience (reaching the nose bleed seats at the back of the arena) like one badass Tinker Bell, Pink was smiling.
In the world of pop, Pink reigns supreme. Brilliant vocals, jaw dropping stunts, and Pink is true to her fans by continuing to stay true to herself. She is not over-packaged, nor so caught up with perfection that she loses her sense of being real. "No, I need to start from the beginning. I am not that talented to pick up where I stopped," Pink explained to Justin Derrico on acoustic guitar after she stopped her show when she spotted a ten year old girl crying in the audience. Pink passed the young girl a rice crispy treat and stuffed frog, and once the girl was smiling again, Pink restarted "Who Knew."
One badass Tinker Bell with heart, Pink leaves every ounce of her incredible talent on the stage.
Festivals 2013: An Observation On Representation
They could resurrect Nina Simone and give her top billing, and I still wouldn’t go to Bonnaroo. Or Coachella. Or Sasquatch, Santa Claus, Lollapalooza, Loch Ness—it’s hard to keep track of these massive music festivals that pop up in otherwise uninteresting locations every year across the continental forty-eight. Suffice it to say that the music festival is not my scene. It’s too much heat, too much eight-dollar water, too much vomit, too much traffic and parking hell. Not to mention that it’s unequivocally a bad listening environment. [Why listen to your favorite band for two hours in a theater with great acoustics when you can (barely) see them perform an hour-long set from a quarter mile back in desert heat?]
However, I understand the allure. It’s a long weekend in which to see a plethora of bands for relatively inexpensive admission, and it’s a chance for nineteen-year-olds to try MDMA and wear glowstick bracelets. [Surprisingly, neither MDMA nor Glowstick Bracelet are headliners at any of the festivals I’m about to discuss.]
Although I have no intention of attending any music festivals in the near future, the announcement posters are ubiquitous this time of year on social media, usually captioned with exclamation points. In the past few weeks, full lineups for four of the more popular festivals—Coachella, Bonnaroo, Sasquatch, and Firefly—have come out, and in looking at all four lineups, the underrepresentation of headlining female acts and acts of color is astounding, and the dominance of all-male, all-white headliners is worth talking about. And I don’t mean to ghettoize, but a juxtaposition of all of these bands suggests that perhaps it’s actually the same four or five white guys with dumb clothes, inexplicable monikers, and ironic-or-are-they glasses.
Now, before I get into the data, I want to say first: this has nothing to do with quality or talent. I am no more an arbiter of taste than anyone else, and do not intend to take anything away from any of the acts that happen to be festival headliners. I love many of them! This is little more than an observation about representation.
With that in mind, let’s look at Coachella’s lineup first.
The headliners, of course, are those names in the largest font—Blur, The Stone Roses, Phoenix, Red Hot Chili Peppers—and, in line with this troubling thesis, they are all-white, all-male acts. Moving down just a tier below, there is only slightly more diversity to be found with the inclusion of the hip-hop groups Jurrasic 5 and Wu-Tang Clan, as well as the female-led Yeah Yeah Yeahs. (And don’t forget Gillian Gilbert on keys for New Order.) But little should be made of this exceptionalism: it reinforces rather than undermines. Because the rest of the acts in slightly-smaller-than-headliner-but-still-bold font support this overarching theory. Modest Mouse, the Postal Service, Sigur Ros, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Hot Chip, Grizzly Bear, Vampire Weekend, Social Distortion: all-male, and you have to squint against the glare of all-whiteness.
In the smaller font that requires bifocals for to read it, you’ll spot Janelle Monae here or Tegan and Sara there, but you can bet the size of the font is proportional to the size of the stage they’ll be playing on festival grounds, and they’re certainly not considered headliners.
A look at Sasquatch’s website makes the headliners more apparent than this well-designed but ultimately defamiliarizing graphic. Top-billed are Mumford & Sons, The Postal Service, Sigur Ros, Vampire Weekend, and Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. All-male, all-white. The next two acts listed—the XX and the Lumineers—offer a female face [though not on lead], but they’re followed by more of the same with Arctic Monkeys, Cake, Primus 3D, Empire of the Sun, Imagine Dragons, and Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, a traveling, rotating brigade of six-to-twelve mostly-white, mostly-male members. Grimes is one of three female acts [out of almost fifty!] and her name is the last listed in the lineup’s fourth tier of acts.
As with Coachella, the further you scroll down, the more likely you are to encounter occasional racial or gender diversity, but it’s catch as catch can, and again: they’re not the headliners. The stages will be smaller, the sets briefer and earlier in the day.
When I saw the first three names pop up in the announcement video this morning, I thought it was business as usual. Indeed, Paul McCartney, Mumford & Sons, and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, it should go without explanation, are all-white, all-male acts. But then, magically, we got Bjork! [For the sake of full disclosure, Bjork is also one of the three announced acts for the less-attended-but-still-noteworthy Pitchfork Festival, along with R. Kelly who also shows up here. And what a duet that would be.] It’s exciting to see that Bonnaroo has given Bjork some well-deserved top-billing. Further down, we even get our second female solo act in Cat Power, which is equally exciting. In terms of racial diversity, there’s the aforementioned R. Kelly, the reappearance of Wu-Tang Clan, Nas. At first glance, it seems Bonnaroo is doing a bit better than the previously-discussed festivals in terms of offering a diverse mix of acts. However, if you’re fixing for an all-white, all-male act, there’s no shortage of them, and they’re still dominating this festival. You’ve got The National, Passion Pit, Grizzly Bear, Animal Collective, Gov’t Mule, Portugal the Man, Gaslight Anthem, Dirty Projectors, and Local Natives to choose from, and that’s only in the first half of the lengthy lineup.
The Firefly Festival is only in its second year, but let us not ascribe progressive intentions to it for this reason, as their lineup shows no sign of going in a different direction. Largest font? Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Right underneath? Vampire Weekend, Foster the People. All-male, all white. Karen O isn’t far behind as lead singer of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs (the second time in this list of four that she’s been the exception to the rule.) Calvin Harris, Passion Pit, MGMT? Check. And then we get Ellie Goulding, one of two font-increased solo female acts. (The other, Azealia Banks, also served as an exception to the rule at Sasquatch.) Artists of color are represented in Kendrick Lamar, Alabama Shakes, and Public Enemy, but the other twenty-one headliners, per usual, are markedly caucasian.
There are, of course, many music festivals big and small across the country, some of which have yet to release full lineups (Lollapalooza, Pitchfork, Austin City Limits.) One can hope that these festivals may demonstrate a taste that is more inclusive of what must be called minority acts in the festival circuit, rather than recycle. Before they’re announced, while there’s still time to make a few changes, may I offer these suggestions?
Give me Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Brandi Carlile, the newly-reunited Breeders. Give me Lauryn Hill, Mary J Blige, John Legend. Give me The Roots! Give me Metric, Neko Case, Patti Smith, PJ Harvey. How about Robyn? The list is endless, which makes the lack of variety and diversity from festival to festival even more frustrating, and even less acceptable.
What are we meant to gather?
The Buzz About 2012 - Our Favorite Music
We have listened to many strong records in 2012, and been in awe of powerful live performances.
First, we present a list of our contributors' favorite records of 2012.
Second, a group of our reviewers and contributors, with fifteen to twenty years of individual music industry experience voted on their favorite new artist of 2012. Highly debated, but a welcomed surprise.
We look forward to the great music of 2013!
The Buzz About Staff
Our Contributors' 2012 Favorites:
Regina Spektor - What We Saw From the Cheap Seats
Avett Brothers - The Carpenter
The Lumineers - The Lumineers
Alabama Shakes - Boys & Girls
Admiral Fallow - Tree Bursts in Snow
Shovels and Rope - O' Be Joyful
Brandi Carlile - Bear Creek
Fiona Apple - The Idler Wheel...
Cat Power - Sun
Grace Potter and the Nocturnals - The Lion The Beast The Beat
Beth Orton - Sugaring Season
Rose Cousins - We Have Made a Spark
Adrien Reju - The Lucky Ones
Anais Mitchell - Young Man in America
The Buzz About's Favorite New Artist of 2012:
Hailing from Broken Arrow, OK, JD McPherson, a former art teacher, released Signs & Signifiers in 2012. JD traveled to Chicago to record Signs & Signifiers at Hi-Style studio, which is housed in the attic of producer/bassist/studio owner Jimmy Sutton’s home and is 100% analog.
Lauded as “a sound that is vibrantly reminiscent of 50s after hours dancehall hits mixed with angsty tunes to appease the most brooding bluesman,” (Yahoo! Music) JD and his band have blazed the country this year with his “timeless, forward-thinking rock & roll” (Rolling Stone). His self-directed video for “North Side Gal” has garnered over a million views to date.
JD McPherson is our favorite new artist of 2012. In addition to live performances that have audiences dancing in sold out standing room only venues, it turns out McPherson is a nice guy. Humble and gracious with his time, he is seemingly in awe of his success. "I wasn't sure anyone would come over to the stage," JD shared with us as people filled the grounds to hear him perform at the 2012 XPoNential Music Festival.
We include the aforementioned YouTube clip of "North Side Gal," from Signs & Signifiers, but encourage listeners to take in the project as a whole. Perhaps summed up best by Patrick Doyle for Rolling Stone, "McPherson may sound like a purist, but he's a sharp songwriter, and his punk spirit and wry wordplay make this more than just a time trip."
Ingenious lyrics and skillful musicality are at the heart of Signs & Signifiers, and the heart and humility of JD McPherson make his infectious melodies resonate.
For more information: http://www.jdmcpherson.com/
"North Side Gal"
Bee Well: In Support of Honeybees
A friend of The Buzz About, Melissa Brodeur, wrote a book supporting healthy honeybees. It is a non-profit effort. Melissa reached out to a unique group of artists, including Pearl Jam for lyrics and local Vermont photographers to craft an intriguing collection of pages that make up The Bee Well Book.
The Bee Well Book is a collection of bee-ish art, recipes, interviews, music, educational pieces, and much more all put together in a beautiful, one of a kind book. The Bee Well Book is a non for profit book, 100% of the proceeds go to support healthy honeybees!
In this book you will find submissions from local Vermont artists, as well as artists from all over America, and interviews with rural and urban beekeepers. Popular musicians and artists such as Pearl Jam and Emek contribute to the book.
All of these contributors were asked by me to be in this book for a specific reason. They all came together because they believed in the project and the cause. We hope you enjoy our tribute...
For more information on the book, please visit www.beewellmassage.com.
Thank you and Bee Well,
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