Archive for February, 2009

Wake Up and Listen to the Music Atlanta!

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

For more than 20 years, Shannon Mulvaney has been an Atlanta music fixture. Since the mid-’80s he’s lent his bass-playing talent to dozens of local punk, indie, grunge and otherwise DIY bands. You may have heard of some of them, like Anna Kramer and the Lost Cause. Others, you most certainly have not.

And therein lies the problem. Too often, bands from Atlanta have to find success elsewhere before getting the recognition they deserve in their own back yard.

“Even when I started playing with Magnapop in the ’80s, we were roundly ignored in this town,” Mulvaney says. “We had to go as far away as Europe to play shows, and as soon as magazines likeMelody Maker and NME started saying that we were good, all of the sudden Atlanta loved us and people came to our shows.”

It’s a phenomenon that’s plagued Atlanta musicians for far too long. And it seems to suggest that the city just doesn’t care about its local independent rock bands. At least, not until Pitchfork, Vice or some other outside bastion of hipster culture tells us that they’re the best thing smoking.

In the recent past, acts such as Cat Power and Prefuse 73 moved to New York before gaining Atlanta’s widespread respect. But in today’s fast-paced, blog-eat-blog world, bands like the Black Lips, Deerhunter, and Gentleman Jesse and His Men have proven that you don’t have to move away; the cool hunters will come to you.

Read Full Article. Chad Radford, Creative Loafing.

Atlanta Is Home Even for Out of State Acts

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

Fans who have followed Musiq Soulchild since his 2000 debut probably know him as part of the contemporary Philadelphia soul movement that includes Jill Scott, Kindred and the Roots.

Now the balladeer concedes that some of his Philadelphia soul got its slickness from a bit of Southern grease — Atlanta Waffle House grease, to be exact.

Yes, Musiq served up smothered and covered hash browns here before he got a record deal, and spent long periods of time with friends and relatives in the metro area.

A year ago he decided to make Gwinnett County his official home. So the first question before this evening’s appearance at the Fox Theatre was obvious:

Q: Why the Atlanta area?

A: “I really just wanted a change, and the first place I thought of was Atlanta. I’d been to Atlanta plenty of times. Even worked at the Waffle House — does it get more Atlanta than that? And you know, I just thought it had a similar vibe to Philly’s as far as being a hub for creative people.”

Read Full Article. Sonia Murray, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Bring the Music Back to Music Midtown

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

Oysterfest 032

As 10,000 people piled in to midtown on Saturday afternoon for the Steamhouse Lounge’s 26th Annual Oysterfest, I couldn’t help but stand on the hill in front of the stage and reminisce about Music Midtown. And I mean thereal Music Midtown circa 1994, when it was located in midtown at the site where the Federal building now stands. The weather was beautiful on Saturday and while getting a beer or an Oyster took some patience, the spot is still the perfect place for a large music event in midtown. One entrance was almost in front of the 10th Street Marta station which made getting to and from the event really easy. There’s plenty of parking nearby, and there’s even the Residents Inn hotel, a.k.a. The Rocking Wyndham!

To see more pictures click here. Atlanta Music Guide.

Atlanta-born Woman “Starting A Movement”

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

Merely a mention of the Mighty Hannibal evokes both reactions of fear and excitement from anyone who has crossed paths with the 1960s Atlanta soul man, and with good reason. He’s a handful, to say the least. Over the phone from his home in Brooklyn, N.Y., he barks with a cool and gravelly voice, “I may be blind, and I may be turning the big 7-0 come August, but I’m still the baddest mutha I know!”

That declaration comes at the end of two weeks of persistent phone calls, during which he’s left me upward of 20 voicemails graciously demanding, “Please call me back, son!” The old man still has a belly full of fire that can be quite contagious, and at his age he doesn’t have anything to worry about but taking care of business.

The reason for his calls wasn’t to hype up a show or talk about a new song he’s finishing. He called to talk about his wife and longtime musical cohort, Delia Gartrell. After watching her songs languish in obscurity for years, Hannibal’s label, My Record Kompany, has issued a stirring collection of Gartrell’s singles, titledStarting a Movement. The CD is the first full-length that gathers all but two songs from a recording career that spanned the late 1950s through the ’70s.

Though her songs carry the political weight of a singer who witnessed the darkest hours of the Civil Rights era, the Vietnam War, and the plague of drug addiction that black soldiers brought back from the jungles, there’s a sweetness to her sound that gives a poignant touch to all she’s seen.

Sitting at Aurora Coffee in Virginia-Highland on a Saturday night, Gartrell recalls a lifetime of stories that carry her from Atlanta to Los Angeles to Harlem and back. Her presence stands in calm contrast to her husband, and when the conversation turns to Hannibal’s reputation as a human tornado, she breaks into a hearty laugh. “Oh, I can handle him,” she says. “When he gets riled up I say, ‘James T. Shaw!’ and he straightens up.”

While the two are separated by the distance between Gartrell’s Union City home base and Brooklyn – which Hannibal says he won’t leave even to go to heaven – she says they still talk like a married couple.

Gartrell was born in 1940, and as a child her mother would not allow her to listen to R&B music. Instead, she developed her voice by singing her way through a steady diet of gospel and jazz tunes, and declares an undying love for everyone from Dinah Washington to Luther Vandross. Her recollections are hazy, but she remembers that her first professional singing gig was at the Royal Peacock in Atlanta, where she sang with R&B hit maker Jackie Wilson. “I was so nervous,” Gartrell admits. “But I have been singing pretty much my whole life, so it was all right.”

Read Full Article. Chad Radford, Creative Loafing.

A Record Store Opening in 2009? Atlanta Man Says Risk Worth It

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

Why would anyone in his right mind open a record store in 2009? The economy is in shambles, and free (or cheap) music is only a mouse-click away. The impact of these factors has resonated strongly in Atlanta over the last year as the city lost two of its long-standing independent record stores. First, Earwax Records closed in January ’08. Now Ella Guru Records will follow suit when owner Don Radcliffe shutters its doors for good on Feb. 28.

But Paul Tilghmon, aka DJ Sars – or Parking Lot Paul, as most of Atlanta knows him – could seemingly care less about the dire state of the industry.

On the same day Ella Guru shuts down, Tilghmon will open Reactionary Records, along with business partners Brian Colontuno and Chuck Petrakopoulos. Situated in the East Atlanta Village across the street from the Earl, the new shop at 465-A Flat Shoals Ave. will cater to discerning vinyl shoppers.

Despite the lingering retail doom and gloom, Tilghmon seems unfazed. “I can’t really worry about those things,” he says with a dismissive shrug. “It’s a risk I have to take, but I don’t think it will really affect me that much. People who want their music on vinyl are dedicated to it, and they’ll never be satisfied by looking things up on their computer. They love to hunt for it. But until now, there hasn’t been anywhere to hunt for it on this side of town.”

The numbers don’t lie. According to Criminal Records owner Eric Levin, January ’09 sales for new and used vinyl at the Little Five Points indie-music hub surpassed CD sales for the first time ever, with vinyl accounting for 60 percent of Criminal’s music sales last month. Stats from the Recording Industry Association of America reflect the trend’s national upswing. In 2007, revenue from vinyl sales increased by nearly 50 percent across the country, while CD sales revenue dropped more than 20 percent. Even those numbers fail to account for the popular used vinyl market.

Read Full Article. Chad Radford, Creative Loafing.

Atlanta Record Store Unable to Keep Up

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

Last week, Atlanta found out it’s losing yet another mom-and-pop record store when Ella Guru owner Don Radcliffe announced he’s closing up shop at the end of February. “I didn’t quite make it 10 years,” Radcliffe offers with an awe-shucks smirk.

The news of Ella Guru’s demise seemed all the more poignant as it arrived the same week Bruce Springsteen blathered on in the New York Times that he made a mistake by selling his new greatest hits CD exclusively through Wal-Mart. But Radcliffe laughs it off, saying that big-box retailers aren’t to blame as much as the larger cultural shift in how music reaches listeners – i.e., the Internet.

“People just don’t consume music the way they used to,” he says. “I love the brick and mortar thing. I got into this business so I could have one-on-one interactions with customers, but if I don’t have enough customers, what’s the point of keeping a retail store open?”

Read Full Article.  Chad Radford, Creative Loafing.

Today the Anniversary of “The Day the Music Died”

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

Clear Lake, Iowa — Celebrations were held last weekend in honor of the 50-year anniversary of a crash that claimed the life of three rock ‘n’ roll legends.

The celebrations marked the anniversary of the Feb. 3, 1959 plane crash that took the life of 22-year-old Buddy Holly, 28-year-old J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson and 17-year-old Ritchie Valens.

The trio performed in Clear Lake and then boarded a plane that soon crashed into a snowy Iowa corn field.

Celebrations honoring the anniversary began on Jan. 28, and thousands of people have streamed through this small northern Iowa town.

Throughout the week, they’ve come to the Surf Ballroom for symposiums with the three musicians’ relatives, concerts and a ceremony that will mark the ballroom as one of nine landmarks of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

On Friday night, Shannon Teeling of Cedar Rapids said she had been looking for an excuse to wear her pink 1950s car-hop outfit and roller skates.

A sock hop associated with the anniversary celebrations gave her the perfect excuse.

Many people took pictures of her and asked to pose with her while she maneuvered around the Surf Ballroom.

“This is the kind of music I grew up on,” she said. “My parents kind of exposed me to it at an early age.”

Read Full Article. The Associated Press.

‘American Idol’ Not Route to Success for This Atlantan

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

At age 8, Atlanta singer songwriter Ben Deignan unearthed his family’s record player. He dropped the needle on an aged album and listened to “Cool It Now” for the first time. A surge went through him.

“New Edition was my gateway drug to Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye,” the 22-year-old says.

Although some of his peers see “American Idol” as their golden ticket to stardom, Deignan isn’t sold on the pop music processed cheese food.

“I don’t have a fascination with fame,” he explained over coffee last weekend, hours before his sold-out album-release party at the Hard Rock Café downtown.

“Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy watching ‘American Idol,’ ” Deignan said. “But success and respect are important to me. It’s tough for me to respect ‘American Idol.’ “

With a lot of old-fashioned hard work, Deignan and his band, Suburban Soul, are gaining that respect.

Read Full Article. Richard Eldredge, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution