Saturday, November 14, 2015

Chicago musican Jared Rabin one-man show on solo debut album, will perform at Martyrs'


The versatile Jared Rabin is a one-man show on his solo debut "Something Left To Say," which was released in September.

Rabin wrote, arranged and played all of the instruments on the album,  with the exception of drums. There will be a record release party on Dec. 4 for the album at Martyrs,' 3855 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago.

Glass Mountain and Mad Bread also are on the bill. The music starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are $8, available at Martyrs' website at www.martyrslive.com.

I had the chance to talk to Rabin about the album.

Q - You've been in so many different bands spanning so many different genres. Was it just the right time to release a solo album?

It was the right time to do it for a lot of different reasons. Being in so many bands over the years that have frankly not lasted and my continuing to want to play original music was part of it.

It is something I always knew I could do and I was about to turn 30 so I finally had enough experience, resources and skills to make the record the right way.

I decided that it was the right time to go all out.

Q - You play all of the instruments except for drums on the album. In sitting down to make the album, what were your goals and do you think you accomplished them?

My main goal was less about playing all of the instruments, which seems like it should be the thing to talk about and be proud of. I wasn't trying to prove a point in doing it though.

I knew I would be able to produce the songs myself in the way I envisioned them. Bringing in other people, aside from the few people that I did have play on it, could have been fun and taken the sound to other cool places.

But my main goal was to have something that I am OK with sharing with people.

Q - Is there a meaning behind the album's name? What would you like people to come away with from the album?

The meaning is literal I guess; like I feel like I have something to contribute. It's the title of the first song on the album, so in context it's kind of like what I said in a previous answer: now is the time to make it happen if you feel like there is something that you can do.

People seem to be connecting in all different ways to the record. I have had a diverse array of comparisons made as to what people think certain tracks sound like, which I think is cool.

I want people to come away thinking that the record sounds good and they'd like to see me play live and check out the next record. That would be great. I'm not expecting it to change the world.

Q - You started learning violin at age 5 with the help of your grandfather, who was then concertmaster of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Was it good for you to learn a musical instrument at such a young age?

I would definitely not be here talking to you if I hadn't started as young as I did. I think learning music as a kid must be like learning a second language as a kid. My whole brain is wired in whatever way it is because of my exposure to music at that young age, as well as being raised in a very musical environment. All of that affects every thought process I have to this day.

Q - You have dipped into many different genres of music in your career. Do you have a favorite genre and do you continue to need musical variety in your life?

One way I have been fortunate in the music biz is to have a diverse lineup of gigs going on at all times. In any given week I might be playing with a jazz trio, or a bluegrass band, or with a 12-piece cover band, or with another singer/songwriter, or doing my own original stuff.

I was never trying to do all that out of a need for diversity, but I do it all because I can. A lot of people are more focused and really serious about one type of music, which I can definitely respect, but I like playing rock and roll just as much as I like playing jazz so I don't feel the need to discriminate genres.

Q - What do you think of the Chicago music scene and where do you think you fit into it?

Sort of related to my previous answer, there is not really just one Chicago music scene. Because I am versatile, I drop in and out of different scenes quite often.

There is a really strong jazz community who I wish I could play with more often. I used to be really involved in the "jam band" scene here in town. There's a whole new sort of funk/neo-soul thing going on lately.

Chicago is famous for its underground music scene and house parties and all of that, as well as the blues scene, church music, etc. I fit into some places; I don't fit into others.

There are places I wished I fit in better. I know a lot of talented people in Chicago and enjoy migrating between the different scenes and getting to know different people and styles of playing. It has taught me a lot!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Chicago band The Roalde Dahls adding vibrancy to scene, releases new EP


Chicago band The Roalde Dahls' music is as unique as its name.

The electro-pop trio will perform Nov. 13 at the Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago, to mark the release of its new EP, "MKIII."

Spaces of Disappearance and Dudley Noo also are part of the bill. The show starts at 10:30 p.m. and tickets are $8, available at www.ticketfly.com. 

I had the chance to talk to synth player Nikko Paoulos about the new EP.

Q - Great talking to you. You have a new EP coming out. In sitting down to make the EP, what were your goals and do you think you accomplished them? 

When we sat down to discuss the new project that is now known as “MKIII," we ultimately just wanted to make a better sounding record then our previous attempts. I remember thinking more drama, more dance, but beyond the composition, we wanted it production wise to sound better.

Gravity Studios did a great job in helping us achieve the results we were working towards. I believe this release stands taller then our self recorded releases. 

Q - I understand that people will only be able to buy the physical copy of the EP at the merchandise table at your  shows. Is that your way to thank the fans?

Of course it’s a way to thank our local fans. You can still purchase the EP digitally, but we wanted to make a trip to our merch table a magical experience for everyone.

The physical edition of "MKIII" is just one small part of it, we hope to be offering all types of exclusive content and art made by the band. But more importantly, it should be place where you can transcend the bullshit of fan and musician and just be people. 

Q - Is the band named after the author Roald Dahl? He of course is known for such books as "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and "James and the Giant Peach." If so, what made you want to name yourself after him? 

There isn’t a person alive who grew up as kid in the '90s that doesn’t know Roald Dahl. When we were trying to figure out what to name ourselves nothing seemed to fit, then Dylan came up with The Roalde Dahls.

It felt nostalgic, it was original, and was also a satirical take on conventional band names - if there is such a thing. To me that was a perfect combination.

Roald Dahl had taught me through his books that there can be humor in the dark and morbid, which is important for children to learn. What better way for us to pay tribute then to name our band after him.  

Q - How did the band form? 

Originally there were five of us. But every band goes through growing pains before finding the right pieces, or in our case, cutting off the right pieces.
I guess we started like every other band. You take a couple of bored friends, a Craigslist ad, mix it together with a basement and some instruments and boom, now you have a band. 

Q - Who are the band's biggest influences?

It's hard to pinpoint what influenced you to write what. With the Internet making everything more  accessible, it's all just become a hot pot of pop culture stimuli.

I find inspiration more so in my favorite authors, comic/manga artists, and especially Nintendo games. It stimulates my imagination more then someone else’s music ever could.  

Q - Do you personally have any favorite tracks on the album? 

To quote the great Dylan Flynn, “A good mother doesn’t pick their favorite child.”

Q - What do you think of the Chicago music scene and how do you think the band fits into it? 

Hmmm, how do we fit into the Chicago scene? Well, I guess the correct answer would be we don’t.

From what I have experienced in Chicago, it's more punk, noise rock and metal bands. You can find rap, jam and other genre shows, but the Chicago scene at it core is very heavy.

Of course, the influx of EDM popularity has created a niche for DJs and other electronic acts, but it really has done nothing for bands like ours who are neither EDM or a jam band.

We have thought of relocating to another city more catered to our style, but we don’t accept defeat that easily. We are determined to carve out a path for our sound on Chicago's mountain.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Chicago actor/musician Michael Monroe Goodman celebrating release of new album, will perform at Schubas

Michael Monroe Goodman has earned rave reviews for his portrayal of a young Johnny Cash in the Chicago run of "Ring Of Fire."

He also is a musician off stage, and will perform Nov. 10 at Schubas, 3159 N. Southport Ave., Chicago, to celebrate the release of his second album, "The Flag, the Bible and Bill Monroe."
Adam Lee and Tiny Miles also are part of the bill. The music starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are $10, available by going to Schubas' website at www.lh-st.com
I had the chance to talk to Goodman about the new album.
Q - Great talking to you. I recently interviewed Cory Goodrich, your co-star in "Ring Of Fire." What has it been like being part of the cast of "Ring Of Fire?" Has being a part of "Ring Of Fire" and "Million Dollar Quartet" given you new insight into the lives of the musicians depicted in those productions?

I wouldn’t trade my time with "Ring Of Fire" for anything in the world. We were a great big beautiful family and the show is one the most heartfelt shows I will ever do, I’m sure.

I already knew most of the history of Elvis, Cash and Sun records, but I knew little about Carl Perkins before joining "Million Dollar Quartet." Since then, I have read more about him than all of them and I feel a deep connection to him musically and personally.

In my opinion, he is the most underappreciated artist to ever come out of Memphis.

Q - What have you tried to bring to those roles? What do you think Johnny Cash would think of your performance in both productions?
I try my best with every acting role to be earnest. I don’t want to “put on” or embellish for flair.
I take my musical heritage very seriously, same as I take the art of acting very seriously. To impersonate someone as a tribute show is one thing, but for theater, you never want to do that.

It’s my job as an actor to keep it real and put myself in the role. I’m not sure what Cash would think of my portrayal, but I know he would be flattered by the quality of the entire show. 

Q - You've released your second album, "The Flag, the Bible and Bill Monroe." What is the meaning of the album's title? In sitting down to make the album, what were your goals and do you think you accomplished them?

I thought one day, “I want to write a song that unapologetically stands up for the things I most believe in." In today’s culture everyone is offended by everything and people change their stance more than the wind blows.

The title track was my statement that these are the three beliefs I will never back down from or apologize for. Anyone who has a problem with that can kiss my ass.
My goal was, and always is, to make great music that everyone can connect with. I hope that is true with this new album.
Q - It seems like much of the album is autobiographical, such as the song "She Was Mine," which was written on the first anniversary of your mother's death. Do you consider this album more personal than your first one?

The album, as a whole, is very biographical. Although a couple of the songs on the album aren’t true stories (the rest of them are 100 percent true), all of the songs are very personal to me.
My last album was a little more concept, but this album is me being completely vulnerable.

“She Was Mine” was a very hard song to write. Everyone wants to write a tribute to their mother, but I couldn’t honestly put her on a pedestal like some songwriters might.

She was a flawed woman who, with a big heart, lived in pain. I dealt with that, my family dealt with that, but at the end of the day, she was the only mother I’ll ever have.
I think a lot of people can identify with that conflict. So, it was hard to be completely open about my mother in a song, but when I finished it I realized it might be more honest and heartfelt than any other tribute I’ve heard before.
I didn’t hide anything from the story. I didn’t say,“My mom was perfect, how could I not love her.” I expressed what most people can relate to by saying, “My mom wasn’t perfect, she was human, but she was mine. I will always love her”
Q - I understand your parents knew Bill Monroe, and you are named after him. How do you think he has influenced your music?
Bill was family to me. Being backstage at the Grand Ole Opry on the weekends was just routine.
It seems so surreal now and I’d give anything if I could remember everything I witnessed as a child. It was impossible to realize then how legendary Bill was.

It wasn’t until his funeral that I first started to realize his impact on music and the world. Bill was so warm and parental to me.
To this day whenever I hear his voice on a recording, it’s hard not to cry. His voice was resonating through me while I was still in the womb.
It could be a total coincidence, but the first time I felt the need to write a song was when he died and “Rosine, I Cry” was that first song. I have been songwriting ever since.
Q - What do you think of the Chicago music scene and how do you think you fit into it? Are there other Chicago musicians that you particularly admire what they are doing?
I personally would love to see more allegiance to original music in Chicago. No offense, but I think it’s sad that party style cover bands draw more people than original music.
Granted, Chicagoans are very supportive of established touring bands, but there are a lot of great original artists in town that people should break their necks to see as well. Just saying.

I admire the Fat Babies and the Uptown Savages a lot. Not only are they amazing musicians but they are keeping big band music alive.
It warms my heart to see the young people that support them and their artistry. 
Q - Do you have any dream roles or collaborations? Do you need both acting and music in your life?
Well, nothing would bring me greater joy than to play Bill Monroe in a big budget Hollywood biopic. I think a well written story of his life would be a masterpiece that even those unaware of who he is could appreciate.
I hope to collaborate with Matt Woods and Adam Lee on a “Highwaymen” type concept album one day. As an actor, I would gladly star in anything directed by Mel Brooks, Tarantino, Scorsese, or Wes Anderson.

First and foremost I have realized at my core, I’m a storyteller. Whether that’s singing, songwriting, screenwriting or acting, I will always be telling stories. 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Chicago band Mary & The Immaculate Rejections show punk fervor, releasing new EP


After hearing the music of Ramones at the age of 12, Mary Lemanski wanted to form an all girl punk band that sounded just like them.
Years later, Lemanski ended up opening for Marky Ramone & the Speed Kings. And the spirit of the Ramones is quite evident in Lemanski's current band, Mary & The Immaculate Rejections.
Mary & The Immaculate Rejections will perform Nov. 14 at The Black Sheep Cafe, 1320 S. 11th St., Springfield, to celebrate the release of its new EP. SAP, Los Injectors and Rotten Monster also are on the bill.
Lemanski will then perform a solo set on Nov. 15 at the Elbo Room, 2871 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. James Rawson also is on the bill.
The show starts at 8 p.m., and tickets are $9.
I had the chance to talk to Lemanski about her current activities.

Q - Great talking to you. In sitting down to make your new EP, what were your goals and do you think you accomplished them?

The main goal for the new EP was to introduce Mary & The Immaculate Rejections to the world, to get our general sound out there, and to build some excitement in preparation for a full length CD to be released, hopefully, next year. So far, the initial feedback we've received has been highly favorable, so I think we are on target to accomplish our goals.
In fact, I was on ReverbNation this morning, and Mary & The Immaculate Rejections are #2 on the local punk charts, #59 on the U.S. punk charts, and #152 in the world! Not too shabby for only having set up the profile a week ago!

Q - I understand you have been playing together since last December. How did you hook up with Andrew and Harold and what do you think they bring to the table? How has the chemistry been between all of you?

I've known Andrew and Harold since I was 19 years old. We're all originally from the Springfield area. I was familiar with their playing from seeing them perform in The Stifs and other bands.
They are both solid musicians. Together they are a rhythm powerhouse, so I invited them to be a part of The Rejections.
We all get along well, and we knew we were all a good fit musically from our very first practice together. 

Q - You once opened for Marky Ramone & the Speed Kings. What was that experience like and what did you learn from the experience? Do you consider The Ramones to be a big musical influence?

The Ramones are a huge influence on me. I can remember the first time I ever heard them and was cognizant of them. I was 12, and it was two for Tuesday on the local radio station, and they played "Beat on the Brat" and "Sheena is a Punk Rocker" back to back.
I immediately wanted to form an all girl punk band that sounded like them. So it was an honor to open for Marky Ramone & the Speed Kings. I was very excited about the show.
Unfortunately, there was a falling out with my backing band at the time, so I formed a new band, Mary Lemanski & The Arrangements, and they learned all my songs in about six weeks time.
We pulled it off, and people said we stood out from all the other bands that played the show that night, but the one thing I did learn from the experience was never break up with your band six weeks before a gig where you are opening for a national headliner. It was stressful!

Q - You also have a solo career. Is it hard to juggle both? Do you need both in your life?

My solo career has always been a constant. This is the fourth band I've played in, and the third band I formed.
Bands seem to come and go, but I still want to be fruitful as a musician. I write in many different genres and styles, so I need an outlet for that musical creativity, which is my solo career.
I use a booking agent to get a lot of my gigs, and since Andrew and Harold have their own lives and other bands outside of The Rejections, sometimes they cannot play all the shows that I can. I actually have five different sets under which I can book gigs.
I have the band. I have a solo acoustic guitar set, a solo piano set, an electric guitar and me/Billy Bragg-style set, and an alternative/pop-rock, electronic set on the keyboard, where I sing and play along with a drum machine. I think of it as product diversification.

Q - You are the director of operations and the Chicago/Springfield coordinator for Songsalive!, an international songwriting organization. What is the group's mission and what do you do to try and further that mission?

Songsalive! is a grassroots songwriters organization run by songwriters for songwriters. We have various programs to help nurture, support, and promote songwriters, and educate them on the craft and business of songwriting.
I run the day-to-day business of the organization, help maintain the website, social media, and facilitate internal & external communication. With the Chicago chapter, we currently have a bi-monthly showcase & open mic at Borelli Pizza.
We did host a songwriting workshop for 5 years, where songwriters could bring in their songs for critique, and we would often have a music industry guest speaker talk about a topic of interest to songwriters. We are currently looking for a new venue to host the monthly workshops.

Q - What do you think of the state of the music industry these days? What advice would you give to someone trying to break into the music business?

The music industry is a tough industry, but it always has been though. Since the beginning of time, musicians have always had to hustle.
Musicians have also always been DIY, booking their own shows, touring, promoting themselves, handling their own business. They've always had people around trying to take advantage of them. 
Club owners not wanting to pay them. Kings not wanting to pay them. Remember the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin?
The townspeople and the king did not want to pay the piper for services rendered. The earliest account of that story is around 1300, so that tells you how long people have been ripping off musicians.
It's also very much a boy's club, but that goes without saying.

I think the difference now is that music itself has become such a disposable commodity and has become devalued to the point that people just plain want it for free. Nobody would demand that an author write a novel and give it away for free.

Nobody would expect a painter to paint them a portrait for free. I cannot think of a single art form, except music, where people expect the artist to give away their work for free. I think certain organizations, like the RIAA, over the past several years have done a lot to damage musician and consumer relations...and the RIAA doesn't have to suffer for the damage they've done.
The musicians and songwriters are the ones that are hurting.

I guess the best advice I can give for someone wanting to break into the industry is learn as much about the business as you can. Learn about copyright, licensing, marketing, royalties, distribution, etc.
Be consistent and persistent. Rarely does a music career happen overnight, and when it does, it's usually just a flash in the pan.
Be in it for the long haul. Hone your skills and your craft. Practice everyday. Write everyday. Be yourself.

Q - What do you think of the Chicago music scene and how do you think you fit into it?

When I first moved to Chicagoland, I read an article about how the Chicago Music Commission had done a study and found that in money generated by music, Chicago was third behind New York and Los Angeles. I found that surprising because everyone always mentions Nashville as one of the big three, and it's really Chicago.
Over the past several months, I have been writing live music reviews for a national music industry publication, and I have found so many great bands and good musicians, and maybe it's because I usually go to these shows on Wednesday nights, but there is hardly anyone there to see these people perform! 
The city of Chicago has this wonderful, diverse, talented pool of musicians performing every night of the week, and nobody goes out to enjoy it...at least that has been my experience so far. So as far as the Chicago music scene goes, people need to go out to shows and show support. 
Don't be afraid to try something new. You might like it, and if you don't, you'll still be richer for having experienced it!
Q - Where does Mary & The Immaculate Rejections fit into the scene?
We are a female-fronted punk rock band. We like to play loud, and we mostly like to play fast. Any time I think of our music, I picture myself with my guitar held high above my head.
I'm smashing it into a glass ceiling, and shattering the ceiling to pieces.
I think that's where our music fits into the scene!