Thursday, May 20, 2010

Semester Summary and Summer Disclosure

This past semester was an influential one in the lives of the humble folks here at the WLSB. Many of the people we interviewed, hung out with and talked with all mentioned that this past semester was one of heightened creativity, connectivity and musical activity. We just want to say, we fucking loved it. Personally, I know that this past semester was my most productive ever and was definitely the most rewarding one of my college career. Again, thank you all for paying attention and being a part of the burgeoning live scene in this area.

So far, the hopes are to continue with The Way Live Should Be in the UMO area next semester. We’ll see where we’re all at. As for this summer, we’re goin’ on tour. Not really…but we’re kind of going to be all over the place and if we feel like doing reviews for shows then we’re going to and hopefully maybe some of you will read it? We’ll be in Maine, NH, CT, VT, Nevada, Missouri, Oregon, and maybe a couple other states in there….Phish shows will be attended…and multiple well as many super hip indie shows, and local bands everywhere! Nateva festival will be kind of our midsummer reunion (SO BE THERE!), but I’m not sure if we will be capable of reporting on such an epic, musically loaded event, as it’s intensity will leave us dumbfounded. However, please keep paying attention and we will do our best to let you know whats going on all over the U.S. Let us know where we should be this summer!

So…to all those that played music for us this past semester, it’s been pretty great. We’ve gotten to see many of the bands in the area progress like crazy, and it was pretty exciting. To the bands that are sticking together: let us know what you’re doing and where you’ll be playing! Also, look down at the later blog posts, we put up a bunch of info for some pretty sweet venues in NH, phone numbers, websites, etc. Get out there!

To those bands parting ways…we hope you all take something with you from the musical experiences you’ve had up here in the Orono/Old Town area. Keep spreading your musical juices wherever the hell you may end up. Let us know what’s up with yourselves and seriously continue getting out there and play your music.
Next semester… it is likely the three of us at the WSLB will all be back. We hope to continue to be a part of the local scene and to continue to try and connect people in order to keep supporting local live music. It’s been a mind blowing semester and experience for us getting to talk so much about something we are all intensely passionate about… thanks for listening. Go see live music… and let us know how it is!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Review: Hot Day at the Zoo and Railroad Earth at Port City Music Hall

There I was again, at the mercy of Hot Day at the Zoo’s infinitely uplifting sound. HDATZ opened for Railroad Earth at the Port City Music Hall, Portland, ME this past Thursday and it was NOT a show to miss. I had actually never, ever listened to Railroad Earth before in any form, but I figured that they had to be good if HDATZ was opening for them. I won’t lie about the fact that I mainly went to see HDATZ and I wasn’t disappointed. I tell you, these gentlemen speak in String. They played three of my favorite songs off of their newer albums called Mama, One Day Soon, and Ana Maribel…. all crazy excellent jams with great, saucy lyrics. I am still waiting to hear Old Mill… but that just means I have one (of many) main reasons to continue putting HDATZ at the top of my “Go See” list. Covers included No Expectations by The Rolling Stones (truly far better as a bluegrass song.. it was meant to be) and Foxy Lady (always SO fun!). Their sound is very fulfilling, incredibly uplifting, and yet still has an edgy side that I am extremely addicted to. Those four instruments (mandolin, banjo, guitar, and standing bass) combine in ways my brain cannot fathom… I especially noticed that night that the mandolin player is able to weave in and out of the music like the wind. Hot Day at the Zoo is playing a bunch this summer and I recommend going to see them as a necessary life experience!
I repeat that Thursday was my first experience with Railroad Earth live or otherwise. I was extremely impressed and it was quite evident that each of the members of the band are incredibly talented and skillful musicians. Railroad Earth consists of banjo, mandolin, fiddle, guitar, drums, and standing bass. But don’t let that fool you… the banjo player also played guitar, flute, slide steel, and (possibly most epic) two saxophones at once (in the song Hard Livin’… a favorite of mine for the evening). Literally one sax in each hand… I’ve never seen that before! I was very impressed. Other members were similarly versatile, both the mandolin player and fiddle player switched instruments and picked up guitars at various points. I’ve never really seen so much instrument switching, and it added to the fluidity and variety of their sound. I would describe their style as full of entire body-moving, wholesome, earthy tunes with many traditional references. However they also have a strong originality, likely due to the ridiculous skill level of each individual musician. I am NOT a religious individual, but each song was like a prayer… full of spirituality and soulfulness. Some of their songs almost seemed to reference Grateful Dead and multiple times throughout the evening I felt in many ways that they were the bluegrass version of GD, due to their free-form jams and the fact that their songs build, crash and build again like waves, but with many different hypnotic riffs and sounds that completely captivate the audience. Often their songs would vividly invoke imagery of rivers, a breeze through trees...especially the songs where the banjo player played the flute.
As I mentioned earlier I am addicted to music that has some undercurrent of tension, some kind of edginess. For me, that was the only aspect missing in Railroad Earth’s music… but that’s a personal preference. If you like String Cheese or Grateful Dead I believe you will LOVE Railroad Earth… those three bands make up a genre all on their own in my opinion. And I do have to say that there are only two bands I have seen in my life that I would describe as a venerable “wall of sound”… music that hits you from head to toe… that has no gaps or unfilled spaces… music that you literally feel like you just walked into a wall (a cushy, wonderful wall). Previously those bands were just Radiohead and Dave Matthews Band, but I would say Railroad Earth also is a “wall of sound” band and it’s an experience/label I am very specific about and that I make a point of pursuing.
To sum it up… I was blown away by Railroad Earth’s musicianship and unique sound. And as always… I somehow ended up head banging for HDATZ… those guys are probably tied for first with my absolute favorite up and coming band. GO SEE LIVE MUSIC!

Free Download/Stream

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Interview with Jason Hann of EOTO!

"Consisting of Michael Travis and Jason Hann, the duo mixes the organic sounds of live drums, bass and guitar through a variety of programs and gadgets to create a style of music that is more likely found in a dance club, than a live music theater. What sets EOTO apart from other artists in this emerging genre is how the music is created. While some artists may spend hours pre-mixing samples and elements of music for their live show, EOTO uses nothing pre-recorded, giving them the ability to approach each song with on-the-spot spontaneity and 100% live improvisation."

Above was taken from EOTO's publicity website:

“If I suspended disbelief, I could damn near believe this duo was a conduit for divine energies, holding down some seriously sacred vibes while still getting me deeper in my own embodied groove”
-Michael Garfield, Colorado Music Board CD Review, January 2010

will be gracing us with their presence at The Dime in Old Town, ME on May 9th! When we received the news, we figured it was a good idea to take a closer look at what EOTO is all about...

WLSB: So, how did you ease into the transition from the rootsy bluegrass and jamband style of String Cheese Incident into the electro-type scene?

Jason Hann: Well, it wasn't easy, and honestly was a bit difficult and painful. String Cheese had such a huge following, and that type of following was really one of the best. When we first started playing shows as EOTO, it was for much smaller crowds. People were coming out basically because it was a String Cheese side-project, everyone was wondering what we were going to do. Myspace was still kind of a big thing at the time, so we were hoping that it would take off on there, but that didn't really happen. We then started to focus in on really promoting to the electronic audience. It definitely took a while but we've gathered a larger, more diverse crowd over time. The age group we tend to attract is from 17-22.

WLSB: How long have you and Travis been playing together in this style?

JH: It started a while back as basically something to do after String Cheese practice. Travis and I would set various instruments up after practice and would end up playing until 4 or 5 in the morning. It was just fun and there was no pressure. Travis then started working with looping pedals to make things more interesting. We started feeling that the electronic grooves really worked out for what we were doing, and it kind of just went from there.

What instruments and devices are typically used up on stage?

JH: We'll generally have bass, guitar, percussion, keys, vocals, drums, electronic percussion, and we both have laptops to control a lot of what's going on. We also use the computer program Ableton Live.

WLSB: How does the strictly improvisational factor of your music work out? Do you practice improv?

JH: We don't really practice anymore, mainly because we are playing so often. But there are different sounds that we'll experiment with, and if we like it, we'll usually work it out at home before we take it on the stage.

WLSB: Do you end songs, or is it more of a constant flow throughout the evening?

JH: The show is a lot like seeing a DJ set, so you generally get one thing into the next. At the very end of the show though, we try to slow it down a bit and ease into an ending and close out the evening.

WLSB: Does your improv style ever lead to any covers? If so, do you shy away from it or go with it?

JH: We might hint at songs sometimes, but never really do full out covers. Jump by Van Halen has come up a couple times, but that's one of the few songs that we'll jam on for a bit.

WLSB: Does EOTO typically do any on stage collaborations with other bands or performers?

JH: We've had a lot of guests up on stage with us. The guys from Umphrey's Mcgee have sat in with us before. We've had anything from cello players to rappers, as well as a couple of the guys from String Cheese Incident, and the percussionist from Stomp.

How long until you guys felt comfortable just going up and doing your thing?

JH: It was probably about a year before we took it live. But our first show was like that. There was a lot to work out, so the next couple years were spent working things out and getting a feel for all the technology we were using.

WLSB: How would you describe your relationship with Travis up on stage? Did it take a lot of work to get to this point musically?

JH: When we started off, we would kind of talk to each other and use hand signals to let the other know what we wanted to do stylistically, faster or slower tempo, or what's next. By now we've played over 600+ shows, so we can usually hear what the other person's doing and read body language pretty well.

What are some of your current influences?

JH: SPL, DJ Tipper, Rusko, Shpongle, and Bassnectar to name a few.

WLSB: Has EOTO ever played a seated show?

JH: We did a workshop at High Sierra, and played places with seats or had people sitting on the ground, but never a full out seated show. That's a whole other world..

WLSB: Do you tend to tap into the vibe of the audience, and does that affect the styles in which you play?

JH: It's definitely a bit of give and take in that regard. If we feel the audience is craving the dubstep, we try to give them that. We give it some time, and then when we think the audience is comfortable with what we're doing we tend to take the lead, going from genre to genre.

WLSB: How does EOTO keep it sounding new and different? Do you tend to naturally fall back into certain grooves with beats and sounds you each prefer?

JH: There are certain sounds that seem to keep coming up in our shows, but the nature that we're improvising everything kind of weeds it out. There are certain themes that will come up during shows. We have a drum themed thing we like to do, and some other one's as well.

WLSB: What do you think this type of music has to offer to the music scene as a whole?

JH: Oh, wow. Let's see...I'd say it's really about dancing as much as possible, as hard as you can. You don't have to be the most urbanite, the most hippie, or any of that. It's really light in that regard, and everyone can share the same space and just get down together. It shows what improvisational music can really be. We’re just doing our own thing and that overall experience covers a lot of ground.

Thanks again to Jason Hann for putting aside some time for us! For those who haven't had the chance to listen to EOTO, you can check out some of their shows at
Get your tickets for EOTO May 9th at The Dime Bar! It's going to be one crazy dance party.

Keep in mind, local musicians Lost Between Sound will be opening downstairs from 7-9, and Lqd Chrch upstairs from 9-10 before EOTO!