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Featured Music You Should Know

Artist To Watch In 2020, November Edition: Alison Reynolds

Greetings once again, music lovers! Now that we’re well into November, it would be nice if we could travel someplace warm. Well, I have good news for you: we’re headed out to the southwestern United States, where we will be getting to know singer and multi-instrumentalist Alison Reynolds!

Alison has been making music pretty much her entire life. More recently, she’s released 6 albums over the last 12 years, including 4 CDs of all-original music. Currently Alison’s been doing a lot of online shows and recording new material. In 2017 she was nominated for Best Americana Song in the New Mexico Music Awards.

Alison Reynolds describes her music as “very eclectic but, I suppose my dominant style and genre is Americana (that’s the genre you use when you can’t really fit yourself into a genre 🙂 ). The cover songs I do range from John Fogarty to Eddie Vedder, Stevie Nicks to early Bob Dylan. My song writing ranges from very folky to harder hitting country/rock/blues.”

Alison also has a great many musical influences. While in high school, she was “heavily influenced by the likes of Joni Mitchell, Judy Collins, Gordon Lightfoot, Leonard Cohen, etc.. Then in the 70’s, Bonnie Raitt was one of my favorites along with bands like The Doors, Crosby, Stills, Nash and, Young, Django Reinhardt, Eric Clapton, Cat Stevens and so many more! Got to see a lot of them live while I lived in Toronto.”

(Wait, Toronto? I thought we were in the American Southwest!)

Well, you know that old country song, “I’ve Been Everywhere?”

Well, that pretty much describes Alison. She’s lived in Texas, Arizona, Pennsylvania, and yes, Canada! But now  Alison and her husband reside in Las Cruces, New Mexico, where she enjoys the rugged, picturesque mountains. She does confess that she enjoyed living in Flagstaff (Arizona) and Toronto the most. As she recalls: “I lived in Toronto in the 70’s during the peak of the coffeehouse music era. It was a very accessible city; you didn’t need a car to get around and there was a ton of live music happening!”

(That does sound pretty cool )

In The Beginning…

Alison’s primary instrument is actually the cello, interestingly enough, which she began playing in 4th grade. Actually she ended up majoring in cello performance in college! She credits her college teacher as having the biggest influence on her career. Prior to college, Alison taught herself baritone ukulele and guitar. Nowadays she also plays mandolin and a little bit of flute.

Alison told me: “I think I’ve always known that I’d be a professional musician. From the time I started playing baritone ukulele I knew I’d be playing for a long time. Started playing professionally with my first music partner, Pat Watson pretty much right out of High School. I have been playing instruments for over 50 years (yes, I am old!) Professionally, I’ve played in many different bands off and on for around 45 years. . . and still counting!“

Professional Career

Alison Reynolds has had quite the memorable musical journey up to this point. As she recounts: “The very first album I released was in the 70’s with a band called Mirth, entitled “First Borne”. That was in Canada. When I returned to the states in the early 80’s, I played with several bands but, ended up taking a break from music to raise my children. I returned to music around 12 years ago and have since recorded 6 albums. One, called “Dreaming” was with my cello quartet, La Cella Bella. It has some covers and several original pieces on it. We also put out a Christmas Cd called “Christmas and other Joyful Tunes”. After the quartet fizzled out, I went solo and started singing and writing songs again and have put out 4 Cd’s of original music and 1 of cover songs.”

“I honestly don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t do music!” – Alison Reynolds

Alison has also done quite a bit of touring. Earlier I mentioned her first musical partner Pat Watson. Alison and Pat connected up with a guy named David James Bowen and that’s how their band Mirth (also mentioned above) got started. Alison goes on to say: “We grew to a 5-piece band and toured constantly all through Ontario, Quebec and Halifax. At one point I gave up my apartment, put my things in storage and just toured, staying with friends when we had the odd time off! Those were in my much younger days and the only real downside was being a single female on the road all the time.”

Alison also adds: “The absolute coolest gig I ever had was playing at the Ottawa Opera House with my first music partner. We opened for Gino Vanelli and played to a packed house of around 3,000 people!” Alison also considers this experience to be the highlight of her career so far.

Fun Times For Alison Reynolds

Alison provided me with a couple anecdotes from her Canadian touring days that I thought were worth sharing:

“The most embarrassing moment for me was when my band, Mirth, was playing at a venue in Toronto. We had taken a break and a fellow came up to me and asked if he could play my cello. I’m not really keen on having someone I don’t know play my instrument so I told him no, politely of course! He sat down and a friend came up to me and said, “do you know who that was?” uhm, “no”, she said that’s one of the cellists in Electric Light Orchestra!” they had played a concert down the street from where we were playing. Totally embarrassed, I went up to him and fell all over myself apologizing and asked him to PLEASE play my cello! He was very nice and understanding and did play a bit!”

She also recalled one other particularly funny moment: “The funniest thing that ever happened was when Pat and I played at low to medium security prisons in Canada. They were great gigs; the inmates were very polite and appreciative. Pat and I played a variety of instruments and usually started off with both of us playing guitar and finally moving to our piano/cello songs. At one prison (all men, obviously) I sat down to play cello and from the back of the auditorium came a voice saying, “Man, I wish I was a cello!” the whole place cracked up and I’m sure my face turned a very dark red!”

Fun Facts

Alison has 2 grown children, one residing in California and the other in Las Cruces. When she isn’t making music, Alison volunteers for a cat rescue and adoption facility. She does admit that “I honestly don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t do music!” Alison also enjoys a good black bean burger and a nicely aged Scotch—but not necessarily at the same time. Her favorite movie is The Princess Bride.

(Inconceivable!)

Knowledge Knuggets

Alison has the following words of wisdom for the readers: “The music business has changed so much since I first started so many years ago. I think now, in the cyber age, one MUST be patient and very persistent. Don’t stop, don’t give up, stay the course and you will be rewarded. Fame and fortune are NOT the rewards, rather it’s the satisfaction that you are doing what you love and loving what you do.”

(Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life. Right?)

Here’s where you can connect with Alison Reynolds:

Website| Spotify | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube | Patreon

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Featured Interview

Wesley David Reports You’re “Never Late” To Find Yourself

Guitarist, songwriter, ex-cult member, Gen X-er. Wesley David has a lot of identities but it took him a while to sort them out. Raised in a community of Jehovah’s Witnesses, he often felt intimidated and out of place in a culture that didn’t suit his personality or beliefs. It wasn’t until he did some self-exploration through the rock Gods of the 90s that he realized there was a whole other world open to him where he could truly express himself without the fear of consequences.

Sometimes in life, these leaps of faith can shape your journey. Small-time poker player Nathan Williams took a shot which lead him to become the master of micro-stakes poker games.

Wesley David has had a busy decade eradicating himself from the only family, friends, and neighbors he knew and identifying and managing a series of chronic autoimmune health problems. He found friendship in the company of Dueling Pianos – a conglomerate of individual musicians who banded together under the brand he started before settling in Long Beach, CA. These were happy days of performing at a wide variety of venues, and even opening for big names like K.C. and the Sunshine Band and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.

Like so many of the musicians we love, Wesley David was thrown for a loop by the COVID-19 pandemic. Rather than let the unsettling episode drain away his enthusiasm, Wesley David has used the past few months to draw strength from isolation. He’s honed his ear for a catchy melody and put his unique life experiences into an 11-track album aptly titled, Never Late Than Better. Indie Band Guru was fortunate enough to interview him on the release of this sonic wonder.

IBG interview with Wesley David

IBG: Hi Wes, great to meet you. It seems like you have quite the story to tell! For those who don’t know you, what’s your elevator pitch?

Wesley David: Avoid the 13th floor and push the close button before people without masks get in! … Thanks for having me. I consider myself somewhere between Alt-rock and symphonic indie pop, as a lot of my influence comes both from classical music (especially movie scores) and classic rock, and 90s songwriting.  I grew up in a religious cult and learning to become a new person after leaving has been the impetus for much of how my life has gone ever since.

IBG: For those who do know you, what new songs and/or plans are you cooking up as we coast into the winter of 2020?

WD: I have a couple of holdovers actually from the album I’m planning on releasing, along with some new music videos which I’m really excited about. I made a close friend this year from Germany who was here on an internship, this absolute video whiz kid named Moritz Staudte.  As far as plans…does backing up the truck for the vaccine and playing lots of Zelda on Nintendo Switch count?

IBG: You mention that the music of iconic bands like Nirvana, Radiohead, and even Rush and The Who gave you a safe space in the 90s when your entire community pushed a lifestyle based on fear and retribution. Similarly, this year’s global pandemic has struck us all as a little “apocalyptic.” Are there any modern “safe spaces” you recommend to listeners out there, particularly those who can’t control whose roof they’re under or who are struggling to find their identity?

WD: Great question. Ordinarily, I think ‘safe spaces’ can be misleading because in reality, becoming a well-rounded human does mean learning to deal with people with whom you disagree or dislike. But in terms of how rough it can be to be a kid caught in a religious or family situation which is intolerable, the internet can actually provide a refuge. Depression sometimes makes it harder, but finding people – even on Reddit, or Twitter – who are in the same boat can be life-transforming.

IBG: On your Instagram page, you mention that Fall Out Boy was the first band you really attached to after you left the pervasive reach of the Jehovah’s Witnesses Christian denomination, admitting that the band’s witty lyricism spoke to you. When you write one of your own tongue-in-cheek songs, do you start with the melody or lyrics first?

WD: I don’t just like – I LOVE FOB and I feel no shame admitting this even to intelligentsia music types who wear much cooler shoes than me.  Their lyrics have an almost Nietzschean quality – there’s a playful sense of the absurd, an incredible verbosity, and such a mix of themes from religion to death to parodies of narcissism.  I almost always start with the melody; it often feels like putting together a puzzle, sometimes a word or words will come and it’s like fitting pieces in to move from verse to chorus and feel where the ‘tension-and-release’ should go.  Melodies have their own personalities to me.  Ball of Yarn for example just felt playful from the start; it would’ve been hard to make it dour or too serious lyrically.

IBG: Your new album, Never Late Than Better, is both a reflection on the missed opportunities you weren’t able to cash in on as a twenty-something, as well as a snapshot of where and who you are in life at this very moment. While this is a pivotal album that rejoices in the gift of developing hindsight, is there any moment of your past you wish you could go back and change? If so, what is it and what would you do differently on the second go around?

WD: Many! Ha, I think regrets are useful if you learn from them…Probably twofold: One, I wish I would’ve learned from the bands I was in a few years ago that something needed to change. I wasn’t planning on the Solo thing; I am still, even now, long-term hoping for some kinda rock ‘n’ roll glory in a band. But it was not working, and the Universe kept sending me signals I was too dumb to recognize.  The usual band stuff; someone quits, someone gets a new job, someone gets pregnant; but overall, the feel of it was actually too nostalgic.

The other, I wish I had learned the root of my health problems years earlier; it took a lot of work to get to the ‘management’ stage where the right combo of nutrition and lifestyle changes have helped me stabilize. But you know something? The point really is, it is NEVER too late if you’re invested in your life and in new possibilities for love and joy.

IBG: Fast-forward to the last five years: Why Long Beach? What about the area coaxed you in and what aspects have persuaded you to stay?

WD: I initially moved to Pasadena (from Arizona) with a very close friend, and a parade of housemates we had and moved out.  I was still going through so much transition and considering leaving LA for Vegas or back to Arizona…long story short, but I discovered Long Beach – the same friend moved here separately also, for a year – and it just felt right. Everything from the weather to the proximity to both LA and Orange County where my sister was. People say hi to each other when they walk their dogs here!  Like, legit, it’s just a nice place to live a bit outside of the chaos of the city.

IBG: As the owner of a piano bar, how do you select the musicians who perform at your venue? What’s it like to be on the other side of booking an artist?

WD: Not a piano bar, but a rag-tag collection of former Piano bar players who perform under the umbrella of the company/brand I started, back in Arizona. Dueling Pianos is a crazy, tight-knit scene of weirdos and nerdy music theatre types (I count myself as both). So a lot of us know each other; it’s really about trying to find the right performer for the right gig. A rowdy college bar gig is going to be very different from a Nursing home, so it’s about understanding people’s different skill sets and musical abilities.

IBG: Final question: If a genie could grant you three wishes right now, what would they be?

WD: ….Not including the obvious taller-thinner-better looking?….

1 – Hello Genie!  Please bring back some version of TRL on MTV, even with an aging zombie-like Carson Daly, that’s fine.

2 – Please provide a new social media platform for Anti-influencers, something where the funnier you are and more contrarian, the more dislikes (likes) you get ?  Hmm the opposite of Facebook…Assbook perhaps ?

3 – Genie! Tell bands to rediscover virtuosity on their instruments. Doesn’t have to be guitar, it could be Kazoo for all I care. But – the virtue of being *amazing* at the instrument you play and not relying on software to program it, that would be cool, and, ya know, human.

IBG: Thanks so much for giving Indie Band Guru the opportunity to interview you!

WD: I’m sure I was less bad than I feared!  ….Thank you guys for having me.

Listen to Wesley David’s new album, Never Late Than Better, on Spotify and follow his Instagram for music updates.

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Featured Review

Kelly’s Lot Brings Folk into the Fold with “Hurricane”

“Hurricane” is the latest track from Kelly’s Lot, and it is bringing folk into the 2020 music scene. Folk has consistently been ignored in the mainstream, but Kelly’s Lot is proving that it is a genre with an incredible level of power.

Not only does the singer have a luscious, distinctive voice that melts expertly with the music, but her passion can be easily heard by the audience.

“Hurricane” was inspired by the disastrous 2018 Hurricane Florence, which devastated areas of Florida, Virginia, and both of the Carolinas. Directly and indirectly, it claimed the lives of fifty-four people. Kelly’s Lot saw the toll the natural disaster took and channeled that pain into “Hurricane.”

American Folk music has always served as a medium for oral storytelling. It is a method for passing down traditions and documenting shared experiences. Yet, the modern music scene often ignores folk music in favor of other genres.

However, Kelly’s Lot is one of the bands working to change this. “Hurricane” remains true to the tradition of folk, yet it is incredibly modern.

The combination of modernity and traditionalism in “Hurricane” is almost inexplicable, but somehow Kelly’s Lot has found a way to pull it off beautifully. The band keeps the origin of folk alive with this track while also making it suitable to contemporary styles.

The artist is also incredibly respectful of the tragedy of Florence while also creating something genuinely moving. The song itself is poignant and heart-rendering simultaneously. The emphasis on the use of the guitar, as well as the harmonica, give “Hurricane” incredible layers.

This is the perfect track for long-time fans of folk as well as for new-comers to the genre. Indeed, it will stay with you long after the music has stopped playing. “Hurricane” from Kelly’s Lot is currently available. 

Keep up with Kelly’s Lot

Website | Instagram | YouTube

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Featured Review

Kendra Gabrielle is Feeling Good With “Bad Boy”

A New Country-Pop Tune

“Bad Boy” is Kendra Gabrielle’s latest pop-country track, expertly utilizing the best qualities from both genres. The song is endlessly catchy. It can be re-listened to over and over again and you’ll be happy to have it stuck in your head.

Reminiscent of Taylor Swift’s early discography, “Bad Boy” is incredibly earnest. It speaks to a very tangible love separated from the romance of big Hollywood.

That is one of the main virtues of country-pop – its ability to connect with a vast amount of people. Kenda Gabrielle is an expert in this. Listening to her music feels as though she is singing directly to you.

“Bad Boy” is a song about trying to find intimacy, happiness, and love despite yourself. It is a song that inspires tremendous hope while acknowledging the difficult aspects of being in love.

It is also endlessly pleasing to listen to. Gabrielle’s voice blends with her music wonderfully, creating a smoothness that makes “Bad Boy” feel as though you are touching velvet.

Kendra Gabrielle Has Entered the Building

Gabrielle is an artist committed to individualism. An unfortunate cliché surrounding the country-pop genre is that each song sounds frustratingly similar without any real ingenuity. Gabrielle is actively working to break this stigma.

Her song has its own rhythm, beat, and structure that separates itself from the pack. One of the best qualities of country-pop, and “Bad Boy”, is its ability to bring people together under the umbrella of a shared experience.

No matter if it is a romantic, platonic, and familial relationship – or even a relationship within oneself – we have all experienced the struggle of trying to find genuine love and fulfillment. Kendra Gabrielle speaks strongly to this.

If any listener is currently searching for a song that will give them a true sense of connection, “Bad Boy” is the perfect track. Kendra Gabrielle’s “Bad Boy” is currently available to listen to and stream.

Keep up with Kendra Gabrielle

Website | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube

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Featured Music You Should Know

Artist To Watch In 2020, October Edition: Melissa D

Greetings, music lovers! I’m back with yet another spotlight article. This time we go back up the eastern coast of the U.S.A. all the way to Vermont. Ok so Vermont isn’t exactly on the coast (thanks, New Hampshire!) but it’s close enough. Anyway, this month’s conversion is with singer Melissa D, our October, 2020 featured artist!

Melissa D is an Americana Folk-Rock artist who so far has put out 2 EPs and 3 singles. Her favorite artist is Caitlin Canty, and her influences also include Brandi Carlile, Jewel, Melissa Ethridge, Karen Carpenter, John Denver, and Dolly Parton. Aside from their music, she likes those artists because they are/were “all just so real and authentic in their presentation and music and also so incredibly talented.”

(Fellow musicians take note: be real and authentic!)

She is currently working on releasing 2 more singles and hopes to have those out by the end of this year. She considers the highlight of her career thus far to be the release of her EP Little Girl which was subsequently played on several radio shows and featured in some blogs.

Early Years of Melissa D

Melissa was actually born in Wichita, Kansas, and her mother is from Oklahoma—both states being part of what we call the heartland of the USA. Although her family moved to VT when she was 4, she never did shed her Midwestern roots: “I used to talk with a Kansas/Oklahoma accent as a little girl and it still comes out sometimes in my singing.”

Melissa D began her 20-plus-year musical career at age 6 by singing solos in church. From there, as she explains, “I started taking voice lessons as a child and in college.  After college, I joined a rock band and did a ton of performances at venues and weddings, for quite a few years and traveled around a bit doing that. Around 2013, I was longing to get back into the business again and I joined a new grass group and then I was in an acoustic duo called CHILL for a couple of years. I did some recording with CHILL and fell in love with being in the studio.  It ignited my childhood recording artist dreams!  In 2016, I decided to strike out on my own as a solo artist and focus more on studio work.”

Current Scene

With that being said, Melissa told me she does also enjoy playing out live: “I like listening rooms the best where they serve food, yummy desserts and coffee and have big overstuffed chairs and couches. I also enjoy playing town halls and theatres. There’s a beautiful little theater in Alstead, NH called the Mole Hill Theatre. It’s an intimate theatre that is like a hybrid mix of a listening room/theatre and it has a bigger theatre sound. Its BYOB and everyone brings a dish like a potluck. I also like house concerts.  That is where you really get to connect with people. I once played on a train while it was moving—that was pretty cool.”

(I like trains! )

Melissa D has also toured throughout New England and even got to do a show in old England—the O.G. England…the one on the other side of the Atlantic. You know what I mean :).

Most recently she was able to perform at a local “Art in the Park” festival.

(A nice step toward normalcy after such a tumultuous spring and summer, huh?)

Overcoming Obstacles

Like many artists, Melissa’s career has had its share of bumps in the road. For example, as she recounts: “I had a music teacher in high school who was mean to me and discouraged me from singing.  She gave me an F in chorus and I stopped my involvement in the choir until I was in college.”

(Yikes. Another suppressive music teacher. Where have we heard THAT before? *sigh*.)

Anyway, the good news is Melissa didn’t let that experience stop her: “Luckily, I did not listen to her. I had a very supportive voice lesson teacher in college.  He believed in me and helped me develop my voice.”

Melissa D elaborates further on some other career-defining moments: “I would say it was many moments. When I was younger, I had the dream of being “discovered” and getting a record deal like most people do because that is what is known, but the more I learned about the industry, the more I disliked it. It’s like a game with smoke and mirrors that they want you to keep up on. 

“As the internet grew and I saw other independent artists having success just by sharing their work with a core fan base, I thought, ‘Hey! Why not me? I get to do what I want, and I answer only to myself.’ I get to create music and share it with people who support my journey and connect with them. That is all I ever really wanted.

“When I was a kid and pictured doing music as an adult, I just knew that I wanted to sing, make records, and share them. I didn’t really picture sold out stadiums or making a million dollars. Just to know that my music is out in the world and people are enjoying it makes me very happy and I feel connected and like I am part of something bigger than myself. With the internet it is now easier than ever to get your music out into the world.”

“Just to know that my music is out in the world and people are enjoying it makes me very happy.” – Melissa D

(The moral of the story: don’t give up.)

Accolades & Fun Facts

Melissa’s perseverance has certainly paid off: she won a karaoke contest and a $100 prize when she was just 22. More recently, her music has been featured on Women of Substance Radio several times over the past few years. She’s also been featured in many local press publications where she lives, including The Rutland Herald and The Addison County Independent. Online, you can read more about her on blogs such as Ear To The Ground Music (E2TG), vermontweddings.com, Michale Doherty’s Music Blog, rulabrownnetwork.com, and bootsshoesandfashion.com

When she’s not making music, Melissa loves spending time with her very supportive husband, dog, and cats. Her interests also include animal rescue, dogs, cats, critters, hiking, being out in nature, swimming, yoga, reading and listening to podcasts. She also enjoys French fries and coffee, though not necessarily at the same time :).

Knowledge Knuggets

I asked Melissa if she had any pieces of advice she wanted to share with the readers. She responded: “Be you and do the things that bring you joy.  You do not have to do something just because everyone else in your industry is doing it or “recommending” that you do it.  For example, when the pandemic started everyone was doing Facebook lives which are awesome but I felt pressured at first and like I “should” do them too.  Then I realized that I am doing enough, and my current projects keep me busy. It doesn’t mean I might not try a Facebook live down the road its just I don’t need to do it just because everyone else is doing it.  If you take on too many things, then it is a recipe for burn out!”

For the musicians out there who might be reading this, she adds: “Don’t give up on your dream. You can do this. Just take a little step or two on most days towards your goal and you will make it happen. Record deals are overrated. They are basically a glorified loan that you must pay back and then you are basically their puppet that can be dropped anytime at their whim. It sounded so glamorous and amazing to me when I was younger but I have had a few musician colleagues that have suffered at the hands of record labels. It doesn’t mean they are all bad but just be careful, get a good lawyer, etc.

“Don’t worry about making mistakes. There is a great quote from John Mayer which is “Mistakes are the exhaust of the dream machine.” You will make mistakes and bad decisions but just keep moving forward. Don’t take it too seriously because then it will start to feel like work and once that happens then the magic is gone. However, do treat your music as a fun and creative business or a startup, show up, follow through, schedule time to create, have a business checking account. Stay away from the game. People play games of how well they are doing, they are not. Live on your own terms.”

“Live on your own terms.” I like the sound of that!

Here’s where you can connect with Melissa D:

Website | Spotify| Facebook | Instagram | Twitter |

Want more from Melissa? Download your FREE 4-song care package here!

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Featured Music You Should Know

Artist To Watch In 2020, September Edition: Techno Tim

Hello again everybody! This month we travel southward along the east coast of the U.S. and land in Chesapeake, Virginia. While here, we pay a visit to Tim McDaniel, otherwise known as “Techno Tim”.

As you can probably guess, Techno Tim is an electronic music artist. He describes his musical style as “fast paced, upbeat, sad, angry, cathartic, video game music.” His influences include artists such as Infected Mushroom, due to the fact that “Their music is electronic but heavily influenced by classical music. I like how their music changes a lot. Life changes a lot too. I wanted my music to reflect my life.” He also enjoys listening to VNV Nation. Of course, you might also catch him in the car belting out “MMMBop” by Hanson.

To date he has released 5 albums. He also has 3 unreleased albums and about a CD’s worth of remixes in the hopper.

Currently, Tim is in the process of re-releasing two of the five albums he’s already put out, as well as a new album. As of this writing, however, no release date has been set for the new record.

The Early Years of Techo Tim

Tim grew up in Virginia Beach, Virginia, which is right there on the Atlantic Ocean coast. He spent all his life there until moving to Chesapeake to live with his girlfriend of two years. He enjoys the nature trails and the people who inhabit his current city of residence. But, he does look fondly upon his memories of his childhood home and being with his family as a kid.

In high school he played trumpet in the band and credits his band director as having a profound impact on him. He also enjoyed the camaraderie of his classmates. It was also while in high school that he first got into music production: “Some friends in high school mentioned having a techno song writing contest. I was intrigued. I always liked techno. I got into music production in high school and have been making music ever since.”

Musical Highlights

He chose the name “Techno Tim” because, as he recounts: “It describes my genre of music and is personable. I’m not sure how the name came about, I guess it just sort of came to me one time. It’s stuck ever since.”

Tim’s main instrument is keyboard, and he also plays guitar and a little bass and drums, in addition to the aforementioned trumpet.

When I asked him if there was a particular moment that made him realize he was destined for a career in music, he candidly stated, “Gosh, I don’t know… Probably when I was going through a hard time in life and I went to music to express some tough, painful emotions… It was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced… I wanted to show people through music how I felt.”

Knowledge Knuggets

During my interview with Techno Tim, I found out that he is a man of many talents and interests. When he’s not making music, he enjoys unicycling, juggling, meditation, yoga, working out, reading, video games, climbing, walking, talking to friends, spending time with family, and traveling. Actually he juggles while riding his unicycle! He also enjoys Mexican food and green tea, reading books by Sebastian Junger and the movie Waterworld.

Tim gave me a few “knowledge knuggets” that I thought were worth sharing: “Creating stuff is cool. Everyone should do it. It’s therapeutic.” And also: “Be your own best friend, not your own biggest critic.” And to the musicians out there, he encourages: “Don’t be discouraged by lack of knowledge, tech issues, or competition. Focus on expressing yourself first, and worry about marketing later.”

Techno Tim adds that he “greatly appreciates the valuable friendships he’s made through music.”

(Can’t argue with that!)

Here’s where you can connect with Techno Tim:

SoundCloud | Patreon | Twitter | Instagram | Tiktok | YouTube

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Featured Music You Should Know

Artist To Watch in 2020, August Edition: Bad Mary

It’s good to be bad. Bad to the bone. I got it bad, and that ain’t good. Bad girls. Bad boys. Bad Religion. Bad Company. Bad Mary.

Ok that last one you might not recognize. But I’m sure the members of the Long Island, New York-based band Bad Mary would just as soon have their name be as popular as the rest of those song titles and band names!

This month I’m pleased to speak with 3 of the 4 members of the band: Amanda Mac – Vocals, Mike Staub – Bass, and David Henderson – guitar.

Humble Beginnings

The band formed at Hofstra University in New York in 2009, where David is a Professor in the drama department. Amanda was a student in the department and Mike was a music and business major. David put together a band every semester with students in drama who can play and sing and they played end-of-semester parties and things.

David elaborated: “We always just play a bunch of covers. The year Mike and Amanda were in the band we also had a drummer, Rory Levin, and all three were from Long Island, so when they graduated we all decided to keep the band going. So we started as a cover band, with another guy, Andrew Huber on bass, Mike was on guitar then. We played a bunch of gigs just playing covers. Then Rory went off to a job at Disney on Florida, Andrew went to act in L.A. So Amanda recruited her dad, Bill, in on drums – he’s been in bunch of bands for years, Mike switched to bass and we started writing originals. We became Bad Mary in the summer of 2012.”

What was the band called from 2009-2012? As David explains: “Well, we actually started out as Madame-X. As we got more popular we started seeing some really weird “likes” on Facebook and realized that Madame-X was the name of a really popular film in the Philippines, an 80s metal band, a club in New York and a whole bunch of other things too. Decided that before we released any music we had to come up with a better and unique name. 

“Oh my god, what a process. I don’t remember how long it took, but every time we though of something cool we’d google to see if another band had it (almost everything!) or if the .com was still open (very important!) We had a few rules: 1. It needed to “sound” like a punk band 2. It needed to not take itself too seriously 3. No other band, or anything really, could be using it already 4. You needed to be able to shout it across a parking lot and someone could understand you!

“So many names were tried, even logos made, then one day David thought of it while driving to work and called Mike and Amanda. Mike liked it right away, but it was like 6:45 in the morning and Amanda was pissed she’d been woken up so she hated it. But by the end of the day it had stuck! David drew the logo over the next week or so with input from everyone (she had an evil grin at one point, oh, and a chainsaw!)

“So it doesn’t really mean anything, except we think it’s fun and with attitude.”

Musically Speaking

Let’s talk about this “attitude”. Mike describes the band’s style as “Melodic Punk. Taking the classic feel of NYC based punk and twisting it up in a modern vibe, but never losing sight of having a good strong melody and a good hook. We’ve also been called neo-punk as a sort of revival of classic US and UK punk rock.”

The infusion of UK punk makes sense, since David was raised in the UK. Go figure!

All 4 members of Bad Mary have an extensive musical background. Individually, their musical influences range from Queen to AC/DC to Green Day to John Cameron Mitchell.

Bad Mary has released 3 EPs and 2 full-length albums. The most recent effort, The Return of Space Girl came out in November of 2019. They’re already planning their next release for summer 2021.

From Concept To Movie

I wanted to know more about The Return of Space Girl so I asked them how that came about.

Mike wrote the song Space Girl back in 2008 or 2009, before they had even gotten together as a band. When Bad Mary formed, they didn’t start writing their own music until about 2011 or 2012, and Mike brought the song to the band and they all loved it, so it was on their first album, Better Days, which came out in 2013. They’ve played it at almost every gig and it’s a fan favorite.

After that first album, they released a series of three EPs. David had some songs that had never quite fit on any of the EPs – or he never managed to finish them – but they noticed a kind of space/end-of-the-world theme that had started running through them (“Last Night at the End of the World”; “I, Robot”; “Venetia Phair”). They decided it would be fun to do a concept album – but to keep the story very loose – like have a beginning and an end, but the songs in the middle could kind of drift around and just be thematic, rather than tell a straight forward story. This looser concept was really inspired by the album Time by ELO… which might be a little weird for a punk band, but good music is good music!

Once they decided, “OK, concept album” – they all started writing stuff that would fit the theme. In the end, the story of the album is pretty much all contained in the original song, “Space Girl”, but it’s expanded and fleshed out in the album. A robot is sent to discover what’s out in the universe, but when she returns she’s told not to tell anyone what she’s found because the people who sent her think the world is not ready to hear it – it would freak everyone out too much. So… she blows up the earth in revenge!

Well, for the album, they kind of thought blowing up the Earth was maybe a bit much, and they had this theme of disconnection or disinterest running through a bunch songs on their EPs, like “Marz Attaqx”, so they decided that on the album, Space Girl would destroy the internet so people would have to actually talk to each other for real again. So a lot of the songs on the album ended up being about our addiction to the internet and social media (“Addicted”, “The Itch”, “Wake Up”).

There’s a riff in the original Space Girl song, it’s in the post-chorus, that shows up in some of the album songs to kind of connect it together. And the opening of the album (“The Return of Space Girl”) – is like an extended instrumental version of this riff, kind of to set the stage for the rest of the album.

David went on to add: “We see the album in kind of three phases – Space Girl comes back, is rejected, and sees our addiction problem (“The Return of Space Girl/Goodbye, Try Your Best”, “Addicted”, “The Itch”). Then there’s a shift and there are three “character” songs that are more thematic than really following the story (“Space Girl”, “I, Robot”, “Venetia Phair”).  Then we get back to the story and the next four songs are pretty much the night everyone thinks the world is going to end and Space Girl destroys the internet (“Disaster Party”, “Wake Up”, “Last Night at the End of the World”, “Curtain Call”). And finally a coda – it’s the morning after when everyone realizes they have to talk to each other again face-to-face (“Ordinary Day”).

David animated and produced a short film to accompany “The Return of Space Girl” which you can watch here: 

David told me the story in the movie is a bit different: “There’s new characters that have been added, the song order is different, and poor Venetia Phair gets left out, because she didn’t fit (Venetia Phair was the little girl who named the planet Pluto back in 1930.)

“We’ve played the full album live only twice so far – for our album release parties on Long Island and in New York. They were a lot of fun and we think we may do annual album shows if we can play live gigs again some time!”

Meanwhile, back on Earth as we know it…

Besides continuing to churn out music on a regular basis, the band loves playing out live. Most of the time they’ll travel up and down the east coast: Atlantic City, Philadelphia, even as far as Delaware. They’ve also had the opportunity to participate in the 2015 Vans Warped tour. More recently, in 2019, they toured Japan. In fact, there seems to be a consensus that the Japan tour has been the highlight of their career so far.

Amanda remarked, “singing your original music to a crowd of people in a foreign country who don’t normally speak your language who are singing your lyrics right back to you is something I don’t know if I can compare ANYthing else to.

“It was honestly just such a wild experience walking through Tokyo day after day in sparkly Pink Doc Martens, covered in glitter, and carrying a giant microphone stand. I learned that I really love touring. It’s a lot of work, and sleeping weird hours, and eating on the go, and being sweaty and gross and in fishnets most of the time, and after years of working toward this – living through what “this” is was a surreal dream. Coming home was weird. How do you go back to normal after that? You can’t. That’s why we just have to do it again!”

David adds, “The audiences were amazing, the clubs, the other bands we met – we’re still. In touch with most of them and we’re trying to go back soon! We loved it!

Mike says the coolest venue they got to perform at was “Denatsu in Tokyo, Japan. A legendary punk club it was amazing.”

In addition to the major tours, Bad Mary and its individual members have garnered quite a number of accolades. “The Return of Space Girl” film won Best Music for Animated Short at the Colorado International Sci-Fi Festival, and it also won Outstanding Music at the ZedFest Film Festival.

Amanda was once on the cover of the arts section for the Sunday New York Times: “The Times did a feature on a group New York Roots Music Association  that Mike and I do vocals for on occasion and Bad Mary has played at several of their events. They sent a photographer to one of our practices for an event we were doing at The Bolton Center on Long Island and when the issue came out I saw that I was right on the cover!”

Knowledge Knuggets

David, Amanda and Mike each have their own words of wisdom that I wanted them to share with the readers.

Mike: “Be yourself, be original, and don’t be afraid to upset some people. Keep at it. Never give up.”

Amanda: “Just keep going. Not everyone is going to like you or your music, but that’s ok. Don’t be afraid to lean into your brand of weird.”

David: “Try to have as much fun as you can. It’s the best thing for your health.” For the musicians out there, he also advises “A well written song is far more important than a well played or well produced song.”

Bad Mary. One badass band.

Here’s where you can connect with Bad Mary:

If you’re in or near the Long Island, NY area, you’ll most likely be able to catch them at Mr. Beery’s.

Online, you can catch up with them here:

Keep up with Bad Mary

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THE VULNERABILITY OF EVAN TYLER

-A story of one of Canada’s artist for artists

By Creighton Vance

Evan Tyler is a regular contributor and writer for this blog. He doesn’t know I’ve put together this surprise feature on him as a guest writer for Indie Band Guru.  I began following IBG after reading one of Evan’s pieces on ‘Natural Sympathies’, a Saskatchewan-based fantasy-pop project.  Now I’m a fan of her sounds too.  The article spoke to the music in relation to the current moment we are living in:  COVID19 Hell.  Most importantly, the article was personal like the hip-house beats that I regularly make for Evan’s unique raps.  In this moment when we are becoming more seasoned in the necessity of intimacy and communication through our extended quarantines…  the music, art and mind of Evan Tyler appears to not only put a finger on the pulse, but an entire hand.  Evan has been forthcoming about his struggle with substance abuse and addiction, something we still apply stigma, often quietly behind closed doors.  I am the person who makes music with Evan and so here’s what I know about an artist who advocates for artists.  

Evan is a rapper.  Evan is in a band with his chosen sister, Lauren Fournier.  From what I last heard, he has been crafting an indie-electro LP titled “deadevan” which he described as “a giant love letter”.  His passion for music and genre-crossing tendencies are implemented in a curious forum:  Whether he is rapping about cats and spa regimes (topics typical of the Toronto queer-rap-queen), or singing about attending “art camp” alongside the choir-girl melodics of his collaborator, Lauren, the focus is on Evan’s intimate life as a consumer and creator of culture.  Evan wasn’t even on my radar until the last couple of years when I discovered the full length LP he released with Fournier titled “TOPICS – youth shield antioxidant complex”.  This ten track Canadian cabochon mixes synth-pop sounds with the generous characterization of two siblings making a “cool project” together in an “arts and crafts spirit”.  Tyler and Fournier are both hipster-cool without being obvious about it; intellectual without subscribing to any particular brand of art world dogma.  It is catchy without descending into an earworm and minimalist without lacking a punch:  synth notes carry the duo’s vocals as they sing the chorus of the standout track “ART CAMP”.

“I wanna’ go to art camp this summer/ I wanna’ play with image and form/ I wanna’ make a movie this summer/ I wanna’ be the one you adore”.  

TOPICS- ART CAMP from Evan Tyler on Vimeo.

The record is both youthful and mature.  It straddles a world where kids are yearning to play but concede to the adult impingement of social validation.  This is a hard contrast to achieve, but TOPICS pulls it off with rhythm to boot.  Much like the rest of Tyler’s work, this album is heavily slept on, making him one of Canada’s most underrated veteran in the service of other artists.  I mean that quite literally – before any of his albums were released, he owned and curated an art gallery bringing in talent from his home province of Saskatchewan to the speculative folds of Toronto.  The gallery featured contemporary art without subscribing to the predictable tropes of art culture.  I wish I had been a part of that scene with Evan back then, it looks like everyone had a fun time. In conversation he confessed to me: “I did my best to make it something other than a vanity project, though in the end it was really about giving my friends art shows. It just so happens my friends are the best artists I know.” 

You're Hysterical Remix (feat. Evan Tyler) from Lauren Fournier on Vimeo.

Evan is a music journalist for this blog, reporting strictly on music that he is excited about and wants to support.  But this isn’t where his drive to express love for his people is limited …  for his next gesture in intimacy and personability, may we look to his first album, “CAT RAPS”, which was released and promoted in 2015 from a rehab facility in British Columbia.  “CAT RAPS” is slowly but surely becoming a Canadian-cult classic in the genre of hip-hop.  The LP combines house beats with lo-fi dirty boom bap ear porn.  It is both queer and masculine in content.  He isn’t afraid to rap about his love and passion for domestic things like ironing, doing the laundry, having a bath, and the face products he indulges in all within a seemingly “masculine rap voice”.  I would describe Evan’s rap voice as a mix between Tom Green in “Check the OR”, Tone Loc (in general) and fellow Canadian rapper, Ira Lee, also from Regina, Saskatchewan.  Lee is featured on “CAT RAPS” in a song titled “On a date with Ira Lee” where the two flatland wordsmiths rhyme about the sweetly mundane frustrations and misadventures of growing up on the prairies.  The track is “Hardy Boys personal”. We also hear Evan’s affection for actual people in his life, for example in the song “My Friend Dana” where he drops reflective bars about growing up with his close friend Dana.  Evan once explained the idea of this song to me in the context that “Everyone has a Dana”.   That sounds right – we all have a character from out youth who resonates for years, and so “Dana” becomes a workable symbol for our personal and meaningful histories.

Hell on Earth Festival 2020 from Evan Tyler on Vimeo.

Over the last month, Evan has divulged that he has been battling with trauma and substance addiction.  He began posting in high frequency, vulnerable, brutally honest and poetic dispatches on the subject.  It caught me off guard to witness the reality of reaching for connection and sympathy via social media. There is the impulse to ask the internet to believe we have sunk to some tragic pain beyond our control.  Evan’s posts are different, however.  They read as both apologies and poems, confessionals and puzzles, truth and fight.  Having the privilege of knowing Evan personally, it didn’t take me long to recognize that Evan needs our help.   He was vulnerable to ask for it, in his own way.  At the time, as I understand it, the artist was in complete quarantine isolation in a rehab facility, despite not having the virus (Health Canada authority).  I can’t imagine coming down off drugs then reconciling the hurt in one’s life is ever an easy time, made especially worse in complete isolation.  After learning of this, I made a commitment to developing this piece about Evan and his unique ability to reach and be reached by other people.  I initiated a casual interview with him, never letting on that I was writing this piece.  I wanted him to be his natural self.  While on a zoom call, I recorded an interview in a series of questions, which he directed back to the people in his life.  It is as if he speaks of himself through the influences around him.  Here are some highlights from our chat:

What influences you the most today?

“Off the top of my head, Emily’s visual art and poetry (Emily DiCarlo).  I dunno’.  She continuously opens my eyes to the fluidity of cerebral knowledge, emotional energy, abstracted puzzles of the human experience.  She does this incredible magic trick where she allows or facilitates a handshake between the subjective moment and the universal collectivity of human experience.   She wrote an essay about this collaboration we once did, and one night she read it aloud to me and I realized that she’s legit alien intelligence. Aliens tend to collaborate well. She’s far out.  I always have my eyes and ears open when she’s working through artistic ideas, I don’t want to miss one moment of it. She’s the real deal. “

deadevan- Build A Home from Evan Tyler on Vimeo.

Has there been any constants for you along the way?

“Duke and Battersby.  (Emily Vey Duke and Cooper Battersby).  They have been my friends and mentors since I learned that video art was a genre/community and not just something I did for mischievous and imaginative fun with a family camcorder.  They’ve  fostered a location where the beauty is relentless and the future is feminine.  And cats can talk.  I have infinite love in my heart for those two.”

“My sound engineer, Ashton Price, opens my eyes to the finesse of music recording.  My videographer and collaborator, Jake Vincent, is a close friend who understands, or at least strives to understand my projects. He’s been a really good friend and participant in my work.  My pal Erin Gee has always pointed out what works and what needs work in my work.  I had a professor who changed my life and has advocated for me since , Lisa Steele. During my most successful and dire moments, Lisa and her life partner and collaborator Kim Tomzack have extended their generous support and understanding. I love them both. My grad school advisor Marla Hlady is another alien I adore. She’s academic-punk. “

“Earliest on, I would have to give props to my friend Chris Bridge.  We came up making music in our parents’ basements in south Regina.  I think back then we were mentors to each other, continuously learning things as we go.  A Grand Synergy of sorts.”

“I also love rapper The Game.” 

How does your family respond to your varied modes of creating?

“My brother Marek has been a close support, and one of the best drummers I have ever known.  He was the original spark for this cultural journey I have set out on.  I grew up not knowing my grandfathers, so my Uncle Vic who is an artist himself (Victor Cicansky) was in many ways that figure in my life.  He encouraged my weird artness from day one.  I grew up with a lot of support and privilege bestowed upon me from my parents.  I made a commitment that with the gift of these advantages, I would advocate for culture and art.  That’s always been important to me.  I believe that when people are given advantages in life, it is important to funnel it into something they believe in that extends beyond themselves.  That is what I strive for.”

What drives you to make such personal work about people you know? 

“Insecurity. I’ve never felt like I’m good enough for anyone or lovable so I’m driven to make creative things for people I love to emphasize the point of how much they mean to me, hyper-validating my emotionality. I’m basically trying to cure myself of an illness I have that doesn’t exist. It’s self-serving in a way because it’s for them, but it’s also about making me feel good. All I can say is, I treat the people I love really well. I wish I could hold onto some of that for myself. I guess that’s what I’m learning right now.” 

What is the relationship of drugs to your craft?

“I can’t make work when I’m high.  When I get high, I review the work. I’m committed to lifelong sobriety now, I know and feel it in an absolute sense. I almost lost everything that matters to me, and I often still worry about the extent of the damage. I love my people so much, so when you hurt someone you love… it’s a special kind of torture. Pure agony.  I want to spend the rest of my life tilting the scale in the direction of safety, support and enjoyment of life. You have no idea how much I’ve suffered from using drugs to escape my insecurities and traumas. I have endured many sleepless nights wishing I could turn back the clock. If I could have one single wish, it would be to repair my relationships, I’m deathly scared of losing them or seeing them change into something less intimate. But here I am, in isolation, without a cuddle or hug in the world. It’s sad, Creighton. I’m good at those things!” 

The world is changing.  I realize now, more than ever, that we really need each other.  When I learned that Evan was having a moment of his own, alone with his heart and thoughts, I decided it was time to advocate for the cultural advocate whom I have come to know. I’ve been doing my own creative writing as of recent during this virus moment, and Evan has been generously engaged in a dialogue with me.  I think Evan is underrated, but he doesn’t seem to care.  However, in true vulnerable form, when asked about it Evan responded earnestly: “Oh I definitely fucking care, but I hide it because I’m fake-cool.” Evan is at home creating a song, a drawing or rapping his heart out.  He’s writing about you and planning to write about her.  He’s petting his cats.  Evan realizes the one thing that makes him richer than any artist I could name is that he understands that life is short and you better spend it doing what you love and being with who you love.  I’ve never collaborated with someone so dedicated to the purist idea of making, someone so articulate and sensitive.  Get well, Evan.  I see you because you allow yourself to be seen.  Let’s all open our eyes to the vulnerability of Evan, and know that there’s a little Evan Tyler in us all.  You – me – we’re all hysterical.  

-guest article by Creighton Vance