Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Article 19, Live at Up or On the Rocks, Friday, April 11th

By 11:30 on Friday night, the crowd at Up or On the Rocks in downtown Hartford has grown restless, anxiously waiting for the evening’s headliners to take the stage downstairs. As the band’s members begin taking their places, excitement grows at the tables on the lounge floor. People who were just ordering drinks at the bar have made their way closer to the stage to get a better view. Those in the crowd who feel like dancing stand in a line on a shrinking “dance floor” that’s actually just a gap between the audience and the stage, while those who prefer to sit commandeer the now-empty stools. Beer bottles and plastic cups in-hands, these people are ready to groove – and so are the guys of Article 19.

Jim Townsend sets the beat on drums; Jeff Kenniston strums his acoustic guitar; Rick Fritsch and Doug Parkinson roll in on lead guitar and bass, respectively; and singer Brett Wilson’s voice falls from the club’s speakers: “I will give my credit where’s it’s due; so I raise my hands, and I grab my hat and I tip it to you. It’s been one hell of a time…” The guys start the night with “Free,” an audience favorite, setting the tone of the night for this “up and coming” Connecticut pop-rock band.

The balance between instruments and vocals is fair, as each part can be heard clearly and levels with the others. In other words, there are no stage hogs, each member working together for every set to create the best-sounding performance they are capable of achieving. Though many of their songs are pretty mellow, “Free” is a tune I can imagine myself listening to after a long shift at work when I want to relax.

All seasoned musicians, it isn’t difficult to tell that each of the guys have something special to bring to the table. Townsend, according to the band’s MySpace, “has been studying, recording and performing throughout CT and NY for years.” A former member of the similarly popular band Tenet, as well as other bands over the years, he was honored with the title of “Best Drummer/Percussionist” by the Hartford Advocate Grand Band Slam in both 2007 and 2008, showing that his talents are recognized by more than just fans and friends. Townsend’s percussion style lays a smooth rhythm for the rest of the music, and his love for banging things certainly doesn’t hurt.

Parkinson provides not only a smooth bass line, but also backup and lead vocals in many of the band’s songs, as well as helping with songwriting. As the third band he’s been a part of, including previously being part of Tenet with Townsend, A19 has gotten the maturity and ingenuity Parkinson has gained through his experience. Though the stage at UP may not have allowed him to be up front for all of their songs, his movements and facial expressions brought more than a few coos and laughs from the audience.

Kenniston, the newest addition to the band, comes in on keyboard, acoustic guitar, alto saxophone and backup vocals, sometimes in tandem, through each song. His input has given the band a fresh perspective on their music with regards to both writing and performing styles, and his familiarity with the music scene, both in other bands and as a music education student at Central Connecticut State University, adds another notch on A19’s figurative belt of musical experience. I’ve come to be familiar with Kenniston’s performances, and his showmanship is not something to miss.

Fritsch’s musical cup overflows similarly to the others’. Also a former member of Tenet, he now brings his talents as lead guitarist and singer to the table for A19, as well as his knowledge of trumpet, harmonica, songwriting and producing. His love for the music is evident in every strum of the guitar, his experience in every key change, and his humor in every smirk.

Wilson, the band’s final member and lead singer, “is the creation of years of vocal training, in addition to even more years of classical and pop piano training,” as described on A19’s MySpace page. Given the title of “Best Male Vocalist” in the 2008 Hartford Advocate Grand Band Slam, Wilson is recognized as a talented young musician and equally entertaining performer. It’s clear that Wilson loves the music scene as much as it loves him, and audience members can watch him sway, two-step and even jump across stages without a blunder.

With such a combination of musicians, it’s no wonder A19 won “Best New Group” and “Best Pop/Rock Group” at the 2008 Hartford Advocate Grand Band Slam. A serious and original band, these guys wouldn’t settle for anything less.

Though they take pride in playing original music, with songs like their newest single, “Opportunity,” and “Bringin’ Down the House” – a hit with its own choreography – they also cover recognizable tunes from a variety of music genres, including “Tempted” by Squeeze, “Every Little Thing She Does” by The Police, and a personal favorite, “Long Train Runnin’” by the Doobie Brothers.

The group gets around 200 hits a day on their MySpace profile – MySpace.com/Article19Music – their manager, Laura Cretella explained. One of their most popular songs, “Save Me,” has a record alone of over 27,000 plays and was also named Song of the Week by Harris Decker – a contributing writer for the online entertainment magazine Buzzine – on his blog “The Truth About Music” last October. “Picture this,” Decker wrote. “The lead singer looks like (and has the abilities of) Maroon 5's Adam Levine; the lead guitarist uses effects such as Peter Frampton’s voice box; the drummer grooves like Carter Beuford of Dave Matthews Band; and the bassist keeps a solid back line, with killer vocals.” An accurate depiction in all respects, save the fact that this was before Kenniston’s arrival.

As you can imagine, this five-man lineup has the talent to attract large audiences and the likeability to keep their fans entertained. It’s clear that there are big things in store down the road, and with two new songs – “Look At Me Now,” and “How It’s Gonna Be” – on their first EP, “Look At Me Now,” currently in the works to be released on April 25, as well as an appearance during the Spring Week Concert at CCSU, they have plenty of ways to keep us coming, as they would say, “Back For More.”

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Ted Turner

...is giving a lecture today at 3 pm in, I believe, Alumni Hall? I will not be attending, but it made Pete Collins and I think of a clip from Robot Chicken in which Turner (the creator of "Captain Planet," my least favorite show as a kid) channels his inner superhero and runs around beating up litterbugs and hollering "CAAPTAAIINN PLLLAAAAAANNET!"

"Oww, you got glass in my eyes!"
"And my foot in your balls!"

<3 [adult swim]

Ted Turner Saves Earth

Sunday, April 5, 2009


Paramore singer Hayley Williams is easily one of the best popular artists right now, as seen by her amazing live performances. Take, for instance, this video of "Decode" from the set of Jimmy Kimmel's late-night.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Preview with Jeff Kenniston of Addison Station

Lights are dim, the stage is empty. Club music booms from the house speakers. The boozers booze; the crooners croon; the bartenders, with their end-of-the-night eyes, stare blankly at a thinning crowd. It’s nearly last call, but the boys from Addison Station are ready for the night after a successful and surprisingly amusing show at Up or On the Rocks in downtown Hartford, CT. They mingle, exchanging momentary glances with the ladies of the crowd, down a bottle each and smile in each other’s direction: good set.

“Addison Station: A Linguistic Acoustic Mix of Altruistic Narcissistic Makers-of-Music. We do some bee-boppin’, some hip-hoppin’ and some jam rockin’. Also, if we pine to, we'll give you something to dine to and play our ballads instead.” A catchy business card, for sure, and it explains this local two-man band to perfection.

With a mix in musical influences like Jason Mraz, The Lonely Island, Counting Crows and Flight of the Concords, you can imagine the type of attitudes these guys must carry. If you guessed that they’re witty, pensive and shameless, you’d be two-thirds correct – less so on the pensive, but not because they’re stupid. These guys actually put a lot of thought into their music, but it comes from a passion they know so well that it goes beyond deliberate thought and straight to a comfortable pre-knowledge.

Jeff Kenniston and Trent Gerbers, the 23-year-old men of Addison Station, provide a smooth instrumental blend for their audiences’ auditory pleasures, Kenniston on keyboard, guitar and back-up vocals and Gerbers on lead vocals, then garnished with harmonica and the occasional beatbox. “We play whatever we feel comes across to most effectively bring about a positive reaction from listeners,” Kenniston explained.

Semi-regulars to pubs and clubs, Addison Station find themselves playing in the same types of venues, frequenting the downtown Hartford scene and New London and Torrington hotspots. “We’re always looking to expand to other markets,” Kenniston said. “We've only been playing together as ‘Addison Station’ since January, so we're just putting our toes in the water and seeing which places work for us.”

Audiences are catching on, no matter where they play, and the tone is set in the first few songs. “We always encourage [audience participation] – although it is more prevalent at smaller venues, where we are more physically connected to the audience and can get right in their faces. Just the other night in Niantic, we had an audience member sing a song to his girlfriend while I played, and also had a girl play [Jason Mraz’s hit] ‘I'm Yours’ on the piano with us,” Kenniston said. “We love it when everyone gets involved.”

Though it’s difficult not to get involved in the music when Kenniston and Gerbers set up songs like “Lost and Found” with a story about one of the member’s most memorable one-night stands, joking that “ We all have them at least once,” and they’re hard to forget. The song describes the awkward search for underwear and other belongings strewn across the floor and around the apartment, and the smirks on the faces of numerous audience members prove that the storytellers are right – most of us know exactly how that search goes down.

So they tell stories and try to relate their music to audience members. What else describes a typical show for Addison Station? “Generally, a lot of things like that. We never make a set list, so we just gauge what we play based on what we think the audience wants to hear – if people are dancing, we'll play something to dance to; if people are chillin’, we'll play something to chill to. We try to take requests, and are consciously making an effort to highlight our original music and avoid the typical bar-band scene,” Kenniston joked while poking fun at the typical Bon Jovi, “Livin’ on a Prayer” cover bands. “Or set is currently very cover-laden,but we're trying to network with prominent local original artists.”

Jokes aside – or rather, not at all – I asked Kenniston and Gerbers about their pre- and post-show traditions. “We have one,” Kenniston cautioned. “It’s called the ‘Nutsack Award.’” Only imagining what this could possibly lead to, donning a puzzled look on my face, Kenniston humored me with an explanation. “We decide who fucked up the most during the show, and they get the ‘Nutsack Award’ until the next show.”

Classy, as is to be expected from Addison Station, but they don’t let their positions as musicians stifle their crude humor. They let those positions help that humor flourish, even barraging each other with insults before shows. “I honestly tell Trent I hate him at least four times a day, and vice versa,” Kenniston laughed. “But he knows I mean it with the utmost respect.” On top of that, nerves are rarely an issue with these jokesters, and you’ll never see Kenniston or Gerbers choke-up in front of a crowd.

Kenniston wanted everyone to know that he has worn the same pair of jeans to every Addison Station show thus far, and that the two are “huge patrons of local hot dog stands.” He also wanted everyone to know that you can catch Addison Station’s next set at The Federal in downtown Hartford on Saturday, April 4th. Be sure to stop in for their soothing ballads, or perhaps their musical antics – set starts at 9 p.m., and though I’m sad to say you won’t hear any Bon Jovi, according to Kenniston, they “go all night.” Delicious.

Q + A with musician Russell Lyman

With a career as a medical assistant at bat and one as a Registered Nurse on deck, West Haven-based musician Russell Lyman has put music on the backburner and is focusing his energy on work and school. Whether he ends up at a hospital or small doctor’s office, Lyman knows where his future leads him and that music will, in one way or another, always be a part of it.

S: So, you’re a musician, quite obviously. What got you into music?
R: Hmm. Well, one of my friends got a guitar for his birthday when he was 15 or so, and I thought it was really cool and wanted to learn to play, too. It seemed like a great hobby.
S: Interesting. So you play purely guitar?
R: Nope, I can play the drums or bass.
S: A man of many talents.
R: If you play guitar, you can play bass because it’s almost the same. But if you play bass, it’s harder to play guitar. When I started guitar, my friend there wanted to start a band and we didn’t have a drummer, so I learned that, too.
S: So you just picked up a pair of drum sticks and said, “All right, let’s do this.”
R: Pretty much. I didn’t really know how to play, and I only had two drums and a high hat at the time. It was a few months ‘til I got a full kit.
S: So which instrument would you say you prefer or play the best?
R: Guitar, but I’m a rhythm guitarist. I can’t do solos that well because I mostly liked singing, too, so I just play the rhythm part.
S: Ah, yes, you sing too. How long have you liked to sing then?
R: Well, I always liked to sing. I wasn’t always the best at it, though. But I tried. I started to take some singing lessons when I was about 20, and those helped a lot with my pitch, melody and sound.
S: What kind of music are you usually inclined to sing or play?
R: It’s like rock-pop, I guess…pop-punk…there are so many things to call it. I just sing, though – no screaming. I’m not really into that heavy sound.
S: (laughing) I see.
R: Yeah, it’s like boy band meets rock. Stuff with a catchy sing-along chorus and fast beat.
S: Since you know how to play so many instruments and are obviously musically inclined, have you put your efforts into a band?
R: No, bands are for losers. I would never join one of those.
S: That’s what I suspected.
R: (laughing) Yes, I always found myself in and out of many bands, with all different styles of music and people.
S: Any that you took particular interest in or were especially proud of?
R: Well, there were a few that I would say I was proud of, each with their own achievements. “A Chase Worthwhile” was my end-of-high-school-days band, when pop-punk was real big, and Blink-182 and New Found Glory were just hitting it big on the scene. We had a big following and played a decent amount of shows in CT, and even got to play at Coney Island. The next band was “Red Chester,” which I did not front and was just a guitarist in. This let me move around more on stage and put my full potential of a stage show to use, spinning my guitar around my body three times in a row, sometimes. We were sponsored by a clothing label called “Reject Clothing Company” and did a small tour for a week with John Hampson of “Nine Days.”
S: I feel like I’ve heard of “Nine Days”… that song “Story of a Girl”?
R: (singing) “This is the story of a girl, who cried a rive that drowned the whole world. But while she looked so sad in photographs, I absolutely love her when she smiles.”
S: Yes, I love that song.
R: After that band was my last and most recent band, “Saturday Matinee.” Being around for about four years with four CDs and a small U.S. tour, it was the biggest one. We even did our own Christmas CD, with covers and a Christmas song we wrote.
S: Well, I’d say that’s pretty successful. Why didn’t the band work out?
R: We wanted to take a new approach, and I was going to step down as front man and we were going to get just a lead singer. In trying out people and finding one, having practice with the new line-up was taking a toll on me. With late-night practices and a full-time job and school at night, there wasn’t much time for sleep. I had to throw in the towel and call it quits to focus on my education and career.
S: That makes sense. When did you start having an interest in medicine?
R: Well, over time. Everyone always said I would be good in the medical field because I enjoy helping others, and I would make a good nurse. They said there was a high demand for male nurses, and they make a lot of money and are always needed.
S: Have you found that that’s true?R: Yes, so far.
S: So you have a job now as a nurse?
R: No, I am currently in school for nursing and finishing up my medical assistant certification. I’m going to Goodwin College tomorrow for a seminar and may be taking classes there after I see how it goes.
S: Gotcha, so you’re still in the process.
R: (laughing) Yes, a long but worth-it-in-the-end process.
S: So, where does the music fit in, if at all?R: Right now, no where, but I can always go back to it. You can never stop playing once you start. I’ve jammed with some kids here and there, but nothing serious yet. I want to finish school.


Since I'm sick, all I can do is creep the web for updates on celebrities and see what strikes me as interesting. Here's what I'm finding.

Jimmy Fallon's dream of reuniting the cast of "Saved By the Bell"?
(By the way, Principle Belding was at CCSU a few months back for a lecture in the Student Center.)

What have the other cast members been up to since 1989?

Mark-Paul Gosselaar, a.k.a. Zack Morris, has a show on USA called "Raising the Bar." He and his goldilocks try to make a difference. I also remember an episode of "Law & Order: Special Victim's Unit," in which he played a man in the gay porn industry who was attacked.

Mario Lopez of course has America's Best Dance Crew and that animal talent show that no one cares about.

Dustin Diamond - "Screech" - is in porn. Movies and toys. Fantastic.

Lark Voorhies, the chick who played Lisa...well I checked her IMDB profile and only recognized a couple of soap operas. Must be because of that horrible name.

Elizabeth Berkely, who played that slut Jessie, has a recurring role on "CSI: Miami" as - you guessed it - a huge bitch. And don't forget "Showgirls." Classic.

Tiffany Thiesson - or Kelly, every guy's dream girl - has been in spoofs and tv shows since her "Bell" days. My favorite surprising appearance was a Honey DeLune, Will Ferrell's wife in "The Ladies Man."

Zac Efron turned down the opportunity to do a remake of "Footloose," as well he should have, because he said he doesn't want to be typecast as a singre/dancer and wants to take on more serious roles. Too late, "Hairspray"/"High School Musical"/"High School Musical 2"/"High School Musical 3" actor (although his new comedy with Matthew Perry looks good). Besides, you can't do a remake of "Footloose" - it's a Kevin Bacon classic. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Comcast's Picks for the 29 Ugliest Rockers (random and cruel, but quite amusing)

Lemmy Kilminster of Motorhead [looks crazy]

Iggy Pop [still alive? doesn't look alive]

Courtney Love [oh that's not true, just put a little makeup on her "Pikachu," a la Chelsea Handler, and she'll be fine - since that's all you really ever see of her these days...]

Shane McGowan of The Pogues [who is this? he looks like the elf/goat guy from the old Tom Cruise movie, "Legend." I love that movie]

GWAR [this shouldn't even count. First of all, don't they call themselves aliens or monsters or something equally as crazy? And since they're wearing masks and costumes, who's to say they're actually ugly? I bet under those disguises, they're Calvin Klein models.]

Gene Simmons of KISS [I expected him to be Number 1 on this list, but they placed him accordingly. So far these musicians have been quite beastly.]

Lil' Jon [I'm confused, they did say Ugliest Rockers, didn't they?]

Fergie [I agree on this one, but wow for Comcast to drop this kind of bomb on a still currently-successful artist. They obviously don't care about any repercussions she may try to bring]

Amy Winehouse [she could be pretty, if she weren't so ugly]

Rick Ocasek [just looks old]

Kerry King of Slayer [not so much ugly as fitting the typical Metal style]

Lil' Wayne [still does not count]

Dee Snider of Twisted Sister [agreed.]

Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones [another one of those 'can't believe he's still alive' rockers]

Tiny Tim [you can't call such a beautiful man ugly! he's having a wonderful time]

Michael Jackson [too easy.]

John Lydon of the Sex Pistols [has crazy eyes]

Boy George [looked at lot better via Karma Chameleon, and that's saying something.]

Janis Joplin [when you sing like that, you don't have to be pretty]

Meatloaf [I think that's just a wacho picture, he was never horrible-looking. He sang "Paradise by the Dashboard Light," how could he be ugly?]

Mick Mars of Motley Crue [I'm going to have nightmares about this guy tonight. He looks like he should work in a morgue or funeral home, or like the dead minister from "Poltergeist."]

Rick James [bitch.]

Eddie Van Halen [what do you expect after years of the rock 'n roll lifestyle?]

Joey Fatone of 'N Sync [again, rockstar? But he's not so bad.]

Sanjaya of American Idol [why is he on this list? he's my dream guy. SANJAYA.]

Clay Aiken [again, too easy.]

Marilyn Manson [this man really has always scared me.]

David Draimon of Disturbed [I actually don't think he's so ugly.]

Alice Cooper [love this guy. very ugly.]

These updates via Comcast.net's Home page.

Monday, March 30, 2009

New Music

I'm starting to find new music that makes me jive, just wanted to share.

I'm sure this isn't a new band, but they're fairly new to me. They're like across between Pat Benetar, Kate Nash and No Doubt, if you can imagine. I like the song "Better When You're Naked" and hear it on FM 104.1 all the time.

This band's style isn't very different from bands like Three Doors Down or Secondhand Serenade (who they're actually touring with), but I still like their song "Stay." It's sweet, and the lyrics are relatable to any relationship.

Formerly of The City Drive, Smith reminds me a lot of Hellogoodbye, which is both good and bad. You can't have too many of those kinds of bands without it getting repetitive. But I do like the song "Runner."

A friend introduced me to this band, and they're not horrible. They remind me of an updated miz between HIM and Orgy. I don't really have a favorite song that I could recommend. They all sound a little similar.

Their MySpace says their style is "Indie/2-step/Crunk," which is obviously a joke. I love these guys and imagine myself listening to "Inmates" while laying in bed, or "Heartbroke" while driving with the windows down on a sunny day. Lame cliche example, I'm sure.

A little band from Long Island set on the level of bands like The Click Five and The All-American Rejects that I heard of because my friends' band, Article 19 played a few shows with them in CT (at the Webster Underground) and in LI. They're definitely not ground-breaking, but they're good.