Berklee Blogs

First-hand accounts of the Berklee experience

Author: Allen Bush (Page 2 of 5)

2010 Berklee CMJ Showcase: Julia Easterlin

It takes the crowd at the Bowery Poetry Club some moments to figure out just what Julia Easterlin is up to on stage.  She stands alone, in front of a looping machine, humming into the microphone, then plays back the sound.  She adds another vocal tone, and then some others, harmonizing with herself.  She snaps her fingers and claps her hands into the machine, all the while playing back the progress that starts to sound like she’s surrounded by backing vocalists and a rhythm section.  But, still there is only Julia and her looping machine.  The audience is mesmerized.  Julia sings her original songs to the tracks she creates, sometimes playing guitar.  Her sound ranges from jazz to roots to pop.  Her cover of Britney Spears’ “Toxic” toward the end of the set is fun, but the real magic is watching her unwrap her songs, layer by layer, on the looping machine and discovering what she has in store with each of her own songs, like “Whiskey,” about her grandmother.

As a soundcheck was underway, Julia Easterlin spoke about the freedom of having a looping machine as a bandmate, and how she markets her music.

2010 Berklee CMJ Showcase: The Honors

Following Liptease’s electro-pop and disco sound at the Berklee CMJ Showcase, was a blast of rock and roll from highly energized the Honors.  The four-piece Boston-based band is riding high on its debut disc, xoxo, and a growing reputation for crunching live shows.  Lead guitarist Andrew Bayardi, a Berklee alumnus, riffed, soloed, and sustained feedback that pierced the band’s driving rhythm section.  He looked like Jimmy Page, though a grungy version in his flannel shirt, when he leaned over and to the side of his guitar as he played.  In front of the stage, women gathered as the band handed out free CDs at the end of the set.

Outside of the club, Andrew Bayardi discusses a big break given to the Honors earlier in its career, and how that coveted opportunity helped the band to develop.

2010 Berklee CMJ Showcase Liptease

Liptease performs a highly-dancable brand of r&b influenced electro-pop.  Vocalist John Engle urged everybody at the Bowery Poetry Club to dance from the first notes Michel Heyaca played on his laptop over Tom Manning’s funky drumming.  The band counts house and Latin music, Mozart, and classic soul among its influences.  Liptease is a dedicated trio; alumni Engle and Heyaca are based in New York while Manning is in Boston studying at Berklee. Working a new CD and touring keep them connected to each other and with a growing fanbase.

Before the set, in the front room of the Bowery Poetry Club, I asked Heyaca and Manning how they managed being one band in two cities, and, in the spirit of the business and networking side of CMJ, what promotional techniques have worked for them.

Performers and fans talk music, mingling, and making new fans at BeanTown Jazz Fest

The Berklee BeanTown Jazz Festival turned 10 this year, and celebrated New Orleans style with the Wild Magnolias and Jonathan Batiste, Cajun food on the concourse, and temps in the 80 degree range.  Jazz, blues, soul, and Latin music added to the festivities that stretched over six blocks for six hours.   I spoke with some of the performers and a couple of long-time BeanTown fans about the event, and the festival’s role in bringing music to new listeners and community to a city that sometimes doesn’t mingle.

Grammy nominee Julian Lage ’08 played with his trio on the BeanTown Stage:

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Mississippi scholarship winners announced in more intimate confines

The Berklee Mississippi Exchange Band. From left: Saxophonist Mario Castro, bassist Lenny Stallworth, drummer Taylor Gordon, and keyboardist Eric Finland.

The Berklee Mississippi Exchange Band headed to the Delta Blues Museum’s outdoor stage, ready for their first set of the day.  It would be during the Juke Joint Festival debut by a Berklee group when the summer scholarship winner would be revealed.  Both contenders, with family members and close friends were stage side, waiting, smiling politely, keeping cool.  The two young women in all of their composure made an impression, and were an example to emulate when, suddenly, we realized that there were no drums or backline on stage.

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