Monday mashup 2017: Vol 9

Welcome to another week of spotlighting the indie arts.  We have spent the past week with the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, as well as combing through a constant stream of emails from indie artists, who have been busy creating new material for the world.  Grab a cup of coffee and let’s look at some of the happenings over the past seven days.

Michaela May releases new single

Based in London and Toronto, Michaela May is a dynamic singer songwriter whose lyrics are personal and heartfelt, while her music is electrifying and upbeat.  We love her new song, You and I, and think you will love it too.  Check it out on Song Cloud and Spotify and grab your copy today.

Milck continues to speak out

Los Angeles based singer-songwriter Milck continues her viral quest to speak out against injustice with a recent appearance in Toronto, where she and a choir of 1300 singers recorded this video on behalf of Choir!Choir!Choir!  It is a powerful protest statement and should be spread near and far.  #ICANTKEEPQUIET

Chelsea Williams releases latest video from Little Halo – Demo Sessions

Blue Élan Records artist Chelsea Williams continues to tease us with acoustic demos of songs from her forthcoming album, Little Halo Demo Sessions.  Check out this acoustic demo session of her tune “Lovesick Blues,” which was released last Friday.

Adrian Underhill releases new video for ‘Not Good Enough’

After viewing this intriguing video, I am looking forward to see what else Adrian Underhill has planned for his debut album, which will be released later this year on Indica Records.  Please let us know what you think about his video.

Thanks for checking us out and for supporting indie music.  Check back later for an exclusive interview with LA Music Critic Award winner Allison Iraheta, as well as the return of our Get it or Forget it review series.  Until then, keep it indie!

 

 

UM’s production of ‘Thinner Than Water’ blasts preconceived notions of family dynamics

The latest black box production of the University of Montana’s School of Theatre & Dance and College of Visual and Performing Arts is Melissa Ross’ stirring drama Thinner Than Water, currently being staged in the Masquer Theatre at UM’s PAR/TV building.

We attended the opening night sold out production, and judging from the audience’s reactions, the performance was a smashing success.

One of the beauties of black box theatre is that there is no pre-constructed set on stage, which alleviates the audience building up any pre-conceived notions about the performance.  It was the perfect showcase for this production about family dynamics, since the material presented was not in keeping with the popular notion that “blood is thicker than water.”

Skillfully directed by John Kenneth DeBoer, with technical assistance from Scenic Designer Mike Monsos, Costume Designer Lynn Martyn, Lighting Designer Timothy McHenry and Audio Designer Caitlin Larson, the production was perfected staged managed by Sadie Framness.

Annika Hanson was perfectly cast as elder sister Renee, with much support from Matt McDaniel as Gary and Danielle N. Sather as Cassie, her siblings, and Megan Merhar as Gwen, who portrayed their father’s girlfriend.  Further support was provided by the amazing ensemble cast of Anna Evans as Angela, Jake Bender as Henry, Joshua Pitt as Benjy and Aaron Williams as Mark.

This was a true ensemble production, as each cast member contributed equally to the story line.  Even so, Hanson and Merhar were so relatable to the audience at large through their larger than life portrayals, while Pitt’s Benjy provided some much needed laughs and surprises.

This is a production that will definitely leave the audience questioning some of their long-held beliefs about family, while providing a story line that just about everyone can relate to.  We highly recommend this production, which is part of one of the best seasons of shows we have ever seen at the University.

Thinner Than Water can be see today and next Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m., as well as 7:30 p.m. performances on March 1, 2 and 3.  Tickets are available at the UMArts Box Office or online at umt.edu/theatredance.

Monday Mashup 2017: Vol 8

Happy Presidents Day.  Hope you’re all having a great day as we launch into our eighth edition of the Monday Mashup for 2017.

Indie artists have been hard at work, acting as the voice of our generation.  In particular, artists are speaking out about the current political tensions, as well as standing with causes that have become near and dear to many hearts.  Let’s see what’s happening this week.

Trapdoor Social stands with Standing Rock

Local Los Angeles group Trapdoor Social has released an official music video for their song “Never Stop Listening” that supports the ongoing struggle between the United States and DAPL and the Native American Standing Rock tribe.  The cinematography is breathless and the message is the heart of the video.  Check it out and let us know where you stand on this issue.

Here’s what Trapdoor Social and songwriter Skylar Funk had to say about the video:

“Last fall I helped organize a donation drive and trip up to North Dakota from LA to support the water protectors in the Oceti Sakowin camp, at the center of the Dakota Access Pipeline protests. We spent a week there working in construction, in the kitchens, chopping wood and shoveling snow, and felt incredibly welcomed and honored for the chance to participate in something so powerful and historic.


One thing they asked of us in orientation was to “Bring It Home” – to share what we learned at camp and to make sure folks back in the communities we’d return to were aware that the struggle to protect that land and water continues. Of course with the recent executive order, the challenge is even more urgent… So we created a video about the people we met at camp paired up with a song I wrote and released with Trapdoor Social last year to share what we saw and hopefully inspire more action.” – Skylar Funk

The video was shot by acclaimed director Alexandra Velasco.

Blue Élan Records artists release new music videos

Two of the artists signed to Blue Élan Records have new music videos.

The first, See, released a live acoustic version of her song “Closed Eyes Open” last Monday.  Her smoky and heavenly voice brings back memories of a cross between Stevie Nicks and Adele, and will serve this up and coming artist well.  Her debut EP, Ties, was released last July, and the debut single, “Potions” has received more than three million hits.  This is definitely an artist to put on your radar, because we firmly believe she will soon be a household name as she skyrockets to the top of the charts.  Let us know what you think.

The second is Cindy Alexander, one of the strongest advocates for indie music in Los Angeles.  This official music video, which is debuting today on YouTube, is for her song “Deep Waters,” the title track of her latest album.  The song was co-written and produced by long-time legendary musician Colin Devlin, and is a powerful vision.  We love the cinematography and more importantly, the message, which is a beacon of hope for our troubled times.  Let us know what you think of this gem.

 

Alexander is also preparing to hit the road this summer, using the Road Nation program to plan her tour.  This amazing program allows fans to choose the itinerary, and allows Alexander to support cancer research, a cause near to her heart since she is a cancer survivor.  Check out her campaign and bring her to your town this summer.

The Thrillseekers and Shannon Hurley release new video

Last but certainly not least this week is the latest video from the ongoing collaboration between The Thrillseekers and indie guru Shannon Hurley (one-half of the award-winning band Lovers & Poets).  We think you’ll love the upbeat message and sound of “Stay Here with Me.”  Let us know what you think.

That’s it for this week.  Gonna be a busy one with volunteering for the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival here in Missoula.  If you have the time, definitely check it out.  Keep those emails and music referrals coming.

Invest in the latest from Kanisha K

Kanisha K has been a favorite of this writer since she was first introduced to us by Ue3 Promotions in August 2014.  During that time, she has upped her skills, had her music placed in more and more stores across the country, and received media and critical attention, including nominations for several awards.  This writer has shared her music through several media outlets, including Examiner.com, AXS.com, and Indie Voice Blog, adding them to the list of media outlets that look forward to each new release.

Her new single, “Bet on Me,” should quickly rise up the charts after its release on Friday, February 17, 2017, and will be available on iTunes.  It was co-written and produced by Joe Vulpis, who has worked with the likes of Lady Gaga, Richie Blackmore and Jennifer Love Hewitt.

Having been a fan of her music for several years now, we can truly say that “Bet on Me” is the best song Kanisha has released to date.  This power ballad captures the amazing tone of her voice and provides the perfect vehicle to announce to the world that she has truly arrived and is a good bet for musical greatness.  We look forward to hearing this song on Top 40 radio.

“Bet On Me” continues the dynamic creative relationship between Kanisha and Vulpis that began in 2015 with the single “Oh Damn Yeah” (which was released to both Top 40 and CHR radio) and was mastered by Tom Coyne, who has worked on projects by Adele, Beyonce, Sam Smith, Taylor Swift, Pink and Ariana Grande.  The song also became popular during the Summer Olympics in Brazil.

“The song is about feeling like the underdog and asking the question, ‘If I were at my lowest point,’ would you still bet on me and take a chance on me?’” says the Holland, Michigan based pop singer.  “I wrote it in kind of a love song mode but am in a very different place in my life now, so I can embrace its much deeper meaning.  When we’re not at our best, are the people we love and count on going to be there for us through the hard times?  Who’s going to stick around and who is not?  I’m really proud of ‘Bet On Me.’  It’s a powerful and inspiring song and I love belting it out!”

We think that Kanisha K is a worthy investment.  We can hardly wait to hear the rest of the new music she is working on in Nashville with such veteran songwriters as Britton Cameron, Nathan Meckel and Jane Bach.  If it’s anything like her past work, then we think you the listener should heed Kanisha’s advise to “Bet on Me.”

 

BSDFF brings ‘Bright Lights’ to Missoula’s Wilma Theatre

Kicking off their 14th annual run, the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival opened on Friday night with a screening of the HBO documentary Bright Lights at the Wilma.  Fans began lining up before 6 p.m. for the free screening, and filled the house to capacity.

The documentary tells the story of the relationship between Debbie Reynolds and her children, Carrie Fisher and Todd Fisher, and is based on a small portion of the film archives of the family.  It was heartfelt and raw, and made you want to laugh, cry and cheer, all at the same time.

The film was introduced by current Executive Director Rachel Gregg, who was joined by the film’s producer, Todd Fisher.  Fisher returned after the screening and participated in a Q&A session that lasted for nearly an hour.

The Festival continues through February 26, with screenings at a multitude of venues, including the Wilma, the Elks Lodge, the Public House, the Roxy and the MCT Center for the Performing Arts.  Headquarters for the event will be at the Rocky Mountain School of Photography (216 N. Higgins), where you can purchase tickets and merchandise, participate in the VR Experience or attend classes on documentary filmmaking through the Doc Shops series, which begins on Monday, February 20.

For more information, check out the Festival’s website.  You can find the schedule here.

Monday Mashup 2017: Vol 7

Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone in love.  Thought we ‘d kick off this week’s Monday Mashup with the latest music video from our friends at Redhead Express.  This original song was written by lead singer Kendra and features her husband Kelly and their son in a simply beautiful homage to love.  Check it out and share it.  If you love what they’re doing, please consider becoming one of their Patreon supporters.

INDIE ARTIST MAKES HISTORY AT GRAMMY AWARDS

Chance the Rapper, an unsigned independent artist who has never recorded a physical album, took home three Grammys last night from his seven nominations.  He won for best rap album for Coloring Book, best rap performance for “No Problem,” and best new artist.  What sets him further apart is the fact that this award winning album is only available through streaming.  Way to set the bar high, Chance.  Here’s to the future of the music industry!

Speaking of the Grammys – huge shout out to a couple of indie artists who performed at the show.  Adrienne Woods played her cello during John Legend’s performance, while indie triple threat actress Tiffany Phillips was a part of the Beyoncé performance.  Way to go!

BALCONY TV HOSTS STREETS OF LAREDO

We introduced you to the amazing sound of Streets of Laredo back in October 2016.  Balcony TV recently hosted them and filmed a music video for their hit single “99.9%,” which they released today.  Check it out.

MORE MUSIC VIDEOS

Two more indie artists recently released music videos.  First up is the amazing Shannon Hurley, who released a stunning Max Headroom-esq video of her forthcoming single “Someday.”

Our second video is a premiere from a new artist we were recently introduced to.  We like what we see so far – please let us know your opinion.  His name is Dario and his tune is called “Good Morning World.”

Enjoy your week!

 

 

Indie artist Janiva Magness deserves the hype

The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, otherwise known as NARAS, gives out the Grammy Awards each year for the best in recorded music and spoken word.  While almost all winners are signed to one of the major labels, every now and then The Academy stands up and takes notice of indie artists or shines the spotlight on a legend making a comeback.

The trend began in 2012, when Linda Chorney became the first truly independent artist to secure a Grammy nomination in the Americana category.  Although she did not win, she did open the door for others like Omar Akram, an independent new age artist who won the Grammy for best new age album in 2013.

This year The Academy has shined its spotlight near and far, resulting in quite a few nominations of artists who are previously unknown or obscure, and at least one more indie artist.   Although she is signed to Blue Élan Records, a major independent label based out of Los Angeles that is also home to such legends as Gerry Beckley of America and Eagles songwriter Jack Tempchin, Janiva Magness is a relatively unknown indie artist whose music demands attention.

Believe it or not, Love Wins Again is the 12th album Magness has released in her career, and the fifth time she has worked with producer Dave Darling, who has personally garnered four Grammy nominations for his work with such artists as Glen Campbell, Brian Setzer, John Waite and the Stray Cats.

From the first notes of the title cut, Magness shatters the barriers between genres and unleashes an album that must be sonically experienced, with a healthy heaping of indie rock, soul, jazz, gospel and funk to sweeten the overall blues feel.

The album progresses with a stop on the Soul Train vibe of “Real Slow,” before kicking it singer-songwriter/ indie rock style on “When you Hold Me,” which just happens to be one of our favorite cuts.  The album continues with a gospel, soul feel on “Say You Will” before the almost Americana/indie rock feel of “Doorway.”   Magness kicks in with her full blues regiment on “Moth to a Flame” and “Your House is Burnin'” before dialing it back down with “Just Another Lesson,”  “Rain Down,” and “Long as I can see the Light.”  She closes out with the moving ballad “Who Will Come for Me,” to which we state the obvious – your fans.

Magness is a true artist who has mastered the art of bringing a message that transcends musical genres and ties an album together.  She definitely has our vote for Grammy and for providing one of the best albums of 2016, indie or otherwise.  We can hardly wait to see what’s next.

 

Monday Mashup 2017: Vol 6

Never in my life have I witnessed a collapse like that of the Atlanta Falcons in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl LI.  The only positive about the game was the half-time show, which Lady Gaga nailed!  Considering she began her career as an indie artist playing the mean streets of Los Angeles, we should be proud of her ultimate accomplishment – playing her music before a world-wide audience.  Way to go Gaga!!!

For the rest of us who haven’t quite reached our goals yet, we encourage you to keep at it.  Keep singing, writing and creating.  Treat those three people in the audience as if they were the most important three people in the world.  You never know who might be listening, and the doors they are capable of opening.  Keep up the fight!

GRAMMY TIME FOR MAGNESS

This time next week we’ll be celebrating the Grammys.  Since we have at least one indie artist in the running, and a local one at that, let’s give a hearty and rousing cheer for Blue Élan Records artist Janiva Magness and her blues album Love Wins Again.  We hope you take home the prize.

INDIE ARTISTS SHINE AT NAMM

A few years back a visionary named Kerry Getz thought it would be a great opportunity for local indie artists if they would put on showcases at the hotels near the convention site.  It was such a great idea that NAMM decided to take over and expand the opportunity to stages within the event itself.  Getz likewise recruited Tim Moyer to assist her, and Moyer runs this major music event now.  One of the artists who was selected to perform at the 2017 event was Los Angeles country/Americana artist Alice Wallace.  Check out her sterling performance of “I Just Don’t Care Anymore” from NAMM’s Grand Plaza Stage.  You can find the official music video of the song on her YouTube channel.  Enjoy.

RYKKA DEBUTS NEW MUSIC VIDEO

European indie artist Rykka has released her latest music video for “Runnin’ Away” from her new album Beautitudes.  If this video is any indication of the quality of music on the album, then you should definitely check it out.  We will be reviewing the album here soon, so check back with us.

See ya next week.