Category Archives: International Wildlife Film Festival

Indie musician and budding filmmaker Dan Tedesco is ‘Chasing the Lightning’

I have been fortunate enough to work with a couple of documentary film festivals since moving to Montana, the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival and the International Wildlife Film Festival.  When I see a documentary that features an indie musician, I get really excited.  Such is the case with the forthcoming documentary film Chasing the Lightning, by indie musician Dan Tedesco.  He is heading out soon to promote his short 20 minute film with a tour that will include a Question and Answer session followed by a concert of his music.  The tour includes a stop at Los Angeles’ El Cid on September 13.  We sat down with Tedesco for an interview and this is what transpired.

IVB:  What is your musical background?

DT:  Pretty eclectic.  I started with piano at the age of five, which led to the violin in elementary school.  I then fell in love with the guitar in junior high, which became my instrument of choice.  I took some lessons, but most of my training came from listening to music and finding out what I liked.  I started loving the jazz world and instrumental music, and played in the jazz workshop band (12-15 pieces).  I followed that up with an intense study of jazz at Arizona State University for several years.  However, I began to feel like the study was messing with my brain and I was losing the organics of playing.

After college I went back to my rock roots and began songwriting.  I wanted to be a studio musician, but also wanted more control of my musical destiny, so I decided to learn to sing.  I started playing out in Tempe about the time I was graduating and began getting some local support that encouraged me to continue doing it.  I even played at a hookah lounge weekly.   After graduation, I decided to move to Los Angeles to check out the music scene.  I stayed on a friend’s couch until he threw me out, and ended up staying in LA for about a year, doing open mics and working a full-time job while trying to play out.

This burning the candle at both ends finally caught up with me and I decided to get out of LA and move to Chicago.  I put together a summer’s worth of gigs (having grown up in the suburbs of Chicago, and formed a band called Dan Tedesco and the Long Haul.  We released our first album, Staring at a Green Light, in March 2009.   We tured regionally in the Midwest and I slowly lost members of my band.  By 2011, when we released Tracks on Fire, I was touring with just a drummer.  He eventually left me to pursue other avenues and I was back to playing solo.

I think that the experience of being in a band got me through that part of my career but cleared my need to find myself.   I next started looking at what I could do with a solo career.  I began by creating my own sound using a stomp box, amps, and the keys, stretching where my music could go sonically as a solo artist.  I wanted to keep it organic without using looping, and take the stereotype singer-songwriter and smash it.  I did this from 2012-2014 before releasing my third album Death in the Valley.

I toured solo until around the end of 2015.  Inspired by Springsteen’s Nebraska project, I began creating demos at home on my ipad,  I listened to them and liked the lo-fi aspect.  I sought advice from my friends who were very supportive, and people seemed to connect with it.  I’m really glad I did the project, which resulted in a self-titled album of 10 songs, which I released in October 2015.

I kept recording but pushed it further by adding layers through the  Garage Band program.  I even found a cool drum machine and used it to create some cool songs.  Once again my friends were supportive, so I decided to do a double album in May 2016, combining the first set of stripped down songs and then redoing them with the layers.  The project is currently up on Spotify.  Through this process I gained a basic working knowledge of sound engineering.  I am very proud of these songs and the response they have generated.  I am currently working on new record, and am about three-quarters done.

IVB:  Who are your musical influences?

DT:  Eddie Van Halen, Joe Satriani, and Eric Johnson (who taught Steve Vai and others) were my early ones.  Other artists that greatly influenced me were John Coltrane, Wes Montgomery, McCoy Tyner, Stanley Jordan and other jazz greats.  Dylan, Springsteen, Tom Petty, Jackson Brown and Tom Waits also influenced me as a songwriter.

IVB:  What prompted you to make Chasing the Lightning?

DT:   I think more than anything that it was a story that needed to be told.  I have watched a lot of documentary films and have never seen anyone tell the story of what it is to be a working musician.  Maybe on a grandiose level maybe, but not the simplistic facts of being one of the other 99% of working musicians.  I wanted to tell this story to people so that they could see what most of us are going through, the working class version.  I also wanted to let people know that it is a job and that it is hard work.  I wanted to inspire people to do this but also give them a reality check if they think it is all grandiose.  I believe that showing people is a lot more powerful than simply telling them.

I have always loved films and documentaries like Anthony Bordane’s Kitchen Confidential, which exposed the unknown world of a professional chef.  That film inspired me to expose my world so they can see the behind the scenes life of a working musician.  I wanted my film to be both enlightening and educational, a wake-up call of what can be expected from a life on the road as a full-time musician.  I hired a friend to come and do the video with me, and we shopped it to people but couldn’t find anyone to help me with finish it.  I ended up doing it myself, writing the narration and pulling up the right clips that I knew precisely where they were.  Since I decided to edit it myself,  I had to teach myself how to do that.  I watched YouTube videos to learn the process.  It was truly a magical experience as the clips would fit right in with the music and line up perfectly.  This was a sign to me that I was creating something special, a truly remarkable experience that I am so glad I could do.

IVB:  What are your plans for the movie?  For your future musical career?

DT:  I am getting ready to embark on a fall/winter tour to most of the country.  Each night we’ll do a screening of the film and a Q&A with the audience, followed by an hour musical set.  I have also submitted to several film festivals including Montana’s Big Sky Documentary Film Festival.  I’m waiting to see who is interested.

I am especially looking forward to the El Cid show in Los Angeles, as I am returning to the place I left to start this journey.  I will be also be playing Seattle, Eugene and Portland shows in the Pacific Northwest.

I’m hoping to work on a new album to be released later in 2017.   I have an investor for the new album which I hope will kick me in a new direction.  We live and die by the number of gigs we can get, so having an additional stream of revenue that is not just performance based gives me a little breathing room to grow my career.  When you have people that do what they say they will do, it is a plus for your career.  Unfortunately I have found that art does not always imitate life – and it can be disheartening.

I have made it a practice to not seek a massive fan base.  Instead, I strive to fine about 2,000 people that are committed to my music.  If each of those people spend just $40 a year, that gives me an income of $80,000 a year, plus what I earn from my performances, licensing, etc.  Every artist must define his or her own level of success.  Above all else there is a true need to find balance.

Get it or forget it: Gigi Rich, Hush Machine, Jimmy Urine

Can’t believe it’s April and still snowing, although it was perfect this morning for our River Nature Walk as part of the International Wildlife Film Festival.  Good to know that we’ve got some great indie music to warm us up and get us ready for a music-filled summer.  Check out our reviews of these three great artists!

Artist NameGigi Rich

Album NameAll in my Head

Label:  None

Genre:  Pop/Soul

Track Listing:  1.  Mr. Bossman; 2.  Stupid; 3.  Some Kind of Crazy; 4.  Still Want You; 5.  All in my Head 

Publicist:  None

Review:  We have always had a soft spot for pop & soul performers, and are proud to welcome Gigi Rich and her debut EP to that list.  From the first glance at the cover art, you realize what a beautiful lady she is, but from her first notes, you realize that beauty is shining forth from the inside out.  Her EP hits the ground running with the lead track, “Mr. Bossman,” and goes nowhere but up from there.  This five-song EP is simply too short and leaves the listener wanting much much more.   All five songs are outstanding, and we really love her music video for the third track, “Same Kind of Crazy,” which we shared in yesterday’s Monday Mashup article.  If you love power ballads, we think “Still Want You” will become your go-to jam.

Recommendation:  OMG, this lady can sing.  We can’t wait to see what the future holds for Ms. Rich.  In the meantime, we highly recommend her debut EP All in my Head, and urge you to Get It ASAP.

Roger de La Fresnaye (French, 1885 – 1925 ), The Watering Can (Emblems: The Garden), 1913, oil on canvas, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon 2014.18.26

Artist NameHush Machine

Album NameHush Machine

Label:  Jigsaw Records

Genre:  Indie Rock

Track Listing:  1.  Batter Up; 2.  Congress Hotel; 3.  Diner; 4.  Realize (Hands on the Wheel); 5.  So we can Dance; 6.  Sorry; 7.  Try Forever; 8.  U Best 

Publicist:  Noisy Ghost PR

Review:  Hush Machine is the alter ego of pop guitarist Sam Boatright, only 21 years old but light years ahead of his peers.    Although written four years ago, they are just being released to the world via his debut self-titled album, which is finally being released on April 21, 2017.   The music is reminiscent of an upbeat Plain White T’s song, and lifts the listener’s spirits as only good positive music can.  The upbeatness continues throughout the album, as more and more of his influences are revealed, like Oingo Boingo and Tears for Fears.  Boatright does not have the best voice, but he more than makes up for it with the sheer brilliance of his musical compositions.  Best tracks on the disk are “Batter Up,” “Diner,” “So we can Dance,” and “Try Forever.”

Recommendation:  If you’re all about the vocals, then this is not the album for you.  But if you can look beyond its vocal shortcomings, then Hush Machine provides quality musical entertainment.  We are proud to recommend that you Get it when it comes out on Friday.

Artist NameJimmy Urine

Album NameThe Secret Cinematic Sounds of Jimmy Urine

Label:  The End Records

Genre:  Electro-punk

Track Listing:  1.  Fighting with the Melody; 2.  I Want to be Human; 3.  Phase; 4.  Final Level; 5.  End Boss; 6.  All Together Friends Forever; 7.  Patty Hearst; 8.  Not for Me; 9.  Aching Addicted Affection Again; 10.  Salome; 11.  Beethoven Symph 7 Alleg Mvt 2; 12.  Available on Betamax; 13.  Lento Romantico Erotic Incubo; 14.  Based on a True Story 

Publicist:  The End Records PR

Review:  Some of you may be familiar with the music of Jimmy Urine’s band Mindless Self Indulgence, but unless you play a lot of video games, you may not have heard this side of his creativity.  It’s obvious upon even a casual listen why his music is popular for movie soundtracks, television and video games.  In fact, some of his music will be included in the soundtrack for the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 movie to be released this summer.  Best tracks include “Fighting with the Melody,” “I Want to be Human,” “Phase,” “Patty Hearst,” and “Salome.”

Recommendation:  This album is set for release on April 28, and we recommend you pre-order it now.  It is a great album that provides a stirring soundtrack for your everyday living, and we highly recommend that you Get it.

 

Monday mashup 2017: Vol 15

Hope you all had a glorious Easter weekend.  We’re smack dab in the middle of the 40th annual International Wildlife Film Festival, so this is gonna be short and sweet.  Several of our favorite artists have recently released music videos in conjunction with releases of new albums and EPs.  We are sharing those videos with you now, with the album/EP reviews to follow shortly in our Get it or Forget it series.

Speaking of the IWFF, the first two days have been amazing.  We attended the Wild Walk and Wildfest on Saturday morning before heading to the Roxy Theater for the first two episodes of BBC America’s Planet Earth II.  The opening night film was Chasing Coral, followed by an amazing Q&A with Zach Rago and Stacy Picullel.  This is a truly amazing film which will play again Tuesday night.  On Sunday, we attended two films:  Yasuni Man, which had a connection to Missoula, and featured a stirring Q&A with its star and filmmaker, Ryan Killackey, as well as Unlocking the Cage, a film about the quest to give basic rights to non-humans.  That screening was followed by a very informative Q&A with Nonhuman Rights Project founder Steven Wise and a reception sponsored by the Save the Chimps foundation.

GIGI RICH RELEASES DEBUT EP AND MUSIC VIDEO

Pop/Soul singer Gigi Rich has released her debut five-song EP, which will be reviewed shortly.  We think she has something special and are proud to share her first music video with you here.  Please let us know what you think of this amazing young artist.  We think she’ll be around for quite a while.

MARINA V IS BACK WITH A NEW ALBUM AND MUSIC VIDEO

One of our oldest and dearest friends, Marina V, has released her latest album and a stunning music video which features cameos by many of our other favorite artists.  Please check out the music video for the title track, Born to the Stars, and come back for our review of the album.  Great job Marina and Nick!

We’ll be back soon with the next edition of Get it or Forget it.  Catch you later.