You Sing, I Write: August 2009

Monday, August 31, 2009

CMA Music Festival Airs on ABC Tonight!

Photo Credit: Wendy Hu

Tonight ABC will showcase highlights from the CMA Music Festival I attended and covered in June in Nashville. You can watch the special, "CMA Music Festival: Country’s Night to Rock" from 8:00 - 11:00 PM/ET with performances, interviews and fan interaction.

Sets include artists like Kenny Chesney, John Rich (photo above) Kid Rock, Lady Antebellum (below), Martina McBride, Reba McEntire, Jake Owen (you can watch my interview with him here), Brad Paisley, Darius Rucker, Taylor Swift, Zac Brown Band and many more. Additionally, get behind-the-scenes access to bands on their tour bus, meeting fans and shopping.

If you haven't watched my video interviews from the CMA Music Festival with Holly Williams and David Nail, check them out on YouTube.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

You Sing, I Write Featured On Jemsite!

I'm extremely honored to report that an interview with me was featured on Jemsite ( Jemsite is an informational site that encourages and helps others learn about everything from guitar playing to Ibanez guitars to specific JEM & Universe models, including setup.

Here's the intro to the article:

Annie Reuter is making her music dreams come true!

And she's not even a performer.

What she is, though, is an excellent writer and she's used that talent to start an entertaining and fun music blog based on her passion for the craft.

As a friend of Annie's from college, I watched her transform her love for writing and her love for music into the popular blog she has today. I remember when she wrote hundreds of e-mails to friends asking for help with coming up with a name. Hundreds of interviews, music critiques, concert reviews, band members, guitar players, and musicians later--You Sing, I Write is one of the most recognizable blogs on the online music blog scene today.

I had the opportunity to talk to Annie about the creation and inception of the blog and her wonderful adventures and wonderful work.

I'm truly humbled for the feature. Thanks so much Jemsite and Ava for the great write-up! If you're interested to learn about the start of You Sing, I Write, my experiences on tour and plans for the future, read the full Q&A here.

Poll of the Week: What's Your Ideal Wedding Song?

This weekend was full of wedding celebrations between bridesmaid and wedding dress shopping for my sister and one of my best friends from high school. Throughout the hours spent at wedding dress shops and engagement parties, I've been thinking about wedding songs.

While there are countless tracks to choose from, like the older classics or Martina McBride's summer wedding hit, "I Just Call You Mine," I want to know what's your favorite wedding song? I've gotten some suggestions from Twitter replies, but I'd love to hear all your picks and pass them along to the future brides! I posted some options in the poll, but feel free to leave your favorite in the comments.

What's Your Ideal Wedding Song?

"As" by Stevie Wonder

"True Companion" by Marc Cohn

"I Just Call You Mine" by Martina McBride

"You Are the Best Thing" by Ray LaMontagne

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Vespa Experiment Recap

A few months back I wrote about The Vespa Experiment, where musicians Jason Reeves, Brendan James and Amber Rubarth traveled throughout California on Vespas while bringing music and environmental awareness to the forefront.

For two weeks the musicians traveled up the California Coast on Vespas performing in clubs as well as on mountaintops, beaches and town centers. They camped out along the way, showered in the ocean and documented their entire journey.

"If we could just possibly learn ourselves and help other people learn, by any means, even if it's just sparking curiosity, then that's what this is really about," Reeves said.

Rubarth agrees. "I feel like this whole tour was all about getting to the core of life and purity and innocence. And, just getting back to the musical part and not in the business of it."

Watch the video below and for more information, visit The Vespa Experiment on MySpace,.

The Vespa Experiment from Vespa Experiment on Vimeo.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Blast From the Past: Q&A with Colbie Caillat

Yesterday singer-songwriter Colbie Caillat released her sophomore album, Breakthrough, and it's already making a wave. Debuting No. 1 on iTunes, Breakthrough is sure to top previous chart-topper, Coco. Not to mention, current single "Fallin' For You" can be heard on airwaves everywhere. The perfect album to end your summer, Breakthrough promises the Californian songstress will be around for quite some time.

I'll write a full review in the upcoming days, but I figured you might be interested in listening to my interview with Colbie from last year. To listen to Colbie talk about how her life has changed in the past year, writing songs in the bathroom and John Mayer click here. For advice from Colbie to aspiring musicians, MySpace and why she thinks "Bubbly" is such a hit, click here.

To read the full transcription click here. Be sure to visit Colbie's MySpace to listen to tracks off Breakthrough.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Artist of the Week: Zack Borer

Zack Borer's voice is laid back and familiar. Accompanied by acoustic and electric guitar, fitting percussion and at times piano, his music is refreshing and enjoyable. A versatile musician, his style is sure to win over any listener.

In fact, the New York-based, Canadian born artist has been garnering more recognition lately. Having recently received a slot on the Side Stage at Jones Beach for Jason Mraz's tour stop, even G-Love tweeted about enjoying his performance. No newcomer to Jones Beach, he was also featured at the Dave Matthews Band show earlier this summer (watch his performance below). Additionally, Borer was in the running to be named the MTV Video Music Awards’ “Best Breakout Artist in NYC.

Having similarities to contemporaries like Jason Mraz and Matt Nathanson, Borer's music encompasses a twist and uniqueness of its own. His MySpace showcases his talent well. "Everytime I Go" has a catchy chorus and fitting guitar accompaniment. "Everytime I go/You say to me I can't believe you're leaving/'Cause you just want to know/What's the basis for my motivation," Borer sings. After just one listen, you're bound to be humming along.

Whether it's light Caribbean beats throughout "That's The Way" with his soulful vocals or pouring his emotion out on edgier track "White Sheets," Borer has the listener hooked. Hard to put his music into one category, each song intertwines different genres, whether it's rock, blues, country or jazz there is something every listener can latch onto.

Check out Zack Borer on MySpace for more songs and if you're around New York be sure to catch his show this Thursday at The Bitter End.

Recommended: For fans of Jason Mraz, Matt Nathanson, Eren Cannata.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Album Review: Nadia Kazmi's "Arrival"

Nadia Kazmi’s debut release, Arrival, combines a unique blend of rock and soul with recognizable influences from many of music’s biggest icons. With poetic lyrics and strong vocals, Kazmi brings an eclectic flavor to her 10-track album. Encompassing many genres of music, Arrival, is just a hint of what’s to come for this singer-songwriter.

“Volcanoes,” draws the listener in right away with Kazmi ‘s powerful and jazzy vocals. The album starts forcefully : “I am a singer who cannot sing/A music maker but I don’t play a thing/Soul of my soul plays a game/I cannot win/This world’s treachery against me/Must be some kind of sin/Why open the door and/Not let me in,” she sings. The listener easily feels her passion and struggle accompanying the song through the musical buildup and moving lyrics. “Given the gift to speak, get close but never reach my peak,” Kazmi sings. An appropriate end to the song, much of the album deals with similar issues and frustrations – a woman’s quest to find meaning in this life.

Another emotional track, “Mother” tells the tale of a sister who kills her brother in his sleep. The woman in the song asks for forgiveness as she has evidently become her mother’s enemy after such a tragic event. Never failing with her unique storylines, Kazmi leaves the listener questioning what is to come next. Songs like “Mother” have a classic, ageless feel, almost as if they belong in another era.

Piano-based track, “Julian” is slower than previous tracks. Throughout Kazmi’s higher vocals the emotion is easily portrayed in a tale that involves reminiscing of a love that no longer exists. “Julian/This melody reminds me of you/Julian/How unfair, how unfair,” she sings. One can only wonder what may have happened.

“Arrival” recalls Queen and at times, Alicia Keys with Kazmi’s powerful vocals while tracks like “Tyranny of the Heart” introduces a different sound. With a slightly 70s styled beat, the song surprisingly resembles more of a club hit than previous ballads.

While Kazmi’s vocal ability is undeniable, the album lacks a cohesive flow jumping from soulful numbers to jazz tunes to club beats. One track especially, “Martians” has little to offer listeners. At times soporific with light guitar strumming and soft vocals, this song does nothing to flatter Kazmi. Her voice is powerful and comes across best when belting lyrics with feeling and the appropriate flattering music.

Despite the lack of symmetry throughout Arrival, most of the album is an appropriate testament to Kazmi’s talent. One example is “Prophets,” an edgier, stand-out track. With catchy percussion beats and Kazmi’s soulful singing (almost chanting style at times), the song hints at Kazmi’s talent and what is to come from this debut album.

For more on Nadia, be sure to visit her on MySpace.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Song of the Week: "New York, New York"

I've been subletting my friend's room the past month in New York while she's been in Ukraine and couldn't think of a better track for my last few days here than Frank Sinatra's infamous hit, "New York, New York." While I've done some tourist attractions (boating in Central Park and eating countless times at Shake Shack), this month has given me a newfound appreciation for the city that never sleeps. Additionally, it's made covering shows easier and more enjoyable — never having to rely on catching the last bus back to Jersey.

Throughout the month I was lucky enough to catch some great New York bands like Mourning District as well as interview some notable acts like Better Than Ezra and The Ting Tings. While the Internet hasn't been too reliable throughout my stay, in the upcoming weeks I'll be posting all my interviews (audio and video). Stay tuned and let the magnificent Sinatra take it away . . .

Any last minute NYC spots you recommend checking out?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Ingrid Michaelson Debuts Tracks Off Upcoming Release

Photo Credit: Deborah Lopez

Indie songstress Ingrid Michaelson is revealing a song a day from her new album Everybody leading up to her release next Tuesday. With hit songs like, "The Way I Am" landing in episodes of "Grey's Anatomy" and radio stations everywhere, Michaelson quickly became an artist to watch last year.

In fact, it's her honest lyrics and relatable stories that have found refuge in many music lover's ears and as a result have garnered her an ever growing fan base. She has said this album is totally autobiographical, but then again isn't that what draws the fans even closer? Visit her MySpace or check out the widget below as she discusses the story behind each track as well as listen to each song in it's entirety.

8/20 "Everybody"
8/21 "Are We There Yet"
8/22 "Sort Of"
8/23 "Incredible"
8/24 "Mountain and the Sea"

What do you think? If you like what you've heard, be sure to catch Ingrid on tour this fall. Check out her MySpace for complete tour dates.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Artist of the Week: Shara Strand

With her sultry and soulful vocals, singer-songwriter Shara Strand is well on her way. Making her debut on Broadway at 12, Strand began vocal training and honing her sound at an early age. Additionally, having garnered an opening slot for Pat Benatar as well as a performance at Apollo theater in New York City, her childhood dream is now becoming a reality.

A mix of pop and soul, Strand's music is radio friendly. In fact, soon to be released track, "Can and Cannot Do" is sure to be a hit. Catchy with a soulful and jazzy vibe, Strand sings: "
I don't feel sorry for you baby/But no one is ever perfect/I mean, sometimes I'm wrong/Sometimes I'm right/But you won't admit it any day or night."

Well on her way to being played in clubs and radio stations everywhere, Strand has that Christina Aguilera classic feel while remaining to make each song her own. While some songs are reminiscent to the pop bands of the late 90s (think Max Martin hits), other tracks have an ageless quality.

"Handcuffs" is a straight up pop track.
"He's got all the things a man would want/All you ever dreamed/He can have anyone he wants/Anything out of a magazine/And you would think with all that stuff, it still wouldn't be enough/'Cuz he would give it all up just to be in handcuffs," Strand sings with fitting musical accompaniment.

Other songs are more angst-ridden. On "I Need A Moment," Strand sings, "I need a moment to understand/Why you gave up this love we had/Even though I missed you so bad/Can we be sure this time it will last."
Currently label shopping and playing shows throughout New York and New Jersey, Strand's demo's are only a hint of what's to come from this young songstress.

Visit Shara's Web site here. If you like what you heard, be sure to catch a show when she's in town. Shara will be playing in Hoboken this Saturday at Saints and Sinners.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Salute To the King of Rock & Roll: Elvis Presley

Today marks the 32nd anniversary of Elvis Presley's death. Like him or not, his impact on the music scene is undeniable. A crossover talent, his music included everything from rock & roll, pop and rockabilly to blues, gospel and R&B. Not to mention his pulsating dance moves, distinctive clothing and seductive charm, Presley's musical success and popularity forever made a name for himself as The King.

I was fortunate enough to visit Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee, this summer while covering the CMA Music Festival, fulfilling a lifetime dream of mine to visit Elvis' personal sanctuary and tour his home and the surrounding grounds. Below are some photos by Wendy Hu as well as my personal favorite video of "Jailhouse Rock."

What's your favorite Elvis song? Do you feel any other musicians will leave as big a lasting impact on music? If so, who?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Woodstock Remembered

It was the music festival that defined a generation of rock & roll. This weekend marks Woodstock's 40th anniversary. Relive the festival below with videos of Jimi Hendrix and Carlos Santana performing.

For more coverage, be sure to check out Rolling Stone's Woodstock hub here with exclusive photos and interviews with the artists as well as promoter Michael Lang.

Watch Jimi Hendrix playing "Purple Haze" below.

Carlos Santana performing "Soul Sacrifice."

Which sets were a must see at the 1969 festival? Do you think there can ever be another Woodstock? Love to know your thoughts!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Come Out To Bowery Ballroom Tonight!

I have been anxiously awaiting this night for months! My two favorite New York-based bands, The Canon Logic (pictured above) and Lights Resolve will be playing Bowery Ballroom tonight, Thursday, August 13th. I'm sure you've read my previous coverage and interviews with both bands, but this is a show not to be missed. Doors open at 6 p.m. and tickets are sure to sell out, so get there early.

Very rarely have I witnessed a show with multiple bands that really resonate with the crowd and Bowery will be the place tonight. Openers include The Rivalry and Jet Lag Gemini.

If my excitement doesn't entice you enough, check out these live streams from The Canon Logic and some unreleased material by Lights Resolve. And, if you do decide to make it out be sure to leave a note in the comments and we can meet up!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Artist of the Week: Jer Coons

Jer Coons impresses on his debut release, Speak, due out September 29. Mainly a pop-rock album with hints of country and soul, Speak is a versatile disc with radio friendly appeal. In fact, the title track is just a hint of what’s to come for this talented musician.

At first listen, comparisons abound. While no musician wants to be put into a box, Coons’ similarities only help to amp his appeal. Jason Mraz with a mix of John Mayer and soulful vocals that recall breaking band Parachute are a few accurate descriptions.

First single, “Legs” encompasses sing-along choruses that stay stuck in the listener’s head long after the last verse is over. “Forget the who the what the when/The question here is why/You set the bar so high and then you dropped it for this guy/You’re into insincerity/It’s scary that I wonder/Perhaps the bar was raised so high that he just walked right under,” he sings.

If “Legs” sounds familiar, it might be because it was featured on the Hollister June in-store play list. Incredulously, as the song played throughout the day in 6,000+ stores, Coons’ MySpace reached over 4,500 hits per day. As a result, Jer became the third most popular Vermont artist on MySpace trailing behind none other than Phish and Grace Potter.

Throughout the accompanying album tracks, Coons touches upon unrequited love, regret and loss. Always with a unique personal twist, he intrigues the listener with his storytelling. While “Boxing the Cold” showcases Coons’ soulful vocals, mid-song he distinguishes himself with an electric guitar interlude, balancing out the slow ballad. Additionally, tracks like “Girl In My Head” are pleasantly unexpected with a slight country feel.

A solid release, Speak, is sure to find it's place in the music scene. In fact, it is only time that Coons will have his own headlining shows.

For more on Jer Coons, be sure to visit him on MySpace and check him out live, now currently on tour. Listen to a free MP3 of "Legs" here and watch Coons' comical music video for the song below.

Recommended: Rather than giving you my comparisons, Jer's Web site has an epilogue worth reading. See below:

Jer often receives comparisons to many singer songwriters and performers. Before jumping to make one too quickly take a look at these facts:

Jason Mraz
They both have a huge vocal range and can sing many words in a short amount of time with few pauses
Differences: Guys actually listen to Jer Coons

Howie Day
Both play killer live shows with full bands, or solo acoustic with many loop pedals
Differences: Jer has never been addicted to heroin, gone to rehab, or dated Britney Spears in rehab

Damien Rice:
Jer has traces of Irish in him
Differences: You don’t need Zoloft to listen to Jer

Jer can count in Spanish
Differences: Jer’s real name is good enough to be his performance name unlike Paul David Hewson

John Mayer
John Mayer is probably better than Jer Coons

Cat Stevens
Similarities: Jer plays acoustic guitar
Differences: He is not on the U.S.A. terrorist watch list

Kanye West
Kanye now tries to sing, which we can only assume is because he wants to be like Jer
Differences: Jer is totally modest

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Poll of the Week: Which Interview Do You Want To Read Next?

I've been interviewing many talented musicians over the past few months in numerous genres. Everyone from rappers to country legends to up-and-coming singer-songwriters. My question for you this week is, who do you want to read about first?

Check out the MySpace page of each band below and fill out the poll on the sidebar to let me know!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Song of the Week: "Fugitive"

No newcomer to the music scene, acclaimed singer-songwriter David Gray has a voice you can pinpoint anywhere. Gray is back with a new album, Draw the Line, to be released September 22 on Downtown Records. The self-produced album includes duets with Jolie Holland and Annie Lennox.

First single off Draw the Line, "Fugitive," brings back the singing style fans know and love, with a bit more orchestrated instrumentation as well as a gospel choir. Gray's storytelling is at it's best as the music only accentuates the beauty of the song. Souring electric guitars can be heard throughout the chorus as Gray sings, "If only for a second/See a twinklin in your eye/Gotta try."

Of the song, Gray said, "I've been a fugitive from life, I've been hiding in my bubble. And I had this image of Saddam Hussein being pulled out a hole in the ground. That's where the 'mud streaked fugitive' line came from. It's about hiding from life, from yourself. It's saying: don’t forsake it all because there's something keeping you upright and keeping you walking down the street. And that force was flying out of me."

Listen to "Fugitive," and if you like what you hear be sure to catch a show when he's in town! (See dates below).

David Gray Tour Dates:
August 15 - Mountain Music Fest - Redmond, Washington
October 23rd - Boston, MA - Wang Theatre
October 24th - New York, NY - WAMU Theater
October 26th - Toronto, Canada - Massey Hall
October 27th - Upper Darby, PA - Tower Theatre
October 29th - Chicago, IL - Chicago Auditorium Theatre
October 30th - Minneapolis, MN - Orpheum Theatre
November 1st - Denver, CO - Paramount Theatre
November 2nd - Salt Lake City, UT - Kingsbury Hall
November 4th - Portland, OR - Arlene Schnizer Concert Hall
November 7th - Oakland, CA - Paramount Theatre
November 9th - Los Angeles, CA - Orpheum Theatre

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Q&A with PT Walkley

Photo Credit: Wendy Hu

A versatile songwriter, PT Walkley has penned scores for numerous Ed Burns films, popular commercials such as MasterCard and GE, as well as his recent debut solo release, Mr. Macy Wakes Alone. An intriguing album, the storyline follows three main characters – Audrey Macy, a spoiled trust fund kid who plots her father’s murder, Calvin the Coroner, an aspiring singer-songwriter infatuated with Audrey, and Mr. Macy, Audrey’s father and evil record executive.

Walkley has said he hopes to bring back cover to cover listening and seemingly does so, as the characters and themes on each track intermingle throughout the album. I met with Walkley at All Points West and learned about his writing process, the tales behind his music and his view on performing: “If the core of the song is good, it’ll translate.”

Do you prepare differently for a festival than your own show?
Well, we definitely wanted to do the most singalong able songs. Anything with a lot of “la-la-la's” and “oh’s and ah's” and one word hooks like “Somebody” has. A lot of times the set can get a little mellow, which works in some environments, but when you’re trying to appeal to a bunch of people you want to rock a little more. We had a bunch more in the set, but today it was running a couple hours late so we only got to do a portion of the set, which was still great. We had a good time.

Do you feel the crowd was receptive?
Yeah. I think the crowd was locked up for hours and hours and were just ready to hear any music they could, so we got the benefit of that. By the time we went on, people were just ready to listen and have a good time.

What’s going through your head while you’re performing onstage?
Usually, it’s “Don’t screw up,” anything from that to really trying to engage with the crowd and getting into the performance and connect back to the song. At this point, you performed it so many times that sometimes you’re just running through the motions and hitting the notes or not. Connecting back to the core of the song is the important thing.

Tell me about your latest release, Mr. Macy Wakes Alone. I read in an interview that you wanted to bring back cover to cover album listening.
I had access to all these great players and I had a lot of bigger ideas floating around in my head with string quartets and crossing the genres of country, pedal steel and all the instrumentation that goes along with all the different styles. I wanted to somehow harness all of that and tie it together with a little storyline so I did that with Audrey Macy, Calvin and the Mr. Macy storyline.

The trick was to try to give it one voice throughout even though it kind of goes all over the place. I’m happy with the way it came out. I think it really worked. We put a little intro and it has the button lift and “Somebody” melody and string arrangement at the end, which was the final cherry on top where I was like, “Okay, now I think it’s a concept record.”

How did you come up with the three main characters throughout the album?
I came up with this Audrey Macy character. I think that was first. She was based on an amalgamation of different people that I’ve met and some fiction too. A spoiled brat kid who hatches the evil plan to kill her rich Daddy. And then it was like, who is the rich Daddy and why would she kill this guy? Calvin the Coroner was just a throwaway line, she pays off Calvin the Coroner to get what she wants and then I elaborated into that. Then it spun into he was infatuated with her as a kid so he’ll do anything. He assumes, “Oh, she’ll come back some day” but she comes back to pay him off. He must be thinking, “Oh, I knew you’d come back,” but it’s really that she wants to bribe him. It’s important for me to tape these things. I’ll just spout out ideas and play and free form songs and take the good stuff and let the garbage go out the window.

You’ve written music for Ed Burns’ films and commercials. How is the process different writing an album vs. a 30-second commercial spot?
The assignments are always a lot easier when there is definite direction. It’s like, “Okay it should have this feel” and the commercials are really fun that way because you get to do a lot of different styles. That learned me the different genres a little bit. Whether it’s dance stuff or orchestral arrangements or mariachi band version of this. Sometimes you get crazy direction from clients. The assignment is usually fairly easy to cover, but figuring out what I really want to do and if it’s something I’m really going to be proud of and make my own sound is sort of hard to land on sometimes. That can take a long time.

How did you originally get into music?
You know, it was kind of late in the game. I think my parents got me a guitar when I was 15 and I took one lesson and was like, “Oh, that’s kind of like homework. I don’t want to do that.” So, I put it under the bed for a few years and then I picked it up again in college and started playing along to old Velvet Underground records and things that are easy enough for a beginner to feel like he actually knows how to play. Then it just spun from there. I started in a band in college just playing guitar and once I moved to New York I had a landslide of ideas and it just never stopped. I try to be as productive as I can. It’s good to have different avenues for all those things because all the ideas need homes, whether they’re goofy, kazoo melodies that I would never release on a record or something deep and meaningful. I feel lucky to have all the different outlets.

Do you feel a song comes out better when it actually happened to you?
Yeah, I think so. I think it has more lasting. Sometimes you can capture a character and you’re happy to sing. It’s always good when it comes from a real place. My life’s not incredibly interesting, so I try to get creative when I can. We’ve all been through some shit, so it’s good to tap into that and when you do you’ve got something really good.

Are you ever afraid to reveal too much because the person you’re singing about might be in the crowd?
I was for a while. I was just having fun with melodies and throwing out words that sounded good together. I have this other band, The Blue Jackets, and that’s fun, it’s more of a rock band and then I put out this Track Rabbit album a couple years ago. But this album, Mr. Macy Wakes Alone, even though it’s mostly character based, there is a lot of me in there. I really wanted to go inside a little more and reach from personal experience. Even in the fictional songs, I would use those characters to speak for, like a ventriloquist dummy. There is some of me in all those songs.

Chris Martin originally heard you sing with your band The Blue Jackets and had you open for Coldplay.
Yeah, through Ed Burns. We had been friends for a while, I had been doing the scores for his movies and I started a side band and it started getting more and more serious. We got offered the spot to open for Coldplay and it was unbelievable. It was at Madison Square Garden. Through that I’ve gotten to know Chris a little bit. He and Eddie are friends. So yeah, that was my first brush with them and tonight I’m looking forward to seeing them again. To see how they’ve come along, I hear they’re doing well [Laughs].

What’s your advice to aspiring musicians?
It sounds so corny at this point, but God, just believe in yourself and keep going. A lot of things come your way and it’s real easy to give up. There’s going to be a lot of crappy days and a lot of things that don’t work out but if you know you’re good, you usually figure that out at some point and just keep going.

For more on PT Walkley, be sure to visit him on MySpace and if you're in New York or D.C., catch one of his shows in the upcoming weeks.

You can also read this interview on

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

All Points West : Music, Mud Wrestling, and Beer Gardens

Photo Credit: Wendy Hu

Despite torrential downpour, tornado and hail warnings, thousands of people packed a very wet and muddy Liberty State Park this past weekend for the second annual All Points West Music & Arts Festival. With headlining sets by Jay-Z, Tool and Coldplay, music fans trekked through fields, which felt more like rivers, throughout the three-day festival.

Referred by many as All Points WET, Sunday’s four-hour rain delay resulted in multiple canceled performances and scaled down sets. New Jersey favorites The Gaslight Anthem was just one example. The band recently released a statement requesting fans to bring their APW ticket stub for a free drink at their upcoming October 15th New York show.

Rain aside, festivalgoers had many performances to choose from. With three main stages, acts ranged from comedy to music with carnival-esque concession stands as well as beer gardens and misting stations set up throughout the grounds to combat the heat. Friday highlights included Fleet Foxes, The National, Vampire Weekend, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Jay-Z headlining on the main stage.

With a fitting tribute to former headliners Beastie Boys and Michael Jackson, Jay-Z covered “No Sleep till Brooklyn” as well as Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back.” “We don’t mark death, we celebrate life. Don’t wait ‘til someone’s gone to appreciate them,” Jay-Z told the crowd.

Saturday proved more promising as the clouds parted and the sun dried some of the grounds. Sets by St. Vincent, My Bloody Valentine, Arctic Monkeys and the Ting Tings proved festival favorites while celebs like Courtney Love and Entourage heartthrob Adrian Grenier were spotted.

The steady rainfall and four-hour delay Sunday didn’t stop concertgoers from having fun, as many were seen dancing in mud puddles and creating mud slides. Unfortunately, some highly anticipated sets were canceled, but Coldplay’s 90-minute performance made up for it. Like Jay-Z, the band paid tribute to the Beastie Boys and Michael Jackson. A few feet from the main stage, frontman Chris Martin performed “Fight For Your Right (To Party)” solo on piano. Later, the band joined him for “Billy Jean.”

Always comical, after traipsing through the mud onto a third stage in the middle of the field, Martin realized what festivalgoers dealt with the entire weekend. “We have infinite respect for you now that we had to walk through that shit. Wish we had backstage passes for all of you,” he said.

While backstage passes would have been a nice end to the weekend, the festival showcased multiple first-rate performances, albeit a bit muddy. Just a taste of what Woodstock must have been like 40 years ago, All Points West proved that music fans will suffer the elements to see a worthy live show. This past weekend was living proof.

You can read this article, originally posted on


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