“Rotterdam Nightlife” is a guest article written by Valeria Doornkamp
No matter where you are, there is always a sense of music and creativity. Music is everywhere. To show that, switching styles has reached out to Valeria Doornkamp to give us a look into the nightlife of Rotterdam. Here are some of the best spots to experience Rotterdam’s nightlife.
Valeria is bringing us her local expertise on the nightlife in Rotterdam. Over the decades, she’s explored her whole life finding the best spots. Valeria was born, raised, and has been living in Rotterdam for 40 years now. If you want more information about her or want more advice on a trip to Rotterdam, check her out here.
Rotterdam Nightlife; Underground or Rooftop?
The flavour of the city’s nightlife is largely defined by the mindset of the Rotterdam locals, who are reluctant to compromise on anything. Whatever they do, they do it right. So a Biergarten in Rotterdam is exactly what you need it to be: a garden with solid wooden benches, large mugs of beer and sizzling sausages fresh from the grill.
Looking for the underground scene? Here in Rotterdam, it’s literally underground: Toffler is a house and techno club situated in a former metro tunnel.
Biergarten is a tiny piece of paradise in the big city, where the best things in life are simple: beer, BBQ, music, sunshine and good people. The food is fresh off the grill, and the beer is served ice-cold. Most nights, the music is DJs and live; on Friday evenings it’s homegrown music from Biergarten all-Rotterdam sound system.
One of Rotterdam’s most popular nightlife areas is Witte De Withstraat. Besides the streets many restaurants, its pubs, cozy cafes and stylish wine and cocktail bars attract a varied crowd. Tourists, locals, students, intellectuals, creative professionals, colleagues enjoying drinks after work: they all rub shoulders on a good Friday or Saturday night, in an exuberant and cheerful atmosphere.
Duck into the side streets to discover the city’s most enjoyable nightlife hotspots. The tropical charm of the tiki bar, for instance. If you like experimental music, the line-up at worm always offers intriguing surprises, while wunderbar serves tasty beers and fritz-kolas.
Tikis is a Hawaiian surf bar and grill restaurant in the heart of Rotterdam. The exotic food and delicious cocktails make you believe you are on a tropical island. The tropical ambiance is reflected in the music as well as the styling with bamboo and Polynesian gadgets. It is Hawaii on the Maas.
Worm organizes concerts, movies, workshops, masterclasses, festivals and different events. Next to that, they have a movie studio, a sound studio, a shop and a very fast digital platform (worm. Station). They stimulate and help different productions like Dutch programs about national and international festivals and media publications.
A similar vibe can be discovered at the head of Nieuwe Binnenweg, where several of the city’s most popular cafes and clubs are located: Rotown, Stalles, Bar3 and Club Vibes.
Rotown is a cafe and restaurant during the day, but the chairs and tables are cleared away in the evening to make room for concerts and parties. An interesting concentration of nightlife is also emerging in the area around Rotterdam central. Stroll from (jazz) club bird straight to the pop stage at Annabel, which organizes popular party nights in the weekend.
Cafe Stalles is a relaxed meeting place in the center of Rotterdam. The cafe is known for its simple but good cuisine and serves homemade pizzas on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays from 5.50 euros.
Stalles is a typical Dutch brown cafe and is characterized by the fact that it attracts a diverse audience. The alternative music, extensive beer and whiskey list and affordable menu ensure that Stalles is always lively. In the summer, Stalles has a large terrace and you can sit outside until the late hours.
Club Vibes is a small and accessible club in the city center of Rotterdam and has been popular with locals for more than 10 years. When the cafes close, Vibes will continue until 5 am! The club attracts a mixed crowd and there is always a friendly atmosphere.
The club is open from Wednesdays to Saturdays and is a great place to either dance or just have a drink. Whether you come for Twist and Twerk Wednesdays and Thursdays or for Dirty Weekend Vibes, you can always expect mainstream pop and good old classics. Club Vibes is known for fair prices and the wardrobe and toilets are always free of charge.
Stage, club and restaurant BIRD is located under the Hofbogen in Rotterdam and offers a program full of jazz, soul, hip-hop, funk and new electronics. In the last century, the area around the Hofbogen was already dominated by a rich musical tradition. The first generation of Surinamese and sailors introduced soul, funk and Rand B here from America. Bird doesn’t just want to breathe new life into this jazz past, but update it to the 21st century. Jazz, but also related music movements such as soul, Latin and funk, hip-hop, afrobeat, and electronics are therefore the starting point of the music programming, supplemented by other art disciplines related to jazz, such as performance poetry, film and visual arts.
Bird’s jazz kitchen is a reflection of the city of Rotterdam: unpolished, honest and a crossroads of styles and cultures. Authentic pizzas are prepared in the wood oven, as well as various specials. A nice option is the Chefs Table surprise menu: a selection of different small dishes to share. In addition, Bird also has an outdoor terrace, called Garden of Bird. This is an urban garden and cocktail bar. Here you can expect many musical surprises. Garden of Bird is open until October 15 this year.
Annabel is Rotterdam’s largest music venue, very close to Rotterdam Central Station. You can see and hear leading international acts, from hip hop to pop to electronic. Or enjoy dancing during one of the many parties or festivals. Together with Biergarten and PERRON, Annabel forms the golden triangle of the Schiestraat, a popular nightlife destination among young people.
Thanks to our guest writer Valeria Doornkamp. As a lover of music herself, and a Rotterdam resident, these are certainly locations you don’t want to miss.
Are you ready? Are you sure you’re ready for this? We don’t think you are, but you better get ready. Switching Styles has the answers you need with this interview with Notedead.
Introductions All Around!
Max Preuss (drums) and Trymer Martin (guitars/vocals) combine to form the band, Notedead. It all started where all great bands start, with a passion for music. The band found their start during the 2020 global COVID-19 pandemic, despite the hardships. Everything was rough. That didn’t stop them. For Notedead, this was a new beginning. The band formed in 2020 and has been rocking the world since.
Q&A Between Switching Styles and Notedead!
In an interview with switching styles, they’ve opened up about their band, their process, and their goals. Read below to get to know Notedead even better!
What is it about music that makes you feel passionate?
Music emits emotion. I long to feel what the artist felt when they wrote the song and kind of experience it together. Music is also everywhere, from malls to elevators. And rhythm is in footsteps and your heartbeat, it’s everything.
The emotions a song can put you through makes me feel alive
How did Notedead start and how did the Covid 19 Pandemic impact your band?
Early on in Covid times when everything stopped and when we couldn’t jam with our bands Trymer started writing his own stuff and asked Max to write drums along with it. We both quickly realized that our writing for our respective instruments clicked together.
We started ripping out songs super-fast, so we decided to continue writing under our own band together which is Notedead.
How is being an Edmonton-based band impacted Notedead?
It’s funny because only half of the band (Max) is Edmonton based and the other half (Trymer) is from Lacombe so it’s almost a long-distance type band relationship.
The local music scene in Edmonton has a great group of people who support and encourage us, and we are forever grateful.
What inspired you to start playing and making music?
Before I got into my own music I listened to my dad’s classic rock/metal, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Foreigner, ZZ Top, etc. Anyways but I’m in grade 5 I had some project to do at school and there was another classmate who did his project, but his was on Sum 41 and it caught my eye, so I got the CD “all killer no filler” at a Walmart in Manitoba, and that cd changed me.
From there I adopted my first taste of music away from my parents and it inspired me to want to play guitar, the ball started rolling from there!
Rock band. I loved the game because I was able to some of jam along to my favorite songs while simultaneously learning a basic version of the drums. I got very good at that game, and it made my transition into real drums very easy.
My music teacher in junior high band class then asked if anybody knew how and I volunteered to learn some percussion. The rest is history, between drum lessons, drumming for my high school jazz band & winning jazz artist of the year, it’s safe to say I’m a real drummer now
What bands or genres inspire your sound?
Counterparts, Napoleon, Dance Gavin Dance, to name a few… but it’s really so hard to say what inspires our sound, so many bands growing up shaped us into the musicians we are and what our preferences are as well.
We also use it a lot! Of dead notes haha
Describe your creative process when you write new music.
We both write our music on Guitar Pro. being as we are far away from each other, and we both enjoy the punctualness we can read. Trymer usually comes up with the first riff and then sends it to Max and Max writes the drums and then we work together from there, writing the song section by section.
Sometimes there will be a pre-discussed idea before we start on our next track, but we always write song by song and never add too much to our plates.
What’s your favorite venue for performing? Why?
We don’t play shows as we are only a 2 man band writing songs to share with people, but if we could Trymer would want to play the St. Andrews United Church in Lacombe as he used to play local punk shows there growing up (it’s kind of odd I know, but it was so much fun!) and Max wishes we could play at Polar Park Brewery in Edmonton but it unfortunately just closed down.
What are some of your current projects?
Currently, we have some new music in the bank but nothing to confirm aside from our new album “Separate Paths”. However, Max is in 2 other bands, Withered Days and Sol Runner.
What advice would you give to musicians just starting?
Listen to music as often as you can. Find something that you wish you could make your own and take that drive to make your own with your inspiration and feelings
Don’t give up, you’re going to suck at times, but music is a lifelong partner if you let it be.
Is there anything you wanted to mention that I didn’t ask about?
Yes, our new album ‘Separate Paths’ is out September 9th
Need a list of summer Edmonton music festivals in YEG? We’ve got you covered.
Introducing July’s Music Festivals
Here is a list of all the festivals happening in July. Trust us, there’s no shortage of music festivals happening in the Edmonton area. Switching styles is excited to bring you an extensive list of #YEGs music festivals from Servus Patio Series to the Edmonton International Street Performers Festival To K-Days! Don’t wait too long. Get your tickets for these events right away.
Servus Patio Series Concerts At La Cite Francophone – June 9th – August 11
The series is celebrating the French culture within the Edmonton area. this festival highlights local francophone artists, businesses, and musicians. Located in the heart of Edmonton’s French quarter next to the iconic mill creek ravine, it’s time for more live music.
The annual patio series concerts featuring Edmonton-based, and internationally recognized musicians is back. Every Thursday evening between June 9th and August 11th, there’s a wide variety of musical styles come rain or shine. The ambiance and atmosphere are incomparable. Hosted by Cafe Bicyclette, the café will supply a delicious patio menu that’s both elegant and unique. Whether you arrive by foot, transit, bike, or car, come on down to Cité Francophone and Café Bicyclette. For more information visit their website.
Opera & Music Theatre Festival June 5th To July 16
This year’s 2022 opera & music theatre festival features a variety of concerts, events, opera, and musical theatre performances. Each one is perfect for the entire family. There are three mainstage shows available throughout the festival. The first is the consul which is a contemporary opera sung in English at the masonic hall on June 29, 30, and July 2 & 3. The next one is the Coronation of Poppea, an early-music opera sung in Italian, with English subtitles performed at the Triffo Theatre, on July 9, 10, 12 & 14. The third is tuck everlasting, a Broadway musical for the whole family, also at Triffo Theatre on July 13, 15 & 16. That’s not all. That’s only the opera performances. There are other musical events including a grand night for singing, vocal gems, and a behind scenes masterclasses.
Edmonton International Street Performers Festival July 8-17
Considered the flagship for Edmonton’s summer festivals, the works art & design festival and the Edmonton international street performers festival are teaming up to present this 10-day festival.
This festival has been supplying entertainment for the whole family for nearly 4 decades of variety performers, visual art, shenanigans, music, food, and fun. This festival is located in the heart of downtown at the Sir Winston Churchill Square at 99 street and 102 an avenue.
Musicians attending include Vinyl Burns, Ben Sures, The Violin Kid, And Jessa Sky. These are just the musicians as the street performers festival includes a range of talents. Attending talent includes magicians, cartoonists, storytellers, comedians, acrobats and so much more. This is a festival you don’t want to miss.
This pay-what-you-can festival is offered at the Winspear Centre, At 4 Winston Churchill Square. Musicians attending includes various fantastic instrumental performers. Alissa Cheung and Daniel Gervais perform with violins on Thursday.
Music for string quartet including Alissa Cheung, Ewald Cheung (Violins), Ethan Filner (Viola), Nicholas Yee (Cello), Rob Spady (Clarinet), Matthew Howatt (Bassoon), And Kathryn Macintosh (Alto & Tenor Trombone) Is Performed Friday Evening. Saturday includes Violinissimo with Alissa Cheung, Aiyana Anderson, Anna Kozak, Sylvia Chow & Ehren Moser as well as the festival finale with all of the above musicians plus Mark Segger on percussion. Bring all your friends, family, and kids to this family-friendly and budget-friendly music festival.
As Edmonton’s biggest summer festival, K-Days has 10 days of exciting and eclectic musicians performing.
The musical line up Includes Marianas Trench, Ryland James, Crystal Waters, Legends Of Edmonton Drag, Party Queens And More, The Indigo-Hauz Of Beaver Hills, Steve Micheals (Elvis Impersonator), David James & Big River, Kieza, Reve, Streetheart, Toronto, Snotty Nose Rez Kids, Jason Benoit, Jade Eagelson, Captain Tractor, Classified, Tyler Shaw, Steven Lee Olsen, Nate Smith, And After Midtown. For the full dates and times, check out the schedule.
Hosted at the expo centre and exhibition grounds, there are quite a bit of option for parking and for public transit. Check out more information at https://www.k-days.com!
Disco At the Park July 30 – 31
Disco is coming back in a big way with this two-day festival hosted at Louise McKinney Riverfront Park. This is the second annual disco in the park right here in central Alberta. This weekend promised to be full of dancing along with a fully listened venue, food, amazing DJ sets and live music performances. Musical talent includes Jellybean Benitez, Angelo Ferreri, Kathy Brown & Taz, Hotmood, The Brasstactics, Cozmic Cat, Cyclist, Funk Hunk, Dunmore Park, Wijit, Maurice, Junior Brow, Work Party & Wax Theory, Oh-Me & Femme Funk, Back To Life DJs, Joses, St. Croix, Mae, Anzu, Ben Colmen, Dusty Grooves, Will Hempfree, Yuri, and Hatiras. Spend your long weekend full of unforgettable vibes.
This festival is bringing you a taste of Canada’s national heritage. the Edmonton Heritage Festival is back to celebrate multiculturalism. World music week includes a range of amazing performances right here at the Heritage Amphitheatre. Performers include Neha Batra, DJ Game Girl, Punjabi Heritage & Folk, Chubby Cree, Alaine, Soji Joseph, Melafrique, Digging Roots, Billie Joe Green, Bill Birdsong Miller, Brandon Baker, and Kaely Jade.
Merging the centuries within the ’20s, the Swing’it Dixieband music blends modern music with a vintage sound. It’s a fantastic way to celebrate the 2020’s with the styles of the 1920s. Traditional jazz music was party music and that’s what they deliver in their songs and their concerts. Their versatility allows them to play for a range of audiences from jazz clubs and speakeasies to weddings to corporate events to festivals.
Swing’it Dixieband has travelled all over the world showing off their musical talents to shows with a successful and passionate following in Norway and throughout Europe.
“Swing’it is one of the most popular bands to have played at the Candlelight Club. The combination of toe-tapping rhythms, effusive horns and five-part vocals created the perfect vintage mood and kept people on their feet all evening. I think I had more positive comments from guests about this band than any other”.
Review from Candlelight Club
Known for their music available on Spotify and YouTube, as well as concerts throughout the world. In 2019, they released their first single, Party Like it’s 1923, which describes the life of flappers and dappers within the era of the ’20s. It was also their first music video. This single brought them huge success as it hit 1 million streams on Spotify. Later on in 2019 and then again in 2020, they released two more singles Booze Cruise and Champagne.
Below is an interview with Martin Jarl, Swing’it Dixieband’s founder, and Dylanna Fisher from Switching Styles.
How did Swing’it Dixiebandget started? It was actually my trumpet teacher that started it in the first place. I was only 12 or myself at the time and joined the band with some friends of mine. We were very cute, but not so talented at the time, so it fizzled out after a while. Then a couple of years later I decided to pick up the idea again and started the current band with some other friends of mine.
Why did you decide to be known as Swing’it Dixieband? We wanted something that was short and catchy and went for “Swing’it”, which is the name we mainly use. Adding Dixieband is just a mixture of making it clear what we do while also being a historical reference to bands from that era.
How would you describe your sound? We have a very vibrant, energetic and playful sound. There are different members and different instruments from time to time, so the overall sound varies from a 20s marching band towards a more 30s swing sound. But I’d say energetic, vibrant and playful are very describing.
Who are your musical influences? Lots of different people, ranging from 20s musicians like Louis Armstrong, through 30s, 40s and 50s jazz to current jazz and pop singers like Jamie Cullum. Personal favourites are among others Chet Baker, Jamie Cullum and Armstrong.
Who is all included in Swing’it Dixieband? We’re a big group of people, around 17 in total – so more of a collective of musicians than a band. This is because the group has been living separated in Trondheim, Oslo and London since it was founded and flying in people for every gig is often not financially possible.
You mentioned that there is a different one’s time to time as a kind of a collective, could you tell me about that? As I mentioned, I met the band members in various places. Three of us moved to London at the same time, but we couldn’t afford to fly the rest over for every concert. Therefore, we got some friends from our University to join us instead, and suddenly we had a whole band in London.
Similarly, we needed more members in Norway and suddenly we had enough members for 2-3 bands. We’ve actually done several concerts at once in various cities (or countries) with different line-ups!
How did you meet the current band members of Swing’it Dixieband? We actually met in different situations. Some are friends from my hometown, Tønsberg, where I grew up, while some of the members I met during the time I studied in London. A couple is just friends of friends that I’ve met at parties or similar over the years.
Were you known as the Swing’it Dixieband back then? Yes, we’ve been known as that back to maybe 2013 or 2014. However, we recently changed our name to Swing’it after the BLM movement, due to the fact that dixie has some racist connotations and we wanted to take a stand against racism.
What inspired Swing’it Dixieband to have a kind of vintage sound? It started when my mum used to take me to the local jazz club when I was a kid. Every week we would go to the jazz club listening to traditional jazz bands. That interest and motivation have just grown and blossomed over the years into a passion.
Why choose to have a 20’s/30’s style? The energy in this kind of music is so fantastic. We’re also big fans of the 1920s and the idea of optimism and freedom. There are also very few people at our age doing this kind of music and we thought that people need some Dixieland in their lives. Lots of people have never heard it before, so we really hope we can bring the 20s vibe back to the streets!
Why do covers in particular? It’s very standard in the Dixieland and swing jazz scene to do cover songs, but mainly the standards from the 20s and 30s. We decided to do a twist and choose songs that people would have heard before but in a different format. That said, we do increasingly more original tunes at the moment and are currently recording our first original EP.
How would you describe the songs within your EP? Our songs are based around historical people and real events in the 1910s and 20s in America, from the Prohibition Era and Great Gatsby’s glamour, but with our own twist. We released the EP in April 2020 and have now recorded a full album that’s due to be released in 2021. The album is a concept album where there’s an overarching story that takes the listener through New Orleans and the music from the early 20th Century
As your first EP, how are you feeling about it? We’re really excited about the EP and even more about the upcoming album! We’ve worked on this for several years now and presenting our first full album will be very exciting. Just imagine holding your own, freshly printed vinyl!
How do covers tend to compare to the originals? Some of the tunes are not so far away from the originals, like Bare Necessities and I wanna be like you, while others have a completely different style, for example, Can you Feel the Love Tonight
What’s the draw for Disney covers for Swing’it Dixieband, as a band? We were inspired by how Postmodern Jukebox was so successful covering pop songs in various genres, so we decided to try something similar – and there are just so many good Disney tunes to choose between. We already had a couple in our repertoire and thought to ourselves “who doesn’t love Disney”?
What is the typical process of creating a cover? We have this thing where we joke about every song with a swing feel. Suddenly sometimes it just sounds very right, while most of the time it is just good banter. If we think it sounds good as swing, we just jam until it sounds the way we want
What was the process of collaborating with other musicians? It was partly because we tried doing the Postmodern Jukebox thing and partly because we wanted to mix the videos and sounds up for the listeners. We don’t really do that anymore and lately, we stick to the same group of core members
Are there any specific ones that stick out as favourites? Ami Oprenova is a brilliant singer and arranger and has become a really good friend of ours. The clarinet player Gustavo was for a brief while a member of the band before he got too busy doing other projects, but he was amazing to play with. Last, but most important: Jonah Hitchens! From the very first time he sang with us he’s just been incredible on stage and is the funniest guy. Now he is one of the most important members of the band.
Why did you start on YouTube and Spotify? We were big fans of Scott Bradlee and the Postmodern Jukebox and thought it was a good idea to do a similar thing. For those who don’t know them, they’re making vintage and retro videos of pop tunes. We decided to do the same, just with Disney songs in the 20s or 30s style. With more than 400 000 views on YouTube and participation at the semi-finals of Norway’s Got Talent, it seems like it was a good idea
How do you think YouTube functions as a platform for musicians? It has ups and downs. To get lots of views and followers you have to post content very regularly, which for some types of entertainment is very easy while recording, arranging and filming music videos are very costly. It is still a very good place to get seen, but not the most important for us.
What advice would you give to musicians just starting out on YouTube? To be honest, not really. It is just having an original idea and create good content, which is easier said than done.
Are you available on other music streaming platforms? Our Disney music is only on YouTube, while our original songs can be found on every streaming platform.
Is there a preference? Personally, I use Spotify, which is very common in Norway but can’t say I’ve used many else so can’t really answer this one
How do you feel about the internet in the music business? I’m very mixed about this. I think it’s great that it’s easier for musicians to get their music out there and fantastic that you can discover artists from other parts of the world that you otherwise would never hear of.
On the other hand, it’s very hard to make good money out of streaming, and it’s really just the big artists that get the money from streaming. At the same time people seem to get used to getting music for free and these days it’s almost expected not to pay ticket prices for smaller bands. This makes it increasingly hard to be able to live in music which we all do.
How has the internet affected your music career? I think less than the average band. We are more of a live band than anything else, and most people know us from our live performances. But through the internet people from other parts of the world have discovered us and booked us to France, Spain, Netherlands, UK and more, which is amazing.
What are some of your fondest memories throughout your music career? There are so many to choose between!
Playing big stages at festivals are the best thing in the world. We’ve played some great gigs at for example Edinburgh Jazz Festival and Kongsberg Jazz festival. We played support for Dr. John once, and also for Aha, which was absolutely crazy! We’ve also started our own Prohibition parties called “1923 – Oslo Prohibition Party” where everyone comes in outfits from the 20s and there are dancers, music, cabaret and all that jazz. We’ve had two sold-out shows which both have been among the best nights of our career
What are some obstacles throughout your music career? There hasn’t really been many, to be honest.
We’ve become steadily better and more popular getting more gigs along the way, just how it should be. Obviously, it’s hard work trying to live off your music and at times it has been tough, but that’s something you expect when going into this type of work.
Another thing living as a musician touring around it can be hard keeping up with friends and family as you’re never there when things happen. Luckily, we’re all really close friends, so playing together is both works and like being with your best friends.
How can your fans best support you and Swing’it Dixieband? We’re a live band, and the most important thing is to go to live concerts. Obviously, that’s not ideal just at the moment, but when the pandemic is over: Go see your local bands and support them! The big artists often get all the attention, but there are so many great bands out there waiting to be discovered. Rather than doing like everybody else, wouldn’t it be fun discovering a great band before everyone else?
Where do you see yourselves in 10 years? Hopefully touring the big stages and festivals around the world. While the music we currently making has great potential, we think the electro-swing sets have the potential of reaching bigger masses and can be played at much bigger stages. Hopefully, that will catch on!
How could smaller bands make it when they’re competing? I think the most important thing is to try and do your own thing, instead of copying what everybody else does. Do your own thing and believe in it will differentiate you from the other thousand bands trying to accomplish the same thing.
What advice would you give to bands just starting out? Have fun! Life in the music business is not luxurious and you gotta love it to be happy. My teacher once told me that if there’s anything else in the world you’d like to do, then you should do that. If music is the only thing you want to do, only then is music the right option.
Check out more Interviews with Dylanna Fisher and Switching Styles here!
The holidays are a time of joy and family and giving, regardless of the celebrations. Nine out of ten Americans celebrate Christmas in 2013. In America, 75% of the population believes in the virgin birth of Jesus. Only half see Christmas as a religious holiday while 1/3 views it as a cultural holiday instead.
Whatever holiday you’re celebrating, celebrate it with love and kindness. Over half of Americans (52%) don’t care how stores present holiday greetings, up from less than half (46%) in 2012. “Merry Christmas” has been typically perceived as the ‘default’ but that limits all of the other holidays celebrated around the same time. These include Christmas, Fiesta of Our Lady of Guadalupe, St. Lucia Day, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Omisoka, Yule, and Saturnalia.
This is a moment to remember that there are multiple holidays around the season and to cherish the ones you love.
Share with us your favourite holiday song!! Happy Holidays! Stay warm this winter!!
“Barbershop pole” Featured Photography by Jenn Peters
You’ve heard Barbershop Quartets. You’ve heard “It wasn’t me” By Shaggy. But have you heard “It wasn’t me” covered by Afternoon Delight, Barbershop Quartet?
If their name isn’t already enough of a hint, then let’s just say that they’re a comedic cover group. The humour comes from taking a nostalgic and carefree style of music and use it as a genre to cover songs with contrasting themes. Based out of Manchester, UK, this musical group is bringing a whole new sound to their audience. Their bio reads, “The World’s most unique Barbershop Quartet. Four very different men brought together by their mutual love of liquor and ladies.”
Of all of the afternoon delight musicians, they all have their delightful stage names; Angel Delight (Tenor), Turkish Delight (Lead), Shepherd’s Delight (Baritone), Sonny Delight (Bass). All together, their voices create beautiful and hilarious harmonies.
With inspiration (and covers) from artists such as Justin Timberlake, Shaggy, R Kelly, Britney Spears, Color Me Badd, Christina Aguilera, they’ve made quite a name for themselves as a combination of modern and vintage sophistication.
These are some of their amazingly hilarious covers that combine nostalgia with edgy songs.
“Bitch Better Have My Money” Originally by Rihanna
“Man’s Not Hot” Originally by Big Shaq
“Talk Dirty To Me” Originally by Jason Derulo
Do you have a favourite? Let us know in the comments below!
Edmonton is known more for hockey than it is for music. Music may not be Edmonton’s main industry, but it doesn’t mean that music in the prairies is dead. Geographically and music-wise, Alberta is far from the music hub of Toronto. Edmonton is 3,475.2 km away from Toronto.
Of all presenting artistic shows throughout Canada, the vast majority is music 94% while theatre (72%), young audience/family shows (71%), dance (66%), comedy/humour (64%), and school audiences (K-12) (61%) make up the rest of Canada’s performing arts.
“The Edmonton music scene doesn’t have a huge reputation,” Michelle Langevin, co-owner and general manager of Yeg Music explains, “and certainly is not on par with cities like Toronto or Montreal. And that’s mainly due to venues”.
Within Edmonton, there are over 280 venues that facilitate live music venues. As you can see from the map below, there seems to be a lot of music venues scattered around. (Google Map Link)
To compare, Toronto has 60 while Montreal has 110 live music venues. These include performance halls that are primarily for music. Less than 20 of Edmonton’s music venues are just music venues which account for less than 10% of all Edmonton’s live music venues.
Venues are able to be a range of types and aren’t limited to the traditional concert hall. These can include cafes, clubs, halls, listening rooms, restaurants, and bars. This is fairly common across Canada.
As far as Edmonton specifically, Bars and Restaurants also make up 21% while Community Centers (8.9%), Outdoor (4.6%), Places of Worship (2.4%), Schools or universities (1%), Nightclub (0.8%), Cafes (1.9%), Performing Arts Venues (3.2%) Theatre (4/9%) lag behind each less than 10%.
“Musicians-wise, talent-wise, Edmonton has a pretty good grip on that. I don’t think that’s our issue. It’s just kind of the spacing of our city, and there are different things that play into it. We’re getting really close to that level of Montreal or Toronto.” Langevin said,
One kind of venue that seems to be overlooked is places where minors can attend and perform. Not many venues cater to minors. Many live music venues are 18+. Of Edmonton’s live music venues, 80 (21.9%) are open to minors leaving 284 venues where minors are prohibited.
“I find it can be quite discouraging when you see a venue and think ‘I want to play there’ and ah it’s 18+,” Admits Veronica Pineapples a young Edmonton musician, “It’s hard to find venues that are all ages.”
Veronica Pineapples has been performing music in Edmonton since she was a young girl. The limitations of all-ages venues limited her ability not only to enjoy music but to perform it as well. (Google Map Link)
“All ages shows are really really important. They are important for the lifestyle of its fans. We need to be growing our fans, we need to encourage young people to interact with live music,” Benjamin describes.
Benjamin’s sentiments are backed up by statistics. A report from culture Days found that 57% of participants said they attended more arts events and cultural activities throughout the year because of previous participation. https://culturedays.ca/ab
Music venues have a benefit more than just entertainment. Live music venues are venues that facilitate musicians by having a place for solo artists and bands to perform but also for the audience to interact. The importance of these venues, in particular, is not only for the music industry but for the quality of life for each and every citizen. The vast majority of Canadians (77%), agree that art helps them interact and connect with their community.
“The live music industry should be regarded as such. As an industry with the ability to create jobs and generate significant economic impact and draw tourists to the province.” describes Benjamin, “Live music venues are critically important to the quality of life of every city and town from coast to coast”.
This is for all of our lovingly nerdy readers, so please be prepared for some space puns. We introduce you to the metal Star Wars cover band, Galactic Empire.
Bringing you the orders from the empire itself with metal beauty, Galactic Empire is a metal band made up of Bass Commander (bass), Red Guard (guitar), Dark Vader (lead guitar), Kyle Ren (guitar), and Boba Sett (drums). Together they made a sound that’s out of this world. It all started in 2015 as a mere gag for an opening band. Over the past few years, it’s become much much more than a gag.
“These instruments are crude but should be adequate to shred some faces as we journey across the galaxy. We have been doubling our efforts to complete our debut full-length album in time for the Emperor’s arrival. If you are not part of the Rebel Alliance or a traitor, buy our single on iTunes and prepare to succumb to the Dark Side upon our album’s release,” says Dark Vader of the Galactic Empire.
Performing classic pieces from the iconic soundtrack of the Star Wars films, the galactic empire brings musical tribute to the works written by John Williams. Williams is a world-renown composer, conductor and pianist with over 6 decades of experience. He is widely known as one of the greatest film composers of all time contributing music to films such as the Star Wars Franchise, Jurassic World, The BFG, Harry Potter, Indiana Jones and so much more. Williams is one of a kind with a rather old school mentality.
“I work very much in what some would consider old school, in front of the keyboard with pencil and paper. The piano is my favourite tool. Over the decades there has been so much amazing technological change in the music business, but I’ve been so busy I’ve never retooled,” Explains Williams.
Galactic Empire has done some fabulous collaborations with other bands. They have toured throughout the world and with a great range of bands. While touring in the winter of 2018, they opened for Mac Sabbath. During BabyMetal’s Japan tour in 2018, the Galactic Empire was invited as a special guest. Now those concerts would have been amazing to see!!
While touring in the winter of 2018, they opened for Mac Sabbath.
During BabyMetal’s Japan tour in 2018, the Galactic Empire was invited as a special guest.
But there’s still time to see Galactic Empire in concert. During 2020 and 2021, they are heading to a galaxy near you with their tour of starry goodness in the fight between the light side and the dark side.
Reviews from earlier concerts certainly speak up the Empire. This is not a show you want to miss regardless of your obligations to the light side.
“I was really happy to see these guys on their first tour. The stage props and costumes were really well done. Above all, the musical arrangement was amazing, and the set list was totally rad. They made the 8-year-old Star Wars fanatic child and a 22-year-old metalhead in me party at the same time. 10/10 will see them the next time I can,” comments Iman Haque.
Here are some of their popular covers for your listening pleasure! Feel free to find their tunes on iTunes as well.
The Emperor wishes everyone a great holiday season and a Happy New Year! Where do you want to see us in 2020? Photo Credit: Bob McCoy pic.twitter.com/JOhjeWBYsy
Switching Styles is here to bring you some musical inspiration for your health; Dancing. It’s simple but dancing is a very versatile and entertaining way to get the entire family moving. There are dances and dance moves for every body type, age range, mobility level and skill level.
“Both music and exercise help prevent and alleviate disease. Fusing the two may have even greater benefits than either alone,” explains Harvard’s Women’s Health Watch.
Exercise is good for you. It’s something that we all know. Moving around is beneficial for every aspect of your body and mind. There’s an immense amount of research proving the connection and exploring it in-depth.
The World Health Organization (WHO) explains that a lack of physical exercise increases the risk for noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as stroke, diabetes, cancer, and obesity. Physical activity is anything that includes “bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that require energy expenditure”, which is a pretty broad description.
Photo Taken by Dmitriy Protsenko”Dancing is accessible to everybody. People who can’t stand can use their arms; people who have lost movement in their arms can dance with their torso and legs. It’s a way to connect to your own body, to music, and to other people. It just depends on what your goals are. But we know that there are so many benefits of dancing—cognitive, physical, and social—that it merits consideration by everybody,” says Dr. Lauren Elson, a former professional dancer specializing in sports and rehabilitation medicine at Harvard-affiliated Spaulding Rehabilitation Network.
As was quoted earlier, dancing brings the benefits of music and movement into one activity. With different music tastes comes different dancing tastes. Dancing isn’t limited to a specific style or tradition of dance, as is shown by Jan Burkhardt and Cathy Brennan’s research published in Arts & Health.
“Three of the six studies showing improvements in cardiovascular fitness were aerobic dance interventions; however, notably the other three involved different dance forms. Aerobic dance was developed specifically to provide an aerobic workout and improve fitness; however, the other dance forms such as African dance, Hip Hop and Balinese dance have a range of social, cultural and artistic functions and yet still showed significant improvements in cardiovascular fitness. This may indicate that a range of dance forms can improve cardiovascular fitness.”
Burkhardt and Brennan published their paper, “The effects of recreational dance interventions on the health and well-being of children and young people: A systematic review” to highlight the benefits of dancing. The research concluding that there is a positive correlation between dancing and health. They aren’t the only researchers to bring dancing to light. This is just the beginning of the research. There are countless researchers connecting the dots between health and dance.
Cynthia Quiroga Murcia, Gunter Kreutz, Stephen Clift & Stephan Bongard have researched the health benefits of dancing, bringing it forward in an academic paper, “Shall we dance? An exploration of the perceived benefits of dancing on well-being” that looked at the benefit of dancing within musical environments to fill in the holes of previous research. Georgios Sivvas, Sofia Batsiou, Zarifi Vasoglou, And Dafni-Anastasia Filippou published, “Dance Contribution In Health Promotion” in the Journal of Physical Education & Sport finding that dancing helps to preserve and improve human health both physically and mentally.
Research goes in-depth to different ages and even nationalities to expand into niche research topics. Burkhardt and Brennan’s research specifically looks at how dancing benefits youth. As well, WHO suggests dancing specifically for younger age groups. Although dancing is seen as something primarily done by younger people, youth are not the only ones that benefit. Older demographics have increased risks for health issues.
Min Jeong Kim, and Chul Won Lee, have researched the benefits of dancing in middle-aged Korean women with significant psychological benefits, physical benefits, and social benefits. This demographic was chosen specifically because of the impacts of this age range for women increasing their vulnerability for mental and physical health concerns. The women in the study specifically enjoyed line dancing and “with their serious leisure experience of line dancing as a background, various health benefits were stated in detail. The research participants mentioned psychological, physical, and social benefits,” states the paper.
Jonathan Skinner continues to look at seniors, another vulnerable demographic, and the impacts of dancing. His findings concluded that there are social, psychological and health benefits of social dancing among senior citizens. A paper published in The New England Journal of Medicine corroborates Skinner’s research but specifically researches the benefits of dancing for dementia patients. Although looking at leisure activities in general, the researchers found that Dancing was the only physical leisure activity that was associated with a lower risk of dementia. Other leisure activities connected with lower dementia rates were reading, playing board games, and playing musical instruments.
Digging deeper into the connection between dementia and dancing, Debbie Duignan, Lynne Hedley, and Rachael Milverton published a paper in Nursing Times that found that in patients with dementia, dance therapy limited the agitation of patients. Dementia is a specifically highly researched area. There have been many debates about the use of some atypical antipsychotic drugs in managing agitation in dementia care. Much research has also been carried out in the area of psychosocial interventions, which can include dance therapy.
Health Benefits of Dancing
Of the research compiled in this essay, there are countless benefits to dancing including
Decrease anxiety, stress,
Lowered risk for weight gain and obesity
Improve muscular and cardiorespiratory fitness;
Improve bone and functional health;
Reduce the risk of mental illness such as depression, anxiety, and dementia,
Improve symptoms of mental illness
Reduce the risk of hypertension, coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and various types of cancer
Reduce the risk of falls as well as hip or vertebral fractures;
Are fundamental to energy balance and weight control.
“Physical inactivity is a major public health issue in which dance could have an important role to play, “comments Burkhardt and Brennan, “Physical activity is an important factor, affecting cardiovascular and all-cause mortality.”
In conclusion, the research of the decade shows that dancing is a beneficial exercise regardless of circumstances. The benefits are not only physical but mental, emotional, and social.
Take your health and happiness into your own hands, or feet as the case may be!
Burkhardt, J. And Brennan, C., 2012. The Effects of Recreational Dance Interventions on The Health and Well-Being of Children and Young People: A Systematic Review. Arts & Health, 4(2), Pp. 148-161.
Duignan, D., Hedley, L. and Milverton, R., 2009. Exploring dance as a therapy for symptoms and social interaction in a dementia care unit. Nursing Times.
Skinner, J., 2013. Social Dancing for Successful Ageing: Models for Health, Happiness and Social Inclusion Amongst Senior Citizens. Anthropology & Aging, 34(1), Pp. 18-29.
Verghese, J., Lipton, R., Katz, M., Hall, C., Derby, C., Kuslansky, G., Ambrose, A., Sliwinski, M. and Buschke, H., 2003. Leisure Activities and the Risk of Dementia in the Elderly.New England Journal of Medicine, 348(25), pp.2508-2516.
Mike Massé is a classic rock cover musician known around the world for his musical talents with passionate reviews by his audience and artists alike. Toto, Rush, Sarah McLachlan, Asia, and Toad the Wet Sprocket have all expressed their love of his cover songs and sound in general.
Here’s an interview with the man himself with Dylanna Fisher of Switching Styles.
How did you get started in music?
I learned we had a piano in my house when I was a kid. My older sisters were all taking lessons. I was too young, but I was more interested in the piano than they were. I used to sit at it and pick out songs by ear, and my mom quickly realized that I was probably the one who should be taking lessons. My sisters all kind of grew out of it and never really pursued it, but we still have the piano in my house. It was my mom’s. I think it used to belong to her mom. It was in the family. I started taking piano lessons when I was a kid.
Then when I was a little bit older, I got my first electric guitar probably when I was around, I don’t know, 10 or 12 or something. It was just like a cheap thing from like the Sear’s catalogue or something. I got a cheap amp, and used to figure out power chords, how to strum along to some of the songs I liked. It didn’t really click for me ‘til I was more like in high school, actually junior high, I should say. We moved from Florida to Boulder, Colorado when I was like in eighth grade. When I moved to Colorado, I met two of my lifelong best friends. I auditioned for their band actually, and one of them was a bass player and the other was a guitarist, my friends Scott and Ken. They both make appearances on my YouTube channel actually.
Scott and Ken and I were in a band together with a friend of ours named Larry who played guitar. I was actually the keyboard player in the band. That was in junior high, and my dad bought me my first synthesizer. It was a Yamaha DX7. It was on backorder when it came out, but it was like the best synthesizer of all time. We had it on pre-order and the store actually let me borrow theirs. I bought one, and they didn’t have one for me. We played, and our first gig was a ninth-grade going away party. We picked a bunch of songs. It was like in the gym, the acoustics were horrible, but we did stuff like Rush and U2 and just all kinds of crazy stuff. A couple of the guys had been in choir, but I had never really sung in my life, and all of us divvied up songs. For some reason, I ended up with the hardest ones and I sang them all. I sang them all in falsetto and sounded pretty horrible, but it was kind of my first gig. From there, we were a band through high school and started writing some originals and such.
Eventually, I got my first acoustic guitar when I was in high school. I was in another band and I borrowed that guitarist’s 12-string and that was actually my first acoustic. I borrowed his 12-string for a while, and then that inspired me to get my own 6-string. Then I taught myself how to play it a lot from just listening to the Beatles’ songs. I had a couple of Beatles’ songbooks and taught myself things like “Blackbird” and “Yesterday” to learn how to single pick. I strummed the other ones, Still learning Beatles songs on piano. Then in high school, I went on to be in some choirs. I was still in the band, and, played guitar a little more and started coming up with some of my own arrangements of things.
When I got to college, I started collecting songs I had learned and arranged, and I auditioned at my first restaurant, got that gig and then that blossomed into me meeting Sterling Cottam in college in choir. We had a little acoustic duo where I kind of taught him a couple songs that I had learned. Then we learned some more together, and we used to sing as a duo. I met a bass player in college, Jeff Hall, and then it became a trio. Then met a drummer and it became a full band called Twice Daily, and it was just basically a cover band. It was kind of like acoustic because for a while we didn’t have a lead guitarist or an electric guitarist. We just kind of did acoustic stuff, but we were still a full band. We found a friend from Canada, named Jared Spice, who was a music major and joined us on lead guitar and that was the last one. We got some gigs on campus and played at the Spring Fling, and in front of a few thousand people that were just there, playing the stuff that was popular at the time and now its classic rock. I still do a lot of the same songs that we learned in college because it’s still the stuff I love, and what grabs you over time. I tried to document as many of those as I could for my YouTube channel. A lot of them are sort of unchanged since the way I originally learned them in college including the same style. She’s coming to my gig in New York on Friday with Sterling and Jeff and Scott Fleisher. A lot of my old friends are going to be there for a few shows and stuff. I mean, it’s cool that I’m still playing with the friends I made in college.
That is sort of a long answer to a short question.
No, it’s all good. That’s perfect.
You made a lot of friends through music, and quite a few of them are still kind of present in your life. How do you think that is important, for you personally and for your music career?
It was always important for me for it to be a joyful experience to play music. I wouldn’t be comfortable doing it with people that I didn’t enjoy being around or working with. It’s interesting because I recently put together a band. I’m not just looking for future bandmates; I’m looking for future friends hopefully, and like, the personalities kind of have to gel. Sometimes it can be intense, and you need to be around people who are pretty mellow, who can ride through things without making it all about them or freaking out.
I’m going to focus on Jeff Hall for a second. When I found Jeff, I was really lucky because he was really laid back and super talented, and he plays many instruments. He doesn’t just play bass, but he also plays keyboards really well, and he can play some drums. Everything you see about him in the videos in terms of how laid back he is, is just a fraction of how laid back he would be. He’s Mr. No Drama and it has always been good to work with him. I don’t remember a single time in my life in which we’ve ever raised our voices at each other. I don’t have that with a lot of people, but I have that with him. That made it easy, and he was always kind of willing to go along with whatever crazy ideas I had or songs to cover. I’ve actually ended up exposing him to a lot of music. I kind of made him a Grateful Dead fan. He had never really heard the Dead and I kind of got him into that and even the Beatles to a certain extent. I broadened his familiarity with the Beatles catalogue. My friends Scott and Ken since junior high, and we get along great too.
Sterling and I get along really well too, and our voices blend well. We could fool people into thinking, if we looked anything alike, that we’re brothers by just the way we sound. He does a really good job of complementing anything that I attempt to do. He’s such a hard worker about it too. I really appreciate that about him. It’s fun to kind of do gigs with him where he travels with me as a bass player now, and sometimes he plays guitar too. The big thing that we’ve done together is Simon and Garfunkel, that’s kind of our staple. It’s always fun to explore new things with him.
I consider all of these guys my friends. When I made the leap to doing music full-time, they were also very generous with their time, in terms of making it economically possible for them to join me and not demanding huge paydays for gigs where they knew that I was. I was trying to get this small business off the ground, as a solo musician when I quit the day job. It’s been great doing that with them and travelling with them. For them, it’s kind of a nice little break. They have day jobs. Once in a while, they get to go for a weekend or maybe longer and just play Rockstar for a little while and play in front of crowds of people who know who they are and who adore them. I think that’s probably really cool for them. I love that part of the job too. For them, it’s just something that’s a nice break from their routine.
When you go and do concerts, how does it make you feel?
Let me start by saying this, I get really nice messages from people, from time to time, about how, how my music helped them or even how I inspired them to pick up the guitar again. I think that really gave a lot of people inspiration that, they could do the same, or like, “What’s stopping you?” I think because especially at the Pie, we’re playing at this super humble place, and we look like, we’re sometimes, we’re wearing shorts, or we’re wearing t-shirts and, at times, neither of us were in great shape. There was very little to look at in our early videos, but that wasn’t the point, and I think that showed people that, “Don’t let stupid things like your appearance stop you. If you, if you have a sound to make, make it.”
I had told people before, I’m like, “I sing because I love it. The fact that other people enjoy hearing it, that’s my side benefit, but that’s not why I do it. I just sing, I just do it. And I think that helps. I know that it has helped people because they’ve told me. There’s the other side of it. We sang at this little fairy tale, romantic comedy ending scene wedding in the countryside in the UK which was beautiful. Beautiful setting, beautiful people, everything. It looked like a movie. We sang at this wedding a couple of years ago in the UK, because on their first date they both listened to “Africa” together.
We’re a part of people’s like life stories, and they sent us this picture not long ago of their son. They’re like, “We wanted to name him Toto, but we didn’t.” You hear these stories. I’m a part of people’s lives and I don’t even realize it half the time. I try to do a little meet and greets after every show where I go around and take pictures with folks or sign things or whatever and shake their hands. There’s always like a little parade of those devotees who stick around and, and they get to talk to me in person. It’s heartwarming. I wish I had more time to talk to them individually. I had a guy come up to me in Australia who said that I saved his life. Because he was thinking about ending it, and he found my channel, and something changed him. It’s amazing!
That is really amazing. This is why I do what I do because I like hearing all these heartwarming stories.
For sure. Sorry, I’m just trying to plug something in to charge it. Doing pop-up shows for me is kind of a pain because I have to promote them. They don’t promote themselves. Usually, I choose cities where I think I fill a venue of my choice. The challenge is always getting the word out and just making people aware that it’s happening, and that’s something that we’re still dealing with. It’s just trying to get the word out for gigs. It’s worth it because that is the only time that I’m really greeted by full crowds of people who are there for me, and they love it. I give them my all every time, and I try to give them the show that I think that they would want. Sometimes I give them the show that they don’t realize that they want. I throw some surprises in there.
The nice thing about doing classic rock is that it might be a new song to me but it’s not to them. They still know it. It’s like, oh they’ve never heard me do that before but, “Oh cool, he threw something new in there.” It’s like I love sprinkling the setlists with surprises and it is fun for me to keep it fresh. I’ll throw in a few for my channel that is maybe not quite the popular ones, but some people love them, and then maybe a couple that I want to do. There’s nothing like a public gig to get that kind of reaction. When I do corporate events, sometimes the person who booked me is a fan, but it doesn’t mean that everyone in the room is. I try to win them over, but it’s just a different vibe.
I’m not there necessarily to be the centre of attention. I’m just kind of like, the ambient mood, but I still give it my all, but it’s just a different reaction.
What is the process that you go through for creating a cover?
I hear it on the radio, or I hear it somewhere, and I’m like, “Oh, maybe I should try that. I think I could do that.” Or somebody will suggest it, and that was the case with “Hello”, a fan suggested it. I get suggestions all of the time, and I have to confess that about 80% of them I have never heard. The fact that I haven’t heard of it means it’s really, really unlikely that I’m going to cover it. There is music that I grew up with that I love that I want to get through, that I don’t spend time processing like, “Oh here’s a new song, do I want to cover that?” The other thing is basically anything if it’s in the 21st century, it is probably too new for me. There’s maybe a couple of exceptions from the early 2000’s that are songs that I like, that I would consider covering. For the most part, give me a classic and by my definition. If somebody suggests a classic rock song that I already know and that I like, they’re on the right path of me actually selecting it. And with “Hello”, that was always a song that I loved. Admittedly, it’s a little bit cheesy with the orchestration and everything. Maybe an acoustic would sound even better in some ways to some people. There would be some people who didn’t really appreciate Lionel’s original version would like the acoustic version and be like, “Oh that sounds like it could be anybody.” but at the same time, the people who love Lionel Richie’s version, I want them to love my version too. It basically has to please both audiences basically.
The first thing I did was sat down with my guitar with the song. I’m like, “Is this something that I can play? Are there chords on the guitar that can do what he’s doing on the piano? And the simple way that I can play this and not have to be stressed out like about the guitar part is too hard.” It took me about five minutes to figure out, “I can do this, and this is kind of cool.” From there, it was just learning the song and practising it and bringing in my other bandmates, asking Bryce to learn the bass part and send me a recording of that. Then Brock came over, and he recorded the guitar part, and then we went and filmed it.
It’s kind of funny. “Hello” is the first video that I recorded, since I’ve been in Colorado at least. I never recorded a song there, I recorded them at home, it just looks like we’re recording in the studio but it’s just a set. It’s just a video set but it has a cool vibe, and it feels. If anybody reads the liner notes, I reveal that we didn’t record it here. I literally say that, but I know I’m going to get comments that say, “Wow, I’m glad you went to a studio. It sounds much better!”, just by the visual suggestion, they’re going to think. But anyway, I should wait for that comment, but it wouldn’t surprise me.
That whole process, that was probably a few weeks. I’ve got a list on my phone, a playlist on my iTunes called ‘A List to Learn’. That is the list that I always listen to when I’m in my car. It’s just all the songs that I want to record next or that I want to do with my band or that I want to do live or whatever, or all of the above. I’m constantly like burning new songs into my brain just by repetition. That is a part when you talk about my process. That is a huge part of my process is listening. I listen over and over and over again, and every little phrase that is in the vocals, not necessarily all the lyrics, sometimes that takes a little longer to stick but every little vocal phrase, how he sings or how she sings. I want to know what they did before I make any changes. I feel like I have to earn that. I think if you change something because you didn’t know what they did, that’s lazy. That’s not changing it, that’s you substituting something else. I always want to know how they did it and what they did. Then if I make a choice to change it then it has to be a choice that I’ve earned.
That is kind of my thought process. But I usually don’t have too many reasons to change things.
Because I’m choosing songs that I think are great, they’re relatively perfect and that’s why they don’t need to be changed. I get many people who tell me like, “Thank you for treating it respectively or like, thank you for like not ruining this song.” If the world lost power permanently, and we lost all recorded music, I could still be a resource for people to like, “Hey remember this song?” It would still sound the same. You could send me out into outer space, and I could be a record of music in space. No, I’m just kidding. But no, I’m sort of archiving this for a new generation in some ways because I have a lot of fans who are younger than ever heard the original.
All the gigs you’ve done, do you have a favourite?
I love them all, but I don’t want to like to make anybody feel bad because I don’t mention them in these cities.
The first time I played in London was pretty unforgettable. We sold it out and we played the biggest crowd I’ve had for one of my public gigs. We had like 500 people come and it was sold out, and it was our first gig in Europe. It was me and Jeff, and people came from all over Europe because they had never had a chance to see me before. We had people coming from Austria and all the corners of Europe would come to London, it was amazing. They sang along and it was great. It still kind of gives me chills, the beginning phase when you hear the crowd respond when you come out, it’s really cool. They were singing along to this and that.
The other city where I’ve gotten a similar reaction is Detroit. There are some nice guys that have a podcast called the Detroit Cast that sort of picked up and supported me early on. They talk about me on the show. First show and they turned a lot of their listeners into fans. Every time I come down to Detroit, it is sold out and there is a group of people waiting on the outside who couldn’t get in. Detroit has also been an unexpected blind spot for me in terms of the crowds.
I go to the Netherlands and have a disproportionate fan base in the Netherlands. When my son was sick with cancer, a video site based in the Netherlands posted my cover of “La Da Dee” that I put out as a fundraiser. My cover of Africa had been featured on their site like a month before and it had gone kind of viral in the Netherlands. I had all these new fans in the Netherlands who were very supportive of my son and his illness and our efforts to help him. But when I go to the Netherlands, they are a little more reserved in terms, if you will. Respectful, if you want to put a positive spin on it. During the music where they’re quiet but then, then they erupt after the song is over. It’s just great. It’s a great feeling. It’s been fun to travel the world.
I don’t know what it is about classic rock, but especially maybe just the covers, but it just attracts just the nicest people. They’re all mellow and kind and giving I’ve had very few instances of any trouble or anything like that. I rarely need any kind of security or anything. People all get along and they’re all there for the same reason, and it’s just like they all sing along and have a good time.
Originally being a public defender and becoming a full-time musician, how was that transition?
It was something that we kind of considered. My wife and I considered overtime where we kind of viewed it as a possibility. What ended up happening was basically in 2014 when my Africa cover had a little viral spurt because it got featured on some Facebook post by a DJ and suddenly like a bunch of people found me that hadn’t found me yet. When that happened, I got some interest from an actual manager from Nashville who was sort of semi-retired but had taken an interest in me. And he ended up helping me put together some musicians. I made a CD in Nashville, recorded it through a [friend’s] studio and that was super fun. It was a CD of covers but with a full band, like with a few musicians. It was really cool but that guy, Richard showed me that the industry is a good fit for me at this point. Maybe there is enough interest and maybe I can make this work.
My YouTube channel was taking off to the point where I was getting enough gig offers that I felt like it was something I could sustain. Probably, if I put full-time into it, I could hopefully reach a place where I could turn an income. That was sort of the plan. At the same time, we were interested in moving. We had been through this cancer scare with my youngest son, Noah, who was diagnosed with a brain tumour at 11 months old. He wasn’t supposed to make it. We had a year-long cancer battle with him. We were actually concerned about staying in Utah for a couple of reasons. One was the air quality, just really a lot of bad air days when they just, they’re in a valley and, they have these inversions where the pollution will just hover there for days until a snowstorm comes and blows it out.
They have like medical waste plants that are, throwing crap into the air and a big copper mine. All kinds of pollutants and that in itself was a concern. What made it worse was the fact that there didn’t seem to be any interest by the state government to get these things under control. They were just not in favour of the kinds of regulations that would have been required to maintain the air quality that we wanted to live in. We decided to move, and eventually, we ended up in Colorado. Our first option seemed to be Seattle. A couple of years earlier, we talked about moving to Seattle because my brother lived there. After the cancer scare, we wanted to live near family.
We tried to pick somewhere where I had a sibling, basically. My brother was in Seattle. My sister was in Denver. My mom was in Dallas. My dad’s in Florida. I have another sister in Vegas, between those locations.it was either between Seattle or Denver that we were interested in.
I was applying for jobs. I actually became a member of the Washington State Bar and then I was looking for lawyer jobs because I was going to become a lawyer there. Then my brother took a job in LA, and he moved, I was like, “Oh, I guess we’re not going to Seattle!”
We ended up ending that search for employment in Seattle when he moved, and then we were like, “Ok we’ll see about Denver again.” That’s where I wanted to go, but my wife was initially not crazy about it but then she fell in love with it. We ended up moving here and it corresponded with the uptick in the activity on my YouTube channel, we took that opportunity to just kind of quit the day job. I kept my law since I applied in Colorado and did reciprocity that I didn’t have to take the Bar again or anything like that. I got sworn in as an attorney in Colorado. But I immediately went to inactive status hoping that I would never have to be a lawyer again. But I can still tell people that I’m a lawyer. I’m just not active.
Anyways, another long story, but that was sort of what made me make the leap was thinking that there was enough interest where it was financially viable. It was something that I thought would be better maybe in some ways at least, less stressful.
Obviously being in business for yourself is stressful and being self-employed can be stressful for financial reasons, and the actual day to day of, getting to release and work on more music. I’ve put out two videos a month every month except for the past one, but every month since I moved here.
A lawyer and a musician are very different jobs. How do they compare?
I actually know a lot of lawyers who are musicians. I don’t know what the correlation would be, but they tend to attract the same people sometimes. A lot of people are probably like me, where it was sort of, I became a lawyer for practical reasons. But I also felt like it was something that I could handle. I have always had a sort of innate sense of justice, or maybe injustice. I don’t know how you want to say it, but where if I see something that just doesn’t seem fair to me or right, it just drives me crazy, and sometimes I speak up even when I shouldn’t. I always had this inherent skill of advocacy and I became a public defender because I really wanted to do criminal law. And to me, I didn’t even really care which side of it was on. Being a public defender appealed to me way more than being a private defence attorney, because you don’t treat your clients and because you’re on a salary. You have a different relationship with the system, I guess you could say.
With the public, I hope, because you’re perceived to be doing the work that nobody else wants to do, in a way. You’re working with the people that society has kind of shunned or forgotten in some ways. You’re getting them at their lowest point, and they need a friendly face. I mean, they need help. And a lot of time, it’s about damage control. You’re trying to make sure that they’re treated fairly by the system, and they don’t get a sentence or punishment that’s disproportionate or that’s not in line with what other people are getting for the same crime.
I felt like I was kind of a referee between the judge and the prosecutor, because suddenly your cases, a lot of your cases are just bad. It’s not about proving them innocent it’s just about damage control. It’s trying to help give them, help them get their life back together. If this was like an anomaly in an otherwise lawful life, and you’re trying to like to help them pack stuff and get them back on their feet or if this is them crashing because they’ve been on the wrong path for a long time. Then there’re other kinds of situations, other kinds of solutions where people are going to treatment, and a lot of times you can’t keep them out of jail. You try to keep them out of prison, but you can’t keep them out of jail. And, by the way, there is a difference between jail and prison, most people don’t realize. It’s not the same thing.
When people use them interchangeably, it drives me crazy. But it is like, jail is for, usually for misdemeanours for a year or less or sometimes for probation violations. Prison is for felonies, and for a year or more, parole violations or you can go back to prison. You can go to prison for probation violations too. But anyway, you’re trying to keep people out of prison, but sometimes that means they’re going to jail instead.
I did that for thirteen years and it was, it was, fun. I felt like I really enjoyed the community service aspect of it where you felt like you were helping people, and these were people that I wouldn’t run into daily. I wouldn’t, we didn’t run in the same circles and I wouldn’t see them on the street, but I would sometimes see them in court. But also, people have to realize that a lot of the time, your client one day could be the victim of your next client the next day, is what I mean.
You see people in different situations. It was a stressful job and I felt like I had kind of had it, my share of it. The longer you’re there, the more intense and serious the crimes and the cases become because you’re a more senior attorney. You’re given more responsibility. I was getting to the part where I was working some of the uglier cases that you could imagine of all crimes.
If it’s ugly, I had it. It was to the point where I was like, “Do I want to become a death penalty certified?”. You have to become certified to handle death penalty cases, and I was like, “Is that really the route I want to go to keep doing this?” It just didn’t feel like it was a good fit for me at the point. I felt like I needed something different. Music was sort of the complete opposite of that. Where it was like me, it became about me, hopefully not only bringing joy to other people and doing it remotely and doing it forever. I’m doing something that lasts forever, way beyond my lifetime. That’s the plan for it to last that long. It felt like it was a different calling and a different mission if you will, but to me, it was equally important and equally rewarding.
When you first started making music and posting to YouTube, did you think that it would become everything that it is now?
I guess it was a hope of mine that it would catch on in a way that there would be a sort of, wider exposure. For me, the reason I thought like, “Why would anyone care about my music?”. My first thought was that I thought that my arrangements would be useful to some other musicians, and that’s definitely been the case. I’ve had lots of musicians say, “Hey I steal from your arrangements or I steal from your setlists,” or borrow or whatever, and that’s awesome. I just love the idea. People send me video clips of them and their buddy doing Africa because they know how because I showed them the way.
The thing about me is, as a musician, as a guitarist, I’m a rhythm guitarist, which is a kind way of saying that I have limited ability as a guitarist. If you point me and say, “Hey Mike, take a solo,” I’d say, “No!”
Because of the limitations, I deal with as a player, my arrangements are within my ability. That’s appealing to a lot of other average guitar players if you will because it is accessible. It’s not like, “Oh, someday I’ll be able to play that.” It’s like, “No, this isn’t that hard.” I try to do things well and I try to do it in a way that it’s not mysterious what I’m doing. It’s obvious, if you’re a guitar player, what I’m doing because it’s like familiar no real secrets. I mean, I have occasionally gone into odd tunings like I did “I don’t care anymore” by Phil Collins. That’s an example where I created this unique tuning that just fit the song, and this higher level. But if you look at the description of the video, I tell you what the tuning is that people can figure it out themselves. I’m not trying to keep any secrets or like it’s not proprietary, it’s just a little trickier.
That was my initial thought, that it might appeal to fellow musicians who like the arrangements. Then the other side, I thought people might appreciate sort of the energy and emotion I bring to it with my vocals, and my way of trying to, suggest the original singer’s vocal choices and tone without necessarily sounding like I’m doing an impersonation. I don’t want it to sound like I’m imitating somebody necessarily, but I want it to sound like if somebody likes the original song. I’m not going to give them any reasons not to like my version. That’s not always the case obviously some people just don’t get it or don’t like it. For whatever reason, they just don’t get me and that’s fine. I’m never going to reach everybody. I try to stay out of the way of a good song. I try not to change it in any major way where it’s going to detract. I don’t have the kind of ego to think that “Hey here’s this classic song that we know these people love. I’m going to make it better.” What I mean? It’s like, really? No probably the first thing you change, you’ve already destroyed it or not destroyed it but weakened it in some way. I try not to do too many changes, but at the same time, I don’t want to feel like I’m just like robotically reproducing it either.
It’s finding that kind of balance where I feel like I’m bringing something to the song that’s worth bringing. Even if people don’t hear my arrangement or my version as some sort of revelation of something new, at least it’s going to be familiar and comfortable and be like, “Oh that’s a cool acoustic version.” That has always sort of been my philosophy.
From here, where do you see your music career going in the future?
I would like to be able to play more public gigs and not be concerned about having to work hard about getting the word out. I would like to just have a bigger audience that there are more people to draw from.
I would like it to be worldwide. My biggest audience on my YouTube channel is the Philippines by like a mile. It has like outpaced the US and everywhere else and that’s crazy. It’s all because they love my cover of “Leader of the Band” by Dan Fogelberg, and that video is by far the most popular video on my channel right now. Africa was always number one, and now Leader of the Band is like whoa. I might eventually go play in the Philippines if that continues.
I would like to see the audience grow. I would like to see opportunities to have music placed in TV shows or in films where it’s getting kind of a broader exposure and people are going, “Ooh wow, who was that?” And they check it out and find out it was me and I make some new fans.
I have a lot of future fans out there that are just waiting to find me. That is kind of my mission right now, is to help them find me. I get comments on YouTube all of the time just like, “Aw I just found you, where have I been?” And that kind of thing. I know there are still people out there that are finding me all of the time. They are grateful they did, and I am grateful they did too. I’m trying to facilitate that as much as possible. It would be nice to have more economic security, I mean, I’m just like everybody else. I’m doing this for a living, and I have a family to support. It would be nice if I had more resources that I invest and put into production. I could spend more on videos or I could spend more on recording or I could spend more on arrangements. I could get scores done with full orchestras and I could travel with an orchestra and do orchestral shows. I really want to do a Radiohead orchestral show. I think that’s in my future, I just really need the resources to get the scores created and I could pitch it to an orchestra. If I find the right orchestra or if I find a conductor who is a Radiohead fan and they hear me sing Radiohead, they’re going to be like, “Heck, please.”
I think there would be a demand for it right now, I have a local Beatles cover band. We did one show with a local orchestra of all Beatles music and those scores were created by a couple of members of the band. It was all done in-house, and that was great.
That’s really sweet. If there’s like a message you could send to, to say to all of your fans, what would you want to say to them?
I’m always just appreciative that I have a music stand that I’m one of them. I’m just singing the songs I hear in my head, and the fact that other people that have any kind of value or meaning to other people is such a blessing and I’m grateful for that. I’m just grateful for all the time that they’ve spent listening to my music and any efforts they’ve made to share it with their friends. That’s how it spreads. I can’t share it myself; it has to spread through other people. My efforts are just a small percentage of the actual sharing that goes on. Every time that I see that one of my videos or posts gets shared, I’m just grateful.