Thursday, October 22, 2009

"Did My Band Get Played On Guantanamo Radio?"

R.E.M., Pearl Jam, and Billy Bragg have filed a request under Freedom of Information Act as part of the national "Close Gitmo Now" campaign, asking whether their songs were used in the interrogations of prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay detention center.

CNN reports that "The FOIA requests stem from testimony of former Guantanamo prisoners that heavy metal, rock, and rap music -- even children's tunes -- were part of interrogation techniques."

The Independent reports that music from "AC/DC, Britney Spears, the Bee Gees and Sesame Street were played at an ear-splitting level to break terrorist subjects."

"The fact that music I helped create was used as a tactic against humanity sickens me. We need to end torture and close Guantanamo now." - Tom Morello, guitarist of Rage Against The Machine

Monday, October 19, 2009

Boxcar Children and boog Serenade TU Student Center

PHILADELPHIA- While many Temple students awaited the much-hyped Asher Roth and Lupe Fiasco Homecoming concert at the Liacouras Center last Saturday, a smaller audience of students witnessed a very different concert a few blocks away in the stairwell of the Student Activity Center (SAC).
Photo Credit: Bryan Mann

The Boxcar Children, an acoustic “urban folk” band of Temple students, organized and performed at a concert alongside another Philadelphia favorite, boog, on the fourth floor of a stairwell in the SAC a few hours before the hip hop homecoming concert.

Photo Credit: Kristen Lynn
The Saturday show was originally planned to occur at the Russel H. Conwell Founder's Garden on Temple's campus but the weekend's rainy weather forced the musicians to improvise a new location quickly. The band alerted attendees through their Facebook page to relocate the performance to the top stairwell in the SAC.

“The location of the show was really great in haphazard kind of way because the stairwell was like this natural auditorium.” said Temple history major Alex Weigard. “The echoes reverberated all over the place.”

"The venue and the weather outside added even more poetry to what was already a beautiful event," Temple political science major Beth Cozzolino said. "Boxcar Children's synergy was remarkable, the sound was a three dimensional tapestry of melody."

The show started at 3 p.m. with an opening performance from singer-songwriter duo Conor Mcalarney and Ella Coffin. Shortly after, Kyle Simmons, better known as boog, began his set with a haunting version of Michael Jackson's “Billie Jean.”

Using his bare fingers on a guitar and his voice, boog, the self described “bastard child of the Philadelphia folk scene,” filled the stairwell his original sound. Zachariah Beaver of The Boxcar Children, a collaborator with boog on his recently released demo, assisted boog's set with rhythmic accompaniment on a simple snare drum with brushes.

After boog's set, Boxcar Children member Jon Vidumskay played harp with percussionist Jeffrey Sacks-Wilner as the rest of the group climbed the stairway to the stage to begin their set with the folk song “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” a vocal call-and-response between guitarist and singer, Kierstin Siegl, and the rest of the nine-member group with each member contributing to the full harmonies. The set proceeded with an original song with full instrumentation sung by mandolin player, Ziggy Gamble.

The Boxcar Children began as The Noble Womanizers last year as founders Beaver, Siegl, and Gamble were incoming freshmen at Temple University. The band started as a small trio performing around Temple's campus with unique instruments like mandolins, ukeleles, banjos, and a banjolele (a mixture of a banjo and ukelele), as well as more traditional instruments like guitars and drums.

The band's instrumentation became more elaborate as the group grew with members, adding percussionist Sacks-Wilner and harpist Vidumskay as well as violinist Andrew Yang, baritone ukelele player Justin Patrick Foley, and rhythm guitarist Christie Offenbacher.

“The size of the group gives us a really good dynamic. I feel like the violin and the harp sound like a string section of an orchestra,” percussionist Sacks-Wilner said. “With that we can mix classical music with a folk sound and I think that's what brings out the beauty of the music. The beauty of the past mixed with the beauty of the present.”

The audience seemed to agree with Sacks-Wilner's assessment of the music's "beauty."

“They really played like a folk orchestra,” said Weigard, “that gave me goosebumps.”

Thursday, October 15, 2009

boog on Under The Radar

Tonight at 5 PM the Under The Radar program at Temple WHIP Radio had my friend, boog, perform a small live set in the studio. This brightened up my rainy day. Hear the posted set at the Under The Radar podcast here.

boog's new demo: five tracks by boog on his own four-track mixer. Hear it here.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Cash Rules Everything Around Me: ?uestlove on Not Selling Out

I think ?uestlove's answers here help us understand the balance musicians have to make between maintaining a livelihood while also maintaining a dedication to their art style. I'll have more detailed thoughts on this soon in an editorial I'm working on.