Monday, November 2, 2009

It's Nicole Atkins' Vinyl District

As I’ve mentioned quite a few times in the past, I grew up not in DC but at the Jersey Shore, NJ. In a town called Neptune to be exact—in a tiny enclave of this tiny enclave called Shark River Hills.

Just like our guest blogger all week, Nicole Atkins.

And while we’re huge fans of her here at TVD HQ, it’s not because she’s our hometown girl, but because she’s making music that’s head and shoulders above SO, so many these days.

Find out yourself when she plays The Rock and Roll Hotel this Friday night, 11/6. (...and more on that tomorrow.)

I guess there’s something in the water in NJ, right Nicole?


I had a friend while I was going to college at UNCC named Daniel Coston. He was a rock photographer and an encyclopedia. We'd sit at this little diner down there called the Penguin and over a plate of fried pickles and ranch talk for hours about bands. I'd take in everything he said like a sponge.

Right before I graduated he was telling me about a band from NYC called Television and how he was excited for their reunion at the Pop Overthrow Festival. I'd never heard of the band before (thinking of that time now makes me laugh) but they sounded like nothing I've ever heard before. We went to his house and he threw Marquee Moon on his turn table and it felt like my entire world opened up.

A week later I graduated and moved back home to Neptune, NJ with my folks. My room was the same as it was 5 years before, but I realized that that shitty little Sony plastic jambox I had had a record player in it. I went to our locals, the Soundwave in Manasquan (RIP) and Silvertunes in Belmar (RIP) and just spent hours talking with the owners and pouring over the plastic boxes underneath the CD bins. It went from "Hey you got any Television?" to them saying "Sure, if you like that you might like...."

All of my friends had either moved away or were at grad school. I'd just started writing my own songs. And so became my love affair with vinyl.

Bands like Circus Maximus, Love, Can, Otis Redding, and Leonard Cohen became my companions while I whiled away in solitude at my folks house writing my first record. Or mini record as I called it back then. During this time I took a job writing a small music column for a local magazine whose content was mostly about where the $2 Bud Light specials were and which coverband was playing where.

We'd get sent CDs from record labels. Mostly buttrock and forgettable singer/songwriters. Sometimes I'd find a couple of gems in the batch but most of the time I'd take the stacks of CDs and trade it in for store credit at Soundwave to buy vinyl. As my collection grew so did the people I was meeting locally at the time. Sitting on the floor of my room at my parents house listening to different albums with my new friends became the new Friday night hang.

Soon as the summer was closing out, I'd finished around 9 of my own songs and moved part time to NYC. From Monday through Wednesday I'd split my time playing open mics, playing songs with other artists in Tompkins Square Park, and drinking cheap beer at the Library on Avenue A listening to Television on the jukebox.

A month after that I would record that first "mini" album at this great little vintage studio in Red Bank, NJ called Retromedia. The Studio owner John Noll, randomly emailed Richard Lloyd of Televison to come down and play on a couple of my songs. All of this within less than a year. Its really strange how things come full circle.

Thanks Daniel.

Nicole Atkins - The Tower (Live at Stone Pony) (Mp3)
Television - Marquee Moon (Mp3)
Leonard Cohen - So Long Marianne (Mp3)
Otis Redding - Hard to Handle (Mp3)
Love - Andmoreagain (Mp3)

TVD's Comet Calendar for November, 2009 | The show of your choice is FREE!

TVD and Comet Ping Pong are excited to continue a new series of ticket giveaway contests where each month you can see your show of choice at Comet—FREE. Simply because we're looking out for you and your good time.

Here's how it works: each month we'll publish Comet's press release and full schedule right here at TVD. You choose the show you'd like to see and be the first person to claim the tickets for that show in the comments to this post (with contact info!) and you're in FREE—no questions asked.

It's just that simple. No long love letters, nothin'.

There will be just ONE winner for a pair of tickets allowed per show and you can't win more than once in a month. (Hey, we gotta have SOME rules...)

The ticket giveaways for November start...right now:

K Records Evening!
Jeremy Jay / Heaven / Black Umbrella / DJ Names Names (Ian Svenonius)

Jeremy Jay is a mixture of a storyteller, artist and singer. Following a series of 7" singles, he released his debut LP, A Place Where We Could Go on K in Spring 2008. Currently, he lives in Los Angeles, the dream city of films. Similar to films, Jeremy identifies with the visual stories of life and love, and his music touches on everything human. He draws much of his inspiration from American artists like Andy Warhol and iconic teen filmmaker John Hughes, to European French new wave filmmakers like Truffant and Goddard.

When you listen to Black Umbrella, you usually expect a schizophrenic madness to ensue, as if you’re happily running over a bunch of brand new babies with a lawnmower while eating your veggies like a good boy. However, with this record it’s as if you walked to a grand piano shop, found a discarded Steinway, and tipped it over onto your head, and just laid there. You have nothing to do but think about what just happened, and that’s just the way you want it for now.

Americans in France / Foul Swoops

North Carolina trio, Americans in France has the good kind of musical ADD—songs zig and zag, with scratchy guitars and anxiously shouted vocals, sometimes in unison, sometimes in response. The Chapel Hill area has set a high standard for this type of stuff and Americans in France live up to those expectations.

Foul Swoops, are obvious heirs to the local indie rock throne—once they all turn 21, of course. That youth is apparent in the quartet's songs, which are bursts thick guitar, growling vocals from that redhead drummer while the disinterested looking girl on keyboards makes sure there's some melody throughout.

Authorization/ Protect U / Maxmillion Dunbar (AFP from Food for Animals)

Authorization, if you haven't had the opportunity to hear them yet, is Jeff (from Insect Factory, Plums, Kohoutek) and Dan Caldas (ex-Black Eyes, Horses.) The duo trade off on synth, drum machine, electronics, guitar, and bass. The music they make has elements of dub, kosmische Krautrock, g-funk (of course), with plenty of angularity, and does not disappoint."

Maxmillion Dunbar is one of many positions on this Earth played by Silver Spring Maryland native Andrew F-P. Others include rappin' in MD next-hop trio Food For Animals, DJing and producing in Beautiful Swimmers, and going way way out with Cool Water. He also runs the very graceful Future Times record label. He has a 12"(the "Bare Feet" EP) coming out soon on Ramp Recordings out of the UK. After that he just wants to grow like a plan so be on the lookout.

George Smallwood

Mr. “Mellow” George Franklin Smallwood’s own personal discography dates back to the early 70s when he started a record company out of the garage in Hyattsville, Maryland. Designed to showcase his original music with the group Marshmellow, Smallwood Records had several vinyl releases; Touching Is My Thing, Funk by The Pound, Mr. Sunshine,
Lady Disco.

Records were sold at house parties and shows, and never managed to find their way outside of DC, until EBAY. Records that originally sold for a dollar, now sell for hundreds, even thousands of dollars. Several of the recordings have been reissued by Peoples Potential Unlimited (Washington DC) and Jazzman (UK).

Today, George just winterized the pool, got his keyboard serviced and is tearing cardboard beer boxes into fire starter for the home studio hearth. What seem like strange tasks are the routines of a blind man, who has been impaired even before his love of music began. George recalls, "Music never really took to me till I lost my sight..”

Over the years listening to cassettes and radio, Smallwood has amassed over 300 songs for his mental catalog of music. This human soft rock soul database extends from his originals to the hits of Steve Miller band, Christopher Cross, Michael Jackson, Queen, and Prince. All songs accompanied by Mr. Mellow with his Casio synthesizer, “the personal computer” he calls it. The only instrument in the world that has a fade-in, fade-out button.
Don’t miss this rare opportunity to see the greatest soul artist you’ve never heard of!!! Meet and greet with Mr. Mellow between his sets!

...more to come!