Thursday, October 21, 2010

MUSIC AS MEDICINE: Q&A with singer, songwriter Craig Honeycutt!

In catching up with Craig Honeycutt, the former lead singer for the band Everything, he talked about his years in Hollywood, a painful back injury, Obama, Community Service and how all things came full circle; making life more productive and ultimately more Tranquillo!

Q: Last April you completed a year long project on YouTube called COMMUNITY SERVICE.  That project began in LA & ended right here in DC with a great show at BloomBars.  Please tell us what it was, how it came about & what you learned on the road.

A: Yes, and what a journey!  It is so difficult to talk about the beginning and the end, because it's all a continuation really.  I had been in LA for 5 years creating music for various projects.  An amazing experience, because of the level of production and process is awesome.  But I was far away from the songwriting that I had started as a kid and what has always been my go to place creatively. I was sitting on about 4 years or demos that I wasn't really finishing; just experimenting with.   Using my creative mind, full time in Hollywood really bunt me out in terms of adding more time in the process to further the songs.  Luckily, in November 2008, my back went out to the tune of 11 MM's of disc sticking into my siatic nerve.  Which is crazy really.  I literally could barely get out of bed everyday.  Somehow I managed to get it together to come back home for Obama's Inauguration in 2009.  IT WAS SO INSPIRING!  I spent a week at all the events and hobbled down town to the mall for the big event.   I was so moved that 2 million people could make an event like that happen; and that law enforcement was there to make it smoother.  Everyone worked in concert together.  I realized it wasn't about a president, but a mass of people; a creative group think/group action to make that day come to pass.  The day happened peacefully, and I thought to myself that I had a responsibility to use my talents to their fullest.  Songs have always been my home.  So I went to the studio at Monkeyclaus in VA and started work on an EP.   It was then that I headed back to LA to try to figure out the path ahead, whilst trying to deal with a hugely injured back.  My friend Larry Weintraub, who I knew from the record business saw a YouTube video I'd sent him, and threw out a challenge. He challenged me to start a channel on YouTube and do one song per day for a year. I thought it was suicide!  After much thought, I decided to put my self on notice and do it.  Change my life through music. One thing I have noticed is that playing music is a very healing endeavour.  So I decided to use this project to play myself back to health.  So on April 8, 2009, I started the COMMUNITY SERVICE CHANNEL on YouTube.    Community Service itself as a name is actually a bit of a joke; because it refers to what happens when you get in trouble in your hometown as a kid.  I was really interested in learning lots of covers, because its a great way to learn how great songs are written and it gives you lots of songs to play in various situations as icebreakers. If you play a song people love, then you become friends. Unless of course you butcher it!  The journey started in LA, and I decided that I would leave Los Angeles, travel across the U.S. and see where I ended up. The trip spanned from LA to Hawaii, New Orleans, NYC, cross country and places in between. On APRIL 8, 2010, I did a free show at BLOOM BARS in DC, it was a lot of fun.  It was my first full show in about 5 years. My back is strong now, no surgery necessary. MUSIC AS MEDICINE!

Q:  Left coast  vs. Best coast.... Now that you've lived & worked in music on both coasts, what stands out to you as the quintessential best both have to offer. 

A:  Hmmmm, that is a difficult one.  Both have good things.  One thing about the West Coast is space. There is a lot of space throw really amazing events.  Burning Man, Lightning in a Bottle, Coachella, Electric Daisy Carnival.....I also think there is a little more openness in terms of laws that allow for a little more......well........something.  The proximity to silicon valley and all of the new thought and technology is also amazing out there. Hollywood is great for process and production value. The east coast for me is home.  I love the roots of it.  The seasons and the traditions, and the old world touch on music.  So much soul and real, deep groove comes from here. DC is such a great hub for so much of the roots of american modern music.  And, you have NYC, which of course, is NYC. No need to go into that one!  It stands on its own...  Sometimes I felt very far away from the stuff happening in europe in LA.

Q:  Can you describe your writing process?   

A:  It's constantly evolving really.  I get lots of little threads in my mind and try to put them down. You can build a whole symphony off some of the little threads running around up there.  Sometimes it's just on guitar.  I also right a lot of music electronically.  The computer is a great tool to think like a proper composer with various elements at  your finger tips.  Then basically, i just start freaking out on stuff until it sounds the way it should.  It either happens super fast, or it takes years.  Who knows really!

 Q:  We understand that you recently reunited with Jim Ebert, a local DC producer who worked with you (on your hit, HOOCH in the late 90's with your former band, Everything) to produce a tune called TRANQUILLO.  How was it working together again?

A:  I had started writing the tune in 2008 while I was living in LA.  I was really wanting to write a simple tune about living in Southern California.   The sun, the beach, the traffic, the glamour, the hardship, etc...   I finally finished the song in April, and wanted to start recording and releasing songs again.  Jim Ebert, who has been living in DC, produced "Hooch".  One of my goals in all of this was to bring things full circle and work with people I know and love again.   Sort of a new start, a new chapter; shaking hands with the previous chapter and seeing where it lead.  The other reason is that I think Jim Ebert is one of the best Producers for recording Pop Vocals in the music industry.  So, I wanted to really get back in the studio and start digging in, and make a simple pop tune with some honesty and soul.  Jim is great in the studio, and has a great process.  I am going to give it away to people and just see where the song goes.

Q:  In addition to all the song writing you've been doing, you've also taken on an amazing project involving the Shenandoah Music Trail! The SMT is a non-profit organization that is "dedicated to preserving, promoting and maintaining the integrity and roots of the Shenandoah Valley's Mountain Music Making traditions and its various configurations." Please tell us about your role in the project, and the big festival happening next 4th of July!

A:  Thank you for bringing this up!   I went to school at JMU and have been lucky to have Dr. Ronald Carrier as a mentor for many years.   Dr. Carrier was President of JMU from 1970 to 1998 and is still very active at the school.   He brought me in to this process.   The Shenandoah Music Trail is a cultural corridor stretching from Winchester, VA to Roanake, VA celebrating all of the traditional music of the Shenandoah Valley.    It is a big project, and one that I am excited about, because I am learning a whole new musical language.  Our big launch is next July 2, 3 and 4th in Luray, VA at the Ground of Luray Caverns.  We are throwing the 50th Anniversary of the World's First Bluegrass Festival which was held there in 1961.  It is going to be a historic event for sure.  Bluegrass and Mountain Music is an amazing form, and is really something to experience live.  

Q:  Congratulations on your new release SUN WUKONG !  Describe this funky & adventurous, studio project that you worked on at Monkeyclaus, a studio in southern VA. 

A:  Yes, yes, yes......I love and make a lot of music of different types.  Sun Wukong is a project out of MONKEYCLAUS STUDIOS in Nelson, VA.   It is a duo with my friend Abel Okugawa.  We really just wanted to make some "Life Sountrack" Music.  Moody, worldy music that has no real lyrics.   Just grooves and sounds.  The first EP has turn out pretty cool I have to say.   We already working on our second EP.  You should give folks a link to the site.  We are letting people download it.    Will also be available on iTunes as well very soon.

Q: We understand you're doing a radio show today!  For those who want to catch it, where can do they need to go?

 A:  Yes.  I did an interview and played some songs on 106.1 The Corner in Charlottesville, VA.  You can listen online at www.1061thecorner.com  

Q:  What are the 5 songs (& artists) looping on your iPod this week?

A:  Great question.  
#1  I have been listening to JAMES ZABIELA's new mix for MixMag.  James is an amazing DJ and Producer from the UK who is managed by my friend and former "Everything" manager, Randy Reed.  I love dance music, and James is super talented.

#2  I have also been recently turned on to Sleigh Bells.  Super dirty!  

#3  Ali Farke Toure is always in my playlist.  

#4  DJ Luciano "Tribute to the Sun" is one that has been getting steady play as well.

#5  K'Naan is a good one right now as well.    

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Photo Credit: Tim Ryan

BLUEBRAIN played an amazing show at ARTISPHERE in Rosslyn.

Friday, October 15, 2010

He Brings the Funk and a Knack for the Hooks: Q&A with Andy Waldeck, Professional Song Writer and Musician.

Photo Credit: Jenn Rhubright

When Andy Waldeck recently returned from yet another writing trip we were able to get him to share his thoughts on musical diversity, multiple skill sets, Pro Tools: Addictive Drums and the importance of "writing with a focused effort."

Q:  Andy you've been on the DMV music scene for years now as an accomplished bass player, writer and singer for bands such as Egypt, Earth to A*N*D*Y , The Underground All Stars & XPS.  What do you feel is your greatest accomplishment, musically, thus far? 

A:  My greatest accomplishment is my general musical diversity. I write, produce, do recording sessions on bass, guitar and vocals. I also produce live events, build and repair all stringed instruments, write music for commercials and in the past I have been a bass teacher, but I dont have time for that now unfortunately. I decided long ago that I wanted to be involved in the music industry and make my living there regardless of how it applied. I am very fortunate to have always been able to do this, and not had to work outside of the music world. This has been due to my flexibility and multiple skill sets.

Q: Tell us how your relationship with Chris Daughtry of the band, DAUGHTRY, came about, evolved & ultimately led to your current publishing deal with SONY? 

A:  Chris and I became friends in the late 90's. My band Earth to Andy had just signed our recording contract with Warner Brothers boutique label, Giant Records. Chris was in high school in Fluvanna, the next county over from Albelmarle where Charlottesville my current home is. Chris had a rock band called Cadence with some of his high school buddies and they used to come to the ETA shows, mosh around, and really get into it. At some point Chris asked me if Cadence could open for ETA at our home club , the ledgendary TRAX in Charlottesville. We put them on the bill and they did a great job, Chris and I were friends ever since. After high school he moved back to North Carolina where he was originally from and started playing in bands down there. He sent me demos of the music he was working on and I gave him feedback and constructive criticism. I tried to help him in anyway I could. He never forgot that because when he got finished with American Idol, got his record deal and sold millions, he contacted me to write with him. His touring schedule was very hectic so we agreed that I would meet him on tour and ride in the bus with him for a couple days. We wrote 2 killer songs, One of which "Every Time You Turn Around"made it onto his last cd Leave This Town. After that the publishing companys started calling and we went with the best option SONY/ATV.

Q:  Can you give us a comparison of both the DC & Charlottesville Music scenes now that you have deep roots in both? 

A:  Well the comparisons are obvious in that there is great music coming from both places. I say that in all sincerity because I have kept on top of both scenes as much as I could. I moved from the DC area in 1994, at that time my band EGYPT was touring constantly and we would get off the road and deal with the congestion and traffic in NOVA. It drove me crazy, so much so that when the opportunity to move to Charlottesville arose, I jumped at it. When I first moved to Charlottesville The Dave mathews Band had just blown up. They were fast becoming a household name. That fostered a sense of Charlottesville as an acoustic music mecca, and it still has that aura. There are many rock, and hip hop acts in C-ville that don't feel very well represented, but that is changing slowly. In DC, in the 90's Egypt had a huge support network. The bands and fans that we were close to us then were so positive and supportive. I don't know what it's like to be a DC band right now, but in those days it was awesome.

Q:  On Oct. 22nd, your band XPS is playing an incredible benefit in Charlottesville, VA for the MRC (Music Resource Center). The MRC provides kids a free place to learn and play music!  Tell us about Dave Matthews involvement in the MRC and how those interested may get tickets to attend your show.

A:  First off, THE DAVE MATTHEWS BAND is one of the most community-generous and benevolent enterprises I can think of... The DMB, along with its management company, Red Light Management, and a few other wealthy patrons, bought a church in C-ville, right in the heart of town so it can be walked to by many of the kids using it. They had the basement converted into 4 or 5 recording studios. They also built a dance studio (big mirrors, wood floors, lots of space), and they have an equipment locker for storing the gear that the kids check out to use in the studios while they are working. The Music Resource Center is a place where kids can come, sign in, get a fully loaded pro -tools studio to work in, with any instrument they need, and the benefit of lots of other young musicians in the other studios to play parts for their tracks. When I think back to when I was a kid learning this trade, I wish I had a place like this. It's super high end and professional. And the place has a way of bringing out the best in the music community here in C-ville. I have heard some of the things these kids are producing and its amazing!!!

The goal of the PARTY LIKE A ROCKSTAR benefit XPS is playing is to bring in more funding & keep the level of community interest high. They do a great job over there at the MRC.  

You may buy tickets by clicking HERE.

Q:  We heard you've been writing with Scott Stapp of  CREED recently.  What can you tell us about that experience?

A:  That has been great. As a professional songwriter, my publisher sends me on writing assignments. This year I've been to Nashville & NYC many times, as well as pre production sites. Sometimes I write with a newly signed band, sometimes it's with other published writers, and sometimes it's with well established artists like Scott. I had heard many stories about how difficult he could be to work with, but my experience has been quite the opposite. He's working on material for a solo release that will be on the Wind Up label that has put out the Creed recordings over the last 10 years. They have been huge commercially; something like 27 million records sold world wide. That's an enormous number when you think about record sales, especially in this market climate. I met him in NYC last month, we wrote 2 great songs and then got together at his studio in Florida just last week and wrote 2 more. We will most likely do more writing in the near future. He's on an acoustic tour right now, so his time is limited. Overall we get along great and seem to be able to write the big riffs that Creed is known for with a little more of the personal touch that Scott is looking for in a solo release.

Q:  You are playing with Joe Lawlor & Friends at Voo Doo Fest in NOLA (Oct. 2010)!  For those who are not familiar, who is Joe Lawlor and how can we get a ticket if we get the urge to hit the road?

A:  Well, if you know anything about me, you know something about Joe. I met him at Berklee College of Music in Boston Mass., the year is unimportant, and will probably shock most of your readers, so we'll leave that out.  We formed the band EGYPT in DC and played together constantly for 10 years. The guy is an incredible guitar player. He fuses the best of the shredder hair metal style with blues and funk like no other.  I went to New Orleans for the first time last year. Joe put together a band called Mojo Grande, made up of me, Joe, and our singer from the X-PORN STARS, Matt Horn. We had 2 NOLA originals in that group as well. The drummer was Jermal Watson, who has been playing in NOLA professionally since he was like 5 years old. He's amazing and is currently the touring drummer for the famous Dirty Dozen Brass Band. The other NOLA original was a guitar player named West Bank Mike; an amazing player with true blues and soul roots. We played a show at the Balcony Music Hall in the French Quarter having never played with these guys before, and it was amazing!!!  So later this month Matt, Joe and I will go back down there and play the same club on Sat., Oct. 30th. We go on at 1am, which is perfect for late night NOLA. We are not calling it Mojo Grande, because the other guitar player West Bank Mike cannot be there; so it's Joe Lawlor and Friends and it's free!!! if you can squeeze your ass in the room that is, it's going to be packed.

To purchase tickets to Voo Doo Fest in NOLA click: HERE.

Q: You said you have your entire studio on your MacBook Pro. What type of software can you not live with out?

A:  Well, Pro tools is first. It's the industry standard for wave form editing software. There are many other platforms out there that do the same things, but Pro Tools has become the go to software for 90% of the industry that I deal with. I also use a program called Reason alot. Its all midi and had everything you could want to embellish a track including strings, horns, loops, percussion, tons of synth etc...  My favorite program that I use everyday is called Addictive Drums. It's an instrument plug in that works inside of Pro Tools and I program all my beats in midi, using Addictive as the sound host. It's an amazingly good sounding program with 5 or 6 different kits inside, all totally tweekable. I just can't say enough about this program, It's really hot!

Q:  What advice would you offer young up and coming writers if given the chance?

A:  Advice for young writers is hard to nail down. I became a writer because I was in bands that needed songs. I really feel that's the best way to get started. If you have a band you are playing in, you know what the sound is supposed to be, you know the bands strengths and weaknesses, and you can write with a focused effort. Also, you can try things out at rehearsal and see what's working and what's not. Overall the best thing for a writer to do is.... write, alot. I reccomend writing in as <Photo 3> many different styles as you can. As a professional writer I have projects that I work on in Pop, Urban, Rock, Country, Modern, and many others. If you want to be a great writer, you need to study great writing. Not neccesarily YOUR favorite songs, but the songs that have become commercially succesful in any given genre. Ask yourself, what does the hook in this song do? How did the writer set it up? What's the story here?  How will it relate to many people? There are a million ways to look at any song, but the writer really has to understand why that particular song is such a smash. If you can hone that skill, then you are on the path to becoming a great writer.

Q:  What are the 5 songs (& the artists) looping on your iPod this week?!

#1 "Wake Up" from a young band from York, PA called Sinclarity, awesome modern rock group with superstar potential.
#2  New band that sounds like they walked right out of the 80's called Neon Trees, Love the song "Animal"
#3 A Band from Dublin Ireland called The Script. Their song "Breakeven" is a perfect mix dynamic and deep lyrical content about a subject everyone knows, heart break.
#4  "Save me" from UNDERGROUND ALL STARS; a band I started with some other songwriters from New Jersey. I can't stop listening.
#5  Cee-Lo Green, I wrote 2 songs for Cee-lo, they didn't make the cd, but when I first heard "Fuck You" I was stoked. It's funny, funky and hooky as hell!

Monday, October 11, 2010

"...don't fuck it up!!": Q&A with Conrado Bokoles, bass player for Justin Jones and the Driving Rain

We recently spoke with Conrados Bokoles, about Justin Jones, Sheryl Crow, 9:30 Records and the music he's currently looping on his iPod.  See what he had to say!

Q: So you play bass with two bands; JUSTIN JONES & THE DRIVING RAIN as well as THE DEAD MEN.  Tell us how you & Justin originally met and ended up playing in not one, but two bands together. 

A: I met Justin Jones through our mutual friend Brad Tursi back in early '09. Brad is a guitar player out of Nashville and Justin and I played with Brad in different bands, in the past. So when Justin was putting a new band together, Brad joined up on guitar and they called me up to hit the road with them. As for the Deadmen, well....it was a very similar thing...Josh Read (Revival) Justin and I were jamming. Josh knew a drummer Paul Garisto (Psychedelic Furs) and a new band was formed.

Q: When you told us about the recent gig you played at the Ryman Theatre in Nashville as the opening act for Sheryl Crow, you said the Ryman harkened "a reverent feeling."  For those of us who've never been, can you explain what you meant.  

A: Well it's a very historic venue, 1800s.. It's mind blowing how many greats have played there... the Grand Ole Opry was held there for many years. When you walk in, it looks and feels like a church. Everyone sits in pews and sounds echo around in there like a cathedral. The spirit of the place is very heavy and humbling.  Right as we were walking on stage, one of the crew members held up a picture of Hank Williams... as if saying: "this is where you are, don't fuck it up!!"

Q: You said your father is a musician.  What type of music did your parents play in the house growing up?  

A: There were so many its hard to name just a few. Some that stand out are Paul Simon (especially Graceland and Rythym of the Saints) Earth Wind and Fire, Sam and Dave, Smokey Robinson, Edgar Winter, Steve Winwood. My mother is a huge Bob Marley fan. I got an earful of that when i was a kid...a very good thing.

Q: Congratulations to you and the rest of Justin Jones & the Driving Rain, on your Little Fox EP, released earlier this summer on the first ever 9:30 Records, label!  We heard you're headed back into the studio, give us the deets...

A: Thanks. We're very excited about those developments and you can probably expect to hear something new from Justin Jones and the Driving Rain by next spring/summer.

Q: You teach music!  We love that!  For those reading this who would like to take one of your private bass or guitar lessons, how can they contact you? 

A: radobassguitar@gmail.com

Q: When's your next gig in the District?  

A: The Deadmen at The Black Cat main stage on Nov 19. It's a show to benefit the DC lawyers for youth. Canyon, Vandaveer, John Bustine, and Brandon Butler will also be there! Don't want to miss this one kiddies!

Q: What are the 5 songs (& the artists) looping on your playlist this week!  

1.  Chop and change by The Black Keys 

2.  With you in my head by Unkle 

3.  In the new year by the Walkmen 

4.  It stoned me by Van Morrison 

5.  Walk in the park by Beach House

THE WALL / 10-10-10

Photo Credit: Peter M. O'Donnell

Roger Waters performed THE WALL in its entirety last night at The Verizon Center.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Rocco Landesman, Chairman, National Endowment for the Arts

Rocco Landesman spoke this week at the FUTURE OF MUSIC COALITION: POLICY SUMMIT at Georgetown University.  #FMC10

"The arts are natural aggregators for creativity and innovation" ~ Rocco   

Sunday, October 3, 2010

HIP-HOP Culture: Q&A with Cory Stowers, Art Director for Words Beats & Life inc.

Cory Stowers is the Art Director for WORDS BEATS AND LIFE inc. and the Words Beats and Life Global Journal of Hip-Hop Culture.  He also teaches graffiti and mural classes for Words Beats and Life in the D.C. Urban Arts Academy.  Find out what he is working on and what's bubblin' up in The L.A.B.!


Q: What is Words Beats & Life Inc., and what is it's mission?

A: Words Beats & Life Inc. is a Washington DC based non-profit organization whose mission is to "Transform individual lives and whole communities through the teaching, convening and  presenting of hip-hop culture".

Q: We ran into in you in Blagden Alley while artist, COBY KENNEDY, was painting 1 of the 6 murals WBL has produced through the "Murals DC Program" please tell us more about this program and your affiliation with Mr. Kennedy.

A: Murals DC is a public art program started four years ago by Council Member Jim Graham in order to combat illegal graffiti in the city.  The focus of this program is to create legal public art creation opportunities to encourage more youth to participate in the creation of legal public art.

I have known Coby for a number of years, he is an extremely dynamic artist, he has been coming back to DC more often and we are looking forward to doing more projects together in future.

Q: We understand Words Beats & Life Inc. offers classes.  Give us an idea of what types of classes are offered and what the age range of the average student is please.

A: WBL runs a multi-site after-school program called the DC Urban Arts Academy, at the academy we teach the core elements of hip-hop culture. Djing, Emceeing, B-Boying and Graffiti. In addition, Music Production and Digital Photography are offered. These classes run throughout the week free of charge, to students ages 5-23.  We have campuses in Northwest, South east and Northeast.

Q: You mentioned that local hip hop & graffiti artists are involved in teaching who are they and what do they teach?

A: WBL has for a number of years worked within the local hip-hop community many of our instructors are practicing artist in their particular craft who are known for their talents, DJ R.B.I. and B-Boy T.O.Y.Z. to name a few.  

Q: You have a 6 day teach-in running November 16-21 called, "Remixing The Art of Social Change: A Hip-Hop Approach - International Teach-In".  Sounds amazing!  Can you tell us what participants can look forward to and where this is happening.

A: Each year WBL convenes its teach-in as a way for artist, organizations, academics, and those involved with the hip-hop education movement to gather for a week of capacity building and presentations that reflect the current state of the field. The goal of the teach-in is promote cross organizational collaboration, to establish promising practices and to celebrate the best contributors to our field.

Q: For those interested in donating to your non-profit, how and where may they do so?

A: They can visit our web site http://www.wblinc.org  or mail your donation to 1525 Newton Street NW DC 20010  ATTN: Words Beats & Life Inc.

Q: Cory, you are a Musician and Graffiti artist in your own right, please tell us about The L.A.B. and your new release as well as the upcoming Anniversary Gallery Show you have coming up.  

A: The L.A.B. is the vocal arm of the 2DK L.A.B. a hip-hop artist guild I co-founded in 1994.  The L.A.B. released our first full length album in February of this year titled On The Home Front, and we have a new song we are spreading around titled My New Balance Be Like That, which is an ode to the sneaker of choice for the DMV.

The 2DK L.A.B will celebrate its 16th anniversary with a gallery show titled 26 Weapons, which will open November 20th in conjunction with WBL's week long teach-in. This show will feature work by 2DK L.A.B. members, and will be dedicated to the theme of individual letter studies.  

Q: Name the 5 songs & artists that are looping on your play list right now.

A:  - The L.A.B. - My New Balance Be Like That- Remix by BuBu the Producer (lol, but it is the truth)

- Adele - Cold Shoulder

- Courtney Dowe - On The Rise

-  Kokayi - DCB

-  Head-Roc/ Infinite Loop - Nations Cap

Coby Kennedy