Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Christylez Bacon! You may have seen him at any one of hundreds of hi-fi & lo-fi events about the DC area in the last year.  The man is in demand!  As we head in to 2011 to see what he's working on, we also look back with the Human Beatbox to touch on what has been a stellar year for this local DC artist.  

Q:  As 2010 comes to a close we are guessing that your Grammy nomination was the highlight of the year for you.  Please tell us about the children's album you were nominated for and your experience attending the ceremony. 

 A:  The children's album is called BANJO TO BEATBOX. It was a collaborative project with Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer, who are heavy-weights in both children's & old-time traditional music. This project 

< Photo Credit:  Mark Silva

 started as a cool way for us to explore the possibilities of our musical worlds with Human-Beatboxing, rhyming, ukulele, banjos, and washboards. Attending the festivities surrounding the Grammys was great! The Strathmore staff accompanied me there and I got to experience the red carpet, the after-party, etc...

Q:  You recently appeared at a SOFAR SOUNDS show at Marvins where you mentioned DC Mambo Sauce!  For those of us who don't know, what is Mambo Sauce!?

A:  Mambo Sauce is god inside of a sauce bottle that is only used for fried-chicken and french-fries! Actually, it's a sauce native to Washington DC, that can only be found in Carry-Outs here. I have a song "Mambo Sauce" which explains all the details.

Q:  You are currently working on a new album called "Hip Hop Unplugged", sounds great.  What can you tell your fans about it and when do you expect to release it?

A: I'm expecting to have it released by Summer 2011, but it's a great small body of work and I want to make sure that it has all the technical expertise that it needs. So, I'm not trying to rush music, even in this age where we want everything to be on a fast-food schedule. This album uses all acoustic instrumentation, vocal trio, and a string & horn section over my songs as well as guitar playing and human-beatboxing.

Q:  As an aspiring musician growing up in South East DC who were your greatest (local) influences?

A:  I draw my influences from various sources, but DC has influenced me rhythmically through Go-Go, and crowd participation. Those influencers would be:  Chuck Brown, Rare Essence, Backyard Band, Northeast Groovers, etc. 

Q:  Not only are you working on musical projects but you've taken on a project in fashion.  Tell us about your collaboration with designers Bill Johnson of Transient & Hugh & Crye?   

Photo Credit: Joshua Yospyn for WORN Magazine >

A:  I love what both HUGH & CRYE and Bill Johnson of Transient Clothing, are doing. They are filling a void in mens clothing. Hugh & Crye are creating mens dress shirts that fit according to body types and give a tailored look without the tailor prices. Bill Johnson styled me in his creations for the 2010 Grammy's. Both of them have pieces that match my vision, and I'm working with both to create some custom pieces that I hope other can dig as well!

Q:  Please give the details for your upcoming appearances at PG County Libraries in January & February. 

A:  This has to be my 2nd year doing the PG County Libraries. Yayyyyyy for consistency!!!! I travel to all the PG County Library locations using public transportation, performing my One-Man Orchestra concert for those communities, while trying to avoid catching a cold.

Q:  You also mentioned that a monthly musical series is in the works; what can you share with us about that?

A:  I can't reveal too many details because it's still in the incubating phase and I'm still thinking about the perfect venue for it, but every gig that I've done in 2010 (190 Gigs as of Dec 31st) have been people booking me to perform for the events, series, schools, etc...  I want to establish a performance-home where I can introduce audiences to my musical tastes and influences in a live & collaborative setting.

Q:  Finally, what are the 5 songs (and artists) that have been looping on your iPod this week?

Donald Fagen & Steely Dan
Earth Wind & Fire
Bust a Rhymes (Early 90s Era)
Kanye West (The New Album)

Photo Credit: Mark Silva 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

He'll Rock Your Amadeus! Q&A with Andrew Bucket, Booking Agent for the Velvet Lounge & Editor-In-Chief of "The Folly"

Photo Credit: Shauna B Alexander

Q:  You book all of the acts who perform at the The Velvet Lounge and speak fondly of your experience there thus far.  Share with us how you originally landed there and how your role has evolved...
A:  Well in like 2006 I played a show at Velvet with my old band The Huzbandz, and the sound guy Rob Curtis thought we were the best thing he'd ever seen and became obsessed with us. The rest of the staff thought we were annoying, but none the less, we started hanging out there every night, and it was great because our old stomping ground Wonderland had been overrun at this point by the date-rapey contingent that now dominates it.

The improv psych and noise scene was mostly centered around Velvet and Scott Verrastro's house 611 Florida at that point, and we went to all those shows and were basically the new-b's of the noise crowd.  My band mate Haley actually moved in with Damian Languell who lived two blocks away from Velvet Lounge, so it was like the party was either at the house, or at Velvet, and after shows all the bands would party at their place. 

One night I came to hang out and Rob Curtis was icing his face because Damian had attacked him and he's like "want a job?" So I took over Damian's door shifts and worked as a doorman there for about a year. I was probably the best doorman they had, even though I am very small, because I made it a point to know who people were, and I was really good at managing the money. I got a gun pulled on me when I first started, after this guy was accused of grabbing a girls ass, and I talked the guy into putting it away and leaving, this is while the other employees were hiding behind the bar.

So when Scott Verrastro moved to Philly he asked me if I wanted to be his apprentice and take over booking Velvet, which was the craziest thing I'd ever heard in my life. I was a door man, and I made like no money, and was scraping by and not even able to pay my rent, so this would mean that my rent was more than covered every month and I would get to put shows together. I was really, really, really bad at it for five months and eventually fucked up enough times that I became OK at it. 

Things kind of blew up when we started doing DJ's downstairs which was something unique to my "administration," because Scott didn't want it to be a party scene in the way a lot of clubs were going, but I had actually been friends with a lot of DJ's since the way-back-when days of Wonderland. The Nouveau Riche guys, and most of the bigger DJ's were all hanging out there all the time when me and Haley were, and we were such good friends, and I had really fun times at their parties, so it was just a no-brainer to do DJ's at Velvet and it totally changed the club from the "seedy dive" that the press always calls it, to a pretty scrappy contender on any night.

Q:  Who are some of the acts & DJ's we can expect to see at Velvet over the holiday season?   

A:  Every second Tuesday we have Baby Alcatraz and Kid Congo Powers, and Ian Svenonius Ian Svenonius drops by for that  all the time when he's in town, so you can really count on that night to rock your Amadeus.  

Q:  We were disappointed that we didn't make it to see Patti Smith this past weekend at the National Portrait Gallery.  You went!  Give us your impressions.

A:   I had been really furious about the Hide/Seek squabbles, for two reasons: the obvious was the fact that the gallery bent to the qualms of one conservative senator who doesn't even live here, and secondly, that the piece was elevated to this martyr status and to be honest I don't even think it was that interesting a piece of art.

I mean, if you go to Jerusalem there are probably ants crawling on crosses all over the place. I mean, ANTS? Its not like there are maggots, or some other symbol of putrid decay or something like that. I mean, ants are hive bugs, I mean they are ARMY bugs and they are super strong.

SO really, this thing has super strong army bugs crawling on the cross so ants are this amazingly edifying symbol for christians, you know, onward christian soldier!

So anyway, the other problem was people were kind of waiting for Patti to come and deliver the gospel to us, and when she got here she was basically like "shut up guys, this isn't my problem."

And that was the biggest revelation to me and was the source epiphany of my piece I wrote for

Q:  You write for BYT!  We've read some of your reviews, you're a freaking riot.  You've said that you appreciate how they give their writers such  license & freedom to write exactly what they want.  What has this meant to you as a writer? 
A:  It's become a hub, and that's been good for everyone in show-biz because of its character in posting arts events. Characteristically you get posted if your event is well put together, and is looking to be a big romp. Really, people who do house shows wouldn't want it posted on a popular website anyway.

As a writer though, it's been amazing because there isn't really a pitch process for me. I sometimes bounce ideas off of Libby just to see what she thinks, but I could really go nuts on anything I want. That isn't to say I'd write total nonsense just to be irreverent, but I could definitely try things out without worrying that an editor will try to reel me in.

I started with BYT in 2009 when I went to SXSW in Austin, and Libby had heard about my facebook videos which were this like inside joke between me and some people I knew, and one of these people included me in some top ten list of 2008...ANYWAY, Libby asked me to make a video of SXSW, and I shot and edited the thing in Austin, and uploaded it to youtube. 


After that I did a bunch of interviews and show reviews, and few one off pieces (I did this best of wikipedia thing where I just posted all my favorite weirdo pages).

I hit a real stride with my advice column, which was pretty popular there for a while, and I got a lot of readership that was outside of the normal set for BYT (lawyers and staffers and such).

Since then, I've just been doing pieces like the Cyndi Lauper show or the Patti Smith thing, where I write on stuff I'm particularly invested in either emotionally, or chemically.

Q:  "The Folly" is a literary journal that you are spear heading with a colorful cast of others.  Who is involved, what is your vision & when is the first issue coming out?!

A:   Editorial Board:
General Manager of Marvin, poet, actor, playwright, and performance artist.
-Adrian Parsons
Performance artist, member of the band Exactly.
-Jennifer Jeremias
Co-Founder of Bored of Trade, and Tooth and Nail craft fair 
-Holly Thomas
Washington Post, writer
Comedian, actor, and writer
-Ryan Hunter Mitchell
Celebrity hair stylist, musician, and writer
-Haley Dolan
Bread of Many Stationary, proprietor
-Madeleine Starkey

Our creative support at large:
-Philippa Hughes
-Lora Moinkoff
-Svetlana Legetic
Brightest Young Things
-Glodine Young
The Fridge, artspace

The journal is the brainchild of myself and Lex Paulson, and we sort of drunkenly said we would do it, and I guess Lex is of the Hemingway ilk-- doing everything you said you would do when drunk-- and forced me to pony up and actually do it. So we made a list of the most interesting people we know and in one week had our first meeting on the roof of Madame's Organ. The people at the first meeting are largely the ones who stuck around, and we picked up some really cool people since then.

My "vision" is more about my taste in writing which is really simple. I feel like I've always known these kinds of people who don't really self identify as writers or as writerly or as literary types, but they will write something on their facebook or their blog and its AMAZING or hilarious, or brilliant just because they themselves are one of those three things, and so it's like they are better than writers because they are writing out of a compulsion instead of a practice. So I just wanted to ask interesting people to write me whatever they wanted to write about, and I could trust that whatever they gave me would be great.

Q:  You and local artist Adrian Parson are going to be curating visual art shows!  What can we look forward to?  Art, MUSIC, secret shows???

A:  Same shtick, different media. We'll be showing artists who aren't really artists. It's called Freaking Nobodies, and it's going to happen in January at Red Door most likely.  

Q:  Finally, what are the 5 songs (and artists) that have been looping on your iPod this week?

A:  I made you a primary list and an alternate list:

Ellen Foley- We belong to the night
Moon Duo- Stumbling 22nd St
Sinead O’connor- i want your (hands on me)
Oppenheimer Analysis- Don't be seen with me
Tori Amos- Winter

Mazzy Star- Ride It On (live- the black session- paris 1993)
Yaz- Only You
Kurt Vile and the Violators- Good Lookin’ Out
Communards- Don't Leave Me This Way
Psychic TV- Have Mercy 

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Drums & Swagger: Q&A with Drummer & Producer Kevin Murphy

DC Native Kevin Murphy has honed his drumming chops for the past 20 years touring with both local & national acts.  We recently caught up with him and talked about life on the road, Randy Houser, the music biz, his experience as a producer, Willie Nelson and his cousin, Dante Ferrando (owner of THE BLACK CAT). 

Q:  You've been touring pretty much full time with southern rock artist RANDY HOUSER, tell us just how heavy the tour schedule has been and about the recording of his latest album, "They Call Me Cadillac", that came out in November.

A:  I filled in for Randy earlier in the year for a month, and when he called me to join up more permanently they were in the middle of the typical summer schedule, which is really heavy for country artists.  I had no part in the recording of the record and had only known Randy socially, so I didn’t even know there was a record coming out.  The schedule was 4 nights a week already, so I didn’t notice a big change on the release date.  Randy’s disc is a real record, with real flaws and a truth in it’s tone.  We don’t really mimic it live at all, we’re much thicker and present a larger wall of sound, but I like that, and so does Randy. 

Q:  You mentioned that you & Randy Houser will be appearing on both Late Night with David Letterman and the Jimmy Fallon Show!  Can you tell us any of the details and when we should be looking out for that?  

A:  hmmmm….the details on those are gonna be tough.  I really don’t know WHEN things will come up, they just will.  We were scheduled for Letterman in September and Fallon for the night before Thanksgiving, but were bumped.  Randy keeps in touch with Letterman, who is a big fan of Cadillac’s, so I’m sure we’ll get back on there soon.

Q:  You've toured for almost 10 years with the band TONIC .  For those who aren't familiar with them, who are they and what's the latest?

A:  Tonic’s biggest hit was called “If You Could Only See”, and I think it was released in ’97.  I remember being positively sick of hearing it on the radio by the time Earth To Andy opened for them and we became friends.  I think the Tonic guys got the shaft, in a way.  They had some big success, but were lumped in with other groups of the time and didn’t really ever get to own their own identity, except among the real fans.  In my opinion, they were and have continued to be the most artistic group to have come out of that era for pop rock.  I’ve enjoyed my time with Emerson, Dan and Jeff.  I think they’re great musicians and writers, and I’m sad that I don’t get many opportunities to play with them now.  They have a record that came out earlier this year, all of them produce, Jeff is a composer for TV shows, and Em is working on his writing here in Nashville.  I’m happy that he and I can see each other regularly.

Q:  Growing up, what drummer did you look up too & try to model yourself after? 

A:  Bonham.  He was the king.  I loved Myron Grombacher, who was Pat Benetar’s drummer and NEVER got the proper credit for his skill and taste.  I liked Billy Cobham, who was a fusion guy.  I liked everyone who hit drums, really.  I don’t even know who played drums for Men At Work, but “Who Can it Be?” was the first song I ever played on a drumset.”  I liked that band.   

Q:  After 20  years on the road, how would you say the business has changed and what do you think will be expected of young musicians coming up now?

A:  I think the paradigm has obviously shifted on every level and continues to.  I think it’ll settle down soon, but the shift was ugly.  Not only has the business end changed drastically because of the internet, but touring is harder from the economy.  Another notable change is that PEOPLE have changed.  They stopped buying CONTENT and focused only on INTENT.  The sizzle.  I think people are growing tired of hype and really just want to see a songwriter or band play shit from the heart again.  Taylor Swift is huge because people believe her.  Jamey Johnson and Houser are finding an audience because they are EXACTLY what they seem.  I think a younger musician or group should focus on developing their skill and communication more these days.  It wouldn’t hurt to see some younger acts dig a little deeper to discover where their idols got it from, and extend the art rather than mimic.  I was producing a band last year that kept referring to other bands as the benchmark, saying shit like “we want this to be like Sevendust”, and I just kept wondering why they weren’t interested in investigating what it would sound like as THEM.  Tons of singers in Nashville are trying to be Carrie Underwood, but who the hell wants another one?  She’s good at that, there’s no reason to have another version.  Younger artists need to get off their lazy asses and do the work.  Talking big is great, walking big is better.  You have to look across from each other and ask the hard questions, give the hard answers, hug it out, and make your statement.  I’m proud to have come up in the scene when I did, man.  You could go see a festival or show and catch Everything, Gibb Droll, Egypt, Almighty Senators, Jimmie’s Chicken Shack, Dave Matthews Band, Fighting Gravity and 5 other bands, and ALL OF THEM sounded unique and interesting.  All had their own style that they had created.  I don’t see that these days.  Very few young acts have the balls to really make a statement.  They want fame and money, they don’t really have anything to say.  It’s sad.  I hope more artists and groups start to rise up.  It’s starting to turn around, I hope the pace picks up.  There’s good music out there, you just have more shit to sift through these days.    

Q:  You started out on the DC music scene but have recently moved to Nashville!  As a musician, it must feel great to live in the heart of a town with such a rich musical history & where many of the street signs are shaped guitar picks!

A:  Nashville is great.  The community is smaller than one would think, and everyone genuinely wants to help out.  I feel alive there, and I love that there are simply more options, musically, each night than in most towns.  The musicianship is ridiculous.  It’s a different level of player here.  Every time I hear “I’m gonna make it” from a rookie I want to take them to any given club in Nashville on any given night and say “here ya go, Slappy.  Everyone here has played tours for 15,000 people a night, and half of us have had record deals, some of us more than one, and we’re still fighting it out for the good tours and sessions.  If you’ve got the balls to jump into the fire, welcome.”  I should actually do that for a TV show...   

Q:  Hey wait a minute?  We just remembered, isn't Dante, who owns the Black Cat, your cousin?

A:  Yup!  Dante Ferrando is indeed my first cousin.  We were mostly into different scenes, and his was one I didn’t appreciate until long after he’d exposed me to it.  I’ve met people out on the road that speak of him as if he’s a superstar!  Henry Rollins remembered him fondly, Dave Grohl and I talked about Dante being a badass for 20 minutes before he exclaimed that “us Virginia boys, man, we’re different.  We’re gonna take it all over!”  I’m a little bummed that Dante and I never really got to hang out.  Our lives are so busy that I only see him once a year.  He’s tighter with my sister Dana, I think because he was the guy she’d call when running her club (Trax in Charlottesville) back in the day when things got stressful.

Q:  You'll be on tour with Willie Nelson next summer!  What's the line up and how cool is that?!

A:  I’m not sure of the final line up, but from what I understand right now it’s Jake Owen, Houser, Jamey Johnson and Willie.  Another guy I like named Lee Brice told me a couple of nights ago that he thinks that he’s on it, too.  I hope Randy keeps me around for awhile, I’d love to do it, the idea of spending a summer supporting Willie is amazing, and would be one of those incredible tales to hold dear for life.  I’m hope if some jackass cop decides to bust Willie next year that I’m with him.  That would be awesome. 

Q:  You’re producing now, as well.  What projects are you working on?

A:  Well, I’ve always produced, either in bands or for local and regional artists in Virginia, and wanted to continue as I branched out in Tennessee.  I was looking for an opportunity and thankfully the first artist that I toured with, JOSH GRACIN, liked my ideas on the bus during late night rides.  When he signed with a new label, he asked them to let he and I produce his new project and they (AVERAGE JOE RECORDS) went for it.  We spent a couple of months really making something that defined him and satisfied his tastes, while allowing me to sonically make it what it needed to be, and I’m really proud of it.  I think it comes out in early 2011, and perhaps it allows both of us to continue building our careers.   I’m currently working with two female artists, LoriBeth Hogan, who is unsigned, super talented and a lot of fun to work with, using Rob Thomas’ engineer, Mark Dobson, who is great, and Danielle Peck.  Danielle has had some hits and wants to redefine what and who she is in 2011, and I’m excited to get things moving.  We’re picking songs for her now, trying to find the right statements and texture.  I’ve got a couple of other things that are possibilities in 2011, but I’m in a holding pattern for the go ahead to move forward on those.  I love producing.  I like helping to strengthen a voice and an aesthetic.  I hope to add and build through 2011 and beyond with that aspect of my career.

Q:  Finally, what are the 5 songs (and artists) that have been looping on your iPod this week?

A:  I’ve been home this week working on finding songs for a project I’m producing soon, so a lot of my listening has been demos and stuff like that, but my “clean the house” mix has everything from “Pet” by A Perfect Circle to “So Hard” by Rhianna.  I love Jay Z’s production.  The mix has a cut from Loretta Lynn’s record that Jack produced, some Dead Weather, Skynard, Lil Wayne, Earth Wind & Fire, Fleetwood Mac, and a side project of mine called “Loose Cougar”.  I’m pretty random when it comes to what’s playing.  I’ll either turn it or I won’t.  I like stuff that is what it claims to be.  If I smell pretense, I turn it off.   Some stuff is fine, but I just don’t care for it, and I sometimes can’t explain it.  I don’t like The Doors.  Never have.  I turn Kings of Leon off immediately when it comes on.  Slipknot’s albums sound like shit, but I like the intent.  I like things with swagger.”

“You know what?  That’s it.  That’s my shit.  I like things with swagger.”

Friday, December 10, 2010







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