Wednesday

The Evolution of The Outlet

I first heard the tremendous talent from this rock band with an expressive jazz, funk style band self introduced as FreeJay, featuring Big Mountain Little Everest, coming from the Coca~Cola stage at the Cherry Blossom Festival on March 22, 2012! I was impressed as two band mates "flipped the script" with the lead singer and the drummer switching out during their high energy performance. I introduced myself and passed my contact information to FreeJay band manager, Jessica, before the band departed the stage in hopes of gaining an interview with the band members.


Jessica contacted me and I was invited to interview the guys of FreeJay before their band practice on March 25. I was stoked to sit down with Jessica and the band mates to get a lesson in their music!

FreeJay was initially comprised in 2006 of front man Jeff "FreeJay" Warren and evolved with time to become the current band, FreeJay & $2 Fortys, which has been playing together for a month and a half at the time of our interview, although most of the material is previous. In speaking with Jeff, he will mesmerize you with entertaining conversation filled with stories and jokes. After taking part in definitively making forty six CDs through alternate projects, Jeff was determined he would make his own album, "and just find cats that just want to go play." Jeff is very talented as a lead vocalist, song writer, guitarist, drummer, and pianist. Jeff enthusiastically admits he has always written the same type of music, but the music as played "can range from simple to an eleven piece band with strings and horns and everything else, either way, it just sounds great." Jeff is in tune with his song writing style as he writes what comes, he says to sit down and think to write just didn't work for him, but to just sit down and let go, allow emotions to flow and "bam there it is." Jeff describes, "people say I hate my bad life, no - I'm learning to embrace it because it is the fuel to the fire. If I would just be content with what God has given me, it would be beautiful and that is where I am at." He will have you wondering where does the talent end, a better question is where does the talent begin?


Jeff met Michael "Mike" Roark in 2004 as Jeff played drums for another band. Michael charmingly joked, "they just threw a bass at me and I picked it up and started playing." In actuality, Michael is as multifaceted as his band mates with the ability to play bass, guitar, and drums with plans of performing back up vocals in the future. Michael began playing the first four guitar chords as taught by his older brother, from there picked the rest up on his own. In 2008, Michael graduated the Master Recording Program II (audio recording school) at The Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences. Michael is currently attending classes at Macon State College toward a degree in Music Theory and Composition. Michael describes himself as "more conserved, I like to observe then just annoy people with witless banter." Cail describes Michael as, "able to do things on a bass that most people can't do on a regular guitar." During our conversation, Jeff correlated Michael to Beethoven. For inquisitive minds, I found out that Michael owns a Ibanez SR405QM Electric Bass Guitar that he plays in FreeJay & $2 Fortys. Michael owns a pretty serious guitar as well, a Schecter HELLRAISER-C1 Electric Guitar w/Floyd Rose tremolo.


Jeff and Cail "Boxxx" Huggins met in 2005 while Jeff played for "Face Down." Cail, 24, is a vivid artist as he plays drums, sings, writes songs, and plays guitar. Cail expresses "the music is about life, about celebrating." Cail says of Free Jay, "we all three bring something different to the table - like Jeff has his way of playing and singing that is really soulful and really uplifting. Mike brings the funk and groove to it, the mechanics of it all." Cail professed he has only been playing the drums for approximately a year and a half, has "learned finesse from playing with Jeff and Mike."

Cail's music influences include Alice In Chains, 311, Sublime, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Metallica, and New Radicals. These multi-dimensional influences come to light in FreeJay's music.


What is in a name? Jeff explains FreeJay means "Free as a bird...it is a symbolization of who I am, how I was raised, what I have been through, and I believe these guys can relate."

In regards to $2 Fortys, "FreeJay" has a 1940 microphone he was using in rehearsals and jokes came of the other 2 members and Jessica in regards, leading up to the name.

Side Projects:
As if FreeJay & $2 Fortys were not enough to keep Cail "Boxxx" busy, he collaborates with his friend, Famine, on a side project known as High Class and Homeless, a notorious rap duo. Famine stated that the name for this project stems from an incident that occurred about four years ago when he borrowed his Mom's boyfriend's late model Mercedes. While Famine was driving the car, his Mom and her boyfriend broke up, Famine decided to stay out in the car, driving, sleeping and eating in the Mercedes for three days, returning the vehicle upon the make up of his Mom and her boyfriend. "Boxxx" expresses that High class and Homeless is "a clean living band," no drugs and little to no alcohol consumption, although they have a song that pokes fun at drugs, called "Bobby Bouche'." "Boxxx" addressed his concern of bands lacking the support of others, he feels that bands should collectively help one another by "uplifting and boosting one another up," rather than act in each for their own.


FreeJay is also collaborating on a side project compiled of "heavier stuff," called Big Mountain, Little Everest. In fact, the Cherry Blossom Festival performance was a compilation of material from FreeJay & $2 Fortys featuring Big Mountain, Little Everest. Jeff explains the thought behind this project, "Little Everest, for some people, is the pinnacle of climbing up that mountain per say, they have been at the at the top of that pinnacle, they have bigger mountains to climb...I have been through life, I have seen every up and down, that is why I have something to write about. I don't just sit down and write out lyrics, it just comes from the heart. Truth is it has worked, I used to write, think stuff out and it just didn't work for me. I sit down and let go and bam there it is, it is surreal sometimes, but at the same time I realize we can get somewhere, because the people are going to make the music, per say."

With that, Jeff recited these lyrics from "Notion":

Little Charlotte is on the corner
doing what her mama taught her
selling her body for some drugs
but if she'd look deep inside,
she'd see things that she hides,
and all that is missing is love
but she never knew a notion of fear
behind they lyrics: "the world is programmed, and she feels no fear, doesnt realize that she is destorying her life, she going to end up in the same pattern and burden that her mom did."
Cail feels this hits home, "a lot of people see that as just another song, but as I see it, that is a true story." Jeff concurred and added, "at the top of that pinnacle, they have bigger mountians to climb."


Harmonious balance...
Cail shares, "it is really neat we all three bring something different to the table, Jeff has this way of playing and singing that is really soulful and really uplifting. And then he (speaking now of Mike) brings some funk and all the groove to it, I feel like without bass in the band, without a good player like Mike, it would be difficult and different sounding in the band, just in the way he plays and has a certain sound, he brings the mechanics of it all basically. The way they work with each other it really brings out the essence of what each is trying to bring to the table." It is really easy for me to translate it on drums with Jeff also being an amazing drummer, he shows me alot because I really came into all of this not really knowing crap about anything and Jeff said 'Dont worry about it man, just play what you feel and I will teach you here and there, if there is a certain part you've got to learn later we will bang out the details, we will figure it out and we will do it together." Cail continues, "I have been playing drums maybe a year to a year and a half in being serious with it. Working with these guys has done nothing but made me better, learning finesse is probably the hardest thing I have had to do, because I am so heavy handed, emotions is what it is all about behind the drums."
Jeff advices "finesse is everything in music."

Inspiration...
Success comes the hard way for Jeff, "it is just experience the hard way for me" because he has collaborated on 46 Cds (including his own, which is to come out soon), Jeff stresses, "that is just forty six of the bands that were serious enough to get something done, that's not counting the other 700 that never made it out of one days practice, or the garage. It is hard, I think they all have the desire, they lack the drive. To be honest, I'd lack the drive too, but circumstances in life drive me which also gives me the inspiration to write. It's like people say I hate my bad life, well, no I'm learning to embrace it because that feeds the fuel to the fire and I feel like I ought to just be content with what God has given me even if it is bad, it is going to turn out beautiful and that is where I am at. I have nothing to fear, from now on I will be known as FreeJay, that is what my mom calls me, that has always been my nickname and it says alot..and I say why not? It is obviously a path I should have took because it has worked. I like when things work."

mixed tracks...
With debate, 47 albums were worked on in actuality, Jeff states, "we did an album but never played together." Mike clarifies, "I was emailed tracks and I just laid bass down and a couple of song programs I have gotten, - not one practice with that particular band," Mike laughs. Jeff adds, "good material though - could have worked, there you go with that - all the talent and desire but no drive. It is so weird what happened." Mike chimes in, "another guitar player gone bad." Jeff stated, "that is why I like to write my own stuff because this is what I hate, you write all this good music, you have a unique sound and you put your heart and soul, five years later, three albums in and boom they just quit, you're screwed, because if a label was interested, they want the whole package."

A background in music...
Jeff shares personally, "the truth is I met my grandma on my dad's side for the first time after 28 years, I met my dad and that whole side of my family finally. My grandma happened to be a famous R & B singer, Leona Rogers. Jeff expressed excitement, "I was like holy cow, man, wow! And I got to meet her and she said when you learn to use your voice, because I did metal or something and she said when you learn to sing and do soul then you have it right and she said I know it's in you. I said I have thought so for a long time and she said well, you're right. So, Try that on FreeJay. That is what my grandma said to me and it just blew me away." Jeff and his grandmother spoke further in regards to his talent and career and to that, Jeff says, "Almost overnight, two worlds of a difference, like a studio opened up, all these people came, we just filled in the gaps, got in the studio to get this project done, including Mike who recorded on the album as well. The album turned out beautiful, I cannot wait to get it back. Beauty is, it is done now, we can finally establish my grandma was right. Like the other day, we just came to play, we didnt know how it was going to turn out and the response we got out of the crowd, all sorts of ages!"


Networking in Harmony...
Jeff, a Macon native, lived a few years in Tennessee. Of the Tennesse scene, Jeff tells "on the scene the people are super, super supportive at the club, the scene and all the bands are wide open. Starting musicians can play on the street or at ball games and an appreciation comes to them. Down here - I can say this because I have been in the scene, in every aspect of it, even played a street party...In Macon, Georgia, it is much more difficult to find that support". Jeff elaborated that he was in Tennessee, performing at a football game at UT and a patron requested that Jeff put a hat out for tips. Jeff put his drum snare case out and kept on playing. In a matter of about four or five hours he made little over $800. After feeling the support of the scene, Jeff spoke of finding a rare coin in what he recieved in tips that night. He took the coin in and recived $14 for that one quarter. Jeff says "I want to bring that here, now that I have got some real connections in Tennessee, alot with the clubs and radio stations"... Jeff states, "The Hummingbird is connected in that scene, in a sense, they bring in the good groups to the scene. I want to try to talk with the owners and people we know in different clubs and try to do that here because it creates a good network for the bands." Mike stated, "It would be nice to get a good circuit going." Jeff agrees, "that is what's missing, In the nineties, the circuits were everywhere, just get on one and it was amazing, the bands were cool and you played all these cool cities and you knew that every club you were going to was a cool club, good crowd, good people whose supportive of the music." Jeff enthusiastically proclaims, "The Press Club - thats the coolest venue I have ever been to, anywhere, so far - it's small but the crowd, the atmosphere, the bands - its like no other." That is the atmosphere Jeff wishes to bring into Macon.
Mike shared, "something that bothers me about Macon is the fact that it claims to be a music city yet there is hardly any music in it." Mike articulates, "I am not saying the talent wasn't here, I was saying that there are limited places to play." Cail added, "There is so much music, that there is so little opportunity to be heard, for instance, the Power Station requires you to have a press kit." According to Cail, this is a concern as alot of musicians aren't aware as to how to acquire press kit.

Room for Music Growth...
Jeff is a veteran at spreading his love of music, "look, I used to do this in the ninties, and I believe it helped, I used to go and set up in Central City Park, create our own show. It's free, it's not against the law and as long as you're out by ten o'clock, it was perfectly cool. we would get hundreds of people down there and have our own show. Everybody would just set up on the gazebo, play until you're done, another band would set up and just created our own shows. But that created something so unique down there that it carried over onto Cherry Street. In the ninties there were hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people on Cherry Street. Now there may be a hundred people on Cherry Street." It's starting to grow again, I noticed some little stores opening back up and Mercer getting the Villas, kind of enhancing the college and that helps the city." Jeff elaborated that Mercer (or any independent entity), could start a local radio station, similar to what he witnessed in Tennessee, to help promote local music amongst the big hits, offering local musicians the opportunity to send in their music to the station for potential rotation. Mike warns, "you would have to find out what regulations they have." Jeff shared, "you used to not get the games televised, we are now starting to get the Mercer Bear games televised, people get into that...if Mercer were to get a football team, it would be where it's at!" Jeff used to perform at local college games in Tennessee, so he sees potential for Macon there as well.

Growing Ideas...
Jeff and a friend want to start "The Four Seasons Festival, every season we want to have it in the same location, like a three day weekend event and bring in bands from everywhere, and all these big bands and at the very end of the night have one headliner, don't have the financials now. I actually have the connections to make it happen."


All in good fun...
Jeff broke up the serious talk with an amusing joke in a sombrero.
Mike joked, "It only takes Jeff seven hours to do a two hour interview."
Cail poked fun at Jeff telling nearly his life story, "I am FreeJay", Cail giving a brief break down of events and adding ...."by the way my left hand got cut off in the war." Jokes continued about Jeff's conversational review, Jessica throws in a joke, "he is just excited about seeing actual people." Cail says of Jeff, "we are what you see, we are very comfortable people, man, that is basically how it is. Jeff, he is a goof ball, but at the same time he is as cool as water in a swimming pool." Of course, laughs continue to erupt. Mike jokes about Jeff's sweater, "Next show we do, you got to wear that Cosby sweater, man." Jeff counters, "I will have my pudding pops sitting on the stage."


Influences...
I finally was able to turn my attention to the quieter member of FreeJay & $2 Fortys, inquire about Mike's music background. Mike shared he began playing bass in 2000, Cail chimes in "A.D.," breaking out another laugh amongst us. Michael admits "I was a band geek in school and Captain of my percussion line back in high school." After high school, he decided to learn another instrument and "picked up a bass and started playing Metallica." That was the first influence, Mike adds "let's see if I can play this and I will be all right." Mike was further influenced by Jimi Hendrix, Rush, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Dead Kennedy's.

Natural talent...
Jeff, aka "FreeJay," began playing a snare drum at the early age of four. Jeff recieved his first set of drums at nine and was a comfortable musician at tweleve. "Drums - my natural talent, I guess," says Jeff. At fourteen, Jeff took up playing acoustic guitar. He learned to play by ear and the talent has grown more so through the years. Jeff confesses, "I always wanted to play guitar, but was too lazy to take lessons, so over the years I learned to play by ear." Jeff admits, "I am very theatrical as well." He has performed in a nun costume with Kiss-style makeup, a performance to this effect actually was included in a video music compilation that Jeff shared.

Word...
Cail has been playing guitar for about 15 years, he elaborates, "I'm not a master solo artist or anything, I try my best to pull a solo out. You either have it or you don't, sometimes you just have to do it like it or not, but the show must go on. I learned by ear, I still do not know how to read music to this day. The drums for me, is a new experience all together, I like to say you got to be schizophrenic a little bit to play the drums, man - everything you have, every appendage is doing something completely different, man". Cail continues, "I am just tapping into my schizophrenia. It is a big world, man, but you got to exist in it man, to come into it at this band, because we do so many different things, not only in FreeJay & $2 Fortys, it has alot of depth to it and it's hard music to understand from a musicality stand point - it is hard to think about what you are playing (yes, Cail was picked on for saying "musicality," so just remember you heard it here first)."


Personal Thoughts Of the Music...
Jessica asked what I thought of FreeJay & $2 Fortys, I stated, "well obviously, I stayed, that says alot." I elaborated further with Jessica, "I think it will really come together for the guys. Jeff's experience is amazing. The talent of all three is unbelieveable! You know I thought a lot of them, because I gave you my contact info."

Cail expressed, "our style of music is something you don't hear every day." Cail describes FreeJay & $2 Fortys' music as "R & B mixed with a little jazz, mixed with a little southern rock, mixed with some funk, mixed with some..." Famine cuts Cail off to share, "it is like Batman riding around in the Batmobile listening to Sublime."

Jessica declares, "what I love about FreeJay & $2 Fortys and their music is that it is so eclectric, it isn't this genre or that genre, they are everything and I think that is what is going to attract alot of people because it is so different. It don't matter what genre you think you like, you can listen to them and like them."

Michael affirms of FreeJay & the $2 Fortys' music, "The harmonies are good, and I like the fact that you can dance or rock out to it."

Jeff "FreeJay" says, "I am for the people, I want to appeal to everyone in the show. I am genuine in my writing, I write for me - I write what makes me happy at the moment. I am enjoying this music, I am enjoying playing it." Jeff adds, "If it doesn't work, I can say I was genuine to me."

Cail closed out my interview and FreeJay & the $2 Fortys' band practice session with a beautiful acoustic original that he wrote, "Meteors."


More to come...
I was able to catch FreeJay & $2 Fortys playing another live gig on Tuesday, March 27 at The Hummingbird Stage and Taproom! Even with an instrument mishap and a missing musician, they never cease to impress! FreeJay & the $2 Fortys can pull off anything in my book! If you ever get the chance to be captivated by this vivacious talent, be there!


Rolling with the changes...
FreeJay & the $2 Fortys underwent band member changes since our interview with an addition of full-time drummer Phillip "Pip" Park, placing Cail "Boxxx" on guitar full time. "Pip" also takes part in another project called Failtrain. Shortly thereafter, Cail "Boxxx" departed when High Class and Homeless signed a contract, requiring "Boxxx's" undivided attention for now. Freejay & the $2 Fortys replaced Cail with local guitarist Cameron Sandoval. Cameron shared that he has been playing guitar for approximately thirteen years.

No matter what comes, keep expecting the unexpected as the energy of Freejay & $2 Fortys remains unchanged for this driven band. Cail added, "All I know is that the unexpected is what you can expect from every aspect of a spectacular group of musicians...and I hope we can meet the expectations of our spectators and special fans." Does this mean Cail may return? He definately has plans to work with the guys of this vivacious band in the future.

With a growing band and fan base, a name change came into play for FreeJay & $2 Fortys. After much deliberation between the band members, the name transformed to The Outlet. Philip Park shared of their name change,"We decided not to go with the $2 Forty's because we didn't want to portray the image of we were all a bunch of 40's drinkin hoodlums. We chose The Outlet because everyone needs an Outlet in life to deal with all the wrong in the world, to escape whats going on around us. Music is probably one of the biggest outlets and we hope that our music can be that outlet for everyone."


If you would like more information and music samples, please visit:
http://www.myspace.com/freejsupreme
http://www.facebook.com/FreeJay
http://www.reverbnation.com/hiho

For upcoming gig information or to book FreeJay & $2 Fortys, please contact Jessica Boone at 478-284-9190.

Friday

Phenomenal Cherry Blossom Music Tidbits

I attended the Cherry Blossom Festival Thursday, March 22, where I witnessed Bobby Ferguson perform his original song,"Carolyn," acoustically at the Cherry Blossom Festival. Amazing song writer! Bobby followed with three cover songs including Tom Petty's "Last Dance with Mary Jane."

Bobby spoke with me briefly after his performance on The Coca-Cola stage. This performance was actually a milestone for Bobby, who has not played for an audience in some time. Bobby had surgery five months ago in regards to a nerve in his right hand, with determination to play, Matt Moncrief worked with Bobby to help regain his ability to play guitar. With due diligence, Bobby plans to release an album in June with his band, Interlude featuring Matt Moncrief.
www.reverbnation.com/bobbyfergusonandinterlude


As Bobby and I spoke, Freejay took the stage and caught my attention with the energy coming from the stage! This three member rock band blew me away as the lead vocalist/guitarist swapped places with the drummer during their show. Freejay played original songs, "Price of Gas,""Notion of Fear," Disappointed," "Game," "Sleep," "A Place," and "Goat Man." Freejay also performed Sad'e cover "No Ordinary Love". Incredible talent to say the least! I spoke with band manager, Jessica, to assure I will collaborate more with these guys to get all the details!


http://www.myspace.com/freejsupreme








I returned to the Cherry Blossom Festival for more music on Friday, March 23. This time I caught a young country music talent from Dacula by the name of David Leon! David has a star-like voice, considering he is only 19! David is quiet the entrepreneur, as he sells his own CDs and pictures (with his Mom's help). To deepen the experience, David is prepared to autograph his CDs and pictures for his fans! I certainly plan to share more about David Leon in the future!
www.reverbnation.com/DavidLeon
http://facebook.com/DavidLeonMusic

As David Leon surrendered the stage, Louise Warren was the starlet with her scarlet guitar! This young artist strummed solo and sang her original songs for a growing crowd including "This Could Be Love," "Security Breach," "Tom Cat," "Every Soldier," "My Heart Is Yours," "Camaro," "Siren," "Lavendar Sound," and her country song, "A Little Bit Yours."
http://www.louisewarrenmusic.com
http://m.facebook.com/louisewarrenmusic

Louise Warren gracefully gave up the stage to Birmingham, Alabama talent Christa Jordan! Christa has a voice that reminds me of Paramore with a clean metal/rock vibe! This being the band's first show this year, Christa Jordan shared a brand new song, "Stand Against the Storm," with an unbelievable instrumental twist that reminds me of Nirvana. Christa expressed she turned to her faith at a time she felt insignificant and unloved and in turn she wrote a very special song called "Yours," that starts out with a solo acoustic guitar and is joined collectively by the band. Christa Jordan closed with another band original, as Christa introduced band mates(each with a solo part upon introduction): Brandon Watson on guitarist, Kyle Bolton on Bass, and Hunter Reid, on drums. The purple clad band continued to play "Dreams Come True," which cleverly incorporates Aerosmith's "Dream On" at the end and back into their original artistry. Amazing (I am so going to sound bias right now, but these guys were my favorite)!

After their riveting performance, Christa Jordan was ready to cash in on her talent as she and the band sold their new CD, "Dreams Come True," to fans! I should have made the purchase, I am ready to drive to Alabama for more! Definitely keep an eye out this rock goddess Christa Jordan in the future, if you are a rock/metal fan you will love her (and if she is willing to make the trip back to Macon, I will be there)!



http://www.myspace.com/officialcjordan/music>
http://www.christajordanmusic.com/
Other sites to follow Christa Jordan at:
www.myspace.com/officialcjordan
www.facebook.com/officialcjordan
www.reverbnation.com/christajordan
www.youtube.com/christajordanrocks
Follow Christa on Twitter!
www.twitter.com/christa_jordan




I would certainly say in two days, and only a few hours at the Cherry Blossom Festival, I took in five phenomenal performances!






Sunday

The Vineyard Band

I met Amber Marie Pierce for the first time on February 3, as she sat at Louise Warren's table at The Mellow Mushroom in Macon. My first impression of Amber was she is very pretty and quiet, as her mind seemed to be elsewhere. I did not realize her talent or who she truly was until she took the stage as lead vocalist of The Vineyard Band. I fully understood in that moment why Amber seemed miles away only moments before, as she is charismatic with a June Carter like voice on stage! As if the voice wasn't enough stage presence, Amber has an eye-catching, retro microphone, which makes a great band signature piece! Mind you, I have not been a country music fan in years, this night and The Vineyard Band changed that for me! Composed original songs with cover country songs from Hank Williams III and other popular country music artists comprises The Vineyard Band. The Vineyard Band's twangy originals "Cheap Motel Rooms," "Beach," and "1941," sold me! In fact, I was not certain "Cheap Motel Rooms" and "Beach" were an authentic at first, (sure, I had never heard them), the songs seemed star-studded to me as they flowed flawlessly, vocally and musically.


On March 13, 2012, The Vineyard made "All Songs" Charts with original songs, "Cheap Motel Rooms" ranking #24 and "Funky Song" ranking #92, check out http://www.uvumi.com for more!

Fans were lucky with two opportunities to catch The Vineyard Band on Saint Patrick's Day in Macon! At four in the afternoon, The Vineyard Band was playing their popular country songs in Central City Park at The Cherry Blossom Festival. At seven in the evening, The Vineyard Band, with their names on the marquee, were the stars at The Opening Act!

After taking in the wonderful music, I wanted to know more about The Vineyard Band. Amber shared with me that she and her brother, Andrew Pierce, have collaborated on creative endeavors since childhood. Together, Amber and Andrew, devoured music by memorizing albums, creating their own musical plays and acting them out. They most loved Broadway, oldies, and country music. Amber and Andrew were rivaled by another sibling who was in a metal band, he introduced them to various forms of independent rock music, which opened their eyes to the independent world of creativity. Shortly after, Amber and Andrew were trying to learn instruments and write songs of their own. Amber and Andrew grew to form two bands, The Vineyard and Baby Blue.

The Vineyard initially started as a fusion of reggae, soul, blues, and punk rock 'n roll. Amber stated they were told if modern day "sock hops" existed, that is where they would play. Amber, Andrew, and band mates "slammed" everything they loved about music into The Vineyard.

Baby Blue was artistically different than The Vineyard, the songs were played on acoustic guitar with a beat machine, Andrew rapped, as Amber sang the hooks. Amber describes this experience as "cool," although she adds, "the band did not last long because most people think they want to be in a band, until they actually realize how much is actually involved with it."

With only Amber and Andrew left in the smolder, they decided to keep acoustics and continue songwriting.

About three years ago, Sean Cargile joined the band on bass. Sean and Amber attended college together as Music majors. They drifted apart as Sean attended Audio Engineering school, but quickly reconnected as Sean returned. Although Sean had a rock 'n roll background with little country music listening experience, he liked Amber and Andrew's songs. Amber stated, "he is just as dedicated as we are and cares about the music as much as we do," in regards to Sean being a strength to The Vineyard. Sean is incredibly talented, can play several different instruments. Amber, Andrew, and Sean share a side project group called The Haints.

The Vineyard has been through a few changes,(what band has not undergone a member change or two), during the last year. James Wolf, a local music teacher, multi instrumentalist, plays peddal Steel in The Vineyard. Amber admits, "James is the perfect addition to our band's style. We have always wanted a steel player for our music." Amber describes, "our style is a very pure form of country, authentic country usually involves peddal steel."

The newest member, Joe Jackson, joined The Vineyard a few months ago. "We have been friends for a few years and we had been wanting Joe to drum with us for awhile, but things only recently worked out for everyone," Amber says. Joe shared of his drumming experience,"started playing/beating on pans and stuff very young, around three or four - playing actual drums since about twelve. I saw Buddy Rich (big band/jazz drummer) on the Johnny Carson show and then saw Kiss' Peter Criss and I was hooked!" Joe adds "Influences...everything I've heard!"

Most recent change for The Vineyard was determining to add to the name as they have added members to the band, therefore they are now The Vineyard Band! What is behind the name one may ask? Amber answers "we are making music in a genre that is thirsty for real, down to earth, authentic music. We like to think that our music quenches that thirst, much like a vineyard provides fruit for wine." The Vineyard Band is self described as, "a young band with an old soul, bringing back sounds of traditional country and folk music with a new and unique spin. Features twangy steel peddle guitar, vocals that wail, heartfelt songwriting, lots of harmonies, and that funky bass."

The Vineyard Band is recording at Love SIC Recordings in downtown Macon, owned and engineered by Sean Cargile. The album to be titled after The Vineyard Band's song, "Cheap Motel Rooms," will hopefully release early this coming summer!

With so much excitement and enthusiasm, what is next for The Vineyard Band? Amber says, "We are hoping for a fiddle player next."

For booking information please email Brandy@theVineyardBand.com.
Also check out these links for more about The Vineyard band:
facebook.com/TheVineyardBand
youtube.com/TheVineyardBand
twitter.com/TheVineyardBand
reverbnation.com/TheVineyardBand
last.fm/music/The+Vineyard
myspace.com/theVineyard3
ezfolk.com/The_Vineyard/
*The Vineyard can also be found on Uvumi.com & thesixtyone.com*





Saturday

All In The Name Of Music

I had another spectacular Friday night in down town Macon!

I attended Louise Warren's solo performance at The Opening Act. Louise opened her set with "Charmed," to a small crowd, including musician friend, Amber Marie Pierce of The Vineyard Band. On this night, Louise is particularly pulling at my emotions. She continues to do so with "Colder By The Minute," "Walls," "In My Dreams," and "Lavender Sound." Louise lightens the mood for me with her camp story in regards to sharing "Get To Know You." Louise sang "Oh, So Simple," for the second time in my presence, again tugging at my heart strings. Louise shared her conundrum as to whether a song is better written in light of oneself or if it is better written as a metaphor as pieces of the writer, then she sang, "Every Soldier." Louise closed the set with her witty song, "You're a Dork."

After Louise's set closed, I chatted with another musician who had taken a seat next to me, Bobby Ferguson of Interlude. I will collaborate with Bobby more in the future, as we spoke about his upcoming Cherry Blossom gig, and his plan to release a record in June.

After briefly expressing to Louise Warren her effect on me this evening, I exited The Opening Act talking with Bobby Ferguson, and became distracted by a harmonious sound from Fowl Play! I had to hear more, be closer! That energetic vibe was coming from Farewell Disaster and the music, including "My Little Vulture," (which I quickly became) appears to be original alternative/rock material! You must check these guys out!

I hung around Fowl Play to hear Great White Lion Snake, the 80's/90's cover rock/metal band as they opened with "Round and Round," originally performed by Ratt. The vocalist got off to a shakey start as he was difficult to hear over the instruments for throughout the first song, except for the chorus. It was unclear if there was a mic problem, as I asked the restaurant manager and he stated the bands have their own sound techs. The second song came out clearer as the issue seemed to have resolved, as the band covered "Raise your Hands," a Bon Jovi original. Great White Lion Snake continued with Poison's "Look What The Cat Dragged In," and Skid Row's "18 & Life." I can say Great White Lion Snake kept a happy crowd (and restaurant manager) as I called it a night due to exhaustion and a (pollen induced)headache.

A fantastic night of various genres and a bit of helpful info for my musician friends: if you want to book Fowl Play, contact Brian as he handles bookings and Fowl Play tends to book all genres, including a current crowd favorite Dueling Pianos!

http://www.louisewarrenmusic.com
http://www.reverbnation.com/bobbyfergusonandinterlude
www.m.facebook.com/thevineyardband
www.reverbnation.com/TheVineyardBand
www.m.facebook.com/GreatWhiteLionSnake


Tuesday

A Note-Worthy Night at Joshua Cup with Louise Warren

Saturday, March 10, I arrived at Joshua Cup at 7:24 PM. I walked up to the counter for assistance in choosing a cup of "Wake Me Up". Will, a friendly Joshua Cup employee, narrowed my choices down to three and then recommended his favorite,the White Bo. As my latte was being prepared, I noticed the Georgia Coffee cake and had to have that as well! I was ready to take on what the evening had to offer as I enjoyed my delectables.

Louise Warren arrived at Joshua Cup and began to prepare for her set as I diminished my sweet tooth. Louise warmed up and greeted everyone as I noticed she had yet to obtain her water. I also needed a water to chase the sugar, so I went back to the counter and ordered two waters. I casually dropped Louise's water to her stage (yes, on this night this was her stage), and Louise graciously accepted my gesture of kindness.

Louise Warren officially took the stage at 8 PM, opening her first set of the evening with, "Charmed." Among the fifteen Louise Warren original songs, she included her self proclaimed jazz song "Hunt Me Down" and new songs, "Forgiven," and "Smile." Louise played "Wake Me Up, paying a special homage to Joshua Cup in changing lyrics from, "Wake me up with your coffee, " to "Wake me up with your J-Cup," through some help of the Joshua Cup employees. The lyric change up produced a few laughs, Louise's humor continued through the evening, as she also shared stories with her audience.

During the brief intermission, I shared with Louise's mom that in every show and in speaking with Louise, I see her as a role model, not just for girls, but for me as well. Louise has me wanting to improve myself in many ways.

Following intermission, Louise Warren's second set opened with her sassy original, "Tom Cat." Humor and excitement exuded as Louise shared a story about singing "Tom Cat" during a song-writer's performance at The Opening Act called "In The Round," where she recieved her best reaction to the song to date. Louise's songs, jokes, and stories continued to flow. Will helped Louise out with a couple beats from behind the counter as he prepared coffee for patrons. Louise foretold that "Every Soldier," is actually her most heart-felt written song to date, the most personally expressed thru a metaphor. Louise strummed her red guitar and sang, "You're A Dork," with fun and humor to lighten the mood again. The final song of the night was "Stay", (raising the song count for the night to somewhere around thirty). Fans did stay to chat with Louise before exiting the previously harmonious and aromatic coffee house. I also spoke with the young, delightful talent, Louise affirmed, "playing here (Joshua Cup) feels like home". Louise also added that she is greatful to all the venues that have given her opportunity, there are many that have been good to her.

Joshua Cup has more than coffee to offer Macon, the pastries are delicious, the pleasant employees are willing to help in any way they can, and live music to top it all off! You never know who you may catch there next, although Will admits he can be found musically entertaining at "J-Cup" often. I can honestly say I was in attendance of a (music) note-worthy, fun performance by Louise Warren!

http://www.louisewarrenmusic.com

Saturday

HUD'S BAR & GRILL

HUD'S BAR & GRILL
2213 Gray Hwy, Macon, GA   31211

KIPPERS SPORTS GRILL

KIPPERS SPORTS GRILL
4025 Watson Blvd, Warner Robins, GA
13.7MI from Macon 31093
 

WAGERS

WAGERS
3914 River Place Dr, Macon, GA   31210

YESTERDAZE'S

YESTERDAZE'S
2607 Moody Rd, Warner Robins, GA
17.9MI from Macon 31088

THE TAVERN

THE TAVERN
405 Ga Highway 96, Bonaire, GA
24.0MI from Macon 31005

BILLYS CLUBHOUSE

BILLYS CLUBHOUSE
1580 Forest Hill Rd, Macon, GA   31210

WHISKEY RIVER


WHISKEY RIVER
4570 Pio Nono Ave, Macon, GA   

Dance and Songbird Fever on First Friday

I discovered another side of downtown Macon on Friday, March 2!

On the first Friday of each month, throughout most of the year, dance lessons are offered at The Sports Hall of Fame at 7:30PM. My night began, despite my two left feet, as I was given a beginner's lesson in Rumba, The Electric Slide, and a Salsa variation, the name for which I do not recall!

The lessons are offered to all for a nominal fee of $5 per person, whether beginner, intermediate, or expert. This is a bargain and I am so appreciative to Mr. Dolan Maples for inviting me, as I plan to continue lessons!

I chose to walk to my next destination on this beautiful, unseasonally warm night. As I walked the 400 block of Cherry Street, an amazing talent caught my ear from Bearfoot Tavern. I stopped to savor my first moment of listening to Josh Carson! He is definately on my must catch list!

My night continued just down the sidewalk at The Hummingbird Stage & Taproom where I chatted with friends and witnessed another great performance by none other than Louise Warren! Louise opened her set with one of my favorites, "Tom Cat," (but then again, which Louise Warren song isn't my favorite?).

 Louise brilliantly interacted with the audience with her authentic, clever song "Stephen" and gained many new fans! Louise continued her fan-fare as she closed with her self described country song, "Little Bit", because she is a little bit yours!

Matt Moncrief & Stoopgrass promptly took the stage upon Louise's fabulous introduction! Stoopgrass played a phenomenal set, including crowd favorites "Enough" and "Winter"! Fortunately, their performance was being recorded for a live CD. Believe me, you are going to want a copy of your very own!

With so much excitement, it was sad to see the evening come to a close, but there is always the next big gig! I cannot wait!

Friday

Juliette Opry

Remeber that time that you were going through a particularly rough patch? Remember how that one song reflected what you were feeling, and it made you feel SO much better to crank it up and sing along? Sometimes, music does what nothing else on earth can do....It reaches in and gives us just what we need to make life easier to deal with.

The Juliette Opry offers that....
This locally-owned venue is open the first Saturday night of the month, March through November.

Local musicians gather up and jam on the front porch starting around 6 p.m. and then the featured act is inside on stage at 8 p.m. The venue generally features country, bluegrass and gospel, sometimes even a little Allman Brothers (Midnight Rider with a dobro is one of the most awesome things I have ever heard).
The venue is free but donations are accepted and needed for both the Artist and venue. They offer light refreshments, sodas, popcorn and homemade cupcakes at very low cost.
In today's ridiculous economy free is a good thing but they need folks and donations to keep this venue running. If you try them once I promise that you will come back .

The Juliette Opry cuts out all the fog and commercialism that distracts from the music. So, if at any point in your life a song has grabbed you by the heart.... You can relive those moments in Juliette.... at the Opry.

You can email us: Julietteopry@yahoo.com
This is just one of the featured acts you'll find at the Juliette Opry!!
http://forsythmonroe.13wmaz.com/news/arts-culture/69897-catherine-kimbro-juliette-opry

Thursday

Guitar Construction 101

So, surviving the music scene is alot like wilderness survival, isn't it? You've got to be experienced with the tools of the trade. You've got to find ways to eliminate waste, and to work as efficiently as you can.To survive at anything you must cut out the luxuries as much as possible to make room for the necessities.

At one point, I determined that I NEEDED a personalized, handcrafted guitar. I thought that it was the only thing holding me back from all the gigs I wasn't booking. It seemed to me that I was one bad-ass guitar away from success.

I had an old guitar neck that I figured I could just attach to a personalized body. So I went to one of those builders' supply places and found some nice squares of medium density fibreboard. It was all I could afford because I wasn't gigging; my focus was on my 'image'.

I bought a dremel tool set and went to work. I cut the body from two pieces and sandwiched them together. At this point, all it needed was a nice finish.

I spray-painted the body a deep blue. It was pretty, but I wanted beautiful. A deep clear coat, it seemed, was in order.

When I was young, I had seen these countertops or tables with a thick, plastic-like coating that had been poured over the wood and allowed to dry. I figured it could only be polyurethane and they had that at the hardware store nearby.

I carefully poured the polyurethane to give the thick shine I wanted. Suddenly, an epiphany: on serious paint jobs, don't they apply heat to 'cure' the finish?

My oven was the perfect size for this. I laid my hand crafted guitar body on an old pizza box (in case the polyurethane dripped, duh) and placed it in the oven. The heat should cure the finish nicely and I would be the proud owner of one bad ass guitar!

I turned the oven to broil because it didn't make sense to me to heat it from the bottom. I also decided to leave the door open because baking polyurethane in a CLOSED oven at 500 degrees seemed unsafe, somehow.

Things were looking good. The polyurethane was hot and it had leveled out nicely.

When I noticed the polyurethane smoking, I took a piece of cardboard leftover from the box to determine if it had hardened. Nope. Still liquid. It was at this point I decided that this was a bad idea and I should remove the guitar body before....

Too late.

The guitar body burst into flames, and being a batchelor I had no pot holders or gloves. I got a beach towel and grabbed the cardboard box. The box collapsed and suddenly, I had a flaming guitar body in the middle of my kitchen floor. I tried kicking it toward the back door and found that it had already melted the linoleum. It was stuck.

I kicked harder and broke it free. All the while spraying the cabinets with flaming polyurethane with each kick. Some of this ignited the can of polyurethane sitting on the floor.

I opened the back door and kicked the blazing guitar body out into the yard. The misty rain that prevented me from doing this work outside, hopefully would put out the fire. I threw the beach towel over the fire on the kitchen floor and poured a whole box of salt into the polyurethane can ... No good. I tried baking soda from the fridge. Again, nothing. Finally, I realized that I would have to smother it. I saw an old plastic gym bag and threw it on top of the can. I thought it might smother out the flames before it melted. I was wrong. The gym bag just gave it more fuel and by this time I was able to use the beach towel to get ahold of the can and smother the flames. I took it outside.

The flaming guitar body from hell was still burning and melting the underpinning of the mobile home (could you have guessed?). I kicked it around a bit and the flames went out. Exhausted, frustrated and feeling a little stupid, I made sure all the fires were out and laid on the couch. I fell asleep.

The next morning I surveyed the damage. A small rug would cover the huge burnt linoleum in front of the oven. A little sanding would eliminate the burns in the cabinets from the flaming spray. I could wipe down the ceiling to get the soot off.

I went outside and found the guitar body. I had kicked it through all the leaves and rain and pine straw in order to put the fire out.

Some of the leaves and pine needles had stuck to the body and were encased under the polyurethane. The blue paint had blisters from the heat and the whole guitar was rock hard. Small water spots were under the dried polyurethane, too.  But the finish wasn't as deep as I wanted. So I fished the pieces of plastic out of the can and poured the remainder of polyurethane over the guitar-I had forgotten about the salt and bakingsoda that was in it.

None of that mattered- It looked REALLY cool. The finish was thick and 3D even. Leaves under the finish looked bigger than they actually were and the water droplets looked like rings of little pools.


And THAT is how you build one bad-ass guitar.
Two weeks later it was stolen.

Lane Richardson

I met Lane at an open mic recently, and found him to be VERY talented. He is young, in his early twenties, but he has the soul of an old man. His songs paint vivid portraits of heartache and pain, stained with the ironic relationship of love and hate and with a paintbrush dipped in influences of Irish folk, and American country.

He has many originals (which are totally worth the cover charge) but he can also fill the night with covers ranging from Hank Williams and Johnny Cash all the way to Mumford and Son's.

Find out more about him and his schedule on Facebook!

What is Mid Ga Live?

I'm glad you asked. MidGaLive is now a brick and mortar live music venue for all of you fresh local bands who need a place to gig....But...