Blog

Nashville Trax: From Dream to Reality

 

 

 

Joe Markusic,

Beats and Brews Guest Writer

Bill Watson, like most of us has dreams and aspirations to do something special with his life, to leave a legacy he could be proud of. Many of us never pull the trigger and follow through with chasing our dreams. Most of us get stuck in living in the daily routine and before we know it, our life has passed us by. Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing Bill, whom after years of struggling with the decision, in 2004 decided to move to Nashville, Tennessee to pursue his dream of succeeding in the music and entertainment industry. Bill Watson grew up in a small town in Western Pennsylvania with the goal of being a working musician. After years of pondering over the risk, he made the decision to invest in himself and follow his dreams. Unlike where he grew up, one out of three people work in the industry in Nashville. Many have tried, but failed to make it. Bill is determined to not become a statistic of failure, but rather one of success. Below is my interview with producer and musician, Bill Watson.

 

How did you get started in the music and entertainment industry?

 

I heard a song by John Denver on the radio, “Back Home Again”, thought it was cool and decided to learn to play it on my Dad’s guitar. That led to entering a church talent show and it took off from there.

 

Why Nashville?

 

I needed good session quality musicians for my business to work. There are good musicians and singers worldwide but usually in very isolated pockets, there is no place on earth that has such a high concentration of talent in such a small area as Nashville. Definitely the largest concentration of session quality players on the planet.

 

Tell me about Nashville Trax. When did you open?

 

I started doing demos for clients with my ex-wife Rhonda who sang and played keyboards when I lived in Pennsylvania. It was very much part time but made money and I enjoyed it.

 

I thought maybe if I made the move it might be even more successful but my wife hated the idea of moving . After Rho and I divorced in 2002  she encouraged me saying that I was now free to chase my dream and if I was ever going to do it, that was the time to execute. So I sold two houses I owned and started looking for property in the Music City area. I opened Nashville Trax and created NashvilleTrax.com  in 2004.

 

How many projects have you worked on and who are some of the biggest acts you’ve worked with?

 

Slightly 0ver 3,000 projects. The Swansons whose recent single “Valentine” went #1 regionally. Danny Thompson a country act from Canada who first broke on the BBC Radio Network in the U.K. and that was the catalyst for huge word wide radio airplay. In Christian Music, The Greatest Gift, a three piece singing trio that hit #1 on the Southern Gospel charts. As far as musicians: world renowned guitarist Brent Mason. Fiddlist Jenee Fleenor of Blake Shelton’s band and regular on The Voice;  and drummers Jim Riley of Rascal Flatts as well as David Northrup of Boz Scaggs band are all on my team.

 

What are some of the biggest transformations you’ve seen in the music industry?

 

Home recording gear increasing in quality. And digital replacing analog, especially in the editing area. .

 

What would be the major reasons to go into a professional studio over a home-recording set-up?

 

In terms of the actual recording medium, none, digital is digital. But a designed-for-a-specific-purpose  room and super expensive outboard gear such as $1,000 and up microphones, $3,000 preamps, etc, may be beyond the budget of a home recording enthusiast. But the biggest reason is to get a professional engineer and/or producer involved who has experience as well as access to tools and talent the amateur lacks. I produce meaning I take the rough a client gives me and make every decision that moves the project from the client’s initial rendering to a professional recording.

 

Does the room make a difference?

 

Absolutely. A room can have too much natural reverb or it may sound boxy, etc. and those are things not easy or maybe impossible to fix in the mix. Home recording folks try to build vocal booths and such but lacking budget, experience and know how usually end up with flutter echo and other issues that make their work sound worse instead of better. Our drum room and iso booths at Nashville Trax are designed for specific purposes, The walls are not parallel, there are angles and bows designed into the walls to reflect sound in a certain direction, we have bass large, expensive bass traps correctly positioned to tighten up the low end, etc.

 

What could a great-sounding recording do for an artist’s career?

 

It is the bargaining chip that gets you to the table. If you don’t have that you don’t really have a legit shot. If you have a great sounding recording and do everything else right in terms of marketing and promotion then a great sounding recording will launch your career.

 

Do artists benefit from networking?

 

Generally, yes. One contact leads to another and often leads to your next producer, radio promo guy, or an A&R person deciding to give your music a listen.

 

The cream rises. If you believe your act and your music product are the cream let people know about it. Especially in a town like Nashville where a huge percentage of people make their living from music.  You just never know who you’re talking to. The person that waits on your table at a restaurant may well have a close relative in the business or may even work full time at a music publishing company daytime, waiting tables at night. Give them a business card and friend them on Facebook or somewhere they might hear your music and become a fan, who knows what it may lead to.

 

How many of the artists you work with are able to match live what they’ve done in the studio? Is this the norm?

 

These days most can get very close because of “flying in tracks” which means that the drummer plays to a click track and music tracks imported from the recording session are “flown in” as .wav or .mp3 files and mixed with the live-played instruments. A band like The Swansons gives me a specific list of the tracks they need to make that happen: “We are playing an awards show next weekend, please export and load all fiddle, background vocal, steel guitar and percussion tracks on songs X, X and X  for a live performance.” Nearly everyone is doing it.

 

In your opinion, what classifies as a good mix and a good master?

 

A good mix has a depth and a balance between the instruments and vocals that translates well across all mediums: on computer speakers to big studio monitors and most important, on radio. If a mix is really good the mastering is nearly transparent in terms of how the mix sounds and mainly adds some compression and imparts maximum loudness. If the mix is lacking them mastering also becomes about making the recording sound better in a specific bandwidth, more clarity in the upper midrange for example,

 

How has this changed with the introduction of digital music and MP3’s?

 

It’s kind of crazy, Joe, the more technology has advanced the more people are listening to music in the mp3 format, delivered on cell phones and tiny, cheap computer speakers. So we record on expensive digital software like Pro Tools HD then  mix on super expensive studio monitors but the end product is played back over the cheapest system available. Knowing this, there is a trend to tailor extra specific mixes specifically for that medium.

These Cider Houses Rule!

At Beats and Brews, we love our craft beer, however it’s definitely good to enjoy sweeter side of things with a crisp, refreshing hard cider. below is a list of different cities to check out around the country with some of the best hard ciders to have ever been crafted. It should also be noted that Ann Arbor, MI makes the cut, so make sure to stop in wolverine territory for your cider fix!

 

Here Are the Top 10 Cities for Drinking Cider

Hard cider is quickly becoming the most popular drink in many cities across the U.S. – and it’s easy to see why. With a rich history dating back to the British colonists, who drank cider more than ale, and a huge variety of customized brews available, it’s a crisp, refreshing drink that’s enhanced by the addition of other fruits (like pears and apricots). From smooth and sweet to tart and tangy, you’ll find your favorite brew in one of the U.S.’s top 10 cities for cider lovers.

We also included the city’s Walk Score to show you the ease of strolling from one cider bar or taproom to another. Also included is the median home sale price to help you analyze the cost of living and how much of your paycheck can be dedicated to sipping cider.

  1. Portland, OR

Walk Score: 65
Median Home Sale Price: $440,000

What better way to enjoy the beautiful Willamette River, which winds around Portland’s downtown hotspots, than with a crisp, cool cider in-hand? The City of Roses has several exceptional local brews to match its charmingly funky vibe.

Notable cider bars: Portland Cider House, Bushwhacker Cider, Cider Bite, Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider, Cider Riot!, Portland Cider Co., Schilling Cider House, The Civic Taproom

  1. Seattle, WA

Walk Score: 73
Median Home Sale Price: $730,000

Seattle is one of the hottest cider spots in the U.S. This gorgeous seaport city, which initially boomed during the Gold Rush and is known for its rich musical history, is now packed with trendy cider bars and great places to enjoy your favorite distillations.

Notable cider bars: Capitol Cider, Schilling Cider House, Seattle Cider Company, Number 6 CiderLocust Cider – Ballard TaproomCockrell Brewing

  1. New York, NY

Walk Score: 89
Median Home Sale Price: $540,000

New York City is a cider lover’s mecca. The Big Apple, with its unmistakable skyline and world-class attractions, is also home to some of the finest cider bars in the country. Most are in the heart of Manhattan, though several are sprinkled throughout Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Staten Island, as well.

Notable cider bars: Brooklyn Cider House, The Owl Farm, Eli’s Night Shift, The Ginger Man, Craft Culture,Taproom No. 307, Fools’ Gold, Valhalla NYC, Haymaker Bar and Kitchen

  1. Denver, CO

Walk Score: 48
Median Home Sale Price: $425,000

Tucked in the South Platte River Valley, Denver is a Rocky Mountain paradise for cider aficionados. Teeming with great pubs and cideries, the Mile-High City is a spectacular place to search for your next favorite beverage.

Notable cider bars: C Squared Ciders, Hops & Pie, Colorado Cider Company, Stem Ciders, The RackhouseFalling Rock Tap House

  1. San Francisco, CA

Walk Score: 86
Median Home Sale Price: $1.42 million

The City by the Bay is a great place to sample new ciders from local artisans and enjoy tried-and-true favorites. Known for its spectacular views of the Golden Gate Bridge and its famed Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco has earned its place on the map when it comes to cider.

Notable cider barsUpcider, Fermentation Lab, Crooked City Cider, The Crafty Fox Alehouse, Shotwell’s,21st Amendment Brewery and Restaurant, Elixir, Mikkeller Bar

  1. Ann Arbor, MI

Walk Score: 51
Median Home Sale Price: $361,000

Home to the University of Michigan and a fabulous downtown area, Ann Arbor is Southeast Michigan’s best spot for cider lovers. Many of the best brews in A² come from locally sourced apples – the state is home to one of the largest concentrations of orchards in the Midwest.

Notable cider bars: Arbor Brewing Company, Bill’s Beer Garden, Beer Grotto, Grizzly Peak Brewing Company, Salt Springs Brewery

  1. Chicago, IL

Walk Score: 78
Median Home Sale Price: $300,000

Chicago is a cider lover’s dream space – it’s packed with great cider bars, most within a short distance (or right on) Lake Shore Drive. Relax in the cool Lake Michigan breezes with your favorite cider in hand or cheer for the Bears from your favorite watering hole; either way, the Windy City is an ideal place for cider connoisseurs. If you’re there during February, attend events during Chicago Cider Week.

Notable cider bars: ERIS Brewery and Cider House, Right Bee Cider, The Northman, Fountainhead, Hopleaf Bar, The Long Room, Sleeping Village, Emporium Arcade Bar, Begyle Brewing Company, The Bad Apple,Bangers & Lace

  1. Philadelphia, PA

Walk Score: 79
Median Home Sale Price: $199,000

Philadelphia is one of the Northeast’s best spots for hard cider tasting trips. The City of Brotherly Love backs up to the Delaware River, and you’ll find noteworthy cider bars minutes from the shore – and many of the brews are local, coming from rich orchards scattered throughout nearby valleys.

Notable cider bars: Cinder, Hale & True Cider Co., Original 13 Ciderworks, City Tap House – Logan , Commonwealth Ciders, Stone & Key Cellars

  1. Asheville, NC

Walk Score: 36
Median Home Sale Price: $320,000

Asheville, home of the Biltmore Estate and the famed Basilica of St. Lawrence, is a fun mountain town packed with amazing cider bars. From local brews to those imported from other areas, the Land of the Sky is definitely a fabulous place to sample new blends and infusions.

Notable cider bars: Urban Orchard Cider Company, Noble Cider, Daidala, TreeRock Social Cider House,Sovereign Remedies

  1. Minneapolis, MN

Walk Score: 69
Median Home Sale Price: $290,000
The City of Lakes – Minneapolis – is a great place to enjoy fantastic cider brews. This gorgeous city, known for its proximity to neighboring St. Paul and its unmistakable skyline, great nightlife and local attractions, is home to several amazing cider bars that get rave reviews from critics and everyday guests.

Notable cider bars: Urban Forage, Sociable Cider Werks,   Town Hall Brewery, Elevated Beer + Wine + Spirits, Crooked Pint Ale House, Kieran’s Irish Pub, Red Cow

 

Methodology

To figure out the top cities for cider lovers, we compiled a list of the most notable cider bars in the nation – the cider bars that critics can’t get enough of and that get raves from excited guests all over social media. Then, we segmented those bars by city and arranged them by the number of favorable reviews. Cities with the most rave-worthy cider bars made our cut, which we then pared down by the quality and quantity of reviews. In order for a city to make Redfin’s Top 10 Cities for Cider Lovers list, it must have multiple cider bars with excellent ratings.

 

Original article from Redfin

NE meets MI

Michigan is one of, if not one of the biggest consumers of IPA style beers in the country. It’s no secret that we as michiganders love our hops. However, there is a new style of trending beer on the market that fuses a rich, creamy mouthfeel, a tropical, fruit filled taste and still preserve that traditional IPA kick. I’m referring to, the New England IPA. NEIPA is basically a traditional IPA that is unfiltered, which gives it that cloudy appearance and creamy texture and is slowing becoming the style of choice among beer advocates  

 

As a longtime fan of the New York Jets, its kills me inside to credit New England with anything, but  the sweet and rich taste that this style of beer gives off, it totally makes up for it (well, almost.) A Lot of you are already familiar with Old Nation M-43, coming in at 6.8 ABV and 65 IBU’s, the tropical taste on impact with your tastebuds followed by that bitter hop aftertaste completely balances bitterness of the brew, while maintaining the flavor and a soft, creamy mouthfeel for drinkability. Old Nation Brewing, Based in Williamston, Mi was struggling prior to the creation of M-43 but the overwhelming demand for the brew changed that and currently is one of the most sought after beers in the state.

Image result for m-43 beer

photo credit, Joe Senigaglia

I had the opportunity to try two other NEIPA’s that you may not be familiar with, the first being Rochester Mills Beer Co, Juice Deuce and Grand Armory Brewing, Weezin’ the juice.

 

Weezin’ the Juice may be one of the only NEIPA’s that I’ve recently tried that I personally like as much, or dare I say, more than M-43. Coming in at  6.5% ABV 37 and IBU the sweet, hoppy aroma that this beer gives off before you even take the first sip is enough to please any true beer enthusiast, especially those who enjoy IPA’s. Followed up by the creamy consistency and smooth taste makes this a beer to be on the lookout for from your neighborhood beer store. Also, the psychedelic artwork is a nice addition to the beer, which instantly stood out to me in the first place.

img_20180528_201209

Juice Deuce is similar, but more of a reserved taste and aroma than Weezin the Juice or M-43. Coming it at 8.5% ABV and 70 IBU Whereas the other two instantly have that instant strong fruity hop aroma, this one takes a more subtle tone, a good beer if you’re just getting into IPA’s. Otherwise, the cloudy appearance and tropical aroma definitely makes this beer worth the sip.

img_20180528_201143

New England IPA’s have definitely been on the rise over the past few years, last year, New England IPA was officially recognized by the brewers association as an official beer style. When it comes to competitions, you can expect that we will definitely start seeing a trend of this style over the next few years.

California Crafts

When you think of the state of California, a great deal of imagery come to mind. California is known for such things as, the sights and stars of Hollywood, the wisdom of the Griffith Observatory, the excellent year round weather, the amazing hiking trails and, of course, the legalization of recreational Marijuana. Los Angeles is one of the worlds biggest hubs for networking in the entertainment industry, and on this trip I met several talented musicians and tried some of the greatest beer the west coast has to offer. Along with the beer, I had to opportunity to visit and interview some great people along the way, and documented the experiences for you to enjoy.

 

The first stop on my California craft adventure led me to San Diego, where I had to opportunity to take a tour of the famous Green Flash brewery. Green Flash, started in 2002 by Mike and Lisa Hinkley is home to their popular flagship beer, the West Coast IPA. Green Flash got its name from a naturally occurring phenomenon with the same name, the curvature of the earth and the way that light bends combined with the sun disappears over the horizon and when the weather conditions are aligned, there’s a green flash, the perfect end to the day in San Diego.  Before moving to San Diego, the original location of green flash was in Vista, California, when the brewery moved to San Diego in 2011 the original location is another brewery called, “Latitude 33.” Green Flash currently distributes in 13 different states.

20180225_164642

I had the chance to interview Adam, a bartender for Green Flash and Devin, a tour guide. One thing I found interesting is that California and Michigan craft drinkers both share a love for IPA’s. “We’re very IPA forward, it a great summertime beer.” said by Adam. “The passion fruit kicker is the perfect warm day beer, an American wheat ale with passion fruit puree, passion fruit black tea, very tart, very fruit and pairs perfectly with with weather, so refreshing.” Adam responded when asked about another popular beer from Green Flash. I had the opportunity to try the Lustrous Frumento with Nutella from Green Flash. Nutella and beer combined is a interesting choice that peaked my interesting in this double imperial stout. Coming in at a strong 13.5% ABV and 60IBU, the bourbon barrel age brew fuses with coffee, nutella gives it a bold, distinct taste that would make any beer geek like myself jump for joy!

20180225_164714

After the tour at green flash, I had the opportunity to sit down with Green Flash tour guide Devin after the tour to chat it up more about the in’s and out’s of Green Flash and to my surprise, he a very knowledgeable beer guide by day, but, aHip hop producer by the stage name, Dayfade at night. “I’ve been trying to progress and become better, but at the same time, maintain that rawness to my beats” when talking about a conversation with fellow California based producer, Kendall Carter. Another fellow producer Dayfade has credited is friend and fellow San Diego based producer, Abjo. “Nobody’s telling him how to do stuff, he’s doing it his one way, that means I could to it a similar way, I could do my thing, my way, he’s around my age so it’s inspiring to me.” Dayfade has been producing since 2009 and has released projects such as, Zero.0 and Olympian Heights. “What makes Olympian Heights different from his other work is the focus on classic, raw soul and jazz sample loops and chops from 1970s vinyl records” an excerpt from the description page on his bandcamp profile. Be sure to check out great things from Dayfade and the San Diego music scene in the future.

dayfade

photo credit, Dayfade’s bandcamp

The next stop on my California craft let me to the Downtown Los Angeles Arts District where I made at stop at Angel City Brewery. Angel CIty Brewery, founded by award winning home brewer,  Michael Bowe in 1997. In 2004, The original location for Angel City Brewery was City an 8,000 barrel German-made brewery in Alpine Village near Los Angeles that was purchased on Ebay. In 2012, Angel city relocated to Downtown Los Angeles at its current location within the Arts District.The grand opening of the new brewery and pub house took place on May. 2013 at Angel City’s self-hosted heritage festival. Walking around, I notice a lot of interesting artwork on the walls from artist around the area, gave it a relaxed vibe and put the “arts”, into the arts district.

20180302_201045

I had the opportunity to interview Jessica from Angel City to get a bit more info about the Brewery. “Our best seller is going to be our Angel City IPA, it’s one of our flagship beers and it’s one of those beers you can find out in the real world, one of five flagship beers you can find outside of the brewery” Jessica responded when asked about the most popular beer offered at Angel City. “Breweries aren’t really in that much competition with each other, each brewery is based on the style of their head brewer. So, our head brewer has a certain unique style for our type of beers. One of witch is out Srirachelada.” Jessica responded when asked what makes Angel City different from other breweries in the area. For those of you who enjoy a good bloody mary, or enjoy the kick of a little spice, the srirachelade is a unique spin on the classic michelada. Coming it at 4% ABV and 15 IBU, recommended for those who live life on the spicy side.

20180302_194234

My last brewery of the night led me to Arts District Brewing Company in Downtown Los Angeles.  Opened in Dec. 2015 and operated under the 213 brand, Arts District Brewing Co. gives off a very unique vibe as soon as you walk in the door. I was greeted by the friendly host staff and offered a sample of the Le Mule, a brew with fresh lime zest and ginger; a strong combination of the taste of a Moscow Mule meets the consistency of a Belgian style ale. As I look around, it actually felt more like a bar than a brewery, then I realized, they offer cocktails as well as local brew their own beer. Loaded with skee ball machines, arcade games, and, a photo booth, it’s sure to entertain craft beer nerds as well as the average person looking to get out the house for a good time.

IMG_20180302_203027

I had the opportunity to interview Steven and Bobby from Arts District Brewing about the in’s and out’s of the brewery and a general overview of the arts district. “Our history is mainly cocktail bars, so this division is new for us. We’re the only brewing facility in LA with a full bar.” Steven responded when asked about the different breweries within the arts district. “We don’t like to say no to people if we don’t have to, we have cider, wine, cocktails, fresh juice programs, so one thing that sets us apart from other breweries is that you don’t have that.” he continued. “Traction IPA is our top selling beer, it’s the one named after the street we’re on.” Bobby responded when asked about the most popular beer offered at Arts District Brewing Co. The Traction IPA is an American style IPA coming it at 7.80% ABV and 0% IBU. “Right now we’re just staying local, our brew team is only 2 ½ people supplying all of those beers you see on the list, 2 full time brewers and one assistant, they bust their ass so we don’t have the time. We have all these bars that want our beer and fortunate enough that we’re selling so much in house; we’re just trying to keep up with the demand in house.” Steven and Bobby  responded about distribution in other states. The beer list for Arts District Brewing Co is updated daily.

20180302_212807

After the interview, I had the pleasure of trying a “pick your own flight” which you can see photographed below.

IMG_20180302_210614

The next day, I decided that it’s time to focus on the Beats aspect of Beats and Brews, I decided to take a trip back to Downtown Los Angeles on the search for live music. After 20 minutes or so of walking around, I ended up at a local venue called, The Lexington where I had the pleasure of checking out a set from, “Flat Rat and the Exterminators.”  Almost instantly, I noticed lead singer and guitarist, R.E. King’s playing style bared strong similarities to the Late Jimi Hendrix, with his own unique gritty blues spin, the strong percussion of drummer Ernesto and the smooth bass from bassist Jessica to tie it all together. R.E. King and Jessica have been jamming together in a variety of different bands over the years, so, when R.E. King met Ernesto at 5-Star Bar in Downtown Los Angeles at another show about a year ago, they hit it off, soon after was the Birth of Flat Rat and the Exterminators.

 

“The idea is to be organic as possible, we like to think that should the grid go down, we’d still be able to play because we’d pick up our acoustic guitars and go out and continue to play.” R.E. King responded about creating their own sound. “It’s just more natural, it comes from both of us, it comes from all of us. We have songs set up a certain way, like every time we play it, we could play it a little different, with a little more soul, a little more feeling, something more interesting, and it’s like that everytime, that’s why it’s so fun to play.” Ernesto continued. “I’ve played with Mr. King for a long, long time time in a variety of bands, so with Ernesto came along, this particular formation started taking off and we really all love it.” Jessica added.

As a person who writes and performs his own music, I always am curious to know the origin story of how and why people pursue , R.E. King responded, “As a kid, I had a few musicians in the family all ready, so, when my sister brought home her guitar playing boyfriend home, it kinda did it for me, the initial seed was planted but to have the shock of someone in my house playing the electric guitar, it did it for me.” “I was lucky to have brothers and sisters who were major music lovers, so I would steal all there records when they weren’t looking; Stevie Wonder, Earth, Wind & Fire. I had a roommate in college who was a Quincy Jones fan and once I heard that, that was it. When you’re a kid, you hear all these beautiful sounds that put you at peace, and I just knew singing did something for me nothing else did” Jessica added. “I had no idea music was my thing, growing up I had nobody around playing instruments, but I would have my favorite bands, one of my favorite bands growing up was Muse, Muse is badass and they got me through high school. I’m the oldest of four, so I convinced my mom to buy a Muse concert DVD for me. She would throw on concert videos on all the time, Marc Anthony, Justin Timberlake and she would force us to watch it because of my siblings. S, I brought Muse to them and told them “Sit down, you’re going to watch this with me” and every concert we would sit down and watch, we’d get off the couch and start jumping up and down and mimicking air guitars, and from there, I realized I loved music.” Ernesto said.

Flat Rat and the Exterminators are currently in the process of recording an album under their label home, “Not Dead Yet Records.”

20180302_222003

After leaving The Lexington, I decided to take off in search of another act to check out around the area. I walked several blocks in Downtown Los Angeles and after about an hour, I ended up at The Redwood Bar & Grill where I had the pleasure of catching a set from the high energy Latin rock trio, Ale‘. Ale, a Los Angeles based band is known for their unique fusion of Latin music with a punk rock twist. After their set, I had a chance to talk to lead singer Ale‘ (Gonzalez Gomez) and drummer Roro Lofish. We didn’t get a chance to get a face-to-face interview, but I’ve been in contact with the band via Instagram and email, so, I had the pleasure to interview them about the the history of the band, their most recent project named, “Dimensions” and upcoming plans for the future.

ale

Photo credit: Ale’s Facebook fan page

E-Man :One thing that instantly stuck out to me about your sound is the unique fusion of latin and punk in your music. When the band was being formed, did you already have a mindset the sound you were going for or did it just develop naturally over time?

ALÉ: it was a bit of both. I’m influenced by many styles of music including certain aspects of punk rock as well as Latin

based rhythms, beats and lyricism that stem from songs in Spanish that i grew up listening to as a kid in a Mexican household. a lot of it came naturally, but i also had a specific approach that i wanted to execute in a specific way.

 

E-Man: How long have you guys been playing together for? Where you all in different bands before forming ALÉ and if so what was the name of the previous bands?

 

 ALÉ: this project started sometime around 2013. but i didn’t start performing live with this project until 2014. it started off with a variety of rotating members on Drums and Bass. some members were a bit more consistent than others, But Willy and Roro have been my most consistent members. i enlisted willy in march of 2016. and i enlisted roro in April of 2017. personally i feel that we have amazing chemistry together.

Roro Lofish: some of the bands i’ve been in before were Los pasteles verdes, Afixion and right now I’m also in a band called Vim

ALÉ: i started playing bass many years ago in a metal band called hatred speaks, then played guitar and sang for a band called drifted.

Willy Reano: right now I’m in a few bands called La Tumba, Eddie Ono, and Politic whore.

 

E-Man: I love the diversity of sound in this album, the first track, “La Sombra” combines a traditional Latin style with a punk rock twist that LA is famous for and segways the listener into the tone of the album. Then, it cuts into more mellow songs like White Rose where it puts the listener at ease then around track six, “Imagen” it starts to combine the two tones displayed throughout the album. Then, a little bit further down, on track eleven, “She Only Knows Love” it cuts to a short poem at the end about a woman, not sure if metaphorical or literal, but, it was another strong point that stuck out to me on the album. It displays awesome storytelling throughout all 12 tracks, so, Did you have a concept or an influence in mind going into writing for the album? Are all the songs connected to one story or does each individual song tell it’s own story?

ALÉ: Dimensions is somewhat of a concept album. a story in a way. i am a big fan of cinema and film. i am also a big fan of the aesthetic value of poetry. so when i worked on the outline and dynamics of the album i wanted to present it a lot like a film that you can’t see, but only listen too. Although there will be music videos for certain songs on the album in the near future that i would like to experiment with and present as well. the only words i can think of that i would say i had in mind while going into this album were Spirituality, Reflection, Circumstances, Healing & Love (whether it’s loss of love or love reborn).

Music (especially Rock n Roll) to me is the transformation of matter. the transformation of energy. so within this album i wanted to get that across in a auditory manner but with a cinematic feeling. and i feel that the poetic elements emphasize that alot.

Also, this album consists of 18 special guests. a mix of poets and various musicians from Los Angeles and surrounding Areas: (Abel Salas, Paulo Diaz, Anna Lilia Ureña, J.c. De Luna (Barrio Dandy), John Montgomery, Giovanni Verduzco, I Gemini, Willy Reaño, Gerry Welch AKA Maestro Desean, Timoteo Barron Curtiss, Gannon Wise, Cindy Martinez
Paul Reyes, Evan Marcus Rosenthall, Julian Salvador, Javier Salvatierra, Josue Andrade and Eduardo Chaidez.)
i know that has a lot to do with the diversity of the sound. i originally was trying to enlist 20 guests, but a few people couldn’t make it. what happens is.. i write something.. whether it’s on paper or on an instrument and i hear certain styles or envision specific ways of delivering whatever it is that i have written and as a producer i think of certain people who i know can deliver that written piece the way i envisioned it. but it is also my job as a producer to work with them and guide them in a detailed manner until we get it exactly how i am hearing it in my mind. and when that happens it is one of the best highs in the world in my opinion. it’s something that i live for. so being a producer and more of a collaborator is something i look forward to in future projects whether they’re my own or for someone else.

 

E-Man: Going back to the set at redwood, stage presences is becoming somewhat of a lost art form in music these days. You guys provided a very unique listening experience. Do you guys have any upcoming shows or tours lined up for 2018? What other venues have you previously played?

ALÉ: no upcoming tours yet, but we do have another show on saturday april 21st at the witches brew in North Hills, CA

with Warvox and Vim Furor. We also have another show again at the Redwood bar in Downtown LA, CA for Cinco De Mayo. We’ve performed at various other venues as well. to many to remember at the moment.

 

E-Man: While listening through Dimensions, I was curious if you had had any artist influence on inspire your sound? Was there someone you heard and was like, “I wanna do that someday, but with my own twist”

ALÉ: for me personally various rock bands. Electronic artists from the 90’s. Various Latin Artists as well.

 

E-Man: We operate on dream time, in order to save a sleepwalking world from wasting away” I saw this at the end of the manifesto on the website and it was a cool quote that stuck out to me. I wanted to know a little bit more detail on how Operating on DreamTime came to be. Backstory? Other affiliated artist? Anything you’re willing to share on it in this interview.

 

ALÉ: Operating On Dreamtime started as my production company. anything i do whether it’s  audio engineering, producing, writing music for my band or for others. consulting etc… it is all under that name. it came about because personally i got really tired of record labels giving me the run around and excuses so i said to myself “Fuck them.. i’ll start my own production company”. and that’s exactly what i did.  there isn’t any other affiliated artists as of now, but i do have my mind on a few artists and bands that i would really like to discuss things with. Operating On Dreamtime is also a way of life. if you read the entire manifesto you will understand what i mean. this is only the beginning.

 

E-Man: Other then Rock, are there any other genres that you guys listen to? EDM, Hip-Hop, Country and who specifically?

Roro Lofish: i also listen to Tropical, Mariachi, Norteñas, pop, R&B, folkloric anything that touches the soul.

ALÉ: i really love Hip Hop, classical music. pop. jazz. flamenco. trova. latin music.

 

Willy Reano: i also listen to Hip hop, chicha, dub/reggae.

E-Man:  Finally, What’s next for ALÉ going forward? Do you have any upcoming albums planned in the near future? What would you say would be your greatest accomplishment as a band to date? And what did you do different on Dimensions than previous projects such as, “Irregular Heartbeat?”

 

ALÉ: i am currently working on a 7 song EP titled “Blessings”. with more of an ethereal and sentimental sound. i am also creating custom made original music for a computer video game that is coming out soon.

i would say that our greatest accomplishment as a band up until now is continuing to live and exist.

As I stated earlier, I’ve been keeping in touch with the band and definitely make sure to look out great things from Ale‘ in the future.

20180303_001906

The last few days of my California craft adventure to go back to San Diego to check out a few more breweries before I head home to Michigan, a couple friends I was staying with told me about the famous Belching Beaver brewery and I decided to make the trip to check out what all the hype was about.

20180304_161746

Belching Beaver is known for their “Dam Good Times” and they indeed do that with their stunning dog friendly outdoor patio and their excellent selection of original brews. An interesting fact is that they have collaborated with rock group, “The Deftones” on a couple of signature beers, such as, “Deftones Phantom Bride IPA, Swerve City IPA, and most recently, Good Morning Beautiful brown ale.”  I had the opportunity of interviewing Eddie from Belching Beaver to get more info about the brewery. “The most popular beer we have is the Me So Honey by far.” Belching Beavers, Me So Honey is an American wheat pale ale coming in at 5.5% ABV and 19 IBU, a smooth wheat ale with a sweet honey aftertaste that would please any craft beer geek. “I’ve always been a drinker (laughter) but craft beer wise, I started working for stone about six years ago, and I was there for about five years before I came over to Belching Beaver. I learned a lot through Pat Stone(Stone Brewery) and that’s all they do is craft beer, they do everything on the spectrum.” Eddie responded when asked what got him into Craft Beer. I had the chance to try the Peanut Butter Milk Stout from Belching Beaver and I must say, this is not your typical milk stout. Compared to a similar brew such as New Holland Brewing, Dragon’s Milk, the PB Milk Stout has a silky smooth texture and drink-ability that makes each sip nostalgic, back to a time where we’re in elementary school eating Peanut Butter & Jelly sandwiches with the crust cut off. Coming in at 5.30% ABV and 30 IBU this was definitely one of my favorite brews while on this trip.

While talking to Eddie a bit more, he convinced me to take a last minute trip to Stone Brewery’s Headquarters in Escondido, California a few hours before I flew back to Michigan. Up until that point, the only beer I’ve ever tried from Stone was the Arrogant Bastard, mainly because that was that is the main beer distributed from Stone in the state of Michigan. Whole making growlers, I had the opportunity to sneak in a quick last minute interview with Alex of Stone Brewery to know a little bit more about the brewery.

20180304_191413

“Right now, one of our biggest sellers is our Exalted IPA, it’s apart of the Hop Worship series, a three part series that we’re doing in 2018.” Alex responded when asked about what current beer is trending at Stone Brewery. The Exalted IPA is a great fusion between citrus and hops that gives it a very refreshing crisp taste, but still keeping that traditional IPA flavor, similar to M43 by Old Nation. One thing that’s always peaked my curiosity about Stone Brewing is the gargoyle logo, so I was curious to know the origins of how that came to be. Alex answered, “So, the owners went with the gargoyle back when they started stone because they wanted to get away from what they call the evil spirits of brewing. Things like watering down the beer, using artificial products, things a lot of bigger breweries were doing at the time. They wanted to get away from those evil spirits and through history, gargoyles have been the symbol for warding off evil spirits, so they were very adamant about having a gargoyle as their logo.”  “I’m a fan of what Kris Ketcham is doing at the Liberty Station Brewery, he’s making some really awesome small batch beers. My personal favorite is one called Witty Moron, it’s a black belgian witbier. It’s the weirdest thing you’ll ever see but it’s one of the most amazing beers you’ll ever have.” Alex responded about his current favorite beer offered by Stone Brewing. Founded in 1996, Stone brewery has made their presence known in the craft beer world by not only being nationally distributed, but having breweries in Berlin, Germany and distribution throughout Europe as well..

20180304_191334

I had the pleasure of meeting a lot of great people throughout my trip to California, I’ve covered a lot of ground but I know I haven’t even scraped the surface of seeing everything that I should see. I took time off between going around breweries to do a bit of sightseeing, which you can see pictured below and this trip was everything I’d thought it would be and more. I titled this article California Crafts because California has crafted some of the finest beer, music, and people that I’ve ever met and I can’t wait to go back sometime in the near future.

I appreciate you all for taking the time out to read this article, and make sure to follow Beats and Brews for updates and future articles coming in the future. Till then, keep the hops and jams flowin’

 

 

 

Beats And Brews 2018

Greetings everyone,

Hopefully everyone has a great holiday and is having a great start to the new year. It’s been awhile since we had any update on the Beats and Brews end so I just wanted to make this post to let you know we’re currently in the process of going over of what type of events and interviews we want to do this year. I’ve also made the decision of releasing  music in 2018 so I’ve taken a slight break from Beats and Brews to shift focus on working as an artist (So, the beats aspect of Beats and Brews). We want to here from you, what do you want to see from Beats and Brews this year? Who would you like us to interview, what type of events would you like to see us put together? What type of beer should we review? We had a strong first year and we’ve only grown since then. Also, we are currently looking for writers who show a passion for craft beer, music or both (both is a solid plus). Any inquires, feel free to send me an email at batesemmanuel@yahoo.com.

I’m looking forward for an amazing year from Beats and Brews!

Sincerely,

Emmanuel E-Man Bates.

 

A Series Of Historikal Events Vol 2.

A Series Of Historikal Events Vol 2.

HistorikalEvents.jpg

Beats and Brews decided to take a trip back to Detroit’s Club Bleu on July 22nd to check out “A Series of Histoikal Events” put together by local label, Generation Young Records. The event featured GYE Co-Founder, Historik as well as up and coming EDM duo, Jekyll /Hyde. The crowd was compiled fans of the artist there for the music and a bachelorette party looking to dance and have a good time. The sounds of the night gave everyone what they were looking for.

“We wanted a theme that we can showcase artist that Historik works with, we basically wanted to give everyone a shot, be humble as possible and work with as many people as possible” Said by Kevin “Historik” Schechter in reference to showcases thrown by GYE. Historik, who recently released singles such as, “Liftin” and “Fugazi” is set to release his upcoming album entitled, “Curbed Appetite” on Sep 1st, 2017. Curbed Appetite.jpg “The concept of Curbed Appetite is to have that “stay hungry” attitude. Everything in life has been falling into place, if you’re passionate about it, you have to put your blood, sweat, and tears into it. I wanted to keep it simple and artistic, I like to eat and I was getting ready to compete in a physique body building contest and they talk about curbing your appetite and it stuck with me, it’s a simple metaphor for staying hungry but it could also me curbing around any sins or negativity life could throw at you.” said Historik about his upcoming album. The 10 track LP is set to have production by TNB Beats, Ryan Brule and features artist such as, Mocha Jones, IAMkraay, Juice Jones and more.

kev.jpg

 

“He was already doing music, but didn’t have anyone to really believe in him, like a support team to say, “You can do this, you can do that, you can do achieve anything you put your mind to” he had people laughing at him but I looked at him and saw greatness, I saw what he could be, I saw what he was going to be and he just needed someone around him that was going to elevate him that’s how Generation Young started was me trying to help out him in his career as Young Kev (which was revealed to Beats and Brews as Historik’s original stage name.)” Said by Generation Young Entertainment Co-Founder, Korey Sweet.  At the time, people looked at Historik (at the time Young Kev)  as another Eminem or Mike Posner but he was determined to make a statement as his own artist and find his own lane, he figured out how to re brand himself and eventually evolve into his own artist. “During that transition, he really found himself as an artist and found that his passion was in doing music.” Korey Sweet continued. Generation Young came together by pure chemistry and perfect timing, Korey own his own entertainment company and decided to come together to form Generation Young Records. Since then, the Duo of Historik and Korey Sweet became roommates and they bounce ideas off each other such as events, marketing plans, song ideas and other aspects that got GYE to what it is today and what it will grow to in the future. “Along with us, DJ Super Will is the glue that helped form Generation Young” Will “DJ Super Will” Wiggins is the General Manager of Generation Young and handles any questions that might come up about Generation Young “Anyone could be Generation Young; it’s a mindset of individuality, anyone can be Generation Young, that’s why we started this company, to show people that anyone could do anything they want with their own mindset, and don’t have to seek 10 years of schooling for something you think your good at, if you think your good at something, show me.” Said by Korey Sweet.

kor

In addition to Historik’s set, there was a Metro Detroit based DJ duo by the name Jekyll/ Hyde that made an appearance at the event. Dillon Shamoun and Nikko Laudicina make up the DJ duo who recently released their debut EP, “Two Sided Story” available on all streaming platforms. “I found Nikko at guitar center and somebody told us we should collaborate because we have similar sounds in music, from there we played frat parties, sororities, bars around East Lansing and Mt. Pleasant area and now we’re planning to play festivals.” Said by Dillon “Jekyll” Shamoun.  August 25th Jekyll/Hyde plan on playing Breakaway Music Festival in Grand Rapids, MI.  “So we definitely have sound that any type of festival would enjoy, we have every single genre mixed into one; we’re hybrid producers, our sound fuses dubstep elements, house elements and trap elements in our own unique way.” Said by Dillion Shamoun.  One interesting thing about Jekyll/ Hyde is that they have only been working together around 10 months, but from the sound of their chemistry you would think the duo would have been making music together for years.jek-hyd.jpg

Make sure to lookout for Historik’s Curbed Appetite release party on Sep 1st located at Raising the Bar Detroit located in Sterling Heights, MI and lookout for Jekyll/ Hyde at Breakaway Music Festival on Aug 25th and opening for 3LAU at the official Breakaway Music Festival after party.

histogram

jh.jpg

 

Beats And Brews Day Off Leg Two

Beats and Brews Day off Leg Two

Emmanuel Bates

IMG_20170618_020837_708

After a flawed but fun leg one that took place at YpsiAlehous, Beats and Brews Day Off leg two kicked off the second concert tour at The Plymouth Roc, located in Plymouth, MI June 17, 2017. The event feature acts such as, Honey Monsoon, The Dirty News, Adventures with Vultures, Saint Johnny and yours truly, E-Man Bates. From the moment the doors opened, the walls of the Plymouth Roc were packed with a crowd who came to drink and have a good time as some of the best local talent in the state hit the stage.

The Dirty News opened the show, with their own brand of Rock n’ Roll grooves that got people off their feet and on the dance floor. The self-proclaimed, “Most Rock n’ Roll band of all time” came to be through a series of connections and Craig’s List. “We’re just rock n roll, if I wanted to be all artistic and get in my head about it I could say we’re more than that, but we’re rock and roll” said by Dirty News drummer, Miles Gerou. Justin Arnett (Lead vocals and Bass) and Miles Gerou (Drums) met at Eastern Michigan University and have been playing together ever since. “Even while we were in separate bands we’d be jamming (Adelaide, Dave Nash Band) so when it came time to expand beyond bass and drums we got Trevor and Alex and it’s been history made ever since; a lot of progress has happened.” Said by Justin Arnett. Alex Baylerian( Guitar)  and Trevor Vasher ( Bass, Keyboard, Vocals) were brought into the band less than a year ago through Craig’s list. “We’re rock n roll, we’re just guys that take showers, like to have a good time and make some music. We just wanna play music we like, and maybe other people would feel the same.” Said by Justin Arnett.19399876_240422709781498_2881691617944184972_n

 

19424327_240423219781447_7401849852822463287_n

After a brief intermission, Plymouth native and fan favorite, Adventure with Vultures took the stage to provide his own unique sound of in-your-face folk rock to the Plymouth Roc. Adventures with Vultures, (real name Matt Sauter) inked a deal with Original 1265 last year. He got his start into music from a young age playing drums with his brother (who also happened to play at the Roc) who played guitar and sang. Which drove him into hardcore and pop punk bands over the years till he found his way into hip hop for the past half of a decade under the stage name, Gatsby. “I actually went through a shitty break up which led me to pick up a guitar and start writing love songs and led to what Adventures with Vultures is now.” Said by AWV.

19420320_240423089781460_839038827564703906_n

DSC_0993.jpg 19399811_240423463114756_4576496208896123640_n

Ypsilanti based Jazz Rock band, Honey Monsoon took the stage to send the Plymouth Roc into a trance with their brand of smooth vibes. “Individual style is like a really important thing for me, I think the style that we create together cannot be created by any other group of people.” Said by Honey Monsoon Guitarist and Vocalist, Ana Gomulka. She, Ian Griffiths (Bass, Guitar) and Taylor Greenshields (Drums) came to be when Ana and Taylor were jamming and playing shows together. Soon thereafter, they met up with Ian and became a three piece band. “Ana and I started jamming in the garage one day, then we played a show in a basement, then we played a show in a bigger basement, then we met up with Ian, then we added some extra accessories.” Said by Taylor Greenshields. Extra Accessories meaning Guitarist, Tony Durocher and Saxophonist, AJ. Honey Monsoon got their name from the Band’s vocalist, Ana Gomulka. “I was thinking of a name, I had a hard time thinking of one then one day I saw it in my head and it was beautiful, like honey dripping from the sky.” Said by Ana.

DSC_1017

19437403_240422779781491_7898268774727854986_n      During Honey Monsoon and my sets, Leo James decided to paint and collage some solid artwork on stage while live music was playing. Honey Monsoon frequently invites Leo to do live artwork while they play after their first show in a basement in Ann Arbor provided by Hanging Hearts. “I don’t think about, I just make a mark and make a pattern and let it happen.” Said by Leo.

I closed out the night along with trumpet and trombone player, Dan Pancy, guitarist, Ian Griffiths, Drummer, Guy Williams and Keyboard and Bass player, Jordan Smith to send Beats and Brews let two off with a solid rock, funk, and hip hop fusion. I even managed to invite rapper Saint Johnny on stage for a collaboration as well as a solo set for his first live performance.

Saint Johnny, who was a late addition to the event decided to blend his unique style of hip hop that ranges from songs about past relationships to songs about his current status as an artist. For his first performance, he provided a unique energy to the crowd and showed true potential as a musician. We’re looking forward to see what he does as his career goes forward.DSC_0018

19511170_240422956448140_2241112328765724615_n19437250_240422626448173_676526608723243348_n19437540_240422883114814_6338972682019481720_n

Be on the lookout for Leg Three coming to Bona Sera Underground August 19, 2017.

 

All photo credits go to Ronald M. Askew.

 

 

 

 

Talking Hops With Hopcat

Beats And Brews

Image result for hopcatPhoto credit, Realypsinow.com

Since 2008 when Hopcat’s first location opened in Grand Rapids, this cat has clawed its way to a big name in the beer world with accolades such as, ranked the #3 Beer Bar in the world as ranked by Beer Advocate Magazine, CraftBeer.com ranks Hopcat the #2 beer bar in the U.S. in 2012 and 2013. On Monday, May 22, I had the pleasure of interviewing Emmeline Jurek, Beer Program Director for the 2 ½ year old Hopcat-Ann Arbor about the variety of different factors that attribute to the success of the growing franchise.

DSC_0887.jpg

Photo credit, Ron Askew

“This is a pretty IPA heavy city, we do a ton of Bell’s Two Hearted, Short’s Huma Lupa Licious, I would say they say the best as a steady sale, but, as the seasons change, people’s pallets change.” Emmeline said when asked what would be the most popular beers…

View original post 355 more words

Talking Hops With Hopcat

Image result for hopcatPhoto credit, Realypsinow.com

Since 2008 when Hopcat’s first location opened in Grand Rapids, this cat has clawed its way to a big name in the beer world with accolades such as, ranked the #3 Beer Bar in the world as ranked by Beer Advocate Magazine, CraftBeer.com ranks Hopcat the #2 beer bar in the U.S. in 2012 and 2013. On Monday, May 22, I had the pleasure of interviewing Emmeline Jurek, Beer Program Director for the 2 ½ year old Hopcat-Ann Arbor about the variety of different factors that attribute to the success of the growing franchise.

DSC_0887.jpg

Photo credit, Ron Askew

“This is a pretty IPA heavy city, we do a ton of Bell’s Two Hearted, Short’s Huma Lupa Licious, I would say they say the best as a steady sale, but, as the seasons change, people’s pallets change.” Emmeline said when asked what would be the most popular beers Hopcat-Ann Arbor offers on tap. “Right now we’re seeing a huge influx of flavored light ales like Strawberry Blonde from Arbor Brewing Company and the flavored wheat business around this time to such as Oberon (Bells) she continued.

Besides their beer selection, Hopcat offers a variety of delicious food options, one of which are the appropriately named, crack fries. Crack fries have become a fan favorite among the patrons of Hopcat and has even earned a spot on Food Network’s top ten fries in the United States. “From what I can remember from our training, is pretty much the exact way one might think about when they were playing around with menu ideas, someone piped up and said, ‘Wow, these are like crack they’re so good!’ so that’s essentially how they came to be.” She said when asked how crack fries got their name.

Image result for crack friesPhoto credit, dailydetroit.com

“Honestly too many to count, it’s something new every day. We don’t deal with just the large beer companies distributed through the many distribution companies in the state of Michigan, at this store and the one in Detroit does do deal with a lot of smaller self-distributed breweries as well. At least once a month there’s a new small brewery that will bring in samples.” Emmeline responded when asked about how many different beer companies Hopcat works with. “For example, Eternity Brewing (Howell) they make fantastic beer, Drafting Table (Wixom) is another one, we work with Acoustic Mead (Traverse City) who does fantastic draft mead, and Farmington Brewing Company (Farmington) is another favorite we do a lot of work with, so, pretty much if the liquid is good, we buy it.

DSC_0879.jpgPhoto credit, Ron Askew

Honestly, Hopcat has always been one of my favorite bars to go to whenever I’m in Downtown Ann Arbor or Detroit, even before I decided to start this blog. With six different locations in the state (Ann Arbor, Detroit, East Lansing, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, and newly added, Royal Oak) and seven more located around the country, this is definitely a franchise that does beer, food and customer service right.

DSC_0895.jpg

Photo credit, Ron Askew