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Music Notes

Words make you think a thought. Music makes you feel a feeling. A song makes you feel a thought.

I wasn’t sure what to expect as I walked in to meet the Jenna Paone band. Despite the raw, rainy weather, I preceded into a classic, cleanly decorated suburban home, with the only sign of music being the equipment peaking out from the family room a few feet away. Paone, however, was easy to spot. Being the front- woman of an almost all- male band, it was easy to expect a ball-busting bitch who constantly had to reiterate her standing among three incredibly talented men. However, I was greeted by a petite, expertly dressed brunette whose smile was infectious and energy, undeniable. “This isn’t weird,” Paone breathed as she rushed around the kitchen to pour everyone drinks. “I really am this crazy!” “It’s true,” said guitarist John Baptista as he made his way to the rehearsal space. “Welcome to the circus.”

The piano-based, rock/jazz group formed around a year and half ago, after Paone, who was taking recording lessons from now drummer Jon Francis, stated the blatant need for a band. “Pro-tools were not my thing,” said Paone. “I basically forced Jon to record a demo for me, and then was like ‘I need a band!’ and then he was like ‘Here’s a band!’” “It’s true,” Francis reiterated in a joking demeanor. “I am the catalyst of this group!”

Francis then reached out to long time friend and guitarist Baptista. Being a current student at Berklee, Baptista’s natural-born talent was imminent as the group corralled themselves back into one of their eight-hour practice days. Baptista’s passion while playing was infectious. While Paone would pause during songs to explain their origin “Storyteller’s” style, Baptista would be off fiddling with his equipment or spontaneously forming a new riff. “John also has musical ADD,” said Paone. “We all have our time frames; John’s is about 45 seconds. He’s usually playing with the guitar, or messing with my piano, or even in the bathroom!” The statement was greeted by laughter from everyone, including bassist Bill Ferri. “[He] plays a mean bathroom,” Ferri added.

Rounding out the group was Ferri, whose snarky one-liners throughout the day gave way to an easy-going and entertaining group dynamic. Ferri, like Francis, also teaches, and has been playing bass since the tender age of 13. “I couldn’t go to sleep if I hadn’t practiced that day,” said Ferri. “I would wake up, play for an hour, then go to sleep. I was obsessed.”

Sitting through only a small part of their practice time, felt almost as if a privilege. Paone’s voice and piano was expertly intertwined with Baptista’s rock-themed riffs and Ferri’s and Francis’s unexpected bluesy twists. I sat, struck by how seemingly effortless their music came, as they worked their way through songs ranging from the seductive “Smoke” to the wondrously fun “Honest Woman,” where Paone so innocently stated, “I feel like we need a disco ball for this song.”

If there’s one common thread that holds to be an underlying trait among all the members (besides the sarcastic comedy) it would be summed up in one phrase: being smart, in every sense of the word. “We’re all trained,” explained Paone, who began the piano at age four. “We’ve all been doing this for a very long time; that’s something that’s cool. We all have certain expertise in different areas of music.” “We have our different backgrounds,” added Baptista. “So the different melodies [in our music] really shine through.”

While their musical skill is undeniable, their knowledge and realistic view of the music industry is also impressive. Despite their obvious high work ethic and longing to perfect their music, the group collectively understands that the better they are as an unsigned band, the more attractive they will look to a label in the future. “We have a lot of work to do still, but that will make us more appealing,” said Francis. “We have to think about this,” said Paone. “We really want to make this our career… we all do. We want this to be it.” As the rest of the group nodded in agreement, Francis once again looked at me dead in the eye and jokingly stated, “Off the record? I’m in this for the girls.”


Jakprints, a Cleveland based printer, has recently developed its EcoGreen Sticker: a environment-friendly alternative to traditional sticker stock. After realizing that this type of sticker wasn’t readily available, Jakprints sought to make this green alternative as part of their efforts to “[create] a business with a positive impact on our environment and community…” said Jakprints cofounder Dameon Guess. Printed on Trustick stock, another eco-friendly invention by Jakprints, EcoGreen Stickers are manufactured without using water or toxic agents, and has a face stock made completely from inorganic stone (either limestone or calcium carbonate). The sticker’s unique visual quality makes it an excellent choice for environment friendly bands to make promotional stickers.

After her sophomore album dropped back in September, it was shown that A Fine Frenzy’s Alison Sudol once again produced a string of infectious singles, including  the light and reflective “Happier.”  Bomb in a Birdcage resulted in a career high-point for Sudol, after reaching number 28 on the U.S. Billboard 200. Additional highlights found on Bomb in a Birdcage include “Blow Away” and “Electric Twist.”

The initial period of making connections can often times be intimidating for musicians new on the scene. With a myriad of options and opportunities, it’s no surprise that many are left wondering how to effectively promote their sound. For those looking for an accessible place to network and gain information on all things Boston, look no further than the iconic Middle East Club.

Hosted by the venue’s national booking agent, Kevin Hoskins, the “Rock Shop” series was created to help artists gain footing in town. “We wanted to help new bands try to make sense of info, touring, publicity- it’s a lot of information to get,” says Hoskins. “We wanted people to meet other people doing like-minded things. The nature of the city makes it hard to make connections.”

With half a dozen sessions already under their belts, Hoskins is happy with the initial turnout so far. “With the first meeting there was only four days notice, but we had about 60 people,” he says. “We had about 100 the next time. There were some great questions and discussions, and people still stayed after to talk.” Other participants have included Shred of Team Shred Agency and Productions, Steve Theo of Pirate Productions, Randi Millman of T.T the Bear’s and Carl Lavin of Great Scott and O’Brien’s.

likeZEBRA, a recently developed networking tool, is seeking to connect music lovers with underground artists by directly linking bands to a fan base. In addition, likeZEBRA provides promotional tools and exposure to artists, while those searching for underground music can easily browse through a wide variety of artists. The site enables visitors to discover music by searching through genre, artist, fan, or track. Musicians looking to promote through likeZEBRA are given access to a variety of viral promotional tools, as well as the opportunity to create and sell merchandise through the site.

A new company, TheRevolution LLC is aiming to provide the direct tools necessary for indie and underground musicians to promote their music through their fans. The concept is for artists to create “virtual street teams” by rewarding fans who promote their music with “fan commissions,” which could range from T-shirts, free concert tickets, and CDs to meet-and-greets, and even cash. Fans go about promoting their favorite musicians by posting music players onto their websites, whether it is a blog, Facebook page, or personal website.

Since the appeal of TheRevolution LLC seems somewhat too good to be true, I decided to try to create a media player of my own, and to post it to my WordPress blog site. TheRevolution LLC required me to fill out my name, email, and address in which my “commissions” will be sent to. After hesitantly agreeing to submit my personal information, I was given a fan ID, and the option to create a player, and essentially upload it to my site. Upon browsing for prospective artists whose commission I would be receiving, I finally realized that the website currently gives fans access to just over 60 artists, none of which I had never heard of.

Despite the lack of variety, I proceeded with choosing an artist in an attempt to create my player, and get that commission. Julian Lennon/James Scott Cook was my artist of choice, as I added them to my “Player” list and opted to get the code for my blog. A box popped up showing the music player itself, along with the option to share it. I was then asked to click on the “Copy Player Code” button, and to “simply paste the code to the web page you want this player to appear on.” Easy enough right?

I don’t consider myself a very technology-friendly person, yet after having my WordPress blog for over a year that is the one site I can easily navigate through, while knowing all the options available to me. After failing to find a spot to “simply paste” my code into, I went back to TheRevolution website in hopes of finding out where exactly to stick the HTML code. Located conveniently at the top of the page was a ”Help” button, where I was reassured that copying the code was “easy to do,” and “not to worry.” Apparently, the Facebook application is so simple, that TheRevolution didn’t even bother to explain the instructions (maybe I would have better luck there.) Their attempt to help with my issue of where to stick the HTML was to tell me, “select the Get Webpage Code link next to the music player you want to post. Then, click Copy Player Code. That’s it. Now, go to the webpage you want the music player to appear on and paste the code in its HTML.” Needless to say, I gave up.

If there’s a soul out there who has successfully uploaded a media player to their blog site, I beseech you for your help. For all us non-HTML experts, who are unaware of how to “simply paste” HTML code onto an already-built website which doesn’t belong to us, TheRevolution is simply a lost cause. Not to mention, the site is laden with spelling errors. Those fans expecting commission are also susceptible to not getting their “payment,” due to a “what if?” mentality of if the artists just never respond. No contract holds the artists to paying fans, making it particularly easy for artists to get their “virtual street teams,” without rewarding their fans. All in all, if TheRevolution is truly out to revolutionize music promotion, the site and the concept could use a little work.

Tiny Fires has produced a haunting self-titled debut album filled with dreamy melodies and wistful lyrics. Bandmates Dylan Metrano and Guy Capecelatro III have clearly used years of knowledge and strong musicality to help create an inventive and infectious collection of songs. The seven tracks seductively woo the listener in, resulting in an addictive yet calming experience. While many of the songs feature notably strong and aesthetically pleasing harmonies, there is an archaic feel to the production as a whole, as they evoke emotion through voice and instrument alike.

As glistening guitars and melodic drumming are strong elements throughout the album, listeners are either eerily entranced or comfortably lulled by the songs. Surprise elements to tracks such as “Sinner Man,” and “Dreaming through Days” incorporate spoken pros and carnival-like melodies. “Dreaming through Days” is an almost ideal, innocent contrast to the reflective and poetic “Beacon” – a piano-filled, chant-like manifestation of times passed.

A particularly noteworthy track is “Wild at Heart,” a shimmering, guitar-based ballad of a girl named Jane. With a chorus that rhythmically croons, “She’s a blackheart, she’s a heartbreaker, she’s wild at heart / To know, know, know / To love, love, love / That was her art,” the song tells a mantra-like story of death and lost youth. Like the rest of the tracks on their record, “Wild at Heart” gives listeners yet another original taste of Tiny Fires’ truly skilled and innovative sound. (Burst and Bloom Records)