Songwriters Festival Rocks Florida-Alabama Coast

DSC_0278For 25 years the Frank Brown International Songwriters Festival has been rocking the Florida/Alabama coast, and this year is no exception. Running for two weekends, the festival started Thursday night and will run till Sunday the 22nd.
The festival offers workshops, performances from a wide array of known artist and open mic opportunities for budding songwriters. Multiple venues are listed with a schedule of acts on the festival’s website. A few of the venues, including the festival’s birthplace, the Flora-Bama, Janna’s Market & Deli, Pirate’s Cove, and the Silver Moon, Then, of course, there are venues, not a part of the festival, that compete by bringing in acts such as Grayson Capps.

Saturday evening at the Silver Moon and Janna’s Market & Deli began with musicians jockeying for their chance to perform during the time allotted for open mic. If sitting at the bar in the Silver Moon, one would have witnessed the many artists rushing to write their name on the list assuring their chance to perform 3 songs for the gathered audience. At either venue you would have to suffer through quite a few, to put it politely, less-than-stellar acts, and some that were just plain boring. But, if you sat there long enough, and endured the awful onslaught of old men whining out “woe is me, nobody loves me,” then you would have the pleasure of hearing noteworthy performers such as: Riley Yielding, Sassafrass, Daniela Demaria, and Mark Green.

Yielding shined, with solid vocals and guitar work, but really earned his applause with catchy, fun lyrics like: “so fine but she was someone else’s wife” and “the sweetest thing she does is call me her man.” He then wows with a blues number that sounded almost like a dead on rendition of the classic St. James Infirmary, off by a note or two, that pairs the classic tune with worthy lyrics.
Unique among the typical open mic performers was Sassafras. The environmental folk duo grabbed the audience’s attention with a message of protest, prodding the audience to become more Earth-friendly, with interactive songs like Wolves, guitar runs that become ingrained in ones head via such tunes as Rainforest and the more light-hearted, yet still somehow ominous Water Wars.
Young but filled with potential, Daniela Demaria entered the stage a bit nervously, but when she opened her mouth the crowd knew she was worth staying for.

Owning a voice with the timbre of an unpolished Regina Spektor, Daniela and her guitar reduced our hardened minds to a fluid state of sublime relaxation with a song she wrote about New Orleans street musicians, Wrapped Up in Blue, and one called It’s Not Fair. She may have low ambitions, to become a New Orleans street musician, but her voice may have other plans.
If blues and folk music aren’t your preferred genres maybe Mark Green’s definite country flair is more up your ally. Mark Green opened the open mic session at Janna’s Market & Deli. He may have appeared somewhat unrefined, but once his set started. if you closed your eyes, one would think they were listening to a member of the Nashville elite, someone who had already arrived.

All of the above were a true pleasure to anyone’s ears, but no one can put you in a trance like Grayson Capps. Ending the night at The Reef was definitely worth the second-hand smoke. Grayson puts on a live show like no other. The bar was packed to capacity with some of his biggest fans, there to revel in the experience. Despite being quite popular in Ireland it is no shock he’s southern made. Grayson’s recorded music doesn’t do his live show justice. Though his recordings are consistently good, there is just no way they can capture the raw energy of his live show. You just have to be there.


Converse, Journey, Guitar Center and have teamed up to offer a great opportunity for bands on the rise. The Get Out of Your Garage Contest offers several prizes and tons of free band exposure to anyone who participates. Last year’s winner, Flying Machines (who you can see in our mixed notes section of this month’s issue), is now signed to EMI and is constantly on tour. This is a great FREE opp, so submit your band before the Nov. 22 deadline. For more information simply visit

Steven Tyler may leave Aerosmith

Steven Tyler Aerosmith
Steven Tyler Aerosmith

Fox News is reporting that Steven Tyler might leave Aerosmith in an effort to pursue a solo career. The band’s 40th anniversary is less than a year away. They are already discussing replacing Tyler or taking an extra long hiatus.

It seems like a modern day divorce, 40 years and it’s time for a new road. Hopefully the solo career will go well but why mess up sometime great?

There For Tomorrow Shines Despite Evening of Bedlam

by: C. D. Harvill

Tuesday night, as it does on just about any given night, High Ground in Metairie, Louisiana, hosted an “all-ages” rock show. The evening’s lineup was comprised of headliners Hit The Lights, joined on the tour by the pop groups I Rival, Sparks the Rescue, Fireworks, and There For Tomorrow.

All of the bands were decent musicians and tight, as a whole. However, some aspects of certain bands’ stage shows should be noted. It needs to be understood that the High Ground is an ALL AGES venue.

Sparks the Rescue obviously misunderstood the nature of their audience, to stand on a stage and feel the need to announce what each song is about with descriptions such as: “This next song is called Skeletons. It’s about bone-rs….” Then, when there is a blatant awkward vibe in the room, the front man feels the need to explain himself to a room full of 14-year-old girls and a few mothers, “the song is about bones….. boners.” One would naturally think that, after his first attempt at humor wasn’t appreciated, he would back off, but, to the audiences misfortune, he did not. He went on to explain another song as being about oral pleasure and, if anyone would like to see the group of guys giving each other oral pleasure, they could find them in the van. He went on to open another song by saying it was about having too much of “the devil’s lettuce” and announcing that, if anyone knew where they could get some “devil’s lettuce” to come find them after the show. As if the band’s stage manners weren’t appalling enough, it is to be said that, as a pop band, you are expected–at least to some degree–to be heartthrobs. Showing up for a gig with greasy hair and having forced your, by most standards, chunky body into a pair of skinny jeans doesn’t usually scream heartthrob.

Although the next band, Fireworks, would neither be classified as heartthrobs, by most girls’ standards, nor as flawless musicians, they were at least a wholesome-looking group of guys who put on a show that had even your most unlikely audience members, with their hands in the air, singing along. Near the end of their set, the band suddenly stopped playing for one of the guitarists to ask everyone to chill out (a fight had broken out in the audience). Upon being cursed at by one kid involved in the fight, the guitarist shouted “my bad I thought he had something of value to say” and the band once again started playing. The kid continued to provoke the band, looking for things to throw, according to guitarist Chris Mojan. Once they had finished their gig, multiple fights broke out. The the drummer asked the kid if he wanted to go and just talk but, according to Mojan the kid started trying to fight again. The High Ground’s security and one of the sound guys had to help break up the evening’s violence. Mojan stated how embarrassing it was for them to be the band up there when everything broke out “we don’t support violence in any way; our music doesn’t provoke violence, it’s not even aggressive”.

Once the audience had settled down from the fights, the band that shined above all took the stage. There For Tomorrow holds the complete formula for a pop band. Each member is attractive, appropriate, charming and, not to be forgotten, the music is up to par.

The quartet has been together since 2003. Upon graduating high school they decided to start touring. They have won multiple upcoming artist awards, played Van’s Warped Tour this past summer and, upon finishing up this tour in their native Orlando, will be heading out again with Mayday Parade. Despite all the positive attention, they are still looking for more. Even though Maika Maile says he doesn’t want them to come across as needy and wanting to be in the limelight, as can be expected, the young musicians want success and deserve it. Their songs are well written, with catchy lines, not so typical minor harmonic lead riffs and flattering rhythm partnered with tight backing-bass and drums.

If you’re looking for the next band to follow until they hit it big, it would be recommended you jump onboard with There For Tomorrow as fast as you can.

Sassafrass Takes On Climate Change


by: C. D. Harvill

Some of you older music fans may remember a time when a certain local environmental/political folk musician graced the Marquee and other media outlets. Karen Harvill, once a Mississippi Mama, is now teamed up with long-time friend and fellow folk musician Jo Billups. The pair make up the recently formed group, Sassafrass. With all the talk of global warming, the two passionate artists could not simply sit back without saying a word; so, once again, they’ve picked up their guitars and started singing. Most of their gigs have been in coffee shops in the Pensacola area; however, they have traveled as far as Ohio to perform in “green” festivals. This past Saturday was International Climate Day. To call for a clear solution to the climate crisis organized 5200 rallies in 181 countries around the world, the most widespread political action in history. The New Orleans rally, which was Sunday in Congo Square, featured Sassafrass, Leon “Kid Chocolate” Brown and the marching bands from Sophie B. Wright School, Martin Behrman Charter School and O. Perry Walker High. There were speakers from, Alliance for Climate Protection, Alliance for Affordable Energy and The Coastal Restoration Network.

Sassafrass performed before and after the marching bands. Their theme-appropriate lyrics, voiced as sparkling harmonies riding on top of catchy guitar runs and compelling rhythms, served as good background music for the opening of the rally. Even for those in the audience who might not have been environmental loonies or lovers of folk music, it was a welcome respite from the foul-mouthed snowball saleswoman heaping abuse upon a fellow street vendor just outside of Armstrong Park. Once everything got started you could hear such poignant songs as “Water Wars” and the more eloquent “White on White” and “Wolves” projecting across Congo Square.  This might not have been their most energetic performance, but it was still clear that the ladies are musicians first and foremost; definitely not your average coffeehouse band.

As a former band geek, one must give kudos to “Kid Chocolate” Brown’s mad trumpet skills and, of course, to the middle and high school bands that performed as well.

With Sassafrass at the head of the parade (sporting gold umbrellas with scenes of melting ice caps and sad polar bears) the group danced second line through the Quarter to DBA on Frenchmen St. to watch the Saints play the Dolphins.

Whether you are interested in saving the environment, or simply a folk music fan, Sassafrass is a must listen.  You can check out both Sassafrass and Leon “Kid Chocolate” Brown on MySpace.

69 Eyes


by C. D. Harvill

The 69 Eyes visited the Howlin Wolf in New Orleans on October 12. They are currently on tour with The Becoming and Dommin, promoting their new album, Back in Blood, which was released in September. Some of you may have heard of The 69 Eyes via Kat Von D’s promotion of the vampire rock band, maybe you are a fan of Bam Margera who did a beautiful, stylistic job as director of the music videos for “Lost Boys;” “Dead Girls Are Easy,” the first single off the new album, and the second single, “Dead and Gone,” or (as one fan shared with me) maybe you were listening to HIM on Pandora radio and, being a similar sound, The 69 Eyes caught your attention. Whatever the case they are worth a listen.

Surely some of you are curious as to what they mean by vampire rock? Jyrki (pronounced: yur-key) described the group as more of a cartoon rock band; their songs are not so much about love but about Jyrki’s favorite film genre–¬¬horror: more specifically, vampire flicks.

The heart-throb front-man, Jyrki, is not only a vampire rocker but also holds a master of science degree in analytical chemistry, is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and won the Outstanding Young Person of the World Award in 2006. As a Goodwill Ambassador he feels strongly about the education of children and talked about how important it is that children are educated: because if the children are knowledgeable and doing well, then mother earth is doing well. He said his being chosen for the role of Goodwill Ambassador was because he is more edgy and not someone “safe”, such as a sports star. He loves that he can be out doing his thing in a rock band while also doing something good.

Listening to the Helenski, Finland-based band’s earlier album the music has more of a melodic instrumental feel. This latest album ,unlike the rest, was recorded in the USA, with producer Matt Hyde, who, according to Jyrki “…squeezed every drop of blood and sweat and tears from us into the album.” Jyrki claims the band wanted a fresh sound, and Hyde certainly squeezed a more mainstream punk-alternative sounding album out of them. “The sound is very aggressive compared to the previous stuff… we wanted to get rid of all the extra orchestration…it’s more in your face, with an American attitude….”

Their stage performance sounded just like their recorded music, and it was fun, as an audience member, hearing Jyrki, with his accent, pumping the crowd between songs. However there was a feeling, bleeding through their performance, that they were bored, and one could spot Jyrki thinking about doing his Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson-esque stage antics before and while executing them. Whether it was simply because of it being a rainy day or because they’ve been doing this for 20 years, one can’t be sure. It was evident they weren’t really into the performance until they began playing newer hits, such as “Dead Girls Are Easy,” during which the band definitely had more than enough overflow energy from the enthusiastic audience.

With such a theatrical headlining band the opening bands were fitting. The Becoming came out with their own lights, glitzed us with their gold drum set and had a sound like Emery, if Emery was less punk and more Marilyn Manson.

On stage just before The 69 Eyes and appropriately revving the crowed for the main event was Dommin. Theatrically dressed with leather jackets bowling shirts and slicked back hair the young, more mainstream, Depeche Mode-sounding band wowed the venue with their simple keyboard progressions, catchy lyrics to hit-worthy songs such as “My Heart In Your Hands.” Lead singer, songwriter and guitarist, Kris Dommin, shocked with vocals unique to the genre, giving the band a refreshing taste.

Overall, a terrific show and, if you are in an area where this murder of bands is touring, it is worth your time and money to check out the show. If not, all three bands have music worthy of livening up your computer time or drive home from work.

Do you want your music in Rock Band?

The Rock Band Network is a revolutionary system which will allow bands, studios and record labels to create and sell playable game content from their master recordings using the same professional tools used by the game’s developers.

You will be able to upload and submit your tracks for review by the Rock Band Creators community. These experienced “rhythm game” players will critique your music and approved tracks will become available in the Rock Band Store and on the Xbox LIVE Marketplace. You’ll get a cut of every purchase.

Go here for more info.