By Eddie Jorgensen
If you haven’t heard of Black Map, chances are you’ve never listened to the members’ former bands which all have distinct fan bases of their own. Drummer Chris Robyn played with Far which released two albums through Immortal/Epic records, guitarist Mark Engles has played with Dredg since the band’s inception, and bassist/vocalist Ben Flanagan played with The Actual and Trophy Fire.
Black Map shows some immense musical depth with their latest album on minusHEAD records, ‘…And We Explode.’ And while the album was released in October 2014, the band is just starting to play out live.
Even before the release of the band’s album, the group landed a coveted slot on a national tour with Chevelle. “The experience with Chevelle was better than anything I could have hoped for,” said Robyn. “Chevelle are great. They are genuine and were incredibly generous to provide a stage for us to share. Far (Robyn’s previous band) fans did come out and it made me incredibly proud of what I spent so many years doing. It has been a good while since those years and people who witnessed it then, or did not get a chance to, came out and it was an extra reward for me to hear from them and talk with them.”
The songwriting process, as well, has been very organic and the members are already starting the writing process for a follow-up.
“Typically Ben and/or Mark have a piece of music that they introduce. I just try to empty my head of any predetermination, find the base/core rhythm of the piece, dive in full on, and allow myself to find a pattern that is musical, exciting, and purposeful” said Robyn. “Sometimes it comes quickly. Sometimes it takes a little bit. I try not to over think parts or beats, as history has taught me that if I over think something it will usually, in the end, be the most stale part or parts of a given piece of music. It’s a fine line, but that’s the rewarding part of writing music.”
However, personal interests can get in the way of a song structure but rolling with the changes has made Robyn’s life in Black Map easier.
“Ben and Mark will always chime in on where I am going with something, whether it be minor tweaks or to let me know I am way off base,” he says. “I welcome any and all of their input. We constantly feed off one another during the writing process.”
And while most bands would readily assume signing to a major label deal is still where it’s at, Robyn knows otherwise.
“minusHEAD (band’s current label) has been great. They have been incredibly supportive and we have a shared vision on the exploitation of Black Map” he said. “Although it is substantially less expensive now to record and people can experience music in so many different ways, I don’t see things for a band much different than back in the day. You just have to go out there and do the work no matter who you are. Label support, whether indie or major, is great but never a guarantee for success, whatever you deem success to be.”
Black Map play Friday, Jan. 23 at the Phoenix Theater in Petaluma with The Iron Heart, French Girls, and We Are Invisible Monsters. 8
pm. $8. All ages are welcome. 201 Washington Street, Petaluma. 707.762.3565.
Noah Benjamin Lennox is best known as a member of experimental indie rock group Animal Collective, and under the pseudonym Panda Bear, Lennox has evolved considerably as an electronic artist with a pitch perfect penchant for expansive melodies in his sampled beats. This week, Panda Bear released his fifth solo album, Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper, to universal acclaim; and today at noon tickets go on sale for Panda Bear’s upcoming concert at Gundlach Bundschu Winery in Sonoma on April 16. This is a great chance to see the indie star in the intimate setting of Gun Bun’s newly restored Old Redwood Barn. Click here to grab tickets to the show, and watch the official video for “Mr Noah,” the first single off the new album.
This time last year, BottleRock producer Dave Graham and the partners of Latitude 38 Entertainment were in a very different place. Still negotiating the asset purchase of the popular yet financially strapped festival in Napa, Latitude 38 didn’t get a lineup in 2014 until almost April. This year, the producers of the third annual music, wine and food festival, which takes place May 29–31, are ahead of the curve, and they have already announced BottleRock 2015’s three-day lineup of big name bands and emerging artists.
Chart-topping indie rock band Imagine Dragons, alternative megastars No Doubt and rock legend Robert Plant will be headlining BottleRock Napa Valley 2015.
“We’re not trying to be like any other festival,” says Graham. “The notion of having something for everyone applies to BottleRock. You have bands that gear towards younger crowds as well as the older crowd.”
Imagine Dragons, which includes Forestville native Ben McKee on bass, emerged out of Las Vegas in 2012 with a succession of hits. No Doubt’s iconic front woman Gwen Stefani was recently well received on NBC’s karaoke competition show, The Voice. Stefani and the gang are reportedly only performing a handful of dates this year, as is Robert Plant.
“Nuff said,” comments Graham, when asked about Plant. “He’s one of the biggest names in rock and roll history.” (For you kids, Plant sang in some band called Led Zeppelin). “To have him in Napa Valley is going to be so cool,” says Graham.
Joining these diverse headliners are a slew of indie darlings; the Avett Brothers, Passion Pit, Foster the People, Cage the Elephant, Capital Cities and Portugal, the Man. Graham is also bringing in a slew of hip-hop acts like Snoop Dogg, Afrolicious and Public Enemy; jazz greats such as Preservation Hall Jazz Band and JJ Grey & Mofo; and international stars like Xavier Rudd & the United Nations and Courtney Barnett.
Graham is especially excited to welcome Michael Franti & Spearhead to BottleRock. “I love their music, but they’re just good people. They stepped it up for Napa after the earthquake and played a fundraising show for free. Napa loves them,” says Graham.
The rest of the lineup includes Gipsy Kings, Young the Giant, AWOLNATION, American Authors, Trampled By Turtles, Los Lobos, The Chris Robinson Brotherhood, ZZ Ward, Echosmith, Brett Dennen, Scott Weiland & the Wildabouts, Lettuce, Los Amigos Invisibles, Aer, The Mowglis, Kopecky, Big Talk, Tristan Prettyman, People Under the Stairs, Vacationer, The Brothers Comatose, Knox Hamilton, The Last Internationale, Zella Day, Finish Ticket, Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds, Ryan Sims Band, The London Souls, MoonAlice, Grizfolk, Black English, Wild Ones, The Record Company, Kawehi, Emily Wolfe, Afrolicious, Con Brio, Wildlife Control, Sneakout, Transfer, Battle Tapes, The Trims, Fritz Montana, The Frail, Eagle Wolf Snake, Matt Moon, Sielle, The Iron Heart, The Bad Jones, Silverado Pickups, The Deadlies, grass child, Pion 2 Zion, Walsh, Napa Crossroads Live featuring: David Pack of Ambrosia, John Elefante of Kansas, Bill Champlin formerly of Chicago, Jim Peterik founding member of Survivor.
Tickets go on sale Thursday, Jan. 8, at 10am.
She’s called the Carole King of our generation, and for good reason. Beth Nielsen Chapman is a singer and songwriter extraordinaire, penning famous tunes for numerous country music stars and performing her own emotionally striking songs for over twenty years. Chapman is based in Nashville and regularly works alongside and writes for superstar recording artists such as Bonnie Raitt, Emmylou Harris, Bette Midler, Elton John, Neil Diamond, Trisha Yearwood and many more.
Chapman’s new album, Uncovered, is a look back on many of her top ten hits, penned for other artists, but never recorded herself until now. A number of there were number one hits, and the album includes fresh takes of classic songs like
This Kiss (Faith Hill),
Here We Are (#1 for Alabama),
Strong Enough To Bend (#1 for Tanya Tucker) and
Nothin’ I Can Do About It Now (#1 for Willie Nelson). Now, Chapman brings her diverse and acclaimed songs to San Rafael when she preforms this Sunday, September 7, at Studio 55 Marin, in San Rafael. This intimate show will be a vibrant display of Chapman’s lyrical mastery and musical passion. Tickets are $18 to $22, and are available here.
The Green Music Center at Sonoma State University celebrates the opening of the brand new Schroeder Hall this weekend, August 23 and 24. The latest addition to the center that already boasts the acoustically perfect Weill Hall, this new, intimate recital space is ideal for choral performances and holds within it the stunning Brombaugh Opus 9 Organ. Named for the beloved piano playing character of “Peanuts” fame, Schroeder Hall opens to the public for a debut weekend that boasts 10 different free concert performances over the two days.
When Donald and Maureen Green first dreamt up the music center, they wanted a permanent home for the SSU Bach Choir. How fitting that the choir, now dubbed the Sonoma Bach Choir and still led by retired SSU music director Bob Worth, kicks off the celebratory Schroeder Hall opening with an 11am performance on Saturday, joined by organist David Parsons.
From there the Hall will show off its versatility, as the rounded stone walls and reverberating nature is tuned to performances from the SSU Faculty Jazz Ensemble at 2pm, local piano legend and Santa Rosa Symphony conductor laureate Jeffrey Kahane at 4pm, and Organist James David Christie of the Boston Symphony Orchestra at 5:30pm. Capping off the first day is contemporary Jazz pianist David Benoit at 8pm.
On Sunday, Schroeder Hall opens up once again to feature such diverse acts as Weill Hall’s own artists-in-residence, Trio Ariadne, at 1pm, SSU chamber music artists-in-residence, Trio Navarro, at 5pm, and faculty and alumni vocal recitals throughout. The curved look of the Hall makes it ideal for vocal chants and choral recitals, and Sunday’s performances will explore the space’s capacity for rich aural effects.
Though the weekend is completely free, the limited seating of Schroeder Hall means tickets are required. Each performance requires it’s own ticket, and many have already been claimed online. Still, there is hope, as the Green Music Center has said some tickets will be held at the door on a first come basis. Also, if you already have seats, get there early to claim them, as any unclaimed tickets will be given out 10 minutes before each performance. Details are online right here.
Last weekend, August 16, the Bohemian held the annual NorBay Music Awards, honoring bands and performers from around the area. Winners were voted by you in ten different categories and many of the races were very close. More photos and coverage is coming this week. For now, here are the Gold Record Award winners of the 2014 NorBays.
Blues and R&B: Lester Chambers & the Mudstompers
Country and Americana: Frankie Boots & the County Line
DJ: Paul Timberman
Folk and Acoustic: Flowerbox
Hip-Hop and Electronic: MC Radioactive
Indie: the Highway Poets
Jazz: Dixie Giants
Punk and Metal: Shotgun Harlot
Rock: Dylan Chambers
World and Reggae: Soup Sandwich
Thanks to all the bands who came out and all of those who voted. Stay tuned for our review of the 24-Hour band contest and the highlights of the show.
Today the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts in Santa Rosa announced two new exciting shows for September, including the first show to utilize the venue’s new flexible theater space. Last year’s $3.3 million renovation allows main floor seats to be removed, creating an open-floor venue that allows for an increased variety of performances. In this configuration, the venue’s capacity increases from 1,681 to 2,023.
Appearing on Saturday, Sept. 20, is Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter Colbie Caillat. Then, on Tuesday, Sept. 30, rock band O.A.R. (Of A Revolution) makes their Santa Rosa debut and transforms the theater into the new open-floor design. With an intense and exciting live show, O.A.R. is the perfect act to debut the venue’s new look.
Tickets for Colbie Caillat are $59 and $49 (all seats reserved) and tickets for O.A.R. are $59 in the reserved balcony and $49 for general admission (standing) on the main floor. Tickets for both shows go on sale Friday, July 25 at noon and will be available online at wellsfargocenterarts.org, by calling 707.546.3600, and in person at the box office at 50 Mark West Springs Road in Santa Rosa.
He’s got a winning smile and a wicked voice, and this month Chris Isaak shares both with the North Bay. The Stockton-born, Roy Orbison-obsessed songwriter is best known for his definitive song, “Wicked Game,” and for his appearances in cult classic movies. Now, Isaak brings his award-winning croon to the Wine Country, performing at Rodney Strong Vineyards on Sunday, July 13 at 4pm. Tickets are still available, grab them before they go.
One of the most powerful voices on Broadway and beyond, soprano singer Sarah Brightman has unfortunately been forced cancel her August U.S. tour, which included an appearance at the Green Music Center’s Weill Hall. From her website:
“I have suffered a hairline fracture to my ankle and have been advised by my doctors to rest it until September by which time it will have fully recovered. I have, regrettably, taken the decision to cancel my forthcoming US dates in August. I truly apologise for any disappointment caused.” -Sarah Brightman
No word on rescheduling yet, as the performer focuses on recovery.
Nestled in the Sonoma Valley’s beautiful Gundlach Bundschu Winery, the 2014 Huichica Music Festival was highlighted by fine wine, warm weather and excellent music. Friday nights kick-off was a nice concert headlined by Vetiver, though Saturday was the real spectacle, with two stages hosting a dozen artists from the Bay Area and beyond. There were young up-and-comers, established favorites and even a few veteran folk artists for good measure. Click to read on and check out the photos below: