Sunday, February 28, 2010

Live music venues in and around Ohio

The Athens music scene is always very lively; however, local acts make up the majority of performances. Not to far from Athens, you can find performances by non-local artists at nearby live music venues. Looking to get out of Athens and see your favorite artist perform? Check out these different places to find where you can attend your next concert. The map below pinpoints the major concert halls in and around the Ohio area. Each offers different types of performances to please a variety of music tastes. Some are farther than others, providing different types of trips out of Athens depending on what you are looking for.

View Live music venues in and around Ohio in a larger map


Song of the Week: “The Adventure”: Angels and Airwaves (Will be performing at Lifestyles Communities Pavilion April 22, 2010)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

What exactly is music literacy?

After thinking about the last sentence in my post titled, “
High profile music journalists from the surrounding Ohio area speak with OU students” I have pondered what music literacy actually means. The panel of music journalists stressed that music literacy is the key. But what are they actually talking about?

Before the topic of music literacy was discussed by the panel, my impression of the phrase related more so to the understanding of sheet music or actually knowing how to play an instrument. Maybe my opinion is biased because I am a musician. The panel, however, did not mention these qualities. They focused on the idea that music journalists should be familiar with the music industry, its history, and where it is going, to be musically literate.

To gain a better understanding of the phrase “music literacy” I spoke to Dana Stewart, one of the panelists from the Columbus Metromix, again to dispose of any confusion. Stewart agrees that some understanding of music theory is to some degree important. “You'll have more to write about and have more to talk about in an interview. On the other hand, I don't think it's good to write too much with a music theory emphasis because it can get too technical and wordy,” Stewart said.

Stewart’s friend, Allison Smith, who was an OU music major felt music literacy refers to the ability to read sheet music because the word “literacy” literally means being able to read.

“An understanding of music literacy in the sense that my friend said is these days being pushed more and more to the side because rock music isn't based on sheet music as much as classical music was. That's why I think it's not the right word or phrase for what we were talking about,” Stewart explained.

By combining the comments made by Stewart, the other panelist and Smith, music literacy can encompass an understanding of the history of rock music along with music theory to enable a music journalist to report as best as possible the sounds they are hearing.

As an OU alumna, Stewart diversified herself by taking a history of rock class, a jazz history class and folk music history class along with piano classes and choir participation to feel more equipped as a music journalist.

Stewart commented, “I think it helps a music journalism career if you've at least dabbled with some sort of instrument because I think it gives a person a better appreciation for how much work it is to write a song and then to play it, record it and then tour or make a profit off of it.”

Defining music literacy is some what of an ambiguous task, as we have seen from the different viewpoints of Stewart, the rest of the panel and Smith. The important part to take away from this deliberation, however, is the idea that to be an effective music journalist, the combination of music theory basics and knowledge of the history of music can enhance the way we write about music.


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Notes On Collaboration


Song of the week:(More from my favorite artist) "A Twist In My Story" - Secondhand Serenade

Friday, February 19, 2010

Second annual OU idol does not live up to first year expectations

Last Tuesday I decided to miss my usual weekly dose of America Idol to attend another singing competition on campus: OU Idol. Much to my surprise, I am not sure how worth it attending this event really was, beside the fact that I was helping a good cause: the March of Dimes. Performances this year did not seem as entertaining as the first OU Idol in 2009.

Although some performances were enjoyable to watch, many others were lifeless. Randall Rine, singing “Hero” by Mariah Carey knew what she was doing with her voice on a technical level, but left the audience with a boring performance.

On the contrary, Carolyn Miller, singing “Girl Next Door” had great stage presence, but not being in-sync with the background track was distracting.

Kim Blaha seemed like she was holding back in her performance. I wish she would have stepped outside of her comfort zone because she had such a clear tone to her voice.

Although the judges liked her voice, Stephanie Nord delivered a whiny tone when she was belting sections of the song. The more conversational, softer sections of the song were much more enjoyable.

One of my favorite performances, however, included an acoustic guitar accompaniment of the song “Fallin’.” Kirstie Zontini connected well with the audience by showing a sassy side to her voice. I love the personal and intimate nature of acoustic performances.

OU Idol is a fun event that brings OU talent in the light while supporting an important cause. I hope that for next year’s competition, however, more is brought to the table. I would like to see more passion from the contestants. Until then, it’s back to watching the real American Idol for me.


Sunday, February 14, 2010

High profile music journalists from the surrounding Ohio area speak with OU students

Music and journalism collided this past weekend with a music journalism panel followed by a battle of the bands presented by OU’s ed2010 and SPJ. Andrew Whitman from Paste Magazine, Jeff Niesel from the Cleveland Scene, Joel Oliphint from The Other Paper and Dana Stewart from the Columbus Metromix visited campus to discuss the music journalism industry and offer advice to aspiring journalists.

Of course online journalism was a hot topic at the panel. Stewart began by advising the audience to find a way to market yourself online by pitching stories that would work in print and online. The online world has enhanced music journalism by allowing audiences to listen to a song while reading a review of the artist. Because of this fact, music journalists must provide more depth when writing an album review. The reader needs to learn more then just what they would from simply listening to the song.

I never thought the vibe in a room could go from an energized, passionate level, talking about the thrill music journalism brings to these people, to a disturbing reality that making a decent living as a music journalist is next to impossible. Additional freelance was a major trend among these journalists to make a decent living. An important thing to remember, however, is that money was not driving any of the panel members to write about music. It was the passion behind it all that inspired them to continue with this low paying career.

Just as music journalists evaluate the quality of an artist’s performance or album, the panel informed the audience how to write a good music story reviewing that artist or album. Niesel advised, “Develop a critical voice so it does not sound like a press release. Write about it creatively so that people know it is coming from an outside perspective.”

The final advice of the panel is to educate yourself with a general knowledge of where the music industry has been and where it is going. Music literacy is key.


Song of the week: “The Underdog” – Spoon (Band recommended by the panel)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Nothing says it better than the lyrics of a love song

As Valentine’s Day rolls around, the topic of love finds itself on the mind. Those with a significant other enjoy buying their valentine gifts, such as flowers and chocolate. Those without a valentine loath the holiday because it serves as a reminder of bad past relationships or loneliness.

Love, or lack there of, is a difficult subject to discuss; it means something different to every person. But when transformed into lyrics, emotions about love and relationships run wild. Nothing says it better than the lyrics of a love song.

The majority of songs are written about wanting to be in love, being in love, or falling out love. Song writers use this dramatic cycle as a way to express emotions. On the other end, listeners use these lyrics to find comfort knowing others have the same experiences.

Think of three of your favorite songs. What are they about? If it is something along the lines of relationships, heart break or a special someone you will get what I mean.

Perusing the ITunes store this week, I found a CD titled “Valentine’s Day Songs for 2010.” Below are a few lyric selections from songs on this CD. Maybe they will help you generate ideas on how to tell your valentine you love them this Valentine’s Day. Enjoy!

And you’re always in my heart
You’re always on my mind
When it all becomes too much
You’re never far behind
And there’s no one that comes close to you
Could ever take your place
Cause only you can love me this way

-“Only You Can Love Me This Way”: Keith Urban

But can you feel this magic in the air?
It must have been the way you kissed me
Fell in love when I saw you standing there
It must have been the way
Today was a fairytale
It must have been the way
Today was a fairytale

-“Today was Today Was A Fairytale”: Taylor Swift

And I'll be by your side
Wherever you fall
In the dead of night
Whenever you call
And please don't fight
These hands that are holding you
My hands are holding you

-“By Your Side”: Tenth Avenue North


Sunday, February 7, 2010

Keys to success

Hearing a piano being played is such a simple thing. The entire process of how the sound is produced and what a pianist must do to make that sound, however, is a complex production. Coordinating the keys and the pedal to what the sheet music says all factors into making a good sound. The slideshow below presents the process of playing piano.


Song of the week: “Reverie” - Claude Debussy

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Open Stage nights at the Front Room: Performances without the pressure

As a musician, I know how stressful and nerve racking playing in front of a large crowd can be. The pressured environment can even take the joy out of the music if you are not an experienced performer.

The Front Room in Baker Center; however, offers a unique opportunity to perform in a relaxed space with its Open Stage nights, every Friday from 8 p.m. to 12 a.m. This personal acoustic environment allows musicians to show off their talents to a small audience while they enjoy a cup of coffee and chat.

Last Friday I had the chance to listen to three musicians, all varying on level of experience, genre and style at the Front Room. Athens community member Bruce Dalzell played the guitar with a bluegrass, folk sound. Dalzell explained that he does not remember what first inspired him to get involved with music, but he remembers he’s been playing since his childhood.

Monica Torres, an OU student, took the stage by informing the audience that she does not play in public very often but that she enjoys playing by herself in her room. Torres’s soft voice and quiet guitar entertained the audience with songs like “Take My Breath Away.”

After attending the Open Stage night last Friday, I recommend any musician wishing to earn experience in front of small crowds to sign up to perform. Even if you do not play an instrument, going to check out the talent that OU has to offer is a calming, chill experience.

The Front Room offers entertainment without a strict line-up and talent level; making the entire experience very soothing. Performances at the Front Room are just another way that music inhabits the Athens community.