Festival season is upon us

May 13, 2010

This is a very important time of year for huge music and jam band fans. Spring and summertime  in Baltimore always means Natty Boh’s, Oriole games, Ocean City and music festivals and outdoor concerts.

Summer festivals are a great time because there are always great acts ranging from a variety of genres, and there is nothing but music and happiness in the air for however many days a festival lasts.  All of the members in our band have each been to several music festivals over the past couple of years, including Bonnaroo, All Good Festival and Lollapalooza, culminating to some of the best times of our lives.

Now that we are in a serious local jam band, the possibility of someday playing a major music festival would be a major point in all of our lives. Vespertine Movement has to work our way up to the big dogs, and a great way to start doing that is by playing local festivals wherever we can.  VM has started to do that and we plan on playing a few local festivals this summer in Catonsville, Frederick, and other areas.

What is so great about playing local music festivals is the fact that you can get your music out to so many people who have never seen or heard about you before. On top of that, there is not as much stress on selling a lot of pre-sale tickets to fans, friends, and family because a lot of people are there for the festival to see some great live acts.

Two years ago, VM got a last minute chance to play at Federal Hill’s biggest music festival, the Federal Hill Street Beat Festival.  We shared the stage with some of Baltimore’s best local bands and also had the chance to meet other bands that are not from the area.  We played a 45-minute set, and when we first hit the stage there were not too many people by our stage, but by the end of our set there were a couple hundred of people grooving and dancing to our music.  It was the best show and day the band has had to date, because we heard so many compliments about our music, got to see some great bands, and we got to meet so many new people that love music just as much as we do.

This summer should be a great time and the band is hoping to play some big shows and local festivals so we can spread the word on our music.  We will be playing all throughout Maryland, and we hope to get out to Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Delaware, and possibly New York.  We are always looking to get new fans who love our music, and music festivals only help the process, so look out for VM to be doing just that this summer.



May 11, 2010

TELESMA has been impacting the Baltimore music scene for almost a decade.  TELESMA blends psychedelic rock with electronica which results in some groovy music that can get the audience dancing.  Some of the instruments musicians play in TELESMA are different from the norm and can not be found anywhere else.

TELESMA is made up of Ian Hesford, didgeridoo/kubing/percussion, Jason Sage, keyboards/percussion/vocals, Chris Mandra, guitar/mandrum, Bryan Jones, bass/electronic percussion, Joanne Juskus, vocals/percussion/karatalas, Rob Houck, drums/electronic percussion.  They have been playing many shows and festivals since they started and continue to spread the word on their weird and funky sound.

Check out my conversation with Chris Mandra on the origin of TELESMA and how they impact the Baltimore music scene.

Photo courtesy of S. Lipton

Q:What instrument do you play in TELESMA?

A: I play guitar, analog guitar synth, sing, and “manDrum” (a wearable electronic interface I worked on @ STEIM in Amsterdam).

Q: When and how did TELESMA form and start playing shows in the local area?

A: TELESMA was formed in 2002 by Ian Hesford (didgeridoo, kubing, dumbek, percussion) and Jason Sage (keyboards, percussion, programmer, lyrics). In early 2004, the two then added musicians Joanne Juskus (vocals, percussion, karatalas), Chris Mandra (guitar, analog guitar synth, his unique manDrum, and vocals), Bryan Jones “Jonesy” (6 string MIDI & upright basses, theremin, percussion), and Rob Houck (drum kit, percussion, electronic drums) to complete the lineup.

Q: What or who made your band want to go in the electronica genre?

A: TELEMSA is a group that uses electronic instruments along side ancient instruments (by some accounts the didgeridoo is 10,000 years old). We just do what we like and our interests are significantly varied to make electronics part of that.

I got into eletronic music in the early 80’s because of my love of the electric guitar and signal processing.  It’s interesting that today almost anything you do could be considered “electronic music” because it all uses electronics to manipulate the audio in significant and sometimes outlandish ways.

Q: How was the audience reaction/response when TELESMA first started playing shows? Has it changed since your band has progressed and how so?

A: The audience reaction has always been overwhelmingly positive. I think it’s very hard to not see Ian play the didjeridoo and not get excited.  It’s pretty amazing, visceral stuff that resonates with people.

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Just Play

May 7, 2010

A local musician writes intricate lyrics about his emotions and life stories for his local band and lives his life under one simple motto.

“Just play.” said Dave Tart, former Music Studies major with a focus in percussion performance.  “I live my life based off of that motto because all I do is play and write music, and when you play with anything you’re going to have fun, and that is the most important thing.”

Tart started playing music at the young age of three and was heavily influenced by his dad who was a talented drummer.  He followed his dad’s footsteps and was attracted to the drums at a young age.

“Most kids want to play with action figures and toys when they are young,” Tart said.  “All I wanted to do was play the drums all of the time because it was fun hitting those things and hearing the sounds that were being made.”

Tart has studied and practiced drums and percussion since elementary school and can successfully play over 25 percussive instruments. Tart has shown his musical ability in various ensembles and jazz, pep, and marching bands throughout his high school and college career.

Tart has also been playing and studying the harmonica since his freshman year of college, because drums did not fit in his dorm room and he needed to play music through another instrument.

“My favorite instrument to play is the harmonica because it does not come as easy to me as the drums and I am never as good as I want to be,” Tart said.  “People tell me that I am a great harmonica player, but I know I can get better, and that is why I continue to practice and learn new things.”

Tart plays harmonica for a local rock and hip-hop band the Three Tree Experience. 3TE originally started as a joke between Tart and his friend Matt Lowe (bass).  After their other close friend, George Barnes (drums), said that he would join band, the idea turned into a reality and the three trees were set.  3TE has been playing throughout Towson and Baltimore over the two and a half years carving a name for them in the local scene.

Besides playing groovy harmonica licks influenced by John Popper from Blues Traveler, Tart controls the show with his powerful stage presence that is able to grab anyone’s attention.  On top of that, Tart’s funny yet in-depth lyrics leave audiences both laughing and scratching their heads in curiosity on the hidden meanings in his lyrics.

“I write all my songs based off of one emotion at one particular time,” Tart said.  “I try to make my lyrics as intricate as possible while adding jokes and puns that are based off of the many crazy life experiences I have had in my short life so far.”

Dave Tart has a couple of notebooks that are filled with lyrics and hopes to apply as many of them as he can to songs that the Three Tree Experience will write in the future. He will be content as long he continues to live out his motto and expresses himself through writing lyrics and/or playing drums and percussion.

“There are two things I am good at, making people laugh and playing music,” Tart said. “Music has been my life for the past 20 years and I plan on surrounding myself around music for the rest of my life, and I will have a fun time doing it.”

The band’s practice space- Orion Studios

May 1, 2010

Our practice space is a very important place for the band because that is where we create all of our music and where the band hangs out all of the time.

When we first started as a band, we would practice in my mom’s basement, because that is where we always played music back in high school.  We are a very loud band, and wanted to practice at all hours, so last summer when we started to take things with the band more seriously, we were looking around for a space where we could meet those requirements.

We searched for band warehouses for a few months, and the search wasn’t going well until we stumbled upon Orion Studios outside of the city.  We really liked Orion Studios because the rooms were clean and had enough space to fit all of our instruments and much more.  We also really liked how our rooms were secured and the studio was in a business district right off of I-95.  The location and features of Orion Studios were what we were looking for.

Since last July, Orion Studios has been the home for Vespertine Movement and we have had many good times and jams in that space. The band has really added a lot of character to the space and it feels like a second home to us because that is where we all go to relieve stress and do what we love, play music.

We hope to really build or practice space this upcoming summer so we can start recording music in the space.  We want to make it our own legitimate studio so we can record our music and jam sessions.  We can also work on upcoming CD’s and demos that we will release in the future.

Coming to Orion Studios has been one of the best decisions that the band has made, and any of our friends that have been in the space know how important it is to us and to our music.

If anybody is in a local band or knows someone that is in a local band that is looking for a practice space, here is the link for our practice space.


April 29, 2010

If you want to enjoy a day of hanging out with friends, camping and some great local music, there is a local festival that is just for you going down this weekend.

Domefest is a local College Park based music festival that has been planned to bring together the local music- loving community.   The first annual Domefest will be taking place this Saturday, May 1 at The Domes of Beltsville, a beautiful location that is located just 15 minutes away from College Park and 30 minutes from Baltimore and D.C. 

Domefest is sponsored by NORML Terps, Maryland Music Business Society, Terrapin Sound and other groups and radio stations based out of the University of Maryland College Park.  The festival was planned in a collective effort by Jeremy Schon, guitarist for Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, and Ben Curwin, keyboardist for Fivestock.  Schon and Curwin have been planning the event for a few months and are real excited about the event and the location.

“The idea for Domefest came together when our two bands were booked for a Hungry For Music (a local music-oriented non-profit) Halloween concert at the festival site,” Schon said.  “As soon as we saw the property we knew something had to be done there and immediately began talking with the property owner about setting up our own festival for the spring. The site is called ‘The Domes of Beltsville’ so our obvious initial reaction was DOMEFEST.”

Domefest will feature the music and jams from a group of talented local bands and DJs including: Basshound, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, Fivestock, The Flying Eyes, Lion Turf, Vasudeva, The Rez, Soohan and DJ Iggz. People in the College Park area have been hyping up the festival, and Schon is very hopeful that the first Domefest will be a success.

“We’re expecting an excellent turnout for the festival. There has been a lot of buzz going around the local music community, and people seem really excited about the event,” Schon said.  “However, due to the limited capacity and the more intimate nature of our festival, we strongly encourage people to buy their tickets in advance.We are very excited for this Saturday, and we hope to make Domefest an annual or semi-annual event.”

Domesfest will open its gates at 2p.m. and music will start soon after at 3.  Tickets are only $16, and you can order them through the event’s website. Domefest will be a day of clean friendly vibes backed by some of the best local bands in the area.

WTMD: Not your average radio station

April 23, 2010

When you turn on the radio in the Baltimore area, you are bound to hear multiple radio stations that play rock, rap, and country music.  These genres of music are dominating the airwaves, and after awhile hearing the same songs and artists over and over can get tiring. But there is one small station at the beginning of the dial that is different from the norm.

This unique radio station is 89.7 WTMD, and the music that comes from this station is far different than what you hear nowadays. WTMD has numerous radio programs that play an eclectic mix of music.

Located in Towson University’s Media Center, WTMD used to be affiliated with the university but parted ways a few years ago to become their own organization. Although many people in the Baltimore area still have no idea that the station exists, it has recently developed a solid fan base and more people are catching on to the contagious station.  John Kennelly, a musician and student at Towson University, listens to WTMD all the time.

WTMD's First Thursday stage

“I had no idea WTMD existed a few years back,” Kennelly said.  “But once I found out about WTMD, it is the only radio station I listen to and I have been spreading the word to all my friends because it is not your average station.”

On top of playing different genres of music, WTMD helps out local bands in a big way.  WTMD sponsors local Baltimore concerts and music festivals, and they also throw their own event called “ First Thursdays” which is a free concert in Mount Vernon on the first Thursday in the summer months.

WTMD also hosts different programs that play music from local Baltimore bands.  One of the more popular programs, “Baltimore Unsigned”, takes a look into some of the best local bands in the Baltimore area.  The program features album cuts, interviews, and live studio performances from these local bands. Kevin Shook and his band, The Cheaters, were featured on this popular show.
“Being featured on WTMD’s Baltimore Unsigned really helped our band out in a big way and let listeners know who we are and what we are about,” Shook said. “WTMD is such a great radio station and we owe a lot to them by helping us get new fans.”

WTMD is catching on in Baltimore and local bands have a lot of respect for the station because it looks out for the new music that is constantly coming out.  It gives local bands a chance to be heard on the radio.  If you haven’t listened to 89.7 WTMD, check it out and hear what people in Baltimore are raving about.

Meet The Three Tree Experience

April 16, 2010

The Three Tree Experience, also known as 3TE, sticks close to their roots. All four musicians that make up 3TE have an extensive background in music and their tight connection shows both on and off the stage. The three founding members of 3TE, Dave Tart, harmonica/vocals, Matt Lowe, bass/vocals, and George Barnes, drums, have been playing together since 2006 when they met at Towson University. After a few guitarists sat in with the band, they finally found their guy in 2008 with Ben Palacpac. Since then, the rock/hip-hop band has been playing many shows and benefits in the Baltimore metro area to spread the word on their music and their message.

The Three Tree Experience (From left: Ben Palacpac, George Barnes, Dave Tart, Matt Lowe)

The Three Tree Experience is fresh off of recording their new LP “Seedy” and being featured on the cover of Maryland Music Magazine. Big things are on the way for this solid Baltimore band as they continue to take their music to new heights.

Check out my conversation with Dave Tart on how The Three Tree Experience got started and where he hopes to see the band in a few years.

Q: When and how did 3TE form?

A: The Fall of 2006 is our official “birthday”, but we were far from the lineup that we now have. The four guys that you now know as 3TE were a band around March/April of 2008 and it has been that way ever since.

Q: What are some of the band’s biggest influences?

A: I know for me, personally, I use Blues Traveler/Sugar Blue for my harmonica playing and Method Man/Andre 3000/Damian Marley as muses for the lyrics. As a whole, though, we use our roots from childhood as the basis for us. Ben grew up with a lot of Rock n Roll music, Matt with the funk rock tunes and George had jazz, whereas Hip hop has always been my musical influence primarily.

Q: How would you describe 3TE’s sound?

A: All of that stuff that I said before has a piece of each tune we play. One person may say that we are a hip-hop band because my lyrics are said like rapping. The next guy may say we’re a rock band because we have exposed guitar solos and rhythmically challenging music. Another might feel more funk to us because of the bass lines. Basically, the way someone thinks we sound is exactly how we sound, but we aren’t picking a genre.

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