The songwriting process

April 15, 2010

Creating and writing a new song and/or jam is a very tedious and timely process, but once it is finished and all the band members know their parts well, it is one of the most rewarding things especially when you see people dancing and bobbing their heads to music and art that you created.

For my band Vespertine Movement, John, lead guitar, Owen, bass, and Guzzi, rhythm guitar, are the ones who write our songs. They all play guitar and they usually get an idea while strumming around with an acoustic guitar, and that is the origin of a new song. When we practice, we work on the song and all of the changes that go on throughout the tune.

When it comes to the drums with me, I hear the guitar and bass lines and that is where I am able to come up with a solid beat for the whole song. After we have the basic idea and beat, we all use constructive criticism with each other and decide whether we should add more elements to the song, take something out or change it any way we can to make it sound as good as possible in all aspects.

After we have all of the ideas for the song, either John or Guzzi writes lyrics and that determines who will sing that particular song. Practicing a new song or jam can get very repetitive and we usually find ourselves working on it for hours at a time, because we want to get it to the best of our abilities so we are confident when we play it live.

We try to write new songs as much as possible so our fans don’t get bored always hearing the same songs and the same set lists, especially since we haven’t been playing as long and don’t have too much original material. It is really fun getting new songs down, and it makes the band and our friendships that much closer because we are working together on music that we love influenced by bands and musicians we have been listening to for years. We, as a band, hope that one day we can be the influences on young local bands trying to make a name for themselves.

How does your local band create songs? Give me some cool stories about the song writing process for your local band.


Check out Federal Hill’s Spring Block Party

April 15, 2010

Music. Art. Good food. Beer. Federal Hill. What more could you want in a day?

If you haven’t heard of Federal Hill’s Spring Block Party, you should be sure to head down there and check it out.

The Federal Hill Spring Block Party is a day filled with good local and regional bands, art, and of course food and beer vendors.  The Spring Block Party is spread out throughout historic Federal Hill and features three tents for live music and comedy.

With warm weather finally settled in, the festival gives music fans and Baltimoreans a chance to hear some music from awesome local bands in one of the nicest parts of our beautiful city.

The Spring Block Party kicks off the festival season for the Federal Hill Main Street committee and is followed by the Jazz and Blues Festival and the Street Beat Festival later in the summer.  This is a big day for both local bands and the committee and I can only hope that there will be much success with the festivals this year.

The Federal Hill Spring Block Party is scheduled for Sunday April 25, from 11-7.  Tickets are just $5.

The Federal Hill Spring Block Party lineup:

The Psycho Killers


Nelly’s Echo

Blue Miracle

The Reserves

Stones Throw

The Lombards

Rock Bottom

The Mooks

Willies Light

School of Rock Allstars

Here is a video of my band Vespertine Movement playing at the Federal Hill Street Beat Festival in Fall 2008.

Open mic nights important for young local bands

February 25, 2010

Are you in a local band and trying to take your music from the basement to a venue stage?

An important step for developing young local bands is the open mic night.  Open mic nights give local bands the chance to get the experience of playing on an actual stage and to get some of their music out there to people that have never seen or heard about your band before.

When my band, Vespertine Movement, first started practicing to learn cover songs and write some original material, we were trying to get the exposure of playing on a stage but not in front of a lot of people, so we could get comfortable on stage musically.

VM played a open mic night at the 8×10, and the owner asked us to come back for a bigger show, and from there we started playing a bunch of shows in the local area building up our repertoire and fan base in the process.

Depending on the venue, open mic nights usually last about 15-20 minutes, just enough time for you to play the two or three songs that you feel the most comfortable with.  Some local venues, such as the 8×10, have open mic competitions, and if your band is the best of the night, you can advance on to the next round to possibly win some helpful prizes like recording time.

Many local bands have taken the open mic step to get some exposure.  Matt Lowe, bass player and vocalist for Towson’s The Three Tree Experience, thinks highly of open mics for bands that are just starting out.

“Open mic nights are awesome.  They’re the easiest way to get on stage and perform.  That can be pretty tough to do when you first start out.  There’s no worrying about selling enough tickets to keep the club happy, and if you don’t have a lot of material to perform it’s no big deal since the only time constraint is that you can’t play for too long,” Lowe said. “I know a bunch of successful bands that got their start playing open mic nights.  It gave them the opportunity to build their fanbase to what it is today.”

Baltimore offers a variety of venues/clubs/bars that host open mic nights every night of the week.  For bands that are just starting out, all you have to do is a little research on the different venues in the area, and head down to the place and just play your music with no worries.  There’s not as much pressure for bands on an open mic night, which can be a huge sigh of relief.

So what are you waiting for young local bands? Get out there and let your music be heard.