Thursday, January 29, 2015

RECENTLY SPOTLIGHTED ON NPR AND PBS NEWSHOUR, MUSIC MAKER RELIEF FOUNDATION TO BRING LONG LOST SOUL MAN & MONSTER GUITAR PLAYER TO DC MARCH 12

Clyde’s of Gallery Place will host “Capitol Blues Night” to benefit Music Maker Relief Foundation’s programming. Music Maker partner artists Cool John Ferguson and Ironing Board Sam will perform at the event, which only has one hundred tickets available.

The “legendary” (Billboard) Ironing Board Sam was a house musician on the first televised African-American music revue called “Night Train” and then became one of the best-loved entertainers on the Crescent City’s music scene, before relocating to N.C. It was just announced that he will be returning to the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival lineup for 2015, and has recently been profiled in Offbeat Magazine.

Cool John Ferguson, of Beaufort, S.C., began playing the guitar at 3 years old and has been called by blues legend Taj Mahal “…among the five greatest guitarists in the world.” Cool John was recently profiled in Premier Guitar.

Listen:
Ironing Board Sam – Cherry Pie

Cool John Ferguson – The Cat Ate the Rat, the Rat Ate the Wizard

The event is co-sponsored by Puckett & Associates and Clyde’s Restaurant Group. Bill Puckett of Puckett & Associates and Bart Farrell and Tom Meyer Clyde’s Restaurant Group are members of Music Maker’s Board of Directors. Clyde’s has been hosting Capitol Blues Nights for five years to raise funds and awareness for Music Maker, which helps roots musicians in need to develop their careers and meet their day-to-day needs. The event brings together Music Maker artists who perform and mingle with the audience in an intimate setting.

“We are so grateful to Bill, Tom and Bart for their wonderful generosity to our mission, and for bringing great Music Maker artists to Washington, D.C.,” said Tim Duffy, Music Maker’s founder. “Ironing Board Sam and Cool John playing in the same night is an epic show, not to be missed. It will be an intimate night of excellent music, incredible food, and fellowship. Clyde’s recreates a true juke joint atmosphere in the heart of D.C.”

Capitol Blues Night will be March 12th from 7:30pm – 10:30pm at Clydes of Gallery Place. Tickets will include the show, beer and wine and an assortment of heavy hors d'oeuvres. Tickets can be purchased for $100 from Music Maker’s website, http://www.musicmaker.org, or directly from Clyde’s of Gallery Place at shop.clydes.com.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Zap Mama and Antibalas rehearsal video


KRISTIN ANDREASSEN CELEBRATES FIFTH ANNIVERSARY OF MILES OF MUSIC CAMP, COMBINING TRAD FOLK, SONGWRITING, AND PERFORMING INTO HANDS-ON EXPERIENCE

REGISTRATION OPEN NOW FOR ALL AGES CAMPS IN NYC, BOSTON, AND ON IDYLLIC NEW HAMPSHIRE ISLAND

‘GONDOLIER’ NEW ALBUM BY ANDREASSEN OUT FEB 17, WRITTEN ON THE ISLAND

“It all fell into place as soon as I saw the island. I could see it all,” remembers Kristin Andreassen, co-founder and co-director of the Miles of Music camp for all ages and all levels. The organization she and Laura Cortese started now hosts weekends in New York and Boston, and a week on a private island on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire that will celebrate its fifth year in 2015. The main event, the week-long NH camp has sold out each of the last two years.

Kristin was first invited to join a private group of songwriters on the island in 2010. Not only did she realize immediately that she’d found a home for her longtime dream (shared with fiddler/songwriter Laura) of a music camp, but she also wrote the bulk of her new album ‘Gondolier’ over the summers at a private retreat held by a group of songwriters on the property. (Now, the songwriters go the week before the campers.) “We piled instruments in a motor boat and cruised over to the island in the dark. By the next morning, I could picture where it would all be: in the Rec. Hall we’d have a band-in-a-box class where singers get to work with a staff rhythm section, we’d have one-on-one lessons on the porch by the water.”

Andreassen’s new album ‘Gondolier’ comes out February 17. She recently taped syndicated radio shows Mountain Stage, Woodsongs, and Music City Roots. Here is video from the latter performance of the song “New Ground."

She explains how Miles of Music is unique by saying, “We take a holistic approach to learning music. It’s not broken up by instrument, on purpose. People are playing real music with each other from the moment they start in the morning.” Campers are also coached on performance skills, including thinking about incorporating visual arts as they prepare to play their music at evening concerts. (Last year there was a resident dancer, a painter and a shadow puppeteer on staff with the mission to encourage collaborations between the arts).

The singer-songwriter explains, “Night-time revelry ranges from a square dance to people singing Katy Perry at full-band karaoke. It’s a ridiculous range of genres. We are conscious about that. We are bringing in old and new traditions, with the intent of exploring the essence of each thing and see how we might consciously pull things out of new and old traditions to make something new in the moment.”

Andreassen reflects, “This is how folk music is still transmitted in this country. I’ve taught at half a dozen folk camps, including some ’song school’ type camps where I’m teaching songwriting and some 'old time weeks' where I’m generally teaching clogging or square dancing.  Our camp is a combination of those approaches. Our camp teaches traditional music and creativity. We don’t blend those ideas together. We just think each can inform the other. And sometimes it’s just more fun to try old fiddle tune with electric bass and drums.”

Miles of Music Camp takes place on a private 43-acre rocky woodland island on Lake Winnipesaukee near Meredith, New Hampshire, at the *Three Mile Island Camp managed by the Appalachian Mountain Club. The camp consists of 50 small rustic cabins along the lake shore plus recreational facilities and a community dining hall. In between music classes, jams and concerts, campers can explore the woods, go for a swim in the lake, or canoe around the island.

2015 Island Camp dates:

Jun 13-19: Lake Winnipesaukee, NH

Miles of Music also hosts two weekend workshops in Kristin & Laura’s respective home towns, which happen to also be where a majority of the campers hail from. Those dates are:

Feb 6-8:  Boston, MA
Feb 27-Mar 1: Brooklyn, NY

Andreassen says of the June camp, “There are 110 people on the island, of whom at least thirty are teachers. One of the things that we've worked hard on is keeping the ratio of music teachers to music students.” Instructors include co-founder and co-director Laura Cortese, who performed at Pete Seeger’s 90th birthday celebration at Madison Square Garden; Jefferson Hamer; Yep Roc artists The Stray Birds; Josh Ritter bassist Zachariah Hickman; winner of the 2013 Clifftop Appalachian Stringband Festival Fiddle Contest Clelia Stefanini; indie songwriters Heather Robb of the Spring Standards and Shane Leonard of Field Report; Louisiana cajun and swamp pop kings The Revelers; ace cellist Valerie Thompson; traditional square dance…and clogging mistress Christine Galante; “squarely convincing” (NY Times) singer-songwriter Michaela Anne; and Dinty Child, multi-instrumentalist from Boston’s legendary Session Americana. It was Dinty who first invited Kristin and Laura to the island since he’s the off-season manager of the facility.

“I get a strong sense of the community that we’ve created,” says the co-founder, continuing, “I’ve watched bands form from the people who attended camp. I feel some sort of impact on helping nudge other people’s creative projects along. I feel it every week, either when I go to my old time session at Lowlands [Bar in Brooklyn, NY] or when I play a show.”

She’s not just a co-director, but she’s also a client. She exclaims, “Also, I get to play my songs with really great musicians!”

Monday, January 26, 2015

Zap Mama bio

Known to her fans as Zap Mama, Marie Daulne began as the leader and founder of a female vocal polyphonic quintet that succeeded worldwide and has since evolved into a variety of configurations approaching Urban, Jazz, American Soul and Afro-Pop Music styles. Redefining the term “vocalist” Marie Daulne is more than a singer; she is a sonic stylist, who alternates between storytelling and creative vocal expression. Using the organic tone of the human voice, Zap Mama has developed her sound for over 20 years, inspiring diverse audiences around the world.
Born in East Zaire, during the Congo Crisis, Marie lost her Belgian father to the Simba rebels only days after her birth. Shortly after his death she was flown with her Congolese mother and siblings to Belgium where traditional Congolese songs and culture remained present. The loving Belgian family of her father exposed her to liturgical music and Walloon popular songs. As an adolescent, Marie also trained athletics in track and field, proving to be a powerful athlete which is still evident in her live performances.
Following a return visit to the Congo in her early 20‘s, Marie was inspired to sing and create music. Seamlessly blending African, American, and European cultural influences, this Belgian-Congolese diva has a unique vocal style. Zap Mama’s genre connects the citizens of the world through sound. Her poly-phonic arrangements use the voice as an instrument creating VOCAL GROOVE’s that reinterpret the sound of Urban, Afro-scat and Alternative Funk music.
In the early 80’s, Hip-Hop culture arrived in Europe and inspired Marie’s body and soul. She began experimenting with beatboxing, rap and graffiti and training in acrobatic choreography. Marie discovered her artistic personality and started her studies at «Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Visuels» (La Cambre). While studying visual arts Marie also attended modern dance classes and trained circus acrobatics, developing her choreography skills and swinging between artistic mediums.
In 1987, Marie began studying jazz in Antwerp and by 1989 she was teaching, developing compositions for an a cappella quintet.
In the 90’s, Marie auditioned singers and founded the Afro-European vocal quintet ZAP MAMA.
Signing with the Belgian label «CRAMMED DISCS» (Sony Music), in 1991, Zap Mama was receiving international attention.
By 1992, David BYRNE of «Talking Heads» signed Zap Mama with his label «LUAKA BOP» (Warner) in the USA.
As new inspiration arrived, Zap Mama's music began to incorporate a myriad of genres, particularly those of the African diaspora combined with a unique mix of Euro-American traditions.
As their success grew, the quintet was invited to prestigious stages around the world, including the MONTREUX JAZZ FESTIVAL (CH), NORTH SEA JAZZ FESTIVAL (NL), WOMAD (AU, NZ, UK), GLASTONBURY (UK) and many others.
In the US, Zap Mama’s first album was announced at the top of the BILLBOARD CHART’s for 21 weeks in The World Album category. Also during this time Marie discovered the music of the movie «Métisse» by Mathieu Kassovitz, and with her brother Jean-Louis, Marie began to expand her skills with improving beatbox, breakdance and participating in activities with the community of Parisian Circus artists.
Zap Mama’s 1st record, «ADVENTURES IN AFROPEA», was nominated for a GRAMMY AWARD for the Best World Music album in 1994.
Invited to perform with the NEVILLE BROTHERS, Al JARREAU and Bobby MCFERRIN, Zap Mama toured through the USA, Japan and Europe. Appearing on numerous TV shows and stations, including «TARATATA» on French TV, «LATER... with JOOLS HOLLAND» on British television, as well as the «THE ARSENIO HALL SHOW» and «SESAME STREET» in the US, BBC NEWS and ABC network, Zap Mama’s presence reached many audiences worldwide.
In 1995, Marie Daulne signed, co-created and performed for an advertisement for COCA COLA that was broadcast worldwide during the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics. Taking center stage as the lead vocalist of Zap Mama, Marie’s music took on a more Urban influence and stepped away from a cappella in 1996. Collaborating with numerous artists including BLACK THOUGHT and QUESTLOVE (The Roots), SPEECH (Arrested Development) and MANU DIBANGO, Zap Mama started her tour singing and playing in big concert halls all over the USA. With concerts in the New Orleans and New York City "House Of Blues" the "Hollywood Bowl" in Los Angeles and "Fillmore Theatre" in San Francisco, her shows were SOLD OUT. This 4 year-long tour reached around the world enchanting audiences in the US, Africa, Australia and Northern Europe.
In 2000, Marie moved to New York where her career took off. With composer Hans ZIMMER and producer Tom CRUISE. Marie worked on soundtrack for the PARAMOUNT movie «MISSION IMPOSSIBLE II» which included her cover version for track «IKO IKO». This new version of « IKO IKO » was recorded in Beverly Hills and included in Zap Mama’s 4th album « AMAZONE ».
The 5th album « ANCESTRY IN PROGRESS » was recorded in Philadelphia and produced by the band THE ROOTS. Featuring Grammy Music Award winners Erykah BADU, Talib KWELI, COMMON, BILAL, QUESTLOVE and BAHAMADIA, it represents a combination of Afro-European spirit and Afro-American spirit. On THE BILLBOARD CHARTS it struck first place and stayed in the top 20 for several weeks.
The 6th, more intimate album, «SUPERMOON», summarizing her experiences of the previous 15 years, was recorded in New York. Marie invited star musicians including David GILMORE, Meshell NDEGEOCELLO and many others. During this time Marie also worked with ARNO and THE ROYAL OPERA CHILDREN’s CHOIR OF «LA MONNAIE» (Belgium’s National Opera in Brussels).
In 2010, Zap Mama’s 7th album «RECREATION» was nominated for Outstanding World Music Album by NAACP Image Awards. Album featured G. LOVE («Drifting») and Marie’s friend and French actor Vincent CASSEL with whom she recorded a cover of the French song «Paroles, Paroles») in BRAZIL.
Taking on new challenges, Marie began to perform at special events as the "Afro-European Diva". Singing a repertoire of Anglophone, Francophone, Latin and African songs while suspended 10 meters above the ground, Zap Mama performed at galas for the European Union and at the "Best of Belgium" (biggest tennis exhibition starring Serena Williams and Kim Clijsters).
In addition to her musical endeavors, Zap Mama has worked with humanitarian aid organizations Doctors Without Borders, Amnesty International, CARE and the United Nations, using her music to bring about awareness.
At the 2011 SOUL TRAIN MUSIC AWARDS, Zap Mama was honored and graciously accepted the invitation from founder and creator Don CORNELIUS to participate in a tribute performance honoring Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees, «Earth, Wind & Fire». Zap Mama was the 1st European “Afro-pean” artist to be involved in the Soul Train Music project.
In 2012, Marie Daulne was invited for guest performance with SLY & ROBBIE in Los Angeles at THAT 70’s SOUL event, celebrating soul music legends. During most recent years, Zap Mama continues touring around the world.
Besides numerous concerts in USA, Mexico, Russia and Europe, in 2013, Zap Mama performed at event celebrating 20 YEARS OF CARE in ATLANTA.
Celebrating her 20-year career, Zap Mama recorded her 8th album in two volumes, «ECLECTIC FLASH vol.I» and «FLASHBACK TO PRESENT vol.II». Returning to her roots, Marie features her trademark of pure vocal sound, sharing her core passion and essence of Zap Mama's music. With this album Marie says, "Everyone has a voice, a sound to be heard" and introduces the new Zap Mama’s concept, Vocal Flash Mob Concert. Marie invites the audience to join her show by singing as a choir and experiencing the collective intelligence during the concert. It’s all about the unity of the musical ingenuity. Marie also offers vocal MASTER CLASSES and has established the VOCAL GROOVE CHOIR to encourage fans and vocal enthusiasts in cities around the globe to sing.
The first single from the new album, entitled «WE GO», vividly echoing strength and unity, is a soundtrack for expanding possibilities. It evokes self-confidence and inspires us to listen, feel the waves and flow. Rhythm brings people together with our connection through time and tone. With empowering lyrics, a rising chorus and invigorating horns, the alluring groove features legendary Jamaican producers and players SLY & ROBBIE, Sly Dunbar (drums) and Robert Shakespeare (bass).

Antibalas Bio

“Rhythm is what makes a good Afrobeat record,” says Gabriel Roth, Daptone Records co-founder, producer and connoisseur of all things funky. “Not just the rhythm section, but the rhythm of the horns, the rhythm of the vocals, the rhythm of the keyboards, everybody’s rhythm. It’s not just being about being right or wrong in your rhythm, or being good at it, but it’s about feeling something the same way, swinging the same way, anticipating things the same way, and hitting things the same way — everybody hearing music the same way, and being able to turn all those instruments into one voice.
“Antibalas is the only band that can do that, right now. That’s why they’re still at the front of the scene, after all these years.”
Fourteen years after their first gig, and five since the release of their last album, 2007’s Security, Antibalas — Afrobeat’s premier second-wave ensemble — are back with their fifth full-length release. Simply titled Antibalas, the album is both a blazing reaffirmation of the NYC band’s collective musical strengths, and a hard-hitting continuation of their funkified excursions into what Antibalas founder and baritone saxophonist Martín Perna calls “our vault of esoteric sounds and knowledge.”
“We kicked around a couple of different titles,” Perna explains, “but we could all agree on Antibalas. We’re always who we have been, and this is what we are and what we’re about, without any frills. If you’ve never heard any of our albums before, this is the one to listen to.”
“Musically, it’s our best playing as a band,” says trumpeter Jordan McLean. “We’re having more fun together, we’re all breathing in sync, the structures of the compositions and the overall sound are tighter, and the band is sounding better than ever.”
Recorded over a two-week period at Daptone’s House of Soul Studios in Brooklyn with Roth at the helm, Antibalas is the first Antibalas full-length to be released on Daptone, which — given Antibalas’ deep- and long-running ties to the label — brings things kind of full-circle for the band. Antibalas has shared past and present members with several outfits in the Daptone stable (such as Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, Menahan Street Band and The Budos Band), while Roth was an original member of the band, and produced the first three Antibalas albums. “Making this record was like going back and playing basketball with all your high school buddies, or something,” says Roth.
The “family reunion” feeling on Antibalas is further bolstered by the return of original guitarist Luke O’Malley, who contributed “Dirty Money,” the album’s effervescent opening track. “Luke O’Malley has an amazing sense of music,” says tenor saxophonist Stuart Bogie, “and ‘Dirty Money’ is a perfect example of that. But he’s also such a hilarious and inspiring person, who leads with just kind of a blind energy into everything he does. He’s very much a reason why everyone in that room is there.”
“We’ve woven ourselves together musically, but also personally,” says Perna. “It’s a community that has existed as Antibalas for 14 years now, and if you go back to when Gabe and Luke and I started making music together, it goes back to ’94.”
According to Perna, a little-known but tasty morsel of music trivia is the fact that TV on the Radio, The Dap-Kings and Antibalas all began in the same apartment — a decrepit old factory loft at 132 Havemeyer Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. “Gabe, Tunde Adebimpe and I were all living there at the time Antibalas was getting started. The Dap-Kings were called the Soul Providers at the time; that was just getting off the ground. Tunde just finished at NYU and was doing animation stuff at the time, and we would mess around on the cassette four-track and make little songs. And then Dave Sitek moved into the loft, and he and Tunde started making music. So this little liminal space was so fertile with friendship and creative imagination, and this shared sense of struggle that was manifested in three musical groups that have made a pretty strong impact on America in different ways.”
Originally conceived by Perna as a cross between the NYC Latin funk grooves of Eddie Palmieri, Harvey Averne and Mandrill and the Afrobeat jams of the late Fela Kuti, the music of Antibalas gradually shifted towards the Fela side of the equation. “As we got deeper into Afrobeat, we realized that we were juggling a lot of things, and kind of need to have only one thing on our plate,” Perna recounts.
“At the time, there was not a lot of interest in Afrobeat, or in Fela, per se,” adds Roth. “Because of that, a lot of people looked at Antibalas as pioneers in this second wave of Afrobeat that kind of blossomed around the world. There are great Afrobeat bands now in Brazil, in Chicago, in England, in a lot of places, and I think a lot of those bands looked to Antibalas, alongside Fela, as one of their real inspirations.”
Through their concerts, tours and recordings, Antibalas have helped re-popularize the classic Afrobeat sound, in the process earning the admiration of a wide array of respected musicians, including everyone from Questlove and David Byrne to Fugazi’s Ian MacKaye and John Frusciante of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Much in demand as collaborators, they’ve performed as a band in the studio and on stage with such artists as Medeski Martin & Wood, The Roots, Public Enemy, Paul Simon, Amadou and Mariam, and Fela’s son Femi Kuti, to name a few. In 2007, following the release of the band’s last album, Security, Antibalas’ Afrobeat expertise led to the involvement of several band members — including trombonist Aaron Johnson and Jordan McLean, who respectively served as Musical Director and Assistant Musical Director — in Fela!, Bill T. Jones’ musical based on the life of Fela Kuti, which eventually went on to a successful Broadway run, earning eleven Tony Award nominations and three wins.
But Fela! wasn’t the only thing keeping Antibalas busy between Security and sessions for the new album; in addition to playing about 50 shows a year across the globe as Antibalas, the band’s members have individually recorded and/or performed with TV on the Radio, Iron and Wine, Amy Winehouse, Mark Ronson, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, The Roots, Angelique Kidjo (whose 2007 album Djin Djin earned the Antibalas Horns a Grammy Award), Ornette Coleman, David Byrne, Miike Snow, St. Vincent, Gomez, Wale, Spoon, The Black Keys, Imogen Heap, Lee Fields, Melvin Gibbs, Sugar Minott, Patti Smith, Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars, and The Budos Band, as well as devoted ample time to their (and each other’s) side projects like Ocote Soul Sounds, Superhuman Happiness, Piano Music & Song Trio, Chico Mann, and Fu-Arkist-Ra.
“During these past five years, with all the side projects, it was still all of us playing together, just not in Antibalas,” Perna explains. “We were all still locking in together, building friendships, building the musical trust, and building the sort of ESP that happens when musicians play together for a long time. It wasn’t like, ‘See you in five years!’ We’re not reuniting per se, because we were never disunited; we were just all busy with other hustles.”
That heightened musical ESP is deliciously tangible on Antibalas, much of which was recorded live in the studio to one-inch 8-track tape. “There’s very little in the way of overdubs,” reveals Roth. “A little bit of background vocals, maybe a punch here on a solo or a guitar part, but for the most part it was live. I’d done the early Antibalas records on 16-track, but this record I did on 8-track, which I was able to do because the band is playing better than ever. I could mix people together, and not worry about how I was going to take ‘em apart and fix ‘em later, because these guys are the baddest in the business, and they were swinging from the beginning.”
Tracks like “The Rat Catcher,” “Him Belly No Go Sweet,” “Ari Degbe” and “Ibeji” capture the band’s fiery telepathy and unrelenting sense of groove, while also showcasing their most concisely focused attack yet. From the deft rumble of the new rhythm section (drummer Miles Arntzen and bassist Nikhil Yerawadekar) to the leonine growl of longtime frontman Amayo, the band — which also includes Victor Axelrod (organ, electric piano, sticks), Marcos García (guitar, background vocals) and Marcus Farrar (shekere, sticks, background vocals) — sounds more locked in and self-assured than ever.
“What makes us tick, and what makes any band a band, is a shared collective idea about what the sound is,” says McLean, “and then of course on an individual level, it’s what each person brings to the band to give the band its defining sound. We have a shared idea of Afrobeat and Fela’s music, but we also have these 10 or 12 individuals who are also bringing their own heartbeat and their own perspective and their own experiences as individuals, and bringing that together to make Antibalas.”
“We love this Afrobeat, it’s important to us, it’s not appreciated enough — and making it is a transformative process in so many different ways,” says Perna. “Unlike most music that’s really ego-driven and centered around one person or cult of personality, all of us have had to learn to function with really specified roles — everyone becomes a drummer, in a certain sense. Our parts may be played on melodic instruments, but they’re part of this huge interlocking net that holds up the music.”
“What’s interesting about Antibalas is that it really is a multi-headed beast,” adds Bogie. “The last song on the album is ’Sare Kon Kon,’ and it’s a song that has a kinetic energy that’s just racing and racing the whole time. To paraphrase the lyrics, it’s like, ‘We’re running, we’re running, we don’t know where we’re going, but everybody’s running.’ That kind of encapsulates the rushing anarchy that keeps the band together. It’s the idea that we’re all kind of on this train, and there’s no director, no engineer, no brake; everybody just has to run, and go or not go.
“It’s kind of mysterious,” he continues. “Antibalas is really a band that is bigger than any of its members. I believe that it is one of the most genuine anarchies that I have ever seen in a band. I think that’s what’s most interesting and different about the band. But I think it’s the essence of the music, and our love for it, that really brings us together.”

SIGNATURE SOUNDS EXPANDS THE CIRCLE FROM A LABEL TO INCLUDE A LISTENING ROOM MUSIC VENUE AND SUMMER FESTIVAL

‘SIGNATURE SOUNDS 20TH ANNIVERSARY COLLECTION: RARITIES FROM THE SECOND DECADE’ OUT MARCH 3

As Signature Sounds celebrates 20 years in 2014-2015, it has been embraced as a pillar of the Americana and folk music communities. In 2012, it opened the Parlor Room, a venue in downtown Northampton, MA. Signature Sounds’ Jim Olsen explains, “In an age where the role of a record label seems to be diminishing, the Parlor Room gives us a whole different way to share music with our fans. It allows us to present Signature artists and other artists that we admire in way that is flattering to everyone involved.” It also gives music fans of western Massachusetts a way to interact with the label, which was founded in part as a showcase for the local scene before expanding to a national scope.

Actually, Signature Sounds’ concerts pre-dated the venue. Jim says, “We felt the need for an intimate, informal venue that would be conducive to a listening room atmosphere. Because we're not a bar or a restaurant, our venue is all about the music.” (The Parlor Room is 60-capacity and BYOB.) The original plan was to produce a few shows per month but it became apparent quickly to Jim that there was demand for a lot more than that. He adds, “We currently produce between ten and twenty shows each month.” It also gives the label and opportunity to engage with artists beyond its roster. In addition to the presented shows, the Parlor Sessions, an intermittent winter Sunday jam session that features hot soup, invites musicians of all levels. The Parlor Room even hosted Makers Market during the Christmas season, extending an invitation to Pioneer Valley artisans.

On an even bigger scale, Signature Sounds took on production of the Green River Festival, which will be held July 10-12, 2015. Last year’s festival sold out. Green River has featured Josh Ritter, Emmylou Harris, Lucinda Williams, Mavis Staples, Arlo Guthrie, Steve Earle, The Avett Brothers, Neko Case, Calexico, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, Old Crow Medicine Show, Dr. John, Alison Krauss & Union Station, Taj Mahal, and Gillian Welch & David Rawlings since its founding in 1986. Coming full circle, the festival has introduced audiences to Signature Sounds acts. In addition to great music, it also features hot air ballooning, showcasing the Pioneer Valley’s natural beauty. Here’s a video recap of 2014’s fest.