Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Hawthorne Heights to Play the Galaxy!

We are TREMENDOUSLY excited to announce that April 1st, Galaxy CDs will be hosting a unique, intimate, full band acoustic show by Hawthorne Heights, as part of their Stripped Down To The Bone tour. Main support will be Mark Rose, singer of now defunct Spitalfield. Local support will be provided by Cincinnati's Belle Histoire, Dayton's the Orphan, the Poet, and Hamilton's Yankee Go Home, who will all be doing acoustic sets as well. Tickets will be $8, and as always, the show will be all ages.

More details to follow.  Tickets are available in advance at any Galaxy show, or can be ordered online by visiting www.galaxycds.com.

Get excited people, things are happening at the Galaxy!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Why We Do It

Driftless Pony Club, just one of the amazing
bands to have played in your backyard in
the last 7 months, come share!
This is a quick and dirty one for me.  I'm just going to highlight a bit of a story, and give you the link to the full thing, written by my good friend and partner in our little musical adventure, Jared Bowers from The Lonely House.  Go give it a read, and combine it with the things you've already read from me, and then, if you can, if you want, help us keep this amazing thing going, and growing.  Thanks!

We’ve been hosting shows at Galaxy CDs since the beginning of last summer.  What was initially me helping a band out that I happened to like turned in to me setting up shows in an attempt to bring in new customers and regain the support and loyalty of some of Galaxy’s older and oldest… and help out bands that I happened to like.  These were shows, though loosely defined, but were treated like in-store events – they were free and were meant to be mutually beneficial.  The bands got exposure and made new friends and fans, Galaxy got some extra foot traffic and a few more customers.  Part of that worked.  If you’ve followed the story at all, though, you know the part that didn’t work was Galaxy gaining, and maintaining, enough business to survive.  At the end of October, it stopped being Galaxy CDs the record store, turning in to Galaxy CDs the venue.  No name change, no triumphant reopening.  A simple transition.  Read more...

Thursday, January 26, 2012

In The Spotlight--Kate Haralson & The Martins

Kate Haralson & The Martins play the Galaxy Monday Jan 30th
Imagine selling virtually everything you own, packing up your instrument of choice, your pet, and your husband, and coming half way across the country to play music in Cincinnati.  And top it off with never actually having played your own music live.  It seems almost impossibly risky, yet it's exactly what Kate Haralson did in 2006.  "I had been going to grad school in Boise, and eventually decided I hated it. So I quit, and my brother convinced to move back home so we could produce music together. I immediately listed all our belongings on craigslist, and my husband and I drove out here with our dog and my piano."

As if the initial move wasn't daunting enough, the plan soon went further awry.   "Playing music with my brother didn't work out (don't worry...we're still pals), so I started playing solo at open mics here. I grew up playing piano recitals, but playing your own stuff live is a new vulnerability. Frankly, I still don't know why my husband agreed to any of this, having never heard me live, but I hope he thinks it was worth it," says Kate.  Having seen her live, we'd tell him it was most definitely worth it, at least for the music fans of Greater Cincinnati.

Playing the regular open mic nights in the area ultimately resulted in the duo Kate Haralson and The Martins, though it took time, and some other catalysts.  "Liz (Martin) and I met through a friend, Brian, several years ago. Brian had heard me play at a couple open mics, and he was probably my first real fan, meaning he wasn't related to me and still liked listening to me whine at the mic. Brian would awkwardly drag Liz over to talk to me and tell me that she played drums, and honestly I brushed her off for about a year. I had been in another duo for a while, and the other half had just quit to go to law school, so I was skeptical of being dependent on other musicians after losing him and my brother. After a show one night, she and Brian got me drunk on absinthe, and I agreed to start practicing with her. I was pretty excited to have a female drummer," she says. 

The pair have ambitious goals for 2012.  "We're headed back to the studio in January to start recording our first full-length album. I think we would like to tour more often, but I think our biggest goal this year is to get into Midpoint Music Festival. We've submitted the past two years, but haven't been considered yet. Now that I said it out loud, I probably jinxed it."  As a former judge for MidPoint entries it's frankly hard for me to imagine why they haven't been tapped to play the Cincinnati fall festival already.  The group's most recent EP "Front Porch Dreams" hasn't left my cd changer since their last performance at the Galaxy in November.  You should plan on picking up your own copy on Monday.
 Give Kate Haralson & The Martins a spin, 
or in this case, stream.

Kate's music will remind listeners of Rachel Yamagata or Regina Spektor, while the song "White Flag" will certainly evoke comparisons to Fiona Apple.  Strong piano based songs highlighted by Haralson's amazing voice are a joy to listen to, and the live performance is every bit as good as what you hear on the cd.  Kate tells us that she's also been compared favorably to local legends Over The Rhine, high praise indeed.  "I grew up listening to them, and I think they have a fiercely devoted fan base and a timeless sound. I suppose I would play a show with them," she jokes. "I would just love to sing back up for Karin Bergquist." 

Like us, Kate would love to see more teamwork in the local music community, in a variety of areas. "I would network music bloggers with newer musicians a little better. It's been difficult for us to build up our press kit and get bloggers and journalists to listen to our stuff, but mostly because we can't figure out who to send it to. Everybody deserves an honest, unbiased opinion of their work, even if it hurts a little," she says. 

When asked what she would change if handed a magic wand, she had some fascinating things in mind. "I would organize health benefits for musicians. I had vocal cord surgery in July of 2009, and I can't imagine how I would have recovered had I not had health insurance. I've watched a lot of musicians work sick and injured, and I think it's a tragedy that this profession has little access to benefits like that."  Hopefully she'll find some gems to pull out of this story for her press kit, and then join us next fall when we participate again in the Night Of Sweet Relief fundraiser for musicians in need. 

You can see Kate Haralson and the Martins along with Chris Frasco, WolfCryer, and Somebody's Something in a night of terrific singer songwriters Monday night January 30th at 7pm.  The show is open to all ages, and is just $5.00.  Thanks to Kate for taking the time to answer our questions, and we'll see you at the show!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

In The Spotlight--Reactions

Phoenix Arizona's Reactions hit the Galaxy Friday Jan 27th
Traveling all the way from Arizona to melt the faces of Galaxians as part of a 12 city tour, Reactions will be part of a huge show at the Galaxy this Friday January 27th.  Described as a 'rock/alternative/post-hardcore' band, they told us they "always have a tough time describing what we sound like. We think we have a rock/pop sound with (some) post-hardcore. Our main influences are Life on Repeat, A Day to Remember, and Alkaline Trio," though they told us they rock Blink 182 and Foo Fighters every day in the van. We'll just say they rock, whatever the influences!

Having formed in early 2011, they plotted an aggressive path toward world domination, or at least a big online following.  "We launched in August with a goal of creating a very strong online presence. In December, we hit our target goal and released our second EP," they said. They currently have over 3200 fans on Facebook.  Deciding to follow that online success by putting some miles on the van, the group is hitting 10 states on their 12 dates in 19 days trek.  "We did this tour through a company called Second Chance booking. We are a week into our tour and the best part so far is the kids coming out in each city!  We love meeting new people and connecting with our fans. The worst is for sure the van rides! We are from Phoenix where everything is close together! The East is so far apart"
 Give Reactions A Listen

Part of the band's successful online strategy would probably make Lars Ulrich cringe, but has led to thousands of fans with Reactions ep's in hand, er, on their I-Pods.  "We decided as a band to release our first 2 releases completely for free via our facebook page. After hitting 1000 downloads on both EP's and reaching 1000 within the first week of the release on 'For What It's Worth', we knew that free was the way to go," they tell us, while poor old Lars counts his nickels somewhere wondering why nobody likes him anymore.  

Savvy use of Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr have raised the band's online profile considerably, and so has offering their music on I-Tunes and Spotify.  While these have expanded their audience, it hasn't always translated into butts in the seats, or moshers in the pits, at shows.  "The number of people definitely wither when it comes to shows, but Facebook and Twitter are very helpful on getting the kids aware of our shows."  Consider yourself made aware that this terrific band is playing Hamilton in just two days.

The first show on the current tour took place at home on January 12th, and bucked the sometimes light turnout trend.  "We had planned our home show for a while, the turn out was incredible. We were expecting 75ish kids or so and 250 kids packed into a 200 cap venue. It was awesome," they said.  
Reactions will be bringin' it this Friday at the Galaxy along with Johnny Stanec, Life After Liftoff, Awake At Last, and Yankee Go Home.  Showtime is 7pm, and is a ridiculously cheap $5.00.  All Ages are welcome, so bring your friends and get your rock on.  Thanks to the band for taking some time out while on the road to talk with us, and we'll see you at the show!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

In The Spotlight--Chris Frasco

Brooklyn NY's Chris Frasco plays the Galaxy Monday Jan 30th
Sometimes being in the right place at the right time pays off.  That's our feeling about booking Chris Frasco to play next Monday, January 30th at the Galaxy.  We had just canceled a show for that date that didn't appear to be working out, when Chris emailed us asking if we could put together a show for him to help him work his way back home.  In fact, the entire tour came about in much the same way.  "I had planned to tour in early 2012, but booking is such a gigantic process when you’re trying to cover large distances … and, truthfully, I’m an all-star procrastinator. A couple colleges in the Midwest ended up getting in touch to book me, so it seemed like the prime opportunity to make a tour out of it," he says.

He cautions against regularly putting a tour together this way however. "Unfortunately, I only had 20 days to put the whole thing together. All things considered, the result has been incredible. I have a solid run of shows, but I don’t advise last-minute booking… between the calling, e-mailing, and stressing, you lose a lot of sleep."  When not pulling a last minute Mid-Western US tour out of the bag, Frasco has also had the opportunity to play in Europe.  He relates to us that, "The Germans get me, man. Playing in Europe was really gratifying. I think the pedestal that American pop culture gets put on is a huge help to any artist trying to play over there. I felt like people really listened, and really appreciated my guitar-nonsense. I was warming up one morning at the hostel in Prague, and the 10 or so other people who were staying instantly became an audience. That was a really unique moment."  While we're clearly not a hostel, artists that have played here have regularly commented about how attentive our audiences have been, so we're hoping for a good turnout to make him feel right at home.

In addition to the impromptu gig in Prague, Frasco points to both of his cd release shows as particularly memorable moments.  "In Light and Shadow felt like a coming-of-age thing, even though I was 25. I played solo-acoustic, despite the album being very electric. I really tried to give them the Chris Frasco: VH1 Storytellers experience. I could finally present myself as a real artist, not just another guy writing songs in his spare time. I had a physical product.  Releasing Damage was like childbirth. The show was at The Bitter End, one of NYC’s most historically relevant music venues, with my full band. I was extremely tired, emotionally drained, and nervous. I had just finished mastering the album about 36 hours before we took the stage. The album is so personal and I felt really self-conscious about making that music public property. When we played “In My Veins” that night, I felt like I screamed out every ounce of pain that inspired the album," he says.

While comfortable playing with a full band, or in a solo acoustic environment, Frasco admits to being a solitary figure when writing.  He says, "I’m a jerk; nobody would want to write with me. Most of my process is self-loathingly self-critiquing every little aspect of everything until I don’t completely hate it.  But, really there’s no set process. The guitar part generally serves as the soapbox. Once I’ve come up with that, I just sing about whatever is on my mind until something either sounds good or seems relevant.  I’m not one of those singer/songwriters who sits down to write every day. I wish I could do that, but I don’t ever intentionally write. I let it come naturally because every time I’ve tried to take an assembly line approach to it, it’s a disaster. My songs all come from real-life inspiration." His songs have been called "A fresh departure from the typical singer/songwriter formula" and he's been recognized for his "manic fretwork" on the guitar. We can't wait!
 Give Chris Frasco A Listen
In spite of this desire to write alone, Frasco finds great pleasure in working with others as a producer.  Producing "gives me distance and perspective. When I produce my own music, I’m anything but objective. Every little decision feels so critical. Truthfully, I don’t even enjoy it, but I don’t trust anyone else to do it. Producing other artists allows me to make music in a positive, realistic state-of-mind. I love the process of tracking, arranging, and mixing… and when it’s someone else’s music, I get to take pleasure in it. There’s nothing like the experience of seeing an artist’s face when you’ve really nailed the mix of their song."

He adds that he "produced/mixed the debut album of the singer/songwriter known as yellowbirddd. That was really special. We’re close friends and I’ve always been such an admirer of his songwriting. I think him and I have learned a lot from each other, lyrically." 

When discussing the music industry at large with us, Frasco sounds like my long lost twin brother.  "I could rattle off a bunch of bitter, critical crap about the music industry … but the honest truth is that I really just don’t understand it. I see incredible artists who get continuously ignored. I see indisputably awful artists who are unstoppably successful.  In a perfect world, artistic value and talent would be the only things that mattered. But that’s certainly not the case. Labels or not, Internet or not … the world is a skewed place, and I think the music industry will always be a reflection of that"

Chris Frasco joins us Monday January 30th in a great lineup of singer-songwriters.  WolfCryer, Somebody's Something, and Kate Haralson & The Martins will also be performing, making for an outstanding evening of live music.  Our show begins at 7pm, and is just $5.00, all ages welcome.  Please come support this amazing lineup, and help us get Chris the gas money to get home!  Thanks to Chris for taking the time to talk with us, and we'll see you at the show!

Monday, January 23, 2012

In The Spotlight--Awake At Last

Delaware's Awake At Last appears @ The Galaxy Friday 1/27
This Friday the Galaxy is hosting bands from all over the place for one giant rock show.  One of those groups, embarking on their first ever tour outside their home area of Dover, Delaware, is Awake At Last.  Vincent Torres from the band took some time out to talk with us about their band, their tour, and other such musical type topics. 

He tells us that the band was able to set this tour up entirely on their own.  "By using multiple online resources and being dedicated and efficient we've been able to secure all of our dates.  We are looking forward to the chance to show our music to people outside of our local scene.  To travel and play and get the word out there is the main reason we're booking these tours."  Part of what they hope to accomplish on the tour meshes nicely with what we're doing at the Galaxy. They're hoping to "meet all kinds of new people that we can build lasting band relationships with," he says.  While this is the bands first time on the road, the band members have, "all been in different bands that have been on different success levels.  Our drummer Jesse for instance, has been on a few tours and has been through experiences from being robbed at gunpoint to playing in front of thousands of people."

As other bands we have talked to have related, the local scene in Delaware for original music is challenging.  "There are quite a few places to play but for some reason not a lot of kids attend the shows as much as you'd think they would," Torres comments.  "Some kids will only listen to a specific genre or a specific band, but for the most part the general public just likes good live music and can make the best of whatever situation.  We've played some local shows for our local crowd where the venue is packed wall to wall and it's amazing.  Than we've played shows where two or three of the other bands scheduled to play will drop off the bill and only about ten or twenty kids come out to support.  We just try to play every show as if we were in front of thousands of people because you never know who's listening."

Describing their style as "very unique," Torres says that, "We've all come from very different musical influences stemming from hard punk to metal and even to screamo here and there. We often get compared to bands like The Used, Pierce The Veil, and even Chiodos a few times, all known for their edgy energetic guitar sounds and their blend of melodic vocals and metal influenced drum beats to an almost spooky-ish tune."  He adds that, "We talk about the underground rock club sound because Eric and I as guitar players come from a metal background.  Heavy riffs with a lot right hand timing and chugging.  And Estil and Jesse both bring that heavy tone with the drums and bass.  Though when it comes to writing the vocal melodies and lyrics I think in a more radio friendly poppy get stuck in your head kind of sound.  When we write music usually a band member will come to rehearsal with a riff or chord progression they had been working on and as a band we all take turns throwing out ideas and slowly forming the foundation, later adding little transitions and sound tags.  It's a good process that lets us all have a say in how the song ultimately is formed."

Listen to Awake At Last

The band just formed last March, through a meeting of friends.  Vincent and Jesse, "were friends throughout school and stuff and were brought back together by a mutual friend.  We had spoken about some of our musical experiences and some of the bands we'd been playing with and decided to get together and play some music and see if we could come up with something.  Eric was already a close friend of mine and we had played in a few bands together in the past.  Once I set up a day to jam out I invited Eric out to play guitar as well and the three of us started the band.  We had a bassist for a bit but things ended up not working out and the line-up was fully completely when Estil joined the group as a bass player.  He had a lot of musical experience and had even played in a band with Eric prior to joining," says Torres.

With the many changes in the music industry over the last decade, like many other bands we've talked to, Awake At Last has found as many opportunities as challenges.  He told us at he thought, "the music industry we currently have is a shadow of its former glory.  But there are certain benefits to this.  It seems like the independent labels and smaller start up labels are starting to thrive a bit more than some of the really big labels.  Awake At Last so far has been a 'Do it yourself' kinda band.  And thanks to the internet being a do it yourself band is much easier done these days."  Facebook, Twitter, and Reverbnation are among some of the tools the band has used to stay in touch with their fans, and to coordinate their current tour.  "The internet has revolutionized the industry in a sense.  It's a way to keep bands and fans in touch with each other even if they're states, or even countries apart."

The band hopes to make new fans, as well as a little touring cash, with their high intensity shows.  "We usually sell t-shirts and cd's or buttons at the shows we can play.  If you can impress a crowd with your live performance they usually want to take a piece of the band home with them and help the band along their path.  We have had good feedback with that and cannot wait to expand our horizons and perform in other states and venues such as Galaxy Cd's for instance.  We look forward to seeing you guys and we are glad that we were able to get in touch with each other," Torres concludes.

You can see Awake At Last along with Reactions, Life After Liftoff, Johnny Stanec, and Yankee Go Home this Friday January 27th for just $5.00.  The show is All Ages and kicks off at 7PM.  Thanks to Vincent for taking the time to chat with us, and we'll see you at the show!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

How to Get a Gig at The Galaxy

Wanna Play Here?
A point was brought up yesterday on our Facebook page, asking what the criteria is to play a show at the Galaxy, so I thought it might be a good idea to discuss just what we are looking for.  If you read our story yesterday, you know that we're working hard to support the local and regional music scene. Part of that is putting area bands on our bills with national touring bands that are coming through the area. But as you can imagine, there are some tricks to pulling this off right.

Our primary criteria is quite simple.  You have to be good.  Jared Bowers and I have been involved in the music scene and business at one level or another most of our lives.  In his case that's a reasonable number of years, in mine it's way more years than I care to count. We have a very well tuned sense of what 'good' is.  And the feedback we've gotten both from fans and from bands tells us that with a very few exceptions, we've nailed it.  Good is certainly a subjective term, but our focus is to say, "We're bringing in Band X from Atlanta, who is signed to a label.  Is this area band going to be able to hold their own on stage?"  Unfortunately not every band in the area is going to pass that test.

We do this for a couple of reasons.  First, we want all the bands to have a good experience.  If your band isn't up to the level of the others on the show, you may feel undue pressure, or feel bad if your performance isn't as well received.  We don't want to do that to a developing artist.  Second, we want all the fans to have a great show.  We want them to go out into the wild and tell their friends, "Holy shit! I spent 5 bucks for a show at the Galaxy and saw some amazing bands!"  We've all had the experience of going to a local band show, paying 10 bucks, and leaving underwhelmed with what we'd heard.  We don't want to do that.

That said, we are more than willing to work with developing bands to put on a show that makes sense.  We're currently working with some younger bands, to put on a showcase for local artists that are in their early stages, or are otherwise just not quite tight enough to play a 'big' show.  Part of our mission is to give those bands an opportunity to play in front of a crowd, to work on their craft.  But that piece of what we are doing is different than our main shows.

Another factor that goes into our selection process is deciding if the band that is asking to play is a good fit on a show we are currently booking. While we have done some multi-genre shows, we're typically trying to theme our events.  It's post-rock night, or pop-punk night.  This night may be indie singer songwriters, and the next may be a hardcore show. It doesn't make sense for you, for us, or for the fans, to put a metal band on after a guy with an acoustic guitar.  We're going to wait until we find some other metal bands that work and do that show.

We love Kate Haralson & The Martins.  We aren't booking her
on the same night as the post-hardore rock of Sinatra
We are getting band offers from all over the country.  If you're an area band, and want to be considered, you'll need to go through the same process we apply to them.  Send us an inquiry, either to Ryan or Jared.  Tell us a little bit about yourselves.  Give us links to your facebook, bandcamp, website etc, where we can go and listen to your music, and maybe watch a video if you have one. Let us take a look at where you've played, and what your fans are saying about you.  Make sure whatever you do it's professional.  From the spelling and grammar in your email to the quality of your playing and songwriting. There is a business side to being an artist, and you should give it the same level of attention you do your playing and writing.   

We absolutely promise, we listen to EVERY submission.  I have lost track of how many bands I've listened to in the last six months.  It would probably be in the hundreds, and the same for Jared. When I hear something I think works, I send it on to him, and he does likewise.  If we agree, we get to work, and if we don't, we simply don't do the show.  Through our screening process we have declined to put together shows for over half of the artists that have contacted us, national or otherwise. And of the ones we would want to do a show with, we sometimes have simply been unable to get the right lineup on the right day to make it happen.  We want to try to bring you the absolute best experience you can have, both as a fan, and as a performer, and we simply cannot do that if we don't do our job in making sure that when we put together a show it's going to blow you away.  

Will we miss on a few?  Of course.  Some bands sound better on their demo than they do live, and other bands may be terrific live but have a lousy demo and get passed over. It is never going to be a perfect process.  But based on what we've seen and heard, and the feedback we've received, we're on the right track.  We are always open to your suggestions and comments about how we're doing, and what we should be doing.  If you're in a band, or know a band, that you think we should be considering, let us know.  We can't promise you that every band submitted will get a show.  But we do promise that we'll take a look, and a listen, and give every band a fair chance to impress us.

I hope this helps bands and fans have a better understanding of our process.  If you have anything you'd like to add there's a handy little comment box below, tell us what's on your mind.  

Friday, January 20, 2012

How You Can Help The Galaxy

Help us keep bringin' the rock!
We here at the Galaxy, along with our partners at The Lonely House, are on a mission.  Actually it's more like several missions, all kind of sort of tied loosely together around the space at Galaxy CDS.  We're working as hard as we can, but honestly, we need your help.

Jared Bowers, mastermind and self proclaimed 'semi-evil genius' behind The Lonely House sums it up best saying, "What we do is simple: As fans of music, and avid supporters of our local music scene, we want to make the area more accessible to bands and more artist friendly by setting up shows, hosting bands, and helping them out in any way that we can."  We're working on that simple goal by mixing local and regional bands from Cincinnati, Dayton, Hamilton, and Middletown, with groups from literally all over the country.  In Hamilton.  For real.  And despite growing pains, it is working.  Bands are telling us they love the vibe, the way the sound here, and the way the crowds pay attention.  We aren't a bar, we're about the music, and it is being noticed by artists and fans alike.

At the same time, we're working with area artists, displaying, and selling, their paintings, and scheduling art shows with them.  We currently have work on display from five different artists, with more on the way.  We're doing songwriters workshops, working with seasoned and aspiring songwriters to help them sharpen their skills.  And we're offering that for free.  We host a comedy night once a month, a place where local comedians can perform in front of a friendly crowd, to try their hand for the first time at stand up, or to try out new material before doing a full show.  This event is also free to attend, and to perform.

 WolfCryer @ The Galaxy

We're trying to create a scene.  And a bridge between the scenes scattered all over Southwestern Ohio.  To have an environment where bands, and artists, have a place to showcase their work, and share their immense talent.  As Jared says, "We’re not just interested in seeing our local scene in Cincinnati thrive. It is our hope to be able to help build and support a network of bands and venues in order to help facilitate communication between some of the other major (and minor) metropolitan areas of Southwest Ohio, Southeast Indiana, and Northern Kentucky."

These lofty goals however, cost real money.  So while we work hard to deliver you what we think are some amazing shows, we are asking for your help in return.  What can you do?  Share our mission with everyone you know.  Like our pages on Facebook, Galaxy CDS and The Lonely House.  Come out to our events, and bring your friends!  Make a donation, there's a handy donation box in the upper right corner of this blog, and another on our webpage at Galaxycds.com.  Stop by and pick up some flyers and pass them around, or post them up at your other hangouts.  If you own a local business, become a sponsor and let us hand out YOUR flyers or coupons at our events, hang a sign or a banner for you, and promote your business on our pages.  If you've got old cds, dvds, or records you'd be willing to donate to us rather than Goodwill or Rumpke, or you know someone who does, bring 'em in and we'll try to raise some funds selling them in our online store.

Just one of the pieces of art on display

We completely understand that times are tough.  That's why all of our shows to date have been either FREE or just $5.00.  We want to continue to build this community, of artists, bands, and fans. We want you to be part of it.  So please, post this blog on your blog, on your facebook page, or anywhere else you share what's going on in your life.  And come see us, partner with us, or make a contribution to help us grow this.  We've often heard over the years that there's just nothing good going on in Hamilton.  We're biased of course, but we think this has the potential to be not just good, but great.  We've had fans come from 2 hours away to see bands that are playing right here in your town.  Join us won't you?

We have two events coming up next week.  Wednesday is our second Comedy Night, from 8 to 10 PM, and is absolutely and completely FREE, unless you'd like to make a donation instead of doing it online.  Friday we have another of our $5.00 shows, featuring Reactions from Phoenix, Arizona along with Johnny Stanec from Youngstown, Life After Liftoff from Datyon, Awake At Last from Dover, Delaware, and Hamilton's own Yankee Go Home.  Pass it along, and then come share the good times.  As always, please, and thank you!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

In The Spotlight--Johnny Stanec

Johnny Stanec
The break-up of a band can be a trying time for everyone involved.  It often ultimately leads to new and better things after the initial shock and disorientation wear off however.  Boardman, Ohio's Johnny Stanec is a classic case of an artist who has moved from strength to strength.  "When my band, First In Space, called it a day I felt a little empty for a while. I loved that band, but it was beginning to become harder and harder to get everyone to make commitments to shows, recording, etc.," says Stanec. With songs already in hand, he got to work.  "I didn't want to wait around to gather a new group, so I recorded everything myself at a studio in western PA called 'Mind Rocket'. When the record was finished I really wanted to start playing again, so this past May I started booking solo acoustic shows."

Having trouble coordinating the band members to all show up for gigs had given Stanec some experience doing solo shows. "I had done some acoustic shows, but it was usually to fill in for the band when someone couldn't make it. This time I was out promoting my own record. It took some getting used to," he tells us.  And the dynamic of the songs, and the performances, changed as well.  "I always had a tendency to keep things light-hearted with the band, even though the songs were serious. But these new ones were a little more personal. I don't think I intended them to be so heavy-handed, but that's how they came out, so live you have to try and convey that without being boring and pretentious."

This new sense of freedom allowed Stanec to write in new ways as well.  "When there's a band involved, it seems obligatory to include them on every song and make them fleshed out rock songs, but since it was just me, some songs became more acoustic. For this record I was able to do whatever I wanted, which was cool. I got to experiment with different sounds and different accompaniments. I let my influences come out as best I could."  Stanec has "always been a very personal songwriter. I don't write political songs or anything that talks about specific events. I don't want to make concept records. Songwriting has always been a therapeutic process for me. My songs are about me and what goes on in my life and how I perceive what's going on around me. They're just little stories used to cope with my worries about the future and how to move on from the past."

As you might expect, his influences vary far and wide.  "I grew up on 60s rock thanks to my dad. He is a huge music fan, he kept real music on and kept the crap out. When I hit my teens I listened to a lot of punk; NOFX, The Clash, Operation Ivy and whatever else I got my hands on. When I got to college I started to open up to other styles. When I was 19 or 20 I went with my folks to see Neil Young and it opened my eyes. Here was a guy still sounding fantastic all those years later. Can't say the same for bands that went the extreme route. It's great when you're young, but it can't last. I started listening to singer/songwriter stuff like Elliott Smith. He had rock songs, but you could see him playing them when he got older (had he not died). I like that," he told us.  

He adds, "I just hope people enjoy the songs. I want them to actually listen. I want people to put their iPhones down for a few minutes, get a beer (sorry Johnny, no beer at the Galaxy) and hang out. Shows are a lot of fun and I enjoy playing small places, way more intimate and a better show all around. I really just try and write simple, honest music. I'm not famous, I'm not rich, I have no connections. I'm doing it because I honestly believe in rock and roll as something more than just some fashion statement."

Sample Johnny Stanec's music.

The Youngstown (Stanec's hometown of Boardman is near Youngstown) music scene, like many others, seems to be a tough one for original artists.  Stanec commented that "In Youngstown there are a handful of places to see live original music. It's always been a stop for independent touring bands. However, the scene is scattered. There is no 'Youngstown sound' or typical Youngstown band. The people are reluctant to go out and just support someone unless it fits into their social schedule for the night. Ten years ago it was way better, less distractions, but now there is so much to compete with that you have to have patience or not worry about it. I didn't spend much time trying to build an audience in Youngstown."  As if to drive that point home he told us that "When I started First In Space our first show was out of town." 

Using the internet to his advantage though, first his band, and now his solo show, has played all over the US and Canada. "There is so much the internet makes possible, like booking shows or getting reviews or connecting with people thousands of miles away. My music is for sale on iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, etc. and without that I couldn't have people in Spain buying my songs. I have no label or manager. I do everything myself. If the right opportunity came along I'd love to work with a label or agency, but so far being independent is working fine. I've played all over and have done that without a booking agent or label."

In addition to getting heard, Stanec says the internet has allowed him to get press for his project in a way that previously may have been nearly impossible.  "Getting your album reviewed is definitely possible, just don't expect Rolling Stone to review it. There are so many better websites and publications that will do a write up. Local scene papers and blogs come to mind. They actually care about what they're doing and who they're featuring. Not just some trendy bullshit like in Spin."  Booking shows is clearly helped by all the online resources as well. "I like Reverbnation. It's like myspace was, but it has a lot more to offer as far as show opportunities and things like that.  I also have to mention 'indieonthemove.com'. It's an extensive listing of clubs, bars and venues in every imaginable town and city in the country. I've put it to good use."

He concludes by saying that "So far, I've enjoyed the solo shows. It's always hit or miss, but hopefully in time more people will start coming around. I'm down for anything and to play anywhere. Hopefully my persistence will pay off someday, in some way. Until then, I'm just trying to enjoy it as much as I can and see where it takes me."  Stanec will be appearing at the Galaxy on January 27th along with Reactions, Life After Liftoff, Awake At Last, and Yankee Go Home.  The show is at 7pm, is All Ages, and just $5.00.  Thanks to Johnny for taking the time to talk with us, and we'll see you at the show!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Storm The Bay and Reactions to Anchor Upcoming Shows

The Galaxy is in the midst of its biggest run of shows yet, with four great events closing out our January.

Thursday January 19th--Storm the Bay w/ Don't Wait Up, Hello! Jersey, and Role Models  7PM $5.00 All Ages

Storm The Bay @ The Galaxy Thursday 1/19

Rochester, New York based Storm The Bay will hit the Galaxy January 19th as part of a huge pop punk show.  The band says that "Our music is inspired by change, perseverance, the idea of hope, love, and passion for professional musicianship. Without our friends, families, and the struggles of day to day life, we would have no inspiration. For that, we would like to sincerely thank everyone who has helped with it, for better or worse."  Watch their newest video above, and then come see them live!

Hailing from Cincinnati, Don't Wait Up will be bringing their flavor of pop punk to this show as well.  They were featured in our In The Spotlight series last week, which you can read by clicking the link.  Also on this show will be Ft. Mitchell, KY's Hello! Jersey, and Role Models from Cincinnati.  This show promises to be a great time.

The Galaxy showcases local stand up comedians in this FREE event hosted by Tom Schmidlin.  This is our second comedy night, and if the first one was any indication we expect a great turnout of both comics and fans.  

All the way from Phoenix, Arizona, Reactions, an alternative/post hardcore band, hits the Galaxy as part of their On The Run Tour. Also on this show will be Johnny Stanec from Northeastern Ohio, who will be featured in an upcoming In The Spotlight. Dayton's Life After Liftoff, Dover, Delaware's Awake At Last, and Hamilton's own Yankee Go Home round out this awesome night of rock.

Chris Frasco
January closes out with a night of great singer songwriters, led off by Brooklyn, NY's Chris Frasco.  Making their second appearance at the Galaxy will be the terrific Kate Haralson & The Martins, while Galaxy regulars Somebody's Something round out the current lineup.  We're trying to nail down another artist or two for this event, and watch for In The Spotlight articles on both Chris Frasco and Kate Haralson & The Martins over the next couple of weeks.

In other news, the Galaxy is still seeking individuals or businesses to join us as sponsoring partners.  If you're an individual that would like to give a one time donation to our PA fund please click the link in the upper right hand corner of this page and make your contribution via PayPal.  If you're a business or an individual that would like to make ongoing sponsorship of what we're doing here part of your advertising, please visit galaxycds.com and see our Partners page for more details, or contact Ryan.

We'd like to thank everyone who came out last week to a couple of absolutely amazing shows.  This project is starting to take root, with more fans coming all the time, and bands telling us that this is one of the coolest spots they've played.  Please share the word with everyone you know that's a music fan, and then come out and join us for some sweet jams and good times.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

In The Spotlight--Yankee Go Home

Yankee Go Home
Like many bands before them, the birth of Hamilton's Yankee Go Home came from the untimely demise of previous bands.  Jake Grove and Codee Rice were the surviving members of The Live Long Day, a band that played such local music haunts as the late Mad Hatter and Dirty Jack's, and that lives on through the power of the internet.  Their first effort at a new band, Yoko Band Destroyer, was a short lived effort that served mainly to aid in the recruitment of the members that would ultimately make up Yankee Go Home.

The band has already played twice at the Galaxy, and is fast becoming a staple of the local music scene, also having recently played at Boomerang's in Cincinnati.  Rice tells us that "We've had surprisingly warm reception so far. We've had a lot of help from friends and fans promoting the shows."  Booking shows as a new band playing mostly originals can be a challenge.  "Originality is the only downfall to getting shows. But we have had some acoustic based shows and learned a series of covers to overcome that problem wherever needed. The scene in SW Ohio is slow moving, and most of the venues LLD played at in Cincinnati are now closed," Rice said.
To add to their roster of shows, the band has played some non-traditional events.  "We actually enjoy playing house shows/parties because they're a more personal experience. That's where we really get to connect with the 'audience'. Also, it's the perfect climate for bringing fans to our calendar shows," Rice told us.  They would like to see the overall scene improve through more teamwork, something that the Galaxy has actively been working toward.  "If it were up to us, musicians/bands would unite and aid each other in any circumstance and not only think about their band. I feel the way to succeed is to network. That also applies to venues. Venues should encourage the original local music scene and give bands something to look forward to/work towards."
The band plans to live that mission by vowing to  "play, write and record as much as our bodies can physically accept. This is something most of us have dreamed of doing since we learned our first instrument and don't consider leaving it behind for any reason," Rice said.  "We plan to network and meet as many people as possible. Learn about people, help fellow musicians, venues and local bars. Our plan is to bring back 'music' as we perceived it when we were younger."
In addition to their high energy performances, the band has also been recognized for the great looking flyers they do, a couple of which are pictured below.  "Nick makes the flyers.  We were definitely impressed with them. They are inspired by our sense of humor. We enjoy doing this, and we want to show people that we're a fun band."

Yankee Go Home Flyers

Rice finishes by throwing some love at the Galaxy, saying "Thanks for taking the time to interview us and making us more than another number on the bill. We really enjoy the overall experience at Galaxy. How organized it is compared to other venues and how supportive of artists in general you are, as well as the Hamilton community. Awesome!"  Thanks man, that's what we're trying to accomplish for everyone that plays here, or attends shows here.

You can catch Yankee Go Home next at the Galaxy on Friday January 27th along with Johnny Stanec, Reactions, Life After Liftoff, and Awake at Last. As always the show starts at 7pm and is just $5.00!  Thanks to Codee for taking some time to answer our questions, and we'll see you at the show!

Friday, January 13, 2012

In The Spotlight--Don't Wait Up

Don't Wait Up
Joining the Galaxy on January 19th for a ginormous pop punk show will be Cincinnati's own Don't Wait Up.  Describing themselves as "six friends who all went to high school together and wanted to go to real life together," the band formed in November of 2010.  Despite their relative short existence, the band has already opened for the likes of Senses Fail, Hit The Lights, Cartel and many more, events that lead vocalist Michael Padgett described simply as "unbelievable."  He added though that, "our favorite shows are the ones where everyone goes crazy and sings our songs back to us! We love our fans!"

The band draws influences from the full spectrum of music.  Padgett says that "I know Ryan would kill me if I didn't (mention) Led Zeppelin. But I know we all pretty much grew up on pop/punk and our influence does mainly come from that."  He points out that various members of the band love hip-hop or hardcore, while joking that "Mike Newton likes the weirdest shit in the world, and I can't get enough Lionel Richie! I think Lionel Richie is probably our biggest influence deep down but not everyone can accept it."

Don't Wait Up is currently finishing up their new ep which was recorded over two sessions separated by some months.  "We went to Moonlight Studios back in July or something like that with the intention of just recording 4 songs and releasing those. But because we are the brokest band in the world we delayed printing them out. And by the time we had some cash together, we had some new songs, and decided that we would just record those bad boys as well and release them all together," Padgett told us.  As for naming the release, "We wanted something that was really deep and made your pants a little tighter so we went with: 'Blue Waffle'," he cracked.  The band says the ep should be available at shows and online soon.

The band's sense of humor comes out both in our discussion with them, and in their songs.  Padgett described to us in intimate detail the band's songwriting process, saying that "Me and Ryan usually go up to my bedroom, light a couple of candles and bang out some guitar parts, then we'll bring it to practice and we'll learn the songs."  And this is clearly a band taking their energy from the moment.  "Our songs pertain to what the members of the band are doing at the time. I try to write lyrics about how everyone is feeling in the band and not just myself all of the time. For example: 'World's Worst Girlfriend' is about a shitty girlfriend I had. And then 'Nati's Finest' is about our whole group of friends doing dumb shit and not caring what people think about it."  Other song titles include "You're Not The Only Thing Getting Wasted" and "This Song Is Definitely About You", further hammering home the band's lighthearted approach to their storytelling.

The band has the goal of being "able to do this for the rest of our lives. Our goal isn't to get huge, it's just to be able to play at a level where we could live off of doing what we love. We just want to write music that means something to us, and have it mean something to other people as well. Through our music and performances I hope to accomplish nothing more than to have people in the crowd singing the words back to me that I wrote!" Padgett said.  Part of that effort to make a living involves being sponsored by Radio Fonix Apparel.  Padgett said that, "Tabby from Rfx contacted us a few months ago and was interested in sponsoring us. She was just starting out and she wanted to help us out, and in turn we try and help her out. She's actually designing our shirts as well," he noted.

You can see Don't Wait Up along with Storm The Bay, Hello! Jersey, and Role Models at Galaxy CDS Thursday January 19th at 7pm.  The show is All Ages and just $5.00!  Thanks to Michael for talking with us, and we'll see you at the show!


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

In The Spotlight--Sinatra

Sinatra's bio on Facebook says simply, "We're from DC. We play weird music."  If by "weird" they mean relentlessly awesome, we here at the Galaxy are in total agreement.  I've played their album "Lost In Hyrule" (which is available by clicking the link) often here, and it has never failed to spark someone to come to the counter and ask "this is awesome, who is it?"  We absolutely cannot wait for them to blow the roof off this Sunday January 15th here at the Galaxy.

"Our sound came from us just progressing as friends and as a band, we played in a previous band together and decided we wanted to make something more aggressive. The post hardcore genre is really something we all grew up with I think," says Sinatra's Zach Alexander.  Anyone familiar with the post hardcore scene will quickly understand that link, as the DC area has been a fertile breeding ground for that movement for years.  While clearly identifying with that scene, the band says that they "really don't think it affects our playing or writing really, we kinda just go with the flow when it comes to writing and performing."  Zach adds that, "we wrote really well together not based on a genre, but based on what we're going through or what we're influenced by at the time."

This desire to not necessarily be bound by the constraints of their genre can be seen in some of their influences, most strikingly the ambient electronic outfit Telefon Tel Aviv, a band they, and I, love.  "Telefon has been a real eye opener in the aspect of really going against the norm of a set style of song writing. There's always something new and exciting after each part of their songs and we all can really appreciate the absence of predictability," says Alexander, who told us he happened to be listening to them when answering our questions!

Part of the mission of the Galaxy, and The Lonely House, has been to offer bands a unique place to play, and in many cases stay.  Jared has hosted numerous bands in his home after shows, and this is something bands clearly come to appreciate.  On a previous tour Zach tells us that "We were playing in Jersey and this family opened their house to us and fed us and let us sleep in their guest room. They also then fed us for breakfast and dinner before we left that night. It was incredible. I can't thank them enough, especially seeing as we were broke and just trying to scratch money together for the next shows and to get home. They made the experience 10x what it would have ever been. And we all love them dearly."  It's part of what we're trying to do to set ourselves apart from the average venue, and it's always great to hear that there are other people out there supporting these artists in ways beyond going to shows.

Things like this give the band a sense of optimism about where the music industry is heading.  "I believe it's doing better. Some would say otherwise but in the aspect of bands like pianos/touché/la dispute I think it's great. These bands are able to sell out of records before the release date, go on tour, and go overseas, without a major label backing them. That in itself is a huge accomplishment, and I hope one day we can get the same opportunity," Zach tells us.  As for selling their music he says, "We as a band have our cd for free online because it will get ripped regardless, and why not just give it to them. We haven't had trouble selling physical copies at all really. People who see us perform seem to really want to support and buy our merch."

A mix of playing shows, and making their music readily available they hope leads them where they'd like to go.  "If you write music that's honest people will listen and support it," believes the band, a sentiment echoed by WolfCryer in a previous story here.  "The most effective way of us getting heard I think is split 50/50 through the Internet and playing shows. It really helps if you can play shows. But having music up for listening will also get people excited and then they will hopefully come out and buy the physical copy!"

Joining Au Revoir on this tour "is such an awesome thing for us. We couldn't thank them enough for everything they've done for us. I think I (personally) am most excited just to get on the road and play shows with my best friends, and I think the rest of the band feels the same, or close to the same, as me," he concluded.  You should take the opportunity to come out and see these guys and the rest of the terrific bands playing this Sunday here at the Galaxy.  The show starts at 7pm, and is just $5.00, all ages welcome!  Thanks to Zach for talking with us, and we'll see you at the show!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

In The Spotlight--WolfCryer

Making his third appearance at the Galaxy this Friday January 13th will be Cincinnati based WolfCryer.  After 20 years as a saxophone player with jazz and classical groups, Matt Baumann, who plays under the WolfCryer name, realized he no longer enjoyed it.  "When I was around 29 years old I began having recurring dreams about playing the banjo, these dreams haunted me for weeks. I finally went to my wife, sat her down and said, 'I need to tell you something; I want to buy a banjo'. I think she thought I was going to admit I was having an affair or something a little more serious," says Baumann.  He had grown "to hate the music I had to play to be heard and/or make money. I already had a full-time job, so why should I hate what was supposed to bring me some degree of happiness?"
As if dreaming about playing a banjo wasn't unusual enough, in his dreams Baumann "was playing and singing by myself. Most banjo players play the 5-string, I chose the 4-string plectrum banjo for it's flexibility, and relative obscurity. I've always been attracted to the things that very few people do, especially in music."  Transitioning from sax to banjo would probably be too much for many musicians, but he adds that, "learning the banjo has so far been a natural experience for me. My friend Eric Barnett showed me a few things in regards to finger-picking, but all the chordal parts of my music I've taught myself with some already learned music theory from my music school days."
And so was born the one man show now known as WolfCryer.  The name comes from multiple inspirations.  "My father once recommended a movie to me called 'Never Cry Wolf', a forgotten Disney movie in-fact, it's a adventure story about a single man sent by 'society' out into the Alaskan wilderness to study the wolves, and more deeply, himself. I loved that film and the subject so much that I adopted it as my moniker," says Baumann.  "Also, upon reflection, the' truth' and I have always had our differences over the years; being the WolfCryer is also my take on Aesop's 'The Boy who Cried Wolf'," he concludes.
Being now in some way part of the singer-songwriter scene was also a change from the jazz and classical background, as the songs have become much more personal.  "I write most of my songs about nature, open spaces, with a personal kind of longing and desolation in mind. Stories, films, and books about individuals on the road always appeal to me; 'Into the Wild', 'An Island to Oneself', 'Everett Ruess', Rousseau's 'Reveries of a Solitary Walker', and Werner Herzog's 'Of Walking In Ice' are great starting points for songs," he pointed out.  
While those may be the starting points for his songs, authenticity is clearly a key part of his writing.  "People, especially the listeners I am after, can tell when when you are being dishonest, or not being yourself. Integrity plays a very important role in my songwriting. I want people to hang on every word, and believe in every chord," he says.  "The lyrics tend to come to me as I develop the chord progression for a song. I must have the music to write the lyrics. I'm not a poet, I'm always a musician first as that's who I am. I tend to write in metaphor and in my own way, I've lived every word of the songs I write."
Another influence is the work of the late Warren Zevon, a master storyteller.  "My old friend Alex Carlson would pick me up most mornings on our way to high school. Alex had a huge influence on me musically, it's strange to remember this, anyway, he often played Zevon's albums, 'A Quiet Normal Life' and 'Excitable Boy', and I loved Zevon's storytelling, his views of life, his command of language, that darkness, his voice, that piano, that guitar, and his unwavering energy," said Baumann.  "He really made me love books and authors in a way I never had before. I think his influence, in some small way, really translated into my songwriting."  
WolfCryer has become a regular at the Galaxy, as well as having played consistently at MOTR Pub and the old Southgate House.  He hopes that the scene in Southwest Ohio for original music continues to grow.  "I think if you want it enough, there is no place on Earth where people won't listen. I'm actually encouraged by the scene here. What's happening at MOTR, Sitwell's Coffeehouse, Galaxy, and the new 'Southgate' wherever it is, things are promising here. To me it's just exciting to be getting started. And I think that if you're committed to be yourself, to be authentic, people will come to hear you, and people will listen," he concludes.
If you'd like to listen, you can check out WolfCryer on Facebook, and then please stop out and see him as part of our show this Friday January 13th at 7pm, which also features Frontier Folk Nebraska, Somebody's Something, Whiskeyheart, and Yankee Go Home.  The show is just $5.00 and ALL AGES.  Thanks to Wolfcryer for taking some time out to chat with us, and we'll see you at the show!