Tuesday, June 20, 2017

On Axis Music Travels to Mississippi

I've often looked at myself as Chicagoan. When I graduated art school (I know, I know, barf on the implications of intelligentsia), I thought I was being super professional by making an email with the word "Chicago" in it. This was when emails were cryptic and the Internet was still on the ripples from the stone of AOL.

It took a little planning, and careful meandering of my goldfish watching responsibilities but I was able to break away from the ties that bind and go, camera in hand, like Hunter S. Thompson, to the Second Annual Mississippi Saxophone Festival.

I look forward to sharing the article and the photos and the most important lesson, however, was getting out of Dodge.

It is an important thing to do literally-- we are meant to travel as musicians and spread the love, and our brand, and CD sales (if anyone is buying) on "tour". Tour these days usually means grungy people (hey, I am running sound and I took a shower) playing on a stage to about 5 people. These touring musicians usually have a great, complex merch display which is really thought out, and a wimpy, empty feeling set. Clearly, priorities are in the wrong place. But I digress.

While I suppose I covet these traveling musicians, I was glad to be finally able to travel myself, even as a Journalist.

Sometimes traveling literally is a bunch of wasted time (i.e. the young indie bands on tour that are playing to empty rooms and begging the audience for gas money in thinly veiled jokes, you know who you are). So let's travel figuratively.

Let's get out of "Dodge" whatever that is. Our routines, our common steps, our every day activities that go nowhere and break new ground, even if it is with one footstep, one train ride, one step into the unknown.

- On Axis Music

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Six Website Strategies

by Hannah Frank

Some sites offer the kitchen sink while others are like an intriguing first date. Here are some categories to help your online game. Organize your site by deciding your purpose: sales, familiarity with your brand (soft sell), presentation of data, email capture (ongoing communication) or "internet tourism".

  1. Sell, Sell Sell: The homepage features an immediate "call to action" and display of merch. The goal is clear: the site "first impression" is designed for clicking and buying. This isn't necessarily bad: if fans will come to the site to find out how to buy a product, this is a declaration that the website is a trusted POS (point of sale).

  2. Pleased to Meet Me: Many website designs are focused on blogging, but that doesn't mean you need to invent yourself as something more interesting than you are. This type of site is a labor-intensive collection of videos, blog entries, essays, poems, artwork, pictures of cats, etc.  It's time intensive for the artist (most sites in this style are built directly by the artist) and not focused on sales. While this type of presentation can be magical in giving a quick feel to the artist's creative process and inner workings of their mind, it also requires serious fans willing to browse it at length. It creates a personal connection with the artist, yet the conversational tone can be unfiltered (TMI) and familiarity can breed contempt and boredom. For some artists that operate in a niche or are truly working in an advanced multimedia style requiring explanation, the shoe may fit. However, for the most part, get your head out of your ass already.

  3. Search & You Will Find: Organized information about artists, projects, releases and/or services. The goal of this site style is to give brand credibility and build a legacy. It tells readers "this information is important." It is extensive, but feels respectful. This type of site is high on easy to find information and low on drivel. It will likely have crisp bios and professional photos. Be careful of being too slick...make sure the deep content is as good as the surface.

  4. The Overwhelming First Date: we just met, but can we have your email address to take this further? Sites with a lot of content often want to share it, but can invest more time in learning about the viewer. If your site has a lot of content to share that's great. But consider ways to learn about the readers, or make different areas of the site for window shoppers, customers, public and/or industry partners so that all viewers are not funneled down the same chute.

  5. Bits and Pieces: This type of site is a destination, you can almost feel a breath of fresh air as the browser opens. It includes integration with social media, image-based blog entries (look at the pretty colors), and plenty of subtle calls to action. There's no single call to action, and the website style encourages browsing. While this style is great for not hitting viewers over the head, make sure it's "sticky" enough to give them a reason to return, share and buy. If branding is the goal, and only goal, then show the bits.

  6. The website for offline...seems counter intuitive, but consider if your website or online presence is actually meant to drive action off line. Examples are readers attending an event, physically walking into a brick and mortar store, or another offline activity. Hard to believe, but there is life beyond the screen. Take this to heart and make sure the online world you create isn't more interesting than real life. Hope this helps as you build a new website or tweak an existing site for maximum leverage. As the Internet, especially with the combo of social media and smart phones, makes it possible to capture and share just about any content designers desire...make sure it's what your readers desire also.

  Media Bonus: The magic of the Internet allows us to view this video in regards to #1. Coffee is for closers, but will hard sells cause the reader to close the browser? That is the question.

 Reach Hannah at axis.contact@gmail.com or Twitter @HannahFrankGrp

Revelatory Night of Pop/Folk with Sarah Eide and Jan Seides Sat 10/1/16 (Chicago)

Songwriters Sarah Eide and Jan Seides bring a revelatory pop/folk music to Uncommon Ground 1401 W. Devon, Saturday October 1 at 9:00pm. The pairing is a unique blend with some exciting contrasts.

Sarah Eide has been carving a name in the Chicago music scene over the past few years, although she originally hails from the East coast. Performing with percussionists, guitarists and a full band make each show a flavorful adventure. At this show, her cinematic and intricate piano work will be accented by James Abud, multi-instrumentalist based in Chicago. Visceral sensitivity, wrapped in bold song titles like “Forgiveness” and “Challenge & Victory”, is the key to her trademark sound: introspection with great musicality.

Comparable to Laura Nyro, a pianist/composer from the 60’s soul-folk underground, Eide also has a swinging rock piano style and intellectually satisfying arrangements. While Nyro comes off as vulnerable at times, Eide has a steadfast, empowering vibe along with sweet approach-ability. 

A personal favorite, listen to this song in the morning and seize the day:

While Sarah’s song The Prodigal Son references the Bible story, co-headliner Jan Seides of Austin, Texas also uses historical stories as a jumping off point for creative lyrics. Her song Delilah’s Lament is written from the point of view of Delilah the “hairdresser” of Sampson in the famous story.

A Texan who has lived in NYC, her music likewise combines country charm with city class. From travelling overseas and sharing her music in Ireland and Britain, to Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee, her composure and sense of quiet drama show she’s a masterful storyteller. Her lilting voice floats over the songs like a flock of birds overhead. A pianist, guitarist and singer, her Elizabethan sense of beauty shows a deep connection to music as oral history.

Seide’s axe stylings include lucid fingerpicking which smartly never overwhelms the vocal, but surrounds and supports it. Not surprising from a musician who discovered she had perfect pitch before Kindergarten-- and went on to transcribe songs by other writers to learn the craft. She’s won regional New Folk category in Kerrville, and her original work has been recognized by The Great American Song Contest and received awards across the country, from Michigan to Florida. A traveler that chose guitar for its portability, Jan says, “I fell in love with traveling, and out of that began touring with my music. Really, I haven’t yet decided which is in the service of the other.” [-[www.janseides.com]

The show Saturday features a full set by each artist. Plus, after the show there will be only one degree of separation between you and Madonna.

Sarah’s set includes a special appearance by Damon Grant, a Percussionist, Educator and Composer who has shared his rhythms on bills with acts such as Dirty Dozen Brass Band and George Clinton, multiple Olympic ceremonies and worked with Madonna on her 2012 Super Bowl half time show. By Damon citing ‘Animal’, from the Muppets as an early influence that sparked his imagination, you know fun is a frontrunner alongside musicality.

All this will be happening at Uncommon Ground 1401 W. Devon, Chicago, IL 60660 on Saturday October 1, 2016 at 9:00pm. The venue features a full dinner and drink menu, make reservations by calling (773) 465-9801.

These singing wordsmiths also share unique surnames, so when you go know that Sarah’s last name is pronounced “Ada” while Jan’s last name is pronounced “Sigh-deez”. 


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Lazer/Wulf, Full of Hell and Weedeater - Live Show Review of Double Door, November 16, 2014

This article will be posted when our new site www.onaxismusic.com goes live. Please stay tuned!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Nino Arobelidze Creates New Crossroads Between Pop, Jazz, Soul and Damn Good Beat Boxing with NOMAD

Nino’s new album excels at the art of being classy, subtle and cutting edge. The U.S. musician and vocalist, who grew up overseas in the country of Georgia, represents rhythmic and lyrical exploration. Perhaps traveling the globe contributed to the adventure and beauty of bridging pop, jazz, soul and beautiful beat boxing.
It is a triumph of the merging of genres from many countries, as well as the U.S. Listeners of smooth jazz, R&B, hip hop, EDM, genuine rock and roll and spoken word can all light candles together. Layers of sounds become clouds that float over traditional boundaries, and merge together joyously. Colors are bright. Thoughts are free and relaxing, with flavorful bends and turns.
With her springy, curly hair and smiling eyes, she remains uplifting, artistic and wise. A fan explains the magnetic lure as “enchanting as the sirens of lore, revealing her soft, beguiling smile…[Nino’s music] teaches and we are eager students.”
How did she achieve sounding unique but remarkably universal? NOMAD, recorded with her partner and Producer Pablo Gordy, is a testament to the power of individual artists. Carrying notable musical prowess, the partnership is comparable to if Madonna and Prince teamed up, respectively. Their energy and artistry is intense and generous, whether performing solo, duo or band. 
The duo, which is constantly inventing and creating, also performs as “Forbidden Knowledge”. With these two artists collaborating on Arobelidze’s NOMAD, the results are unlike anything else that you’ve heard. Plus, it’s just as good as any of the albums sold at Starbucks lately. 
“People pay more for a cup of coffee than they do for music,” says Pablo Gordy in a video interview about NOMAD’s record label, Ni Fu Ni Fa Records. 
Here’s why you should skip the latte and drop some shiny dimes on the album: NOMAD is more than just groove, it redefines the complete partnership of lyrics and rhythm. The two become inseparable. The style will make your troubles melt away into peace of mind, like chocolate on the tongue.

The modern urban setting comes to life visually with colorful street murals and Nino’s lyrics on the video for “Coltrane Skies.” Filmed in the Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago, the song lyrics connect people in distant places as being “under the same sky”. The song is about forgiveness, resolution and travelling light, says Nino.

“I’ve lived in so many neighborhoods in my life, in a colorful way. Every single place has contributed and enriched my curiosity for diversity in sounds, textures and colors of people and places. I continue to be fascinated by urbanity,” says Nino. She shares that with fans via the Coltrane Skies video.

As Nino sings in the video, there’s a bump—literally. When asked how being pregnant affected the music video she replies, “Pregnancy is such an incredible time in any woman’s life and it was such a tremendous time in my life that I wanted to integrate the emotional component into the visual context of my work.” Since then, Nino has given birth to her son. Being fearless in incorporating real life into art is only one facet of her work. It is a testament to her ability to create and thrive under any circumstances, and in any place or time.

The song’s title is a nod to the influence of jazz greats on Nino’s music. She spent days listening to LOVE SUPREME on repeat, entranced in its spirituality and emotional depth. Plus, Billie Holiday was one of Nino’s first musical influences when she moved to the U.S. as a teenager. “Raw emotion. Truth unencumbered. That’s Billie,” says Arobelidze.

With so much goodness from the past, and a sound that is heading toward the future, you may wonder where you can find the album? Just search Nino Arobelidze NOMAD on CD Baby, iTunes and Amazon.
Nino’s ability to keep moving is also taken literally. With a background in dance and choreography, the singer keeps our minds and bodies moving. “Music is an extremely physical form of expression for me, as it is cinematic…It moves and it is moving. Even in stillness there is motion and I’ve always experienced music that way,” says Nino.
It was important to let each song “grow into its own shoes, despite the odds,” says Nino who also incorporates a loop pedal into live shows. 
With plenty of ingredients to draw from, listeners can enjoy where she succeeded.
As a shorty growing up at the tail end of the Cold War, her influences ranged from Bollywood staples to Brazilian, Venezuelan and Colombian soaps. By 5th grade she was more interested in listening to George Michael and the Doors than world music. As her environment had no NPR or free cultural events, it wasn’t until she lived abroad and in the States that she’s been able to explore styles and types of music, and find her own voice. Being able to understand various music forms makes her see similarities that others may not be able to see; such as similar music elements shared between blues, Flamenco and Russian Gypsy music.

Her rhythmic ideas come from “everywhere-- patterns of speech, locomotives, nature..” she notes. 
The emphasis on rhythm as an art form in itself is reminiscent of contemporaries like Xenia Rubinos. Lyrically, Nino shares “artists like Joni Mitchell, Mos Def, Ani Difranco, Public Enemy or P-Funk have a way of keeping your ears and mind busy. Clever stuff..but always honest.”
When asked what about music makes it international or universal Nino answers, “Rhythm and sound. These two elements defy barriers of language, time and culture. They are the ultimate BS filters and cannot be used to mask any faulty emotion or thought. They are fantastic tools in communicating honestly and freely. In fact they are Freedom itself.”

Arobelidze relates to sound and rhythm when it’s honest and selfless. “I connect very deeply to the blues, the music of perseverance and personal strength that draws from one’s spirituality. I believe in freedom, fairness and beauty. Anything that conflicts with these concepts I will put up a fight against,” says Nino. Support the good fight and purchase this album NOMAD.
Click here to learn more about Nino: http://artistecard.com/ninoarobelidze
To purchase the NOMAD album use these links:
On iTunes

By Hannah Frank / On Axis Music