Noe Socha turned 20 on his trip to Mississippi, though his birthday was the dimmest of the highlights from his trip. Noe is a deep devote of the blues and the Mississippi musicians whose music has transcended generations and oceans to influence a kid from Capri, Italy, who started out playing classical music on his guitar. This was his first trip down South and every time he stepped out of the van to explore another historic landmark, he tapped into something spiritual coming up from the grounds where Robert Johnson, Tommy Johnson, Honey Boy Edwards, B.B. King, John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters and Albert King once roamed with their guitars.
Author: Allen Bush (Page 1 of 5)
Students, faculty, and staff recently headed South for an annual traverse through Mississippi. The group represented the fourth Berklee Mississippi Music Exchange, which trades education, music, and culture between Berklee and kindred organizations throughout the state. The trip itinerary included auditioning Mississippi youth for summer scholarships, and gigs and blues and civil rights tours for the Berklee crew.
With eight members on stage, the Prigs were literally the big finale to the Berklee CMJ Showcase. There were so many players on stage at the Bowery Poetry Club that some were seldom scene behind the front line of horn players, guitarists, and singers. The Prigs include Berklee alumni guitarists Mack Price and Pete Lalish, bassist David Lizmi, drummer Tom Roslak, trumpeter Dan Brantigan, and Adam Platt on keytar. The band’s lyrics are full of irony, sarcasam, and pop culture references set to music, often very danceable and funky in so far as MTV was ever funky. The song “Crush,” for example, was inspired by Janet Jackson’s music from the late ’90’s, and included the lyrics, “He’s got a crush on her/It will make him believe he’s seeing fairies in the bathroom.”
Leading up to its Berklee CMJ set, the Prigs were named one of the 12 best bands at CMJ on the Wall Street Journal’s blog Speakeasy. How did this distinction boost the band’s profile at the conference? Mack Price gives a surprising answer.
The Wandas returned the rock to the Bowery Poetry Club stage after Oceanographer’s more celestial set. The quartet is tight from touring over many miles in its RV. Three-part harmonies, classic rock guitar solos, reach-for-the sky lead vocals, attendant fans, songs flowing from groovy indie pop blueprints, and a general sense of revelry define this band. The Wandas, based in Boston, include Berklee alumni Keith McEachern and Brent Battey on vocals and guitars. Boston band solidarity occurred during the Wandas set when Keith broke a string mid song, and the Honors’ Brandon Heisler quickly unpacked his guitar and passed it on stage so his turf mates could keep on rocking.
Outside of the Bowery Club, Brent and Keith tackle a CMJ hot topic – DIY touring.
Oceanographer’s five members spanned the Bowery Poetry Club stage after Julia Easterlin’s singular turn. The band’s music occupied an artistic realm charted by Easterlin, it’s set wrapped in a dreamy atmosphere and the songs sewn together with barely a pause between them by Berklee alumnus and Berkleemusic.com student Kevin Plessner’s beautiful, shimmering lead guitar lines. Oceanographer’s music is a mix of shoegaze, indie pop, ambient, minimalist, and post-rock, representative of the current Brooklyn scene, where it is based. The band will release a 12-song disc in 2011.
Sitting in the Bowery Poetry Club’s front room, Kevin Plessner and Jeremy Yocum, singer and guitar player, talk about their high hopes for CMJ to connect them to a wider New York scene and beyond.