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Stumbling Across Musical Gold At A California Open Mic

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California Open Mic

Guest Post By Sammy Milone

Open mic nights are like yard sales. With few exceptions, the quality of the merchandize is generally pretty inconsistent with a smattering of eclectic vanity pieces designed for individual tastes. But every once in a while – and usually by compete accident – you uncover a gem.

A few weeks ago, I accompanied friend who lives in the Bay area to an open mic in Mill Valley, California at a venue called Sweetwater Music Hall. As someone born and raised just outside of Philadelphia, I don’t get out west as much as I’d like. I’ve been to Sweetwater exactly once before a few years ago to check out Johnette Napolitano (formerly of Concrete Blonde) as she delighted a packed house with an inspired solo set. Sweetwater is a great sounding little venue for live music. And it’s pretty rare to find an open mic being hosted by someone as accomplished as Austin de Lone. With my expectations set to mediocre, I agreed to come out that Monday night.

sweetwater in the sunMy friend tells me that there was a time when Sweetwater’s open mic nights would regularly include many of the world class musicians who lived in the area: Sammy Hagar, Jerry Harrison, Huey Lewis and Carlos Santana would often sit in for a song or two – much to the delight of the ever adoring locals. While at least one of those casual gods could be spotted in the back of the room that Monday night, I’m sad to report that none of them took the stage.

On this night, it was mostly like other open mics you may have been too. Some talented performers, a group from the local high school shrieking into the microphone like Yoko Ono and at least one unfortunate soul who made the unforgivable sin of forgetting the words and/or the chords to their favorite Beatles song. Just your typical, ordinary, for the love of god please keep the drinks flowing Monday night open mic.

open mic
And then something special happened. The house lights dimmed and a six-foot tall, maniacal ball of energy appeared on the stage. The people at the table next to me whispered to us: “that guy was here last week, and he was fantastic!” But neither of them seemed to know who “that guy” was.

Turns out – that guy’s name is Alan Chapell. Chapell has a quirky stage presence that could easily hold the attention of a much larger room and combined with the charm and intimacy of someone who was playing in your living room. I’ve never seen someone command a room full of strangers to enthusiastically sing a song that they’d never heard before. But that’s exactly what happened when Chapell began singing “Soul Man”. From the very first song, Chapell had this crowd in the palm of his hands.

Chapell mostly plays the piano and sings. I say “mostly” because he kept getting up in the middle of songs or in between them to direct the crowd or share an aside off mic. He stood up and got the audience clapping during the third verse as Chapell sang a cappella on the song “Waiting”. Sort of reminded me of the great Jonathan Richman minus Tommy Larkin on drums as Chapell got the entire room clapping along.

Chapell did four songs that night – remarkable in that its sort of an unwritten rule at open mics that everyone is allowed to play only one or two songs. Getting asked to do another song by the host is almost the equivalent of a stand-up comic being called to Johnny Carson’s couch after their set. (Yeah, I’ve probably been watching too much of Showtime’s “I’m dying up here” – sue me.) Chapell most certainly did not squander his additional songs and closed with a haunting etude called “I’m Coming Over” – one which really drove home how vulnerable and sweet Chapell’s voice can be when he’s not screaming off mic.

guitar live show
I caught up with Chapell briefly after he left the stage. Turns out that he’s an east coast guy too. Chapell hails from New York City but occasionally spends time in the houseboat community in nearby Sausalito. He started coming out to the Bay area a few years ago to record an album with Jerry Harrison of Talking Heads fame and now views Sausalito as second home.

Chapell has a seven-piece band back in NYC, but has started playing shows with a smaller lineup – which is one of the reasons he was at Sweetwater that night. “I was initially reluctant to play without my full band, but I kept getting asked to play places where it wasn’t practical to bring everyone,” says Chapell. “We were invited to play a show in Sandpoint Idaho with the Flobots earlier this year and my violinist Lorenza Ponce and I were the only ones from my band who were able to make it. When that concert went over so well, I realized that I could be a bit more flexible in my approach.” So, while Chapell still mostly plays with the full band, he’s done stripped down shows opening for bands like Big Head Todd and the Gin Blossoms as well.

So, what’s next for Chapell? “We’re currently mixing my third album and are making plans for later this year to start recording my fourth. And we’re in discussions to play a show or two with the Bacon Brothers in August. Finally, I’ll have my whole band with me at City Winery in NYC on August 16th.”

chapell
I’ll be there at City Winery on August 16th. If you want to catch Chapell before he completely blows up, I suggest you be there too.

Sammy Milone is a part-time author and full-time skeptic. He lives with his wife Wendy and dog Niko in Lower Gwynedd Township, PA.

Rock

Pre-Save Geo Moon’s “We Vibe” & Get A Dose Of Rock

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Geo Moon
Geo Moon
has splendid Rock music on the way. Starting today you can pre-save “We Vibe”, which will be available on all digital streaming platforms (August 7th). You can expect something refreshing to the ears as percussion is abundant throughout the song. The blend of grungy guitars, pulse-pounding drums, and his radio-friendly chorus is addictive.

He’s also bringing Pop, Electronica and Industrial elements to the front while his lyrics explore esoteric themes. What’s more, you’ll be happy with the literary intrigue which characterizes his creative work. Having a partner with whom you can vibe is totally awesome, and that’s the premise of “We Vibe”. Obviously, you are guaranteed to love his compositions if you’re also into a path of spiritual awakening.

For curious listeners, Geo Moon’s sound is as brilliant as his musical heroes such as Korn, Linking Park, Limp Bizkit, 30 Seconds to Mars, and similar ones. The Greek-born producer who identifies himself as a citizen of the world and nomad has over 15 years of experience in the indie art scene. A mystical journey is what he claims to offer with his upcoming electrified rockish jams. Soon he will drop a 2D animation clip for “We Vibe”, so stay tuned on his socials down here.

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Rock

Watch By Small Ruin’s Sad Song Music Video “My Angel”

Try to watch this without crying! By Small Ruin‘s sad song music video “My Angel” has so much emotion in it. Inspired by a tragic event, the singer wants to raise awareness after witnessing a rash of suicides at his homeland.

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Watch By Small Ruin's Sad Song Music Video "My Angel"

Try to watch this without crying! By Small Ruin‘s sad song music video “My Angel” has so much emotion in it. Inspired by a tragic event, the singer wants to raise awareness after witnessing a rash of suicides at his homeland. As soon as the song starts, the nice acoustics and the drums all combined work brilliantly the whole time.

Clearly, his deep lyrics tell a heartbreaking story from the perspective of a child who loses his father and must cope with his absence. Here you have an alternative Rock tune that builds up slowly from the beginning and then gradually picks up the tempo. My favorite part is the chorus, where Bryan is able to sing high notes like never before. “My Angel”, is another guitar-driven masterpiece charged with adrenaline and intricate riffs. Most importantly, if you or someone you know is depressed and considering suicide, it’s never too late to seek the help you deserve. Just remember you and your struggles matter. 

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Lyrics

Daddy was a good man
He kept it in the road
Something must have happened I don’t know
Today was just the first day
His letter still unread
As I lay down to bed I can hear him

Sleep, my angel
Not a peep, my angel

Momma’s being quiet
She won’t visit your stone
Can’t accept you’re never coming home
Sis, she ain’t much better
That’s why I’m here alone
As I lay down this rose, hear me saying

Sleep, my angel
Not a peep, my angel

Maybe you felt you were on your own
Overwhelmed, it’s easy to lose hope
If I had only known, you were at the end of your rope

November makes three years now
I’ve got a son of my own
I tell him of the one he’ll never know
I hope you’re somehow watching
When I lay him down to rest
I sing to him that sweet song I know best
It goes like this

Sleep, my angel
Not a peep, my angel
Sleep, my angel
Not a peep, my angel

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Rock

Wildfurz Says ‘We Set The World Onto Fire’ In New Track

With the feet on the ground, Wildfurz turns his personal reflections on society into an interesting song called “World On Fire”.

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Wildfurz Says 'We Set The World Onto Fire' In New Track

With the feet on the ground, Wildfurz turns his personal reflections on society into an interesting song called “World On Fire”. I couldn’t agree more with the Atlanta-based artist who probably thinks karma is hitting the world with chaos due to our own actions. Beyond his sincere lyrics against humanity’s hypocrisy, he brings an authentic blend of psychedelic rock and electronic dance music.

What’s more, the fantastic music video showcases eye-catching illustrative animations that look pretty funny. Certainly, Wildfurz is ready to take the world by storm, while he questions the harsh reality. Overall, I feel fans of electric guitar strings will simply love “World On Fire” in full. Keep an eye on his socials below for more updates.

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Lyrics

The sky falls and you feel secure,
Don’t you wanna run in habit,
And so bored, stoned and floored,
When you think you think about it,

And all this time we spent worth chasing,
Running all night long,
All this time we spent were wasted,
Call it karma calling god,

We set the world onto fire
We set the world onto fire

The post calls that you’re self assured,
Get attention while you’re at it,
It’s so cold, frozen to the core,
When you seek to speak you shout it,

And all this time we spent worth chasing,
Running all night long,
All this time we spent were wasted,
Call it karma calling god,

We set the world onto fire
We set the world onto fire

How can we dare to stare at the sun,
Not like we knew that it would leave you blinded,
Now that we share what is fair with a gun,
What could we do, how can we be reminded,

Take your time now
Take your time now

Take your time now, We set the World onto Fire
Take your time now, We set the World onto Fire
Take your time now, We set the World onto Fire
Take your time now, We set the World onto Fire

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Rock

Indie Band Nimo & The Light Share Lyric Video For “Beagle Eyes”

Indie band Nimo & The Light come together again with a brand new lyric video. First of all, these guys make sure their new song “Beagle Eyes” shines with spectacular electric guitar riffs.

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Indie Band Nimo & The Light Share Lyric Video For "Beagle Eyes"
Indie band Nimo & The Light come together again with a brand new lyric video. First of all, these guys make sure their new song “Beagle Eyes” shines with spectacular electric guitar riffs. Additionally, it has a rockish feel to it, incredible synths, and of course, vocals in the right pitch. Believe it or not, lyrics are inspired by the lead singer’s cat, and I like how they offer emotional content to think about. One might believe that the story behind “Beagle Eyes” revolves around a controlling or manipulative relationship. Therefore, it could be relatable for all listeners.

Produced in collaboration with sound engineer Dan Shatzky (Balkan Beat Box, A-Wa), this tune is as good as the band’s awarded debut single, “Skin To Skin”. It was recorded at Vibromonk studios in order to keep the traditional sound they’re known for. There’s also enough evidence they keep similarities with Depeche Mode’s dark/post-punk musical era. Moreover, this is their first cut from the upcoming EP, ‘Off The Grid’ which is aimed to be released in summer 2020. Stay tuned for more exciting updates on their socials below.

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Rock

This Rock Melody Is Suitably Catchy, Listen To “Take Me With You”

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This Rock Melody Is Suitably Catchy, Listen To "Take Me With You"
With strong vocals and catchy riffs, By Small Ruin is back! Of course, you can tell the new single, “Take Me With You” resonates with feel-good vibes. Beyond this, lyrics give an overview of a personal story about the return of an old love from the past. In this case, online dating works, so I firmly believe technology is a good formula for romantic connections. Incredibly, the support for this tune has gone so far that it has reached over 17K streams via SoundCloud. Add to this, tons of positive feedback from his fans. If there was a karaoke version on YouTube, I bet you can’t resist the chance to sing it out loud. Enjoy!

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Lyrics

I got your DM tonight
Gotta say it took me by surprise
Cause my lips haven’t said your name in years
That old pic took me back as well
Thoughts of loving you and raising hell
Don’t know why you want to stroll down memory lane But hey
Take me with you
Damn sure, take me with you
Cause right now you’re messing with my head Take me with you
Now you gotta take me with you
Don’t leave me dreaming by myself
Up late here we go again
I see you typing and I start to grin
I’ve been wondering what was on your mind all day These little sessions are a crazy drug
You got me glowing like a lightning bug
The trip put me on is such a world away
I have to say
Take me with you
Damn sure, take me with you
Right now you’re messing with my head Take me with you
Now you gotta take me with you
Don’t leave me dreaming by myself
You keep on hinting
Might be pretending
I’ll play along even if it’s just fun Don’t keep me waiting
Stop hesitating
I hope this convo’s not a hit-and-run
We lost touch just out of school
And I forgot about the golden rule
Wanted you to call, but never called myself So point a finger and I’ll take the blame
Glad to hear you’re done with what’s his name Don’t know how I ever let you slip away
But not today (pause)
Take me with you
Damn sure, take me with you
Right now you’re messing with my head Take me with you
Now you gotta take me with you
Don’t leave me dreaming by myself
You keep on hinting
Might be pretending
I’ll play along even if it’s just fun Don’t keep me waiting
Stop hesitating
I hope this convo’s not a hit-and-run

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