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A Big Move, the Loss of Internet, and a Ton of Snow

14 Apr



Backyard Tracks

Alright, here it is plain: I spent the Winter hunting for a house with the lady, and we found one. Our offer was accepted, and we signed the papers. Congrats to us, we’re in debt for the next 30 years! Then it snowed. Then Verizon told us that they could not, in fact, deliver internet service to our home. Then it snowed. Then the plumbing decided to shower the framing instead of the person under the shower-head. Then it snowed. Then the toilets went. Then it snowed. Then the power went out. Then it snowed.

Today I say to Hell with all that noise, and as I look outside out into the woods of the Rensselaer Plateau from my perch in Sand Lake, NY, I can confidently say that Spring is here. The power’s back on, most of the snow is gone, and if I look closely, I see buds on the trees. Spring has never felt like such a relief, and an end to a punishment. Some new songs are popping up, and I’m polishing a couple of them for playing out.

I’m currently shaping the musical plans for 2015 (did you hear about the Palatypus show?), and will be scaling the rigors of regional travel for shows back a bit to, you know, fix the plumbing, repair the roof, and plan for next year’s snow. But… By summertime, the lady and I hope to resume the Rebel Darling Presents House Concert Series, and we’ve some wooded area that is prime for a tent or two. We’ll be in touch about that.

I also have another special night at the historic Caffe Lena (man, that place just jumps with vibe, and they have some exciting plans for the next few years) scheduled for late August, and we’ll be bringing some very special guests up to the stage. We’re planning routes, and consulting family calendars as I write. I’ll keep you posted on the developments, and get you the details when we’ve sorted and settled. Oh, and when I get broadband internet in a few years, I’ll get back on the Low Down Reviews. You can view the archives when you click here.

In the meantime, check out the current show schedule here. Oh, and get your friends, family, and loved ones the Rebel Darling T-Shirt delivered just in time for the warm weather…

Thanks, folks. Drop a line, and say hello. A special Thank You! to the friends and family that helped carry us through the winter. Home cooked meals on us…

– Mike



The Rebel Darling T-Shirt.
Your lady will steal this t-shirt and wear it to bed.
Mind did, and does…

With a Little Help from Us, Friends

17 Sep

Hey there, folks.

As I’m sure many of you know, the recording music industry is realigning itself under a new model, and record companies are no longer the pillar that stabilizes the industry floor. Within this new model (which is still shaping itself and operating in shifting and amorphous parameters) the individual artist assumes the responsibilities of not only the artist, but now the business agent, and the record company as well. The artist is the new pillar, and it’s a hefty load. Where record companies could invest existing capital into a recording project, the artist is now left holding the money bag. Most musicians I know can pull their existing capital out of their pockets, spread it on the counter, and then spend it all on gas, coffee, rent, and in support of other musicians. Some like cigarettes. I’m often found in bookstores. Mostly, it’s a hard, working-class life spent on the road, with little financial reward, and virtually no financial gain. So with that kind of capital, how can today’s working musician fund albums without the financial power and backing of the record companies?

Well, a few digital fundraising platforms arose to satisfy the need, and they place the financial power directly in the listener’s hands. In a sense, these platforms (collectively) are a short-cut around the record company, and place the musician and listener in direct contact. Frame the concept in terms of an investment in addition to a purchase, a “two-for” that’s good for the musician, and good for the listener. But what am I getting at? Simply put, I want to share three outstanding recording projects which I backed, with you. I hope that you’ll consider the investment too. With a little help from us, we can help launch projects that are valuable beyond the limited language of Finance, and become the recording music industry. Ladies first…

Caitlin Canty, “Reckless Skyline”

Zak Trojano, “Yesterday’s Sun”

Danny Schmidt, “Owls”

Rebel Darling T-Shirts!

3 Jul




Now you can sport the Rebel Darling in you with your own, made in the good ol’ USA, Rebel Darling tri-blend t-shirt with Harvest the Heart artwork (artwork by Nick Reinert).


Click Here to Purchase Yours…

Many thanks to the folks over at Troy Cloth and Paper for guiding me to a fine shirt, and setting up a precise print.

WEXT 97.7 FM 2014 Calendar Now Available

12 Dec

The calendar I mentioned in my prior post is now available. All the proceeds go to WEXT 97.7 FM to support their programming. All of the songwriters involved donated their time, though I can say that my shoot and tattoo session was a fun, somewhat painful, way to spend a day. The woman behind the lens is the woman behind it all. She pioneered this project, donating not only time, but equipment and talent too. That woman is Julia Zave at Julia Zave Photography. Thank you, Julia, even though you tried to persuade me into a much, much larger tattoo.

Here’s the photo from our shoot:



So pick up a calendar now, support the station (which you can stream here…), and hang some beautiful photography on your wall, all year long.



WEXT Calendar by Julia Zave Photography

Harvest the Heart – Now Available

3 Apr


Click here to listen / purchase “Harvest the Heart”


Well… I have the next LDR mostly written, but the content is already a month old. I likely scratch some of it, and start over. The “Harvest the Heart” CD Release Show has come and gone, and I’m disappointed with myself for not reaching out to you folks directly before the release. With the time crunch, I think I fell into the convenient trap of facebook and twitter promotion. I also had the great help of an advertisement on Nippertown, the Capital District’s (NY) premier arts blog, courtesy of my parents. Love you guys… I will say that the show itself was an incredible and overwhelming experience; we sold out Caffe Lena, an honor, and had to turn folks away at the door. That part was bittersweet. Some of you traveled more than three hours. I couldn’t shake the disappointment of watching faces I know being turned around. That tempered the excitement of filling each chair.

But, to turn it back around to the positive, the boys nailed the set and riveted those in attendance. Opener and friend Caitlin Canty played a lovely and captivating set, and it felt great to join her on stage for her tune, “Still Here“. All said and done, it was a memorable night that I seriously doubt I’ll forget. Many, many thanks to all of you for showing up.

It’ll be a while before “Harvest the Heart” is available on iTunes, or any of the other major players in digital downloading, but it is currently available on my Bandcamp page. You can purchase either digital downloads, or physical copies. You can also purchase physical copies directly from my website, www.mrpoulopoulos.com. For easy reference, here are the album details:

    MUSICIANS:

    M.R. Poulopoulos – Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar
    John Rice – Bass, Slide Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Harmony
    Tommy Krebs – Drums, Harmony, Percussion
    Roger Noyes – Pedal Steel, Lap Steel
    Laurence Scudder – Viola
    Ryan Dunham – Harmonica

    CREDITS:

    Engineer – John Rice
    Assistant Engineers – Tommy Krebs, John Rice
    Producers – John Rice, M.R. Poulopoulos
    Mixed by – John Rice, M.R. Poulopoulos
    Mastered by – John Rice
    “Reflection” Engineered and Mixed by Mitch Masterson, Swordpaw Studio

    Recorded at Hilltown Studio, Clarksville, NY
    “Reflection” Recorded live at Swordpaw Studio, Troy, NY – www.swordpaw.com

    Album Artwork by Nick Reinert – www.pixelsandpints.net
    Album Design by Matt Shortell – www.popinkdesign.com

    All Songs Written by M.R. Poulopoulos (BMI)



Click here to listen / purchase “Harvest the Heart”

Everyone involved in this project amazed me with their generous contributions of art and talent, their time and their support. I was reminded of just how much community it takes to compile a “solo” project. John, Tommy, Roger, Laurence, Ryan, Nick, Matt, Ian, Dylan and Mitch, thank you. I hope to someday be a part of the team that helps get you through to a goal.

Thanks so much, folks. I wouldn’t be able to do anything without your support and I hope to see you out there. Take a peek at the schedule below. Much love your way…

– Mike



Fresh outta the box

Friday, Saturday Shows in Albany, NY Area

18 Oct


Hey there, folks.

For those of you in the Albany, NY area, I have a pair of shows scheduled for this Friday and Saturday. I know I mentioned both these shows in LDR No. 19 a couple of weeks ago, but I’m very excited about both of them, and wanted to get the details in front of you one more time. For those of you outside the Albany area, get your car pool together, and head this way.

First up, and on Friday, I’ll join Mike Eck and Tom Lindsay of the Lost Radio Rounders to help unveil their latest CD, Heaven’s Radio: Gospel Songs of the Carter Family. I’m a featured singer on a couple of the tracks from the album, including my arrangement of “No Depression,” of which I’m proud. Songstress Kim Kilby (Tern Rounders), and harmonica master Ryan Dunham (Red Haired Strangers) are also featured on the disc and will be part of Friday’s celebration as well. As an added sweetener, you’ll get to hear the delightful harmony and bass runs of Bob Ristau and the fantastic fiddle stylings of Mat Kane, both of regional heavyweight Jim Gaudet and the Railroad Boys. I’m honored to have my name among these folks, and I can’t thank Tom and Mike enough for the invite.

Details:

    Heaven’s Radio CD Release Concert – 8:00 p.m.
    Steamer No. 10 Theatre
    500 Western Avenue
    Albany, NY 12203
    518-435-5503
    Price: $13 in advance, $15 day of show
    NOTE: Free CD with ticket purchase!!!
    DOUBLE NOTE: Click Here for Your Chance to Win Two Free Tickets!!!


Open Door Policy. Join Us…

On Saturday, I’ll have the fortune and honor to sit in with a few more of Albany’s top musicians: John Rice on bass & guitar, Tommy Krebs (Alta Mira) on drums, and Roger Noyes (Dan Johnson & The Expert Sidemen / Arch Stanton Quartet) on pedal steel. We’ll play select tunes from Greenhorn, and introduce a slew of new tunes that we’re test driving for the upcoming album, which I expect to release in early 2013.

The practices have been fun and they’ve also inspired arrangements that will certainly make it to the recording. It’s a satisfying and exciting experience to have talented musicians contribute to my tunes – especially in a live setting, and I’m looking forward to sharing that experience with y’all. It might be the only group performance before we settle into recording, so make sure you’re there.

Details:

    M.R. Poulopoulos, John Rice, Tommy Krebs and Roger Noyes – 7:00 p.m.
    More Bread and Jam
    130 Remsen Street
    Cohoes, NY 12047
    518-874-4272
    Suggested Donation: $5
    Facebook Event Page

The hope of hopes is that I’ll be seeing you folks at both shows – between the two, you’ll hear some of the finest musicians in the area – I’m a lucky guy this weekend. I recommend making it to at least one. We’re going to have a lot of fun, and more so if you join us.

Be in touch, and as always, thanks for everything…

– Mike


Bottom to Top, counter clock-wise: Wanda Fischer, Mike Eck,
Tom Lindsay, myself at WAMC studio for The Hudson River Sampler

The Low Down Review – No. 19

4 Oct



LtR – John Rice, myself and Laurence Scudder. Photo by Courtney “Coco” Blackwell

Summer-ville, MA: I had a hell of a good time out in the Boston area this summer. I took quite a few trips out there and raised hell at Porchfest, an informal outdoor festival in Somerville, shook my nerves at the venerable Club Passim in Cambridge, enjoyed the warm and receptive Toad, also in Cambridge, and let it out at the jovial Burren Backroom in Somerville. I even sat for a bit in Harvard Square’s subway station belting out tunes to the stomp of foot-traffic and hiss of train brakes, sneaking sips of whiskey between songs. Courtney Blackwell, the sweet voice in the Blackwell Sinners and on Greenhorn, snapped the above photo at Toad – one of my favorite gigs, and I was very fortunate to sit between two of my favorite, and excellent musicians.

Throughout the vast majority of those Boston gigs, you could hear Laurence Scudder and his viola, laying down melodies that span the globe. He strode with form and grace from Arabic scales to Appalachain flourishes. He’s a tasteful, attentive player and his resume lists him as a steady side-man to not only the Boston area’s finest song-writers and bands, but national acts as well. Here’s a link to a video in which Laurence joins the one-man music machine, Martin Sexton on stage for a hard hitting version of Sexton’s “Gypsy Woman.” For a few years, he toured with the jazz-folk-funk outfit, The Ryan Montbleau Band, and he’s put together some wonderful work for the up-and-coming Brothers McCann.


After Porchfest, it was easier to take the
Tonka to Toad

It’s clear that Laurence is an accomplished and skilled musician, but what I’ve come to know is that he’s a down-to-earth guy and, like I mentioned earlier, a hell of a lot of fun to hang with. He’s been a huge help in expanding my gigging range, and the reason I’ve been able to return to Boston time and again. Both he and John Rice (my tunes would still just be sitting on paper without Mr. Rice, and if you’ve seen me play, you’ve likely heard John’s versatile and learned melodic vocabulary) have taught me, through their example, how to listen and share while playing, and, quite simply, patience. So I’ve got to bring the go-to sidemen to the forefront and say, “Thanks, guys. This shit’s fun, and it wouldn’t be right without ya.”


At the ready..


Not So Desolate a Road: Located right on State Route 146, at 182 Main Street, in Altamont, NY, you’ll find Jim Miller’s Desolation Road Studios, a relatively undiscovered room for regional art and music in the Albany area. The studio space is a perfect size for a warm, acoustic performance, and he knows it. He set up cafe tables in the middle of the shop for listeners.

Recently, Jim constructed a custom frame for a photograph I took and wanted to give to a good friend as a wedding gift; I was honored to be the Best Man, a description a few folks would likely take issue with… He suggested that I consider barn wood for the frame, with a double mat for both depth of perspective and complimentary tonality in color. His suggestion sounded spot-on to me, and as you can see for yourself in the photo below, he did a beautiful job. And… I can tell you that his reasonable custom framing prices would send Michael’s into a fit of confusion. Plus, he’s a small business owner, so he invests himself in each project with dedication to detail; he knows his name travels with each frame and photograph.


A sample of Jim Miller’s framing talents

Pack the car full of folks, and head on out to Altamont and visit Jim (you can catch a wood fired pizza next door at Mio Vino). While at the Studio, pick up some hand-made jewelry or pottery, chat him up for your next framing project, and bring some beer or wine to one of the many shows he hosts on his intimate stage: I’ll return to Desolation Road for a pre-Christmas show on December 22nd. Simply put, Jim’s a good guy, and works hard to make sure that his customers are comfortable and pleased. Give him a go, and say hello for me.


From the Low Down: Tonight (Oct. 4), I’ll be back in Cherry Valley, NY for a two-hour set at The Rose and Kettle. The R&K has one of, if not the best prepared menus in the Capital District. Matt is a serious chef, and a laid-back guy, a righteous combination. Rumor has it that The Black Fox River Project’s lead man, Brad Towle might show for a few beers and a few songs (Check out his new EP at the link). It all goes down at 8:00 p.m., and it’s worth the short drive.

Taking a different track than I did this summer, I have a number of shows scattered around the Albany, NY area in the next few weeks – get complete details here… I’ll call attention to two shows listed, and they’re back-to-back. On Friday, October 19, help me celebrate months of hard work by the old-timey (but no where near old) guys in The Lost Radio Rounders at the Steamer No. 10 Theatre in Albany. You may recall that I’ve teamed up with these encyclopedic performers a couple of times and they’ve decided to release a selection of live recordings from those collaborations on a disc titled, Heaven’s Radio: Gospel Songs of the Carter Family. Here’s a note on the album release directly from their website:

“We’ve had this one professionally mastered, designed and printed; it looks spiffy and it sounds great. Please join us, along with special guests M.R. Poulopoulos and Kim Kilby (who are featured on the record along with harmonica man Ryan Dunham and bassist Cousin Clyde) for our CD Release Concert. This is going to be a wonderful evening in a real sit-down theater, and you’ll have an opportunity to get your own copy of the record. Please tell your friends. We’re very excited about this show.” Me too, guys… Check out all the details for the show here… Hope to see you there, and that you take a disc home.

The second show fits nicely into the new CD theme. I’ve begun pre-production work and practice on the next album (a collection of 10 new, original songs), and some fine players and I are filling out the tunes in order to develop a feel for how the album will sound. Join John Rice, Roger Noyes (Arch Stanton Quartet / Dan Johnson and The Expert Sidemen), Tommy Krebs (Alta Mira), and I on Saturday, October 20th at the recently re-opened More Bread & Jam Cafe in Cohoes, NY. We’re kicking that adventure off at 7:00 p.m., and you might want to bring some dancing shoes. A few of the tunes require them.

It needs to be said that I’m very excited about the songs on this next album, and that you should expect the above players as well as some additional musicians (including Scudder and his viola) to join on for the effort. I am constantly humbled and amazed by the talent that has been, and continues to be supportive of my music and efforts. These folks enrich not only the songs, but my life, and I’m hoping that I do the same for them.

A couple of weeks ago, I took a pen and notebook out to Northampton, MA and wrote a review of the Kelly Joe Phelps performance, and the good folks at Nippertown published the review. Read the review by clicking here…

I plan to be pretty busy over the next few months with recording, gigging, and the daily duties behind a towel and dish-soap, but I’m hoping that I can at least send out a few shorter updates on my whereabouts and to catch you up on how it’s all going (please share the same…). It may be a bit before I have the time to put together another LDR, but then again, that ain’t nothing new.

So, hopefully, I’ll see you out there, and as always, folks thanks for everything. Spread the word and share the song… I simply can’t do it without you.

– Mike

On the spot harmony to Dandelion Wine…

LtR – Jim Trick, Sierra West, Marinna Bell and myself at Club Passim.
Photo by Denise A. Maccaferri


If you would like to receive the Low Down Review via email, click here, or send an email to info@mrpoulopoulos.com

Kelly Joe Phelps Live – Review

14 Sep

Hey there, folks. I traveled out to Northampton, MA earlier this week to catch Kelly Joe Phelps‘ performance at the Iron Horse Music Hall. I was captivated by his presence and playing, and inspired to share my experience. I wrote a review of the show, and the folks over at the fine Albany arts and culture blog, Nippertown published the piece. Here’s an excerpt, with a link to the full article below it:

“Switching between an open-tuned steel National resonator and a standard-tuned Martin D-35 Johnny Cash Commemorative, Phelps became a river through which flowed blues, spiritual, country and gospel music, all of them caught up in soulful currents; at times a torrent of notes ran across a bluesy minor scale, and at others an inspirational and slow-moving cascade of vocals descended from the source of all major rivers.”

Click here for the full article…

campfire.

31 Aug

Hey, folks.

I just wanted to take a quick moment and remind y’all that I’m playing Club Passim’s campfire. festival this Saturday, starting at 1:30 p.m. I’ll sit for songs in the round with Jim Trick, Mariana Bell and Sierra West. There may very well be some last minute collaborations and inspirations up on stage, and considering the entire schedule and list of performers, you might want to change your Labor Day plans…

Now, I know it’s unlikely that any of you who’ve planned excursions for the extended weekend, and booked cottages and campsites for your own campfires will up and change those plans (though, I’m very grateful to you folks who’ve mentioned that you’re attending). So, I’ll mention that the cutting-edge folks at Passim have come up with a solution for you too: You can watch the entirety of the festival live and online at Concert Window. Grab a beer and tune into the tunes, and most of all, enjoy your weekend.

Quick Details:
M.R. Poulopoulos plays Club Passim’s campfire. festival
– Club Passim, 47 Palmer Street, Cambridge, MA 02138 – 617-492-7679
– 1:30 p.m. / Songs in the Round with Jim Trick, Mariana Bell, Sierra West
Buy Tickets ($10 day / $30 weekend)
Watch the festival live

Red Haired Strangers – The Hunt for Spruce: Larrivee Guitars

19 Mar

A while back, my good buddy, Red Haired Strangers writer, guitar-slinger and Greenhorn producer, John Rice told me he submitted a tune to Larrivée Guitars for use in a promotional video. It was an open call for tunes played on a Larrivée guitar, which John owns and plays.

After a while, John received some exciting news from John Larrivée, Jr., son of company founder, John Larrivée. The short story goes that Larrivée decided to use the Red Haired Strangers’ tune, “Pumpkin Hollow” (which you can hear, here…). Here’s Mr. Larrivée’s words: “The Red Haired Strangers are my kind of soup. I’m so glad you came forward with [the] ‘Pumpkin Hollow’ track, as it was the perfect piece I was looking for.” It’s a sweet tune, for sure…

Here’s the video:



As a side-note, I think John should get a new guitar outta this deal…