Tag Archives: radio

Behind the Scenes of WEXT’s 2014 Local 518 Calendar

3 Dec

As noted in the last Low Down Review, No. 24, I sat for a tattoo at Ms. Dixie’s Tattoo & Pin Up Parlour. What I didn’t mention was that the session doubled as a photo shoot for WEXT 97.7 FM‘s upcoming Local 518 Calendar, which will benefit the station and help cover operational costs – a worthy cause.

During the shoot, Monkfish Media Group‘s Kiki Vassilakis captured video footage of both the tattoo and the shoot in progress. Pair that footage up with a few sample still shots from Julia Zave Photography, mix it in with footage and shots from all the other calendar shoots, and you have a behind the scenes video. Presto:

PREVIEW: Behind The Scenes Of WEXT’s 2014 Local 518 Calendar! from Monkfish Media Group on Vimeo.

The Low Down Review – No. 17

10 May

Outdoor Orchestra: Once the warmer weather moved its way over to my doorstep, I started spending some time each morning out on the porch. Leaning on the rail, cup of coffee in hand, I listened to the robins sing out, the crows caw their way from tree line to tree line, the woodpeckers knock away the bark and bore down, and the house sparrows chirp and tweet. I listened through the din of the cars because the birds quieted down when they passed through. Many simply flew off.

With that as a day’s start, I found myself chatting with a buddy of mine about the messages one can find in nature’s sounds. That is, messages of warning from the birds, if the “peepers” suddenly go silent, if the crickets quit their fiddling, etc. I told the story about the time I turned around on a Yellowstone trail when the birds hushed, and the magpies tracked my every step. Armed with only a bowie knife and a bottle of water, I wasn’t about to explore that nervous tension.

Within minutes of the chat, I checked my email and found a review of Bernie Krause’s, “The Great Animal Orchestra,” (Little, Brown & Company) a book that calls on us to pay better attention to nature’s sound and music. Serendipity. After reading the review and sharing the coincidence with my buddy, I headed out to buy the book. Here’s the review – Jeremy Denk provides a descriptive, compelling and concise summary. Krause provides a compelling narrative as well, and I finished the book in under a work week.

There is quite a bit of what may be considered activism in the book. Specifically, a call to preserve what’s left of the planet’s wild spaces. To Krause, a healthy habitat exhibits rich and diverse sounds, and these sounds are fading. Some will undoubtedly hold his activism against him, but I can’t blame the man, and I certainly don’t hold it against him. Through the course of his four decade career, he’s experienced, first-hand, the deterioration of 50% of the habitat he used to visit to record. The man has been to just about every continent, as detailed in the book, so it’s not as though someone developed half of his backyard.

In fact, I share Krause’s concern with the disappearance of wild space (I touched on it briefly in LDR 12), but I hadn’t yet thought of it in detailed terms of soundscape. This past weekend, while hiking the Plotterkill Preserve in Rotterdam, NY, I decided to take a very close listen to my surroundings and what I experienced was dissonance between the visual and the aural. Take a look at the below picture. I snapped it while resting:

It’s a beautiful scene, right? A peaceful locale to sit and enjoy nature… Well, as Krause states in the book, a picture tells only part of the story. Here’s what you may not imagine when staring at the cascade: the pitched rumble of high-altitude jets, the thrum of the low-flying propeller planes, the popping compression of tractor-trailer air-brakes on the NYS Thruway, the gargle throat pipes of motorcycle “mufflers,” and the distant buzz of lawnmowers. When man-made noise peaked across the soundscape, it seemed that the birds simply gave up. Thinking back, I had always heard this, but I hadn’t actively experienced the dissonance. If the sounds fade, what messages are we missing? Krause answers the question with detail, acumen and a vibrant story-line.

Krause’s book gave language to thoughts that were brewing in my mind, and I thank him not only for the book, but also for all his work in recording nature’s symphony, or “biophony,” as he termed it. His experience with the Nez Perce origin of music story is a beautiful account of humility and awe; it floored me. Nature made the music first, and as Krause argues, we could do better by ourselves to open our ears and start listening to the song.

Remaining Bookish: I’m in the middle of refining a new tune. I’ve titled it “Comanche Moon” and found the lyrical content in two books: Larry McMurtry’s epic Western novel, “Lonesome Dove,” and the tremendous non-fictional account of the settlement of Texas and the forty-year battle with the Comanches, “Empire of the Summer Moon” by S. C. Gwynne – watch and listen to Gywnne describe his book here… If you haven’t read either of these books, I think the lyrics to “Comanche Moon” may provide you with a general feel. I’m hoping to bring this tune to a live performance in the next week or two. Read the lyrics to “Comanche Moon.”

Still working between the bookends, this summer, I’ll team up with buddy and longtime Palatypus collaborator, Matt Durfee, and some of the folks from Black Mountain Symphony, including Charles Burgess for a night of tunes from the Anti-Rent War. That’s right, the Anti-Rent War, a period of New York State history in which farmers revolted against the Van Rensselaer family, and feudalism by another name, the incomplete sale. We’re calling ourselves, “Big Thunder and the Anti-Rent Ramblers.” The research for this show has been a delight, and certainly an informative experience.

For the project, which is part of the Rensselaerville Festival of Writers, we’re using a book titled, “Tin Horns and Calico” written by Henry Christman. We’re using the lyrics found in the back of the book, and putting music to them – the heavy lifting done by Matt and Charlie. I’m working on an original tune for the show, assembling bits of the sweeping arc of the story together, and taking lead on a tune called, “The Landlord’s Lament,” a tongue-in-cheek, if not outright mocking tune told from a landlord’s perceived perspective.

Catch “Big Thunder and the Anti-Rent Ramblers” at the Palmer House Cafe, in Rensselaerville, NY on Friday, July 27th at 7:00 p.m. for a bit of NYS history, and a few beers.

SNEAKY NOTE: Matt Durfee is leaking new tracks from his upcoming solo album, “Little World.” Get yourself a listen…

From the Low Down: I’m happy to announce that the teasing I did in earlier LDRs was for good reason. I’ll be teaming up with folk phenoms, The Stray Birds for a show at the Moon and River Cafe on Monday, June 4, starting at 8:00 p.m. They debuted in the top 20 on the Folk Charts. Get there early; the seats will fill fast.

As you can see from the below schedule, I have quite a few shows on the near and distant stretches of the horizon. I’m excited about these shows too (I can’t tell you how honored I am that these folks have taken a chance on my tunes, or are welcoming me back); this Friday, I’m playing a show at a luthier’s co-op, a place which services and builds guitars, sells vintage instruments and serves beer. Such a great place to sing out a set… So it leads me to a question: do you folks want more information on individual shows listed here in the LDR? I take pride in sharing where I’ve been and what I’ve been up to with you folks, but I’m starting to think that it’s at the expense of what the future holds. Holler back at me, and let me know if y’all prefer more info on the up-and-coming.

I have more good news about the folks over at WEXT. They produce a great program where listeners can sign up to be the D.J. for an hour to share their own favorite tunes. A few weeks back, I was fortunate enough to head into the studio to record a segment and spin tunes by songwriters and musicians that have influenced and continue to inspire me. They titled the program “My Exit,” and you can listen in to my hour on Monday, May 28th at 8:00 p.m. as well as on Sunday, June 3rd at 10:00 a.m. For those of you outside of range, stream the station on the web here… I posted a quick note on my chosen set on the website and you can view that and the set-list here…

So, I think that’s it for now. Be sure to write back with suggestions on the LDR; I’m looking forward to chatting with you about it. And as always, folks thanks for everything. Spread the word and share the song… I simply can’t do it without you.

– Mike

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

WEXT – EXIT Dome 5

26 Jan

Hey, all. This Saturday, January 28th, I’ll head over to the WEXT studio to act as Court Jester for their fifth annual fundraising concert, “The EXIT Dome.” As Court Jester, I’ll play for you folks as you walk in and get yourselves situated. I’ll also play in between stage sets over by the merch table to keep the music flowing. I’ll have copies of Greenhorn sitting on that merch table…

I’m damn pleased to say that John Rice will join me with his always wondrous string slinging, be it on slide or simply picking. It’s good fun reinventing the tunes with John. We play them different each time, and he can definitely keep the melodies fresh.

The concert itself raises funds for the continued operation of WEXT, which defies conventional radio. They’re bound to play something that you’ve never heard before, or that tasty track you haven’t heard in a while. And… no commercials, y’all. It’s listener supported, so show your support by coming out to the EXIT Dome concert, or by making a donation…

Swing Sets West

13 Dec

This Thursday, I’m heading out to the western part of the state for a string of three shows. I’ll be playing in Rochester, a familiar city, but in a new location, Starry Nites Cafe. This is a relaxed setting – a little tight, but certainly relaxed and intimate – situated right in the University Neighborhood. Those folks were mighty kind to me when I stopped in for a bite to eat and a coffee on a Saturday afternoon late last Spring. Good people make for a good spot.

I’m hoping to meet up with friend and songwriter, Matt Sauer who struts on the guitar for The Indras. I owe a hell of a lot of good times to Matt; he’s put me up each time I’ve gone to Rochester to play shows, and I’ve been making the trip for about two years now. Matt is housemates with Corey (also of Indras notoriety) who is one of the funniest guys I know. His perspective on the current state of live music had me wiping tears with my sleeve.

After Rochester, I’m heading down to Montour Falls, NY to meet up and play with Palatypus band-mate, Matt Durfee’s brother, Travis Durfee for a night of songs at the Harvest Cafe. It’s a dinner show, and according to their website, they offer “the best chargrilled burgers in Northern Appalachia.” Alright, I’m in… They also claim to be home to the “most Vegan friendly menu in the region.” The region, y’all.

And on Saturday, I’ll drive a bit further west to Angelica, NY for another dinner set at the Black-Eyed Susan Acoustic Cafe. Co-owner, Don, has been a most gracious host, and I’ve yet to meet the guy. He’s reached out to contacts at WRUR radio, and says that they’ll be spinning tunes off Greenhorn. Nice. Thanks, Don. Their menu impressed me, and was certainly a factor in reaching out to them. After writing with Don a few times, I’m honored that they’re having me in to play. It seems to me that they’re particular about musical acts.

So, if you feel like taking a road trip for some good food, times and tunes, hop in the car and travel with. And if you know anyone out in Western New York, make sure you tell them to head on out and to introduce themselves…

In a bit, folks…

The Low Down Review – No. 13

26 Nov

Falling In Touch: Now that I’m sitting down to write, stomach still full and a bit dazed by Turkey Day gustational indulgences, I’m realizing just how busy I’ve been this Fall. I kept up a steady schedule of travel and shows, met some amazing musicians and songwriters, hit up delicious restaurants, and completely forgot to take pictures – not a single photograph… But, if I wasn’t playing, I was driving on the Thruway, chatting with someone about seemingly nothing, eating and drinking and laughing with them, sleeping in the guest room or on the couch, and in one case, nursing a migraine. A picture of my wincing face would have been pretty funny.

That migraine hit hard during a Saturday I spent at the Northeast Regional Folk Alliance (NERFA) Annual Conference held in Kerhonkson, NY. I intermittently passed out on the lobby couches, awoken each time by random bands of folks joining up to play a few tunes. I loved waking up that way, even though I had to squint my eyes and rub my temples – I couldn’t even think of picking up my guitar. The impromptu band would take a break, and I’d wander around the hotel for a bit, guzzling water, checking out showcases and industry exhibits until the headache forced me back down to a couch to close my eyes again. I missed all the guerilla showcases

I ended up leaving earlier than I hoped, but not before discovering The Stray Birds from just outside Lancaster, PA, and hanging out with Chris Castle, whom I joined for a set of tunes at The Moon and River Cafe a couple of months earlier when he traveled through with the amazing Womack Family Band. Check Chris, the Womacks and the Stray Birds out; you’ll be on the right side of great music and songwriting. They’re up-and-coming, y’all, and in a big way. Chris’ latest album was recorded and produced at Levon Helm Studios, and gets a little help from The Band (no link required)…

On a cool and clear Friday evening late last month, I played the opening set for soulful and strong-thumbed songstress, Danielle Miraglia’sBox of Troubles” CD Release Party up at the venerable Caffe Lena. She and her two sidemen on viola and bass put on a moving performance, with her tunes “Home” and “Another Round” as standouts. A friend of mine shed a tear during “Home.” No lie, Danielle is a powerful performer and talented songwriter, and is definitely worth catching if she’s traveling through your area. Here’s her schedule.

Danielle actually tipped me off to NERFA, and while I was too late in the game to snag a showcase of my own, I ended up talking time and again about house concerts while at the conference. Many of my songwriting friends and I commiserate over the dearth of listening rooms like Caffe Lena. As a dream, I’d like to someday open an acoustic listening room on Lark Street, but I’m skeptical as to whether Albany has the desire for such a venue.

In the meantime, I’ve been chatting with and learning about the folks who took the listening room idea directly to their homes. Folks across the country are hosting musicians in some of the best places to hear and experience live music, their livingrooms. As a songwriter trying to reach more ears than bodies, I’m currently attempting to incorporate as many house concerts into my schedule as possible, so if you think you’d like to hear the tunes from Greenhorn, and the new tunes I’m singing without the hassle of a noisy bar, drop me a line and we can work it out… Click the above “Concerts In Your Home” image, or click here to start a conversation…

On the Spotify: In addition to streaming my tunes on Pandora’s music genome project, you can now find me on the somewhat alternative and long-awaited in the U.S. internet streaming station, Spotify.

From what I’ve been reading and hearing from my friends, Spotify allows the listener more control over the music played. You can create and share playlists, you can listen to entire albums and artist catalogues, you can search by record labels, etc… There is also a radio feature that determines tracks based on selected genres and decades, which I think is an interesting approach to delivering a stream of music, and is a feature similar to Pandora’s service.

Personally, I’ve found Pandora very helpful for discovering new songwriters. The last LDR mentioned, Kelly Joe Phelps, and since then, Pandora delivered to me Harry Manx, Cliff Eberhardt, and Kevin Barker. I’ve dabbled a little with Spotify, but haven’t delved into its features enough to give you an opinion on the service. For now, I’m content to visit Pandora and let the tunes roll in – kinda like radio. Let me know if you try/use Spotify and share your experience. Oh, and this is apparently on the horizon…

From the Low Down: Today, Saturday, November 26th, is Small Business Saturday, a day dedicated to supporting the businesses that bring a unique cultural and economic identity to wherever you live. We have many such businesses here in New York’s Capital Region, and I’m hoping that as the holiday season begins, you venture into these shops. Capital District Local First, a non-profit dedicated to promoting the benefits of buying locally, is a helpful resource for discovering local businesses. They host a directory of local shops (I’m unsure of how current it is), so you should be able to find a bakery, accountant, mechanic, art gallery, realtor, restaurant, bookstore, etc…

Here are some music and art shops in the Capital Region that (cough, cough) just so happen to be locations where you can pick up a copy of “Greenhorn“:

I have a number of shows coming up, including a small tour out to the western part of New York. I’m hitting up one of my favorite cities, Rochester, before a swing down into the Finger Lakes Region for a show at the Harvest Cafe in Montour Falls, and then out to Angelica for a quiet evening at the Black-Eyed Susan Acoustic Cafe. I’m pretty excited about this swing west, and hope the snow goes easy on me while I’m out in the belt. So send a prayer for good weather, and a message to those you know out that way.

I’m also excited that Matt Durfee and I will join up for that Palatypus thing we do. We’ll open for the seductive and sultry bass thumpin’ Amy LaVere on Thursday, December 1 at Valentines in Albany, NY. It’ll be our second time opening for the noir-swinging wonder from Nashville. She stunned us all with her last performance, so be sure to make it a night out next week.

One last word to the wise: keep your ears tuned to The Exit 97.7 FM / www.exit977.org on Friday, December 2 at the 5:00 p.m. hour for a big announcement… And don’t forget that you can always request my tunes and others’ tunes by clicking here to visit their request form page.

And as always, folks, thanks for everything. Spread the word and share the song…

– Mike

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

Greenhorn on Spotify

5 Oct

In addition to Pandora’s internet radio and music genome music project, you can now find Greenhorn on Spotify. All the kids have been buzzing about it, and after a deluge in music submitted to the service and a subsequent delay in sorting, Greenhorn made the cut.

According to Wikipedia, Spotify “users can register either for free accounts supported by visual and radio-style advertising or for paid subscriptions without ads and with a range of extra features such as higher bitrate streams and offline access to music. A paid ‘Premium’ subscription is required to use Spotify on mobile devices.”

So go ahead folks, jump in and start splashing Greenhorn’s electric currents, and be sure to tip off your friends…

Greenhorn Spin

18 May

Rumor has is it that the DJs over at WEXT 97.7 FM in New York’s Capital Region recently spun tracks off Greenhorn. Head on over to EXT and request a track off of Greenhorn by clicking here…

I’ll testify that WEXT is an unexpected relief when surfing the Capital Region’s radio frequencies. Amidst all that I’ve heard before, I’m guaranteed to hear a tune for the first time when I dial in. So, be sure to settle in for a listen after requesting a track off of Greenhorn… And you can listen in from anywhere, if you’ve an internet connection – just click “Listen Live” in either Win Media or MP3 formats. Make sure you support a station that not only plays your requests, but exposes you to a wide variety of new music. As the station tags itself, leave regular radio behind… Click here to support WEXT…

And as a heads-up, I’ll be headed into the EXT studio Thursday afternoon to tape an interview and a few songs (I’m hoping John Rice and Courtney Blackwell join me in the studio). I’m unsure when the spot will air, but I’ll send the word out when I know it’s solid…

WCDB Radio Spot

11 Apr

Just a quick note and reminder on this afternoon’s radio spot on SUNY Albany’s WCDB – 90.9 FM. I’ll be joining Leon for his Monday You Can Fall Apart program, which is listed as “Shoegaze” music. I think it’s appropriate, since I often stare down at my tapping feet while I play. I’ll likely do so today with headphones on…

I’ll be chatting a bit about Greenhorn, which I’ll be sending out for duplication this week, and my weekend gigs – Friday at Moon and River in Schenectady (with Australian songwriter Travis Caudle), and Saturday at Inquiring Mind Bookstore in Saugerties. View more detailed info on my calendar by clicking here…

Palatypus at WEXT

10 Nov

Palatypus at WEXT

Matt Durfee, Chris Weink and I at the WEXT studio after our interview and performance for the 518 segment on the station.

Check out the broadcast on Sunday, November 14th at 11:00 am and again on Thursday, November 18th at 9:00 pm.

Here’s the link to WEXT where you can stream what they’re spinning…

Palatypus Heads Over to WEXT

9 Nov

Matt Durfee and I are headed into a radio station for the second time in as many weeks to record a spot for posterity and to promote the Birthday Bash Spectacular (Saturday, Nov. 20th).

This week, we’re headed straight to the WEXT studio just across the river from, and a bit north of Albany.

I’ll certainly post the details of the broadcast here and under Sounds and Sightings, so check back for the details.

In the meantime, you can stream WEXT anytime from anywhere by visiting their website… You can also catch the sound on the FM radio waves, if you’re in the Capital District, at 97.7 FM.