Five Years Gone – Knock on Wood

NE Underground 5 year (pic)It’s been written before that five years is a long time. And after five years of Northeast Underground blog posts (over 200 articles and counting!), few could imagine just how much has been covered, discussed and critiqued on this little slice of the Internet.

So on the occasion of the Northeast Underground’s fifth birthday, as a friendly reminder, let’s take a trip down memory lane.

In 2011 Northeast Underground…

In 2012…

In 2013…

In 2014…

In 2015…

  • Summer music festivals in Western Massachusetts like Stephen Kellogg’s Fifth Annual Family Barbecue, the Green River Festival, and Wilco’s Solid Sound Festival were discussed in a feature article.
  • King of Nowhere, the latest project from local musician Jesse French, was covered in a short profile.
  • And still more records were reviewed, including releases from The Ambiguities, Iron & Wine and the Blue Jean Committee.

Hopefully there will be much more to come in 2016 and beyond. Stay tuned.

Don’t forget to follow Northeast Underground on YouTube and Twitter:



Three for Crowds: Trio of Music Festivals Bringing Family Atmosphere to Western Mass

Green River Festival crowd (Photo credit: Jake Jacobson)The music festival, once a haven for the young, rebellious and sometimes nude, has become a family affair.

Forget Coachella, forget Bonnaroo, and forget Lollapalooza. This summer Western Massachusetts plays host to three different music festivals, all billed as prime destinations for the traveling music fan, and all organized to be as family friendly as possible.

Wilco’s Solid Sound Festival sets up shop at Mass MoCA in North Adams June 26-28. Also that weekend, roots rocker and Northampton native Stephen Kellogg brings his Fifth Annual Family Barbecue to his former hometown. And finally, July 10-12, the Green River Festival returns to the grounds of Greenfield Community College.

“I think there wasn’t any other option,” said Wilco bassist and multi-instrumentalist John Stirratt, when asked during a recent interview about the importance of the Solid Sound Festival being family friendly. “Lots of our fans have kids.”

Though held roughly every other year since its debut in 2010, the Solid Sound Festival is notable for more than just its accommodating attitude towards children. Being staged in and around the walls of a world-class contemporary art museum certainly helps the festival’s profile. And of course, there’s the fact that Solid Sound was founded and continues to be organized by a band instead of an organization or group of promoters.

“The idea of the festival dates back to 2008 when Wilco performed at Tanglewood, and the region was so welcoming,” says Deb Bernardini, who works as part of Wilco’s press team.

Since Tanglewood had such a packed schedule at the time, Jeff Tweedy and company were forced to look elsewhere for a venue to suit their future plan of finding a place where Wilco and its side-projects could perform over the course of a weekend. After settling on Mass MoCA as a location, the group has seen a consistent rise in attendance with each additional running of Solid Sound, including over eight thousand tickets sold for the event in 2013. But that success hasn’t stopped the band from experimenting with what activities to offer festival goers.

For example, in addition to music, Solid Sound also showcases a comedy stage, which in past years has featured appearances by Kristen Schaal,Hannibal Burress, Wyatt Cenac and many more. Comic and author John Hodgman, who appeared at the 2011 Solid Sound Festival, acts as host for the comedy stage and has even joined the staff, acting as an on-going collaborator.

Circus SmirkusPerhaps in a nod to the festival’s already “carnival-like” vibe, the Vermont-based Circus Smirkus has been added to the Solid Sound lineup for 2015. And, as always, a collection of special attractions will be featured alongside Mass MoCA’s own unique exhibits, giving attendees a look inside Wilco’s history and career.

Says Bernardini, “There are exhibits created by and pertaining to Wilco that can only be seen at Solid Sound including an interactive, fan-sourced Wilco timeline featuring ephemera, photos and recollections, as well as an opportunity for fans to stand on a recreated Wilco stage, complete with Wilco instruments, gear and stage backdrop.”

If that’s not enough reason to make the trip to northwestern Mass., there’s always the beauty of the area itself to appreciate and explore.

“With Wilco, we’ve been to a lot of festivals, big and small, and Solid Sound is sort of set apart by the fact that it’s in a really industrial immediate setting, nestled in the lush Berkshires,” concluded Stirratt. “You’re surrounded by brick and steel, but the green hills are right up against you. There really isn’t anywhere quite like North Adams.”

Conversely, according to former Paradise City resident Stephen Kellogg, there’s also no place quite like home. Though 2015 marks the first year Kellogg is bringing his Family Barbecue to Northampton, the delay has done little to diminish the love he has for the area that helped launch his career.

During a phone interview in May, Kellogg said, “When I think about my adventure, my arc through music, it all comes from Western Mass and Northampton.”

Stephen Kellogg (Photo courtesy of IHEG)

Stephen Kellogg (Photo courtesy of IHEG)

Whether logging time as an employee with the Iron Horse Music Group or meeting his fellow Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers’ band mates during his time at UMass Amherst, the facts seem to back up Kellogg’s claim. It just took a few years for the musician to work out the logistics of bringing his own brand of music festival back home.

Conceived of as an answer to the question, “What would I want to do with my favorite bands?” The inaugural SK Family Barbecue was held in 2011 in Connecticut. Featuring performances by Kellogg and the Sixers, the aforementioned barbecue, as well as a variety of field games like the three-legged race, a water balloon toss, the egg on the spoon and more, the basic elements of the festival appeared to be in place. However, subsequent editions of the gathering have undergone a continual evolution.

“Well, the thing is I’m not an event planner. I’m a musician,” laughed Kellogg. “We’ve made mistakes over the years, and probably one of the things that my friend who runs a really successful festival over in the U.K. said is, ‘The most important thing Stephen, is to keep the same location and to keep the same weekend every year.’ Well, we’ve done it five years and we’ve been in three locations, and we have almost never fallen on the same weekend. So, I get an F there for following the road map for how to have a successful festival.”

“But,” he added. “That’s always the biggest challenge because you pick a weekend, you pick a location…and I wanted to do it in Northampton this year because I thought this is where I got my start. If I was going to see one of my favorite artists, I think it would be interesting to go back to see where they began their career and kind of get to scope that out.”

To that end, not content to just play music and grab some burgers with his fans, Kellogg has also incorporated a trivia game show into the list of barbecue activities, so attendees can learn more about him and his music. Additionally, for the first time this year, he’ll be offering a guided walking tour of Northampton, so festival goers can check out some of his old local haunts.

Kellogg said, “I think people will enjoy it, not just because it’s me, but because it’s a chance to see the town and it’s such an amazing town.”

Another local connection Kellogg is mining for his barbecue this year is musical talent. In addition to playing solo during a pair of scheduled concerts over the weekend, Kellogg will perform alongside Chris Culos of the band O.A.R., as well as Pioneer Valley musician Dennis Crommett, who Kellogg describes as playing, “in like 20 bands there in town.”

Appropriately enough, one of Crommett’s bands Spanish For Hitchhiking released its latest album, Night Alerts, in April, which included a song called “Make It Count.”

Featuring lyrics like, “It takes time / to grow this from a seed,” the number brings to mind a ready-made analogy for the SK Family Barbecue. It may have taken five years for Kellogg to bring such an event to his hometown, but the experience – kids, families, music, and all – seems to be right where he wants it to be.

“We could grow it into more, but it would become something else. It would be a different thing,” Kellogg said. “The goal is to keep it intentionally intimate because I want the people that want to be part of this sort of intimate experience to be there. I’d rather give 225 people a weekend they’ll never forget, than 500 or 600 people just a cool summer concert.”

Lucius performs at the Green River Festival 2014 at Greenfield Community College in Greenfield MA.

Lucius performs at the Green River Festival 2014 at Greenfield Community College (Photo credit: Doug Mason)

Speaking of cool summer concerts, the Green River Festival is no longer one of the best kept secrets in Western Mass. Named one of 2015’s 50 Must-See Music Festivals by Rolling Stone, Green River has achieved national acclaim. However, to hear Jim Olsen, head of Signature Sounds Recordings which took over management of Green River in 2014 tell it, the event still possesses a unique local charm that can hook newcomers and delight festival veterans alike.

During an interview in May he said, “The Green River Festival feels like a music festival merged with a really great neighborhood block party. People tend to come in groups with the kids – 10 and under get in free – friends and family. You bump into your co-workers, friends you haven’t seen in a while and you meet new friends. I even know several couples who met at the festival. Everyone is there for a good time. When you add three stages of world class music and the best local food, beer, crafts and great kids’ activities, it just gets better.”

While bigger and better might be Green River’s calling cards at present, its humble beginnings tell a story of slow progression and hard-earned success.

“The festival was started 29 years ago when two separate events were held on consecutive weekends at Greenfield Community College,” recalled Olsen. “The first was a fifth birthday concert for local radio station WRSI featuring NRBQ and 10,000 Maniacs. The following weekend was the first Up Country Hot Air Balloon Fair presented by the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce. Over the next few years the balloon festival started presenting music artists as well. It took many years for the festival to grow into the large event it has become.”

Hot air balloons are still a big attraction at the Green River Festival, and the sight of dozens of the crafts soaring through the sky around Greenfield and beyond on a warm summer day is often a highlight of the season. But festival attendees don’t have to look far for other activities to draw their interest.

This year’s Green River Festival will also feature circus performers, Frisbee trick dogs and a three-hole Frisbee golf course, a swimming area, a musical instrument petting zoo, a Mardi Gras style parade through the festival grounds, and more. Those wishing to check out The Maker’s Market can get their fill of local crafts, but tying everything together is the opportunity to hear a variety of great music.

TuneYards_2 (Credit Holly Andres)

Tune-Yards (Photo credit: Holly Andres)

Over 40 bands are scheduled to play over the course of the weekend. Acts like Tune-Yards will bring a more experimental sound, while others like Antibalas and Red Baraat will showcase different styles of world music. Of course, since Rolling Stone cited Green River’s   “relaxed, guitar-centric vibe where you’ll more likely spot a fiddle than a turntable,” the spotlight is still on roots-based acts like Steve Earle and The Dukes as well as the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, which should have no problem entertaining the five to six thousand people expected to pass through the festival gates daily.

Olsen said, “I think the way Green River Festival is different is that it has a really special kind of energy. I think it’s due to the fact that it doesn’t have a giant audience or huge, crowded campgrounds and the hassle factor of so many of the big festivals. Everyone is there for the day only and are there to enjoy themselves. It’s just such a great atmosphere.”

Indeed, atmosphere is a word used often to describe, not just music festivals, but also any location or gathering that elicits observable feelings and emotions. Details can be forgotten, and events can lose their vibrancy to time and distance. But the memories that stick are the products of atmosphere. Fill up a dozen scrapbooks or download a thousand images, yet you’ll probably still always be chasing the vibe of a sunny summer afternoon, when the wind turned just right and music played from a stage hit you like a wave, cresting over your shoulders before receding from the present and into the past.

“As we become a more wired, less connected society, these kinds of events are more important than ever,” Olsen mused. “A festival is place to go to connect with your people, sharing something you love in real time.”

Solid Sound Festival featuring Wilco, John Hodgman, NRBQ and more, June 26-28, $50-149, Mass MoCA, 1040 Mass MoCA Way, North Adams, (413) 664-4481,

Stephen Kellogg’s Fifth Annual Family Barbecue featuring field games, trivia game show, children’s concert, and two nights of music with performances by Stephen Kellogg, Chris Culos (O.A.R.), Dennis Crommett (Spanish For Hitchhiking) and more, June 26-28, $125, Iron Horse Music Hall, 20 Center St., Northampton, (413) 586-8686,, as well as other various locations in and around Northampton,

Green River Festival featuring Steve Earle, Tune-Yards, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and more, July 10: gates open at 5 p.m.; July 11: gates open at 12 p.m. and balloons launch at 6 p.m.; July 12: balloons launch at 6 a.m. and gates open at 12 p.m.., free/ kids, $20-100/ general, Greenfield Community College, One College Dr., Greenfield, (413) 341-3317,

Plus, don’t forget to follow Northeast Underground on YouTube and Twitter:

youtube_icon twitter_icon

Fashion People Records Ready to Strut Its Stuff at Northampton Launch Party

Fashion People LOGOFashion and music have always been intertwined.

From the jean-wearing, slick-haired rockers of the ‘50s to the long-haired, flower-sporting hippies of the ‘60s, on to the stylish duds of disco dancers, the leather-clad and provocatively pierced toughs of the punk era, through new wave spandex and big hair, flannel-prone grunge stars, the anything-goes ‘90s, and all the way to the present. Now a record label has sprung up in Western Mass that once again merges the two art forms at least in name.

Fashion People Records of Amherst is the brainchild of musicians and friends Ian Coss, Alex Chakour, and Howie Feibusch. Named after a phrase from Coss and Chakour’s high school days, when after rehearsal as members of the pit band for a school musical the pair began jamming in a basement to a song with only the words “Fashion People Go,” the label sprouted into being 10 years later when Coss and Chakour joined forces with Feibusch ready to pool their combined knowledge into a single concentrated effort.

The hope, according to a press release from Fashion People, is to “remain a site of music production,” that supports artists and helps them make records “all the way through pressing and distribution,” using its members skills and resources to share the work load.

To learn more, Northeast Underground caught up with Fashion People’s Ian Coss via e-mail, and asked him to share some of the history behind this new Pioneer Valley record label and to give a preview of what music fans might expect next from Fashion People. Read below to see what he had to say.

Underground: How would you describe the process of starting a record label?

Coss: The process of starting label was basically a lot of talk at first. In this day and age, it is pretty easy to start a label on paper: just make a logo and a Facebook page and you have a label. It got serious when it was time to put down real money. Our main cost was mastering and pressing the three releases we will be showcasing at the Iron Horse. Laying out that money was of course disconcerting, but it felt better doing that as a group. We knew we were all committed to the music and to each other, and now that the money is spent and the records are here, we are all doubly motivated to make it happen.

What were some things you wished you knew before you embarked on such a venture?

What do I wish I’d known…I wish I’d known that I could have done this before. I have played with so many bands and put out so many records without any kind of label support. When you self-release an album, you are your own label and you have to do all the work a label would do. Fashion People Records is basically a way for artists to share that work and pool their resources to everyone’s benefit. Even in our short operating history, we have all seen real gains and opportunities from that collective structure.

Watch the video for the song “Ten Days” by Ian Coss here:

Walk me through the operation of Fashion People. How does the label work with bands and artists? What services does Fashion People offer?

In terms of the label operations, we each bring our own skills to the table and tend to split the work along those lines. Alex [Chakour] is obviously focused on the studio work. Howie [Feibusch] has a background in visual art so he handles the graphic design and website. I am organized and I like writing, so I am generally in charge of PR and finances. These aren’t exactly job titles, just the roles we have carved out for ourselves. No one was willing to take on the role of social media czar, so we split it three ways: one person for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. For now, it is just the three of us, making it work alongside our other responsibilities and projects. The model of the label has always been full service: from production to pressing to distribution.

How would you characterize the label’s evolution?

The label is in such an early stage that it can’t help but evolve quickly. As I mentioned earlier, the label was founded by artists as a way to share in the logistical and financial burdens of making records. The next step is to expand our artist base beyond that group of founding artists, while still maintaining the same level of mutual cooperation and commitment. We are actively working to bring new talent into the FPR fold, but I’d rather not mention specific names.

What are some future projects or recordings the label has planned?

One project we have planned is removing every scrap of equipment from the recording studio, knocking down some walls, and making a nice space for the next round of recording.

What might the audience at the Iron Horse launch party on Friday expect or not expect from the record release show?

The release show is going to be a lot of new music crammed into one night, and a testament to what musicians can do if they work together.

Fashion People Records’ Launch and Triple Record Release Party featuring performances by Howard, Ian Coss and Temporary Friends, Dec. 12, $8-10, 10 p.m., Iron Horse Music Hall, 20 Center St., Northampton,(413) 586-8686,

For more information on Fashion People Records please visit or

Plus, don’t forget to follow Northeast Underground on YouTube and Twitter:


Gone to the Dogs: How Doug Ratner Made Helping Canines His Business

Doug and JessieFor Doug Ratner, dogs are more than just good pets – they’re serious business.

As the founder of the website, Ratner, who many Western Mass music fans might recognize from his role as guitarist and vocalist in the band Doug Ratner and the Watchmen, operates a one-stop retail site committed to providing dog (and cat) inspired apparel and accessories to animal lovers worldwide.

T-shirts, tank tops, coffee mugs – all these items can be purchased via, complete with the site’s slogan and the customers’ choice of one of 20 different dog breeds or a more neutral paw print. Not too bad for a business whose origin stems from a single song.

That song, “Dogs,” was written by Ratner in February of 2013 as a potential track for his group’s latest album Run With Me.

“As I recall, we were having really bad weather and I couldn’t do anything but write,” says Ratner. “I had my SG in my hands and I was working on this Keith Richards type of riff over and over. I knew it was catchy but I needed to give form to the song. So I just looked to my right and there was Oggy [Ratner’s German Shepherd] sitting right next to me, giving me that adorable dog look and I just started singing, ‘I’d rather be with my dogs, than be with you girl,’ just like that.”

Thus, the seeds for were planted.

After recording a demo of “Dogs,” Ratner refined the song with the assistance of producer Ben Jons of Stillwork recording studio in Holyoke. The tempo and certain lyrics on the track were worked on, but important emphasis was placed on making the number feel relatable to all listeners, not just dog lovers.

Ratner says, “Ben kept telling me, ‘Try and write the song for someone who doesn’t love dogs. Make it a break up song for the ages. The dogs angle is very unique and so now make it universal.’ He challenged me as a writer more than anybody has in my entire life.”

Challenge or no, the approach worked. By tapping into his very real love of canines, Ratner struck a nerve with his listeners. Soon he was producing music videos for different animal shelters and humane society organizations across the country using “Dogs” as each video’s soundtrack.

Watch one of Doug Ratner’s videos featuring “Dogs” here:

The response the videos received was so supportive Ratner decided to take the plunge and form his own business. In order to support such charities directly, Ratner vowed to donate portions of the proceeds from to each group in exchange for promotion of his site and its products.

“My biggest passions in life are music, animals, and connecting with people,” says Ratner. “In some bizarre way, this business combines all three.”

One such charity that has benefitted from working with Ratner already is Peaceful Passings Senior Animal Rescue in Virginia, run by former Pioneer Valley resident Jackie Meyers. Peaceful Passings is a home-based rescue shelter, whose mission is to save senior and hospice animals by providing care for them in a home-like environment and by educating the public with grief counseling programs as well as other educational materials.

Meyers first met Ratner when he emailed her to ask for some dog photos he could use in a music video for the Grey Muzzle Organization, a group dedicated to improving the lives of at-risk senior dogs. Meyers passed along some images, and after viewing the finished video was blown away by Ratner’s work.

“I loved it immediately,” she says of the video. “Not just because our dogs were featured, but I love the song and the whole presentation. I was very, very, impressed with his work.”

In fact, Meyers was so impressed she soon agreed to advertise to Peaceful Passings’ supporters.

She says, “Doug’s products have given animal lovers and rescuers a way to express to the world their true feelings about their beloved animal companions. Our followers and supporters have told me how happy they are with the relationship that I have formed with Doug because they feel that he is of the same mind and heart as they are. People relate to Doug via the message he sends through his art.”

DR Dog fan pic 2 (color) edit

I’d Rather Be With My Dog fans Lucy and Leroy pose with a friend (Photo courtesy of Doug Ratner)

The next step for Ratner is to spread his message to a larger audience. To do so, the “rock ‘n’ roller” turned animal advocate will be spreading the word about on the Home Shopping Network’s “Pet Hour” on August 18th at 6 a.m. and 10 a.m.

“I’ll have my guitar and I’ll be singing the song [“Dogs”],” says Ratner. “They’re even going to have a dog on from the local shelter for me to hang out with. I’ll tell the story, talk about the business and of course, sell the products.”

Other future plans include a line of “I’d Rather Be With My Dog Treats” that Ratner says he’ll be coming out with soon, which will consist of high quality ingredients and will be grain, gluten and soy free. For dog owners, Ratner says “I’d Rather Be With My Dog” hoodies and long-sleeve shirts are in the works. And as always, will continue to expand its selection of breeds so each product can be customized for customers who want to show their love for a specific canine.

“When someone buys any I’d Rather Be With My Dog product, it’s more than just buying an item with your dog on it, it’s emotionally connecting with the idea that your dog is truly part of your existence in a very deep way,” says Ratner. “Of course I personally feel this way, and always have, so it’s a beautiful thing for me to connect with my fans and customers on the same level. A dog possesses almost all of the qualities we strive for in the human race. They can teach us more than we know and if we just stop to take the time and appreciate their beauty, the world would be a better place.”

Doug Ratner appears on the Home Shopping Network’s “Pet Hour” on Aug. 18 at 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. EST

For more information please visit For more on Peaceful Passings please visit

Plus, don’t forget to follow the Northeast Underground on YouTube and Twitter:


Shatter-proof: Lindsey Stirling Stays Motivated with New Album, Tour

Lindsey Stirling (Photo credit Eric Ryan Anderson) (400 px)

Lindsey Stirling (Photo credit Eric Ryan Anderson)

Today, getting eliminated from a television reality show can sometimes be a great career move.

Winning a competition-based series like “American Idol” or “So You Think You Can Dance” doesn’t always translate into real-world success. And for those former contestants with enough determination to succeed, the exposure gained from performing in front of such a large audience might be just the lift they need to continue the pursuit of their dreams.

Take for example, the case of Lindsey Stirling. Branded as a “hip-hop violinist” during her 2010 stint on the program “America’s Got Talent,” Stirling was able to make the show’s quarter-finals. However, after leaving “Talent” the young musician has gone on to even greater success releasing two critically-acclaimed albums and completing multiple global tours.

Northeast Underground recently got the chance to catch up with Stirling via e-mail just prior to the release of her second record Shatter Me, which she’s currently promoting with a worldwide tour. Read below to check out highlights from the conversation.

Underground: First off, what led to your study of the violin? What is your musical background?

Stirling: Though not musicians themselves, my parents were both avid music enthusiasts. The moment any of us expressed any kind of interest in an instrument, my mom especially encouraged us and helped us in working towards whatever endeavors we wished. My sister Brooke picked up the cello and Jennifer still plays trumpet professionally. I was attracted to the violin because when I was young, my dad would take our family to free orchestra concerts at the park. It didn’t take long for me to figure out who the stars of the orchestra were! Then one day I saw Itzhak Perlman on Sesame Street and I was sold! At six years old, I started begging my parents for lessons.

What was your first impression of performing live?

As a child I loved the attention I got from playing at recitals. In high school I craved the “high” of performing on stage and started playing in a band called “Stomp on Melvin.” My first major solo performance was for the America’s Junior Miss Pageant. In an attempt to impress the judges, I wrote my own “rock” song and added dance moves for added appeal. Well…it worked (I won!) I absolutely loved it; couldn’t wait to get on stage again.

How would you describe the experience of performing solo concerts now?

Touring is a dream come true for me. I absolutely love the energy that comes from having a live audience; I feel like that energy brings out my best. It’s euphoric; there’s nothing like it. Granted I always get a little nervous right before I perform, but once I’m on stage there’s nowhere else I’d rather be.

How would you characterize the audience reaction to your music and shows?

Every show is a little different, especially when comparing continents haha. But I have to admit, I have some of the most genuine, energetic, Best. Fans. Ever. It still blows my mind that enough people are excited and willing to pay to come see me perform, and that they keep coming back. I’m so very grateful for their support and for the energy that they bring to my shows.

What goes through your mind when you perform?

When I’m in “the zone,” nothing haha. Just pure joy and appreciation for what I am able to do, what I am able to give, and [the] exchange of energy between myself and the audience. It’s a beautiful thing

What do you think about collaborating with other artists? You’ve worked with Pentatonix, John Legend, and more. How do these collaborations come about?

I have always felt that collaborations were important. First of all, they are SO much fun! I’m a solo act, so whenever I get to duet, etc. with another artist I absolutely love it. I love people, love meeting people, love making new friends. Secondly, it was absolutely critical to my success early-on as a musician. Collaborating with another artist meant that I would be seen by their fans, many of whom would become my fans too. And vice versa. It’s a win-win all around.

Watch Lindsey Stirling and Pentatonix perform a cover of Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive” here:

What is your personal songwriting process like? How does your process differ when you work with others?

Some artists are super easy to collab with. When I really click with an artist, it seriously feels like we are reading each other’s minds as we exchange ideas and write haha. Normally when I work with producers, I like to go into the studio and then we start throwing out ideas/working together to create a track. If I can’t get into the studio, sometimes a producer will send me a bunch of ideas, I pick ones I like, and we go from there.

What’s it like to dance while performing music? Do you prepare in any special way to keep fit for your shows?

Haha…yeah. Actually I just started rehearsing for my upcoming tour and WOW. I realized how outta shape I am. Soooooo I bought myself some running shoes 😛

How do you feel now about your time spent on “America’s Got Talent”? How did you feel about your time on the show during its filming?

At the time I was excited to be on the show; taking it all in. I was anxious, nervous, excited, shocked…it was a huge learning experience, and I’m so grateful for it. The rejection was devastating, but it ultimately fueled my desire to prove them wrong.

What do you make of your role in the realm of social media? Your use of YouTube has had a noticeable impact on your career.

Social media has made all the difference. I didn’t have a manager or TV promotion or an agent or money or…anything. Starting out, I was totally self-promoted through YouTube and through the collaborations I did with other artists, starting with Devin Graham. He helped me create my first music video and promoted me on his channel. His fans became my first fans. And everything snowballed from there.

How would you describe your current sound?

EDM, electronic, dubstep, classical crossover

How has your music evolved?

My biggest challenge in creating my second album was making it sound “different” without losing “my” sound. I worked with several different producers on this album as well as several collabs. This album is the first time I have ever done any original songs with singers or lyrics. My music has always had a message/meaning, but being able to spell out exactly what I’m trying to say has been a very unique experience for me.

Watch the official video for “Shatter Me” by Lindsey Stirling and featuring Lzzy Hale of Halestorm here:

What might audiences expect or not expect at a typical Lindsey Stirling show?

You can expect to see a dancing violinist, Drew [Steen] on drums and Gavi [aka Jason Gaviati] on keys, I’ve got several backup dancers lined up, awesome lights, an amazing set, stellar music (if I do say so myself). Can’t miss! 😀

What are some future projects or recordings you have planned?

I would love to do a Christmas album and possibly release a “covers” album in the near future. I’d love to collaborate with some of my favorite artists like Ellie Goulding, Hayley Williams, Amy Lee, David Guetta…

Anything personally you would you like to talk about or maybe elaborate on?

If you want to check out my music please visit YouTube (lindseystomp). And my behind-the-scenes channel will give you some laughs; you can find it at lindseytime.

What are some final thoughts you would like to share with the readers of this article?

Thank you for taking the time to read this article about me haha. Hope to see you on tour!

For more information on Lindsey Stirling please visit

Plus, don’t forget to follow the Northeast Underground on YouTube and Twitter:


No Regrets – an interview with Joanna Bolme of Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks

Jicks Woods - Leah Nash (resize)

Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks (Photo credit: Leah Nash)

Back in January, this blog posted a review of the new Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks’ album Wig Out at Jagbags.

Filled with observations on the record’s numerous “references to the West Coast,” and many tracks’ “eminently hummable choruses and clever couplets,” that article, as it turns out, was only the beginning, eventually resulting in this story posted on and featuring quotes from an interview this writer completed via e-mail with Jicks’ bassist Joanna Bolme (see picture, second from right).

Now, with the Jicks’ tour arriving in the East this week for shows scheduled in Boston and New York, the Northeast Underground proudly presents its entire interview with Bolme including portions that weren’t used in the finished article mentioned above. Scroll below to check it out!

Underground: First off, where I am reaching you for this interview? Are you at home or between gigs on the road?

Bolme: Home, but we just loaded the van and we’re about to head to Denver.

Your band’s last album, Mirror Traffic, was produced by Beck. But this time, the group chose to co-produce alongside Remko Schouten. What was the reasoning behind this decision, and what, if anything did this change about the recording process? Any regrets?

No regrets at all! We’ve almost always chosen to work with an engineer and produce the records ourselves. Mirror Traffic was a conscious decision to have another person’s voice in the mix. Remko has been doing our live sound in Europe since we began, and before that he did sound for Pavement. He probably knows more than anyone how we like to sound, it moved fast, it’s got a live vibe.

How has your experience as a recording engineer influenced your approach to cutting an album in the studio?

I don’t think it’s changed my approach too much, I’m old fashioned, still use my ears. I never got into Pro Tools too much, although I appreciate what you can do with it. Some engineers can get caught up looking at the waveforms instead of listening. That’s weird to me.

What is the band’s songwriting process like? How is it different or similar compared to your personal way of writing?

Steve [Malkmus] writes the songs, he brings them in either as riffs he just came up with or fully realized demos with most of the parts worked out. We play them until they turn into a Jicks song. I’m not much of a songwriter myself, but we all usually contribute with the arrangement and editing at some point. Like, “This part would have more impact if it only happened once,” or “That riff is my favorite we should stretch it out,” kind of stuff.

How would you describe the reaction you’ve had to this new material on Jagbags?

I’m glad people like it. We had a great time making it. I guess that’s coming through.

Watch the official video for “Cinnamon and Lesbians” by Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks here:

Has the band been playing a lot of new stuff on tour, or are you just mixing in a few select cuts alongside the older tunes?

Despite having about seven or eight new songs we’re working on, we have only played one of them live so far. I suspect that once Steve can remember the tuning he used for the other ones, they will start to pop up in the sets.

What might audiences expect and not expect at a typical Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks show?

Expect some shredding, maybe an unlikely cover song, maybe a Pavement song and some topical stage banter. Don’t expect the banter to make any sense.

What are some future projects or recordings you and the band have planned?

Private soirees for foreign diplomats.

For more information on Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks or to see future tour dates please visit

Plus, don’t forget to follow the Northeast Underground on YouTube and Twitter:


Joanna Bolme gears up for tour with Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks – February 13, 2014

Joanna Bolme gears up for tour with Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks – February 13, 2014

Joanna Bolme Prepares for Tour with Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks - Concert Preview - Hear Nebraska (double-size)