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NYC High School Bands' Benefit Concert, a Conversation With the Waterboys' Mike Scott, Plus TV Snow and Yusif Exclusives

Posted: 12/10/2012 12:02 am

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NYC HIGH SCHOOL BANDS BAND TOGETHER FOR BENEFIT SHOW

As NYC's school system recovers from the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, some of the city's finest high school talent will be performing a benefit concert at Webster Hall this Saturday, December 15 at 2:30 to help with the relief process. The concert is intended to raise awareness, especially among young people, as well as funds for public schools damaged by the storm. The concert will be held in The Marlin Room, and the proceeds from the show will go to The Fund for Public Schools that has a designated fund for public schools impacted by Hurricane Sandy.

The bands comprise of both public and private school students. So far, the roster includes The Box Story, Ari Zizzo, Chasing Rockets, Jappy, The Antic and Jill Blutt, with special guests lining up as well. "A lot of New York City kids have wanted to get involved in the Sandy relief efforts but haven't known how to help," says one of the show's producers, Noah Chenfeld, who is a Beacon Hill student and lead singer of The Box Story. "We felt this concert was a great opportunity to come together for an important cause and lets kids know, through our music and our actions, that other kids care."

A focus on the cause will continue past the concert as representatives from StudentsforService will be at the event to highlight volunteer rockstars and provide students with additional volunteer opportunities to keep the cause rockin' on.

For more information: https://www.facebook.com/events/519999704679953/?fref=ts

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TV SNOW'S FREE DOWNLOAD WITH GOING "DOWNTOWN"

Just in time for the holidays, here is an exclusive free download of the track "Downtown" from West Australia's TV Snow. The track appears on the quartet's debut full-length, Red, which will be available digitally this week. Reflective of the group's coastal Australian geography, the music is sunny and showcases TV Snow's love of catchy hooks and indie rock rhythms.

Red is composed of both brand new material and re-recorded/re-mixed versions of songs from their well-received 2011 EP. Tragically, the day after recording Red was wrapped, the band's new bass player, Ben Linden, was fatally attacked by a shark while surfing. The album's title pays homage to Linden's nickname.

The group has recently wrapped filming of a video for the song, which will premiere shortly, and are planning to hit the U.S. next Spring in time for SXSW.


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A Conversation With The Waterboys' Mike Scott

Mike Ragogna: Hi, Mike Scott of The Waterboys.

Mike Scott: How are you doing, Michael?

MR: I'm pretty well... you?

MS: I'm not too bad. I'm in New York, it's very cold.

MR: What's the temperature?

MS: Just above zero, I think. Maybe three or four.

MR: Okay, well, you have the warmth and love of Fairfield, Iowa, nay, the whole Midwest, reaching out to you. How about that?

MS: Thank you, thank you!

MR: [laughs] So, Mike, you have a new album, An Appointment With Mister Yeats. What inspired this album? Can you give us the history of this relationship or identification you have with William Butler Yeats?

MS: I sure can. W. B. Yeats is Ireland's national poet, one of the greatest poets of the English language. I've enjoyed his poetry for a long time, since I was a young man. I often noticed that his poems rhyme and scan so beautifully that they lent themselves to being set to music. I first turned one of Yeats' poems into song in 1988; that was "The Stolen Child," which was on The Waterboys' Fisherman's Blues album, and over the years, I've kept my hand in with Yeats. I keep his poetry by my piano and from time to time, I would set another one of his poems to music and then six months later, another, and then a few years later, another, and finally, I had enough of his poems turned into love songs that I could create a stage show and an album. And here it is.

MR: And would these represent your favorites of Yeats' work?

MS: Well, some of them are, but I was very methodical in how I did this. I'd keep his poetry book by the piano and I would work through it from page one going through it, every single poem, whether I liked them then or now, regardless of my own personal preferences, and if the poem suggested a tune in its first couple of lines, I would continue with it, and if it didn't suggest a tune, I'd go onto the next poem.

MR: I feel like in the stages where people are starting to discover poetry or are discovering their favorite poets, there is this total living, breathing, every thought based around a poets' or writer' works. Do you experience that with writers and poets?

MS: Well, maybe with some of my favorite book authors, yes. I would find that I'm transplanted into the world of their imagination. I'd read Lord of the Rings or some of C.S. Lewis' books and that happens. Not so much with Yeats. I guess I see Yeats as a store of great lyrics for songs that haven't yet been written.

MR: Let's get into your being an author. You wrote your own book, Adventures of a Waterboy.

MS: Yes, my memoir about my life in music.

MR: What inspired you? Was there a particular moment where you went, "Yeah, I've got to get this done," and then you just dove into it?

MS: I think it was because I lived in the west of Ireland in the late 1980s and I had such wonderful strange adventures out there because the west of Ireland's a kind of lawless, wild Old World, relatively untouched by modern thought, and I had so many wild times there that I figured one day, I'm going to write a book all about this. So in 2007, I played a long concert tour of Europe and the USA and when I got home, knowing that I was going to be hitting the road around again for 16 or 18 months, I thought, "Now I'm going to write my book." So I began it then. I spent three years writing it, on and off, and I was very dedicated. I would get up at 5:30 in the morning, write for many hours every day, and the book came out about six weeks ago: Adventures of a Waterboy. It's a funny book, it's serious and funny as well.

MR: When you sat down and you started writing, did you write some sort of overview first, or did you just sit down and start writing one of the stories that came to mind?

MS: I had a good, hard think about it beforehand. I first had a plot for the book, which was that it would have ten chapters and each chapter would be sparked by a particular moment that I remembered. So once I had that particular concept, I just started writing. Of course, as is the way of these things, the concept changed once the writing developed a pattern of its own.

MR: Is that also how you've approached songwriting?

MS: Songwriting will just be brought by a title or maybe a line of lyrics or maybe even just some chords I'm strumming on the guitar.

MR: Let's go into some of the songs on the new album. The Hosting of the Shee, that's basically about ancient gods, right?

MS: The old war-like gods of Ireland, yes, and Yeats mentions in his poems a lot, names from County Sligo, where he spent his childhood holidays. Sligo's a very beautiful but rugged part of Ireland with queer-shaped mountains and a kind of mystical landscape. Yeats was seeking to evoke that in the poem and I'm trying to evoke it too, with the sound of the music.

MR: I guess another one of those types might be "News for the Delphic Oracle."

MS: That's another mythological poem of Yeats'. He mentions old Greek gods and philosophers. Kind of a strange poem, that one. I love it.

MR: Another one of my favorites is "Song of Wandering Aengus," its music feeling seamless with the poetry. So you're reading Yeats' poetry and you discover it has certain meters and musical elements already contained within. Did you feel when you were reading the poetry that it was kind of conjuring its own music?

MS: Yes, the poetry suggested the music. "Song of Wandering Aengus" is a beautifully written meter. "I went out to the hazel wood, because a fire was in my head, and cut and peeled a hazel wand and wooked a berry to a thread." When I read that off the page, it suggested a tune and so for me, the job was to get the tune down without interfering too much and just let the poem keep suggesting the tune. "Where does it want me to go?"

MR: How was this album recorded?

MS: It was recorded in the studio "live off the floor," as a five-piece band and then some overdubs. Unfortunately, I had to record all my vocals as overdubs because I had a terrible bout of the flu as we were recording and I couldn't sing.

MR: I think we're entering a phase of recording where the energy of a band playing together is being rediscovered versus the "overdub, overdub, perfection" route.

MS: Yeah, I love that the band's playing together, and I think music listeners can tell the difference. Even if they're not conscious of it, they respond in a different way emotionally to something that's being authentically played.

MR: That's been the process with all The Waterboys albums for the most part, right?

MS: With some of our first records, it'd be like that. Fisherman's Blues and the 2007 album Book of Lightning was like that. But sometimes, when I haven't had a full band, I've had to layer it myself. In fact, the first couple of albums I made -- A Pagan Place and This is the Sea -- those were more layered, studio works. But that can result in magic too, it's just a different kind of magic.

MR: Do you go back and forth between Ireland and the States a lot?

MS: I do, yes, I'm flying to Dublin tonight.

MR: Is it mainly for a performance or family or... ?

MS: Well I'm based in Dublin and I've got lots of things I need to do there in the next week, personal things and a few work things, and then I'll be back in New York next week because I'm flying out musicians for the shows that we're doing here next year.

MR: Mike, what advice do you have for new artists?

MS: Learn to trust themselves. I wish someone had said to me when I was younger, "You know, you really know yourself and what's right for you musically. Trust yourself." I was getting persuaded by other people about how I should do this or that, and really, as a songwriter, I always know what to do musically, so if I could just listen to that little inner musical director... That's my advice for new artists -- trust yourself

MR: Beautiful. Now, with the Yeats material, when you took that to the other musicians, what you said just now as advice for new artists, that does make when other players are involved, they can tell the difference, too, can't they? Like, if you're trusting yourself, certainly they can tell and it'll attract that kind of player who understand and who speak the language of that trust, right?

MS: That's right, by the law of sympathetic resonance, indeed.

MR: So getting back to the Yeats album, when you presented the works to them, I'll bet they understood it in some basic way, didn't they?

MS: Well, I had done pretty good home demos that I gave to all the musicians and in some places, I had scored out the parts for the musicians to play, but in other cases, I needed them to develop their own parts. I'm lucky I work with some great musicians like Steve Wickham, The Waterboys' fiddler who brought some fantastic parts of his own to the record, especially one of my favorite things that he played on the album, Mad as the Mist and Snow. But he plays a fiddle solo that does for the fiddle what Jimi Hendrix did for the guitar.

MR: Other musicians include James Hallawell.

MS: Yeah, a wonderful keyboard player, and a wonderful singer called Katie Kim, who's an Irish girl singer who I discovered, with an almost cartoonish voice, and the moment I heard it, I knew that she was the girl I needed for this album.

MR: When you're touring, will you be mainly presenting this project?

MS: Well, we're doing a one-off show at New York's Town Hall March 20th that is "An Appointment With Mister Yeats, The Show," and then we're touring in Fall 2013. But it'll be more of a regular Waterboys show. There's some Yeats in the show, but there will be also lots of vintage Waterboys music as well.

MR: Let's get one last closing thought from you, like any words of wisdom?

MS: Words of wisdom?

MR: We heard a lot already, but maybe just Mike Scott at this point in his life looking back at Mike Scott's life, what words of wisdom might you have from that?

MS: Oh, I don't know, that's a difficult question to answer.

MR: Okay, is there something that you feel like you've learned out of life, something you'd love to pass on?

MS: It's very difficult. A lot of the things I can think of sound kind of--it's great to always be grateful for things, you know? Gratitude is a wonderful power. It oils the machinery of the world. I remember, at times, when things were getting very stiff for me and nothing was happening, I realized, "You know, I haven't felt grateful for stuff in a long time." It's the kind of thing that Oprah Winfrey suggest and it's a great thing to do. Actually, write out a gratitude list. Sometimes I'll do that and it always gets things moving. It makes me feel better and it gets my relationship with the world moving again.

MR: There it is, beautiful, really good words of wisdom, sir. And I so agree; gratitude is such an important thing. But I don't think most get it until they mature.

MS: Yeah, I started noticing stuff in my thirties, really quite late.

MR: Right, it seems to be part of life. It's very difficult to have gratitude when you're younger, when you're in constant motion, when you're coming off people taking care of you through your previous years.

MS: Yeah, because you're learning other things at that stage.

MR: Exactly, and the brain is going through myelination, the body is transforming from hormone rushes...all that good stuff that's going on.

MS: Yeah.

MR: All right, let's end it there, and thanks so much for your time, Mike. I do appreciate it and wish you the best with the new project.

MS: You're very welcome Mike, my pleasure.

Tracks:
1. The Hosting of the Shee
2. Song of Wandering Aengus
3. News for the Delphic Oracle
4. A Full Moon in March
5. Sweet Dancer
6. White Birds
7. The Lake Isle of Innisfree
8. Mad as the Mist and Snow
9. Before the World Was Made
10. September 1913
11. An Irish Airman Foresees His Death
12. Politics
13. Let the Earth Bear Witness
14. The Faery's Last Song

Transcribed by Galen Hawthorne


YUSIF'S "THIRD WORLD SOLDIER" PREMIERE

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The artist Yusif premieres his video "Third World Soldier" -- a song from his self-titled album -- with HuffPost. It comes from a personal perspective, from the viewpoint of someone actually affected by war, and here's what the artist says about the piece: "I was inspired by my evacuation from Kuwait during the Gulf War as a child, being separated from my father. I recreated myself as an anti-hero with this song. I had visited Cairo in my teens and observed how quickly hotels and stadiums turn to clay houses and piles of garbage in the street. I was determined to shed light on realities the media doesn't always portray; to tell the untold stories we never hear; to effect constructive social change. 'Third World Soldier' is the poor man's anthem, and the clearest vision on the album of who I am."

"We shot the video in September 2012 in Seattle at a sky bridge, a military cemetery, and an abandoned motel," he continues. "We tried shooting at a tent city under a bridge downtown, and unfortunately some of the residents did not want the place video taped. I really wanted to show the raw reality of the situation... these people exist and we can't sweep them under a rug forever. That vibe came through even though we didn't capture it. It was a very raw shoot."

 

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