Category Archives: Music

KB Jones and The Kontraband – The Expedition Through One Note at a Time

KB Jones & the kontrabandBy Erin Corrigan

KB Jones, also known as Daniel Munoz, takes a multifaceted form when engaging in what he loves most. With flares of pop, hip hop and classic rock, Mr. Jones and his group “The Kontraband” string together to create a funky-fresh approach to music that coats the idea of realism and authenticity.

Daniel Munoz himself takes responsibility for the vocals and production. In regards to the rest of the young musicians, the guitar is handled by Steve Gornic, the bass guitar by Andrew DeMatteo and the percussion section by Mike DeConzo.

When asked the question behind what keeps Daniel inspired, he responded with the influence of his overall surroundings, as well as the day-to-day individuals that enter his life. Something that may seem commonplace to some is merely a palate of creation to others.

10561800_10152281492086984_6205384801003013157_nMunoz’s music does not exactly fit into a precise genre like a square hole to a square peg. His beats play on the realm of funky, yet pragmatic; adding hints of emotional satisfaction -actually telling a story to the person wearing the headphones.

Anywhere from SoundCloud, YouTube, MySpace, Twitter and Tumblr, you can find KB and his crew mixing up styles and putting forth new music one song at a time. Daniel says that their ultimate goal behind their musical career is to have as many listeners and supporters as possible; making it their dream to pursue such as passion that also doubles as a permanent career. Here is just a little taste of what him and his group work diligently to create: “Journey Man”  – STREAM HERE!

Come see KB Jones and The Kontraband this Saturday, September 20th at SPARKBOOM’s second annual “OFF THE WALLS” event at 1520 New York Ave, Huntington Station, NY. This occasion will feature a handful of Long Island’s newest musicians, a BMX bike stunt show, salsa dancing, and over thirty art and business vendors.  So don’t miss out and RSVP here via Facebook.

For more on KB Jones and The Kontraband, visit their Facebook, Instagram or their Website.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

IMG_1801Erin Corrigan is an aspiring writer with an open mind. She believes that music, art and poetry are the essential nutrients for every soul. Giving a voice to the budding faces of the literary and fine arts community is what she’s here to accomplish!

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Get On Board with Nonstop to Cairo

nonstopBy Patrick Peterson

LI-based band, Nonstop to Cairo are composed of Andrew Hagerty (Trombone), Agustus Harris (Vocals), David Bartlett (Bass), Matt Ezzo (Drums) and Nick Diamond (Guitar, Vocals). Though they weren’t always in the same band, they were practically always in each other’s lives. Nick and Ezzo, two of the three original founders of the band grew up together and have been friends since grade school. “We met somewhere during first grade or probably even before that. We just knew each other for a long time. My dad (Nick’s father) even gave Ezzo his bass guitar.”

The other members of the crew all went to the same high school. Though some are older than others, and were in different grades, they grew up around the same years. Little did they know, these casual coincidences and meetups would lead to an epic sounding rock band, with sounds like Funk and Ska. An incorporation of sounds that’s leading a continuous journey from their instruments to their fans’ ear drums. Casual fans might question where the name comes from but to the crew, it’s a weird but irreplaceable name.

“The reason we chose our name was actually from an airplane ad(vertisement) on the LIRR. We were nonstop4locked up in the band-room with the trombone player, with a giant list of names that we had to choose from. It was one of the few that we actually didn’t hate,  so it just stuck with us. Yet, even though our name has Cairo in it, we just eventually drew away from it as a place and used it more as a destination.”

Like their name suggests, they have tons of drive and inspiration. They put all their heart into their music, on stage and off. For instance, one of their favorite memories is winning the the 2009 Long Island Music Festival. “We were only together three months at the time”, they said with smiles on their faces. “Yeah, and Nick’s hand was bandaged from a fight with a saw-blade.”, Ezzo recalled. “Yeah, they were sliced off. But we still managed to win the Festival. It was a real underdog story to us. It started the snowball of success that we’re rolling on now. This success has made us lucky enough to play with bands like Fishbone and Gwar. We kind of want to share that same feeling to the fans.”

nonstop3Unfortunately, they feel like they don’t have an avenue to promote their music like a major label band would. Their income as a band is small so they don’t have a large budget for CDs, music videos, and marketing tools. Yet, that’s one of the things that makes them smile the most. What you would think was a weakness is an actually uplifting strength. “We don’t really have the means to sell CDs. We have digital stuff but that’s about it.” And as they do think online streaming helps, it’s the live shows where they confidently stake their claim. They, particularly Augustus, who is the only one without an instrument and has a second hand perspective, and feel that their live performances are out of this world.

“The whole unavailable music thing is why it’s really awesome when we see fans come back to sing along with us. It means that they’ve been to our shows more than once, it means they love seeing us play. It’s one of the things that motivates us to keep playing.”

Playing music, they do. Having performed at least shows in the last three weeks (40 shows total this summer). So what’s next for them? After this huge wave of live concerts end, they plan to go into hibernation. “We want to take a step back and focus on recording. We plan to put out the best thing that we can, together, in a reasonable amount of time. Hopefully, it will not only be life-changing but scene-changing as well. A thing, that will not only bring our band closer together, but also other bands as well”.

They are friends, they are a band, and they are Nonstop to Cairo. Their next flight? Nonstop to Success. Rock on.

See Nonstop to Cairo on Saturday, September 20th as SPARKBOOM hosts “OFF THE WALLS II” at 1520 New York Ave, Huntington Station, NY. The event features a handful of up-and-coming LI music, a BMX bike stunt show, salsa dancing, and 30+ art/business vendors.  RSVP here via Facebook.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

IMG_0882Patrick Peterson Growing up, Patrick was nicknamed The Mayor. He had and still had an outgoing personality with a sincere, charming, dedicated personality to those he meets. He’s a writing, photography, and video game enthusiast who likes helping out the little guy.

 

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New and Shiny – A Chat with A Penny’s Worth

photo 1By Moe Tompkins

I caught up with Mike LoCicero of up-and-comers, A Penny’s Worth. They’ll be performing at Cinema Arts Centre on the night of Wednesday, September 17th during the after-party for the new film, God Help The Girl. Here’s how our conversation went down…

MT: I know how I’d describe your music – If The Black Keys played strictly Folk/Americana and had John Mayer singing. I however, can be incredibly oblivious and short-sighted sometimes, so, in your own words, how would you describe it?

ML: I’d say that is a pretty fair description of what we play. I grew up with a lot of different influences from a lot of different styles and I try to incorporate as much as I can, but most of what I write tends to have a pretty strong folk vibe. I think that’s where I feel most comfortable as a songwriter.

MT: That being said, is The Black Keys comparison something that comes up a lot? Does it annoy you, or do you embrace it?

ML: This is actually the first time I’ve heard that comparison, but I will definitely embrace it! They’re a super cool band, who wouldn’t want to be compared to them?

MT: How did ‘A Penny’s Worth’ come to be?

ML: That’s a good question. I wish I had cool origin story for how we were formed, but it was kind of a long-term process. I used to play with Matt Rueger and Jason Rothenberg (Matt is the drummer, Jason plays bass) in high school. We’re all grew up around here and used to jam and make noise in Matt’s basement and occasionally play a couple covers at a school talent show. After we finished college I was in North Carolina writing and playing at open mics. Matt and I ended up recording a couple of songs down there under the name A Penny’s Worth.

MT: I see you guys are based in North Carolina now, are you touring? Did you start on Long Island and then relocate? If so, why?

ML: It’s actually the other way around. I’m originally from Long Island and went to school in North Carolina. I first started writing and recording my stuff there, but now we all live on Long Island.

*CLICK IMAGE TO STREAM APW’S DEBUT*

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MT: After re-reading question 1, I’ll be honest, I don’t know the difference between Folk and Americana. Am I just splitting hairs here, or is there a something that I should know?

ML: They’re pretty much the same. Americana is American Folk music. They’re both pretty broad terms.

MT: Other than Wednesday’s event, do you have any other gigs up here in our neck of the woods?

ML: Nothing yet.

MT: What’s your song-writing process like? What inspires your music and lyrics?

ML: I always start with music first. I find a chord progression or riff that I like and I try to find a melody that will match my vocal photo 2range to go with it. The process itself is actually pretty embarrassing. I’m usually just pacing around my room playing whatever guitar part I’ve come up with and making vocalizations to the tune of the melody. It sounds like complete gibberish, but it helps me find the sound I want for the song. Once I feel like I have a solid base of music and melody I start trying to replace the gibberish with lyrics.

My lyrics are pretty personal and they’re mostly inspired by life experience. Inspiration for the music is a little broader. It can come from anything that I think sounds good. I feel more confident as a musician than as a lyricist so I’m willing to venture farther out of my comfort zone for ideas and inspiration for the music.

MT: Do you prefer the smaller set-up, or have you thought about adding pieces to your band?

ML: This is something I think about a lot actually when writing. With a small group like ours you really have to think about how a recording can be replicated live. It all comes down to what it is we’re capable of with three people. There’s one song we recorded that has a banjo and a mandolin part that come in as the song progresses. It would be great to have those on stage, but, again, there are only three of us.

That being said, I do really like the small set-up. It’s the same guys I was playing with when I was 15 and that’s a lot of fun.

MT: Any advice for up-and-coming musicians?

ML: Well, seeing as I am still very new myself I don’t think there is much I can offer without a false sense of superiority. If I’m ever lucky enough to get interviewed again I’ll have a better answer for this. Doing something twice is the minimum amount of experience required to be patronizing.

You can see A Penny’s Worth live on Wednesday, September 17th in The Sky Room Cafe at Cinema Arts Center, for the after-party of God Help The Girl (as part of SPARKBOOM and CAC’s “Movies That Rock”s series). Film starts at 7PM / After Party starts at 9PM. $10 for CAC Members / $15 for non-members. Your movie stub gets you into the party, where courtesy beer/wine and snacks will be served. RSVP via Facebook and go LIKE APW on Facebook.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

MImageoe Tompkins, a native of Islip, New York, holds a double degree in jazz studies and music education from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM). Upon acceptance to the College-Conservatory of Music he began simultaneous study both with Ray Charles Orchestra alumnus Marc Fields, and Tim Anderson of the Dayton Philharmonic. For several years he worked as a highly-in-demand trombonist on the Cincinnati scene and beyond playing everything from salsa, to reggae, neo-brass band sharing the stage with the likes of Streetlight Manifesto, The Aggrolites, and Foxy Shazam, just to name a few. He currently resides in Islip, working with the Long Island Arts Alliance and finally pursuing his own musical vision with his original group Slang (facebook.com/slangthebandli). When not making music, Moe can typically be found enjoying horror movies, fusion jazz, or White Castle.

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Jarred “AllStar” Haynes Bares His World with Words

By Jenna Weis

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Expression with words was inevitable for Wyandanch-native Jarred Haynes, whose humble upbringing exposed him to his creative outlet of music and poetry. Jarred, aka “AllStar” has portrayed his multi faceted talent since the age of 3 when he began singing for his church, next a published poet at 9, then a freestyle rapper at 16. These early self discoveries would pave the way to greater attention to Jarred as an artist, and eventually as the founder of his own independent label.

Jarred’s fast paced evolution continued straight to his musical calling in 2009 when college friend Mike Rogge introduced him to the free-ski community. Jarred explains his first experience with the free-ski culture

IMG_4097“One day he called and said he was in a room full of skiers and I freestyled mentioning all of their names.  Next thing I know I start getting phone calls from skiers and companies for music, eventually landing me at the one and one International Freeski Film Festival (IF3).”

Jarred performs in Montreal annually for the festival. This unique opportunity revved up his name in the sports industry as well where his mix tapes were featured in ESPN and Powder Magazine according to his bio and the journey does not stop here. With music as his true passion he started his own label “White Light Music Group LLC” where he develops and assists other artists. “As a label I hope we become an army” he says “an army where everyone feels they can be themselves to the fullest extent while seeking knowledge growing and learning from mistakes.”

Jarred “AllStar” Haynes is an artist who wishes to connect with his audience on many levels through his craft. He expresses his confidence in the greatness that lies ahead for him.

“I just thank God for my gift.  This gift to create has opened doors for me to do many things musically and while grateful I feel as if the ‘biggest’ is yet to come.”

When asked if his music holds any specific message, it is Realism. Personal experiences have shaped this artist to see the world differently to produce music with depth, soul, and beautiful words.

Watch >>>

“My entire life I have bore witness to the duality which is life.  The struggle between good and bad, ying and yang, heaven or hell however you choose to word it; it exists. My music is relatable to everyone.”

Come see Jarred perform at SPARKBOOM’s “Off The Walls II” event Saturday Sept. 20 1520 New York Ave. Huntington Station from 1-6 PM. RSVP here via Facebook.

For more on Jarred visit his Facebook page. And check out his Twitter and his Instagram.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

rain roomJenna Weis grew up on Long Island and graduated from Commack High School in 2007. She received her Associates Degree in Visual Arts from Suffolk Community College then went on to receive her Bachelor’s Degree in Art History and Criticism from Stony Brook University. This is her second summer working for SPARKBOOMTM, first as Lead Blogger. She hopes the blog will really engage readers to want to see more of the artists work at our SPARKBOOMTM events and help further promote the artists themselves.

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Drift Away with the Sound of Motion Ocean

By Jenna Weismo2

There is nothing like summertime sunshine and laid back music like Motion Ocean to enhance your lazy days. A band that brings a positive attitude with their up-beat songs, and it all began when a Ukulele was given to lead singer Andrew Pinzon.

“It’s so happy and it just feels good to play” he says “The more I played it, the more ideas I would come up with, so I wrote a few songs for fun. I thought it would be so cool to form a band around this cute little instrument and that’s how the idea for Motion Ocean was born. “

Summer of 2012 to be exact, Andrew recruits his younger brother Nick as the drummer and expresses the great confidence he felt for his sibling. He says “he was only 17 years old, but he could out drum anyone I knew.” Bass player, Anthony Arma lived was only steps away from Andrew and Nick’s home and there was instant connection as a band member and friend for Andrew who says “he’s a crazy skilled bass player, and he’s a huge nerd so we instantly became best friends.”

Vocalist Stephanie Tolino was first under the impression that she would only contribute as a bacmosantakup but Andrew had a different plan in mind. He confesses that he ‘tricked’ Stephanie in to being a part of Motion Ocean by having her perform at shows and attend practices, then giving her more substantial parts in new songs. So one thing just leads to another and Stephanie became an official member.

“I knew from the beginning I wanted to have a female vocalist singing along with me to harmonize and bring a nice balance to the songs.”

With all members on board, the feel good music came naturally for Motion Ocean. The effortless singing and sweet easy going sounds can take you away from the everyday grind. Ukulele covers of ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ and ‘Legend of Zelda’ are just so fun and definitely something to see. Their song “Drift Away” is a favorite for the band to perform, and is hot off their new EP. Listen below:

“It’s a fun, upbeat tune that feels so good to play. It’s about drifting away towards something better. It has a positive message and it’s so upbeat that we can’t help but dance like lunatics when we play it.”

Motion Ocean seems like a band that emits a care-free approach to the world that is infectious to their audience and just wants to have a good time. They will be performing of SPARKBOOM’s “OFF THE WALLS II” event for the second time on Saturday, September 20 from 1-6PM at 1520 New York Ave. in Huntington Station. For more information about this event visit the official facebook event.

For more on Motion Ocean visit their bandcamp or their website.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

rain roomJenna Weis grew up on Long Island and graduated from Commack High School in 2007. She received her Associates Degree in Visual Arts from Suffolk Community College then went on to receive her Bachelor’s Degree in Art History and Criticism from Stony Brook University. This is her second summer working for SPARKBOOMTM, first as Lead Blogger. She hopes the blog will really engage readers to want to see more of the artists work at our SPARKBOOMTM events and help further promote the artists themselves.

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Branching Out with Hotel of the Laughing Tree

hotel of laughing tree, hurricane of lions photography

Hurricane of Lions Photography

By Moe Tompkins

I caught up with Hotel of the Laughing Tree’s AJ Estrada to find out more about about the band. Here’s our conversation…

MT: How did you guys become ‘Hotel of the Laughing Tree?’ How did you meet? Is there a funny story behind it?

AE: No exceptionally funny story here. Brandon and myself had been playing together for years prior to starting Hotel. We started the band and played with the original lineup for three years before recruiting Fred and Dan Ardis (Drums & Bass). Shortly after they joined, we found our final missing piece, Jonathon Streker on keys. Our starting lineup, while best of friends, just could not work within each others schedules. It was pretty rough, and we recorded two albums before deciding to reform. When the Ardis clan joined, that was the single moment that the band actually felt right to me. It was a true “Aha!” moment. This is how we are supposed to sound. We all knew each other, and became friends via playing shows together around Long Island. Fred and Dan were in Tiger Riot, and both of our bands were actually signed to the same label for a while, but we just never tried making something together until 2011. To sum it up, we all met from playing shows together during our early 20s, but didn’t necessarily become “Hotel of the Laughing Tree’ until a few years down the line.

MT: In your own words, how would you describe your music? Who/what are your influences?

AE: To describe our music..well, on one hand it’s always changing from album to album, but  I think I just try to write interesting and catchy melodies that hit hard, feel good, and have solid instrumentation behind it. And I like to tell short stories, so that plays into it lyrically.

I’m also very conscious of making sure we aren’t repeating our own discography. Admittedly, I get bored  too easily, (and for the most part) I prefer having something fresh, something new to release, instead of rehashing from a stockpile of discarded demos and missing pieces. Some major influences of mine include Elliott Smith, Iron & Wine, Hayao Miyazaki, and Kurt Vonnegut.

MT: I always like to ask about the business. How long have you guys been together? Has it been hard? If so, what makes you hold on? Is music how you make your living or do you have day-jobs?

AE: The current lineup has been together for about three years now. The band as a whole, going on six. I would be lying to myself if I said it was easy. We’ve ran the gauntlet of the music industry, and I would like to say, came out rather unscathed on the other side. We experienced a short-lived, high level of success almost immediately in our music career (we took home an mtvU Woodie award in 2009), signed to a record label afterwards, and then everything came to a screeching halt. There’s an inside joke within the band about how after winning the MTV award,  we had a small window of opportunity and kind of closed it on ourselves. Or if not voluntarily, we saw it closing and nonchalantly looked the other way. Despite the ‘hard stuff’, I think we are pretty optimistic people. The music industry left us jaded, but that doesn’t mean we don’t keep trying to push ourselves further and grow as a band.

I can’t imagine myself NOT writing music. I think the business part is so far lost on me, where at this point, at the end of the day, I just want to be able to create, play, and record music with my friends. If people like it, we’ll play shows to whoever will have us. If not, that’s okay. Its all lots of fun, and I don’t think I could ever stop. The reality is that we don’t make nearly enough to sustain ourselves with the band. It’s always been a goal, but were all very much realists at this point in our lives. Everyone works full-time, and Hotel is very much a labor of love. So, for now, we’re okay with coughing up dust and delivering balloons to pay the bills.

hotel of the laughing tree maria newman photography

Maria Newman Photography

MT: What inspires you? What is your songwriting process like?

AE: Our influences and inspiration come from an amalgamation of our play time together and our own listening preferences. There is some overlap here and there, but It’s really a patchwork of styles and genres. Personally speaking, if this was a few years ago I would simply rattle off whatever top bands were on my iPod at the moment. But lately, I feel like I draw more inspiration from film, books, and visual art.

On songwriting

In the beginning, I would write and record a fully tracked and completed demo to show the band. We learned the parts, fine tuned it, and then recorded and released a slightly prettier version of it. And this was the process for the first three albums..so starting with Mammoth Skin Pt 2, I started to record very minimal acoustic demos. These are simply an acoustic guitar and my voice. While I still envision the full band arrangements in my head, I now prefer to present the bare bones demo to the band, and have us work and craft it together as a group.I love doing this because it gives the rest of the guys a much larger voice, and is a significantly greater collaborative effort. Its super cool knowing that we can all work together and turn the smallest idea into something to call our own and be proud of.

MT: Gotta ask…how did you come up with that band name?

AE: The name is simply a nod to the building where my grandparents met. I think its somewhere in Texas, near the Mexican border, but don’t quote me on that.

MT: Anything you wanna plug? Links to music videos? Big shows coming up?

AE: Our latest release, “Mammoth Skin Pt. 2”  is available here:

Hotel of the Laughing Tree on BandCamp

  We are currently working on new music, finished recording a few weeks ago and we’re currently in the mixing stage. Looking towards a Fall 2014 release.

    We have a show this Saturday (8/16) at the Brickhouse Brewery in Patchogue. Playing with friends The Republic of Wolves, and Clockwork Kids. Should be tons of fun, and we may be doing something very special at that show in honor of Shrek week. SO COME ON DOWN, show starts at 10pm.  Just be careful because parking is tricky around there!

    Here is our latest video, its the opening track to our latest release. Acoustic performance featuring various childrens toys. 

MT: What are your thoughts about your “journey” so far? Insights? Successes? Failures? Regrets?

AE: The journey is super entertaining. Even though we’ve been a band for a while now, I feel like we’re just getting started. We’ve had countless ups and downs.Failures? Maybe Touring. We have been up and down the east coast countless times, and touring in a van is a necessary, hilarious, and dangerous beast.. at least in Hotels experience. Broken vans, no money, and cancelled shows seems to be part of the lifestyle, and we’ve definitely seen our fair share of setbacks.  But we’ll keep trying. I like to think of tour life as a challenge we’ve yet to conquer.

If I learned anything, its that no one is going to make you happy besides yourself. It took me a great long time to realize that nobody was going to sing my songs the way I wanted. I had to do it myself. And also, the fact that we’ve had a brief glance at success and never acted on it, or took it seriously. While I don’t regret that, I think it plays into the learning experience.

MT: In that same vein, do you have any advice for anyone looking to make music?

AE: (Deep Breath) Just do it. If you really really want to, and are true to yourself, you’ll find a way to make music. If it makes the terrible things in life just a tiny bit better, you’ll be okay. When I first started making music, I found it impossible to find like-minded people. None of my friends shared my musical taste, so I remember many nights scouring MySpace and Craigslist for singers, bassists, and drummers. Eventually I became fed up and realized that no one was going to bring my dream to fruition besides myself. I went online, learned how to use a DAW, recorded my nasally teenage voice, and stayed up till 5AM humming into my laptops microphone. This was a learning process, and this is how I joined my first band, created Hotel of the Laughing Tree, and made irreplaceable lifelong friends. So..if you feel it, do it. Between YouTube and Facebook, its easier than ever to connect with fellow musicians. I think its fun to be creative by yourself, but it really is something special to be able to share that with other like minded people who are working towards the same goal.

MT: Who do you guys listen to?

AE: Lately, I’ve been listening to the new Conor Oberst, The Rosebuds,and Spoon albums. Definitely some of my favorite new releases this year. Jon has been heavily into Ben Folds and Regina Spektor lately, and the rest of the guys range anywhere from Tom Waits to St. Vincent.

MT: I also like to ask fun questions. What are you watching on Netflix right now?

AE: Its all about Kitchen Nightmares for me. I could never get sick of Gordon Ramsay losing his shit in the name of Chicken Cordon Bleu. I know Jon has recently binged the entire series of LOST, so God bless his restless soul.

MT: What do you do when you’re not making music?

AE: I recently rediscovered painting. When I’m not working on songs, I’m either doodling in my sketch pad or working on a new illustration. Oh, and working a 9-5. We all do that.

MT: Favorite movie and/or TV series and why.

AE: Star Wars, The Lion King, The Life Aquatic, and Hook are among my top favorites. I can’t help it, I’m a sucker for flawed hero characters with daddy issues.

Don’t miss your chance to see Hotel of the Laughing Tree live Monday night along with Alexa Dexa at the after party for our screening if “Frank” at Cinema Arts Centre 7pm Monday night August 18th! RSVP on Facebook here!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

MImageoe Tompkins, a native of Islip, New York, holds a double degree in jazz studies and music education from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM). Upon acceptance to the College-Conservatory of Music he began simultaneous study both with Ray Charles Orchestra alumnus Marc Fields, and Tim Anderson of the Dayton Philharmonic. For several years he worked as a highly-in-demand trombonist on the Cincinnati scene and beyond playing everything from salsa, to reggae, neo-brass band sharing the stage with the likes of Streetlight Manifesto, The Aggrolites, and Foxy Shazam, just to name a few. He currently resides in Islip, working with the Long Island Arts Alliance and finally pursuing his own musical vision with his original group Slang (facebook.com/slangthebandli). When not making music, Moe can typically be found enjoying horror movies, fusion jazz, or White Castle.

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The Quizzical World of Alexa Dexa

alexadexaphotoBy Jenna Weis

Childhood toys, whimsical sounds and visuals, and effortless singing are brought together by Alexa Dexa, who incorporates these unconventional components together to bring a whole new experience for her audiences. As an artist in every sense of the word, Alexa has concocted her very own genre of performance called “toychestral electronic pop” that involves the sounds of desk bells, a toy piano, and self-made electronic beats complimenting her self-written songs. This quirky performer engages all the senses in her performances and brings the concept of fantasy to life.

There is nothing typical about what is created by Alexa. Her instruments of choice spark a nostalgic note that brings us back to the simpler times of childhood, yet the mature content of her songs and soulful voice gives us something special not seen before. She says “My song-writing boasts some mature juxtapositions of words and concepts because I like to work in abstractions that have multi-dimensional meanings.” Recently her songs have a direct connection with the new sights and experiences she has encountered while being on tour, widening the variety of her song concepts. She says that “having a catalyst outside of myself helps me touch on subjects inside myself that might not have otherwise been realized.”
Of course, the most unexpected treats are the toys and child-like art installations done by Alexa herself, enhancing what she calls “sound worlds”. These worlds are inspired by the artist’s personality and aesthetics that appeal to her. She says the intent of combining her songs with her visual work is “to transport the audience into a bit of fantasy and to allow access to my music through a different avenue of perception.” The primary colors of the toys, graphic illustrative backdrops, and mellow tunes haul you into a serene and friendly environment all assembled from the mind of Alexa.

Her inventive creativity is what makes Alexa stand out in the areas of music, performance, and visual art as she blends these boundaries so seamlessly. Alexa will be performing her one-of-a-kind show Monday August 18th at 7PM, after the screening of “Frank” at the Cinema Arts Centre presented by SPARKBOOM™. RSVP on Facebook here.

For more on Alexa Dexa visit http://www.alexadexa.com/

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

rain roomJenna Weis grew up on Long Island and graduated from Commack High School in 2007. She received her Associates Degree in Visual Arts from Suffolk Community College then went on to receive her Bachelor’s Degree in Art History and Criticism from Stony Brook University. This is her second summer working for SPARKBOOMTM, first as Lead Blogger. She hopes the blog will really engage readers to want to see more of the artists work at our SPARKBOOMTM events and help further promote the artists themselves.

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Christine Sweeney – Life is Music, Music is Life

sycamore 0113By Darryl Maraj

I first met Christine Sweeney two years ago when we both worked in a music store. I was behind the counter, and she taught lessons. During our breaks, Sweeney (which is what I solely knew her as) and I would talk mostly about crazy store patrons and Breaking Bad. But, whether it was the shortness of our breaks or because Breaking Bad was just that awesome, we never really talked about ourselves or our music. So, everything you’re about to read, I only learned a few hours before you.

Christine is a graduate of SUNY New Paltz, where she majored in music theory and composition. According to Christine, one of her major accomplishments right now is being a full time musician- without having to work in retail anymore. “It’s a lot of work, but I can say that I’m doing what a love for a living,” said Christine, who now lives in Lindenhurst. She teaches lessons in voice, guitar and piano in studios as well as in homes. One of the bands she’s a part of is reggae band, Free Noise Brigade, where she sings backup vocals. However, Christine’s crown jewel and the focus of most of her time, effort and heart is her band – Christine Sweeney and the Dirty Stayouts. This is the project that allows Christine to show off the completeness her vocal prowess as well as her sycamore 9996astounding songwriting.

Christine’s music is a combination of acoustic rock’s rawness and power, with the sweet and memorable melodies of pop music. She draws many of her influences from artists such as Grace Potter, John Mayer, Regina Spektor and KT Tunstall. Songwriting for Christine usually starts in her car. While driving to her various jobs, or to gigs, Christine will hear a melody and immediately start creating lyrics to go along with them. I asked her was her lyrics were typically about. She said, “I draw from my own experience when writing… I have a lot of relationship songs, but also have ones about addiction, hope, wanting, wondering. I work out my inner demons through songs.” Christine Sweeney and the Dirty Stayouts’ newest album is going to be released towards the very end of August, so keep your ears to the ground on that one.

When Christine isn’t making music, she’s usually hanging out with friends, or relaxing at home. She also enjoys crafty things like drawing, knitting and photoshopping (mostly for gig posters and such).

For more on Christine Sweeney, you can visit her website or her Facebook page. And if the internet just isn’t enough, you can catch her performing live at SPARKBOOM’s ArtSpace Unplugged, at 20 Terry St, Patchogue, NY 11772, from 6-10 PM. She goes on at 6:30 PM.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Darryl Maraj graduated from Five Towns College with a degree in Music Education. At Five Towns, he worked with the great vocal professional and renowned educator, Stephen C. Pagano in jazz, classical, Broadway and pop styles of singing. Currently, Darryl splits his time between his job at the Islip School District, his church- where he is the Music Coordinator, and his band, Slang (facebook.com/slangthebandli). When taking a break from music, Darryl likes to draw, play video games and attempt cooking.

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Good Vibes + Talent + Hard Work = Jake Furia

1236096_597393723652471_1178144013_nBy Moe Tompkins

I first heard Jake Furia at a showcase back in February. For those of you that don’t know, I run a horn band and we were testing the waters out in Patchogue. Jake was the first real corner I turned in my ‘maybe singer-songwriters don’t suck as much as I thought’ revelation. I’ll never forget it. The first half of his show was just him on acoustic guitar, singing thoughtful lyrics and meaningful melodies. But then, some guys just started walking around behind him. They weren’t sound guys…I thought they might have been some really rude members of another band. One picked up a bass while the other sat behind the kit, and out of nowhere, halfway through his song they start playing! Jake picked up his electric and seamlessly blended soft acoustic pop into jammin’ rock. It was awesome. Obviously, I jumped at the chance to learn more about this guy.

Jake was born in Smithtown, but associates himself more with Shirley where he was raised and continues to live. If you can believe it, this guy983746_760667280658447_5005358146003787898_n started out on keyboard and alto sax. He started writing music while learning to play the guitar. His Mom got him some guitar lessons for Christmas when he was 14. He learned to play pretty well, was writing tunes and even learned to play ‘Wish You Were Here’ within about 2 months.

What I really like about Jake is his versatility. I was always taught that to adapt is to survive. The more things you can do, the better. That’s the main reason why I keep my cello chops up (didn’t know I played cello did you!?). Jake captures a plethora of sounds in is music. He plugs himself as ‘alternative rock/pop-punk-reggae with hints of hardcore and electro. For the ArtSpace show, he’ll be doing an unplugged set, with his backing band. ‘The Be Yourselves’ which features some of the best talent around, including Russel Benjamin, Derek McMahon, and Tameem Shaker.

So what else can you expect from Jake Furia? He has an LP slated to release this winter, ‘Where the Ends Fall Off.’ He also has a music video coming soon for his song ‘Meet me in LA’ that will feature Meghan Mass. Listen to the audio from his “The Acoustic EP” below:

You can also catch Mr. Furia at the Revolution Bar & Music Hall on the 23rd, and East Islip lanes on the 29th. If I haven’t sold you by now, just come to the Artspace Unplugged show on Saturday night. Jake will be there, and food, and art, but mostly JAKE. RSVP here via Facebook!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

MImageoe Tompkins, a native of Islip, New York, holds a double degree in jazz studies and music education from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM). Upon acceptance to the College-Conservatory of Music he began simultaneous study both with Ray Charles Orchestra alumnus Marc Fields, and Tim Anderson of the Dayton Philharmonic. For several years he worked as a highly-in-demand trombonist on the Cincinnati scene and beyond playing everything from salsa, to reggae, neo-brass band sharing the stage with the likes of Streetlight Manifesto, The Aggrolites, and Foxy Shazam, just to name a few. He currently resides in Islip, working with the Long Island Arts Alliance and finally pursuing his own musical vision with his original group Slang (facebook.com/slangthebandli). When not making music, Moe can typically be found enjoying horror movies, fusion jazz, or White Castle.

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Jimmy Doyle and The Engineers – The People’s Punk

jd1By Patrick Peterson

New to the SPARKBOOM™ scene, Jimmy Doyle and the Engineers are playing at the Cinema Arts Centre’s 30th Anniversary event for the Talking Head’s legendary film, “Stop Making Sense (RSVP here via FB)”.  Although it’s his first event with us, he’s attended many films at the C.A.C., so he’s happy to be involved and the arts in general.

He cares a lot about the arts, stating; “Playing music is what makes me the happiest in life.” Having started playing music when he was nine, with the usual band stuff. His musical talents continued to progress to the guitar during middle school and from there, he started developing bands. One of particular note, is The FAD.

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Photo Credit: @xmikox516

“I’ve been singing in a punk band called The Fad.  We temporarily disbanded in 2008 after an unfortunate van accident, while on tour in Colorado, left us without the means to continue traveling”, Jimmy says. After that, Jimmy continued to play in a few other bands over the years. “I decided to start something for me, which is how JDATE started about two years ago”, he recalls.

Though he thinks that he won’t make a world-wide impact, he would like to get back to touring like he used to. But it’s hard to doubt that he won’t at least impact the local crowd with some of his most endearing songs. Like one of his most heartfelt songs, “I’ll Come See You”, which you can stream here via Quote Unquote Records.

This is a really important song to him, Jimmy writes: “My friend Mitch Dubey was a fantastic person oozing with positivity. He was killed in his CT home a few years back during a home invasion.  One day, I got upset thinking about it and decided to write a happy-sounding song to pay tribute to the positive guy that he was.”

150951_433766296694378_1677915867_nIf you would like to hear this song and more, check them out on Quote Unquote Records.com, where they offer free music available for download with other great bands such as: Bomb The Music Industry!, Laura Stevenson, Cheap Girls & one of Jimmy’s old bands, Let Me Crazy.

Don’t forget to follow Jimmy Doyle and The Engineers on their Tumblr, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

And if you’re in a band of your own, Jimmy says, “Tom Malinowski, our guitar player, offers affordable recordings so hit him up.” …Always helping arts – Thanks Jimmy.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

IMG_0882Patrick Peterson Growing up, Patrick was nicknamed The Mayor. He had and still had an outgoing personality with a sincere, charming, dedicated personality to those he meets. He’s a writing, photography, and video game enthusiast who likes helping out the little guy.

 

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