Tag Archives: huntington arts council

DAVID WONG TURNS MAINSTREAM MUSIC UPSIDE DOWN (ON HIS VIOLIN!)

By Jenna Weis1000320_947982054566_1410002583_n

Most kids growing up have dabbled with an instrument or two for the school band/orchestra or as an after school activity, but not many have completely reinvented how it is played or experienced as David Wong has done. After 23 years of mastering his skills on the violin David has taken the craft to another level, by manipulating an instrument traditionally used for a classical sound to cover popular songs of the present times. Whether solo or in collaboration with other musicians, his magical touch of these songs is truly something to see.

What started out as a childhood past time has become a professional endeavor for185766_10151357528753491_2015663667_n David. Playing Carnegie Hall and other orchestras as a traditional violinist, to performing with “Postmodern Jukebox” on Good Morning America as what he calls himself a “genre mixing violinist” speaks volumes on his talents. By taking these popular songs we all hear EVERYDAY on the radio David makes them fresh, fun, and different. As if you are hearing them for the first time from a different perspective. Sometimes from a more classical angle, other times with a more rock and roll feel. He says “It excites me to put my own spin on these songs that have made their way into the general public’s ears and turn them upside down, sometimes making songs people hate into ones they love.” David’s love for music originates from watching 20th century violinists. It was how they “acrobatically leap up and down the violin on video as a kid was jaw dropping” he says.

553825_611147303781_1299815_nHis covers including “Happy”-Pharrell, “Wrecking Ball”-Miley Cyrus, “Drunk in Love”- Beyonce, and more can be seen on his website http://davidwongviolin.com/. You will be amazed with his violin loop covers of these songs, even the ones you think you cannot stand! David will also be performing at SPARKBOOM’s Sound Buffet event on Sunday July 20th from 6:30-10PM at the Chapin Rainbow Stage, Heckscher Park in Huntington. You won’t want to miss this opportunity to see a passionate artist in the flesh.

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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“Tom Moran Is The Greatest Songwriter You Have Never Heard Of”

1533899_577664818986559_427609960_n“I think it is a great gift in life to have a passion. I’m so happy that I know what I want. It’s amazing to know exactly what brings me joy in life.”

…This is what Tom Moran told me when asked if he had ever wanted to quit music, and what kept him going. People always tell us to follow our dreams, but so many of us cannot follow our dreams, because we have no idea what they are. Tom knows exactly what he wants, and how to go about it.

Tom Moran is the greatest songwriter you have never heard of. Born and raised on Long Island, he studied at Nassau Community College’s Studio Tech program before shipping off to New York City to start his music career. It’s a story that’s not unfamiliar to a lot of us artistic types. For all of us, who are at different phases in our artistic journeys, it was interesting for me to get to talk to someone who was really mired in “the struggle.” I have been on this path for a few years, but am still really in the early stages. Tom has been at it for much longer, and is in that “darkest before the dawn” stage. Tom has been involved in multiple projects and bands; he payed his dues on the Brooklyn scene, and is back on Long Island. His story is a long one, but for the sake of time, after all of that, he has gotten his band back together.

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Tom Moran Band

The Tom Moran Band, works as a vehicle to showcase Moran’s music. While nobody can take anything away from his guitar playing, or singing, he started out as a songwriter first, and in some ways, maintains that. When listening, one can surmise that he was heavily influenced by the music of a bygone era. He recounts listening to music his parents played, and wanting so badly to create something like that. His music has the sounds of Bob Dylan, and some of The Beatles’ simpler stuff, but focused through the modern lens of the “indie” sound, with a good heaping of folk attitude. There are some interesting things going on in his recordings, which I can only attribute to his schooling in the studio – the faint sounds of a glockenspiel, the multitasked guitars, and I think I can detect….vibes, or maybe a rhodes in the back somewhere in some of his tunes. While I don’t always have the greatest amount of appreciation for the ‘singer-songwriter’ I will say that Tom knows what he’s doing…which is more than I can say for a lot of these guitar-toting, poetry-spouting sillies walking around. I apologize; my inner conservatory music snob came out. Anyway, If I am at the beginning of my journey, Tom is at the part just before he gets discovered. Just remember, you saw it here first kids.

The Tom Moran Band will  be performing at SPARKBOOM‘s 2014 KICKOFF EVENT – “Beards, Bards and BOOM” on Saturday, June 21st, at The Walt Whitman Birthplace. For more info, visit sparkboom.org. RSVP to our FB event here.

Visit Tom at Visit Tom at tommoranmusic.com and his Facebook page.

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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Shaakir Thomas – Beyond the Portrait

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“Spike lee” – Medium: Mix Media on Panel

By Erin Corrigan

Shaakir Thomas is a talented painter and visual artist, who currently resides in Long Beach, Long Island. His premier focus is dedicated to creating vivacious portraits of people who inspire him most. Currently, Shaakir attends Pratt Institute, striving toward a bachelor’s degree in Illustration and Communications Design. For him, inspiration can really come from anywhere. Certain outlets such as the media, new music, art exhibitions, varying creative pieces and enlightening conversation with others, all play a significant role in Shaakir’s relationship with his own visionary process.

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“Gustav Klimt Sketch” – Medium: Watercolor on Paper

For most talented artists, time and money are simply imperative. Shaakir’s chief focus is devoted to painting, but says that it all truly depends upon the amount of time he has on his hands, as well as the amount of cash he has in his pocket. For someone currently enrolled in one of the top twenty colleges in the Regional Universities North category, I believe it is safe to say that the work Mr. Thomas produces is more than respectable; considering what he has to juggle in order to keep a healthy cushion for his artistry. Shaakir says that when he is really crunched for time, he is more inclined to work on components such as charcoal drawings and dry medium pieces. Seeing as though the supplies required for such projects come at a much lower price, Shaakir is ready and able to keep his creative hand moving, without breaking the bank. Regardless of the ingredients used when developing varying works of art, each portrait seems to hold a very significant meaning.

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“Bella” – Medium: Oil on Canvas

One piece in specific is titled “Portrait of Lupita”. This masterful work of vibrant, contrasting colors, displays the image of actress Lupita Nyong’o. Shaakir shared with me the inspiration he drew through Lupita’s acceptance speech at the 2014 Oscars. Lupita selflessly put forth her story regarding self acceptance and beauty, influencing Shaakir to create a portrait where all of that courage could shine through and present a loud, confident statement. Not only does Shaakir focus on putting a genuine foundation beneath each of his portraits, he also manages to incorporate a certain energy that illuminates each and every one of them.

Come check out Shaakir Thomas’ effervescent oil, acrylic and water color art displays at this year’s SPARKBOOM kickoff event “Beards, Bards, and BOOM” on Saturday, June 21st at the Walt Whitman Birthplace from 7-10 PM.  You won’t be disappointed! These pieces will also be available for purchase.

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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Metapoetic – Poetry that Preaches

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By Steven T. Licardi

The first time I met Metapoetic was at the first meeting of Poemstars, a group of Long Island poets of which we are both a part. Meta is, polite, and mildly intimidating. As the group began to build rapport, I found that Meta and myself were on the same page with a lot of ideas and issues. He has since become a close friend, a spiritual adviser, and, above all, a poetic inspiration.

The first thing I wanted to know is where the name Metapoetic came from. “The name is a play on words,” he said. “In literary terms, it means beyond-poetic. But when I created it, I thought of myself as being the metaphor of being poetic.” Meta, who is a deacon at his church, speaks poetically with the cadence of a sermon, even in normal conversation. I am always so interested in hearing his opinion or perspective on particular issues, so I wondered how he first found poetry. “I have always been interested in how words dance together. It started with writing raps. I believe someone inviting me to a Spark O.N.E. meeting – a Hampton University poetry group – and it sparked my interest. I was so awe inspired by their words and cadence.”

Because of his theological background, Meta’s style is peppered with Bible citations and metaphors for divinity. I wanted to know more about it. “I think my style is pushing it out with a lot of effort. I want you to catch every word I say. I used to mumble a lot when I first started performing. After performing once in Virginia, I told myself I would actively attempt to annunciate as strongly as possible.” And he does! Meta, who is rather soft-spoken, bursts into finely articulated speech when he performs, with a booming vocalization that appears almost painful. This delivery always encases a message. “I usually write to inspire others,” he said. “So I try to fill my poems with anything inspirational. This is usually due to the many times I am in a rut myself, and I usually speak to myself as I speak to others in my poems.” Perhaps his delivery is rooted in a deeper strife.

“I hope I can inspire any demographic that struggles day to day with life, to see that even if you feel you can’t talk to anyone about your problems, you can talk to the page.”

I wanted to know if there are other poets who have inspired Metapoetic. “I am influenced by underground poets; poets who are writing with purpose. A few poets that have inspired me the most are Saul Williams, Shadokat, Mili, Black Ice, and Ayo.” But he recognizes the need to create his own image. “I try hard to not duplicate others,” he admitted. “I want your hand on my every word, but I don’t want to use everyone else’s cadence; I want you to come to Christ, but I don’t want to beat you in the head with Bible verses and clichés; I want to inspire you to succeed, but I don’t want to act like I have it all together.” It is that selflessness in Meta’s work that makes it so uplifting. He preaches without preaching. He invites you to take it or leave it, with indifference toward your decision.

Like all poets, I wondered why it is he chose poetry over other forms of expression.

“Because poetry is the most naked you can get….You can have no instrumental, no hook, no breakdown, no rhyme scheme, no filler. Just a marriage between heart and page.”

I also wondered – because I love picking Metapoetic’s brain – why he thought Long Island has such a diverse poetry community. “The interesting thing about every community, when it comes to poetry, is the content usually goes hand-in-hand with why people are writing. Due to the great amount of diversity in Nassau and Suffolk County, I believe there is such a large amount of reasons why people write. Some write for change, some write to keep things the same, some to inspire, and some to condemn.” But Meta, and myself, want to see more. “Be more of a talk-to-action community,” he implore, “that our words would be a catalyst for more movement than workshops.”

I asked Meta to choose a few lines of poetry that he is most proud of. He exhorted:

“Let my ear be the pen your tears are dispatched to / I just want you to attach to a new vision / wear contacts adorned with gold 7’s / because your glass ceiling is the heavens, / but please / don’t get grandfather clocked into a routine away from a smiling heart, / your days should not be marked with swinging pendulums, / monotony has always been built with hairline fractures.” (From “Concrete Angel”).

Metapoetic will be performing alongside the rest of the artistic cast at SPARKBOOM‘s “Beards, Bards and BOOM” on Saturday, June 21st at the Walt Whitman Birthplace (Click HERE to RSVP). You can read some of his poetry and see him perform. Meta is very approachable, with a kind heart, and a gentle tongue. His friendship is something I cherish immensely, and the ways in which his poetry and presence has enriched my life is something I want to share with others. Let him preach to you softly about life from the pulpit in his heart.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Steven T. Licardi (The Sven-Bo!) is the author of “Death By Active Movement” (Local Gems Press, 2013) and is a spoken word poet, actor, artist, and public speaker from West Islip, NY. Steven uses his many projects to raise awareness of social issues, for advocacy, and as a means to educate others to be compassionate. He hosts as blog called “Cross My Heart And Hope To Write” that explores the relationship between love, beauty, and the human condition. Find out where he will be performing next at TheSvenBo.com.

 

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Steve Ceraso – Transforming Basic Materials

By Jenna Weis

steve cersaso

In the art world, to utilize the most expensive and sophisticated tools from a local art store does not necessarily produce work with character. This is something achieved by being innovative with what is already available paired with the technical knowledge of the medium. Sculptor Steve Ceraso has mastered multiple types of three dimensional art techniques creating various series of works, each diverse in content yet all formed from re-purposed materials. Although his venture as an artist began with mechanical drawing and architecture in high school, it was the act of sculpture making that fulfilled his creativity…

“I wanted to make art that went beyond image-making. Sculpture and installation did that for me.”

Without the guidance of a specific image Ceraso must rely on his own creativity and the objects themselves to construct sculptures that truly emit character in the sense of materiality and form.

As Ceraso evolves as an artist, so does his work. He explains; “From series to series, I am thinking about changes, however these re-purposed materials are always there. I want the viewer to respond to my work and make conclusions of their own.” His Amorphous Form series came together when working with a group of sculptors in Long Island City and learned the art of cast iron sculpture.

The “biomorphic shapes” as he describes, completely reconfigures the rigid material of the metal that it once was. He explains; “I was concerned with making these fluid organic forms because it is something that is difficult to achieve with fabricated welding processes. It’s not easy to bend metal without extreme heat!” This correspondence between the original object and the end result is what Ceraso keeps in mind when obtaining his materials for a piece. Anything that makes the viewer question its original source is what inspires Ceraso.

This artist seems to always be broadening his expertise in casting. Being invited to work with other sculptors in a Pennsylvania foundry has given him the background to bronze casting. He says:

“Something about the process is just amazing, the process of working in a foundry with other sculptors is also a great exchange of ideas and skills.”

Taking his knowledge of casting from this experience, he became a sculpture professor at LIU post working with aluminum yet still continues to be exposed to new techniques. More recently Ceraso has explored small scale pewter casting that he now teaches at a Bay Shore gallery that he manages.

Steve Ceraso will be showcasing his work at SPARKBOOM‘s 2014 kickoff event June 21st at The Walt Whitman Birthplace from 7-10 PM. Look for him in the Sculpture Garden! RSVP here. For more information visit: sparkboom.org.

For more about Steve Ceraso visit: stevenceraso.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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Nancy Wong – Art and Life Through Motion

Working on _Embraced in his October peace_

By Jenna Weis

Experiences, dreams, and imaginations we all encounter through the journey of life, in every aspect of life, create a constant motion that multimedia artist Nancy Wong thrives in with her art work. As a self taught artist she uses the everyday as her resource for inspiration. Using found materials such as cardboard for a canvas and a variety of different drawing tools over what would be deemed traditional, Wong’s art truly sets her apart. The animated quality and symbolic undertones together leave_Each of us shares a mark here II_s the viewer engaged as well as curious. She states “A range of my work from oil paintings, ceramics, sculpture, printmaking, or mixed media derives from ideas set from every day experiences or where our dreams and imagination may take us.”

This idea of motion, in regards to life experiences, prevails throughout Wong’s art in every medium she sets before her. Her two dimensional pieces have a constant flow that is made visible in the way she handles the brush, sharpie, or pen. Swirls are a reoccurring decorative element that she explains “Drawing swirls is a relaxing, stress free technique requiring constant movement, concentration, and staying meticulous to the lines established.”

From a personal evolutionary sense Wong recalls her summer of 2003 when she was constantly oContinuous scalesn the go between work, friends, family and other activities. This experience gave Wong the foundation for her porcelain koi fish piece which visually displays her progression in to the artist she is today. Wong describes this piece as “the process of ten years becoming an individual inspired by different experiences. Although each fish is different in style and length, it functions together as a whole piece.” Fish, as a representation of good luck in the Chinese culture here represent how her movement through past and present experiences together helps shape the artist.

RodrigoWith a reliance on herself and her morals Wong’s work radiates this confidence and depth beyond the beautiful aesthetics on the surface. She makes a statement that I feel everyone should live by no matter what we do or who we are…

“I believe it’s important to have a good work ethic, be genuine, and use your whole heart to create something if it is meaningful to you.”

 

Come experience Nancy Wong’s work at SPARKBOOM’S kickoff event “Beards, Bards and BOOM” on Saturday, June 21st from 7-10 PM at the Walt Whitman Birthplace. RSVP here. For more information visit: sparkboom.org.

To see more of Nancy’s art visit: nancywong.tk.

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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Bri Onishea – The Dream Catcher

By Steven T. Licardi

2.25.14 Dante RedHeffner SettlesBri Onishea is one of those poets you never see coming. I met her at a local band show; we had a mutual college friend. She had previously contacted me expressing an interest in becoming involved with the Long Island poetry scene, but I had never actually spoken to her face to face. It turned out we lived a few blocks over from each other in the same town and both graduated from Suffolk County Community College the same year. The first time I heard her read was at the Walt Whitman Birthplace as part of the Generation Y Poets Showcase. She was awkward. She was unsteady. But she didn’t need to be – her poetry was a powerhouse of emotion, imagery, and message, delivered in a soft, take-it-or-leave-it kind of voice. I was instantly enthralled.

Bri, a recent graduate of SUNY Geneseo, brings a fresh eclectic flare and gentle sarcasm to her work. Her Irish and Native American roots offer a unique view. The first poem I heard of hers dealt with Egyptian mythology, revealing a deep fascination while relating it to a deeper desire to live righteously. As I interviewed her, however, I was surprised to learn that poetry, for her, wasn’t always so intimate.

When asked how she first got into the craft, she told me;

“Strangely enough, poetry and I had this odd love/hate romance going on for a while….I think what threw me off about poetry when I was younger is that it seemed like what was most sought after and admired by my peers and teachers was a conglomeration of intelligent-sounding words with some imagery thrown in for fun. It wasn’t accessible or relatable.”

For most of her adolescents and early adulthood, she considered herself more of a prose writer. “Even as recently as three years ago, poetry and I were still waging this type of internal battle.” Things began to shift after seeing Buddy Wakefield perform as part of his Night Kite Revival Tour at Geneseo. She realized that poetry could be so much more than just words on a page. “I wanted to go out and change the world that night. But then I’d find myself in my writing classes trying to define what poetry was.”

What struck me early on in my friendship with Bri is her brash, unwavering critique of poetry in general. This is something I feel gives her work a welcoming edge. She illustrated this when recalling a poem from one of her undergraduate classes. “There was this one ‘poem’ we looked at in particular that was simply the word ‘lilac’ written out over and over so that the letters formed flowers. [Concrete poetry, I digress.] To me, that’s not poetry, that’s a damn drawing!” This, coming from a poet who blew me away the first time I heard her, was refreshing and humbling to hear. “We had a long discussion in that class about whether poetry was simply poetry based on whether the author defined it as such. It seemed pretty arbitrary to me. At least prose was more clear-cut.”

One of Bri’s biggest paradigm shifts came when she met Cori Winrock, one of her professors at Geneseo and a prominent poet herself. “She was young, and hip, and creative, and I was intrigued enough to experiment. She had us create jam words, made us write poems from the last line backwards, encouraged us to ‘write ourselves scared’ and to ‘imagize everything.’”

But her final push towards pursuing poetry performance came tragically when a close friend of hers died unexpectedly last year. “I had trouble focusing; as an obsessive person by nature, I kept thinking about him, thinking about life and death, and all I could really write were these snippets of lines and images to convey how I felt.” The musician Frank Turner, her friend’s personal favorite, also became a source of inspiration. “His music is all about seizing the day, carpe diem, rah-rah-rah, and I loved how honest and open he was. I knew I wasn’t in a position where I could just sit around and waste time anymore, I needed to go out and create on a grander scale, touch people, meet people, be involved in something.”

When asked about her influences, Bri is quick to answer with song lyrics. “There’s a lyric from a Something Corporate song: ‘I met a girl who kept tattoos for homes that she had loved/ If I were her, I’d paint my body until all my skin was gone.’ Some days I wish I could make my body an easel, so I could go off-the grid crazy, paint my body with every line or lyric I’ve ever wanted to pay homage to, wrapped around beautiful spiraling henna designs, use words as a sort of mood ring.” She also draws inspiration from light, shadows, textures, and color, which clearly feed the beautiful imagery that infests her work. They seem to instantly instill a sense of synesthesia.

This became clear when I asked her if she could choose one line from a poem of hers that she felt best captivates her style and persona. She offered me this gem: “’Temporary’ has a sherbet lemon flavor that lingers on the back of my hippocampus. I’ll return to this one day, a bittersweet candy memory.”

One of my favorite questions to ask fellow poets is why they do what they do; what is it that draws them to write poetry. “Why poetry?” she reflects. “Because I can’t stop, I’m not half bad at it, and it seems to speak to people. I truly believe that some things are a compulsion, not a choice.”

This straightforward way of speaking also sets her work apart. It has an air of blue-color innocence, as if spoken from the mouth of someone who is just trying to pay their bills and keep their head above water. Her poetry is poetry for non-poets. I think it is a reflection of where she has been and her personality in general. Amid such natural flowery speech – separated by long pauses where she tries to collect her thoughts – the randomness of her personality shows through. “I’m in love with Sarah Kay,” she says, “for reals. Like, I feel pretty jipped that I’m not Sarah Kay.” Her sincerity is remarkable, even for a poet.

Bri Onishea is a relative newcomer to the poetry scene, but whereas others have only gotten their feet wet, Bri has dived in headfirst, only to emerge soaking wet to tell others how cold the water is. I have seen her develop her stage presence and hone her delivery skills into something incredible. When I was asked to handpick the poets to perform at this years SPARKBOOM event, she was an immediate choice. Her poetry is a force to be reckoned with, although it is more likely to take you by the hand and comfort you by saying: “Don’t worry, I’m lost too.”

You can see & hear Bri perform her words performed live on Saturday, June 21st at SPARKBOOM‘s 2014 kickoff event “Beards, Bards and BOOM” at The Walt Whitman Birthplace.

For more info, visit sparkboom.org. RSVP to our FB event here.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Steven T. Licardi (The Sven-Bo!) is the author of “Death By Active Movement” (Local Gems Press, 2013) and is a spoken word poet, actor, artist, and public speaker from West Islip, NY. Steven uses his many projects to raise awareness of social issues, for advocacy, and as a means to educate others to be compassionate. He hosts as blog called “Cross My Heart And Hope To Write” that explores the relationship between love, beauty, and the human condition. Find out where he will be performing next at TheSvenBo.com.

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A Glimpse into Robert Sloan

robertsloan1Robert Sloan is a Long Island native. He was born and raised in Massapequa Park, only leaving his hometown when he went to school in Oneonta for Music Business. I had a chance to sit and talk with Robert and get a glimpse into who this artists really is.

Though Robert played clarinet and sang in school programs, his musical life really began at the age of thirteen. That’s when Robert first heard the music of Jimi Hendrix. The mesmerizing and psychedelic nature of Hendrix’s music really spoke to Robert. It was then that Robert knew he needed — not just wanted –needed a guitar. He received a few lessons, and learned the basic scales and chords, but soon, that style of practicing would not be enough. Over time, Robert developed a unique method of practice, that some haven’t heard of and others call crazy. Robert began a method of meditation that helped him practice the guitar while lucidly dreaming. Before sleep, Robert would play one chord over and over, clearing his mind while focusing on his guitar and the sounds it created. He would then go to bed and, through training, would lay with as little movement possible until his body fell asleep. Through these dreams, Robert would practice his playing-techniques and become inspired through his mind’s creations to write songs.

Robert’s songs mainly come from the inspirations found in his dream-scape. When he talks about the music t1979679_10100390102224051_997475758_nhat came about from his dreams, he described it more as being sent to him, rather than being created. He considers his sound to be Folk with some aspects of Jam, Funk and Pop music. But, he doesn’t like to be viewed solely as a folk musician. Though, one of his main inspirations is the renowned English folk artist, Nick Drake, he has many other musical influences, ranging from Cat Stevens to Donovan to Green Day to John Mayer to World musicians, like Habib Koite. He believes that his music is always supplementary to the message he is trying to convey.

Robert reads a lot of books to help him. He uses messages of positive growth, redemption and love in all of his songs. He believes that his lyrics can inspire others, cause change, and better our world. Because Robert is an avid reader, he strives to make his sounds and lyrics come together to make musical novels. Robert told me that while he is very happy with the music he makes now, but is still looking to do more. He wants to use some harder messages in his music, perhaps delving into topics such as politics and society as a whole.

robertsloan2Outside of his own music, Robert actually owns his own booking and promoting agency called InterROBang Productions. He enjoys cult movies like “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”. Robert also spends a lot of his time working to help people less fortunate than himself. He has started working in a home with special needs individuals, and has found that it to be extremely rewarding. He has also worked with Unicef in raising money to help people affected by natural disasters.

I asked Robert if he had any advice for up-and-coming Long Island artists. He had a lot of wisdom for them, stating;

“You have to play all the time. You have to work on your craft. You have to put yourself out there. Find your audience and just go do it!”

Robert Sloan will be performing on Saturday, June 21st at SPARKBOOM‘s 2014 kickoff event “Beards, Bards and BOOM” at The Walt Whitman Birthplace. Robert already has a beard, and a pretty impressive one at that. He promises to dress it up even more come June 21st.

For more info, visit sparkboom.org. RSVP to our FB event here.

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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“How We Assign Value to Objects” – Understanding The Mind of Nicole Hixon

By Jenna Weis

PastedGraphic-1Living in an environmentally centered society it has become almost second nature to recycle materials we use every day, even frowned upon when we don’t. For most of us, the thought of those materials become obsolete in the aftermath but artist, Nicole Hixon questions “what happens to the things we no longer use or see?” Growing up in a transitional time to a more environmentally friendly world, Hixon became inspired to bring attention to the value of disposed objects. She says; “I realized that I could use materials people believed were expendable to create something more from them and give them new life.” By reconfiguring these disposed objects Hixon reveals the natural quality she sees in them and generates organically charged sculptures.

Hixon discovered her artistic calling with ceramics, but it was her PastedGraphic-3interaction with the art of Chakaia Booker that sparked her interest of working with disposed materials. She says “I was inspired to create work from inorganic material and make it seem natural- make it grow.” With old tires, plastic bottles, and other found objects donated by friends and family, Hixon creates sculptures that represent what we see in nature yet brings to light their original forms which she believes is where their true value comes from.  Instead of simply throwing her finds in a recycling bin never to be thought of again, she says she has “a bigger plan and agenda to elevate their status.”

Her sculptures entail organic shapes and textures making the original materials unrecognizable at first glance. She then labels her works with codes that would be seePastedGraphic-2n on an assembly line to force the viewer to confront “how we often strip the planet of natural resources to make synthetic things instead of using what’s given.” Consideration of material, form, and title together in her sculptures contribute to her overall theme of value in objects, which she also explores with photography. In ‘The Calgary’ series ominous photos of the cemetery, created through a plastic bottle filter, connects human bodies to disposed objects. She explains; “In continuing to think about how we assign value to objects, I started thinking about how we assign value to life and death and the cycles in our bodies, because in these bodies we are ourselves disposable.”

Come see her work in the sculpture garden at the SPARKBOOM kickoff event “Beards, Bards, and BOOM” on Saturday, June 21st at the Walt Whitman Birthplace from 7-10 PM.

For more info, visit sparkboom.org. RSVP to our FB event here.

Visit Nicole’s website at nicolehixonart.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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Coffee Shop Confessional with Rorie Kelly

roriekelly_blender_bytigerdarson

Photo Credit: Tiger Darson

By: Moe Tompkins

I had the opportunity to grab a cup of coffee with acoustic rocker, Rorie Kelly. If you haven’t heard of Rorie, well, you’re going to. Originally from Bayville, Rorie recently moved back to Long Island from Brooklyn, citing the amount of work she was getting here, and more importantly the warmth and familiar nature of the creative community as two huge factors in that decision. Rorie is what we-in-the-industry call “a working musician”. Sounds like an oxymoron, right? But she’s doing it! But if being a working musician were easy, we’d all do it.

Most describe Rorie as sounding like Janice Joplin or Alanis Morisette. Her raw, soulful vocals are the perfect conduit to carry her particularly personal style of song-writing. Anybody looking for music with meaning, look no further. Even though her music generally carries a message, it doesn’t come off as preachy or lofty – which for me anyway, is a huge plus. There are too many acoustic guitar players out there that are just way too….I digress. Lately she derives her inspiration from a desire to connect. Her aim these days is to write inspirational music; music less about her personal experience and more so about the general human one – a sort of soundtrack of your life. And it sounds like she’s pretty much hitting the nail on the head. Check out her single If you Teach a bird to Sing, It. Is. Everything.

On a lighter, more personal note, for anybody who has ever wondered, Rorie is a really cool person to hang with. A self-described sci-fi geek, she particularly enjoys watching Star Trek when she has the time. Her musical tastes include; Ohio indie band, Red, Wanting Blue, and Australian musician, Kate Miller Heidke. Her advice to aspiring singers and songwriters? I’m paraphrasing but…

Keep doing it if you’re serious, but be serious. When we’re young, adults tell us that we can be anything, and then tell us to be ‘reasonable’ when we’re applying for college programs. If you have a dream that is that important to you, go for it, because nobody is responsible for your happiness but you.

Well said, Rorie.

Rorie Kelly will  be performing at SPARKBOOM‘s 2014 KICKOFF EVENT – “Beards, Bards and BOOM” on Saturday, June 21st, at The Walt Whitman Birthplace. For more info, visit sparkboom.org. RSVP to our FB event here.

Visit Rorie at roriekelly.com and facebook.com/roriekellymusic.

Check out this video:

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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