By JAMES DEAN HICKMAN - For The Outpost
The times they are a changin’ for the beloved Billings music institution The Tuneys.
Originally the brainchild of Outpost alumnus Scott Prinzing, the Tuneys were so named because of Prinzing’s weekly music column, In Tune. But since In Tune left with Prinzing, it makes less sense.
The new moniker is The Magic City Music Awards, but The Outpost will continue to call the awards given out Tuneys out of respect for Prinzing and Billings’ long-running music column.
But the name is just one of many changes. We are moving away from the “best of” moniker for awards, replacing it with “of the year.” This requires that local acts be actively engaging in their craft, doing shows and making albums to be considered.
Last Updated on Thursday, 18 October 2012 22:35
Huddled over a table and speaking in hushed coded-terms, a small group of programmers question the wisdom of releasing the news of The Billings Outpost Tuneys, Vol. 3.0, in the wake of the iPhone 5’s big splash. But time is wasting away as summer has turned to fall, so the decision is made to announce the metamorphosis of the Tuneys to The Billings Outpost Magic City Music Awards, complete with new firmware.
The Tuney Awards were sprouted in Scott Prinzing’s musical mind-garden in 2000 as a way to recognize and celebrate the contributions of local artists to the Billings music scene. The program was simple and linear and relied on Outpost readers to nominate and then vote for best artists, groups, venues, LPs, CDs and DJs. Reader responses and showtime turnouts grew along with the variety of awards and diversity of performers.
Tuneys 2.0 was promulgated in 2009 with a shift to parallel programming, theme-oriented shows and a regular host venue, Yellowstone Valley Brewing Co. While the platform of nominating and voting for local artists did not change, a small cover charge was added to enter the show and to raise funds to support music-related artist and community needs.
The Tuneys now had a dual purpose. That and each subsequent year, cash awards were given to buy musical instruments, provide music lessons and help offset medical expenses of uninsured musicians.
Steve Brown stands at the table and then waves his hand like a wand over an unrolling page that reveals the symbol of Tuney metamorphosis; the new Magic City Music Awards logo. Steve, a local singer-songwriter, guitar, bass and drums player, and multi-time performer at the Tuneys, leads a group of Outpost volunteers in the system redesign.
Last Updated on Thursday, 11 October 2012 10:36
When Seether’s latest CD hit the market in May 2011, fans heard a band that has grown more collaborative and, more than ever, sounds like a group of guys playing together in a room.
That’s the view on the CD, “Holding onto Strings Better Left to Fray,” from drummer John Humphrey.
This album was a lot of fun,” Humphrey said in a phone interview. “And we were a band, man, living together and working together, demos, recording, it was a full-band process and it was pretty cool.”
Indeed, “Holding Onto Strings Better Left to Fray,” saw Seether make several key changes in the way it created and recorded its music, beginning with the songwriting process.
On the group’s three earlier albums – “Disclaimer,” “Karma and Effect” and “Finding Beauty in Negative Spaces” – singer-guitarist Shaun Morgan had been the clear leader when it came to songwriting.
Last Updated on Thursday, 04 October 2012 22:14
Tickets are on sale for an Oct. 30 performance by Loretta Lynn with Chuck Mead at the Alberta Bair Theater.
Black Diamond Entertainment presents the concert. Ticket prices are $76 for premier seating, $61 for main floor and loge, and $46 for balcony seats.
Loretta Lynn’s 50-year career has produced a string of hits that include “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” “You Ain’t Woman Enough to Take My Man,” “Blue Kentucky Girl,” “I’m a Honky Tonk Girl” and “When the Tingle Becomes a Chill.”
Her best-selling 1976 autobiography was made into an Academy Award winning film, “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” starring Sissy Spacek and Tommy Lee Jones. Her most recent album, “Van Lear Rose,” was released in 2004, produced by Jack White, and topped the country album charts.
This Country Music Hall of Fame artist has written more than 160 songs and released 70 albums. She has had 10 No. 1 albums and 16 No. 1 singles on the country charts.
Last Updated on Saturday, 01 September 2012 10:33
When drummer Andrew Dost was asked to join Fun., the new band that singer Nate Ruess was putting together with Jack Antonoff, Dost knew almost before playing a note in the new group that there was real potential for the band.
“I didn’t know (guitarist) Jack (Antonoff) that well,” said Dost, who had met Ruess as a touring member of Ruess’s previous band, the Format. “I think Nate is just a fantastic guy, and in addition to that, he’s an amazing performer and an amazing frontman and an amazing songwriter. You don’t turn down a chance to work with somebody like Nate.”
Antonoff, whose other band, Steel Train, had opened for the Format, quickly impressed Dost as well.
“I thought he was a phenomenal guitar player, a great songwriter and just a really funny and awesome guy to be around,” Dost said.
“It (Fun.) just sounded like a dream come true, really, and so far it really has been.”
Last Updated on Thursday, 23 August 2012 22:07
After a few albums that veered a bit more toward his rockabilly side, Gary Small’s latest effort, “Hostiles & Renegades,” takes us back to the sound of his debut, and with great results. That album, 2002’s “Wild Indians,” was a blend of vocal and instrumental; Latin and reggae; and strong songwriting.
That songwriting was good enough to earn Small his first of three NAMMYS, the Native American Music Association’s annual awards. In 2007 he was awarded Best Rock Recording for the Coyote Bros. album, “Crazy Woman Mountain,” with its surf guitar sound.
Although that album celebrated the retro vintage rock of the ’50s and ’60s, he is currently riding the crest of the wave for his 2011 Male Artist NAMMY. Not bad for a Northern Cheyenne kid who grew up in Kirby and Sheridan, Wyo.
The nine original tracks on his latest release were produced by Small in Sheridan at Crazy Moon Recording. This makes five albums with the Coyote Bros.; his debut was as the Gary Small Band.
Once again, Small is accompanied by the Coyote Bros., an all-native group of talented musicians who have backed him for his past four releases. Bassist Jobe Jennings sounds as energetic and creative as he is to watch play on stage. Drummer Jim Willey is as solid as a band could hope for. A variety of musical friends appear on a few songs as well.
Last Updated on Thursday, 23 August 2012 22:05
Every once in awhile a local band comes along and you can’t help but think, “Wow, they really have what it takes.” The Farthest Edge is the newest band to join the ranks of the Billings greats, acts like Grudge, Spurge, The Forestry, Krunk, and Reid Perry and The Montana Avenue band, and many others.
The Farthest Edge is a veritable Billings hard rock super-band that came together almost by accident. Guitarist Rich Candelaria, of Grudge fame (and now engineer at Hi Def Studios,) had some guitar riffs that he was developing in his spare time, some of which he had been working on since his Grudge days.
“He had some guitar tracks and some programmed drums. As far as demo tracks go, they were all pretty much solid finished products. He approached me with the instrumentals asking if I would write some stuff to them,” said lead singer Patrick Lee Michaelis, who had just gotten back from ten years in New York. Michaelis did not have any serious music endeavors at the time, outside of a cover band he would occasionally play in with a few of his buddies.
The original intent was to make a few simple tracks here and there and possibly put them on iTunes. “Neither of us had any interest in playing a bunch live or coming together as a full band,” said Michaelis.
Yet fortuitously, when Michaelis came to the studio with his finalized lyrics and melody lines, things went a little too well to be just a part-time side project. Both Michaelis and Candelaria decided to take it a step further and find a drummer.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 August 2012 11:18
In many cases, a covers record is a group’s attempt to showcase its musical influences and how its own songs came to sound the way they do.
Def Leppard’s 2006 CD, “Yeah!,” is a good example. Featuring covers of early 1970s glam/hard rock tunes, it was meant to show that the band was rooted in rock and not heavy metal.
The Counting Crows’ new CD of cover tunes, “Underwater Sunshine (Or What We Did On Our Summer Vacation)” is not that kind of album. The songs the band covers don’t come from any certain genre or era. So it isn’t about helping fans understand the musical influences that shaped the Bay area group.
But “Underwater Sunshine” offers something that might make it more valid as a covers album than most such releases. It helps tell a story about two groups that preceded and helped connect the members of Counting Crows.
Just as importantly, the band accomplishes something that many acts don’t achieve in making covers albums – the Counting Crows make the songs on “Underwater Sunshine” sound like their own.
Last Updated on Thursday, 02 August 2012 12:02
Zach Myers is well aware that Shinedown has a tough act to follow with its new CD, “Amaryllis.” It follows the 2008 release, “The Sound of Madness,” which featured six singles that went No. 1 on various airplay charts, including “Second Chance,” which crossed over to pop, cracked the top 10 at Top 40 and introduced the band to a whole new audience.
Still, Myers says he thinks “Amaryllis” is a better album.
“I think we did write a better record than ‘Madness,’” he said in a recent phone interview. “I think ‘Madness’ is a great record for what it is. I think it’s the best possible picture taken of who we were at that time. But I also think that in 2012, this is the best picture of us at this time.”
Myers might like Shinedown as it exists today because the band is in a much better place than it was during his first three years as a hired gun for the band.
He came into the band as a touring guitarist in 2005, in time for touring behind Shinedown’s second CD, “Us And Them.” That CD followed a 2003 debut, “Leave a Whisper,” that topped one million copies sold and established Shinedown as a band to watch on the mainstream rock scene.
Last Updated on Thursday, 26 July 2012 22:49
In years past, Josh Peyton and the studio have never been best buddies.
Sure, the man who leads the rootsy rock trio the Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band had made albums – five full-lengths and two EPs, in fact. But the studio never felt like home.
“I don’t want to say I dreaded it so much; I don’t know if I would go so far as to say that,” Peyton said in an early July phone interview. “(But) I’m nervous in the studio, just like ‘Oh man, we’ve got to get this right.’ It’s just kind of a nerve-wracking experience.”
But doing his forthcoming sixth CD, “Between the Ditches” (release date: Aug. 7) has Peyton singing a very different tune about the album-making experience.
“I said to Breezy (Peyton’s wife and washboard player in the Big Damn Band), ‘If making a record is going to be this fun, I think I want to make more records,’” Peyton recalled. “I’ve never really felt that way before. I’ve always, in a way, records were a love-hate thing. I’ve always enjoyed having a recorded product, new songs on a record, but I never really loved the process.”
Last Updated on Friday, 20 July 2012 10:03