Saturday, March 27, 2010

John Flanagan's performance wins with Foxwoods

Foxwoods is one of the biggest casinos in the U.S., and the new face and voice for it has been chosen. If you don't know him, you will soon. Nashville's very own singer and songwriter John Flanagan, who moved here from Boston, won the contest at the casino with next to no preparation, relying on his 'natural talent of creating melodies', as he put it, as his guide. 

His music and stage performance fits the bill perfectly for such a contest. As he named his influences, the resemblances between his unique mixture of pop and broadway-style glitz and glamour, and a few of his favorite artists, were pretty apparent. 

"My melodies are that of Ben Folds, but my gimmick is more David Bowie and Freddie Mercury," Flanagan illustrated. "I also have a touch of Lady Gaga, even though I'm not as electronic. I find that in order to make an impression, a gimmick is necessary, and with every song, a hook is needed to entice the audience. I try to write music that's not so 'One, two, three; peter, paul, and mary." 

Speaking to him at Fido's in Hillsboro Village, he acted like anyone would, once they were given their first taste of fame; he was elated. 

"My family and friends are beside themselves with ecstasy," Flanagan said. "Not too many people have heard of Foxwoods here in Tennessee, but my hometown practically considers me a celebrity."  

This recent bout of new-found stardom took him by surprise, as he stated that he hasn't even had experience at casinos in the past.  

"What's fascinating to me about this process is the fact that I've never even gambled before," Flanagan said. "Suddenly ive become the face and voice that is involved with just that. I'm just a part of their image, as they are a part of mine now. All it took was one small step, but I was thrust in to a completely new light." 

The contest has given him high hopes for the future. The winning package included $25,000 worth of studio time and marketing benefits; $10,000 worth of that sum was dedicated to the promotions alone. With that amount of elbow room, he let his imagination roam and told me exactly what he was going to do with that money, once his EP was complete.  

"I want to blast the northeast with news of it," Flanagan said. "Beyond the winnings, there's been talk of not only being the voice of Foxwoods, but the face of it as well. I'd love to be on television. They have mentioned commercials, and me even having a concert of my own."

For the time being, his upcoming show will be in my hometown, Clarksville, Tennessee, at their annual festival 'Rivers and Spires'. He mentioned that he was apprehensive about the small-town crowd being receptive to his extravagant style of performing, but that he planned on toning it down a little, while still showcasing his talent.  

"I'll even wear a pair of jeans!" Flanagan said with a smile.

Thunderbear experiments with a fresh new sound

Describing the Thunderbear crew as musical maniacs would be an understatement, especially if you attended any of their shows. Andrew and Primo, the two main wheels of this crazy, dirty electro-tribal collaboration live in the hills of Nashville at a location that has become quite the chill spot for local fans and friends known as the ThunderCove, and is also where most of the magical music creation goes down. They have a unique sound, and offer a respectable difference from the majority of djs/dub musicians who populate the scene today.

Their secret: Primo keeps it fresh and energetic on the drums and various electronic devices. Andrew Bazinet slaps and taps on the bass, while also adding some synthesizer to the mix. They have guest appearances throughout their performance, including percussive drums and local DJs, who add some pretty killer grooves for the ultimate tribal grind. Live show production is a huge goal they strive to achieve at every show, which generally consist of live video visuals by Lee Stewart Designs, lighting design, and various local live art talents. Music can speak in so many different ways, and having full production at their shows is a way to express the music from every angle.

The most interesting part of all this, is when they are not working on Thunderbear, they are highly involved with the production side of music. Andrew is a studio recording engineer, who has worked for WB Studios for 4 years, but also said he has worked solo with various local bands including Moon Taxi, The Janissary, Oakleave, and Small Axe. Steve has been a live sound engineer/production manager around Nashville and has been creating a buzz about his work for sometime now. “When’s he’s not hard at work with the band, he’s booking shows and running sound for touring acts and excels to the fullest and doing this,” Andrew said. “Any local promoter will tell you the same thing. He’s the man when it comes to anything and everything in the Live Production field.”

They said they are having a great time making music, but their musical direction hasn’t always been a clear paved path. “We had never played in a jam or electronic band before we met,” said Primo. “After playing in a few rock and jambands, we had trouble assembling a definite band, so we decided to start something like our current project.” Since then they have met all kinds of promoters and friends who would help them develop into what they are known as today.

“We just like to rock ‘da party,” Andrew said. Primo concurred.

The band said they will continue to evolve and experiment with their music, and said they wanted to start handing out their music to the public very soon. However, an EP is still in the mix, so for the time being a few tracks will be available for take home use.