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[29 Mar 2013 | No Comment | ]

foe destroyerDALLAS — All musicals are not created equal. Though many follow a template that wards off people outside the niche, others are so delightfully inventive that even those who denounce theater can relate to, and more importantly enjoy, the production.

Fly By Night, which is slated to open April 26 at Kalita Humphreys Theater, seeks to fall into the latter category, predominantly because DFW indie rockers Foe Destroyer will play the soundtrack to the entire musical.

“The score doesn’t sound like typical musical theater,” said Artistic Director Kevin Moriarty at the theater’s meet and greet between cast and crew Tuesday.

That aspect undoubtedly gives Fly By Night curb appeal, which may be all the troupe needs to lure new patrons into a script Moriarty described as “unique,” “sparkling,” and “fresh.”

The year is 1965 in the restless heart of New York City. Fly By Night follows an array of seemingly unconnected characters about their daily lives, as they make both innocuous and monumental decisions. All events culminate on November 9 of that year in the historic Northeast blackout that left more than 30 million people without electricity.

It is in the vast darkness, Moriarty said, that the characters are able to see more clearly than ever before.

“We can see ourselves in these characters,” said Bill Fennelly, director of Fly By Night. Their predicaments are shockingly resonate, he said, when they contemplate whether a series of choices or an act of fate brought them to their current standing.

The theme of Fly By Night is transition in every literal and metaphorical sense. The set is a series of black shapes that move fluidly to transform the stage, scene by scene, into a sandwich shop, an apartment, or the streets of NYC. The script jumps from present day into the past as well as into the future. The characters, too, transition within their personas as they conquer individual crossroads throughout the play.

“[The story] is as funny as it is moving; as smart as it is heartfelt,” said Moriarty.Fly By Night will make you laugh hysterically and bawl like a baby, he added.

foe destroyer cloe upMulti-instrumentalists Chris McQueen, Daniel Garcia, and Cade Sadler will remain on stage for the entirety of the performance, passively functioning as characters while sonically carrying the show.

These musicians are not strangers to the world of theater. In 2008, McQueen and Garcia participated in rock and roll musical The Who’s Tommy with a former band called Oso Closo.

While the score for Fly By Night is already written, the band said it is “open to interpretation,” allowing Foe Destroyer to get creative and utilize a variety of instruments.

“The arrangements they’ve given us — stripped down, basic drums, bass, guitar — fits with the genre we play in,” McQueen said. “I also think they’re interested in us adding our style into it a lot.”

Fly By Night was written by Will Connolly, Michael Mitnick, and Kim Rosenstock while the three were in grad school at Yale. The first time the musical was ever performed was the summer of 2009 in a basement theater, the only place the writers supposed it would be given life.

“This has been an epic odyssey,” Rosenstock said Tuesday to the Dallas faces manifesting her artistic vision. “We never envisioned how it would continue and grow.”

Fly By Night runs April 26 to May 26 at Kalita Humphreys Theater. Tickets go on sale Monday, April 22 for $15. There are also a select number of “pay what you can” tickets up for grabs that same day.

This story was originally published on Pegasus News on March 29, 2013.

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[27 Mar 2013 | No Comment | ]
Originally from Queens, J-Kruz grew up listening to East Coast rappers such as Nas and Mob Deep. He has grown an affinity for Southern rap since living in Dallas.

Originally from Queens, J-Kruz grew up listening to East Coast rappers such as Nas and Mob Deep. He has grown an affinity for Southern rap since living in Dallas.

When 97.9 The Beat’s radio personality J-Kruz began an internship at Pittsburg’s WAMO radio station right out of college, he never dreamed of a career in the media. After all, he was a just hip-hop musician entering commercial traffic data on the station’s back-end, in hopes his track would one day air. That was more than a decade ago.

Through an anomalous series of promotions, Dallas now sees J-Kruz every Thursday morning on CW Network’s Eye Openermorning show playing videos from up-and-coming artists in the hip-hop and rap genres. His segment, The Underground, features little-known musicians who are making waves in a scene devoid of Earth-shattering album sales or chart-topping hits.

“They’re mainly underground artists that have a fan base of their own, who are established and respected in the independent world of music,” J-Kruz said.

The term “underground” took on a new meaning in the era of technology. The Internet vastly affected the way music is both distributed and consumed, shaping J-Kruz’s ambition to shed light on artists who may never surface on public radio but who are supported by the divine digital network.

“Ten years ago, if an artist dropped a new song, there were two ways to hear it: on the radio or if you bought the album,” he said. “[Today] if there’s a new song, chances are I can hop on YouTube and hear it for free.”

J-Kruz hit on two redefining points for the music industry — YouTube and free distribution, which undoubtedly go hand in hand.

YouTube seems to be the common medium for independent musicians. J-Kruz recently featured Hoodie Allen on his show, a Jewish rapper out of New York who has garnered more than 8 million views for a single video without being signed to a record label. Another one of Kruz’s favorites is Kid Ink, who J-Kruz said is “just getting into the game,” but cumulatively attains more than 60 million. These artists unquestionably have clout, but by unconventional standards.

While these stats pay testament to the nature of underground culture, the mainstream seems to be taking notice. In February,Billboard began factoring YouTube plays into their algorithms that determine America’s most popular songs.

J-Kruz’s second point, free music, means that the next could-be rock stars may not be have commercial support. It rescripts the role of a record label, J-Kruz said.

J-Kruz said Kid Ink has more than 60 million YouTube hits cumulatively across his channel.

J-Kruz said Kid Ink has more than 60 million YouTube hits cumulatively across his channel.

“It puts the artists in the position of power now,” he explained. “If you can get the ball rolling on your own, if you got your own fan base and you got thousands of downloads, when you meet with those labels, it’s a negotiation.”

As technology makes music more accessible to listeners, it makes tools more accessible to creators, many who are rappers, J-Kruz said. He acknowledged that icons like Rick Ross and Lil Wayne will surely continue to sell millions of albums, but said they must constantly put out music to stay relevant. Music is becoming more democratic in the sense that the popular vote rules.

“Back in the day, going to jail would help most rappers’ careers,” said J-Kruz. “Nowadays, going to jail and being gone from the scene for a year and a half might kill your career, because that time you’re in there, there’s new rappers coming out everyday.”

J-Kruz’s jump into television from radio reflects a technology driven shift in the media, though he attested that radio is not dead. (J-Kruz still airs his local Raising the Bar spot on the radio.) He said it’s just not the right outlet for hardcore fans in any musical genre. J-Kruz also protested the common misconception that hip-hop is dead.

“If you’re one of those people who says hip-hop is dead, you’re listening to the wrong music,” he said.

Catch The Underground Thursday mornings on Eye Opener on CW33 at 5 a.m. and 7 a.m., as well as on Nightcap throughout the week.

This story was originally published on Pegasus News on March 27, 2013.

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[14 Mar 2013 | No Comment | ]

B. AndersonAUSTIN — His bedroom walls are plastered with posters of basketball legends, social rights activists and rappers. Pre-construction engineering sophomore Brandon Anderson holes up in here, tirelessly improving his rhymes in preparation for his life-changing show Wednesday.

Set to perform in Austin on March 14 at Nice Kicks as part of the South by Southwest festival, “B. Anderson” hopes to make a statement in the fast moving world of hip-hop.

“I know it’s going to be an adrenaline rush,” Anderson said. “I’ve never been in the limelight and I just want to see how people react to me. I just want to get either positive or even negative criticism.”

During his high school years, Anderson befriended rappers in the group Self Conscious Music. Even then, founder Dalton Smith knew it would only be a matter of time before Anderson became more comfortable with rapping and joined the ranks.

“He has a lot of potential,” Smith said. “I look forward to seeing him grow.”

Anderson sat back and watched all through high school, but after graduating, he shook his initial hesitations and joined his friends, rapping every opportunity he could.

“When you get to college, you have to find yourself,” Anderson said. “During my freshman year of college, I started to freestyle a little but it really started with the UNT ASO Cypher just last semester.”

The Cypher, a music video filmed in the fall, contained a group of students who each had one minute to reel off rhymes. After his appearance, Anderson received much attention from friends and family, prompting him to begin work on his first mix tape.

“I’ve been working on it for awhile,” Anderson said. “The beats that I have are good and I’ve received a lot of support. Your first mix tape is what solidifies you as a good artist or not.”

Anderson’s first batch of tracks are full of personal stories from his youth is tentatively scheduled for an April release. He wants rap fans to get to know him as he starts his career.

“My mix tape is going to be called #adoLESSONS,” Anderson said. “I’m about to turn 21, so I’m about to lose my last bit of adolescence. These songs are coming from when I had a young mind.”

With his upcoming release, the rookie rapper hopes to bring a new flavor to the genre. Anderson feels that current rap music and the direction it’s going renders some of the music meaningless.

“When you turn on the radio, you can hear a song that’s saying nothing at all,” Anderson said. “I don’t understand it. Some people see hip-hop as a dead art and with silly songs out there, I can see why.”

Friends of Anderson say they aren’t surprised about the musician’s recent opportunities, biology junior Michael Ogundipe said.

“One thing I can say about Brandon is that he’s dedicated,” Ogundipe said. “He’s a natural. Man he’s got the juice.”

For more on Brandon Anderson follow him on Twitter @Life_Motivated.

This story was originally published on Pegasus News on March 14, 2013.

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[11 Feb 2013 | No Comment | ]
The Effinays were also named Alternative Pick of the Year by The Urban Advocate, a local music and arts website.

The Effinays were also named Alternative Pick of the Year by The Urban Advocate, a local music and arts website.

DEEP ELLUM — Reggae, funk, and rock tunes blared from the speakers at Trees Saturday night when Wakarusa Music Festival hosted a battle of the bands show called the Wakarusa Winter Classic.

Five local bands competed for the chance to play in the Ozark Mountains on the 2013 Wakarusa bill. The crowd ultimately chose the winner. Dimitri’s Ascent (a last minute substitution for We The Sea Lions), Ugly Lion,The Effinays, Gravity Feed, and Goodnight Ned all put on commendable sets, but the people spoke, picking DFW NORML’s poster child The Effinays as the winner.

“It is an honor and a piece of a dream come true,” said Valenti “Funk” Thomas, drummer and keyboardist for The Effinays. The emotional draining of “what if” has now subsided and the band is on cloud nine, he added.

The Waka Winter Classic stretches as far East as Memphis, as far North as Minneapolis, as far West as Colorado, and as far South as Houston. The Classic is a great way to get embedded in the local scenes around the South and Mid-West and discover musicians the festival may have never heard about, said Aaron Stehman, a Wakarusa representative.

The Effinays’ funk-infused reggae style suits the Wakarusa lineup. For the festival’s 10th anniversary, The Effinays will be jamming alongside pioneer jam band Widespread Panic, rapper/Rastafarian Snoop Lion, and electronic guru Shpongle. Wakarusa takes place May 30-June 2 in Ozark, Ark.

This story was originally published on Pegasus News on February 11, 2013.

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[5 Feb 2013 | No Comment | ]

Solange Knowles

DENTON — Beyonce’s younger sister Solange Knowles and Scotland’s Camera Obscura are the most recent headliners announced to play the growing 35 Denton music festival in March.

The fifth and final video announcement came Tuesday, featuring a Sarah Jaffe cover of Solange’s “Losing You.” Per the release, Jaffe will also be playing the festival, backed by The Cannabinoids.

This announcement is arguably the strongest of the fest’s 2013 lineup, with big names in the R&B and pop genres. Other headliners previously named include ‘90s rockers Sleep and hip hop icon Killer Mike.

New additions to 35 Denton include: Solange, Camera Obscura, Man Man, The Cannabinoids featuring Sarah Jaffe, Com Truise, Born Ruffians, Prurient, Odonis Odonis, True Widow, Hound Mouth, Deep Sea Diver, Dustin Wong, Brainstorm, Kingdom, Prince William, L-vis 1990, Bok Bok, Summer Twins, Burnt Ones, White Fang, The Memories, Pangea, Colleen Green, John Wesley Coleman, Video, and K. Flay.

This story was originally published on Pegasus News on February 5, 2013. 

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