It isn’t easy to describe Terri Hendrix. The folk singer-songwriter has scaled to where she is today in a fashion that is anything but orthodox. It was a complex series of life events that shaped Ms. Hendrix into the artist she is today – from dodging guerilla warfare in Central and South America, to falling upon an open-mic night that changed her life, to the friendships she was blessed to have with mentor fingerpicker Marion Williamson and business partner Lloyd Maines.
It is with Maines that Hendrix has produced subsequent albums Places in Between (2000), The Ring (2002) and The Art of Removing Wallpaper (2004). Her ninth album, The Spiritual Kind, is almost as hard to describe as Terri herself. Sure, she calls it a folk record, but is quick to point out that she doesn’t worry about being “too loud for folk, too pop for country, too country for jazz, or too this or too that for any other genre.”
Her persistent success has relied on the distinctive quality to always write what she felt like writing and sing how she felt like singing. It is traits such as these that can be found at Cheatham Street Warehouse in San Marcos, TX, where she found herself at a fateful open-mic night… where blue-collar songwriters put their hearts and spirits into their words and melodies.
The Spiritual Kind is dedicated to those that have helped her remain so honest in her music. To hear it performed live is to allow Hendrix to take you on a journey – one that may make you laugh, or make you cry, but will nonetheless be worth the price of admission. If you can’t make it to the show, look out for her imminent book about music, business, and maintaining good health on the road. Check out www.penseyeview.com for more on Terri Hendrix.
I’ve said this a million times, but one of the best parts about featuring great artists and individuals is getting to hear the story behind the concept. Whether it was a life long dream, a random “aha moment”or some divine intervention that told them, “I have to do this”. I think Chad Birenbaum, co-founder of 100 Styles And Running, said it best, “Evan and I sort of hit a point in our lives where we said if we don’t make this dream a reality, we’ll always say, remember when we could of…should of…but didn’t.” I love that line, it’s says so much and rings so very true. Chad and Evan Birenbaum, brothers (but prefer to call themselves “sole brothers”) and founders of the slick new shoe line, 100 Styles And Running, have been making headlines ever since they decided to pursue their dream. When I heard about what they were up to, I knew I had to contact them.
Chad is the designer, Evan is the businessman but both will admit that when you start from the ground up, in a two-man company, you have to wear several hats. It may be hats they are wearing in the office but it is just a matter of time before everyone on the street is wearing their shoes. There new line is geared toward the everyday hipster who can go from street to office to club and not need to skip a beat. Their shoes were a long time coming; Chad used to draw, tape up, rip apart and add onto his own sneakers when he was a teenager. He always knew there would be something there and it was the push of confidence from his little brother, Evan that has put them where they are today. It may be too early to call them “the next big shoe designers”but why not? Why not call it like it is? If I don’t, who knows, maybe years down the road, I’ll be saying, “could of…should of…but didn’t.” Before you run out and fill your closet, check out www.PensEyeView.com to find out more.
Kim Kline, the blond haired, doe-eyed beauty with a commanding yet amiable voice is going to be the next big thing. The Texas native who leaped into the chaotic arms of the LA music scene is on deck with a tune that you’ll want to keep in your head. With a sound reminiscent to Pat Benatar and Tom Petty, Kim Kline is the next singer/songwriter that will make a major impact on the American music scene. I’m no psychic, but I do know how to listen – and people are talking.
The reviews are coming in from publications like Kludge Magazine, which has stated “Performing in front of a sold-out crowd Kline commanded the full attention of the audience from the first note until the very last.” The Music Connection has also noticed Kline’s talent and ability to bond with her audience, highlighting her as one of the ‘Hot 100’ in their 15th Annual ‘Hot 100 Unsigned Artists’ edition. While acclaim such as this is what most indie artists dream of, Kline has more reason to be excited – she has been nominated for the 2007 LA Music Awards ‘Female Vocalist of the Year,’ as well as for the ‘Music Video of the Year’ award for her hit, “Inside.” And considering some of the past LA Music Award winners include Hoobastank, 311, Korn, No Doubt, Everclear, and System of a Down, it isn’t hard to believe that Kim Kline is the latest heiress to rock stardom.
“Inside,” is currently taking over radio waves across the country. You may have noticed it featured in episodes of MTV’s ‘The Hills’ and E! Television’s ‘Paradise City’ as well. If you can come across a ticket to one of her shows in venues such as the renowned El Rey Theater, the Viper Room, The Roxy or The Troubadour, purchase quickly. Tickets tend to go fast when Ms. Kline is on the stage. Go to http://www.PensEyeview.com to hear her answers to the XXQ’s.
I’ve researched and written about dozens of artists for inclusion on PensEyeView.com – but the five piece rock band, People in Planes, are unique… to me anyway. It was just last summer that I ventured into downtown Baltimore for a concert and learned that People in Planes would play the opening act. Honestly, having never heard of the band before, I didn’t plan on finding their performance especially memorable. However, I was pleasantly surprised by their distinctive style, palpable confidence and stimulating blend of melodies that stuck in my head even after the band that I originally came to see took the stage.What surprised me even more was the fact that during the headlining act, People in Planes – Gareth Jones, Peter Roberts, Ian Russel, Kris Blight and John Maloney were actually mingling with the crowd right behind us – talking, taking pictures, drinking and enjoying the rest of the show. I said a few words to them about enjoying their performance, and found that the boys from Porthcawl, Wales UK were just a group of regular guys, not playing up some gimmick or character that so many sellouts tend to do to catch a break in the entertainment industry. They had something to them – a skeleton that backed up that confidence.
Much like their music, People in Planes have a natural and honest way about them. They believe that music needs to be a natural creation, something that comes out of honesty. They go as far to describe their compositions as “cutting edge rock music utilizing the warm aesthetic tones of vintage equipment and natural organic sound.” While you can purchase “As Far As the Eye Can See” in record stores right now, look out for the follow-up that is currently being recorded. Go to www.PensEyeView.com for their answers to the XXQ’s.
Familiar with Riders in the Sky? No? I didn’t think I was either. But this western music group has not only won Grammy Awards for their contributions to Walt Disney/Pixar’s “Toy Story 2,” and “Monster’s Inc.,” but they have performed with the likes of Garth Brooks, Roy Rogers and Reba McIntyre, as well as built themselves into one of the most unforgettable acts in U.S. history.The Riders in the Sky’s first appearance was November 11, 1977, at Herr Harry’s Phranks ‘n’ Steins in Nashville, where the group simply hoped to entertain the eight drunks in attendance.
However, with 29-plus years, more than 3,001,400 miles traveled and well over 5,000 performances under their collective “cowboy belt”, the Riders in the Sky have proven that the world still demands that “western cowboy” sound and style. For their latest project, Ranger Doug (Idol of American Youth), Woody Paul (King of the Cowboy Fiddlers), Too Slim (“a Righteous Tater”), and Joey (the CowPolka King), have re-releasing their 1996 album, “Public Cowboy #1: The Music of Gene Autry” (re-mastered and expanded with four bonus cuts).
There is more to Armando “Andi” Margjeka than a single album or song that makes him one of the most talented Albanian imports the United States has ever seen. You can find this out easily, simply by having a conversation with him about his craft. The way this singer/songwriter describes his passion for creating music completely reflects the quality of his songs and lyrics. Personally, I was blown away by some of his answers to the PensEyeView XXQ’s. For example; while reflecting on his first live performance (at the age of 12 in his hometown of Tropoja), Andi recalls stealing the show from a would-be performer with his own rendition of Elvis’ “Blue Suede Shoes.” He told us that the sensation he felt was like “a disease he could never get rid of.” Margjeka grew up listening to the echoes and thuds of American Rock N’ Roll, falling in love with the sounds of Elvis Presley, Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard – but it was Aerosmiths, “Get a Grip,” that “addicted” Andi to making music. After traveling to America and spending some time in New York, Andi invested most of his life savings and recorded an album with the help of his close friend, Brian Shea Powers. From songs of resentment towards the communist regime of Albania, to morose melodies dissecting the rickety nature of personal relationships – every piece means so much to him as an artist. After creating his first song, Margjeka remembered thinking that he finally had his “first valuable thing that money could not buy.” You can see and hear this fervor in Andi’s performances, where he sees the stage as the only place that “he can be the person he was born to be.” Check out his XXQ’s at www.penseyeview.com and then head down to The Red Lion on Bleecker Street in Greenwich, New York to see for yourself.
Attending When I first began attending college around the Maryland and DC area, I drank at bars filled with the echoes of all kinds of bands trying to make a name for themselves. Most of these performers played the same, typical style of college music – a punk, pop, and/or alternative mix backed by a couple guitars, a bass and a set of drums. I had always assumed this was the case at all college campuses across the country. But, I’ve learned that if you head on down to Chapel Hill, NC, you’ll find that The Steep Canyon Rangers are turning the music scene on its head. The ensemble of Woody Platt, Mike Guggino, Charles Humphrey, Nicky Sanders, and Graham Sharp play a rhythmic mix of bluegrass, classic country, rock n’ roll and blues that make up the melody of SCR. And this sound isn’t just for your grand pappy anymore – visit the Cats Cradle near the band’s stomping grounds of the University of North Carolina, and you’ll see college kids enjoying a twist on an old school genre that invites a whole new audience to find music that respects its roots. In 2006, the International Bluegrass Music Association voted Steep Canyon Rangers the Emerging Artist of the Year, and it isn’t just the critics taking notice – bluegrass fans made their song, “One Dime at a Time,” a #1 bluegrass hit. Their third release, “Lovin’ Pretty Women,” promises even more success for it was produced by bluegrass heavyweight Ronnie Bowman and engineered by guitarist Wyatt Rice. It would be in your best interest to take advantage of an opportunity to see SCR in concert when you can, because it isn’t just good ol’ American boys that are enjoying their bluegrass sound. They’ve been on tour in both Sweden and Ireland so far this summer. But you can catch them at their own festival, “Mountain Song,” in Brevard, NC on September 15th. Read their XXQ’s at www.penseyeview.com and then buy your tickets.
I really had no idea who Micha Weinblatt was when I first saw him, smiling within the pages of the Baltimore Sun. However, after reading through the paper, I leaned that this former Terp was creating a pop culture phenomenon through his riotous t-shirt design company, Crooked Monkey. Immediately my phone and email lit up with messages demanding I check out this revolutionary of the fashion world. I contacted Micha, and we agreed to meet at his office – which happens to double as his parent’s basement (or vise versa). I was greeted by his father upon my arrival, and I asked if it was ok to park in the driveway. The elder Weinblatt replied, “I don’t know…the last guy got a ticket.”
Luckily, he let me in on the joke before I made a bigger fool of myself by actually going to move my car. Obviously a sense of humor has helped to make Micha Weinblatt, 24, founder of Crooked Monkey, one of fashion’s most promising commodities. Vintage style shirts with cool graphics and witty sayings such as, “Pro Choice: Blondes or Brunettes,” “Napping: It’s my day job” and “I’ve had better” Weinblatt has tapped into the personality of every high school and college kid around the world.
Micha isn’t your average 24 year old, or your average CEO for that matter. Weinblatt started out fresh, using his own money to finance his company. He didn’t try to use “mom and dad” to back him – he did it all on his own. It all started when he and his business partner pulled their resources together to throw a spectacular launch party at one of the most popular bars at the University of Maryland, College Park: Cornerstone.
In the weeks leading up to the event, the two raced around campus spreading the word in a guerilla marketing campaign that involved tossing stuffed monkeys from a golf cart to their Univeristy of Maryland peers. On the night of the party, Cornerstone was packed. The shirts were sold, the word was out and the seed was planted; Crooked Monkey had arrived. Weinblatt used this momentum and packed his car with shirts and drove north to New York, stopping at every clothing store along the way.
Now, only a couple years later, Crooked Monkey has been seen in GQ, Seventeen and in major stores like Urban Outfitters and Lord & Taylor. Not bad for a guy who admits that his wardrobe prior to college consisted of mainly red and green sweatpants (he jokes that people still can’t believe he is in fashion today). Weinblatt and Crooked Monkey are a perfect example of what happens when innovation, imagination, drive and determination come together. Before you run off to buy a Crooked Monkey shirt for yourself, check out his PensEyeView.com to find out more.
It’s hard to believe that a band with such a startling collection of media praise could just as easily never existed. The Tokyo Police Club (TPC), a band that has played in North America, Europe and Japan only formed “by accident.” Surprised? The critics probably are too. Popular UK music magazine NME (The New Musical Express) went as far to state that the “Tokyo Police Club are a bold, inventive, brilliant band, And that’s the absolute truth.” It’s acclaim such as this that makes it so hard to believe that Greg Alsop, Josh Hook, Dave Monks and Graham Wright got together only by chance. They decided that the unyielding chemistry they once created while constructing music was too potent to let go. Within a simple basement, in an ordinary suburb of Newmarket, Ontario, Canada, something clicked, and TPC was born.
Well, TPC wasn’t exactly born-they weren’t sure of a name at the time. The name of the band actually came out of one of their hits, “Cheer It On” off of “A Lesson in Crime.” Their most recent release, the single “Your English is Good,” is grabbing hoards of attention, showcasing the bands unique mesh of sound that includes dynamic group vocals and unrelenting bass and drums drawn together by sharply placed guitar and keyboards. While TPC has been celebrated by media outlets such as Exclaim!, Rolling Stone, and Pitchforkmedia.com, perhaps Toronto magazine EYE Weekly sums it up best, “they are undeniably catchy and raw, marrying danceable hooks with talk of robot
masters and global emergencies, providing an upbeat soundtrack to our troubled times.”
So if TPC is coming to your town (and chances are these tour masters are), get to the show! Your senses will not only be tempted by the vibrant and catchy rhythms, but you’ll also find that this band understands the visual aspect of a show is “at least as important as the sound.” Be sure to read their XXQ’s at PensEyeView.com before you head off…
If you’re a fan of the PensEyeView.com mission to promote and support artists making an impact (and I hope you are), then prepare to become the latest fan of Willie Herath (if you aren’t already anyway). In an entertainment industry where it’s so easy to rely on others for success, Willie Herath, the creator of a style of music he calls “Nod Your Head Beach Rock,” is one of an exceptional breed. He
doesn’t sing someone else’s songs, or play to rhythms developed by another artist. In fact, for his album “Cohgie Never Landed,” he did it all – “From the songwriting to the graphic design to the outsourced manufacturing-like a true indie musician-I did it myself.”
Willie’s commitment to developing his own style of sound is difficult to find in a music business where money and deadlines tend to tarnish the work of so many performers, but Herath understands that a song doesn’t just “appear.” It takes time, passion and patience to write truly fine music. And fortunately for Willie Herath fans, Willie takes part in plenty of activities in between songs and albums that unquestionably contributes to his energetic, flip-flopped, salt-water and sand style of music. From free diving for lobsters, to survival camping in the rain forests of Costa Rica, Willie Herath lives the lifestyle that his upbeat
melodies embody. Do you feel like jumping, yelling and slapping your momma to some good music? Check out PensEyeView.com to find out more.