Songwriting

The Best Bass Line: A Tribute to Bernie Worrell

Photo By Manfred Werner / Tsui (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

I played air bass in high school. Not in the air guitar championship sense (yes, that’s a thing), but when all of my friends were playing air guitar or air drums, I was playing air bass. I don’t remember when exactly I started, but it would have been somewhere between 6th and 9th grade. I couldn’t tell you why I chose bass. Something about bass lines in songs immediately grabbed me and it was what I wanted to imitate in the safety of my bedroom walls.

Parliament Funk EssentialsThere were three songs in particular that I used to loop ad nauseam and never quite lose interest in “playing.” One of these songs was the classic funk song “Flash Light” by Parliament. I don’t remember exactly when I first heard it, but I know that I was first introduced to Parliament, and P-Funk in general, at summer camp between 9th and 10th grade (Thanks, Matt!). I returned home and started collecting. My first CD was a greatest hits collection with “Flash Light” opening the album. I was hooked. Somehow the 5-minute jam (or the 10-minute mix from another compilation) wasn’t enough. Parliament had become one of my favorite bands with an unquestionable favorite tune. (more…)

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Alissia and the Funkateers Perform at the 2015 Berklee Beantown Jazz Festival

Alissia Benveniste Funks Me Back to High School

This past Saturday I attended the Berklee Beantown Jazz Festival. I first caught this festival back in 2012 when I first moved to Boston but hadn’t been back since. At the last minute, a friend of ours asked if we were attending. Thankfully I had the day free. (more…)

New Release: The New Limits’ “Pressure Up”

I am excited to announce that after almost a year of hard work, my band Boston ska band The New Limits has released our debut four-song EP entitled “Pressure Up.” The bulk of the credit goes to our keyboard player and engineer Matt MacLeod. He handled this recording from start to finish, from painstakingly positioning microphones to mixing. That is to say, he’s the guy who had to listen to these tracks over and over again. Mastering detail was handled by the skilled and talented King Django. Given how busy we all are with jobs, I am particularly proud of how great this EP came out. The horns shine, the rhythm makes me want to move, and I can’t ask for too much more. (more…)

“Music Self-Played Is Happiness Self-Made” and More Thoughts on Songwriting

You’d think in the 13 (or 14?) years I’ve been playing music, I’d have written an entire song by myself. The fact is I hadn’t. I’ve written lyrics here, put together a chord progression there, maybe even came up with a hook. In most cases, I’d come up a chorus vocal line and some chords or a bass & guitar rhythm riddim and then worked with a bandmate to build it out into an entire song. This wasn’t a problem I liked it that way. In fact, I really enjoyed  writing music with other people. I was always happiest with the material that was the result of the most collaboration. (more…)

Introducing The New Limits, Boston’s Newest Ska Band

A handful of interesting things happened in the summer of 2012. Hey Stranger, the pop-punk/ska band I was playing in called it quits. I left The Hard Times, the early reggae band I was playing in. My girlfriend and I were talking about moving in together and she was looking to move to Boston for work. I had resolved that my next band was going to be a ska band. This is nothing new, except, it was entirely new. I had been playing reggae, but not ska, and since high school, I’d been playing ska-punk and pop-punk, but not ska. I really wanted to play some traditional ska, dammit! But, I also didn’t want to be limited to that. I really admired bands like Mad Caddies that played ska, punk, reggae, rock, and their own brand of dixieland inspired ska/punk. They were a single band playing a variety of sounds under the same musical umbrella. I wanted to do the same. I wanted to play many things  under the ska umbrella: traditional ska, two-tone/second-wave, rocksteady, early reggae, dirty reggae skinhead reggae, and more. The only thing I didn’t want to do was ska-punk, and not because I don’t like ska-punk, but because it’s all I’ve ever done and I needed a break. (more…)

Solo Performance Band Aid: Ripped Off

Sort of. I overuse the metaphor of ripping off a band aid anytime I have to do anything remotely painful, difficult, or just plain annoying. It usually results in me going into something somewhat unprepared, as gung ho as possible, while somewhat bracing myself.

Tonight I attended what will likely be the first of a monthly salon hosted by Matt Healy and Cozy Josie, the folks also behind The Spoon and Trowel. The food is always out of control good at their functions so I never pass up an invite. Here was their email pitch:

We want to take our creative pursuits seriously, and having an audience helps to do that. Nothing adds fuel to the creative fire like having to show what you’re doing to other people and hearing what they have to say about it. Put more simply: having a thing to make something for is easier than making it for no reason. This is a thing your thing can be for.

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