One of my favorite things to do for vacation is map out a road trip. It’s not difficult to do and enables a traveler to see twice as many attractions at a fraction of the cost it would take to fly. For example, I just came back from a road trip that took me to Austin, Texas, New Orleans, Louisiana and Nashville, Tennessee. Yet, those were not the only sights to be seen. Maybe the best way to do this would be to start from the beginning.
Early morning Thursday, March 13th I said good-bye to my dogs and hopped into the car. Jumping on I-55 I anticipated my first destination. Austin, Texas in time for the tail end of South By Southwest an extensive media centered festival held in Austin every March. Every week has a focus of film, interactive media and music. Not being very interested in the film or interactive portions of this festival my group always tends to go for the last week, which is the music portion of the festival. Still, all this fun was eighteen hours away.
By ten-thirty that morning the Gateway Arch was in sight and I was passing through St. Louis, Missouri. Before that the drive consists of farmland, truck stops and diners. And these things are wonderful. But they all start looking the same after a while and could easily be put into the genre of Americana. The typical scenes you see when watching a road trip movie. The funny thing is though, when you are the person on the road, it’s much better than the movies. There is something about the fresh air in your face and some good tunes on the radio while watching the road in your rear view mirror. It’s unexplainable.
Since the stretch of land that I had to cover to reach Austin was going to take eighteen hours of driving I kept my stops excluded to gas and bathroom breaks. This didn’t bother me so much before St. Louis, but once I pulled into Oklahoma and saw all the cattle I remembered how much I love barbeque and the odds of finding good barbeque in Oklahoma were some of the best on the planet. There were a few places I passed through in Muskogee, Oklahoma but it was only six at night and I didn’t want to waste the daylight hours so I pushed on.
Once the sunset I found a Motel Six and hunkered down for the night. The next day there was only a few hours left to drive and I wanted to get up early. My first stop at SXSW was the Bloodshot Records showcase at the Yard Dog. The Yard Dog is an art gallery on the historic strip in Austin called South Congress, or SoCo. On this particular stretch of street there is the infamous Continental Club, the San Jose Hotel and Guerro’s, who are known far and wide for their wonderful margaritas called Silver Trains. It is customary for some to meet up at Guerro’s, indulge in a Silver Train or two and then wander on down to the Yard Dog for some free music. This year, Bloodshot Records, an independent record label that is celebrating their twentieth anniversary this year. You can learn more about Bloodshot records at their website www.bloodshotrecords.com.
This year they featured their artists Robbie Fulks, Haha Tonka and the Waco Brothers. I am especially a fan of all three groups. Another artist featured that you should check out is Barrence Whitfield who played the Bloodshot SXSW Yard Dog party as well.
If you are thinking of making SXSW a destination on future road trip for yourself here is a bit of advice, do no buy a badge or wristband. These items are for industry people that are there specifically to showcase talent or to look for new talent from different showcases. There are plenty of things to do for free and at a certain time the clubs start letting you pay to get in whether you have a badge or not.
My last night in Austin was spent eating at a restaurant on SoCo called Botticelli’s. The owners are native Chicagoans who hail from Oak Park. Their lasagna is to die for and they even have an Italian Beef sandwich on the menu, which is a delicacy that is primarily found in Chicago alone. Of course, having great beef sandwiches here already I went with a meatball sandwich that seemed to have croissant type bread baked around it. With a little hot pepper this was the perfect start to our night before we headed to the Continental Club.
The Continental Club is a music venue that opened in 1957. It’s legendary and once you walk up to it you know why. It is dingy and dark with motorcycles or classic cars parked in front. Back in the day when Austin was just a little town, the Continental Club was one of the only buildings standing surrounded by nothing. Of course now Austin is a booming and thriving metropolitan arena that dictates fashion, music and food instead of following it’s contemporaries like New York or Los Angeles.
This night local artist and songwriter Alejandro Escovedo put together a benefit concert that would benefit school children in Mexico. At this show I saw Urge Overkill, who were rather disappointing and the Fleshtones. The Fleshtones are a punk rock group from the eighties and hail out of New York. I have never been entertained more than I am when I am watching the Fleshtones. They are older guys now but still jump as high and act as goofy as they did when I was a girl. If you want to check out the Fleshtones you can find info at their Facebook page
Finally the evening was finished off with a wonderful set by Alejandro Escovedo himself and I was ready to head home. The next day was an eight-hour drive to New Orleans and I needed my sleep.
By: SJ Neri
Last week, I had the pleasure of speaking to DJ and Grammy® nominated Music Supervisor, (Chris Douridas pictured (left) with musician Michael Kiwanuka). Douridas was nominated for his work on the soundtracks for American Beauty and Shrek 2. Despite his hectic schedule, I spoke to Chris over the phone and asked a few questions about his newly released House of Lies Sountrack album, which was produced by Larry Klein and released by Strange Cargo\Manhattan Records on March 4, 2014.
Q: What does a Music Supervisor do?
A:The role has changed over the years, these days it essentially means the person responsible for all things musical in the film or TV show. I was brought on board to help define the musical world that the story lives in. That involves helping producers find the films composer and taking each script, and bringing forward musical ideas that will support the dramatic needs of the script.
Q: What is a Music Consultant?
A: Music Consultant is a catchall phrase for anything that may be contributed to either support the work of the music supervisor, or in the films where they don’t have a Music Supervisor, to support the efforts of the Supervising Director. Sometimes they want to know if they should even have songs in the movie, sometimes they want to replace some…
Q: How would you describe the album?
A: A collection of things I’m really crazy about (laughs). The soundtrack essentially, is a best of collection of all the songs that have been a part of the show from season 1, thru season 2, and into season 3. There’s a good chunk of the songs that are making their appearance in season 3. The last song on the soundtrack is the only song originally written for the series.
The goal, in my mind, when presenting musical ideas to the show, was to…wherever possible, reveal the heart of the main character (Marty Kaan played by Don Cheadle). He can be such an abrasive character… unlovable… but he’s also a father, and in some ways a wounded child. I want the music, whenever possible, to reveal the heart behind this man. Season 3 is so good, and it gets better…the rest of the season is pretty amazing. I’m pretty proud of this season
Q: Is choosing music for a TV series more difficult than choosing for a film?
A. Television shows are definitely more difficult than films, their schedule is a lot more hectic. They’re creating basically little movies, over and over again. Every show is its own piece. The schedule is a lot crazier. In film, you have a lot more time to come up with ideas, and to consider ideas, and to execute ideas. In an animated film, there’s even more of a luxury because it could take up to four years or more to make. For House of Lies, it’s a very tight production schedule.
Q: You wear many different hats (DJ, Music Supervisor, Music Consultant), where are you more comfortable?
A. My work in radio, at KCRW, has been my home base…that’s the root of everything I do. What I find and play on my radio show, is the same stuff I push out into all the other projects.
Q: What are your future plans or upcoming projects?
A. Just finished DreamWorks Mr. Peabody and Sherman, that soundtrack is out now. I’m working on three other movies, those are months away from release. I host and curate a Club Night in LA every week, which is a big showcase of bands that I love.
You can catch Chris on the internet radio station KCRW.com., Saturday nights at 8pm (LA time).
Follow Chris on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/chrisdouridas
Follow Chris on Twitter @chrisdouridas
By SJ Neri
House of Lies Soundtrack
Strange Cargo\ Manhattan Records
Release Date: March 5, 2014
For those of you who have not heard of the show House of Lies, let me just say that it is definitely worth catching. Already in season 3, House of Lies revolves around Marty Kaan (played by Don Cheadle), a management consultant who cannot be bothered with morals or ethics in the business world. His management team, which consists of a talented bunch of misfits (Ben Schwartz, Josh Lawson and Kristen Bell) are also a delight in this fast-paced, cynical, and hilarious show. Grammy® winning producer, Larry Klein, and Grammy® nominated Music Supervisor, Chris Douridas have brought together an eclectic mix of music from a pool of gifted artists.
The soundtrack is a collection of the very best music featured in season 1, 2 & 3. While many of the songs have a Blues or Jazz feel, the overall vibe of the album is smooth, and easy to digest. After listening to this album many times all week, I can easily say my two favorite tracks are; Midnight Sun by Isaac Delusion and It Always Comes Back Around by Michael Kiwanuka. Midnight Sun offers mesmerizing male vocals, and for some reason reminds me of driving (or maybe of being in motion), I can (and have) listen to this over and over again. It Always Comes Back Around has great, strong vocal and guitar work, and is a plentiful feast for the ears. Mixing things up a bit are the tracks Brains Out by Kim Cesarion and Illusions of Time by Kiko King & Creativemaze. Brains Out has a great club scene vibe to it, and is just fun and energetic. Illusions of Time reminds me of a dream, and includes a beautiful ensemble of violin and (or) cello accompaniment.
The album track list also consists of Grammy® winners and a Grammy® nominee. Bright Lights by Grammy® winner Gary Clark Jr. has a Bluesy feel, and amazing vocals. This track also has impressive guitar and drum work. Belly Roll by Grammy® winner Count Basie has a Big Band swing to it, and blasts some awesome horn work. Let’s not forget to mention the crazy-good drums, and piano sounds. In 1958, Count Basie became the first African-American to win a Grammy® Award, and went on to win eight more during his life. A few of Basie’s songs have been inducted into the Grammy® Hall of Fame. Heartbreak by Grammy® nominated The James Hunter Six will have you toe-tapping and fighting the urge to get up and dance. I think you will enjoy the great vocals and sax riff in this number.
House of Lies – Track List
1) Bright Lights – Gary Clark Jr.
2) Midnight Sun – Isaac Delusion
3) Brains Out – Kim Cesarion
4) Love Is Here To Stay – Thomas Dybdahl
5) Take Me Back – Aloe Blacc
6) Clean The House – Fat Freddy’s Drop
7) Smoke Filled Lungs – Basecamp
8) Heartbreak – The James Hunter Six
9) Belly Roll – Count Basie
10) Illusions Of Time – Kiko King & Creativemaze
11) Shift to Reverse – N*Grandjean
12) It Always Comes Back Around – Michael Kiwanuka
The other five tracks (all tracks are listed in order below) are just as impressive, and noteworthy. The songs on this soundtrack complement each other very well in a harmonious balance of Blues, Techno, Swing and Soul. Very rarely can I listen to a whole album, usually I have one or two tracks I like, and skip over the rest. That is not the case with this album. I highly recommend you give it a listen.