Archive for March, 2011

Band of the month – Oblivious Signal

Posted in female rocker, Hard Rock, Power-pop, Talent, Uncategorized with tags , on March 23, 2011 by damngoodtunes

OBLIVIOUS SIGNAL

Great new band appearing in DGT for the first time, Oblivious Signal shows us what teamwork is all about while being in a rock band. Singer Cristina T. Feliciano writes all the lyrics for the songs she sings and the rest of the guys build great foundations, thunderous rhythms and counterpoint melodies interveaving with Feliciano’s 21st Century power-pop diva-worthy deliveries. In damngoodtunes.com this week!

The Events of Recent Times

Posted in despair, hope, prehistoric times, singing, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on March 19, 2011 by damngoodtunes

Since the beginning of recorded time, mankind has faced unlimited challenges from the environment we live in, which at worst can seem hostile. In reality though, it is the growing pains of evolution. Wild beasts, extreme temperatures, volcanoes and earthquakes have tested our ancestors with each passing day. Times, to say the least were very hard. But it was never the elements which made life as tough as man’s ability to get along with and love his fellow human relatives and neighbors. Thankfully we humans have developed some skills unique to our mammalian species, in that we have learned to sing, make instruments and create other forms of art. Music is important to those of us fortunate to hear sounds and rhythms. This writer feels that music is one of those extrordinary elements which helps keep the balance of the universe. Many a lonely night were spent on the praries, the jungles or the mountains when man amused himself and perhaps those near him by humming, whistling, beating a drum or otherwise playing an instrument to help pass the time. When the woes of the world are getting us down, the song or the beat or a simple flute’s melody can be uplifting and inspiring. Religious groups have incorporated music into their prayers and services throughout the world because it feels ” Godly ” to them, bringing them a sense that their creator is closer and is listening to their praising melodies. Some say that music rides on the wind, the ocean waves or by the call of the great eagle or the song of the whale. Whatever way that music is perceived and experienced it is part of the enrichment of life which may reside in memory or be spontaniously launched by inspiration of the moment. No hurricane, tornado, volcano, earthquake or tsunami can diminish the musical spirit of mother earth’s people, as our own mother’s soothing voice relaxed us to sleep safely in her arms.

Jessie Torrisi Interview with Mark Nguyen

Posted in human trafficking, sex slavery, Uncategorized with tags , on March 16, 2011 by damngoodtunes

Mark Nguyen, of Planet LA Records, discusses his latest project: the Abolitionist Tour. The tour involves a coalition of artists & activists geared at stopping labor and sex trafficking. They descend on Austin, Texas for SxSW this week!
If you are at SxSW: check out the Abolitionist Tour at Momo’s on Friday, March 18 from noon to 6pm. Check out www.abolitiontour.com and www.notforsale.org to learn more.

Jessie Torrisi: Are you a musician by trade?
Mark Nguyen: Not by training, but I sort of evolved as a late bloomer into being involved in music and the creation of music, and now helping artists as a label person.

Jessie Torrisi: I’m a late bloomer myself.
Mark Nguyen: Following your passion. Enjoying what you do. It takes a little while to get there.

Jessie Torrisi: How did you decide you wanted to start a record label?
Mark Nguyen: Very organically and kind of by accident. When [my band] When Planets Align finished our first album, we created Planet LA Records to release it. But we soon took on other artists. It’s fairly new, about a year and a half. The artists we work with range from rock bands to a singer who’s established in India – whatever moves us.

Jessie Torrisi: It’s really hard to make money at music, especially now. What possessed you to link up with a non-profit? Icing on the cake….
Mark Nguyen: One, we strongly belief in causes. Two, the artists we work with have strong causes. And three, we think it’s just sensible to reach out to audiences that may like the music our artists are putting out. It’s good for cross-branding.
Some people cross-brand with shoe companies or clothing or liquor companies. We like to cross-brand with established charities and other people who’re trying to do good.

Jessie Torrisi: The people who do this are not necessarily the people who go hang out at nightclubs and would see your music otherwise.
Mark Nguyen: There’s so much music being put out there. Now, it’s a matter of finding your audience, whether your audience is doing charity work or is into hiking, skiing, sports… there’s always an audience out there for music.

Jessie Torrisi: I’m hearing more and more talk from the indie world that it’s about finding your community or creating your community as much as it’s about Fader magazine. How did you get onto the issue of labor trafficking & sex trafficking?
Mark Nguyen: We were introduced to the issue by our partner [radio DJ] Jeff Popka ‘cause he had interviewed Brant Christopher who was the artist-in-residence at Not-for-Sale. Brant is performing at some of the SxSW showcases while we’re in Austin.
It’s an issue that’s not only an issue globally, in developing countries, but also here in the States, whether it be sex trafficking migrant workers.

Jessie Torrisi: What goes on the US? What are some of the stories you’ve heard?
Mark Nguyen: From what I’ve seen of what Not-for-Sale’s done, they try to track down where trafficking exists, whether it be in farm communities, whether it be in industrial textile industries, or sex trafficking surrounding major events like the Superbowl or SxSW. A lot of it just trying to put household look-out for this activity and then report it, and get it investigated by law authorities immediately.

Jessie Torrisi: In the United States, it’s about pulling the veil away?
Mark Nguyen: Exactly. Like with migrant worker issues, people think it’s just illegal workers trying to earn money in the States. It’s workers who have been trafficked and are indentured and are forced to do this.

Jessie Torrisi: They’ve been offered a way to the United States but they have to pay off an exorbitant debt through the work?
Mark Nguyen: Yeah, that’s common for people who’ve been brought across the Mexican border and folks who’re brought in from Asia on student or temporary visas and then are used for labor or sex trafficking. It’s a pretty widespread problem. I think people don’t understand it’s as big as it is.

Jessie Torrisi: The thing with artists & causes though is, How are you gonna make a difference? How can you change things through music?
Mark Nguyen: Raising awareness can take different directions. Raising awareness of the problem and ways to solve it. Then raising money and supporters. Given that music targets a lot of college kids during spring break, it’s good timing for us to do this.
We’re doing some creative things like the StageIt.com broadcasts. People can tune in & the proceeds will go to Not-for-Sale & they’ll also be eligible for prizes like an iPad.

Jessie Torrisi: Besides calling it the Abolitionist Tour, what kind of things do you have planned to put the focus on trafficking?
Mark Nguyen: This is the first presence of Not-for-Sale at SxSW. They’re looking to see how they can reach out to the SxSW committee next year, like they’ve worked with SoulFest in the past. I’m sure they’ll do some outreach with their Texas chapters, which’re very active.
In the retail community, they also try to educate communities on certain products that use slave or indentured labor. Chocolate is harvested with a lot of child and slave labor in African countries. Slave labor is used in textile manufacturing. A lot of information will put out.

Jessie Torrisi: In some ways, that’s the biggest power we have. Money talks. If the product stops selling, they’ll start making them a different way.
Mark Nguyen: Consumer awareness is really part of the battle. Because of that demand, there’s that pressure to produce whether it be slave or child labor.

Jessie Torrisi: So chocolate, coffee, clothing…
Mark Nguyen: Not every party or industry is guilty. There’re certain manufacturers in certain countries that have had more violations than others.

Jessie Torrisi: It seems that it has to do with the government or labor standards in those countries.
Mark Nguyen: Sure, by having more educated consumers that’re willing to pay a little more for their chocolate or coffee or whatever product, that’ll help ease the cost pressures in the supply chain.

Jessie Torrisi: It’s a challenge, but a worthwhile one, to stop & get people to pay attention to that when, y’know, you wanna get a cup of coffee in the morning & you’re late to work.
Mark Nguyen: Most of my career background was working in international trade, advising people on how international trade works. That’s part of my connection to Not-for-Sale.
I used to work in Washington DC for seven years, then Geneva Switzerland working on developing country trade issues. I moved back to LA a couple years ago and ended up doing music.

Jessie Torrisi: What’s the latest tally in terms of bands & people involved?
Mark Nguyen: For the main showcase at Momo’s Friday, we have 12 bands. We’ve got Antonia Bennett, Tony Bennett’s daughter, our own label bands, and lots of special guests.

Jessie Torrisi: All these people are starting in different places. It’s less like a tour and more like an octopus with different arms.
Mark Nguyen: Lovebettie from Pittsburgh is launching their tour in Boston. They’re going from Boston to Austin. My first stop is at the Palms Casino in Las Vegas, then Phoenix and Texas. Jeff Popka is coming from Chicago. We’ve been working together for months, but a number of us have not met in person.

Jessie Torrisi: Is there any message you’d like to get to readers who won’t be at SxSW but are interested in what’s going on?
Mark Nguyen: Now with the technology, it’s so easy to tune in, to be educated, to be aware. Through StageIt.com, you can see the showcases & what’s going on.
Technology is a powerful tool, whether it’s discovering new artists or advocacy and human rights. It’s an exciting time to be where we’re at, especially in the Southwest, which is such a high-tech region.

Jessie Torrisi: Do you plans for after the festival in terms of how to keep the ball rolling?
Mark Nguyen: We do a lot of live events here in LA and other places. A lot of artists would love to play more colleges, which is where there are Not-for-Sale chapters that’re very active. The goal is to grow the partnership over time.

###

Pray for Japan

Posted in earthquake, Japan, tsunami, Uncategorized with tags , , , on March 14, 2011 by damngoodtunes

When the earthquakes of Chile and Haiti of this past year occurred, we at damngoodtunes.com expressed or sympathies for the families of loved ones lost, and the empathy for the pain and suffering felt by their people. And again recently the good people of New Zealand experienced two devastating earthquakes which caused loss of life and terrible damage. Because of our nature as a music web-magazine, we intend to concentrate on the music of the world but that’s just it – music is the world ! Musicians and songwriters are among those who have lost so much in these catastrophes such as the flooding in Nashville Tennessee. Once again nature’s wrath has aimed her fury upon the earth to strike our friends and good worldly neighbors, Japan. And on this day- only a few from the initial impact we stand united with the rest of the world in shock.
No one could have prepared better for earthquakes or tsunami waves more than the Japanese citizens and her government yet no preparation was adequate for the mighty 8.9 earthquake in the Pacific Sea but only a few kilometers from inhabited near sea-level land, farms, towns and scores of people. Now in this hour we are told that a possible nuclear meltdown may occur in at least one or two energy plants and although the perimeter has been evacuated it is anyone’s guess how far the damages from this, the first nuclear accident since Chernobyl, might extend.
This is a time of dire need for the basics of life for the residents of Japan and we all know where we can contact agencies or groups who can help, but this is also a time for those of us of faith to pray for or otherwise send our healing energies to our Japanese brothers and sisters. That is all I ask of you dear readers. Just pray and offer positive love vibrations to those who have lost so much, and for those who have yet to lose. Play your music with passion. Write good songs and make this lesson of life and nature give you strength and clarity for your true purpose. Remember these hard times and that songwriters, singers, musicians and producers just like ourselves living abroad badly need our support. Long live the music and may the children soon sing happily once more.