Category Archives: Music

Musicians, songs and interesting noise

BandTalk: Retro Rama & The Modern Face

by Dillon DiSalvo
Copy Editor
Retro Rama

1966 saw the formation of the newest sensation out of Britain, Cream. It was one of the original and best power trios in rock history.  All three members were regarded as the “cream” of the crop.  Most notably was Eric Clapton on guitar and vocals, then Jack Bruce on Bass and vocals, and Ginger Baker on drums.  The band’s sound is straight up blues rock and they created some of the most famous riffs and solos of all time.  Many have heard the famous “Sunshine of Your Love” lick that is featured on Guitar Hero III and in movies like School of Rock and the solos are everywhere in the Cream set list.
Most of the soloing is done by the legend, Eric Clapton, who is regarded as one of the best guitarists of all time.  He is one of the first to use the wahwah effect in the songs “White Room” and “Tales of Brave Ulysses.”  He is also the inventor of the “woman  tone” which is a thick muted distortion sound; this is the tone used in the solo of “Sunshine of Your Love.”dillon redo copy
Under the high end of Clapton’s guitar lies the deep growl of Jack Bruce’s bass line.  His lines are melodies that could really stand on their own.  An inspiration to bassists everywhere, he shows the world that bass isn’t just for playing the root while the guitar takes all the glory.  Formerly a concert cellist, Bruce’s classical training makes him a musical marvel; he actually takes up his cello once again to play on “Deserted Cities of the Heart.” When he is not singing, his focus goes all to his playing.  In “Crossroads,” Clapton takes over as lead vocalist, and Bruce gives a stunning performance of blues bass.
Behind the set sits the drummer extraordinaire.  Ginger Baker’s style was one of the things that defined a Cream song.  While most modern drummers do the hi hat/snare combo and the simple kick drum beat with tom fills in between, Baker brought something truly unique to the ensemble.  His toms were not just for fills, he plays them all through the song.  His fills consist of complex kick drum, cymbal and tom combos.  His set had two kick drums, and this made him be able to play with his feet in a different time signature than what his hands are doing.  His most epic performance is in the song “Toad,” which is essentially just the some of the best drumming ever recorded.
The group disbanded in 1968 after putting out four albums. Rolling Stone Magazine hails them as the sixty-sixth greatest artist of all time.  Their music has defined many generations of new and aspiring musicians.  All three members moved on to other bands such as Blind Faith and Derek and the Dominoes, and they are all currently playing the music they love.

The Modern Face
Bad Veins

Forty years after the formation of Cream, there were two guys jamming in a Cincinnati attic who decided to call themselves Bad Veins. The band was originally a solo attempt by vocalist/guitarist Benjamin Davis, but that soon changed when Davis realized solo was a no go.  He asked drummer Sebastien Schultz to sign on, and the duo was born.
However, their band was not complete; drums and guitar were not enough.  They decided to bring a most interesting member to the group that makes them truly unique artists.  They have a reel to reel tape player which provides orchestra accompaniments, recorded bass lines or whatever they wish to add to the mix.  This player’s name is Irene.
dillon redo copy_2Listening to them, one hears a real authentic tone.  They are not the polished bands seen on huge record labels with tons of reverb and compression.  Bad Veins has that edge to their music, the little minor errors in the songs that are present, but it provides for a raw feel that just can’t be topped.  A surge comes from the distorted guitar sounds and the fast hi hat/snare

combos. Also, if one listens closely, Davis’ voice is akin to vocalist Brandon Flowers from The Killers. This being said, The Killers’ singer has nothing on this new talent.  Davis has control of his higher range, while Flowers frequently loses his voice to cracks and embarrassing little screams.  Not that there is anything wrong with that, but they should watch out for this group.
Another interesting aspect of the group is their stage performance.  Davis does not always use the traditional method of voice amplification, the microphone.  He tapes a telephone receiver to the mic stand and sings into that on songs like “Falling Tide.”

Other times, when the mic does not fit the occasion, he sings into a megaphone.  This is a characteristic of their song “The Lie.”  On top of that, there are parts in some songs where there is no drums, vocals or guitar playing, but Irene is giving a solo.  So, it is interesting to watch a live video of theirs when all the sudden, the two guys stop playing to sit around listening to a tape player.  Good work, Irene.
Probably one of the best new and upcoming bands, Bad Veins is a refreshing change from the high polished, big label artists.  Their passion for music comes out in their playing.  A few of their shows have been attended by more of the stage hands than actual audience members, but it does not make them play any less enthusiastically.  Their debut album entitled, Bad Veins, was just released this past July, and four of their songs as well as their list of upcoming shows are posted on their MySpace page.

Jaron (J.J.) Henderson, music producer

There really is not a clear definition of what a Music Producer is, but there are two types. One is someone who develops an artist’s sound and image, and helps them grow into a marketable product. This column focuses on the other type — an Audio Producer, like Jaron Henderson ’10. Audio producers are responsible for conducting musicians, engineers, and artists during recording sessions. It is their job to compose, arrange, mix, and master the music into a final audio product. Some notable producers that may come to mind are Dr. Dre, Scott Storch, The Neptunes, and Timbaland.

Interview by Soleil Grant ’10 | Special to The Stampede


BMHS STAR: Jaron (J.J.) Henderson
Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a great artist in our midst, right here at Bishop McNamara. He is a talented music producer aspiring to break into the music industry. If you have not yet gotten to know this month’s BMHS Music Star, Jaron “J.J.” Henderson, you should definitely add it to your “to do” list.jaron1
You might not know him, but if you attended Sankofa Night or BMHS’s Talent Show you’ve certainly heard him. One of his beats was used in a rap performance. Also, he performed himself, playing the piano, alongside a singing act. Now he still drums in Afican Dance III and IV. Most recently, his outgoing personality charmed the Class of 2010 to vote him as their Homecoming Prince.

Soleil: Hey Jaron!
Jaron: Hey Soleil-lay! Wussup!
Soleil: Nothing, How are you?
Jaron: Good
Soleil: Okay, so let’s get this started…Where are you from?
Jaron: I was born in D.C. When I was two I moved to Clinton, MD, and I’ve lived there ever since.
Soleil: What producers inspire you?
Jaron: I have a top three, with no specific order: Timbaland, Kanye West, and the Neptunes.
Soleil : Why are these people inspring to you?
Jaron: They are all on their own level. They are unique, They branch out to all genres, and they have a lot of experience in the game. (Music industry)
Soleil: Do remember the time, place, how old you were, etc. of your life when you decided that producing is what you want to do?
Jaron: I was in the 5th grade and school just got out, and I heard “Grindin’” by the Clipse for the first time. That was when I decided to make beats. (“Grindin” was produced by the Neptunes)
Soleil: How much of your daily time do you devote to producing?
Jaron: When I get home and finish all my homework, I’m just at it until late at night.
Soleil: I know this type of commitment can be a costly one. How much money have you invested into studio equipment, etc.?
Jaron: All together, about $935.00.
Soleil: Wow! Is it hard to persuade your parents into letting you spend this kind of money?
Jaron: Yes, very hard. They would rather me do things more practical.
Soleil: Like what?
Jaron: Like business, something that I can fall back on if the music doesn’t work out.
Soleil: I remember you telling me about a manager and studio time. So what’s going on with that?
Jaron: I am waiting to find the right people who will spend money and time to pay for studio time, people who are dedicated to putting projects together.
Soleil: On average, how much does studio time cost at studios that you look at?
Jaron: Like $60.00 an hour. I don’t always go to the same studio, though. It’s different everytime.
Soleil: At home on your computer, that’s where you work right?
Jaron: Yeah.

Jaron Henderson talks about his passion for music.
"Determination" says Jaron, about what a producer needs to be succesful.

Soleil: What software do you use?
Jaron: I use a combination. They’re called Reason 4 and FL Studio 8.
Soleil: How do you find the softwares you use and how do you know if they’re good or not before you buy them?
Jaron: I get demos of the software from friends of mine, and then I go on the internet and research on the stuff I’m looking at to know if it’s good or not.
Soleil: How much does the software cost?
Jaron: Reason 4 was about $300.00 and the same for FL Studio 8.
Soleil: In general, how do your parents feel about you devoting so much time and money into this? Do they support you?
Jaron: They like it because it’s something constructive. It keeps me out of trouble and it keeps me busy. They like jammin’ to my stuff, my mom likes the stuff.
Soleil: Who would be your dream artist to work with? You can give more than one…
Jaron: Right now, definitely Lupe Fiasco.
Soleil: Why?
Jaron: because his style of lyricism is completely different from everything else that you’re hearing.
Soleil: Anybody else?
Jaron: T.I. and Jay-Z.
Soleil: (Laughs)
Jaron: The reason for Jay-z is because, he’s Jay-z. He’s timeless!
Soleil: Yayyyyy!!! Ok, so who would be your dream producer to apprentice?
Jaron: Timbaland.
Soleil: Why?
Jaron: Because he’s been around it all. He’s worked with Missy Elliot, Aaliyah, Justin Timberlake, T.I., he’s worked with everybody.
Soleil: What instruments can you play?
Jaron: I basically just play the piano.
Soleil: Can you describe your style?
Jaron: It varies, but most of the time it’s dark.
Soleil: What do you mean by dark?
Jaron: Like an ugly, like ugly face beats.
Soleil: (Laughs) OK, so give 5 adjectives that describe your style of production.
Jaron: I don’t have beats in my head like some people, I just sit down and go. Whatever happens happens. One word I can think of is complex: you hear a lot of sounds in my beats, I use a lot of different sounds, and you notice new sounds the more you listen to them.
Soleil: Cool. So, have you ever heard a beat and tried to make a beat that basically mimicked the one you heard?
Jaron: Oh man, I remade “Crank Dat Soulja Boy” in like forty five minutes. And I remade “Foolish” by Shawty Lo.
Soleil: In your opinion what skills set does a person need to be a good producer?
Jaron: Determination definitely. When I first started out I was pretty bad. But now I’m at a pretty decent level, for my age and everything. Also, they need an ear for what sounds good.
Soleil: This is all so cool. Lastly where can people hear your beats?
Jaron: The “base” part of “basement” is spelled “bass”, like the sound in music…

It’s obvious, that Jaron is passionate about his dreams, and that making music is more than just a hobby. He is not stingy when it comes to sharing his music. So after you listen to his sound on his Myspace page, ask him for a demo. It would be best to get a hold of his beats now before he becomes grammy award winning, because then, he’ll be getting paid thousands of dollars just to make one!

by Soliel Grant