Mood Ring Circus, Luna J. at The Riff

Mood Ring by Brandon Cole

Above: Mood Ring Circus (from left): Alexander Hines, Seth Randolph, Justin Larkin and Steven Sparks. Photo credit: Brandon Cole. Top: Luna J.: Tyler Mathews, Bryan Copeland, Kim Painter and Tom Pearson. Photo credit: Ryan Fannin

Two robust bands with strong followings — Mood Ring Circus and Luna J. — should generate some heat on this deep-freeze Saturday (1/13) at The Riff.

The combination brings tasty contrasts: Mood Ring for expansive rock and Luna J. for a chill-groove sound, with the emphasis on groove.

Mood Ring’s Justin Larkin said their album is in post-production. However, they have planned an album listening party around 7 or 7:30 p.m., before the show, and they’ll play the songs during their set.

“We’re calling the record ‘Limbo Daze’ as our testament to waiting, that we’ve already endured and will continue to do so. Good things take time,” Larkin said. The CD release show is set tentatively for mid-March, he said.

Larkin (guitar) often serves as lead vocal, and he excels at songwriting. Lead guitarist Steven Sparks has a background in metal that brings drama to his engaging set of chops. Alexander Hines has an agile approach to the bass while always providing a heavy bottom. Seth Randolph’s drumming offers a little something extra that keeps you continuously interested.

For this show, two horn players will perform with Luna J. for the first time, A.J. Lee (trumpet, flugelhorn) and Evan White (saxophones). They will play on five songs of the band’s EP, which should be out in March, said Bryan Copeland (guitar, vocals, songwriting).

The EP is part of Luna J.’s project of building a full-length album in two stages of five-song increments. The album’s single, “You Say,” is being released today, Friday 1/12.

“This album will be very groove-oriented, a chill-groove feel, with Kim (Painter) really pulling the bass,” Copeland said.

Players of the long-running unit continue to develop, he said. Painter’s bass lines often stand out as lead lines. “I play chords mostly, and she makes everything interesting without me having to do much. Tyler (Mathews, keys) is so good at filling in wherever there are holes in the vocals, and Tom (Pearson) is settling in and understanding what we need in a drummer, understanding the groove side of things.”

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Newly expanded, The Riff starts making some noise

• IMG_7076 upstairs

Here’s the view from the mezzanine, which, when it’s finished, will provide seating for roughly 40 people.

The Riff at Classic Rock Coffee Co. looked somewhat like a grand opening on Saturday, Jan. 6, with three bands on the marquee, a packed parking lot and buzz among the folks inside.

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A dance floor separates the stage from the tables.

The only thing missing was special hoopla. That was lacking because it was one night of an ongoing soft opening. The grand opening will take place later next month.

In any case, Nathan Bryce opened with Testify, his powerhouse three-piece tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughan. After that energizing experience, country-rock band Bootleg Riot and classic-rock cover band Innuendo played into the evening.

Noble Bowman of Classic Rock said the company has set high standards for the expanded venue. “We hope to become the music venue of Springfield,” he said. Here are seven reasons how:

Expanding from a capacity of roughly 150 people to nearly 500

Top-flight sound and light systems

Tables and a nook up front

A bar in the back with an area for congregating

Good food

A mezzanine for a different view and space for private parties

Family friendly, kids welcome

In its original setting, the venue had already established a reputation as a great place for listening and performing. However, the space was too small to draw bands with a higher profile.

“The expansion put us in a position to attract some of the biggest bands in Springfield, as well as some regional touring acts or acts touring between large cities, looking for a stop-off for a show,” he said.

“When we designed the venue, we wanted it to be able to fit more people but still have a very comfortable, cozy, intimate feel. Everybody’s going to have good sound,” Bowman said. “We made sure that every seat in the room would have as good sound as any seat in the room.”

More music:

Thursday: Papa Green Shoes

Friday: Troy “The LA Files”

Saturday: Mood Ring Circus and Luna J.

And watch for the monthly performance by The Agreements, the blues and soul band with a big brass profile.

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Behind the tables, a bar runs on one side, and there’s room for mingling.

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This is the dividing line, right here

What is above this post is a blog
celebrating the local music of Springfield, Mo.

———————————————-

Below this post are excerpts from a bunch my freelance pieces,
placed here mainly to show would-be clients what I could do.
Although that stuff below this line
may also be a celebration of local music.

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New Boris Yeltsin CD — ‘Distortion can be very pretty’

Published in the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader, May 29, 2015
This content cannot be reproduced without permission of the News-Leader.
Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin (from left): Will Knauer, Tom Hembree, Phil Dickey and Jonathan James. Photo credit: Calvin Todd

Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin (from left): Will Knauer, Tom Hembree, Phil Dickey and Jonathan James. Photo credit: Calvin Todd

Celebrating a decade of congenial indie pop recordings, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin is releasing an album that strives to render the noisier sound typical of their live performances.

Over time, the CD’s have been catching up to the dynamics of the shows, and the June 2 release of “The High Country” will close the gap with generous helpings of guitar distortion, fuzz and clanging strumming. The CD release event is Saturday at the Outland Ballroom.

The effects are carefully crafted and strategically deployed, drummer Phil Dickey said.

“Distortion can be very pretty, if it’s a distorted harmony “There’s something satisfying in a distorted guitar with the right tone. Distortion can rub me the wrong way, too, like a headache.”

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As girls’ rock camp expands, eight bands to play benefit

Published in the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader, May 22, 2015
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Screen Shot 2015-05-24 at 5.47.51 PM

Neon Girls (clockwise from top left): Hannah Henderson, Nora Powell, Calli Howe, and Lilly Broyles.

Ever since Nora Powell took part in last year’s inaugural Queen City Rock Camp, she’s been fired up for this year’s session, and she’s telling all her friends.

“I’m super-interested in the whole rock thing and playing the bass, and I’m counting down the days until I can go to rock camp,” said Nora, a sixth grader at Fair Grove Middle School.

She said she’s looking forward to learning more about the bass, reuniting with her camp band, Neon Girls, and writing songs together.

View the complete article while it remains accessible at News-Leader.com.

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Blues festival seeks ‘the lift up, the saving grace’

Published in the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader, Xxxx XX, 2015
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Janiva Magness

Janiva Magness

Blues musicians often face authenticity tests: what they play, how they play it, and, in some cases, what they endure.

Gauged on the endurance scale, there’s no doubt that Janiva Magness has a right to sing the blues.

Losing both parents to suicide, shuttling through foster homes, homeless in between, giving up a baby for adoption — all by the age of 17 — and ultimately picking up the pieces and moving forward in life and music. …

“The lift up, the saving grace — one of the only places where there was light in my life — was through the music,” she said. “It took me out of my current reality, which was pretty dark and pretty painful.”

View the complete article while it remains accessible at News-Leader.com.

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Listening to the Hillbenders, you’ll see the music

Published in the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader, May 8, 2015
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The Hillbenders

The Hillbenders

Who could have predicted that the best-received album by the Hillbenders would not only be one that they have not yet released but also their most reaching in concept: a bluegrass take on “Tommy” by the Who?

“Tommy: A Bluegrass Opry” is not really all that far-fetched. Bluegrass is flexible, and the Hillbenders are known for flexing. The band has a “Tommy” fanatic (Jim Rea) who discovered the work when he was a kid. “Tommy” is an opera, and the Hillbenders have a classically educated vocalist (Nolan Lawrence).

View the complete article while it remains accessible at News-Leader.com.

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Festival to benefit Traveling Vietnam Memorial event

Published in the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader, May 1, 2015
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(Jamie) Holdren and Sista Lucille’s lead singer, Kimberly Dill, outlined challenges veterans face with housing, employment, health care and mental-health care. “We’ll do anything we can to shine a spotlight on them or to help them,”

Dill pointed out that Vietnam veterans lacked the veneration that contemporary troops receive. “So, Vietnam War awareness is probably even more important that for any other war,” she said.

View the complete article while it remains accessible at News-Leader.com.

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Vultures have wide-ranging tastes in music

Published in the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader, April 24, 2015
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For most of the past half-decade, four versatile and seasoned musicians had been hovering around the idea of forming a band. A few months ago, they swooped and seized the moment.

The result is the Vultures of Chaos County, a band playing original songs drawing from rock and funk with traces of hip-hop and country. The flock of friendly carrion eaters will be roosting tonight at the Flea.

View the complete article while it remains accessible at News-Leader.com.

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Professors and Maryann to perform at Cartoons Friday

Published in the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader, April 17 2015
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Like many bands, the Professors and Maryann got started in high school. Most of the players had musical skills, and one of them just liked to sing while walking through the halls.

Their first gig was a school-wide battle-of-the-bands fundraiser at Hillcrest High. They emerged triumphant, blowing away the assembled student body.

Of course, their loyal followers know that the Professors and Maryann are teachers who gathered hastily to learn three songs for that assembly in 2002, just for fun.

View the complete article while it remains accessible at News-Leader.com.

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