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

Published in the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader, May 29, 2015
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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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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.

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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.”

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Jim Rea brings songs, strings and friends together

Published in the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader, April 10, 2015
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Jim Rea has brought forth a new project with an ensemble cast, “Songs and Strings of the Ozarks,” a self-imposed musical challenge with an opportunity for many friends to take part.

The title tells only part of the story — an assembly of singer-songwriters with a backdrop of Rea’s elegant string arrangements. He said the idea had been rolling around in his head for some time.

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2 things: One-night supper club, iPods for Seniors

Published in the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader, April 3, 2015
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Tonight, April 3, drummer Warren Sandwell and vocalist Ran Cummings will transform Lindberg’s into a Rat Pack-era supper club, with Cummings singing the iconic songs of Sinatra, Martin and Darin, among other treats for the ears and the palate.

On Thursday, the Blues Society of the Ozarks is holding a benefit at Cartoons to collect iPods, radio players and headphones in a memory-strengthening, mood-elevating initiative for older people living in retirement communities.

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Dreams, decisions determine Tara Lynn’s musical path

Published in the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader, March 26, 2015
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Tara Lynn

(Tara) Lynn said people often approach her at shows to thank her for performing a certain song that moves them. “There’s a girl who comes with her mom to the shows, and she has my entire set list on her iPod. She comes to almost every show.”

This kind of response validates the music, even though the songs are covers, Lynn said, rejecting the charge that performing other people’s songs is a lesser form of art than original music. She described her repertoire as the songs she’s singing in lieu of the songs she’ll write some day.

“There are different people who hear the music. Even if it’s not mine, it’s the songs that I’ve brought to them, and they’re listening to those words. And I will argue that till my dying day,” she said.

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