So Long, Maxwell’s

I’ve been to Maxwell’s in Hoboken so many times over the past few years that I’ve lost count. In fact, I couldn’t even tell you the first show I saw there. I can tell you, though the feeling I felt every time I was inside: comfortable. While waiting in line to see the last show the venue would host Wednesday evening (July 31) before it closed its doors indefinitely, I befriended an older man who lived nearby. Talking about the venue and the shows we’ve seen there over the years, I described Maxwell’s as “homey” and he agreed.

I can’t explain it, but it’s the closest I have gotten to finding my Cheers bar. Over the years I have covered countless shows there and I didn’t even need to have my name added to the guest list. It was one of those places where, yes — everybody knows your name. One of the first shows I saw there was Tyrone Wells and Jason Reeves, both singer-songwriters who I went on to interview after thoroughly enjoying their sets at Maxwell’s. I also interviewed one of my childhood favorites — Kris Roe of The Ataris in the basement of the venue. (Picture below).


In 2008, I hosted my one-year blog anniversary show. I pitched the show to the booker of Maxwell’s and said my goal was to have 150 people attend. He laughed at the idea because hardly anyone who books their first concert can guarantee that amount will actually show up. But I was set to prove that I could do it. Josh Charles, Joey DeGraw and The Canon Logic, a band I would later come to manage, performed and 152 people attended. Not too shabby for my first concert.


I have reviewed countless indie sets, folk bands and even a few hardcore groups at Maxwell’s and loved every second of it. Covering concerts at Maxwell’s really helped pave the way of my career in music journalism, whether I was writing for my own blog or the Hoboken Patch.

Maxwell’s was hailed by Rolling Stone as one of the best rock clubs in the country and I couldn’t agree more. It has quickly become my favorite concert venue and it’s truly a shame to see it go. Maxwell’s, thanks for the memories.

Song of the Week

Song of the Week: “More In Love With You”


I stumbled upon Jason Reeves’ latest music video last week and instantly fell in love. Light acoustic guitar and delicate strokes of the guitar blend perfectly with his soft vocals. Nelly Joy’s guest vocals only add to the beautiful ballad. I have a feeling this will wind up as a wedding song for many couples. What do you think?


Related Links:
Q&A: with Jason Reeves
Jason Reeves Talks SXSW
Artist You Should Know: Jason Reeves
The Vespa Experiment Recap
Q&A Videos

Video Interview with Amber Rubarth

Video Credit: Wendy Hu

Last summer, I chatted with Amber Rubarth after her intimate show at Rockwood Music Hall. A beloved musician to many, she has collaborated with numerous artists including Jason Mraz and Martie Maguire and Emily Robison of the Dixie Chicks and Court Yard Hounds, not to mention toured the California coast on a vespa with Jason Reeves.

During our interview, Rubarth filled me in on her journey to following her passion, something her boss engrained in her while she was an apprentice to a chainsaw sculptor in Nevada, her songwriting process and the inspiration by some of her songs.

To find out more, watch the video below and be sure to purchase a copy of her latest album, A Common Case of Disappearing, which features collaborations with Jacquire King, Brad Bivens, Adam Levy, Frank Swart, Marco Giovino, Oliver Kraus, Zac Rae, Jason Reeves and Jason Mraz. Catch Amber Rubarth live tonight at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2.

Song of the Week Videos

Song of the Week: “Helium Hearts”

A few weeks ago I recommended Jason Reeves as an artist to watch. I’ve interviewed him and covered his live show a few times and can’t get enough of him! Check out his latest music video for “Helium Hearts,” the first single off his upcoming album.


Related Links:
Q&A; with Jason Reeves
Jason Reeves Talks SXSW
Artist You Should Know: Jason Reeves
The Vespa Experiment Recap

Artists You Should Know: Jason Reeves, Matt Hires

I’ve been listening to phenomenal singer-songwriters lately. Although I’ve already featured and interviewed both Jason Reeves and Matt Hires previously on You Sing I Write, since both have new music released today I figured I’d reintroduce them to you.

Jason Reeves is one of my favorite artists. His name may sound familiar because he’s co-written on both of Colbie Caillats’ albums. Reeves described himself as a hopeful romantic when I interviewed him last year at SXSW, and this can easily be seen in the emotional tales in his songs. You can preview the first track off his upcoming album, “Helium Hearts” on his Web site as well as purchase it on iTunes.

Watch a video of Jason performing “Droplets,” a track he wrote with Colbie below.


I first witnessed Matt Hires live when he opened for Tyrone Wells last year. Since then, his music has been featured on numerous television dramas including “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Private Practice.” About to embark on a headlining tour promoting latest EP,  A to B, Hires’ wavering vocals and acoustic guitar are sure to impress concertgoers. To stream his EP on AOL click here.

To learn more, watch CNN’s video interview with Matt below.

Related Links:
Q&A; with Jason Reeves
Jason Reeves Talks SXSW
Q&A; with Matt Hires
Stephen Kellogg & the Sixers and Matt Hires Satisfy Fans at Maxwell’s
Features News

The Vespa Experiment Recap

A few months back I wrote about The Vespa Experiment, where musicians Jason Reeves, Brendan James and Amber Rubarth traveled throughout California on Vespas while bringing music and environmental awareness to the forefront.

For two weeks the musicians traveled up the California Coast on Vespas performing in clubs as well as on mountaintops, beaches and town centers. They camped out along the way, showered in the ocean and documented their entire journey.

“If we could just possibly learn ourselves and help other people learn, by any means, even if it’s just sparking curiosity, then that’s what this is really about,” Reeves said.

Rubarth agrees. “I feel like this whole tour was all about getting to the core of life and purity and innocence. And, just getting back to the musical part and not in the business of it.”

Watch the video below and for more information, visit The Vespa Experiment on MySpace.

The Vespa Experiment from Vespa Experiment on Vimeo.

Features News

Introducing The Vespa Experiment

Those who are friends with me know about my obsession with Vespas. Imagine my excitement then, when I heard about The Vespa Experiment — three musicians traveling throughout California on Vespas while bringing music and environmental awareness to the forefront. Pretty inspiring.

Here’s the official description from MySpace:

“THE VESPA EXPERIMENT’S primary mission is to send a message to stop global warming by using the power of music. Co-founders Jason Reeves and Brendan James will be joined by their friend and ally, Amber Rubarth, on this purposeful journey. Supported by Greenpeace, the three musicians will ride Vespas up the California Coast, honoring the natural beauty of the West and performing at traditional (club) venues, as well as on mountaintops, beaches and town centers. For two weeks they will engage their fans in thought-provoking ways, through music and honest dialog, while living as simply as possible by camping along the way. In a modern twist, they will film a documentary as they travel, posting daily footage to the web so fans at home can follow along. Fans will be able to communicate with the artists in a communal dialog as they seek to change the world together.”

Their first time doing this type of tour, the musicians need your support. If you’d like to help write to They’ll hook you up with promo material, tickets to shows, CD’s and more! Man, I wish I lived in California right about now!

See tour dates below:

4.30 (CARLSBAD, CA) The Museum of Making Music
5.01 (COSTA MESA, CA) Sutra Lounge
5.02 (HERMOSA BEACH, CA) Saint Rocke
5.03 (LOS ANGELES, CA) Roxy
5.05 (VENTURA, CA) The Lodge At Zoey’s
5.07 (SAN LUIS OBISPO, CA) Downtown Brew
5.10 (MONTEREY, CA) Monterey Live
5.12 (SAN FRANCISCO, CA) Cafe Du Nord


SXSW: Day Three Recap

I woke up early Friday to head to Cedar Street Courtyard for my interview with Anya Marina. Before her set, Anya talked to me about the inspiration behind some of her songs, her recording process (which involved recording one song topless to get the right vocals for the song) and overcoming people’s expectations of her not making it in the music scene. I’ll be posting the full Q&A; in the upcoming days, so check back for that.

Anya’s performance was nothing short of enjoyable. The California native had all in attendance laughing along to her stories about eating goat milk yogurt for breakfast, quitting her job to be a musician, and visits to her therapist. Highlight of the set was stand-out single “Move You” and her acoustic cover of T.I.’s “Whatever You Like.”

Next band up for Filter Magazine‘s showcase was the phenomenal Idle Warship. Truly a must-see the band, consisting of Talib Kweli, Res, and Graph Nobel among others, Idle Warship had every hand in the courtyard raised in the air during their energetic set. The Brooklyn/Philly/Toronto members had the crowd rocking so hard at one in the afternoon, you would have thought it was 1 a.m. on a Saturday night. Highly recommend catching them if you get the chance as their impeccable blend of rock, R&B; and rap is impressive.

While Idle Warship was a hard act to follow, New Hampshire-based Wild Light held their own introducing some indie music to the crowd. Wild Light definitely had the indie diehards support in the audience while performing in the scorching Austin sun.

Next band I caught at the Filter showcase was Manchester band The Whips and boy did they have the crowd’s attention. From the energetic fans surrounding me (most likely from Manchester), I felt like I was at a dance party with their computer generated electronica and strong bass and drum beats. Everyone around me was jumping with their fists pumping in the air. I headed out after their set, but still have their single, “Trash” stuck in my head.

Headed to catch Fanfarlo with the roomies after some much desired (and delicious) ice cream on 6th Street. Every indie music lover’s band, Fanfarlo switched up the typical expected showcase with a variety of instruments — from clarinet to violin — they represented indie music at it’s best at Emo’s Annex Friday afternoon.

My favorite performance of the night goes to Jason Reeves. Playing at Live.Create. Lounge as part of VH1’s Save the Music showcase, he impressed the audience with his heartfelt stories and adamant view on the importance of music in schools. Playing tracks off his most recent album, The Magnificent Adventures of Heartache (and other frightening tales), it is evident that he is a hopeful romantic as many of his tracks deal with relationships.

Before introducing “Someone, Somewhere” Reeves told the crowd the song is about “being in love and being hopeful when everyone is telling you it’s not going to happen. We have to fight and stand up for that.” With his hushed singing style towards the fade out of the track, you could sense the emotion in every song played throughout his set.

About VH1’s Save the Music campaign, Reeves said, “What’s happening in this building is so powerful. I believe music changes lives. It’s one of the only truly beautiful things we have left as human beings. This is not letting music die. Please do everything you can to save music, otherwise we’re all going to die.”

The rest of the night was a bit of a blur as plans kept changing once realizing I couldn’t catch a few bands I hoped to see (Lights Resolve, Tinted Windows, Lady Sovereign) but all wasn’t lost. I caught part of Solange‘s set at the Convention Center. Dressed to the nine, seeing Solange and her band perform had that New York City lounge feel as the lighting and dance contribution by her and her backup singers was stellar. How she dances in those heels I’ll never know, but she wowed the crowd with songs off her recent release. You can catch her set live on Direct TV so be sure to check your cable listings to be part of SXSW.

I was dying to catch Luna Halo‘s showcase after seeing them open for Switchfoot over a year ago. By far the best opening band I have ever witnessed, their blend of indie rock is impressive and their performance last night was nothing less than stellar.

Perhaps the most interesting venue to catch a show had to be Lisa Hannigan‘s set at 11 p.m. at the Central Presbyterian Church on 8th Street. While she’s no doubt an impressive talent, the dimmed lighting and laid-back vibe definitely was soporific and after catching a few songs I headed back to 6th Street to catch Nashville-based band Shirock (see below).

What Shirock has been doing in relation to promoting their debut album, Everything Burns is inspiring. The band has launched a non-profit organization called Everything Burns as a way to encourage and enable people to help those in need by providing awareness of various charities throughout their tours. The idea behind Everything Burns is “not to get stuck in the mundane,” said frontman Chuck. “Engaging in culture and getting involved [is what’s important]” he continued. Truly a stand-up example to all musicians, I’m interested to see where Shirock will be in a few years.

Wow, totally didn’t realize I caught 10 shows until I finished writing this post! Definitely the place to be for the music addict, SXSW obviously has the most versatile line-up you’ll see anywhere. Didn’t catch Metallica or The Decemberists unfortunately but the rest of the festival looks promising as I’ll be seeing Third Eye Blind‘s performance tonight at Stubb’s! Keep reading for updates throughout the rest of the weekend and into next week!

P.S. Hopefully I won’t be losing all respect from you readers, but one of the highlights of the night had to be running into Chris Kirkpatrick from ‘N Sync right off 6th Street. My inner 13-year-old obsessed boy band fan came out and I’m still regretting not taking a picture with him. I know, I’m a music journalist and gotta be professional but ‘N Sync! Takes me back. Cue “Tearin’ Up My Heart” . . .


Jason Reeves Talks SXSW

Definitely one of the most humble and down-to-earth musicians I’ve interviewed, Jason Reeves took some time out to chat with me when first arriving in Texas. His modesty is truly a testament to his character (sample quote: “I have a hard time coming up with things to say about myself. I’m just lucky that people want to ask because if they didn’t ask then I’d just be silent.”)

Perhaps most known for his co-writing efforts on Colbie Caillat’s debut album, Coco, Reeves’ latest release, The Magnificent Adventures of Heartache (and other frightening tales) is an impressive album, most notable for his strong, wear-your-heart-on-your-sleeve lyrics. Read below for Jason’s take on South By Southwest and be sure to give him a listen on MySpace and if you’re at SXSW, check out his showcases listed below.

Is this your first time at South By Southwest?
This is my third time. I came three years ago and then the year after that and I skipped last year, but I was never playing my own music I was just watching for the most part.

So this is your first year playing?

What is it about SXSW that attracts you as a musician?
Just the circus-like insanity of it all. Everybody comes here. The point to come is to play for people that you wouldn’t normally get to play with. For some reason, the fact that you’re playing at Southwest makes them more interested in you than they were before.

What would you tell people going to the festival to catch your showcase?
I’m a horrible salesman; I’m never going to sell anybody on myself. I feel like if they want to come watch me play, then my music is the reason they should come see it. I’m not trying to trick them into anything. I’m not a rock star; I’m just a boy that plays songs. If they like my songs then they can come watch.

What do you feel sets you apart from the hundreds of other bands that are showcased here?
I don’t know. You have to ask that question as to what sets yourself apart from the millions and billions of other people in the world. It seems like if I had to answer that I couldn’t get around the fact that I would feel like I was being an asshole by trying to separate myself in terms of, “Well I’m better than all the other bands because I do this.” I hope there’s something different in the way that I write or in the way that I sing that sets me apart in someway. Not in a better or worse scale, but just in a different scale.

Do you go about preparing for a festival differently than your own tour?
No. Actually, we’re at the end of the last leg of our own tour so it just feels the same. It’s still driving around in our van and unloading our stuff at a building and playing music. It’s weird being able to stay in the same city for more than a night though, so that’s what’s different.

What are you looking forward to most at SXSW?
Well, I was looking forward to seeing a bunch of my friends play, but I don’t think that’s going to happen now because I have to do so much. What I’m looking forward to is jumping in the river and eating BBQ. Those are two reasons I really wanted to be here.

You have so many interviews and showcases lined up. Do you get to enjoy the festival as a musician?
I have no idea what this is going to be like because we just got here about 10 minutes ago. I assume it will be more like a whirlwind where I don’t even get to notice what’s going on most of the time. I don’t think that it’s different from being at SXSW in general because it’s just crazy here. I have yet to see, so we’ll find out tomorrow or the next day.

What’s your advice to festivalgoers?
Be prepared to stand in infinite lines. Have patience. Get drunk to deal with the lines and eat as much BBQ as you can before you leave. Also, jump in rivers to escape the heat.

Where are these rivers that you’re talking about?
You have to go out of town. It’s not very far; it’s sort of out on the edges of town. There are a few rivers. One in particular that’s sort of turquoise that just looks like a magical turquoise lagoon that I remember jumping in last time we were here, so I’ll have to try to find that.

Do you have a favorite song you like to play during your set?
I like “New Hampshire” and “Gasoline.” Those are my two favorites.

Do you ever hold back in songwriting because you don’t want to reveal too much?
Well, that’s the exact opposite of what I’m trying to do. I’m trying not to hold back. That’s the reason I write. I feel holding back would only muddy it down and that would leave it less pure. I think that’s what I’m choosing to do. Being a songwriter is letting people know what’s up, which is a very weird idea. It’s not what normal people do. Everybody is so guarded and secretive with their problems and emotions and joys, but I think that’s also what causes all the wars inside of them. That’s the reason I started writing in the first place — to put that all outside of me rather than let it rage within.

Have you always wanted to be a musician?
I wanted to be Michael Jackson when I was a little kid for as long as I could remember. It wasn’t until I was 17 that I realized that I wanted to do this. When I started playing guitar and writing music I understood that that’s what I needed to do for now. I plan on doing other things, but for now its pretty much all I can handle.

Jason Reeves SXSW Showcases
Thursday at the Sheraton lobby (701 E 11th St) at 7 p.m.
Friday at Live.Create Lounge (503 Neches St) at 8 p.m.
Friday at The Victorian Room at The Driskill (504 Brazos St) at 10 p.m.

You can read this interview on here.


SXSW: Day One

South by Southwest is every music lover’s dream. On 6th Street alone the venues line up one after the other (and that’s only one street!). You can catch a pop band at one venue and right across the street there’s a hard rock band from South Africa playing.

You’ll be happy to know that this afternoon I successfully purchased a wristband thanks to my Twitter badge holder friend @CyndiHellen. In order to get a wristband you have to be with a badge holder and buy it off them. Weird, I know but that’s one thing accomplished and now I can get into any concert I want!

My roommates are great too! Two of them have been attending SXSW the past four years so they know all the secret spots first time festivalgoers aren’t aware of. For instance, there’s a 75 cent “airport flyer” bus from the airport to downtown Austin which saved me tons of $$$ on a cab. They also found a great taco place for lunch today, cleverly titled Taco Shack. Fellow Jersey girls (they actually live two towns next to me) I really lucked out on having some pretty awesome roommates to spend the week with.

I’m about to head out to catch Meiko’s performance at the Austin Convention Center and interview her afterwards, but here’s my tentative schedule from today. Be on the lookout for more interviews and live Twitter updates.

noon- lunch with the roomies @ Taco Shack

1 p.m. -caught The Gay Blades at Creekside Lounge

2 p.m. – waited in line and purchased my wristband

3 p.m. – interviewed Jason Reeves @ his hotel

5:30 – Meiko performance

7 p.m. – interviewing Meiko

8 p.m. – Billboard showcase

9 p.m. – The Elms showcase

10 p.m. – Lights Resolve performance

11 p.m. – Minature Tigers set

12:30 a.m. – Ten out of Tenn showcase

Still trying to figure out if I can make it past 1 a.m. stay tuned for my interview with Jason Reeves and his take on SXSW tomorrow!

You can also read this post on here.