The Realm's Swan Song May Just Be The Band Slam!

Those who know me well by now know that I don't toot a horn not worth tooting.

Well, The Realm is an amazing band -- four dudes who are skilled musicians and sweet guys. And after 10+ years, they're finally calling it quits -- and the last show will be the Band Slam. (If they play it.)

Check out their e-mail below for an explanation -- and follow up. Let's hope it goes through and everything works out. If it does, it's gonna be one set you're not gonna wanna miss this Thursday!

We're honored once again the accept the award for Best Fusion from the Hartford Advocate for Grand Band Slam 2006. Thanks to everyone who nominated us and voted for us to help make this happen. Grand Band Slam occurs in downtown Hartford this coming Thursday, August 3, 2006. Details at

Regretfully however Band Slam 06 will be the last performance of The Realm. Lots of reasons for this but in short - after doing this for more than a decade - we've decided that the winds in front of us are stronger than the winds behind us and it's time for us to move on to other things. Our website will remain up indefinately at and in the time to come will be further populated and chok full of photos, goodies, and as much music as we can possibly cram into it.

As far as our last performance at Band Slam goes, there is still some question as to whether or not it will occur. We are having some difficulty with the powers that be over whether or not we will be able to perform using our own equipment - or whether we would be forced to use common drums and amps in order to save time and space. We are definately against using anything other than our own drums, guitar and bass amps for obvious reasons. No band can perform at their best without being able to use their own equipment; equpiment that they have spent thousands on, are comfortable with and have spent years tweaking and dialing to their own unique needs.

We've been trying all last week to work out the issue with those powers that be and it's looking like things will probably be OK. We're hoping to have the chance to go out with blazing progressive music rather than with a whimper and a sigh. However unless we can get assurances that we will be able to use our own gear at Band Slam, we will be forced to regretfully decline to perform at the show. More on this situation can be found on the Inner Circle section of our website.

As it stands now, we should be able to perform, and will do so at Black Eye Sally's on Thursday August 3rd. Our set time is still in question but we will likely either be the first band at roughly 9pm or the last band at roughly midnight. Either way we will keep you posted by email and likely the next issue of The Advocate will have an updated schedule. Our website at will also be updated with the latest information as it comes out.

We're certainly hoping for a chance to kick this mother one last time before we all go home. If the show happens, it's sure to be one not to miss. Stay tuned.


yer friends at The Realm

Calling All Superheroes!

Back in March, I had the opportunity to scope out a preview staging of the first acts of GRIMM, an extraordinary performance featuring Connecticut's world music ensemble SaReel Project as both musicians and actors. (Check out my review here; pix of the performance are on my Flickr. You can view the invite to the NYC opening here.)

Well, the performers of GRIMM are gearing up for the debut of the show... but first they have to raise some funds!

That's where you come in. The performers of GRIMM would like to invite you to a fundraiser party in Brooklyn! Please e-mail me (Dan) at if you're interested; I'll pass along the address of the party and the phone contact info for tickets/RSVP!

I, unfortunately, won't be attending; I live in a shoebox and eat tin cans for breakfast, so I'm afraid I can't afford the door price (despite REALLY REALLY wanting to). If you're like me and can't go, please continue to pass the word along to friends and family and art lovers. Tell them a big-shot critic says this shindig is worth it! :P

Below is producer/dancer/choreographer/genius Faith Pilger's original e-mail to me (hee hee, they QUOTED me -- to this day, shit like that still makes me giddy):

Dear friend and fellow superhero!
You are cordially and enthusiastically invited to...
A "GRIMM" FUNDRAISER ART LOFT PARTY!!!(including wild performances by the original cast of GRIMM!)

WHEN: Thursday, August 10th @ 8:30pm
WHERE: The Artist Loft of Dalton Portella (between Bedford and Driggs in Williamsburg, Brooklyn! Only 1 stop on the L train and a short, scenic walk to *SOUTH* 5th Street!)
WHY: GRIMM, a new Off-Broadway production which premieres August 24th needs to meet their final fiscal goal! GRIMM has been made possible by a Special Project Grant from the Princess Grace Foundation as well as individual donations of goods, services and monies by art lovers such as yourself!!!
OUR GOAL: $10,000 in one night! (100 attendees who will have an entertaining and fulfilling summer evening in hip Billyburg, NY!)
HOW MUCH: $100 entrance will include...
*Open bar
*Live entertainment from the dancers/acrobats in GRIMM!
*A peek into the art studio/"backstage" of visual artist, Dalton Portella!
*An opportunity to meet and mingle with artists, art presenters, art lovers and generally interesting humans!
*The satisfaction of knowing that your contribution is making it possible for this exciting new production to begin it's own exciting journey and transformation!

(Please see our website for details on "giving" to GRIMM. Fearliss Productions is sponsored by The Field and all donations such as this event are tax deductible to the full extent of the law!)

A. If you can make it, please RSVP by email to: Faith Pilger/Fearliss Productions/Executive Producer of GRIMM

B. If you cannot make it, please pass this along to a friend who you thinkwill enjoy a one-of-a-kind opportunity to meet and mingle with the cast of a new off-broadway production in a casual setting, with surprise performances throughout the evening. ALL ART LOVERS WELCOME! IF YOU LOVE ART, WE LOVE YOU!!!

Thanks so much for taking the time to read this and pass it along to your friends and colleagues. It is individuals such as yourself who keep great art alive in AMERICA! Thank you!

Please view the attached invitation to the PREMIERE of GRIMM, at The Duke on 42nd Street Theater, NYC, on August 24-27, 2006! This fusion of dance, theatre, live music, puppetry and aerial silk is appropriate for all ages! Please also visit for photos and information.

"GRIMM is as timely as it is exciting. The activist in me sees it as a starting point for discussions about poverty, class, and child autonomy. The psychologist in me sees it as a boldly honest study of family dynamics. The environmentalist in me sees it as a call to re-affiliate ourselves with the mystery of the woods."
~Dan Barry, The Hartford Advocate (From review of preview performance at CCSU in CT)*****

We look forward to your R.S.V.P. and the opportunity to bring our world into yours!
Faith Pilger
Fearliss Productions

Brian MacDonald Finally Gets His Due

Almost exactly two years ago now, I found myself in Marlboro, CT, home of the now-defunct Pine Needles cafe. I was attending the show that would become the material for my third-ever Local Motion column.

Wait -- before I continue, you NEED to see this fuckin' stuffed moose head they had on the wall in this place.

I mean, look at that! 100% of the moose, 0% of the old boys club elitism! Who else has that? SUCH a bummer that it closed.

Anyway, so I'm at Pine Needles, hanging out, and seeing this guy Brian MacDonald for the first time. And this dude -- to hear his voice is to be instantly bowled over. He has a beautiful baritone. I was just astounded. He ran down Dylan and Warren Zevon covers with such reverence and integrity; he had originals that ran the gamut from wacky tunes about getting old to love songs to wondering where the hell your life is at in the middle of the night.

After his set, I talk to him for a good long time. Turns out he's already read my column (!!!) and he chats with me about my predecessors (Tom Pizzola, India Blue, Jayne Keedle, others I can't even remember -- homeboy's been on the scene for a long time). We had a great conversation.

Well, turns out that Bri was gigging something like 300 nights a year -- and, y'know, no insult to him or anything, but he's not exactly a young whippersnapper no more, so I'm just amazed at the work he puts in. And he's just released this album called Midnight in Nowhere (get it on CDBaby) that's doing respectably well, but seems to be getting more attention in random European countries than here in the states.

If there's anyone who was going to be able to gracefully continue doing all that heavy gigging and songcrafting into their old age -- whether or not they got their due -- it was Bri. Luckily, now he doesn't have to.

He called to tell me about some good news. A couple months ago, he was coming off of a previous night's lackluster gig when he got a phone call from his longtime producer, Rick Jarrard. Rick's Nashville-based song publishing company has been taking off of late.

"You sick of gigging, Bri?" asked Rick.

"Well, yeah, I kinda am. I had a gig that I just kinda ... got through last night."

"Well, you don't have to gig any more. I wanna take you on as a salaried songwriter."

When Brian got off the phone with Rick, he sat down right where he was -- which happened to be a Stop and Shop parking lot -- and called all of the venues where he had upcoming gigs. He politely cancelled them all. As he explained to me, "pretend you work at McDonald's. You're not ashamed, but you have to pay the bills, you have to feed your family, so that's what you do. Now imagine it's the middle of the lunch hour rush. Someone walks in and says, 'I wanna give you the job of your dreams. Here.' How long would it take you to take off your apron?"

Congratulations, Brian. I've never looked so forward to not seeing someone play live.

What I Wrote/What They Quote

A story:

About a year ago now, I received a review copy of Livintrust's CD "BlindDrive" in the mail. I put it on and gave it a few spins... And I was like, "eesh -- I am *really* not feelin' this." I put it aside, and when I had a chance, I went to see them live. (That's the true test -- after all, look at what happened with Porto. I wasn't very keen on their first LP, Nemesis -- but then I checked them out live, and holy shit! They're awesome!) I saw LivinTrust play at Zen Bar in Farmington, and before their set, their drummer Matt Chirsky sidled up to me, acted chummy, bought me and my girlfriend drinks... Then they went on stage, and they sounded exactly like their album. Which is to say that they came off as talented musicians who crank out cookie-cutter nu-metal songs.

In the following days, the LT boys were politely persistent about asking what I thought. I told them the truth: that I saw a lot of problems with their tunes, that if I wrote a review it would be pretty critical and negative, and that I didn't want to go to press with a review like that when they had been good to me at the show. A while down the road, Chirsky got back to me and said that the band had talked about it, and decided that they wanted me to go ahead and publish the review anyway.

Ok, I thought. If you say so.

Fast-forward to today. I just saw this and I thought it was awesome. Guess it just goes to show: your words can be used against you in a court of law, but they can be flipped around sideways and backwards by musicians!

(from "Kiss It Goodbye," Hartford Advocate, January 5, 2006 -

Blind Drive
(One Six One)

Considering the massive success that local boys Staind have enjoyed in recent years, it's not surprising that Connecticut musicians are still eager to jump on the "I'm so angry and misunderstood" bandwagon. Problem is, Staind peaked a while ago. Now they, like their nu-metal sires Korn and Limp Bizkit, are cranking out drivel that even the most terminally abused teenagers can see through. While the rise and fall of these bands is enough to make a solid case for the death of nu-metal, the real clincher is the onslaught of pre-fab "heavy alternative" bands on the local level, each trying to get a peck at the corpse. Such is the case with Livintrust. They've modeled their album Blind Drive almost note-for-note on Sevendust's recent material. (Gosh, don't those names sound so similar?) Meanwhile, Livintrust are enjoying all the commercial plaudits you might imagine a flawless rip-off would get: corporate sponsorships, song rotation on WCCC, and a recent opening slot for Audioslave. The real talent in the Livintrust camp is their marketing execs.


(from the Livintrust MySpace,

Hartford Advocate, Dan Barry
" Korn and Limp Biskit...Livintrust are enjoying all the commercial plaudits you might imagine... corporate sponsorships, song rotation on WCCC, and a recent opening slot for Audioslave...real talent..."

This blog post brought to you by the ellipsis (...), Bud Light True Music, and unresolved teenage angst.

Sparrows Swarm and Sing: Upcoming Album, Ambitious Tour!

CT/MA post-rockers Sparrows Swarm and Sing (who I reviewed, um, ages ago in this article) are in the midst of a gigantic national tour right now. They're gearing up for the release of their first LP on Magic Bullet Records, titled 'O Shenandoah Mighty Death Will Find Me.

You want MP3 clips? Peep clips.

Across Canyons/Canons Part iii (CLIP)
Warm Blood Within (CLIP)

I am a sucker for quality album packaging and art. I think it's something that gets overlooked too often. These days, when everyone (including me) is downloading almost everything, there's such a high premium on being able to enjoy music with your hands and eyes as well. And I can honestly say that the Sparrows releases I own (which include two radically different copies of their first untitled CD and a 12" record of their second untitled release) are some of the most beautiful, thoughtful, and fun recordings I've ever come across.

That said: check out this fucking AMAZING album art, which is by their drummer, no less. (Click for detail.)

The final kicker? Pre-order copies supposedly come in a handmade buckskin pouch! Very not vegan; very damn cool!

My little weekend in Bushnell Park.

On Saturday afternoon I interviewed a bunch of the Grand Band Slam winners.

Can I just say really quickly:
This year is going to be so fucking good.

More details soon, baby. All I can say is: mark off your calendars. I'm not saying this because they're making me say it. I'm saying it because I wanna see your face get rocked.

Farewood -- Alive and Kickin'!

Just got some great news in from Leah of Farewood, one of CT's best on-again-off-again alternative rock bands. (Adam G of Hatestick once described them as Dinosaur Jr. something something Bjork something lots of drugs. Fuck. I wish I could remember his exact quote.)

Anyway. Check this shit out.


Farewood, the indie-rock/soul band out of Meriden CT, will be hosting a show at Cherry Street Station in Wallingford on Friday, July 14th. The band has just completed a video which they will premiere that night. The video was filmed in Meriden and is a bit of a tribute to the city's local spots and it's people, both of which have shaped the band's sound and influenced their music. Parts of Meriden, including the abandoned and semi-desolate cityscapes and it's colorful cast of local characters, have prompted songs about despair and the idea that hope can lie in what may seem like a dismal scene. The video, "King John" which is based on a Meriden local, pays homage to the band's hometown and so will their third album "Figures In Shadows" which will be released in the Fall.

Join Farewood and other locals, including Chrispy, Ben N, the Carlos Projeckt and Florida Equals Death at Cherry Street Station in Wallingford on Friday 07/14/06. Doors open at 8:30pm. Admission is $5.
Preview the video:
Or under videos here:

Icepick, Motherfucker

For those of you who aren't up on your hardcore history, here's a crash course: hardcore evolved from punk rock in the very early 80s. Much of its roots are located here on the East coast. In D.C., bands like Black Flag, Bad Brains, and Minor Threat were crystallizing a scene that had outspoken social/political lyrics. Meanwhile, up towards our neck of the woods, NYC bands were taking a slightly different tack. Groups like Agnostic Front and Sick of it All (both of whom are amazingly still active) were a bit less political and a lot more thuggish. These bands and their crowds had much more of a "street tough" appeal -- they were more working class and less intellectual.

It's that influence that carried through to a lot of CT hardcore. If you've ever heard of Hatebreed, then you probably know that CT has a reputation for cranking out thugged-out NYC-style hardcore (especially southern CT -- Hatebreed calls New Haven home).

Well, Hatebreed frontman Jamey Jasta has a CT/NYC-based side project known as Icepick that recently released an album, Violent Epiphany. While many hardcore and metal fans wring their hands over Hatebreed (and there's admittedly a lot to dislike: the band's willingness to "sell" hardcore to MTV and Hot Topic; their enviable success; their repetitive songwriting; their major-label backing; the constant violence at their shows; their appearances on Hollywood film soundtracks and other "sellout" areas), Icepick is much easier to like. A good part of it may just be that it's a different band with a different reputation. But a cursory listen shows that Icepick has something that Hatebreed doesn't. Icepick's songs are inexplicably simple, unapologetically dumb, and undeniably HARD.

This shit is unbelievable. Put on "Real Recognizes Real." That's ICE-T talking all that trash at the beginning. Ice Motherfucking T. Foul-mouthed doesn't even begin to describe it. I have been known to play the intro to this song over and over just because it's so incredibly in-your-face-offensive and badass.

Violent Epiphany is available on Jasta's label, Stillborn Records.

New Shag Frenzy Location!

Shag Frenzy @ The Webster Underground, RIP... Shag Frenzy @ Factory, welcome! This just in from Johnny Strangler himself:

We're taking over the old Troutbrook Brewhouse/Spaghetti Warehouse in the nice Parkville section in the west end of Hartford, near Real Art Ways, Wood N Tap, etc. The night will be called Shag Frenzy at Factory, as the club will be called Factory when we are there. We're teaming up with 2 other djs, Markie Gee & Brut Zero, who will be spinning anything from old industrial to electro to Detroit/Chicago acid. Sara and I will be doing our usual sets, just like normal. We have 2 dancefloors, 4 deejays, and 4 drink specials. Yes, we have specials! They are:

* $2 PBR cans
* $3 Jager shots
* $4 Red Bull & Vodkas
* $5 Apple Martinis

The first Shag Frenzy at Factory is 15 July at 9pm. It's 21+ from now on, with the same cover of $5. There is free parking in our spacious lot, so no worries about gangwars and broken glass anymore. Please spread the word... flyers printed as we speak so we'll have nice glossy color ones at the ready.

Directions:84 E or W, Exit 46
(left) onto Sisson Ave.
(left) onto Park St.
(right) onto Bartholomew Ave.
At the old Troutbrook Brewing Co./Spaghetti Warehouse (look for the neon lights)