As generic as it sounds, I love music. Growing up in Central New York, I began playing with numerous bands and artists throughout high school and college as well as collecting vinyl records, CD’s and cassettes. I also got my first taste as a journalist in high school, which led to me attending SUNY Plattsburgh where I not only wrote for their online magazine [All Points North], but for a small independent online publication that operated out of Syracuse [Speakerphone Magazine]. Between the two, I found myself talking with various politicians, NASCAR legend Geoff Bodine, ska-band sensations Reel Big Fish and Less Than Jake as well as reviewing new albums and concerts. Finishing up my schooling at Onondaga Community College and continuing to write for their publication The Overview, I acted as section editor while continuing to compose and produce music with a number of local musicians.
I choose to spend my money on traveling to other cities to watch live-music performances. Montreal and Boston are two of my favorite places to watch concerts, with Montreal’s Osheaga and New York’s Camp Bisco being a couple that I regularly attend.
Oh yeah, I also program and host MOViN Decades every Saturday; 7P-11P. Hit me up; 315-210-8668.
Favorite Genres: Electronica, Punk Rock, Disco, Funk, House
I love eating hamburgers. And I love when local business does a great job of creating unique types and styles of burgers. Village Burger in Liverpool has got to be one of my favorite places to get burgers mainly because they have some many unique versions of burgers. I chose to pick out the "Jalapeno Bacon Cheeseburger" with a side of fries. Needless to say, I wasn't disappointed.
The burger I chose had bits of jalapeno mixed into the beef, as opposed to putting them on top of the burger like most places do. Bacon and cheese only added to my happiness, as both of these completed the burger perfectly. The fries were interesting too; fresh cut and blanched in vinegar. I'm usually pretty critical of "not-so-crispy" fries, but these tasted excellent and much better than the typical frozen ones. After sprinkling salt and pepper on my entire meal, I demolished the whole thing immediately.
Jalapeno Bacon Cheese Burger; Photo Courtesy of Lou Smith
Village Burger is your best bet for great quality burgers. Sure, anyone can make a hamburger. But can they add the unique flair, fresh ingredients and passion that Village Burger does? I think not...
The Gardenview Diner in Liverpool is an establishment I frequent with my girlfriend on hung-over Sunday mornings or with business contacts for a cup of coffee. I chose to review my meal there because I truly enjoy the crowded atmosphere and their decent menu.
Now, the Gardenview isn’t a place I would recommend bringing a date for “your first night out” but it’s an awesome spot to get something in your stomach after a night of drinking. On this particular Sunday, I chose their BBQ Burger as I usually stick to lunch items when I eat there. Now, their burgers are served with chips and for whatever reason I always choose to get the side of fries with ranch and never end up finishing them. This Sunday was different however.
BBQ Burger @ Gardenview Diner; Photo Courtesy of Lou Smith
They brought out the burger after about six cups of coffee and let me tell you, I demolished the thing. I don’t think I stopped to breathe once and completely ignored my girlfriend as I gorged on the burger in front of me. It was topped with cheddar cheese, green peppers and onions as well as barbeque sauce. Although I ordered the patty “medium-well” I’m almost positive it was cooked “well-done,” which didn’t really matter as I inhaled the burger I had ordered.
For a local establishment, the Gardenview Diner does an excellent job of making you feel at home even if it is a busy Sunday and you arrive between church services. Nothing is overly priced and the portions are excellent, even if you have to wait in line between huge families and the usual geriatrics. If you haven’t checked out the Gardenview Diner, do it.
When I first heard that Swedish Producer/DJ Tim Bergling, better known to his EDM followers as Avicii, was to perform at The Event Center at Turning Stone Casino my reaction was mixed. Why the Casino wouldn't book an experienced European DJ at the only legitimate nightclub in Central New York, which would be Club Lava, is beyond me. I've heard people rave about how good this guy was live and I was excited to experience it for myself, even if it was in the arena-style Event Center.
Bergling, who has been active in Europe since 2007, was booked for September 29 and I anxiously awaited the show. Celebrating in usual form, my girlfriend and I consumed some drinks in the parking lot so we didn't have to fork up the bloated prices they stick you for inside the Casino. With sunglasses on and tickets in-hand we quickly got inside, eager to begin a night of dancing to some deep House mixes.
We were immediately surrounded by youngsters and college-looking students who were acting like it was their first time at a live-music event. Once we got drinks and were swallowed by the waves of music from opening-act DSK CHK [pronounced “Disk Check”] the people around us didn't matter. We united with a couple of my other friends in attendance and proceeded to drink/dance our faces off.
Avicii @ Turning Stone; PhotoCourtesy of Lou Smith
Avicii took the stage after what seemed a lifetime and plowed through his set littered with remixes and downright dirty breaks that forced you to move. The expensive-looking light show, complete with massive screen and lasers as well as smoke and finale of confetti only added to the experience. We raged through handcrafted mixes of “Jailbait,” “Silhouettes,” and “Levels” and Avicii threw in remixes of The Who's “Baba O'Reilly,” a Faithless remix of “Insomnia” and the Kanye West/Jay-Z duet “Ni**as In Paris” during his encore.
Avicii @ Turning Stone; Photo Courtesy of Lou Smith
What I most enjoyed about the experience is that the show was one fluid movement, without one moment you felt like standing still. The energy on-stage radiated into the audience and everyone ate it up, including myself and my small band of friends. Many people who don't understand dancing or who don't get into it have a hard time getting into Electronic Dance Music (go figure) and they talk down DJ's who “don't even do anything on stage” or “have no music skill.” Sure, I can bet that there are a number of music-illiterate DJ's out there, but most of them who work on a worldwide level compose and remix their own tracks. This takes technical knowledge, musical ability and willpower beyond most stereotypical acoustic-guitar players and people who think they can “sing.” The skill it takes to mix tracks as well as keep the flow going for over an hour is impressive, and Avicii delivered on every level.
Florence and the Machine's Single Cover, "Spectrum" Photo Courtesy of BeachHouseMafia.ro
Now, I wasn’t one of those people who jumped on the Florence and the Machine craze back in 2008 when the group released their hit single “Dog Days Are Over.” As I’m sure we all remember every damaged ex-girlfriend felt the need to add it to their Facebook profile when they heard it for the first time. As always, corporate radio swooped in and killed the track by constantly playing it over and over on their vast networks of corporate stations.
The group’s latest single “Spectrum” released back in July has spent ten-weeks on the Billboard Dance/Club Play Songs chart, climbing to number one this past week. I do frequent the website and I spotted the single on back in July, but have held out due to the fact that I wasn’t really interested. Well, I finally broke down and gave it a play. I must say that I was quite impressed that the group has fully embraced the “dance-music” frenzy that has been rocking the music industry for the past four or five years.
Musically, “Spectrum” is very upbeat with lead singer Florence Welch showcasing her usual thundering vocals over heart-pounding drums and studio-produced glitz. Welch croons “Say my name, and every color illuminates; we are shining, and we’ll never be afraid again!” which is an interesting hook for the chorus. The use of studio-synthesizers to create tremolo-sounding strings and slight harp plucks prove to help add to the studio magic that this song wreaks of.
Give a listen for yourself. It took me a couple times through for it to stick, but I think it’s a more epic and deep song than prior singles and the fans think so too; this is the first single to peak at number one on the UK Singles Charts for the band. Bravo Florence and the Machine, keep those depressing dance songs coming!
I choose to eat at diners when I want eggs, bacon and hashbrowns and am too hungover to want to cook them. Typically, I don’t go to diners for lunch BUT I do choose Market Diner quite frequently.
Well, Market Diner happens to be a regular place that I attend for lunches while I am working because of the location and pricing. The menu isn’t bad at all with a decent amount of options for a diner. I try and stray away from things that a chef could potentially screw up, like specialties but for whatever reason, I choose this time to order a Beef Gyro.
Let me begin by saying Market Diner’s French Fries are excellent and reminiscent of Arby’s Curly Fries if they were super crunchy and didn’t suck. I always order them with any meal and be sure to ask for a side of Ranch (who doesn’t love a mayonnaise-based condiment with their Fries?) while avoiding other sauces. They did a pretty decent job of loading fresh tomatoes, onions and lettuce into the Gyro, and the beef wasn’t that bad either. The pita it was served on was delicious and the Tzatziki Sauce (if it was their own recipe) was great!
Beef Gyro @ The Market Diner; Photo Courtesy of Lou Smith
Does it stand up to some of the more traditional Greek restaurants or food-carts I’ve ate at? Slightly, but it is nothing compared to somewhere that has the giant slab of lamb on the rotisserie and employees that can barely speak English. But it is a great alternative for Syracuse and not poorly priced at all.
Czech 'em out online: http://www.themarketdiner.com/
No Doubt's Album Cover, Push and Shove; Photo Courtesy of Billboard.com
We all could have seen this coming. The California-native, Pop-Pioneers No Doubt reunited from their four-year hiatus (2004-2008) for not only a tour in 2009, but also a new album which is due up in late September.
Six days ago, No Doubt showcased their title track of the album, “Push and Shove” on-air with Ryan Seacrest. Produced by legendary dance-music icon Diplo, the song showcases a number of rhythm changes and dynamics that rival even their greatest charting songs from their past. Dancehall artist Busy Signal is featured spitting lyrics back-and-forth with group front-woman Gwen Stefani, which provides an almost upbeat reggae/soca feel to the track at times.
No Doubt’s last album Rock Steady was recorded for the most part in Jamaica, and touched on a number of elements within their music, employing a number of dancehall artists. I’m curious if they will do the same with Push and Shove, seeing as they’ve featured yet another dancehall artist in this single.
A slight departure from their previous works (see singles from Rock Steady or Tragic Kingdom), “Push and Shove” is hopefully a good indicator for fans as to what they can expect for No Doubt’s comeback album. It’s tough to tell weather or not this could be another rise to fame or a vain effort to return to the spotlight. Either way, I’m looking forward to see what Stefani and the crew have in store for us.
From everyone I've talked to, the Great New York State Fair has been a bit of a flop this year. Off the bat I figured it wouldn't be a stellar year because of the lack of Grandstand shows. Like it or not, Syracuse is starved of concerts and usually the Fair brings in an appreciable number of live music performances. Not this year. We were gifted with choices like Larry the Cable Guy (who might have been a hit if it were 2003 again), “Monster Truck Mix-Up” (doesn't Syracuse host “Monster Jam” at least once a year in the Dome?) or “Rockstar Energy Drink's UPROAR Festival” featuring lukewarm rock-bands like Godsmack, Shinedown and Satined (I feel like at least two of these bands are always tour together). With all that out of the way, here is how my experience with the NYS Fair went down.
The only thing I really planned on doing this year with my lovely girlfriend at the Fair was catching the Lionel Richie-less Commodores. So, after some beer and a wine-slush/wine ice-cream (yep, I got them mixed together) and a visit to the International Building we decided to head over to Chevy Court. Another beer and a half later the lights came up on stage and Walter Orange, J.D. Nicholas and William King broke into a myriad of their hits. We heard “Easy,” “Machine Gun,” “Sail On” and “Lady” among others. After snapping some photos and finishing our drinks we departed for another part of the Fair I always enjoy.
The Commodores @ Chevrolet Court, NYS Fair; August 31 2012, Photo Courtesy of Lou Smith
“Jones I Got It” was introduced to me when I was in my teens, and I've been an avid fan ever since. I don't know if it's the fact that it's $1.00 for three games or the fact that it takes no skill at all to play, which is perfect for young kids, the elderly and drunk Fair patrons. Although there is nothing on the prize wall that I would ever dream of wanting or needing, I still play every year (and no, we didn't get the chance to yell “I got it” this year).
Jones I Got It @The NYS Fair; August 31 2012, Photo Courtesy of Lou Smith
Cruising down the midway together, I felt the need to play another game to try and win my lady a random prize so I chose the game where you shoot out the red star with a high-powered, inaccurate, glorified BB Gun. Needless to say, after two games and now $6.00 down the drain, I didn't win her a random stuffed animal.
Shooting Star Inc. Scorecard @ The NYS Fair; August 31 2012, Photo Courtesy of Lou Smith
After dumping an obnoxious amount of cash on the midway, we ambled over to get more beer, followed by visiting “Ye Olde Ox Roast” for an awesome baked-potato filled with Velveeta-esque cheese and barbequed ox. As usual, the “Roast” delivered, and her and I DEVOURED (I really mean it; we killed it) the meat-and-potato dish I had purchased.
Ye Olde Ox Roast @ The NYS Fair; August 31 2012, Photo Courtesy of Jacinta Ramirez
Once we had thrown out our garbage, we decided to visit some of the animals in their various buildings. I mean, we just ate part of an Ox; why not visit the cows? Inside one of the livestock areas we stumbled across a sleeping farmer which we got a kick out of and had to photograph.
Sleepy Farmhand @ The NYS Fair; August 31 2012, Photo Courtesy of Lou Smith
After laughing to ourselves about the napping farmhand, we attempted to get some alligator from “Stix-N-Things,” but they were sold out (yet still advertising they had it vis-a-vis signage on their stand). Due to food allergies, I couldn't get the shark and I had already tried kangaroo in previous years. A smaller sign informed me that they had jerky, so I settled for alligator jerky.
Walking over the bridge back to our parking lot behind Crucible Steel, we joked at how in about a half-hour the Fair would be inundated with drunk rednecks who were about to be released from the only sold-out show at the Grandstand this year; Jason Aldean. We both laughed at the misfortune of all the hapless carnies who had to deal with the intoxicated hillbilly crowd that was about to be set free back into the Fair. All-in-all, the Great New York State Fair was basically the same as it's ever been;
Ke$ha Pictured in the Studio with The Flaming Lips January 24, 2012; PhotoCourtesy of JustJared.com
It appears the queen of auto-tune Ke$ha is back at it again with her latest venture into the music industry with this track that was leaked by producer Dr. Luke back in June 2012. Although she seems to have pushed away from the sleazy glitz that made Ke$ha who she is today; her talk-like singing is as apparent as ever. The track is called "Supernatural" and is located within this blog...well as sample of the song that is (video embedded below).
Instrumentally it sounds awesome. The heavy bass-kick, deep synth arpeggio combined with constant digitalized percussion flows perfectly. And hey, it compliments her. She touched on elements of the more deep side of electronic music in her previous two releases [Cannibal EP; 2010 & Animal; 2010] with tracks like "Take It Off" and "Blow" that wreaked of dance-floor bass and heavy synthesizers.
Judge for yourself; hopefully she keeps with the vibe of this track going for the release of her new album due up in late 2012.
On Thursday April 25, 2012 Syracuse's Westcott Theater was officially sucked into the EDM-realm. Well, all twenty or so people who decided to show their faces for the performance. Felix Cartal, one of Dim Mak Records finest artists, was booked to come and melt faces at The Westcott and bring the heat with his latest creations.
With help from The Westcott Theater, I scored some time with the evening's headlining act; Felix Cartal. Yep, recorded everything with WMVN-FMs camcorder. Well, wouldn't you know those little windows in the artist “reception room” allowed in a TON of noise from the stage, so all my footage was just overpowered by the constant pulse of music through the house speakers. With little usable footage, I chose to transcribe some of the interview into writing because it was actually an excellent set of Q&A's:
Louie Vega: “Growing up, what was the first vinyl, cassette tape or artist that you really remember vividly in your mind?”
Felix Cartal: “My parents played a lot of Beatles, so The Beatles have always been really big. Also, my dad was a really big Steely Dan fan...then weird shit like Harry Chapin, Dr. Hook...”
L: “Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show?”
F: “Oh yeah, Cover of a Rolling Stone. Fucking, I know that record like the back of my hand which is sad. Because it's not even that good of a record *laughs* it's really cheesy...”
F: “But for me the first dance [music] I heard was Daft Punk's Homeworkbut I was totally just listened to 'Da Funk' and 'Around the World.' And then two years later I realized the whole record was amazing...let's see, that record came out in '97 I probably got it in like '99, '00? And that would have meant I was twelve...so yeah, it's hard to appreciate 'Rollin' & Scratchin' when you're like eleven *laughs*...”
L: “So, you're remixed a few tracks. Is there any specific process you go through or is it like you hear something you like? Obviously it's not something you're doing full time, but when you have? And you don't have to go too in-depth.”
F: “It's a mix. Basically there's like two ways; it's either like a hommie's tracks that came out...then it's an artist I don't know and they pay me...usually if it's like a Pop Artist, then it's all done internally.”
L: “Did Dim Mak [Records] find you, or did you seek them out specifically? And I know that this is probably something I could get from the website, but I wanted to hear your side of the story.”
F: “At that point I was really good friends with MSTRKRFT [Master-Craft]...Jessie [F. Keeler] was the one who hit me up originally. I posted some tracks on this site he was reading I guess and then he showed some interest and that was like, really cool. And then we met up and then he kinda started passings some tracks onto [Steve] Aoki...then when Aoki came to town he played one of my tracks, 'Montreal Dreams' which was awesome...it was just like hommies showing hommies music.”
L: “Let's see how many people there are here.”
F: “There's almost like twenty now!”
L: “At least you're up-beat about it.”
F: “They're mostly just getting drunk.”
L: “Yeah well, that's what's got to be done at this point.”
F: “That's the plan.”
L: “Since the infiltration of dance music into the industry, everybody wants this; they all want that drop into the hook of the song *motions to the window overlooking the stage where Cartal's opening act Clockwork is performing.* For you, who would you say is a more submissive audience, US, European...”
F: “Submissive how?”
L: “Submissive as in, you could put literally anything on...or is it both [audiences]?
F: “And they'd be cool with it?”
L: “Yeah, and they'd be cool with it.”
F: “Kinda really hard to judge just by content...I hate that question; 'Is it better to play in Canada or the U.S.?' and I'm like; 'Well, there's lots of cities in both of those countries.' It's not like playing in Houston is similar to playing in L.A. you can't generalize based on like a whole...like Montreal is fun, but sometimes it's not as fun...Europe definitely has the history of dance music, but right now I think the crowds of North America are better just based on the excitement...”
After some more chatter and a few vodka-redbulls later, we parted ways. I ran downstairs to the bar to greet my date, whom I'd been neglecting. Once Felix took the stage, it was difficult to stop dancing. Every once in awhile, I would utilize my press pass and step on-stage and snap some photos. Due to the nature of the venues lights, the pictures didn't come out that great. Either way, it was an awesome experience and I know that the twenty-or-so people enjoyed their taste of Electronic Dance Music.
Felix Cartal & Clockwork @ The Westcott Theater; April 25 2012, Photo Courtesy of Lou Smith
Felix Cartal @ The Westcott Theater; April 25 2012, Photo Courtesy of Lou Smith