Guest Blog:: Gentlemen Hall Talks Record Store Day

Written by Gentlemen Hall vocalist, Gavin Merlot

My entire existence growing up in Cleveland was centered around listening to music. Music was my purpose. I had long hair, wore flannel, had ripped jeans. I idolized Kurt Cobain, Billy Corgan, and various other alternative rock gods. All of the music I had was purchased from “C D Game Exchange” in Shaker Heights, Ohio. After school I would make a B line to the store and wait for people to bring in stacks of used CD’s to exchange, which would give me first dibs. Me and a few friends would wait hours to scoop up the newly exchanged cds. One of my favorite memories was paying $5 for “Tiny Music from the Vatican Gift Shop” by Stone Temple Pilots. The jewel case was all smashed but the cover art was so intriguing that it felt brand new. I skateboarded home as fast as I could, popped the CD in, and became obsessed with what I to this day consider one of the most underrated rock albums of all time.

For more info on Gentlemen Hall: Website | Facebook | Twitter

SXSW Guest Blog:: Fritz Montana

The Ballad of SXSW
Kevin of Fritz Montana

The 1700 miles between Fritz Montana and Austin, TX didn’t start to intimidate us until after our first hour on the road.  The plan was to drive 15 hours to Tucson, then continue the next day for an additional 16 hours- it would be everyone’s longest drive to date.  As soon as we arrived in Austin however, we instantly knew it was worth the two-day trek.

Graced with perfect weather and our very dedicated roadie/drum tech (Sean Leary), we hit the ground running on 6th street in downtown to play our first of seven shows during our week there.  Completely surrounded by awesome music at all times, we played at bars, in tents, and on huge outdoor stages to crowds that were just as happy to be there as we were.  Most venues during SXSW were backlined with their own drums and amps that helped minimize the ridiculous amount of gear we were afraid to haul around all week.  

Since we were busy through pretty much our entire visit, we failed at dining at a true Texas barbeque joint (unless you count Whataburger, which was fantastic).  Other regrets include missing a rodeo and having to pay $25 for parking on Thursday.  Even with our busy schedule, the band was able to indulge in Austin’s fine nightlife with a visit to the Coyote Ugly Bar (which was really just a bar where beautiful women bullied you into buying alcohol), and then almost completely killed our voices when we sang along at the Dueling Piano Bar. 

SXSW was an educating, ruthless, and extremely fun trip that really got us excited for things to come.  With a new EP coming out soon, we hope to keep making great music for our fans so that we can make the trip back to Austin next year.  

For more of Fritz Montana: Facebook | Twitter 

SXSW Guest Blog:: The Trash Pop Icons

Preparing for our trip to Austin for SXSW, I felt like a kid preparing for my first day of school. Not really knowing what to expect and full of questions. What’s it going to be like? Are people going to like me? Do I have everything I need? Did I pack enough shoes?! Needless to say, I was nervous, but excited and I think we all felt that.

Once we landed and drove away from the airport towards downtown, it was a little bit of a shock that Austin wasn’t at all what I expected. Where we all the cowboys?! Downtown Austin actually reminded each of us a lot of our home in San Francisco. The main differences were the food trucks everywhere and the fact that everyone was more than willing to have a conversation.  Meeting so many friendly people quickly eased all my nerves and made my decision of whether or not I liked Texas and easy one; I loved it!

I thought that being a female fronted band an event like this was going to be a bit of a challenge, but it proved to be the opposite. I think we got a little bit more attention for that. This was refreshing considering back home being a female fronted rock band makes it harder for people to pay attention and care. Or, at least, that’s how it feels sometimes. However, we soon found out that the only negative thing about being a “chick” band (sorry Bobby – our drummer) was how the humidity affected our hair! God bless Helene Curtis for inventing hair spray back in the 50’s. (yes, that’s a fact.) My sister, Naomi, and I would’ve been lost without it.

Day time on 6th street during SXSW can be compared to your typical street fair only multiply the head count by about a thousand.  Night time transforms 6th street into a madhouse (multiply the head count by a million! Or, at least, that’s how it feels). Crazy outfits. Music EVERYWHERE! People performing on the roofs of their cars. Anything just to get heard. Cd’s, flyers, food containers, etc. cover the streets like a grassy field in spring. It can be overwhelming at times, but that fact that everyone there has traveled for miles solely for the love of music makes the vibe out on the street unlike any I’ve ever experienced before.

When I was a kid first learning how to play guitar, SXSW and Austin, TX seemed like a million miles away. I had heard about it and was in awe of all the bands that were able to make the journey across country or across multiple countries and seas to be a part of it. To actually BE there, experiencing something so beautiful was a dream come true for me. (The SXSW tragedy is exempt from this statement. Our hearts go out to those affected and their families.)

Now that we’re home, I have a whole new list of questions for myself, only this time they’re a little bit different. What has this experience taught me? So much it’s hard to summarize. I think I’m still taking in the lessons. How and what can we improve? I am more aware now of my areas of opportunity as a performer than I ever was. Did I pack too many pairs of shoes? No way! There’s no such thing. Are we going back next year? Hell yes we are! And prepare yourself Texas, because we’re going to come back stronger and rocking harder than ever!