Thursday, March 24, 2016

Smart Studios Story - A Movie Review

Smart Studios Story

Roy Elkins Broadjam

Smart Studios - Madison, WI
Corner of Baldwin and E.Wash
I just saw the premier of The Smart Studios Story at SXSW in Austin, Texas. This is a film, directed by Wendy Schneider, that chronicles the history of Smart Studios in Madison, WI. Smart was the home to producers Butch Vig and Steve Marker who have a long musical history together, and who have played in many bands including Grammy-nominated Garbage. But arguably more important is their contribution to the global punk, grunge and rock music scenes from a small studio on the corner of East Washington and Baldwin Street. The film’s narrative unfolds through interviews with Vig, Marker, Duke Erickson, Shirley Manson, Dave Grohl, Billy Corgan and many others. It is clear that each participant was eager to share great experiences and memories – the film captures a lot of passion for Smart radiating through voices and images.

Steve Marker & Butch Vig
Like so many in the Madison community who know Butch, Steve and Wendy personally, I have been a cheerleader for this 6-year venture. I saw first-hand the passion that Schneider put into making this film. She was an engineer in the studio before it closed and ran her own studio, Coney Island, for many years. Once Smart closed, she immediately realized how important it was to document its history. But it goes further than that. In addition to being a story about great music, the film also reflects the struggles of the business side of Smart. Butch Vig says in the film, “Steve and I are terrible businessmen.” The film reveals how their sheer love of making music kept Smart going. In one of the scenes, Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins remarks how Vig made him sing the phrase, “she knows” for 8 hours. That dedication to excellence has been echoed in the making of the film – Schneider spent hours and hours on each brief section of the film, creating a masterpiece of storytelling in part through brilliant editing.

In writing about a film like this, it’s tempting to reflect on all the great stories being told. There are many, and they’re all interesting and compelling – describing them wouldn’t do them justice – the way they come together through images and interviews is magical. The film simply has to be seen.
Perhaps if someone else had come in and directed The Smart Studios Story, it might have turned out okay. But Schneider’s experience and passion about Smart coupled with her experience as a documentary filmmaker has resulted in a very special and artful film. Vig and Marker, class acts that they are, give the credit to Schneider for the creation of the film, but at the same time the amazing work they did at Smart shines through everything. Kudos to all three for such a stellar project.

Compiled by Roy Elkins

Monday, November 16, 2015

Madison Area Music Awards 2015 Winners

The 2015 Madison Area Music Awards Winners List


Erik Kjelland
Erik Kjelland and Meghan Rose are the big winners this year, taking home 6 & 5 awards each, respectively.  Kjelland’s group, The Mascot Theory, has come on strong in the past two years and is becoming a staple in the Madison scene and beyond.  His band features strong vocals and world-class productions of very well-written songs.  Rose was nominated for her role in three different area bands, I Saw the Creature, Damsel Trash and Little RedWolf.  She is a talent who can easily stretch beyond her rock comfort zone. She is a writer, producer and plays multiple instruments. Sexy Ester takes home the prestigious Artist of the Year Award for the third time.  The band is fronted by Lyndsay Evans, a powerful vocalist supported by strong instrumentalist and a great rhythm section. They are a staple in the Madison Music Scene.

Meghan Rose
The Mascot Theory - Folk Performer, Country Album - Hand Me Down Miracles, Cover Song - Hey Jealousy, Packaging - Hand Me Down Miracles
Unique Song - North Star with Beth Kille, Unique Album - North Star with Beth Kille

Meghan Rose - Bassist, Female Vocalist, Blues Song - You Told Me with I Saw the Creature
Damsel Trash - Hard Rock/Punk Song  More Drunk, Less Pregnant, Hard Rock/Punk Album - Soup For Sluts

Lindsay Evans, Sexy Ester
Sexy Ester - Artist Of The Year, Alternative Performer                

Other Winners

Gabe Burdulis - Male Vocalist, Guitarist, Pop/R&B Song - Little Yellow House, Pop/R&B Performer      

Dogs of War - Hip-Hop Album - Dogs of War EP, Hip-Hop Performer                       

The Jimmys
The Jimmys - Blues Performer, Brass - Darren Sterud, Keyboardist - Jimmy Voegeli, Woodwinds - Pete Ross

Joey Broyles - Electronic Album - Future Pop Revolution, Electronic Performer, Video Of The Year - Burn the Money

Modern Mod - Alternative Song - Papercuts, Alternative Album - Tunnels

Joey Banks - Drummer/Percussionist  with the Black Star Drum Line - Children's Song - Slam featuring DLO, Ant Da Hope Boy, Rob Dz, Children's Performer - with The Big Payback - Jazz Performer 

The Kissers - World Song - Montreal, World Album - Three Sails

The German Art Students
The German Art Students - Rock Album - Time Machine, Rock Performer

Karen Wheelock - New Artist, Folk/Americana Album - Imaginary Girl
Anna Vogelzang - Folk/Americana Song - Amarillo, Specialty Instrument - Banjo

Jim Schwall & Chris Aaron
Additional Winners
Strings - IdaJo, Classical Song - Richard's Rondo- Richard Wiegel, Country/Bluegrass Song - Make Believe - Jim Schwall, Country/Bluegrass Performer - OldFarm Dog, Electronic Song - Live or Die - Annabel Lee, Hard Rock/Punk Performer - Lordsof the Trident, Hip Hop Song - Pray - AnthonyLamarr Featuring D. L. O. The Iceman, Jazz Song - Build a Bear - Jackie Bradley, Rock Song - Long Drive - TheFamily Business

Boo Bradley
Blues Album - Rub Rub Rub - Boo Bradley, Jazz Album - Solid Ground - Lo Marie, Pop/R&B Album - Middle of the In Between - The People Brothers Band, Unique Performer - SheShe, World Performer - Natty Nation, Ensemble Vocals - Gin, Chocolate & Bottle Rockets, Compilation Album - MAXMAS Volume V (The Search forMAXMAS IV) - M.A.XMAS, Cover Band Performer - Steely Dane, DJ - KaylaKush & Nick Nice

Producer - Mike Zirkel
Live Sound Engineer - Lonya Nenashev, Local Live Music Venue - High Noon Saloon, Local Music Fan - Sarah Warmke, Local Music Publication/Blog - Isthmus, Local Music Radio Personality - Gabby Parsons, Local Music Radio Station - WORT, Local Recorded Music Store - Strictly Discs, Photographer - Mark Ellis, Producer - Mike Zirkel, Recording Studio - Blast House Studios, Roadie - Kathy Burdulis, Studio Sound Engineer - Landon Arkens

Compiled by Roy Elkins
Additional links & good organizations – Willywash, ASCAP 2012, Dallas Songwriters Association – Grand Prize Judge Roy Elkins Comments, Getting Your Music Into Film, Bloomberg, Rotary Club of Madison, Madison Area Music Association, Yellowphone, Max Ink Radio, Madison Hip Hop Awards, ASCAP 2011

Thursday, November 12, 2015

November Broadjam Releases

Releases on Broadjam
Compiled by Roy Elkins

Choose You by Tiffany Sinko
Betterman by Nick Fuse and Jim Pearson
Guitar Man by Greg Lambert

Tiffany Sinko
Song Title: Choose You
Songwriter: Tiffany Sinko
Tiffany Sinko is from Los Alamitos, California and has a Broadjam member since 2013.
She has posted 16 songs with the most popular being Haunting Me.

She is a musician, singer, song writer, and artist. Tiffany has been pursuing a life in music since 15, when she started her own band, wrote and released 2 independent albums and played many successful shows.

Nice Fuse
Song Title: Betterman
Songwriters: Nick Fuse and Jim Pearson

Nick Fuse is from Austin, Texas and has been a member of Broadjam since 2010. He has posted 77 songs on the Broadjam site with the most popular being The Angels.

Nick Fuse is known for songs that are brutally honest, simple and real. Devoted to Urban Folk, he spins tales of the Modern Age through the ancient role of Muse with soft strings and endearing voice, gifts he does not claim as his own.

Jim Pearson
Jim Pearson is from the United Kingdom and has been a member of Broadjam since 2005. He has posted 18 songs on the Broadjam site with the most popular being Where Did Out Time Go?

A truly original singer-songwriter with a quirky, sensitive, witty, quintessencially British sound that grows on one with each listen. And lurking behind the eccentric trappings are some highly infectious grooves, amber guitar tones, and wickedly clever arrangements that George Martin would be proud of.

Greg Lambert
Song Title: Guitar Man
Songwriter: Greg Lambert

Greg is from Tampa, Florida and has been a member of Broadjam since 2013. He has posted 77 songs on Broadjam to date.  His most popular song among Broadjam listeners is Hiding In The Dark.

Greg says, "I try to put words and music together in a way that is musically pleasing, and even exciting at times! Thanks for listening!"

Roy Elkins
Additional links & good organizations – Willywash, ASCAP 2012, Dallas Songwriters Association – Grand Prize Judge Roy Elkins Comments, Getting Your Music Into Film, Bloomberg, Rotary Club of Madison, Madison Area Music Association, Yellowphone, Max Ink Radio, Madison Hip Hop Awards, ASCAP 2011

Monday, September 22, 2014

What's The Creative Economy All About?

Anne Katz, Executive Director, Arts Wisconsin
Far smarter people than me have thought long and hard, and written, about the “creative economy” since the beginning of the 21st century.  At the dawn not only of a new century but a new kind of economy, creativity is becoming recognized worldwide as a desirable asset that can be used for economic, educational and civic benefits and growth.  Locally and globally, we’re at a moment in history where the old economy is fading away (folks, we’re not in a recession any more, we’re in a whole new economy) and the new economy is happening all around us. That means everyone, from economists to politicians to for-profit and non-profit businesspeople to workers trying to make a living, are defining what this new/creative economy means.  

As director of Arts Wisconsin, the state’s arts service, advocacy and development organization working as a catalyst to grow Wisconsin creatively, I run a small non-profit dealing with Wisconsin’s creative life, economy, educational systems, and civic issues.  It’s a big job and one that I feel very passionate about, because I get to work with incredibly creative and interesting people in every corner of the state.

Although I love my job, I imagine you feel the same way I do much of the time - scrambling to catch up to the changes coming at me. In general, the marketplace, funding and support systems, and mindset for economic and community development and engagement, for my business and for every other business out there, are based on the pre-2008 economy.  In order to keep growing and reap the benefits of our creative people, organizations, businesses and communities, our systems and mindsets are changing and must continue to change. 

So one of the questions is - just what do we mean by the creative economy?  

The creative economy is the intersection of the creative workforce, creative industries and creative communities.  That’s a general definition that manifests itself in a lot of different ways.  The creative economy is the musician performing in bands and orchestras, recording his/her own music and send it out into the universe in a lot of different ways.  It’s businesses like Broadjam helping to get that music out there.  It’s nonprofit organizations producing musical works.  It’s communities recognizing and investing in the work of creative people in promotion, economic development efforts, education.
Here are some additional definitions of the creative economy, from around the world:
·         The enterprises and people involved in the production and distribution of goods and services in which the aesthetic, intellectual, and emotional engagement of the consumer gives the product value in the marketplace. (Massachusetts Housing and Economic Development Office)
·         …socio-economic potential of activities that trade with creativity, knowledge and information. (British Council)
·         …21st century jobs that move away from the old methods of industrial development (Global Green Growth Institute)

In my work, I get to delve deep into Wisconsin’s creative economy, on all levels.  I’ve spent nearly 20 years traveling around Wisconsin as an activist, educator, and facilitator for the arts and creativity. I can tell you that there’s a lot of creativity on the local level throughout the state.  Right here, right now, creative programs, projects and institutions are making a difference in their communities.  It’s an interesting and exciting time, full of anxieties and opportunities.

I’m not at all a fan of the term “creative class.”  Although it’s become popular shorthand for the most desired kind of creative economy development, it only focuses on one segment of the creative sector.  Arts Wisconsin encourages more inclusive terms to keep the community vibrant and interesting for young people, families, and creative people of all types.  A really creative city must recognize and take action on the idea that diversity is what the 21st century is all about.  Everyone in a community, regardless of income level, background, or perspective, can bring their creativity to the table and should be able to participate in the creative economy and all that the community has to offer. 

Every mayor, city council member, and economic development leader wants to know how to make their community known as a creative place.  Well, it’s not like there’s a magic wand you can wave to overcome those obstacles and voila! – you’re a creative place, and will stay that way forever.  A creative community happens and keeps going over time, with consistent attention paid to big and small issues.  Entrepreneurialism, imagination, innovation and creativity are key.  To become known as a creative place, and to really live that mindset, takes a sense of common purpose and goals, persistence, planning combined with flexibility, big-picture thinking, and a can-do attitude.   It’s vital to admit and learn from challenges and celebrate big and small successes.  

What are the essential components of this creative economy?  These are some economic principles that can and should lead to 21st century economic strength, education focused on 21st century learning, a vibrant community life, and engaged residents.  As an advocate and community member, you can help your community be involved in this issues.
1.       Focus on a community’s assets – human, financial, social, economic, educational – while addressing issues and challenges.  Support an asset-based community development mindset.  
2.       Support a mindset and programs that welcome a multi-cultural, diverse mix of creative people.  A rich mix of talents, income levels, backgrounds, and perspectives enlivens the city.  
3.       Prioritize access to the arts – and everything else – for all.  A place can really be recognized for its creativity if that creativity is available for everyone in the community.  There must be a diversity of arts opportunities in the community so that everyone can participate in some way, not just those who can afford the price of a ticket.
4.       Arts integrated into education for all students in the public schools is key.  All kids deserve and need the arts in the learning process, to help them express themselves and gain the skills they need to thrive in the 21st century world and workforce.  Global research and practice show that students with high levels of arts participation outperform other students on virtually every measure from standardized tests to community participation, and that learning through the arts has a significant effect on learning in other areas, particularly in the early years.   We know that Wisconsin needs more workers proficient in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) studies.  We must add the arts for 21st century STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) in Wisconsin.
5.       The arts are not separate from everything else going on in a community.  Encourage creative collaborations, imaginative processes, innovative, thinking and entrepreneurship, connecting arts/business, arts/education, arts/environment, arts/recreation, arts/food, arts/civic issues. 
6.       Local elected officials and civic leaders should be visible, pro-active, enthusiastic champions of the arts, leadership that encourages rather than “squelches” new ideas.
7.       Support investment in arts infrastructure – not just physical buildings, but organizational and leadership infrastructure.  Creative people can do a lot with a little, but there’s got to be the realization that sufficient and ongoing human, organizational and financial resources need to be available to make things happen.
8.       A creative place is built and nurtured through a great quality of life that includes a vibrant street life, arts, food, libraries, parks and other public spaces, local radio stations, museums, bikeways that everyone can enjoy.

Resources for creative economy development:
Google “creative economy” and “creative industries” and thousands of interesting links from around the world will come up. Here are a few to check out:
·         What is the creative economy, really?
Forbes, 10-8-2011
·         Defining the Creative Economy
Ann Markusen, Director, Project on Regional and Industrial Economics (PRIE), University of Minnesota, 2006
·         Creative Placemaking
Ann Markusen, commissioned by the National Endowment for the Arts, 2010
·         The Creative Economy – A New Definition
New England Foundation for the Arts, 2007
·         Creative Placemaking 101 for Community Developers
Ann Nicodemus, LISC Institute for Comprehensive Community Development, 2014
·         The Creative Community Builder’s Handbook: How to Transform Communities Using Local Assets, Arts and Culture by Tom Borrup, 2006.  Assesses 20 arts-centered community development projects and provides a step-by-step guide to building the economic, social, civic and physical infrastructure of communities through the arts. The book includes case studies from urban, rural and suburban communities and best practices related to ten successful community building strategies.
·          Lots more info and ideas at Arts Wisconsin’s Creative Economy Resource Center.

There’s so much more to say about the creative economy and possibilities for growth in Wisconsin and beyond.  Get in touch with me to discuss at 608 255 8316 |

Anne Katz is the arts leader in Wisconsin. She is an activist who understands the power of the arts to sustain and strengthen communities and has spent her entire working doing so. She has developed and coordinated many educational programs which expand cultural experiences for all. She is a true champion of the artist and admired by everyone who knows her. 

Thanks to Anne for sharing here experience and wisdom here.