Music Distribution Wormhole

For most of us, the first thought that comes to mind when someone mentions streaming music is the majors: Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music. But what about Youtube Music? And have you heard of Tencent? I suggest you find out because, at over thirteen percent of the market share, Tencent rivals Apple and Amazon. We’re going to discuss all these things. We’ll hear from bands speaking on how they get featured on playlists and talk with a playlist curator as well. Amidst this smorgasbord of music circulation, you will also see sprinklings of Bandcamp. All of these things are intertwined, trust me.

This article began with the discovery of a compilation that featured metal musicians from Louisiana. With forty bands totaling a nearly four-hour long album, I was happy to soak in every riff on my long drive to Houston. Somewhere along the line, I started to recognize some of the tracks as being from bands that are members of my free networking website, Brethren Hogg, Vermillion Whiskey, Pious, Electric Age, 4Mag Nitrous, and Totem are all current site members and were amongst the bands featured. I could not have been more elated! I wanted to know more about Weedian and how my members were able to get on this list.

As it turns out, Weedian is on Spotify, Youtube, and Bandcamp. Their Youtube channel enjoys over thirty-five thousand subscribers and has published nearly fifteen-hundred videos. On Bandcamp, where you’ll find all of their compilations, their work really gets to shine, complete with descriptions and unique album art. In January of 2019, they published their first, titling it simply “Volume 1”. According to a person only known as “The one and only Weedian” (who I would later find out is Walid Ajraoui), “Weedian was started because I love music and most especially underground music. I wanted a way to be able to find and share cool bands with people who had the same taste in music that I do. So, after a lot of thinking and some talking, I’ve decided to make a compilation of songs from some of my favorite bands, and Blues Funeral Recordings was cool enough to partner up with me to help bring it to you. This will be the first volume in the Weedian comp. series. I chose these bands because these are who I’ve been digging a lot lately. Although it’s pretty heavily tilted towards doom, there are some stoner and other styles of bands in there. I hope that you enjoy the music and the sick artwork by Brouemaster who has been churning out some incredible stuff lately.”

They would go onto publish fifty-eight of these compilations. Barring Roman numerals I through IV, two Halloween volumes and two 420 volumes, the remaining have been centered around states in the U.S. and places all over the world like New Zealand, Denmark, Argentina, and Portugal. They’ve used Instagram to commission the bulk of their cover artwork. In January of 2024, Weedian’s “Trip to Louisiana” compilation came into existence. Mike Dawsey from the band Pious said, “I’m not 100% sure how they originally found us. JJ at Obelisk, Rob Hammer, and George Kellamis (aka Mrdoom666) were sharing some of our stuff. Both were working with Doom Charts. We randomly got a request for submission for the charts from the guy at Weedian. Nothing came of it and we didn’t hear anything for a while. Out of the blue he hit us up asking if we wanted to do the trip compilation.” While there wasn’t any compensation reaped as a result of their feature, they did see positive results. Their band name started popping up in online tags, and fans began messaging them about where Pious was showing up. Mike went on to say, “Since that (compilation) came out, multiple people have rearranged it for their own versions and a few online and on-air stations have put it in their programs.  Mostly in Europe, but they still appreciate most forms of metal over there. So far, the UK, Germany, and Russia seem to be the most responsive.”

I spoke with another member that was also featured in the Louisiana compilation, Brethren Hogg. This time, the band’s inclusion was an intentional result of networking online. Chris Posner had this to say, “When we release an album, we have a list of Youtube content creators that we hit up for reposting. We look for people/groups that have more than 10k followers for maximum exposure, but we’ve also been approached by smaller creators asking permission to post, which I usually give 99.99% of the time. I hadn’t heard of Weedian when released our first record, but when the second one dropped, a friend of our drummer clued us in. I emailed them (I guess it’s more than one person???) and once they listened to the record, they reposted. About a year and half later they messaged me saying they were putting together “Trip to Louisiana”, and asked if we were interested, and which track would we wanted featured. We’ve seen a decent bump on both Spotify and Bandcamp in the last month. Not as much as if we had a new release, but new listeners are definitely being reached. To be frank, we were honored and surprised to be a part of this because there so many other great metal acts down here, they could easily put out a Volume 2. Weedian’s a bit mysterious…I don’t who they are and I’m pretty sure they’re located in Asia, but God bless ‘em for the work they do.”

With a shared ecosystem already established between Youtube and Bandcamp at this point, I reached out to a guy Mike Dawsey (Pious) mentioned earlier, Rob Hammer. In the past, Rob had put out a ten-track stoner/doom/sludge/psych compilation as part of a joint venture with Off The Record Label. 750 CDs were pressed with 50 going to each band featured. But his mainstay is his Youtube channel, @Rob.DOOM.Hammer. Approaching thirty-thousand subscribers, he’s a prime example of what bands like Brethren Hogg are using to push their music online. He described himself as a European mainlander that spreads and promotes doom, stoner, and sludge metal as a hobby. He follows over twelve-thousand bands on Bandcamp, finding music to post on his channel. He also finds them via his Facebook page and through bands that contact him directly. Like Rob, there are many people curating playlists on Youtube and it will be up to the bands to hunt them down and amass their own lists. But the main takeaway is that these people are fans at heart. They’re not some huge record label with layers upon layers obscuring a stubborn front door. I found Rob to be extremely approachable with a genuine interest in spreading the kind of music he loves. From the perspective of a consumer, these curated channels are a great way to learn about bands you might not have heard before. I like to run through these gems on my phone while I have my favorite streaming platform open. When I hear something I like, I swap over and save the song to my streaming platform playlist. From the perspective of a musician, this is a D.I.Y. method worth perpetuating. If gaining fans and song plays is the goal on streaming platforms, then getting your music on playlists, no matter the platform, should be your first consideration.

There is one last thing I’d like to touch on concerning Youtube. I’m sure you are all aware that Youtube and Youtube Music are two separate online destinations. For bands, the former would serve you in the form of a regular Youtube channel created with the selected type “musician”. The latter refers to a music streaming service with an interface that operates like Spotify and others and is driven by Youtube’s infrastructure. There’s plenty of information already out there about this. So, I won’t get into all of that. You can investigate the differences and what that means for your band’s work. As far as the user experience, I would like you to consider a few tidbits. Having a Youtube channel allows musicians to connect with fans on a more personal level. They can see things like your music writing process, impromptu jam sessions, footage from shows, and an overall look into your life as a musician. Youtube Music has its pro’s as well. It offers a higher bandwidth than the normal Youtube app on mobile, allowing lossless quality (up to 256 kbps AAC audio) for the user. And they can also lock their phone while listening on this subscription-based app. Their music platform audience recently reached 100 million subscribers, making this means of distribution worth pondering.

Last, but definitely not least, is Tencent. Tencent Music Entertainment Group is the dominant online music entertainment platform in China. For musicians looking to publish their music in China, know that this company consists of three music streaming apps: QQ Music, Kugou Music, and Kuwo Music. While perhaps not on the radar in America, Tencent is bigger than you may realize. They own a stake in Spotify, own a music label with Sony (Liquid State), and they have 594 million listeners as of the third quarter of 2023. Although it is not a must, you may want to consider a distribution platform to assist you in publishing on Tencent. Because, while Google has a site translator to overcome the fact that their site is in Chinese. It is said that the instructions walking you through the process can be a bit confusing due to the gap in translation. is one of the services out there that, among the more familiar platforms like Spotify, Apple, Youtube, etc., includes Tencent amongst a distribution plan that boasts 200 streaming and download platforms. There are costs associated with this down the line. But set up and submissions are free. They are the oldest distributor in digital music. And case studies are available online showing organic traffic, keyword rankings, and sales increases considerably when using their platform. is another available distribution platform. They offer a three-tiered membership with the entry level being free. Using Amuse, you are able to select from a variety of music streaming services, including majors like Spotify, Apple Music, and Google Play to complete the process of getting your music on Tencent’s various streaming platforms. There are many out there that can accommodate you when trying to get your music both overseas and in the U.S. This would be another instance where you will have to do your own research to find what suits you (and your budget) best.

Streams, no matter the platform, help grow your audience at shows and make them more receptive to your social postings. They can also show merit in the eyes of concert and festival talent buyers, record labels, and other bean counters in the industry. Likewise, the number of places your music can be found can serve to polish your image. Because of the data that sometimes accompanies your streaming numbers (think dashboard where you publish), streaming platforms can also help a band book shows where an audience is most receptive to their music. So, having more of these in your corner can only serve to make your next move more impactful. I know this is all a lot to take in. But I hope that I have helped to open your eyes to the importance of these options and what they could mean for your music career.

Author: David Trahan


Congo Square Suite

I began in the aftermath of the Krewe Du Vieux Parade on Decatur Street. Beaming with nightlife, the serenades of satire and counter-culture themes make it one of my favorite Mardi Gras events. Walking past Check Point Charlie’s down to Frenchmen Street, I was greeted by beautiful brass bands illuminating the Crescent City sky with sounds of dance, love, and laughter. As I walked further, I was enchanted by the music seeping through open doorways of nearby nightclubs. Out of a smokey haze, I was greeted by a stranger dressed in full Victorian costume who, unprovoked and without a word, handed me a CD. At first, I assumed he was looking to sell it to me, so I shook my head. But he persisted by saying, “It’s Carnaval brah. You need this blessing”. That CD was Donald Harrison Jr.’s “Congo Square Suite”, an album that came into my life at random, in a most mysterious and beautiful way.

Big Chief Donald Harrison brings us a three-part musical journey with this latest release. At just over thirty-seven minutes, the opus showcases the Big Chief’s conducting and instrumentational genius, blending European influences with tribal, bebop, classical, and jazz fusion genres. The album is from the perspective of a New Orleans native, the Chief of the Congo Square Nation Afro-New Orleans Cultural Group, and a performer in the iconic band, the Jazz Messengers. At a tenure of forty years and counting, his career also includes an honorary doctorate from the Berklee College of Music, and collaborations with artists such as Ron Carter, Billy Cobham, Miles Davis, Lena Horne, Eddie Palmieri, and the Notorious B.I.G. He is also a former tutor to his nephew, New Orleans native and critically acclaimed musician, Chief Xian aTunde Adjuah (Christian Scott).

Back home I sat with a cigar and a glass of Haitian rum accompanied with a lime wedge. Incredibly intrigued, I was ready to begin my journey with this magical gift from beyond. The album started to play, and the first track, “Movement I” (feat. Max Moran, Joe Dyson & The Congo Square Nation Afro-New Orleans Cultural Group) wisped me away to those Sunday afternoon drum circles in Congo Square. White dresses danced, sage burned, and ceremonies brought offerings for the ancestors. “Movement I” drew me into a trance with its pulsating percussion and repeated chants singing out “Congo, Congo, Congo, Congo Nation”. According to the description on Harrison’s Bandcamp page, “This movement is a chant composed by Donald Harrison for drums and voices. The drum and vocal performances showcase an example of the Afro-New Orleans offshoot culture, rhythms, and music forged in Congo Square. Harrison integrates elements of ancient African music kept alive in Congo Square with ideas he learned listening to tribal African field recordings. “

“Movement II”, originally written in 2015, is an epic orchestral performance by the Moscow Symphony Orchestra that was composed and orchestrated by Donald Harrison, Jr. I was quickly transported to another world by a revolutionary recording that completely changed pace with grace and complexity. A monumental achievement in fusion and classical music, it is a stunning cultural piece that implements chants and drum patterns. “Movement II” unifies Harrison’s experiences as the Big Chief of Congo Square with his sixty-plus years participating in Afro-New Orleans culture. I quickly jumped up from my chair, put my cigar down in the ashtray, and began miming conductor motions with my hand. I am not the most versed in classical theory, but the performance and direction given to me by the Moscow Symphony Orchestra was nothing short of robust. It delivered my imagination to a whirlwind of instrumentation, painting an energetic yet soothing picture. Sonically, it demonstrated some of the most innovative ways to incorporate genre mixing while remaining cohesive from start to finish.
With a freshly refilled cocktail, I paced around my apartment for a bit to reflect on my journey thus far. Then I returned to my stereo to finish this wonderful acousitcal quest. Rounding out “Congo Square Suite” is “Movement III”, a suitable closer that shapes together a hybrid of Congo Square tribal rhythms, contemporary Jazz, and classical orchestration. The foundation is set forth as a laid-back samba. Where Harrison’s saxophone dabbles a bit of attitude, Zaccai Curtis’ piano moves to-and-fro between several ostinato phrases, delivering a classic jazz civility. With the samba maintained and two-thirds of the track behind us, Harrison begins to break free with an improvisational style.

Both Harrison and the Congo Square Nation act as custodians of culture while pushing boundaries through experimentation. Harrison assumes the position of master of ceremonies for celebration and meaning. The entire album of “Congo Square Suite” is cinematic, reeling the listener in further with its ability to evolve and morph into a style all its own. Whether you’re exploring the rich history of jazz, classical, tribal, or experimental music, Big Chief Donald Harrison Jr.’s work will be a satisfying, educational delight to the senses. I highly recommend setting aside some time to get lost in the soon to be classic oeuvre that is “Congo Square Suite”.
With my drink empty and cigar extinguished, I closed my eyes and began to dream about the fortunes I have come to encounter in New Orleans. Talks with strangers, new live music experiences, eating and drinking with friends, and unexpected events have become the fortunes I desire. Finding this album amid Mardi Gras festivities seeded sentimental feelings of how lucky I am to live and grow in a very deep-rooted musical and cultural city. Reminding me of the past, grounding me in the present, and brightening my future, I hope the journey of “Congo Square Suite” gives you a similar experience.

Author: Ryan McKern

Editor: David Trahan

From Congo Square Suite, released April 28, 2023
Donald Harrison: composer, orchestration, producer, saxophonist, lead vocals, percussion

Joe Dyson, drums
Zaccai Curtis, piano
Max Moran, bass
The Moscow Symphony Orchestra
Gerald French, percussion
Howard “Smiley” Ricks, percussion
Antione “Tuba Fats”, percussion
Bruce “Action” Jackson, percussion


Silver Dose

Growing up in Santo Andre, a city in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Gustavo Andrade would see a vendor near his school selling CDs from a cart on the street. Although within eyesight, it wasn’t on his walk home and at twelve, he dared not stray from his assigned path. But a budding curiosity and growing enthusiasm for music seeded a plan in his mind. He would skip lunches, saving up his lunch money, run down the street to the vendor, and score a CD unbeknownst to his parents or teachers. The album he chose from the cart was a bootleg of Nirvana’s “Nevermind”. He had heard about Nirvana from kids in the schoolyard when their older siblings put them onto the sound. His older sister had a collection of more rock, showcasing the crunchy guitars and chaotic drums in which he was interested. But he now had something of his own that he could study. At this time in his life, he only heard English being spoken in movies. He could not speak it, nor could he fully understand what was being said. But as a tattoo can appeal to someone not knowing its meaning, the sonic design was something he was drawn to naturally. And though he would beg his parents for a guitar, he didn’t understand that these guys were plugging into electrified amplifiers and using effects pedals to get that sound. He didn’t have a radio and Nirvana wasn’t on the public access stations on his family television. You can imagine his surprise when he finally got a guitar and it was an acoustic.

The discrepancy in sound he heard did not deter him from his newfound love. Soon, he would quit soccer, which was a big deal where he was from. Every day after school, he would spend his time trying to replicate what he heard as he explored his tastes in music. The advent of the internet had yet to shape the way he learned. Buying rock magazines and tab books from a local newsstand helped to propel his efforts, and physical copies of albums mentored his evolution. Releases by bands like Kiss and Iron Maiden soon added to his collection. And he would be fortunate enough to get lessons from a guitar player in his neighborhood. The true litmus was in his actions and how they began to change. He was obsessed. While other kids his age were playing video games, he was trying to write music. He dreamt about learning and playing guitar. He had yet to think about an actual career in music because he didn’t see performers like that around him.

At just fifteen years of age, he got the opportunity to open for his local instructor in a bar. This marked the first time he heard any actual criticism. But the curiosity and enthusiasm within him somehow drowned out those sentiments as well as any self-doubt they might have caused. Guzz recalls, “I think early on I tried to listen by ear because I also didn’t have many tabs for some of the songs I like. Or sometimes they were wrong. Or they were in a different tuning and I didn’t even know you could change the tunings of your strings; for a long time I didn’t know. So, I think I learned by seeing other people; going to see other people playing, as well as borrowing video tapes from friends… a copy of a Zack Wylde guitar lesson. It was instructional, like some pentatonic stuff. I started catching a little bit of this, a little bit of that.” His head was so much into rock and roll, it was almost as if it had become an entity unto itself. His musical sense of self-identity had yet to even occur to him.

Guzz had a cousin that was into playing music. The two would trade cassettes back and forth, sharing ideas and forming a sound. Being under eighteen (and unable to drive by law in Brazil), transportation was a challenge. But the two formed a four-piece band they named Cycle Love. They played wherever they were allowed, lugging equipment on and off trains and buses to get to gigs. He would push this for two years, but the momentum eventually died. His next band was what he considers to be his first serious project, Vulgar Type. He formed this one with more experienced friends while in college. And when the band still lacked a singer, Guzz began to try his hand at it. He took up lessons with a guy by the name of Nando Fernandez, whom you might have recently seen on stage singing with Lynyrd Skynyrd in Brazil. Things began to get more serious, and he was able to put out a three-song EP, which is still streaming on all platforms. That same cousin would this time serve as their videographer, enabling Vulgar Type to produce music videos as well. Guzz was seeing EP sales in both the U.S. and Japan. And the experience furnished him with opportunities to form connections on both continents. Throughout this time, he was charged with figuring out logistics for album sales, marketing, and networking; tools he uses to this day.

Through all of the cross-continental communications, Guzz also landed a significant other in the states. She began to visit him, and he would come to the U.S. to visit her as well. This is how he ended up living in Louisiana. His reflection on how fast the time seems to have flown by is earmarked by the changing technology. The limited capabilities of his youth quickly evaporated as he matured. He went from buying bootleg CDs through street vendors, learning what he could through magazines and the occasional VHS tape, and tuning his guitar using the dial tone to now being able to access anything he wanted on a cell phone. Tab books gave way to Youtube, where not only could theory be learned, but the cultural heritage and influence behind the music could be understood. And speaking of culture, Guzz also reflects on how much of it surrounded him as a child. For many years he was so focused on one thing that the resulting tunnel vision obscured his overall view. He has taken to going back and rediscovering the culture and genres of that time and place in his life.

Since moving to Louisiana in 2018, he has formed his current band, Silver Dose. In realizing how rich Brazilian culture was, his mind is now more open to incorporating thoser rhythms and influences. Being receptive has also led him to look toward American, British, and German bands for influence with this project. Obviously, his life has been about growth and change. But this could be said about life in general. Perhaps unbeknownst to Guzz, his life has actually been about preserving that child who never stopped to think about who he was or where he belonged in the scheme of things. He was releasing new music for Vulgar Type while moving from one nation to another. Friends from back home ask if being in the states has presented more opportunities for him as a musician. And he tends to say yes. But stepping outside of any religious connotations, I’d remind everyone of the saying “God helps those who help themselves.” And even when resources were scarce, Guzz was helping himself. From that moment on the street when he bought the Nirvana bootleg to where he stands now, he has embodied perpetual motion, when we all realize there is no such thing.

On a side note, he mentioned that shortly after this interview, Silver Dose was going to play a benefit show for The Marsh Room, a venue which had recently caught fire. He said they did that sort of thing all the time, that he was always interested in helping his brothers and sisters in the music community. His drummer stopped by after the interview, and the first thing he said to Guzz was that he had a line on another upcoming benefit. I couldn’t help but think how it was things like this that thrust a band forward more than they may realize. His heart is worthy of your attention. And his talent speaks for itself. Knowing what you all know now about his life is proof positive. I do hope you check out the podcast interview (streaming links below), as there are more opportunities to see how he has chosen to navigate through life as a musician and a human being. Thanks to you all for your interest!

Author: David Trahan

Silver Dose:


Steve Mignano

Drab has rich soundscapes. There seems to be a thirst lately for bands with driving basslines whose guitars saturate the aural soundscape with lavish, soulful melodies. That may sound elementary, but the truth is that too many bands these days are trying to find the next direction with compositions that have shed elements of the tried and true. For me, Drab’s sound harkens back to an era when grunge rock was mighty. And music like I’m hearing from these guys was the tasteful counter to that movement that somehow found a way to compliment it simultaneously. It was anything but pop, super original, and slightly unpolished in its own right. A band like Drab is tipping its hat to this notion that there exists a space between extremes that does not lend itself to popularized conformity. In other words, you don’t have to commit yourself to either death metal or typified pop extremes to express a deviation from the norm. There’s a vein of rock that maintains an edge slightly left of center that is still respected by those that would normally find their comfort zone right in the middle. For his whole life, Steve Mignano has been able to move freely throughout these spectrums due to his lust for movement and change. And his ability to achieve accuracy amongst chaos affords listeners a guide through these waters. You can’t understand the plot if the acting sucks. And you can’t get a feel for a sound if it’s not in tune or on time. Now Garguts, Steve’s second project, pushes the division between what works and what doesn’t. They take the above notion of “unpolished” and kick it in the teeth. But again, Mr. Mignano embraces change here while feeling his way through at the top of his lungs. Because for this project, Steve isn’t holding a guitar. He’s strictly singing. Dylan Hemard (Green Gasoline) checks the axe for him, allowing him the freedom to roam. This band delivers the reassurance that can be sometimes felt in extremity. Because oddly enough, you can here a bit of Zeppelin in the beginning of their song Miller High Death. But then the kicking starts, giving listeners a bit of “oh yeah, I remember that” followed by “oh sh*t!” We will get into the line-up of this band later. But trust me, we’re all in for a wild ride with this one.

Originally, Steve is from Toledo, Ohio. His dad played guitar in bands and owned a guitar store in Westfield, Michigan. It always felt like guitar was his first language. But his eyes really lit up when he saw the movie Back to the Future. Seeing Marty McFly transform into a rock star at the high school dance struck a chord with seven-year-old Steve. Funny enough, he didn’t realize how deep that chord would carry at the time. But it was enough to get the ball rolling; well, that and countless air-guitar solos. His dad agreed to furnish him with lessons and Johnny B Good was the first. But unfortunately, a rambunctious Steve collided with a bit of attention deficit disorder and the guitar idea was soon shelved. By eleven, he returned though. And by fifteen, he had become serious, practicing daily. Being around his father and the musicians in his bands facilitated an accelerated learning rate. At this time, Youtube didn’t exist and real, human experiences still reigned. He would be at his father’s performances as a pre-teen and by the age of twelve, he was attending concerts. He recalls fondly being at shows for bands like Soundgarden and Megadeth. In a word, his sixteen-year-old self would say the Rage Against The Machine concert he saw at the Palace of Auburn Hills in Detroit was…. intense!!

There were three main radio stations where he grew up. Classic rock was on 104.7, Buzz 106.5 was an modern alt-rock station, and pop music played on 92.5. Classic and modern rock would escort him through his formative years. Bands like Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Metallica, and Alice in Chains would not only influence him sonically, but furnish him with a sense of identity. Back then he also relied on tab books to further his music education. He would save up money to buy a book, learn the contents, then pass it around amongst friends. Nirvana’s In Utero, and Countdown to Extinction by Megadeth were a couple he remembers. He learned Nirvana, but he still struggles to this day with those Marty Friedman solos. There was also his parents’ album collection to help guide him down the neck of his path. He still has some of these records. His first love on vinyl was the blues master B.B. King. And he remembers how the haunting ballads like The Messiah Will Come Again and Sweet Dreams by Roy Buchanan sounded even creepier because that record had a slight warp to it. His father was into many styles of music. So, to appreciate different genres seemed natural to Steve. And this open mindset allowed him to see the similarities between the genres. While absorbing these sources; lessons, tab books, concerts, and records, Steve was playing in a garage band with friends. They would learn together, playing covers like Black Flag. One year, a band mate’s mom gifted him with studio time for his birthday. The band would record a two-song demo and instantly be famous in their own mind. The drum line at Steve’s high school would be his first experience performing publicly. They needed a guitar player for their rendition of Change of Seasons, by Dream Theater. He tuned his low E down to a low B so he could resemble the seven-string played originally in that song. Cranking up the amp and flexing his chops for a sizeable audience excited him so. He got to see the impact of loud guitar on his peers. Any fear quickly gave way to understanding within him. “It’s like when you’re standing in front of an abyss, and like there’s nowhere to go, you know, jump. And once you do it you begin to realize, oh well that’s not so bad. It’s not going to kill you. So, it gives you courage. It gives you more confidence. And you come back and you look at it. You can examine; oh I could do this better. This was awesome. This was my favorite part. Playing music is the most exhilarating thing in the world man. And um, it starts with a spark. But, you know, if you nurture that spark it grows into a fire. And, as I’ve gotten older, it hasn’t diminished at all man. It’s just gotten more complex. It’s like turning into this lotus flower of fire now”, Steve imparted.

He got good grades in school and was academically inclined naturally. But many of his friends in music would go onto vocational schools, leaving him a bit isolated. He resisted private school urgings from his parents, becoming more withdrawn and studying music during this time. He focused on listening to the elements contained within the music and began to think about what he wanted to do with his life. Music was the obvious vision. He also had an interest in film. He figured he could work in film while trying to launch a career in music. The day after he graduated high school, Steve packed all his stuff into his car and pointed the wheel toward Los Angeles. There was no plan in place or reason for that destination. But the town’s reputation for being a hot bed of cinema and ground zero for the recording industry was calling his name. This adventure, however, was short lived. He was in and out of bands while there. But he concedes his expectations were ridiculously high. And though he attended the Musician’s Institute for a semester, ultimately the cost of living would ground this flight. Steve would be back home in Ohio nursing his ego before he knew it. For the next three years, he worked in his father’s appliance parts warehouse. He would bring his guitar and practice every chance he could. Listening to records, transcribing solos, and trying to learn new chords kept the pilot lit for now. One day a friend reached out to him telling him about auditions happening nearby. The gig was with Johnny Reed, a Chicago style blues harp player. Steve was familiar with this artist through his dad’s record collection. The man’s stellar reputation made this proposition intimidating. But Steve muscled up the courage and went down to try out. He played two songs and was hired on the spot! For the next three years, Steve would tour the U.S. and Canada, playing counter to, and being coached by, Johnny. Though he had crawled many miles of paper in theory, nothing could prepare him for the techniques and methods involved in running with a band of this caliber. The experience would be the education. And he was cognizant enough to experience the revelation. He recalls, “I can’t remember exactly what festival we were at. But I remember it was on a large outdoor stage. And I remember listening to Johnny soloing. And what occurred to me is that he wasn’t just playing his harp. He was playing the whole stage. He was listening to the environment. He was listening to how his tone was coming through the speakers, how it was resonating. I remember being on stage with him and that occurring to me at that one moment. He was taking the environment and making it work. He was making adjustments on the fly to make sure his tone was cutting through.” Steve was coming to the realization that there was no one set of rules or standards for this. To show up at every performance, regardless of the venue, and play as you did at another time and location just wouldn’t have the same impact. What he witnessed was a musician making the stage resonate with his instrument. Through focused reflection, he’s been able to grasp these elements and affix them to his target as a professional musician.

After playing with Johhny Reed, Steve would move to Denver. And before long, he landed another gig playing with Cassie Taylor, a native of Boulder and daughter of well-known blues musician Otis Taylor. From 2010 to just before 2013, Steve toured the U.S., Europe, and Canada with Cassie’s band on her neo-soul release, Out Of My Mind. Getting this gig was different than how he got the Johnny Reed gig. With Reed, the slot was one that had been filled many times before. The style of music was rooted in traditions of a certain vein and the phrases were already mapped out. With Taylor, he was given songs that lacked his part. It was up to him to find what fit. He pulled from the many years he spent studying theory. Knowledge of the language allowed him to become versed in this variety. He also drew from his time studying technique. The books from his dad’s shop were filled with the rudiments of this and did not adhere to any particular genre. A book by Pat Martino taught him chord inversions and chord voicings. The CAGED system (author Bill Edwards, 1983) also expedited his progress. Once he learned those patterns it became easy to learn scales and chord voicings all over neck. Steve would use the literacy to express his newfound creative freedom with Cassie. And if you look, you’ll find what author Andy Ellis of Premier Guitar said about his work to be commendable. “In guitarist Steve Mignano, Taylor has a perfect foil. His long, searing bends and snarling riffs wrap around Taylor’s latte voice like a well-worn leather glove. Tone for days, deluxe dynamics, spirited delivery—Mignano has it all.”  

While still touring with Cassie, Steve went on vacation to New Orleans and was struck by its indelible charm. He would ultimately move here on the conclusion of that tour. Absorbing the indigenous music and becoming a working musician in this environment satiated him. He was previously familiar with a reputation the city had amongst musicians. Of the territories surrounding this far-reaching microcosm, Steve says, “This is my favorite city in the world, man. I love everything about it. I love the food, love the people, love the music, love the atmosphere; everything. You know, I feel like it takes a particular kind of savage to live here. But I am that savage. I feel like it’s in my DNA in a way. Some of us belong here. And I feel like I belong here.” Together, with Casey Freitas on bass, Aaron Levy on drums, and Jacob Fitzmorris on guitar, Steve has formed Drab. They dropped a self-titled album in 2022. And their most recent single, Blacklight, is a dead reckoning for the grit between your toes. You know life put it there to disrupt you. But you begin to rub it around, and you come to like the sensation. Blacklight is evidence of the recent shift within the band’s sound. Casey Freitas was a newcomer on this imminent work. So, the inner mechanics of their line-up have changed as well. There is a new single on the way, Open Wound. But when this album drops, you’ll hear the movement toward a murkier, more malignant sound, doubling down on their freshman effort. With his second band, Garguts, Steve has set down the guitar to concentrate solely on testing the limits of his vocals. On indefinite hiatus, Green Gasoline’s Dylan Hemard (guitar) and Jon Castiex (drums) have aligned with Steve and Sterling Anderson (bass). Where Drab had become a comfortable grit, Garguts has created an annoyed flesh wound. Their sound penetrates while possessing the sensation of a rowdy garage band experiment. Rhythmic changeups, amp distortions, and effects quickly usher the listener into a chaotic bliss. This band will let our frustrations breathe. I do hope to see many of you tune into Steve’s podcast interview. As he and I discussed how these projects came about, how their first shows have been, and what the business end of these creations has taught him. And hearing him describe his experiences with Johnny Reed and Cassie Taylor was truly exhilarating. I thank you all so much for your continued interest.

Author: David Trahan


Bark Out Thunder Roar Out Lightening

Chief Xian aTunde Adjuah 

Bark Out Thunder Roar Out Lightning


Chief Adjuah aTunde Adjuah  (formerly Christian Scott) released his long anticipated album, Bark Out Thunder Roar Out Lightning. A collection of spiritual sounds and cultural recordings, the album spotlights the chief’s creative capabilities and cultural roots. According to Chief Adjuah, the title track, as well as the album as a whole, are “built as a map to decolonize sound; to challenge previously held misconceptions about some cultures of music; to codify a new folkloric tradition and begin the work of creating a national set of rhythms”

The albums opener, Blood Calls Blood, begins in what could be compared to an eastern meets western dream-like melody, fusing world instruments with dissonant chords, swelling vocal harmonies, and rhythmic folk drive. What emerges from the start of the song is then sung with conviction as the lyrics ring, “Run no more, make no way. Won’t kneel down, no, to pray. Blood calls blood, make way.”  Native drums and African tribal soul guides us to the albums following song, Trouble That Mornin’. In this one, strings can be heard in the mix, complementing the beauty of the song’s root sound. 

One of the many breathtaking lyrics reads like poetry as Chief Xian aTunde Adjuah sings, “Jump over St. Louis Cemetery, bark out thunder roar out lightning. Kick over a tombstone, won’t hum bow, but’ll claim a fresh kill.”  Fans of the Mardi Gras Indians’ music and culture will no doubt sing along to the record’s third track “ Xodokan Iko – Hu Na Ney”. In this rebirthed rendition, you will notice a familiar traditional New Orleans ‘Iko Iko’ motif. A call back to the famed track Jock-a-Mo, written in 1953 by James “Sugar Boy” Crawford, it has been interpreted down the years by many musicians, including the Dixie Cups, Warren Zevon, Dr John, and Ringo Starr. Chief Xian aTunde Adjuah, chieftain of the Xodokan Nation of the Maroon Tribes of New Orleans, incorporates indigenous instruments in this masterpiece, making use of his own ”Chief’s Bow” on the album. Like this latest release, his preceding album Ancestor Recall experimented with spiritual rhythms and African sound theory, drawing heavily from African and Native American traditional sounds. On American Masters, a PBS documentary, Chief said his music reminds him of the blues, and that jazz and blues are synonyms of each other. Which is a nuance found in rhythmic harmonies. The chief’s family influence and love can be heard in his art.

Author: Ryan McKern


David McBurnett

David McBurnett has always been a music enthusiast like the rest of us. One of the ways his direct involvement influenced our local scene was the time he produced a tribute to Fats Domino on national television. But let’s back up to the beginning. As a child, David grew up in Connecticut with an older sibling, Dean. From his mother, he would pick up playing piano. He was something of a child prodigy, learning the compositions of Bach, Beethoven, and Rachmaninoff. And from his brother, he would be introduced to the music of David Brubeck. But at some point, instability would rupture his household sending him to boarding school. In the future, he would pick up the guitar. But he hasn’t played the piano since. After boarding school, David would reunite with his brother in Boston, where his brother roomed with Andy Pratt. Andy was/ is an experimental rock musician who, by now, has amassed thirty albums. Back then, his most notable hit was “Avenging Annie”. David would take work with Andy as a stagehand. And so, his immersion professionally into the music scene began. He was dedicated to the world of music then, even scoring Andy his second record contract, which was with Columbia Records, following his debut on Polydor Records. He also worked with a Scottish rock band by the name of Cloud. From there he would soon befriend Duke Edwards, a vocalist and drummer for the 60’s supergroup, Rhinoceros. And the two would form a travelling musical commune called Papa Dukie and the Mud People. David played guitar on stage with Duke and others. This is how he came to live in Louisiana.

Two school buses were purchased, equipped to serve as living space and painted white, and driven down to Wallace, Louisiana, where Duke (a.k.a. Papa Dukie) had family. There, they were able to set up camp, putting on shows on land that lied between the levee and the river, known as the batture. The mobility of their set-up was important. Because the Mississippi River would flood this area seasonally. When Duke’s grandmother died, David accompanied him to her services. He was able to witness, firsthand, the services at a Baptist church. The melodies and incantations made his jaw drop. The rhythms, chanting, and call-and-repeat style revealed to him where a lot of our music comes from. I don’t believe he was ever the same since. The musical commune would eventually disintegrate. And David came to settle in New Orleans, befriending and working for Jed Palmer. Jed owned Jed’s University Inn on Maple Street and later, Jed’s on Oak Street across from The Maple Leaf. “Jed’s was just the place for music. That’s where Professor Longhair played before Tipitina’s opened. That’s where (Paul) McCartney came crashing through our back door to come listen to Professor Longhair. It’s where everybody would come after the big shows were over at three or four o’clock in the morning. It could be anybody; from Willie Nelson, to Paul McCartney to (Bruce) Springsteen. It didn’t matter, you know. Cause where do you go late night? Well, we were the place.” For David, Jed’s was not only a deep dive into live music, but it also gave him an education on the music business. He would use these lessons while being involved in production, finance, and logistics for the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in its early stages, as well as The Celebration of Life, a rock festival held in McCrea, Louisiana in 1971. In the coming years, David would take on responsibility for a slew of star-studded productions for television. These television specials would span over a decade and include people like Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis, Ray Charles, Paul Schaeffer, Jerry Garcia, Linda Ronstadt, the Neville Brothers, Dizzy Gillespie, and Herbie Hancock. David’s present-day company, McBurnett Productions, encompasses all the music and videos that David McBurnett has created or collaborated in over the last 55 years as well as his concert productions, festival productions and logistics work. He maintains ownership of several past shows, including three shows for HBO. David served as executive producer, producer and is the copyright holder. The way he depicted these artists at their craft established an immeasurable amount of credit. “I’m still on that credit to some degree. And that credit was like, with musicians. Musicians, yeah, they want to get paid. But what they really care about is you treat their music well. And some of the other producers of television were ok with that. It was business though. No, I’m only going to spend twenty grand on post-production. I’m not gonna spend fifty. I’d spend the fifty. I’d put the money into the mix. You know, and not just slap together a hot edit. Well, visuals most people pay attention to. Not so much the sound. I always… because I was a musician, it mattered to me. I had been on that stage. Not on the stages those guys rose to. But I had been on a stage in front of people, right? And it mattered. That was what was important, was the sound. And that’s carried me to this day.”

These days, David has several productions in development. “There Will Be Dancing: Got to Love It” seeks to embrace and expose the incredible strengths of New Orleans; from the food and music to the culture, beauty and history. His love of music will lend a special focus on the interconnectivity of musicians to different music settings, as well as paint a picture of why every major musician in the world comes to New Orleans to learn. “Deva & Miten” will be an exclusive documentary on the life of a world-famous musical, spiritual duo. The two have fifty-one albums and, in 2024 alone, will be on the east and west coast of the U.S., in Canada, Mexico, Australia, England, Scotland, Germany, France, Italy and elsewhere. His third production in development will be major artists playing music for children and parents, entitled Not Just For Kids, NJFK.

Author: David Trahan



Genres have veins that are fed by the lives we live. We gravitate toward these genres just as we are attracted to the lifestyles that come with them. The two are part in parcel. The consequence of this is that, in order to truly represent these genres, you have to live them. Through their band, Pious, Eric Fox (guitar/ vox) and Mike Dawsey (bass) could not better represent this abstraction. A character of youth is that we move toward many things at once. Due to age, we gain and lose focus quickly. But over time we stick with what suits us. Pious’ main objective in the sonic space is to accomplish this in a manner that both draws from and builds upon tried-and-true arrangements in the rock genre. This is what they thrive on. It is a slow, meticulous process that requires a great amount of time and introspection. Not only for the desire to appropriately pay homage to the greats they were raised revering. But to build upon that in a way that expresses their own individuality. There is a sense of permanence that comes with recording a song. And publishing it with your name on it signifies not only that it has been finalized, but that it is your eternal contribution to the artform. It is no wonder that both of them are tattoo artists. The deal is inked. As you walk out that door, just as with music, you are a living, breathing representation of what they are made of.

Mike and Eric met in high school in Slidell, Louisiana. Eric, a freshman and a transplant from New Orleans, stuck out like a sore thumb. There was suddenly a lack of people and an abundance of trees in his view. And I’m sure we can all remember back then the daunting task of finding one’s tribe. Meeting Mike made things a bit easier. The two shared interests in the creative arts and had a mutual friend. Bobby Carney (singer, Mule Skinner, R.I.P.) was a few years older than Eric and Mike and was already a regular in Slidell’s hardcore scene. Mike would play in a band with Bobby in garages and wherever they could find a space to jam. Now, at the time, the caliber of player Mike was, generally speaking, was as a student of the art. And I realize you’re always a student. But Mike’s strategy was to make noise until it made sense. He was especially focused on how bands layered multiple instruments to result in something that congealed. Getting together to jam would suffice through high school. But for Eric, graduating high school became a catalyst of sorts. He knew he wanted to continue to play. And a part of him wanted more for himself as a musician. So, in ’98, he formed Captain Howdy with friends Michael Ball (guitar), Donald Albanese (drums), and Damon Morse (keyboard). This band, by name and line-up, would soon change though. Keyboardist Damon Morse would leave and be replaced by bassist Mike Dawsey. And anticipating copyright repercussions from Hoya Productions and Warner Bros. for the character’s namesake in The Exorcist, the band’s name would change to After Human. Eric’s plan was to try to grasp what other bands were doing and implement those components into his own sound. Wanting to “make it in the industry”, his interests lied with what was new, and how he could get out in front of that curve. The coming years would deliver advancements in their exposure. They were able perform often during this time. The early 2000’s era was their big heyday, so-to-speak. Nu-metal was abundant, and they played a lot on the gulf coast, most notably at CPR Fest.

As the dust settled, maturity began to take hold and Eric would embrace a shift in priorities. “Making it” no longer held top appointment in his eyes. And the glimmer of what was new had begun to pale. The friends he played with had remained with him all this time. And his influences well before the Nu-metal phase had done the same. Conjecture leads me to believe these things had an influence on his line of thought. He started to concentrate on what stood the test of time in music. Never mind fads. What bands had made an indelible mark on the world of rock? Who were the ones that everyone’s sound seemed to be rooted in? I could pause here. And we could split hairs on who were “the greats”, and who was a predecessor of whom. But I’d prefer to zoom out a bit. Because what was happening then, and what is happening now within Eric, was a negotiation of sorts with himself. When you’re young, you get involved however you can and delve into the existence of the scene around you. These are the times when a musician is recognizing his or her capabilities. But one of the many markers of a departure from adolescence is both the realization and movement toward an explicit set of characteristics; ones that aptly represent one as an individual. Assimilation to the environment is second best at that point. Ironically, integrating oneself and one’s desire then becomes easier because it is the very act of being genuine. Sonically, and socially for that matter, the manifestation of self becomes less contrived, more natural. And suddenly both you and your music seem to make sense to those around you. This is a testament to individuality. And in music, it is spoken of as “bringing something new to the table”. It’s how one adds lasting value to their contributions. Eric wanted timelessness. For that, he poured over decades of music, filtering out everything he’d pursued in the recent past. Going back in time would be the study of a universal language everyone spoke, both then and now, positioning him closer to the source.

The embodiment of these ideals would become Pious. Being there since day one, this is what makes the most sense for Mike. As he explained, “I quit school really early. And I told my parents I was going to be either an artist or a musician. I set out not to give myself another choice. It’s a lot like what he (Eric) is saying. You reach a certain point where it’s like, it would still be nice to be able to consistently make a living playing music. But it really doesn’t matter. The only thing that really matters is trying to make something that is solid. You can follow trends. You can do all this other stuff. But what are you really doing? This is just my opinion. But it really needs to be more natural. It needs to be more you as an individual.”  It’s an overused concept but, everything functions in cycles. Back in 2015, this band was formed on the grounds that it would bring value to the world of music by offering something as eternal as music itself. At the time, for both Eric and Mike, this meant a deviation from the previous aspiration of wanting to become what was present. Fast forward to 2021, I am of the opinion that it’s been happening all over again. There has always been a respected element of diversity within the band. Mike and Eric have always shared interest in heavier music like Suffocation, Deicide, and Terrorizer. But their drummer, Donald, had an affinity for bands like Beck and Modest Mouse. Michael Ball, on the other hand, preferred alternative rock bands like Jesus Lizard. The absence of egos not only permitted this, it capitalized on it. And now, those sentiments are being amplified as history repeats itself. They have sharpened their skillset all these years in their ode to the masters of the past. But they have reached further outside even their genres of choice, pushing the envelope of continuity. The result has been a highlight of commonalities through the lense of something heavier. And it works. Case in point, their choice of covering Tom Waits’ Going Out West on their album, Crawling Head. The original, although dark and experimental, was never seen as hardcore. And it probably never would have been. But for guys like Eric, Mike, Donald, and Michael, the acceptance they shared amongst their own tastes enabled them to see past what was merely present and into what could be permanent.  

Their current project, on the cusp of completion, addresses a meeting of the minds on so many fronts. The EP will be a collection of just three songs at eight to ten minutes a piece. In a world where singles are king and full albums are losing ground, this is a perfect fusion in format. And as for its sound, the phonic qualities deepen the connection between what has been solid in the past and what can possibly be of the future. As Eric explains, “We really delved hard into, I guess, more of our influences than just the Sabbath, Zeppelin aspect of things, to pulling out from everything we know…. and just letting anything fly. And we created, as far as I’m concerned, three of the best songs we’ve ever written. And to just compile that, it’s going to be more of a themed album. It’s changed themes over the past; since 2020. It’s gonna be a stable of everything we’re able to do. We wanted to lay the smorgasbord down.” Mike backed this by saying, “You could say it’s more melodic, but it’s dirtier. It’s got more atmosphere to it. But it’s heavier. Like he said, it’s more of everything.” The heavy parts are heavier. And the softer parts are softer. Auditory elements presented in contrast only serve to expand upon what makes them different. If all you listen to is soft, you never realize just how soft it is until you hear something hard. So, to present them both in the same body of work really drives home the amount of expansion Pious has conducted. The music has always come first. In the periphery are the possible ways in which it will physically manifest. There have been talks of vinyl pressings. And the idea of assembling these few songs with others to form more than an EP is still a possibility. Though Mike has always done graphic art for the band, Eric is contemplating a foray into acrylic for this album’s art. Both are resident tattoo artists at Eric’s shop, Turning Point Tattoos, located in Mandeville. And don’t quote me on this, but it is rumored that the album’s name could potentially be Black Magic and Robots. You can find Pious’ present works on and all streaming platforms.

Author: David Trahan


2023 Year in Review

My journey this year has paralleled that of many musicians, in that I put forth my all in pursuit of an ideal that only exists in my mind. Not knowing what to expect has surrendered the foreground long ago. My focus and intent is on doing Louisiana’s music community justice. Being completely self-funded,’s greatest challenge has been getting the word out without the benefit of an advertising budget. Just as venues often do, I rely on my members to promote their own appearances on the site, on the blog, on the podcast, and on the Youtube Channel. Word-of-mouth is more powerful than most people realize. And for someone like me, a simple mention means everything. But no matter the amount of exposure, I have always been gifted with the ability to look back on the catalog of work I have generated and be proud. To your friend or family member in a band, I know I am able to add value to their musical efforts. Bringing artists together and introducing opportunity has been the fire that fuels me.

In the back of my mind, I have always gone back and forth between the “I” and the “we”. I’ve never been one to pander to image. And I suppose one could say humility plays a role in this as well. But frequently, the impression one leaves with another can open a few doors down the road. Throughout 2023, I have found myself erasing the “we” in communications online and replacing it with “I”. I have found myself reminding… myself that I am doing these things. That I don’t have a staff. I have myself, a freelance programmer, and the occasional article contributed by those interested. Conversely, I do believe there is always a bit of “we” at play. By that, I mean the musicians, music businesses, and fans that decide to join, the people that read the articles, watch the videos, and listen to the podcasts, and all those who simply mention the site to another, make up this sector. Despite my hours on the phone, on the road to interviews, and behind this keyboard, those supporters may very well be the tipping point for this website’s success. And once again, like a musician, a little bit of blind faith comes into play. At any rate, in an effort to remain transparent as well as hold myself accountable, I have committed to publishing a “year in review” article every year. I do hope this also serves to demonstrate merit and possibly garner the interest (and membership) of more people.

In year two of being in business, I have onboarded forty-nine new members, bringing the total to one-hundred and four. New members included forty-one bands, a music label, two recording studios, an online music magazine, and four fans. Yes, a little-known feature on the site is that fans can register for free as well. Their benefits for joining include store discounts, the ability to list in the classifieds, and the ability to message bands. I published twenty-three podcast episodes, twenty-seven articles, and fifty-four videos. Instead of commercials in the middle of those podcast episodes, I pick a new member, talk about their band, and play the audience a snip of their work. The statistics I see tell me that thousands of people have been exposed to the artists in those features. Fun fact: some of the interview subjects requested the art I generated from their interview promotions. I gladly furnished them the designs and they were able to use it for their own projects. I also added to’s playlists. I have professional accounts on sixteen platforms. Each contains eighteen playlists named by genre. And the number of tracks from my members that I added is literally too many to count. More often than not, I have added their whole catalog. I know that this has lead to more exposure for my members.

Aside from these advances, I also enjoyed a bit of publicity this year. I was a guest on the Getting to Know You podcast where I spoke about my life as a Captain and a president of a music network. I was also a guest on the Music of America podcast. This one was special to me because I was able to select three site members to talk about on that show. I was also able to play their music. And I know this brought them to a new and far-reaching audience. I was featured in an article in The American Press which described what is doing for musicians in Louisiana. And I was also featured in CanvasRebel, an online entrepreneurial magazine. I look back on all these instances with dignity. But what stood out to me was that, in each feature, I described my mission in different ways. They all contained the same message. But all too often you see a mission statement from a company that reads the same across all fronts. Sometimes it makes me question the authenticity of those words. Regardless, my guest appearances, my articles, my videos, and my podcast have all contributed to the traffic that frequents This has been my way of bringing value to the site and its members.

The time I spent interviewing Vinnie Labella was probably the moment that I was closest to someone that had not only performed in front of hundreds of thousands of people, but had honestly revolutionized the world of thrash music. I’ll always say the interview I did with Vinnie was the worst recording of the best interview I’ve done to date. That was the day one of my lav mics decided to start shorting out. And audio editing for that podcast episode became a Macgyver act that even I am surprised I pulled off.  But I felt as though we really connected. And because of that, I was able to bring the most comprehensive look at his life to my audience and his fans. In all his years touring the seven continents and sitting before countless reporters, this had never been done before. Not to mention, it was revealed that Phil Anselmo (Pantera, Down, Superjoint Ritual, etc) was actually a member of Exhorder at one point. Which had not been known to anyone. I was the only person he agreed to talk to since his split from Exhorder three years preceding. And he was approached by many distinguished magazines to get that story. It was an important moment in music history.

I think the interview that held the most cultural importance was the one I did with Wayne Kahn. His altruistic intent for the historical audio and video he has come into possession of is reassuring. The contributions to the Smithsonian Folkways and his current plans to immortalize the chronicles of one of America’s founding families in zydeco music is commendable, to say the least. He was able to illustrate the importance of the Carrier family to my audience, regardless of their preference or unawareness of zydeco music. After publishing, I watched the statistics and social interactions on his interview closely. And I was able to connect him with a prominent music documentarian.

The interview that I believe held the most importance for the musical heritage of New Orleans would be the Chris Beary interview. Together, with Grammy Associate Director Reid Wick and a board of national and local influential members of the music community, the Louisiana Music and Heritage Experience will soon become the most important music heritage museum in the state. I was able to bring the news of this massive music museum to my audience. Also, I was able to line up one of my members, Pocket Chocolate, with Chris who then booked them for the Funky Uncle Live 8-Night Jam. They were able to share the stage with musicians like Grammy Award winner Leo Nocentelli, and both Leo and Russel Batiste.

Something else happened that I thought was really cool. Someone I interviewed in 2022 was featured in an article on in 2023. The article contained a video segment of my interview with him. I always feature music from members in my video intros. They are often-times from a member other than the one I am interviewing. I include a full screen credit with album art for the musician whose music I use. So, as a result of that, the musician in the intro got a spot in a prominent website article just for being a member. I did observe traffic and watch-time increase on that video. So, I know his music gained exposure through that inclusion.

Looking ahead into 2024, I hope to continue to onboard musicians and music industry professionals throughout Louisiana to as well as keep pace with my current rate of publications on the podcast, the Youtube Channel, and the blog. I cannot begin to explain how much I have enjoyed meeting and speaking with these people about their lives. I maintain contact with each and every one of them. Not only because of a vested interest on a personal level. But because the very crux of is the network itself. It is what allows me the privilege of bringing opportunity to my members. For this coming year, I will also need to pay more attention to possible avenues of income for while preserving my commitment to always keeping it free to use for everyone. One particular statistic I left out in this year-in-review is the amount of money I spent this year on It’s in the five digits. I’ve been so focused on promoting bands and generating media that I haven’t really given the importance of (at least) breaking even its due. I’ve never cared much for the act of putting a price on one’s passion. But I also never realized the digital age could deliver such hefty bills! Once again, like many musicians out there, 2023 has seen me wince at the price of pursuing one’s passion, as well as things like gasoline and Enfamil. I must admit this will not be an easy task for me. I do have a donation page, but that has been crickets. I understand what it’s like to live hand-to-mouth. So, I’ve not expected much on that front. If anyone knows of any effective grant writers or fund-raising entities that would be a fit, I’m all ears. But in the words of author and educator Marsha Sinetar, “Do what you love and the money will follow.”

PS – If anyone would like to help spread the word, I have postcards and stickers. Send me your address and I’ll get those out to you for free. Thanks!

Author: David Trahan


Saxophonist Christopher Burton

Imagine what it took for your hero to become your hero. For me, “fortitude in the face of” comes to mind. After all, that is what we admire in a hero. It’s not so much about the obstacles themselves. We all have those in life. When speaking about a musician though, the term “hero” may seem like an overstatement. But I would argue the ability to convey the spirit of triumph poignantly through sound bears evidence of a hero. Overcoming debilitating medical adversities, paying forward a well-earned knowledge base, and pushing the envelope on behalf of the obscured are all also qualifying traits in my eyes. It is for these reasons, amongst others, that I admire him. Christopher Burton is the hero you never knew you had.

Born at Charity Hospital in September of ’87, he would not see two years of age before contracting spinal meningitis. The swelling would result in nerve damage in his ears, which would in turn leave him with hearing loss as well as a speech impediment and, at times, severe vertigo. The affliction would often leave him verbally misunderstood. And by consequence, he didn’t speak much. It would also begin him on a ten-year path of speech therapy. By the time he was seven his mother passed away. Luckily, he would have the benefit of a close family to raise him. His father was a bassist in a gospel band. And about the same time in his life is when Christopher recalls he and his sister first accompanying their father on a gig. The church music resonated with him and was quite possibly his initial experience with live music. Back then, he thought all churches must have had music like this. “The music grabs me… so interesting, so powerful, so moving. I love the music. The Baptist churches I went to, there was always a band playing. So, I thought that’s how church was supposed to be.” His father’s band, The Randolph Brothers, would travel to play in churches out of state and occasionally outside of church. He pointed out, “It was strictly churches. Even though they would also play at Jazz Fest at the time, they were always in the gospel tent.”

Christopher wouldn’t pick up an instrument of his own until he was fifteen. The debate club, the school newspaper, the gardening club, and the drama club absolutely filled his days at Frederick Douglas High School. But it occurred to him that he was from New Orleans and did not know any blues or jazz. I found it interesting that a child of his age would push beyond the veil of top forty music, being that it’s force-fed to most of us. But he recalls having an interest in local music and a sense of social responsibility to carry on that torch. So, he joined the high school band with saxophone as his instrument of choice. Alonzi Jackson was the band director at that time. And the program kept things interesting for the kids, playing songs like Luther Vandross’ “Never Too Much” and The Dazz Band’s “Let It Whip”. The curriculum required the use of mostly whole notes. So, it was easy enough for a beginner like Christopher to learn. Once again, music sparked a particular interest in him. He would enable himself to spend more time with it by dropping a few of the other electives. Here he excelled, quickly becoming section leader. But leadership came with its own challenges. Through the process of giving advice and other leadership duties, it became clear that some in his section were not of the same ilk as he. Discouragement would come to a hilt during Mardi Gras and, shortly following, he would quit the school band.

In May of 2005, he graduated from Frederick Douglas and set his sights beyond the city of New Orleans. He attended Hampden-Sidney, a nationally ranked private liberal arts college for men in Virginia. A rural area with under two thousand residents, this was quite the change in scenery. Christopher would once again take up saxophone here. But after just one year, because of the expense, he would return home to New Orleans. At this time, Christopher still did not own a saxophone. He always played what was available at school. So, it was serendipitous that he would run into saxophonist Stephen Galdney, a member of the Preservation Hall Foundation music collective. Stephen gave him his first saxophone. Stephen had recently been performing and touring in Paris. And his apparent success and this gesture inspired Christopher to try harder. He began combing through method books, practicing every chance he got. He enrolled at the University of New Orleans, eventually trying out for the band there. Christopher recalls, “I remember working on audition material sitting at Douglas Band Room, Mr. Ali was our band director at the time. He was a graduate from Southern University. He was the band director over there. I remember working on pieces. And I go to audition, and Dr. Taylor over there is like, alright. Because I auditioned on alto. And he was like, how about playing baritone sax?” Now this made more sense in the grand scheme of things. Christopher’s meningitis resulted in the inability of his right ear to hear most high frequencies. As a result, he tended to prefer lower notes on sax. Altissimo notes on an alto in C6 may still not be out of his range of hearing. But once it gets to D7, he won’t hear it. He has since grown to love the low range of the baritone and delights in its sub-harmonics and overtones.

The summer of 2014 is when Christopher finally though of himself as a good musician. The difference here, I found in his story, is that he broke free from theory and got to utilize his knowledge in real world settings. Not only that, but he was now delving into improvisation while getting feedback simultaneously. He would participate regularly in rehearsals with the Second Line Reggae Band. He would frequently perform at Melvin’s Bar on St. Claude Ave. as well. It was there that he got a true education in the blues from a house band made up of seasoned veterans. He recalls Irma Thomas’ bassist teaching him laid back lessons like, “Hey when you playin’ this Purple Rain, you don’t have to do a whole lot. It’s just the blues, man.” BJ’s pedigree and nonchalant demeanor spoke volumes where words did not. Christopher also explained how suddenly, his grandfather wouldn’t make him leave the room to practice. We both laughed at this one. And I can tell you from experience, when it comes to the old-timers, this is as close as you’re going to get to a compliment. Christopher also relayed to me an instance at his Auntie’s birthday party where his cousin was DJing. Christopher brought his saxophone along and played while his cousin spun records. The reaction from family was to ask that he play more. Albeit on the inside, these subtle earmarks in his life had Christopher elated. “It took time to get there. But it feels good”, he says.

Joining a band of his own came about mainly as a reactionary measure. UNO eliminated its Music Education program, which reduced the student count in their music department from about 300 to 80. The remaining 80 would stay on in Jazz Studies, which was comprised of composition, history, and performance. His band, Hidden Wind Saxophone Ensemble, would later become an offshoot of some of the remaining members. In an effort to keep performing in a similar setting, Christopher joined the New Orleans Concert Band, an organization founded in 1979 that practiced at UNO. The late Peter Dombourian, a band director in the New Orleans public school system for over thirty years, served as director for the New Orleans Concert Band for fifteen years. And they would practice once a week, performing several times a year at places like UNO, Audubon Park, and Lafrenière Park. Their co-conductor, Sherman Leggett, also conducted the American Legion Post 350 band in Metairie and asked if Christopher would be interested in joining. Christopher enjoyed these bands because, in a city that wants you to play by ear all day, it gave him more chances to read sheet music and stay fluent. Christopher’s roommate invited him to come play in an anime cover band he formed called Purikura Panic. Now this broke all molds when it came to convention being that anime features music from just about every genre and every era. I could see him light up as he exclaimed, “I love anime music for the wide breadth of its genre. Anime might be a genre. But in that genre, there’s opera, there’s rock, there’s blues, there’s gospel. There’s just so much music. There’s that 1970’s and 80’s stuff; that city pop stuff. Oh, I love playing some (Miki Matsubara’s) Stay With Me and that Yu Yu Hakusho , that “Smile Bomb” (Hohoemi no Bakudan). It’s some good music!” He went on further, “I was playing the song Miki Matsubara’s Stay With Me, love that song. In the middle of the song there’s a break. And it goes from being in F Major, it goes from F Major to F Minor. Like, just flips right there for that section and there’s a jazz solo; a saxophone solo playing in that middle section. And I’m like, listen to that! That’s straight up jazz right there!” If you listen to the song, this moment stems from a previous portion of the song that is all rock and roll. Most of this band’s performances are at anime conventions. Which, I might add, is a healthy niche to be performing within. Further on, and throughout this interview, we went a bit more in-depth concerning the traditional genres in New Orleans, Christophers thoughts and experiences busking in the city and so much more. Please consider clicking your favorite podcast platform below and subscribing to hear this and many more intimate moments with the musicians of Louisiana.

Author: David Trahan

Hidden Wind Saxophone Ensemble is on Facebook by name

American Legion Post 350 Band:

Puirkura Panic Linktree:


Justin Curry

Born in Madison, Ohio, Justin Curry basically kept to himself as a child. His father was a drummer based in Houston and wasn’t around much. But his mother and aunt were. And both could sing; his aunt even performing on stage. Though violin wasn’t the first instrument he picked up, it was the first one chose of his own volition. In high school, where there was no orchestral program, he played trombone and could manage basic piano and guitar. With a laugh, he recalls how the music teacher told him he would never have a career in music. To all my budding new instrumentalists out there, this story will show that you should never let another dissuade you from your dreams of becoming a musician! Having not yet found the instrument that resonated with him the most, Justin’s true talent was not yet apparent. For that teacher and all his classmates, this would not come to light until his solo violin recital in high school. I’ve always maintained that underestimation is the greatest gift anyone could ever give. And Justin took full advantage of this, surprising everyone at that recital. He received a standing ovation for that performance. He would again surprise everyone when he became student council president. He would also amaze them by graduating a year early. His pursuit of becoming a professional violinist was a fervent one. He took lessons from a private tutor and was a student of the classical music genre. He realized if he wanted to make it in music, he would have to leave his hometown. Throughout the nineties, Madison’s live music scene experienced a whitewashing of sorts. Such to where the town was overrun with generic dive bars when all was said and done. Although Ohio had music education programs available at the time, it was becoming apparent that one would be hard-pressed to make it as a local musician financially. So, while taking lessons on the violin, Justin planned his move for years, unbeknownst to anyone.

He would continue in this vein, honing his craft in private. But once he left high school, he began performing publicly in and around Cleveland. Though jobs were scarce, he did prefer to play in restaurants as opposed to bars. He found that in bars, the music was secondary to the focus of socializing and libation. Whereas in restaurants, a musician’s performance was more central to the atmosphere. At one particular restaurant, he enjoyed a residency as well as their high-end client base. He started to notice his presence bringing in more and more customers. But when he approached the owner about an increase in pay, he was unfortunately shunned. Influenced by his hometown’s whitewashing of bars as well as this disheartening experience, Justin was prompted to form his own perspective on the venue philosophy. And in his opinion, many bars and restaurants have been involved in a “race to the bottom”. Whereby the caliber of services and features are gradually reduced while the price point persistently rises. And I agree that the competitive essence of many businesses these days seems to result in a reduction in quality. With long-term vitality being sacrificed for the sake of short-term profits, returning patronage suffers. Conversely, I understand that quality over quantity is a characteristic of maturation. Where may the two converge comfortably though? Justin says that a society centered around pop culture is afraid to appreciate finer arts. And while venues following suit is a direct result, it should not be tolerated, much less rewarded. 

Ever since he was a child, Justin took a peculiar interest in Japanese culture. Their ways stood as a sharp contrast to what he found himself surrounded by in Ohio. He could appreciate how both art and discipline were revered there. In Japan, it wasn’t as common to find a musician with two to three jobs because their art was more appreciated and thus would provide sufficiently. Following his dreams, he travelled there and enjoyed a successful career as a musician. His first stint was for four and a half years. It was from that time, when he returned to the states, that he found himself in New Orleans. Many of his guiding principles still held true here, like avoiding bar performances and contending with pop culture and low pay. But a big part of him was drawn to the city’s rich cultural heritage and musically significant history. And certain lagniappes like busking could help to subsidize his venue-based income. This may come as a surprise to some. But the amount of foot traffic a tourist destination supplies occasionally makes performing on the street a more viable option. And for Justin, it has proven to be of greater profit than playing in most venues. He does have his own strategies when it comes to busking. “Be respectful of where you are. Clean up when you’re done. Be good to the people around you. Because doing this is just as much a people skill thing as it is a musical thing. But on top of that, be good at making music. Because if you’re not good, you’re going to make nothing. It’s one of those things, sink or swim.” He continued by pointing out that adding to your environment is paramount. And by this he meant that getting to know the surrounding shop owners and neighbors shows them that you care, that you are a part of the community. He’s busked in places like New Orleans, Los Angeles, and New York City. And according to Justin, busking in Los Angeles can bring in twice what he sees in New Orleans. But I would attribute that to an overall higher cost of living. He contributed the fact that disposable income levels are lower here and that, unfortunately, the “city of drinking” narrative is pushed more than the “city of the arts” perspective. He maintains that New Orleans will always hold a special place in his heart. And he considers its appeal as a second home a significant one. But for now, he’s looking once again to explore his geographic options in hopes of finding himself surrounded by a healthier social ethos; one with greater emphasis on art and culture.

Justin’s third album will be coming to streaming soon by the name of “Between Worlds”. It is a live album that was recorded during his recent performance at the Marigny Opera House in New Orleans. The best way to view a complete list of all his relevant links (there are many) is on his Facebook page: I interviewed Justin in the foyer of The Saxon House at 536 Royal St. The location is steeped in the New Orleans cultural history for which Justin is so fond. It is a two hundred plus year old dwelling owned by New Orleanian Louis Dufilho Jr., who was America’s first licensed pharmacist. It was also owned and renovated by Lyle Saxon, a local resident and six-time author on New Orleans and Louisiana history. Whom, through multiple purchases and renovations, is credited with making the French Quarter “more art colony, less an underworld.” Justin assured me that while the abode is both warm and inviting, it is definitely haunted!

Author: David Trahan