Local music for the win!

vox populi winner

Hi friends –

More than a year ago, I had the honor of producing Made in Aurora: Volume 1, a vinyl-only collaboration featuring more than 30 musicians and songwriters from Aurora, Batavia, Geneva, St. Charles, Mortgomery, Naperville, Wheaton and all over the Fox Valley. The 16-song album was recorded over three intense days in the studio.

We had an awful lot of fun. But the real goal of Made in Aurora was to shine a spotlight on the amazing, burgeoning community of independent musicians in the Fox Valley area. We wanted to prove to ourselves what we were capable of. We wanted to give local music fans something to point to the next time they get asked where the local music scene is. And we wanted to show the rest of the world that great music doesn’t come from an “industry” – it comes from people.

That’s why I was so happy when I heard the news: “Made in Aurora” won the “Vox Pop” award in our division of theIndependent Music Awards.

This is a big deal, and I want to shout it from the rooftops. Most of all, I want to congratulate the artists who contributed the music and performances to the project: Greg BoernerDick SmithThe Empty Can BandNoah GabrielHOSSJeremy Keen and the False StartsDave Ramont, and The Kevin Trudo + Meathawk. Simply put, their talent and passion are the reason we won.

An honorable mention goes to the inimitable Andrea Dawn, whose voice is all over the album, even if we left her out of the credits the first time around. And to Kyle Schmidt, who busted his butt engineering, mixing and mastering Volume One. Kyle gives 110% for every project at Backthird. And we have to thank Steve Warrenfeltz – who runs the kind of record store where dreams are born.

And then there’s you. This was a “popular vote” award – so thanks for making your voice heard. Long live local music!

PS – The next great night for local music is this Saturday, whenThe Kevin Trudo + Meathawkthe New Automatics, andCattleprod will be playing at Reggie’s in Chicago. One of these bands is on “Made and Aurora” – the other two were birthed out of friendships that were nurtured in those sessions. Get the whole show – plus dinner and a bus ride downtown – for $20. But you’ll have to act fast


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Made In Aurora Vol 1. Nominated for Independent Music Awards!

Made In Aurora Vol. 1  Album CoverIndependent Music Awards Nominee Seal


March 7, 2012 – Bringing area talent together and cultivating a stronger audience for local music has its rewards and awards too! The artists of Made In Aurora Vol 1. from Aurora and the Fox Valley Area join more than 300 exceptional self-released and independent label artists, as well as former major label acts named today by Music Resource Group (MRG) as Nominees in The 11th Independent Music Awards (The IMAs), the influential awards program for independent bands and fans. Made In Aurora Vol. 1 has been nominated in the category of Compilation Album for this 11th annual IMA awards.

The artists of Made In Aurora Vol 1. (Compilation Album) are among an eclectic mix of established artists and artists on the rise including Bruce Cockburn (Folk/Singer-Songwriter Album), Ellis Marsalis (Concept Album and Cover Song), Girl in a Coma (Indie/Alt. Rock Album and Song), Larry Carlton (Tribute Album), April Verch (Americana Album and Acoustic Song), Birdie Nam Nam (Dance/Electronica Album and Short Form Music Video), Melissa Ferrick (Folk/Singer-Songwriter Album and Acoustic Song), RuPaul (Social Action Song), and retro rock ‘n’ roller JD McPherson (Rock/Hard Rock Album).

Representing the broad spectrum of today’s global independent music scene, the Nominees in over 70 Song, Album, Music Video and Design categories were culled from thousands of submissions from North America, South America, Asia, Africa, Australia and Europe.

Winners will be determined by a panel of 77 influential artist and industry judges including
Keith Richards, Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan, Suzanne Vega, Joshua Redman,
Tori Amos, Michael Franti, Bettye LaVette, Del McCoury, Ozzy Osbourne, Shelby Lynne, Alan Light (Live From The Artists Den), Kevin Lyman (Warped Tour), Bill Bragin
(Lincoln Center), Sara Beesley (Joe’s Pub), Chris Diaz (Knitting Factory Entertainment), and
Evan Schlansky (American Songwriter). The results will be announced in April 2012.

In addition to industry-determined Winners, music fans from around the world have until
Friday, July 20, 2012 to cast their votes at The IMA Vox Pop Jukebox to determine the
fan-selected program winners.

The Independent Music Award Winners will be promoted to nearly 1 billion music fans worldwide.

Details and complete list of Nominees and Judges available at TheIndependentMusicAwards.com

We are extremely excited and proud that this grass roots local movement has gained worldwide view through the Independent Music Awards!

To vote for Made In Aurora Vol. 1 go to the IMA Vox Pop Juke Box HERE to vote!

Artistry Has Its Awards

Celebrating the democracy of creativity and meritocracy of talent, The Independent Music Awards honor exceptional independent artists traditionally ignored by mass media and big box retailers.

For the past 11 years, artists and labels from around the world have found new fans and prominence through The IMAs. Produced by Music Resource Group, publisher of the popular industry networking database The Musician’s AtlasOnline, and producers of the original webTV series, Grooveable Feast, The IMAs uses its unrivaled access to performance, promotion & distribution opportunities to connect Winners and Nominees to new audiences and revenue opportunities.

Winners of The 11th IMAs will receive active promotions, distribution and performance opportunities that will place them in front of nearly 1 billion music fans. Artists, managers and labels credit The IMAs with increasing recognition among music fans and industry gatekeepers.

Submissions for The 12th Independent Music Awards will open in later this month.
More information is available at:  www.TheIndependentMusicAwards.com



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The Made in Aurora Christmas Special!

get jolly with holly at the CopleyIt’s the Made in Aurora Christmas Special!

Your favorite songs and artists from the new album – plus a stand-up comedian and a no-horse open sleigh.

When: 5pm Sunday, December 18, 2011

Where: The Copley Theater at North Island Center, 8 E. Galena Blvd., Aurora

How: Get tickets here for $15 each, or visit Kiss the Sky in downtown Geneva.

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Pay some attention to the man behind the curtain!

On Thursday, we’re giving you the chance to visit Backthird Audio and hear some behind-the-scenes stories about the making of Volume 2 at the “Making Made in Aurora” open house.

Can’t wait that ’til Thursday? Engineer Kyle Schmidt’s thoughts are online right now, right here.

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John Papadolius and Kevin Trudo on interpreting a song by the mayor

tracking harp for "Warmest Time"

Recording your own music is one thing – but what does it take to interpret a song you didn’t write? And if the person who wrote it is known around town as “Mr. Mayor”- would that make a difference?

I asked arranger John Papadolius and vocalist Kevin Trudo to tell us about the creative process for “Christmas is the Warmest Time of the Year.” Read their responses here.

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Preview the album today only!

Catch a sneak peek – make that sneak listen – of the new record today, Friday Nov 18th, over lunch or with that morning or afternoon cup of coffee. The following locations will be playing 7 tracks from Made in Aurora Vol. 2:

The preview sampler includes tracks by HOSS, Jeremy Keen and the False Starts, Mary Lou O’Brien, Empty Can Band, Greg Boerner and Benjie Hughes.

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Andrea Dawn on turning 3 music traditions into one album

Andrea Dawn has been a key part of City of Lights and Tiny Candle – and now, of Made in Aurora. You’ll hear her voice three times on Side One of the LP alone. We asked her for her thoughts on the “musical family” behind these three Aurora holiday traditions. Read them here.

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Calling all filmmakers, photographers and bored children!

Mr. Bill

my version was uglier

When I was 10, my sister and I made a great series of Claymation spinoffs in which the Saturday Night Live character “Mr. Bill” met aliens, drove a car and (literally) got smashed every night. We used living room furniture for sets. We wrote credits with white crayons on black paper, then held them up to the camera while we hummed end-credit music. We shot on VHS, so every frame was 5-10 seconds long, which made for some VERY slow-moving animation.

Technology is better now, but kids – I’m assuming – are no less creative than they used to be. And if they can do it, so can you. This is a golden era for filmmaking - and we’re going to prove it with the Made in Aurora video contest.

Maybe you’re a big-time filmmaker looking to help local music. Maybe you’re a small-time filmmaker looking to get your film screened at the Copley Theater (win this contest, and you will!). Or maybe you’re just a bored 10-year-old with nothing better to do than show us all up.

Whoever you are, if you have access to a computer or camera – or can get one from your local library – there’s no reason not to do this. Action!

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Can you volunteer 5 hours to us publicize Vol. 2?

from the cover of Vol. 2Made in Aurora Publicity Team
Saturday, October 22, 10am-11am
Backthird Audio (67 S. Stolp Ave., Aurora)

Want to help local music? I need you.

We’re 5 weeks from the release of Made in Aurora: Volume 2. This a double vinyl release featuring 16 songs and 47 musicians from up and down the Fox Valley. Downtown Aurora is on the cover.

For the project to succeed, I need 5 hours of your life.

You’ll spend the first hour at Backthird Audio with me this Saturday, eating bagels and learning about the project. I’ll play you some preview tracks from the album that NO ONE ELSE has heard yet.

You’ll spend another 4 hours (or so) doing something to help us publicize over the next month. Hunt up old photos from Aurora and other towns, organize a video contest, or call and write radio or press contacts. You decide on Saturday which project to volunteer for.

All I ask is that if you say you’re going to do something, you follow through and do it.
Run the course with us and Steve will give you an MiA T-shirt. More importantly, you’ll help us recoup our costs so we can do more local-music projects like Made in Aurora. And you’ll end up more connected to your town. (Even if your town happens to be Geneva or St. Charles.)

Who’s needed? People of any age who:
• Can write ok
• Can take photos ok
• Can edit video ok
•  Can make checklists and organize a stack of stuff without losing it
• Are not too shy to pick up the phone and call a stranger more than once
• Are on Facebook, like, all the time
• Are into web stuff like Spotify and Bandcamp

Who’s not needed?
• People who have lots of suggestions but cannot give 5 hours to help us act on them.

Ideas are easy. What we have to do is execute. Many hands make light work.

If you can be one of those hands, RSVP “yes” on Facebook or e-mail me at benjie@backthird.com.

Questions? Ask me!

Can’t make Saturday? Tell me! We’ll connect another way.

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Made in Aurora LIVE on Saturday, July 9

Catch the artists of Made in Aurora LIVE next Saturday, July 9 in – of course – downtown Aurora.

7:30 Noah Gabriel
8:15 Greg Boerner
9:00 Hoss
9:45 Dick Smith
10:30 Empty Can Band
11:15 Jeremy Keen
12:00 The Kevin Trudo

when: 7pm – 1am Saturday, July 9

where: 43 E. Galena Blvd. (the “Vargas Building”), Aurora, IL

how much: $5 at the door. Advance tickets available at Kiss the Sky, 301 W. State St., Geneva, IL.

The Vargas Building is at the corner of Galena Blvd. and Water Street in downtown Aurora – immediately across the river from the Paramount Theatre. There is a public parking garage located at 5 E Downer Pl., about a block’s walk from the show. Street parking is free in Aurora on Saturdays.

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