Heavy Rotation Records Concert February 10

By 
Margot Edwards
January 21, 2010
Ann Driscoll
Jordan Tarrant
Liz Longley
Tin Soldier
Julia Easterlin
LipTease
Black Kettle
Tais Alvarenga
KR & the Future
Photo provided by the artist
Photo provided by the artist
Photo provided by the artist
Photo provided by the artist
Photo provided by the artist
Photo provided by the artist
Photo provided by the artist
Photo provided by the artist
Photo provided by the artist

Heavy Rotation Records (HRR) presents its 10th annual Epic Event and Dorm Sessions 7 CD release concert on Wednesday, February 10, at the Berklee Performance Center. The popular event showcases artists featured on Dorm Sessions 7, the new compilation CD by Berklee's student-run label Heavy Rotation Records. The CD—a mix of rock, pop, Latin, country, r&b, hip-hop, and folk by Berklee students and alumni—features Ann Driscoll, Jordan Tarrant, Liz Longley, Tin Soldier, Julia Easterlin, Liptease, Black Kettle, Tais Alvarenga, and KR & the Future.

The Dorm Sessions 7 CD release concert is $10, all ages, and begins at 8:15 p.m. at the Berklee Performance Center, 136 Massachusetts Ave., Boston, Massachusetts. Call 617 747-2261 or visit berkleebpc.com for more information. Free copies of the CD will be given away at the concert.

Heavy Rotation Records is a class that gives music business/management majors at Berklee hands-on experience in running a record company. Under the guidance of faculty advisor Jeff Dorenfeld, former manager of the band Boston, the student staff oversees all of the label's functions, including marketing, sales, web development, media, and accounting.

In the fall, HRR's A&R group listened to more than 300 submissions and used Survey Monkey to compile the votes. Each week they went to see the artists that garnered the most votes perform live, putting them in a pool to be reconsidered. They finalized the lineup in December and plan to promote the CD through direct-to-fan platform Nimbit, social networks, and touring. Says Dorenfeld, "Overall, it was a difficult process, but we have a good group of artists. This CD has more artists whose music is compatible, so we plan to package them for shows in New England and New York."

The label presents events in the Boston area and at some of the music industry's largest festivals. HRR recently hosted its third annual showcase at the CMJ Music Marathon in New York. Berklee and HRR's fifth-annual SXSW Party takes place March 19 at Friends in Austin.

HRR alumni are also making a splash on American Idol this season.  Two of the four Berklee alumni that received "Golden Tickets" to Hollywood Week were involved with the label: Jess Wolfe is a former label director, and Jennifer Hirsch sang with Dorm Sessions 5 band Turkuaz.

Dorm Sessions 7 is the 12th HRR release since 1995. Other releases include Shekinah: 13 Artists, distributed by Epic; Apollo Sunshine's second CD, co-released with spinART; and Dorm Sessions 1-6. Many up-and-coming artists have appeared on HRR compilations, including St. Vincent (as Annie Clark); members of Passion Pit (as the Peasantry); the Click Five (as Oscar Bravo); Big D & the Kids Table; and Madi Diaz of the movie Rock School. The label also serves as a springboard for careers in the music industry. HRR alumni have gone on to work at companies including Interscope, Capitol, DreamWorks, BMG, Universal, Live Nation, AEG Live, and Rightsflow.

About the artists:

Ann Driscoll is a singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from Ohio who is making waves since coming to Berklee on scholarship. Driscoll was featured on WERS's Local Music Week, and her song "Jesus Don't Like Beggars" was placed in the independent horror film Livestock. Known for her high-energy live show, she has shared the stage with An Horse, The High Strung, The Brakes, and others.  A passionate political activist, Driscoll wrote, recorded, and edited a music video for Vic Wulsin, a 2008 Democratic Congressional candidate. The ad garnered significant media attention in Ohio.

Jordan Tarrant, a native of Arlington, Texas, picked up guitar at 8 and started performing in Austin at 16. Though most of his music is acoustic, Tarrant brings an electric energy to the stage. His music is lyrically driven and performed with a wild passion. Recently, Tarrant has been performing with the Monkey Rock Writers Circle every Wednesday at All Asia in Cambridge. Through HRR's efforts, he's also opening for Pat Green at the House of Blues on March 5. Texas label Tono Music Group will soon release his first full-length album. Tarrant is currently studying performance and songwriting at Berklee.

Liz Longley is a vocalist and guitarist from Downing Town, Pennsylvania.  She won the grand prize at the 2009 Rocky Mountain Folk Festival's Songwriters Showcase. She was also a co-winner of the 2009 Mountain Stage NewSong Contest, and an Emerging Artist at the 2009 Falcon Ridge Folk Fest. Longley has shared the stage with Livingston Taylor, Colin Hay, Nanci Griffith, Kenny Rankin, and Jonathan Edwards. She has topped several Garageband.com charts in the acoustic, lyrics, and melody categories, and recently represented Berklee at the annual Kennedy Center Conservatory Project in Washington, D.C.

Tin Soldier formed at Berklee in 2009. The student members—guitarists Manu Laudic and Dustin Olyan, keyboardist Zachary Tenorio-Miller, drummer Curran McDowell, guitarist/mandolin player Christopher Putt, and bassist Aaron Stern—grew up listening to the same music and wanted to create a new sound rooted in classic rock and folk. Tin Soldier started writing songs and was gigging and recording within a month. The band then toured the U.S., playing venues like Martyr's in Chicago, the Knitting Factory in Hollywood, and Lestat's in San Diego. Tin Soldier plans to release a full length LP this year and tour again.

Julia Easterlin is a versatile Berklee student vocalist, pianist, and guitarist, who released two albums at 17: jazz CD Why Can't You Behave with pianist Yuma Sung, and folk/rock album Calling Out.  At 15, Easterlin joined the "John Lennon Tour Bus," a traveling studio of the John Lennon Foundation. She then earned a scholarship to Berklee's Five-Week Summer Performance Program, and became a member of the Grammy Jazz Ensemble. Her voice combines seduction with a haunting jazz edge, and her music weaves story with an otherworldly vocal dance, drawing the listener deep into each well-crafted piece.

Liptease captures the energy of life's pulse and crafts it into inventive r&b influenced electro-pop. Berklee student John Engle, from San Diego, began singing in church and finds inspiration in soul music. Alumnus Tom Manning, from Boston, holds it down on the drums with high-energy r&b and funk. Paris native and alumnus Michel Heyaca's guitar technique and writing style is influenced by French house music, Mozart, and his Latin roots. Liptease is currently promoting its new EP and will soon release its first album. The band plans to tour the U.S. and Europe this summer.

Black Kettle, born of the songwriting duo of Berklee alumna Keeley Bumford (vocals, piano, chord organ) and student Kailynn West (vocals, guitar, mandolin, ukulele, claps), celebrates human imperfections. Playful melodies carry heartfelt lyrics and find new ways to say, "I love you," and even "I hate you." Rooted in folk, pop, and indie rock, their sound is a kaleidoscope of quirk and charm. The two have been captivating audiences by keeping their music humble, organic, and sincere.  Black Kettle is set to release its debut album in early 2010.

Tais Alvarenga is a singer, songwriter, composer, and actress from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, whose music is an engaging blend of Latin pop and folk. Alvarenga started singing at 5, playing piano at 7, and composing at 10. She has shared the stage with artists like Rodrigo Velloso, Cezar Camargo Mariano, Juan Luis Guerra, and Larry Watson. At 18 she attended acting school, and worked for three years with director Oswaldo Montenegro. Her debut album will be out next year. Alvarenga graduated from Berklee with a degree in film scoring.

Hip-hop group KR & the Future, fronted by Berklee alumnus Kevin "KR" Dorsey, has been electrifying audiences and building a strong following in the Boston area with riveting performances at venues like the Paradise, the Middle East, All Asia, and Cafe 939. KR is a multifaceted artist with distinct rhythmic flow and strong lyrical delivery. KR's band the Future consists of six excellent musicians: Berklee students Chad Selph (keyboard), Josh Connelly (guitar), Omitchell Henry (keyboard), Joe Conner (percussion), Coran Henley (drums), and Kyle Miles (bass).