Heavy Rotation Records 11th Annual Epic Event February 9

By
Margot Edwards
January 26, 2011
Julia Easterlin
David Pramik
Pinn Panelle
The Boston Boys
Emily Elbert
Photo provided by the artist
Photo provided by the artist
Photo provided by the artist
Photo provided by the artist
Photo by Phil Farnsworth

Heavy Rotation Records (HRR) presents its 11th annual Epic Event on Wednesday, February 9, at the Berklee Performance Center. The concert showcases artists on Under the Influence, the upcoming compilation by HRR, Berklee's student-run label. The compilation will feature Berklee students and alumni paying tribute to some of rock's biggest names, including REM, Green Day, U2, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Radiohead, and Smashing Pumpkins, coupled with covers of the seminal bands that influenced their sounds—Mission of Burma, Hüsker Dü, Joy Division, Gang of Four, the Pixies, and My Bloody Valentine. The artists will hit the studio in March to record with Paul Kolderie, cofounder of famed Fort Apache Studios, who produced or engineered some of the original artists.

The Heavy Rotation Records Epic Event is $10, all-ages, and begins at 8:15 p.m. at the Berklee Performance Center, 136 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston. Call 617 747-2261 or visit berkleebpc.com for more information. The concert is sponsored by the Hyland family and RightsFlow. RightsFlow is collaborating with HRR to provide marketing and licensing support for the recording project.

Under the Influence gives each HRR artist the opportunity to reinterpret songs by a pair of these classic bands and use their creativity to make something new. The concert and recording feature Julia Easterlin (Radiohead, Pixies), David Pramik featuring Johnny Duke (U2, Joy Division), the Berklee String Metal Ensemble (Smashing Pumpkins, My Bloody Valentine), Pinn Panelle (REM, Mission of Burma), the Boston Boys featuring Emily Elbert (Green Day, Hüsker Dü), and Da'Rayia (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Gang of Four).

Though the HRR artists are performing covers specifically for this project, they are not cover bands, with the exception of the Berklee String Metal Ensemble. Every artist writes and performs original music in varied genres that will influence their versions of these songs. For instance, the Boston Boys will perform Green Day in their own roots/folk style, Da'Rayia brings hip-hop, soul, and reggae to Gang of Four, and Pinn Panelle gives REM the dubstep/electronica treatment.

The concert is dedicated to Devin "Dabbo" Caucci, a young Berklee alumnus who passed away suddenly in January.  Caucci was a talented bassist who had performed with several HRR artists, including Julia Easterlin, Emily Elbert, and Ann Driscoll.

HRR 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. The label presents events in the Boston area and at some of the music industry's largest festivals, including SXSW in Austin and the CMJ Music Marathon in New York.

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

About the artists:

Julia Easterlin—Not only is Berklee student singer/songwriter Julia Easterlin a versatile vocalist, pianist, and guitarist, but her looping machine makes her into a virtual one-woman band. On songs like "Render," she loops her vocals, building a multitrack song live on stage. Her voice combines seduction with a haunting jazz edge, and her music weaves story with an otherworldly vocal dance. At 15, Easterlin joined the John Lennon Tour Bus, and at 17, she released two albums: a jazz CD titled Why Can't You Behave and the folk/rock album Calling Out. Easterlin performed at HRR's CMJ Music Marathon Showcase and recently traveled to Cuba to perform with the Berklee Interarts Ensemble.

David Pramik featuring Johnny DukeDavid Pramik's debut album Expectations is catching the ears of listeners all over the world with its intricate guitar work and vocal harmonies. Pramik draws inspiration from such diverse artists as John Mayer, D'Angelo, Norah Jones, Robert Glasper, and A Tribe Called Quest. Berklee graduate Johnny Duke picked up the electric guitar at 10 and fell in love with the blues. He has found success as frontman for Johnny Duke & the Aces, and as a sideman and session musician in a variety of genres. Pramik and Duke are joined by student bassist Spencer Stewart, alumna vocalist Avena Savage, drummer Tom Myers, and keyboardist Nate Hopkins.

The Berklee String Metal Ensemble is a student group composed of three cellists, two violinists, two drummers, a bassist, and a vocalist. They play melodic death metal, with some hardcore influence. The group covers bands such as Dark Tranquility, Arch Enemy, and Heaven Shall Burn. Band members include Trev Wignall and Jason Lim on violin; Dean Capper, David Tangney, and Eden Rayz on cello; Aaron Liao on bass; Steven Hopkins on vocals; Rae Amitay on drums and vocals; and Carson Groenewold on drums.

Pinn Panelle is comprised of Berklee students Derek Song, Justin Conway, Jonah Wei-Haas, and Chris Nicholas; and Brian Kolhoff. Their sound is influenced by Muse, 30 Seconds to Mars, and Thrice, with elements of dubstep, techno, electronica, and classical mixed in. The group recently released their self-titled debut. Said AltSounds of the album, "The last three songs on Pinn Panelle are possibly the best. The intensity and beautiful strangeness escalates, and you want to play it louder and louder. 'Firelight,' 'Throwing Out a Heart,' and 'Come to the Ground' ignite in such subtle, beautiful ways that you want to go back and start over from track one again."

The Boston Boys featuring Emily ElbertThe Boston Boys have been building buzz while touring for the past two years. Self-described as an electrified psychedelic soul string band, their sound blends roots-rock with pop, folk, and Appalachian music. The lineup currently features alumni Eric Robertson on mandolin, Josh Hari on bass, and Vishal Nayak on drums. Student guitarist Emily Elbert has played across the United States and in Scotland, Puerto Rico, and Peru. She has won numerous awards, including a spot in the Gibson/Baldwin Grammy Foundation's jazz ensemble, WUMB-FM's Best New Artist of 2008, and Glamour magazine's Top 10 College Women. Elbert recently released her second album, Proof, featuring strong melodies, straight-to-the-heart vocals, and intricate guitar work.

Da'Rayia is a close-knit band of Berklee students and alumni that play a variety of genres, including hip-hop, jazz, soul, funk, rock, and reggae. The group features students Da'Rayia Wilson on vocals and Dennis Drummond on guitar; and alumni Josh Hari on bass, John Adams on drums, and Ayesha "MusicBox" Brooks on background vocals. Wilson, the group's namesake, was the first winner of the Berklee and Essence magazine hip-hop songwriting contest. She subsequently was awarded a full scholarship to attend Berklee. Wilson is a dual major in music business/management and contemporary writing and production, and is busy writing, performing, and producing her own music.