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Brag Blog: Jeremy 'JD' Lyon of Tumbleweed Wanderers

Jeremy 'JD' Lyon has been playing classic rock tunes on his guitar since as soon as his hands were able. As part of the band Tumbleweed Wanderers, JD crafts perfectly upbeat catchy tunes that are entrenched in the musicians he grew up loving and his own signature style. With Tumbleweed Wanderers, JD has toured nationwide, released three EP's as well as two full length records and shared the stage with the likes of The Flaming Lips, Dr. Dog and more.

JD is available for your private event and can be seen in action at the Ivy Hill Entertainment Artist Showcase on March 8th, 2016 at PianoFight in San Francisco. In the meantime, check out our interview with him below!

What was it that first drew you to playing music?

I picked up the guitar at age 7 at the suggestion of my first grade teacher, Ms. Breland, and never stopped. Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen were my earliest influences, and my guitar teacher got me into Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, and the Rolling Stones. In high school and college I got into the more alternative stuff like Radiohead, Sigur Ros, Beck, My Morning Jacket, and Wilco. Influences aside, I've always seen music as a unique way to connect. It quickly became a vehicle for me to reach people I wouldn't otherwise talk to, as well as a good outlet for me as a kid. It was almost like keeping a diary, except then you'd perform your diary in front of friends and family and feel very, very self-conscious.

 

Do you do anything to fund your music habit, or do you make all of your money that way?

This is the first year I've been able to support myself exclusively through music. I teach, do private and corporate events, and perform my original music as well as play in other projects with friends. Last year I worked five jobs: bar-back, courier, soccer referee, teacher at a summer camp, and I picked up and mailed NorCal shirts for my buddy's older brother's company up in Eureka, on top of releasing an LP and doing a two-month national tour. I spent 2011-2013 full time with Tumbleweed Wanderers, touring heavily and living with Zak, the bass player's parents when we were home.

 

What does a day in the life of JD Lyon look like?

Wake up, drink coffee, squeeze some fresh juice, catch up on emails, practice for upcoming gigs, write music, drink more coffee, leave the house around 1:30. Teach until 7. Go to a rehearsal or a show. Get home late, housemates are asleep. Have a beer. Netflix and chill.

 

Your band Tumbleweed Wanderers has released several EPs and an LP and toured all over the place. What are some of your favorite bands that you’ve shared the stage with?

We've been fortunate enough to play some festivals with a bunch of my favorite bands, including Jim James, Flaming Lips, Wilco, Dr. Dog, and Delta Spirit. My favorite band we've toured with would have to be Greensky Bluegrass. We spent two months on the road with those guys in 2014 and I grew to love their music and, moreover, was just super impressed with their professionalism, their team, and the way they took care of everyone in their crew. They'd built up a pretty huge following through more than a decade of heavy touring and making a bunch of records. They invested a lot into their production, with a great light show on top of having their sound perfectly dialed. Everyone that worked with them loved their music. And, despite the ability to pack theaters nationally without ever having a label, they had zero ego, would vary the set greatly night to night, often spontaneously, and were all killer musicians and singers. They invited us to sing "Let's Get It On" for their encore in Michigan, their home state, despite having never played that song or rehearsed it with us. It scared the shit out of me but it was so much fun.

 

What have been some big career highlights for you?

I've had to pinch myself when we've played venues that we used to busk outside of, specifically Outside Lands, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, The Fox, The Fillmore, and The Independent. The first couple years we started out we'd busk shows three or four times a week, whenever there was a gig that might vibe with our music. To get to play inside those same venues and festivals felt like a concrete way of showing that our hard work had payed off. 

Whenever we've played in New York City it's been a highlight. We've never flown to any gigs, always driven, so when we get to the Big Apple it feels like a milestone because we've driven across the country. We also have a pretty solid fan base there, it's our second biggest market after the Bay Area, so there's always a great energy in the room. If only it was closer!

Finally, the moments I remember are our big hometown shows when I look out in the crowd and see hundreds of people I've known from all parts of my life, from kindergarten to college, family friends to fellow musicians. It's such a trip to see all these people who, for the most part, don't know each other, and realize you're the one bringing them together. It's a rare and powerful thing to have everyone you love in the same place at the same time. Most people probably only get to experience it at their wedding, or maybe a graduation or two, but that's one of the best parts about being a musician to me.

 

Aside from the Ivy Hill Entertainment Artist Showcase, do you have any other shows coming up?

I just started hosting a monthly songwriter's circle at Awaken Cafe. The first one is March 11th at 8PM featuring Sam Chase (The Sam Chase and the Untradtitional), Lia Rose (Built For The Sea), and Mike Ballan (We Arsons). Tickets are $13 in advance, $15 at the door.

 

What are you looking forward to in 2016?

I'm a set of speakers and a reel of tape away from starting my analog home studio. I'm looking forward to writing and recording, collaborating with more people, and hopefully getting back on the road at the end of the year.


Find Tumbleweed Wanderers On-line:

iTunes
Amazon
Google Play
Bandcamp

Brag Blog: Kendra McKinley

Kendra McKinley is a San Francisco based musician who's music "Combines the sophistication of Tin Pan Alley melodies, the harmonic sense of 1960’s chamber pop and the ferocity of Beyonce". Kendra will be releasing her new LP 'TREAT' this June at a Record Release show at The Independent. The album features an all star cast of musicians, including the Amaranth String Quartet.

On December 8th, 2015 Kendra released a video of her cover of the Father John Misty song 'When You're Smiling and Astride Me'. Father John Misty reposted the tune through his own Facebook page and the video now has over 12,000 views.

Whether it's performing solo or with her brother AJ in The Denalis, Kendra is a great addition to any wedding or event. You can catch her March 8th at PianoFight in San Francisco for the Ivy Hill Entertainment Artist Showcase.

Check out our interview with her below and contact us today to get a quote for YOUR event.


How would you describe the style of music you make?

I'd describe my music as colorful, harmony-rich psychedelic pop music.

Do you do anything to fund your music habit, or do you make all of your money that way?

My life is funded by music making and music education: I gig regularly, both with my full band and as a solo act, record as a session musician with a handful of Bay Area projects, teach private lessons and coach a Jr. High rock band called The Roaring Hearts.

What does a day in the life of Kendra look like?

Every day is different, but I like to start each day with physical activity. I'll typically hula hoop first thing in the morning (I'm not kidding) while listening to music or a TED talk, then do yoga, followed by a bike ride, run, dance, etc. Beyond that, an average day involves making music somewhere, be it in a venue, recording studio, or at home in my bedroom.

What was it that first drew you to music?

The harmony vocals in The Beatles. To this day, singing and the sound of harmony is my favorite thing in the world and the Fab Four were the first to introduce me that joy.

How did it feel to have Father John Misty share that amazing cover you did?

Nuts. I really was not anticipating that to happen, let alone within 24 hours of posting. 

What have been some other big career highlights for you?

Performing at the Fillmore in the first all-female lineup in the history of the venue is definitely way up there. Beyond that, I'd say performing original material on a river boat tour in Portugal was pretty clutch.

What are you looking forward to in 2016?

Releasing my new record TREAT! This will be my first full band LP and it features a stellar cast of musicians, including the Amaranth String Quartet.


Find Kendra McKinley On-line:

Website | Bandcamp | Facebook | Instagram

Upcoming Shows:

Februrary 12th DAVID BOWIE TRIBUTE @ Rickshaw Stop

March 4th @ Doc's Lab

March 8th @ PianoFight (Ivy Hill Entertainment Artist Showcase)

June 24th @ The Independent (Record Release)

Brag Blog: Jon Devoto of The Matches

Jon Devoto is one of the founding members of Ivy Hill Entertainment. He's also a producer, sound engineer, performs at private events and weddings and plays lead guitar in the - famously Oakland based - rock band The Matches.

The Matches have been enjoying a resurgence that began with 2014's E. Von Dahl Killed The Locals 10-Year Anniversary Re-Release and has included reunion shows in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York City as well as an Australian tour and two brand new songs. Yesterday, February 1st, The Matches announced they would be touring again, this time in celebration of the 10-Year Anniversary of their sophomore effort, Decomposer.

In addition to his work with The Matches Jon has produced and mixed a record with Brent Walsh (I The Mighty) that was released on Equal Vision Records and performed at a slew of events for Ivy Hill Entertainment, including the Napa Valley Film Festival!

With all that's going on with Jon we thought now would be a better time than any to sit down with him and pick his brain! He didn't disappoint and, yes Matches fans, he is available to perform at your wedding!


Tell us a little bit about what you do at Ivy Hill Entertainment.

My biggest roles as an Ivy Hill co-founder so far have been content and event production, as well as community building and artist development. I have a good amount of experience with music and video production and marketing, so I really enjoy helping artists build their content library to share, as well as helping them build and identify their artistic identity within Ivy Hill Entertainment. I also love playing host and throwing events, so event production with Ivy Hill has been a blast for me!

It's also been great for me to introduce my existing music and social network into the Ivy Hill Entertainment world. I'm lucky enough to know heaps of wonderful and talented individuals, and it's so rewarding to introduce them to each other, create a sense of community, and watch things grow... and of course I love to play Ivy Hill Entertainment gigs!

What does a week in the life of Jonathan Devoto look like?

Oh boy! One of the best things about my life is that there really is no typical day or week for me. Aside from playing private events and working as a co-founder for Ivy Hill Entertainment, I also run a recording studio where I get to record and produce bands, teach music and career coaching, and play in original music projects (including the Matches from time to time!).

There are periods where recording projects keep me locked in the studio for weeks at a time. Other times I'll find myself spending most of my time prepping for gigs and learning new material for my repertoire. I even get to tour the world every now and again... Things never get repetitive or boring in my life!   

Wow! You do so many different things relating to music - do you have a favorite?

My favorite thing about what I do is the diversity.

What was it that first drew you to music?

I started tap dancing when I was 3 years old (and continued for about 12 years... and recently starting taking tap classes again!). It gave me a really strong percussive sense and comfort on-stage that I am so grateful for. I always saw my mom playing guitar when I was growing up, and knew I wanted to do that someday. I got my first guitar when I was 5.

Obviously The Matches reunion shows have been a big part of this past year for you. How does it feel to be back in that saddle so to speak?

It's ridiculous! Seriously when we went on hiatus back in 2009, we never thought we'd be doing this again. The biggest reason we're doing it again is because we've found that there's still a demand, as there's actually quite a few people who want us to be making music still. It's so rewarding to have that feeling exist after all these years, to know that we touched so many people at that deep of a level. This past year, 2015, we not only got together for some more reunion shows, but actually wrote and recorded two new songs at my studio. Getting back with the guys for writing was so easy and fun - somehow our rapport and dynamic only grew stronger while we were apart. Getting to record, produce, and distribute the songs ourselves, on our own terms, was also really wonderful. Very reminiscent of when we first started being a band, before we got signed, and did practically everything ourselves.

What’s it like playing in The Matches in 2015 vs. 2005?

The best part about coming back to it now is that there's really no pressure and no expectations. We don't have to worry about being a full-time band, selling X amount of records, or selling out shows... And somehow we seem to be selling out more shows now than we ever did back then! Really just doing this very part-times now allows us to still focus on our own lives outside of the Matches, and still develop as individuals, so that there's not all this stress and expectation wound up into being the Matches, so we're all having a lot of fun! There's also a lot of mutual respect among band members that has developed over the years.

What are some other professional highlights from the last year?

2015 was my first year really focusing on playing weddings and private events. It was really rewarding to not only exceed my expectations with the amount and quality of gigs I ended up getting, but to also find myself the co-founder of a company helping other artists build their career doing the same kind of work! Slightly a stretch... but end of 2014 I saw my first label release as a producer/mixer. A solo album I produced for Brent Walsh of I The Mighty was released on Equal Vision Records, along side bands like Say Anything, The Deer Hunter, and Eisley. 2015 was also a year where I started to find ways to structure my time better to allow for things that I'd been slacking on that really bring me enjoyment, like co-writing, practicing guitar just for fun, and spending more time with friends and the great outdoors!

What are you looking forward to in 2016?

Every year I try to refine what I do just a little bit more, and 2016 is no different. I hope to be less scatter-brained, and overall do less things, but do better at the things that I do. This year I'll be doing less recording projects, but really invested in the band I do work with. I hope to play less private event and wedding gigs this year, but to focus more on customizing the events I do play in an effort to really make them special. I look forward to making more time for writing, as well as continuing my personal and music growth... And of course I'm looking forward to the Matches Decomposer 10-year reunion shows!

The Matches "Papercut Skin" off of Decomposer