Tuesday, April 20, 2010


You may very well have seen this coming. Then again, maybe not. In the 2009 Year In Review, I discussed the tough year One Note Ahead had, explaining that after reaching a peak of popularity in 2008, ONA slipped in '09 -- and powerful forces seemed to be working against it. But I ended by saying, "As long as people are reading and I have the time, I'll keep ONA going."

About that....

Since last July, I've been trying various methods of attracting and maintaining interest and visibility, and I've been paying close attention to the results. There have been some signs of promise here and there, but it seems that overall, the long-term trend has been a definite decline in both interest and visibility. Readership was not the only key component of this blog to suffer. There have also been too many instances in which I haven't even been able to find new artists to write about -- and too many instances in which it no longer made sense to write about the same artists, either because getting reviewed on ONA no longer mattered to their careers or because my relationships with those artists had reached a point where writing about them would not have been appropriate.

As for time, well, I'm not so sure I have it anymore. Posting on ONA has become a chore: "SJ, remember to put something up on One Note Ahead this month," operating on the premise that posting at least once a month would help to keep readers on board. But since the end of last year, my work as a music publicist has reached exciting, and sometimes exhausting, new levels, and posts on ONA have become rather perfunctory: "Okay, let me just review this so I can get back to work." I truly feel that the quality of my posts has suffered this year, both because of the time factor and the shortage of artists to write about. The new "Top 5 of the Moment" series does not represent the kind of blog One Note Ahead should be.

So after three years and seven months, I am ending One Note Ahead while it still has some dignity. It will remain online for now. You can take this time to look through posts you might have missed. Most of them are good or even great -- and even the ones I'm not proud of are still not bad!

I'd like to take a moment to spotlight the artists who, when all was said and done, gave One Note Ahead its own special character. Not the artists I wrote about once or twice and never mentioned again, talented though they all were, and not the classic artists who have received plenty of coverage elsewhere. I'm talking about the contemporary artists who made a lasting impression to the end of the blog's lifespan and whose music really represents what One Note Ahead did best: championing, often pioneering, great new sounds from artists who lived outside of the proverbial box. In order according to their first ONA appearances, they are:

Matt Duke

SuperJimenez (R.I.P. -- "Rock In Perpetuity," as Artie Wayne would say)

Andrew Lipke

Laura Cheadle

Downtown Harvest

The Swimmers

The Idles

Jim Boggia

Nicole Atkins

Ingrid Michaelson

Jake Snider (don't forget to support him in the College Battle of the Bands!)

April Smith

The Guggenheim Grotto (new song just released: http://www.guggenheimgrotto.com/wisdom/)

Tim McGlone

Diane Birch

Sarah Borges and the Broken Singles

Sharon Little

The Bacon Brothers

Panic Years

Honorable mention to these artists who might've become ONA essentials if they'd only had time:

Butterfly Boucher

Reality Stricken (now known as The Escape)

Tippy Canoe

Chris Bruni

In truth, I must thank all of the artists I've ever covered in any way here because they all gave me something to write about. And I sincerely thank you, the readers, for being an audience and for giving me feedback and support through the years. One Note Ahead has been a pretty amazing journey in itself, but now it is time to travel new roads. Happy trails to you, until we meet again.

Oh, and....rock on!

Copyright © 2010 S.J. Dibai. All rights reserved.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Top 5 of the Moment - 4/17/10

I was not expecting to do a second installment in this new series so soon after the first, but hey, the times call for it!

1. Jake Snider heading towards the big time?

I told you in January that our buddy Jake Snider is in college in NYC but still comes back home to the Philly area when he gets a chance. That's all still true, but what's also true is that out of thousands of submissions, Jake Snider will be one of a mere three acts representing the New York area in the College Battle of the Bands -- sponsored by AT&T and Gibson! The NY battle happens on the 29th; the winner goes on to the North Semi-Finals in May, whose winner plays the Grand Finale in Las Vegas in June! BUT if you know anything about Battles of the Bands, you know that you need to help the artist advance. In this case, you can go vote for Jake and rate his ONA-favored track "All You Need" here: http://www.collegebattleofthebands.com/Jake_Snider/

More info is available on that page as well.

2. Thom McCarthy

Quickly becoming a celebrity on the Philly music scene, this guy is not your average singer/songwriter. Proof? His brand-new EP is called I Lost Half My Album & My Favorite Hat in the '92 Flood. It's like someone mixed folk, soul, and showtunes that are not at all ready for Broadway but will be appreciated someday by future generations. Except these tunes are being appreciated NOW by a growing number of Philly music fans, as demonstrated by the crowd's raucous singing along at Thom's EP release earlier this month. Yeah, I was there, wailing right along with everyone else, and you might be doing the same thing if you ever make it to one of his shows. Just don't talk loudly while he's playing....he doesn't like that.


3. Dani Mari

If you read One Note Ahead enough, you know how I feel about Jersey Girls. Especially Jersey Girls who can sing. For about three years, I've watched and listened as this Jersey Girl shared her fascinating songcraft and developed into a hell of a singer, bringing an endearing quirky jazz slant to her pop-sensible folk-rock. And she always seems to be organizing events or hosting Open Mic's, so if you're trying to avoid her....good luck. She's got a big music video and an album in the pipeline, but meanwhile, enjoy the catchy and haunting single "Vampire," which you can find on iTunes.


4. So you wanna make money in the music business?

World Cafe sent this out through Facebook yesterday. Some artists say they make more money from selling CDs at shows than they do from online record sales, but I never realized just how true that could be: http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2010/04/chart-of-the-day-4.html#more

5. The mysterious Mr. Gibson revealed!

I started with a Battle of the Bands sponsored by Gibson, so I'll end with a musician named Gibson. Years ago, I picked up an oldies CD of questionable legitimacy which contained a mysterious instrumental entitled "Midnight," the artist identified as "Johnny Gibson." I had no idea who he was, but the instrumental, fast-paced beat and dramatic orchestration aside, was simple, basic rhythm & blues. Or so I thought until I tried to play it by ear and realized it was a lot more complex than it seemed. But who was Johnny Gibson? All I could find was that he was an R&B pianist and that "Midnight" was a minor hit in 1962. And I couldn't find a clean copy of that track to save my life.

Well, there is a clean copy available on iTunes now, on Twirl Records Story Volume 3. (There is also an entire Johnny Gibson comp on iTunes, but "Midnight" is a scratchy vinyl dub on that one.) And there is now a bio of Johnny Gibson which has me intrigued enough to want to check out his other recordings.

Here's "Midnight" for the uninitiated:

And here is the informative bio: http://home.comcast.net/~twirlrecords/johnnygibson.html

And that's my Top 5 of the Moment!

Text copyright © 2010 S.J. Dibai. All rights reserved.