Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Portland faced with Double Trouble!

Double Trouble besieged another city this past week -- thanks to the brand of musical mischief wrecked by the gorgeous duo, Christopher Dallman and Aiden James.

Here is a review of the Portland gig by Raine!




I had the extreme pleasure of meeting Christopher Dallman at the Alberta Street Pub in Portland, Oregon on Saturday, March 27th.

I will try not to make my review sound like an outright plagiarism of Elizabeth's previous review but other than a few minor differences such as venue and conversation topics my experience was much the same.

From your description the Alberta Street Pub in Portland is very similar to the Skylark Club in Seattle. It’s a very small and intimate venue. As you walk in the door the entrance splits in two directions, to the left is a room where the bar is located and to the right is another room with a tiny stage. Small tables and chairs line the walls and a row of what appear to be church pews line the center of the room. Now these may look like church pews but they are far more comfortable than any church pew I ever sat on as a child.

My son Jim accompanied me to the show and we ran into a spot of bad luck getting there, first we got lost looking for the venue and went about 30 blocks too far and then when we finally found the pub the ticket machine in the paid parking lot jammed and wouldn’t give us our ticket. By the time we made it into the venue Chris was already half way through his set but the moment I walked through the door of the pub and heard Christopher’s sweet voice filling the venue I smiled and turned to Jim and whispered, “That’s Chris.”

Jim told me to go on in while he went back out to my truck and wrote a note for the parking lot vendors explaining that the ticket machine had jammed and that we had indeed paid for our parking.

The first thing I did upon entering was stop at the table that was set up next to the entrance and buy copies of “Race The Light” and “Never Was” which I have been wanting for quite a while. Being in a unfamiliar place all alone with Jim being outside at the truck and the only other living soul in the room I was familiar with was Chris from our online communications through Twitter and Myspace over the past few months I felt a little awkward and uncomfortable so I stood by myself at the back of the room enjoying Christopher’s music and awaiting Jim’s return.

Little did I realize I would have such a long wait. It was taking Jim forever to come back inside and eventually I began to feel even more awkward standing there so I took a seat at the end of the last pew and enjoyed the rest of Christopher’s set. I had no idea what to expect or if I would even get a chance to meet Chris at all but at the end of his set Chris announced that there would be a 10 minute break and then left the stage, he was coming right down the aisle towards me and when he saw me he smiled and stopped and thanked me for coming. I asked him if he knew who I was and he looked a little puzzled until I said, “I’m Raine.” Then his smile widened and he reached out and gave me the most warm and wonderful hug. Just as Elizabeth described in her review, it was much more like being reunited with an old and very dear friend rather than a first time face to face meeting. He thanked me again for coming and I told him I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. After Chris and I parted company I went back outside to find out what was taking Jim so long and found him just finishing up the note for the parking vendor. He explained that he had trouble finding a pen and that was what had taken so long. Jim and I went back into the pub and were about to get our drinks when Chris passed us on his way out the door. He stopped and told us he was stepping out for some fresh air so we said we would join him.

We stood outside the pub and talked about Portland, its weather and inhabitants in comparison to my hometown of Los Angeles and its weather and inhabitants, we also discussed San Francisco and the show he and Aiden had just done there as well as other subjects that were more along the lines of “getting to know you better” type of subjects which I won’t bore you with by going into detail.

Far too soon it was time to go back inside as Aiden’s set was about to begin. Jim and I went to the bar and got our drinks and then returned to the other side of the venue to be blown away by Aiden’s performance. We found a small uninhabited table at the back of the room right in front of the sound booth and sat down. Chris sat at the front of the room at the end of the first pew.

Aiden’s performance was just as wonderful as Christopher’s, his voice just as soulful and mellow, his lyrics meaningful. My favorite song is the unreleased “On My Sleeve” as it struck a chord with me through the songs lyrics and Aiden’s personal description of what inspired the song. Like Aiden explained about himself, I too tend to wear my heart on my sleeve and just as he described it is one of my greatest attributes as well as one my biggest flaws so this song struck deep with me.

Although Aiden seems a quieter and a bit more reserved than Chris, although this could have just been due to the fact that Aiden and I have had no previous contact online so to him I was a complete stranger, nonetheless Aiden has a charming wit and sense of humor. When he wasn’t wowing the audience with his music he had the entire room cracking up with his wit and humor.

Okay, now back to the music. As I already stated Aiden’s voice is just as soulful and mellow as Christopher’s, they compliment each other so well and when they both take the stage and sing together it is purely magical. I would love to see these two amazing artists and friends collaborate on a project together, I’m certain it would be absolutely incredible! (“hint, hint to Chris and Aiden.”)

Funny story time; at one point during Aiden’s set the natural born klutz in me decided to rear its ugly head and I tripped over a table and knocked a (thankfully capped) bottle of water on the floor right in front of Chris! Oh my God! How embarrassing is that?! I just did what I always do in embarrassing situations and laughed it off. I mean, what else can you do other than take it with a grain of humor and move on? It’s not like life gives you an instant “do over” though sometimes I certainly wish it did. So I leaned over to Chris and joked, “That’s pretty bad for someone who’s only had one beer.” Chris immediately put me at ease and although I still felt embarrassed for the disruption during Aiden’s set, I didn’t feel nearly as foolish. (“Please forgive me for the disruption during your set Aiden you were truly wonderful Saturday night.”)

After the show Chris and Aiden were both standing at the back of the room meeting fans and signing their CD’s for people. Jim and I made our way over and I bought both of Aiden’s CD’s “On the Run” and “Aiden James, Live at Tin Angel” because after hearing Aiden’s music he just acquired two new fans in the form of Jim and I. Chris and Aiden both signed their CD’s and then Jim and I escaped the crowd and stepped outside to give others a chance to meet and talk to these two very charming and extremely gifted artists.

While Jim and I were standing outside the pub talking about what we were going to do now that the gig was over Chris came out with his equipment to load it into his car, Jim asked if he could help Chris carry anything but Chris said he had everything alright and that his car was close which to my surprise was parked just a few feet from where Jim and I were standing. Chris loaded his equipment into the trunk and then stepped over to talk to us for a few more minutes before we left. Once again he thanked us for being there and again I told him I wouldn’t have missed it. We gave him our best wishes and a small gift we had brought for him, we said our goodbyes and he gave me another one of his warm and genuine hugs and then gave Jim a hug as well.

I feel like the English language is inadequate to fully describe just how warm, friendly, genuine as well as incredibly talented Christopher Dallman is, he is truly an incredible and amazing artist and a genuinely warm and wonderful human being and I feel sincerely fortunate for having the honor and pleasure of having met him. Portland loves you Chris! Come back again soon!

Note: Pics by Bounmy Sayasane

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Double Trouble, Double Fun!


Having already made the acquaintance of Christopher Dallman and Aiden James in the virtual world, I thought before attending their show at the Skylark Club and Café in West Seattle on Sunday night that I was going to be in for a mellow, entertaining evening featuring two guys and their guitars. I wasn’t prepared for such energetic and brilliantly charged performances!

Unfamiliar with the Skylark Club, I had heard that it was your typical divey Seattle music joint and not to expect much. Of course, the individual who told me this has previously performed at Benaroya Hall and The Triple Door; we’ll forgive him if his thinking was a little skewed! As it turned out, the Skylark is a cool, hipster - albeit small - venue that affords an intimate and personal setting with the musicians who grace the tiny stage. Save for the creepy Addams Family-style portrait on the side of the stage with eyes that seemed to penetrate through the darkest of souls, the Skylark is a great venue and served these songsters well on the final stop of their Double Trouble Tour.

Once my eyes adjusted to the dimly lit space, I scanned the room for my friends. Spotting them at the bar, I walked toward the front of the room only to look up and see the lithe frame of Chris walking towards me with a contagious grin spread across his face and arms open wide for a hug. Even though we only know each other from online communiqués, I instantly felt like I was reuniting with a long lost friend. Every bit as warm and open as his online persona, Chris is a truly affable soul.

After the friendly greeting, he quickly hurried off to tend to final preparations before taking the stage and I sat down next to my friends at the bar, with Aiden James on the other side of me. Aiden was on the phone when I arrived and beat a courtesy retreat to the back of the room when it was time for the spotlight to be on Chris, so I wasn’t able to say Hi to him right away. Within a few moments, the opening chords of ‘Count the Shadows” filled the small space as Chris opened his set. I am most familiar with his last two albums Never Was and Sad Britney, and had not heard many of the tracks from his freshman offering Race the Light. I was glad his set included older and newer compositions as it allowed me to get a full appreciation of the long journey he has made to that small stage in West Seattle.



In addition to familiar tracks such as “A Little Bit of Blue” (on which he was accompanied by Aiden in a synchronous harmony that belied their still fresh collaboration), “Motel Room”, “Subterranean” and “Over My Head”, the audience was treated to a couple covers of Prince’s “When You Were Mine” (or Cyndi Lauper depending on which decade you were born in!) and Madonna’s “Borderline”. The inspired “Anthem”, written by Chris the day after Prop 8 passed in California, transformed Chris into a modern-day folk singer.

During the Intermission, I had an opportunity to chat with Chris. A naturally friendly, outgoing guy he’s easily approachable and comfortable to be around. Taking a break from the club and getting a breath of fresh air, we chatted like old friends trading notes about life in L.A. and life in Seattle.

His cohort and partner-in-crime for the Double Trouble Tour, Aiden James is just as friendly and easy-going, if more serious and – well, for lack of a better term – moody. But not in that annoying kind of way that makes you want to roll your eyes and slap him up the side of the head. As I have gotten older, I’ve noticed more and more that the things I observe first in others are usually those things that I know to be true about myself but may not necessarily let me them be known right away for fear of appearing vulnerable. It was that vulnerability that I sensed in Aiden almost immediately from the moment I first saw him, sequestered at the end of the bar, deep in conversation on the phone. I could immediately tell that he was a serious person –serious about his craft, passionate about his life’s path; someone who channels his passion into a creative outlet, beautiful music being the output of those efforts. A man with a dream he so desperately wants to realize and in Aiden’s case, he is savvy and motivated enough to make it happen.

To be true, I’ve not taken the time to listen to Aiden’s music as much as I have to Chris. This is in no way a reflection of Aiden. It’s my failing – and my loss - for not making the time. I have heard his track “On the Run” off the album of the same name, and seen the accompanying video, but hearing it live is so much better than through my ear buds or factory stock computer speakers.

As Aiden made his way through his set, I felt connected to him through his soulful, heartfelt lyrics that were so very real they were palpable. Like Chris, he stopped between songs to tell the stories that inspired the tunes, relating life lessons learned throughout his 27 years. It’s always fascinating to hear the stories that inspired the lyrics. “Mifflin Country”, “You and He” and the unreleased “On My Sleeve” created a nexus with the audience that will last long after Aiden returns to his hometown of Philadelphia. His medley homage – humorous and respectful - to Lady Gaga was met with glee from the audience and left people wanting more.

As a writer, I take much inspiration from those who expend a lot of energy creating and putting their wares out there to be listened to and judged by the critical masses. Christopher Dallman and Aiden James are the next generation of indie musicians. They are musical orators who are telling their stories and sharing their journey along the way with those that will stop and listen. For myself, this show was one that will stick out in my mind. I hope that the next time I see them live will come much sooner, rather than later.

Note: Pics by Bounmy Sayasane

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Double-Trouble in San Francisco!

Our bbs, Christopher Dallman and Aiden James kicked off their "Double Trouble Tour" really mischeviously on 23rd March in LA this week.

They then drove northward bound to San Francisco for their 2nd concert date on 25th March.

@calowder (Cheryl) had the pleasure of meeting the two guys at the Dolores Street Cafe performance. Here is her review!




"I had the good fortune to hear Christopher Dallman and Aiden James play their second show for their Double Trouble Tour at the Dolores Street Cafe in San Francisco on Thursday night March 25, 2010.

The Dolores Street Cafe is a beautiful, small cafe right on the edge of Dolores Park. When we arrived, it was still light out and there were a lot of people out enjoying the park. I was greeted by Christopher and Aiden doing their sound check. They were both well prepared and very professional.

Christopher did the first part of the show, with a set of songs from both his albums, plus one from his "Sad Britney" set of Britney Spears covers that is very popular on iTunes. His songs are actually even more powerful in a live show than in his recordings -- the recordings really don't capture the full dynamic range of his great voice and his guitar playing. One of the really nice things about Chris is his very versatile and accomplished guitar technique. He plays a range of guitar styles, from very rhythmic rock to gentle acoustic fingerstyle, and all of them done extremely well! His stories were personal and heartfelt and really added to the performance.

Aiden played the second set. He has a deep, very mellow voice that lends itself extremely well to the songs he has written. Between the songs, he told quite a few great stories. Besides his own compositions, he performed a really great medley of Lady Gaga songs, in his own unique style!

Aiden and Christopher obviously get along extremely well, and one of the great things about the show was that each of them sang on one or two songs in the other's set. The harmony singing really added to several of the songs. They both obviously feel the music deeply and their stories and reflections made the music even more enjoyable.

Finally, as a fan of each of them, I was deeply appreciative of the way that they made sure to make contact with the audience before, during intermission and after the show. I had let them know I was coming and they made me feel very welcome. Christopher was very gracious when I relayed messages from several faraway fans and gave me messages (and hugs) to send back to them. I hope I get the opportunity to see each of them live again. I can honestly say that I am even more a fan of Christopher Dallman that I was before I heard this amazing performance!

Please click to see some photos from the performance here! "

Thanks, Cheryl! (And for getting me that Christopher-hug too! ;) )

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Video: This is Calm by Christopher Dallman

Did you know? Christopher Dallman and Kevin R. Thompson also produced a video to Christopher`s song "This is Calm" from his album "Race the Light". Enjoy..

This is Calm from Kevin Thompson on Vimeo.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Get To Know Kevin R Thompson



In connection to the exciting release of Chris Dallman's "Ghosts" video, we would like to introduce you to Kevin Remón Thompson - the music director of the video.


If you are not already aware, Kevin has previously directed two Chris' music videos - namely "Over My Head" and "This is Calm".

Like a curious child, we got to know Kevin a little more by asking him about his work and how he got to know Chris Dallman.

CDC: When did you first realize that you were meant to be a film-maker?

I've always enjoyed creative work, whether it was writing or music, but I never thought I could do something like that as a living. But when I lived in New York, circumstances conspired to introduce me to film-making in a very concrete way. A friend wrote a script and my roommate was a filmmaker, so we put this thing together. It was a pretty flawed piece of work, but I immediately felt so attracted to the combination of creativity, organization and spontaneity that goes into making a film. So I decided I had to do it.

A few years later I was in LA in the graduate production program at USC. I don't know if there was something specific that made me realize that I was meant to be a filmmaker, but I do know that whatever doubts I have about my career get erased when I make something. I love the process so much, even the tedious parts, that I know it's a really good fit for me.

CDC: How many different countries have you lived in? Have your experiences living abroad influenced your film-making in any way?

I've lived in 3 different countries (not including the U.S.) and visited a bunch of others. I lived in Rome for a year when I was 12, and I spent a year in Madrid before going to film school. I also spent an amazing 4 weeks in Amman, Jordan, in 2006 teaching at a Digital Film-making workshop. Obviously, this last journey was the most specifically related to film-making, because I was in a film school-type environment. More than anything, the time in Amman re-energized my love of film-making because I got to be with these kids who had minimal film knowledge, but tons of passion and good will. It was inspiring.

The year I spent in Rome when I was 12, though, is probably the most singularly influential event in my life. My parents thought it would be beneficial to toss me into an Italian public school instead of one of these Americans abroad foreign schools. The first day in that place was the scariest day of my life. But boy, did it teach me how to confront fears, take a deep breath and jump in.

To be honest, I don't remember much about the first month. My concrete memories start later, when I was already speaking Italian fluently and hanging out with my friends. I'm sure it was an amazing thing for my parents to watch. I think throwing myself into that uncertainty primed me for making more of those kinds of choices in life, including the decision to pursue film-making as a career.

CDC: What kind of stories are you particularly interesting in telling?

This is such a hard question because it forces you to step outside yourself for some analysis. It would be facetious of me to say I'm interested in telling the stories that come to me, except for that fact that that's the best way I know how to describe what moves me. A lot of my inspiration comes for little moments in life that just catch my attention for some reason. I think I'm given to melodrama and tragedy, which sometimes bothers me because I enjoy comedy so much. I've been trying to take stories less seriously these days. It's always so valuable to find the comedy in any moment, even when it's a serious or tragic one.

CDC: Is there someone who continually inspires you to push that notch a little higher with regards to your work?

I've been pushed by so many different people that it's hard to single one out. The question, though, makes me think of the moments during the film-making process when I feel like I might be satisfied, and then I decide that it's not enough and that I need to push myself further. That's usually the way it works, but I'd say if I had to pick someone it would be my wife, Alice. She has a way of motivating me without me realizing it. It's a very nice kind of motivation because it makes me feel like I was the one who pushed myself.

CDC: "The Orchard" looked like a very pretty movie. Where was it actually filmed, and were there any interesting on-set stories that arose from the filming?

We looked all over Southern California, searching for a place that would authentically portray rural Andalusia. Having spent considerable time in Spain, I knew what I was looking for, and it was hard. We drove all around and ended up finding this wonderful old Spanish mission in Lompoc, CA. It was amazingly well preserved and I knew that we have found our spot.

The Orchard trailer from Kevin Thompson on Vimeo.


CDC: Was there a tricky or difficult scene to shoot for "The Orchard"?

Some of the scenes were difficult because they weren't working well on camera, and those ended up getting cut out of the film. But I'd say that the most difficult scene was the bedroom scene between Joshua Pohja and Joseph Lemieux. The scene was difficult in a good way, in that it was challenging both for me as well as the actors. I relied heavily on them and their faith in the project to really achieve the authenticity of that scene. We did a lot of takes, and I never felt like they were giving anything less than their all.

CDC: Pls share with us on how you got to know Chris Dallman?

I met Chris through one of his best friends, who happens to be my wife's cousin. I actually worked with Josh Pohja, Chris' husband, first on a film school project. But I knew Chris was a musician and the first time I heard him perform live I was blown away by the power of his presence. I knew he was someone I wanted to work with, and it was such a wonderful bonus that he's such a fun person to hang out with.

CDC: How did the concept of Chris Dallman's "Ghosts" music video come about?

Chris came to me with the idea of doing a video in black and white for "Ghosts". I instantly felt the connection with that particular song. Something about the abstract feel of black and white fit the music, especially since neither Chris nor I wanted to do anything literal. After that, we bounced ideas around and I went through my usual process of listening to the song over and over and jotting down images and ideas. The use of silhouettes and extras and even the 2.35:1 aspect ratio of the video all came so naturally from listening to the song, that I knew they would work really well.

CDC: Were there any special considerations that you had to take while filming this music video?

I knew I wanted to composite multiple shots together, so we had to make sure in the silhouette section, for example, that Chris didn't overlap his three different positions. That was challenging because I had to estimate where he would be in the other positions. Also, the shot with the extras working in fast motion while Chris was singing at normal speed had to be carefully set up so they didn't cross behind Chris. I had to put down a piece of tape so they would know where to stop. You can see it in the video, running across the floor.

CDC: Did the finished product for the "Ghosts" video differ from the original concept in any way?

So often my projects end up looking different than I originally imagined. Most of the time, though, the feel of them is consistent. The "Ghosts" video was the first project where the final product looked and felt almost exactly how I envisioned it. I knew it would be this way as soon as I started looking at the footage. The editing was quick and easy because the pieces just fit together so well.

CDC: Are there talks between you and Chris Dallman for another music video?

We haven't spoken specifically about any new projects, although we did toss some ideas around for a simple video for "Anthem". I think I'll always be ready to make a Chris Dallman video. I respond so strongly to his work, and so the ideas for videos come easily. I'm looking forward to our next project, whatever it may be.

CDC: What other projects are you working on currently? Tell us a little about them.

I just finished another music video for my good friend Sandeep Bhatt (http://www.soulwideworld.com/), where we built the interior of a spaceship inside my garage. Sandeep's music is this cool blend of funk/soul, electronica, and his own unique mix of influences. It's coming out soon and I'm very excited about it.

I was also one of the producers on this really nice short, "A Crossroad Called Manzanar", (http://www.manzanarfilm.com/) written by Alice Kim and Cindy Fang and directed by Cindy. It centers around the friendship between a Chinese-American girl and a Japanese-American girl during WWII, at the time of the Japanese internment. It's also coming out soon.

Thanks, Kevin -- for taking the time to answer our questions!

You can find out more about Kevin R Thompson and his various interesting projects at his website - http://www.kevinremonthompson.com/

(@syzzlyn for the CDC)

Monday, March 1, 2010

Exclusive: Interview with Christopher Dallman about his new video "Ghosts"

Today Christopher Dallman releases his new video for his song “Ghosts” from the EP “Never Was” (watch it here). We sent him a few questions around the production of the video and Christopher was kind enough to answer them although he is pretty busy with preparations for his upcoming Double Trouble Tour with Aiden James.
Make sure to check back this site tomorrow and on Wednesday for more interesting stuff :-).

CDC: "Why did you choose to do a video clip specifically for Ghosts?"

'Ghosts' is my favorite song on NEVER WAS. Plain and simple. I don't get tired of listening to it and I can't really say that for almost any of my other tunes. And while it's dark, I think it's the catchiest and most immediate song on NEVER WAS.

CDC: "Can you tell us a little bit about the concept? Who is the director?"

The director of the video is Kevin Thompson. Kevin and I have been friends for about 6 years and we've now made 3 videos together. I'm really comfortable with him and comfort is essential whenever there is a camera involved.
We decided right away that to tell a literal story in the video would be too much. The song is intensely emotional and to recreate any of the concrete images of the lyrics would probably go over the top. The concept was really to create a vibe and mood that supports or complements the emotional journey of the song.

CDC: "We know you did a little casting for the video. Have you ever done this before? How many people showed up and what were you looking for?"

Casting the video was really strange. I had never done anything like it before and I had no idea what I was looking for. In true CJD form, I waited until the last minute, so I didn't have the chance to meet any of them in advance... I just cast them from their pictures. Ultimately, I got 7 interesting faces and it was the right 7. When they first arrived onset, they were all really shy. Frankly, I was too! But they bonded really quickly and seemed to have a great time on the shoot. I hope they like the video.

CDC: "Are you satisfied with the outcome?"

I really am. I think the video finds and illustrates the uplifting side of the song. I think the images are strong. I like the way the guitar is captured. I like that unlike most music videos that are made now, most of the edits are not crazy quick like a video game, so the emotion comes from the performances that the space allows.
And I'm just really proud of Kevin. It's been so cool to work with him several times over the last few years and watch him keep getting better and better at his craft.

When I first met with him about doing this song, the only thing that I said was that I wanted it to be in black and white. He really created the rest and each time I watch it, I find a little bit more. And I love that it's so different from the other video we did together.

CDC: "Did anything funny or strange happen during the video shoot?"

The shoot itself was short and smooth. But it was raining like crazy that weekend. Rare for Los Angeles. I think it helped. We were all damp and cold in our bones!

CDC: "Where can we watch your new clip?"

It will be on my website (chrisdallman.com / cjdmusic.com) and also on my YouTube page (www.youtube.com/cjdallman)

CDC: "Are you going to do another video clip?"

Right now, I have plans to do a video for 'Gimme More' from SAD BRITNEY with a director named Derek Woods. It's still in the pre-production stage but I'm pretty excited about it. It's a really cool idea with some really amazing visuals. I don't want to say any more. You're gonna have to wait to see it.

CDC: "Again - thank you very much, Chris, for taking the time to answer our questions. We really appreciate it. Now everybody go and watch his new video. Spread the word!"