Benjamin Lyons ’81, who runs the independent label Valid Records, was recently interviewed by Dan Godston at Examiner.com. Lyons talks about his early musical influences while growing up in Pennsylvania, his thoughts on the music scene in New Orleans, and running the record label.
Valid Records is dedicated to presenting the creative possibilities of the New Orleans music scene and has released recordings by artists such as Rob Wagner, Jonathan Freilich, and Hamid Drake.
The following is an excerpt from the interview:
Dan Godston: How did you get the idea to start Valid Records?
Benjamin Lyons: By the late ’90s, I was immersed in the “creative” or “free” music scenes in Chicago and New York. I started to make annual trips to the Chicago Jazz Festival and the Vision Festival in New York. I realized that among my friends there were some young talents with just as much to offer the world as many of the minor “names” I would hear elsewhere, but as long as they were stuck in New Orleans without exposure in the world, they would stagnate. My rather naïve idea was to help them get their work out. Also, I was interested in creating a higher standard of recording than most musicians I know were inclined to create on their own, either because of lack of funds or indifference to the recording process.
Sarah Dashew ’94 has released her second album, Where I Belong (Whistlefoot Records), a 10-track set which deals with the themes of love, place, and belonging. The title track is a light, sweet love song with a spirited horn solo that sets an upbeat tone for the rest of the album. In addition to writing and performing song, Dashew also co-produced the project with Los Angeles-based producer Eric Peterson.
Drawing upon influences as diverse as James Taylor and Prince, her unique style mixes elements of folk, pop, country and soul. She grew up sailing the high seas with her family (her dad is a boat designer), listening to the music by Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, The Beatles, Van Morrison, and Janis Joplin— references recognizable in Dashew’s work today.
Singer and songwriter Chris Pureka ’01 has released her third album, How I Learned to See in the Dark (Sad Rabbit). The musician usually performs solo, but she is currently on tour for the first time with a three-piece band, including an electric guitarist, a fiddle player, and a drummer.
“With its cryptic, sometimes ominous lyrics and dense arrangements, Dark goes beyond the stripped-down Americana sound that Pureka fans are familiar with. … Creating the layered, offbeat arrangements on “Dark” took Pureka nearly a year to complete.”
In the article, Pureka admits: “It was the hardest thing