Bergstrom Blogs on Music











Last Friday, I decided to record some of the songs I did for karaoke at El Charrito’s located at 21st and Larimer in Denver, Colorado hosted by Cracker Studios with DJ Rytz. One of the neat features about smartphones is they prop up pretty well against the karaoke monitor. I did three songs, “Under the Bridge” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, “Zoot Suit Riot” by Cherry Poppin’ Daddies and “Angel” by Shaggy featuring Rayvon. The clip of “Under the Bridge” had some kind of issue with the video moving out of sync with the audio, but “Zoot Suit Riot” and “Angel” turned out well.

 

The audio turned out pretty well for this, though as my brother said, I sound better “live”. When I do this song, it’s funny to see the audience react because it’s a duet that I sing solo and being a pudgy Caucasian, people don’t think I can pull it off. How stereotypical!  Usually my performance is pretty memorable since I’ll return to karaoke venues I haven’t gone to in a year and the Karaoke DJ will remember me as “That Angel Guy”.

I ended up having a full dance floor and though I felt I did it well, I also know I’ve done it better. Still, I got a nice round of applause and quite a few high fives and comments afterwards so it’s nice to know not only I, but the bar had fun.

I’ll be at El Charrito’s again tonight at 21st and Larimer in Denver, Colorado tonight for Cracker Studios with DJ Rytz. $2 PBRs and $4 car bombs as an added incentive! I’m also bringing a friend so it’ll be a good chance to perform a “real” duet. Feel free to swing on by and say hi!



{September 30, 2011}   Seven Karaoke Tips for New Singers

As you might (or might not know), I am a karaoke buff. It started with church choir and cartoon songs and I, on and off, have been singing since. I’ll admit, I know just enough about singing to know I’m not a great singer. I also know I’d rather try singing a song than listening to some retreaded “live DJ” music.

But hey, the point of karaoke is not necessarily to be a great singer. The point is to have fun! I’ve been singing karaoke since I hit 21, so at 35 years old, I’ve got a bit of experience across different states. I’ll even humbly admit I’ve showed (as opposed to won or placed) in some competitions. Does that make me an authority on karaoke? Hell, probably not, but it’s my music/karaoke blog so perhaps a few of my tips might help newer singers out a bit.

#1 Save your experimental songs for the beginning of the night and your slow songs for the end of the night. – Karaoke takes awhile to speed up and generally, people want to slow down at the end of the night. Save the songs you are “learning” for early in the night when there are just three or four singers and use it as an opportunity to practice. Singing “Hurt” by Johnny Cash between two dance songs just doesn’t have the same effect as singing it before “last call”. Your karaoke KJ will thank you.

#2 Get to know your Karaoke KJ. – Buy your KJ a shot, give him or her a tip, be open to changing your song if it seems like your song doesn’t fit the mood. Tell your KJ when you leave so they can pull you out of the rotation. A good KJ won’t skip you for the five hot blondes who have already sung ten times tonight, but if a KJ knows who you are, they won’t skip you if you’re in the bathroom or out of the line of sight. They’ll also bump you up (if they can) if you want to sing one more song before you leave.

#3 Get to know who is singing in front of you. – You don’t have to walk up and say “hi”, but knowing who is in front of you is a good way to gauge when you will be up.. and saves you from pestering the KJ.

#4 Don’t sing the same song week after week after week after week… – It’s good to have a “regular” rotation of songs you like to do that the crowd responds to, but you have to change it up on occasion. Besides, learning to sing other songs can give you new techniques (or other new songs) to try out.

#5 Compliment other singers. – Clap when they get done. For those that stand out, shake their hand or clap them on the back or buy them a drink. Some people, no matter how well they sing, like to know if they’ve done well. It’s also a good way to get to know who sings what so that you don’t accidentally sing a song that someone else “owns”.

#6 Don’t get upset if someone sings “your song”. You have less of a claim to a song in your “rotation” than the original singer. Don’t get possessive if someone already sang “Picture” or “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”. Use it as a chance to try something new and not as an excuse to pick a fight or otherwise ruin your night.

#7 Put on a show! – Be a performer and be a bit professional about it. Look like you are enjoying yourself, have fun, dance a bit on stage. People are more likely to enjoy your singing if you look like you’re enjoying yourself. _Always_ finish your song even if you have to laugh along in order to do it.

Hope you enjoyed the list! I’ll be at El Charrito’s at 21st and Larimer in Denver, Colorado tonight for Cracker Studios with DJ Rytz. $2 PBRs and $4 car bombs. Come say hi!



“Old” Game Music You Missed

Ok, so I’m a older guy. That means I grew up on older games and older music. Yep, the Apple II where every time you entered a dungeon, you swapped something called “floppy disks” and hoped you beat the game before the disks themselves wore out. 

With some of those games, like the Ultima series and Wizardry, there was a lot of wandering. Press a key, move a space. Press a key, move another space. Then the Apple IIe came out and holding down a key actually let you zoom to the end of the map, provided you didn’t run into any monsters or mountains or walls along the way. Needless to say, with all the wandering, I got to be a fan of the music. And hey, the stories behind the older Ultima games are my favorite and each of the games took many hours, twists and turns to complete.

In addition, by the time Ultima V came around, you actually had to “learn music”. There was a Non-Player Character who taught you how to play “Stones”. Not with some autodump, “Hey I have a neat new item in my inventory” thing, but over a two page “lesson” of instruction and testing where you used the number keys to type notes into your keyboard. It seemed like an inconsequential little element to the game though there were pianos scattered all across the realm, so if I was waiting for something to happen (since guards and various other characters moved around the town working, sleeping, eating or just hiding). Then, it turned out that half a continent away in the missing liege Lord British’s chamber, playing “Stones” gave you items you needed to complete the game.

Darkstone can be likened to Diablo 1.5. Put out by Delphine Software, it featured a multiplayer element and a randomized quest engine so no two games were exactly alike. My favorite feature, though, was a bard named Audren who sat in the town square. If you threw a gold coin in her bowl, the view would swivel around her as she sung a song. As an extra kicker, once you beat the game, you got to see the “music videos” with the band dressed up as their in-game characters.

Bubble Bobble was an old arcade game that got ported over to the NES. At the time, I found the music so addicting that I would often turn on the game and leave it on the intro screen just so I could hear the music while I slept. I guess I’m not the only one who liked the music since there are some remixes available online and on iTunes. The game itself was very fun too.

Finally, for a trip down my memory lane, here are a few more classic video game songs arranged and sung acapella by the University of Wisconsin’s choir.

I hope you enjoyed this little trip through the music archives, either as a fan growing up to this music or as an idea on the kinds of catchy tunes you can write without GarageBand on the iPad.



Last night at The Marquis Theater in Denver, Colorado there was a good turnout at the Illuminate Masquerade to benefit autistic children. The street was blocked off for Oktoberfest (though it’s still September) so there was a lot of mingling involved with the comings and goings. Part of the mingling involved people telling their incoming friends where to avoid the barricades and where to park for less than $20. I also had a Twilight Zone moment when I stepped out of the Marquis Theater between sets for a cigarette and heard a folk group on a stage set up on Larimer street playing one of the German songs after the “That’s Oskar Schindler” scene in Schindler’s List. Nonetheless, the Illuminate Masquerade was a lot of fun with some neat costumes, more than a fair share of masks on top of some great music.

On a personal note, because of the aforementioned barricades and a general “delay of game” on Friday, I unfortunately missed Inoculate’s performance but I heard from one of my friends that they were impressed.

Here are some of the photos I took last night.

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Roniit was the first band I was able to see on stage. She has a great voice and I don’t think I’ve listened to much “Dark Electro Pop” as the genre is called, so it was a nice introduction not only to that style, but to the night’s music for me.

 

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 Blue Helix, hailing from Seattle, had a rocking performance. As an extra kicker, the lead singer Sam Chohfi is Tiffany Chohfi of The Silent Still’s brother and joined him on stage for a song. Wish one of my pictures of that had turned out, but something tells me that Blue Helix will be back in town again…

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The Silent Still were awesome on stage and by far, it was my favorite show of the three times I had seen them. They’re focusing on quality over quantity and plan on having another show in a few months as they work on their album and music video.

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Here’s a shot of Draven Grey pounding some ivory. Well, they’re probably plastic keys, but you get the idea.

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Last, but not least because that’s what headliners do, was Glass Delirium. They kept the place jumping and dancing and, as an added treat, special guest singer Tony Hamilton from Nemesys, another Denver band joined them on stage for some extra oomph. Oh but where’s Scott Uhl, you might ask? He’s in the back near Tiffany Chohfi who hopped on stage for a third round.

Just to prove he was, in fact, there, I’ve included an obligatory shot of Scott Uhl from Glass Delirium “in the zone” sans face. Trust me, it’s him. He even said one of the passwords: Killer Koolaid.

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All in all, it was a great time for a cool cause. To close my recap of this event, I’ll include my favorite “photo” of the night. Though I’m far from an expert smartphone shooter, I really like the way the lighting came out in this one. Once again, The Silent Still

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Next up for me? Going to see Eldorin tonight with violinist Josh Lee at The Soiled Dove Underground.

Sunday, Candlebox at the Bluebird just to bring things full circle (a story for another day)… then October 6th, Royal Bliss in Colorado Springs! Yep, down in the Springs, much closer drive than Utah (though both drives are worth it).

Expect a sprinkling of karaoke posts (and maybe a video or two?) as well next weekend!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this coverage of the Illuminate Masqurade even at the Marquis Theater. If you are interested in helping out autistic children, please take a second to look at giveautism.com.

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{September 23, 2011}   Glass Delirium – Denver Music Band

 
Headlining the “Illuminate-Masquerade” on September 23rd, 2011 at the The Marquis Theater is Glass Delirium. They are a progressive, hard rock band composed of dual male and female lead vocals, guitar and keyboards sharing the rhythm and lead, a solid and driving rhythm section, and the use of other eclectic instruments. Accompanying for Glass Delirium are Inoculate, Roniit, The Silent Still and Blue Helix in an all-ages concert and costume contest to benefit autistic children through giveautism.com.

 

Since forming in 2007, Glass Delirium has explored the depths of what it means to create. The intensity and emotion from this combination is delivered efficiently through their music by taking influences from rock, classical, jazz, pop, electronic, orchestral, metal, and movie scores. With both a marketable and an experimental sound, there is an individuality that radiates from each song they write. No two members of Glass Delirium process life the same and it shows in the end result of their sound. There is a contrast of light and dark that has been embedded into their music that comes from the belief that not being comfortable in your own skin builds character. On top of playing the 2008 Projekt Revolution festival at Fiddlers’ Green Amphitheater, with acts such as Linkin Park, Chris Cornell, and Atreyu, Glass Delirium has also been invited to open for national acts such as Kamelot, Fair to Midland, Psychostick, and Powerman 5000.

 

“The entire band are certainly world-class musicians and composers which when combined with a major-label worthy production makes for a very pleasurable listen that will intrigue you and incite your mind with its creativity and originality.”
ZeeZee – My Global Mind

 

There is a neat story about how I first found out about Glass Delirium. Two years ago, I went to a Candlebox concert at the Bluebird Theater.  Outside after the concert, I ran into a guy. All we had to say was the password “Starbucks” and we both had to laugh. So he’s passing out CDs for his band and invited me to a show. That guy was Scott Uhl.

 

I know a bit about guitar. Turns out Scott Uhl knows a heck of a lot more and even has the music degree and tutoring credentials to back it up. One of the many things I liked about the first show I went to is that he really gets into each song he plays. Sometimes he stands straight up and strums away as he sways to the music, other times he jumps around (or even off) the stage and thrashes around. Scott may do a lot of the marketing and booking for the band, but the sheer joy he has for music is the best advertisement. That’s what I liked about that first show. There’s a lot of energy on stage with a variety of instruments and voices playing together and off of each other. You just never quite know what they’ll do next.

Some of that “never quite know what they’ll do next” comes from Glass Delirium’s new bassist Aeon Cruz… or as my daughter calls her “the pink lady”. Look, it’s not always about looks. Aeon commands a stage with more than just an assortment of outfits, but with the way she places a foot on an amplifier and powerfully slams out the bass line.

Then you have David Newell on (multiple) keyboards, usually with different hair colors or fingernail colors. I grew up in Chicago where the piano player usually wears his glasses and cooly fingers the pianos under a blue light. David can do that. He also battles solos with Scott and sometimes, with a hand on each keyboard, battles himself. From dreamy and melodic prologues to banging out chords, he is as fun to listen to as he is to watch.

Matthew Starr Andrew’s got the beat for Glass Delirium, drumsticks hammering away as his foot keeps the snare kicking. As a longtime drummer for Glass Delirium, his talent allows him to set the rhythm for the slow songs, the fast songs, and the ones that go from slow to fast to slow in mid-measure. He has a lot of fun up there and like the other members of Glass Delirium is a great guy to chat with after concerts.

Michelle Huerd is a veteran of the Denver music scene and a newcomer to Glass Delirium as the female lead vocalist. She’s sung for “My Vendetta”, “Vespertine Sky” and “Born in Winter”.  Belting out tunes while dancing about on stage, she’s been as fun to listen to as to watch… and it’s a good idea to keep an eye on her because she’s been known to give the audience a dose of silly string or toss out glowsticks.

Last, not because he is “least” among a group of great musicians, but it just made more sense to me in the construction of this post, is Vincent Nunez. As the male lead singer of Glass Delirium, he has an amazing vocal range. He can rap, he can thrash and he can also croon, often in counterpoint to Michelle. Often in stage in a tie, a suit or a tux (though who knows what he’ll adorn for Illuminate Masquerade), he is the epitome of a showman on stage, engaging the audience… and as a kicker, a real nice guy who wants to know what the fans want.

“Inevitable comparisons to Evanescence probably do a disservice to this band, since its ambitions are decidedly more adventurous than its popular predecessor.”
Mark Newman – Progression Magazine

So, I’ve been following Glass Delirium for over two years since that chance encounter at the Bluebird Theater. I’ve seen Evanescence and I wasn’t impressed. Even if I hadn’t made friends in the band, Glass Delirium is a band I go out of my way (even to Utah) to see because I enjoy the mix and pace of the music, the interaction of male and female vocals and the great stage presence. Each show is fresh, often with new songs or acoustic versions of the songs on their album, “Thanks to a Monster’s Many Heads” and each time it is a pleasure.

 I hope to see you all (and maybe your costumes?) tomorrow rocking downtown Denver for the Illuminate-Masquerade at the Marquis Theater on 20th and Larimer. Doors open at 7pm and it’s an all-ages show to benefit autistic children through giveautism.com. The winner of the costume contest gets free tickets to the Royal Gorge. Also, if you find me and mention the password, I’ll buy you a drink (or a soda if you’re underage or a designated driver).

Let’s have fun!



The Silent Still - Feb 2011

The Silent Still - Bluebird Theater, Feb 2011

The Silent Still will be appearing at “Illuminate-Masquerade” on September 23rd, 2011. The “Illuminate-Masquerade” is an all-ages concert and costume contest at The Marquis Theater to benefit autistic children through giveautism.com. They will be appearing with Inoculate, Roniit and Blue Helix with Glass Delirium headlining the event.

The Silent Still is a new Denver band featuring lead singer Draven Grey, guitarist Tiffany Chohfi, drummer Dave Miller and guest bassist Mitch Barnes. They’ve performed two shows so far and I’ve been to both of them. I caught their debut show back in February, opening for Glass Delirium and caught the second half of their set. You know, it’s one thing to enjoy the music and for me to say “I like ’em” but that doesn’t really tell the whole story. I mean, besides the well-dressed stage and the smooth transition from song to song they even had “cigarette girls” going about the audience asking for feedback and signing those interested up to their mailing list. It’s that extra touch of professionalism, of not just doing a set but creating an environment and putting on a performance, that turns music into art and makes that art become an experience.

“From the silence emerges a voice.  This voice echos in all of us.  It is the voice of longing, the voice of questions, the voice of reason, and the cry of hope.  It is the voice that leads us, that screams when we are lost, that whispers when we need comforted.  And from this voice emerges a melody.  It is the song of our lives, the soundtrack to our pain, the call to this dance we call life.

And in this song we find the silent still once again.” – The Silent Still

Draven Grey 

Draven Grey has spent over 25 years as a musician, singer/song-writer and composer to hone his talent so that he can share his songs with his fans. He feels that music is his passion and using its power to change lives is his craft. This dedication and drive has afforded him the opportunity to write music for television and video games and to open for national acts in front of audiences numbering as high as 15,000. In addition, he uses the experience he has gained to help unknown rock artists struggling to better themselves. 

Tiffany Chohfi 

Tiffany Chohfi has studied guitar for years. She is also studying medicine and says that one day, she will help everyone in the world. Her desire with The Silent Still is to “want people to feel what we feel, to learn what we have learned, to see what we see. This is important. But it’s also imperative to be a band that not only comforts people, but stays beside them throughout their journey through life.” If you are familiar with the Denver music scene, you may have seen her there supporting other bands, often with a smile and offering a reassuring word as a band completes their set.

Dave Miller

Dave Miller is the owner and a teacher at Vajra Sound Studio, where he teaches drums and guitar. He also teaches and produces bands and musicians at Band Dynamics. On top of The Silent Still, he used to play drums for Wendy Woo, and plays in Beats Noir as well. He’s been a professional drummer for nearly a decade.

Draven Grey and Tiffany Chohfi

Draven Grey and Tiffany Chohfi - The Silent Still

On January 1st, Michael Amidei of The Colorado Music Buzz reported about what Draven Grey and Tiffany Chohfi planned for the future of The Silent Still. Draven Grey said that,  “Sure, as a band, our music is at the forefront. We use our music to make connections with people and help them out of their personal hells. But the music is just one tool. We want to make everything we do part of a genuine connection, a real experience for our fans.” 

The Silent Still

The Silent Still - Bluebird Theater, Feb 2011

On The Silent Still website, there is an open invitation for fans to connect with the band and help create the kind of performance they want to see. Fans of the band can assist by submitting script ideas for music videos, suggesting themes and formats of shows, add content to their website or even design their stage. In addition, there are photos, additional articles and streams from Twitter and Facebook.

I encourage you to see The Silent Still as well as Inoculate, Roniit, Blue Helix and Glass Delirium Friday, September 23rd at The Marquis Theater at 20th and Larimer, Denver CO. It is an all-ages show to benefit autistic children through giveautism.com with the doors opening at 7pm. There is also a costume contest with the best costume winning tickets to The Royal Gorge. Also if you see me there and mention the password “Killer Koolaid” I’ll buy you a drink (or a soda if you are underage and/or a Designated Driver. Supplies are limited, offer void in Utah.

Tickets are $7 in advance and $10 at the door. For parking, I recommend the $2 parking lots on the east side of Larimer between 21st and 22nd Street. I hope to see you there and enjoy the song of life continuing.

Illuminate-Masquerade - Friday September 23rd, 2011 at The Marquis Theater - A Benefit for Autistic Children



{September 19, 2011}   September 23rd at the Marquis

Illuminate-Masquerade at the Marquis Theater, September 23rd - A Benefit for Autistic Children

 

This Friday on September 23rd at 7pm, the Marquis Theater is featuring some of Denver’s best bands. It is a show to benefit children with autism and includes a costume contest. The lineup includes The Silent Still, Blue Helix, Roniit and Inoculate with Glass Delirium headlining. It’s an all ages show with presale tickets at $7 and $10 at the door. Here is a clip from each of the bands that are performing.

I’ve been following Glass Delirium for two years now. Even if I didn’t have a friend in the band, I love their stuff. I describe them as “reminiscent of Evanesence” except much better. They also have their first album “Thanks To A Monster’s Many Heads” on iTunes.

The Silent Still reminds me of The Crow Soundtrack. I especially like the mellow/acoustic parts of their set (because that’s just how I roll). I’ve been to one and a half of their shows (because I got there late for their first show) and they’ve been doing some great stuff considering they’re a newer band.

I’ve heard Roniit a few times and the lead singer has an awesome voice. Kinda trancy, kinda not, but definitely enjoyable.

Blue Helix is a Seattle band visiting Denver. Never thought you’d hear that, huh? Denver’s developing a pretty big music scene in case you hadn’t noticed. So why are they out here? If you think you know the answer (which I think I do), post it down below (though I won’t be postin’).

Inoculate is another new Denver band that goes more into the hard rock/thrasher genre. They played their first song at Cassleman’s in Denver on June 17th.

Remember, September 23rd at the Marquis! Wear your costumes, support a good cause and have some great fun!

Illuminate-Masquerade at the Marquis Theater, September 23rd - A Benefit for Autistic Children

Keep checking here later on in the week as I go into a bit more detail about a few of the bands performing! Also, keep an eye out for the passwords!



{September 18, 2011}   Pocket Change and Pocket of Dreams

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In honor of International Talk Like a Pirate Day, I thought I would include a minstrel song I wrote a long time ago. True, minstrels aren’t pirates but they tend to pillage a woman’s heart as well as her booty.

Pocket Change by Richard Bergstrom

      Chink Cha-chink
      Pockets filled to the brink
      My eyes love to behold
      Donations of silver and gold
     
      Though it is unlike me to ask
      I am too unworthy to charge
      My happiness rewards my efforts alone
      However purses continue to be shown.
     
      The world measures fame
      In items and coins
      I treasure my music
      The fruit of my loins

 

And now, a clip from one of my favorite independent bands, considered the “Unluckiest Band in Rock and Roll”, Royal Bliss. You can also download their songs on iTunes. As a special note, they will be at the Black Sheep in Colorado Springs on October 6th. If you like the video and want to see them, then I’ll meet you there!

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