Try Wait: ‘Soul Sessions’ partners with The Pulse

Jan. 28, 2013 | 0 Comments

Jon Brekke, creator of Soul Sessions USA (Photo Cindy Ellen Russell, Star-Advertiser)

Jon Brekke, creator of "Soul Sessions USA." (Star-Advertiser photo by Cindy Ellen Russell)

BY GARY CHUN / gchun@staradvertiser.com

What to do with an unused production studio?

Jon Brekke posed that question to himself months ago as he looked at the Island Film Group studio in Halawa. Maybe the space could be used for something music-related, given his experience in producing and directing the “Hawaiian Classics” music series for Oceanic Time Warner Cable’s OC16 channel and the “Kokua for Japan” telethon concert held on the grounds of the Hilton Hawaiian Village in April 2011.

“And then an idea came quickly to me,” he said. “How about giving indie singer-songwriters an opportunity to show what they could do in an intimate setting? I had a feeling that this ‘blank’ studio would be good for sound.”

Brekke’s first test attempt involved Melanie Blades, the girlfriend of fellow filmmaker and friend Andrew Magpoc. She sang an original song of Brekke’s, “Lullaby,” accompanied by acoustic guitarist Michael Tanenbaum and violinist Leslie Kline. The sombre tune has a solid and flattering sound mix, something that can be said for the additional acts that have followed and are part of “Soul Sessions USA.”

Starting this week, video content will be posted every Tuesday on the Honolulu Pulse website and archived on the “Soul Sessions” YouTube channel. The impressive lineup of artists that have so far stopped by the studio include Makana, Sing the Body, the Erika Elona Band, Ginai, Johnny Helm, Siaosi and Christina Gomes.

Now in business partnership with Blades, Brekke said that “in the first three months of the channel’s launch, we landed roughly 10,000 hits with viewership in 90 countries.” The channel’s web reach is expected to expand with Soul Sessions USA’s partnership with The Pulse, the
Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s entertainment website and a two-time finalist in Editor & Publisher’s international EPPY Awards contest for best entertainment website.

Originating from Hawaii is not played up in the videos.

“It’s meant to look like it could’ve come from anywhere,” said Brekke. “It’s a multiple camera setup using an intimate microphone system, using boom and wireless.

“This is a better setting to present the music, rather than depending on noisy bar performances. It just shows what a little bit of TLC can do to make the music that much better.”

And Brekke is hoping to spread that tender loving care to the rest of the country — the channel isn’t called “Soul Sessions USA” for nothing.

On Tuesday, Jan. 29, Brekke and Blades will launch a Kickstarter online crowdfunding project with a $100,000 goal, hoping to attract the involvement of musicians from 10 U.S. cities and, according to Brekke, “build an independent grassroots movement.

“We hope to raise $10,000 per city, from places like Nashville, Austin, New York, Los Angeles and Portland. Our production crew will go to the cities and work with 10 musicians, each doing 10 tunes, and gathering 100 new songs for the channel. We hope that, within a couple of months of reaching our funding goal, we can start sometime in March.

“We want to see artists glow and come alive under this format,” Brekke said.

All-around rock guy Dave Grohl made a film about a legendary L.A. recording studio (Courtesy photo)

All-around rock guy Dave Grohl made a film about a legendary L.A. recording studio. (Courtesy photo)

I ALSO WANTED to call attention to a one-time screening at 8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 31, at the Conolidated Theatres Kahala 8. It’s “Sound City,” and director and Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl received a standing ovation from Sundance Film Festival attendees at its screening there.

The documentary is basically a love letter to the fabled and funky Los Angeles studio where some of rock’s greatest acts — The Grateful Dead, Neil Young, Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Metallica, Guns ’n Roses, Nine Inch Nails and Nirvana — recorded their most acclaimed albums.

If you’re at all a rock music fan, you owe yourself to see this film.

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Gary Chun is a features reporter at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Email him at gchun@staradvertiser.com and follow him on Twitter.

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