March 29, 2013

Safehouse

This past weekend, we had the honor and privilege of playing at a fundraiser gala for an organization very dear to our hearts, Safehouse Outreach (or SHO). Several of us have volunteered with them over the years, and their founder Philip Bray is truly one of our heroes. Playing the Oceans Ballroom at the Georgia Aquarium was amazing; there are beluga whale tanks built into the walls. There’s nothing like watching a 3,500 lb mammal swim by in the middle of “Lean On Me” (believe it or not, that was our opening song, by request.)

A little bit about SHO, from their websiteIn 1982, Philip Bray took to the streets to rescue child prostitutes and runaways who were being sexually exploited in Atlanta, Ga. Inspired by his own experiences, he wanted to reach those who the Church considered unreachable. At 7th & Peachtree Street, a booth in a local hamburger restaurant became the headquarters for SafeHouse on Friday and Saturday nights, named SafeHouse because the youth who wanted help were taken to a safehouse to insure their safety while family or the authorities were being contacted.

Within 6 months, over 200 volunteers came together with manpower and compassion and began reaching out to anyone in need. Soon SafeHouse outgrew the booth and moved to a facility off Peachtree Street. They held church services at midnight on Friday nights and became known within the city as a place where the unreachable could come for assistance.

Over the past 25 years, SafeHouse has been instrumental in impacting lives and changing communities. Today, SafeHouse has matched over 500 caring adults as mentors with at-risk children through SHO’s MentorPlus program and educated hundreds of teen parents in parenting and life skills in SHO’s A New Generation drop-out prevention program. And literally thousands have received a hot meal along with assistance to get back on their feet.

Recognized by mayors, governors, and the President of the United States, SafeHouse offers a hand-up, not just a hand-out, and is active in finding solutions for those in crisis.

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February 7, 2013

The Jellyrox Remix

Our new friend Matt Langston aka “The Jellyrox” is lead vocalist and synth programming guru for the band Eleventyseven. We were honored that he asked to take our song Turn Around (from our recent EP “Under the New Sun”) and add it to the list of tunes he has made substantially hipper with his popular remixes.

He wrote on his blog: “If you’re familiar with the band, you probably already know that they are the kind of guys that intentionally come up with finger-cramp-inducing-next-to-impossible complicated guitar chord structures and voicings simply to frustrate the crap out of everyone who attempts to play their songs. Of course, we all know they do this simply to lord their superior musical abilities over the rest of the seemingly ‘guitarted’ populus of musicians still trying to figure out how to augment a J Major suspended 4.” You can read the rest of the blog entry here.

That’s pretty funny. By the way, if you’re keeping score at home, the trickiest chord in Turn Around is Gm+6/Bb.

You can download the song here.

 

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December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas from Smalltown Poets!

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November 15, 2012

It’s the most wonderful time of the year

We’re excited to announce that we’re following up last year’s Smalltown Poets Christmas Tour with a few Christmas appearances this season. December 2012 will find us in Seattle, Portland, Atlanta, and a few other places. We’re pretty excited about the fact that the tour concludes in our hometown of Tifton GA, where it all began way too long ago.

Click here for all the dates and info.

Here’s some press about the Christmas record.

And here are excerpts from a press release last year: On Smalltown Poets Christmas, Michael Johnston, Byron Goggin, Kevin Breuner, Miguel DeJesus and Danny Stephens evoke the fun, hope and wonder of the Advent season with fresh arrangements of many Christmas favorites and three new original songs. The band regrouped in the fall of 2010 to begin production on their fifth studio album  which was co-produced by former Smalltown Poets drummer Matt Goldman (Underoath, Third Day, Casting Crowns, Copeland, The Chariot).

The bulk of the arranging and recording work was done in Michaelʼs home studio…Then the whole band convened at Glow in the Dark Studios in Atlanta to wrap things up in a bow. An unexpected benefit from the unconventional tracking process was the “family and friends” backdrop of the sessions, which brought warmth to the performances and led to a large cast of outside contributors.

North Carolina based band Elishah stepped in for glass-raising vocals on the album’s closing song while Rebecca Lovell of Georgia-based band Larkin Poe contributes her enchanting alto to a duet arrangement of “O Little Town of Bethlehem.”  Add a banjo player here, a cellist there, and even a member of the Georgia Boy Choir, and a picture forms of carolers and visitors stopping by for a holiday visit.

 

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October 16, 2012

Album Release Day!

It’s officially Oct. 16th, which means…we have a new album out today! Our new 7-song EP, Under The New Sun, is available now on iTunes, CD Baby, and just about every other digital outlet you can think of. (A physical CD version will be released shortly).

It’s our first (non-Christmas) release in a long time. All five original Poets recorded these tunes together, and as the songs took shape, we couldn’t help remarking to ourselves, “Hey! This sounds like Smalltown Poets!” The whole journey, from brainstorming to recording demos to final mixes, fit like a glove, and we’re really looking forward to you hearing what we’ve come up with.

As fun as re-working old Christmas songs was last year, we’ve really gotten back to our beginnings by crafting lyric-intensive songs from the ground up, doing our best to turn a few phrases, sneak in a few puns, and challenge our listeners to dive in and bring their own imaginations.

The album title is taken from an old Villanelle (yes, that’s a previous incarnation of Smalltown Poets) song titled May Day. The song itself isn’t on our EP, but that particular lyric – “under the new sun” – seems to sum up many of the themes of the new project: death and rebirth, renewal, restoration, resurrection.

We have loved making this record. We hope you love listening.

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