Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Check out my weekly music blog for the Elgin Courier!

Here's my fancy "about me."

NOTE: When I (Emily McFarlan) took over as your Readers' Reporter, lo those many years ago, and asked you, readers, what you were interested in reading, one of the very first responses I got was, "Did you know Elgin has an AWESOME music scene?" That launched a short-lived, semi-weekly Readers' Reporter column about local artists in The Courier-News' "Our" pages I had to drop after we made some changes to those pages. But this blog is supposed to be a place for those things we can't fit into the newspaper. And a place for conversation between readers and reporters.

Staff writer Katie Anderson has found a reader excited to write about the local music scene: Jason Duarte will be blogging Wednesdays exclusively on Between the Bylines. Here's a little bit more about Jason...

Courier-News reporter (and close friend, former co-worker and classmate) Katie Anderson asked me to write a music blog for the Courier the other day. Immediately, I said OK. Actually, I think it was more along the lines of, "Yes! I've been longing for a writing outlet! Rad! Thank you!"

I had a weekly music blog at Eastern Illinois University's Daily Eastern News when I was the associate editor for The Verge, the DEN's weekly entertainment paper, from 2007 to 2008. I'd write about USB-equipped turntables, review albums and shows, interview musicians and write about not just music, but all things entertainment. After class and newspaper obligations, starting at 10 p.m., I worked with Katie at EIU's printing press throughout the week, developing the next day's newspaper. Around 2 a.m., I'd walk home with "news from the future," as I liked to convince my drunken college neighbors.

During my last semester at EIU, my Verge editor (now current Daily Herald reporter), Marco Santana and I, won third place in Illinois at the Illinois College Press Association for "Best Entertainment Supplement." We dug it, to say the least.

More on Jason's music cred, after the jump.

Two months after graduating in December 2008, I began freelancing for the Sun-Times News Group and began getting regularly published in the Naperville Sun. This was mostly hard news, something that was new for me, but I loved it. I jumped on every story I could but couldn't land a solid staff position, so I decided to follow another passion of mine in my free time and joined a pop/punk band in Bartlett, playing bass.

With them, I shared the stage with a lot of my favorite bands and played a lot of my favorite venues. I recorded with them, playing bass and doing few backup vocals on their second full-length album. We were signed to two record labels from Japan (both out of Hiroshima, which co-released both albums). In September, the labels booked us a six-show tour in Japan, so we flew out and played three districts in Tokyo (Shinjuku, Musashisakai and Akihabura), Hiroshima, Nagoya and Okayama with a lot of great Japanese bands. I learned a lot about Japan and the pop/punk subculture out there, which had a lot of differences and similarities to ours. I learned a lot about what they learned from the U.S., musically and how they are influenced by our culture and society. During that time, I also played bass in an instrumental surf/punk/rock band. I quit both bands in November.

By November, I decided I should get more serious about looking for a career.

In December, I decided to join another band called Rex Catapult. After a couple months of submitting applications and being fueled by resentment for my minimum-wage job, Country Sampler Group in St. Charles appointed me its catalog copy editor in February 2010 for both Country Sampler and Country Business Magazines. So I may be a working stiff most of the time, but in my free time, I book shows in Elgin and Chicago and play bass and sing backups Rex in Catapult.

So without meaning to sound real pretentious and long-winded, I accept the Courier's offer to blog weekly because music is what I am most passionate about and would love to incorporate it in my number two passion: writing.

I want to introduce you to new music, different music or even just peak your interest toward something new or foreign or something you may already even know, and ideally, I hope you teach me a thing or two. I want to incite discussion and conversation. Each week, I'll write about something different: shows in the Elgin area, reviews from shows that happened, shows that haven't happened yet, bands coming through, venues around town, album reviews, and I'll write about music-related topics, like how independent record labels are staying afloat, vinyl in the 21st century and topics of that nature.

-- Jason Duarte, Reader Reporter

No comments: