Category Archives: MOON INTERVIEWS

Jeffrey Butzer: New line-up, new stage show

Jeffrey Butzer will be performing in Atlanta on March 18 at The Earl for the first time since last September. Early this year, Butzer joined West End Motel and Fiend Without a Face, both side projects of Mastadon’s Brent Hinds, out on a west coast tour. Butzer’s solo act opened up the shows on tour, and he candidly revealed many “little secrets” in his tour journal, which you can read on the Picaflor Studio blog. There is some awesome hilarity in there, like the stuff he shouts out to Patrick Stewart in the bathroom of an L.A. club during an Andrew Bird show. And you can find out why Butzer was given the nickname Bette Midler on tour.

Butzer has also been busy playing with longtime friend and fellow musician, Claire Lodge in her band, The Compartmentalizationalists. Since she moved back to England, Butzer has picked back up with a new line-up for his band, The Bicycle Eaters, and a new stage show planned, complete with props and a projector.

Without revealing too much, Butzer describes the new live setup and explains the inspiration behind the chosen visual expression:

“I don’t want to give too much away. I will tell you there are Continue reading “Jeffrey Butzer: New line-up, new stage show” »

Jonathan Merenivitch on Tendaberry, Shepherds, and Janelle Monae

It’s fun to eat tacos and talk with someone like Jonathan Merenivitch, who is involved in so many Atlanta-based music projects. As the front man of the soul-tinged, post-punk band, Tendaberry, he incorporates his ideals as a “21st century black man” into the concept of the band, using “Death of ignorance in black culture as we know it…is here” as the group’s axiom. Merenivitch also started another band, Shepherds, to satisfy his penchant for loud, abrasive rock that leaves out the jazz and funk with which Tendaberry plays. As if two bands weren’t enough, Merenivitch also jumped on rhythm guitar for Janelle Monae, which put him on stage at Madison Square Garden just before Prince. Yes, Jonathan Merenivitch is a musical renaissance man and a down to earth and thoughtful one to top it off. Here is a closer look at a few of his projects and experiences.


Tendaberry set out to write music equally influenced by Public Image Limited and Stevie Wonder, then the group solidified their M.O., as Merenivitch explains, “We finalized this idea that we want to break past the boundaries of what is seen as blackness, both musically and lyrically and philosophically. I wrote all these lyrics that poke fun at certain ridiculous aspects of black culture.”

Their newest album, Hit It!, recorded and co-produced by Drew Vandenberg (The Whigs, Deerhunter, Drive-By Truckers), is set for release April 21, 2011. Described by Merenivitch as “inspired by The Dream, Grizzly Bear, Smokey Robinson, Minor Threat and ignorance in black culture,” the album rides smooth on impressive vocal harmonies, while the guitars and bass get wild. I often wonder what bands are thinking when they state their genre, but Tendaberry Continue reading “Jonathan Merenivitch on Tendaberry, Shepherds, and Janelle Monae” »

Q & A with Music Maven, Velena Vego

Velena Vego is the type that makes a woman proud to be a woman. Vego has been a long term player in the boys club we call the music industry, and she rose through the thorny ranks based on her work ethic, consistency, and drive. Starting out as a musician in an all-girl band, Vego didn’t shy away from scoring opportunities in the music business once the band dissolved. Since that time, around two decades ago, Vego became the talent buyer at one of the greatest music venues in one of the hottest music towns in the country; the 40 Watt in Athens, GA. But, she didn’t stop there. Vego started a record label and ticket company, began to manage bands, and then became the talent buyer for the new Buckhead Theatre.

Velena Vego kindly took the time to answer a few question that Gail Fountain had for The Moon and Pluto about the development of her career in the music industry and what’s in the forecast.

TMAP: Can you tell me about your history with the 40 Watt?

Vego: I’m from Atlanta, GA. And I moved to Athens in 1984 and was in an all-girl band that was based out of Athens and Atlanta for seven years. I’m about to have my 20th anniversary working at the 40 Watt club. It was 1991 when I became an assistant there after Mystery Date broke up, and I didn’t know what I wanted to do; if I wanted to stay in Athens. The 40 Watt club had moved into the big location that it is [at] now. They bought that building. I asked them if they needed any help and they did. And when one of the partners left, Continue reading “Q & A with Music Maven, Velena Vego” »

Filmmaker Bob Place Discusses Atlanta Music Documentary, Hate City

Hate City. Bring Atlanta to mind?

Since the end of last year, a couple of trailers for the new Atlanta music documentary have circled around. The title of the film intrigued me more so than the trailers. Not to say that the trailers didn’t peak my interest, but I wanted to know how “Hate City” portrayed the music scene in Atlanta, since the title resonates powerfully with  my conceptualization of the Atlanta music community. Does the film expose all the cattiness, rivalry among musicians, and pretentiousness that runs rampant in our town? No. But, Bob Place, Hate City director, revealed a slew of details on what we’ll find in the film, which is set for premiere at SXSW in March.

“The film is not a movie highlighting different bands. It’s about the people in the music community in Atlanta, talking about the community and talking about how they’re affected by this post-apocalyptic state of the music industry,” explains Place right off the bat, adding “The internet changed the world. We are at the point that DIY is the best that it’s been and the best that it could be, because it’s so accessible, but because of that, it’s also a bad thing, because the market is flooded, and that’s what we go into in the film.” Place also emphasizes what the film is NOT, “What I didn’t want to do is make a film where everyone is sucking each others dicks. It is about people involved in the community, not a self-indulgent 60 minute blow job.”

The film doesn’t only depict the perspective of bands, but various players in the music industry, including hip hop artists, music attorneys, independent and major record label owners, and radio DJs, with the intent to show, “every perspective of what is going on, but it’s all from the perspective of Atlanta.” Place describes the film as broken up into three segments, first Continue reading “Filmmaker Bob Place Discusses Atlanta Music Documentary, Hate City” »