Music : Read all about it: New music mag
Angel Russell, a multi-instrumental musician, artist, photographer and writer, has recently added a few new skills to an already impressive resume. In order to distribute her band's debut CD, she started her own record label, Sergeant Sparrow. Then, as a burgeoning music producer, she was determined to help other musicians market their music. However, she was hindered in this effort by a lack of funding for distribution, and hatched the plan of issuing an indy music magazine that includes interviews and a compilation CD of songs by the featured artists. This marketing plan will give upcoming artists some exposure and introduce music lovers to new music and musicians.
The first issue of the magazine, also named "Sergeant Sparrow," features five artists and acts. Ms. Russell's band, Iridescent Pheasant, and Milo Silva represent local music. Two other artists were recruited from among Ms. Russell's many friends from her native San Diego, and from her years as a touring musician. The other artist is someone who found out about her enterprise through her MySpace page. The venture is nonprofit, with proceeds going to the artists. The magazine, which sells for $6, went on sale last Saturday, and is available at Aboveground Records, Conroy Apothecary, Che's Lounge, and through the website sergeantsparrowrecords.com.
An ambitious 28-year-old, Ms. Russell has other plans in the works. She is renting the space above Che's Lounge, which previously housed l'atelier boutique, to use as the office for both Sergeant Sparrow enterprises. She is also working on transforming part of the space into an art gallery/performance space. Currently she is busy constructing moveable walls, with the help of her boyfriend and bandmate Adam Howell.
Ms. Russell hopes to provide a showplace for up-and-coming visual artists, as well as for performance artists. "I'm really supportive of performance art because I think it's an awesome genre that deserves to be seen," she says. "I'd like to have a place where people can do that."
She also hopes to feature installation art, and, as if Ms. Angel isn't busy enough, she is working on her own installment piece called the Cycle of Life. Ms. Angel describes her overall mission, "My main focus is helping out artists and musicians - to promote them, and help people discover them."
In the true DIY spirit that seems to be pervasive in the indy music scene, Ms. Russell recorded her band's CD on her computer, taught herself desktop publishing in order to produce the magazine, and would some day like to run her own printer to keep everything in shop. She has done all the writing for the first issue, which includes the interviews, music reviews and a spotlight on Mike Barnes, owner of Aboveground Records. Ms. Russell also supplied many of the artistic photos.
The energetic arts entrepreneur notes that producing a magazine was a learning process and the project took longer than she had anticipated - about three months. She had to master new software and experiment with layout in a trial and error process. Her innate sense of graphic design is evident in the attractive, professional look of the magazine.
Although so far, Ms. Russell has virtually done it all herself, she actively encourages contributions by artists, writers, and photographers. Her primary aim, in all of her endeavors, is to support local talent. She is also anxious to introduce new musicians from all over to local audiences. She notes that every issue will include at least one local musician. She is actively soliciting new acts, she welcomes suggestions, and hopes to find new artists through her website.
Last Saturday, Ms. Angel hosted a launch party for her new venture that featured performances by Mr. Silva and Iridescent Pheasant. She plans to hold a show each month with music by the acts included in the most recent issue. She says, "In the beginning I'll focus on the Island. I want to promote what's around, so people know what's going on in their community." Her purpose is twofold, however, as she explains, "I want to bring new music to the Island so that people are exposed to other artists."
Gwyn McAllister is a freelance writer living in Oak Bluffs.