The Sarathan Blog Has Moved!

22 04 2010

Where did the blog go??? Click on the bird & see!

We decided it’s time to shed the winter coat for a new look, so we got A BLOG UPGRADE! – (

Please visit us at the above link for the latest updates.

As you can see, the blog is now self-hosted, which means we can add fun plugins and widgets. HURRAY! But the URL has changed, so remember to adjust your bookmarks accordingly!

See ya on the flip side…


Where Happiness Costs So Little

17 04 2010

In 2003, I was working as Advertising and Promotions Director for Easy Street Records (Seattle).  Based out of the West Seattle location, I worked downstairs, away from the sales floor.  At times that made me feel disconnected from the “word on the street” regarding new music.  My favorite part of working (for many years) in record retail was talking with coworkers and customers about what they were listening to.

On a nondescript day, Easy Street received a promo pack from Arena Rock Recording Company.  For me, opening that pack was one of those moments that happens thousands of times, but you never know which time it will change your life.  Inside was a copy of mono‘s One Step More And You Die and a standard label-generated One Sheet.  Initially, I started to set it aside for later – then I glimpsed a bolded sentence describing their sound which included Godspeed You! Black Emperor.  I read the entire One Sheet and put the disc in right away.  I was stunned and couldn’t imagine why no one had clued me in about mono yet.  Turned out it was my turn to share with everyone else (and boy, did I!).

Noting their tour dates, I saw the Seattle show was coming up shortly.  Immediately, I started making calls to set up what would be booking my first In-Store!   When the day came, I was uncharacteristically nervous and excited.  I had truly fallen in love with the album and couldn’t wait to see it performed live.  At the time, mono was still an “opening band” and the in-store attendance was thin.  Nonetheless, mono played a blistering set full of passion, despair and exaltation.  Many of the employees (some who’d never heard mono before) confessed they felt like they were going to cry.  Mono’s ability to draw intense emotions from well-guarded places ranks them in a fully elevated league of musicians.

When the in-store was over, we hugged, I gave them Easy Street T-shirts, and they left for their evening soundcheck.  Seven years later, mono has over 30,000 Fans on MySpace, over 11,000 fans on Facebook, numerous gorgeous albums, are constantly touring and their faces light up every time they catch me in the audience.  It still makes me feel like crying – sharing joy and intimacy through music is one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had in my life.

Music is sharing – the musicians are sharing their creativity, hopes, secrets, love and loss.  Music that moves me, moves me to share it and this is the human experience.  Some of my favorite artists (of all time) I didn’t discover on my own, but were revealed to me by friends and customers.  This cannot happen by shopping online, cut off from human interaction – like working in a basement.  My joy was found by emerging from the basement and sharing my new love of mono.  Make time for yourself and visit a record store.  Stop in, talk to the employees, talk to the customers – we’re all fans.  At the time, you won’t know if you’re about to buy a life-changing album, but isn’t it worth the gamble?  Support your local record store.

Happy Record Store Day,

P.S.  I just noticed Arena Rock’s motto; how beautifully concise:
Where Happiness Costs So Little

P.P.S.  At the time, Easy Street owner Matt Vaughan said with wide eyes, “That’s the loudest in-store we’ve EVER had”.  It may still hold true.


Record Store Day prompts a recount of wise words from the Greek

14 04 2010

Hello fellow Music Lovers,

This Saturday, April 17th, is Record Store Day.  Record Store Day is a celebration of the unique culture surrounding over 700 independently owned record stores in the USA, and hundreds of similar stores internationally.

This is the one day that all of the independently owned record stores come together with artists to celebrate the art of music. Special vinyl and CD releases and various promotional products are made exclusively for the day and hundreds of artists in the United States and in various countries across the globe make special appearances and performances. Festivities include performances, cook-outs, body painting, meet & greets with artists, parades, djs spinning records and on and on. Metallica officially kicked off Record Store Day at Rasputin Music in San Francisco on April 19, 2008 and Record Store Day is now celebrated the third Saturday every April.

(Also check out the official RSD blog: )

In honor of this years RSD, I wanted to share a piece that was sent in my reliable Friday evening email from local, independently-owned provider of experimental, jazz, electronic and wacky, out-of-print vinyl, CDs and rare hand-crafted collectibles, Wall of Sound.  It’s long, but it’s worth the time to read.




The following was forwarded to us by our friend Alan and we thought that you may find it interesting too:

Welcome address to freshman class at Boston Conservatory given by Karl Paulnack, pianist and director of music division at Boston Conservatory [September 2008]

“One of my parents’ deepest fears, I suspect, is that society would not properly value me as a musician, that I wouldn’t be appreciated. I had very good grades in high school, I was good in science and math, and they imagined that as a doctor or a research chemist or an engineer, I might be more appreciated than I would be as a musician. I still remember my mother’s remark when I announced my decision to apply to music school-she said, “You’re WASTING your SAT scores.” On some level, I think, my parents were not sure themselves what the value of music was, what its purpose was. And they LOVED music, they listened to classical music all the time. They just weren’t really clear about its function. So let me talk about that a little bit, because we live in a society that puts music in the “arts and entertainment” section of the newspaper, and serious music, the kind your kids are about to engage in, has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with entertainment, in fact it’s the opposite of entertainment. Let me talk a little bit about music, and how it works.

The first people to understand how music really works were the ancient Greeks. And this is going to fascinate you; the Greeks said that music and astronomy were two sides of the same coin. Astronomy was seen as the study of relationships between observable, permanent, external objects, and music was seen as the study of relationships between invisible, internal, hidden objects. Music has a way of finding the big, invisible moving pieces inside our hearts and souls and helping us figure out the position of things inside us. Let me give you some examples of how this works.

One of the most profound musical compositions of all time is the Quartet for the End of Time written by French composer Olivier Messiaen in 1940. Messiaen was 31 years old when France entered the war against Nazi Germany. He was captured by the Germans in June of 1940, sent across Germany in a cattle car and imprisoned in a concentration camp.

He was fortunate to find a sympathetic prison guard who gave him paper and a place to compose. There were three other musicians in the camp, a cellist, a violinist, and a clarinetist, and Messiaen wrote his quartet with these specific players in mind. It was performed in January 1941 for four thousand prisoners and guards in the prison camp. Today it is one of the most famous masterworks in the repertoire.

Given what we have since learned about life in the concentration camps, why would anyone in his right mind waste time and energy writing or playing music? There was barely enough energy on a good day to find food and water, to avoid a beating, to stay warm, to escape torture-why would anyone bother with music? And yet-from the camps, we have poetry, we have music, we have  visual art; it wasn’t just this one fanatic Messiaen; many, many people created art. Why? Well, in a place where people are only focused on survival, on the bare necessities, the obvious conclusion is that art must be, somehow, essential for life. The camps were without money, without hope, without commerce, without recreation, without basic respect, but they were not without art. Art is part of survival; art is part of the human spirit, an unquenchable expression of who we are. Art is one of the ways in which we say, “I am alive, and my life has meaning.”

On September 12, 2001 I was a resident of Manhattan. That morning I reached a new understanding of my art and its relationship to the world. I sat down at the piano that morning at 10 AM to practice as was my daily routine; I did it by force of habit, without thinking about it. I lifted the cover on the keyboard, and opened my music, and put my hands on the keys and took my hands off the keys. And I sat there and thought, does this even matter? Isn’t this completely irrelevant? Playing the piano right now, given what happened in this city yesterday, seems silly, absurd, irreverent, pointless. Why am I here? What place has a musician in this moment in time? Who needs a piano player right now? I was completely lost.

And then I, along with the rest of New York, went through the journey of getting through that week. I did not play the piano that day, and in fact I contemplated briefly whether I would ever want to play the piano again. And then I observed how we got through the day.

At least in my neighborhood, we didn’t shoot hoops or play Scrabble. We didn’t play cards to pass the time, we didn’t watch TV, we didn’t shop, we most certainly did not go to the mall. The first organized activity that I saw in New York, that same day, was singing. People sang. People sang around firehouses, people sang “We Shall Overcome”. Lots of people sang America the Beautiful. The first organized public event that I remember was the Brahms Requiem, later that week, at Lincoln Center, with the New York Philharmonic. The first organized public expression of grief, our first communal response to that historic event, was a concert. That was the beginning of a sense that life might go on. The US Military secured the airspace, but recovery was led by the arts, and by music in particular, that very night.

From these two experiences, I have come to understand that music is not part of “arts and entertainment” as the newspaper section would have us believe. It’s not a luxury, a lavish thing that we fund from leftovers of our budgets, not a plaything or an amusement or a pass time. Music is a basic need of human survival. Music is one of the ways we make sense of our lives, one of the ways in which we express feelings when we have no words, a way for us to understand things with our hearts when we can’t with our minds.

Some of you may know Samuel Barber’s heartwrenchingly beautiful piece Adagio for Strings. If you don’t know it by that name, then some of you may know it as the background music which accompanied the Oliver Stone movie Platoon, a film about the Vietnam War. If you know that piece of music either way, you know it has the ability to crack your heart open like a walnut; it can make you cry over sadness you didn’t know you had. Music can slip beneath our conscious reality to get at what’s really going on inside us the way a good therapist does.

I bet that you have never been to a wedding where there was absolutely no music. There might have been only a little music, there might have been some really bad music, but I bet you there was some music. And something very predictable happens at weddings-people get all pent up with all kinds of emotions, and then there’s some musical moment where the action of the wedding stops and someone sings or plays the flute or something. And even if the music is lame, even if the quality isn’t good, predictably 30 or 40 percent of the people who are going to cry at a wedding cry a couple of moments after the music starts. Why? The Greeks. Music allows us to move around those big invisible pieces of ourselves and rearrange our insides so that we can express what we feel even when we can’t talk about it. Can you imagine watching Indiana Jones or Superman or Star Wars with the dialogue but no music? What is it about the music swelling up at just the right moment in ET so that all the softies in the audience start crying at exactly the same moment? I guarantee you if you showed the movie with the music stripped out, it wouldn’t happen that way. The Greeks: Music is the understanding of the relationship between invisible internal objects.

I’ll give you one more example, the story of the most important concert of my life. I must tell you I have played a little less than a thousand concerts in my life so far. I have played in places that I thought were important. I like playing in Carnegie Hall; I enjoyed playing in Paris; it made me very happy to please the critics in St. Petersburg. I have played for people I thought were important; music critics of major newspapers, foreign heads of state. The most important concert of my entire life took place in a nursing home in Fargo, ND, about 4 years ago.

I was playing with a very dear friend of mine who is a violinist. We began, as we often do, with Aaron Copland’s Sonata, which was written during World War II and dedicated to a young friend of Copland’s, a young pilot who was shot down during the war. Now we often talk to our audiences about the pieces we are going to play rather than providing them with written program notes. But in this case, because we began the concert with this piece, we decided to talk about the piece later in the program and to just come out and play the music without explanation.

Midway through the piece, an elderly man seated in a wheelchair near the front of the concert hall began to weep. This man, whom I later met, was clearly a soldier-even in his 70’s, it was clear from his buzz-cut hair, square jaw and general demeanor that he had spent a good deal of his life in the military. I thought it a little bit odd that someone would be moved to tears by that particular movement of that particular piece, but it wasn’t the first time I’ve heard crying in a concert and we went on with the concert and finished the piece.

When we came out to play the next piece on the program, we decided to talk about both the first and second pieces, and we described the circumstances in which the Copland was written and mentioned its dedication to a downed pilot. The man in the front of the audience became so disturbed that he had to leave the auditorium. I honestly figured that we would not see him again, but he did come backstage afterwards, tears and all, to explain himself. What he told us was this: “During World War II, I was a pilot, and I was in an aerial combat situation where one of my team’s planes was hit. I watched my friend bail out, and watched his parachute open, but the Japanese planes which had engaged us returned and machine gunned across the parachute chords so as to separate the parachute from the pilot, and I watched my friend drop away into the ocean, realizing that he was lost. I have not thought about this for many years, but during that first piece of music you played, this memory returned to me so vividly that it was as though I was reliving it. I didn’t understand why this was happening, why now, but then when you came out to explain that this piece of music was written to commemorate a lost pilot, it was a little more than I could handle. How does the music do that? How did it find those feelings and those memories in me?

Remember the Greeks: music is the study of invisible relationships between internal objects. This concert in Fargo was the most important work I have ever done. For me to play for this old soldier and help him connect, somehow, with Aaron Copland, and to connect their memories of their lost friends, to help him remember and mourn his friend, this is my work. This is why music matters.

What follows is part of the talk I will give to this year’s freshman class when I welcome them a few days from now. The responsibility I will charge your sons and daughters with is this:

“If we were a medical school, and you were here as a med student practicing appendectomies, you’d take your work very seriously because you would imagine that some night at two AM someone is going to waltz into your emergency room and you’re going to have to save their life. Well, my friends, someday at 8 PM someone is going to walk into your concert hall and bring you a mind that is confused, a heart that is overwhelmed, a soul that is weary. Whether they go out whole again will depend partly on how well you do your craft.

You’re not here to become an entertainer, and you don’t have to sell yourself. The truth is you don’t have anything to sell; being a musician isn’t about dispensing a product, like selling used Chevys. I’m not an entertainer; I’m a lot closer to a paramedic, a firefighter, a rescue worker. You’re here to become a sort of therapist for the human soul, a spiritual version of a chiropractor, physical therapist, someone who works with our insides to see if they get things to line up, to see if we can come into harmony with ourselves and be healthy and happy and well.

Frankly, ladies and gentlemen, I expect you not only to master music; I expect you to save the planet. If there is a future wave of wellness on this planet, of harmony, of peace, of an end to war, of mutual understanding, of equality, of fairness, I don’t expect it will come from a government, a military force or a corporation. I no longer even expect it to come from the religions of the world, which together seem to have brought us as much war as they have peace. If there is a future of peace for humankind, if there is to be an understanding of how these invisible, internal things should fit together, I expect it will come from the artists, because that’s what we do. As in the concentration camp and the evening of 9/11, the artists are the ones who might be able to help us with our internal, invisible lives.”

A Review Can Be Art Too

7 04 2010

Four great things about NBT  (Next Big Thing) blog & podcast:

1.  It’s a wonderful, eclectic source of independent music
2.  It has an incredibly catchy theme song that gets in my head every time their name is mentioned
3.  NBT is featuring Sarathan Records and its artists this April (woot!)

and last but not least…

4. Its reviews are refreshingly atypical: very visual & poetic. They’re sensual in nature, stream of thought in structure. These reviews seem to capture the very essence of the music that’s being described.

Not everyone will enjoy this style of writing. It requires time, thought, and imagination on the part of the reader. But ultimately, I find the experience very rewarding and insightful. It compels me to listen.

I know what you’re thinking – I swear I was not motivated to write this entry by a desire to promote the Sarathan feature on NBT (at least, not entirely). Truth be told, I wanted to find some outlet where I could share my favorite quote from NBT’s recently posted review of Two Loons for Tea’s second LP, Looking for Landmarks:

She drives through a landscape of rapidly changing storms. Escaping the thrum of her sweet nightmare, sometimes the sunlight sparkles on the cold metal, sparkles turn to sparks, blue sky to night. It was easier when she just believed him.

Like the songs within Two Loons for Tea’s albums, each paragraph is a poem that could stand alone, a beautiful flux of images, moods, and thoughts.

Agh! I love language, and I love it when people use it well!


LINKS: NBT Blog, NBT Regular Podcast, NBT Top Ten Podcast

[Vote for your favorite Sarathan artists on the NBT website (Internet Explorer only) to get them featured on the NBT Top Ten Podcast!]

A message from Thunder Buffalo:

23 03 2010

...Fact!~ Thunder Buffalo has just hidden 4 new songs somewhere on the web.

Search for clues on their MySpace!

how to find? you ask.

Look around our myspace for clues.  Some are quite obvious and others not so.  Hopefully it won’t be too hard because we really want you to hear them butt… find it fun to make people look around a bitt…

Once you have found them, write us a message with the names of all the songs and we will send you a zip file of them!

Huh, doesn’t that sound cool



These songs are fresh as new baby chicks and will be changing form over the course of the following months. So, your chance to get the songs in their original format is limited.  Once they come out on wax they will sound completely different and the form they are in now will no longer exist…  Sad…

Happy Hunting!


Working from Home

11 03 2010

I spent one and a half years of my life in Seattle, WA. Day one, I fell in love with the architecture, the parks, the way the invasive blackberry bushes grew along the sidewalks, the totem poles, the mysterious underground tunnels, the occasional random redwood tree, their amusing nicknames for transportation systems (aka, the SLUT), the comfortable and warm summers, and yes, I appreciated the rainy winters as well. I even came to love the overstatement that is the Space Needle; its rising torch-like form had become a beacon for my second home.

On my way to Sarathan Records’ headquarters every morning, I would fix my eyes on the horizon, where I knew loomed the awe-demanding Rainier, cloaked in a veil of grey. In stark contrast to the wafting mystery of fog, Sarathan was a joy. Its interior was bright and cheerful, its employees intimidatingly intelligent and in tune with pop culture. But they were friendly people, and they inspired me to new heights.

The Sarathan Office

My time in Seattle ended all too soon. I had to move. Fortunately, I am able to continue working for Sarathan from home. Working from home is … well, quiet. My social life and work life are entirely computerized, so much so that sometimes I look in the mirror and I’m surprised at what I see, as if I thought I’d somehow become completely digital. It’s a little unnerving, as I’d always considered myself an outdoorsy person.

Of course, there are the pluses: a flexible schedule and increased productivity, not to mention an unbeatable commute.

Plus, there’s an additional benefit to this new life, one that I’d never previously considered. You see, back in Seattle, I’d generally let other people dictate the music that was being played in the office. Via these means I was exposed to a range of styles and genres that I might never have explored on my own. Unfortunately, most of these sounds washed over me without leaving a distinct impression. Not that it was bad music, it just didn’t strike a chord.

Now, in the ongoing war against silence and boredom, I’ve discovered a motherload of sounds that have really enriched my life. Below is just a sampling…


I’ve also discovered new works from artists I’d already known and loved, such as “Exogenisis” (Muse), “Hotel Song” (Regina Spektor), “Toto Dies” (Nellie McKay), and the acoustic version of “No Surprises” (Radiohead).

(By the way, if you want to see a complete list of my discoveries or share new music with me, Twitter/ is the place to go!)

And so, I’ve decided…

In a world where there’s music, it’s okay to be alone, it’s okay to be far from the beautiful places you fell in love with, it’s okay to spend most of your life on the computer. Where passion is lacking, music steps in to remind you of your humanity, to endow life with a sense of meaning and direction. And I think this is true for all human beings, be they in the music business or not.

To conclude, if I can help a handful of people find music that does this for them, that helps them get through the day, then I can tell myself that my life and my job are worthwhile.

Hell, it beats selling women’s accessories, anyway.


Creativity Contest! Win music, art, & more by submitting a fun comment!

3 03 2010

Vinyl Records is hosting a contest giveaway for Sarathan! –

Thunder Buffalo’s Aaron Schroeder fills in the contest details:

“For the past while I have been drawing this character that I dubbed ‘Buffalo Bill.’ He has been all across the world and even in Outer Space. For Halloween he was a bat, he also once took a voyage on the SS Luv, but it sank…

“Every drawing of Buffalo Bill is a one-of-a-kind with no duplicates made. So, the winner of the contest will get an original (not a photo copy) drawing of Buffalo Bill in an environment of your choosing, filtered obviously, through what is known as my brain. It could be anywhere, the moon, alien space craft, your kitchen… the possibilities are endless.”


Where would YOU have Aaron render Buffalo Bill? The cleverest response in the comments to the contest post on The Vinyl District blog ( ) will be awarded….



* your personalized, one-of-a-kind hand-drawn art by Thunder Buffalo

* an autographed Thunder Buffalo CD

* signed Feral Children CDs of both their 2008 debut Second to the Last Frontier AND their new release Brand New Blood

* posters for Peter Bradley Adams’ Leavetaking (’08) and Traces (’09)

* Two Two Loons for Tea band T-shirts

* and last, but certainly not least, a pair of earrings hand-made by War Tapes‘ bassist and backing vocalist Becca Popkin.

This contest is fun and easy, so go ahead, brainstorm some kookie drawing ideas, and submit them by commenting on the contest post on!

Can’t wait to see what you come up with!

~  The Sarathan Team