• Tips for Good Sleep While on the Road

    Sleeping at home is bliss. But when out on a trip with friends and family or in case I’m out touring, it often involves hotel stays, and satisfactory sleep can be hard to come by. The first couple of nights are usually the most difficult to get past. We understand many people have such sleeping issues when on the road; and have therefore come up with the following tips for some slumber glory.

    Check Hotel Amenities

    Some level of research and preparation can ensure even your first night at the hotel is comfortable. First, make sure you don’t book a hotel you know nothing about. Look up the hotel online – on its official website, review sites, etc. Learn where the hotel is located and whether it’s undergoing or has scheduled any renovation on the date of your stay.

    For instance, I don’t prefer hotels situated close to an airport or busy streets. But if there aren’t any quality hotels away from the busy areas, you can always request for rooms not adjacent to streets, or away from all the construction noise. Also, ask for extra pillows and extra blankets, if required.

    Pack Smart

    If you know the exact location of your hotel, you’ll have a much better idea about what and what not to pack into your travel bag. Regardless of how quiet or busy the hotel locale is, never travel without a sleep mask. If you don’t have the mask, buy one right away.

    The mask you buy should be thick enough to block out all the light, but not too heavy to pressurize your eyes and break you into sweat. Usually, the best sleep masks are made of nylon – the material is light, but thick enough, and also quite inexpensive.

    Get a travel pillow on-board too. The pillows you get at hotels may not be soft or hard enough, or you may not like the fabric. You can also use the pillow on the plane or when at a friend’s house. Also, pack in a pair of high-quality earplugs if you’re a light sleeper.

    Pillows and Sheets

    We’ve already touched upon lugging a travel pillow. But if your travel bag has some more space, get your regular bedroom pillow instead. A standard pillow may sound like an unnecessary baggage, but you’ll thank me later once you realize how much better your nights were with the pillow, in an unfamiliar environment.

    If a pillow from your house still doesn’t sound right, try taking pillowcases instead. These cases would make any pillow in the world familiar, provided you put these cases on them. And not to mention, pillowcases would take very little space. Also take your bed sheets wherever you travel. With your pillow/pillowcases and bed sheet, you can almost instantly make any hotel room feel like your own bedroom.

    If you’re not comfortable with the pillows in the hotel room, ask the management for another softer or firmer pillow – anything you prefer. Some hotels may also offer body pillows – you’ll only have to ask for them.

    Conclusion

    The better the hotel in terms of service and infrastructure, the lesser you’d need to carry your own things. Therefore, try booking the best possible hotel within your budget. Never sacrifice good-quality sleep for a few bucks.

    June 7, 2016 • Travel • Views: 220

  • Great Miami Music Clubs

    Stopping by the best nightclubs in Miami is important whether you are visiting Miami or going out for a local night on the town with your friends. You can’t visit Miami without visiting one of its nightclubs. The elements that make up a good club are elements such as the choice of music, food and beverages, cleanliness and clientele. The following is some information on three of the best clubs in Miami. You can choose from this list and visit the one that seems as it fits your desires for a club.

    Ball & Chain

    The Ball & Chain Nite Club is listed as one of the top 10 clubs in Miami. The club opens at 10 p.m. every day and closes at 3 a.m. Ball & Chain has a long history as a club as it has been open since 1935. The club has gotten many raving reviews on sites such as the USA Today site for its live band performances. Upcoming bands play live at this club as do legendary groups. People can also enjoy a nice Cuban meal if they get there early enough.

    The vibe at Ball & Chain appears to be a mixed vibe with people of all ages and walks of life. The club has a full bar in it as well as an exotic drink menu.

    Mynt Lounge

    Mynt Lounge will be perfect for you if you have money to burn and desire to hang out where the celebrities hang. Mynt Lounge is an upscale establishment that is on the South Beach side. The club is notorious for accommodating high rollers and celebrities. In fact, getting in is somewhat difficult for anyone who is not a high roller.

    Mynt Lounge plays a lot of modern hip-hop music and has housed performers such as R3hab, Quinto and Nervo & Friends. It’s the kind of club you go when you want chic and popular. You might notice the Paparazzi trying to get in and take pictures, but the bouncer will run them away immediately.

    Club Space

    Club Space is another popular one of the nightclubs to go if you want to see the latest celebrities and huge names. Club Space has housed entertainers such as Jay-Z, P. Diddy, Britney Spears and the like over the years. Justin Bieber would be a likely candidate for a performance or a visit at Club Space. Club Space is also place that you would want to go if you like to see a whole bunch of DJs have spin-outs. The club has a long list of amazing DJs such as Oscar G, Radamas, Boris and Cocodrills. They have a slew of DJs who give guest performances, as well. The club mostly plays dance music that visitors can move to.

    The previously mentioned nightclubs are the ones you should try first when you visit Miami. Plenty more nightclubs are available if you do not like those nightclubs. However, you will most likely be delighted by at least one of the nightclubs mentioned above.

    June 3, 2016 • Travel • Views: 354

  • My Passion: BigO Productions

    At the BigO Productions, we strive to set the standards for quality music production, concert planning and events management. Our team of talented professionals from all walks of life come together to form a formidable force that often delivers some of the most enthralling moments in people’s lives. Our doors are open to every boy or girl, man or woman who has a dream to achieve the best they can in their lifetime. We offer our services from a state of the art studios.

    Concert Planning

    Holding a successful concert requires a lot of planning and networking. Any musician or band that wishes to hold a concert locally, nationally or internationally can benefit by tapping into our resources which consists of among other things experienced personnel and elaborate networking contacts.

    We will schedule meetings and determine the best possible location to hold the concert after receiving initial instructions. Our team works around the clock to ensure that the concert’s fundamental concerns are taken care of. Some of these issues may include security, sound systems, decorations, venue preparation and transport logistics. We also carry out advertisement on behalf of our clients just so they can have peace of mind while they prepare to have their fans entertained.

    Music Production

    While many individuals have the talent to sing, they seldom achieve any success because they end up releasing poor quality music. Our facilities are equipped with some of the most modern production systems to ensure that anyone that walks into our recording studios will experience what it really feels like to make world class music.

    Our producers are highly skilled and have experience in fine tuning each piece of music to make it the true work of art it should be. The production team takes each task with dedication and a passion to succeed. Everyone knows that the success of the artist ultimately translates to the success of BigO Productions.

    Event Management

    Whether it is a public awareness event or corporate event, we have a dedicated team of experts that can handle it. Events can be large, medium or small in size depending on the purpose. Our team handles issues such as transport, seating arrangement, security, scheduling and catering related matters. Each event we undertake is unique because it is done according to the desires of the client. A representative is assigned to the client in order to coordinate everything before, during and after the event.

    Why choose BigO Productions

    Our company has a wealth of experience when it comes to the services we provide. This basically means that we have come up with the most effective strategies to handle any sort of event, concert or music production.

    We have invested in state of the art facilities to ensure that our clients are comfortable and get some of the highest quality services available in the world today. Our communication channels are open to anyone wishing to get in touch at any time. We offer some of the most competitive pricing packages on our services.

    May 27, 2016 • Music • Views: 417

  • 5 Fun Places to Visit in New York City

    New York City is one of the most interesting cities to visit. Manhattan, one of its boroughs, boasts of many high end restaurants, musical theaters and other musical related places. In addition, Manhattan has a rich source of history and musical culture from Jazz to Rhythms and Blues. It is a musical mecca for visitors who wish to be entertained with beautiful music and have their palates seduced with rich-tasting cuisines from some of the top chefs in the country.

    Some of my favorite places to visit in New York include hot restaurant joints and places that play rich music. Personally, I love to visit establishments that are small and intimate whenever am looking for a place to eat or enjoy music. I find these 5 places quite relaxing and entertaining:

    Café Carlyle

    My first pick in Manhattan is Café Carlyle that is tucked away on the Upper East Side. This beautiful cabaret lounge first opened its doors in 1955 and sits a maximum of 90 people. It has excellent dinning and winning facilities as well as musical performances. In keeping up with an aura of Manhattan’s sophistication, Café Carlyle features classy wall murals all with musical themes. One can enjoy performances by Sutton Fosters, Judy Collins, Michael Feinstein, Eddy Davis and Woody Allen.

    St. Mazie

    St. Mazie cannot miss from my list of favorite places to visit in Manhattan, New York. This is because it offers a classical throwback to the late 30s and early 40s when it comes to musical programming, décor and even drinks. This musical gem is hidden away in Williamsburg. St. Mazie boasts of salvaged wood, a huge vintage refrigerator, subway tiles and a stage. Music played is mostly from the early 20th century and consists of jazz, blues, swing, flamenco and even ragtime.

    Joe’s Pub

    Joe’s Pub is found inside Manhattan’s Public Theater located on East Village. I find this musical joint amazing because it is a known downtown arts leader. What I find most interesting is the eclectic lineup of performances and musicians who perform daily. It was first opened in 1998 and boasts of an intimate space where revelers enjoy the mouthwatering menu of Andrew Carmellini, a celebrated chef. Performers include Broadway superstars like Sutton Foster, Kelli O’Hara and Audra McDonald. Others include cabaret legends like Justin Vivian Bond and Sandra Bernhard. Other notable performers who have graced the Joe’s Pub’s stage include Elvis Costello, David Byrne, Taylor Mac, Adele and Lady Gaga.

    The Lucky Bee

    This is a Southeast Asian café that offers fresh farm-to-table dishes including my favorite coconut-braised ribs and grilled whole shrimp.

    Pasquale Jones

    Pasquale Jones is a casual Italian restaurant that offers pizza, steaks, fish, game bird and roasted vegetables dishes. It also offers fritti and pastas as well as wines from Burgundy and Italy.

    Manhattan has a rich network of restaurants that offer an amazing musical experience coupled with delicious delicacies and cuisines prepared by top chefs. The restaurants include Asian establishments (Indian, Japanese, Chinese), European restaurants (Italian, French), American joints and even Mexican restaurants.

    April 30, 2016 • Personal • Views: 234

  • The Responsibility to Give Back to Your Community

    Being a musician is fun. Just think about this for a minute. You are a singer who has millions of loyal fans across the globe. You have won a number of awards already and this motivates you to work harder to please your fans. However, I can tell you that life is not a breeze. Success is an enormous responsibility in the sense that you are a role model. Many people look up to you and you cannot afford to fail them. In any case, one of the best things about being successful is that you have the resources to give back to the community.

    In my own case, I am blessed to be a successful Haitian musician but I am based in Miami, Florida. I perform all over Europe and North America and I get paid in US dollars and Euros for my efforts. Unfortunately, my native Haiti is not exactly the richest country in the world. Infant mortality is high, infrastructure is not as good as it should be and a devastating earthquake destroyed a large part of the country. There is no point in listing all the problems of Haiti here. The important thing is that there are things I can do to help my country and these are the things I want to talk about in this article.

    Mentoring

    The first thing I did in my mission to give back to the society was to mentor a number of young and less privileged members of my community. I bought musical instruments for these youths and enrolled them in a musical school where they were taught vocals, drums, key board, guitar and other instruments. Today, some of those young men are successful musicians in their own right.

    Unfortunately, this was like a drop of water in an arid desert. It was not enough even though it was a beginning. At this point, I realized that there is a limit to what one person (me) can do and I decided to partner with other like-minded people.

    Partnership with reputable organizations

    A tree can never make a forest and this saying is perfectly applicable to giving back to the community. In my own case, I recognized my limits and this is why I had to partner with reputable NGOs to help my people. One Organization had a scholarship scheme for economically disadvantaged but brilliant students. In this case, it was a pleasure to work with these smart children. Today, some of them are medical doctors, some are engineers and a few are successful business owners.

    Infrastructural development

    A number of Haitian bankers, soccer stars and musicians (including yours truly) pooled their resources together and provided boreholes and solar panels to a few communities in Haiti. Today, the people there have safe drinking water and solar-powered electricity.

    Final word

    As stated already, being a success is fun but it comes with a huge responsibility. The good thing is that you do not have to do it all alone. Recognize the needs of people in your community and meet some of those needs. Get other people involved and spread the word. Put a smile on the faces of people in your community. Altruism is great for your soul and great for your life and those around you!

    April 29, 2016 • Personal • Views: 281

  • 6 Must-Have Apps for Musicians

    Between studio sessions, gigs, trying to balance music with “real” life, as well as all of the inner-workings of business can be a real crap-shoot. Regardless of where I am in the world, I do my best to stay connected with my friends, family, and fans. The following are some of my favorite phone apps. These have helped to connect me with others, as well as to make life a little easier. I hope you get a lot of value out of it!

    Evernote

    Some of the best songs come to you at the most unexpected times… at the bar mid-curly-fries, in the gym mid-lift and on the sidewalk mid-step. Evernote makes it easy to jot down lyrics, chords and ideas on the go. The best part of Evernote is that there is a desktop and a mobile app. The two sync anytime you make an update, making this app one of the most seamless applications for keeping your creative on-the-go moments all in one clean space.

    Snapchat

    Twitter was the new Facebook. Snapchat is the new Instagram… I know – its confusing. Snapchat is so popular right now that you simply cannot afford to not be a part of it. Capitalizing on the next big thing is incredibly important, especially when you are catering to a young audience who is always on the lookout for fresh social platforms.

    Twitter

    Stay in touch with your fans, tweet new set list teasers and connect with other musicians with a Twitter account for yourself or your band. Some musicians are notorious for disliking social media. It takes too much time away from getting down to business. However, quick and effective, Twitter is the perfect app for the band who would rather be making music than stuck on social media for hours… 140 characters and you’re off. 10 seconds tops. For days when you want to keep it simple, post a pic with a few hashtags and you can go on about your day.

    Instagram

    If you are not utilizing Instagram yet, you are really missing out on a gold mine. Post photos of your underground gigs, or give fans a peek inside the studio. Showing fans those raw, midnight sessions that no one knows exist… A picture is worth a thousand words and this intimate look into your life will draw fans closer, helping them see a little glimpse as to what an average day is like.

    HootSuite

    HootSuite is an invaluable marketing tool and many well known publications have named it one of the best on the market. This app offers a convenient social media dashboard, allowing you to monitor activity, post updates and take measure of your social media tools. It is one of the few apps that allows you to schedule your Twitter, Facebook and Google+ posts all in one place. You will also find analytics here to keep up with followers, clicks and traffic to let you know how you are doing… best of all, you can do it all from bed, the passenger seat or on the go.

    iReach

    Press releases are a great way to get your next CD release noticed. However, putting out a press release can be pretty expensive – especially for smaller, local bands. For $179, iReach helps you to get your press release out to 1,000 websites, including PR News, a recognized industry authority.

    Keeping your career running smoothly behind the scenes does not have to be exhausting. There is plenty of apps on the market that can help managing it all just a little easier, helping you to focus less on how you’ll ever get it all done… and more on making music!

    April 29, 2016 • Personal • Views: 223

  • Haitian Food: Popular Dishes In Haiti

    Haiti has its own unique food culture that is different from the other islands in the region. Even though it is often thought as a part of Caribbean cuisine, Haitian food has its own flavors and is also influenced by Creole food and French cuisine. Haiti also has its very own traditional dishes that you can only find here.

    Popular Haitian Food

    Many popular dishes are basic, affordable and filling. The typical diet is based on locally grown rice, millet, corn, beans and yams. The national dish of Haiti is Diri ak Pois, or rice and beans, and Mayi Moulen ak Pois (cornmeal and beans) is also common. Both can be found everywhere in Haiti, from street food stalls to restaurants.

    In fact most foods are served with rice or cornmeal. A typical everyday dish is a stew that can be flavored with spices such as pepper or clove, and that comes with a pile of rice or cornmeal. Cornmeal mush that is cooked together with coconut, peppers and kidney beans is a popular dish too.

    Boiled or fried plantains are an accompaniment to many meals. Boiled plantains and dried fish can also be served as a breakfast dish, especially on the coast where dried fish is a typical breakfast food. Bannann peze are fried plantains, and like many other fried dishes they are sometimes fried in pig fat to add flavor. Many dishes come with pikliz, vegetables such as cabbage, carrot, peppers and onions that are pickled in spicy vinegar. Especially fried foods are often eaten with pickles.

    There are many dishes that are typical and unique to Haiti. Diri djondjon or rice djondjon means rice that is cooked with black mushrooms that grow locally and that also give the rice a dark color. Kalalou (or calalou) djondjon is made with okra, mushrooms and pepper. Soup jomou is a pumpkin soup you should definitely try while in Haiti.

    Meat and Seafood Dishes

    Although rice, cornmeal, beans and plantain are a big part of many meals, especially wealthier people also eat pork, goat meat and seafood. Griyo (fried pork) is a traditional meat dish, often served with pikliz. Tassot is meat (such as beef) that is dried first and then fried, and it usually comes with fried plantains. Seafood delicacies include conch that can be served grilled or in a creole-style tomato sauce. Grilled fish and grilled lobster are available especially on the coast.

    Desserts in Haiti

    There are many popular local desserts in Haiti, and some desserts and pastries also have a distinct French influence. Typical Haitian desserts include pain patate, a cake or pudding that is made with sweet potatoes, banana, figs, vanilla and spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon.

    Many delicious fruits grow in Haiti’s tropical island climate. Popular local fruits include pineapple, mango and guava, which make delicious juices to go with Haitian food. Coconuts grow locally and coconut water is another tropical local drink. Sugarcane juice is a typical Caribbean and Haitian delicacy and a refreshing drink in the heat.

    April 25, 2016 • Haitian Culture • Views: 1323

  • Tips for Good Health While on the Road

    As a touring musician, playing in different cities every night, it is not always easy to get to a gym and get in the required amount of exercise to stay in good physical shape. Still, this is no excuse to not exercise at all. There are lots of innovative ways to get in quick and effective workouts even when there is no gym in sight. I share some of my best tips below:

    Take the gym with you

    Exercise need not be expensive or cumbersome. There are so many other options to choose from. When on the go, portable exercise equipment such as yoga mats, skipping ropes and exercise bands can provide you with a challenging and effective workout while on the road. Jump ropes allow for a great cardio option right from the comfort of your hotel room for example, while your yoga mat and resistance band can provide strength and resistance training using efficient muscle toning and body sculpting exercises.

    Use the available technology resources

    With mobile devices being increasingly powerful, convenient and available, one can take exercise and fitness on the road with them. All that is needed is perhaps a data service or WiFi, your favorite mobile device (tablet or smartphone) to start. There are countless exercise videos on YouTube that one can use. Some videos are longer than others, and the kinds of exercises offered up varies greatly. As such, you can choose exercise videos that are perfectly suited to your tastes and the amount of time you have available.

    Another useful resource is that of apps. Like YouTube, there are lots of free and minimal cost fitness apps to choose from. One of my favorite apps offers up a 7-minute circuit workout that I love. The exercises are challenging and quick. If you want you can repeat the sequence to bump up your workout to about 14mins.

    Use the resources of you surroundings

    As a musician on the road, we often play gigs in cities where the surroundings are beautiful and conducive to getting in a quick workout. For example, there may be a nice park not too far from your hotel or place of accommodation, use it to go for a quick jog or brisk walk. If your hotel had a wellness center or gym (or one is nearby and it’s not too expensive), you may use this option too. Finally, even if you have none of the above available at your disposal (including suggestions 1 and 2), if there is ample space in your room, you can do a few reps of your favorite exercises – like push ups, crunches, jumping jack’s and so forth.

    Exercise and beyond

    Of course, exercise is not the only aspect of maintaining good health. Truth be told, eating well while on the road can be even harder than getting in the necessary exercise. Be sure to eat as well as you can on the road, carrying multivitamins with you and drinking lots of water. Avoid processes, sugary foods like sodas and snacks as much as possible.

    April 22, 2016 • Personal • Views: 280

  • Origins of Haitian Kompa Music

    There are many good reasons why “Haitian Kompa” music is trending online, say music fans in Haiti and other parts of the Caribbean. The national music of Haiti is called “compass” or “kompa,” while linked to French and Haitian Creole languages. This Kompa styled music features rhythmic drums and horns; while always very popular in Caribbean nations due to what local historians dub as “the people’s music.”

    Another aspect of Haitian Kompa is linked to local tribal sounds that, in turn, have contributed to reggae, rock and roll and to the genre of a wide range of other ethnic music styles. For instance, Kompa is described as “jazzier” than most other traditional Haitian folk tunes. The main elements include a strong bass orchestra that is all about producing a danceable beat; while being presented by a big band at various Haitian Island events, festivals and weddings. Kompa music is always about Haiti and our people, as you can see on the Haitian government website; while the music’s focus is to tell a captivating local story with a sultry saxophone as its main voice.

    Haitian Music Roots Features Kompa “Soul”

    The best way and means to explain Haitian’s folk music roots is to listen to a Kompa melody and note how its lyrics or “direk” features the “voice” of people living in the Caribbean Island. For example, Kompa music lyrics often are written in French, Spanish, Portuguese and Creole languages or dialects. The famed Haitian and Caribbean band “Exile One” from the 1970s is credited with being a top Kompa music playing group. Band members explained their music stylings as being a mix of “cadence-lypso, jazz and coladeira.”

    The elements of Kompa include:

    • Music with a steady cadence
    • A fusion of American rock and jazz
    • Big-band influence with a dash of Haitian folk music and “mini jazz”
    • Good music for both line dancing and even traditional ballroom styled party tunes
    • A type of tango music that is passionate and partner centered

    In general, the great thing about Kompa is its wide variety of influences; while still retaining its creole soul sounds.

    Kompa is World Music at its Best

    The view about new and even traditional Haitian music is always linked to its Kompa specific melodies that are unique and always identified as breaking language barriers because musicians think “Kompa speaks for itself.” In fact, there are so many variations on the themes of Kompa that the genre has now expanded into hugely popular interpretations with African and European roots or influences. This musical genre is so popular in Haiti today that those who enjoy playing Kompa have expanded the sound’s typical instruments from its traditional horn and drum section to using high-tech music synthesizers and electric guitars. Still, there is the ever present cowbell conga drums and keyboard sounds to keep its stylistic “meringue” origins heard and never drowned out.

    Dance Music is at the Heart of Kompa

    When people in Haiti go out for an evening of fun and dancing, a Kompa “meringue” is basically a ballroom dance party with fans dancing in pairs; while a highlight is romantic partners holding each other tightly as they swap back and forth while shaking their hips to Kompa’s spirited Haitian rhythms. Today, there are hundreds of Haitian musicians and Kompa bands that tour the Caribbean Islands and worldwide.

    Overall, there has never been a better time to enjoy Kompa Music now that there are so many great bands featured online, and in dance halls in various Haitian and Caribbean communities in North America. The music is even a big hit in New York City where a recent Kompa Music event in the Big Apple’s Central Park drew more than 10,000 music fans.

    Music is a huge part of my life, so I hope this helps teach a little bit about some of the music that I love!

    April 21, 2016 • Music • Views: 379