Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros Front Woman Shines at First Avenue


Editor’s Note: This article first appeared as part of the Curve Magazine blog, She’s Electric in September, 2010 as “Un-Jaded with Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.”

By Melany Joy Beck & Janelle Beck

It’s easy to write off Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros as one of L.A.’s newest musical shticks. With their psychedelic prairie garb, dreadlocks and obvious appreciation of a certain herbal substance, the band is easy to stereotype. It is also true that their lineup includes a former ABC Family star, an American Apparel model and a cadre of west coast scenesters, including former Ima Robot front man, Alex Ebert who now dresses like the next messiah. However, Edward Sharpe and their free-loving ethos is a Kool-Aid worth drinking.

One of two women in the ten-person ensemble and the ingénue behind their breakthrough single, ‘Home’ is Jade Castrinos. Channeling Grace Slick at her most affable and Janis Joplin at her most lucid, Castrinos’ voice conjures images of wide open spaces and the fantasy of some nameless, long-forgotten west. But the singer becomes humble at the evocation of such icons and seems hard-pressed to claim any rock-idol throne.

“That’s a fucking honor, man. My dad and I were in a jam band and we would jam Janis Joplin,” she says, taking a seat backstage at Minneapolis’ First Avenue nightclub. “Strangely, I just picked up a biography on her and the first page I opened up to was a story about her sleepwalking as a kid and her mom woke her and asked what she was doing and she said, ‘I’m going home, I’m going home.’ That instantly hooked me.”

The sentiment of ‘Home’ has hooked a lot of people on Jade Castrinos too.

“The other night we had a show in Montana and it was just incredible,” she muses. “We had one of those moments when everyone is jamming and we become a unit and everything syncs up in the room.” She shakes her head and focuses her eyes on a seemingly empty patch of dressing room wall. “Those are the ones. The soul shakers. The moments when I understand why I’m on earth.”


In an industry where competition is par for the course, Castrinos maintains an holistic view of her musicianship and why she twirls and wails and bangs the tambourine in the Edward Sharpe rock collective.

“It’s not just about me,” she says. “It’s about us making a sound together and being of service to song and love and supporting each other. The opposite of jealousy and competition is admiration and sharing. That’s the side of it that I’m on.”

The overall essence of Castrinos reaches beyond the notion of taking the stage. Marveling at the state of the world, our country, and even the music being written she is visibly struck by the sudden magnitude of import.

“What really matters when you go to your death bed?” she asks, raising her hands up and letting them flutter back down to smooth her tunic. “It’s not about the fuck-you songs to the government. I don’t think that’s what it should be about. It’s about shining a light and being a light and not cursing the darkness. We are all born into a world that is at war. Brothers and sisters don’t recognize each other and we all are living in this illusion of duality.”

At the sold-out show with opening act, Dawes, there is no hint of disharmony as Castrinos and Ebert echo the anthemic chorus of ‘Home’ to close out the night. In this band of brothers, sister Jade shines.


About the Authors:

Melany Joy Beck and Janelle Beck are writers and filmmakers. Their short documentary Bring It 2 Peter was awarded Special Jury Prize at the Nevada Film Festival, Best Documentary at the Central Wisconsin Film Festival, and Official Selection honors at the Minneapolis Underground Film Festival. They can also be heard in vocal harmony on the Delavan song, Pistols Blazing.

All content and images copyright Melany Joy Beck, Janelle Beck 2016©

Sweetheart Mixtape

If you’ve got a sweetheart, one of the most thoughtful things you can do is to make her (or him) a mixtape. I know, nobody does “tapes” anymore, but mixCD, or digital song mix, just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

In order to spread the Valentines Day love, I’d like to share with you the mixtape that I made for my sweetheart this year. So if you love slide guitar and a Western skyline, wild horses and whiskey, or a kiss by a campfire, then this is sure to put you both in the mood to ride off into the sunset.

I’ll even throw in a free song to get you started. Enjoy!

  1. The Black Lillies – Dancin’
  2. Chris Stapleton – When the Stars Come Out
  3. Lord Huron – Ends of the Earth
  4. Hozier – Like People Do
  5. Kacey Musgraves – I Miss You
  6. Delavan – Love Shine (Free Download)
  7. Jason Isbell – Stockholm
  8. Sturgill Simpson – The Promise
  9. Alabama Shakes – I Found You
  10. Ashley Monroe – Has Anybody Ever Told You
  11. Erik Koskinen – First Time in Years
  12. Patty Griffin – Heavenly Day




Paul Kantner (1941-2016)

“Let me tell you ‘bout a man I knew…” – Sketches of China, Paul Kantner, Grace Slick, David Freiberg

I discovered Jefferson Airplane when I was about twelve years old through my dad’s record collection. At the time there wasn’t a lot going on musically. My early listening years consisted of vacuous 80’s hits and hair metal.

Obviously Hendrix, Zeppelin, and other mid-twentieth-century artists blew my mind. But it was Jefferson Airplane that really resonated. I liked the melodies, the three part harmony, the trippy lyrics that later (with Jefferson Starship) gave way to sci-fi ponderings.

White Rabbit and Somebody to Love clearly belong in the rock and roll canon, but I really thought things got interesting with Blows Against the Empire (the first rock album nominated for a Hugo Award). With this project, Paul Kantner got a chance to explore his interests lyrically and it was a departure from earlier iterations of the band.

To this day, Kantner remains an underrated songwriter and rhythm guitarist. His vision, often not necessarily musical in nature but conceptually compelling, led the group (Slick especially) into uncharted territory. He remains the unsung creative director of the Jefferson Airplane/Starship franchise.

I met Paul once, some years ago, at a divey little casino in Wisconsin. I had gone to the Jefferson Starship website and saw that he was playing not far from where I grew up with Marty Balin and Jack Casady (original members of Jefferson Airplane).

Nervous and weirdly star struck, I approached the band after the show.

“I’ve been waiting almost a decade to meet you,” I blurted.

Paul glanced at me, and then out the window at the blizzard that had begun to rage outside. No doubt wondering how their tour bus would fare on the icy roads.

He looked back at me with a smirk, “You must be cold.”

And then he was gone.


About the Author

Melany Joy Beck is a writer, musician, and award-winning independent filmmaker. Her Kickstarter project, Bring It 2 Peter (co-produced with Janelle Sorenson) was selected Special Jury Prize at the Nevada Film Festival 2011, Best Documentary at the Central Wisconsin Film Festival 2011, and Official Selection at the Minneapolis Underground Film Festival 2012.


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Motorcycle Giant Sends Cash

Besides the occasional birthday card from Grandma, most of us are unaccustomed to receiving cash by mail. That’s why Honda’s new marketing campaign is so shocking.

I first became interested in motorcycles after working on the award-winning documentary Bring It 2 Peter. As part of the shoot, we retraced the steps of  Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper from the 1969 counterculture classic, Easy Rider. While interviewing riders, and traveling along the original Route 66, I fell in love with the sense of freedom that’s inherent to owning a bike.

Last summer I finally became a licensed motorcyclist myself, and as a smaller, fairly cautious rider, I wanted to buy a machine that wouldn’t be too overwhelming right out of the gate. The 250cc Honda Rebel was the perfect choice and, as an owner, I often receive correspondence from the company.

Usually, the mail I receive from Honda is fairly uninteresting warranty information or welcome-to-owning-a-motorcycle type of material. But when I rip open this particular envelope, a crisp new dollar bill falls out.

My first thought: “Is it fake?”

Having received many fake plastic credit cards in the mail and “too good to be true” checks, I immediately smell a rat.

Why is Honda sending cash through the mail?

I read the letter, and scan the accompanying survey. It is indeed an actual dollar. In addition, the company wants to ask me a few lifestyle questions so they can compile marketing insight.

As a product marketer and content strategist myself, I know how valuable these insights can be. They can help to more effectively target potential buyers, upgrade product features, and in some cases learn some embarrassing truths about your brand.

Do I fill out the survey? Of course I do. And I take the trouble to drop it in a mailbox. Why?

One of the reasons is that it is unexpectedly delightful to receive cash (even a small amount) by mail. This company just gave me something of immediate value, never knowing if I would fill out the survey.

As humans, we are often taught that “one good turn deserves another.” Plus, compared to the general public, I’m sure motorcyclists are statistically more likely to take risks and approve of risk-taking behavior (like sending money through the mail).

“Wow, how gutsy and irreverent – like me,” I think.

Now Honda (in my mind) is like me, they’re my pal. They give me money. It’s no big deal to answer a few questions – especially since they are fun. One of the survey questions asks if I feel that motorcycling increases my sex appeal (duh), or gives me a “sense of freedom” (double duh).

Of course, I have no idea what kind of response rate they get from these surveys. It would be a great A/B test. Maybe I’ll think about that later. Right now I’ve got to drive my sexy motorcycle down to the corner store and spend my free cash.

Like motorcycle movies? Check out Bring It 2Peter.


About the Author

Melany Joy Beck is an award-winning independent filmmaker. Her Kickstarter project, Bring It 2 Peter (co-produced with Janelle Sorenson) was selected Special Jury Prize at the Nevada Film Festival 2011, Best Documentary at the Central Wisconsin Film Festival and Official Selection at the Minneapolis Underground Film Festival.


3 Steps to Social Media Success

3 Steps to Social Media Success – Small Business Edition

There’s a lot of pressure these days to keep up with the Joneses by having a social media strategy. Unfortunately, a lot of small businesses lack the resources and knowhow to leverage these non-traditional advertising channels effectively. The following checklist will help you to make a more informed decision about how and if your business is ready to go social.

  1. Choose the Right Platform for Your Audience

B2B vendors should start with LinkedIn. LinkedIn has phenomenal metrics (more on that later), and is generally perceived to be more business-oriented and trustworthy than Facebook. Sponsored posts can be easily targeted to businesses and geographies that fit your sales demographic. Conversely, B2C businesses need to reach consumers where they interact casually which is Facebook, Instagram, or even Pinterest. Twitter can be an effective channel for both B2B and B2C businesses, but with the fleeting nature of the Tweet, you’ll generally get less return from each post.

  1. Set Specific Goals and Use Metrics to Ensure You Meet Them

How will you know if you’re successful if you do not first define what success means? Is it generating a certain number of leads? Are you creating individual landing pages for each post and tracking clicks? Who will be posting and how much time should they spend per week? All of these are important considerations before you begin any social media strategy. Consider overall business goals and how social media can help the company reach those goals faster.

  1. Be Ready to Create and Nurture a Community

It’s called social media for a reason. If you want to start a Facebook page just to post about your own products, you are in for a rude awakening. That type of hard sell doesn’t generate engagement. So how do you convert? Give your followers valuable content that they actually want – for free. Options include articles, interviews, videos, white papers, and anything else in which your customers are interested. Pepper this type of free content with new product announcements, sales, and more company-centric posts. Followers will begin to build trust and favorable perceptions of your company. It typically takes about 8 touch points before a sale. Don’t give up too soon.


About the Author

Melany Joy Beck is a writer, filmmaker, and content strategist. Her experience in direct response advertising has fueled her passion for developing successful social media campaigns for small and large companies in the entertainment, technology, and healthcare markets.

© Image and content Melany Joy Beck, all rights reserved

Top 5 Gifts for Eccentric Relatives

Let’s face it, everybody has a couple of relatives that are just a mystery. Their love of trilogies, puns, and small bits of wire confound the most well-meaning family members. What do you buy these people? Don your tinfoil hat and get a load of the Top 5 Gifts for Eccentric Relatives.

  1. SmartWool PhD® Slopestyle Medium Lincoln Loop Socks

While most of the northern hemisphere is plunged into darkness and glacial chill, a good pair of warm socks are always appreciated. Interesting patterns and colors are a hit with creative folks of many stripes.





  1. Raspberry Pi™

For the tech geek who has everything comes the Raspberry Pi. Never heard of it? It’s a tiny little computer thing that can be used to build pretty much anything. Give your anti-social loved one a reason to hole-up in the extra bedroom and figure out how to sync the Christmas lights to Rock Me Amadeus.




  1. Crafting with Cat Hair: Cute Handicrafts to Make with your Cat Book

Yes, this is a real book. It’s perfect for the crazy cat lady in your family, young or old. Take that raggedy old calico, brush it profusely and you too can enjoy hours of fun with cat hair finger puppets, tote bags, coin purses, and more.





  1. Game of Thrones Stark Infantry Shield

Your quirky kin can pretend he or she is one of the brave Starks of Winterfell with this officially licensed Game of Thrones shield product. Fans of the hit HBO series will be howling about the realistic direwolf sigil emblazoned on cold rolled steel (and you’ll feel extra safe that you didn’t buy them a sword).



Stark Shield


  1. BioLite® Wood Burning Camp Stove

From doomsday preppers to friendly tree huggers, everybody loves the BioLite wood burning camp stove. And why not? This handy gadget allows you to gather a few twigs and charge your cell phone – while cooking a hearty dinner off the grid.






About the Author: Melany Joy Beck is a writer, filmmaker, and content strategist who frequently fraternizes with techies, musicians, artists, and other eccentric individuals. She understands that it is difficult to shop for anyone who doesn’t want a Keurig. You can watch her award-winning short film Bring It 2 Peter on Amazon Instant Video.

Slow and Steady | The Songwriting Secrets of BOY

The following interview with BOY took place during SXSW in 2013. I was on assignment for the magazine (with Janelle Sorenson) but due to editorial constraints, the lion’s share of the material we captured (many great bands) was not used in the final article.  

At that time, Steiner and Glass had already begun writing the songs that would appear on We Are Here and discussed the process in detail. We also had the opportunity to hear “Into the Wild” live at Peckerheads on 6th Street as part of the Baeble Music Showcase and fell in love with the song.

Slow and Steady | The Songwriting Secrets of BOY

Valeska Steiner and Sonja Glass of the Hamburg-based duo BOY first met in 2007 at a musical workshop where the two hit it off professionally. They soon began writing together and their debut album Mutual Friends with its international hit “Little Numbers” arrived four years later.

“Since nobody was waiting for the [first] album, we took as much time as we needed to find out how we want to write, or how it works to write,” says Glass. “We had enough time to form a vision in our heads about what we would do musically so it was two and a half years of writing, playing live, and going to the studio to record.”

Doing What Works

With the second album, We Were Here, set to drop in September of 2015, it is clear that the two sought to repeat the winning formula.

“When we write, it is like a back and forth,” Steiner says. “Sonja does instrumentals at her home studio and sends them to me. I record a melody with lyrics that fit and then I send it back. So it goes back and forth via email for quite a long time until we really put a song together and then we go to the studio and record it properly.”

Writing music takes time, and in some cases the right space to really bring out the creativity.

“I need to have a very quiet place, actually,” Glass says. “No music, nothing at all, to start a new idea.”


When asked about what inspires them, the two cast a wide net.

“For me, for the lyrics, I think it’s very much taken from my life or the things I observe with my friends, or just people around me,” says Steiner. “It can also be books or movies or artists that I like. I think inspiration can be everywhere, so you just have to catch it.”

“I’m inspired by my whole life and by the music I listen to, and the sounds I like,” agrees Glass.

What’s Next

The new album, We Were Here will be available to American audiences September 18, over two years in the making – a point not lost on the band.

“We started writing new songs in January or February [2013],” says Glass. “We are very slow writers, really slow. It’s too early to tell what it’s about or where it’s going to be.”

About the Author

Melany Joy Beck is a writer, musician, and award-winning independent filmmaker. Her Kickstarter project, Bring It 2 Peter (co-produced with Janelle Sorenson) was selected Special Jury Prize at the Nevada Film Festival 2011, Best Documentary at the Central Wisconsin Film Festival 2011, and Official Selection at the Minneapolis Underground Film Festival 2012.