Star Bar promoter and Post-Apocalyptic Malone show host Bryan Malone talks live streams, new skills, and moving forward amid the pandemic

Photo courtesy Bryan G. Malone

Bryan Malone, the long-standing Star Bar promoter and guitar player with Atlanta rockers the Forty-Fives and Bad Spell hosts a weekly live streaming variety show from his home in Pendleton Manor.

Every Thursday night at 8 p.m. Eastern Time, Malone takes a different approach to live streaming performances, ranging from Kinks and Ramones-themed rock ‘n’ roll dance parties to root beer float appreciation nights. On August 13, Malone is hosting a Garden Party—virtually, of course—with the Post-Apocalyptic Malone Show and Pet Showcase. Send in a photo of your favorite pet and receive a post-apocalyptic shout out. This week’s setlist also features Malone performing songs by Ricky Nelson, Buddy Holly, Bobby Darin, the Beatles, and more.

In the meantime, Malone took a few minutes to talk about how the show comes together each week, the state of the Star Bar, and the power of live music—even when it’s pre-recorded.

What prompted you to start hosting your own live streaming performances?

Well, I didn’t really have any money coming in. The Star Bar closed down on New Year’s Eve, and I found myself out of work. I had a feeling it was coming, so I was prepared to take a few months off. But when it happened I didn’t know there was going to be a pandemic. By the time March rolled around and things started getting serious I looked at the calendar and thought, “man, this could go on for a long time.” I had never done anything even remotely like a live stream, much less ever really even played a solo show live. So this was a big step for me. I felt cornered, and I had to do something to make some kind of money. I noticed that other people were doing shows online. I watched several of them and thought maybe I’ll give this a shot and see if I can pull it off.

Do you feel like you’re pulling it off? 

There are varying degrees of success with everybody, but I try to make my shows a little different: I don’t just play music. I have little segments, I tell dumb jokes, show videos, and do all kinds of different stuff. Of course, it’s always based on the music, but I try to make it as close to a variety show as possible.

What kind of a software do you use to toggle between each part?

It’s an OBS—online broadcasting software—and I think it’s originally meant for gamers, so people can play video games online with each other. When I started doing this the sound was terrible. It had this fishbowl sound, and there was no way to control it. You can’t monitor it because you’re live-streaming. There is no playback, so you’re putting yourself out there without a net. It took me two or three shows to realize I’ve got to fix this. So I started working with software and it started sounding better. It’s an ongoing struggle. 

I started watching Kimono My House live streams, and Kenosha Kid, Cicada Rhythm, and Adron did a really well-produced live streaming variety show …

Adron is great anyway, but one of the things that helps her so much is that her performances are quiet. She plays very subtly, and it’s soft, which is conducive to this kind of setup. The louder you get the more problems you run into—at least that’s how it’s been for me.

What have you learned that helps overcome the problems you encounter when presenting loud music? 

Each week is different. I started running my stuff through an 8-track, and I started using microphones and the OBS software, trying to balance it all out. It’s a wild ride. I’ve definitely gotten better at it. At first it was pretty rough, and I didn’t know what was happening.

But using a microphone makes a huge difference. I thought I would be able to do it by just sitting in front of my computer with an acoustic guitar. I was used to playing in clubs, and playing on stage. So I was really going for it and belting it out, and I was overloading the little mic on the computer. There was no way to control it, and even though I kept trying to adjust my personal volume it was just crazy.

Success varies from week to week. I put a lot of work into the show, and try to make each one different—I try to make each one an event. Quickly, I realized that I can’t play the same set every week, or no one’s going to come back. So every week I learn an entirely new set (for the most part). I usually do 10-to-12 songs and I mix it up with a lot of originals, and a lot of covers. I’m learning all this new material, and it’s been really good for me as a musician, regardless of circumstances, because I’m forced to learn new material every week.

I’ll do theme nights: I did a Kinks night where I played all Kinks songs, or I did a Ramones night and played all Ramones stuff. Or I’ll do a night where I play songs by one of my bands, like an all Bad Spell night, or something like that. Some nights it’s just a free-for-all. I’ll play songs by the Who, and I’ll take requests. People will say “I want to hear this song, not that song,” So I’ll write all this stuff down and say “let me learn it,” or  “I already know that one and I’ll play it!” 

I picked Thursdays because I was watching Kimono My House and I noticed a lot of people playing on weekends. So I thought, “Everyone’s just sitting around anyway, so a weeknight might be better.” I picked Thursday. Then I kinda fell into that slot. After a while people were kind of expecting me to come on and play every Thursday night, so I stuck with it.

How has the response been?

I usually get a pretty good response. One of the fun things about it is you have a lot of friends who log on, so it’s kind of like a little chat room. People start talking: “I love this song,” or “Hey, how are you?” People are socializing inside this little bubble. I realized that pretty quickly. So I started making it as interactive as possible, and engaging in conversation with people. That makes it a whole lot of fun.

How do you promote your live streams? Do you put up fliers in Little Five Points or are you relying on Facebook?

I do everything online. I promote it through Facebook, and I’ll promote it on Instagram, and that’s about it so far. Sometimes I’ll make a little promo video—a short thing that I can share. I am doing it mostly on Facebook, but I’m going to start doing a YouTube live stream as well.

I recently did an afternoon pop-up show with Kimono My House. I didn’t really announce that one, I just set up my phone and went live, like, “Hey, I’m going to play a bunch of stuff, whatever comes to mind!” I took requests and whatnot.

Trying to navigate the Facebook algorithm is maddening.

I know! They make it as complicated as possible. And it always seems like once you start figuring it out they change it. You’re constantly chasing that ball, trying to figure out what’s going on.

Are your live streams available afterward, or is it still like you have to be here now kind of set up?

You don’t have to be there; they’re still available on Facebook. After the show, I will put them up on YouTube for my family—my dad doesn’t watch stuff on Facebook. He watches YouTube on his TV. So, I’ll do some of that but it is a lot more fun when you’re watching it live. That’s when you’re getting interaction with all the other people who are watching. That’s one element that you will miss when you’re watching the replay. 

You run the Star Bar’s “Almost Live From Little 5 Points” live streams as well.

Yeah, we do them on some Sunday nights. We can’t book any live shows right now due to social distancing measures, and there aren’t going to be any live shows in a sweaty, windowless bar for quite a while—maybe next year. So people send me tapes—I use the word tapes because I’m an old guy—or videos of them performing a song. Then I put them all together and have Ted Weldon host. Then I transmit that as a live show. Even though it’s prerecorded, I put it all together and broadcast live. That’s why it’s Almost Live From Little Five …

Each song has its introduction and then the song plays. I’ll have like 10 or 12 different videos ready and throughout the program I put them together and transmit them live.

Is this a new skill for you?

Oh yeah, absolutely. This is all brand new for me. I’ve never done anything like this before. I have definitely learned a lot in the way of editing videos, putting stuff together, and live streaming. It’s something that I never thought I would ever do. But it’s like that old saying about necessity goes … I had to do something, and this is a lot of fun! I’m like a lot of people, and a lot of people miss live music. They miss seeing people perform, and so I think this is a pretty good thing for everybody.

I recently attended Gallery 992’s Sunday night jazz session, which they’re now doing outside, in a vacant lot across the street. It was a profound experience; I didn’t realize how much I missed, and needed to engage with live music!

There really is no substitute for watching musicians perform in front of you. That’s something that cannot be replaced. The live stream is the closest that I have been able to come to that. And that’s one of the things I love about the live streams—especially when I do my stream. It is live! I am playing in real time, so you get the bumps and bruises that come with it, man. It’s something that happens when you’re learning 10 new songs every week. You learn that some songs work better than others.

I think that is what people crave—spontaneity.

It’s a lot of fun, and it has allowed me to reconnect with people whom I haven’t seen in a while. I’ll have people watching from all over the country—people from everywhere tuning in, and I’m like, “Hey there’s my buddy from San Francisco, or there’s so and so from New York!” It really has been a lot of fun.

How is the Star Bar coming along?

They’ve done a lot of work on the bar, and it looks really good. The upstairs is closed, but they are open downstairs. They’re doing patio service, so you can get a drink and sit outside. You can go into the lounge downstairs, which has been redone. They moved the bar—you know when you come in through the back door and go around the corner, that bar was right up to the door. They’ve moved that back a little bit, so it doesn’t cause a bottleneck right there anymore. They have a couple of pinball machines in there now, and they have a couple of booths in the back, so it’s starting to look like its own little bar down there, which is nice.

Tune in to the Post-Apocalyptic Malone show via Facebook every Thursday night at 8 p.m. Eastern Time.

A GoFundMe to support The Masquerade staff

Heaven at The Masquerade. Photo by Elena de Soto.

On March 16, The Masquerade announced that it was suspending operations to aid in the effort to slow the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus. Since then, the Downtown Atlanta music venue has canceled and postponed more than 100 shows in all three of its live music rooms — Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory. Many shows are being rescheduled for the fall and winter months, but the doors remain closed indefinitely.

The Masquerade is the city’s largest independently-owned music venue. Each night, the club brings more music to Atlanta than anywhere else, ranging from hip-hop, trap music, punk, hardcore, heavy metal, and jazz to DJ nights such as Torch DNB and the LA-based Emo Nite.

This means an awful lot of bartenders, sound engineers, loaders, caterers, box office staff, security, and administrative personnel are without work for the time being.

To help its employees pay the bills, a GoFundMe page is set up with all proceeds being distributed to the club’s employees, and there are donation perks.

Contributions of $50 or more will receive a pair of tickets to an upcoming concert.
Contributions of $100 or more will receive an invitation for you and a guest to attend a welcome back party with complimentary drinks, along with a pair of tickets to an upcoming concert.

The list of available shows will be posted on The Masquerade’s website as soon as it looks like the world will start moving again.

Kristen Englenz shines with ‘ingénue,’ Soul Food Cypher celebrates women in hip-hop, and more Atlanta music news

OH EVENIN’ STAR: Kristen Englenz’s debut album is out now. Photo by Leona Tryon.

Over the last three years, singer, and multi-instrumentalist Kristen Englenz has spent much of her time traveling back and forth between Nashville and Atlanta, although she still calls Atlanta home. On Friday, March 6, she returned to the Eddie’s Attic stage to play the release show for her proper debut album ingénue — and yes, that’s ingénue with a lowercase i.

“I thought it was more visually pleasing, interesting, and balanced,” Englenz says. “However, I have found that most people are capitalizing it anyways, so I may have to get over that.”

The album is the follow-up to Englenz’s 2015 The Extent of Play EP, and was recorded by Ken Coomer of Wilco and Uncle Tupelo fame at Cartoon Moon Studios in Nashville. As the story goes, Englenz had been enlisted to sing back-up on Decatur-based songwriter Mike Killeen’s album Ghost, which Coomer happened to be recording and producing. When Coomer heard Englenz’s parts, he approached her to produce ingénue. Coomer also plays drums and percussion throughout the album, and one early single, “Pray for Rain,” features the golden voices of the Blind Boys of Alabama singing as well. Continue reading at CL.

Welcome to Rad/ATL

Hello, my name is Chad Radford and I am an Atlanta-based music journalist with 20 years of experience in writing, editing, and podcasting. Punk, hardcore, jazz, noise, post-punk, hip-hop, metal, modern composition, drone music, and all points in between are where my interests lie. I am an avid nature lover, and I buy too many records.

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Vimur finds truth in the abyss: ‘Triumphant Master of Fates’ takes black metal to a grand scale

MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE: Vimur takes black metal into the void with ‘Triumphant Master of Fates.’ Photo by David Parham.

The cover art for Vimur’s second album, Triumphant Master of Fates features a painting by Portland, Oregon-based artist Adam Burke (of Nightjar Illustration), depicting a mountainous landscape divided by a river of blood. Standing atop a mountain, a lone traveler gazes into a massive black hole that has formed in the sky, radiating beams of light back at the viewer. It’s an arresting image that, like the cover of a 1950s pulp sci-fi novel, captures a climactic moment plucked from an epic journey.

For Vimur, Burke’s painting illustrates a moment of reckoning on a quest to find deep knowledge, a reverence for the expanding cosmos, and a vision of arcane knowledge, imperceptible when viewed through the lens of humankind’s earthbound senses. It’s also an enticing entry point that sets the tone for the Atlanta black metal outfit’s dive into a much older, colder, and infinitely larger universe than the Norse mythology hinted at with 2014’s Traversing the Ethereal Current and 2016’s Exegesis EP.

“The themes on the new album are all about seeking truth regarding the micro, the macro, the inner, the outer, darkness, and light; they’re about totality and all of its many dimensions,” offers the group’s singer, guitar player, and founding member, Vaedis Eosphorus. “In the past, I feel like I was just knocking on the door of concepts rather than fully opening the door and letting them come into me — come through me. I was exploring rather than exuding,” he says. Read the full story at CL ATL.

OK, this is the Pops: Bauhaus, Love and Rockets, and Tones On Tail find new life in Poptone

Poptone. Photo by Paul Rae.

Daniel Ash has a story he likes to tell about how the inspiration behind his current group Poptone came like a thief in the night. Ash, the former Bauhaus and Love and Rockets singer and guitarist, had fallen asleep at his desk with a pair of headphones on. He’d been clicking around Youtube, and recalls with hazy detail one of the last things he heard before drifting off to sleep: Brian Eno’s 1975 album, Another Green World.

“Eno is one of my favorites of all time,’ Ash says over the phone from his home in Los Angeles. The album’s flowing atmosphere and minimal pop rhythms are more than enough to send anyone’s subconscious mind drifting through dreamland on a cloud of pastel impressionism.

But sometime around 4 a.m., the spirit of rock ‘n’ roll Lemmy Kilmister of Moțrhead emerged to commandeer the streaming algorithm of Youtube on continuous play.

The buzzsaw guitars of Moțorhead’s “Ace of Spades” came ripping through the headphones at maximum volume. When Ash heard the song and Lemmy’s rasp growling out from beyond the grave, “You win some, lose some, it’s all the same to me/The pleasure is to play, makes no difference what you say,’ it was as though Ash was given a new lease on life. “I knew what I had to do,’ he says.And it had to happen immediately.

“Until that moment, I had given up on the idea of ever playing live again I wanted to make film and TV music,’ he says. “I had lost my confidence, and thought that playing live would never happen for me again.”

Charged by this late night shakeup, Ash let the idea simmer. “I slept on it for a few days,’ he says. “I just wanted to make sure it really was a good idea.” Sure enough, the powerful late-night jolt had awakened in Ash a desire to break his long hiatus from performing live.

His longtime cohort and drummer Kevin Haskins was ready as well. Back in the ’80s, Ash and Haskins had played only a handful of shows with Tones On Tail, the short-lived band they shared with bass player Glenn Campling.

Revisiting Tones On Tail’s songs and giving them the attention they deserved became priority one. But Ash and Haskins had other songs on their minds as well. There was Bauhaus’ austere “Slice Of Life,’ from 1983’s Burning From the Inside a song that Ash identifies as the birth of Love and Rockets. There was also Love and Rockets’ early cover of the Temptations’ 1970 hit “Ball of Confusion,’ which consummated the group’s vitality, along with its shift from Bauhaus’ visceral goth and post-punk charge into the realms of shimmering psychedelic pop.

Love and Rockets also scored a legitimate Top 10 hit with the seductive 1989 single “So Alive.” Poptone was born as a career retrospective, but Ash wanted the group to be a nostalgia trip with a life of its own. It was a new band rather than a reunion with Campling, or Bauhaus and Love and Rockets bass player and Haskins brother David J. The latter has carried on with an extensive a solo career, and has recently been supporting his latest album Vagabond Songs

Ash’s first question: “Who’s going to play bass?” They decided on Haskins’ daughter Diva Domp̩. Domp̩ has carved a niche for herself in Los Angeles’ music scene, releasing solo albums via Critical Heights, and performing in bands such as Pocahaunted, Blackblack, and most recently as Yialmelic Frequencies, as well as hosting a monthly guided-meditation show for DubLab.com.

While much of Diva’s musical aesthetic is steeped in layers of mystical, electronic, and largely instrumental drones, adapting to the role of bass player for Poptone came naturally. After all, she shares the Haskins DNA with her father and David J, and has been exposed to the songs her entire life. The influence even manifests itself in subtle ways, such as her 2015 single “Satori,” which gives a nod to Bauhaus’ 1981 single “Kick In the Eye.”

“I have always been inspired by my dad’s music,’ Domp̩ says. “It was challenging at first, but I wanted to honor this musical legacy, stay close to the original songs, and do my part to hold the space energetically, and make this group happen.” In April, Poptone premiered with a two-night stand at Swing House Rehearsal Studios in Los Angeles. Since then, the trio has been touring across the country in short two-week bursts of shows that keep the group’s energy levels high amid a flurry of blazing lights and the haunted pop ambiance of songs such as Love and Rockets’ “Mirror People’ and Tones On Tail’s “Movement of Fear,’ “Lions,’ and “Go!” Through it all, “Slice Of Life’ is the one song that Poptone has chosen to represent Bauhaus, and it’s still one of Haskins’ favorite songs to play. “I kind of feel proud when we come to that song,’ Haskins says. “I don’t know any other way to explain it, but I start feeling a little emotional when we play it.”

Haskins says the Tones On Tail songs are at the heart of Poptone’s drive. And now, because of technology, they more closely resemble how they sound on the records; each one maintains the haunting presence of its original version, packed with a renewed energy. From Tones On Tail’s ghostly cover of Elvis Presley’s “Heartbreak Hotel’ to the distorted rush of Love and Rockets “No Big Deal,’ inhabiting these songs in a modern context has been enriching for both Ash and Haskins. But it’s the audience’s responses that have affirmed their instinct to return to the stage.

With confidence rekindled, what happens next remains to be seen. Writing new material has been discussed, but nothing has been determined.For Ash, the power of Poptone lies in the freedom of living in the moment. “I get tunnel vision when I’m involved with a project, and I’ll follow it to the end,” he says. “I put everything into one thing, and when it’s done, I move on. So I’m not really thinking about what happens next. It’s like something John Lennon said: ‘One thing I can tell you is you got to be free,’ and I’m a huge believer in that. I don’t know how long this will last, but it’s an absolute pleasure.”

This story was originally published by CL ATL.