NS Artist Jason Yang – Exploring new modes of violin performance

Performance by Jon Boogz and Lil Buck at TED2017 – The Future You, April 24-28, 2017, Vancouver, BC, Canada. Photo: Bret Hartman / TED

NS Violinist Jason Yang follows his creative instincts into innovative musical territory. As a young classical violinist growing up in New Jersey, Yang enjoyed performing with the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra. He broadened his interests beyond classical music while at the University of Southern California, where he met musicians who sparked his interest in composing and improvisation.

Yang began composing, arranging, and teaching, and developed his own unique style.  In 2007, he began playing the NS Design CR Series Electric Violin, which expanded his sonic palette and offered a new array of technical possibilities.  Jason’s performances came to encompass a variety of genres, bound together by technological innovation and his deft, playful musicianship.

Yang is pictured here at NAMM 2017 with his composing mentor Mick Baumeister (left), and Ned Steinberger (right),  founder and designer, NS Design.

In 2008, while still at USC, he started posting YouTube videos of himself from his dorm room jamming on the CR4 with various pedals and layering effects. Layering and mixing using the NS electric violin, his acoustic violin, and other instruments, Yang constructed an orchestral base for his music. The success of his YouTube videos raised his profile among a new generation of experimental violinists. Today, his YouTube channel has 198,000 subscribers.

At Yang’s workstation, pictured in foreground: NS Design CR4 Transparent Black Cherry High Gloss Custom Electric Violin displayed on the NS Violin Caddy; background: NS Design CR4 Amber Satin Electric Violin.

After college, Jason found increasing success as a professional musician. In 2012 he joined Madonna’s MDNA World Tour as her violinist. He continues to collaborate with dancer and performance artist Lil Buck, who also tours with Madonna. Lil Buck and Yang have also performed together on The Colbert Report, and recently at TED2017, in the premier of a performance as MAI: Movement Art Is, co-led by dancer/choreographer John Boogz. That work, “A Dance to Honor Mother Earth”, combined dance, spoken word, and Native American song and music performed by Yang on the CR Violin.

Performance by Jon Boogz and Lil Buck at TED2017 – The Future You, April 24-28, 2017, Vancouver, BC, Canada. Photo: Ryan Lash / TED

Watch the full performance here:

Jason has played the CR Violin for almost a decade. In his own words, the instrument is “hands down the best electric violin available … sound, response, design, build quality, dependability.”  Jason goes wireless in his live performances, with a wireless pack in to his CR, and wireless in-ears for monitoring. He uses Boss pedals and loop stations for his effects.

Here’s another example of what Jason does so well, in what he describes as: “Spontaneous 100% freestyle jam of Moonlight Sonata. With a lil’ bit of distortion…” in a video post with fellow Movement Art Is collaborator, John Boogz:

Recently Amazon.com approached Yang to host his own live streaming channel on their online streaming service TwitchCreative.  Growing out of TwitchTV, which originally focused on live-stream gaming, TwitchCreative has channels for music, cooking, painting, and crafts.

Jason’s live shows feature jamming, requests from among his 14,000 followers and guest appearances by other artists he hosts from his living room studio.  Some of the most popular streams include work with ChewieMelodies, The Luck, Cellist Mariko, and several collaborations with his sister, pianist Pauline Yang.

For more information about Jason Yang and links to various projects and performances, goto his YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/JasonYangViolin or at TwitchCreative: http://www.twitch.tv/jasonyangviolin.

For more information about the CR Series Electric Violins that Jason plays and the entire selection of NS Bowed Electric Instruments, including the new Eco-friendly and battery free NXTa or the affordable and road-worthy WAV Series or to see a selection of our Custom CR Series Finishes, and available accessories for the NS Electric Violin, please visit our website: ThinkNS.com.


The Lyonn’s Roar by Julie Lyonn Lieberman – Edition Four – “Electric Technique: The Same . . .or?”

Photo Courtesy of NS Artist Avery Merritt

Welcome to the fourth edition of THE LYONN’S ROAR, “Electric Technique:  The Same . . .or?” by NS Violinist and Educator Julie Lyonn Lieberman.

Whether you’ve just unboxed your new NS Violin, plugged in your acoustic for the first time, or are just ready to unleash into new territory on the instrument you already love to play, these exciting iNSights will take your playing to another level and help you stand out in any performance setting.

Chord connection fills, textural ghost notes, chopping techniques, and incorporating guitar and horn like riffs to electrify your string sound, Lieberman highlights a range of suggestions for expanding your violin’s voice using several alternative techniques.

Electric Technique

This fourth edition includes a bonus interview with violinist Papa John Creach of Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna.  Papa John is an exciting and unique violinist and performer that understands how to truly stand out on a stage. In the interview, he talks about how to “Get Down, Get Dirty and Give it some Guts” on your electric.

How else do you achieve these techniques? Attend a summer program that will help you build new skills, there are quite a few to choose from.  Check out Julie’s book, How to Play Contemporary Strings: A Step-by-Step Approach for Violin, Viola & Cello, with its video tutorials and backing tracks, it’s a sure way to gain skills and have some fun.  Visit her website for more information on all her books, DVDs and courses. http://julielyonn.com/

For more information about all of NS Design’s electric violins and electric violas and the new eco-friendly, active yet battery-free NXTa Electric Violin, or the affordable and road-worthy WAV Electric Violin visit ThinkNS.com.


NS Design Bassist Bakithi Kumalo with Paul Simon – 2017 U.S. Summer Tour

NS Bassist Bakithi Kumalo is back on tour with Paul Simon this summer playing several dates around the country throughout the month of June.  The tour kicked off June 1st in St. Augustine, FL and ends at SummerFest in Milwaukee, WI on June 30.  Don’t miss it!  Tour and ticket information can be found here: http://www.paulsimon.com/news/paul-simon-announces-us-summer-tour/

Kumalo plays a variety of NS Basses and his go-to on this summer’s tour are the WAV5 RADIUS Bass Guitar and the NXT4 Electric Upright.  He also plays the NXT Omni Bass and the CR RADIUS Bass Guitar.

Joining him with an NXT Electric Cello is fellow multi-instrumentalist, composer and tour mate Mark Stewart who has been recording and touring with Paul Simon since the late 1990’s. Stewart is also one of the All-Star musicians in Bang on a Can, awarded Musical America’s Ensemble of the Year and heralded as “the country’s most important vehicle for contemporary music” by the San Francisco Chronicle. Mark is also a member of Steve Reich & Musicians and the comic duo Polygraph Lounge with Rob Schwimmer and in 2013 was in a year-long residency at MIT in the Glass Lab teaching students to design and create a glass orchestra.

Photos: Bakithi Kumalo and Mark Stewart in rehearsal for tour with Paul Simon.

Watch:  Paul Simon‘s debut performance at Austin City Limits with “Wristband” from his album Stranger to Stranger. The album is described by Andy Greene of Rolling Stone as “an experimental album heavy on echo and rhythm that fuses electronic beats with African woodwind instruments, Peruvian drums, a gospel music quartet, horns and synthesizers.”  A great showcase for Kumalo’s talents, who opens this funny song playing his NXT Upright.

 

Watch:  Bass Musician Magazine Interview with Bakithi Kumalo in which he describes how he got his start on stage at just 7 years old playing a Gibson bass in his uncle’s band in South Africa; his ultimate respect for finding the tone, the most influential bassists for him and his willingness to share lessons he has learned along the way to a successful career playing his music for audiences around the world.  And at 22:00 in this interview…see and hear the slap sound technique he’s having fun with these days on his CR5 RADIUS Bass Guitar, it’s a real treat and is as fun, adventurous and masterful as Kumalo himself. Enjoy!

 

Watch:  Bakithi Kumalo and his quartet at 2016 Bass Bash at Winter NAMM, with special guest and fellow NS Artist Avery Merritt playing his NS Custom Exotic Top Zebrawood CR4 Electric Violin.

 

More details and features for all the NS Basses that Bakithi plays along with our new eco-friendly NXTa active series EUB’s, Omni’s, Cello’s, Violin’s and Viola’s featuring battery-free electronics are found at our website ThinkNS.com.


James “Hutch” Hutchinson – Groove Royalty

James “Hutch” Hutchinson is respected far and wide for his musical versatility and long experience playing with top-tier acts. After taking some classes at the Berklee College of Music while gigging in bands around Boston, the 17 year old decided to head out west to the San Francisco Bay Area.  He jumped at opportunities to play on sessions with Link Wray’s band and with Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart which lead to an opportunity to join the Quicksilver Messenger Service spin-off Copperhead, all this before he turned 20 years old.

When their album failed to find an audience the band broke up and Hutch left for Guatemala for what he expected to be just a three week visit. Three weeks turned into a year which allowed Hutch to immerse himself in Latin American culture and rhythms. Returning to the US with his Latin Jazz Fusion band The Point, Hutch got an offer to play in The Neville Brothers Band. While playing with the Neville Brothers he was introduced to Bonnie Raitt and in 1983 moved to Los Angeles to join her band after her original bassist dropped out right before she was scheduled to go on tour.

In the intervening 30 plus years, Hutch has made significant contributions to Bonnie’s sound and has co-written some of her tunes along the way. In an interview with Bass Player Magazine Hutch recalls, “Bonnie calls me her ‘musical ranger’ because I bring in all of these different influences. It’s not just that I’ve listened well and learned to play different styles, it’s that I’ve spent time living and working with the players in those communities. There are musicians in various parts of the world—blues players, country guys, even African musicians—who think of me as their style of musician. They may not even be aware of other styles I play.”

Fellow NS artist Tony Levin sums up Hutch’s musical versatility and impact on Bonnie’s records for Bass Player Magazine: “Hutch Hutchinson has never played a wrong note for Bonnie Raitt. He’s perfect for her songs.”

Hutchinson uses a variety of basses to bring the best tone and feel to his music. For songs requiring versatility in upright sound, Hutch loves NS Design’s CR Omni Bass.  Ned Steinberger created the Omni Bass to connect the sound and feel of the electric bass guitar with its familiar 34″ scale and TransRadius™ fingerboard with the tonal purity, voice and bowed or plucked response of the classic upright bass. The Omni bridges both worlds. It’s a portable and adaptable innovation that has opened up new worlds of sonic versatility and physical freedom for so many musicians like Hutch.

Hutch’s favorite go-to upright on the current Dig In Deep tour is NS Design’s high performance CR4M Upright Bass. It’s as versatile as the CR Omni, including an active EQ and mixer, EMG™ magnetic pickups and Steinberger’s patented Polar™ Piezo Pickup System, and provides all the depth of sound that a full scale double bass commands.  Hutch uses the CR4M with vintage Ampeg B-12, B-15’s; and when in the studio, the B-18 combos or the classic Ampeg SVT808’s and 8X8 matching cabinets.

NS Design founder and creator Ned Steinberger with Hutch Hutchinson

Here’s Bonnie Raitt and Co. covering a Bob Dylan classic “Million Miles”  from her 2012 album Slipstream.

With headlining tour dates in May and June around the US, Bonnie, Hutch and Co. will also be joining fellow Massachusetts-native James Taylor in select US dates in August, with a very special performance on August 11th at historic Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox. Check out all tour dates and related info at:  http://www.bonnieraitt.com/tour

Learn more about James “Hutch” Hutchinson, NS Design Artists and NS Basses at thinkNS.com


The Lyonn’s Roar by Julie Lyonn Lieberman – Edition Three -“Get The Best Tone On Your Electric”

By Julie Lyonn Lieberman

Photo courtesy of Blackerby Violin Shop, Austin, Texas

Welcome to the third edition of THE LYONN’S ROAR, “Get The Best Tone On Your Electric,” with highlighting iNSights into Choosing an Electric Instrument, Amplification and Effects, and Strings and things by Julie Lyonn Lieberman.  Check out this informative article that covers all the bases of Electric String Instruments:

Get the Best Tone on Your Electric

This edition features a special interview with Fan Tao, Director of Research and Development for D’Addario Orchestral Strings

Check out this informative article and the many videos of Julie demonstrating the use of multiple effects units and changing strings on the NS Violin.

Learn more about all the amazing electric bowed string instruments NS Design offers at ThinkNS


The Levin Brothers Band on tour!

The Levin Brothers Band are on tour now.  With bassist Tony Levin and his brother Pete Levin on keyboard along with fellow bandmates sax player Erik Lawrence and drummer Jeff “Siege” Siegel, the band have select dates on the U.S. East Coast and in South America this Spring.

Playing the classic retro sound of the Afro-Cuban influenced jazz referenced from Tony and Pete’s childhood this combo is sure to please!

Check out Tony stretching his wings on the NS Cello and NS Bass on the first single from their debut album: “Not So Square Dance”

Click here for a recap of Tony and Pete’s appearance at the NS Design booth during Winter NAMM 2015.

For more information on the Levin Brothers visit their website at:  http://thelevinbrothers.com


Watching for Foxes – Spring Tour 2017

NS Cellist Geoffrey Kartes leads Michigan’s indie-rock outfit Watching for Foxes on the 2017 Spring Tour supporting their debut album Undone Bird.”

“Watching For Foxes make every song feel like it’s that half-triumphant, half-weary, all-around cathartic march up the hilly knoll towards the unknowable-yet-still-hope-splashed horizon, as if every song were the build up to the closing credits of the indie-arthouse film of the story to your life. ” – Jeff Milo (Detroit Free Press, PASTE) – DEEP CUTZ

Check out their video from Session LIV performing the single “Bad Kids”:

“Arguably the band with the most buzz…This folk-rock ensemble out of Grand Rapids has crafted a cinematic showcase of emotion packed with as many memorable hooks as it has moving, existential passages.” – REVUE MAGAZINE

Here’s “Built Broken | Sofar Cleveland”:

“We love playing music together and we want this to be our entrance into doing music for a living; we work really hard at what we do. Our songs yearn to be heard, to tell our stories, and inspire others to do the same.”

Kartes moonlights as a teacher and shares his passion for music with his students at the Triumph Music Academy in Grand Rapids, MI.  He also has time to run a multimedia design company two9two.  He plays the current model of the NXT Electric Cello with an NXT Cello Tripod Stand and for added mobility during performances he uses the Frame Strap System. NS Design’s recently released version is the very popular NXTa Electric Cello and is part of the comprehensive NXTa eco-friendly active series instrument line.

Catch Watching for Foxes Spring Tour from late March through May 2017.

 


One Great Instrument, Two Great Performers

When we say NS violin opens new vistas for expression, meet two exciting artists, Charles Yang and Jason Yang (not related) and see what we mean!

Charles Yang plays his NS Violin

 

About Charles Yang:

Described by the Boston Globe as one who plays classical violin with the charisma of a rock star, Juilliard musician Charles Yang has performed in venues ranging from Carnegie Hall to the Forbidden City in Beijing. Being a composer/songwriter, violinist, electric violinist, guitarist, keyboardist and vocalist, Yang has won numerous awards including 1st prize of the Lennox International Young Artist Competition, 1st place of the junior bowed instrument division of the Kingsville International Young Performers competition, 2nd place of the 45th Sorantin International Young Artist Competition and 36th National Young Artist Competition, winner of the Academy Violin Competition at the Aspen Music Festival and School. On June 9th of 2005, the Mayor of Austin, Texas presented Mr. Yang with his own Charles Yang Day.

Born and raised in Austin, Texas, Mr. Yang was force-fed the violin at an early age by his parents. Starting his violin studies with his mother, Mr Yang has since studied with world-renown pedagogues such as Kurt Sassmanshaus, Paul Kantor, Brian Lewis and currently at the Juilliard School, Glenn Dicterow. Yang has appeared as soloist with numerous orchestras as well a frequent solo artist on the Emmy Award winning show From the Top, appearing with them in Carnegie Hall among others and has represented From the Top as a young artist at the Harvard University Faculty Club labeled the Best Fifteen-minute Concert in the World, Britney Spears Camp, and various National Public Radio events in Washington, DC and Boston. Charles Yang has been featured in the Austin American Statesman, The New York Times, Picayune, Boston Globe, Fortissimo, Shenzhen Daily, Shaumburger Nachrichten, Dallas Daily, Cincinnati Enquirer, Juilliard Journal, The Strad, and the Texas Observer.

 

Jason Yang plays his NS Violin

 

About Jason Yang

Violinist and NS Design Artist JASON YANG, winner of the 2010 Verizon Audience Choice Award at Kollaboration, (the world’s biggest Asian-American talent competition,) is quickly becoming one of today’s most popular sensations on the electric violin circuit in the U.S. and abroad. With over 28,000 subscribers and over 2.2 million views on his YouTube channel, he is known for his memorable renditions of popular television and video game themes, hip-hop duets, his quirky sense of style and his talent on both acoustic and electric violin as well as piano.

His electric violin performances in the U.S. include corporate events for Adidas, Ford, Frito-Lay, Paul Mitchell and Hilton as well as charity events for causes ranging from earthquake relief in the Philippines to aiding children in Vietnam. Jason has also performed at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas for Panasonic and at The Zodiac Show in Hollywood which also features fan favorites, Adam Lambert and Carmit Bachar of the Pussycat Dolls. In 2007, he made his European debut at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland. He made his acting debut on hit TV series Glee, Season 3, Episode 7, sporting his NS CR4 Violin!

Classically trained from the age of six, Jason has studied with Arnold Grossi of the Philadelphia Orchestra, Juilliard School faculty members Naoko Tanaka and Elizabeth Chang, and members of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. He has attended and performed at the Casalmaggiore International Music Festival in Cremona, Italy and the Tanglewood Institute of Music in Lenox, Massachusetts for both solo and chamber music. As a violinist in the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra, he has performed for then-U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor in Philadelphia as well as on tour in several of the most important concert halls of Europe and South America, including Radio Symphony Hall in Vienna, Mozarteum Grand Hall in Salzburg, Dvorak Hall in Prague, Liszt Academy’s Grand Concert Hall in Budapest, Roma Musical Theater in Warsaw, Teatro Municipal of Rio de Janeiro, Teatro Cultura Artistica of Sao Paulo, among others.


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