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Around Hear

A thriving independent publication and finding a musician online.

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Reaching double digits in issue numbers is the 'zinester's equivalent of reaching the 300,000-mile mark on a car. Unfortunately, many writers who peel out of the starting blocks with high hopes of chronicling the music scene's underrated heroes sputter out after three or four issues, leaving behind a few limited-circulation collector's items and a mountain of scrap in Kinko's wastebaskets. To his credit, Tim Dzubay, co-editor of Neptune, recognizes the ephemeral nature of independent publications. "We are new. We are raw. We have energy," he writes in his inaugural editor's statement. "How many times have you read or heard this and never seen a magazine again?"

Well, quite a few, but Neptune, fatter (at 32 pages) than most premiere issues and slicker (with glossy pages and a cutting-edge layout) than nearly all its peers, will be back for a second time in late January, with articles on the DJ collective The House Coalition, promising metal outfit Dark Matter, alt-pop veterans The Billions and Brother Ike's Rural Grit Happy Hour at the Grand Emporium. The 'zine's debut, which appeared in November, offered an equally eclectic lineup, with features on the metal/hardcore festival Hell on Earth, drum 'n' bass trio Momentum and garrulous DJ Ray Velasquez.

In addition to spotlighting worthy musicians in the publication, Neptune's editors speak out on issues that affect area musicians. In a piece titled "Benefits Bust," which is accompanied by a striking shot of a solitary microphone in a sparsely populated park, co-editor Dedric Moore details two ill-fated charity shows and ponders, "What does this say about our local music scene?" In the upcoming Neptune, Moore plans to address bands who play for free at clubs. "It's ruining the scene," he says. "Nobody can make any money. If you have to work a day job, you can't spend all your time writing music, which means you're not as good as the musicians in other cities."

In his efforts to keep pace with those lucky leisure-hogs in other locales, Moore, one half of the electronica duo Lunarbeat (formerly Lunar Beat Theory), now cranks out singles from a home studio. For added efficiency, he's spread his prolific output across two bands, reserving his downtempo drum 'n' bass material for his new project, Monta, and saving the upbeat house and trance concoctions for Lunarbeat.

One of Lunarbeat's singles is titled "Neptune's Pleasures," but Moore says the planets weren't intentionally aligned. "Our photographer [Aneal Vohra] came up with it," he reveals. "He didn't know anything about the song." The coincidentally titled 'zine is available at clothing stores throughout Westport, assorted CD stores, recording studios and guitar shops.

Guitar DeMasters
Guitarists are in both high supply and high demand, but unfortunately the musicians and the people who seek them often end up crossing paths for lack of a decent mediator. So ax players looking for gigs and interested parties searching for someone to play their weddings, teach their children a few chords, serenade their love interest outside his/her window or jam with their garage bands should be pleased to discover KCguitar.com, a service that pairs artists with other musicians or people looking to hire guitarists. As with all matchmaking endeavors, imperfect, Blind Date-style pairings are possible (don't look for Kill Creek's Scott Born to hit the rice-throwing circuit anytime soon), but less than a half-hour's worth of clicking and scrolling should be sufficient for the average surfer to find an ideal selection.

Just three weeks after its creation, the site already boasts an impressive list of available players, including jazz masters Danny Embrey and Craig Akin, noted rockers Born and Ron Hayes of Kill Creek, and even a few bluegrass speed-pickers. One of the most accomplished artists on the site is its creator, jazz/blues guitarist Tom DeMasters.

"It's really growing fast, which is neat because it's kind of a community thing, growing by word of mouth," DeMasters says. And "growing fast" is not just a Web parent's proud overstatement -- the site raced from 689 hits to 1,140 in one night's time last week.

KCguitar.com also introduces visitors to DeMasters' 1995 CD, On the Bright Side. DeMasters plans to release his second album later this year, which he says will add a bit of rock to his jazz-and-blues formula. He has the right background for such a transition, having studied under überguitarist Steve Vai in 1982 and '83, right before the former Frank Zappa collaborator released his classic solo debut, Flex-Able.

"We worked on musicianship," DeMasters recalls. "He was showing me how he and Frank Zappa approached playing in different time signatures. I had no idea he would go on to become what he is now, but as a guitar player he was just as good then as he is now." Fans interested in witnessing Vai's student in action can catch him at the Grand Street Cafe each Monday evening or, of course, make other arrangements by using the Web site.

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