Monday, November 15, 2010

Music Syzygy: The Push Stars/Chris Trapper

PushStarsThe main passions in my life are my family, sports and music.  From time to time on this new blog, I’ll write a little bit about what I love musically.

The Push Stars are a local band formed in Cambridge, Massachusetts back in 1996.  Their Wikipedia page is kind of lacking, but I’ll share with you what is on the back of this trading card:

Won the 1999 Boston Music Award’s “Rising Star” category; Won ‘98 BMA’s “Outstanding Rock Band” & songwriter Chris Trapper won “Outstanding song/songwriter”; Named “Best Unsigned Band in America” in EMI Music Publishing’s Radio & Records ‘zine competition in ‘97.

The film “There’s Something About Mary” features The Push Stars song “Everything Shines” & their music was on a Feb 99 episode of “ER” [which I’m pretty sure was George Clooney’s final one] and is played on MTV’s “Singled Out” & “The Real World” shows.

Even though they’re a local band, it took someone living in Texas to introduce me to the band.  My first Push Stars show was on October 11th, 1998 where I was literally introduced to the band after the show.  The friendship with the person who brought me to the show didn’t last all that long, but my love of The Push Stars’ music has.  Without that brief friendship though, who knows if I ever would have discovered this band.

When the Boston Band Cards set was produced in 1999 by Kaos Kards (see card from set above), The Push Stars were newly signed with Capitol Records and poised to takeover the airwaves.  So, why aren’t they a household name?  Not long after the release of the first major label album After the Party, Capitol Records decided to change their focus to R&B and Hip Hop.  Suddenly, bands such as The Push Stars and Marcy Playground weren’t getting the attention of the label any longer.  Having developed a strong fan base through constant touring, the Push Stars decided to ask for their release from Capitol and released their next album, Opening Time, through Tower Records’ Co-op Pop label.  Their final album of all-new material, Paint the Town, was released in 2004 on 33rd Street Records.  In 2005, the band released a live album before slowly winding down as a threesome.

Even though The Push Stars never became households names, they had a very successful career.  The band had lots of devoted fans who would fill up nice sized venues whenever the band came to town.  You may have heard their songs in “The Devil Wears Prada” or Farrelly Brothers’ movies “There’s Something About Mary” and “Me, Myself & Irene.”  Push Stars songs have also been used on TV shows such as “All My Children,” “Malcolm in the Middle” and “ER.”  Additionally, you might have seen the band performing with Matchbox 20, Morphine, Guster, Vertical Horizon, G Love and Special Sauce, Train, Great Big Sea, Live and Better Than Ezra to name a few.  So, it’s very possible that you’ve heard a Push Stars song without even knowing it.

Here I am singing with The Push Stars at Harper’s Ferry in 2005

The end of the Push Stars wasn’t all bad as the lead singer, Chris Trapper, started doing more and more solo gigs.  Chris released his first solo album in 2002, but that was sold mainly at Push Stars shows to people looking for a copy of Chris’ funny and much improved version of The Birthday Song.

I found something in Chris’ solo work that wasn’t there as much in the songs that he wrote for The Push Stars.  Chris wrote amazing pop songs for The Push Stars, but many times they were just songs.  Chris’ solo work is much more personal and heartfelt.  While Chris’ current music is most often classified as folk, a genre that I didn’t really listen to before this, his is far and away my favorite musical artist.  (I prefer Chris’ website’s classifications of roots-pop and alt-acoustic.)  Chris’ shows have gotten even better as of late with the addition of stories about his life and the songs that he is playing added to the performance.


My wife and I enjoy Chris’ music so much that we had him sing at our wedding which made a special day so much more so.  Seeing Chris perform has become a family event (even if my daughter sometimes doesn’t stay awake all the way through a show) and it’s just as much fun talking to Chris about our families as it is the music.

Chris’ strong songwriting has earned him two SOCAN awards for collaborations with the band Great Big Sea including the song “Sea of No Cares.”  Chris was chosen to write an original song for the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty and performed it at The United Nations.  Chris’ solo work has appeared as the theme song for The WB’s Pepper Dennis, in the movie “August Rush” (performed by Jonathan Rhys Meyes), as the theme song for NESN’s Sox Appeal and ABC’s All My Children.

Chris did something interesting with his latest LP release, Into the Bright Lights.  He released it in a “pay what you can” format.  If you think the album is worth $5 then pay that.  If you think the album is worth $100 then you can pay that price.  If you really want to put the songs on your iTunes at work and left your iPod at home then you could pay nothing.  (Totally hypothetical situation not at all drawn from my life.)  Check out the songs and download the album if you dig it.

For those of you who didn’t run for the hills when you saw this post (and I’d understand if you did since this is a sports card blog after all) and read through it, I’ve got something special for you.  I actually have an extra copy of what I think is Chris’ best album, Til the Last Leaf Falls, up for grabs.  All that you have to do is check out some of Chris’ music and if you like it and think you’d enjoy this CD, reply to this post with the song that you liked best.


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