date published: September 25, 2006

Panorama’s top 5 Nemo Showcase acts

FRANK SMITH, September 29 at T.T. The Bear’s Place, refer to listing. Born from members of local punk acts The Lot Six and Eyes Like Knives, Frank Smith tempers their rock edge with country and bluegrass styles, including a banjo player.

AUDIBLE MAINFRAME, September 29 at Harpers Ferry, refer to listing. Boston’s never exactly been known for its hip-hop scene, but the eight-man collective Audible Mainframe is making a bid to change that. Uniting the rapping skills of MC Exposition and turntable expertise of JayCeeOh has created a rap-funk-rock hybrid that even purists are digging in a big way.

SARAH BORGES, September 30 at Johnny D’s, 17 Holland St., Davis Square, Somerville, 617-776-2004. To listen to Sarah Borges is to encounter a musician who seems to inhabit another time. Her debut album, 2005’s Silver City, was a mix of covers and originals that shows off Borges’ powerful voice and her love of country-tinged rock and Americana.

JAKE BRENNAN and the confidence Men, September 30 at Great Scott, 1222 Commonwealth Ave., 617-566-9014. Going from fronting a hardcore band to becoming a roots-rock singer-songwriter isn’t the most instinctive musical segue you can imagine. Yet Jake Brennan’s change of direction has suited him pretty well, with Brennan’s song “Drive Tonight” recently being featured on the TV show “Rescue Me.”

THE DENTS, September 30 at All Asia, 332 Mass. Ave., Cambridge, 617-497-1544. This hard-driving quartet fronted by the dual attack of vocalist/guitarist Jen D’Angora and vocalist/bassist Michelle Paulhus is the perfect band to turn to for tales of love gone wrong.

The claim to fame of Jules Verne’s famed literary creation Captain Nemo was the strange and amazing discoveries he made 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. These days, Boston has a Nemo of its own, uncovering some similarly amazing discoveries of its own in what many would consider an equally murky and difficult-to-navigate netherworld: the Boston live music scene.

Here in the Hub, Nemo is The NEMO Music Festival—a decade-old event that celebrates the Boston live music scene by offering the bands that make up that scene educational support, performance opportunities and exposure to music lovers and music industry insiders from near and far.

“The intent of NEMO is to provide access and opportunity to emerging independent musicians,” says Chip Rives, Executive Director of NEMO for the past four years. “We want to provide resources for these bands, while shining a light on the talent we have here to a wider audience.”

NEMO organizers provide bands with two days of helpful workshops and panels dealing with varied topics such as exploiting new forms of media in this digital file sharing, iPod and MySpace-dominated 21st century, getting your songs placed in television and film, how to tour without going broke, and how female rockers can deal with gender bias in the world of rock ’n’ roll. Of course, ask a musician what they want most, and the answer is almost always going to be a stage to play on and people to play to, which is where the other main component of NEMO comes in: the performance showcases.

For three nights, practically every venue in the city opens its doors to package bills of some of the top up-and-comers in Boston. Some out-of-town names show up at these shows (this year’s crop includes well-regarded indie acts like Ladytron, Be Your Own Pet, Joseph Arthur and Yo La Tengo), but for the most part this is a chance for local emerging artists to show music fans and industry figures how Boston rocks.

“Some of the most exciting artists in Boston are taking part in this year’s NEMO showcase,” says Festival Director Kristin Bredimus. “We have one Thursday night show at Harpers Ferry, for example, where three of the bands on the bill—Campaign for Real Time, Humanwine and The Chainletter—are all nominated for Best New Band at the Boston Music Awards.”

With 300 bands particpating in NEMO showcases, Bredimus points out that they’re embracing technology that can help bands better attract new audiences. “We’re very excited to have technology partners like Music IP working with us on this year’s festival,” she says. “Music IP’s technology platform allows visitors to our site to listen to song clips from this year’s participating acts, so you can sample a little of everything. Or, you can type in the name of a mainstream act you’re a fan of, and the system will come back with the names of festival artists that have a similar sound, so you can listen to just the types of bands you enjoy.”

Rives says that one reason why NEMO works so well is that it has the support of the City of Boston behind it. Rather than the tired old cliché of hipsters wanting to put on a great big show and the powers-that-be fearing an invasion of riff-raff, Rives says NEMO has resonated here. “There are lots of music/arts-oriented businesses here in the city, along with 300,000 college students. The City wants to find ways to keep those businesses and that creative talent here, and NEMO offers something for those people.”

It’s that thrill of discovery, Rives says, that got him involved with NEMO four years ago. “I love hearing music I’ve never heard before, and I love being able to expose that music to other people who’ve never heard it before. That’s exciting to me.”

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IF YOU GO: The NEMO Festival & Conference encompasses more than 75 music showcases, two days of conferences and an estimated 300 participating bands. Concert showcases take place September 28–30 from 8 p.m.–1 a.m. at nightclubs throughout the city. For a complete schedule, visit Refer to listing.