A different kind of single; music will benefit community

  • Revenues from the first release on SpiritHouse Music’s Aside Bside Records, Chris Marlon Jennings’ “Something Better,” will benefit the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. IMAGE COURTESY OF SPIRITHOUSE MUSIC

  • Danny Bernini, left, and Paul McNamara of SpiritHouse Music say their new venture is designed to offer great music and help chartiable and social causes. IMAGE COURTESY OF SPIRITHOUSE MUSIC

  • Danny Bernini, left, and Paul McNamara of SpiritHouse Music, seen here in their old Northampton studio, say Aside Bside Records is designed to offer great music and help charitable and social causes. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 1/17/2021 9:32:28 PM

In the old days, when pop music was recorded only on vinyl rather than for digital downloads, there was something called the single, a 7-inch, 45-rpm record that had an “A side” — typically the song designed for the most radio play — and a B-side, usually (but not always) the less hook-heavy of the two tracks.

SpiritHouse Music and recording studio is taking a page from that chapter with a new venture called Aside Bside Records. The concept? The A side is all about working with talented artists to make good music, while the B side is focused on raising money for and awareness of a range of social causes.

Studio founder Danny Bernini and co-owner Paul McNamara say the idea of making records to help benefit the larger community had been percolating for awhile. McNamara said the studio has previously produced benefit shows and held fundraising parties for organizations like the Northampton Survival Center, but that the pandemic has sharpened their awareness of larger issues today.

“We’ve always felt there are two sides to what we do,” said McNamara. “One side is making really great records with great musicians, and the other side is giving back to the community…. Right now, food security is one of the biggest issues.”

That’s what prompted SpiritHouse, previously in Northampton but now located in Springfield, to release its first single under its new mini-label. The single “Something Better,” written and sung by Chris Marlon Jennings, lead singer of the Valley band Sun Parade, is available for download through Bandcamp, and all revenues from those downloads will go the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts.

Jennings, who first worked with Bernini and McNamara about 10 years ago, came to them late last year with his new song, Bernini said, and he was also interested in the idea of helping the Food Bank. He recorded his vocals and a piano track at the studio and the producers then added additional instruments and orchestration to the recording.

“It was a bit of serendipity that Chris came to us when Danny and I had been discussing Aside Bside,” said McNamara. “It seemed the time was right to do this.”

Other artists have also been working on new singles with SpiritHouse, and revenues from downloads of those tracks will go to other nonprofit organizations, based on the artists’ interests and discussions with the label. McNamara says their hope in the future is to devote funds to environmental organizations. They also hope to release three to four singles each month.

Musicians interested in working on these kinds of records can contact Bernini and McNamara at Spirithousemusic.com. Information on Chris Marlon Jennings’ new single and Aside Bside Records can be found at asidebsiderecords.bandcamp.com.

Steve Pfarrer can be reached at spfarrer@gazettenet.com.

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