Aleksis Bilmanis
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Aleksis Bilmanis


Band Folk Acoustic


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"Review of Aleksis Bilmanis Live"

"Lively Acoustic Music!" - On Tap Magazine 2007

"Bilmanis Finds Second Home at The Beach"

Bilmanis finds second home at the beach
D.C. singer-songwriter is settling into weekly Rehoboth, Lewes gigs
By Roger Hillis
Staff Writer

Aleksis Bilmanis is new to the Rehoboth Beach-area music scene, but he’s made a splash right off the bat.

A pair of weekly acoustic gigs might give the impression that he’s a local, but he actually commutes from the Washington, D.C. area.

His debut CD, “World Around,” blends rock and pop sounds. He told us about his new songs, how Delmarva stacks up to D.C., and his Latvian heritage.

Q: Is there a difference between Rehoboth/Lewes and D.C. as far the acceptance of original tunes vs. cover tunes at shows?

A: Absolutely! That is one of the great perks of playing in this area. D.C. is a much more rigid area, there is less room for a performing artist to have creativity. Here I have not found that to be the case. Fans and owners are so refreshingly open to new music, new sounds and new people. It has been such a joy to play here. I cannot wait to bring the band out.

Q: You’re all over the beach gig scene all of a sudden. Did you relocate to the Rehoboth vicinity from D.C.?

A: I haven’t yet, but you never know what the future holds. I’ve always vacationed at the beach and love the area, the people, the food, the music … What’s not to love? I am so fortunate that the release of “World Around” has opened so many new doors for me.

Q: Have you noticed a difference yet between your audiences in downtown Lewes and the younger crowd that hangs out at the Route 1 bars such as Wahoo?

A: I think the spirit is the same — both want to kick back and hear some great music. The beauty of playing this area is that there are so many types of audiences out there, and as a performer [that] is so gratifying. It keeps you on your toes and keeps things from getting stale. One night you can have a crowd that is all about ballads like “Lost You” or “Sunflower Girl,” another night you might have a room full of people who want more topical songs such as “Freedom” or “K Street” and then you can take a couple of steps down the road and they want to shake it so I’ll play songs like “Say What” or “With The Flow.”

Q: Does all of the music from the CD translate to acoustic, or are there some tunes that you prefer to save for band gigs?

A: When I wrote the record, I knew that I wanted to get it out there any and every way I could. Not every place wants a band and not every venue wants just me and I kept that in mind during the composition process. I think it also keeps it fresh for the fans. I am fortunate to have great people around me and at every show you’re going to get something different. I always like to keep them guessing, and that in and of itself is a challenge.

Q: How does your Latvian heritage affect your outlook on life and how do your family members feel about the fact that you are pursuing music as a career?

A: My heritage plays a major role in my music. Latvian people have strong ties with nature and the preservation of the earth, a topic that is only now starting to get the recognition it deserves. I have a political family, I grew up in a political town, and my parents are both artists — all themes that stand out in my music and have served to shape me.
410-213-9442, Ext. 21

Originally published May 15, 2008

Catch singer-songwriter Aleksis Bilmanis every Wednesday at Beseme in Lewes and every Thursday at Wahoo in Rehoboth Beach.

If you go
WHO. Aleksis Bilmanis
WHEN. Every Wednesday, 6 p.m.
WHERE. Beseme, 142 Second St., Lewes
COST. Free
CALL. 302-645-8108

WHEN. Every Thursday, 7:30 p.m.
WHERE. Wahoo Raw Bar & Crab Co., 19598 Coastal Hwy., Rehoboth Beach
COST. Free
CALL. 302-227-6700 - Beach Comber

"Review of Aleksis Bilmanis Live"

"Melodic voice with passion, unique style, and Complexity"
- Kelli Gavant, Sentinel 2005

"Ranked Top 10"

Ranked in Top 10 for Acoustic Independent Artists out of Washington DC Three Years Straight.
-MySpace 2006-2008 - MySpace

"Five Star Rating"

Five Star Rating for the new record "World Around" by Aleksis Bilmanis.
-All Music 2008 - All Music

"DC Singersongritwer at Beseme in Lewes DE"

Weekly show at Beseme in Lewes DE featured in Delmarva's entertainment Magazine - Spark Magazine

"Artist Spotlight May 2008"

Featured in Sonicbids Artist Soptlight as a Top Booked Artist in May 2008 - Sonicbids

""Never Give Up On A Good Thing""

Never Give Up on a Good Thing
Panos Panay left Cyprus for Boston armed with a guitar and primed to be the next George Benson.

But he realized he had a serious problem in 1991 when he got to Boston's Berklee College of Music: "I just didn't have any innate musical talent."

Not wanting to leave the community he loved, he switched majors and graduated from the college's first degree program in the business of music.

I came from a country that had no copyright legislation and the notion of something like intellectual property was mind blowing."

He started an internship booking jazz artists around the world. "I eventually wouldn't pay attention to anyone making less than $3,000 or $4,000 a night," he said.

But because there are thousands of bands out there who only dream about bringing home that figure, he started wondering "how do smaller musicians find gigs without an agent to represent them?"

He mused over the issue and quit his job almost exactly eight years ago today. Panay holed up in his apartment and spent a year writing a business plan; a year he characterizes as very important to him because he was able to outline not only his company, but his values as a person, the kind of company he wanted to create and the culture he wanted to foster.

"I knew that if I could build Sonicbids, any band could go there," said Panay. "I wanted a big open community that artists can go and find any gig listing they like by connecting with the ideal promoter on the other side."

After about a year of working in his home office, he decided that if he made a commitment to outside office space and had to pay rent toward it, it would give him the incentive he needed to really dig into the business. He moved into a small, shared office and that "made an enormous difference" in his commitment to the business.

He officially launched the site in February 2001. Although he didn't have any programming experience, Panay built the first incarnation of the site by corresponding with a programmer based in Bavaria.

"The economy was terrible and there probably was no worse time to start an Internet business. They were shutting down left and right," said Panay. "It took a lot of perseverance, rejection and self-belief to get the first deal." In August 2001, a music festival out of Nashville, Tenn., agreed to use his service. "It all just snowballed from there by putting one foot in front of the other."

Today, Sonicbids employs 53 people and has reshaped the way many bands and promoters connect. The firm now does all of the submissions for big music festivals like CMJ, South by Southwest and Lollapalooza. More than 160,000 bands and 14,000 promoters use the site, which has facilitated more than 60,000 deals.

Musicians pay $5.95 a month for a basic electronic press kit up to $10.95 for more bells and whistles.

Aleksis Bilmanis, who runs a small record label and is a singer-songwriter based in Takoma Park, Md., has used the service since 2005 to find gigs through his Sonicbids online press kit. Through it, he's found gigs at clubs and private parties, work for independent films and licensing opportunities with Internet and broadcast radio stations.

Aleksis Bilmanis, a Takoma Park singer-songwriter who runs a small record label. (Photo courtesy of Bilmanis)Bilmanis said he's also found it helpful if he wants to fill in some extra dates while on tour and for use as a professional contact point.

"It adds to my professional credibility because it's become an industry standard," he said, adding that he directs fans to his MySpace page but business contacts to his Sonicbids page. "It has helped me further my career as a businessman while I can continue to be an artist and have access to more opportunities."

Blood, Sweat and Tears

While Sonicbids and its members are enjoying growth today, it wasn't easy getting there.

By July 2002, Panay had gone for almost three years without making any money. "I used to joke that there were two pools of money - company money and personal money - and I used to bet which would run out faster on a regular basis."

When things had gone from tight to grave, Panay said two events propelled him to continue with Sonicbids. When he was just about out of cash, he sold a piece of land in Cyprus that he had inherited from his great grandfather. "I felt a tremendous sense of conviction. I thought this is a piece of land passed on to me with the hope that at some point I would build a house on it to live on. I felt as if I was severing ties and taking a fairly big step, but it reinforced my whole belief in what I was trying to do," Panay said.

Secondly, when cash was low, he managed to pay a lot of the bills in the early 2000s by booking artists on the side, including the prolific, Grammy award-winning Chick Corea.

Panay told his wife, whom he met through Sonicbids, that he had a feeling that Corea was going to move on and eventually Panay and Corea parted ways. Panay recalls Corea saying that he knew Panay really wanted to focus on Sonicbids. "It really hurt because at the time Chick was responsible for more than 60 percent of my money coming in," said Panay. "I told my wife that either we fold or we use the situation to cast our lots with the online business."

Panay, who says his wife's belief in the business helped him plug away, realized that "sometimes what appears like a devastating blow - if you react to it correctly - can give you a new sense of momentum. We took off after 2004. Those events really helped me focus on the core mission of the business."

Panay talks openly about his struggles as an entrepreneur and empathizes with many of Sonicbids' member musicians, who often turn to the site for advice. "They still think of a stereotype of a promoter of a big fat hairy guy with a cigar, but most promoters are musicians and they're huge music fans," he said.

Many non-celebrity musicians hear from their friends and family that it's time to "get over this band and join the real world. There's lots of reasons to give up [a music career] at some point. You think, my friends have jobs, maybe I should go and get a job," said Panay, who says he still owns a guitar but doesn't play as much as he'd like.

Part of the success of the Sonicbids business model is due to changing attitudes toward the Internet, said Panay. "When I started there was a lot of skepticism of this venue. A lot of the early message of the company was that you can find someone faster, better, cheaper than by sending a press kit through the mail."

But, he acknowledges, he was trying to get people to change their way of doing business and that's not easy, especially since the company was started before sites like Facebook, Myspace and YouTube, now frequently used by bands for social networking and publicity.

"People weren't really ready for it, but this change of mentality [and acceptance of the Internet as a level playing field for bands] really helped the company go forward. It was really a marketplace change rather than a technological change."

About 20 percent of Sonicbids' members come from outside of the United States, and Panay would like to see that number double within three years. "I believe in this power that the Internet has to bridge cultural divides," he said. He's proud of the fact that through his service a band from Rwanda played in Spain and an American band toured China. "As a band today, you may be in Boston or D.C., but ultimately you're competing on a global basis because of companies like Sonicbids."

The company also recently signed a deal with the National Association for Campus Activities, which will bring 1,200 colleges to the Sonicbids community.

"A while ago you needed a [record] label with a lot of money to make an album. You needed money to have ads in newspapers and lastly you need a ton of money for bookers, and managers to make those connections," said Panay. "The Internet has brought about this cataclysmic change. It's like the French revolution. Pre-Internet all services were geared toward the top of the pop charts but post-Internet you have a middle class that collectively makes more money. This emerging artistic middle class looks at a niche following rather than the masses."

By Sharon McLoone | August 7, 2008; 12:24 PM ET Profiles in Entrepreneurship
Previous: Energy Costs Loom Large for Small Firms | Next: Small Businesses Suffer from Company Fraud

CommentsPlease email us to report offensive comments.

What a great article. It is so refreshing to see that in an industry that has always been "who you know and how much money you have" that there is still some hope out there for talented musicians to carve a name for themselves. That is one of the really great things about living in america. Wonderfully written and some great links! That Aleksis fellow has some great music! Maybe I can book him through sonic bids! :o)

Posted by: Arts lover | August 10, 2008 2:46 PM

- Sharon McLoone, Washington Post August 7 2008


Debut full-legnth record performing with the band, "World Around" by Aleksis Bilmanis (All Lyrics and Music [ASCAP]), released December 28, 2007. Presented by Sveiks Records LLC, SR-13001.

"Sunny Days" Follow up Full Legnth Acoustic Album. All Music and Lyrics Copyright 2009 Aleksis Bilmanis (ASCAP) Sveiks Records LLC SR-13002 Released August 26, 2009!

Available on CD for home delivery at or

Available for MP3 Downloads at on iTunes, Yahoo, Aol, Napster, Rhapsophy, and most digital music retailers as well as in retail stores.

Coming Soon:

Third Album "Lost You" currently in production to be released in 2010.

Currently In The Studio Recording his 4th album "Beside Myself" sceduled for 2011

Also, a live CD/DVD in the works!

See Aleksis Bilmanis in action as a Video Producer and Director on his official channel



***Booked Over 200 Gigs With Sonicbids Alone***

Recent Press Reviews:

Five Star Rating For The New Acoustic Album "Sunny Days"
-All Music 2009

Featured on Sonicbids Artist Spotlight May 2008

"Successful Singer Songwriter that runs his own record label, furthering his business career while continuing to be an artist"
-Sharon McLoone, Washington Post 2008

Ranked Top 10 for Acoustic Independent Artists out of Washington DC for 4 straight years.
-MySpace 2006-2009

"Melodic voice with passion, unique style, and complexity on guitar"
-Kelli Gavant, Sentinel 2005

"Lively Acoustic Music"
-On Tap Magazine 2007

Five Star Rating for the debut full legnth record "World Around" by Aleksis Bilmanis
-All Music 2008

"Blends Pop and Rock Sounds"
-Roger Hillis, Beach Comber 2008

Featured weekly in Delmarva associated press

Condensed Biography:

Born in the DC area to an accomplished local photographer and an internationally seasoned vocalist/pianist, Aleksis Bilmanis was primed for success as an artist from the womb.

Insightful and uplifting, his music speaks volumes yet retains a playful and catchy quality that will keep you listening for hours. His songs possess a hypnotic and earthy intelligence; a homage to his Latvian heritage.

Years of performing lend a clear sophistication to the unique energy he creates Whether he is performing with a full band or is standing alone in the spotlight with his guitar, you will be moved; mind, body and soul.

Possessing a consistently growing online presence with over 50 thousand hits a month. Without major distribution or representation, each of his albums have sold over a thousand in physical CD's and even more in dowloads thanks to his established wide demographic fanbase.

Performing all his vocals, guitars, and keyboards in the studio, Aleksis has the energy, stanima, and material to perform over 4 hours of continous original music live in addittion to a colover list of over 500 classic to modern hits that she adds his own creative touch to keeping each show fresh for his following.

His resume full with over 100 venues and certainly a veteran at touring and traveling with his music. On tour with his new album making an appearance at the Sundance Festival in January.

This year marks the official release of acoustic album "Sunny Days" thru Aleksis' own label Sveiks Records LLC, a follow up to last year's band album release "World Around." Also see Aleksis Bilmanis live on National Public Television on the 2010 season of "The Darryl Winston Show" and "The TV John Show". In addition to national radio station performances.

Performing and recording his ever growing catalog of original music, currently in the studio recording his fourth album, with his 3rd currently in production for release in 2010. Aleksis Bilmanis, reliable and dedicated to his career as a songwriter, producer, and profesional; hard working and a pleasure to work with.

Venue History:

Arena's, Rehoboth Beach DE
Asylum, Adams Morgan NW DC
Baltimore University, Baltimore MD
Baltimore Zoo, Baltimore MD
Becky's, Edgewater MD
Bennigans, Columbia MD
Bennigans, Golden Ring MD
Beseme, Lewes DE
Bethesda Country Club, Bethesda MD
Brass Monkey, Baltimore MD
Buffallo Billiards, Gaithersburg MD
Bull On The Beach, Bel Air MD
Cafe Luna, Dupont Circle NW DC
Calypso Bay, Deale MD
Chapala, Burtonsville MD
Cheeseburger In Paradise, Fredericksburg VA
Clipper City, Baltimore MD
Columbia Country Club, Chevy Chase MD
Congressional Country Club, Potomac MD
El Gavilan, Takoma Park MD
El Paso Cafe, Arlington VA
Engineer's Club, Baltimore MD
Firestation 8, Gaithersburg MD
Five Martini Lounge, Timonium MD
Four Seasons Hotel, Georgetown NW DC
Four Streams Country Club, Bealsville MD
Fox Chase Tavern, Sterling VA
Frisco's, Columbia MD
Frogg Pond, Rehoboth Beach DE
George Washington University, Washington DC
Glenrock Mill Inn, Glenrock PA
Gilligans Pier, Newburg MD
Great Oak, Chestertown MD
Grog and Tankard, Glover Park NW DC
Holiday Inn, Capital Hill SE DC
Hyatt Regency, Cambridge MD
Inner Harbor Pratt Street Pavillion, Baltimore MD
International Country Club, Fairfax VA
Jo's Lounge, Monrovia MD
JJ Muldoons, Rockville MD
Kaufmann's, Gambrills MD
Kelsey's, Ellicott City MD
Kenwood Country Club, Vienna VA
Lakewood Country Club, Potomac MD
Last Mango, North Potomac MD
Legendary's, Essex MD
Linwood's, Owings Mills MD
Little Dicky's, Towson MD
Luna Books, Dupont Circle NW DC
Mandarin Oriental, Washington DC
Mango's, Chesapeake Beach MD
Manny's, Rockville MD
Marriot at Rio, Gaithersburg MD
Mayorga, Rockville MD
McGinty's, Silver Spring MD
McGragers, Havre De Grace MD
Mountain Branch, Joppa MD
Nick's Riverside Grille, Georgetown NW DC
New Deal Cafe, Greenbelt MD
Olde Towne Firehouse Cue, Gaithersburg MD
O'Malley's, Gaithersburg MD
Padonia Station, Timonium MD
Pheonix Emporium, Ellicott City MD
Pot Be