Main

September 08, 2014

SIBLING UNITY

Nalani & Sarina are comfortable with their career pace

Nalani & Sarina_CMJ_Medleyville.jpg

They’re a mere 21 years old, but an old-school aura surrounds identical twin sisters Nalani and Sarina Bolton, the singer-songwriter duo billing themselves as Nalani & Sarina.

Growing up in New Jersey’s Hunterdon County, they heard lots of folk and blues around the house, thanks to their parents playing music by the likes of Bob Dylan and Ray Charles, among others. This past spring, Nalani & Sarina met and jammed with one of their favorite singers, soul legend Sam Moore, during a joint appearance on SiriusXM satellite radio, and days later, they performed with Moore and his band at City Winery in New York (and held their own on the Sam & Dave classic “When Something Is Wrong With My Baby”).

Then there’s the pay-your-dues approach the Bolton sisters have taken to building an audience: playing one show at a time (on average, a handful of gigs per month) and focusing for now on New Jersey, where they still live, and its bordering states.

Continue reading "SIBLING UNITY" »

September 02, 2014

FEELING MINNESOTA

Sena Ehrhardt hires home-state heroes for Live My Life

Sena Ehrhardt_2014.jpg

Of all the new and different people who worked with Minnesota-based blues singer Sena Ehrhardt on her latest Blind Pig Records album, Live My Life, two really jump out from the pack.

The first is Minneapolis-bred producer David Z, a favorite of hers going back to his days working with Prince.

“He was just a joy to work with in the studio,” she says. “He is someone who is extremely creative and willing to experiment with different things. No ideas were really off-limits.”

Continue reading "FEELING MINNESOTA" »

August 18, 2014

PRODUCTIVE AND SPONTANEOUS

Jerry Castle picks up his pace with South Holston

Jerry Castle_2014.jpg

Singer-songwriters need self-imposed deadlines, according to Jerry Castle, and he admits going to the extreme when it came to his latest release, South Holston.

Castle booked the studio and musicians he used to create the album before 70 percent of the songs were written. He had two weeks to complete the material, but during that period, he embarked on a 10-day acoustic tour of Texas and California. Even so, by the time Castle returned home to Nashville, Tenn., the songs were mostly finished.

Continue reading "PRODUCTIVE AND SPONTANEOUS" »

August 08, 2014

FIRST THINGS FIRST: JESSICA HERNANDEZ

Jessica Hernandez.jpg

Technically, Secret Evil isn’t the first album by Jessica Hernandez & the Deltas — but it is the first by the sassy, genre-blending band that will be released to the public as a complete work.

According to singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and Detroit native Hernandez, she and the Deltas recorded a full-length collection called Cutting the Talon Off a Dead Owl a few years ago. They ended up “sitting on it,” says Hernandez, although a few of those songs appeared on the 2013 EP Demons.

Up next is Secret Evil, due Aug. 19 on Instant Records. Hernandez and the Deltas — guitarist Michael Krygier, bassist Steve Lehane, keyboardist Taylor Pierson, trombonist John Raleeh and drummer Stephen Stetson — recorded the album at Sonic Ranch in Tornillo, Texas, with producer Milo Froideval. Hernandez talks about her initial impression of Froideval and other notable music-related firsts.

Continue reading "FIRST THINGS FIRST: JESSICA HERNANDEZ" »

August 01, 2014

BACKGROUND AND THE BACKBEAT

Clem Burke discusses his Ramones, Empty Hearts experiences

Clem Burke_SXSW 2009 copy_B&W.jpg

Over the past 40 years, Blondie drummer Clem Burke has played with various other bands, and his latest is The Empty Hearts, whose self-titled debut album is due Aug. 5 via 429 Records.

August also marks the anniversary of a notable Burke experience with another group: his short tenure with The Ramones.

Continue reading "BACKGROUND AND THE BACKBEAT" »

July 16, 2014

MORE POSITIVE VIBES

Rebelution remains true to reggae with Count Me In

Rebelution.jpg

Reggae is the musical equivalent of soccer— consistently crazy-popular in various parts of the world, but not so much in the United States when compared with its American-bred competition.

But just like soccer’s fan base, the reggae movement has also grown across the U.S. in recent years, and Rebelution singer-guitarist Eric Rachmany is proud to be part of it.

His California-bred band’s two previous albums, 2009’s Bright Side of Life and 2012’s Peace of Mind, mingled with the mainstream, each one hitting the upper fifth of the Billboard 200 pop-albums chart. Rebelution has expanded its palette a bit with Count Me In. Released on June 10, the 11-song collection is the fourth full-length effort on the group’s 87 Music label and the first partnering with the longtime reggae-centric indie Easy Star Records.

Rachmany checked in this week to discuss reggae’s appeal, the mix of music on Count Me In and more.

Continue reading "MORE POSITIVE VIBES" »

July 08, 2014

FINE-TUNED FOCUS

Nick Diaz puts the emphasis on his Texas guitar roots

Nick Diaz_Buenos Diaz.jpg

Wherever he’s lived or worked, singer-guitarist Nick Diaz has made a concerted effort to tap into the given area’s musical environment.

Living in New Orleans, Diaz experimented with funk. During his six years in New York, he dabbled with indie-rock sounds. And in his brief time in San Francisco seeking some head-clearing space after what he calls a “monster breakup with a fiancée,” Diaz says he picked up on a mellow, West Coast style of playing.

A native of Houston, Diaz moved to Austin, Texas, about two years ago, and it looks as though he’ll be sticking around for a while.

“I kinda feel like I’d end up there at some point,” he says. “I’ve always listened to all the guitarists who have come out of Austin — like Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimmie Vaughan, Doyle Bramhall II and Chris Duarte.”

Continue reading "FINE-TUNED FOCUS " »

July 01, 2014

ALL HANDS ON DECK

The Verve Pipe rocks again with Overboard

Verve Pipe_2014.jpg

After two consecutive collections of music for children, A Family Album (2009) and Are We There Yet? (2013), Verve Pipe leader Brian Vander Ark wanted his band’s next release to be a rock record.

He pitched the idea to his band mates about a year ago, but it didn’t exactly have a slam-dunk effect.

Continue reading "ALL HANDS ON DECK" »

June 27, 2014

BACK FROM A LONG REST

The Last Hombres regroup and record third album

Last Hombres_photo by Ken Farrell.jpg

The previous Last Hombres drummer was responsible for a lot of the attention directed toward their second album and subsequent tour. Their current drummer is responsible for the band having a second life.

When concert dates in support of Redemption came to an end, The Last Hombres — whose lineup in the early 2000s included Levon Helm of The Band on drums — went their separate ways and pursued other projects.

Fast forward about a decade to 2012: Tom Ryan, a mutual friend of original Hombres Russ Seeger, Michael Meehan and Paul Schmitz, asked the group to play a set at a benefit show in Huntington, N.Y., with Ryan offering to sit in on drums.

They agreed, performing for about 30 to 40 minutes, recalls bassist-singer Meehan. His musical reunion with Seeger and Schmitz — and Ryan’s involvement with The Last Hombres — was only just beginning.

Continue reading "BACK FROM A LONG REST" »

June 21, 2014

DUES BEFORE BLUES

Annie Stela traces the path from her first album to second

Annie Stela.jpg

In the time most people spend attending high school or college, Annie Stela got an education in just how chaotic the music business can be.

Signed to Capitol Records in 2003 when she was in her early 20s, Stela had the label’s support at first, touring and recording her debut album “all on their dime,” she says with a laugh. But by 2007, changes within the industry and within Capitol in particular resulted in Stela’s album being removed from the label’s release schedule.

Eventually, Stela parted ways with Capitol, but she was able to take the album with her. Looking back, the Los Angeles singer, songwriter and pianist is not bitter about what happened — or what didn’t happen — during that four-year experience.

Continue reading "DUES BEFORE BLUES" »

June 13, 2014

NO STOP SIGNS ON THE HORIZON

Playing in Traffic remains a discerning, dedicated label

Kevin Wommack and Jojo Garza of Los Lonely Boys_Photo Courtesy of Playing in Traffic.jpg

In its five-year history, the Austin, Texas-based Playing in Traffic has released six full-length albums and four EPs. That’s not a huge catalog, but those numbers are a shining example of the selective approach taken by the label and its sister business, Loophole Management.

Co-founded by Austin native and longtime music-industry veteran Kevin Wommack, Playing in Traffic has a roster that includes the Grammy Award-winning Los Lonely Boys, as well as girl pilot (aka Sahara Smith), The Dunwells and Speak. By the end of this year, PIT’s catalog will expand by a few more titles, and among the scheduled releases is girl pilot’s On My Way.

Whether it’s on the label side or the management side, there’s a lot of work that needs to be handled by a small, shared staff.

Continue reading "NO STOP SIGNS ON THE HORIZON" »

June 03, 2014

AS LUCK WOULD HAVE IT

American Fiction connects, then records with Eddie Kramer

American Fiction_Chris Johnson, Landon Moore, Blake Rhea and Pat Fusco_photo by Bob Bayne.jpg

What really should have amounted to nothing ended up changing everything for American Fiction.

The fledgling Memphis, Tenn.-based band needed a producer, so singer-guitarist Chris Johnson did what most anyone else in his situation would not do: reach out to a living legend. Johnson sent an e-mail to Eddie Kramer, whose studio credits include albums by The Jimi Hendrix Experience and Led Zeppelin, among others.

Continue reading "AS LUCK WOULD HAVE IT" »

May 21, 2014

HIS MUSICAL LANDSCAPE

Del Barber aims to connect the urban to the rural

Del Barber.jpg

“I’m just trying to follow my ears,” says Canadian singer-songwriter Del Barber, referring to the equipment he used to record his fourth album, Prairieography (True North Records). Those words also apply to a unique location Barber chose that tied together his sonic sensibilities as well as the album’s lyrical theme.

Continue reading "HIS MUSICAL LANDSCAPE" »

May 12, 2014

ON THE SAME PAGE

Thomas Dybdahl bonds with new producer, musicians on latest album

Thomas Dybdahl.jpg

As he’s gotten older, Norwegian singer-songwriter Thomas Dybdahl has focused more on working with people whose company he enjoys.

On the way to completing his latest album, What’s Left Is Forever, Dybdahl added a few more to his creative inner circle, starting with producer and bassist Larry Klein (whose studio credits include albums by Joni Mitchell, Shawn Colvin and Herbie Hancock).

Continue reading "ON THE SAME PAGE" »

May 06, 2014

PUT TO GOOD USE

Aaron Comess calls on trusty players for new instrumental album

Aaron Comess_photo by Mark White.jpg

For his third solo effort, Blues for Use, Spin Doctors drummer Aaron Comess once again recorded with guitarist Teddy Kumpel and bassist Richard Hammond — the same players featured on Comess’ prior album, 2011’s Beautiful Mistake. But there’s nothing “same old, same old” about the end result or the way they prepared for the sessions.

By playing gigs over the past few years, Comess says they’ve really gelled as a band. Those shows also gave the instrumental trio the opportunity to test out and shape a lot of the textured Blues for Use material in a concert setting before entering the studio — something they didn’t do with the songs that ended up on Beautiful Mistake.

The New York-based Comess checked in May 5 to discuss Blues for Use and what the immediate future holds for him, Kumpel and Hammond.

Continue reading "PUT TO GOOD USE" »

April 17, 2014

FIRST THINGS FIRST: MODERN RIVALS

Modern Rivals_L to R_Erick Lee, Mickey Novak, Alex Schiff and Alex Raderman.jpeg

On his first day at Washington University in St. Louis back in 2005, Erick Lee clearly remembers crossing paths with future bandmate Mickey Novak.

“We met right when I walked into my freshmen dorm for the first time,” adds Lee. “I was just bringing stuff inside, and he was literally bringing his guitar and amp up the stairs.”

Their initial band name was so terrible, according to Lee, that he won’t utter it now. After Lee and Novak wrote their first song, “Aphasia,” around 2007, the two guitarists subsequently recruited other musicians — among them keyboardist Alex Schiff, Lee’s childhood friend — and settled on a different moniker.

These days, they’re known as Modern Rivals, and the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based band is about to release its atmospheric, ambitious and absorbing debut album, Cemetery Dares (highlights include “Angel Bones” and “A Shade Hesitating”). Lee and Schiff recently checked in to discuss some significant music firsts, both individual and shared.

Continue reading "FIRST THINGS FIRST: MODERN RIVALS" »

April 10, 2014

STEPPING UP TO THE PLATE

Jake Smith selects a starting lineup from his White Buffalo catalog

The White Buffalo_Myriam Santos.jpg

There was a time in Jake Smith’s life when spring’s arrival marked another season on the baseball field. This spring, however, just so happens to coincide with his latest tour.

Circa the mid-1990s, right around the same time he was attending St. Mary’s College of California in Moraga, Calif., on a baseball scholarship, Smith got his first guitar. It was a Fender acoustic he picked up at a pawn shop for about $150, and that acquisition essentially started him on the path to becoming the singer-songwriter-guitarist known as The White Buffalo.

Continue reading "STEPPING UP TO THE PLATE" »

April 03, 2014

IN GOOD SHAPE

Beth Thornley resumes recording career with Septagon

Beth Thornley_photo by Heidi Ross.jpg

The recording was finished — all that needed to be done was the mixing and mastering. Instead, singer-songwriter Beth Thornley decided to shelve the EP she’d made in 2011.

Looking back on that project three years later, Thornley says she “just couldn’t put five or six songs out that I just felt were almost there.”

“One of the songs I felt was strong enough, but I couldn’t figure out the right way to record it,” she adds. “There was another song I absolutely loved but I never felt like lyrically I nailed the chorus. There was another song that I really liked but it didn’t fit. I hate to use this word, but it was kind of ‘jazzy’ in a way that I’m a little afraid of because I don’t deal with that genre at all.”

Continue reading "IN GOOD SHAPE" »

March 12, 2014

SXSW 2014 PREVIEW: CHEERS ELEPHANT

Cheers Elephant.jpg

The details surrounding the origin of how Cheers Elephant came up with its name may be shaky, but after three albums and nearly a decade in action, the rock band is still standing on solid ground, albeit on a different coast.

Following a late November 2013 show at Philadelphia’s Theatre of the Living Arts, Cheers Elephant bid goodbye to the City of Brotherly Love and relocated to the Los Angeles area — and so far, according to singer/guitarist Jordan del Rosario, the quartet is doing just fine in its new environs.

Continue reading "SXSW 2014 PREVIEW: CHEERS ELEPHANT" »

March 11, 2014

SXSW 2014 PREVIEW: LIME CORDIALE

Lime Cordiale.jpg

During his recent shows in Australia, Bruce Springsteen covered songs originally made famous by artists with strong ties to the world’s sixth-largest country, such as AC/DC, INXS and The Bee Gees.

Maybe for his next tour Down Under, The Boss will work in a number by Lime Cordiale. Fronted by brothers Oli and Louis Leimbach, the Sydney, Australia-connected, horn-enhanced pop band toured its home country throughout 2013 in support of its second EP, Falling Up the Stairs, which was recently released in North America.

Continue reading "SXSW 2014 PREVIEW: LIME CORDIALE" »

March 01, 2014

TIME WELL SPENT

Travel, technology contribute to new Kevin Seconds solo album

Kevin Seconds.jpg

The Apple iPhone is good for many things, and in a pinch, it can serve as a pretty good recording device for demos — especially when a wave of inspiration hits while on tour.

Singer, songwriter and guitarist Kevin Seconds can relate, and then some: His iPhone actually played an important role in the birth and completion of his latest solo album, Off Stockton (Rise Records).

Continue reading "TIME WELL SPENT" »

February 21, 2014

ARCHIVAL REVIVAL

The Grip Weeds compile rarities for Inner Grooves

Grip Weeds_2014.jpg

After The Grip Weeds reacquired the rights to the albums they made for Rainbow Quartz Records, the New Jersey-based garage/power-pop band felt the time was right to package some choice odds and ends as a unified collection.

The result is Inner Grooves (Rare and Under-Released Tracks) (Ground Up Records), which features remixes, B sides, outtakes and demos as well as The Grip Weeds’ contributions to compilations.

Drummer and singer Kurt Reil recently checked in to break down Inner Grooves and shed some light on his band’s in-progress sixth full-length studio album of original material.

Continue reading "ARCHIVAL REVIVAL" »

February 11, 2014

BUDGETING HER TIME

Maggie McClure continues to handle most aspects of her career

Maggie McClure_small_photo by Melissa Cosper.jpg

For her latest project, Maggie McClure intended to record an EP, drawing from roughly 40 songs she had accumulated.

McClure made a full-length album instead. And even with a backlog of material at her disposal, she decided to round out her Time Moves On collection with some new tunes.

Continue reading "BUDGETING HER TIME" »

February 01, 2014

Q&A: HEDLEY

Hedley_Webster Hall_January 2014_small_by Chris M. Junior copy.jpg

When Hedley set out to make a video for its song “Anything,” the Canadian quartet wanted something that felt like it was “coming at you from all angles,” says singer Jacob Hoggard.

“We had about five different cameras going, so we were able to capture the whole making of the video as well as the live shots,” says Hoggard, taking a break from the band’s soundcheck at New York’s Webster Hall in January. “You’ll see in some of the regular shots, there are girls walking around with VHS cameras. Well, those cameras were rolling, so we have all of these in-shot angles of the video that we could attach and edit together and sequence.”

“We wanted to make something that you couldn’t watch all at once on the first take — you had to watch it again,” adds guitarist Dave Rosin.

Continue reading "Q&A: HEDLEY" »

January 22, 2014

FEELING RIGHT AT HOME

Damon Fowler teams up again with Tab Benoit

Damon Fowler.jpg

When the blues-rock band Southern Hospitality recorded its debut, singer/guitarist Damon Fowler learned pretty fast that bringing a demo to producer Tab Benoit is a big no-no.

“And from dealing with that,” recalls Fowler, “I found that the best results from working with Tab were to let it organically happen. Instead of coming in with a completely finished idea, come in with a skeleton and be open to change.”

That’s the basic approach Fowler took with the Benoit-produced Sounds of Home, Fowler’s third solo album for Blind Pig Records.

Continue reading "FEELING RIGHT AT HOME" »

January 10, 2014

SPREADING HIS WINGS

Scott Barkan makes great strides as a guitarist and songwriter

Scott Barkan_photo by Nicole Graph.jpg

Working as a sideman for years really opened guitarist Scott Barkan’s eyes as to some of the difficulties involved with keeping a touring band together.

So when he started to focus on his own music, Barkan performed sans support.

“I could take any gig,” he recalls. “I didn’t have to check scheduling or worry about how I was going to pay everyone.”

But Barkan says those early solo acoustic gigs opened his eyes to something else: “a lot of holes in my playing.”

Continue reading "SPREADING HIS WINGS" »

December 16, 2013

MEDLEYVILLE — 2013 IN REVIEW (ARTISTS EDITION)

Lorde, Daft Punk, Haim and Vampire Weekend made big news in music over the course of the past year.

All four also made a big splash with the artists who contributed to Medleyville’s 2013 in review.

Aaron Comess a_horiz.jpg

* Aaron Comess (The Spin Doctors)

Favorite album of 2013: Wayne Shorter, Without a Net. Shorter is playing as inspired as ever at 80 years old and showing everyone how it’s done. His current longstanding group may be the best band of any style of music playing this year.

Favorite song of 2013: Lorde, “Royals.” Every now and then a really amazing song hits the Top 40 that defies all the other copycats out there trying to get a hit song. This is just a great song that became a hit because it’s really good — hopefully this will inspire more young artists to be real again.

Biggest hype of 2013: Kanye West. Although I like his music and think he is extremely talented, I think he could stand a bit of a reality check.

Prediction for 2014: Kanye West and Kim Kardashian will split up.

Continue reading "MEDLEYVILLE — 2013 IN REVIEW (ARTISTS EDITION)" »

December 05, 2013

STRINGS, MICS AND OTHER THINGS

Church acoustics are evident on Driftwood’s third album

Driftwood.jpg

When Dan Forsyth left upstate New York and moved to Colorado around 2001, he was looking for a change of scenery. What he found was a new musical direction, which he brought back home and used as the foundation for what would become Driftwood.

“I took an old acoustic guitar out there with me,” Forsyth recalls, “and my roommate was a big bluegrass fan. It was a combination of not having an amplifier, not having a band to play with, getting into this music and this roommate loading me up with people I had never heard of, like Doc Watson and Bill Monroe.”

Continue reading "STRINGS, MICS AND OTHER THINGS" »

November 21, 2013

ROOTED IN THE SOUTH

Shanytown is the latest musical branch of the Van Zant family tree

Shanytown_by Stephanie A. Hamilton.jpg

Southern rock owes a lot to the late Ronnie Van Zant. Not only did the Lynyrd Skynyrd frontman establish a vocal and lyrical template for the genre’s singers, he also offered guidance to family members as they were trying to figure out their musical strengths.

Drummer Robbie Morris credits his Uncle Ronnie — and a bicycle-riding accident involving Johnny Van Zant, Ronnie’s younger brother — for shaping his career path, as well as Johnny’s.

Continue reading "ROOTED IN THE SOUTH" »

November 08, 2013

FIRST THINGS FIRST: DAMON FOWLER OF SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY

Southern Hospitality.jpg

Following the impromptu post-festival jam in July 2011 that gave birth to the blues-rock side project Southern Hospitality, core members Damon Fowler, JP Soars and Victor Wainwright quickly hit the ground running gig-wise, making their official band debut about a month later at another festival.

Southern Hospitality’s first album, however, took a little longer to see the light of day: Easy Livin’ (Blind Pig Records), produced by acclaimed blues singer/guitarist Tab Benoit, dropped in March. Since then, when they’re not involved with their main projects, Fowler (guitar), Soars (guitar) and Wainwright (keyboards) have been gigging as Southern Hospitality. During an April 12 show in Tallahassee, Fla., SH filmed a video for “Kind Lies & Whiskey,” one of the dozen songs on Easy Livin’.

Fowler recently checked in from Florida to discuss some significant musical firsts in his life and career.

Continue reading "FIRST THINGS FIRST: DAMON FOWLER OF SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY" »

November 01, 2013

YULE JEWELS

Karrin Allyson cuts fresh and familiar songs for holiday collection

Karrin Allyson.jpg

She didn’t set out to write a Christmas song, but singer/pianist Karrin Allyson really couldn’t resist, given the season and her surroundings at the time.

Allyson was at the Los Angeles home of collaborator Chris Caswell, “and it happened to be Christmastime,” she recalls. “His wife was decorating all over the place. So we just decided, ‘We need to write a Christmas song.’ We were surrounded by all of these wonderful decorations, so we started describing what we were seeing and wrote a tune.”

The result: “Yuletide Hideaway,” the title track to her new 13-song album of originals and Christmas-season favorites.

Continue reading "YULE JEWELS" »

October 28, 2013

BASED ON A TRUE STORY

Melodime draws from family history to make new album, charity

Melodime.jpg

This really should begin with “Once upon a time,” but the following is a truthful tale.

One day, a poor family with five brothers heard a knock on their door. On the porch were five musical instruments, which were left there by anonymous donors. Each brother chose an instrument, learned how to play it and, over time, became good enough to play around town and earn money for the household.

Only within the past year did siblings Sammy and Tyler Duis of the Virginia band Melodime hear that story involving their great-grandfather and how he acquired his violin.

Continue reading "BASED ON A TRUE STORY" »

October 16, 2013

ALL FOR THE BETTER

Collaboration and compromise work for The Harmed Brothers

The Harmed Brothers_photo by Chad Lanning.jpg

Alex Salcido likens his band, The Harmed Brothers, to a ship, and says the goal is to keep it afloat “as much as humanly possible.”

The banjo-playing Salcido has been doing just that in recent years, navigating the always-choppy waters of the music business along with co-captain, fellow singer and guitarist Ray Vietti, plus various crew members.

“Ray and I have created our own kind of universe with these songs, and we have our visions for them,” explains Salcido. “Since the two of us write these songs, both separately and collaboratively and arrange them with different musicians at a time, we do our best to come to a point where both our ideas can co-exist. I believe we simply do our best to compromise with one another to stay true to our separate and collective visions for this band, whether it be the two of us, four of us or five of us.”

Continue reading "ALL FOR THE BETTER" »

October 08, 2013

COINCIDENTALLY COUNTRY

Kayte Grace tells the story of a relationship over five EPs

Kayte Grace.jpg


Categories and genres are necessary evils in the music industry, and some are more misleading than others.

Kayte Grace doesn’t seem to have strong feelings either way about how she’s been classified: as one of, if not the only, black female alt-country singer/songwriters in the business.

“It’s weird, I guess, because I don’t think a ton about genre when I write,” Grace says. “Things just sort of come out, and I try to have each song be whatever it needs to sound like.

“I do know that I was watching the Country Music Association Awards last year, and there wasn’t really anyone who looked like me,” she adds with a laugh.

Continue reading "COINCIDENTALLY COUNTRY" »

October 01, 2013

ORCHESTRAL MANEUVERS

Sammy Oatts brings his symphonic background to Hudson Hank

Hudson Hank.jpg

Walking away from steady work as a Broadway and orchestral musician might seem like an unwise career move for a classically trained trumpet player.

But there’s no trace of regret in singer Sammy Oatts’ voice when he talks about making that decision in order to explore “other creative energies” as the leader of the band Hudson Hank.

“I get to be more creative and be an integral part of the music instead of just a cog in the machine,” he adds.

Continue reading "ORCHESTRAL MANEUVERS" »

September 17, 2013

REMEMBERING HER MENTORS

Rory Block continues tribute-album series with Avalon

Rory Block.jpg

As a teenager in New York during the early 1960s, Rory Block had the good fortune to meet some of the original Delta blues masters when they passed through town. Looking back, she recalls those much-older musicians projecting nothing but kindness toward her.

“I think the idea of somebody honoring them by loving their music was enough to break any kind of ice that could possibly have been there,” Block adds.

Lately, the singer/guitarist has been honoring some of those blues greats with tribute albums, and on her latest, Avalon (Stony Plain), Block shines a spotlight on Mississippi John Hurt.

Continue reading "REMEMBERING HER MENTORS" »

September 10, 2013

MOTOWN ON HIS MIND

Nathan Angelo adopts old-school aesthetic to make his new album

Nathan Angelo.jpg

Since his preteen years, Nathan Angelo has been a fan of the golden age of Motown Records.

When he visited the Motown Museum last year, Angelo says his interest in the record company’s songs and studio sounds intensified to become full-blown inspiration: “I knew right then and there what I needed to do for my next project.”

That project is his new 12-song album, the R&B-flavored Out of the Blue, which Angelo recorded the way things were done at Motown in the 1960s: live in the studio to an analog tape machine. The Greenville, S.C.-based musician recently recalled his visit to the Hitsville U.S.A. building in Detroit and its influence on him, the challenges of recording to tape and his plans for re-creating the sounds heard on Out of the Blue while on the road.

Continue reading "MOTOWN ON HIS MIND" »

September 03, 2013

JUST BEING HIMSELF

Greg Errico recalls beat for classic Sly and the Family Stone hit

Greg Errico.png

Drum-wise, the first 10 seconds of the song are nothing spectacular — just eight single strikes of a closed hi-hat. After that, however, drummer Greg Errico lays down a groove in “Thank You (Falletinme Be Mice Elf Agin),” a No. 1 Billboard pop hit in 1970 for Sly and the Family Stone, that’s about as steady and funky as anything from that time (or from any time, for that matter).

Continue reading "JUST BEING HIMSELF" »

August 20, 2013

PUTTING THEIR HEADS TOGETHER

Rides members Shepherd, Goldberg talk up Jerry Harrison

The Rides_L to R_Stephen Stills, Barry Goldberg and Kenny Wayne Shepherd_ photo by Eleanor Sills .jpg

Around the time guitarist Kenny Wayne Shepherd was getting ready to make his 1997 album, Trouble Is …, someone at his label suggested he consider hiring Jerry Harrison as a producer.

“And I said, ‘[The guitarist from] the Talking Heads? What’s this guy know about the blues?’ ” Shepherd recalls.

A lot, it turns out.

“He told me his first band was a blues band,” Shepherd says. “We talked about the blues, and I realized this guy knows his stuff. Then I listened to some of the records he had produced, and sonically, I liked the way that they sounded, so I said let’s do it.”

Harrison has been behind the board for other Shepherd projects through the years. The latest is Can’t Get Enough (429 Records), the blues-infused debut album by The Rides, Shepherd’s new band with singer/guitarist Stephen Stills and keyboardist Barry Goldberg.

Continue reading "PUTTING THEIR HEADS TOGETHER" »

August 12, 2013

THE STAGES ARE SET

Blake Whyte’s datebook includes Broadway, club performances

Blake Whyte.jpg


It’s only about three miles from the Winter Garden Theatre on Broadway to Joe’s Pub on Lafayette Street.

When it comes to the sounds typically featured at those Manhattan venues, the distance between them can seem even greater.

This month, Blake Whyte will close that gap a little bit. Whyte, an ensemble player in Mamma Mia!, will play the principle role of Sky in four performances of the long-running Abba musical at the Winter Garden Theatre and perform his own music as a headliner at Joe’s Pub, all within a seven-day span.

Continue reading "THE STAGES ARE SET" »

August 01, 2013

FIRST THINGS FIRST: THE PLEASE PLEASE ME

The Please Please Me.jpg

No bass guitar? That’s no problem for the trio The Please Please Me, which has the lower frequencies covered by cello player Alissa McClure.

Not every member of the Austin, Texas-based band believed in that approach from the beginning. Singer, songwriter, guitarist and founder Jessie Torrisi actually wanted to augment The Please Please Me’s recording sessions with a variety of other instruments. But drummer Agustin Frederic stated his case for keeping the core trio as is, and the biggest believer in a no-bass approach was CJ Eiriksson, who produced The Please Please Me’s five-song debut, Shake a Little Harder.

With her band’s first EP about to be released, Torrisi recently checked in to discuss a handful of personal and professional musical firsts in her life.

Continue reading "FIRST THINGS FIRST: THE PLEASE PLEASE ME" »

July 28, 2013

MEMORIES ALONG THE HUDSON

With Maxwell’s about to close, Richard Barone reflects

Richard Barone.jpg

In front of the empty lot at 415 Monroe St. in Hoboken, N.J., there’s a gold star in the sidewalk acknowledging the site as the birthplace of Frank Sinatra.

No matter what becomes of the building across town at 1039 Washington St., a similar marker is in order to commemorate that location as the longtime home of Maxwell’s.

Continue reading "MEMORIES ALONG THE HUDSON" »

July 22, 2013

ALL ABOUT THE GARDEN STATE

Compilation salutes N.J.’s music history, aids Sandy recovery

My Hometown_A Tribute to NJ.jpg

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy last October, scores of New Jerseyans sprang into action to help their fellow residents recover from the destruction in various shore communities. Many provided much-needed shelter, donated food, clothing and money, or simply rolled up their sleeves and offered some good, old-fashioned elbow grease.

Mick Chorba decided to help in a less typical way: by making a compilation album.

Continue reading "ALL ABOUT THE GARDEN STATE" »

July 14, 2013

A PERIOD OF TRANSITION

Jack Wilson taps bygone ways for Spare Key

Jack Wilson_photo by Jen Hellow.jpg


Growing up in Austin, Texas, during the late 1980s and early 1990s, Jack Wilson says he “couldn’t help but be influenced” by Austin’s rock, folk and country artists.

“[But] from the beginning of my musical consciousness, I was mixing pop rock with the Austin sound,” he adds. “As a young kid, like as young as 6, I was hanging with guys in their 20s — my counselors at this horseback riding camp. I remember hearing Stone Temple PilotsCore, Nirvana’s Nevermind and Weezer’s blue album as they were being released.”

Continue reading "A PERIOD OF TRANSITION" »

July 02, 2013

SOUNDS AND IMAGES

The Architects marry their music with a series of comics

The Architects_2013.jpg

When it comes to concept albums, Architects leader Brandon Phillips considers himself to be a big fan.

“I like grandiose ambitions,” he says. “I like it when rock can reach beyond the [parameters of] three minutes and 30 seconds. But a lot of times, it does kind of end up a bit bloated and sort of antithetical to rock ’n’ roll and pop music.”

As he worked on Border Wars, his Missouri-based band’s thematic, 30-plus song project that will be spread across five graphic novels (illustrated by Mallory Dorn), Phillips focused on “those who have done it right.”

“What I wanted was more along the lines of Purple Rain and Streets of Fire,” Phillips adds.

Continue reading "SOUNDS AND IMAGES" »

June 20, 2013

REAL-LY DIFFERENT

Gina Sicilia switches personnel to make her fourth album

Gina Sicilia_by Jim Esposito.jpg


You never know when and where a life-changing musical discovery will occur.

For singer Gina Sicilia, it was circa the late 1990s when, as a 14-year-old, she saw a TV commercial for a Time-Life Music collection of classic blues, soul and R&B tunes.

“A few songs really stuck out — B.B. King’s ‘The Thrill of Gone’ [being one of them] — and made me order the CD, and I ordered it right away,” she recalls. “And I wore it out. I listened to it nonstop on my little Discman. I memorized the entire thing.”

However, she was not interested in sharing her newfound musical love with her Philadelphia-area peers.

Continue reading "REAL-LY DIFFERENT" »

June 13, 2013

HARD TO CATEGORIZE

Jerry Castle marches forward with Desperate Parade

Jerry Castle_seated.jpg

One way or another, the Americana classification seems to follow Jerry Castle.

It happened in frustrating fashion during the mid-2000s, when Castle spent about a year working as a for-hire songwriter in Nashville, Tenn.

“I would sing the demos,” he says, “and I was told, ‘Well, that comes across as Americana. We need to hone in on what artist we’re going for.’ [So we’d get] a demo singer to do it, and I’d hear, ‘Well, you know, it still sounds Americana. It’s the production. It needs to be brighter.’ So then we’d do that, and at the end, they’d go, ‘Well, you know, it’s a good song, but it’s nothing special.’ And I’d think, ‘Yeah, you’re not damn kidding it’s nothing special. You sucked everything that could be possibly be special about it out.’ And now we’ve spent all this money and time on these damn songs that I’m not proud of — that I’m not going to let anybody else hear again.”

Continue reading "HARD TO CATEGORIZE" »

June 07, 2013

AN ECLECTIC ENSEMBLE

Jimmy Vivino reunites Black Italians to record concert album

Jimmy Vivino and the Black Italians.jpg

Just like he does today, guitarist/singer Jimmy Vivino had a lot going on musically around 1992-93.

Back then, he and brother Jerry Vivino were working on their Chitlins Parmigiana album. He was in rehearsals with the other members of The Max Weinberg 7 for the debut of TV’s Late Night With Conan O’Brien show.

Jimmy Vivino also had a regular gig at Manhattan’s Downtime bar with the rotating collective known as The Black Italians. It gave him the opportunity to play “Third World blues with New Orleans swagger” once a week with “the perfect mix of Italians, Cubans, Jews and Afro-Americans.”

“We stopped as I got busier and busier,” Vivino says. “I couldn’t do every Tuesday night anymore after work and play until five in the morning. I had to stop for sanity and health and everything else.”

Thanks to a label executive with a good memory, Vivino recently had a chance to gather up The Black Italians and record a reunion concert.

Continue reading "AN ECLECTIC ENSEMBLE" »

June 01, 2013

FEELING STIMULATED

Charlie Mars talks about lyrics, love of solo acoustic performances

Charlie Mars_2010_B&W.jpg

Don’t rush to draw parallels between two songs just because they both mention drug use.

That’s the message one gets from singer/songwriter Charlie Mars’ comments about “Listen to the Darkside” and “How I Roll,” two of his best (and best-known) tunes.

Both songs have lyrics about the use of mind-altering substances, yet Mars is quick to say this is a coincidental, not intentional, connection — and not indicative of his body of work.

Continue reading "FEELING STIMULATED" »

May 16, 2013

NOT BY THE NUMBERS

Stephen Kellogg changes course while The Sixers take a break

Stephen Kellogg.jpg

For touring musicians, the road can be a complicated beast. Most of the time, it is exhilarating. Then at some point, it becomes exhausting.

Singer, songwriter and guitarist Stephen Kellogg knows this, and over the past year, he’s had to deal with both the good and the bad on some level.

Last spring, Kellogg was forced to face one of the road’s negatives when the subject of road burnout was brought up by members of his longtime band, The Sixers. Simultaneously, Kellogg adds, there was an overall feeling within the group that maybe it was time to do something else for a while.

Continue reading "NOT BY THE NUMBERS" »

May 10, 2013

FIRST THINGS FIRST: SHANNON LABRIE

Shannon Labrie.jpg

After several years of exploring the country (and exploring various interests), Nebraska native Shannon Labrie decided to settle in the country music capital of the world to focus on a career in music.

Even though she’s based in Nashville, Tenn., Labrie isn’t aiming to become a country starlet. The singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist has settled into Nashville’s independent music scene, releasing her debut album, Just Be Honest, in early 2013. One of its standout tracks is the airy, dreamy “I Remember a Boy,” which sounds like what might have happened if a young Sarah McLachlan had worked with producer Daniel Lanois.

Earlier this week, Labrie called to talk about some significant personal and musical firsts in her life.

Continue reading "FIRST THINGS FIRST: SHANNON LABRIE" »

May 01, 2013

Q&A: PAULA COLE

Paula Cole_B&W.jpg

Like other veteran artists (among them Willie Nile, Marshall Crenshaw and Asleep at the Wheel), singer/songwriter Paula Cole recently turned to Kickstarter as a way to raise money for a music-related project — and was very successful.

Cole hoped to raise $50,000 last fall to offset what she called “the big, costly Ms” — mixing, mastering and manufacturing — for her sixth studio album, Raven. She reached her goal and then some, receiving more than $75,000 in pledges during the campaign’s 37-day window.

Raven was released April 23 on Cole’s own 675 Records, so that means she no longer has the benefit of a major label’s financial or marketing muscle like she did for her breakthrough, This Fire (released in 1996 on the Warner Bros. imprint Imago). That doesn’t seem to matter much to Cole, who is embracing both the freedom and the extra responsibility that go along with what she describes as “a smaller, humbler career.”

Continue reading "Q&A: PAULA COLE" »

April 22, 2013

FIRST THINGS FIRST: CAPITAL CITIES

Capital Cities_photo by Eliot Lee Hazel.jpg

Around 2008, while searching for someone to produce one of his songs, Ryan Merchant turned to Craigslist, where he came across an ad from fellow singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Sebu Simonian.

“Apparently I was the first and only person who responded,” Merchant recalls. “I can’t remember exactly what [his ad] said, but it linked to a Web site with a video of Sebu performing a song with his old band. I was sold right away.”

At first, Merchant and Simonian worked together creating jingles. Now they’re making dance-pop music under the billing Capital Cities. The Los Angeles-based duo’s debut album, In a Tidal Wave of Mystery, is due June 7 via Capitol Records/Lazy Hooks. Among the album’s 12 songs are “Safe and Sound” (a recent Top 10 hit on Billboard’s Alternative Songs chart) and “Farrah Fawcett Hair” (featuring OutKast’s Andre 3000).

In the days leading up to Capital Cities’ first North American tour (which begins April 23 in Phoenix), Merchant checked in and talked about some other important firsts — music and otherwise — in his life and career.

Continue reading "FIRST THINGS FIRST: CAPITAL CITIES" »

April 17, 2013

THINKING OUT LOUD

Casey McPherson discusses Alpha Rev's promo efforts, new album

Casey McPherson_Alpha Rev_SXSW 2013_photo by Chris M. Junior.jpg

The way Alpha Rev leader Casey McPherson looks at it, promotion for a recording artist can be a hit-or-miss process, similar to sowing seeds in a field.

“Some of them may grow, and some of them may not,” he explains. “It’s important to keep that simplicity to it. Because we’re not marketing people, but we do know how to connect with people with [our] music.”

In mid-March, singer/guitarist McPherson and two of his band mates did their best to connect with airline passengers at 30,000 feet. As part of a new Southwest Airlines promotion, they performed acoustic versions of the latest Alpha Rev single, “Sing Loud,” plus the Texas band’s signature “New Morning” during a flight from Los Angeles to Denver.

“The funny thing is, even some of the people working at Southwest didn’t know about this promotion," McPherson says. “We arrived at the airport at 6 a.m. in Austin, and we got home at 12:40 in the morning.”

Continue reading "THINKING OUT LOUD" »

April 12, 2013

IN A GOOD PLACE NOW

Shannon McNally releases her in-the-can Bobby Charles tribute

Shannon McNally_color.jpg


On her 2005 album, Geronimo, Shannon McNally included her version of the Bobby Charles song “Tennessee Blues.”

Small Town Talk, McNally’s latest, is a start-to-finish tribute to the late songwriter who’s best known for composing such early rock ’n’ roll hits as “Walking to New Orleans” (a Fats Domino staple) and “But I Do” (covered by Clarence “Frogman” Henry).

But it wasn’t the famous songs by Charles that piqued McNally’s interest in his work and inspired her to make Small Town Talk. It was his self-titled 1972 album on the Bearsville label that featured contributions from Band bassist Rick Danko as well as John Simon, the group’s early producer.

“I was a huge Band fan, and this was just an incredible extension of The Band,” explains McNally, who discovered the album in 2000 and met Charles in 2002. “I love that production — how easy it was and tone-sensitive it was. It’s unpretentious. To me, it was intense chemistry and honest without working at it.”

Continue reading "IN A GOOD PLACE NOW" »

April 08, 2013

FLYING HIGH AGAIN

Ex-Eagles guitarist Don Felder revives solo career

Don Felder vertical.jpg

A series of meditations, coupled with putting his thoughts down in longhand on legal pads, led Don Felder to write the bestselling book Heaven and Hell: My Life in The Eagles (1974-2001).

Those years of in-depth research and reflecting on personal and professional experiences — divorcing his wife of 29 years and leaving The Eagles, just to name two — also stirred up Felder’s other creative juices.

“I have a studio in my home,” the guitarist says, “so the whole time I would come across these emotions and feelings, I would go into the studio and write these song ideas. So it was kind of a dual cathartic path: One path was writing it in text for my book, and at the same time, my greatest emotional release is through writing and playing music.”

Continue reading "FLYING HIGH AGAIN" »

April 01, 2013

FIRST THINGS FIRST: MANSIONS
ON THE MOON

Mansions on the Moon.jpg

To date, Mansions on the Moon has been associated with some notable names, despite not having a full-length album under its collective belt. The Los Angeles band has opened arena dates for Wiz Khalifa, handled the official remix for Foster the People’s “Life on the Nickel” and captured the ear of Pharrell Williams, the executive producer of MOTM’s 2012 EP, Lightyears.

As for the in-progress Mansions on the Moon debut album, guitarist Ted Wendler will only share so much about it publicly.

“I can say that we don’t have a label at this point,” Wendler says. “We do have some hopeful things in the works. It’s been very awesome to be able to have complete creative control up to this point, and we do like that.

“We have probably 60 songs started that we feel are great,” he adds. “The real challenge is finishing them. But we finally have about five or six that I would be happy to release right now.”

As for the album’s release, the band is targeting 2013, “but it would be great to get it out this summer,” Wendler says.

Meanwhile, Mansions on the Moon will be on the road this spring — and playing a lot of new material, according to Wendler, who recently discussed some music-related firsts in his life.

Continue reading "FIRST THINGS FIRST: MANSIONS
ON THE MOON" »

March 29, 2013

ACROSS THE GREAT DIVIDE

Canadian singer/songwriter Tim Chaisson targets the U.S.

Tim Chaisson_photo by Jess Baumung.jpg

For every Arcade Fire, there are so many other rock and pop acts from Canada (Sam Roberts Band and The Arkells immediately come to mind) that haven’t made a huge dent in the United States.

This comes as no surprise to singer/songwriter Tim Chaisson, who hails from Prince Edward Island, which is near Nova Scotia.

“I’m not quite sure why [that is],” Chaisson says. “I think that sometimes Canadian bands are really regionalized. A lot of them write lyrics that are very Canadian, and they reference Canadian places and things.”

Citing “an intimidation factor of crossing the border,” Chaisson says he hasn’t really tried to drum up stateside support via gigs or promotional appearances, focusing most of his energy on his home country. And as far as his albums, those haven’t been marketed to U.S. audiences — until now.

Continue reading "ACROSS THE GREAT DIVIDE" »

March 25, 2013

RETURNING TO THE SPOTLIGHT

Longtime sideman Kevin Bowe finds time for solo album and tour

Kevin Bowe.jpg


Several years have passed between Kevin Bowe albums, and being reminded of this prompts a chuckle from the singer, songwriter, guitarist and producer.

It’s a comfortable-sounding laugh, as if Bowe knows that fact is going to come up sooner or later when talking about his latest effort, Natchez Trace, which is credited to him and the Okemah Prophets, his two-piece band.

In trying to explain why it took him so long, Bowe doesn’t blame writer’s block or Chinese Democracy-style drama.

“No Axl Rose for me,” Bowe says. “I’m from Minnesota. We’re meat-and-potatoes people with work ethics. I just didn’t have time to do my own record.”

He adds, “It just kind of got away from me, I think, because I do a lot of different things for a living in music. So it’s easy to get really busy.”

Continue reading "RETURNING TO THE SPOTLIGHT" »

March 14, 2013

SXSW 2013 PREVIEW: THE ZOMBIES

Colin Blunstone_small_by Chris M. Junior.jpg

With a storied past, a very active present and plans for the future, Zombies leaders Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent will have a lot of ground to cover during their SXSW interview that takes place a day before their official showcase performance.

Blunstone delved into some key areas of his British band’s history recently for Medleyville.us.

Continue reading "SXSW 2013 PREVIEW: THE ZOMBIES" »

March 12, 2013

SXSW 2013 PREVIEW: PATRICK KRIEF

Patrick Krief.jpg

To label Patrick Krief’s Hundred Thousand Pieces a midlife-crisis album might be an overstatement, but lyrically, it does deal with some anxieties that Krief says reached a peak when he hit age 30.

Finishing the album, due March 19 through Rock Ridge Music, was a reminder to the Montreal-based Krief that music is what he does — whether it be as a solo artist, scoring films or as the longtime guitarist for The Dears.

Continue reading "SXSW 2013 PREVIEW: PATRICK KRIEF" »

March 11, 2013

SXSW 2013 PREVIEW: CARSIE BLANTON

Carsie Blanton.jpg

Traveling often, according to singer/songwriter Carsie Blanton, “is a great way to take in new information. … It’s the best way for me to continue to get inspired about people.”

Blanton’s travels have taken her around the United States and Europe. Now based in New Orleans, the hard-to-classify solo artist who has unique experiences and strong opinions to share will be making the journey to Austin, Texas, for the 27th edition of South by Southwest.

Continue reading "SXSW 2013 PREVIEW: CARSIE BLANTON" »

March 06, 2013

GIVING HER ALL

Sena Ehrhardt’s heart is in the blues

Sena Ehrhardt_photo by Haley Waller.jpg

When singer Sena Ehrhardt decided to launch a solo career, she only had to look to her then-band — and her family — for a steady collaborator: guitarist Edward Ehrhardt, her father.

Considering that she got her start in the Minnesota-area blues band Plan B, going solo and taking another member (parent notwithstanding) could have easily rubbed the group’s remaining musicians the wrong way. Ehrhardt says that wasn’t the case.

Continue reading "GIVING HER ALL" »

March 01, 2013

A DIFFERENT WORLD

Devon Allman digs deep inside for his first solo album

Devon Allman.jpg

He carries one of rock ’n’ roll’s most famous surnames. Slowly but surely, though, Devon Allman — son of Gregg Allman — has made a name for himself.

The younger Allman, a singer/guitarist for Honeytribe and the Royal Southern Band, released his debut solo album, Turquoise (Ruf Records), in February. There’s a lot of personal, yet universally relatable, meaning in Allman’s lyrics — especially in “When I Left Home,” “Into the Darkness” and “Turn Off the World” — and Turquoise’s enjoyable blend of blues, rock, soul and even a little bit of world music is a great reflection of his wide tastes and travels.

Allman talks about writing the songs for Turquoise, the importance of taking a break from the rock ’n’ roll lifestyle, his eye-catching guitar strap and other subjects.

Continue reading "A DIFFERENT WORLD" »

February 19, 2013

SOLO NO MORE

Shawn Fogel reconfigures Golden Bloom

Golden Bloom_photo by Sandlin Gaither.jpg

When Shawn Fogel began making music as Golden Bloom, he treated recording as a one-man show, playing everything himself on Fan the Flames (2009) and March to the Drums (2011).

Concerts, however, were a different story. Fogel would be joined ontstage by a variety of multi-instrumentalists, and initially, they were expected to replicate the sounds on his studio efforts.

Today, the studio Golden Bloom is the same as the road version: Fogel now leads a steady, contributory four-piece ensemble, and the group’s first effort is the recently released No Day Like Today.

“I was running out of steam creatively,” Fogel recalls. “I was having a lot of trouble writing on my own and got to a place where I would second guess every idea that I had. Rather than getting a rough version of a song written and then figuring out how to make it better, I would write half a song and then decide it wasn’t any good and just abandon it. I decided that the best way to get out of my creative rut would be to change the creative process.”

Continue reading "SOLO NO MORE" »

February 11, 2013

SPECIAL ATTRACTION

The Bolts gain exposure through Disneyland performances

The Bolts_color.jpg


A residency can be a great way for a band to build its audience. And when the residency is at Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., there are fantasy-like possibilities that go along with the opportunity.

“Playing Disneyland is like going on tour to 10 different cities every single night,” says singer/guitarist Heath Farmer of the California rock band The Bolts. “There are people from all around the world who come to Disneyland, from every single market. If we were to [do a club] residency, there’s usually one market that comes out to that — one demographic. And that’s good; that gives us a chance [to reach] our proper market. But playing Disneyland, we get to reach out to all sorts of different people. ... It’s like a focus group every single night.”

Continue reading "SPECIAL ATTRACTION" »

February 04, 2013

Q&A: LULU

Lulu_color.jpg

Given that Lulu’s preteen musical influences were American, and that her roots are in the blues, it would be safe to assume she has quite a few U.S. concerts to her credit.

Truth is, the singer best known for the 1967 smash “To Sir With Love” has only made “fairly quick trips” to America for performances. And on top of that, she’s never had a gig in New York City.

That will change Feb. 16, when Lulu takes the stage at the B.B. King Blues Club & Grill in Manhattan. Backing her that night will be guitarist Jimmy Vivino, drummer Rich Pagano and bassist Will Lee, all members of The Fab Faux (the ace Beatles tribute band), as well as keyboardist Paul Shaffer (the Late Show With David Letterman bandleader).

In late January, Lulu checked in from England to talk about how her first-ever New York show came together and what she’s done to prepare for it.

Continue reading "Q&A: LULU" »

February 01, 2013

STEADY AS HE GOES

Scott James concentrates on developing his craft

Scott James.jpg

Releasing an EP can be a smart way to introduce a new artist to the music-buying public.

Following it up with two more EPs might seem a little unusual, but Scott James has valid reasons for doing so.

“I started songwriting about four or five years ago, and I released my first EP very soon after that,” James explains. “And then a year later, I released my next one, and now a year later, I’m releasing this one.”

By “this one,” he is referring to Destinesia, which is entirely performed by James, a soft-spoken singer, songwriter, guitarist and pianist from Thousand Oaks, Calif. Oh, by the way: James is only 17, but there’s nothing juvenile about his material — or in the way he’s handled his career so far.

Continue reading "STEADY AS HE GOES" »

January 17, 2013

MAKING THINGS RIGHT

Laura Warshauer pursues her pop sensibilities

Laura_Warshauer.jpg


Following her brief fling with a major label, Laura Warshauer could have easily thrown in the towel on her music career. She also could have thrown a fit whenever the opportunity presented itself to talk about why things didn’t work out.

Warshauer has carried on as a recording and performing musician. And instead of dwelling on what didn’t happen in the past, she chooses to discuss what she gained from her Island Def Jam Music Group stint and how the end of that relationship sharpened her drive and focus.

Continue reading "MAKING THINGS RIGHT" »

January 07, 2013

FUELED BY INTERNAL DRIVE

Alex Vans toughs out the cold to record DJ Booth

Alex Vans_photo by Cameron Whitman .jpg


Some recording facilities have better amenities than others. And by amenities, that usually means the instruments, software and machinery available for the musicians to use, not something that’s assumed and usually taken for granted — like whether the building has heat.

In tracking nearly all of his DJ Booth album at Mill Street Recording, an abandoned mill in the Philadelphia area, during the winter, Alex Vans put up with several heat-free days in order to capture the room’s natural acoustics. And according to Vans, by bundling up and toughing out the cold to record there, the entire record has an edge.

The onetime Washington, D.C.-area solo-acoustic artist talks about writing DJ Booth while on the road, freezing for the good of his music and other subjects.

Continue reading "FUELED BY INTERNAL DRIVE" »

December 27, 2012

READY FOR THE CONFETTI

The Epilogues will close out 2012 with a New Year's Eve gig

The Epilogues_photo by Randall Paetzold.jpg

In the past, as one year was ending and another was starting, Chris Heckman would usually find himself at a bar.

Heckman will be wrapping up 2012 doing something a little different: a New Year's Eve concert — his first as a spectator and as a performer. The Epilogues, Heckman's Denver-based band, is booked to open for fellow Colorado act 3OH!3 at the Gothic Theatre in Englewood.

"A couple of promoters came to us and asked us about playing on New Year's Eve, and we said, 'No way — not a chance,' " Heckman recalls. "And then 3OH!3 gave us a call [and at that point] it became a different story. Those guys are friends, and it should be fun, and I would imagine it would be sold out."

Continue reading "READY FOR THE CONFETTI" »

December 20, 2012

MEDLEYVILLE.US — 2012 IN REVIEW

Was Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe" a huge hit in 2012? Hell yeah. But did Medleyville staffers select it as Song of the Year or as a runner-up? Hell no.

Tunes by they-still-got-it singer/songwriters (Bob Dylan and Graham Parker) and you-should-know-about-’em bands (Diamond Rugs and The Allah-Las) did make the cut. Here’s a look at those and some other high points of 2012.

Continue reading "MEDLEYVILLE.US — 2012 IN REVIEW" »

December 11, 2012

BELOW THE SURFACE

P.J. Pacifico shares specifics about his recent efforts

P.J. Pacifico.jpg

Singer, songwriter, guitarist and Connecticut native P.J Pacifico has had a busy 2012, which has included tour dates in America and abroad as well as new music and creative videos.

With the year winding down, Pacifico reflected on some of his accomplishments, including his recently filmed video for "Sailing," a cover of the Christopher Cross hit. (Pacifico's version is being offered as a free download through his label, Viper Records).

Continue reading "BELOW THE SURFACE" »

December 01, 2012

FIRST THINGS FIRST: J. CHARLES

J Charles and the Trainrobbers_By_Nick Prendergast.jpg

In a simple world, there would only be two kinds of music: good and bad. But over-hyphenation and subgenre classification often get in the way these days, so categorizing a band’s sound poses more challenges than ever before.

Typically, it’s music fans and the various branches of the industry who indulge in such descriptive minutia. The people who actually make the music, on the other hand, tend to be at a loss for words — or at the very least, slightly uncomfortable — slapping a label on what they do.

That certainly applies to Jeffrey Charles Saenz, better known as J. Charles. The Texas singer/guitarist and his five-piece band, The Trainrobbers, were among the Best Americana/Roots Act nominees in the 2012 Dallas Observer Music Awards. He’s OK with the Americana tag, but he also throws in other terms to cover the sounds featured throughout Upon Leaving, his first full-length effort with the Trainrobbers.

J. Charles recently checked in to talk about other significant firsts in his life and music career.

Continue reading "FIRST THINGS FIRST: J. CHARLES" »

November 24, 2012

IT'S GONNA BE A SPECIAL NIGHT

Dean Ween organizes benefit show for friend in need

Dean Ween.jpg

Just like everyone else in the Northeast who endured Hurricane Sandy, Dean Ween (aka Mickey Melchiondo) was glued to the news for storm reports and footage from the New Jersey coast.

"Unfortunately," recalls the New Hope, Pa.-based musician, "all of the towns that were the most special to me seemed to be the areas that were the hardest hit." They include the south end of Long Beach Island, where he owned a trailer and where he and Gene Ween wrote and recorded the Ween albums The Mollusk, White Pepper and Quebec; Belmar, where Dean's boat is usually moored; and Normandy Beach, where his fisherman friend Nick Honachefsky lives.

"Nick stayed at his house during the storm as long as he could," Dean Ween says. "Not two months after he got back [from living in Florida], Sandy came along and his house burned to the ground and washed away with the tide, taking all of his worldly possessions with it."

Ween's immediate reaction to learning about Honachefsky's losses was to call up some friends and put together a benefit show, which will take place Nov. 28 at The Saint in Asbury Park, N.J.

Continue reading "IT'S GONNA BE A SPECIAL NIGHT" »

November 20, 2012

UNDER THE SPOTLIGHT

Surrender The Fall preps for first headlining tour

Surrender The Fall.jpg

After opening for Nonpolnt during the summer and doing the same for My Darkest Days in the early fall, Surrender The Fall will be the top-billed act when the band hits the road Nov. 23 for its first-ever headlining U.S. club tour.

Making the jump from opener to headliner comes with many decisions. In Surrender The Fall's case, at what point in the set should the Memphis, Tenn.-based hard-rock band play its single "Love Hate Masquerade"? How about the other songs on STF's debut album, Burn in the Spotlight (Rum Bum Records)? Singer Jared Cole talked about what's ahead and more.

Continue reading "UNDER THE SPOTLIGHT" »

November 07, 2012

EXPANDING THEIR SOULS

Akina Adderley, Vintage Playboys stretch out on Say Yes

Akina Adderley & The Vintage Playboys copy.jpg

Everything’s bigger in Texas, and that ol' saying applies to the Austin-based Akina Adderley & The Vintage Playboys in more ways than one.

Usually featuring eight or so members, the Vintage Playboys provide a classic-soul foundation over which the dynamic Adderley — granddaughter of trumpeter Nat Adderley, grandniece of saxophonist Cannonball Adderley and daughter of keyboardist Nat Adderley Jr. — sings in a voice that contrasts her diminutive size.

Say Yes, the new album by Adderley and company, is stylistically similar to their self-titled 2009 effort. This time around, though, some songs are noticeably bigger: Three exceed 5:30, and one of them — the standout slow-burner "Easy on Me" — clocks in at almost eight minutes.

Adderley recently checked in from Austin to talk about the new album, addressing the longer songs and the collaboration process with her father, as well as what it meant to be honored by her adopted hometown with a proclamation day in June.

Continue reading "EXPANDING THEIR SOULS" »

October 15, 2012

Q&A: CRAIG CHAQUICO

Craig Chaquico.jpg

Whether he was playing pop and rock with Jefferson Starship or Starship, or smooth jazz and New Age instrumental music as a solo artist, guitarist Craig Chaquico says he was always drawing from the blues.

On his latest solo album, Fire Red Moon (Blind Pig Records), Chaquico takes a much more direct approach to that blues core. In addition to seven blues-rock originals, Moon also features Chaquico's take on blues standards that go back to Albert King, Muddy Waters and Robert Johnson.

"I'm finally getting a chance to actually do what people call a blues-influenced record," Chaquico says, "but really, it's part of the same artist evolution for me. It just seems logical and natural."

Chaquico recently checked in from his home in Oregon to talk about transitioning from Starship to a solo career and his latest solo album.

Continue reading "Q&A: CRAIG CHAQUICO" »

October 12, 2012

PACKING PLENTY OF POP

Saul Zonana transitions from New York to Tennessee

Saul Zonana.jpg


As Lovin' Spoonful singer John Sebastian respectfully pointed out in the 1967 hit "Nashville Cats," the capital of Tennessee sure has a lot of really good guitarists.

The same is certainly true today. But not all of them are looking to make their mark within the country music community.

New York native Saul Zonana, a self-described "fast-paced Queens guy," has lived in the Nashville area the past few years, and the pop-rock musician and songwriter says he's starting to feel right at home professionally.

"Nashville doesn't exactly breed a bunch of progressive pop bands," Zonana says. "I think I’m a breath of fresh air around here for the people who get it, and that’s starting to work out for me."

Continue reading "PACKING PLENTY OF POP" »

October 03, 2012

INCLUSIVE AND EXPANSIVE

The Universal Thump spreads orchestral pop over two discs

The Universal Thump_photo by Vincent Douglas.jpg

An orchestral pop past, a whale-watching expedition in Canada and Herman Melville's classic Moby-Dick all played a role in what became the new self-titled double album from The Universal Thump.

It was supposed to be a simple project. But over time, Brooklyn, N.Y.-based singer/songwriter/pianist Greta Gertler and her Thump partner, drummer Adam D. Gold, chose to expand the album's concept and sound, and with that came a lot of guest musicians — in the end, more than 60.

Gertler recently discussed the progression of the project and its Kickstarter fundraising campaign, plus what to expect during The Universal Thump's October residency in Manhattan.

Continue reading "INCLUSIVE AND EXPANSIVE" »

September 24, 2012

LETTING THE MEMORIES FLOW

Johnny Rivers recalls his New York roots

Johnny Rivers_photo by Guy Webster.jpg

The map of Johnny Rivers' life and career is filled with many notable locations.

There's Baton Rouge, La., where the singer and guitarist was living when he was exposed to the region's blues and R&B music, which shaped his sound.

There's West Hollywood, Calif., home of the Whisky A Go Go, where Rivers performed regularly in the early 1960s and recorded his early hit singles.

And then there's New York City. Not only is it the birthplace and early home of one John Ramistella, but New York is also where he met legendary DJ Alan Freed, who gave the musician his professional surname.

The Southern California-based Rivers, who turns 70 in November, hasn't played a New York City show in a long time. So in anticipation of his Sept. 28 gig at the B.B. King Blues Club & Grill in Times Square, he recently talked about a few of his most important New York-related moments.

Continue reading "LETTING THE MEMORIES FLOW" »

September 08, 2012

REMEMBERING THE MASTER

Lou Pallo recruits big names for Les Paul tribute album

Lou Pallo_photo by Arnie Goodman.jpg

For many years, Lou Pallo played with Les Paul during the legendary musician, guitar inventor and recording pioneer's regular Monday-night gigs in New York City.

On the new tribute album Thank You Les (Showplace Music Productions), guitarist/singer Pallo plays with some of the late Paul's famous fans and disciples, among them Keith Richards, Billy Gibbons and Jose Feliciano.

"All I had to do was call my friends, one at a time, and they were there," Pallo explains. "So it wasn't planned for years, it was just through the years, [many musicians said to me], 'When you do something, please let us know. We want to be on it.' And then I let them know. Some were out of town, but we seemed to do pretty good with what we do have."

Continue reading "REMEMBERING THE MASTER" »

September 04, 2012

A LITTLE COUNTRY COMFORT

Ingram Hill shifts gears with self-produced album

Ingram Hill_by Rebecca Ward.jpg

Justin Moore, Phil Bogard and Zach Kirk of Ingram Hill asked a lot from their audience — and each other — with regard to the band's new self-titled studio album.

Like so many artists have done in recent years, Ingram Hill turned to its fans for contributions to cover studio costs. Instead of going through an established crowd-funding program, though, the Tennessee group kept things in-house, spreading the word on its Web site, setting up a PayPal account and offering various donation-level prizes.

"We wanted to make sure we did it in a way that didn't make us look like a bunch of beggars," singer/guitarist Moore says. "I was worried to death about that perception."

Continue reading "A LITTLE COUNTRY COMFORT" »

August 27, 2012

A TOUCH OF PARIS

The Kennedys branch out on Closer Than You Know

The Kennedys_B&W_2012.jpg

Simplicity has its place in pop music, but so does sophistication.

When it came time to make the first Kennedys album since 2008's Better Dreams, singer/guitarist Maura Kennedy wanted to stretch out and challenge herself as well as her husband and bandmate, multi-instrumentalist Pete Kennedy.

Following a visit to Paris with a friend, Maura spent a lot of time thinking about Impressionist-inspired music. Her thoughts soon turned toward making music with Pete that featured "a mixture of Parisian-kinds of chord progressions and soundscapes with pop lyrics."

"Each of us put out solo albums since our last Kennedys album, and we were trying to come up with a concept for [our] new album," she explains from her New York home. "So that was the idea when Pete started coming up with those soundscapes for me, based on that suggestion."

Continue reading "A TOUCH OF PARIS" »

August 14, 2012

WILD TRANSFORMATION

Jenee Halstead re-emerges with Raised by Wolves

Jenee Halstead_photo by Caleb Cole.jpg

Months spent thinking about the wilderness — particularly the possible existence of feral children — ultimately impacted the creativity of Jenee Halstead.

"I was like, 'Wouldn't it be so cool to write an album that was inspired by that' — sort of Kate Bush-y," Halstead recalls. "But I just sort of put it on the shelf."

Not for long, though. When the Boston-based singer/songwriter went to Washington to record with collaborator Evan Brubaker, she had second thoughts about releasing a collection of songs that resembled her previous two efforts.

"I think I looked at him and said, 'I have to start over,' " Halstead says. "And he said, 'You do; you have to start over.' We had been milling around [Brubaker's] house for two days, going into the studio and trying to put stuff down, and it was like, 'Ehhhh.' So there was really no going forth [at that point]."

Continue reading "WILD TRANSFORMATION" »

August 02, 2012

TIME FOR A CHANGE

10 Years starts own label, self-produces new album

10 Years.jpg

Walking away from a longtime relationship with a major label is a major moment for an artist. But for drummer/guitarist Brian Vodinh and the other members of the Tennessee hard-rock band 10 Years, severing ties with Universal Records made perfect sense.

"It got to the point where we knew that wasn't a good home for us," Vodinh says. "Basically, with our last record [2010's Feeding the Wolves], we fulfilled our contract with them. At that point, we could either renegotiate a new deal or decide to go our separate ways. So instead of us trying to put together a new deal and stay with them, we decided to start our own label."

Continue reading "TIME FOR A CHANGE" »

July 27, 2012

Q&A: ROD ARGENT

Rod Argent_photo by Chris M. Junior.jpg

Not all rock 'n' roll milestones are treated the same way, either by the media or the artists themselves.

There has been plenty of coverage this year marking the 50th anniversary of The Beach Boys, whose surviving members have gone all out, reuniting for a new studio album and an extensive tour. The same can be said of The Rolling Stones reaching the big 5-0 as a band, even though they've looked like slackers compared to Brian Wilson and company, authorizing an upcoming photo/artwork book and documentary while toying with the idea of performing later this year.

Then you have The Zombies. In 2011, their 50th anniversary was handled much more passively by the mainstream press, even though the crafty British band — still led by original members Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent — released a new studio album, Breathe Out, Breathe In, and hit the road.

Maybe it's because singer Blunstone and keyboardist Argent — unlike the surviving Beach Boys or the current Stones lineup — have been working together on a regular basis in recent years, reuniting circa the early 2000s to record and tour as a duo, then reviving the Zombies moniker. Or maybe it's just the latest example of the band being overlooked; the most egregious example of this, of course, is that The Zombies have not been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Prior to a string of Zombies U.S. concert dates, Argent addressed the Rock Hall issue and other topics, such as how his band fit in with the other 1960s British Invasion acts and what continues to motivate him and the rest of his group — currently Blunstone, bassist Jim Rodford (formerly of The Kinks and Argent's cousin), drummer Steve Rodford (Jim's son) and guitarist Tom Toomey (a veteran of Blunstone's solo band).

Continue reading "Q&A: ROD ARGENT" »

July 17, 2012

BLOWING HIS OWN HORN

Jerry Martini upholds the Sly and the Family Stone legacy

The Family Stone 2012.jpg

Once upon a time, horns were common in rock, pop and R&B. In fact, there was a period in the late 1960s/early 1970s when horn players were regularly heard on hit recordings and were full-time members of the most popular bands in the world — among them Chicago, Tower of Power and Sly and the Family Stone.

So what's become of horn players and their place in popular music since those glory days?

"I'll tell you what happened — it's called the computer and the synthesizer," says saxophonist Jerry Martini, a founding member of Sly and the Family Stone. "They have come up with really good computer trumpets and trombones and things like that. But they haven't been able to come up with a good saxophone sound yet, and I'm very thankful for that."

Martini has plenty to be thankful for: In recent years, he's backed the likes of Robert Cray in the studio and Prince onstage. Lately, Martini's regular gig has been leading The Family Stone along with trumpet player Cynthia Robinson and drummer Greg Errico, both fellow veterans of Sly and the Family Stone.

Continue reading "BLOWING HIS OWN HORN" »

July 09, 2012

NOT THE END OF THE PARTY

The English Beat hits the road supporting two retrospectives

Dave Wakeling_photo by Jackie Butler.jpg

Three studio albums — that's all The English Beat released, but they were enough to form a solid foundation for Britain's burgeoning Two Tone ska movement and later influence the likes of The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and other ska-centric bands.

The Beat's catalog is also enough for a boxed set. On July 10, Shout! Factory is set to release the five-disc The English Beat: The Complete Beat, featuring remastered versions of the band's three studio albums with bonus tracks, plus dub and extended versions as well as concert and radio performances. On the same day, the label will also issue the 16-track Keep The Beat: The Very Best of The English Beat, featuring "Save It for Later," "I Confess" and other signature songs.

Singer, guitarist and longtime leader Dave Wakeling recently reflected on some restricting comments he made during the early days of The English Beat, what went into assembling the two new compilations and why he thinks his band is appreciated more now than it was in the early 1980s.

Continue reading "NOT THE END OF THE PARTY" »

July 02, 2012

WILD AND FREE

Omar Kent Dykes calls on his friends to make I'm Gone

Omar Kent Dykes.jpg

When Omar Kent Dykes refers to himself as "a little archaic," the veteran Texas blues rocker does so with a gruff laugh and, more importantly, not a trace of regret.

Dykes still likes to buy vinyl records at stores -- just like he did as a teenager, plunking down his cash for 45s at a Mississippi appliance shop. And when it comes to recording his music, Dykes follows the same old-school approach in the studio that's served him well for more than 40 years.

"I'll have engineers tell me, 'You all can't set up in the same room. What about bleed-through?' And I'll say, 'What about it?' " Dykes says. "I've got 10,000 vinyl albums, and half of ’em were all recorded [with the musicians] in the same room. … We can deal with that.

Continue reading "WILD AND FREE" »

June 20, 2012

SOMETHING TO FALL BACK ON

Friendship is the foundation of The Front Bottoms

Front Bottoms_ by Lucia Holm.jpg

Brian Sella and Mathew Uychich have known each other since their preteen years, and their long, deep personal connection has played a big part in working together as The Front Bottoms.

"We don't really have to worry about hurting each other's feelings because we'll always just know that everything will be fine between us," explains Sella. "We know that we’ll always be having a good time with each other. … It’s the best relationship I’ve ever been in."

Continue reading "SOMETHING TO FALL BACK ON" »

June 04, 2012

FIRST THINGS FIRST: MORNING PARADE'S STEVE SPARROW

Steve Sparrow_Morning Parade_by Chris M. Junior.jpg

America got a taste of Morning Parade in March when the group released a four-song EP and showcased at the South by Southwest music conference/festival in Austin, Texas.

The U.K. rock band is offering a much bigger serving this month in the form of its self-titled debut album (due June 19 on Astralwerks Records) and a 13-date U.S. tour (which opens June 4 in Los Angeles).

To coincide with the release of Morning Parade's debut (which contains the standout single "Headlights"), singer/guitarist Steve Sparrow sat down to discuss some other important music firsts in his life.

Continue reading "FIRST THINGS FIRST: MORNING PARADE'S STEVE SPARROW" »

June 03, 2012

THE TRUTH BEHIND RUMOURS

Ken Caillat's book sheds light on Fleetwood Mac's defining album

Making Rumours cover.jpg

It's an album with a backstory that's nearly as good as the music.

Fleetwood Mac's members went through a lot of personal turmoil on their way to the creative triumph that is Rumours, which spawned four Billboard Top 10 pop hits, was awarded Grammy glory and achieved multi-platinum sales.

Ken Caillat had a front-row seat for the sessions as a co-engineer and co-producer of the Mac’s 1977 release, and he’s shared his memories in the new book Making Rumours: The Inside Story of the Classic Fleetwood Mac Album (written with Steven Stiefel). Caillat recently checked in to revisit Rumours and also talk about using what he learned back then to produce the music of a recent hitmaker, daughter Colbie Caillat.

Continue reading "THE TRUTH BEHIND RUMOURS" »

May 25, 2012

ANNIVERSARY PLANS

MxPx marks 20th with U.S. tour dates

MxPx_photo by Jered Scott.jpg

In "The Times," one of the 13 songs on the new MxPx album, Plans Within Plans, bassist Mike Herrera sings a line that can easily be interpreted as a promise to fans of the veteran pop-punk band.

The lyric is "history has taught us to keep playing through." And this spring and summer, Herrera — along with guitarist Tom Wisniewski and drummer Yuri Riley — will shine a spotlight on their history and their new album (released in April via MRI/Rock City Recording Company) by playing select U.S. shows in celebration of MxPx's 20th anniversary.

Herrera recently checked in to talk about the band’s early days, some recent developments and much more.

Continue reading "ANNIVERSARY PLANS" »

May 14, 2012

NOT BY THE BOOK

Berklee students cover rock for Under the Influence

Under the Influence cover.jpg

Part of the Berklee College of Music's philosophy is to provide an environment where aspiring musicians "learn how to integrate new ideas" and "adapt to changing musical genres," according to the Boston educational institution's Web site.

That line of thinking is reflected in the playing of the Berklee students and alumni who appear on Under the Influence (Heavy Rotation Records), a recently released covers album featuring their versions of songs by The Pixies, Radiohead, R.E.M. and others.

"There's more to Berklee than just jazz," says producer Paul Kolderie, who was approached in late 2010 by Berklee professor Jeff Dorenfeld and his son about participating in the project. "I liked the idea of a radical cover record using students who, for the most part, knew nothing about these bands."

Continue reading "NOT BY THE BOOK" »

May 03, 2012

ALL AROUND THE WORLD

Well-traveled Rachel Platten maps out headlining tour

Rachel Platten.jpg

For the seemingly always-on-the-move Rachel Platten, summertime will be a relatively stationary period in which the singer/pianist will roll up her sleeves and get to work on a new studio album.

Then again, Platten could end up making another international project, writing and recording in a variety of far-apart locales — just like she did with her most recent full-length effort, 2011's Be Here (Rock Ridge Music).

With travel and relocation so much a part of her life and career, Platten recently found time to talk about some of the places she's been — not long before hitting the road for a U.S. headlining tour in support of her new EP.

Continue reading "ALL AROUND THE WORLD" »

April 16, 2012

WATCHING HIS GROWTH

Recent experiences stimulate Eric Hutchinson's creativity

Eric Hutchinson_photo by Jeff Lipsky.jpg

In the years leading up to Moving Up Living Down (Warner Bros.), singer/songwriter Eric Hutchinson has been a man in constant motion: lots of touring, relocating from the Maryland suburbs to New York City and recording the aforementioned album in two countries.

"The biggest inspirations of the album were the cities I visited, the inspiration and rhythms of the people," Hutchinson says.

While in San Francisco, Hutchinson came up with a line that sparked him to write "Watching You Watch Him," the album's first single. It was featured in the season eight premiere of ABC's Grey’s Anatomy, and since late March, the song’s official video has racked up more than 70,000 YouTube views. (Hutchinson's music has done quite well on YouTube in the past: Clips for "OK, It's Alright With Me" and "Rock & Roll" — songs from his last album, Sounds Like This — have surpassed 500,000 and 1.5 million views, respectively.)

Hutchinson checked in prior to the release of Moving Up Living Down and the start of his spring U.S. tour to talk about the new album, his catchy single and other subjects.

Continue reading "WATCHING HIS GROWTH" »

April 10, 2012

FEELING RIGHT AT HOME

Jack Petruzzelli assists Joan Osborne on her new covers album

Jack Petruzzelli.jpg

In the late 1980s, Jack Petruzzelli and Joan Osborne first crossed paths when they both played the same circuit of blues and R&B clubs in and around New York.

Petruzzelli was working with Barbecue Bob and the Spare Ribs, while Osborne was fronting her own band. And after Osborne broke big as a solo artist with her 1995 big-label debut, Relish, Petruzzelli became a steady presence in Osborne's career, touring, writing and recording with her while also pursuing his other projects.

Their musical partnership has come full circle, Petruzzelli says, with Osborne's latest album, Bring It on Home (Time Life Music), which he co-produced.

"When I first met Joan, we were playing some of the music we had recorded for this [project]," Petruzzelli says. "So it was a lot of fun to revisit that aspect of our careers together, of our relationship together."

Continue reading "FEELING RIGHT AT HOME" »

March 23, 2012

RIGHT TO THE POINT

The Hussy hammers out compact garage rock

The Hussy_photo by Tom Tian.jpg

The record-label concept might seem antiquated to a lot of people in this era of digital downloads, but not to singer/guitarist Bobby Hussy, the leader of the Wisconsin-bred garage-rock duo The Hussy.

Hussy the man runs his own label, Kind Turkey, and Hussy the band has released a lot of music in a physical format over a short period of time through a variety of imprints, the latest being Weed Seizure, The Hussy's second album, which arrived earlier this month on Tic Tac Totally Records.

The group's namesake found some time just prior to hitting the road with drummer Heather Sawyer to talk about the new album, song length, the video for the tune "Undefined" and the labels he feels are carrying the torch for garage rock.

Continue reading "RIGHT TO THE POINT" »

March 15, 2012

SXSW 2012 PREVIEW: ERIN IVEY

Erin Ivey.jpg

She's a little bit folkie, and they're a little bit R&B: Put them together and you have singer/songwriter Erin Ivey backed by the trio known as The Finest Kind.

They had performed together for a few years, and when the time came to make her second solo album, Ivey says recording it with The Finest Kind was a no-brainer. The result was 2011's Broken Gold, and the album generated its share of media praise in her longtime hometown of Austin, Texas, which is also the headquarters for all things SXSW.

Continue reading "SXSW 2012 PREVIEW: ERIN IVEY" »

March 13, 2012

SXSW 2012 PREVIEW: JACK WILSON

Jack Wilson_Fluff & Gravy Records.jpg

"Serving the song" — always easier said than done. And the thought process and second-guessing only intesifies when it's your first full-length album, and you are considering lots of material, and when stylistic continuity is a concern.

These issues and more were running through singer/songwriter Jack Wilson's mind as he set out to make his self-titled debut, now available from Fluff & Gravy Records. With the help of producer and Seattle music scene veteran Alex Kostelnik, the Austin, Texas-based Wilson got on the right track, ultimately following Kostelnik's advice to "let the songs do the talking."

Continue reading "SXSW 2012 PREVIEW: JACK WILSON" »

March 02, 2012

SOUTHERN EXPOSURE

Toronto's MENEW records latest album in Louisiana

MENEW_Photo by Sara Manco.jpg

There's no place like home, but oftentimes a band feels the need to go far, far away in order to get some work done.

That was the case with the Toronto-based sibling trio MENEW, which ventured more than 2,000 miles south to Dockside Studios in Maurice, La., in order to make Wide Awake Hello (RedCore Music Group).

"We wanted to lock ourselves up and just focus with no distractions and write the album in that way," the keyboardist known as Key says. "The South had soul, and we wanted to capture a bit of that with our style of music."

Continue reading "SOUTHERN EXPOSURE" »

February 23, 2012

RIGHT PLACE, RIGHT TIME

The Dunwells look to build on last year's U.S. breakthrough

The Dunwells.jpg

When the U.K.-based band The Dunwells arrived in Memphis, Tenn., last February for the 2011 International Folk Alliance Conference, guitarist Dave Hanson says he and his musical partners had no idea what to expect.

"We were there for three days," Hanson recalls. "At the first show we played, there were about three people watching. Then as the set progressed, the room got fuller and fuller, and at the end of the show, people were [lining up] down the corridor to get a look."

Hanson says each successive Folk Alliance performance by The Dunwells attracted bigger and bigger crowds, culminating with the band's big showcase. That's where Kevin Wommack, the owner of the Playing in Traffic label, saw The Dunwells "and pretty much offered us a deal straight after the show," Hanson adds.

The roots-music Web site No Depression dubbed the group — then officially billed as The Dunwell Brothers Band — as the breakout act of the 2011 conference.

"We went there as an unknown entity in the United States," Hanson says, "and left with some notoriety."

Continue reading "RIGHT PLACE, RIGHT TIME" »

February 15, 2012

SWEET DELIGHTS

The Explorers Club specializes in retro-flavored ear candy

The Explorers Club_Matthew Carter.jpg

As a young kid in the 1980s, Jason Brewer listened to Bruce Springsteen, Michael Jackson and other stars from MTV's early years.

But later on, when he wanted to perform music, Brewer's inspiration came from the pleasing pop sounds that dominated the radio airwaves back when the AM dial was the best place to hear the hits.

"Someone told me our music sounds like music that was influenced by everything that happened before punk," says Brewer. "And I said, 'I guess you can say we're so unpunk that we're punk.' "

Brewer is the leader of The Explorers Club, a six-piece South Carolina band that proudly follows in the rather sophisticated footsteps of The Grass Roots, The Beach Boys, The Association, Classics IV and Herb Alpert, supplementing its core instrumentation with classy, purposeful horns and smooth, intricate harmonies, plus other stylish touches.

Continue reading "SWEET DELIGHTS" »

February 09, 2012

LOW-KEY NOMINEE

Seth Glier stays grounded leading up to Grammy night

Seth Glier_photo by Tom Moore.jpg

"Grammy winner" has a nice ring to it. So does "Grammy nominee," and folk rocker Seth Glier is really enjoying having those two words appear in front of his name leading up to the 54th edition of what’s billed as "music's biggest night."

The Next Right Thing (MPress Records), Glier's most recent album, is a Grammy contender in the Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical category along with works by Sarah Jarosz, Gillian Welch, Seth MacFarlane and Alison Krauss and Union Station. But unlike those other four acts, Glier actually handled some of the engineering tasks on his album, along with Kevin Killen, Brendan Muldowney and John Shyloski.

Glier recently checked in to share his general feelings about the Grammys, who did what engineering-wise on his nominated album and what his wardrobe plans are for the ceremony (which will air Feb. 12 on CBS).

Continue reading "LOW-KEY NOMINEE" »

February 03, 2012

PLAYING SONGS AND SHARING STORIES

Good Lovelies exude good chemistry in the studio and onstage

Good_Lovelies.jpg

Inside the latest Good Lovelies album, Let the Rain Fall, group members Caroline Brooks, Sue Passmore and Kerri Ough are pictured in a rowboat, wearing yellow slickers and matching floppy hats, with huge smiles on their faces.

There's no collective thought bubble above them, but what's running through their minds seems pretty clear: That's right, we’re all in the same boat — ha ha. And more than five years into the good-natured, tight-knit Canadian folk band's career, there’s no indication that these band mates/good friends have any plans to jump ship.

Continue reading "PLAYING SONGS AND SHARING STORIES" »

January 09, 2012

MONDAY NIGHT MAINSTAY

Liam Finn books January run at Brooklyn's Rock Shop

Liam Finn_vertical.jpg

"Spontaneity and danger" — that's what attracts singer/songwriter Liam Finn to doing a club residency.

Finn should be able to satisfy that performance jones during Murmation, his Monday-night residency throughout January at the Rock Shop in Brooklyn, N.Y. His basic strategy will be to mix a casual attitude and anything-goes approach with craft and creativity. That said, it's quite possible he'll perform material from his acclaimed Yep Roc solo albums I'll Be Lightning and FOMO, a few songs by his former band Betchadupa, a choice cover or two and maybe something brand new — all in the same night.

Finn checked in a few days prior to his first scheduled Rock Shop show to talk about Murmation, as well as his plans for a follow-up to FOMO and more.

Continue reading "MONDAY NIGHT MAINSTAY" »

January 06, 2012

BRIGHT BEGINNING

Starlight Girls hit the road to support debut EP

Starlight Girls 1_photo by John Kester.jpg

Is Brooklyn, N.Y., the unofficial indie-rock capital of America? It sure appears that way, with scores of musicians relocating there and/or bands coming together in the hipster borough on a regular basis.

One of the more recent groups to emerge from Brooklyn is the female/male foursome Starlight Girls (the name coming from the 1980s animated TV series Jem). Guitarist Shaw Walters and drummer/singer Karys Rhea attended the same grade school and high school in California's Marin County and became friends years later when they reconnected in New York. About a year ago, they teamed up with singer/songwriter/keyboardist Christina B., who had been working on a solo project, to form Starlight Girls, then added a bassist from Seattle known as Tyson a few months ago to round out the current lineup of the garage-rock band.

Continue reading "BRIGHT BEGINNING" »

December 29, 2011

THE YEAR THAT WAS: 2011

Indie musicians look back — and ahead

Echogram 1.jpg

Almost getting arrested for a raucous, early morning snowball fight in New York City. Fearing a premature death while staying at a New Jersey motel. Driving for miles in the midwest, delirious from a gig and oblivious to a dragging muffler. Allowing a rhythmically challenged drunk woman to guest on percussion.

It certainly wasn't a dull year for Echogram (above), The Michael J. Epstein Memorial Library, i am Love and Nathan Mathes, who are among the independent bands and musicians offering their memories (music-related and otherwise) of 2011, plus predictions for 2012.

Continue reading "THE YEAR THAT WAS: 2011" »

December 13, 2011

GOT HIS MOJO WORKIN'

Johnny Winter revisits blues and rock favorites for Roots

Johnny Winter Band_color.jpg

Fifteen minutes — that's all the time it took for Johnny Winter to select the songs for his first studio album in seven years, according to producer/guitarist Paul Nelson.

"Once I told him the concept," Nelson explains, "that I wanted him to do a roots album, it was like, 'Johnny, name an artist.' 'Chuck Berry.' 'OK, what influenced you?' 'Maybellene.' It was like that."

The end result is the aptly named Roots (Megaforce Records). The 11-track album not only highlights Winter's personal influences, but it also provides a fresh take on early blues and rock 'n' roll.

"They were just some of my favorites," says the soft-spoken Winter from a tour stop in Germany. "There were a lot more, though. But these were all favorite songs of mine when I first started playing guitar."

Continue reading "GOT HIS MOJO WORKIN'" »

December 09, 2011

FOR THE HOLIDAYS

Grip Weeds release album of fresh and familiar Christmas songs

Grip Weeds_Under the Influence of Christmas cover.jpg

Kurt Reil of The Grip Weeds knows this much: No matter how one chooses to classify his New Jersey band's sound — "power-pop, psychedelic rock, whatever you want to call it" — there isn't a lot of Christmas music that falls into the same category.

So with the goal of filling that void, Reil and company recorded the recently released Under the Influence of Christmas. And just like wrapping presents properly or decorating the tree, putting the album together was not done in a hurry.

Continue reading "FOR THE HOLIDAYS" »

November 30, 2011

BIG SCREEN, BIG CITY

Doughboys documentary premieres in New York

Doughboys_movie poster.JPG

They've made the most of their second act together.

Now the members of the New Jersey-bred garage band The Doughboys have chronicled their entire history in Rock N’ Raw, a documentary/concert film that’s scheduled to be screened Dec. 3 in Manhattan.

Drummer Richard X. Heyman recently checked in to discuss the reasons for making Rock N' Raw and more.

Continue reading "BIG SCREEN, BIG CITY" »

November 24, 2011

BALANCING ACT

Fay Wolf carves out the time to record her first album

Fay Wolf.jpg

Like most people, Fay Wolf relies on her organizational skills to keep her professional life in order.

For Wolf, though, that includes music, acting and a steady gig as, well, a professional organizer.

"The three paths are in a constant shuffle," the Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter says. "We shall see how the shuffle continues to unfold and balance out -- it's exciting to not know."

But her primary focus lately has been making music, specifically Spiders, her recently released first full-length album.

Continue reading "BALANCING ACT" »

November 14, 2011

WHEN IT BEGAN

Matthew Ryan recalls his discovery of The Replacements

Matthew Ryan 2011_photo by Scott Simontacchi.jpg

As Matthew Ryan tours this fall supporting his latest album, I Recall Standing As Though Nothing Could Fall, the singer/songwriter will make a slight detour to perform as part of a star-studded concert series in New York paying tribute to one of his favorite bands, The Replacements.

Ryan recently turned the clock back 25 years to talk about how he stumbled upon the band and its music, as well as discuss their appeal and the confidence they've given him throughout his career.

Continue reading "WHEN IT BEGAN" »

November 02, 2011

BEYOND THE BLUES

Michael Williams flashes his broadened horizons on Fire Red

Michael Williams_photo by Carrie Robinson.jpg

When singer/guitarist Michael Williams moved to Seattle in 2001, the city's music scene was a far cry from what it had been 10 years prior.

"It was like a gold rush had happened, and all the gold was gone," he says with a hearty laugh. "There were some traces of grunge still around there, and they were slowly fading. I went there seeking something outside of the grunge scene, and that was musical freedom."

Continue reading "BEYOND THE BLUES" »

October 20, 2011

DISTINCT TRACKS

Bear Lake leaves an imprint with its third album

Bear Lake_photo by Stephanie Culver.jpg

There has always been a noticeable and admirable toughness to Detroit-area rock bands, whether it's in the music, the determination to persevere or both.

Bear Lake might not be as guitar-centric as its Motor City predecessors or contemporaries, but the six-piece group — featuring not one but two keyboard players — displays the same work ethic and loyalty that's standard in the Detroit music scene.

Of course, pride and principles wouldn't mean much in the end if the band didn't have chops or tunes, and Bear Lake shows plenty of both on its third album, If You Were Me.

Bassist/singer Keith May has plenty to say about what drives Bear Lake, his band’s sound, some summer 2011 concert memories and much more.

Continue reading "DISTINCT TRACKS" »

October 11, 2011

MAKING EACH GIG COUNT

JD Malone delivers message of community and charity

JD Malone 1.jpg

Every little bit helps — that’s what JD Malone kept in mind as he was handling assorted chores for a cancer-stricken friend.

The experience led to Malone writing "Do What You Can Do," which is on his latest album, Avalon (ItsAboutMusic.com). The song title also serves as the name of his new touring project, and it aims to unite likeminded musicians and community members while also raising money for various charities.

Continue reading "MAKING EACH GIG COUNT" »

October 03, 2011

CH-CHECK THEM OUT

Sunny Bak’s Beastie Boys photos go on display in L.A.

Beastie Boys_photo by Sunny Bak.jpg

When they were struggling rappers/musicians, she was there, camera in hand.

When The Beastie Boys became stars with the 1986 album Licensed to Ill, Sunny Bak was there to chronicle that part of their career, too.

Boys and Dogs, an exhibit that includes Bak's photos of the Beasties, opens Oct. 8 and runs through Nov. 1 at Hold Up Art in Los Angeles. She recently talked about hanging out with Mike D, Ad-Rock and MCA back in the day, her photo of the group that’s featured inside the Ill album and much more.

Continue reading "CH-CHECK THEM OUT" »

September 22, 2011

KEEPING THINGS ORGANIZED

Tom Hambridge carves out time to make a solo album

Tom Hambridge.jpg

The thought of taking two days off sure sounded good to songwriter/producer/drummer/singer Tom Hambridge.

He had been working nonstop, putting the finishing touches on George Thorogood's 2120 South Michigan Ave. Up next on his schedule was recording an album with Joe Louis Walker.

But instead of taking a break for two days, Hambridge decided to use that time to record and mix an entire album of his own.

Continue reading "KEEPING THINGS ORGANIZED" »

September 16, 2011

AN INVENTIVE APPROACH

Erin Hill plays an electrified harp in a pop setting

Erin Hill 2.jpg

A momentary bout of laziness rarely leads to a new musical identity.

But that's pretty much what prompted musician/screenwriter/actress Erin Hill to start writing and performing songs on the harp instead of guitar, which had been her instrument of choice.

Continue reading "AN INVENTIVE APPROACH" »

August 25, 2011

KRYPTONITE REVISITED

Spin Doctors drummer Aaron Comess recalls the band's debut album

The Spin Doctors.jpg

On Aug. 23, 1991, Epic Records released the first Spin Doctors album, Pocket Full of Kryptonite.

Flash forward exactly four years later: Kryptonite’s sales in America had reached 5 million copies.

There's much more to the story of the Spin Doctors and the success of their debut album, which will be reissued Aug. 30 as a two-CD deluxe edition to mark its 20th anniversary.

On a sweltering midsummer night in New York, Spin Doctors drummer Aaron Comess was as cool as can be, sitting in the air-conditioned comfort of his recording studio and talking about the early days of his band and what it took to make — and eventually break —Kryptonite.

Continue reading "KRYPTONITE REVISITED" »

August 18, 2011

A NEW BEGINNING

Ex-Paloalto leader James Grundler returns with Golden State

Golden State_photo by Janee Meadows.jpg

Exposure through song placements in TV shows, movies and commercials is pretty much the norm these days for both emerging and established rock artists.

What separates Golden State, a relatively new band based in Los Angeles, from the rest of the pack is having a song placement closely connected with British royalty. That's due to Golden State's "Till the End" being featured in multiple promos for the BBC's coverage of Prince William and Kate Middleton's April wedding.

Singer James Grundler recently spoke about the end of his previous band, Paloalto; the making of Golden State's debut album, Division; the aforementioned royal song placement and much more.

Continue reading "A NEW BEGINNING" »

August 11, 2011

HOME AWAY FROM HOME

Ireland's Saw Doctors mark 20 straight years of U.S. tours

The Saw Doctors.jpg

This is a milestone year for The Saw Doctors in more ways than one.

Not only is the band celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2011, but it is also raising a collective glass to 20 consecutive years of touring in the United States.

Saw Doctors singer/guitarist Leo Moran, a founding member of the hard-working band from the West of Ireland, recently reflected on two decades of tours on American shores.

Continue reading "HOME AWAY FROM HOME" »

August 09, 2011

STORYTIME: STEVE CROPPER

Steve Cropper_by Chris M. Junior.jpg

A Booker T. and the MG's gig — without keyboardist Booker T. Jones? Yes, it happened at least once during the group's prime, remembers guitarist Steve Cropper, who has vivid memories of such a show taking place in his birth state of Missouri.

Continue reading "STORYTIME: STEVE CROPPER" »

August 03, 2011

THE JERSEY SHORE SOUND

Cash Cash gains exposure through hit MTV series

Cash Cash.jpg

The cast members of Jersey Shore may have vague ties to the Garden State, but the same cannot be said of Cash Cash.

The four-man band hails from Roseland and keeps a recording studio there. Roseland is a good 75 miles or so north of fist-pumpin' Seaside Heights, but it's well within the state's borders.

Cash Cash's music is well within the realm of what's been heard in past seasons of Jersey Shore. So it's easy to understand why MTV featured not one but two Cash Cash tunes — "Naughty or Nice" and "Jersey Girl" — in the official trailer for Shore's fourth season, which begins Aug. 4.

Singer Jean Paul Makhlouf recently checked in to talk about how Cash Cash hooked up with Jersey Shore; his band's second album, Love or Lust; and what the future holds.

Continue reading "THE JERSEY SHORE SOUND" »

August 01, 2011

HE'S SO GLAD TO BE THERE

Sharif emerges from breakup phase with new outlook, music

Sharif.jpg

In the span of two consecutive projects, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter Sharif went from chronicling a somber, serious chapter in his life (the 2008 album Kisses and Lies) to documenting his more positive, I'm-glad-to-be-back-in-the-dating-game phase (his upcoming five-song EP, Almost There).

So, if the 2011 Sharif could travel back in time, what words of advice would he share with his '08 self?

" 'Hey, Sharif: Sad songs are OK here and there, but nobody wants to be sad all the time,' " he says. " 'Try writing some pissed-off songs, or start dating again and write about all of your crushes.' "

Continue reading "HE'S SO GLAD TO BE THERE" »

July 08, 2011

BREAKING ON THROUGH

James Lee Stanley, Cliff Eberhardt put new spin on Doors classics

All Wood and Doors_cover.jpg

He would have been pleased just to obtain an autograph from Doors drummer John Densmore, but James Lee Stanley ended up with so much more.

First came positive remarks from Densmore about All Wood and Stones, Stanley's album with John Batdorf that featured acoustic versions of 11 Rolling Stones songs.

Then came an even bigger surprise: Densmore's offer to play with Stanley if he ever wanted to give Doors material the same treatment.

"I was stunned that he even knew who I was," Stanley says, recalling a lunch in California with Densmore that also included a mutual friend. "And when he offered to play [with me], I thought, 'This sure sounds like a gift from heaven.' "

Continue reading "BREAKING ON THROUGH" »

June 28, 2011

IN A GOOD GROOVE

Aaron Comess makes the most of his opportunities

Aaron Comess 2_horiz.jpg

Playing with The Spin Doctors has afforded drummer Aaron Comess the opportunity to explore the band environment and dynamic that attracted him to music in the first place.

But he's also had a chance to spread his wings as a studio session player and onstage sideman, backing the likes of Joan Osborne, James Maddock and Edie Brickell.

"It's the best of both worlds — and they're totally different worlds," Comess says. "It's been really cool the last 10 years to be able to get to do all this other stuff, and at the same time still keeping the band together."

Continue reading "IN A GOOD GROOVE" »

June 23, 2011

IF MEMORY SERVES

Guitarist Rob James recalls the origins of The Clarks

The Clarks_2011.jpg

Rock 'n' roll bands form all the time on college campuses.

But not very many last 25 years, and even fewer go that long without changing their lineup.

All of the above applies to The Clarks, the hard-working and humble Pittsburgh-based quartet of singer/guitarist Scott Blasey, guitarist Rob James, bassist Greg Joseph and drummer Dave Minarik that’s been rocking America since the fall of 1986.

Over the course of eight studio albums (plus compilations and concert releases), The Clarks have built a solid catalog of mainstream, radio-ready rock, and highlights in their steady and respectable career have included the prominent use of Clarks songs in TV shows and movies (among them "Better Off Without You" on The Anna Nicole Show), plus an appearance on the Late Show With David Letterman in 2004.

In the days leading up to a June 25th show at Stage AE in Pittsburgh celebrating The Clarks' silver anniversary, James talked about how he joined forces with his longtime band mates, their first gig and the origins of the group's name.

Continue reading "IF MEMORY SERVES" »

June 06, 2011

A HIT-FILLED EXPERIENCE

Karen Waldrup enjoys challenge of Bravo TV series

Karen Waldrup.jpg

It's one thing to meet one of your inspirations. It's another thing to perform in front of that person on a TV show.

Nashville, Tenn.-based singer/songwriter Karen Waldrup did just that when she played the song "My City" for host/judge Jewel and others on the new Bravo series Platinum Hit.

The 24-year-old Waldrup checked in following the first episode of Platinum Hit, which aired May 30th.

Continue reading "A HIT-FILLED EXPERIENCE" »

June 03, 2011

Q&A: JASON STOLLSTEIMER

Hounds Below_vertical.jpg

Best known as the longtime leader of the Detroit-based band The Von Bondies, singer/guitarist Jason Stollsteimer is devoting his time and energy lately to The Hounds Below. While Stollsteimer did a lot of passionate, melodic shouting on "C'mon C'mon" (the Rescue Me theme song) and other Von Bondies tunes, he takes a different vocal approach on the five-song Hounds Below EP, which is available as a free download through the site Bandcamp and includes a cover of The Pixies' "Where Is My Mind?"

Stollsteimer recently checked in to shed some light on his latest venture and what the future holds.

Continue reading "Q&A: JASON STOLLSTEIMER" »

May 12, 2011

Q&A: THE BRIGHT LIGHT SOCIAL HOUR

The Bright Light Social Hour_photo by Wylie Maercklein.jpg

Upon first glance, the homepage for The Bright Light Social Hour looks very much like a typical band Web site, with well-marked areas devoted to merchandise, tour dates, photos and contact information.

Then there's something off to the right of the homepage that's a bit unordinary — the part labeled Jack's Moustache. It takes viewers to a well-made and funny band video that stars bassist/singer Jack O'Brien's stellar 'stache, which is given its own voice and explains how fans can contribute funds toward the recording of the Austin, Texas-based rock band's debut album.

That fund drive is over, and The Bright Light Social Hour's self-titled debut has been available since September 2010. But the clip continues to serve as a great glimpse into the quartet's broad sound, its lively stage show, collective personality and, obviously, sense of humor. With big wins in March at the annual Austin Music Awards — including band of the year, album of the year and song of the year ("Detroit") — The Bright Light Social Hour has a future that looks, well, very bright.

Prior to the start of their spring tour, bassist O’Brien, singer/guitarist Curtis Roush and drummer Joseph Mirasole checked in to talk about their attention to sonic detail, the band's rules while on the road and, of course, a certain moustache.

Continue reading "Q&A: THE BRIGHT LIGHT SOCIAL HOUR" »

May 03, 2011

FOLLOWING THE VOICE INSIDE

Dana Fuchs calls the shots on Love to Beg

Dana Fuchs.jpg

There was a time when Dana Fuchs says she was "so embarrassed by this deep voice of mine" that disguising it seemed like a good idea.

"I remember in junior high, I would try to pitch my voice up during roll call," Fuchs says. "And I had this wonderful teacher who said, 'Don't do that. You have a great voice. Go watch Lauren Bacall films.' "

It's a gritty, gutsy voice that has served Fuchs pretty well so far in her music career as well as her forays into theater (playing Janis Joplin in the off-Broadway production Love, Janis) and film (as Sadie in the Julie Taymor movie Across the Universe).

Continue reading "FOLLOWING THE VOICE INSIDE" »

April 26, 2011

BUILT TO STOMP

The Von Ehrics revamp lineup, record new album

The Von Ehrics.jpg

Replacing a departed core member, expanding the official lineup to a quartet, writing and rehearsing for seven months: It was anything but business as usual for The Von Ehrics prior to the recording of Two Foot Stomp, the band's fourth album and first for Lucky Buck Records.

The Texas-based country-punk band made the recently released Two Foot Stomp at the Denton-area studio The Echo Lab with Dave Willingham, whose credits include albums by the Lone Star State’s own Polyphonic Spree.

Prior to The Von Ehrics hitting the road for what will likely become a lengthy tour, singer/songwriter/guitarist Robert Jason Vandygriff talked about his new band mates and the making of the 12-song Two Foot Stomp.

Continue reading "BUILT TO STOMP" »

April 22, 2011

SOMETHING DOING

Dave Goddess follows his rock 'n' roll heart

Dave Goddess Group.jpg

On one hand, there’s Lady Gaga and Kanye West, artists who seem to treat nearly every thought and action as important pieces of information that must be shared immediately through all forms of media.

And then there’s Dave Goddess, who is very selective when it comes to revealing details about himself.

This much is known: Goddess is a New York-based singer, songwriter and guitarist. He used to lead a group called the Daddy Licks Band. These days he fronts the Dave Goddess Group, and its debut album, Something New, was mixed by Ed Stasium, who made a name for himself through his work with The Smithereens, The Ramones and Talking Heads, among others.

“I have no strategy,” Goddess says. “I just hope to follow this to its logical conclusion, play really loud, publicly explore my deepest depths, sweat profusely and connect with an audience.”

Goddess recently fielded a handful of questions about Something New, tunes that happen to share the same title as his latest album and other topics.

Continue reading "SOMETHING DOING" »

April 07, 2011

ALL CHARGED UP

Electric Touch is excited about its upcoming second album

Electric Touch.jpg

Singer Shane Lawlor doesn’t mind one bit that Electric Touch, his Austin, Texas-based rock band, isn’t like most of the acts from the self-proclaimed "live music capital of the world."

"We definitely go against the grain, but that kind of turns me on," Lawlor says in a thick British accent. "When we walk into a bar in Austin — or anywhere, really — people's heads turn. We look a little bit different, we act a little bit different and we certainly play a little bit different. We really wear our hearts on our sleeves, and we think there's nothing cooler than being the hardest-working rock band in the world."

Continue reading "ALL CHARGED UP" »

March 18, 2011

SXSW 2011 PREVIEW: ELIZA DOOLITTLE

Eliza Doolittle.jpg

She's only in her early 20s, but London-born singer Eliza Doolittle certainly has a strong interest in — and a good feel for — 1960s pop, rock and soul. She made some noise last year with her retro-leaning songs "Rollerblades" and "Skinny Genes," and Doolittle will be in the heart of the Lone Star State just a few days before Capitol Records releases her self-titled debut album in the United States.

Medleyville.us: In your song "Moneybox," you sing about listening to 45s. Is vinyl your preferred listening format? And what's in your vinyl collection?
Eliza Doolittle: "I would say vinyl is my preferred listening format because I love the old, warm sound it has, but unfortunately my collection is quite low. I only have about 15 vinyls. I have Whitney Houston, The Jackson 5 and Pink Floyd, to name a few. I grew up buying CDs, and I still do. I have quite a good collection of CDs."

Continue reading "SXSW 2011 PREVIEW: ELIZA DOOLITTLE" »

SXSW 2011 PREVIEW: A SILENT FILM

A Silent Film.jpg

Like Radiohead, which also hails from Oxford, England, A Silent Film strives for a big-picture sound. Led by singer/pianist Robert Stevenson, ASF has racked up a reported 150,000 iTunes downloads of its single "You Will Leave a Mark," which can be found on the band's debut album, The City That Sleeps (Bieler Bros. Records). This week, A Silent Film will deviate from its North American tour with Civil Twilight to play Austin, Texas.

Medleyville.us: "You Will Leave a Mark" has done very well on iTunes. Speaking of marks, which members of the band have the most banged-up looking instruments? And who is the most obsessed with polishing up their gear?
Robert Stevenson: "Good question — my piano is totally knackered. It's a fully weighted stage piano in a homemade case. Those airport staffers just love tearing it open and having a peek. I'm writing a book on the abuse of inanimate objects in the air industry. It's called Domestic Flight Case Violence.

Continue reading "SXSW 2011 PREVIEW: A SILENT FILM" »

March 17, 2011

SXSW 2011 PREVIEW: DINOSAUR BONES

Dinosaur Bones.jpg

If you want distinct drum sounds, it helps to have a producer who's also a drummer. So the Toronto rock quintet Dinosaur Bones did just that, recruiting Jon Drew to guide the recording of My Divider, the band's debut album, which was released March 8 on Dine Alone Records.

Singer/guitarist Ben Fox had a lot to say about Drew and My Divider, as well as what he plans to do in Austin when not performing during SXSW.

Medleyville.us: The drum sound throughout My Divider suggests that the album was recorded in a big room. Talk about where the album was made, any special microphone techniques that were used and generally how the sessions went down.
Ben Fox: "The drums were definitely recorded in a big room. We tracked them in an amazing room at Metalworks studio in Toronto. The drum approach Jon took relied heavily on using room mics to capture a big airy sound without having to us artificial drum reverb. We chose the studio we did so we could record in a room big enough with good enough acoustics to get that sense of space naturally. Jon's a drummer himself, so he's definitely got some tricks up his sleeve to get great drum sounds.

Continue reading "SXSW 2011 PREVIEW: DINOSAUR BONES" »

March 16, 2011

SXSW 2011 PREVIEW: LITTLE TYBEE

Little Tybee.jpg

In recording Humorous to Bees, Little Tybee took a much different approach than the one it used to make Building a Bomb, the band's debut. That's totally understandable considering Little Tybee was a much different band by the time work began on Bees, which is due April 5 on Paper Garden Records.

Leader Brock Scott and the rest of his eclectic, adventurous Georgia group will be plenty busy during SXSW and in the weeks leading up to the new album's release.

Medleyville.us: The title track to the new Little Tybee album is about 39 seconds long. How long did it take to write, and was it a first-take, vocal-and-guitar-done-together recording?
Brock Scott: "When we started this album, about a year ago, we didn't really know where we would be going. We knew we wanted to be more ambitious with our arrangements but didn't know how to begin writing the album.

Continue reading "SXSW 2011 PREVIEW: LITTLE TYBEE" »

March 15, 2011

SXSW 2011 PREVIEW: SAHARA SMITH

Sahara Smith.jpg

Austin, Texas-based singer/songwriter Sahara Smith has come a long way since her second-place talent-show finish on A Prairie Home Companion in 2004. Her acclaimed debut album, Myth of the Heart (Playing in Traffic Records), was shepherded by T Bone Burnett and released in 2010. Smith's SXSW itinerary includes not one but two official evening showcases, as well as some day party gigs.

Medleyville.us: Looking back, what stands out the most from when you competed in the Prairie Home Companion talent contest?
Sahara Smith: "I didn't think it was two rounds, and I didn't think I'd be invited back for the second round. I was pretty confident that everybody else was better than me, so I put my guitar away. And when they called me back out, I had to retune backstage."

Continue reading "SXSW 2011 PREVIEW: SAHARA SMITH" »

March 08, 2011

CONSTANTLY CONNECTED

The Internet remains essential to the Trashcan Sinatras

Trashcan Sinatras.jpg

When Frank Reader was told that having a Web site "would absolutely be the way for bands to go," the Trashcan Sinatras singer was a bit skeptical, just like the other members of his Scottish rock group.

"We just thought it was going to be another thing we'd have to deal with," he recalls, "and another thing we would need to talk to the record company about."

As it turns out, shortly after the Trashcan Sinatras first went online — way back in 1996 — they lost their record label deal. So very quickly, the Web became the primary way the band communicated with its fans.

Not much has changed for Reader and company. They continue to inform as well as involve their followers via the Internet — lately, they've asked fans to submit set lists for their current U.S. tour and announced an open call for guest horn players to join the band onstage.

Continue reading "CONSTANTLY CONNECTED" »

March 01, 2011

GIVING IT TIME

Patience pays off for Ari Hest

Ari Hest_Rina Khadivi.jpg

To include more strings and to be more adventurous: Those were two of Ari Hest's main goals when he began work in late 2009 on what would become Sunset Over Hope Street (Mercer Street).

Taking more than a year to complete the album, however, wasn’t part of the original plan. But singer/songwriter/guitarist Hest and producer/musician Alex Wong really had no choice when it came to working around a few long gaps between their recording sessions.

Continue reading "GIVING IT TIME" »

February 25, 2011

RELISHING HIS ROLES

Jonathan Tiersten juggles music and acting careers

Jonathan Tiersten.jpg

There's just something about actors who also pursue their musical interests that prompts public skepticism.

But it's not something that keeps Jonathan Tiersten up at night.

"I can assuage people's fears that I am a pretender because I don't go anywhere without my guitar, and I am always willing to play," he says. "If you are good, you are good. So if their preconceived notions make them want to watch you — even if it's just to see you fail — then I look at it as a win-win."

Continue reading "RELISHING HIS ROLES" »

February 07, 2011

COUNTRY CONNECTION

Carrie Rodriguez, Ben Kyle duet on rootsy covers and originals

Rodriguez and Kyle.jpg

The initial plan was to record a quick-and-loose, limited-edition five-song EP.

But singer/violinist/guitarist Carrie Rodriguez and singer/guitarist Ben Kyle got on a roll and recorded eight songs over the course of two days in Berkeley, Calif., at the studios of the Ninth Street Opus label.

That's the basic story behind We Still Love Our Country, which finds past tourmates Rodriguez (who has worked with Chip Taylor and Los Lonely Boys) and Kyle (a member of the Minneapolis band Romantica) on common, rootsy musical ground.

Kyle recently offered some thoughts on five of the songs included on Country.

Continue reading "COUNTRY CONNECTION" »

February 01, 2011

A SHIFT IN STYLE

Lorenza Ponce rocks on her latest solo album

Lorenza Ponce_with violin.jpg

As a session and touring musician, violinist Lorenza Ponce has recorded and/or toured with the likes of Sheryl Crow and Bon Jovi. Up until now, though, Ponce really hasn’t rocked out in her solo career.

Soul Shifter, Ponce's latest album, is a departure from the New Age-y sound featured on her previous efforts. Her transition to rock doesn't mean she's shelved the violin: Ponce has merely made some stylistic adjustments, and the same can be said about her singing.

Ponce recently checked in to talk about the fine-tuning she's done, her career-changing moment that involved Crow, the historic equipment she used on Soul Shifter and other topics.

Continue reading "A SHIFT IN STYLE" »

January 13, 2011

LUCY BILLINGS: January 2011 Spotlight Artist

Lucy Billings.jpg

The back story: Lucy Billings was raised in Arizona and wrote her first song at age 10. Open Air, her debut album, was released in 2006. Currently based in Northern California, Billings holds down an interesting day job. She’s a licensing lawyer, and writing contracts every day enables her "to be adept at getting words on the page and editing and then deciding if they capture what I want to convey.” She adds, "I think this discipline has enhanced my songwriting and having song melody as a scaffold for the lyrics makes the writing even more fun."

Continue reading "LUCY BILLINGS: January 2011 Spotlight Artist" »

January 05, 2011

TOWER OF TALENT

Jennifer O'Connor launches monthly songwriters series in Brooklyn

JOC_Tower of Song series.jpg

It began as a discussion to play one show, then snowballed into something much bigger and different from what she had in mind.

But that's just fine with Jennifer O'Connor, who looks at her upcoming Tower of Song songwriters series as an artistic blessing of sorts.

"What is so great about this series is that it's really allowing me to stay close to home this year and work on music and play shows and work on [my new] record," she says.

Continue reading "TOWER OF TALENT" »

December 07, 2010

HOLIDAY SPIRIT

Shelby Lynne unwraps her first Christmas album

Shelby Lynne_by Victory Tischler.jpg

With her 2008 album, Just a Little Lovin', Shelby Lynne showed she has the courage and the chops to take some familiar material and put her stamp on it.

Lynne has done it again with Merry Christmas, her recently released album of yuletide songs. In addition to renditions of such seasonal classics as "Silver Bells," "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" and "White Christmas," among others, Lynne recorded two original holiday tunes for the album, which was issued on her own Everso Records label.

The Grammy Award-winning Lynne recently checked in to discuss Merry Christmas and her plans for Dec. 25.

Continue reading "HOLIDAY SPIRIT" »

November 09, 2010

Q&A: DWIGHT TWILLEY

Dwight_Twilley_Green Blimp.jpg

During the heyday of major record labels, album promotion was part of the system and handled by a designated staff.

Singer/songwriter/guitarist Dwight Twilley remembers that era very well, but he doesn’t benefit from that kind of luxury anymore. Nowadays he has his own label, Big Oak Records, so that means the task of funding and executing the promotion of new releases goes directly through him.

Looking to raise money for the promotion of his latest album, Green Blimp, Twilley turned to the fan-funding site Kickstarter, through which he was connected with 92 backers who pledged more than $7,000.

Twilley recently checked in from his home in Oklahoma to talk about using Kickstarter, how the music business used to be, the documentary that’s being made about his career and other subjects.

Continue reading "Q&A: DWIGHT TWILLEY" »

November 01, 2010

AN INDIE INSTITUTION

Frontier Records celebrates its 30th anniversary

Frontier Records_30th.jpg

It officially started in March 1980 with a self-titled EP by the Los Angeles punk band the Flyboys. After that came releases by the Circle Jerks, The Long Ryders, The Three O’Clock, American Music Club, Thin White Rope and the Young Fresh Fellows, among other acts.

Independent labels have come and gone, but the California-based Frontier Records is still alive and kicking, and founder Lisa Fancher is still running the show.

On Nov. 7, Frontier will celebrate its 30 anniversary with a concert at the Echoplex in Los Angeles, and the bill includes such Frontier alums as TSOL, The Pontiac Brothers and the aforementioned Flyboys.

Fancher recently checked in to talk about some of her experiences running the label, which today focuses on reissuing out-of-print titles.

Continue reading "AN INDIE INSTITUTION" »

October 22, 2010

CROWNING GLORY

With name issues in the past, Flashbulb Fires looks to the future

Flashbulb Fires_by Todd Roeth.jpg

If a band is going to change its name, one of the best times to do so is before releasing its debut album. Sometimes, though, making such a switch is not a smooth and simple process.

Fiance, which already had the EPs Girl From the Ivory Coast (2007) and Please, Ambitious, Please (2008) under its belt, got to a point after about four years where it felt like the name didn’t fit anymore. So around April 2009, the Denver-based Fiance changed its moniker to The Atlantic, only to find out a few months (and a few gigs) later that another group had already trademarked the name.

Around July 2009, the problem was solved with the announcement that the short-lived Atlantic had become Flashbulb Fires.

"We liked the image that the phrase put in our heads," explains guitarist/singer Michael James. "In addition, it speaks to the lyrical content of our music to a certain degree — kind of this burnout of American pop culture and sensationalism — as well as evoking a sense of nostalgia that we feel is an element in some of our music."

Continue reading "CROWNING GLORY" »

October 18, 2010

A DIFFERENT LOOK

Unicycle Loves You records Mirror, Mirror as a trio

Unicycle Loves You.jpg

When two of its members left on good terms in recent years, Unicycle Loves You reacted in typical fashion: by holding auditions for replacements.

In the end, though, the experimental pop/rock Chicago band decided to leave well enough alone.

"It just felt so strange to try and bring somebody else in," says bassist Nicole Vitale. "It wasn't that anybody who auditioned with us wasn't good enough or wasn't cool enough or anything silly like that. The three of us felt we could get this done ourselves."

Continue reading "A DIFFERENT LOOK" »

October 14, 2010

SHORT BUT SWEET

Less Than Jake's novel EP clocks in around 13 minutes

Less Than Jake_photo by Dennis Ho.jpg

Love them or hate them, TV theme songs and commercial jingles do pack plenty of hooks and skill into a finite amount of time.

The guys in Less Than Jake recognize the high level of craft that goes into these bite-size tunes, and proof of their appreciation can be found on the Florida-based ska/punk band's latest release, TV/EP (Sleep It Off).

Continue reading "SHORT BUT SWEET" »

October 05, 2010

Q&A: KT TUNSTALL

KT Tunstall_Tiger Suit.jpg

With few exceptions, musicians hate having labels attached to their music.

Not KT Tunstall. In fact, she's is in a league of her own: Instead of waiting for someone else to categorize her music, she goes ahead and does it herself.

Tunstall uses the phrase "nature techno" to describe her third album, Tiger Suit (Relentless/Virgin), and by that she means the sound features a mix of organic instrumentation and electronic textures.

"What I really wanted to do was make a record you can dance to," says Tunstall.

She's succeeded with Tiger Suit, which follows Eye to the Telescope (2006) and Drastic Fantastic (2007). The Grammy Award-nominated singer/songwriter/guitarist recently talked about the role whistling plays on her new album, collaborating with Linda Perry, the different locations she used in the recording process and more.

Continue reading "Q&A: KT TUNSTALL" »

September 15, 2010

NUMERICALLY SPEAKING

Sara Radle moves her solo career forward with Four

Sara Radle_by_Anthony Knasas .jpg

When she decided to relaunch her solo career in southern California, singer, multi-instrumentalist and native Texan Sara Radle realized she had some work to do building her own fan base.

"The people who know me in Los Angeles know me from The Rentals or Walking Sleep," she adds. "It's a little scary going out there on your own when people are only familiar with you in one certain perspective."

Radle feels as though she's back on track musically with her latest solo album, Four. And with that number in mind, she addressed a handful of topics related to her life and career.

Continue reading "NUMERICALLY SPEAKING" »

September 07, 2010

ALL IN GOOD FUN

Bess Rogers talks EPs, Lilith Fair memories and more

Bess Rogers 2.JPG

There's no need to be scared or suspicious if you see a young woman playing a crappy ukulele as she makes her way around New York: That's just singer/songwriter Bess Rogers working on new material.

Continue reading "ALL IN GOOD FUN" »

September 01, 2010

MOTOR CITY ADMIRER

Neil Nathan taps Detroit scene to make debut album

Neil Nathan_by Fabrizio Costantini.jpg

There's just something about the Detroit music scene that strikes a chord with Neil Nathan.

It's not just one genre or era, either: Nathan, a New York-based singer/guitarist, digs Detroit rock, pop, R&B and soul from various decades. And his list of favorite acts includes legends (The Stooges, Alice Cooper) and contemporary names (Brendan Benson, The Go), plus artists who might not immediately come to mind when thinking about the Motor City’s music scene (such as Glenn Frey and Marshall Crenshaw).

Looking for a little "Midwest working-class grit and purity of soul without pretense," Nathan recorded nearly all of The Distance Calls, his debut album (which follows a series of EPs), at Tempermill in Ferndale, Mich. Joining Nathan at the studio, which is about 12 miles from Detroit, was a cast of Motor City-area musicians recruited by producer Bobby Harlow of The Go.

Continue reading "MOTOR CITY ADMIRER" »

August 22, 2010

SPEAKING HIS MIND

Joe Firstman talks Treehouse and more

Joe Firstman.jpg

Singer/songwriter Joe Firstman has done a lot in his almost 10-year career in music. He's had a much buzzed about major label debut album, 2003's The War of Women. He’s been the opening act for such heavyweight headliners as Willie Nelson and Sheryl Crow, and he even had a stint as a late night bandleader for Last Call With Carson Daly.

With a new live-in-the-studio album, Live at the Treehouse, out now and a solo acoustic tour in progress, what does the California-based tunesmith have to say about these and other topics? Firstman checked in from a tour stop in Oxford, Miss., to provide the lowdown.

Continue reading "SPEAKING HIS MIND" »

August 16, 2010

A ROARING RELAPSE

Richard Patrick revisits Filter's past for new album

Richard Patrick_Filter.jpg

Turning 40 has not mellowed Richard Patrick. The Filter leader comes out swinging on the band's latest album, The Trouble With Angels, which he's proud to say echoes elements of Short Bus, Title of Record and Amalgamut.

Patrick recently checked in to discuss Angels, which is due Aug. 17 on Rocket Science Ventures.

Continue reading "A ROARING RELAPSE" »

August 11, 2010

LAPTOP OF LUXURY

Great Big Sea takes advantage of technology to make new album

Great Big Sea.jpg

Recording music is all about capturing ideas, feelings and moments. And these days, there’s really no need to panic if inspiration strikes outside of the studio.

The members of Great Big Sea, like other artists, have regularly used laptops for demo purposes. But the Canadian roots-rock band recently took things one step further, recording straight to singer/guitarist Alan Doyle's laptop and including those tracks on Great Big Sea's latest album, Safe Upon the Shore.

Continue reading "LAPTOP OF LUXURY" »

July 31, 2010

HOLD THE CHEESE

Sweden's Sister Sin draws selectively from '80s metal

Sister Sin.jpg

The drummer stool for Counting Crows has seen its share of players, while second guitarists have come and gone for The Black Crowes.

Sister Sin can relate to that kind of turnover: The Swedish hard-rock act just can't seem to put its "bassist wanted" sign away for very long.

Continue reading "HOLD THE CHEESE" »

July 29, 2010

WILD IN THE '80s

Unauthorized Bon Jovi book revisits band's rise to stardom

Sex Drugs and Bon Jovi_cover.jpg

Debauchery, drugs and drinking went hand in hand with hair metal throughout the 1980s. And whether by design or accident, with tremendous pride or with great shame, evidence of the artists’ real or fabricated rock 'n' roll behavior reached the public during those years.

Bon Jovi pretty much avoided having anything of that sort connected to the band's image — until now.

Former Bon Jovi tour manager Rich Bozzett has written a book about the band's early days and its ascent to superstardom called Sex, Drugs and Bon Jovi.

As Bozzett says in his book (which includes some rather racy photos involving singer Jon Bon Jovi), a series of recent, independent Bon Jovi-related events led him to write Sex, Drugs and Bon Jovi, which was released July 26 through Blumberg Corporate Services. The following day, Bozzett checked in with Medleyville.us to talk about his book.

Continue reading "WILD IN THE '80s" »

July 13, 2010

PLENTY OF DRIVE

It's full speed ahead for AM Taxi

AM Taxi_B&W.jpg

Talk about good timing. Chicago-based AM Taxi's debut album, We Don’t Stand a Chance (Virgin), was released June 8—just a few weeks before the pop-punk quintet joined Motion City Soundtrack, The All-American Rejects and others for the start of this year's Warped Tour.

Singer/guitarist Adam Krier checked in from the road to talk about AM Taxi's origins, recording the band's full-length disc in Texas and his thoughts on the Warped Tour so far.

Continue reading "PLENTY OF DRIVE" »

July 01, 2010

SLICES OF LIFE

Christine Lavin serves up Cold Pizza for Breakfast

Christine Lavin_photo by IreneYoung.jpg

Babysitting Rex Ryan, meeting Bob Dylan, opening for Joan Rivers: These are just a few of the memories folk singer/songwriter Christine Lavin, best known for her work with the Four Bitchin’ Babes, covers in her new book, Cold Pizza for Breakfast: A Mem-Wha?? (Tell Me).

Lavin recently talked about her approach to writing Cold Pizza, her thoughts on the head coach of the New York Jets and her latest music project.

Continue reading "SLICES OF LIFE" »

June 28, 2010

SOUND OVER TECHNIQUE

David Rhodes doesn't get boxed in by stylistic considerations

David Rhodes.jpg

During the last 30-plus years, guitarist David Rhodes has built himself quite a resume.

He's successfully collaborated with Peter Gabriel, both in the studio and as part of his touring band; helmed a group called Random Hold, which has garnered a cult following; and has worked and recorded with such artists as Paul McCartney, Akira Inoue and Roy Orbison, among others.

Rhodes, who will be touring this summer in support of Bittersweet, recently checked in to talk about his new album, his style and select moments from his career.

Continue reading "SOUND OVER TECHNIQUE" »

June 13, 2010

Q&A: SAMANTHA CRAIN

Samantha Crain_by Todd Roeth.jpg

She may only be in her early 20s, but folkie singer/songwriter Samantha Crain is very old-school in her approach to recording music. The way Crain sees it, a recording captures a moment in time, and she doesn't like to devote a whole lot of time achieving the end result.

Continue reading "Q&A: SAMANTHA CRAIN" »

June 01, 2010

Q&A: JUSTIN CURRIE

Justin Currie color_photo by Alan Dimmick.jpg

Whether it has to do with lyrics or song sequencing, Justin Currie puts a lot of thought into his work.

Currie, the former Del Amitri leader (and the voice behind the band's U.S. hits such as "Always the Last to Know" and "Roll to Me"), released his second solo effort, The Great War (Rykodisc), last month. He recently checked in with Medleyville.us to discuss (with dry humor and specific detail) his latest solo album as well as the aforementioned topics.

Continue reading "Q&A: JUSTIN CURRIE" »

May 14, 2010

IDEAS AND EMOTIONS

Songwriter Rob Morsberger blends craft with content

Rob_Morsberger.jpg

Murdered civil rights workers, naturalist Charles Darwin, the blacklisting of screenwriter Dalton Trumbo – these are not typical topics found in pop songs.

Then again, singer/songwriter/keyboardist Rob Morsberger is not your typical pop musician. For one thing, he's classically trained. And when he's not pursuing his solo career, the versatile Morsberger is working as a sideman (his credits include Crash Test Dummies, Marshall Crenshaw and Dan Zanes) or as a TV composer (most notably for PBS' NOVA series).

On his recently released album, The Chronicle of a Literal Man, the New York-based Morsberger explores a variety of subjects in a, well, literate manner, but there’s plenty of melody to go along with the wordplay. Morsberger recently discussed his background, his approach to songwriting and more.

Continue reading "IDEAS AND EMOTIONS" »

May 01, 2010

NO LAUGHING MATTER

Improv school spawns Derek and the Darling

Derek and the Darling.jpg

They met at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, an improvisational and sketch comedy school in New York. But these days, instead of trying to make audiences laugh, Derek Nicoletto and Sammi Garett are focusing on connecting with crowds through their original music under the billing Derek and the Darling.

Continue reading "NO LAUGHING MATTER" »

April 13, 2010

Q&A: MARTIN SEXTON

Martin Sexton_color.jpg

Like many singer/songwriters, Martin Sexton walks to the beat of his own drum. For Sexton, that not only means making albums with songs that cross different genres, but also taking calculated risks during the recording process.

Sugarcoating (Kitchen Table Records), Sexton's latest, covers a range of sounds and emotions, and the process he used to make the recordings required a lot of confidence and preparation on his part.

Sexton recently discussed his approach to Sugarcoating and his upcoming tour, which begins April 15 in Connecticut.

Continue reading "Q&A: MARTIN SEXTON" »

April 01, 2010

TRACK BY TRACK: ANNUALS' SWEET SISTER

Annuals_horiz.jpg

There are only five songs on Sweet Sister, but the latest from Raleigh, N.C.'s Annuals contains a double album's worth of interesting sounds and instruments.

The recently released new EP (on Banter Records) finds singer, songwriter and band leader Adam Baker once again in the producer role. Baker recently answered some questions about each track on Sweet Sister, as well as offered some additional insight into the making of the experimental pop collection.

Continue reading "TRACK BY TRACK: ANNUALS' SWEET SISTER" »

March 15, 2010

JOE BELOCK'S SXSW 2010 PREVIEW

Man or Astroman.jpg
Man or Astroman?

As Austin, Texas, prepares to be overrun by musicians from around the world for this year's South by Southwest, Joe Belock makes life a little simpler by offering his Top 10 acts to check out during SXSW.

Continue reading "JOE BELOCK'S SXSW 2010 PREVIEW" »

March 14, 2010

SXSW PREVIEW: THE CONSTELLATIONS

The_Constellations.jpg

Southern Gothic (EMI/Virgin), the debut album by the style-blending Atlanta-based collective The Constellations, won’t be released until June 22. But curious music listeners can get a taste of the album by visiting the Constellations site or, better yet, by checking out the band (which tours as a five-piece unit) at one of its many scheduled shows during South by Southwest.

Leader Elijah Jones took a few minutes to discuss the making Southern Gothic, the music scene in Atlanta and what's on his shortlist of things to do while in Austin, Texas.

Continue reading "SXSW PREVIEW: THE CONSTELLATIONS" »

March 11, 2010

TAKING CONTROL

Matthew Ryan gets creative with his own label, new video collection

Matthew_Ryan_b&w.jpg

One man's early leak of a new album is another man's staggered release. Singer/songwriter Matthew Ryan prefers the latter to describe the fall 2009 digital distribution of his latest, Dear Lover (Dear Future Collective), that preceded the mid-February arrival of the physical product in retail outlets.

Whether talking about the thought process behind the two-part release of Dear Lover, why he started his own label or explaining the story arc that runs through the new album, Ryan is not at a loss for words.

Continue reading "TAKING CONTROL" »

March 05, 2010

A KINKY COLLABORATION

The 88 hits the road with Ray Davies

The_88.jpg

Only time will tell if the rumored Kinks reunion tour will become a reality. Meanwhile, leader Ray Davies hit the road recently with a very capable band in The 88 backing him on classic Kinks songs.

The Los Angeles-based quartet may not be a household name, but its music has made its way into households nationwide via song placements in various network TV shows (such as CBS' How I Met Your Mother and NBC's Community) and through performances on late-night TV talk shows (among them Jimmy Kimmel Live! and Last Call With Carson Daly).

Singer/guitarist Keith Slettedahl recently talked about how The 88 landed the opening/backing spot on the Davies tour, the value of distributing music through TV shows, movies and commercials and what it was like for his band record an entire song using an Apple iPhone.

Continue reading "A KINKY COLLABORATION" »

March 01, 2010

AN EXHIBIT FIT FOR A KING

Newseum examines Elvis Presley's impact on popular culture

Elvis Presley_Louisiana Hayride.jpg

Jet-black dyed hair, long sideburns, frenzied performances, flashy clothes, innovative music, mediocre movies -- when Elvis Presley's name is mentioned, these are some of the things that immediately come to mind.

But don’t forget about freedom of expression, censorship and massive media exposure.

In its exhibit Elvis! His Groundbreaking, Hip-Shaking, Newsmaking Story, the Newseum in Washington, D.C., takes an all-encompassing look at Presley's personal life, career and overall impact on popular culture.

Continue reading "AN EXHIBIT FIT FOR A KING" »

February 21, 2010

HER SHIP HAS COME IN

Recent career choices have worked out well for April Smith

April Smith_color.jpg

When April Smith needed money to record a new album, she turned to the fans. Not in a folkie pass-the-hat way or by employing public broadcasting-style pleading from the concert stage. The singer hooked up with Kickstarter.com, a fan-funding site that helps artists and creators reach their predetermined financial goals for specific projects.

Thanks to more than 200 backers, Smith not only reached her dollar goal in a two-month period, she surpassed it.

Continue reading "HER SHIP HAS COME IN" »

February 07, 2010

Q&A: ALLISON MOORER

Allison Moorer_1.jpg

As the follow-up to 2008's Mockingbird, a collection of mostly cover songs, singer/songwriter Allison Moorer is set to release Crows, her first album for the Rykodisc label, on Feb. 9.

Moorer recently talked about how her craft has changed since recording Mockingbird, her working relationship with longtime collaborator R.S. Field (who produced the 13-track Crows) and the influence her husband, Steve Earle, has had on her guitar playing.

Continue reading "Q&A: ALLISON MOORER" »

February 01, 2010

A LOGISTICAL THREAD

Sensible touring schedules matter to Barefoot Truth

Barefoot Truth_color.jpg

The road can really make or break a band, no matter how long the act has been around or the length of the tour.

Just a few years after forming, Barefoot Truth embarked upon a weekend trip in spring 2007 that wasn't exactly a Spinal Tap adventure, but it did prompt everyone to think long and hard about future touring.

Continue reading "A LOGISTICAL THREAD" »

January 27, 2010

ON THE WRITE TRACK

Idol alum Katharine McPhee grows as a composer

Katharine McPhee.jpg

When making their first albums, American Idol winners and high-placing runners-up tend to rely heavily on outside material, just like they did when competing on the Fox series.

Katharine McPhee finished second to Taylor Hicks on Idol in 2006, and she released her self-titled debut album the following year. True to form, it was dominated by songs written by others.

Unbroken (Verve/Forecast), released Jan. 5, is a different story: McPhee had a hand in writing half of the album's 12 official songs (a version of Melanie's "Brand New Key" is listed as a bonus track).

Continue reading "ON THE WRITE TRACK" »

January 15, 2010

Q&A: MAURA KENNEDY

Maura Kennedy_1.JPG

Even though she had been posting the occasional solo song on her Web site, Maura Kennedy says she never really had plans to make a proper solo album.

After all, as one half of the folk-rock duo The Kennedys with her husband, Pete Kennedy, her recording and touring schedule was already pretty full.

Some unexpected time off the road, though, gave Maura Kennedy the opportunity to write and record a batch of new songs. After hearing from some fans who preferred to have a tangible product instead of music downloads, Kennedy went ahead and put together a 13-song solo CD, Parade of Echoes (Planned Effervescence Recordings), due Jan. 19.

Kennedy recently discussed how the album came together, her husband's role in the project and the different locations she used to record the songs on Echoes.

Continue reading "Q&A: MAURA KENNEDY" »

January 10, 2010

SHE'S WITH THE BAND

Class Actress suits Elizabeth Harper just fine

Class Actress.jpg

During her brief recording career, singer Elizabeth Harper has not been shy about letting her myriad 1980s influences shine through.

Harper's self-titled debut album, originally released in 2005, essentially was a collection of guitar-driven demos she recorded and produced with Scott Rosenthal.

"I had no idea how Smiths-y it really was, but I was sort of obsessing over them at the time," she recalls.

But she also had a love of sampled drums and electronic music a la New Order and Depeche Mode. That side of her not only led to Harper adopting a different sound but also working with Rosenthal and Mark Richardson under the name Class Actress, which will release its debut EP on Feb. 9.

Continue reading "SHE'S WITH THE BAND" »

January 03, 2010

RAGE ON

Doughboys waste little time making second album

Doughboys_Asbury Lanes_1-23-09_by Rob Adams.jpg

Some reunions take a little time to gather momentum.

When The Doughboys got back together in 2000 after more than 30 years apart, the result was a period of sporadic gigs for the New Jersey rock 'n' roll band. The chances of the group expanding its recording catalog beyond the two singles that were released in the late '60s didn't seem likely at first.

Then in 2007, The Doughboys released their first album, Is It Now? "Black Sheep," one of the album's originals, found a home on Little Steven's Underground Garage, and the band gigged throughout 2008 and 2009.

Relatively speaking, The Doughboys have quickly cooked up a sequel, Act Your Rage, which was released on RAM Records. Singer Myke Scavone, drummer Richie Heyman, guitarist Gar Francis and bassist Mike Caruso recently discussed the making of the new album, the "garage rock" tag and more.

Continue reading "RAGE ON" »

December 18, 2009

ROCK OF HOPE

Holiday compilation album benefits diabetes research

CCRevisited.JPG

When they were the backbone to Creedence Clearwater Revival, Stu Cook and Doug Clifford covered their share of early rock hits for the band's studio albums.

As the bassist and drummer, respectively, for Creedence Clearwater Revisited (above), Cook and Clifford continue that trend with the group's rendition of the Chuck Berry holiday favorite "Run Rudolph Run" that's featured on Hope for the Holidays: Rockin' Christmas for a Cure.

Continue reading "ROCK OF HOPE" »

December 11, 2009

SINGLE-MINDED

Golden Bloom, Motion Sick team up for split effort

Shawn Fogel_Golden Bloom.jpg

Golden Bloom and The Motion Sick have taken a different approach to the split-single concept.

Instead of contributing one original song to the project, each band covered a tune from the other’s catalog.

Agreeing to the project was a no-brainer for The Motion Sick's Mike Epstein.

"All of us in The Motion Sick are big Golden Bloom fans," the singer/guitarist says. "We've always been excited when we have a chance to do shows together."

As for the decision to record Golden Bloom's "Doomsday Devices," Epstein says, "It's one of those songs that [makes me] think, 'Damn, I wish I had written that.' "

Continue reading "SINGLE-MINDED" »

Q&A: LANCE MERCER

Photographer reflects on his years with Pearl Jam

Pearl Jam onstage_Lance Mercer.jpg

As Pearl Jam made the rapid climb from rookie to superstar act, Seattle native Lance Mercer was there with his trusty camera as the band's designated photographer.

5x1: Pearl Jam Through the Eye of Lance Mercer features plenty of Mercer's images of the group, and on Dec. 12, he’ll sign copies of the book at Manhattan's Morrison Hotel Gallery, where some of Mercer's PJ pics will be on display.

Mercer recently talked about his working relationship with the band, shooting the cover for Ten and much more.

Continue reading "Q&A: LANCE MERCER" »

December 08, 2009

SEASONAL INSIGHT

Alison Sudol breaks down her band’s holiday EP

Alison_Sudol_vertical.jpg

Making Oh Blue Christmas (Virgin) was a series of firsts for A Fine Frenzy leader Alison Sudol, and that's only natural considering the EP is the band's first holiday release.

Recorded in less than a week with very little prep time, the Oh Blue Christmas sessions marked the first time Sudol and the rest of her band recorded with everyone playing at once, the first time they worked with David Bianco and the first time Sudol formally held the producer role.

"It was terrifying at first," she recalls, "but once I got the hang of it, [producing] was so very rewarding and fun. It was quite an adventure."

Sudol recently sat down to give a little background on each song that's included on Oh Blue Christmas.

Continue reading "SEASONAL INSIGHT" »

December 05, 2009

A WONDERFUL RESULT

Carolyn Sills writes holiday tune based on a classic film

Carolyn_Sills.jpg

Plenty of people have Christmas Eve traditions.

Growing up, Carolyn Sills would watch the James Stewart classic It’s a Wonderful Life with her father on the night before Christmas. By her estimation, she’s seen the movie in its entirety more than 20 times.

Those repeated viewings eventually resulted in Sills being inspired in the fall of 2007 to write a song named after Stewart’s character, George Bailey.

Continue reading "A WONDERFUL RESULT" »

December 01, 2009

MEDLEYVILLE'S ALBUMS OF THE DECADE

The '00s, the aughts – whatever you want to call this decade, it's coming to a close.

Musically speaking, it's been an interesting era, to say the least. Without further ado, here are the albums of the decade according to Medleyville staffers.

Continue reading "MEDLEYVILLE'S ALBUMS OF THE DECADE" »

November 29, 2009

ONE STEP FURTHER

MxPx starts own label for latest releases

MxPx_b&w.jpg

MxPx has a thing for EPs, but what's different about the latest, Left Coast Punk, is that it’s the first one on the California punk band's own label.

Singer/bassist Mike Herrera recently fielded some questions about the new EP as well as the trio's first-ever Christmas album.

Continue reading "ONE STEP FURTHER" »

November 15, 2009

PERFECT HARMONY

For The Sweet Remains, voices and personalities are a nice fit

Sweet Remains.jpg

When solo singer/songwriters Rich Price and Greg Naughton would team up to play an occasional show, they often wondered how good their vocal harmony blend would be with a third singer.

During a cross-country tour in 2007 with acquaintance Brian Chartrand, Price felt he had found the right guy.

Continue reading "PERFECT HARMONY" »

November 13, 2009

HEAD OF THE CLASS

Saving Abel tops hard rock package tour

Saving Abel.jpg

My, they grow up so quickly these days.

Saving Abel only has one album under its belt, but after scoring a bunch of radio hits from its self-titled 2008 debut, the Mississippi hard rock band has already established somewhat of a veteran presence.

That explains why Saving Abel is the headliner of The Class of 2009 Tour, which also features fellow recent hitmakers Red and Pop Evil, as well as Taddy Porter, which has been dubbed the freshman act of the bunch.

Guitarist Jason Null, who co-founded Saving Abel, recently took some time between tour dates to talk about the band’s past, present and future.

Continue reading "HEAD OF THE CLASS" »

November 10, 2009

GRADUAL GROWTH

Singer/songwriter Chris Ayer continues working on his craft

Chris Ayer.jpg

Revising lyrics – it’s all part of being a songwriter. Throw a little philosophy into the process, and that can complicate things a little more.

While at Stanford University, Chris Ayer studied philosophy and music, so every now and then he might become lyrically trapped in "overly complicated, convoluted ways of describing something" when a song has been inspired by philosophical elements.

Continue reading "GRADUAL GROWTH" »

November 03, 2009

A MONSTER EFFORT

Latest album by The Almost brings band together

The_Almost.jpg

"Hey, we got a record over here, Dusty," Jay Vilardi shouts across the EMI rooftop to Dusty Redmon, his guitar counterpart in The Almost.

Redmon, who is standing a few feet away, cuts off the conversation he's having with someone else and looks over at Vilardi.

"What?" Redmon asks.

"We got a record," Vilardi responds with enthusiasm.

Redmon got the message the second time.

"Are the thank yous in it?" Redmon asks as he approaches Vilardi.

“Yeah -- thanks to him,” Vilardi answers, smiling.

Vilardi gestures to singer Aaron Gillespie, who's carefully looking over a copy of Monster Monster (Tooth & Nail/Virgin/EMI), the new Almost album. Bassist Alex Aponte joins the others in gazing at the CD's booklet and packaging, and their collective reaction makes it evident that this sunny late October afternoon in Manhattan has taken on some added meaning.

Continue reading "A MONSTER EFFORT" »

October 28, 2009

STILL AROUND

Livan rebounds from addiction to make solo debut

Livan.jpg

The list of rockers with unhealthy vices is a long one, and so is the tally of those who died as a result of their addictions.

London-based singer/songwriter Livan makes no bones about being a recovering drug addict, and he says it’s so much better "to be one of them and not six feet under."

Continue reading "STILL AROUND" »

October 21, 2009

SMALL-SCREEN SUPPORT

TV connection has served Green River Ordinance well

GRO.jpg

Count Green River Ordinance guitarist Joshua Wilkerson among those who feel that video and music make for a perfect marriage.

Like so many other acts in recent years, his Texas-bred rock band has gone prime-time by having its songs featured in various television series. In GRO's case, the TV placement of tunes from the album Out of My Hands led to a recent spike in visits to the Green River Ordinance MySpace page, according to the band's label, EMI/Virgin Records.

Wilkerson recently spoke about his band's television exposure, what he and his bandmates are listening to as they travel from gig to gig and other topics.

Continue reading "SMALL-SCREEN SUPPORT" »

October 13, 2009

AMBIENT ATMOSPHERE

Blevins mixes sonic flavors on hyperstory debut

hyperstory_album cover.jpg

When C. Scott Blevins says he conceived the self-titled hyperstory debut album as a studio project, he's not kidding.

Guitarist/producer Blevins used about nine different facilities in the Los Angeles area to program, record, edit and mix the ambient, genre-blending, nine-song effort, which is due Nov. 10 on Pureland Records. (The song "a happening" can be downloaded for free now.)

Continue reading "AMBIENT ATMOSPHERE" »

October 01, 2009

BETTER LATE THAN NEVER

Dennis Diken teams up with old friend for side project

Dennis Diken.jpg

Smithereens drummer Dennis Diken is quick to point out that the recently released Late Music (Cryptovision Records) is not a solo album.

The 1960s-flavored pop and rock songs on the album, which is credited to Dennis Diken With Bell Sound, were "hatched," Diken says, along with longtime friend Pete DiBella. Along the way, they had help from Dave Amels, Andy Paley, The Honeys and members of The Wondermints, with recording done in New Jersey and California.

Diken recently sat down to talk about reuniting with DiBella, Amels' role in making Late Music a reality and what the future holds for The Smithereens.

Continue reading "BETTER LATE THAN NEVER" »

September 22, 2009

DOUBLE THE INSPIRATION

Adam Marsland talks about influences behind Go West

Adam_Marsland.jpg

The way Adam Marsland sees it, the hallmarks of a great double album are "a spirit of adventure, creating a larger world of the imagination that you can retreat to again and again, and knowing when to reel it in, so you don't try the listener's patience."

With that in mind, the California-based singer and multi-instrumentalist recorded a double disc of his own, the diverse, 23-track Go West, which was released during the summer. He recently took some time to discuss the half-dozen double albums that were the most influential to him making Go West. His tastes skewed toward the ‘70s, he says, because the concept of the double album is "rooted in vinyl, and the sounds that resonate with me are layered, pop-based compositions recorded by real musicians on real instruments."

Continue reading "DOUBLE THE INSPIRATION" »

September 14, 2009

Q&A: ACE FREHLEY

Ace Frehley_Kevin Britton.jpg

Over the last 20 years, Ace Frehley has done a reunion album and full-makeup tours with the classic Kiss lineup, appeared in a very funny Dunkin' Donuts commercial and dropped by VH1 Classic's That Metal Show, just to name a few of his high-profile accomplishments and appearances.

What he hasn't done is release a new solo album. That changes with this month's release of Anomaly, the first on Frehley's own Bronx Born label. Frehley recent discussed the work involved with Anomaly, his new signature Gibson Les Paul guitar and what he remembers from making his first solo album during the heyday of Kiss.

Continue reading "Q&A: ACE FREHLEY" »

September 04, 2009

FROM THE HEART

Colin Linden talks about Richard Bell, latest projects

Colin_Linden.jpg

Although keyboardist Richard Bell doesn't play a note on Colin Linden's latest, From the Water, his spirit can be felt throughout the album, which was released in May on True North Records.

Perhaps the most respectful gesture that singer/guitarist Linden and his bandmates made during the recording process was not including a full-time replacement for Bell, who died in 2007 at age 61 after a battle with cancer.

Continue reading "FROM THE HEART" »

September 02, 2009

(RE)MIXING IT UP

Marcy Playground allows Indaba community to reimagine latest album

Marcy_Playground.jpg

John Wozniak says he's always thinking about new and interesting ways to collaborate and share his music.

During this year's South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, the Marcy Playground leader and some new acquaintances came up with something that he can't stop raving about.

Continue reading "(RE)MIXING IT UP" »

August 26, 2009

QUITE AN EXPERIENCE

Chloe Temtchine endures rough moments making her debut album

Chloe.jpg

You get what you pay for, and that old cliché certainly applies when it comes to hiring musicians for a recording project.

Chloe Temtchine made an entire album with musicians who worked on the cheap, and the New York-based singer/multi-instrumentalist ended up with what she describes as "terrible stuff."

Continue reading "QUITE AN EXPERIENCE" »

August 12, 2009

WORKING TOWARD HIS GOALS

Justin Trawick loses day gig but doesn’t miss a beat

Trawick.jpg

Losing a steady job can be catastrophic and heartbreaking. For singer/songwriter Justin Trawick, his dismissal was a case of divine intervention.

Trawick was working as an accounts manager for SoundExchange, a nonprofit company that collects performance royalties from satellite radio and other avenues for musicians, when he was let go in November.

Continue reading "WORKING TOWARD HIS GOALS" »

August 01, 2009

TRACK BY TRACK:
GOLDEN BLOOM’S FAN THE FLAMES

Golden Bloom_Alicia J. Rose.jpg

Shawn Fogel, who records alone and with others under the group name Golden Bloom, has been very generous of late, making individual songs from the album Fan the Flames available as free downloads on various Web sites.

For those who prefer one-stop shopping, the entire 10-track Golden Bloom album is due Aug. 18 via the Sleepy West label. The New Jersey-based Fogel – who plays nearly all of the instruments on Fan the Flames -- recently took the time to provide a little background on each song.

Continue reading "TRACK BY TRACK:
GOLDEN BLOOM’S FAN THE FLAMES" »

July 23, 2009

WORKING FROM THE GROUND UP

Sara Wasserman releases her debut album

Sara_Wasserman_horiz.jpg

Although she was helped out by a variety of music industry veterans – including her father, the acclaimed bassist Rob Wasserman -- singer Sara Wasserman clearly was in charge during the making of her debut album, Solid Ground (That Other Label).

She co-produced Solid Ground and co-wrote six of the songs for the album, which was seven years in the making. As for bringing in the star guests, that was entirely her responsibility.

Continue reading "WORKING FROM THE GROUND UP" »

July 20, 2009

Q&A: THE LOW ANTHEM

The Low Anthem.JPG

The Rhode Island-based folkie trio The Low Anthem made a splash late last year with the release of Oh My God, Charlie Darwin.

On June 9, the Nonesuch label released a remastered version of the album with a different track sequence. Bassist Jeff Prystowsky recently discussed the thinking behind the reissue, working with studio ace Bob Ludwig on the project, the band’s experience at Bonnaroo this year and other subjects.

Continue reading "Q&A: THE LOW ANTHEM" »

July 09, 2009

ENROLLED IN ROCK 'N' ROLL

The Lonely H capitalizes on its momentum

The_Lonely_H_Walter.JPG

In summer 2007, newly minted high school graduate Mark Fredson talked about the immediate future for his band, The Lonely H.

"We're going to college, and we're going to get our degrees and have something to [fall back on]," the singer said at the time. "Doing the band full-time -- if we start making some profits, I can definitely take that option. But we're not solely relying on the band as a career. We're looking at it from a more practical point of view."

Plans have changed since then – the members of the Port Angeles, Wash.-based rock band have shelved college.

Continue reading "ENROLLED IN ROCK 'N' ROLL" »

July 02, 2009

FIRST THINGS FIRST: DRIVE A

Drive A.jpg

Roughly two years ago, singer/guitarist Bruno Mascolo met guitarist Jason Nott outside the Troubadour in Los Angeles. Since then, they've formed the band Drive A, played shows with such veteran acts as Papa Roach and Stone Temple Pilots and recorded the debut album Loss of Desire, which was released in May.

Nott recently reflected on meeting Mascolo as well as some other key musical firsts in his life.

Continue reading "FIRST THINGS FIRST: DRIVE A" »

June 20, 2009

THE BALLAD OF TIM BRANTLEY

Rocker recalls his road to music and more

Tim_Brantley.jpg

Before Tim Brantley became consumed with music, playing baseball occupied a lot of his time. And even though his primary tools these days are guitars and pianos, not bats and spikes, he still makes baseball comparisons when talking about his music career.

One important lesson Brantley says he learned while making his debut album, Goldtop Heights (Blackledge Records), was discovering "what you're really going to get out of every guy on the team" while recording.

Continue reading "THE BALLAD OF TIM BRANTLEY" »

June 08, 2009

STRIKING A BALANCE

The Clarks find the time for work, family

The Clarks_2009.JPG

It's been five years since The Clarks released a new studio album, but the Pittsburgh-based quartet hasn’t exactly been loafing since 2004's Fast Moving Cars.

There have been children born, outside projects released and continuous band touring leading up to Restless Days, due June 9 on High Wire/Fontana. It’s the latest hummable, rockin', toe-tapping album by the longtime no-nonsense band – still featuring the original lineup of singer/guitarist Scott Blasey, guitarist/singer Robert James, bassist/singer Greg Joseph and drummer/singer David Minarik Jr. -- that typifies the hard-working and humble character of its home city.

James recently discussed the band's new album, the band's longevity and other subjects.

Continue reading "STRIKING A BALANCE" »

June 01, 2009

STORYTIME: EMILY WELLS

Emily Wells.jpg

Growing up, Emily Wells says she was surrounded by music. But it was after visiting a self-described "tiny jazz hole in the wall" during her teens that the experimental singer and multi-instrumentalist gained a greater appreciation for jazz and live performance.

Continue reading "STORYTIME: EMILY WELLS" »

May 14, 2009

DOUBLE DUTY

Mike Herrera keeps busy with MxPx, Tumbledown

Mike_Herrera.JPG

The idea of Mike Herrera fronting an Americana-sounding band might throw a few MxPx fans for a loop. But that's what the longtime punk is doing on the self-titled album by Tumbledown, which is due this month.

Herrera recently fielded some questions about his new project as well as the most recent MxPx album, On the Cover II.

Continue reading "DOUBLE DUTY" »

May 07, 2009

MILES ZUNIGA TELLS THE TRUTH

Fastball singer/guitarist talks about Little White Lies

Fastball_Joey Miles Tony_Kim Stringfellow.jpg

A lot has changed both personally and professionally in recent years for Fastball's Miles Zuniga.

Currently on tour in support of Fastball’s latest, Little White Lies, the singer/guitarist recently talked about some of those life changes, the Texas-based rock/pop band's new album and other topics.

Continue reading "MILES ZUNIGA TELLS THE TRUTH" »

April 28, 2009

Q&A: HONEYHONEY

honeyhoney.jpg

Just from reading their self-penned band bio, it's easy to tell that Suzanne Santo and Ben Jaffe -- who record under the group name honeyhoney -- have a good sense of humor.

Interviews tend to bring out the funny in them, too. Santo and Jaffe recently took time out from their tour in support of the eclectic First Rodeo (released last fall on Ironworks Music, a label run by actor Kiefer Sutherland and musician Jude Cole) to answer a few questions via e-mail.

Continue reading "Q&A: HONEYHONEY" »

April 06, 2009

A LITTLE BIT COUNTRY

Kevin Russell discusses the latest Gourds album

Gourds_John_Carrico.jpg

The new Gourds album has a slight country flavor to it, and according to singer Kevin "Shinyribs" Russell, that element of Haymaker! (Yep Roc) is his doing.

Continue reading "A LITTLE BIT COUNTRY" »

March 16, 2009

SXSW PREVIEW: BRIGITTE DeMEYER

DeMeyer.jpg

For her new album, the recently released Red River Flower, Americana singer/songwriter Brigitte DeMeyer recorded in Nashville, Tenn., for the first time ever, and she was backed by some ace musicians.

The California-based DeMeyer, who is a showcasing artist at this year's South by Southwest, recently talked about recording in Music City with the likes of Buddy Miller and Al Perkins.

Continue reading "SXSW PREVIEW: BRIGITTE DeMEYER" »

March 15, 2009

(UNOFFICIAL) SXSW PREVIEW:
FROM JUPITER

From_Jupiter.jpg

Singer JJ Sicotte hasn’t been shy about making a change to the lineup of his current band, From Jupiter.

"Trying out different members really helps you narrow down what you seek in a band member," says the 19-year-old Sicotte, who already has had musicians come and go since making the band’s debut album, No, Seriously.

Continue reading "(UNOFFICIAL) SXSW PREVIEW:
FROM JUPITER" »

(UNOFFICIAL) SXSW PREVIEW:
ACE ENDERS

Ace_Enders.jpg

Nobody would ever mistake Hammonton, N.J., with New York, Los Angeles or any other music capital.

But Hammonton – roughly 30 miles west from the casino town Atlantic City – is where Early November frontman Ace Enders calls home.

Continue reading "(UNOFFICIAL) SXSW PREVIEW:
ACE ENDERS" »

March 12, 2009

Q&A: ARI HEST

Ari_Hest_Q&A.JPG

Throughout 2008, New York-based singer/guitarist Ari Hest was a songwriting machine, composing and recording a song per week as part of his 52 project.

He reworked a dozen of those songs for his latest album, Twelve Mondays, which was released March 10. Hest recently spoke about his challenging and productive '08, shaping up the material for the album and whether he'd work with a major label again.

Continue reading "Q&A: ARI HEST" »

March 08, 2009

IN HONOR OF R.E.M.

Apples in Stereo, others booked for tribute in NYC

Apples in Stereo.jpg

For Apples in Stereo bassist Eric Allen, his interest in R.E.M. began when he first heard “Begin the Begin” from the Georgia-bred band’s 1986 album, Lifes Rich Pageant.

On March 11, Apples in Stereo -- along with Bob Mould, The dB's, Marshall Crenshaw, Patti Smith, Guster and others -- will pay tribute to R.E.M. during a fundraiser at Manhattan’s Carnegie Hall.

Continue reading "IN HONOR OF R.E.M." »

March 04, 2009

HAVE BIKES, WILL TRAVEL

Blind Pilot’s Dobrowski recalls self-powered tour

Blind Pilot.jpg

Overpacking is a concern no matter if the road trip in question is a family vacation or a band tour. It's also an issue regardless of the chosen mode of transportation.

Last summer, Blind Pilot launched a three-month tour by way of bicycles, and traveling that way meant the group could only bring "just enough" gear to get the job done, says drummer Ryan Dobrowski.

Continue reading "HAVE BIKES, WILL TRAVEL" »

March 01, 2009

POLITICAL PUSH

Blagojevich mess inspires Golden Bloom's Fogel

Golden Bloom.jpg

Andy Warhol once predicted that everyone will be famous for 15 minutes.

For his ode to Rod Blagojevich, Golden Bloom frontman Shawn Fogel gives the former Illinois governor 60 seconds in the musical spotlight.

Continue reading "POLITICAL PUSH" »

February 15, 2009

HIGH STANDARDS

Bigelf wears old-school badge with pride

Bigelf_by Henry Diltz.jpg

Anyone who knows anything about instruments would be impressed by the vintage gear that Bigelf brings on the road: a Hammond C3 organ, a Mellotron keyboard and Gibson and Fender guitars from the 1960s and 1970s.

"Yeah, it's quite a haul, but it's the only way," says singer/keyboardist Damon Fox. "These instruments are unique; they give off a special sound. That's why we use them."

Continue reading "HIGH STANDARDS" »

February 09, 2009

YOUTHFUL SWAGGER

Vox Jaguars come out swinging with debut EP

the vox jags.jpg

The Vox Jaguars may be young, but the members of the feisty, Santa Cruz., Calif.-based garage-rock band are wise when it comes to the realities of a recording budget and a lack of studio savvy.

Continue reading "YOUTHFUL SWAGGER" »

February 01, 2009

STORYTIME: DION DiMUCCI

Dion.JPG

Fifty years later, Dion DiMucci still thinks about his late Winter Dance Party tour mates Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson. DiMucci also has not forgotten what it was like riding around the frozen Midwest with them during early 1959.

Continue reading "STORYTIME: DION DiMUCCI" »

January 10, 2009

THE RIGHT MOVE

Aaron Zimmer is in a New York state of mind

zimmer.jpg

When Aaron Zimmer felt that relocating to the big city was best for his music career, his new start coincided with the start of a new year.

Continue reading "THE RIGHT MOVE" »

January 01, 2009

ALL ABOUT BUDDY

DiNizio covers Holly classics on new solo album

Pat Buddy.JPG

Throughout his career, Pat DiNizio has tipped his cap to Buddy Holly by performing the late rock 'n' roll legend's material, writing a song named after Holly's widow and even wearing oversized Holly-style specs.

DiNizio takes his appreciation for Holly to another level with Pat DiNizio/Buddy Holly, due Jan. 27 on Koch Records. The latest solo album by the Smithereens leader features his renditions of 11 songs from the Holly catalog.

Continue reading "ALL ABOUT BUDDY" »

December 15, 2008

GEORGE HENN'S TOP ALBUMS OF 2008

After years in the making, Guns N' Roses finally released Chinese Democracy.

Sorry, Axl Rose, but it didn't make Medleyville staffer George Henn's list of the best albums from 2008.

These discs did make the cut:

Continue reading "GEORGE HENN'S TOP ALBUMS OF 2008" »

December 10, 2008

IT'S ALMOST TIME

Ollabelle is close to finishing new studio album

Ollabelle_2.jpg

One more day -- that's all it should take for Ollabelle to finish up its new studio album, according to bassist Byron Isaacs.

"Getting this all together for that one day in the studio is turning out to be tricky," he admits. "We just have a couple of background parts that haven’t gone down. That's it -- then it will be ready to mix."

Continue reading "IT'S ALMOST TIME" »

November 17, 2008

WHAT HE SAID

Social Code singer talks new studio, new EP

Social Code.jpg

When Social Code singer Travis Nesbitt says his band built its own recording studio, he really means it.

"We did it all -- demolition, framing, electrical, drywall, taping, painting and all the finishing work," Nesbitt explains. "There was a small plumbing job that we got someone in to do, but everything else we did."

Continue reading "WHAT HE SAID" »

November 03, 2008

STORYTIME: JD SOUTHER

Souther 1_Erick Anderson.jpg

Even old friends surprise each other every once in a while.

Longtime Eagles collaborator JD Souther says he had no idea that the band chose to record "How Long," a song from his 1972 solo debut, for the group’s Long Road Out of Eden.

Continue reading "STORYTIME: JD SOUTHER" »

November 01, 2008

BEST OF BOTH WORLDS

Glen Phillips enjoying solo career, band projects

Phillips.jpg

Put a bunch of notable musicians together under a common name, and the natural thing to do is dub the collective a "super group."

Glen Phillips, best known for his work with Toad the Wet Sprocket, doesn't use that term to describe Works Progress Administration. In addition to Phillips, WPA's members (eight total) include siblings Sean and Sara Watkins from Nickel Creek, Benmont Tench from Tom Petty's Heartbreakers and Pete Thomas from Elvis Costello's Imposters.

Continue reading "BEST OF BOTH WORLDS" »

October 10, 2008

LAND OF OPPORTUNITY

Mad Buffalo's Randy Riviere has the Wilderness on his mind

Mad_Buffalo.jpg

It's easy to understand why Randy Riviere's music often has a landscape setting.

The roots-rock singer/songwriter/guitarist who records under the name Mad Buffalo has a master's degree in wildlife biology, and his nonmusic career includes contributing to the preservation of 40,000-plus acres as permanent wildlife conservation easements for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Continue reading "LAND OF OPPORTUNITY" »

October 01, 2008

OPTIMISM'S GLOW

Solo career is Brian Vander Ark's focus

vander ark.jpg

In 2002, the year after The Verve Pipe released what to date is the band's last studio album, singer Brian Vander Ark hit the road, but not in the typical way.

Needing "some sort of cleansing," Vander Ark says he got rid of most everything he had except for a 1994 Ford Fleetwood RV.

Continue reading "OPTIMISM'S GLOW" »

September 22, 2008

IN A GOOD PLACE

Laura Warshauer, Island Def Jam are on the same page

Laura W.JPG

Call it the appetizer before the main course.

With Laura Warshauer's first full-length effort for the Island Def Jam Music Group finished and due in 2009, the company will release a self-titled, seven-song CD on Sept. 23 by the folk-pop singer/songwriter/guitarist as a way to whet the public’s appetite.

Continue reading "IN A GOOD PLACE" »

September 16, 2008

STAGE AND STUDIO

Unwritten Law documents live show, works on new album

Unwritten_Law.jpg

A bigger budget could have meant an orchestra playing on Unwritten Law's new concert set, suggests singer Scott Russo.

Continue reading "STAGE AND STUDIO" »

September 08, 2008

FIRST THINGS FIRST: BROOKE WAGGONER

Waggoner.jpg

Nashville, Tenn.-based singer/pianist Brooke Waggoner is making the most out of releasing her debut album, Heal for the Honey.

First came an exclusive iTunes release on Sept. 2. She will make it available worldwide on Sept. 9. And for those who like purchasing physical copies of albums in brick-and-mortar buildings, well, Waggoner will release Heal for the Honey in CD form via her own label, Swoon Moon Music, on Oct. 7.

To commemorate her first album, Waggoner recently took some time to discuss some of her other musical firsts.

Continue reading "FIRST THINGS FIRST: BROOKE WAGGONER" »

September 03, 2008

ALL FOR FRANK BANGO

Musicians join forces for benefit concert

Bango.jpg

When it comes to memorable moments at Manhattan's Bowery Ballroom, singer/songwriter Frank Bango can recall quite a few from his days working there as a bartender and manager.

There was the time he and Jonathan Richman played Wiffle ball following a concert. And then there was the night he served Arthur Lee a bloody Mary.

On Aug. 26, Bango, who has been battling cancer since March 2007, added a batch of Bowery memories to his list. That evening, Richard Buckner, Victoria Williams and others performed at the hip venue as part of the Frank Bango Bone Marrow-thon/Stem Cell-abration benefit.

Here Bango shares with Medleyville.us some of what he felt made it a special night.

Continue reading "ALL FOR FRANK BANGO" »

August 22, 2008

Q&A: JULIANA HATFIELD

hatfield.JPG

She likes to keep busy, and lately, singer/songwriter Juliana Hatfield has been just that.

Continue reading "Q&A: JULIANA HATFIELD" »

August 04, 2008

SYSTEMIZED KNOWLEDGE

Chris Cain of We Are Scientists breaks down Brooklyn's best and more

WAS.JPG

Coney Island. Nathan's Famous. The Dodgers.

Through the years, Brooklyn, N.Y., has been the home to some pretty notable things. Chris Cain, one half of the Brooklyn-based rock duo We Are Scientists, recently took time from his band's tour supporting Brain Thrust Mastery (Virgin/Astralwerks) to talk about his beloved borough.

Continue reading "SYSTEMIZED KNOWLEDGE" »

July 08, 2008

THE WAY THAT THEY ARE

Matt MacDonald talks about his Classic Crime band mates

Classic_Crime.jpg

One guy brings many more clothes on the road than others. Another is a smooth talker with women.

Classic Crime singer Matt MacDonald recently discussed this and more about the fellow members of his alt-rock band.

Continue reading "THE WAY THAT THEY ARE" »

July 01, 2008

STORYTIME: SAM GOODEN OF THE IMPRESSIONS

Impressions.jpg

By helping former Impressions singer Jerry Butler at the start of his solo career, Curtis Mayfield ended up helping the group get back on track by earning much-needed money, recalls Sam Gooden.

Gooden (above left, with Mayfield and Fred Cash), a member of the Impressions as far back as 1958's "For Your Precious Love," recalls that the money Impressions singer/guitarist Mayfield earned from touring with Butler played a key role in the R&B vocal group recording one of its most notable hits.

Continue reading "STORYTIME: SAM GOODEN OF THE IMPRESSIONS" »

June 17, 2008

TRAVEL TALK

the morning benders wrap first national tour

morning benders.JPG

Spring 2008 was a memorable one for the morning benders. In addition to releasing its debut album, Talking Through Tin Cans (+1 Records), on May 6, the California rock band embarked upon its first national tour, making stops in Denver, Milwaukee, Chicago and New York, among other major markets.

Singer/guitarist Chris Chu recently fielded some questions about the morning benders' recent road adventures as his group prepares to go on tour again.

Continue reading "TRAVEL TALK" »

June 09, 2008

BACK IN THE FLOW

Cherry Poppin’ Daddies return with Susquehanna

Cherry Poppin Daddies.jpg

Named after a river in upstate New York, Susquehanna (Space Age Bachelor Pad Records) marks the return of Oregon's Cherry Poppin' Daddies. Singer Steve Perry discusses some of the challenges in making the new album, what he did during the eclectic band's hiatus and more.

Continue reading "BACK IN THE FLOW" »

June 03, 2008

A SOLID FOUNDATION

Architects singer Brandon Phillips embraces songwriting basics

ARCHITECTS.gif

The way Brandon Phillips sees it, creative freedom needs to be used responsibly when writing songs, particularly within the indie-rock realm.

Continue reading "A SOLID FOUNDATION" »

May 12, 2008

ALL ABOUT THE OLDIES

Allen Hill talks classic tunes and summer's appeal

ALLEN_HILL.jpg

Across the greater Houston area for more than a decade, an Allen Oldies Band performance has generally meant an instant party, thanks to the combo's Lone Star Beer-fueled hijinks, its impressive chops -- when not paying tribute to '60s pop classics at their own headlining shows, they semi-regularly back such legends as Roy Head and Archie Bell -- and its mission to keep dance floors full.

With the release of their new CD, Ride the Wild Surf (Freedom Records), Allen Hill and his expansive backing band provide a spirited -- and portable -- soundtrack that is tailored for a summertime bash.

Continue reading "ALL ABOUT THE OLDIES" »

May 01, 2008

Q&A: MATTHEW RYAN

RYAN.jpg

Prolific would be one way to describe Matthew Ryan. Given his background, calling him a working-class musician would suit the 36-year-old singer/songwriter just as well.

Continue reading "Q&A: MATTHEW RYAN" »

April 14, 2008

UNDER HIS CONTROL

Del Amitri's Justin Currie flies solo

JUSTIN_CURRIE.jpg

As he was writing songs for his first solo album, Justin Currie was totally against releasing it under his own name, which he describes as "annoying and very uncool."

Continue reading "UNDER HIS CONTROL" »

April 07, 2008

FROM SUB POP TO BRUSHFIRE

Zach Rogue talks about changing labels

ROGUE.JPG

Sub Pop was never intended to be a place where Rogue Wave would spend its career, says leader Zach Rogue.

So when the California band's two-album deal with the Seattle-based label ended, re-signing wasn't on the agenda.

Continue reading "FROM SUB POP TO BRUSHFIRE" »

April 01, 2008

Q&A: ROSEY

ROSEY.jpg

What a difference a few years can make.

In 2002, singer/songwriter Rosey made her debut with Dirty Child, released on Island/Def Jam. Since then, she's put pop music on the back burner in order to pursue jazz.

Continue reading "Q&A: ROSEY" »

March 17, 2008

SXSW '08 IN REVIEW

First-time showcases by R.E.M. and Van Morrison, plus separate humor-filled interviews with Lou Reed and Mick Jones, were among the notable events of this year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) music conference/festival in Austin, Texas.

Michael Stipe.jpg
R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe in action at Stubb's.

Continue reading "SXSW '08 IN REVIEW" »

March 10, 2008

SXSW '08 PREVIEW: THE DODOS

Dodos.jpg

What began in 2006 as a folkie solo project for singer/guitarist Meric Long (under the billing Dodobird) has evolved into the San Francisco guitar-and-drums duo The Dodos, which also features Logan Kroeber.

Continue reading "SXSW '08 PREVIEW: THE DODOS" »

March 09, 2008

SXSW '08 PREVIEW: CASSETTES WON'T LISTEN

His real name is Jason Drake. But when it comes to his music career, the New York-based singer and multi-instrumentalist goes by the moniker Cassettes Won’t Listen.

CWL.jpg


Continue reading "SXSW '08 PREVIEW: CASSETTES WON'T LISTEN" »

March 01, 2008

MUSIC IS SERVED

Cary Brothers readies latest Hotel Cafe Tour

CARY BROS.jpg

He originally called it a crazy idea, Cary Brothers remembers. Now he describes his Hotel Cafe Tour as bigger and better than ever.

Continue reading "MUSIC IS SERVED" »

February 18, 2008

FROM THE HEART

Checking in with Jennifer O'Connor

JOC.jpg

Last spring, Jennifer O'Connor hinted that the songs she planned to write around that time would reflect her current romantic bliss.

O'Connor did end up composing some love songs, "but there are a lot of different themes, I think, in the new stuff," the New York singer/songwriter/guitarist says.

Continue reading "FROM THE HEART" »

February 10, 2008

SHOWING PLENTY OF SPARK

Dawn Landes turns misfortune into music

DAWN LANDES.jpg

When her laptop computer and hard drive containing songs meant for her second album were stolen, Dawn Landes took a page from Ernest Hemingway's career and started over from scratch.

Continue reading "SHOWING PLENTY OF SPARK" »

January 21, 2008

CREATIVE AWAKENING

The Kennedys explore the unconscious mind

Kennedys_Better Dreams.jpg

Dreaming is a great source of creativity, says singer/multi-instrumentalist Pete Kennedy, and he and wife Maura tested that theory while writing songs for the latest Kennedys album, Better Dreams (Appleseed).

Continue reading "CREATIVE AWAKENING" »

January 08, 2008

SONGS APLENTY

Ari Hest launches ambitious Web service

HEST.jpg

It's not unusual for a musician's calendar to be filled with commitments a year in advance.

New York singer/songwriter Ari Hest's datebook for 2008 is rather unique, though. Throughout '08, he will deliver one new song per week to subscribers of his Web-based service called 52, which he launched Jan. 7 with the song "One Two."

Continue reading "SONGS APLENTY" »

December 20, 2007

PLENTY OF KICK

Drummer John Johnson uses whatever works best

HILLSTOMP.jpg

Five years ago, John Johnson and Henry Kammerer decided to make music together, with Johnson playing the role of drummer.

But in reality, he wasn't a drummer, didn't have real drums and couldn't afford to buy any.

Continue reading "PLENTY OF KICK" »

December 13, 2007

MEDLEYVILLE.US -- 2007 IN REVIEW

The time has come to celebrate and scold the music, artists and events of the past 12 months. Medleyville.us staffers Joe Belock, Michael Corby, George Henn, Chris M. Junior and Mike Madden have their say about 2007.

Continue reading "MEDLEYVILLE.US -- 2007 IN REVIEW" »

December 06, 2007

STORYTIME: TOM GILLAM

GILLAM.jpg

He was familiar with the artist and her signature song, but only recently did singer/songwriter Tom Gillam become consumed with Bobbie Gentry's "Ode to Billie Joe." It led to Gillam writing and recording "Where Is Bobby Gentry?," which can be found on his latest album, Never Look Back (Treehouse).

Continue reading "STORYTIME: TOM GILLAM" »

December 01, 2007

THRILLER AT 25

Thriller.jpg

On Dec. 1, 1982, Michael Jackson's Thriller arrived in stores, and it would prove to be a commercial and cultural juggernaut that very few artists have ever produced. Staffers Chris M. Junior, Michael Corby and Joe Belock revisit the album to commemorate its 25th anniversary.

Continue reading "THRILLER AT 25" »

November 26, 2007

SATISFYING HIS SOUL

AM finds his groove on second album

AM.jpg

Even though New Orleans is an undisputed music mecca, singer/songwriter AM felt as though he needed to leave the Big Easy to advance his career.

Continue reading "SATISFYING HIS SOUL" »

November 07, 2007

ROUND THREE

The Thrills return with Teenager

The Thrills.jpg

When it came time to record their third album, The Thrills felt a change of scenery was a good idea.

Continue reading "ROUND THREE" »

October 31, 2007

ON THE SAME TRAIL

Los Lobos, John Mellencamp hit the road

Los Lobos_color.jpg

It already was shaping up to be a typically busy fall for Los Lobos.

Then John Mellencamp reached out to the band with an offer to open for him across America.

Continue reading "ON THE SAME TRAIL" »

October 18, 2007

TIMING IS EVERYTHING

Original Superdrag members reunite for tour -- and maybe more

Superdrag.jpg

Even before the original Superdrag lineup reformed for a series of shows this fall, singer/guitarist John Davis could understand why such reunions are a big deal to devoted fans.

Continue reading "TIMING IS EVERYTHING" »

October 08, 2007

LONG WAY HOME

Kasey Anderson talks about travel habits

Kasey_Anderson.jpg

Everyone has a road-trip checklist. Washington singer/songwriter Kasey Anderson is no different.

Continue reading "LONG WAY HOME" »

September 19, 2007

ALL FOR ONE

Barcelona is a group effort

Barcelona.jpg

Around the time he released his solo debut, 2005's Safety Songs, Brian Fennell noticed there was "an over-saturation of young, male, singer/songwriters."

That prompted the singer/guitarist/keyboardist to go for a band sound and identity, and so he formed the Seattle rock quartet Barcelona.

Continue reading "ALL FOR ONE" »

September 04, 2007

FIRST THINGS FIRST: BRYCE AVARY/THE ROCKET SUMMER

Rocket Summer.jpg

For his first major-label album, Do You Feel, Texas-bred Bryce Avary -- a.k.a. The Rocket Summer -- has hooked up with Island Records.

The 24-year-old pop-rock singer and multi-instrumentalist, who is on the road in September with The Academy Is …, recently reflected on some other musical firsts in his life.

Continue reading "FIRST THINGS FIRST: BRYCE AVARY/THE ROCKET SUMMER" »

August 22, 2007

Q&A: JOHNNY IRION

Johnny_Irion.jpg

"The whole record is about the title," says singer/songwriter Johnny Irion about his latest solo album, Ex Tempore (Rte 8/RCAM Records).

He's not kidding: Recording with various musicians (including his wife, Sarah Lee Guthrie), Irion worked off-the-cuff, with most arrangements done on the spot.

Continue reading "Q&A: JOHNNY IRION" »

August 16, 2007

SCHOOL'S OUT -- FOR NOW

The Lonely H graduates to extensive touring

The_Lonely_H.jpg

Just like thousands of other high school seniors across America, Mark Fredson couldn't wait to graduate in June.

He had big plans for the summer: touring the United States with some fellow graduates of Washington's Port Angeles High School.

Continue reading "SCHOOL'S OUT -- FOR NOW" »

August 06, 2007

PROMISE FULFILLED

Tokyo Rose curbs the urge to experiment

Tokyo Rose.jpg

There have been many notable entertainment duos through the years, and the way Tokyo Rose singer/guitarist Ryan Dominguez sees it, only TV's Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa is a better tandem than Fred Archambault and Mark Renk.

Continue reading "PROMISE FULFILLED" »

July 23, 2007

STEADY AS SHE GOES

Checking in with Cindy Wasserman

Dead Rock West.jpg

Only recently did her band release its first album, Honey and Salt (Populuxe), but Dead Rock West singer Cindy Wasserman is no rookie when it comes to music.

Continue reading "STEADY AS SHE GOES" »

July 16, 2007

FIRST THINGS FIRST -- ALISON SUDOL

Alison Sudol.jpg

Her band's first album, One Cell in the Sea, is due in stores July 17 via the Capitol Music Group. A Fine Frenzy leader Alison Sudol, 22, recently took time to discuss some of her other musical firsts.

Continue reading "FIRST THINGS FIRST -- ALISON SUDOL" »

July 02, 2007

AN INTENSE EXPERIENCE

Britt Daniel discusses the new Spoon album

Spoon_2 (2).JPG

On one hand, recording Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, the new Spoon album, was business as usual, according to leader Britt Daniel (second from left).

"I'm always just scrambling to make everything as cool as it can be and as great as it can be," he says, "so I'll try any theory or any strategy to get there."

Continue reading "AN INTENSE EXPERIENCE" »

June 18, 2007

A NATURAL PROG-RESSION

The Bad Plus shows a gentler side

The_Bad_Plus.jpg

It's common for jazz acts to interpret outside material, although songs by Black Sabbath, Nirvana, David Bowie and Tears for Fears are not typical choices.

Don’t tell that to The Bad Plus.

Continue reading "A NATURAL PROG-RESSION" »

June 01, 2007

SIGHTS AND SOUNDS

New Atlantic hones stage act, finds musical focus

New Atlantic.jpg

A singer's voice can't be 100 percent every night, and at some shows, it can be close to a whisper.

That's when a singer has to rely on showmanship.

Last month during the Bamboozle festival in East Rutherford, N.J., New Atlantic singer Giovanni Gianni, who was suffering from a sinus infection, had to rely on his stage smarts to get through his band's set.

Continue reading "SIGHTS AND SOUNDS " »

May 24, 2007

Q&A: RICHARD X. HEYMAN

Richard X Heyman.gif

Musicians generally are budget-challenged when making their first recordings, and Richard X. Heyman was no exception.

Continue reading "Q&A: RICHARD X. HEYMAN" »

May 01, 2007

BREAK ON THROUGH

Ari Hest endures delay of his second major-label album

Ari_Hest.JPG

When personnel changes at Columbia Records delayed the release of his second album for the label, Ari Hest decided to familiarize himself with Apple's GarageBand software.

The end result: an EP he recorded at home that Columbia released first.

"It's been a strange couple of years," the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based singer/songwriter/guitarist says.

Continue reading "BREAK ON THROUGH" »

April 02, 2007

RESIDENT O'CONNOR

Singer/songwriter schedules steady New York club gig

Jennifer O'Connor.jpg

Songs about "current, happy love situations" don't come to mind right away when talking about the Jennifer O'Connor catalog.

That might change in the near future.

Continue reading "RESIDENT O'CONNOR" »

March 12, 2007

SXSW '07 PREVIEW: PONDEROSA STOMP

The Ponderosa Stomp, the annual celebration of the unsung heroes of the blues, soul, rockabilly, swamp pop and New Orleans and Gulf Coast R&B, returns to the Crescent City on May 2 at the House of Blues after a year in exile in Memphis, Tenn.

"The Stomp is the ultimate jukebox -- all killer, no filler," says festival founder and producer Dr. Ike (Ike Padnos). "Everyone comes to play. The musicians see each other after 40 or 50 years. [Or] they have been hearing about each other for 50 years and never met. Where else would Oliver Morgan and Marshall Allen of Sun Ra's Arkestra be hanging out?

"The shows at SXSW were amazing. It was way too much fun. We got rave reviews. We definitely wanted to do it again but with a different look."

Continue reading "SXSW '07 PREVIEW: PONDEROSA STOMP" »

SXSW '07 PREVIEW: BLOODY HOLLIES

Bloody Hollies.jpg

Moving to California has not mellowed the Bloody Hollies at all, and that is a good thing. The group's new album, Who to Trust, Who to Kill, Who to Love, is its third and second for Alive Records, which is part of the Bomp! empire.

Continue reading "SXSW '07 PREVIEW: BLOODY HOLLIES" »

SXSW '07 PREVIEW: GONER RECORDS SHOWCASE

Boston Chinks.jpg

Sadly, most talk of record stores these days usually is about their demise as shops big and small are shuttered in the wake of Internet sales and downloading.

Fortunately that's not the case when talking about Goner Records.

Continue reading "SXSW '07 PREVIEW: GONER RECORDS SHOWCASE" »

March 10, 2007

SXSW '07 PREVIEW: LEEROY STAGGER

Leeroy Stagger.jpg

Canadian singer/songwriter Leeroy Stagger has racked up a lot of stage time in recent years. In fact, since October 2004, there have only been three months in which he didn't play at least one show.

Continue reading "SXSW '07 PREVIEW: LEEROY STAGGER" »

March 09, 2007

SXSW '07 PREVIEW: NORTON RECORDS SHOWCASE

Norton_Records.jpg

For 20 years, Norton Records in Brooklyn, N.Y, has been keeping alive the wild side of rock 'n' roll, whether it be crazy rockabilly, greasy R&B or garage rock.

Continue reading "SXSW '07 PREVIEW: NORTON RECORDS SHOWCASE" »

SXSW '07 PREVIEW: THE UGLY BEATS

Ugly_Beats.jpg

It's hard to be in an ugly mood when The Ugly Beats are rocking local Austin clubs. The quintet formed in 2003 and was filling dance floors across Texas with a mix of chops, hooks and strong songs.

Continue reading "SXSW '07 PREVIEW: THE UGLY BEATS" »

March 08, 2007

BACK ON THE SCENE

Australia’s Hoodoo Gurus set to tour America

Hoodoo_Gurus.jpg

Since regrouping in late 2003, the Hoodoo Gurus have focused on their home turf of Australia.

That will change this month when the band tours America for the first time in at least a dozen years.

Continue reading "BACK ON THE SCENE" »

March 01, 2007

ALL ABOARD

Jeff Golub mixes covers, originals on Grand Central

Jeff Golub.jpg

When it comes to covering a vocal song as an instrumental, guitarist Jeff Golub has his standards.

Continue reading "ALL ABOARD" »

February 15, 2007

CINEMATIC SOUNDS

Cult-classic film inspires new Drats!!! CD

Drats.jpg

The 1979 teen rebellion movie Over the Edge, while not a blockbuster or an Academy Award winner, has its share of die-hard fans, among them Drats!!! singer/keyboardist/bassist Chairman.

Continue reading "CINEMATIC SOUNDS" »

February 02, 2007

FIRST THINGS FIRST -- Blue October's Matt Noveskey

Blue_October.jpg

You never forget your first.

With that in mind, Blue October bassist Matt Noveskey recently took time out from the Texas rock band's latest batch of tour dates supporting Foiled (Universal) to recall five musical firsts in his life.

Continue reading "FIRST THINGS FIRST -- Blue October's Matt Noveskey " »

January 16, 2007

REACHING A TURNING POINT

Concert set is not just another album for Virginia Coalition

Virginia Coalition.jpg

A concert album can do wonders for an artist’s career.

For Peter Frampton and Cheap Trick, theirs from the 1970s made them superstars.

For Virginia Coalition, 2006's two-disc Live at the 9:30 Club could mark the start of multiple changes for the jam band.

Continue reading "REACHING A TURNING POINT" »

January 04, 2007

FAB PLANS

Pat DiNizio discusses new Smithereens disc, upcoming project

Pat_DiNizio.jpg

Despite his forays into satellite radio, movies and television in recent years, Pat DiNizio still considers himself to be a musician first and foremost.

"But I'm also an entertainer, and I'm also a conceptualist -- someone who enjoys putting projects together from scratch and seeing them brought to life," says the leader of The Smithereens.

Continue reading "FAB PLANS" »

December 13, 2006

'TIS HIS REASONS

Paul Weller recalls Band Aid, looks ahead to U.S. shows in 2007

Paul Weller_2.jpg

Sometimes putting the greater good ahead of one's personal taste is the right thing to do.

That's essentially what Paul Weller did when he agreed to participate in the making of "Do They Know It's Christmas?" -- the star-studded 1984 famine relief single credited to Band Aid.

Continue reading "'TIS HIS REASONS" »

December 11, 2006

TOP ALBUMS OF 2006

It's time to recap the best discs of 2006, and here are the picks from Medleyville staffers.

Continue reading "TOP ALBUMS OF 2006" »

December 01, 2006

LIFE AFTER MORCHEEBA

Set free from the group, Skye stands on her own two feet

Skye.JPG

Dismissal from a band isn't always a dramatic Hollywood-type scene complete with shouting, shoving and/or expletives.

Sometimes it happens via an ordinary phone call, which is how it went for ex-Morcheeba singer Syke Edwards, now a surname-less solo artist.

Continue reading "LIFE AFTER MORCHEEBA" »

November 27, 2006

EVERY SECOND COUNTS

Brevity is key to Exercise1 benefit CD

50minutes.jpg

A big part of songwriting is knowing what to leave in and what to leave out.

And that's really important when there's an imposed limit on song length.

Continue reading "EVERY SECOND COUNTS" »

November 20, 2006

HIS LATEST EXPERIMENT

Jeremy Enigk resumes solo career with World Waits

Jeremy Enigk_2.jpg

Musicians usually hate when their work is categorized. But record companies do just that for marketing and promotional purposes.

Jeremy Enigk, best known for his work with the bands Sunny Day Real Estate and Fire Theft, might have to change his thinking now that he's running his own label, Lewis Hollow Records.

Continue reading "HIS LATEST EXPERIMENT" »

November 01, 2006

SPINNING HER WEB

Sandi Thom effectively uses the Internet to advance her career

Sandi Thom.jpg

There are hometown shows, and then there are shows in your home.

In February, Scotland native Sandi Thom began a 21-night run of performances in the basement of her flat in Tooting, South London.

Continue reading "SPINNING HER WEB" »

October 27, 2006

BETTER LATE THAN NEVER

Fags' full-length debut finally sees light of day

The_Fags.jpg

Over an exasperating two-plus years, The Fags signed a major-label record deal, completed their full-length debut album only to have it shelved indefinitely amid corporate reshuffling, and were quietly dropped by the company. But that doesn't mean the Detroit trio came away with nothing from the experience.

Continue reading "BETTER LATE THAN NEVER" »

October 19, 2006

IT'S PARTY TIME

Val Emmich returns to his indie roots

Val Emmich.jpg

Val Emmich says he has mostly fond memories of his time with the New Jersey bands Ben Trovato and Awake Asleep.

"I was hanging with my best friends in the world and just being creative," recalls the 26-year-old Emmich. "I am very nostalgic for those times."

He doesn't feel the same way about his stint with Epic Records, which re-released his full-length solo debut, Slow Down Kid, in October 2004.

Continue reading "IT'S PARTY TIME" »

October 12, 2006

HAVING A BALL

Actor Jeff Daniels takes his hobby on the road

Jeff Daniels.jpg

In 2003, the year his beloved Detroit Tigers lost 119 games, actor Jeff Daniels wrote a song called "The Lifelong Tiger Fan Blues."

But every now and then, tunes -- just like movies -- have sequels.

"When the team got good [this year], that [first] song had to be retired," says Daniels, who considers music to be a hobby and has been writing songs for more than 30 years. "And the deeper we got into the [2006] season, the more I realized the Tigers were for real, so I rewrote it."

Continue reading "HAVING A BALL" »

October 04, 2006

SIRIUS BUSINESS

The Kennedys are enjoying their satellite radio show

The Kennedys.jpg

If Pete and Maura Kennedy aren't performing music, chances are they are playing music.

The folk-rock couple, on tour in support of Songs of the Open Road (Appleseed Recordings), also serve as weekend hosts on Sirius Satellite Radio's Disorder station (channel 24).

Continue reading "SIRIUS BUSINESS" »

September 18, 2006

ACCENT ON THE POSITIVE

America's Anderson Council digs English rock sounds

Anderson Council_2.jpg

The next British Invasion is being launched from New Jersey.

The Anderson Council, out of New Brunswick, delivers a tightly wrapped mix of psych and power-pop on its second album, The Fall Parade, released this summer on Groove Disques. The band gets its name from the surnames leftover from when Pink Floyd took its name from old-time blues musicians Pink Anderson and Floyd Council. Early Floyd, not surprisingly, is a prime influence.

Continue reading "ACCENT ON THE POSITIVE" »

September 01, 2006

MARCHING TO HER OWN TUNES

Songwriter Maia Sharp's latest chapter: a self-released CD

Maia_Sharp.jpg

Maia Sharp has a multifaceted music career, but if she had to hang her hat on just one skill, it would be songwriter.

"It's the thing that I can identify with the most," she says. "It's the thing that I love the most. If I had to choose one, if I could only do one, it would be writing, which is probably why that's the one that's succeeded the most."

Continue reading "MARCHING TO HER OWN TUNES" »

August 30, 2006

CELEBRITY DUETS PREMIERE

Aug. 29, 2006

Fox's Celebrity Duets, the latest creation from American Idol judge Simon Cowell, made its premiere Aug. 29. The basic concept is this: "Celebs" with some degree of singing talent are matched with two different music "legends," chosen at random before the episode.

Wayne Brady.jpg

The celebrities compete and one is voted off every week by the viewers at home. (For the first episode, the judges decided who was ousted.) The duet partners change from week to week. Wayne Brady (above) is the host; the judges are Marie Osmond, Little Richard and David Foster. The winning celeb gets $100,000 for charity.

Here is Mike Madden’s recap of the first episode:

Continue reading "CELEBRITY DUETS PREMIERE" »

August 01, 2006

ALL COVERED

Grant-Lee Phillips revisits some '80s rock faves

Grant-Lee Phillips.jpg

For fans as well as musicians, fashion goes hand in hand with rock 'n' roll, and Grant-Lee Phillips went through his share of looks during the 1980s.

"I probably tried them all on at one point," recalls the singer/songwriter/guitarist. "I had a few shirts with French cuffs [like R.E.M.'s Peter Buck], for sure. That was part of it -- looking for your identity."

Continue reading "ALL COVERED" »

July 17, 2006

THE WAY HE WANTS IT

After major success, Glen Phillips takes indie solo route

Glen Phillips.jpg

Solo tours oftentimes are just that for Glen Phillips, who found fame in the 1990s with Toad the Wet Sprocket.

Continue reading "THE WAY HE WANTS IT" »

June 15, 2006

LETTING IT FLY

Disco Biscuits strut their stuff on new concert set

Disco Biscuits.jpg

Just like with a studio effort, attention to detail is essential when recording a concert album.

"I think one of the hardest things to do when you release any live album is [to] capture the energy that really only exists at the actual concert," says keyboardist/singer Aron Magner of the Philadelphia-based jam band the Disco Biscuits, whose The Wind at Four to Fly (Diamond Riggs/Sci Fidelity Records) was released in April.

Continue reading "LETTING IT FLY" »

April 24, 2006

Q&A: JOHN GROS/PAPA GROWS FUNK

Papa Grows Funk.jpg

The official Web site for the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival describes the annual event as a "cultural feast" showcasing "unforgettable music."

Papa Grows Funk leader John Gros (above left) believes there is more to this year's edition than just eats and entertainment.

Continue reading "Q&A: JOHN GROS/PAPA GROWS FUNK" »

April 04, 2006

Q&A: BRANDI CARLILE

Brandi Carlile_2.jpg

Singer/songwriter/guitarist Brandi Carlile has come a long way since her days backing an Elvis Presley impersonator. That said, she admits to panicking last month when k.d. lang dropped by to watch her perform.

Continue reading "Q&A: BRANDI CARLILE" »

March 13, 2006

A BLONDE'S AMBITION

Tina Dico shoots for U.S. success

Tina Dico_2.jpg

The SXSW music festival/conference attracts artists from all corners of the world, and among the acts heading to Austin, Texas, this year is singer/songwriter Tina Dico, a native of Arhus, Denmark.

Continue reading "A BLONDE'S AMBITION" »

March 10, 2006

RHETT MILLER

March 7, 2006
Vintage Vinyl -- Fords, N.J.

Rhett Miller_1.jpg

An apology, a spirited set and constant crowd interaction can go a long way in making up for a late start.

Continue reading "RHETT MILLER" »

February 13, 2006

NAME RECOGNITION

Talking with the artist simply known as Lou

Lou.jpg

Madonna. Prince. Cher. Lou.

Unfamiliar with the last performer? With some notable names attached to his latest album, The Other Side (Cornerworld Records), and a promotional push in full swing, the surname-free pianist/producer from Massachusetts is hoping that changes.

Continue reading "NAME RECOGNITION" »

January 23, 2006

FINDING HER WAY

Harvard student Catherine Tuttle releases second album

Catherine Tuttle.jpg

It's not uncommon for athletes to drop out of college for a pro career and leave their pursuit of a degree in the dust.

Plenty of musicians have done the same thing, too, but singer/songwriter/pianist Catherine Tuttle, a 19-year-old freshman at Harvard University, doesn't plan to add her name to the list.

Continue reading "FINDING HER WAY" »

January 06, 2006

STORYTIME: DAN ZANES

Dan_Zanes.jpg

One musician was on the rise, the other at the peak of his popularity. And one night in the mid-1980s, their worlds collided, as Dan Zanes, leader of the up-and-coming band The Del Fuegos, shared the stage with superstar Bruce Springsteen.

Continue reading "STORYTIME: DAN ZANES" »

December 12, 2005

PREDICTIONS FOR 2006

What’s in store for 2006? George Henn and Chris M. Junior take a look into the future.

Continue reading "PREDICTIONS FOR 2006" »

AND I QUOTE '05

Memorable lines as told to www.medleyville.us during 2005.

Continue reading "AND I QUOTE '05" »