YARN @ NYC's American Beauty

Yarn photo by Todd Chalfant

Yarn photo by Todd Chalfant

Yarn played NYC's American Beauty last night. Check out our review HERE.

Yarn is an Americana band from Brooklyn, New York. The band formed in Brooklyn back in the mid 2000's and started playing shows in New York City every Monday night at Kenny's Castaways and every Wednesday night at Hill Country BBQ.

Yarn consists of Blake Christiana (Acoustic Guitar and Lead Vocals), Rod Hohl (Electric Guitar and Backing Vocals), Trevor MacArthur (Acoustic Guitar and Backing Vocals), Rick Bugel (Upright Bass), and Bobby Bonhomme (Drums).

Yarn shows are a bit different from the norm. The band feeds off the energy of the crowd and plays whatever they feel like playing. They don't use a setlist. It's crazy but makes for a unique one of a kind experience. Some songs clock in at three minutes and others clock in at 20 minutes. It could be a sing along, classic country, or even disco.

Yarn mixes a lot of different musical styles to create their signature sound. They don't follow any trends or write top 40 hits. They just do their own thing. They sound like they came out in 1972 rather then 2017. The band follows the Grateful Dead with epically long jam sessions. The best way to describe it is to go out to their shows and experience it for yourself.

 

Interview with zerrissen era

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Check out my interview with Arctic musician zerrissen era HERE.

zerrissen era is an indie multi-instrumentalist who crafts his eclectic songs in the harsh Arctic environment. During the winter months, he records in an amploo (an igloo lined with amplifiers) and in a Laavo during the summer. These studio spaces create a unique and ethereal sound. 

Check out his music! An album purchase helps fund the Arctic.

www.zerrissenera.com

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Briana Biatto

Briana Biatto is our first industry professional to be featured in the Know Your Pros section. Check out her story HERE.

Briana Biatto is a fitness instructor turned pop artist that has combined her passions to create the new genre, PopFit. The PopFit genre offers a variety of musical styles to workout to. It's not going to be limited to just peppy pop tunes. The fierce pop princess hopes to inspire healthier lifestyles through the power of optimism. 

"My theory is the more people in this world that can learn to love themselves, know their worth and really appreciate the person God made them to be then their relationships are going to change," said Biatto.

Check out her page for personal training sessions.

Check out her ReverbNation page for music.

THROWBACK: Backstreet Boys

Backstreet Boys are our Throwback Thursday band!

Check out my THROWBACK review of their official documentary and Top 5 songs.

Next year marks Backstreet's 25th anniversary. Over 130 million records sold worldwide has earned BSB the title of the best selling boy band of all time. The boys are still going as strong as ever. No tour dates have been announced yet. You can still catch their Las Vegas residency from November until February 2018.

Tickets HERE.

Backstreet Boys are even offering special Meet N Greet tickets! Get yours before they sell out!

ALBUM REVIEW: The Rationales - Upstream

Written by Jessica Klausing

“Go for what I’m after. Never mind disaster. Give the past a future. Where I find-- I’m ready to go!” This opening line on “Ready to Go” is the heart of The Rationales’ new album, Upstream. With songs of loss, regret, nostalgia, and longing David Mirabella makes you feel like you’re riding shotgun with him on the back roads in New England as he tells his stories.

Right off, you’ll notice David’s voice. It’s dreamy. It’s that reassuring voice you want to hear during an emergency protocol. Backed with Sean Black (bass), Mike Mirabella (drums), Chad Raleigh (guitars), David Lieb (keyboards), and Adam Hand (pedal steel), The Rationales deliver a lush rock sound that’s artistically conscious of Powerpop, Alternative Country, Americana, and the Blues, to name a few.

The sound of the electrifying guitar opener, “Ready to Go” is not your granddaddy’s rock n’ roll! This is driving, swirling with electronic sounds and heavy beats. That ripping guitar solo at the 1:52 mark gets the adrenaline pumped up for the rest of the album.

“Trade You” takes the rhythm into Dire Straits territory. That infectious groove takes hold and refuses to let go. It’s easily my favorite off the album. Beyond the sultry guitar licks are the melancholic lyrics. “I’ll trade you for your loss. I’ll trade you for your lies. I’ll trade you for your silence this time.” The song deals with someone always wanting to trade misfortunes with others. Think of it as those people who overshare on social media.

The album shifts gears for “Under the Gun,” a somber country tune about growing up to face responsibility. “All the While” kicks things up a notch again. David Lieb shines on this track with his saloon piano styling. The attitude and style of the track gives it a swanky 50’s rock vibe. “I’ve been lucky all along. Always getting what I want. You’re an ocean. I am open to be sinking like a stone.” Oh yeah, it's got plenty of attitude.

Another highlight was “Climb the Ladder,” which has seamless instrumental transitions. The song starts with an Americana sound as it segues into a piano breakdown. Mike Mirabella’s vocals layered over the piano chords gives it a haunting touch. It’s slow moving, but that changes as it gradually intensifies and gets a screaming guitar solo brought into it.

“Take a Ride with Me” gets back to the country roots found earlier in the album; Only this time a bit more Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers-esque. The song shows a desire to take a chance with someone or just take a ride to just see where it goes.

The final track “Dulcinea” is an emotional resonant song. David croons about a person so consumed with their own nostalgia that the fantasy takes over reality. Upon first listen my thoughts went straight to Miguel De Cervantes’ Don Quixote. A story of a man’s quest based solely on his mental exaggeration.

Upstream proves that The Rationales are well-seasoned musicians who love what they do. The guitar work on this album is on point with its electrifying riffs and solos that are just jaw dropping. Right from the opener I enjoyed the anticipation of what would come next. Give it a listen on your next road trip excursion.

The album will be available on August 3rd. You can pre-order now on the band's bandcamp.

The Rationales are having a special album release show on Aug 3rd at the Middle East in Cambridge, MA. Get your tickets HERE.

Recommended Tracks: "Ready to Go," "Trade You," "All the While," "Climb the Ladder," and "Dulcinea."
 

ALBUM REVIEW: Jourdan Myers - Ruin Me With Love

Written by Jessica Klausing

Jourdan Myers taps into an underrated pop territory. Many pop artists don’t venture too far from Electronica but Myers dares to explore. Her record weaves through Broadway, Industrial Rock, Classical, and bluesy anthems. Ruin Me With Love is a piano heavy, lyrically driven power punch about her struggles and the inner strength to persevere.

The piano rockin’ opener, “Lifetime or Before” sets the bar high for the album. The song is a fun, upbeat pop tune worthy of radio play. Myers’ angelic vocal chops soar over the heavy beats much like a Sara Bareilles song.

Myers breaks out her inner blueswoman for “Push Me on the Playground.” The song alludes to a childhood bully during recess. “Recess has become my worst enemy/You hide behind your smile now but soon you will be found out.” Well timed finger snaps, foot stomps, and percussion make up the back beat. The saxophone solo drives it into a fierce Jazz territory towards the end.

“Firelight” waxes the romantic poetic with “Dance me with your eyes. Sing me with your song. Drown me in your flood. Burn me with your fire. Quench my one desire. Ruin me with love.” Upon closer listen this song might not be as sweet as you think. The theme seems to touch on our animal magnetism towards falling in love.

“The Fight” stood out for its mechanical production. The song uses war imagery to metaphor overcoming any challenge. The tempo intensifies with Myers’ dramatic storytelling: “Charging up the hill and advancing with a yell and going for the kill.” With every gunshot and boisterous boom, you can just close your eyes and see a battle come to life.

“Wanderlust” returned to the piano-powered roots. This song was like a spirited continuation to the opening track. The album shifts gears again for “End of Me.” The intro crackles like an old phonograph but then rolls right into another somber waltz.

My favorite song is “Dusty Roses.” The song is a peppy little Broadway-esque tune about moving on from life’s disappointments. You just can’t help but sing-a-long to “You swear one of a kind, big blue eyes your heart is his forever but he is gone and in a storm with nothing left to sever. These thorns are in your side. Why the hesitation?”

The final track “Slow Motion” sounds like a continuation from the previous track, “Be Here.” The song digs into more mechanical background sounds. Personally, I tend to favor these tracks. I hope that Myers will expand more into the industrial side of the pop genre.

The album is compelling – Myers’ vocals are pitch perfect, the instrumentation is graceful and the lyrics are sweet and sharp.  I’m eager to see where Myers’ musical evolution will take us on the next record.

Recommended Tracks: “Lifetime or Before,” “Long Days,” “Push Me on the Playground,” “The Fight,” “Voice of Silver,” “Dusty Roses,” and “Slow Motion.”

Umphrey's McGee @ Central Park, NYC

Umphrey's McGee is one of the best live jam bands that I have listened to. Last year, My friend played "Cemetery Walk 2" off of one of their Hall of Fame albums for me. I'm convinced that catchy tune has changed my life. It's just pure feel good music. 

To quote my friend: "Whether you're a fan of Prog Rock, Heavy Metal, Psychedelic, Funk, Jazz or Electronic music-- Umphrey's McGee has you covered. The band easily weaves its way through lots of different musical styles sometimes all within the same song to create a sound all their own."

Check out his brief REVIEW.

Interview with Victor Krummenacher of Monks Of Doom

I remember the first time that I listened to Monks Of Doom. Their album, Meridian, caught my wondering eye at the local music store. This album sounds like a psychedelic journey into a dark circus. I became hooked and had to get all of their albums. Each album spawns a different psychedelic journey through different worlds. 

Twenty years later, the Monks are back with a new album, The Bronte Pin.

Victor Krummenacher of Monks Of Doom and Camper Van Beethoven took time to chat about his new music and more. 

Check out my INTERVIEW.

 

Kingdom Hearts Orchestra--World Tour

A Kingdom Hearts Orchestra World Tour!?! Be still my beating heart.

Disney Concerts, Square Enix, and La Fee Sauvage have teamed up to bring this magical world of Disney and Final Fantasy to life! Celebrating its 15th anniversary, the Kingdom Hearts Orchestra brings together the game's director Tetsuya Nomura and composer Yoko Shimomura. Exclusive scenes and surprise appearances await fans on this spine-tingling adventure.

Check out my REVIEW.

You can purchase your tickets HERE.

Kingdom Hearts Orchestra World Tour Dates:

Singapore – May 6 & 7, 2017 – Esplanade Concert Hall (Singapore) 

Kuala Lumpur – May 13, 2017 - Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (Malaysia) 

Hong Kong- May 21, 2017 - AsiaWorld-Expo Runway 11

Los Angeles – June 10, 11 & 14, 2017 – Dolby Theatre (USA)

New York – June 24, 2017 – United Palace Theatre (USA)

Osaka – July 8, 2017 – ORIX Theatre (Tokyo)

 

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band: No Issues With The Re-issues

Written by Brody Duggson

On May 26, 2017, the lyric “Twenty years ago today” turned fifty years old. 

The Beatles released Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band on May 26, 1967.  It was a Friday.  The album came out in the United States a week later. 

Why is this album so important?  Why should you care what four musicians did before you were born?  Before your parents were born?

What’s so important about music released prior to the advent of the internet and the rise of personal computers?  Why bother with an album that was recorded on magnetic tape and originally mixed in mono?

You should care because Sgt. Pepper is the greatest album of all-time.  Even if you don’t think it’s the greatest album of all-time, it’s been regarded as the greatest album of all-time for half-a-century.

It was the ipso facto start of the Summer of Love, a milestone for Baby Boomers, and the culture apex of the 1960s.

It was the first rock album to win a Grammy Award for Album of the Year.  It has sold more than 32 million copies.

In 2011, Rolling Stone magazine put it first on their list of the “500 Greatest Albums of All-time.”

If your favorite artist has ever recorded a concept album, or used the studio as an instrument, they owe a debt to Sgt. Pepper.  The album didn’t necessarily invent those techniques, but it certainly popularized them.

Therefore Sgt. Pepper has influenced, either directly or indirectly, current artists as diverse as U2, Green Day, and even Lady Gaga.

In fact, music historians often credit Sgt. Pepper with starting the “album era.”  If we accept this accomplishment, then the sphere of the opus’ influence increases even more.

Sgt. Pepper legitimize rock as an art form.  It laid the foundation for progressive rock and was the zenith of British psychedelia. 

Songs from Sgt. Pepper have been successfully covered by numerous big-name artists including Elton John, The Flaming Lips, Cheap Trick, Patti Smith, Sonic Youth, Thievery Corporation, Gomez, and Billy Brag.

It has survived half-a-century.  Not many things survive five decades.

Think about this: recordings celebrating their 50th anniversaries in 1967 were Billy Murray’s "Over There" and "Livery Stable Blues”—the first commercial jazz recording. 

There were no 50-year-old albums in 1967.  The album format was invented in 1952.

It’s highly likely that Sgt. Pepper will be celebrated in 2067.  Do you think the same can be said for Ed Sheeran’s Divide, Katy Perry’s Witness, or The Chainsmokers' Memories... Do Not Open?  No offense to those artists, but probably not.

Beyond all those accolades, it’s just a damn good record.  From the title track to its closer, “A Day in The Life,” the album has no weaknesses.  Every song is a classic.

To commemorate its 50th anniversary, Sgt. Pepper has been reissued via four versions: a single CD, a double CD set, a double vinyl collection, and a super deluxe edition that contains six discs.

Giles Martin, son of the Beatles producer, George Martin, went back to the original masters and made a stereo remix out of Sgt. Pepper’s original mono mix. 

The Beatles participated in the original mono mix.  They did not participate in the stereo mix.  So, this 50th anniversary edition allows fans to listen to Sgt. Pepper’s the way the band intended it to be heard (but in stereo).

If your budget allows, pick up the super deluxe edition.  It contains three discs of outtakes, instrumental versions, and mono mixes. 

These extra tracks reveal the genius of the Fab Four and provide listeners a glimpse into how the greatest album in the history of rock and roll was created. 

Longtime fans, many of whom bought the album when it first came out, have been blown away by the extras.  Fans are hearing sounds, riffs, and phrases they’ve never heard before.

The reason behind these sonic discoveries lies in how the Beatles recorded their music.  They played like an orchestra, with each instrument performing a different part.  When heard without the vocals, the songs of Sgt. Pepper sound very different.

For example, the chorus of their psychedelic masterpiece, “Lucy in The Sky with Diamonds,” sounds like garage rock sans John Lennon’s singing. 

That transformation, and others like it, allow longtime fans to experience the Beatles’ masterpiece in an entirely new way.  For new fans, the extras are a master class on how to make a rock album that’s impervious to the ravages of time.

If you’re a music fan, Sgt. Pepper’s should be in your collection.  The 50th anniversary re-issue is the perfect place to start.  It doesn’t detract from the original, it adds to it.

 

U2 on The Joshua Tree tour

The Edge photo by Harlene Dryden.

The Edge photo by Harlene Dryden.

U2 is currently on tour this summer celebrating the 30th anniversary of The Joshua Tree and performing the album in full from start to finish.

Yes, you read correctly!

These Irish rockers are performing their landmark 1987 album at a city near you. Songs like "Red Hill Mining Town" are finally getting played live. This is not a drill!

Check out my REVIEW.

Not a fan of standing around in line all day? Check out the VIP package. VIP members get early access into the venue, free food and beverages (Alcohol is not free), and a raffle for a chance at winning a backstage tour (I was one number off from winning! ONE!) and The Edge's guitar strings (They make stylish bracelets and necklaces). 

Interview with Justin Levinson

Growing up, 60's music was a staple in my household. While all the other kids followed 90's artists, I was engrossed with the classics.  I can fondly remember listening to The Monkees, The Beatles, and The Beach Boys on the way to school. There was such purity in the music back then. The focus was all about the lyrics and instrumentals. Sadly, this innocence is lost within most of today's top hits.

Justin Levinson is one of the few musicians that dare to dig back into the golden era of music. His newest album, Yes Man is a 60's stylized power pop that tells the story of a lost soul taken advantage by only being able to say yes. Levinson draws from his own personal experiences to make music that's authentic to him.

Check out my interview with Justine Levinson HERE. We discuss his new music, musical inspirations, and tour plans.

Essence at Hollywood's Hotel Cafe

Essence photo by Jessica Klausing

Essence photo by Jessica Klausing

"Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent." -Victor Hugo

This quote has been in my head since I started this concert review. Music is an effective outlet for communication. I find it easier to express myself through a song or score than in person. It's also cheaper than therapy. I tend to fixate on the lyrics. Allusions are always fun but I can appreciate someone who just tells it like it is.

My musician friend invited me to check out Essence at Hotel Cafe last week. I fell in love with this singer-songwriter's bluntness upon first listen.  Her Nashville rich voice takes you on a folk journey through finding yourself after heartbreak. 

Check out my concert review HERE

Blake Morgan & Janita Return to Hollywood's Hotel Cafe

Blake Morgan and Janita. Photo by Jessica Klausing

Blake Morgan and Janita. Photo by Jessica Klausing

I discovered Blake Morgan through his #IRespectMusic Campaign.

This ethical movement has gained nationwide support in favor of the Artist Pay for Radio Play Act. Morgan stands firmly behind that all artists deserve to be paid for their work. He's a recording artist, record producer, and founder and owner of the ECR Music Group. He runs ECR under the moral principle that all of its artists and labels own one-hundred percent of their master recordings.

While on a national tour, Blake Morgan and Janita played a double headliner at Hollywood's famed Hotel Cafe last year. I was in awe of these two artists. Both are powerful vocalists with different musical genres but just click beautifully together.

This year, I was in glee to see the two returning for another gig at Hotel Cafe. I'm convinced that these two just get better each tour! I refer to these artists as the dynamic duo.

Blake Morgan has a bell pure vocal delivery, haunting lyrics, and is a graceful guitar and keyboard virtuoso.

His touring partner, Janita is a Finnish American singer-songwriter who has released her most recent album, Didn't You My Dear, through the ECR Music Group. She has a stunning blueswoman voice with a stellar guitar talent. 

Together they are simply magic.

Check out my concert review HERE.

Mimosa Music Series - Mt. Joy & Chuck Prophet and the Mission Express

Chuck Prophet photo by Jessica Klausing

Chuck Prophet photo by Jessica Klausing

I decided to spend my rainy Sunday afternoon in North Hollywood. Two things I learned:

1. LA drivers will always be the worst.

2. Gary Calamar hosts his free Mimosa Music Series once a month at NoHo's Federal Bar.

The Mimosa Music Series are lots of fun for music lovers of all ages! The event started out of Calamar's living room in Laurel Canyon but had to be relocated due to high attendance. Patrons may purchase a brunch or snack on the free bagels. Each month showcases talented local singer-songwriters. January featured Mt.Joy and Chuck Prophet and the Mission Express.

Mt. Joy is an upcoming folkish acoustic jam band making waves. "Astrovan" has already received an impressive 230,000 streams in just 10 days on Spotify. The duo is currently hard at work on an EP. Their lyrical metaphors and soulful ballads are not to be missed.

Chuck Prophet and the Mission Express are another Bay Area music legend on my radar. This band does not disappoint! Prophet plays old fashioned rock n' roll. The kind that takes you back to memorable melodies, vibrant instrumentals, thoughtful lyrics, and a whole lot of passion for the sake of the song! 

Read my concert review HERE.

Ryan Beaver and Dan Layus at the Troubadour

Ryan Beaver and Dan Layus played hauntingly beautiful sets at West Hollywood's Troubadour. Check out my review HERE.

Dan Layus photo by Jessica Klausing

Dan Layus photo by Jessica Klausing

I'll be the first to admit it-- I'm not much of an Augustana fan! I have seen them on tour a couple of times and the music just did not click for me. My music buddy Eric was the one that encouraged me to give Dan Layus's solo album a listen.

I was a bit hesitant at first but found myself quickly engrossed with Dangerous Things. The title track song blew me away with Layus's delicate vocals accompanied with the pedal steel and fiddle. The more I listened the more I fell in love with Layus. His vocals are tender enough to show off his vulnerability. You feel the heartbreak in "Destroyer," "Only Gets Darker," and "Call Me When You Get There." The minimal production really enhances the intimate experience.

Seeing Dan Layus live was as much of a treat as listening to his album. You can hear the sincerity in his voice, the lyrics paint a vivid picture of love and regret, and his melodies are simply beautiful. It really feels like he is playing just for you.

Another surprise of the night was the opener Ryan Beaver. An upcoming artist with a voice as big as his heart. If you love Americana and Roots then you are destined to love both of these artists!

DTCV & Guided by Voices at the Teragram Ballroom

DTCV and Guided by Voices rocked out the Teragram Ballroom in downtown LA! Check out my concert review HERE.

Guided by Voices perform at the Teragram Ballroom. Photo by Jessica Klausing

Guided by Voices perform at the Teragram Ballroom. Photo by Jessica Klausing

Guided by Voices may require a second listen. You'll notice that most of the songs are short or end abruptly with poor sound quality. Robert Pollard records his music like this on purpose. The band might not seem like much other than some bizarre experimentalists upon first listen.

I encourage everyone to re-listen to them but more closely. Pollard gets to the heart of the message instantly. No industry filler. No over-the-top lyrical metaphors. No bullshit. He just simply spits it out. The sound is heavily influenced by British post-punk and psychedelic rock. Pollard's work is a surrealist art form. He's brash with no interest to fit into the cookie cutter mold of rock perfection. Thankfully we still have a rebel in the music industry!

"Window Of My World" from Half Smiles Of The Decomposed is my favorite Guided by Voices song. Not all of their music is quirky and loud. Some of them have beautiful compositions. This band deserves a listen.

The Outlaw Roadshow-NYC Review (Part 3)

Written by Jessica Klausing

                                                       Original art by Man On Fire Design

                                                       Original art by Man On Fire Design

Day 3: The Final Installment

Saturday was the last night of the Outlaw Roadshow in the Big Apple. This night promised fans more surprises and great music. You can bet that no one went home disappointed! It would be difficult to pick which night was the best. Each night these bands have shared something special with the fans.

Live music has a way of making you forget about everything going on in your life.  It allows personal reflection without judgment. It’s that feeling of being surrounded by like-minded souls. It’s a spiritual journey through suffering and redemption that makes us who we are as people. This generates the dynamic energy shared between the bands and fans during a performance. This type of energy cannot be felt through a recording; It's what fuels a musician to push their artistic boundaries. It’s that moment of being able to watch something creative happen and transform right before your eyes. It is what makes live music an incredible experience.

These eight bands have honed their skills in their respective genres and brought an electrifying close to this action packed weekend at The Bowery Electric.

Click on the links below to read the other two Outlaw NYC reviews:

DAY ONE

DAY TWO

 

Tony Roberts

Tony Roberts. Photo credit by Jessica Klausing

Tony Roberts. Photo credit by Jessica Klausing

“This ocean has my soul/ Long lost love that won’t let go,” is a lyric in “Siren Song” that's the heart of Tony Roberts’s music. His laid-back vocals paired with his acoustic guitar make his music ideal for a lazy day at the beach with an ice-cold margarita in hand. His musical style stood out among the other Outlaw bands.

This Key West singer/songwriter attributes his sound to his time spent on the surf scene in Costa Rica. While he may have the sound of Jack Johnson and Michael Franti, his songwriting is closer to that of Bob Dylan. Roberts identifies the average man's worries but with a positive outlook. 

Recommended Tracks:

Siren Song: “Siren Song,” Dreams of Gold,” “The Only Thing Missing,” “The Same Old Stupid Love,” and “A Damn Cold December.” 

 

The Rationales

The Rationales venture outside of the indie rock norm. The dreamy orchestration make up the power pop melody while the ripping guitars proudly show off the alt-country roots. The band considers themselves simply rock N’ roll.  David Mirabella’s lush vocal delivery compliments well within a softer ballad like "Ruby Colored Halo" and the more hard rockin' songs like "Radio."

These guys are an absolute joy to watch live. Mirabella pours his soul into heartfelt lyrics and channels passion through his guitar. When asked about the thought process behind their music, David Mirabella responded, “I just start playing guitar and let my subconscious thoughts take over.”

Recommended Tracks:

The Going and The Gone: “Guardrail,” “Far Away,” “On the Vine,” and “Ruby Colored Halo.”

The Distance In Between: “Real Life,” “Jaded,” “Burned Again,” “Try to Tell Me,” “Tongue-Tied,” and “The One You Wanted.”

Dream of Fire: “Drunk all the time,” “Radio” and “Let it Go.”

 

Star Anna

Star Anna performs "Dancing in the Dark." Photo credit by Jessica Klausing.

Star Anna performs "Dancing in the Dark." Photo credit by Jessica Klausing.

Star Anna’s stage presence was a sheer vision of mystery. She donned a large black hat that hid most of her face in the dimly lit Map Room while her voice cried out the lonesome blues that has put her heart through the wringer.

Her Bruce Springsteen cover of “Dancing in the Dark” gave the upbeat song a dreary air of nostalgia. Star Anna’s performance will take you on a journey through how to heal after hitting rock bottom.

Recommended Tracks:

Light in The Window: “Light in the Window,” “Big Bad Wolf,” “3X3,” “Everything You Know,” and “Down to the Bottom.”

 

Kirby Brown

Within the theme of being misunderstood comes Kirby Brown. In the song "Joni," Brown sings of a woman that claims she's an open book when in reality, she's aloof. Brown uses allusion and his hometown inspiration as the tools for his poetic narrative style. 

I found Brown’s performance quite engaging and charming. He does not try to come across as something he is not. Instead, Brown shines with his acoustic guitar and modest vocals. His overall sound is a delicate balance between country and bluegrass.  

Recommended Tracks:

Child Of Calamity: “Young! Young! Young!,” “No…My Generation,” “Coattails,” “Talk,” and “Throw You Away.”

 

Julie Rhodes

Photo credit by ROBERTO TERRONES 

Photo credit by ROBERTO TERRONES 

I discovered Julie Rhodes thanks to my die-hard music friend Eric. We had listened to her album, Bound To Meet The Devil all the way to the venue. A powerhouse voice with the soul of Billie Holiday, the grit of Janis Joplin and the charm of Bonnie Raitt all rolled into one. Her live performance is as mesmerizing as her album.

Rhodes’s prowess will have you throwin’ your hand up and declarin’ ‘Hallelujah’ to her gospel cries! “Faith” offers a positive message about holding on through the dark days. Her soulful hums and crackling guitar riffs ignite her fiery passion.

Recommended Tracks:

Bound To Meet The Devil: “In Your Garden,” “Faith,” “Hey Stranger,” “Holes,” “See the Sun,” and “Skyscraper Blues.”

 

Town Meeting

Photo credit to HOWL Magazine

Photo credit to HOWL Magazine

Town Meeting is an Americana folk band with music that serves as the soundtrack for the small-town underdog destined for something great. “But if we know who we are, who can tell us what we’re not” in “If This Were a Movie,” offers the inspirational message of being true to yourself. Their story-driven lyrics and gorgeous harmonies rank them in the same league with folk legends The Avett Brothers.

The song “Phoenix” shows off what this band is capable of with their sensitivity to lyrical content and musical arrangements. The lyric “California isn’t what I thought it’d be when I put myself inside a plane and left my family,” was made more heartbreaking with a bluesy harmonica and a simple guitar strum.

Recommended Tracks:

If I Die: “Time,” “Verge,” “If This Were a Movie,” “Phoenix,” “Wash My Hands,” “Digging,” and “Orange and Reds.”

 

Matt York

Matt York’s music teeters somewhere between indie rock and rockabilly. His sound is closer to The Hold Steady but I would compare his lyrical wit to The Mighty Mighty Bosstones.

York’s lyrics offer playful jabs at a simple man going through the motions of life. It often reflects sad scenarios but with an optimistic sounding guitar. However you want to interpret his music, it is pure rock N’ roll goodness and it got the audience up and dancing without a care.

Recommended Tracks:

Boston, Texas: “Big Fan of Why,” “Let’s Go to the Beach,” “Losing Streak,” “New to You,” and “Sick of it all.”

 

Old Jack

Old Jack closes out Outlaw Roadshow NYC 2016. Photo credit by Jessica Klausing.

Old Jack closes out Outlaw Roadshow NYC 2016. Photo credit by Jessica Klausing.

Old Jack brought the house down at The Bowery Electric! Dan Nicklin is the epitome of Boston rock swagger. Nicklin took stage sporting a brown fedora, sweet shades and a plaid scarf loosely tied around his neck. The moment he crooned his fireball whiskey-smooth vocals into the old soul aficionado “Drivin’ All Night,” I just knew this was special.

Nicklin belts out the woes of a ramblin’ man with infinite wisdom. Backed with bluesy backup vocals, vibrant percussion, and some stellar guitar solos, he had everyone up clapping and singing along. This much lightning in a bottle called for an encore. Dan Nicklin sent the fans off with enough musical passion that would make any Outlaw proud.

Recommended Tracks:

Gone Before You Know: “Chorus Line,” “Deny Me Not,” “Face Like Mine,” and “Hold Tight.”

What is Home to You: “Miles Away,” “Oh Daddy,” “What is Home to You,” “Easy to Love,” “Lonely Alone,” and “Whistle Blowin.”

The Outlaw Roadshow-NYC Review (Part 2)

Written by Jessica Klausing

                           Original art credit by Man On Fire Design

                           Original art credit by Man On Fire Design

Day 2: More Surprises

Outlaw Roadshow continued with another night of stellar music in Manhattan. On Friday Outlaw fans were teased with the promise of a “secret set.” It is quite obvious by now that the secret set is always Counting Crows. However, this year, rumors leaked of Rob Thomas joining the band onstage as a special guest. Festival attendees were highly encouraged to “RSVP” early on the website to ensure priority access into the venue. About an hour before the show started, a huge line had already formed inside the bar. 

Usually most people only show up for the “secret set,” and as great as those main acts were, I want to take a moment to encourage everyone to give the other Outlaw bands a listen. After all, Outlaw Roadshow is about supporting new music. You will be pleasantly surprised and may discover some new favorites.  I know I did. Day two had an impressive lineup of eight talented bands worth checking out.

 

The Harmaleighs

The Harmaleighs’ folk music paints a watercolored portrait of a journey through difficult times.  Each simple, rhythmic strum is a delicate brush stroke that slowly builds the melodies up into a faster, livelier pace.  Their poetic lyrics dare to show vulnerability that adds to the depth of their bittersweet sound.

Haley Grant and Kalee Jasperson are the mistresses of timing and pace. The opening song, “Hesitate,” begins with a gorgeous a cappella part that launches right into an instrumental jamboree without rushing the song.

Recommended Tracks:

Pretty Picture, Dirty Brush: “Pretty Livin,” “Hesitate,” “Doll Made of Glass,” “Last One Standing,” “Sticks and Stones,” and “I Keep Ticking On.”

 

Don DiLego

Don DiLego plays a mix of country rock and jangly pop. His newest album, Magnificent Ram A uses vivid storytelling lyrics with a bluegrass influence. “Up in Smoke” was my favorite and perhaps the most whimsical track on the album.

The analog synths and sonic effects champion him as a country rocker among the best of his kind, but it is DiLego’s compelling voice that keeps me coming back.

Recommended Tracks:

Drive Like Pirates EP: “Drive Like Pirates” and “Different Man.”

Magnificent Ram A: “Idiot Heart,” “Don’t Bury Me Alive,” “Up in Smoke,” “I’m On Fire,” “Drive Like Pirates,” and “A Wishful Poem.”

 

Kathleen Sieck

Just imagine: It’s an Autumn evening in the countryside. You sit back and relax on the porch with a glass of wine as you watch the sun set on a golden pasture, reminiscing over that long, lost love. As tears stream down your cheeks, that warm, tingling feeling of your old lover still lingers on your lips.

This is what I envision when I hear Kathleen Sieck’s haunting reflections. With a gorgeous voice, old country melodies and emotive lyrics, her Americana music is bound to strike a chord in the coldest of hearts.

Recommended Tracks:

Where the Sleepers Lie: “Sea Shanty,”Good Day,” “Stay Beside Me,” “Bury Me High,” “Where the Sleepers Lie,” and “Sad Song.” 

 

Corey James Bost

Corey James Bost has a unique and evocative indie rock sound. He doesn’t write traditional guitar ballads filled with morose lyrics, folks. Instead, his music pulls you down a dark route of psychedelic melodies and imagery. You get the sense he’s battling some inner demons.

My favorite song is “Kingdom Come.”  The lyric, “This is earth, this isn’t heaven,” pulls us back to the harsh realities of romantic disappointments while the drumming builds on the emotional intensity. His music is a beautiful reflection of sorrow without being overly EMO or too pretentious.

Recommended Tracks:

Herritage: “Heritage,” “Hide in the Shade,” “Features,” “I’ll Let You Down,” “Nothing You Can Do,” “I’ll Let You Down,” and “Kingdom Come.”

 

Love & The Zealous

Love & The Zealous serve up a hearty, soulful helping of the gospel blues with a generous side of Southern Rock.

“Devil is a Woman,” delivers playful keys alongside a ripping guitar, with Richard Love ferociously chanting the infectious hook, “I am the devil, you better run, Run/ Whisper in your ear and you do just what I want/I can breathe fire, baby, fire/ Come around my way and I’ll bite you, baby, I’ll bite you, baby.”

Love belts out the woes and hardships with a passionate intensity that could bring a proud man to his knees begging for spiritual forgiveness.

Recommended Tracks:

Expand Your Mind: “Devil is a Woman,” “Horses,” and “Wild Child.”

Love & The Zealous Live EP: “Dock of the Bay” and “All in All.” 

 

Nate Leavitt

Nate Leavitt’s sound is modest and stays within the quieter realm of folk. His songs are musical therapy for anyone on a rebound from heartbreak.

Leavitt’s delicate guitar compliments his soul-baring, tender vocals. The soft harmonies and graceful piano make heartbreak quite a beautiful place to be after all.

Recommended Tracks:

Someone Send a Signal: “Someone Send a Signal,” “Take Me Back,” and “When I Was With You.”

You, Me and the Silence: “You, Me and the Silence,” “Where Did Your Love Go,” and “Taking the Long Way Home.” 

 

Andrew Leahey & The Homestead

Andrew Leahey & The Homestead can crank out electric rock n’ roll anthems without having to sugarcoat any feel-good content. The album Skyline in Central Time was written after Leahey had a brain operation. His songs offer a raw look into how it felt to be alive during his long recovery.

The band showcases the Hammond organ, bluesy rooted harmonies, and solid country melodies that proudly pay tribute to the American heartland. If you like Gram Parsons, Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen, then you’re bound to like these guys.

Recommended Tracks:

Skyline in Central Time: “Little in Love,” “Better Medicine,” “The Good Life,” “When the Hinges Give,” “Penitentiary Guys,” “10 Years Ago,” “Shot,” and “Who Wants an Easy Love.”

 

K Phillips

I first saw K Phillips & The Concho Pearls play a gig a month ago in Las Vegas. Unfortunately, the band’s set had to be cut short, but when I heard “Kat’s Song,” I knew I had to hear more!

K Phillips is simply a Motown dream: gritty lyrics laced with sarcastic wit, a smooth, soulful vocal delivery backed by country rock guitars, bluesy percussion, and keys. “Get It” is my absolute favorite song. The infectious hooks paired with jazzy saxophone with the risqué “this is the sound of sin on sin, this is sound of skin on skin,” will have you swaying to this sultry delight.

Recommended Tracks:

American Girls: “Sherriff’s Wife,” “Get it,” “Kat’s Song,” “Not My Baby Anymore,” “You Don’t Hafta,” and “To Dance With You.”

 

To be continued for part three...

The Outlaw Roadshow-NYC Review (Part 1)

Written by Jessica Klausing

   

 

 

Day 1: Who Wouldn’t Want to Be an Outlaw?

October may be the season of crisp air and colored leaves but to a music fan it means Outlaw Roadshow in New York City! What’s so special about this festival besides that entry is free? The Outlaw Roadshow is a three day celebration of indie artists for music fans that are eager to discover something new. To many of the Outlaw veterans this event has become a big family reunion. This festival has spawned lifelong friendships that have resulted in many creative collaborations. A few of these collaborations have included stunning artwork by Frank Germano (Man On Fire) and artist Felipe Molina, along with official Outlaw Roadshow wine from Standing Sun Winery.

Founded in 2011 by Counting Crows lead singer Adam Duritz and Boston music blogger Ryan Spaulding of Ryan’s Smashing Life, The Outlaw Roadshow has showcased a lineup of over thirty bands in Austin, Nashville, NYC, Tel Aviv and now Toronto!

This year Outlaw Roadshow has partnered with crowdfunding platform PledgeMusic, which offered free music, t-shirts, stickers and other cool band swag for fans to enjoy.

This was my first Outlaw Roadshow and I am very excited to share my experience watching every one of the amazing bands that performed at The Bowery Electric.

I will be breaking this review up into three parts. Each part will cover the bands that performed on that particular night.

Brick Briscoe

Frank Funaro, Brick Briscoe and Sal Maida. Photo by Jessica Klausing

Frank Funaro, Brick Briscoe and Sal Maida. Photo by Jessica Klausing

Brick Briscoe had my full attention as soon as he took stage in the Map Room. His vocals reminded me of a whiskeyed-up Michael Stipe. What I liked best was that his clever blend of jazz and punk sets him apart from the progressive rock genre. Briscoe performed a tongue-in-cheek set backed by Cracker’s Frank Funaro (drummer) and Sal Maida (bass).

Be warned: Briscoe is not afraid to tell it like it is! With exclamations such as “I got your ‘kiss my ass’ right here!” in “You Scare Me” and “You can be a dumbass anywhere,” in “Heading to Kanorado,” his music offers bold, thought-provoking messages intertwined with melancholic guitar parts.

Recommended Tracks:

Travel & Leisure: “60 Seconds with Colleen,” “Don’t Let Her Back into the House,” “Lullaby,” “Running to Main Street,” and “Stenographer.”

Lovers & Amateurs: “The Dig,” “ShamRock, TX,” and “You Scare Me.”

What Happened to Me (2000-2014): “Heading to Kanorado,” “She Let the Balloons Go,” “Pittsburgh-Hampton Inn,” “Go Away a GoGo,” “Running to Main Street,” “Burn Much Brighter,” “Stenographer,” “60 Seconds with Colleen,” and “JacktheRipper.” 

 

Kim Logan

Kim Logan performs downstairs at The Bowery Electric. Photo credit by Jessica Klausing

Kim Logan performs downstairs at The Bowery Electric. Photo credit by Jessica Klausing

I like to refer to this artist as the beautiful pin up girl of Honky Tonk. Kim Logan's stage presence is mesmerizing--that of an Old Southern Rock soul with shimmering eyes, a playful innocence, and a vocal range that belts out the devilish woes of the past.

Her sultry, bluesy voice pulls you deeper into a bayou of power, sin and love with no chance of ever coming back. Logan delivered a heartfelt set with sympathetic lyrics that portrayed a wealth of experience. “Devil Makes Three” tells the rebellious tale of living with a troubled boyfriend while “Donnie” relives the moment of heartbreak from a failed relationship. Even if you’re not much of a country fan, her music is too intelligent to ignore. 

Recommended Tracks:

Kim Logan: “Devil Makes Three,” “Gentleman,” “Voodoo Man,” and “Donnie.”

 

Alan Wuorinen

Alan Wuorinen performs acoustic set. Photo credit by Jessica Klausing

Alan Wuorinen performs acoustic set. Photo credit by Jessica Klausing

Alan Wuorinen took stage with his acoustic guitar and delved right into folklore that inspired an instant audience sing-along with hand clapping. He entertained us with stories of exes, arcades and zombie survival tips. Very important.

After his set, it was recommended that I check out Wuorinen’s band, The LongWalls. I did and found them to be quite comely on the ears—a fitting vibe for a long afternoon drive in the countryside.

Recommended Tracks:

Field Guide for the Zombie Survivalist: “Zombies!,” “Marmalade” and “Coal Miner.”

 Keep Boston Safe 2016: “Too Many Prayers.”

Dark Academy: “Playwrights,” “Saturday” and “Brave Arms.”

 

Brothers in Yarn

 

Brothers in Yarn. Photo credit by Jessica Klausing

Brothers in Yarn. Photo credit by Jessica Klausing

The wind was knocked out of me as soon as frontman Shawn Fogel took the mic. Don’t be fooled by all of the electronic gadgets on stage, this group understands the importance of sound without auto-tuning it to death.

Each song on the EP is based off of a different book that Fogel read in attempt to rid his writer’s block. My absolute favorite was “The Mind’s Editorial,” which is based on City of Thieves by David Benioff. The euphoric harmonies made this song pure magic to me. Long after the show, I am still listening to it on repeat.

Recommended Tracks:

Volume 1 EP: “Simple Math and its Consequences” and “The Mind’s Editorial.”

 

Workman Song

Workman Song. Photo credit by Baeblemusic

Workman Song. Photo credit by Baeblemusic

I found the Workman Song’s set to be as endearing as a cup of hot chicken soup on a cold day. This indie folk rock sound will enlighten the soul and question the human existence. Sean McMahon tells a tale of personal struggles with religious undertones.

His vivid storytelling, early Bob Dylan-esque chords and hypnotic vocal arrangements make up the perfect recipe of a folk album worthy of a listen.

Recommended Tracks:

Lamb: “Jesse Winters” and “Patient like a Lamb.”

 

 

Brandy Zdan

Brandy Zdan. Photo credit by Jessica Klausing

Brandy Zdan. Photo credit by Jessica Klausing

Watch out for this one: She’s fierce. She’s impressionable. She’s a total badass on guitar.

Brandy Zdan brought the house down with her soulful voice’s call to the broken hearted. Her songs are the anthem for those experiencing losses and looking for redemption.

Recommended Tracks:

Brandy Zdan: “Back On You,” “Cut N Run,” “Love to a Ghost,” “People Like Us,” “Courtship Of Wild Horses,” and “More Of A Man.”

 

Alan Semerdjian

Alan Semerdjian. Photo credit by Fensepost

Alan Semerdjian. Photo credit by Fensepost

Alan Semerdjian played a beautiful set that touched on the themes of coming of age. His poetic lyrics resonate with one’s inner dialogue such that it almost feels you’re watching a biographical movie.

The musical fluidity of the stringed instruments easily compliments Semerdjian’s smooth vocals.   

Recommended Tracks:

Quiet Songs for Loud Times: “For Blackbirds,” “You Can’t Teach Trouble to Sing,” and “Your Enemy.” 

 

Skunkmello

Skunkmello. Photo credit by Jessica Klausing

Skunkmello. Photo credit by Jessica Klausing

Skunkmello is a complete mind trip. The music weaves between the blues, country and the raggae-tinged electric rock that will keep the listener guessing where the song will end up.

That’s all part of the fun with this band. At first listen you may think you are listening to 1920s saloon music but, then an electric guitar rips through alongside some R & B vocals, taking the song in an unexpected direction.

Recommended Tracks:

Lowlife Dreams: “The Way Down,” “Two Dudes on a Moped,” and “Bukowski Blues.”

Stars & Stripes: “Stars & Stripes,” “Easy Come, Easy Go,” “Disco Cruiser,” “Gravity,” “Chocolate Milk,” “Mad Dog,” and “Bad Morning Blues.”

 

High Fascination

High Fascination. Photo credit by Jessica Klausing

High Fascination. Photo credit by Jessica Klausing

Today’s mainstream pop groups could learn a lesson from this band. Making good music can be as simple as going back to your roots. Andrew Weiss and his band rely on 70s style guitars, carefree lyrics and rich melodies reminiscent of late 60s psychedelic pop to drive the point across.

Their sound is very chill, much like Oasis. In fact, “Miss Valentine” sounds similar to Oasis’s “Champagne Supernova.”

Recommended Tracks:

The Optimist: “Paper Walls,” “Birthday Girl,” “Miss Valentine,” “Time Will Tell,” and “How The West Was Won.”

 

Morningsiders

Morningsiders. Photo credit by Jessica Klausing

Morningsiders. Photo credit by Jessica Klausing

The Morningsiders sound as though Foster The People abandoned their hipster vibe to play alternative folk music. Their music offers an honest voice to those awkward years of trying to fit in.

The line “I’m telling lies to get out socializing,” in “Dots” paints the simple picture of social anxiety. Morningsiders open doors into a world of acoustic guitars and vibrant percussions.

Recommended Tracks:

Unfocus: “Dots” and “Lucianne.”

 

The Life Electric

The Life Electric. Photo credit by Jessica Klausing

The Life Electric. Photo credit by Jessica Klausing

The Life Electric closed out night one on a high. The lower level of the Bowery Electric turned into a huge underground dance party. There were arms flailing, booties shaking, and feet stompin’ in delight to these indie rock fused disco beats. Yes, disco.

These guys are breaking down barriers by bringing the two genres together. The end results are lush harmonies, plenty of clashing guitars and dynamic synthesizers that keep the energy high and the music quite catchy.

Recommended Tracks:

The Real You: “Gone Gone Gone,” “The Real You,” “Ladders,” “Heartbeat,” “Perfect Soul,” and “A Ghost.”

To be continued for part two...