Joshua Radin. Hotel Cafe Tour. 2008
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Zac Brown Band Chips Away At Bucket List At Madison Square Garden
CATEGORIES: Concert Reviews

“It’s a big night for us. Playing Madison Square Garden has definitely been on our list of things to do,” Zac Brown said during the band’s Eat & Greet Saturday night in New York.

Before Zac Brown Band took the stage for their sold-out concert they served food and mingled with 150 fans. A testament to their growing success, the band continuously thanked everyone for their support.

The Eat & Greet was just one way to show their gratitude Saturday night. The other was a commanding two-hour set that spanned their catalog of hits and jaw-dropping covers from Nirvana, Aerosmith, Metallica, Van Morrison, the Marshall Tucker Band and the Charlie Daniels Band. Whether it was cover songs or their original music, Zac Brown Band showcased their signature sound and standout musicianship with minute long instrumental features and unyielding energy.

For my complete review, visit Billboard.

November 20, 2012 | | (0) comment comment
CMJ: 5 Bands to Watch
CATEGORIES: Concert Reviews, Festivals

Earlier this month, hundreds of bands visited New York for CMJ. Here’s a look at 5 to keep on your radar.

1. Savoir Adore

Last year I interviewed this act as a preview to CMJ. Unfortunately I never caught a show so I made it a point to witness them live this time around. Performing for WFUV’s showcase at the Living Room, Savoir Adore revealed their impressive harmonies alongside foot stomping rhythms and catchy lyrics.

Playing many tracks off their new record Our Nature, the band hushed the packed room as their soaring vocals echoed throughout the venue. Songs like “Sea of Gold” and title track “Our Nature” make the Brooklyn based band an act to watch.

2. Wax Poetic

That same night Wax Poetic took the stage at the Living Room. With sultry vocals from lead singer Sissy Clemens I couldn’t help but think of Amy Winehouse. Alongside gritty guitar and jazzy percussion features the band stood out. Not to mention their memorable lyrics. The introspective “Beautiful” struck a chord with lines like, “The darkest corners of my life can’t always shine a light.” Meanwhile, the sultry “No Escape” captivated before “On A Ride” (also the title track to their latest album) closed the set.

3. Suzanna Choffel

Perhaps my favorite part of CMJ was seeing TV darling Suzanna Choffel perform in the flesh. Having written about her as a contestant on The Voice singing cover songs it was refreshing to hear her original music. Her set at ZirZamin was a southern fused jam which showcased her bluesy and at times raspy vocals. While some tracks featured her rock style others had a slight island feel.

“This is what I hope I don’t do while walking in the streets of New York,” Suzanna said while introducing her song “Stumble.” “I have bad ankles and don’t do heels. Cowboy boots are good, sneakers are better.”

With a solid instrumental breakdown and her come-hither vocals the track impressed. Meanwhile, the poignant “Hello Goodbye” struck a chord. Written in memory of her favorite club Momo’s in Austin, Texas, the stripped down track showcased her vocals.

She couldn’t end the night without talking of her time spent on The Voice. “I’m on a little show maybe a couple people like it, it’s called The Voice,” she said. “Unfortunately I don’t do original music [on The Voice]. I think there should be a show called The Song,” she added before closing the set telling concertgoers to “Stay tuned to NBC for yours truly.”

4. Bess Rogers

I’ve caught Bess Rogers several times live over the past few years and her angelic vocals never cease to amaze me. Her intimate set at Rockwood Music Hall had the packed room mesmerized. If you weren’t there, you may recognize her voice from the Cherrios commercial as she recently wrote a new jingle for them as well as new single “The Perfect Day.”

Her set included a combination of older fan favorites and newer tracks from her album Out of the Ocean. Fun numbers like catchy “Math & Science” had the crowd tapping their feet along while the beautiful “In the Waves,” a track about a mermaid calling her love back to the water, showcased Bess alone on vocals and guitar before added piano parts.

5. Kimbra

I interviewed Kimbra the day of her first of two sold-out performances at New York’s Webster Hall. Having skyrocketed to popularity in the U.S. after her feature on Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know,” the 22-year-old finds herself on her first U.S. headlining tour.

Her set that Friday was nothing short of jaw-dropping. Dressed in a multi-colored tutu, Kimbra pranced around stage with a sense of ownership. Her lively performance captivated and whether it was her more upbeat numbers or slowed ballads that hushed the room like “Two Way Street,” her soulful vocals were memorable. Catch her live while you still can!

October 28, 2012 | | (0) comment comment
Wade Bowen Captivates New York Audience
CATEGORIES: Concert Reviews

Only his third performance in New York, you’d never know it as the Texas native brought a dedicated fan base to his show at Joe’s Pub last week. “I tune ‘cause I care,” Wade Bowen told the audience as he and guitarist Jeff Queen took the stage with their acoustic guitars.

Their 75-minute set spanned Bowen’s 14-year songwriting career and included his current hit “Saturday Night” as well as older fan favorites like “Who I Am,” the third song he ever wrote.

“I’m not used to this. You’re all so quiet,” Bowen said after he ended his first song of the night. Throughout his intimate performance he told the tales behind many of his songs, one which included “A Battle Won.”

“I grew up with three sisters and no brothers. There was a little bit of drama in my house growing up but I learned through it that you don’t ever ever argue with a woman ever,” he admitted. “This is one of those moments when I forgot this. My wife loves this song.” Singing of his stubborn ways, Bowen’s raspy and booming vocals got his point across.

For the complete review, visit Country NYC.

August 27, 2012 | | (0) comment comment
You Sing I Write’s July Wrap-Up
CATEGORIES: Concert Reviews, Features

 

July was a month of many live concerts for me. Here’s a breakdown of 5 of my favorite acts to keep on your radar.

 

Neon Trees

 

I caught Neon Trees’ sold-out set at Webster Hall earlier this month and can’t remember seeing a band rock this hard in quite some time. You might recall the band’s catchy breakthrough hit “Animal.” Having recently surpassed one million downloads for their latest single “Everybody Talks,” the band is poised for arena stardom.

 

Frontman Tyler Glenn had the audience captivated throughout the entirety of their set. Whether he was telling quirky stories about his songs, dancing in circles while swinging his mic chord around his neck, or stage diving into the audience only to crowd surf his way back to the stage, he sure knows how to work a crowd.

 

 

Conor Maynard

 

I admit I was a bit skeptical before attending Conor’s industry showcase a few weeks ago. Dubbed by some as Britain’s Justin Bieber I wasn’t quite sure if this pop act would hold up. Turns out he did. While his dance skills aren’t quite on par to Bieber, his latest single “Vegas Girl” was stuck in my head all night.

 

 

Delta Rae

 

Nominated as one of Rolling Stone‘s Women Who Rock acts, Delta Rae proved just why they were selected at their Bowery Ballroom performance. Spot-on harmonies, electric guitar features and foot-stomping rhythms impressed and they had the entire room silent during their more stripped down and poignant ballads.

 

 

The Kin

 

After seeing The Kin perform before Lights Resolve at Rockwood Music Hall last month, I knew I had to witness their entire set. Made up of two brothers from Australia and a New York subway drummer named Shakerleg, their story is intriguing. Brothers Thorald and Issac Koren have an uncanny sense of channeling and interpreting each other and with that each song embodies impeccable harmonies.

 

 

the Head and the Heart

 

I’ve lived in Brooklyn for two years now but have yet seen a concert at Prospect Park, until last Friday. When my co-worker told me the Head and the Heart were playing a free show I knew I had to go. And I’m so glad I did! I’ve been hearing good things about the band for years but never got a chance to see them live. I loved how they alternated singers throughout their nearly hour set, having concertgoers always surprised at what would come next.

 

 

What shows have you seen this summer? Any recommendations of acts to catch live? Let me know in the comments!

August 2, 2012 | | (0) comment comment
The Gaslight Anthem Impress At Brooklyn Performance
CATEGORIES: Concert Reviews, Features

The Gaslight Anthem played to a sold-out crowd Wednesday night at Brooklyn’s Music Hall of Williamsburg. While several hundred lucky fans got an in-person view of their set others could watch the entire show across the globe as it was broadcast live on Livestream.

 

A preview of what’s to come on their new album Handwritten, due for release July 24, the New Jersey band’s nearly two hour performance included the energetic first single “45” as well as the bluesy “Biloxi Parish” which showcased a new side of the band. With distinct groove, though a slight deviation from the expected, Brian Fallon’s familiar vocals and memorable guitar licks impressed.

 

The band’s set covered the entirety of Gaslight Anthem’s catalog, from the poignant “Blue Jeans & White T-Shirts” and the classic “Wherefore Art Thou, Elvis?” off their first EP Senor and the Queen to the more familiar “Great Expectations” and “Old White Lincoln” from breakthrough album The ’59 Sound. All the while frontman Brian Fallon expressed his gratitude to the fans.

 

For my complete review, visit CBS.com.

May 18, 2012 | | (0) comment comment
Artist to Watch: Hargo
CATEGORIES: Concert Reviews

Last week, San Diego based band Hargo performed their first show in New York to a packed crowd at The Studio at Webster Hall. With frontman Hargobind Hari Singh Khalsa’s captivating vocals, distinct guitar distortion and memorable percussion, Hargo impressed.

The band’s nearly hour set blended heavy hitting songs with the more poignant. While tracks like the eerie “Soul Survivor” brought to mind John Lennon with powerful vocals, others like the emotional “Gardens of Alize” recalled Green Day’s  “Wake Me Up When September Ends.”

“We’re Hargo and we’re from San Diego, just down the street,” Khalsa joked. “This next one is a dance number if you people want to dance. I know people in New York like to have fun.”

With hand-clapped rhythms, the upbeat “Just the Sky” did just that. Meanwhile, “Empty Cups” continued to impress with soaring guitar parts and a slick drum beat. A song about his hatred for pharmaceutical agencies, the track slowed down midway through before the band picked things right back up with intensity.

The remainder of the set included songs from the band’s debut album, Out of Mankind. Mixing folk music with wavering harmonica alongside heavier rock and jazz features, Hargo proved their versatility.

April 9, 2012 | | (0) comment comment
Rascal Flatts Celebrate Album And Film Release In NYC
CATEGORIES: Concert Reviews, Features, News, Q&A

Rascal Flatts have been making music together for over a decade. With eight albums under their belts, it’s nearly inconceivable that the popular country trio almost called it quits.

CBS Local caught up with Rascal Flatts at their film premiere last night (April 5) in New York. The band discussed their latest album Changed, which was released Tuesday, their film and future endeavors. Their eighth studio album and first LP with Big Machine Records, Rascal Flatts said the excitement of album release week never wears off.

“We’ve been more excited about this one then we’ve been in a long time,” Jay DeMarcus said. “We feel like we’ve got renewed energy and a resurgence of the spirit of what Rascal Flatts was about to begin with.”

For my complete review and interview, visit CBS.

April 6, 2012 | | (0) comment comment
Nashville Songwriters Tell Stories Behind Hits At NYC Performance
CATEGORIES: Concert Reviews

“Welcome to Nashville in New York City,” host Bob DiPiero said as he greeted country fans at Joe’s Pub. “We’re going to play some songs. We’re going to tell you stories. Basically this is our living room.”

For the eighth year, the CMA Songwriters Series returned to New York and did just that.

On Thursday (March 22), songwriters Victoria Shaw, Lee Thomas Miller, and Jim Photoglo took the stage alongside DiPiero to tell the stories behind many of their chart-topping hits.

While country music was the main event, GRAMMY award winner and producer Mark Hudson wowed the crowd when he was called onstage to perform. He told the tale behind one of the songs he wrote with Aerosmith.

As he joined the songwriters onstage, Hudson professed his love for the genre. “The country music audience is the most faithful. You hang in there forever,” he said.

Hudson explained the co-write behind his GRAMMY-winning Aerosmith hit “Livin’On the Edge.” After he played the band a few options, he noticed that they liked his material but didn’t completely connect to any of the songs. Steven Tyler then suggested, “What would you play if you were in Aerosmith?”

For my complete review, visit The New 103.7.

March 26, 2012 | | (0) comment comment
Eric Church, Brantley Gilbert “Raise Some Hell” In New York City
CATEGORIES: Concert Reviews

For three hours Wednesday night (March 14), Brantley Gilbert and Eric Church brought their blend of rock infused country to New York. The sold-out show at Hammerstein Ballroom included a slew of each artist’s most recent radio hits and older fan favorites.

Georgia-based Gilbert kicked off the night with the energetic “My Kinda Party.” A hit made famous by Jason Aldean‘s rendition, Gilbert wrote the track for his 2009 album, Modern Day Prodigal Son.

Gilbert screamed, “Let’s raise some hell!” — a sentiment Church later shared with the crowd. With a heart-pounding drum beat, the familiar “Country Must Be Country Wide” soon followed.

“I wrote this next song with a good friend of mine, Colt Ford,” Gilbert said as he introduced “Dirt Road Anthem.” With spot-on vocals and perfected rap interludes, Gilbert had the room singing along word for word.

“New York hell, you all know how to throw it down over here. I’m impressed,” he added.

While current single “You Don’t Know Her Like I Do” and “My Kind of Crazy” slowed down the night, things picked right back up with the intensity of “Kick It In the Sticks.” “Are there any rednecks in New York?” Gilbert asked. With impressive guitar riffs and Gilbert’s rugged vocals, the track was an unforgettable end to his set.

Minutes before 9pm, Eric Church took the stage. With a red Solo cup attached to his mic stand, he immediately let the room know it would be a rowdy night with plenty of Jack Daniels. Church began his set with the fitting “Country Music Jesus,” and with onstage bursts of flames and canon fire, he captivated.

Hit singles “Guys Like Me” and “Hell On the Heart” followed suit and needed no introduction.

“Welcome to the Blood, Sweat and Beers sold-out show in New York City!” Church said as he greeted the room for the first time. “We’ll drink, we’ll sing and we’ll see how the show goes.”

And he wasn’t lying. Throughout his set, Church ran across the stage, saluted the crowd with the tip of his hat and even autographed two fans’ boots.

With twangy banjo accompaniment “How ‘Bout You” had fans clapping along and chanting “U.S.A.” Poignant ballad “Carolina” showcased Church’s more sensitive side, while the Americana-fused “Creepin’” satisfied with a heavy bass beat and deep vocals.

“This whole thing started for us six or seven years ago with Sinners Like Me. I’m going to take you back to where it all started,” Church said. Taking the stage solo with his acoustic guitar, Church performed “Two Pink Lines,” “Sinners Like Me” and “Love Your Love the Most.”

While the stripped-down performance continued to showcase his ability to switch gears effortlessly, he livened things right back up with bar rocker “Drink In My Hand” and the soulful “Homeboy.” Minutes later the room was engulfed in smoke for the feel-good “Smoke A Little Smoke.”

“Thank you for having us here,” Church said as the night came to an end and he introduced his last song, “Springsteen.”

“I’ve never been more excited to sing a song every night. When I sing this song I’m 17-years-old again. That’s why I love music. You’re right back in that car and right back with that girl again.”

March 17, 2012 | | (0) comment comment
Mary Bragg, Adam Levy Impress at the Living Room
CATEGORIES: Concert Reviews

I first met Mary Bragg in December at Galuminum Foil Studios while she was recording on the A Holiday Benefit, vol 5 album. As she sang her part on “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” the whole studio went silent in awe of her beautiful vocals.

The Georgia native moved to New York eight years ago to pursue music and in an interview with her I learned about her songwriting start with famous friend Dave Haywood of Lady Antebellum and her recording process. This year, Bragg has a monthly residency at the Living Room where for two hours she showcases her own material and invites a collaborator to share the stage.

Last Tuesday her guest was Adam Levy. Known for his collaborations with Norah Jones, Amber Rubarth and Amos Lee among others, Levy admitted that his first show as a singer was at the Living Room.

Shortly after 7 p.m., Bragg took the stage. Having just spent the weekend in Georgia, she began the evening with a song about where she is from. Alone onstage with acoustic guitar her beautiful vocals stood out. “Orange” followed suit as her whispered singing style captivated.

Soon after, her guitarist and bassist joined the stage for the soulful and bluesy “Leave Tonight” before Levy joined her for the darker “Circle the Night.” With a distinct twang and bluesy guitar interludes from Levy, the track stood out. Bragg left the stage while Levy remained performing five songs of his own. The comical “You’re Not My Baby” had the room laughing along with deep vocals and lighthearted lyrics.

“I love singing here at the Living Room because it’s the first place I ever sang,” Levy admitted. “I used to stand in the shadows and play guitar.” Levy then performed a “love song to my home state” of California before Bragg rejoined him onstage and sang the song they first wrote together. With reverberating vocals and a wavering electric guitar interlude by Levy, the track was memorable. Slower ballad “Wildflower” followed while the poignant “Tattoos and Bruises” struck a chord.

Afterward, Bragg confessed she never intended to be a country singer. “For a long time I didn’t think I was going to be a country singer and that was a mistake,” she admitted. “I didn’t start writing until I was 22. My second record got more folky and poppy. Having that fore into folk and pop music allowed me to be honest with who I am and where I’m from and I stopped being afraid to write country songs.”

Next track, “When Your Heart Belongs To Another,” was “a shore-fire example of me embracing my country roots,” Bragg said as the twangy number impressed and hushed the crowd.

The remainder of her two hour set had the entire room entranced with her soaring vocals and quirky anecdotes. For more on Mary Bragg, visit her Website and catch her live at the Living Room March 20.

March 3, 2012 | | (0) comment comment
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