Joshua Radin. Hotel Cafe Tour. 2008
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You Sing I Write September Wrap Up
CATEGORIES: Concert Reviews, Features
(credit: Maria Ives)

(credit: Maria Ives)

This month marks six years since I started You Sing I Write. Some days it seems like an eternity ago and other times just like it was yesterday. When I had the idea to start a blog, at the time it really was just a dream of mine to cover concerts and interview bands because it was what I loved to do. Of course I wished it would one day become my day job but I never fathomed all the places it would take me and the people I’d meet.

I fell in love with country music traveling to Nashville, went on the road with a band, and spent countless hours interviewing some of my favorite musicians. Last year, I became a mentor for Girls Write Now and read a piece I wrote about my life as a music journalist to a room full of high school girls, their family and fellow mentors. It’s still a shock to me that girls will come up to me and tell me how much they loved my reading from months ago. When I started this blog it was really just for myself, to keep up my writing skills. Today, I couldn’t be happier to share my experiences with the world and hopefully encourage some girl out there that it is possible to make a career out of your dream. It just takes some time and a whole lot of patience and persistence.

I’ll be honest, as many interviews as I’ve done over the years, I still get nervous. It’s pretty much the equivalent to having butterflies in your stomach. So, imagine how I felt to learn I’d be interviewing Willie Nelson! A day before I headed to Saratoga Springs to cover Farm Aid for Radio.com, I was told I’d get some time with Willie Nelson. On his tour bus! I freaked out a little bit. A chronic over-preparer I wracked my brain for questions, tried my best to listen to his catalog of music and his upcoming duets album.

(credit: Maria Ives)

(credit: Maria Ives)

Around 1 p.m. the next day, my colleague Brian and I learned we’ll be chatting with Willie in 20 minutes. A publicist led us to his bus and asserted there won’t be any photo opps. We obliged, although a bit bummed, and waited to be let in.

Yes, there was a distinct aroma of pot the moment we walked on the bus. It is Willie Nelson after all. As Brian and I sat down at the table I tried to take it all in. The smell, done. There were two leather couches as soon as you walk on the bus and dark wood paneling throughout. We joined Willie at his table and behind him graduation and class photos of his kids were on display. A proud father, he was so thoughtful with his words and praises for his kids I almost forgot I was talking with an icon. Almost, but not quite. Those 10 minutes felt like an eternity but also flew by way too quickly. He answered all our questions but as soon as I got off the bus I found myself wishing I asked more.

 

 

Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever envisioned myself interviewing Willie Nelson, let alone doing it on his tour bus. It took a long time to get here, but all the struggles, rejections, and uncertainty was worth it in that moment. If you wait long enough, sometimes your dream is even better than you could have imagined.

October 1, 2013 | | (0) comment comment
John Mayer Grows His Country Roots At ‘Live On Letterman’
CATEGORIES: Concert Reviews, Features
(credit: Heather Wines/CBS)

(credit: Heather Wines/CBS)

I’ve been lucky to cover many Live On Letterman performances over the years, both for this blog and other outlets. I’ll never forget sitting second row while watching Adele sing the poignant track “Someone Like You” and getting goosebumps on my arms during her powerful performance, or seeing my favorite Jersey boys Gaslight Anthem rock the stage with some of my former college newspaper colleagues (who also became some of my best friends). It’s these shows that I’ve been able to see some of my favorite artists up-close and in a setting like no other.

Last night was one of those nights. I highly doubt I’ll ever get to stand sidestage for a John Mayer concert ever again so you bet I cherished every minute of his set! If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time over the past five years you know my love for Mayer and to be able to experience him live in concert is always an enjoyable time. Below is an excerpt of my review for Radio.com. Read the complete review here.

On the eve of the release of his new album, Paradise Valley, it was clear John Mayer was heading in a new direction. He no longer donned that wide-brimmed hat but instead embraced a headscarf. Questionable headwear choice maybe, but his fashion never outshines his music and besides a few thank you’s and a brief explanation of his new song “Dear Marie,” it was his music that was the main attraction.

“It’s weird to have a technology reference in a song. Everyone goes looking online for their first love . . . to see what they look like now,” he said of the new track. “We still look back and that’s what this song is about.”

Watch archived video from John Mayer’s Live on Letterman performance

Mayer headed to the Ed Sullivan Theater Monday night (Aug. 19) for a 70-minute Live on Letterman performance of material old and new. As he walked onto the famous stage in his blue jeans and peace-signed blue jacket, fans were greeted by the familiar chords of “Queen of California,” the opening track to his last release, 2012’s Born and Raised.

While he played several tracks off the new album, several songs from Born and Raised, Continuum fan favorite “Slow Dancing In a Burning Room” also appeared in the set. Having to cancel his 2012 Born and Raised Tour after being put on mandatory vocal rest due to granulomas in his throat, this was the first time many in attendance heard the songs live. Tracks like the bluesy “Something Like Olivia” showed off Mayer as a guitar virtuoso while “The Age of Worry,” also off Born and Raised, showcased the more country-leaning side of the singer with pedal steel and mandolin features.

August 20, 2013 | | (0) comment comment
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
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"See Through You"
Willie Shaw's sultry new song mesmerizes upon first listen.
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