Joshua Radin. Hotel Cafe Tour. 2008
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You Sing I Write June Recap
CATEGORIES: Features, News

Hanson

As I sat in my childhood bedroom this weekend, I was reminded of how far I’ve come. Home in Jersey for the Fourth of July, my room is full of hints at my future career as a journalist, but never in my wildest dreams would I have thought all this would have come to fruition. My walls are surrounded by posters, photos with bands and quotes from my favorite musicians. One that I live by is from Switchfoot’s Jon Foreman: “Be honest, and never let anyone else define success for you — money ain’t it.”

On the wall behind my bed is a framed copy of my very first front page article from the Rutgers school paper from October 2003. Nearly 10 years later I have two more articles to frame — my first concert review on Luke Bryan and band review on Mike Mangione & the Union for Billboard magazine. It took 10 years, but I finally feel like I’m exactly where I belong. I love that I can write about bands I believe in for a reputable publication like Billboard. That’s why I first began my blog: to write about artists I believe in and bring their music to those who might not stumble upon it themselves. Nearly six years later, not much has changed.

This past month I’ve interviewed some of the artists I grew up listening to. Chatting with Jack Johnson was a dream come true as much of my college years were spent listening to his music. Earlier last month, I sat down with Robin Thicke and he gave me a ton of relationship advice. A week later his single “Blurred Lines” went to No. 1.

It’s no secret that country music has become a passion of mine so when I had the opportunity to talk with Toby Keith on the phone I was floored. (He rarely does interviews). I learned the story behind his monster hit “Red Solo Cup” and he told me how his benefit concert for tornado victims in Oklahoma came together. Later in the month, I witnessed Hunter Hayes live for the first time. Verdict: go see him! (His album is my most listened to so far of 2013).

hunter hayes

That same week, I sat VIP while watching Hanson perform for their 21st anniversary. Yes, they played “MMMBop.” And of course I sang along word for word.

I’m a strong advocate of the saying, “Find a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” While getting to this place was by no means easy, there is nothing else I’d rather do. There have been many times this past month that I said to myself, “Remember this moment forever.” I still feel like a kid when I get to a show only to realize my seats are better than I thought. Granted, I’m covering these shows, but the excitement never wears off. The moment it does I’ll have a major problem. But, I don’t think that will happen anytime soon.

 

July 7, 2013 | | (0) comment comment
Celebrate 5 Years of You Sing I Write Saturday!
CATEGORIES: Features, News

This month You Sing I Write turns 5-years-old! I’ve come a long way from writing about bands in my dorm room at Rutgers and couldn’t be happier. To celebrate, this year I have an amazing line-up with some of my favorite New York bands that I’ve covered in the past for YSIW including Mary Bragg and The Ramblers.

The venue itself is W.i.P., the place where Chris Brown and Drake had their infamous fight a few months back. While we won’t be throwing bottles, I can promise you a fun time with solid music. And who knows, maybe a celebrity spotting or two?

Come join me Saturday in New York at 7 p.m. All the details are below and feel free to RSVP on Facebook. Hope to see you there!

 

October 30, 2012 | | (0) comment comment
Want To Be In Gaslight Anthem’s Music Video?
CATEGORIES: News

 

I know I do! At least if work doesn’t get in the way…

I covered Gaslight Anthem’s music video shoot for “45,” the first single off their latest album Handwritten back in May. While there was a lot of downtime during the shoot, the guys satisfied fans who waited for over six hours in the rain with an hour long concert in between takes.

While I’m not quite sure how the process will go for their next shoot for single “Here Comes My Man,” it will no doubt be fun. Here’s all the info you need to know as posted on their Website:

“We’re shooting a music video for our new single “Here Comes My Man” this Friday in the NYC/NJ area! If you are over 18 years old and want to be in the video please email tgacastinghcmm@gmail.com with a photo and all of your contact info. Thanks!”

Good luck!

September 5, 2012 | | (0) comment comment
Colbie Caillat Reflects On Bug Attack: “I Was Seriously Traumatized”
CATEGORIES: Features, News, Q&A

 

It’s not something any musician wants to experience. Colbie Caillat was upstaged by some unwanted guests while at her Pittsburgh tour stop: mayflies.

 

Currently on tour with Gavin DeGraw and Andy Grammer, Colbie recalled the night’s events.

 

“I was seriously traumatized. I was performing in Pittsburgh and during my set all of a sudden there were these bugs, they’re called mayflies. They come out I guess one week a year,” she said. “When the lights went up on my lighting rig they all went directly to the light. Thousands of them. Having thousands of them hitting you is scary.”

 

For my complete article visit CBS.

June 13, 2012 | | (0) comment comment
You Sing I Write’s May Wrap-Up
CATEGORIES: Features, News

 

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been writing this blog for nearly five years now. What started as a mere creative outlet has transformed into steady freelance work and a stable job doing what I love — writing about music and interviewing bands. I never would have predicted the start of You Sing I Write would develop into what it has today and further my career as a music journalist but every day I’m continually grateful.

 

This past month has by far been the most exciting of my career and every week I woke up in disbelief that things could get any better. I’ll explain to you just why in this post’s May wrap-up which includes interviewing Darius Rucker, covering my first music video shoot with Gaslight Anthem and meeting John Mayer.

 

Darius Rucker

 

Early in the month I got word that I’d be interviewing Darius Rucker for CBS. In order to understand my complete excitement I have to take you way back to the summer of 2009 when my love for country music began. My best friends Wendy and Deana had been talking about visiting Nashville for quite some time. It just so happened that every June the city of Nashville is transformed into country music heaven as thousands of fans and artists descend on the city for the CMA Music Fest, what used to be known as Fan Fair.

 

For four days country music fans are treated to live performances and exclusive meet-and-greets with their favorite country artists. The three of us booked our flight and festival package and I wound up covering the nightly press conference and days events for Marie Claire. An outsider to country music, it was also my first time attending a press conference. While I knew the major artists like Taylor Swift, Rascal Flatts and Reba, each night I was introduced to new acts. My first night in the press conference was intimidating to say the least. Not an exceptionally outgoing person, I soon learned that in order to get your question in you usually had to yell out to the artist onstage. The first artist in the room was Darius Rucker. The Hootie & the Blowfish frontman recently released his debut country album and would be performing on the main concert stage later that night.

 

 

Being my first time in the press room I kept raising my hand in hopes to get my question answered. When the last question was asked and the publicist started to usher him off the stage he pointed in my direction. “You’ve been so patient this whole time,” he said. “What’s your question?” After looking around and realizing he was talking to me I was shocked and thankful to be given a second of his time. So, I asked him how his Hootie fans have reacted to his leap into country music and he told me they’ve embraced and supported his career in country music. Still stunned he pointed me out in the crowd I instantly knew country would become my new favorite genre.

 

So, early this month I finally was able to interview Darius one-on-one about his career, writing process, transition into country music and what it’s like working with Lionel Richie. I also filled him in on the fact that he’s pretty much the reason I decided to start covering country music and he actually remembered that time in the press room nearly three years ago. You can watch two of my video interviews with him here and here.

 

Gaslight Anthem

 

This interview was also a long time coming. I actually used to work with drummer Benny Horowitz of New Jersey’s Gaslight Anthem in college. While attending Rutgers University I was Features Editor for the college paper, The Daily Targum. As editor, one night a week I had to proofread the whole paper before it was sent to the printer. Benny was the Night Pro editor and always talked about the bands he was in. Little did I know a few years later he’d be sharing the stage with Bruce Springsteen and touring the world.

 

In 2008 during my internship at Rolling Stone I was flipping through the magazine and was in shock when I saw Benny’s band featured as a Breaking Artist. At first I didn’t think it was him, but sure enough once I read the photo caption and contacted all my former co-workers I realized it 100% was him. For four years I tried interviewing the band for various publications but for some reason it just never worked out. My friends would always joke with me that I could interview Taylor Swift and Pat Benatar but not Benny, who I actually knew.

 

Flash forward to last month. My boss tells me, “This next email is going to make your day.” Truthfully, I thought it might be John Mayer related. When I read it I gasped and said, “I love you!” Turns out Gaslight Anthem were filming the music video to new single “45″ at The Stone Pony in Asbury Park and she wanted me to cover the video shoot. This is the band I’ve been listening to for years and determined to interview one way or another and now I’d be able to hang out with them at their music video shoot — something I’ve had on my bucket list for years — and interview them!

 

 

I’ll be posting my music video recap in a few weeks once the video is released but being behind-the-scenes was truly a dream come true. While I learned video shoots aren’t as glamorous as I had previously thought (a lot of waiting around and continuous re-takes) it was still cool to be backstage and witness the excitement the fans had for being part of the live concert element of the video.

 

Afterward, I interviewed Benny and frontman Brian Fallon and found out some facts no magazine feature could ever reveal. Truthfully, personally knowing someone who followed his dreams even in the midst of countless obstacles and witnessed success is one of the reasons that has kept me perusing my own passion. When you actually know someone who has succeeded in the industry, you can’t help but think, “I can do that too.” And that’s exactly what Benny has done for me. Knowing that his band could make it into the pages of Rolling Stone made me realize that I too, could make it writing for Rolling Stone. Why not? The sky’s the limit.

 

John Mayer

 

He has been an obsession of mine for quite some time. My former co-workers at WebMD and colleagues at JANE Magazine, heck all my friends, family and acquaintances know of my love for John Mayer. He’s one of those artists who has been such a major part of my life that the idea of meeting and interviewing him was so full of anticipation and high expectations. My dream interview, I’ve been trying for years to get a shot at interviewing him. I even got the okay from RollingStone.com but unfortunately he hasn’t been doing many interviews as of late.

 

So, when I got the email that he’d be signing autographs for fans in New York at a pop-up store I just knew I had to cover it. When I got to the pop-up store location and realized I wasn’t on the press list I instantly felt defeated because with nearly 3,000 fans lined up to meet Mayer too, there was little chance I’d get inside. Luckily, some co-workers started talking to one of the men by the door and it turned out he was John Mayer’s photographer who had traveled with him and had photos on display at the exhibit. After I interviewed him about his experience working with Mayer he was able to get us inside. The photographer asked if I was going to talk to John and I suddenly became so shy. This singer who I’ve grown up listening to was standing 10 feet in front of me.

 

 

Of course I had to at least say hi, right? After purchasing an album for him to sign for a friend along with something for myself my friend Wendy and I approached the table where he was signing. “Hi, I’m Annie” I said reaching out my hand for him to shake. He looked at me inquisitively and I couldn’t help but wonder if no other fans in line shook his hand. After much coaxing from Wendy for John to take a photo with me he apologized that he wasn’t able to take photos with fans since the line was so long. As the manager clearly wouldn’t let a photo opp happen I assured Mayer that I understood and it was no big deal (although of course I wanted a photo!) As we were ushered to the door he turned to me and said, “Thank you for being so understanding, Annie.”

 

 

That was it. I didn’t ask him any burning questions about his music I’ve wondered for years or say anything witty. I simply introduced myself and got something autographed and was ushered out of the store like every other fan in line. No fireworks, nothing remarkable to report. I walked out of the store indifferent and realized — here’s the shocker — John Mayer is just a person like the rest of us. He’s not some musician who should be worshiped or idolized. He’s just another human being working at making a living doing what he loves.

 

I think I grew up a lot in that brief moment of meeting him. While I will surely always admire his music I realized that I’m a professional. Sure, I would have loved to chat with him more about the meaning behind his lyrics and what his life is really like, but maybe it’d be better off if I didn’t know right now. We’ll just save all that for a future interview.

 

 

June 4, 2012 | | (0) comment comment
John Mayer Celebrates Album Release At NYC Pop-Up Store
CATEGORIES: Features, News

No amount of rain could deter John Mayer fans from Reed Space in New York Monday night.

 

Despite torrential downpour, many camped out overnight for the chance to meet the singer at the grand opening of his pop-up store in celebration of his new album. By 7 p.m. hundreds of fans lined the sidewalk for his autograph signing.

 

The Born and Raised pop-up store exhibit included seven photographs taken by Gari Lamar Askew II from two shoots including the Born and Raised recording sessions and a road trip with Mayer along the Pacific Coast Highway. Having worked with Mayer since 2007, Askew explained the concept behind the shoot.

 

 

“He told me he wanted it to be iconic. There was a time in life within music when it was more about the subject and the moment. He said, ‘I just want me and you to go and it to be a journey. You to capture me as if I was on a road trip by myself.’”

 

For my complete article, visit CBS.

May 23, 2012 | | (0) comment comment
From Brooklyn to Ethiopia: Tomas Doncker’s Quest
CATEGORIES: Features, News, Q&A

From the moment he saw his favorite band performing live on television when he was 12-years-old, Brooklyn-based musician Tomas Doncker knew a career in music was in his future.

 

That Christmas, his parents bought him a guitar and he’s been writing songs ever since. Countless A-list collaborations later, Doncker says he has learned there is no one way to write a song.

 

I think you have to remain open to the inspiration revealing itself to you and not be afraid or shy to follow it,” he said. “You have to be able to go after the thing that tickles your fancy at that moment and get it to a point where you actually have a verse, a chorus, some chords, and let that live.”

 

Being open is what led Doncker to his latest project. After a meeting with playwright Roland Wolf’s sons, Doncker was inspired to create an album that would change people’s lives. With the hope to create a play that mirrors “Fela” and “Passing Strange,” a script is also in the works.

 

“’Passing Strange’ changed my life. I want to be a part of that kind of performance. Very soon after that I met the Wolf brothers. They gave me the script to read I thought to myself, ‘Wow, here’s my chance to create something in that way,’” he said.

 

The first step was making the album, Power of the Trinity.

 

“The tag line I’m creating is ‘From Brooklyn to Ethiopia,’ and obviously, everywhere in between. What we’re about, which is global soul, is soul music for and by everybody. It’s not just from Memphis. It’s from Ethiopia, it’s from Mali, it’s from Brazil,” he said. “There’s no mistaking soulful music. It doesn’t matter what language someone’s singing in. If it touches you, if it moves you, that’s it.”

 

Doncker continued to explain that songs don’t always have to be about real life to be relatable.

 

“It doesn’t necessarily have to be what you did. It can also be something you dreamt, it can be something someone said to you, it can be something you read. As long as it was internalized on some intimate level and means something to you, then it’s going to sound sincere,” he said.

 

One song, “Lucky Day” took years to develop.

 

“I walked around the streets of New York City singing the chorus of that song for seven years. I was singing it in a minor key because I was in a pretty bad spot at that time in my life. Not to be too mysterious, but I was living on the streets and taking a lot of drugs. I’m now 12 years sober,” he said.

 

Ten years later, while sitting in his apartment in East New York, the entire song came to him when he played a major chord.

 

“All of a sudden the rest of the song flew out. I wrote that song in about seven minutes, the whole thing,” he said. “I love that song because I know it comes from such a sincere, real place. I absolutely know that because I lived it.”

 

Having finished a tour in the West Indies and gearing up for multiple performance at Summer Stage, Doncker says his performance goal is “to burn the building down every night and have a ball.”

 

For more information, visit his Website.

 

This article originally was written for CBS.com.

May 15, 2012 | | (0) comment comment
Win Tickets to Greylag and Augustana's NYC Show Next Week!
CATEGORIES: Contest, Features, News

My former band of the week, folk duo Greylag will be in New York next Tuesday performing with Augustana. Do you want to go?

The bands will play April 17 in Brooklyn at the Knitting Factory. For a chance to win a pair of tickets E-mail Me your name, age and why you deserve the tickets. Good luck!

April 12, 2012 | | (0) comment comment
You Sing I Write's Biweekly Wrap Up
CATEGORIES: Features, News

Photo Credit: Scott Vollweiler

The past two weeks have been a whirlwind for me and while I try to update You Sing I Write as often as I can, it’s getting a bit difficult with my new job. In the meantime, you can follow all my day-to-day adventures on Twitter.

Just over a month ago, I started working at CBS where I cover Top 40 for their radio station websites. On any given day I’ll be writing music news stories, interviewing bands or covering shows and I couldn’t be happier! It’s what I’ve been doing for the past few years, but in a permanent and stable environment. And, as a freelance journalist for so long it’s a rare find.

Photo Credit: Scott Vollweiler

While not much has changed with my daily writing process, I now have access to an even more wide range of musicians and the past two weeks seem like a dream. One day I was interviewing Jordan Knight from New Kids On the Block at the office and the next week I was hanging out with the guys in Rascal Flatts on a rooftop in Times Square. I can’t believe my life sometimes and am so glad to be able to bring you along on the journey!

From my first concert review in college with Gavin DeGraw to stalking down the All-American Rejects at their tour bus for a quote for an article, amidst the craziness I’ve come to find that it is 100% possible to find a job you love and make money from it. While it definitely has not been an easy transition, all the blood, sweat and tears have finally paid off.

Though I’m mainly covering Top 40 acts these days (especially boy band sensation One Direction) I’m always open to new indie acts and country artists. Since You Sing I Write is where I got my start writing about music on a daily basis, I don’t plan to stop blogging. I might be writing less frequently on here, but that doesn’t mean I’m not open to covering new acts. So, keep ‘em coming! Feel free to E-mail Me band pitches as always. Thanks for reading throughout the years!

April 8, 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
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Hangin' Around
Josh Abbott Band
"Hangin' Around" catches your ear from the very start of the track. The fiddle accompanied by Abbott's catchy lyrics make it memorable.   More>>
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