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You Sing I Write's Weekly Wrap Up

Boy bands seem to be making a comeback this year. With the hysteria that UK’s One Direction is currently bringing to America, I can’t help but to remember growing up in the era of Backstreet Boys, N’ Sync and 98 Degrees. Two weeks ago One Direction performed at Radio City Music Hall. Since I work across the street, I learned firsthand that this is not just another music fad as girls lined up hours before the show and I heard screams from 44 floors up throughout the day.

On Wednesday I interviewed the boys of One Direction and got a behind-the-scenes look at what life is like for the current music sensation. With back-to-back interviews lined up with little but a second break in between, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the guys. Just a glimpse into their daily life made me thankful I never became a rock star. Stay tuned for my interview with One Direction later this week.

The Wanted are another UK band currently heating up the charts. After the success of “Glad You Came,” the group revealed details behind their next single, “Gold Forever.” Meanwhile, the All-American Rejects released the title track off their upcoming album, Kids In the Street while Lady Gaga’s ex continues to promote his book, The Drunk Diet: How I Lost 40 Pounds…Wasted.

Rihanna finally broke her silence about her recent collaboration with Chris Brown. “I reached out to him about doing ‘Birthday Cake’ because that’s the only person that really made sense to do the record,” Rolling Stone reports. “I thought about rappers, and I’ve done that so many times, and the hottest R&B artist out right now is Chris Brown. So I wanted him on the track.”

While I’ve been covering pop music more closely as of late, I’m always happy to learn more about collaborations in the country world. For details behind Matt Nathanson and Sugarland’s latest hit, “Run” watch my video interview with him here.

March 18, 2012 | | (0) comment comment
You Sing I Write's Weekly Wrap Up

Last week I wrote of John Mayer’s album release date and scheduled tour. Unfortunately, on Friday morning Mayer wrote on his Tumblr that he would have to cancel live performance indefinitely as the granuloma on his throat grew back. For more, read my article here.

Taylor Swift and Kanye West were back in the news. As West debuted his women’s fall fashion line it came to be known that Swift will be be wearing his design in her April cover story in Australia’s Harper’s Bazaar. For my complete story, visit Fresh 102.7.

Kelly Clarkson will be a mentor on a new talent-based TV show this summer. Called Duets, Clarkson, Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles, Lionel Richie and Robin Thicke will scour the country in search of undiscovered talent to mentor. The show will put a spin on the talent competition as each mentor will choose two singers to be their duet partners for weekly performances.

Two weeks ago I interviewed singer-songwriter Matt Nathanson where he filled me in on his songwriting process and pranking Train on tour. You can read all about his songwriting process here and about life on tour here. Watch him discuss teaming up with Maroon 5 to prank Train below.

March 11, 2012 | | (0) comment comment
You Sing I Write's Weekly Wrap Up

Being a John Mayer fan, you can imagine my excitement in finding out his single, “Shadow Days” was released to radio on Monday. And, after setting tour dates and revealing the track listing to his upcoming release, Born and Raised, he let fans know that his album will drop May 22. Stream his new song here.

Lady Gaga launched her non-profit, Born This Way Foundation, at Harvard University this week. Inspired to raise awareness to stop bullying after a New York teen committed suicide last year, Gaga said, “I believe once you feel safe in your environment and you acquire the skills to be a loving and accepting person, the opportunities for you are endless to become a great functioning human in society.”

In other news, LMFAO announced tour dates and chatted with Rolling Stone about their Super Bowl halftime show with Madonna while John Legend discussed his decision to act in “The Hunger Games.”

Legend isn’t the only musician working in film. Taylor Swift lent her voice to Dr Seuss’ The Lorax where she plays Audrey, a character Swift describes as heavenly. “She’s such a day dreamer, and she cares so much about the past which makes her different from everybody else in the society she lives in,” she said. “To some degree, you have to have a priority based on the past and the future as well as the present.”

Finally, I met with and interviewed Matt Nathanson on Friday where he discussed his songwriting process, working with Sugarland and pranks he has pulled on tour with Maroon 5 and Train. Stay tuned for my complete articles soon!

March 4, 2012 | | (0) comment comment
You Sing I Write’s Weekly Wrap Up
CATEGORIES: Features, News

Just when I thought I was done hearing about Chris Brown and Rihanna, the rumors turned out to be true. On Monday night, Rihanna re-released “Birthday Cake” featuring Chris Brown and the music industry was abuzz. You can listen to the track here. What do you think about their collaboration?

This week, it was confirmed that former “American Idol” runner up Adam Lambert will be Queen’s frontman for a festival performance this summer. During an interview with New York radio station 92.3 NOW, one fan asked if he would channel Freddie Mercury. “I think it would be disrespectful to Freddie Mercury to try to copy him. I don’t think that’s the idea of any sort of tribute. I think the idea is to bring the songs to life with an energy that maybe he would be approving of,” he said.

Tuesday, I caught phenomenal sets by Mary Bragg and Nic Cowan at The Living Room and Rockwood Music Hall, two of my favorite venues in New York. What I love most about live shows is the power the singer has on the audience to connect. Cowan hushed the crowd at Rockwood after telling a story of meeting an artist pursuing his passion. After he told the tale, I had the song “Reno” stuck in my head for days. Listen to it here.

Matt Nathanson released the lyric video for his latest song “Run” featuring Sugarland. Being a country fan, I was surprised to learn of their collaboration. The beautiful track showcases his sensitive side and continues to expand his fan base.

My favorite story from this week was about a New Jersey teen asking Taylor Swift to his prom. Battling cancer for the second time, Kevin McGuire told his sister that no one would want to attend prom with him when he loses his hair. When she suggested Taylor Swift, his eyes lit up for the first time since being diagnosed. Fast forward to Friday night, Taylor couldn’t attend McGuire’s prom but instead invited him to be her date at the ACM Awards.

What music stories did you enjoy reading most from this week?

February 26, 2012 | | (0) comment comment
You Sing I Write's Weekly Wrap Up
CATEGORIES: Features, News

The music world faced a major loss over a week ago when Whitney Houston was found dead in her hotel room. Just a day before the Grammys, rumors of several award show tributes abounded. While Adele‘s comeback performance was definitely one show highlight, Jennifer Hudson’s poignant cover of Houston’s infamous hit, “I Will Always Love You” was breathtaking.

On Monday, I started a new job at CBS Radio. Given the previous day’s events, my week had no shortage of news stories to be written. Whether it was NBA darling Jeremy Lin sharing his music taste with Fuse, or the rumors of a Chris Brown and Rihanna collaboration, I wrote about it. Since I’m still getting used to the rhythm of a full-time job my posts here might slow, but I’ll be sure to fill you in on all of my adventures on Twitter.

I was beyond excited to hear a preview of John Mayer’s new album when he posted a stream of one of the tracks Thursday. With wavering pedal steel, his familiar vocals and heartfelt lyrics, I’m anxiously awaiting his upcoming LP due out later in 2012. With so much new music due for release this year, I’ll be sure to keep you up-to-date. In the meantime, here are a few shows I’ll be catching this week and artists to have on your radar.

Mary Bragg – Tuesday 7pm @ The Living Room

This Americana songstress has a year-long residency at the Living Room titled “Mary Bragg With…” Each month, she performs two hours with a friend, showcasing new and old material as well as a collaboration with a new guest. I interviewed Bragg last year for CBS and Billboard where she filled me in on her songwriting and recording process as well as the evolution of her writing, which was originally inspired by her friend Dave Haywood of Lady Antebellum.

When Your Heart Belongs to Another from Mary Bragg on Vimeo.

Nic Cowan – Tuesday 9:30pm @ Rockwood Music Hall

This Southern rocker has major support from some of country and rock’s biggest names including Zac Brown, who produced his latest release, and Kid Rock. Cowan has songwriting credits on each of Hardheaded‘s 13 tracks, two of which feature Brown and Kid Rock.

Tragedy – Friday 11:30pm @ Brooklyn Bowl

Words can’t even begin to explain what one can expect at this band’s show. Glitter, spandex and cover songs abound. Not to mention, scantily clad personal trainers jump around onstage while other members of the entourage blow glitter into the crowd. Finally, fans are brought onstage for an impromptu dance party. These are just a few of the elements that make for a truly unique show. Did I mention they’re an all metal tribute band to the Bee Gees?

What albums are you most excited to hear this year? Which bands are on your radar to see live? Let me know!

February 19, 2012 | | (0) comment comment
Taylor Swift Debuts New Video with The Civil Wars
CATEGORIES: Features, News, Videos

Yesterday, MTV News’ Sway Calloway sat down with Taylor Swift to talk about songwriting, working with The Civil Wars on their latest track for the “Hunger Games,” and touring. Watch her new video, “Safe & Sound” featuring The Civil Wars below and for the complete interview visit MTV News.

February 14, 2012 | | (0) comment comment
Q&A: Jennifer Gilson, Co-Owner of the Living Room
CATEGORIES: Features, News


(Editors Note: I interviewed Jennifer Gilson last year for another publication that since folded. Since the article was never published, I thought it’d be helpful for local musicians to know what she looks for when booking acts at the Living Room.)

For over a decade, New York’s the Living Room has been known as an intimate place to witness live music. Co-owner Jennifer Gilson explained that she decided to open the venue shortly after her waitressing job at Sin-é ended when the café closed. The Irish café, famous for where Jeff Buckley performed and recorded Live at Sin-é, booked many musicians, some of who suggested Gilson open her own venue.

“Sin-é had a really low, intimate stage so I decided to keep that. That’s sort of what worked. Artists used to say, ‘This is great. I feel like I’m playing in my living room.’ That’s why I ended up calling it the Living Room,” Gilson said.

While the Living Room boasts well known and emerging talent, Gilson says she likes to maintain a comfortable, friendly atmosphere and on any given night you can expect to hear good music. With that said, she has some suggestions for bands hoping to land a slot on the Living Room stage and explains what she looks for before she books an act. Heed her advice below.

1. Don’t send elaborate press kits.

“It’s funny. People used to mail big press kits with their folders, head-shots and bios, sometimes with ribbons. What I would always do is put them to the side and just get my stack of CD’s and start listening. That’s what I do first: I listen to the music. I don’t see if they’re being signed or they can bring a million people or they’re friends with somebody. First it’s the music,” she said.

“If it’s something I like that I think would be great here, then I look into it further and I’ll listen to another song and go from there and see what an appropriate time for them to play might be. Another thing is I’ll listen to it and think, ‘Would I enjoy sitting through 45 minutes of this artist?’ Sometimes you can tell in a measure and sometimes you can tell by the second song.”

2. Sound good.

This might seem obvious, but Gilson explained this is crucial before she decides to book an act. An artist must sing in pitch, be able to play his instrument and have good lyrics. “I’ll love something that’s solo guitar straight folk and I’ll also love something that has a toy piano and some weird synth stuff and cool percussion. I don’t book one style of music, but it has to be good by my standards.”

3. Be honest about your draw.

“If you don’t really have an audience yet, try to go to open mics or play places that don’t require a larger audience and then build it up. If you say you can bring a certain number of people and then you don’t, we’re probably not going to want to rebook you,” she said.

But, if you are honest and Gilson feels you’re still a great fit for the venue she says “maybe we’ll do something at a time that doesn’t require you bringing a lot of people.” Their upstairs space, Googies Lounge, has a smaller capacity and an artist can play there to build his audience and eventually move downstairs to the bigger room.

4. Know the venue’s standards.

“To play at the Living Room you have to play at a particular volume. I have a rule with the staff and sound that if you feel like you have to put something in your ears, then it is too loud and you probably can’t hear the lyrics and you can’t hear the lead singer,” Gilson said. “Why should you protect a part of your body when you go out to have fun? It’s just not necessary and it’s more about good sound. If you have to play loud, then a rock club is probably more your place.”

5. Promote the show.

Once you land that gig, you have to do your own self promotion. “You have to bring people because whether it’s a show that has a cover or whether it’s one of our $10 suggested donation tip jar shows, we need people to buy drinks so we can pay our rent,” she said. “It’s not all about the bodies. First it’s about the music, but you have to get people in.”

February 6, 2012 | | (0) comment comment
Win a Pair of Tickets to See Howlin Rain Monday in NYC!
CATEGORIES: Contest, Features, News

Howlin Rain will release their third album, The Russian Wilds on February 14. About to kick off a tour, the band will be in New York next week to promote the LP. I have a pair of tickets for their intimate, invite-only acoustic set at The Living Room in New York City on Monday, February 6.

To enter for your chance to win, e-mail me the answer to the below question. Good luck!

What band was frontman Ethan Miller in when he started Howlin Rain?

February 2, 2012 | | (0) comment comment
NYC’s 5 Best Places To Swing Dance
CATEGORIES: Features, News

Photo Credit: Lynn Redmile

A vibrant community, New York boasts countless locations to swing dance. Whether you’re a beginner or looking for supplement from the studio, here are five spots that are sure to keep you swing dancing every night of the week.

Swing 46
349 W. 46th St.
New York, NY 10036-3816

A popular spot, Swing 46 is the only jazz and supper club in the world that has live swing music and dancing seven nights a week. As a result, international and local dancers can be found here on a nightly basis with free dance lessons every evening except Monday. George Gee, Big Band leader of George Gee Swing Orchestra, has been a weekly fixture at the establishment since Swing 46 opened its doors in May of 1997. Performing every Tuesday night, he says visitors can expect “a totally awesome presentation of Big Band, Jump, and Swing music that is sure to keep the dance floor hopping and jumping all night long with great vocals by our singers. Plus, the band is anchored by some of the top Big Band Jazz musicians that New York City.”

A fan of swing, Gee says what astonishes him most is the generations that run amuck on the dance floor, Swing 46 being no exception. “You look across the room and you’ll find anyone from 20-something to 70-something and literally from all walks of life smiling from ear to ear. What other culture or musical style or movement has that same quality? It’s really such a cross-denominational appeal.”

Sofia’s Restaurant
221 W. 46th St.
New York, NY 10036

Head to Sofia’s Restaurant on Mondays and Tuesdays to catch Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks perform. The same band showcased on HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire,” during the band’s three sets dance the night away at the Edison Hotel in your best 20s-esque getup. Who knows, maybe you can make your way into the show as an extra.

For my complete article, visit CBS.

January 23, 2012 | | (0) comment comment
Brooklyn’s 5 Best Live Music Venues
CATEGORIES: Features, News

Music fans can enjoy live acts every night of the week in Brooklyn if they so choose. Here are five must visit venues to discover the next big act. Just think, you’ll always be able to say, ‘I saw them first in Brooklyn.’

Union Hall

702 Union Street
Brooklyn, NY 11215

Located in the heart of Park Slope, after playing bocce ball on one of the two indoor bocce courts, head downstairs to the live music venue. Showcasing acts of every genre on a nightly basis, you’re never quite sure what to expect but it’s nearly impossible to walk away without becoming a new fan of at least one band.


622 Degraw Street
Brooklyn, NY 11217

Housed in an old warehouse in Gowanus, Littlefield is an art and performance space that hosts local and international bands year round along with monthly art exhibits, literary events and film screenings. With a diverse lineup, music genres showcased include everything from indie rock, electronic and hip-hop to dance, soul, jazz, experimental and reggae.

For my complete list, visit CBS.

January 18, 2012 | | (0) comment comment
"See Through You"
Willie Shaw's sultry new song mesmerizes upon first listen.
Music Reviews, Interviews, Concert & Album Reviews
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