Concert Reviews

Priscilla Ahn Keeps Concertgoers Intrigued with Quirky Stories and Unique Instruments

With a glass of red wine in one hand and guitar in the other, Priscilla Ahn had the audience at Maxwell’s laughing along during each song introduction Friday night. Whether it was explaining uncomfortable social situations at L.A. house parties in “Wallflower” or prefacing “The Boob Song” by telling the audience, “It’s not about my boobs, don’t worry; it’s about another girl’s boobs,” Priscilla’s hilarious onstage banter heightened curiosity throughout her mellow and relaxing set.

The night included many songs from Priscilla’s recent debut album, A Good Day, as well as a solid cover of Willie Nelson’s “Opportunity to Cry” and some unreleased material. Strong instrumental accompaniment never overpowered her soft, angelic vocals and at times she even harmonized with herself with the help of a loop pedal. Definitely a diverse set, Priscilla’s band was made up of cellist Oli Kraus and bass player Gus Seyfrett, better known as Willoughby, who opened the show, as well as herself on guitar, harmonica, ukulele and kazoo.

Having just over an hour set in Hoboken, Priscilla started off the night with stand-out track “Dream,” which has garnered much attention from being featured on the season finale of Grey’s Anatomy. Growing up in rural Pennsylvania, it only makes sense that many of her songs were linked to nature. She even told the crowd, “It’s always been a dream of mine to live in a tree. I always thought it’d be cool. Some people do it, and that’s cool,” before segueing into a song with the appropriate title, “Living in a Tree.”

Priscilla’s voice is so captivating, it felt as if she was singing a lullaby to the room during her slower songs. The crowd was so still and mesmerized that at times the only sound heard besides the musicians onstage was the click of cameras capturing her performance. While some songs were pretty mellow, others, such as “I Don’t Think So” were a bit more edgy, Priscilla referring to it as her “sassy” song with deeper and darker vocals and a fitting harmonica feature.

Her quirky introductions followed suit with her unique lyrics to each song. On “Astronaut,” a song with musical accompaniment reminiscent to a carnival, she sang “The fish in the sea have many things to tell me/Well what could they be?/I’ll never know/I had to go/Because I don’t associate with fish.” Laughter quickly filled the room.

Last song of her set was low-key “Find My Way Back Home” featuring Priscilla on ukulele. Sounding somewhat like being at a Hawaiian luau with a mix of Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” Priscilla ended the night on a high note. Soon to be joining Willie Nelson on his tour, I couldn’t imagine a more perfect fit.

For more on Priscilla, be sure to check her out on MySpace and if you haven’t yet, you can read an interview I had with her a few months ago by clicking here.

Special thanks to Deana Koulosousas for taking the photos from Friday’s show.


Priscilla Ahn

A few posts ago I introduced you to singer-songwriter Priscilla Ahn. Just last week Grey’s Anatomy featured one of her songs from upcoming album, A Good Day, on it’s season finale. I’m hoping to post a clip of that segment soon. In an email interview with Priscilla, she filled me in on her transition into the music industry, her recent Hotel Café Tour and hopes for the future. Read on for more of the interview and be sure to check out Priscilla’s debut album, hitting stores June 10.

Did you grow up thinking you would be a singer? Do you remember the day you said to yourself, “This is what I’m going to do”?
I grew up thinking I’d be an English teacher. I guess, the day I decided I wasn’t gonna go to college is the day I knew for sure I wanted to really try making some sort of career out of singing and songwriting.

You moved from Pennsylvania to L.A. to pursue music. What prompted that decision and how did you adjust to everything?
I visited L.A. with some musician friends from Philadelphia. We were on a songwriting road trip. As soon as we drove into Los Angeles, I fell in love with the place. One month later, I was on the road solo, driving from PA to CA. Amazingly, at 19, I feel like I adjusted alright. I was never really homesick. I learned the streets pretty fast. I met people pretty fast. I guess I saw the whole thing as an adventure where I couldn’t lose, and totally dove in head first.

Do you feel the move paid off?
Definitely. If I’d have gone to college, or just stayed in Pennsylvania, my life and career would be nowhere near where it is now.

What has been the biggest struggle for you?
My biggest struggle I think has been finding myself musically. Being a young girl I had anybody and everybody telling me what songs should sound like. It took me about a year or two to figure out that I hated writing songs the way all the songwriting magazines and crap were saying you should. I knew I was different from that, and I didn’t like my creativity living in a box. So I tore the box down and wrote less-structured songs that were fun to sing.

I saw the NYC date of the Hotel Cafe Tour at Irving Plaza and really enjoyed your performance. Was this your first tour with all the performers? How did the tour go for you?
This was my first tour with all the other performers, except for Cary Brothers, who brought me on the road last summer, which was a lot of fun too. I had a lot of fun on this tour too, granted it was only five or six dates, but they were in fun cities. The crowds were so great at all the shows, I’d definitely do it again.

Do you have a favorite song to perform?
It depends. I enjoy playing pretty much all my songs, which is a good thing I guess. Sometimes my favorites to play are the ones I don’t get a chance to play that often, and for some reason, the day of the show I decide to play it because I really need to. Those become the most satisfying, because it served a purpose for me.

I really like your song, “Wallflower.” In one of your press kits you said it was about when you first moved to L.A. and were basically a wallflower at all the parties. Has L.A. gotten better since you wrote the song?
Yes. I’ve become a little more outgoing for one. Not so aloof. Also, the parties have gotten better. Those parties were filled with a bunch of people I didn’t know, or want to know. The parties these days are more of get-togethers and dinners with good friends where we play games and stuff.

How was the process making A Good Day? Is it everything you imagined recording your first album would be? Did you go into the studio having a certain concept for the album?
The process was extremely educating as far as creative group dynamic in confined spaces go. I learned to really work with people. I was never very big into working in groups growing up. I had no idea what recording my first album would be like. I’d hoped it would be as easy as making my EP was, but it was a little different, a little more involved, and the stakes were a little higher. I don’t believe we had a real concept for the album going into the studio. We were very much like, let’s play the songs and make them fun and beautiful.

How did you decide which songs to cover?
My friend Gus Seyffert, who was a big part of the whole recording process, suggested both songs to me. “Masters In China” is a song his friend Benji Hughes wrote. I fell madly in love with the lyrics and the body of the song. Gus found “Opportunity To Cry” on an old Willy Nelson demo. Again, the lyrics were heartbreaking and also sort of sassy and funny to me.

Do you write all the music and lyrics to each song? What is your typical writing process like?
I do. I’m starting to co-write with people too, which can be really fun and rewarding too. Typically, I’ll stumble on a chord progression that in turn will evoke the first line of lyrics. Usually whatever will float off the tip of my tongue, and then I trust that whatever that first line is about, is what the song is supposed to be about, and I just go with it from there.

What are your plans for the rest of the year?
I’m hoping a lot of touring, and at the same time, a lot of time for writing. If I can maintain the lifestyle of have doing what I’m doing right now, that’d be pretty awesome.

For more on Priscilla check out her MySpace.


New Artist to Listen For: Priscilla Ahn

With a soothing voice and light guitar accompaniment, Priscilla Ahn is an artist who will no doubt soon be a household name. Having just wrapped up touring with Ingrid Michaelson on the Hotel Cafe Tour as well as getting ready to release her debut full-length album June 10, Ahn has been keeping busy.

I recently received an advance copy of debut album, A Good Day, and can’t stop listening to it! While her voice is reminiscent of Ingrid Michaelson and fellow newcomer, Colbie Caillat, Ahn definitely has her own style.

Light and airy, Ahn opens up A Good Day with stand-out track “Dream” – a song starting off with light guitar accenting her vocals incredibly well. She sings about childhood dreams in lyrics, “I had a dream I could fly from the highest swing/I had a dream/Long walks in the dark through woods grown behind the park/I asked God who I’m supposed to be.” A song many can relate to. Next track is “Wallflower,” a story about a shy girl standing in the corner of a party, wishing she was more outgoing.

To watch a video of “Dream” and Ahn performing “Wallflower” live click here for Windows Media, here for Real Media and here for Quick Time. You can also check out the music video for “Dream” below.


A Good Day is also made up of some of Ahn’s favorite cover songs, such as Willie Nelson’s “Opportunity To Cry.” While some songs seem a little more obscure at first listen, such as “Astronaut,” when I covered a New York date of the Hotel Cafe Tour, I remember Ahn saying, “This song is called ‘Astronaut’ and it’s about astronauts.” It can’t be too difficult to understand, right? Another song, “Leave the Light On,” she later told the audience, was inspired and written when she was 18 and living in Pennsylvania with her parents, practically in the middle of the woods. Coming home late at night, her parents would never leave the lights on and she was constantly scared that she was surrounded by “cougars, bears and rapists” in the dark.

The entirety of A Good Day is enjoyable and relaxing. It’s one of those albums that you won’t get tired of listening to. While some songs have harmonica features, others have light, bell sounding xylophone accompaniment, keeping each track fresh.

If you haven’t yet, be sure to check out Priscilla Ahn on MySpace and pick up her album in stores in June!

Concert Reviews

The Hotel Cafe Tour Stops in NYC

The Hotel Cafe Tour hit New York City Monday night to a standing-room-only crowd at the Fillmore at Irving Plaza. The night featured 15- to 20-minute rotating performances from Ingrid Michaelson, Cary Brothers, Joshua Radin, Meiko and Priscilla Ahn.

While Michaelson may have been the main draw, with her MySpace success and songs featured on “Grey’s Anatomy,” all the musicians featured throughout the night impressed the crowd. Whether it was Ahn playing the kazoo during one of her songs or all the performers accompanying Brothers on backing vocals for his song “Blue Eyes,” they kept the audience attentive.

I’ve never been to a concert that rotated performers every 15 minutes or so, but surprisingly enough the show ran extremely smoothly. Each performer played three to four songs every time they were onstage, sometimes bringing out previous performers to sing with them. For the most part, the musicians were a bit mellow — many playing acoustic guitars — but Michaelson’s set as well as Brothers’ livened up the audience.

Michaelson started out her first set of the night by playing “Breakable” from her latest album, Girls and Boys. The piano accompaniment throughout the song was strong but never overpowered her vocals. “Overboard” featured Michaelson’s falsetto singing range as she sang “To fall” — lyrics from the song — repeatedly, hitting a higher note with each repetition.

She explained “The Hat” as being her hoedown song, and at the end of her first set she joked with the crowd, promising that she’d be back after “one more of the whole buffet of singer songwriters” took the stage. “We’re going to make you cry tonight,” she said, alluding to the mellower, down-tempo sets of songs.

Ahn took the stage shortly after, with her light, airy singing style and guitar and strings accompaniment. She introduced her song “Astronauts” by saying, “This song is called ‘Astronauts’ and it’s about astronauts.” Another song, “Leave the Light On,” she told the audience, was inspired and written when she was 18 and living in Pennsylvania with her parents, practically in the middle of the woods. Coming home late at night, her parents would never leave the lights on and she was constantly scared that she was surrounded by “cougars, bears and rapists” in the dark.

Radin took the stage next with his guitar, and later Ahn came back out to accompany him as well as Allie Moss from Michaelson’s band. Solid and soothing vocally, Radin joked about one of his songs, which was inspired by falling in love on a train while in France. “This song gets tons and tons of airplay … on my mom’s iPod.” He had the audience singing along to “What If You,” a beautiful vocally driven song with his light guitar playing blending well with his soft vocals.

Michaelson took the stage again awhile later, playing a few more from her latest album. “Die Alone,” she told the crowd, was inspired by her constant fear of dying alone. “I know everyone feels that way sometimes,” she said. While her voice in the song sounds pretty lighthearted, the guitar accompaniment portrayed a feeling of anxiousness and fear.

Crowd favorite of the night seemed to be Michaelson and her radio hit, “The Way I Am.” With classic lines such as “I’d buy you Rogaine when you start losing all your hair/Sew on patches to all you tear/‘Cuz I love you more than I could ever promise,” she had practically all in attendance singing along. At times she seemed like a choir teacher directing those in the audience who helped her out by clapping along during certain points in the song.