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Maragold Has Something Most Bands Don’t.

Maragold

Earlier I was looking at my numbers for this blog and was completely amazed at how well it was doing the last couple days based on one CD review for the band Maragold. Yesterday when I released it it was already doing double it’s average daily but then around 11:00pm CST the band posted it on Facebook and holy crap did it explode. It his had more views by 10 times the amount of any other CD review or musician spotlight I have written. Here is the key, each one posted it pretty much on their personal and band page on Facebook. Most bands don’t do this. They maybe post it once on their band page and not on their personal pages and they interacted with their fans about it. When I released it in the morning two of the band members and the band twitter account RT’d it once and that was it. For further reference on this please read my blog “Creating The “Buzz,” It’s Your Responsibility.”

What does this mean? It means that Maragold has found a way to reach it’s audience like no other band I have reviewed for or spotlighted. It means “true” fans not Facebook likes are extremely excited about them. It means they have actually offered up something the public wants. They did this in spite of having never released a CD and the only member of the band with a real name is was co-founder Greg Howe who is a well known guitar instrumentalist. Well known being relative in the world of music. Yes most guitar players know who he is, but the world doesn’t. Please note that Maragold didn’t ask me for a review. I just did it because when I listened to the CD it was so good I really had no choice.

Everyday on Facebook I see bands complaining about how hard it is or how the industry keeps people down etc… That is complete bunk. Is it hard yes but most bands don’t work hard enough, give the public something they want to buy or shoot themselves in the foot with poor promotion and bad social media skills. Is it anyone else’s fault you can’t make it? No. For whatever reason, Maragold has touched an audience with no prior CD, no real history of gigging, nothing but the past success of guitar player Greg Howe and each other individuals past endeavors. They made it happen without anything other than hard work, determination, incredible talent and most importantly at this stage knowing how to build up a release. Now because of this, hopefully with continued hard work, the songs which are amazing,  will be the deciding factor in their long term success.

This audience interaction is what every band should be striving for, for without it, you have nothing.

Pre-order the Maragold CD here: http://www.maragoldband.com/

CD Review “Maragold” by Maragold

maragold_albumcover

Maragold

Maragold is a rock band founded by guitar virtuoso Greg Howe and bassist Kevin Vicchione. For those not in the guitar community, Greg is a world renown player  and has played with such artist as Justin Timberlake, N’Sync, Christina Aguilara, Michael Jackson, Rihana, Lady Antebellum, P Diddy, T-Pain, Salt and Peppa not to mention jazz fusion legends like Victor Wooton, Dennis Chambers and other world reknown players like Richie Kotzen and Stu Hamm. Actually Greg’s song “Jump Start” is my favorite guitar instrumental of all time. So needless to say I had high expectations when I heard about this project and holy shit does it deliver. Greg has the very rare ability to be a virtuoso and still play for the song. His solo’s are so amazing and vintage Greg but sound completely original in a sea of completely unoriginal players who all sound the same in today’s scene. You will never hear a “typical” lick or sound from Greg but you will be amazed and wonder why more players don’t strive for a unique voice like his.

First let me tell you about the other musicians on the project. Singer and relative newcomer Meghan Krauss is the best female rock singer to come out since Sass Jordan. This lady can sing with the best of them and evokes that excitement from inside you that you so rarely hear from singers anymore, as they are all canned and predictable. Meghan will knock you on your ass and remind you why you listen to rock in the first place.

Bass Player Kevin Vecchione is a SOLID player. Kevin is obviously capable of so much more and that is the beauty of his playing here. He plays exactly what is needed for the song, never anymore and drives the buss with drummer Gianluca Palmieri so that the pocket is strong and every song leads you like it should. I have a feeling we will be hearing a lot more about Kevin in the years to come as opportunities arise to showcase his immense talent.

Drummer Gianluca Palmieri is the epitome of a “pocket” player on this CD. It’s so great to hear players that know how to play for the song no matter how good a musician they are. It can be very tempting to play too much or show off and while Gianluca plays some incredibly fresh grooves to allow you to see his true talent without showing off, it’s never over stated and is truly a part of the songwriting as opposed to just being a drum track. The rhythm section of Vecchione and Palmieri is as good as it gets and something all players should listen to and learn from.

The single “Evergreen Is Golder” is a straight out knock you on your ass “Hello world I am Meghan Krauss and I am going to kick your ass!” statement. A great rock song with a blistering solo and incredible hook. Written by Greg, Kevin and Greg’s brother Al Howe, this song is a hit single through and through. I hope to God someone gets behind this for radio. Hell I’ll push it myself.

“Saturday Sun” and “Lullaby” are other rockers that shine, no pun intended. Another high point for me was “Paradigm Tsunami.” This CD is not your typical rock record by any means. It has blues, jazz, rhythmic displacement and all kinds of cool elements that really bring out the color and flavor of the songs. Meghan takes advantage of every opportunity is now in the “best singer you have never heard” of  category along with Richie Kotzen.

“Maragold” is a must buy CD and one of the top 2 CD releases of 2013 along with Steve Lukather’s new CD “Transition” and the best rock CD since “Forty Deuce” featuring Richie Kotzen. You can no longer say there aren’t any good rock bands anymore. Maragold may be just what the hurting rock genre needed, a good old shot of in your face, kicking your ass rock n’ roll. Thank God for Maragold.

Five out of Five ass kicking stars.

Go buy it now here:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/evergreen-is-golder-single/id619283574 NOW!

Guitar Great Hangout on Live From Music City with Carl Verheyen, Gretchen Menn, Neil Zazza, Jon Finn, Rob Balducci, Mike Martin and Chris Green

Join guitar virtuosos Carl Verheyen, Gretchen Menn, Neil Zaza, Jon Finn, Rob Balducci, Mike Martin and Chris Green as well talk all things guitar on a Google+ hangout! Covering everything from songwriting, marketing, touring and developing a fan base. Tweet us at @LFMCRadio to ask your questions and listen to some of music’s most prolific instrumentalists tell you how to beat the challenges of the music industry.

Date: TBD – Due to technical issues, this hangout is being rescheduled. Please check back for the new date and time!

Time 7:00pm – 8:30pm CST

Where: THIS PAGE

Carl Verheyen

Carl Verheyen

Carl Verheyen Biography

In his 40-plus years of playing the instrument, Carl has created a wildly successful, multi-faceted career. He is a critically-acclaimed musician, vocalist, songwriter, arranger, producer and educator with 11 CDs and two live DVDs released worldwide. Carl is commonly regarded as a guitar virtuoso capable of playing any style of music with remarkable mastery and conviction. He has been one of LA’s elite “first call” session players for the past 25 years, playing on hundreds of records, movie soundtracks and television shows. Carl has graced the pages of countless industry publications and been the subject of numerous articles chronicling his rise to the forefront of the modern day guitar scene. Carl has won numerous polls and musical honors in the US, Germany, France, Italy and the UK.

A member of the smash hit British rock group Supertramp since 1985, Carl has played to millions of enthusiastic fans in sold out arenas worldwide. As the creative force behind The Carl Verheyen Band, he has released an impressive and eclectic discography that showcases his endless talents across a wide array of musical genres.

A much sought after studio musician, Carl plays on other artists’ CDs whenever his busy schedule permits. He has recorded and played with a virtual who’s who of the music industry. His vast collection of movie soundtrack and television credits are enviable. Carl was heard by 67, 000,000 people as a featured soloist at the 2009 Academy Awards. He will also be heavily featured in the forthcoming film documentary about the electric guitar, Turn It Up!

On the educational front, Carl has produced two instructional videos called Intervallic Rock Guitar and Forward Motion as well as various on-line lessons. He also has a book/CD detailing his unique “intervallic” style called Improvising Without Scales. Another book entitled Studio City is a compilation of all the columns Carl wrote for Guitar Magazine between 1996 and 1999. He has written a monthly column for Chitarre, Italy’s #1 guitar publication as well as Guitar World and Guitar Jam Daily, a website devoted to serious guitarists. He currently writes a monthly column for Guitar Player, contributes to other guitar publications, and blogs regularly for GuitarPlayer.com and his own site. Carl also lectures and teaches at clinics regularly when not on the road.

Carl recently co-designed a signature guitar with LsL Instruments, the “CV Special,” combining the best elements Carl seeks in his ideal guitar; they are now available for purchase worldwide. As if that weren’t enough, working closely with Dean Markley, Carl developed a line of signature strings for the electric guitar that perfectly balance the tremolo bridge of the Fender Stratocaster, the Carl Verheyen Balanced Bridge Helix HD string set . Also working with Dean Markley, Carl helped develop a top-of-the-line guitar lubrication, Tuba Luba, in addition to his numerous existing endorsements.

Gretchen Menn

Gretchen Menn

Photo by: Max Crace

Gretchen Menn Bio

Rapidly gaining praise in the world of instrumental rock and beyond, Gretchen Menn isn’t your average guitar hero on the rise. She once flew regional jets to support her six-string habit. She has studied, in equal parts, the music of Mozart, Beethoven, Steve Morse, Frank Zappa, and Jimmy Page. (Regarding the latter composer, she performs the music of Led Zeppelin professionally all over the U.S. with Zepparella.) Perhaps Michael Molenda, Guitar Player Magazine’s editor-in-chief, described Gretchen’s solo music best when he said that she “seeks the unknown by blending disparate jazz, prog, and world-music influences into a tasty, guitaristic thrill ride.” Her first solo album, Hale Souls, released in July of 2011, is an instrumental album of original compositions that range from aggressive to celestial.

Apart from demolishing her mother’s violin with Pete Townshend-like vehemence at age three, Gretchen’s passion for all things guitar didn’t fully surface until her early teenage years. It was under the tutelage of classical guitarist Phillip de Fremery, a student of Andrés Segovia, that Gretchen began her path on the instrument. Her father, noted writer and former editor-in-chief of Guitar Player Magazine, Don Menn, was quick to point her in the direction of the greats as soon as she expressed interest in guitar.

While earning a degree in music at Smith College, Gretchen’s adventurous approach to her education would foreshadow her approach to the guitar. She convinced a professor to allow her to launch a special studies project on the intricate and unclassifiable music of Frank Zappa. Her analyses of “The Sheik Yerbouti Tango” and “The Girl in the Magnesium Dress” showed a love for epic, melodic, genre-shattering rock and roll composition that would manifest later in her original instrumentals.

After college, Gretchen began heavily incorporating her love of rock guitar into her daily regime, the only hitch being that the music of her rock gods, Steve Morse, Eric Johnson, and Frank Zappa, wasn’t exactly Guitar 101. She also began considering her career path, and how she might prevent a situation she sought to avoid: tainting her love of music with the necessity of paying rent.

The solution? She went directly from college to flight school, and two years later was flying regional jets for the airlines. Yet Gretchen was never without her guitar.

After a year in the jet, with the life of an airline pilot being more than a little incompatible with a career in music, Gretchen relinquished her position with the airlines, knowing that there was a pilot out there somewhere who would appreciate the opportunity. She decided to take a more direct approach to realizing her musical dreams.

Playing with tireless passion and constantly seeking out new challenges, Gretchen’s projects have spanned the genres of jazz, funk, rock, progressive, and metal. In 2003, she donned a schoolboy uniform and joined AC/DShe as “Agnes Young.” In 2005, she joined forces with drummer, Clementine, to form Zepparella, currently with singer Noelle Doughty and bassist Angeline Saris. In 2007, Gretchen formed Sticks and Stones, the high-energy, instrumental “bassless power trio” with guitarist Mickael Tremel and drummer Sam Adato. In 2010, she played in Lapdance Armageddon, an aggressive acoustic duo with Jude Gold. In 2011 she wrote, produced, and recorded her first solo album, Hale Souls, which features bassist Stu Hamm, drummer John Mader, violinist Emily Palen, and guest artists Angeline Saris (bass on “Scrap Metal”), Jude Gold (second acoustic guitar on “Fast Crowd”), and Gretchen’s sister, Kirsten Menn (soprano on “Fading.”) Gretchen’s solo project, a trio with Angeline Saris on bass and Thomas Perry on drums, played their first shows in November of 2011, and will be starting to tour more in 2012.

Neil Zaza

Neil Zaza

Neil Zaza Biography

His guitar playing has defined modern day instrumental guitar the world over. His melodic compositions have not only changed the way musicians play, but what audiences demand out of their guitar heroes. To see Ohio native Neil Zaza’s influential impact on guitar across the globe, merely tune into the legion of thousands of fanatical fans performing his international hit, “I’m Alright” on YouTube. Neil’s trademark “singing” and lyrical guitar style is easily recognizable and can only belong to one man: Neil Zaza.

“It’s always been about the song for me,” states Neil. “I remember all the tunes that really moved me when I was growing up and it wasn’t about the guitarist playing 128th notes. It was about an inexplicable connection I felt drawing me to wear out my records as I couldn’t get enough of that rush of the song itself! That’s what I try and do with my music today. It’s always about the song!”

Neil Zaza worldwide touring has cemented him as a true guitar phenomenon. He’s played alongside and shared the stage with such guitar luminaries as Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Yngwie Malmsteen, and Nuno Bettencourt. His recordings feature collaborations with Van Halen’s Michael Anthony, Dream Theater’s Jordan Rudess, drumming legend Steve Smith, Peter Frampton among others.

Neil Zaza’s mastery of the guitar amasses accolades from all sources. While he continues to transform the world of instrumental rock music one melody at a time, it’s his fiery interpretations of holiday repertoire fused with Classical melodies and classic Rock that is the basis for his One Silent Night… concert series. Neil, his band, and an orchestra/choir aren’t just performing holiday music with One Silent Night…-they are literally reinventing it!

Now, with his latest release entitled 212, Neil has set the melodic bar even higher with a project taking his melodic stylings to even greater heights. 212 boasts songs that put composition and melody on par with his stunning guitar prowess. The combination is deadly and sure to set the watermark for how expressive and emotive a guitarist can be.

This unique voice continues to evolve…

Jon Finn - Scream (small)

Jon Finn

Jon Finn Biography

A guitarist since age six, Jon Finn has been a professional musician for most of his life. Joining the guitar faculty at Berklee College of Music in Boston in 1988, he started the Jon Finn Group later that same year. To date, they have released three CDs internationally:

For over three years, Jon wrote a monthly instructional feature for a national magazine called Guitar. Jon has also authored several books for Mel Bay Publications:

In his freelance pursuits, he’s played guitar for the national touring companies of many contemporary musical theater productions such as Rent, Aida, Mamma Mia, Grease, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Copacabana, and many others. Today Jon frequently performs and records with the Boston Pops Orchestra, and has been involved in a plethora of concerts and recording sessions, including 6 CDs (two of which were Grammy nominated), 8 US concert tours, and one tour in Asia.

Rob Balducci

Rob Balducci

Rob Balducci Bio

A native of New York, Rob Balducci has defined himself as a guitarist, musician, composer and one of the most sought after instructors in New York. Balducci’s music is drenched in layers of sonic colors, each representing a tangible emotion, desire, depth, feeling, thought and mood. Rob said “There’s this cliche that instrumental guitar music has gotten to be too much of a vehicle for soloing and showing off technique. That’s completely the opposite of what I’m trying to do. My music is really like vocal songs with the guitar as the vocals.” Guitar World said after hearing Balducci’s debut CD “ Hum-able Shred! What a concept.”

“ Rob is an excellent guitarist… I’ve always had his CDs around and I am waiting for him to become the next big guitar player ” – Joe Satriani “

Rob is a great player and is as dedicated to his work as one can get and it shows in the construction of his audio emotions”- Steve Vai

Having played guitar for the past 24 years, Rob spent years dedicated to mastering his instrument. These well-spent years of woodshedding, and perfecting his technique would pay off handsomely. In 1990, Balducci would go on to win a local contest sponsored by Guitar For The Practicing Musician proclaiming him as New York’s best guitarist. Balducci also furthered his six-string education, earning a degree in music performance and theory from Five Towns College. Balducci’s debut CD, 1995’s BALANCE distributed through Sony Music reaped unanimous praise from press and guitar enthusiasts alike heralding this promising new talent.

After his debut CD Balance, Rob worked on new material and starting shopping his music to record companies. The new CD was sent to Steve Vai in hopes of Steve wanting to release it on his new record label Favored Nations Entertainment. “Favored Nations was created with the intent of bringing music that’s energetic and emotional, with performances by artists of the highest caliber. The artists signed to Favored Nations are a unique, dedicated breed that have attained the highest performance level on their chosen instruments – Steve Vai “ Vai signed Balducci to Favored Nations and released Mantra and The Color Of Light CDs worldwide. Balducci’s newest 2009 Favored Nations CD is titled Violet Horizon and features 15 new tracks of his best work to date with special guest appearances by Guthrie Govan and Dave Weiner.

2009 has been a busy year, not only has Balducci recorded Violet Horizon he also collaborated with Bassist Randy Coven and drummer John Macaluso on a new CD that will be coming out on BHP/NuGroove records. The CD features songs written by Randy, Rob and John and is produced by Emmy Award winning producer Brian Tarquin. Joining Rob on this CD is fellow guitar players Steve Vai, Leslie West and many more….

Rob is currently working on his debut instructional DVD which will be released through The Rock House Method company. His stellar guitar stylings can also be heard on “Rewired: A Tribute To Jeff Beck,” “Crushing Days: A Tribute To Joe Satriani” and a salute to Carlos Santana. Rob Balducci has the pleasure of working with and endorsing Ibanez Guitars, Cornford Amps, Intellitouch tuners, D’Addario Strings, Dimarzio Pick-ups, George L’s cables, Morley pedals, Keeley Pedals, Xotic pedals, Dunlop, Maxon and performs clinics around the world in support of these companies.

The musical community has also taken notice of this guitar giant, with scores of global publications loudly singing his praises (most notably Guitarist UK, Guitar World, Young Guitar, and Burn). What remains constant about Rob Balducci is his intoxicating cinematic scope of sounds, skin-tight arrangements and extraordinary six-string dexterity. Music is a highly personal experience for each and every listener, a uniquely exotic adventure conjuring up a kaleidoscope of different emotions and feelings. Like a master snake charmer, Balducci’s music seduces, inspires, challenges, and ultimately takes you onto a new dimension of light and shade and into the ” Violet Horizon

Mike Martin

Mike Martin

Mike Martin Biography

Mike “2 of 5” Martin began his life on stage. Literally. Mike’s mother was pregnant while she was in college studying and performing opera. He never had a chance! He began his formal study of music at the age of four, learning violin and singing in choir throughout elementary school. At nine, he started playing the piano. In 1985 he discovered the guitar and was given one that year for Christmas. Teaching himself to play by ear, Mike quickly developed a repertoire of popular rock music, learning every AC/DC riff he could.

In junior high, Mike began seeking out teachers who could help further him along as a player. After a short stint with music store lessons, Mike was accepted to study at The Concord Community Music School in Concord, New Hampshire, studying Classical Guitar with Christopher Kane and Jazz Guitar with David Tonkin.

Mike earned his first professional job as a musician playing 12-string guitar for the New Life Singers, a contemporary Christian folk ensemble based out of Concord, NH. At fifteen, Mike started a rock band and began performing music by Metallica, Queensryche, Anthrax, Guns N’ Roses, Judas Priest and Iron Maiden all over New Hampshire with musicians who were already out of school

Eager to learn as much as possible about the guitar, Mike took an opportunity to move to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, in 1990 to begin studying with Tom Yoder, a local guitar wizard that Mike credits for bringing out the discipline and skills he would need for a lifetime of music achievement. During this period, Mike continued performing in the Myrtle Beach area with local bands. He stayed under Tom’s tutelage until graduating from high school in 1992

After high school, Mike moved to Atlanta with the group Tunnel Vision in hopes of getting his performing career off the ground. The new Alternative and Grunge movements made it difficult for Mike to secure many opportunities, but he did make some acquaintances along the way. During a short stint at a Georgia landscaping company he met Rich Ward of Stuck Mojo, and Sean Delson and Doug Busbee of Salem Ash. Little did he realize then the significance of this brief encounter.

Discouraged by the trend in “anti-guitar-solo” music, Mike did the only thing he could think of: Go To College! Here he studied Music Theory and Composition with Dr. David Maves, ASCAP Composer of the Year 1995. He also continued his Classical guitar studies with Mark Regnier and Jazz studies with pianist Tommy Gill.

After graduating in 1999, Mike moved back to Atlanta to pick up where he had left off. He soon found work in the thriving Atlanta Blues Scene as a mercenary sideman for hire which gained him the honor of being included in a historic photo of GA blues musicians now on display in The Georgia Music Hall of Fame in Macon, GA. Mike also had great success performing with his Nuevo Gypsy/Flamenco duo with Ed Wier. Mike began showcasing his writing with the group The Hybrids in 2000, which ultimately lead to starting a group under his own name in 2002.

Mike was approached by Sean Delson in the summer of 2004 on behalf of Rich Ward and FOZZY to take over lead guitar responsibilities. They were in the process of dropping the joke gimmick to become a real band and beginning a world tour to support their record “All That Remains” featuring guitar solos by Hard Rock and Metal guitar heroes Zakk Wylde, Mark Tremonti and Marty Friedman. They were in need of a real guitar player to do the album justice on the road and Mike was more than up to the challenge, transcending “touring sideman” status to become a feature of the live shows. Since then Mike has toured worldwide with FOZZY and recorded The Duke’s (Ward’s) release on Spitfire Records, “My Kung Fu Is Good” (released worldwide May 2005). In 2006, Mike played lead guitar for FOZZY on the track “Metal Gods” for a tribute to Judas Priest CD featuring Motorhead, Vince Neil, Sepultura and Tim “Ripper” Owens among others.

Being in close association with the band Stuck Mojo, Mike was asked to perform on their long awaited album “Southern Born Killers”. After having toured with the band multiple times and appearing as a guest in the upcoming DVD release “Live at the London Underworld”, Mike joined the band as an official member and second guitarist to Rich Ward in 2007, appearing in the music video for “I’m American”. During Mike’s time with Stuck Mojo, they toured extensively throughout Europe with Vol Beat and Ektomorph, as well as signed with Napalm Records to release “The Great Revival” in January of 2009.

2009 also finally saw the release of the live CD which had been recorded in Australia on FOZZY’s 2005 “Remains Alive” tour. Mike’s final contribution to the band was to produce the track “Wormwood” for the January 2010 release “Chasing the Grail”. Chris Jericho penned the lyrics about the end of the world inspired by the book of Revelations. Mike turned those lyrics into a 14 minute progressive hard rock cinematic feast for the ears composing, arranging, engineering, playing all of the guitars, conducting the choir for the finale and co-mixing with Eric Frampton. This standout track was a complete musical departure for the band and it demonstrates Mike’s growth as an artist in his own right. “Wormwood” has been a very highly reviewed track on the album and a fan favorite
 but more importantly, it is a synergistic example of all that Mike has to offer and a tip of the hand as to what he will be up to on his next projects.

During his tours of duty with FOZZY, The Duke, and Stuck Mojo, Mike seized upon the opportunity to build a project studio at his home so he could begin to produce his solo projects. The first of which was the instrumental album “2 of 5”, originally released the Summer of 2006 independently on Serpa Records, and now available worldwide through Steve Vai’s Digital Nations Division of the Favored Nations record label. “The title is a reference to the Borg character ‘7 of 9’ on Star Trek,” says Mike. “I am the second of five children so I thought it was pretty clever.” With the new Vai DN partnership, and the critical acclaim and success of “Wormwood”, 2013 is poised to be the year Mike gets his band touring properly as well as working on a new music set to be released in 2013.

2011 – 2013
Mike worked with Atlanta projects Agent Cooper (featuring members of Fozzy, Stuck Mojo, The Duke and Salem Ash) and The Nominees (featuring members of doubleDrive and Speed X). Touring Europe opening for Tony MacAlpine in 2012.

Highlights for MIke’s solo project in 2012 include opening for Steve Vai at Center Stage in Atlanta, GA and The Aristocrats (featuring Guthrie Govan, Bryan Beller and Marco Minneman) in Nashville, TN

Mike’s foundations in Classical, Metal, Jazz, Folk, Rock and World music have allowed him dedicate his career to versatility and culture with the highest respect for art by any means necessary. Perhaps he is best described in the following way:

Art with a purpose is a force to be reckoned with.

Chris Green

Chris Green

Chris Green Biography

Guitarist Chris Green has had the pleasure of playing in a long list of powerful rock bands, including Furyon, Nelson, Scrap Metal, Defcon, Firehouse and Pride. In 2008, the UK band, “Furyon” recorded their debut album with platinum-selling producer Rick Beato. His most recent project is a collaboration with CJ Snare, “Rubicon Cross,” as well as writing an instrumental album yet to be released.

Maragold on Live From Music City May 9th!

Maragold

Rock band Maragold will be on Live From Music City Tuesday May 9th!

Bio

MARAGOLD…a band that started as an idea and grew into a long awaited reality.

Renowned guitarist Greg Howe, widely known for his rock / fusion instrumental recordings, had been considering doing an album featuring vocal-driven songs for quite a while. Long time friend, bassist Kevin Vecchione, had played on Greg’s “Five” album, as well as having toured with Greg previously.Through the years, over the course of their enduring friendship, Greg and Kevin had been discussing and mulling over the idea of being in a band together… They finally decided to stop talking and start acting, and the seeds of the band “Maragold” were sown. Drummer Gianluca Palmieri, who had also toured with Greg, and played on his recent album “Sound Proof”, was recruited to complete their dynamic rhythm section.

All they needed was “the voice”…

Originally, the band started working with a male singer, but due to other musical endeavors, he was unable to continue with the project. In the meantime, Kevin had discovered an amazing vocal talent while performing in the Tri-State area club circuit, and suggested the female singer as a replacement. Greg was initially hesitant, as the songs they had lined up were centered around a male vocalist.

However…

Kevin had Greg listen to some demos he had done with the new singer, Meghan Krauss. Greg enthusiastically agreed that she had “the voice”, but Meghan’s presence, personality, image, and especially her ability to inject herself into a song, truly made her the “total package” that they wanted in a vocalist. Meghan agreed to take on the duties as lead singer; Greg and Kevin immediately went to work writing songs befitting her vocal style.

The results are the ten amazing songs on the debut self-titled album, “MARAGOLD”. Combining exemplary musicianship and powerhouse vocals with provocative songwriting, the album represents a daring new direction for Greg Howe, which is sure to be an exciting experience for his fans, old and new.

You can find out more about Maragold here:

http://www.maragoldband.com/band.html

http://www.facebook.com/maragoldband

http://www.twitter.com/maragoldband

http://www.youtube.com/maragoldband

Common Sense… To Post or Not To Post

A couple years ago I wrote a blog on artists of any genre to include music, acting, variety, writing etc…, using social media as their soapbox for the personal political or religious beliefs and the possible cost of doing so. Now I am writing a new one to help clarify the importance of being professional especially when hot political and religious topics like what we just went through with marriage equality. Today I received an email that a financial backer would not fund a project because of a certain artists rants on Facebook. This has cost 20,000 dollars in funding for the project. This morning when I woke up to the email saying basically that they will not fund a show with someone in it with such an obvious hateful stance on something we believe in so if I wanted the funding I had to get rid of that artist and replace him with another or they wouldn’t fund it. Now this may not be fair but it is business. It’s their money, they don’t have to freely give of their hard earned cash to something or someone they don’t believe in. These projects are opportunities for artists to not only get paid, but hopefully grow their fan base and brand as well as gain crucial experience in the industry. This is an artist that I have to talked to before about this many times and now it has comeback to not only bit me in the ass, but the artist and possibly every other artist involved with the production. You must remember, that people use Google to research what they are funding! Don’t think people won’t notice what you are saying. Never put yourself in the position of losing funding if you can at all help it.

I know you all think we have free speech and we shouldn’t be censored, but with free speech comes responsibility. If you are an artist of any kind of entertainment and you feel so strongly that you should be allowed to speak your mind at anytime because you have free speech, then by all means feel free to do so. Just do it on someone elses dime. Once you decide to work with other people, you have a responsibility to them and anyone else involved to make sure whatever you are working on becomes successful, not to cause controversy. Take a look at what has happened to Michelle Shocked recently for a sarcastic comment at a live show. All her tour dates where canceled in response because of her free speech. Now certainly Michelle has the right to free speech, she has every right to support her beliefs however she wants, but there comes a price with it. Now she is holding “sit-ins” in front of tiny clubs that canceled her with tape across her mouth saying “silenced by fear.”

What about the Dixie Chicks? They got nailed for one comment on stage. Of course being in a foreign country and slamming your President is never a good thing but they didn’t see anything wrong with it and the result was radio stations across the country quit playing their music for years and huge loss of fan base. They had a slight comeback but they never achieved the same level of success. There are many more examples of this I am sure.

You see, this is a BUSINESS. Promoters, venues, financial backers or whomever have their own personal beliefs and if they don’t line up with yours and you say something controversial then don’t be surprised when you loose the gig. They may do it out of fear of losing ticket sales or they may just want to not support your beliefs and outspoken way of handling the issues. In Hollywood it has never been a secret that if you favor one side of politics it could be much harder to get roles. This is nothing new whether it is right or wrong. People are people and they like to work with people they feel they have things in common with and understand them.

I have seen so many artists or promoters on Facebook fail miserably at Kickstarter programs or have lagging ticket sales and they are always starting controversial topics on social media. Do they ever wonder why no one backs them? Good chance part of it at least is your rants about your beliefs let alone the quality of show being provided. I have even been emailed about some of these people asking me to talk with them and I have nothing to do with them. I don’t work with or represent them in any way shape or form.

So here are my recommendations on how to handle this if you are an artist. First of all don’t post anything controversial on your social media pages especially business ones. If you have a personal one with your “stage name” and you post a ton of business on it, it’s now a business page. Either focus on your business page for marketing or hide your personal one from the general public and Google search engines and make it for friends only so your personal “opinions” don’t affect anyone working with you but you and you still get to stand up for what you believe in. If you are in a collective group of any kind say a band, acting troup etc… make sure you talk and set some ground rules so one else suffers from someone’s rants on Facebook. If you are “political” artist then I assume you already know the consequences of your actions and that is fine. If that is your vision go for it. Just make sure you are open about it with everyone you work with. You have every right as a human being to voice your opinion, you don’t have the right to ruin someone elses chances with your opinion. Be responsible with your free speech and you will benefit from it. Once you are big as U2 you can say what you want, because now you can afford to live if everyone ends up hating you and never buys another ticket to a gig. Remember especially here in America, the country is very polarized politically and if you alienate one half of your possible audience with your own personal political views, you are in for a very long hard road to success. The beautiful thing about social media is you can’t post what ever you want, it’s your page, your right to do so. The bad thing about social media you can post what ever you want.

If you are a newer promoter, venue, talent buyer etc… avoid artists like this like the plague. Hire only professional artists that understand it’s a business and want to make sure that every event they do comes off as professional and successful as possible. You can’t afford to loose ticket sales on artists that don’t care about anything but themselves. As a promoter check with an entertainment attorney to see if you should have some recourse to come back at them and sue them for damages if an artist causes you to loose money like this. Have set guidelines for your events and make sure the artists are clear on them and also make sure you research the history of the artist. I made the mistake of trusting someone to be professional and it has cost me.

I have said it before and I will say it again, as an artist trying to make it in the very, very hard industry, you can’t give anyone a reason to say “no” to you. Do you really want to lose possible ticket or merch sales just so you “rant” on social media? Why work so hard to make it then if you are willing to take such risky chances? This business is already way to risky for most to even try it and now you want to add to the risk? Your marketing, performance, attitude, media savvy should all be top notch. You more than likely don’t have a PR department to “spin” your free speech or questionable actions so you have to be able to do all this yourselves. If you aren’t willing to be professional at all times with your brand there are plenty who are and will take your spot on the roster or gig.

I know you won’t all agree with me and that is OK and I certainly support free speech, it’s a matter of knowing when to exercise it. If you are going to exercise it, do it responsibly, not in anger or hate, refrain from pointing fingers at one side or the other. Just make a nice, solid statement that isn’t inflammatory and leave it at that. Don’t go posting on everyone’s time line that doesn’t agree with you, or posting those sarcastic photo’s everyone seems to like to create. I have learned from my mistakes and will handle things differently with artists. Artists won’t be costing me money anymore.

Good luck!

Originality… What Does Elvira Have To Do With It.

Elvira

When you look back at people who have made a very successful career at entertainment and are still going strong decades after launching it’s hard to think of many still around especially one that is still a marketing dream come true. This is where Elvira (aka) Cassandra Peterson excels. Elvira was launched in 1981 by Cassandra and to this day is one of the most iconic characters in entertainment. She has created a brand that encompasses 400+ product licenses, the most sold Halloween costume ever, music CD’s, books, pinball machines, guitars and the list goes on. Finding truly iconic characters these days is hard work. Most are known for their personal problems not their originality. Tell me the last time you heard anything negative about Elvira? Her success is due to her originality, extremely well defined character and marketing.

Why do I bring this up? Because it could be you. You could be the next Elvira, Kiss, Alice Cooper, or whomever you can think of that are still around 30+ years later even after their hay day. Sometimes these things happen by accident. Cassandra probably wasn’t thinking that Elvira would turn into this iconic character, but she did and Cassandra took full advantage of it. Now I have never interviewed Cassandra. I did know her sister back in Colorado Springs however. She hung out a bar called “The Gardens” that I worked back in the early 90’s. I remember talking with her. How proud she was of Cassandra and all she had accomplished. Cassandra hit a gold mine with her character, probably had a decent team behind her to capitalize on her character and today Elvira is as big as ever and her cult legacy lives on. She is all over Facebook, Pinterest and anything Halloween.

Sometimes as entertainers we take ourselves to seriously. I read on Facebook the other day a band posting about how they were “real” and they didn’t care about image etc… So just shoot yourself in the foot why don’t you. This is a lame excuse for people to not put in the work for thinking outside the box, finding something original and running with it. You can do this and still maintain your sense of you or who you are without sacrficing your “realness,” whatever the hell that means.

Everyday people say, “if people would just get behind me, invest in me then I would prove that I am worth it.” So what exactly are they getting behind? What are they selling? Are you sellable the way you are now? Why would anyone want to invest in your brand if you don’t really have one? What is going to make you stand out from the millions of other entertainers looking to get noticed? We are looking for stars, not our next door neighbors.

Now I am not saying you have to go get “gothed” up to be noticed. I am saying that you need to be original, marketable and dedicated to working you butt off. If you want longevity in this industry, which from what you all say about how you wish you could do it full time and that it’s all you want to do, then you need to be willing to put in some development, take some risks and forget what every other lame ass next to you is saying because they will only tear you down especially once you start having success.

Be bold, be brave, be energetic and works twice as hard as you think you need to. You see, you need to be ready to move on to the big time like Cassandra was. Elvira was born out of a need for a character for a classic horror “B” movie TV show that was being brought back to life. Cassandra had one character already and merged it with the “Elvira” concept to fill the TV show need. Once the opportunity knocks, you need to able to act on it. Cassandra did and look what happened. This couldn’t have happened without Cassandra’s creativity to come up with the original character. Once you get there, it only get’s harder and busier. You think you are busy now? Just wait…. Take the time to “develop” yourself into something the public will purchase. Don’t you think Cassandra thought it was worth it?

Good luck!

Find out more about Elvira here: www.elvira.com

Elvira (@TheRealElvira)
@lowryagency Great post! XX

 

Work Ethic…. An Example

SammyCortino

 

Every once in a while I like to recognize at least what I consider someone who is doing everything they can to achieve their dream. Someone who I see constantly striving to be the best they can be and pushing new limits for themselves. This time I am recognizing illusionist Sammy Cortino. Now to be fair, this is only about work ethic. I am not talking about his show as I haven’t seen it other than a few video clips and the one illusion Sammy did for a show of mine last year. This is purely based on how hard I have watched Sammy work over the last four years.

I found out about Sammy Cortino on twitter four years ago and we became social media friends. Since then, Sammy has moved to Nashville, TN and is carving out his niche as a master illusionist around the country. Rarely have I seen someone give so much of themselves to their dream and try so many things to see what worked and what didn’t. Most just stay the same, never trying anything new, not listening to advice and wonder why over the last few years nothing gets any better. It becomes everyone’s fault but their own and the reality it is simply the world didn’t want to buy what you had to offer, at least not in the way it was presented by you. Sammy is becoming so good at learning to change things up and re-branding his image when necessary. He sinks his money back into his career, most importantly in the things he actually needs, not necessarily wants. For those entertainers that complain about travel and how much they have to take, try being an illusionist. Set up and tear down time is much longer and usually 1 – 3 people doing it not 4 – 5 like in a band.

Sammy tries to fusion things that have rarely been done before or are original, another trait lost on many. Keeping a show fresh and something you can sell over and over again to the appropriate talent buyers or promoters is incredibly important and Sammy seems to understand this. This isn’t to say Sammy has figured it all out or is always gigging. He hasn’t and he isn’t, but he is working harder than just about anyone I have ever worked with by far. Sammy is always coming up with new photography, videos, illusions and tons of other content to try and keep himself fresh in the worlds mind. Sammy also understand that image is everything. You can decry it all you like, but it’s the truth. It’s the first thing people see and it determines whether or not they will click anything to check you out.

Whatever you may think of Sammy Cortino’s show or talent is up to you, but what you should take away from this is no matter how talented you are, if you are not working as hard as someone like Sammy is, they will take your spot on the bill or the stage just based on their work ethic alone.

Well done Sammy Cortino. I wish you all the best in your endeavors and success in what ever way you deem it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FO_BcBQz7UE

Note: The Lowry Agency is in no way affiliated with Sammy Cortino.

Blues Great Chris Duarte on Live From Music City!

ChrisDuarte

Blues Great and underground guitar legend Chris Duarte will be on Live From Music City on May 19th with a live interview, 3 song full band performance and a meet and greet to start 6:30pm.

Date: May 19th, 8:00pm Meet & Greet

Location: Bitchstraps Studio, 172 2nd Ave. S., 3rd Floor, Nashville, TN 37201

For more information please contact Live From Music City through this site.

 

BIO

An artist’s lifetime is sometimes dictated by the heights they reach, the reaction they register or the body of work compiled during their working years. Chris Duarte is certainly making a case for his body of work he’s producing, this being number eleven of releases, but is he achieving the right reaction for his efforts? With the release of Chris Duarte’s latest opus, ‘My Soul Alone’, Chris Duarte is still reaching for new ground while also throwing out some of his best blues work to date. The maturity in the phrasing and melodic statements are a far cry from the early raw days of his first few releases. This could only be achieved through relentless roadwork that allows Chris to ply his trade and to work and rework melodic ideas. “I can practice all day in my basement but it’s a totally different ballgame when I get on stage. More of a physical dynamic is the currency I trade in when I’m playing live.” Even though Chris is in the studio, I can hear him getting more physical while there.

The album starts off with a swinging type of blues with a vocal more akin to 40’s big band style. The rough and course voice is still there rather than a crooner’s touch but he’s swinging the lines. The guitar solos are full bodied with just a touch of frenetic moments that Chris is known for. ‘Show Me That You Want It’ sets a good tone for the opening salvo.

Next up is another example of Chris taking clues from his early years growing up and mixing it with these pseudo county leanings on the guitar. ‘Yes It’s You’ is a nod towards the Beatles and other ‘Pop’ efforts Chris has been penning and with each release I can hear the improvement. Time will only tell if this song is a winner but it makes me hopeful that one day that hit will come. It will be long overdue.

‘Take Me Now’ is more of the ‘naff’ pop Chris is exploring like his previous release of ‘Summer’s Child’. “I keep hearing these retro-like grooves with a Steely Dan like vocal line over it. I’m probably going to go to my grave taking chances like this song.” Jazzy guitar work over a bluesy mode wins out on this song. This one always perks my ears up for new things every time I hear it.

Almost every album that Chris has put out with Mike Varney, there’s always been a minor blues and a slow major blues on the album. Normally I would really grow tired of the repetition but Chris challenges himself to tweak and twist the songs arrangement so that no two are going to sound like the last. His latest minor offering, “A Dollar Down and Feeling Low’, stays low and evocative with what I think is his best minor work to date. The phrasing is more moving and flowing with its subtle nuances achingly played. Chris’s touch on the guitar is definitely much improved and the notes actually touch the inner core. Then on the flip-side there’s ‘Lazy Afternoon’ with its true reach at a crooner standard style. The lyrics are lyrical and time dated and the guitar work is first rate jazzy with a touch of BB here and there. If we were to stop here with the album I would consider it a success.

We can’t deny Hendrix is a big muse for Chris and it’s plainly stated in this album. ‘Outta My Way’ is a spot on Hendrixian nod but obviously with Chris’s style thrown in the mix. Starting off with a hard driving riff but then it opens up with the patented Hendrix 7th chord accents that propel this rocket of a song on its way. The guitar accents are vocal like and at times a frenzy. The quirky lead in to the middle solo is typical of the twists and turns for originality and lends to it that ‘turn-on-a-dime’ wildness that should be present in songs like this; Hendrixian. The next Jimi offering is ‘Can’t Shut Me Out’. First the riff at the top and in comes the effects drenched guitar. With an almost vocal like quality to the guitar the phrasing is no doubt from Jimi and the driving rhythm underneath enables all the elements to come together when the vocals start. The interlude at the top of the chorus is the only departure from the Hendrix mode but it plays well with the chorus hook shouted out. Another adrenalin driving guitar vehicle and I wouldn’t expect anything less on this album. This is the CDG we’ve come to know and love.

Jumping back on the blues side of the album, because if there’s one thing that put Chris Duarte on the international stage; it is his blues playing. ‘Being known and referred to as a blues player is not a hindrance to me. If there’s anything that makes it easier for people to relate to me or if it’s easier to gain access to me than it’s all for the better’, Chris remarks. “I don’t shrink behind it or cringe from it because I love playing the blues.” I agree. It’s Chris’s prowess and originality in the blues field that has always made him an interest to me. So when I heard ‘Sweet Little Girl’ I knew Chris was drawing from one of his favorite blues masters; Howling Wolf. Back in the day when Chris was just a sideman in Bobby Mack and Night Train, Howling for My Darling was in every day rotation with the band when they played. It’s no surprise that the infectious rhythm and drive the song has would be inspiration down the years in his career. Written for his daughter, the vocal phrasing isn’t the same as Wolf but the ‘sweet’ sentiments he gives to his little girl is heartwarming. Then Chris quickly takes over when the solo romps and rolls along this jumping number. “Keeping this rhythm going isn’t as easy as it sounds” quips Duarte, “You always find out your studio limitations when you’ve got to track your rhythm tracks.” On the heels of Sweet Little Girl you’ve also got the Party swing song, ‘Bucked It Up’. “The male anthem for some of us” as Duarte claims as he has not been without his foibles in life. Why not poke fun with it and put your troubles in song. This song is just classic with the Hubert Summlin like tone on the lead and the rhythm guitar borrowing from piano phrasing and horn section kicks on the chorus. Later the solo tone turns towards a Buddy Guy styling and this party just rocks and rolls. Not to be forgotten is the ‘Stripper’ like tom-tom beats on the verses. Really like this song.

The title cut, ‘Leave My Soul Alone’ is Chris giving a nod towards the Black Keys. “I was first exposed to those guys when I did the Romp album.” “Our producer at the time, Dennis Herring, brought that song in, the Romp that is, and it was the Black Keys version of it.” It definitely has that stripped down sound with the classic vocal and guitar unison lines in it. With the verse rolling along like a tire with a bump on it, the song then blows wide open with the chorus and a rock and roll scream to “Leave My Soul Alone!” The guitars thicken up and the drums pound out the booms and the solo is an all-out assault on the instrument itself. Bending and twisting through sonic blasts and high vertical bends it settles back for another verse and then blows up again. Emotionally stirring this song deserves to be the title cut for its shear ferocity that it wields.

The last two cuts are more experimental and artistic reaches. “I just wanted to tell a story in one of the songs and this western motif I settled on was a lot of fun.” Telling the story of a young man that takes up and life of crime to feed his family is scattered among this country’s western lore. “I just wish I could write like Dylan” The guitar is playing this almost hypnotic folk type melody and the solo comes in mirroring the vocal line and then soaring on high as if it’s flying in the vast open Big Sky of the Midwestern plains. This song kind of hung with me after it was over. Then we have the most different of all the songs; Carelessness. “This is the name of a lodge that I met the violin player at during a jam we did in Northern California; Careless. The first song we jammed on was Freedom Jazz Dance and it was a blast.” Then when Mike Varney thought the collaboration between the two; violin and guitar, could yield some potential fireworks, Mike wanted to get Madz Tolling on one song with the upcoming album. So it was up to Chris to write one for the occasion and with that he drew on their first time together as inspiration. “Since it was Freedom Jazz Dance that brought us together then why not come up with a melody that’s angular and quirky like Jazz Dance.” Add a bit more spice with the solo section being in 7/8 time and then give a nod to one of Chris’s favorites John McGlaughlin and you’ve got the vehicle for a fusion tour de force. Madz violin just soars throughout the song with the agility and ease of a master conjuring up the voice of Jean Luc Ponty. Chris then answers in his unbounded energetic style that you can’t help but bop your head and smile while the drums lay down a furious barrage and the bass acts as the glue that brings it all together. One of the most adventurous songs Chris has put down so far in his career. I hope there are more like this one in the future

My opinion is that this is a level up in Chris’s all around skills. His songwriting is getting better, vocals phrasing and lyrics are better and his tone is still a marvel at how dexterous he can be with the varying styles he continues to display time and time again. Watching Chris grow has not been meteoric but it’s been steady and he’s still getting better on the guitar. In a time when most of our legends have been content to rest on their laurels and continue to mine familiar ground, it’s both a pleasure and refreshing to see that Chris always wants to expand and grow even after over 20 years of being on the road. Not many have the energy in them to do that and not many have the soul to pull it off.

For more info about Chris Duarte please visit: http://www.thechrisduartegroup.com/home.html

Finding the Courage…

For anyone trying to make it in the entertainment business or professional sports, you are constantly under barrage from people telling you that you can’t do it. You are aren’t good enough, you don’t have what it takes or there is no money in it so go get a real job (like there is any security in that anymore anyway). You deal people who let you down, who don’t do anything at all after the big long speech of how good they are, how hard they work or what they can do for you.

You have haters and trolls on the internet, other people in your genre constantly tearing you doing or taking jabs at you. It get’s lonely, harder and often times you feel like giving up. Well you can’t. No matter what anyone says or does to you, only you can keep pushing, proving them wrong and only you know who you really are. Anyone who would tear you down is the insecure one, the one who if full of it, the jealous one who really has no idea what they are doing. You can’t let them affect you or stop you.

No matter what life throws at you, you have to keep pushing on with your dream. In today’s entertainment scene you have more control than ever and more often than not, that means you are doing it on your own because now the money is gone. You can’t afford to pay for professional help and you are facing this wave of overwhelming obstacles and people who have no life so they try and tear you down.

So let me offer this to you for some inspiration. No matter what you are facing in life, business or if you are someone who is trying to help someone you care about get through something, do it with the strength and focus that Garrett shows in this video. If he can over come what he is going through, we can over come what we are going through.

 

I wish you all the best and the strength to get through it.

Good luck!