Jeff Tomrell – Magical Mystery Doors

Written by: Francesco Vincenzo Iacono

Magical Mystery Doors Tribute Band

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if members of The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and The Doors joined forces to create one incredible supergroup? Introducing Magical Mystery Doors, a tribute act that blends and layers the music of these three legendary bands to create something new and unique for music fans everywhere.

For those attending a Magical Mystery Doors performance, they can expect to hear timeless classics from each of these iconic bands. These are all incredible songs we all know, these songs we all love, and these songs we sing to at the top of our lungs!

Throughout the show, Magical Mystery Doors combines some of these classic compositions in ways that leave the audience both surprised and delighted. The melody from The Doors’ “Hello, I Love You” laying atop Led Zeppelin’s “Misty Mountain Hop.” The pounding beat of Zep’s “When The Levee Breaks” coupled with the serene strumming of The Beatles’ “Dear Prudence.” Equally, Magical Mystery Doors enhances the audience experience with a captivating visual presentation including modern video screens and a stunning array of lighting which truly makes the performance come to life.

In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, we caught up with Jeff Tomrell from the Magical Mystery Doors Tribute band and we asked him a few questions about his musical influences, his career in a tribute band, their set list as well as their past and upcoming performances.

Q&A Session

The Creative Spotlight: At what age did you become interested in music? And, who or what inspired you to pursue a career as a musician?

Jeff Tomrell: I started playing the piano at the age of 6. Early on, my father was my biggest influence. I stood at the edge of our piano and watched him play. I tried to add parts to the songs that he was playing before I really knew what I was doing. Beyond that, my mother always pushed me to perform in public. Anytime we saw a piano, she sat me down and I started playing. The reaction people gave me following my performances made me feel good. This is where my desire to perform began.

Magical Mystery Doors

TCS: Can you share with us how you decided on the band name?

JT: This band is a hybrid tribute to The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and The Doors. Our original name was going to be “Beatles On Led Doors” but it just didn’t feel exciting enough. So, one night, I sat down with a notebook and just started writing down anything to do with these acts. Song names, album titles, members, etc. After an hour or two, I realized that Zeppelin had an album named “In Through The Out Door.” That obviously could work with “The Doors.” And then I saw “Magical Mystery Tour.” Putting all of that together, the name was going to be “In Through the Magical Mystery Doors,” but that just felt too long. We landed on Magical Mystery Doors and figured it was good enough!


TCS: Can you introduce us to the Magical Mystery Doors lineup?

JT: The band lineup consists of:

  • Vinny DeRenzis (Lead Vocalist)
  • Jeff Tomrell (Producer/Keys)
  • Brendan Marro (Guitar)
  • Greg Reigle (Bass)
  • Mike Intelisano (Drums)

TCS: So how long has the tribute band been playing together and how did you get started?

JT: The idea for this band started in 2018. Before we played our first show in April of 2019, we worked on the concept for 14 months. All members were currently playing full-time in other acts, so we could only do a few shows here and there. Our plan was to really push forward in 2020….and then…well, you know what happened. All progress was halted. We lost a few members in this period as well. It was such a difficult time. But we made it through and here we are today.


TCS: Why do you think tribute bands have become so prominent within the last couple of decades?

JT: People enjoy listening to bands and songs from their past. It brings back a lot of memories. Unfortunately, you can’t see these three legendary acts perform anymore. Honestly, most people have never seen them perform live. So, tribute acts can bring a piece of that nostalgia back to life.

TCS: What do you feel sets Magical Mystery Doors apart from other tribute bands?

JT: Truthfully, many things set us apart from other similar tribute bands. We put a lot of time, effort, and money into our visual display. Our versatility as musicians is another key factor. You’ll see many, many instrument switches throughout the show. But the main thing is our arrangements. We’re taking songs from 50-60 years ago and doing something new and different with them. It’s the surprise factor of our show that really makes it special.


TCS: Have you ever met any of the band members from one of the three bands? If yes, please explain to us where you met and how did that encounter go?

JT: Unfortunately, I have not had that privilege. My mom was once at an award ceremony for Ringo Starr from The Beatles a few years ago. That’s the closest I’ve gotten!

TCS: What’s the hardest aspect of re-creating a live show for The Beatles, The Doors, and Led Zeppelin?

JT: The hardest part WOULD BE nailing the vocals, but when you’re in a band with Vinny, that part becomes really easy!

Vinny from Magical Mystery Doors

TCS: What are the most requested songs from those bands at your shows?

JT: At our shows, people always want to hear more Led Zeppelin. Honestly, I think it’s because Vinny does such a great job with those Robert Plant’s challenging vocals.


TCS: Of the songs that Magical Mystery Doors plays, which are your most and least favorite? Additionally, is there a song that you and the band loves that is not included in the set.

JT: Honestly, this changes on a weekly basis. Lately I’ve been enjoying “Riders On The Storm” from The Doors. But other times, it’s “Ramble On” by Led Zeppelin. I think it ultimately depends on the crowd’s reaction sometimes. If people are smiling, we’re having a good time. As for song’s not included in the set, we are always working on new arrangements now. We have a few lined up that we believe the crowd will LOVE.

TCS: Annually, how many gigs does the band play and which venues are among your favorites?

JT: As I mentioned earlier, we’re still in a building phase. However, our recent performances at the Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City, NJ, have been very, very special and meant a lot to us. We would play there any time. The staff and everyone involved has been fantastic to work with.


TCS: Could you tell us about any strange experiences you’ve had while playing live?

JT: We haven’t really experienced anything too strange just yet. Maybe we’ll go with one of Jim Morrison’s classic songs with The Doors when he says, “People Are Strange.”

TCS: What advice do you have for new tribute bands trying to get established?

JT: Do something different. Do something unique. The tribute market is completely saturated right now. Seemingly every band has a tribute. Therefore, you must do something that will get people talking. You can’t do the same set as other tribute acts and expect it to succeed.

TCS: What’s the future look like for the Magical Mystery Doors tribute band?

JT: The future looks bright. There is a lot of excitement surrounding this band now. We feel like we’re ready to “Break On Through (To The Other Side).”

To stay connected, please join us on the following:

About Francesco Vincenzo Iacono

Frank Iacono Photo

Since 2012, Francesco Vincenzo Iacono has served as the President and CEO of The Creative Spotlight, the ultimate destination for unearthing a wealth of undiscovered musical talent, reading exciting interviews, releasing new music and sharing exclusive videos.

Every good story needs a good storyteller. And, The Creative Spotlight has truly provided a quality forum for revealing those great stories. Through the years, the online publication has featured national and local musicians such as Ash Costello from New Years Day, Williams Honor, Stacey David Blades, Screaming For Silence, Ages Apart, Roxy Petrucci, Peter Beckett, We The Kings, Everything Falls, Rod Black, Derek Crider, Daniel Mason Band, The Rockin’ Krolik, Michelle Leigh, Jessie G., Karen Mansfield and Hillbilly Vegas.

Additionally, The Creative Spotlight has also focused on historic Pennsylvania-based paranormal venues such as the Eastern State Penitentiary, Pennhurst State School and Hospital, Paranormal investigator Kitsie Duncan, Spirit Medium Tiffany Rice, the Bates Motel & Haunted Hayride, well-known actors and actresses, published authors, professional artists, local businesses, consultants, trainers, speakers and more…

Francesco earned a BA degree in English/Communications and Marketing from Cabrini College, and he also received a Webmaster Certification from Penn State Great Valley.

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Karl Dietel – We May Be Right: Billy Joel Tribute

Written by: Francesco Vincenzo Iacono

Ash Costello - New Years Day

Have you ever wanted to experience a live performance featuring legendary Billy Joel, the masterful musician, singer-songwriter and composer from New York City? If so, then the We May Be Right: Billy Joel Tribute band, based in the Manhattan, NY, Philadelphia, PA and New Jersey area, featuring Karl Dietel is a must-see experience for you!

We May Be Right: Billy Joel Tribute is a band that was born out of a sincere respect, admiration, and love of Billy Joel and his incredible and timeless music. As fans, they started off playing a few shows in which they played The Stranger album from start to finish. As musicians, the band feels passionately about performing Billy Joel’s music with authenticity and integrity.

We May Be Right: Billy Joel Tribute, a collection of seasoned musicians and performers experienced in both national and international music communities, is committed to providing all the showmanship, power and adrenaline of a true Billy Joel concert while always staying true to the music of his unforgettable songs.

In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, we caught up with Karl Dietel from the We May Be Right: Billy Joel Tribute band and we asked him a few questions about his musical influences, his career in a tribute band, their set list as well as their past and upcoming performances.

Q&A Session

The Creative Spotlight: At what age did you become interested in music? And, who or what inspired you to pursue a career as a musician?

Karl Dietel: I started piano lessons when I was 6 years old. My grandmother’s piano was in our living room, and Dad decided to start my older brother and I on lessons because we were banging on it too much. I took lessons until I was 16, when I learned ear training in a high school AP Music Theory class.

Karl Dietel

TCS: Did you think early on that you sounded like Billy Joel or was it something that you discovered over time?

KD: Hmmm. As a singer, it did take some time. In fact, when we started, we just played 9 songs off The Stranger for fun, so I sang everything in my own voice. It wasn’t until the band started getting some recognition that we decided to try to sound a little more like the records. As a piano player, I had been playing his songs for so long, particularly in my restaurant piano gigs, that it wasn’t much of a stretch to play an entire set of his music in his style.


TCS: Can you introduce us to the We May Be Right: Billy Joel Tribute lineup?

KD: Perry Andrews plays tenor, alto and soprano sax, plus flute and piccolo, with a side of rhythm guitar and percussion. He brings a jazz sensibility to our show and always plays exactly what the song needs at any given moment. We worked in the same high school for a number of years, I remember we huddled around the concert piano during one lunch block and worked out our arrangement for “Scenes From an Italian Restaurant.” Derek Davodowich plays a tasty, complimentary guitar and has the perfect feel for this music. He did some touring out of Nashville after he graduated college, and I met him through a mutual friend back when I played keyboards for Sean Kelly and The Samples. Luke Kessel is a road dog of a bass player, he’s played in Europe and China and also toured the U.S. with a few blues musicians. Andy Janowiak was our original drummer who left to do some recording with the late Bernie Worrell in his home studio, but has now been able to rejoin the tribute. It’s a tight band with many years of experience and camaraderie!

Karl Dietel

TCS: So how long has We May Be Right: Billy Joel Tribute been playing together and how did you get started?

KD: We started off playing a few shows in which we played The Stranger album from start to finish. That had been a pet project of mine, just to say we did it. We kept getting asked back, I think we played it three different afternoons at our local home base, it was really going over, when some other venues asked us to play an entire night at their places. After we accepted the new dates, we realized we had to learn two more sets of Billy Joel’s music!

TCS: Why do you think tribute bands have become so prominent within the last couple of decades?

KD: I’m not sure, to be honest with you. People have been trying to figure this out. I could go into a long speech about the decline of popular music, particularly in terms of live performance, but I’ll just say that I think the music to which tribute is being paid reminds people of simpler, better or even more innocent times of their lives. So, they gravitate towards that. Also, certain albums and sounds and genres are becoming the new classical music, in that specific bodies of work by artists are being presented in full much like classical-era symphonies and operas have been presented in full for centuries. It will be interesting to see how long the tribute scene continues!


TCS: What do you feel sets We May Be Right: Billy Joel Tribute apart from other Billy Joel tribute bands?

KD: One of our strengths lies in the fact that we’ve had the same lineup since the beginning. Although we rotated two drummers off and on, we have the same four people out front every show. It’s comforting to the fans to see Perry on one side and Luke on the other. Having the same people play night after night really adds to the musical dynamic, particularly as we stretch out and explore a few of these endings of certain songs to shake things up a bit. We have that luxury because we know how each other plays and reacts to musical situations. And, that adds to the fun of the overall show.

TCS: What’s the hardest aspect of re-creating a Billy Joel live show?

KD: If we’re doing it right, it’s all fairly exhausting! Remembering all the lyrics is a challenge in and of itself, not to mention the chord progressions. As musicians, we always push each other on stage, we don’t cut corners or play it too safe. I’m drained at the end of a good night. Of course, that’s the way it should be.

TCS: Have you ever met Billy Joel? If yes, please explain to us where you met and how did that encounter go?

KD: I have never met him, no. I’m only two or three degrees away, in some circles, but I’ve never pushed the issue. I wonder what I’d say.

TCS: What are the most requested Billy Joel songs at your shows?

KD: A woman yelled at me once for not playing “Piano Man.” Shook her finger at me and raised her voice! Truth is, we were outside and ran up against an unexpected curfew, so we ran out of time. She wasn’t happy about it. “Vienna” is one request that surprises me, usually coming from younger fans. Different people gravitate towards different songs. “Goodnight Saigon,” for example.


TCS: Of the songs that We May Be Right: Billy Joel Tribute plays from Bill Joel’s extensive library which are your most and least favorite? Equally, is there a song from him you or the band loves that is not included in the set? If yes, then why.

KD: I enjoy watching the crowd sing along. Sometimes, they play air drums, it’s a nice connection. As a musician, I enjoy playing the songs that give the band members a chance to stretch out. Perry can play his piccolo on “Rosalinda’s Eyes” and he plays a great flute line on “Get it Right the First Time.” Luke’s walking bass line on “Zanzibar” is always amazing. I’ve been know to leave Derek hanging because I have such a good time listening to his guitar playing! He wanders over to the keyboard, never missing a note of his solo, and gives me the nod that says, ‘Anytime you want to end the song, go ahead…’ and it’s all good, fun, in-the-moment playing. I also like hearing the 3-part harmonies in “My Life” and “Don’t Ask Me Why.” We have a 5-part harmony arrangement for “All About Soul.” That’s fun for us. “Prelude / Angry Young Man” is both my most favorite and least favorite song to play 🙂 “Root Beer Rag” is always a throw down, we love to take that one out when the time is right.


TCS: How many gigs does the We May Be Right: Billy Joel Tribute band play annually and what and where are among your favorite venues?

KD: We’ve been playing quite a bit these days, eight or ten shows a month, but that will slow down slightly during the colder months. We didn’t play much last year, for obvious reasons. Summer is always the busiest time, and we’ve picked up a few private parties recently, and two weddings, I believe, for 2022. As far as venues go, we can turn any room into a party. We originally cut our teeth in Pattenburg House in Asbury, NJ out in Hunterdon County, so that’s significant to our history. Recently, we’ve had some great shows at Brook Arts Center in Bound Brook, NJ and then Musikfest in Bethlehem, PA is something we look forward to every year.


TCS: What is the most interesting We May Be Right: Billy Joel Tribute road story?

KD: Well… there was a night when the band was setting up at two different venues…

TCS: What advice do you have for new tribute bands trying to get established?

KD: Good question. We sort of backed up into this, based on playing The Stranger album. What I always tell any bands is that they should take it seriously, but not too seriously. And that your overall sound, whatever it may be, benefits from having a strong musical foundation. Practice. Get your metronome out. Keep at it. And, don’t lose faith.

TCS: What’s the future look like for We May Be Right: Billy Joel Tribute?

KD: I don’t like to look too far into things, but we’ll have to pick a steady booking agent soon. We’re reaching a larger audience now, and that is allowing us to play in larger venues.

To stay connected, please join us on the following:

  • We May Be Right: Billy Joel Tribute Website
  • We May Be Right: Billy Joel Tribute Facebook
  • We May Be Right: Billy Joel Tribute Instagram
  • We May Be Right: Billy Joel Tribute YouTube

About Francesco Vincenzo Iacono

Frank Iacono Photo

Since 2012, Francesco Vincenzo Iacono has served as the President and CEO of The Creative Spotlight, the ultimate destination for unearthing a wealth of undiscovered musical talent, reading exciting interviews, releasing new music and sharing exclusive videos.

Every good story needs a good storyteller. And, The Creative Spotlight has truly provided a quality forum for revealing those great stories. Through the years, the online publication has featured national and local musicians such as Ash Costello from New Years Day, Williams Honor, Stacey David Blades, Screaming For Silence, Ages Apart, Roxy Petrucci, Peter Beckett, We The Kings, Everything Falls, Rod Black, Derek Crider, Daniel Mason Band, The Rockin’ Krolik, Michelle Leigh, Jessie G., Karen Mansfield and Hillbilly Vegas.

Additionally, The Creative Spotlight has also focused on historic Pennsylvania-based paranormal venues such as the Eastern State Penitentiary, Pennhurst State School and Hospital, Paranormal investigator Kitsie Duncan, Spirit Medium Tiffany Rice, the Bates Motel & Haunted Hayride, well-known actors and actresses, published authors, professional artists, local businesses, consultants, trainers, speakers and more…

Francesco earned a BA degree in English/Communications and Marketing from Cabrini College, and he also received a Webmaster Certification from Penn State Great Valley.

 

Ash Costello – New Years Day

Written by: Francesco Vincenzo Iacono

Ash Costello - New Years Day

Gifted with theatrics, vocal chops and fashion — Ash Costello, the frontwoman from the Orange County California-based band New Years Day, is one of the most prominent rock singers of the American music industry. As the lead vocalist of the band, she is truly the driving force behind their national and international success.

In the beginning, Costello teamed up with lead guitarist Adam Lohrbach and guitarist/keyboardist Keith Drover and they worked on writing a few songs. Dubbing themselves as New Years Day, the group started promoting themselves on the then popular social media networking site, MySpace and soon gained relevance and prominence. Additionally, the band was also featured on the MySpace Records, Volume 1 compilation CD and on the video game soundtrack for Saints Row.

Subsequently, the band inked a deal with TVT Records and released their first self-titled EP entitled Razor in 2006. From there, the band released several studio albums including My Dear in 2007 and Victim to Villain in 2013, which featured their breakout single “Angel Eyes.” Apart from releasing albums, the band also landed several prestigious tours. First, they were a prominent member of the 2010 Vans Warped Tour. In 2013, New Years Day performed at Warped Tour with Andrew Velasquez and the rest of Crown the Empire, a metalcore from Dallas, Texas. Then, in 2015 Costello and her band took the biggest leap in their career, when they became the headliner on the summer’s Vans Warped Tour.

Adding to their already impressive achievements, Malevolence their third full-length studio album, which was released in 2015, became a major hit. It debuted in the Top 10 of the Billboard rock chart and landed at No. 45 on the Billboard 200. In 2018, New Years Day released the Diary of a Creep EP and spent a great deal of time out on the road touring with In This Moment and Halestorm. Then in 2019, they released Unbreakable, which featured hits like “Come for Me,” “Shut Up” and “Skeletons.” Loudwire, an online magazine, named the album one of the 50 best rock albums of 2019.

In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, we caught up with Ash Costello from New Years Day where we talked about her musical influences, her songwriting and recording process, her on and off-stage persona, her love for Horror movies, her memorable night with Marilyn Manson as well as her short and long-term future plans.

Q&A Session

The Creative Spotlight: At what age did you first realize that you wanted to be a musician? Was there a first instrument that you learned how to play?

Ash Costelllo: I actually knew I wanted to be a singer at a really, really young age. Probably like four or five. I started doing musical theater when I was really young, like really, really young. But I didn’t know what it meant to be in a band until high school when I kind of joined a band by accident. My high school ska band needed a singer and saw me singing in a high school play and asked if I wanted to sing in a ska band and that’s how I started doing that and just never quit. I started writing my first song when I was probably around ten or eleven years old, but I never really played any instruments. I was always a lyricist and songwriter, though.

Ash Costello

TCS: That’s great. The vocal is definitely one of the key instruments in the band. So, what famous musical artists and/or bands were among your early influences and describe for us how they impacted and/or shaped your musical style?

AC: Well, you know, I’ve been doing music, writing music and a fan of music from a very young age, so like most people as we mature and grow our tastes change, but early on I was highly influenced by Gwen Stefani and No Doubt. That was my first major introduction to what being a female rocker would be like.

New Years Day Ash Costello

TCS: How would you describe New Years Day’s overall sound and musical genre? And, can you introduce us to the band line-up?

AC: Employing an opulent mix of spirited pop-punk and flamboyant, goth-tinged stadium rock, New Years Day invokes the dark pageantry of artists like Evanescence, Garbage, Alkaline Trio and Motionless in White.

The band lineup consists of:

  • Ash Costello – Lead Vocals
  • Nikki Misery – Lead Guitar
  • Jeremy Valentyne – Rhythm Guitar
  • Brandon Wolfe – Bassist
  • Tommy Rockoff – Drums

New Years Day Rock Band

TCS: For the benefit of those who may not be too familiar with Ashley Costello or your musical career with New Years Day, please describe for us how you started out from Anaheim, California and eventually ended up being this band’s lead singer?

AC: Well, I was in a couple bands before New Year’s Day began. You know, when one band or one sound kind of ran its course we’d start another band. So, I was in a previous band called Face the Fact, which was like a whole 80s new wave and our representative from Chrysalis Music Group who have, like, Siouxsie and the Banshees and Smashing Pumpkins and a lot of my favorite bands at the time happened to be at one of my shows and asked to take a meeting with me almost immediately and I got signed pretty quickly as a solo artist.

After that, I wrote a couple songs with songwriters, some of them being Pete Wentz and Patrick Stump from Fall Out Boy and Justin Pierre from Motion City Soundtrack and Adam Lazzara from Taking Back Sunday and it was kind of this experiment of what if we did a girl solo artist and her songs are written by more prominent rock artists at the time. And so, I played by the rules, I did what they wanted for, you know, a couple tries and then I wrote my own music and kind of planted it on the desk and said what if it was a band. And I turned in our first song called “Ready Aim Misfire” and after they listened to it, they said, “You know what, do whatever you want. Go get band members, make it a rock band and pick a name.” And that’s how New Year’s Day got started.


TCS: How would you describe your on-stage personality and how is it both similar and different from your off-stage persona?

AC: Well, I think if you’re a genuine artist then you’re good at pulling elements of who you are and putting it out on stage even if it is delivered in very subtle ways. You know, it doesn’t have to be very obvious. I’m a big horror movie fan, a big Halloween fan, a big haunted house fan and a big fan of goth and alternative subcultures and it just weaves naturally into the art. How I dress on stage and how the whole band dresses on stage works with New Year’s Day because it isn’t contrived. In fact, it’s very genuine and very natural. The boys in the band get asked a lot of questions concerning makeup, including, “so, was it tough when Ashley, like, made you guys wear makeup?” And that’s all those guys, like that’s all them. They do their own makeup, that’s what they want to do. I’ve actually tried to stop them from wearing makeup, but that’s what they want to do, and I think it’s why New Year’s Day really stands out from a lot of other bands of our genre because it’s very, very natural and very genuine.


TCS: How would you describe your overall songwriting style?

AC: Um, gosh, I have a love-hate relationship with songwriting. I truly love writing music and writing lyrics, I really do, but I also, like most artists my own worst critic and I’m very self-deprecating and I’m very hard on myself. So, the final product you hear took a lot of time and effort in singing and a lot of good moments and a lot of bad moments to get to that point where it’s even listenable and I feel good about even releasing it out to the world for everyone else to hear. So, my style of songwriting is just a lot of trial and error and a lot of time. When I’m songwriting mode I’m songwriting seven to eight hours a day seven days a week and so last record I spent about a year on and off doing that and that’s all I did. So, I think the hitting my head against the wall a lot is my major songwriting style, if that makes sense.

TCS: Personally, one of my favorite tracks off your Unbreakable album is a song called “Come For Me” which you co-wrote. Can you share with us some of the background behind your hit and the video?

AC: Okay! I’m actually really proud of the song “Come For Me.” From all of the New Years Day songs that track means the most to me. I had the most say in it because, I don’t want to say it wasn’t a joke, we were just playing around not in a joking way, we just weren’t really thinking about trying to make it anything specific. We were just having fun. And my major inspiration for that song was the song “Hella Good” by No Doubt which is one repeated riff throughout the entire song. So, I thought why doesn’t New Year’s Day have a song where it’s one riff that just repeats the whole time, but maybe the dynamic shifts from verse to chorus to intro to re-intro. So, we made our own version of that which is the initial riff you hear, and I just wanted a fun, heavy dance song like Hella Good. But that’s how “Come For Me” was born.

And then the music video, I love making music videos because I get to play director and producer, and I’m a big movie fan. I’m a big cinephile! So, I wanted to be Quentin Tarantino for a day. So, the music video is a nod to From Dusk Till Dawn, Pulp Fiction, Planet Terror, etc. Even though I know that Quentin Tarantino only directed some of those and produced others, but anything Quentin Tarantino is related in I wanted a strong influence from that. And the character that I play in the music video was heavily based off of Santanico Pandemonium portrayed by Salma Hayek in From Dusk Till Dawn.


TCS: Not being a performer myself, I can’t imagine what it felt like to walk out on the stage for the very first time. Could you tell us about that experience and is it much easier for you today?

AC: There’s really not a big difference actually. I still get really nervous and I still kind of don’t know what I’m doing. Every time I get on stage I just kind of hope for the best but I still get nervous. So, there’s really not a big difference except I have learned a lot. I feel like I learned how to play with the audience and connect with the audience more as I go along, but I’m still pretty much the same.

TCS: Exactly, we learn from each of those experiences and take it to the next one. Over the years, I’ve interviewed a lot of singers and they’ve expressed how they really like being on stage and in the spotlight while performing as it brings out their inner personality which may not have otherwise in other social settings. I don’t know if that happens for you too?

AC: It’s really different every time. Sometimes I love being on stage, but just like someone who loves what they do they’re going to have their bad days, too. There’s some days where I walk off stage and I’m like, “well, that fuckin’ sucked.” And then there’s other moments when I walk off stage and say, “well, that was the best moment of my life.” So, you know, it’s like everything else. You just try and do your best.

TCS: Tell us about the background of your hit single “Angel Eyes” from the 2013 release Victim To Villain as well as your experience in working with Chris Motionless of Motionless In White on both the track and music video?

AC: The song “Angel Eyes” is about the classic internal battle between Good vs. Evil – with the devil on your shoulder while having that angel in your ear when you first meet someone new that you know is trouble, yet you just cannot help yourself.

I met Chris Motionless from Motionless In White during the 2010 Warped Tour, when we played on the same stage. We were the only two goth looking bands and quickly became friends. For the track “Angel Eyes,” we wanted to have a male vocalist perform with us and having Chris join us was a no brainer. We asked him, and he agreed.

When Chris came in to record vocals for the song, it really felt like the last puzzle piece had fallen perfectly into place. Upon laying down his first vocal track, I knew we had something brilliant on our hands. He was a dream to work with and in my opinion, sounds incredible on the song! About a year following the recording, I contacted Chris with a music video concept and once again he agreed to join us and together, we made something epic. “Angel Eyes” remains our most popular music video as well as most requested and streamed song too.


TCS: From a song writing, studio recording and accompanying music video perspective, can you share with us some of the details surrounding the single entitled “Shut Up” also from Unbreakable?

AC: At the time when I wrote “Shut Up,” I was going through some pretty heavy personal stuff. The song was co-written by Chrissy Costanza, frontwoman from Against The Current, and Scott Stevens who has produced such bands as Shinedown, Halestorm and American Authors. This marked the first ever song that Costanza has written away from her own band. From a recording perspective, “Shut Up” came together pretty easily and was completed within a day. The original version was very poppy and was heavily influenced by an artist called Kehlani.

When we recorded the song “Shut Up,” I knew right away what I wanted to do if we were ever to make a music video for the song. In fact, the idea came to me immediately. So, when “Shut Up” was chosen, I was thrilled because it meant that I’d finally get an opportunity to make my vision come to life, which was to recreate one of my favorite horror movies of all-time, American Psycho. Yes, it’s a homage to the 2000 Christian Bale-starring film, and actually features the original axe from the movie. The song’s bloody music video was directed by Galileo Mondol (e.g., Raging Nation Films) and stars Sirius XM’s Jose Mangin.


TCS: Could you share with us one of the strangest experiences you’ve had during the course of your touring career and what you learned from it?

AC: During my musical career, I’ve had so many strange experiences. Someday, I swear that I’m going to write a book. The first encounter that comes to mind is when we were touring with Marilyn Manson. While Manson sang “The Dope Show,” a classic song from his 1998 album Mechanical Animals, he held my hand and together we walked around the entire stage. Even stranger was that I was wearing a t-shirt that said, “Marilyn Manson Is My Daddy!” He changed the lyrics to “I’m Not Your Daddy” as we walked the platform.

With Manson, you never really know what you are going to get. He might be in a very playful mood, like that night, or he could be in a standoffish mood so you kind of get a little nervous being around him. But, for me that was a special night. I felt like I had finally broken through and kind of bonded with him. Then unfortunately Paris, France was attacked, and the rest of our concert tour was cancelled.


TCS: If you weren’t in the music industry what would you see yourself doing instead?

AC: If I weren’t involved in the music industry, I could easily see myself doing something along the lines of set decoration or special effects for horror movies. Perhaps decorating haunted homes or anything with a Halloween-based theme.

TCS: Amid this pandemic, what does the short and long-term future look like for Ashley Costello and New Years Day?

AC: Once everything has been declared safe again, New Years Day will once again return to the song writing process and daily grind. Our short and long-term goals include recording new music, creating videos as well touring and playing for our loyal fans. Although we don’t have a planned release date for our new record, I am scheduled to start writing new music next month.

To stay connected, please join us on the following:

About Francesco Vincenzo Iacono

Frank Iacono Photo

Since 2012, Francesco Vincenzo Iacono has served as the President and CEO of The Creative Spotlight, the ultimate destination for unearthing a wealth of undiscovered musical talent, reading exciting interviews, releasing new music and sharing exclusive videos.

Every good story needs a good storyteller. And, The Creative Spotlight has truly provided a quality forum for revealing those great stories. Through the years, the online publication has featured national and local musicians such as Ash Costello from New Years Day, Williams Honor, Stacey David Blades, Screaming For Silence, Ages Apart, Roxy Petrucci, Peter Beckett, We The Kings, Everything Falls, Rod Black, Derek Crider, Daniel Mason Band, The Rockin’ Krolik, Michelle Leigh, Jessie G., Karen Mansfield and Hillbilly Vegas.

Additionally, The Creative Spotlight has also focused on historic Pennsylvania-based paranormal venues such as the Eastern State Penitentiary, Pennhurst State School and Hospital, Paranormal investigator Kitsie Duncan, Spirit Medium Tiffany Rice, the Bates Motel & Haunted Hayride, well-known actors and actresses, published authors, professional artists, local businesses, consultants, trainers, speakers and more…

Francesco earned a BA degree in English/Communications and Marketing from Cabrini College, and he also received a Webmaster Certification from Penn State Great Valley.

 

Tiffany Rice – Spirit Medium

Written by: Francesco Vincenzo Iacono

tiffany_rice

Throughout the years, Spirit Medium Tiffany Rice has always had a sense of “knowing”. Upon becoming a Reiki Master, a person who chooses to manifest the will of Divine energy here on Earth, Tiffany became aware of her senses and abilities increasing with each life event.

Being able to identify with fellow colleagues, Tiffany realized her gift of being a Medium was accelerating rapidly. At that time, she began to embrace this awareness and studied under her colleague and good friend (Spirit Sister), Maureen Hancock.

Today, Tiffany is a renowned Spirit Medium and former talk show host of Spirit Connections. She dedicates her life sharing her uplifting and enlightening gift with those that are going through various stages of grief.

Tiffany is highly intrigued by the paranormal and takes a very special interest in this field. She knows the paranormal is an extension of the Spirit World and finds this area captivating as it is still a continuation of our loved ones. Spirit simply chooses to have an uncanny connection to certain locations. The subject of paranormal activity spans over a wide range of topics and theories which she loves exploring!

In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, we caught up with Tiffany Rice and we talked about her work as an evidential spirit medium, her work on Kitsie Duncan’s new show Paranormal Crossroads, her partnership with Dune Jewelry, her volunteer work with Aruba Animal Shelter as well as her short and long-term aspirations.

Q&A Session

The Creative Spotlight: What is your earliest memory where you realized you were gifted as an evidential spirit medium and how old were you?

Tiffany Rice: I’ve always had a sense of “knowing”. I can remember having conversations with people and as I looked at them, I could see information pop up about them around them in my mind’s eye. It took me years to realize that it was spirits trying to come through with information. I thought I was just weird. I took a class that I actually teach now on how to open up your own intuition. That’s when it really hit me with the connection to spirit. It was then when I knew had to continue to provide validations, messages and healing.

Tiffany Rice Spirit Medium

TCS: For the benefit of those who are not familiar with Tiffany Rice or your specific profession, please share with us how you first started out and how you have cultivated your psychic abilities?

TR: I’m a Spirit Medium. That means I’m able to connect to your loved ones in spirit whether it is family, friends and even pets can come through. I started with becoming a Reiki Master/Teacher learning more of an understanding about energy. I started telling people about my readings and it spread quickly. I was giving my friends readings and then their friends readings. I would go to people’s homes and do a reading of their home. The local historical societies started to hear about me, so they would have me go to their locations. I was able to connect the emotional side to the factual side for them. I never said never to an opportunity of connecting to spirit. I had found my passion. The healing modality of being able to connect and bring peace of mind during grief is priceless.

TCS: How did you know being an evidential spirit medium was the right career path?

TR: That’s simple, I had no doubt.


TCS: Please describe for us the different types of readings that you offer? Additionally, can you provide any advice on what someone should do to prepare themselves for a reading?

TR: Mainly people will contact me for my Medium readings which is connecting you to your loved ones in spirit. I also offer intuitive readings as well with a focus on clarity on current situations. To prepare for any reading, be open to the information being provided. Take notes. I can’t stress that enough! There’s always so much information coming through that when receiving the information, we may forget. It’s great to come back to put the puzzle pieces together. Also, it doesn’t hurt to set your intentions on the person you want to connect with or the question you want more insight on. I always say it’s the information that you need to hear not the information you want to hear. Be open!

tiffany-rice-reading

TCS: Besides readings, do you offer any other services?

TR: Yes, I also teach guided meditation sessions to help clients get back to the basics. Today, more and more people are looking to get back to feeling focused and grounded meditation helps bring one that sense of clarity. Additionally, I’ve also created workshops to help hone in on your intuition and align with your own empowerment in order to live your true authentic self.

TCS: In 2008, you investigated the legendary Lizzie Borden House in Fall River, Massachusetts along with members of the then paranormal investigative team named SPIES. What can you tell us about your experience, especially since it was your first paranormal-based investigation and how it impacted/changed your future?

TR: It was my first investigation alright. Go big or go home! I had a group of friends that would go to all different locations whether it was well-known or even residential. They brought me in as their Medium. This experience was my first overnight investigation. I definitely felt a presence in Andrew Borden’s room. I wasn’t scared it was enlightening to actually feel energy that heavy. Since then I’ve done multiple gallery readings at that location. I do feel like I have a connection with Lizbeth since being familiar with her energy all of these years.


TCS: Can you provide us with some highlights from your 2015 appearance at the Rhode Island Comic Con, where you moderated a Ghost Hunters and Ghost Facers panel?

TR: I love being a guest at Comic Cons all over. I was given the opportunity to host the paranormal panel in Rhode Island. It was fun. I love my Ghost Hunter/Ghost Nation family. I’ve known them for quite some time. Ghostfacers was based off of the show “Supernatural” so their take on the Q&A was a little different than the guys that actually do the “hunting”.

TCS: Can you elaborate on your collaboration with our mutual colleague and paranormal researcher Kitsie Duncan on her new show, Paranormal Crossroads?

TR: Kitsie and I have been friends for years. I actually gave her a reading in a hotel room at one of the Comic Cons. I consider her another one of my “Spirit Sisters”. We connected. That girl puts her expertise at work when it comes to knowing her paranormal stuff. I’ve helped her with opening her intuition and we would always talk about our own personal spiritual experiences. She’s done her share of film with Oddity Files, which I’ve helped on a couple of cases remotely. Knowing that spirit comes through regardless of being present in the room together we figured we would put it to the test. She asked me to help with a few of her cases through giving a reading or I would say putting the puzzle pieces together and it seems to mesh really well.


TCS: Can you share some details with us about your partnership with Dune Jewelry and the creation of the spiritual Cardinal Necklace?

TR: I love women supporting women. Dune Jewelry is owned by Holly Daniels Christensen a total no nonsense business woman who knows how powerful keeping the memories alive are. She also has a heart of an angel. That’s all we have is our own personal life experiences. She created experiential jewelry to help keep those memories alive. We collectively are working on multiple pieces of jewelry that are currently in production. They symbolize mind, body, spirit.

The first piece that came out was the cardinal. Why the cardinal? Well, our loved ones in spirit show us signs to let you know they are with us. The Cardinal being one of the most common signs that hold a place in your heart. People have shared that they filled their piece with sand from all over, abalone shells, even roses. It really is beautiful to see how they keep their own personal memory of their loved one alive.

TCS: Do you have a professional or personal mantra? If so, what meaning does it have for you and how does it apply to your life choices?

TR: My trademark is “We Are Never Truly Alone.” I feel like we are connected to spirit all of the time. I also am a firm believer that the Universe will always provide you with what you need for your highest and greatest good. What’s meant for you will not pass you by. You have to remain in a love base of positive mental attitude releasing all doubt. There really is no other option. I know sometimes it might be difficult to see the whole picture at once, however, when you make that commitment the abundance will flow.

tiffany-rice-paranormal

TCS: What is the most rewarding aspect of your volunteer work with Aruba Animal Shelter?

TR: I help give them a voice. There are animals neglected, abused and abandoned. Some countries I work with don’t have the funds to spay and neuter. I help create the awareness. I’ve gone to Aruba on a special mission to help local shelters care for these animals and get the word out to adopt. Most recently I created a fundraiser to help raise funds for food, vitamins and total care for these fur babies. Since posting we collectively have been able to get around 20 dogs adopted so far. I will always have a soft spot for animals. I have three dogs of my own.

TCS: Can you describe for us both your short and long-term aspirations?

TR: I would have to say being grateful to wake up every day healthy being surrounded by some pretty amazing people in my life. As far as career, I want to continue to provide healing and validate that your loved ones in spirit are here with you. It doesn’t matter where you are located, energy is energy. Your loved ones come through regardless. I want to be that connecter. Essentially,  reaching as many people as I can through spirit connections and total inspiration connecting you to your full alignment of mind, body and spirit.

To stay connected with Tiffany Rice, please join her on the following:

About Francesco Vincenzo Iacono

Frank Iacono Photo

Since 2012, Francesco Vincenzo Iacono has served as the President and CEO of The Creative Spotlight, the ultimate destination for unearthing a wealth of undiscovered musical talent, reading exciting interviews, releasing new music and sharing exclusive videos.

Every good story needs a good storyteller. And, The Creative Spotlight has truly provided a quality forum for revealing those great stories. Through the years, the online publication has featured national and local musicians such as Ash Costello from New Years Day, Williams Honor, Stacey David Blades, Screaming For Silence, Ages Apart, Roxy Petrucci, Peter Beckett, We The Kings, Everything Falls, Rod Black, Derek Crider, Daniel Mason Band, The Rockin’ Krolik, Michelle Leigh, Jessie G., Karen Mansfield and Hillbilly Vegas.

Additionally, The Creative Spotlight has also focused on historic Pennsylvania-based paranormal venues such as the Eastern State Penitentiary, Pennhurst State School and Hospital, Paranormal investigator Kitsie Duncan, Spirit Medium Tiffany Rice, the Bates Motel & Haunted Hayride, well-known actors and actresses, published authors, professional artists, local businesses, consultants, trainers, speakers and more…

Frank earned a BA degree in English/Communications and Marketing from Cabrini College, and he also received a Webmaster Certification from Penn State Great Valley.

 

Shaun Benson: Actor and Director

Written by: Francesco Vincenzo Iacono and Celeste Iacono

Shaun Benson Actor

Shaun Benson is a Canadian actor and director who was born in Guelph, Ontario. From a very young age, Shaun studied the arts including piano, ballet, and modern dance. He attended the University of Western Ontario and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry and Biochemistry.

During his University career, he began to perform seriously and garnered roles in university theater productions such as One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Bones, and Biloxi Blues. Post-graduation, Shaun went on to study and train at the George Brown College Theater School in Toronto.

Shaun made his television debut as Jonah Gleason, a series lead, on the critically acclaimed series The Associates (2002), which led to another lead as Patrick Heller for the PAX network on Just Cause (2002-2003). He is best known for playing Leonid in Kathryn Bigelo’s K-19: The Widowmaker (2002) opposite Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson, playing Steven Lars Webber on General Hospital (2004 – 2005), Bob Taylor in Populaire (2012), the mysterious Simon in Kept Woman (2015), Ezekiel in The Boys (2019), and Mike Farrar in A House on Fire (2021).

In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, I had the pleasure of interviewing Shaun Benson and asking him a few questions about what first got him into acting, his career as an actor, his experience in directing Barn Wedding, his time on the daytime soap opera General Hospital, his experience filming A House on Fire as well as his musical aspirations.

Q&A Session

The Creative Spotlight: At what age did you become interested in acting? And, who or what inspired you to pursue a career as an actor?

Shaun Benson: I’ve always been a performer. I played my first piano recital at age 5 (badly) and was dancing onstage by age 9. The inspiration was a blend of things like watching Singin’ in the Rain (still my favorite all-time movie), The Sound of Music, and James Bond, etc. as a kid and also just how much fun dancing and school plays were.

TCS: What famous actors were among your early influences and how do you think they shaped your acting style?

SB: Gene Kelly most definitely—he shaped my style in that I am not afraid to go classically large with a role and I’m not afraid for it to be fun. In later years, it was Keanu Reeves, Robert De Niro, and Matthew McConnaughey. De Niro for depth and Keanu and Matthew for the fun and joy of watching that sometimes actors who take themselves too seriously can lose.

TCS: Can you share with us your experience in directing Barn Wedding?

SB: Simply put Barn Wedding was the best artistic endeavor of my life. Working with the actors to create the characters – then the writer, then the cinematographers, then all of the editing and sounds mixing etc.— it challenged me daily and made my motor rev in every gear to the redline. Just the way I like it.


TCS: How did you prepare for your role as a villain in the 2015 movie Kept Woman?

SB: Preparing for Kept Woman involved a lot of research into my own favorite film villains and then giving myself daily permission to be bad — both as a human and as an actor. I had to embrace a lot of darkness and then let it out because Simon doesn’t actually disagree with his own actions. So first I had to dig into the perversity of the actions and then I had to have fun executing them. It took its toll.


TCS: Tell us about playing Dr. Steven Lars Webber, perhaps your best known role, on General Hospital.

SB: That was a sheer delight. The cast and network of that show are so talented and engaged – far more than I was expecting. My run was only a year but I learned and gained so much more than I could ever describe. Huge shout outs to Jill, Maurice, Rick, Corbin, and Nancy.

TCS: How did your participation in Louis Nowra’s film K-19: The Widowmaker, directed by Kathryn Bigelow, influence your acting career?

SB: The influences of that film are still being felt 13 years later. I don’t even know what I learned because I was on set for 3 months but not in a ton of scenes. So I got to watch and absorb. Certain pennies only drop years later and some haven’t yet, I’m sure. The biggest thing I learned, that I’m aware of, is that it’s ok to be both technical and in the moment. Harrison and Liam are masters of this.

TCS: Tell us about how exciting it was playing Bob Taylor in the French film Populaire?

SB: It was exciting beyond measure. Paris 4 months Premiere on the Champs Elysee, working with Roman, Berenice, Regis, and Deborah and Laurent and Guillaume etc. etc. etc. — it was perfection from day 1. It is a beautiful film in a beautiful country made by beautiful people.


TCS: Can you describe for us your experience working on documentaries such as Flight of the Butterflies and Casting By?

SB: Flight of the Butterflies was a bit like Populaire (except for my Montezuma’s Revenge day 1!!!!) The people involved and motorcycling through the Mexican countryside with Stephanie Sigman (the next Bond girl) on the back and ultimately shooting a scene with half a billion butterflies — forget it. Perfection.


Casting By
was as eye opening as a project has been as I was the photographer for the first half and therefore was a fly on the wall and got to hear some of the world’s greatest talents talk about the casting process. Just invaluable.


TCS: Can you tell us about your new Lifetime Movie A House on Fire and what the true story is based on?

SB: The movie A House on Fire is based on the true story of Deborah Green and Mike Farrar. Debora (portrayed by actress Stephanie March) was a brilliant oncologist whose underlying mental illness led her to ultimately burning down her home, killing two of her children. The film follows her and Michael’s life together as they navigate each other and the last gasps of their marriage and her career as they careen towards this tragic conclusion.

“Shaun


TCS: How did you prepare for your role as Mike Farrar?

SB: Preparing for the role of Mike involved a lot of work both internally and externally. The external was doing the homework on the people, researching the incident and reading Ann Rule’s book, Bitter Harvest, which the film was based on. Additionally, it also meant getting a rhythm and way of moving and talking that, while not huge shifts, made it Mike and not me. The internal work involved intense imaginative work which opened myself up to what each heightened scene needed. After shooting, I spent my nights decompressing for an hour or more just to create space for the next day’s version of the same!

TCS: Share with us some background concerning your iTunes podcast?

SB: I always woke my lady up by ranting about politics or traffic or excitement about my week and I thought I should give her a break and share the ramblin! It’s been a huge success with thousands of listeners in 50 countries.

Listen to the Shaun Benson, Chatting Between Takes podcast now.

TCS: What would you consider your best and worst moment so far in show business?

SB: My best moment happened recently when the first film I directed sold out to standing room only and won 2 awards – but most importantly I felt like my 8 year old self watching it. And my worst was when drugs and alcohol killed my career for about 5 years. I’m in my own 2nd life in this career and I’m as grateful as a man could be.


TCS: Backtracking to your time at the University of Western Ontario to now working as a professional actor, is there a specific role that you’ve either played or portrayed that you would you say is your favorite and why?

SB: My favorite would have to be the character of Lewis in a play called Waiting for Lewis. I was so naive and inexperienced but got guided by Fabrizio Filippo and Joanna McIntyre to do what I still believe is some of my best work and it also let me know this was a career I could excel at.

TCS: Is there a specific role or type of character that you haven’t played yet but would really like to?

SB: COMEDY! COMEDY! COMEDY!

TCS: Can you share with us your interests and hobbies outside of acting and directing?

SB: Karate, car racing, cycling, motorcycling, hangin at the mall with my lady, playing in my band Emmy Rouge, chillin’ out, and binge watching TV shows.


TCS: Where did your interest in music come from and how did you land writing for the LA based band Analog Smith?

SB: My house was always full of music. We had a piano, banjos, guitars, and a violin — so I just mucked around. Truly the summer camp I went to was where it all coalesced into writing and performing. The band was started like most — a few dudes who liked how each other carried it. The writing followed pretty naturally from that.

About Francesco Vincenzo Iacono

Francesco Vincenzo Iacono  Photo

Since 2012, Francesco Vincenzo Iacono has served as the President and CEO of The Creative Spotlight, the ultimate destination for unearthing a wealth of undiscovered musical talent, reading exciting interviews, releasing new music and sharing exclusive videos.

Every good story needs a good storyteller. And, The Creative Spotlight has truly provided a quality forum for revealing those great stories. Through the years, the online publication has featured national and local musicians such as Ash Costello from New Years Day, Williams Honor, Stacey David Blades, Screaming For Silence, Ages Apart, Roxy Petrucci, Peter Beckett, We The Kings, Everything Falls, Rod Black, Derek Crider, Daniel Mason Band, The Rockin’ Krolik, Michelle Leigh, Jessie G., Karen Mansfield and Hillbilly Vegas.

Additionally, The Creative Spotlight has also focused on historic Pennsylvania-based paranormal venues such as the Eastern State Penitentiary, Pennhurst State School and Hospital, Paranormal investigator Kitsie Duncan, Spirit Medium Tiffany Rice, the Bates Motel & Haunted Hayride, well-known actors and actresses, published authors, professional artists, local businesses, consultants, trainers, speakers and more…

Francesco earned a BA degree in English/Communications and Marketing from Cabrini College, and he also received a Webmaster Certification from Penn State Great Valley.

The Who: One of the Most Influential Rock Bands of the 20th Century

Written by: Francesco Vincenzo Iacono

The Who are a legendary rock group, formed in London, England in 1964. The Who’s classic line-up consisted of lead singer Roger Daltrey, guitarist and singer Pete Townshend, bass guitarist John Entwistle and drummer Keith Moon.

The Who are widely considered one of the most influential rock bands of the 20th century, selling over 100 million records worldwide. Appearances at Monterey and Woodstock helped solidify them as one of the greatest live rock acts.

Their major contributions to rock music include the development of the Marshall stack, large PA systems, use of the synthesizer, Entwistle and Moon’s lead playing styles, Townshend’s feedback and power chord guitar technique and the development of the “rock opera”.

In celebration of the 57th anniversary of The Who, we selected five of their legendary songs and ranked them accordingly.

5. “Who Are You”

Released in 1978, “Who Are You” is the title track to The Who’s eighth studio album and unfortunately the last recorded before drummer Moon’s death in September 1978. This super-heavy title track and lead single features one of their all-time greatest group performances. It was released as a double-A sided single with the John Entwistle composition “Had Enough”.

“Who Are You” summed up a real-life alcohol-induced episode in Townshend’s life after he went out drinking with Steve Jones and Paul Cook of the Sex Pistols. A policeman did indeed, as the opening lyrics state, find the rock star drunk in a “SoHo doorway”. The song instantly recognizable for its chorus and Who-like breakdown, was one of the band’s biggest hits in North America, peaking at number 7 in Canada and at number 14 in the , guitarist and singer Pete Townshend, bass guitarist John Entwistle and US, and has become a crowd favorite and serves as one of the band’s signature tunes at their live shows.


4. “My Generation”

“My Generation,” the title track from their debut studio album, was written by Townshend on his 20th birthday, May 19th, 1965, while traveling on a train ride from London to Southampton for a television appearance. The song was reportedly inspired by Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, who is alleged to have had his 1935 Packard Hearse towed off a street in Belgravia because she was offended by the sight of it during her daily drive through the neighborhood.

“My Generation” became The Who’s first British Top Five hit – and “encapsulated the angst of being a teenager” all over England. This rock anthem truly defined their ticket to legend. Rolling Stone named it the 11th greatest song on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and 13th on VH1’s list of the 100 Greatest Songs of Rock & Roll. It is also part of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll and is inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame for “historical, artistic and significant” value. In 2009, it was named the 37th Greatest Hard Rock Song by VH1.


3. “Pinball Wizard”

When Townshend was first developing the timeless “rock opera” Tommy, The Who’s fourth studio album, he played it for Nik Cohn, an influential UK rock critic, who felt the emotionally intense opera was just a bit too dark. The guitarist asked Cohn, “If it had pinball in it, would you give it a decent review?” Cohn responded, “of course I would. Anything with pinball in it is fantastic.”

With that, the resulting “rockaboogie” tune as Townshend referred to it, “Pinball Wizard” was immediately written and recorded. The original recording of the song was released as a single in 1969 and reached No. 4 in the UK charts and No. 19 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. This last-minute addition to the album, which told the story of “deaf, dumb and blind boy” named Tommy Walker, ultimately became one of the Who’s most enduring rock anthems.


2. “Baba O’Riley”

Townshend originally conceived the song “Baba O’Riley,” better known to rock novices as “Teenage Wasteland,” for his Lifehouse project, a rock opera intended as the follow-up to the Who’s 1969 opera, Tommy. The song served as a reflection of the aftermath of the music festivals including The Isle of Wight Festival and Woodstock which dominated the late ‘60s, where everybody was smacked out on acid and 20 people had brain damage. However, when the project was scrapped, eight of the songs were salvaged and recorded for Who’s Next, The Who’s fifth studio album, with “Baba O’Riley” as the lead-off track.

For “Baba O’Riley,” Townshend combined synthesizer experimentation with three simple chords to create one of the most iconic songs in rock and roll history. With both Townshend and Daltrey delivering memorable lines, this song will long endure. To illustrate, this epic anthem appears in Time magazine’s list of the All-Time 100 Songs, Rolling Stone’s list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time” and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll.


1. “Won’t Get Fooled Again”

Like “Baba O’Riley,” the song “Won’t Get Fooled Again” was originally written for Townshend’s aborted Lifehouse project and was also selected to appear as a standalone track on the album that became Who’s Next, arguably one of the best in rock and roll history. In Townshend: A Career Biography, Pete explained that the song was about antiestablishment, but that “revolution is not going to change anything in the long run, and people are going to get hurt.” This impressive eight-minute track serves as the climactic finish to the record as well as rock’s greatest declaration of independence.

“Won’t Get Fooled Again,” considered a stroke of genius musically, was released as a single in June 1971 and reached the top 10 on the UK Singles Chart and top 15 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. This masterpiece features an epic storm of doubt and refusal of acceptance coupled with amazing music and lyrics to drive home an uprising. Equally, Townshend’s synthesizer experimentation along with his rolling-thunder power chords, Entwistle’s remarkable bass, Moon’s brilliant drum solo and Daltrey’s truly colossal superhuman scream near the end, have all made “Won’t Get Fooled Again” one of the greatest rock anthems of all-time and paved the wave for rock immortality.

About Francesco Vincenzo Iacono

Frank Iacono Photo

Since 2012, Francesco Vincenzo Iacono has served as the President and CEO of The Creative Spotlight, the ultimate destination for unearthing a wealth of undiscovered musical talent, reading exciting interviews, releasing new music and sharing exclusive videos.

Every good story needs a good storyteller. And, The Creative Spotlight has truly provided a quality forum for revealing those great stories. Through the years, the online publication has featured national and local musicians such as Ash Costello from New Years Day, Williams Honor, Stacey David Blades, Screaming For Silence, Ages Apart, Roxy Petrucci, Peter Beckett, We The Kings, Everything Falls, Rod Black, Derek Crider, Daniel Mason Band, The Rockin’ Krolik, Michelle Leigh, Jessie G., Karen Mansfield and Hillbilly Vegas.

Additionally, The Creative Spotlight has also focused on historic Pennsylvania-based paranormal venues such as the Eastern State Penitentiary, Pennhurst State School and Hospital, Paranormal investigator Kitsie Duncan, Spirit Medium Tiffany Rice, the Bates Motel & Haunted Hayride, well-known actors and actresses, published authors, professional artists, local businesses, consultants, trainers, speakers and more…

Francesco earned a BA degree in English/Communications and Marketing from Cabrini College, and he also received a Webmaster Certification from Penn State Great Valley.

For Those About to Rock (AC/DC Salutes You)!

Written by: Francesco Vincenzo Iacono

AC/DC are an Australian rock band, formed in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia in 1973 by Scottish-born brothers Malcolm and Angus Young. In addition to the Young brothers, other prominent band members have included lead singers Dave Evans, Bon Scott, Brian Johnson and Axl Rose, Guitarist Stevie Young, Bassists Mark Evans and Cliff Williams, and Drummers Phil Rudd and Chris Slade.

For almost half a century, AC/DC’s inimitable brand of high voltage rock ’n’ roll has served as one of the most defining sounds of hard rock and heavy metal in music history. In its own way, their sound developed as a reaction against the pompous art rock and lumbering arena rock of the early ’70s.

AC/DC’s rock was unassuming — no matter how huge and bludgeoning Angus Young’s guitar chords were, there was a clear sense of space and restraint. Combined with Scott and Johnson’s larynx-shredding vocals, the band spawned countless imitators over the next four decades and enjoyed unbelievable commercial success well into the 2000s.

AC/DC have sold more than 200 million records worldwide, including 71.5 million albums in the United States, making them the tenth highest-selling artist in the USA and the 14th best-selling artist worldwide. Back in Black, their seventh studio album, has sold an estimated 50 million units worldwide, making it the third highest-selling album by any artist, and the highest-selling album by any band. The album has sold 22 million units in the US, where it is the sixth-highest-selling album of all time.

AC/DC ranked fourth on VH1’s list of the “100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock” and were named the seventh “Greatest Heavy Metal Band of All Time” by MTV. In 2003, AC/DC was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked them No. 72 on the list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time”. In 2010, VH1 ranked AC/DC number 23 in its list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time”.
and Chris Slade

In honor of AC/DC’s incredible musical career, we selected five of their legendary songs and ranked them accordingly.

#5 ” For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)”

Inspired by the legendary salute proclaimed by Roman gladiators as they entered the arena, “For Those About to Rock (We Salute You),” the title track from the band’s eighth studio album, was the sort of grand statement AC/DC simply had to make as a follow-up to 1980’s world-conquering Back in Black release. For Those About to Rock became the first AC/DC album to ever hit No. 1 in the US on the Billboard chart and stayed on the top for three weeks. To date, in the US, it has achieved four million sales. In the UK, the album’s two singles, “Let’s Get It Up” and “For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)”, made it to No. 13 and No. 15, respectively.

#4 “Highway To Hell”

The title track from “Highway to Hell,” their sixth studio album, finally established AC/DC as a serious hard rock band all over the world. New producer Robert John “Mutt” Lange helped the band craft catchy songs that popped on radio, and none worked quite as brilliantly as this one. The song details an account of the trials and tribulations of touring and features one of the best riffs the Young brothers ever strummed. The single hit number 17 in the U.S. and number eight in the U.K., becoming the group’s first million-seller. This seemed like the beginning of a new era in Scott’s life, but sadly, it would end up being his final chapter as he died from acute alcohol poisoning six months following the album’s release. Recently, AllMusic called the song “Highway to Hell” “one of hard rock’s all-time anthems.”

#3 “Thunderstruck”

By 1990, it appeared that AC/DC was losing steam. It had been 10 long years since the release of the epic album Back in Black, and although they remained a popular live act, they had a hard time scoring a blockbuster hit. Well, that all changed with “Thunderstruck,” an enormous song that sounds like a vicious thunderstorm. The track helped The Razors Edge, their twelfth studio album, sell millions of records and it’s been a highlight of their stage show ever since. The song has sold over a million digital copies since it became available for digital download. In January 2018, as part of Triple M’s “Ozzest 100”, the ‘most Australian’ songs of all-time, “Thunderstruck” was ranked number 8.

#2 You Shook Me All Night Long”

In 1980, “You Shook Me All Night Long,” the first single released from AC/DC’s Black in Black featuring Brian Johnson as the band’s new lead singer, reached number 35 on the USA’s Hot 100 pop singles chart. The track, features one of the catchiest choruses and showcases their musical versatility, was placed at number 10 on VH1’s list of “The 100 Greatest Songs of the 80s”. Additionally, it was ranked number 1 on VH1’s “Top Ten AC/DC Songs”. Guitar World positioned “You Shook Me All Night Long” at number 80 on their “100 Greatest Guitar Solos” list. Equally, it was a huge hit all across the world and remains their signature song during concerts.

#1 “Black in Black”

In February of 1980, following the untimely death of lead singer Bon Scott, AC/DC could have easily produced an oversentimental nostalgic record honoring his death, but instead they rallied together and realized that a better way to honor their fallen comrade was to create the most bombastic, hardest rocking record of their lives. With the help of new powerhouse singer Johnson, they succeeded beyond anything they could have imagined. As far as rock anthems go, the title track of the album “Black in Black” — AC/DC’s greatest hit — is truly a celebration of Bon and a vivid reminder that the band still had plenty of life. The track is as close to perfection as it gets. Starting with a scratchy guitar count-in, things go large when the song’s gargantuan riff kicks in — perhaps the most iconic guitar riff in rock history. Ever since its release, “Black in Black” has been used in countless TV shows, movies and commercials over the years, but it somehow still retains its primal power.

About Francesco Vincenzo Iacono

Frank Iacono Photo

Since 2012, Francesco Vincenzo Iacono has served as the President and CEO of The Creative Spotlight, the ultimate destination for unearthing a wealth of undiscovered musical talent, reading exciting interviews, releasing new music and sharing exclusive videos.

Every good story needs a good storyteller. And, The Creative Spotlight has truly provided a quality forum for revealing those great stories. Through the years, the online publication has featured national and local musicians such as Screaming For Silence, Ages Apart, Roxy Petrucci, Peter Beckett, We The Kings, Everything Falls, Rod Black, Derek Crider, Daniel Mason Band, Michelle Leigh, Jessie G., Karen Mansfield and Hillbilly Vegas. Additionally, we’ve also focused on historic Pennsylvania-based paranormal venues, well-known actors and actresses, published authors, professional artists, local businesses, consultants, trainers, speakers and more…

Francesco has a BA degree in English/Communications and Marketing from Cabrini College, and he earned his Webmaster Certification from Penn State Great Valley.

The Beatles Led the “British Invasion” to the USA

Written by: Francesco Vincenzo Iacono

The Beatles were a legendary rock group, formed in Liverpool, England, in 1960. The Beatles (a.k.a. the “Fab Four”) consisted of Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. Together these four lads went on to transform popular music as a creative, highly commercial art form over the next decade—producing classic songs like “Yesterday,” “Penny Lane,” “Lady Madonna,” “With A Little Help From My Friends,” “Day Tripper,” “Back in the USSR” and “Come Together.”

In 1963, The Beatles recorded their debut studio album entitled Please Please Me, a roaring success in the UK, peaking at number 1 in the charts. Extensive European tours followed, with thousands of fans filling the streets outside venues on a nightly occurrence. The reaction to the band was dubbed “Beatlemania”.

1964 saw the ‘British Invasion’, with The Beatles hitting USA for the first time. The Ed Sullivan Show played host to their first US television performance, which was a landmark for the band and was watched by approximately 73 million viewers in the States.

The Beatles are the best-selling music act of all-time, with certified sales of over 183 million units in the US and estimated sales of 600 million units worldwide. They hold the record for most number-one albums on the UK Albums Chart, most number-one hits on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and most singles sold in the UK.

The group were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988, and all four main members were also inducted individually between 1994 and 2015.

In 2008, the group topped Billboard’s list of the all-time most successful artists on the Billboard Hot 100. The band have received seven Grammy Awards, four Brit Awards, an Academy Award for the Best Original Song Score for the 1970 film Let It Be and fifteen Ivor Novello Awards. Time named The Beatles among the 20th century’s 100 most important people.

In honor of The Beatles incredible musical career, we selected five of their legendary songs and ranked them accordingly.

5. “The Long and Winding Road”

McCartney said he came up with the title “The Long and Winding Road” during one of his first visits to his property High Park Farm, near Campbeltown in Scotland. The phrase was inspired by the sight of a road “stretching up into the hills” in the remote Highlands surrounded by lochs and distant mountains. He wrote the song at his farm in 1968, inspired by the growing tension among the Beatles. By early 1969, creative and financial issues were fracturing the band. Lennon had already told the others that he was quitting, Starr had gone on a hiatus, and Harrison and McCartney disappeared for weeks.

When the Beatles issued “The Long and Winding Road” as a single in May 1970, a month after they broke-up, it became the group’s 20th and last number-one hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States. In fact, it was the final single released by the quartet.

4. “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”

Despite the rumors that the classic hit “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” written by John and credited to the Lennon-McCartney songwriting partnership, was about a hallucinogenic drug known as LSD, Lennon insisted that it was not about drugs, but instead, inspiration that came from his then four-year-old son, Julian, who painted a picture of Lucy O’Donnell, his classmate whom he sat next to. His nursey school drawing depicted “Lucy – in the sky with diamonds”.

Lennon attributed the song’s fantastical imagery to his reading of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland adventures, with ‘kaleidoscope eyes’ and ‘newspaper taxis’, creating a psychedelic nursery rhyme. “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” has been recognized as a key work in the psychedelic genre.

3. “Strawberry Fields Forever”

The song “Strawberry Fields Forever” was based on a Salvation Army children’s home in Liverpool, known as Strawberry Field. The hit was written completely by Lennon when he was in Spain away from his fellow bandmates. For this track, he reached into his childhood memories and remembered the orphanage – he used to climb over the wall and play within the wild gardens. As Lennon had been abandoned by both his parents, living with his Aunt Mimi, he found solace in the gardens of the orphanage.

When he returned to England, Lennon played the song for the rest of the band and was met by stunned silence. McCartney complimented him in a respectful tone, claiming “that is absolutely brilliant”. “Strawberry Fields Forever” was the first track The Beatles recorded after completing Revolver and was intended for inclusion on their forthcoming Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album. Under intense pressure from EMI Records, their record company and management, to release a new product, they were forced to issue the track as a double A-side single with “Penny Lane” versus appearing on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

2. “Let It Be”

Written by McCartney during the 1968 sessions for The Beatles, also known as The White Album, “Let It Be” was inspired by a dream the singer had of his deceased mother, Mary. In the dream, Mary was assuring him, amongst the turmoil of the Beatles’ slow breakup, that everything would be all right. McCartney eventually transformed the song into a gospel-style number for the Get Back sessions that would eventually be released as the album “Let It Be”.

At the time, the single “Let It Be” had the highest debut on the Billboard Hot 100, beginning its chart run at number 6. The song gave The Beatles their seventh consecutive year charting a number 1 hit, sharing the all-time record, at the time, with Elvis Presley. Unfortunately, it was their final single before McCartney announced his departure from the band on April 10.

1. “Hey Jude”

“Hey Jude” was one of the few Beatles compositions to be written directly about, and for, a personal associate. It was composed by McCartney for Lennon’s son, Julian, on the occasion of John’s impending divorce from his first wife, and Julian’s mother, Cynthia. Paul and Julian had always been very close, and he knew that his dad’s new relationship with Yoko Ono, along with his desire to distance himself from his old life, had to be hitting Julian, then age 6, pretty hard. Paul composed the melody and basic lyrics for the song while driving to Cynthia’s home in Weybridge, a town by the River Wey in the Elmbridge district of Surrey, where he often visited during June of 1968. When he returned home that day, he recorded a demo version on his piano. It was originally titled “Hey Jules,” but Paul thought “Jude” would be easier to sing.

“Hey Jude” spent an unprecedented nine weeks at Number One in the US, making it the biggest Beatles single ever in America. In 2013, Billboard magazine named it the 10th “biggest” song of all-time in terms of chart success. It has sold over eight million copies, three million in just the first two months.

About Francesco Vincenzo Iacono

Frank Iacono Photo

Since 2012, Francesco Vincenzo Iacono has served as the President and CEO of The Creative Spotlight, the ultimate destination for unearthing a wealth of undiscovered musical talent, reading exciting interviews, releasing new music and sharing exclusive videos.

Every good story needs a good storyteller. And, The Creative Spotlight has truly provided a quality forum for revealing those great stories. Through the years, the online publication has featured national and local musicians such as Screaming For Silence, Ages Apart, Roxy Petrucci, Peter Beckett, We The Kings, Everything Falls, Rod Black, Derek Crider, Daniel Mason Band, Michelle Leigh, Jessie G., Karen Mansfield and Hillbilly Vegas. Additionally, we’ve also focused on historic Pennsylvania-based paranormal venues, well-known actors and actresses, published authors, professional artists, local businesses, consultants, trainers, speakers and more…

Francesco has a BA degree in English/Communications and Marketing from Cabrini College, and he earned his Webmaster Certification from Penn State Great Valley.

Kitsie Duncan – Paranormal Researcher

Written by: Frank Iacono

Kitsie Duncan - Paranormal Researcher

Kitsie Duncan was born in the Chicagoland area, and lived in several cities growing up. Kitsie now calls Bloomington, Indiana home where she lives with her husband Chris Jay. From a young age Kitsie always loved the spotlight and was always involved in choir and drama. She took a hiatus to raise her children, but now that they are grown she is perusing her lifelong dream of researching the unknown.

Surprisingly, Ms. Duncan lived most of her life terrified of the existence of the paranormal. After losing her father she wanted to know more about life after death. This hunger for knowledge led her to the world of ghost hunting and paranormal research. Quickly she found herself obsessed with proving that the spirit world isn’t as scary as many think it is.

For over twelve years, she and her crew at the Oddity Files have investigated some of the most infamous haunted locations in the world. From those investigations, the team came away with evidence that not only proves those locations are haunted but that the spirits occupying those places have a unique story to tell.

In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, we caught up with Kitsie Duncan where we talked about her paranormal influences, her research as a member of the Oddity Files investigative team and companion podcast, her first published book as well as her short and long-term future plans.

Q&A Session

The Creative Spotlight: At what age did you first realize that you wanted to be a paranormal researcher and whom or what would you say inspired you?

Kitsie Duncan: Thanks to the movie Poltergeist, I honestly grew up terrified of the paranormal. However, it wasn’t until I was in my 30’s that I finally wanted to learn more about it. At the time, my dad passed away suddenly. There were no official goodbyes, not even a “see ya later!” So, I wanted to know if there was a possibility that he could still be watching out for me and my family. With that, I started watching some of the paranormal reality TV shows, and I quickly became obsessed with wanting to explore further.

In my new book entitled I’d Rather Talk to Dead People: My Journey as a Paranormal Researcher I delve deeper on this topic. If you would like to order a copy of the book it is now available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Kitsie Duncan paranormal researcher

Photo By Cassandra Michelle Photography

TCS: For the benefit of those who are not familiar with Kistie Duncan or the show Oddity Files on Amazon Prime Video, please share with us how you first started out and created the show?

KD: After becoming obsessed with the paranormal, I quickly found myself participating in investigations with an Indiana Paranormal Team. Sadly, my time with that team didn’t last very long. However, it was a valuable time as it afforded me the opportunity to get my hands on all the exciting paranormal equipment. The whole experience highly intrigued me, so I invited some friends to join me on an investigation where I brought along one of those fancy infrared cameras (e.g., a camera that films in the dark). At that time, I started putting some of our adventures on YouTube. The response was great.

Eventually, we narrowed the team down to Clayton Abbott, my son Carter Jostes and myself. This newly aligned team captured some of the best evidence we had ever gotten before. With that, I submitted the Oddity Files show to Prime Video and here we are 3 seasons later.

TCS: Can you introduce us to the Oddity Files investigative team and describe for us each member’s responsibilities?

KD: The Oddity Files crew investigates notoriously haunted locations all over the world. The team is known for its unique investigative style. We retrieve evidence and tell the stories that the entities want us to tell.

Our team consists of the following:

  • Clayton Abbott: Investigator and King of Drone Footage
  • Kitsie Duncan: Lead Investigator, Editor, Booking Agent and Director
  • Carter Jostes: Camera Man, Tech Guy and Investigator

Oddity Files Kitsie Duncan

Photo by Kemper Enchantments

TCS: In Season 1, Episode 1 of the show entitled “Culbertson Mansion,” you and the team investigated the Culbertson Mansion State Historic Site, once the home of William Culbertson, who was once the richest man in Indiana. Can you please share some insight about the investigation as well as how you and your team utilized a device called the Odd Box during your research?

KD: Our investigation of the historic Culbertson Mansion, marked the first time that it was just the three of us conducting research. Equally, we were one of the first teams to actually do an overnight investigation which afforded us the opportunity to try out a bunch of new things including the use of the Odd Box. The Odd Box is an amplifier hooked up to a spirit box, with some reverb and other ways to adjust the sound to provide better overall quality. The Box also contains a copper wire with some crystals attached to it and a big ole rechargeable battery. To this day, it has become the best piece of equipment I own. Since that first investigation, these devices have made it possible for us to have a real-time conversation with many of the spirits that we encounter.


TCS: In Season 2, Episode 2 entitled “Outlaws and Lawmen Jail Museum” you and the team traveled to in Cripple Creek, Colorado to experience a taste of the shadier side of life in the World’s Greatest Gold Camp. Can you please share some insight about your investigation in the original Teller County Jail and the lives of the lawmen who were charged with keeping the peace?

KD: This Colorado-based location was odd. Not only were most of the crew suffering with altitude sickness, after landing and traveling straight up to Pikes Peak, but we think we may have also seen a phantom hitchhiker on our drive too.

The evidence from this investigation was truly all over the board, it really left us scratching our heads. In one part of the building, we spoke to a little girl via a flashlight session, and in the room next to it there was an entity that was breathing down one of our guest investigator’s neck.

In the basement, there’s a strong possibility that two of our investigators were attacked by an entity that refused to interact. Additionally, I personally felt like I was being choked in a jail cell. Needless to say, I’m not in any rush to get back there.


TCS: In Season 3, Episode 1 entitled “Octagon Hall,” you and the team investigated Octagon Hall, widely regarded as one of most haunted places in the South with ties to the Civil War and Slavery. Can you please share some insight about the investigation as well as how you and your team utilized specific technologies and/or devices to unearth evidence about the historic location?

KD: This was my second trip to Octagon Hall and the evidence never seems to disappoint. However, the energy had changed for sure in one of the rooms on the third floor since my last visit. When I was there the first time, I was very uneasy in the hallway between the two bedrooms that went out to the terrace. Nonetheless, I never got any evidence that told me why. But this time, it was answered for me, and the whole third floor just felt lighter and less heavy.

Apparently in the years since I had been there the resident team of Octagon Hall had unearthed a wedding ring of one of the slaves that had been there. The team has now dedicated and placed that ring in the same hallway that used to scare me, and in my heart of hearts, I think it’s the reason for the change in the vibration of that hallway.

Additionally, this was the first of many locations where the team and I got to use my SLS camera (e.g., thanks babe for the birthday present) and with it, we think we captured a little girl playing hide and go seek with us.


TCS: Can you share some highlights and memorable guests that you’ve featured on your Paranormal Podcast also called the Oddity Files?

KD: Through my day job, I have so many amazing friends and some of them have some pretty recognizable names. I’m so grateful to have had my friends like, Bruce Campbell, Norman Reedus, Robert Englund and WWE Superstar Paige on some of our earlier podcasts. NOT bragging at all, but it was super cool to hear their personal paranormal stories and to be able to share them with all of our great listeners.

TCS: Who or what inspired you to write your first book entitled I’d Rather Talk to Dead People: My Journey as a Paranormal Researcher?

KD: My dear friend Dave Schrader asked me if I’d ever thought about writing a book, and I was like, well there’s a pandemic going on and I’m out of work, so why not. In all seriousness, I thank my lucky stars for Dave introducing me to the amazing people at Beyond The Fray Publishing. I feel like this was something I needed to do to get me to the next step in life.

TCS: Describe for us the strangest case you and/or your team have worked on to date? And, have you ever experienced anything truly terrifying? If, yes, please explain.

KD: Here’s the thing, my lot in life right now is to prove that ghosts aren’t scary. I’m of the firm belief that they are just trying to communicate with the living. And, sadly the living is afraid of what they don’t understand.

The Oddity Files Crew and I have now gone our separate ways. Don’t worry, there are no bad break up stories, it was just time. And, in writing my book I’d Rather Talk to Dead People: My Journey as a Paranormal Researcher, I realized that I CAN communicate with the dead, and that investigating had gotten me over my own fears of the unknown.

Now it’s time for me to give back, the most prominent things I learned about paranormal investigating I learned from the spirits themselves. SO, I now want to be the bridge between the living and the dead and help them to communicate. And show the living that the things that may be scaring them are just the spirits trying to get their attention.

Now, with my friends KJ and Tiffany Rice, we’ve started Paranormal X Road and we’re hoping to change the public’s view on the paranormal. We are a team of 3 fearless women, who will bring light and positivity into the hearts of those living fearful of the paranormal.Empathy for the living and the dead is what helps acquire the real evidence and solve the mysteries of the paranormal.

TCS: Do you use psychic mediums during a paranormal investigation?

KD: Yes, I absolutely do. I highly recommend renowned Spirit Medium Tiffany Rice. She is the best spirit medium in the business.

TCS: In your profession, I’m sure you are constantly approached by unbelievers so how do you handle the naysayers?

KD: Actually, I am not really approached by unbelievers or naysayers. If I am, I just agree to disagree. More often than not, when I bring up the paranormal to someone outside the field, they generally have their own story of an experience they can’t wait to tell me.

TCS: What does the short and long-term future look like for Kistie Duncan?

KD: In both the short and long-term, I plan to continue being an active paranormal researcher. My mission is to help people who are living with a haunting or are in pain from the loss of a loved. I want to be able to give the living answers and the give the spirits a voice.

View a sneak peek of my new venture entitled Paranormal X Roads:

To stay connected, please join me on the following:

• Kistie Duncan Facebook
• Kistie Duncan Instagram
• Kistie Duncan Twitter
Oddity Files Amazon Prime Video
Oddity Files YouTube

About Frank Iacono

Frank Iacono Photo

Since 2012, Frank Iacono has served as the President and CEO of The Creative Spotlight, the ultimate destination for unearthing a wealth of undiscovered musical talent, reading exciting interviews, releasing new music and sharing exclusive videos.

Every good story needs a good storyteller. And, The Creative Spotlight has truly provided a quality forum for revealing those great stories. Through the years, the online publication has featured national and local musicians such as Ash Costello from New Years Day, Williams Honor, Stacey David Blades, Screaming For Silence, Ages Apart, Roxy Petrucci, Peter Beckett, We The Kings, Everything Falls, Rod Black, Derek Crider, Daniel Mason Band, The Rockin’ Krolik, Michelle Leigh, Jessie G., Karen Mansfield and Hillbilly Vegas.

Additionally, The Creative Spotlight has also focused on historic Pennsylvania-based paranormal venues such as the Eastern State Penitentiary, Pennhurst State School and Hospital, Paranormal investigator Kitsie Duncan, Spirit Medium Tiffany Rice, the Bates Motel & Haunted Hayride, well-known actors and actresses, published authors, professional artists, local businesses, consultants, trainers, speakers and more…

Frank earned a BA degree in English/Communications and Marketing from Cabrini College, and he also received a Webmaster Certification from Penn State Great Valley.

Williams Honor – Jersey Shore’s First Country Duo

Written by: Frank Iacono

Williams Honor

Williams Honor, the Jersey Shore’s first ever country duo, hails from Asbury Park, New Jersey and features Gordon Brown and Reagan Richards. Both Gordon and Reagan (affectionately nicknamed G & R) spent several years in Nashville, Tennessee writing, recording and touring with other artists until their fateful meeting in 2014 at a benefit for Hurricane Sandy victims. Their chemistry was truly undeniable and the two knew it was time to start a new venture together and thus Williams Honor was born.

G & R’s New Jersey influence plays a huge part in Williams Honor’s music, combining modern country sound with traditional Nashville country music. Individually, Gordon and Reagan bring years of professional music experience to Williams Honor. For instance, Gordon has been on the road or working with Jessie James Decker, Audrey Kate and Jackson Harris. While Reagan’s resume includes working with artists like Lisa Loeb, David Gray and Les Paul.

As a group, Gordon and Reagan had quite a rewarding 2018. In that year, Williams Honor achieved their first Music Row Country Breakout Top 30 with their song “No Umbrella,” won Best Music Video for “Send It To Me” in the Asbury Park Music & Film Festival and opened for fellow neighborhood superstars Bon Jovi, at a sold-out monumental performance at Madison Square Garden.

In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, we caught up with Reagan Richards and Gordon Brown from Williams Honor where we talked about their musical influences, their songwriting and recording process, their experience in the music industry and how COVID-19 and the pandemic has affected their musical career.

Q&A Session

The Creative Spotlight: At what age did you both first realize that you wanted to be musicians and whom or what would you say inspired you?

Reagan Richards: For me, music always played a big part in my life. Long before I was born, my mom was a big band singer and actually sang with Les Paul, the legendary jazz, country, and blues guitarist. She also was supposed to be the singer of the late-night TV talk show called The George Gobel Show. However, she turned down moving out to Los Angeles, California but kept the musical spirit alive. She never said to me as a child, “Hey, kid, can you sing? If so, you should pursue it” but it just came automatically, as well as song writing. One of the earliest songs that I wrote was a tune called, “Count Me Out (I Don’t Wanna Be in Pictures)”. I wrote that song when I was 6 years old and it apparently referenced the crappy side of modeling, which sounds like a joke, but unfortunately, it’s not. My Dad was a huge country music fan, so artists like Marty Robbins, Glen Campbell and Johnny Cash were among the great guests who appeared on our special playlist during road trips. So, I’d say that my parents were my two main catalysts for getting me in the zone.

Williams Honor Country Duo

Gordon Brown: Growing up, music served as my greatest escape from undiagnosed childhood depression. I was very fortunate to live in areas where I knew successful musicians came from. In New Jersey, I lived close to the beach and Bruce Springsteen, “The Boss”. On the weekends, my dad had an apartment in New York City down the street from The Dakota where the legendary John Lennon lived. Ultimately, I was destined to figure some of it out. Equally, tracing out Gene Simmons’ makeup face on the back of my KISS Alive II album probably helped too.

TCS: For the benefit of those who are not familiar with Gordon Brown and Reagan Richards as well as Williams Honor, how would you describe your musical genre?

RR: Williams Honor’s musical genre is country music. We believe we are a nice weaving of the old traditional sound along with the modern sound. We truly respect and love how country music was born and love the foundational key players that paved the way. At the same time, we understand and have been excited about how much country music has evolved. We certainly give our fans all of the above.

Williams Honor Performing

GB: We love everything about country music. Our roots are based from where WE hail from. That’s what makes it Jersey Country. My DNA can be directly traced to Asbury Park, New Jersey and all the artists that have come from there, including Johnny Cash who also had roots from there many years ago and got very involved in helping the community.

TCS: What famous musical artists and/or bands were among your early influences and how do you think they shaped you both as a singers/songwriters and performers?

RR: For me, it goes back to the music that my parents played. For example, I can sing word-for-word and note-for-note the greatest songs of Marty Robbins, Merle Haggard and a lil’ country crooner by the name of Patsy Cline. Between Patsy, artists like Hank Garland and male powerhouses like Johnny Cash & Waylon Jennings …I was hooked. To me, those artists spoke to me as early as five or six years of age and I remember listening to their music and getting actual goosebumps. I had a strong feeling that my school friends weren’t listening to music and receiving it the same way that I was. That’s how I knew I was a little different. I couldn’t just put a song on and be done with it and continue on with my day. Those tunes stuck with me. Today, when we write a song, we want to have that same impact on a listener …it’s about singing a lyric, being authentic and having someone in their car go, “OMG, I feel that”. That’s why my influences are so powerful to me because I never forgot how they made me feel.

Williams Honor Performing on Stage

GB: Restless Heart, Diamond Rio, Blackhawk, Vince Gill, Keith Urban, Garth Brooks, Shania Twain, Rascal Flatts and Dixie Chicks, all pulled me into country music by my short hairs. After listening to those bands, it was tough for me to listen to anything the same way again. I grew up with the storied songs of Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, KISS and the harmonies of The Eagles by the beach. My first signed band would be considered country if that album came out today.

TCS: How thrilling was it to share your first public performance in Asbury Park on stage with the legendary Jersey Boy Bruce Springsteen?

RR: Oh boy. For me, that was a truly surreal, beautiful moment. I’ve had some very incredible musical moments in my life …a show with the legendary Emmylou Harris and singing with Les Paul for several years until he died as well as Steve Allen’s radio show were among my many proud moments. Now I am embarking on a new journey with Williams Honor where our first public performance was for Light Of Day at the sold-out Paramount Theater, where we performed a 20-minute finale with Bruce. It was thrilling, it was a “feel good” moment because it was for the LOD foundation which raises money for Parkinson’s research. It was breathtaking to look around onstage and just see incredible people surrounding you. If Williams Honor had to have a “kickoff”…I’d say that was a damn good one.


GB
: Nothing I can write could ever truly capture in words how personally exciting that was for me. Coming from the NJ area makes it even more special. This was not the first time I’ve been on stage standing next to Bruce…actually there’s been a few more times since then too. Always incredible.

TCS: Personally, one of my favorite songs off of your self-titled debut release is the track entitled “Send It To Me,” so can you share with us the meaning behind it and the video concept?

RR: Thank You! It’s always great hearing what people love from our records! There’s never a textbook way to write a song. Show me a successful songwriter and I’ll show you napkins with lyrics, tapes with melodies, random words in a notebook …and how you put all those pieces together determines what you have in the end. The track “Send it To Me” was a song that didn’t come from a list of titles we had stashed for years. It actually came together during the recording of the first album. Gordon and I would send each other files and one afternoon I sat across from him and I said, “Send It to Me.” He said, “what?” I said, “Send It To Me”. WHAT? I thought something wasn’t exactly translating. My phrase struck him and he ran in and got the guitar and within a half hour we had the song. Our energy going into writing it was what gave that song it’s energy. It became our first single and to this day, it’s a fan favorite and we absolutely have so much fun performing it.


GB
: The video for “Send It to Me” is our personal story. In the video, we’re driving on Ocean Avenue through the streets of Asbury Park, driving past The Stone Pony, performing at The Saint, and then standing on Broadway in Nashville in front of Tootsie’s as I’m convincing the owner to let us Jersey people in. We then, try to break into The Ryman right up the block with Bridgestone Arena located right behind us. It’s our roots of the music and who we are. We had Jersey director George McMorrow work on it for us and we ended up winning Best Music Video in The Asbury Park Music and Film Festival that year.

TCS: Please describe your Madison Square Garden performance as an opening act for hometown heroes Bon Jovi?

RR: How do I even begin to describe something of that magnitude? It’s everything anyone would think it would be. Imagine working your entire life writing songs …leaving your family and moving away, working day and night to support your dream …having major ups and major downs …and then starting a new project, getting a #27 song on country radio and after that, being selected to directly support hometown heroes, Bon Jovi, on their first local show after being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. That’s the kind of stuff you dream of and the kind of stuff you stand in your bedroom acting out as a kid. And it really happened to us. We weren’t in the bedroom dreaming, we were on the stage …and quite honestly, I’m very proud of that moment. It felt like a really nice, big nod for the work that we had done.


GB
: Imagine growing up down the street for one of your childhood idols, who taught you how to break down all the barriers through their music. THEN all of a sudden you find yourself on the world’s most famous stage opening for them RIGHT AFTER they get inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Once again, It’s tough to put into words but I still tear up when I think about it. Dreams can come true. And, in some cases, even better than you ACTUALLY imagined!

TCS: Tell us about the background behind another fan favorite, entitled “No Umbrella” and your live appearance on the Hard Rock Cafe Stage during “Today in Nashville”?

RR: “No Umbrella” is a song we co-wrote with country superstar, Cyndi Thomson. Both Gordon and I had been huge fans of Cyndi’s for years and we asked her if she wanted to get together to write. She was so incredibly cool and immediately said yes. We met for a writing session and just started talking about life for the first 90 minutes. From our talk, we came up with “No Umbrella” which is a song about suffering loss and allowing yourself to feel the pain instead of running from it.

We conducted a radio tour all over the country for both of our singles, and “No Umbrella” reached #27 which was such a gratifying feeling. This campaign was a total team effort, and everyone involved truly felt a great sense of accomplishment. The night before the Country Music Awards in Nashville they held a Top 30 party/show for us and so many of our musical peers came out to support and celebrate. It was amazing.

We’ve performed on NBC TV’s “Today in Nashville” show three times already, but the FIRST time was really bittersweet. My dog of almost 16 years passed away while I was on the road (literally on the road while I was in my car headed to Nashville). I had to perform “No Umbrella,” a song about how to deal with loss 30 hours after I experienced such a huge loss in my life.

I will, however, say that the TV lights are amazing because I had ridiculous red, puffy eyes like you wouldn’t believe from crying all those hours, but TV made me actually look like a human.

TCS: As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, have you had to cancel or postpone any tours or festival appearances?

RR & GB: Ohhh absolutely. Williams Honor had an entire record campaign laid out for our long awaited second record. In fact, we had already begun the whole release in Nashville at the end of February, three weeks prior to lockdown. We conducted TV interviews, had a release show for the first single off the record, distributed press, completed a photo shoot session you name it. We had bookings covering shows all over the country for the summer to coincide with its release. However, as soon as the lockdown hit, we put a big halt on all of that. We knew it was NOT the proper time to release it. We stand by that decision.

GB: All of them.

TCS: As artists, have you found COVID-19 and this quarantine to be a highly creative time period for writing and recording new music or has it been difficult to focus on creative endeavors?

RR: 10000% absolutely a creative time. No matter what happens in life, we have to find a way to keep going, but not just for the sake of existence. We have to LIVE! Living means doing what makes you feel alive. We stopped the planning of the record release but took this valuable and highly unpredictable opportunity to go back into the studio and add more things to the songs we had. During this unprecedented time, we’ve written a ton of new material, and even put together a livestream variety show, hich taps into our creative side at every turn.

GB: Go ahead and give creative people more time to think and deal with life’s seemingly impossible hardships and watch what comes out.

TCS: Can you describe for us the song writing and recording process behind your most recent hit single entitled “Step”?

RR: The song “Step” is a tune where the melody and lyrics came together simultaneously. It doesn’t always happen like that. I had an idea and I called Gordon and bounced it off him and we just ran with it. Right off the bat we knew it was going to be a song of empowerment. Our beloved followers are called the Williams Honor Army, so this was dedicated to them.


GB
: This is a song dedicated to the home team. They are why we continue to exist. We hope to empower them as we continue on.

TCS: As recording artists, have you both embraced social platforms to help market your songs, albums, merchandise and/or appearances?

RR and GB: Absolutely. We’ve certainly embraced social media.

To stay connected, please join us on the following:

TCS: Can you provide us with some details about “The Willi Ho Show” presented by Nashville-based Centerstage Magazine and airs WHednesday nights at 6:30 PM CT”?

RR: “The WILLI Ho Show” is our livestream variety show that is authentically, clumsily but beautifully ….Williams Honor. There’s no pretending. There’s no bells and whistles. There no perfection. That stuff just doesn’t exist. What DOES exist are two people who write songs …two people who have musical history …two people who have a love to make people laugh …two people who get on each other’s nerves (as Gordon & I do) and put that all together and you get this show that has hopefully helped our audience get through these difficult times, but it truly has helped US.

We have been so grateful to everyone who has tuned into our show and turned it into a top ranking POLLSTAR show. That certainly was never a goal …because a POLLSTAR livestream chart didn’t exist before lockdown. The goal was to be real and give our audience a piece of ourselves …which is our music, our influences and our history mixed with some crazy, funny added characters.

GB: Talk about a train you never saw coming …we have had more fun with our audience doing this show than should be legally allowed by law. THEY are the biggest part of the show, with their comments, requests, suggestions and jokes. #BannerDown #DontTouchMe #REAAAAGS are just a few of the sound bites that have become WHArmy approved.

TCS: What lessons do you both think that you’ve learned during this pandemic? What kind of advice would you give to fellow musicians who are trying new creative ways to supplement their income until this is over”?

RR: Our on-going motto has been “Never Stop. Keep Creating!” In a time where we didn’t know what was going to happen one minute to the next, I think it could’ve been very easy to say …I’m going to sleep for 3 days straight and just watch TV. But if the pandemic taught us anything (besides wash your hands!) it’s that nothing should stop a creative mind. Not even uncertainty of the world around us. My advice to a musician in these times? Be you. Don’t look at another artist and think you have to do what they are doing. Let them be them. Do You and constantly work on a great version of YOURSELF for people to fall in love with.

GB: Couldn’t have said that better myself.

Editors’ Note, December 31, 2020:

After initial publication, the article met with some criticism from Reagan Richards and Gordon Brown concerning The Creative Spotlight’s content editorial, prompting editors to review it and forgo our typical editing process. Upon further review, we have updated the article to feature the original unedited answers provided by Williams Honor as requested.

About Frank Iacono

Frank Iacono Photo

Since 2012, Frank Iacono has served as the President and CEO of The Creative Spotlight, the ultimate destination for unearthing a wealth of undiscovered musical talent, reading exciting interviews, releasing new music and sharing exclusive videos.

Every good story needs a good storyteller. And, The Creative Spotlight has truly provided a quality forum for revealing those great stories. Through the years, the online publication has featured national and local musicians such as Ash Costello from New Years Day, Williams Honor, Stacey David Blades, Screaming For Silence, Ages Apart, Roxy Petrucci, Peter Beckett, We The Kings, Everything Falls, Rod Black, Derek Crider, Daniel Mason Band, The Rockin’ Krolik, Michelle Leigh, Jessie G., Karen Mansfield and Hillbilly Vegas.

Additionally, The Creative Spotlight has also focused on historic Pennsylvania-based paranormal venues such as the Eastern State Penitentiary, Pennhurst State School and Hospital, Paranormal investigator Kitsie Duncan, Spirit Medium Tiffany Rice, the Bates Motel & Haunted Hayride, well-known actors and actresses, published authors, professional artists, local businesses, consultants, trainers, speakers and more…

Frank earned a BA degree in English/Communications and Marketing from Cabrini College, and he also received a Webmaster Certification from Penn State Great Valley.