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:

  • Austin Ingerman − Lead Guitar
  • Frankie Sil – Bassist
  • Ash Costello – Lead Vocals
  • Nikki Misery – Rhythm Guitar

New Years Day

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.

 

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.

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.

Danielle Morgan – Singer, Songwriter & Musician

Written by: Frank Iacono

Danielle Morgan Musican

London-based singer, songwriter and musician Danielle Morgan is making a big impact in the UK and internationally, sharing her music, performed with great passion and attitude. Those who have seen her “live” write and talk about how they are uplifted by Danielle’s universal themes and original melodies, delivered with real power and honest emotion, supported by her amazing band.

Danielle began her musical journey at a young age, and it was her path to enter the world-famous BRIT School in London. She has composed over 70 original songs and works with co-writer John Merrigan, and has also worked with highly credited Los Angeles, California Producer, Jonathan Smith [a.k.a. TheRealJonSmith] – (Luna Halo, four-time Grammy Award winner Kevin Max, etc.) among others.

Danielle’s compositions are diverse in topic and eclectic in mood. She writes about her life experiences that everyone can relate to and interpret for themselves. Her vocals are compelling, uniquely her own.

Recorded at London’s Abbey Road Studios, Danielle released her debut EP, The Session in June 2016 to critical acclaim. 2019 saw Morgan inking a global distribution deal with Universal Music Group to build on her strong fanbase and social media profile. In 2020, she is very excited to be performing new songs to audiences around the UK, Ireland and beyond. July saw the release of her new EP entitled The Faces of Danielle Morgan and further EPs / album release are planned in the coming months before getting back on the road.

In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, we caught up with Danielle Morgan where we talked about her musical influences, her songwriting and recording process, her experience in the music industry and how COVID-19 has affected her musical career.

Q&A Session

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

DM: As a young girl, I always loved performing at family events but early on I got into Johnny Nash, an America reggae star who sang: “Tears on My Pillow” which combined reggae and country and I loved it. I “stole” the tape from my parents and played it over and over, and absorbed the melody, emotion, and sincerity of those songs. I then got into Motown and whilst my friends were listening to more contemporary music in the 1980s, I was listening to that, hidden away in my bedroom.

TCS: 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?

DM: When I was 16 at music / drama college in London, I was heavily influenced by musical theatre – strong songs with a message and a big sound. I liked Crystal Gayle, Neil Sedaka, Billy Joel and all the Motown stars; especially how they crafted their songs and got the message across simply and directly. At 18, I was approached by a major record label to take on my songs, but I didn’t like how they wanted to change them or how they said I’d have a pop lifespan as an artist of 12-18 months! No thanks!

TCS: For the benefit of those who are not familiar with Danielle Morgan or your musical career, please share with us how you first started out in United Kingdom and eventually became a singer, songwriter, and musician?

Danielle Morgan Singer

DM: My early path took me to the BRIT School in London and that set me off writing songs. But after a few years, I realized that I had no real-life experience. From then on, a lot of things happened to me, some good and some bad. I turned to my song writing on the piano to help find my expression, only for myself, and to relieve those stresses. After a long break from the business, I found myself auditioning for a band led by John Merrigan and I began to love performing again. That led to me having the confidence to share some of my personal songs and the reaction was so positive and loving that I decided to once more embark on a professional music career. Since then, I’ve worked with amazing people and recorded at places like Abbey Road; and the journey continues.

TCS: Personally, one of my favorite songs from your EP The Session is the track called “No Trace of You,” so could you describe the history behind the song as well as the music video concept?

DM: Normally, I don’t interpret my songs, only because everyone will take the meaning for themselves. “No Trace of You” is not about a personal relationship, it’s about moving from one chapter of your life into a new one and leaving the past behind.

We contacted a number of people involved in shooting videos and only one that came back who understood the meaning was director Nick Kirk. We shot the video over a weekend, with the track freshly recorded at Abbey Road, produced by LA based therealjonsmith. It was an amazing experience and the storyline shows me leaving the life of a hotel maid (though my old life was actually a London police officer), waving goodbye as I enter the world of a music singer! It turned out to be pretty prophetic!


TCS: Can you tell us about your new EP and introduce us to the band line-up?

DM: In July 2020, I will be releasing a new EP entitled The Faces of Danielle Morgan and I am really looking forward to sharing those songs with my fans and your readers! This is the first in a series of EPs we plan to release in 2020 to get more of the new tracks out and we hope this will lead to an album by the end of the year. There is so much new material ready to go!

The band consists of:

  • Danielle Morgan – Lead Vocals / Piano
  • John Merrigan – Drums
  • David Barbour – Guitarist
  • Peter Rutherford – Bassist
  • Andrew Dascalopoulos – Keys
  • Lucy D. – Backing Vocals
  • Rob McCann – Harmonica

TCS: What financial impact has the coronavirus pandemic had on both personally and professionally? Have you had to cancel or postpone any tours or festival appearances?

DM: We have to see the financial impact in the context of so many others losing dear friends and relatives – our health is before our wealth more than ever. But, yes, we had to cancel so many shows and summer festivals which we had spent a long time securing – it was extremely hard on the band, the artists and ourselves. Luckily, we’ve been able to work with promoters and others to minimize the impact and we are looking forward to getting back on the road.

TCS: Amid this pandemic, what’s your daily routine been like? And since musicians spend so much time on the road, have you found it hard adjusting to so much time at home?

DM: Before the COVID-19 pandemic, we were rarely at home, either gigging, rehearsing or doing promotional activity. We are blessed to be living in a beautiful part of the world, on the coast and close to the countryside. It’s made us appreciate so much more what we have on our doorstep. Our daily routine takes us to the beach or on walks in the local area and we are much calmer.

TCS: Is there something you’ve been putting off for a long time, but are now doing with this time at home?

DM: We have been too busy to work on releasing some new tracks and finishing others that we’d started. The time we have now has meant we’ve been able to finish arrangements on some great new songs and to work on our musical theatre shows.

TCS: Tell us about the background behind another favorite entitled “Take Him Away” and the special Lockdown Edition music video”?

DM: This is one of our favorite songs to perform live and always gets the crowd going with its energy and positive vibe – the lyrics speak for themselves! We wrote it with Dave Barbour who brought the guitar sound to what was originally a piano-based track! John and I were putting out videos in the early part of lockdown, and after many requests we decided to record the song with the full band working from home to hopefully bring a smile to our friends. We really enjoyed doing it, though it’s complicated to record and mix it live on video. But it’s honest music and because of the response we will roll-out more lockdown videos in the coming weeks.


TCS: Have you been doing any live-streamed concerts during COVID-19 or do you plan to? A lot of artists have been doing them, do you think it’s a challenge to make them original and interesting?

DM: Yes, we have done quite a few live tracks online and some videos with the band working together from home. It’s been a lot of fun and much needed therapy to stay in contact and keep playing together.

TCS: As a musician, have you found 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?

DM: Initially, it was a difficult time as we were trying to absorb what happened and to guess what was going to happen. But fairly quickly, we took a decision to be positive and focus on what we could do from home. We have written a lot of new songs and begun work on a new musical drama. So overall, it’s been a very productive time creatively.


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

DM: John and I would always have a connection with music – it’s in our blood but if we left the industry, we would probably be running our own small hotel focused on great food and a space for musicians to come and work in a rural setting and be inspired to create. I think we will do this anyway!!!

TCS: What kind of advice would you give to other musicians who are trying new creative ways to supplement their income?

DM: We think it’s important to stay focused on practical things to stay safe and well in mind and body. To get replacement income, there are lots of ways to set up virtual gigs, or crowdfunding. There are interesting things happening in theatres and gig venues, so it’s important to stay in contact with them. Above all, it’s really important not to devalue your work just for short-term gain. Your work is art and personal and don’t let anyone take advantage even though things are challenging.

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.

Stacey David Blades – Lead Guitarist & Songwriter

Written by: Frank Iacono

With L.A. Guns, Stacey David Blades has shared the bill with Alice Cooper, Whitesnake, The Scorpions, Dokken, Skid Row, Warrant and more. He’s been around the world 10 times, done 4 albums with the legendary late producer Andy Johns and on the bill of many prestigious music festivals including M3, Rock Weekend (Sweden), Rockin The Rivers, Buffalo Chip and more! Stacey has also appeared in Rolling Stone, Spin, Metal Edge, and Premier Guitar Magazine to name a few. Stacey is proudly endorsed by ESP Guitars, Pig Hog Cables, Crafter Guitars and Crate Amplification.

Back in April of 2009, Stacey wrote and published a very revealing and often-humorous autobiography, “Snake Eyes: Confessions of a Replacement Rockstar.” The book received high marks from fans all over the world. In 2010, Stacey also released his first ever solo instrumental album, Symphonic Slam. It is a remarkable collection of rocked-out classical numbers by Strauss, Bach, Handel, Beethoven and more.

Blades has a vast Music Production Library with Jason Donnelly for Music by Design. They’re music can be heard on such TV hit shows as “Duck Dynasty,” “Shark Week,” “The Wahlburgers” and “Pitbull and Paroles” just to name a few. In the summer of 2016, Stacey did a very big successful tour with Bobby Blotzer’s RATT Experience, playing arena’s, amphitheaters and stopped over to play a sold-out London show and headlined “Hard Rock Hell” Festival in North Wales.

Stacey’s new active rock band Electric Radio Kings is taking the Nation by storm with the release of their album Purrr, produced by Metallica’s longtime engineer Mike Gillies.

Their single Back to Black hit the airwaves nationally last spring of 2019. ERK broke the top 30 at @28 on Billboard Mainstream Rock charts. ERK is in pre-production again with Mike Gillies to work on their highly anticipated follow-up album.

In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, we caught up with Stacey David Blades. where we talked about his musical influences, his songwriting and recording process, his experience in the music industry, his new band Electric Radio Kings as well as his 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 and whom or what would you say inspired you?

Stacey David Blades: I started my musical career at a very young age. I was 9 when I began playing the piano with extensive lessons up until the age of 11. Then one Christmas, I got this little acoustic guitar and that was it!!! That guitar never left my hands. At the time, I was getting very good at piano so after a year of lessons on the guitar I got really good pretty quickly! After taking proper guitar lessons for three years, I purchased my first electric guitar. I am so grateful to have had a musical family and blessed to have been in a position to take lessons for all those years as a child.

(Photo Credit: Arjen Van E)

TCS: 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?

SDB: Early on, I was really into bands like The Cars, Cheap Trick, Ozzy, Rush, Journey, The Rolling Stones and Van Halen. I was all about listening to different styles! With that, I was also very much into bands like U2, Missing Persons, The Motels and Duran Duran. Form that early new wave sound mixed in with Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith and Cheap Trick, I think all of these bands impacted and shaped my musical style.

TCS: For the benefit of those who are not familiar with Stacey Blades or your musical career, please share with us how you first started out in Toronto, Ontario Canada and eventually became a well-known guitarist in popular bands like Roxx Gang, LA Guns and now Electric Radio Kings?

SDB: I had played the club circuit for quite a few years in Toronto. In 1992, I finally got my big break when I joined Virgin Recording artists Roxx Gang from St. Petersburg, Florida. I was in that band for 8 years then moved to Los Angeles, California. About a year after the move, I landed the gig with LA Guns. In 2017, I formed Electric Radio Kings (ERK), my dream band, with the goal of playing something a little alternative, punky and modern. I’m a huge Stone Temple Pilots (STP) fan so this is the band I have wanted ever since the mid 90’s.

TCS: Can you introduce to the Electric Radio Kings band lineup? And, how would you describe your overall sound and musical genre?

SDB: We have the awesome Peter Ross on Lead Vocals, me on Lead Guitar, David Harris on Second Guitar, Carl Raether on Bass Guitar and we’ll be announcing our new drummer in July. This is the dream team lineup. I’m the only original member left from the earlier lineup. When we started, we had a very Velvet Revolver vibe but now I’d say the band has morphed into more organic sound similar to bands like Rival Sons, STP and a little White Stripes. Our new album will absolutely bleed those sounds. Every song on the new album is a little different. You may also hear early sounds from The Cult, Soundgarden or even legendry David Bowie.

TCS: Personally, one of my favorite songs from your album Purrr is the track called “Back to Black,” so could you describe the history behind the song as well as the music video concept?

SDB: “Back to Black” was actually a remake of Amy Winehouse’s 2006 song. It was our old lead singer Paul Christiana’s decision to record it. Mike Gillies, longtime Metallica engineer-extraordinaire, did an amazing job crafting that into a masterpiece! Nationally, we did quite well with that track scoring #28 on Billboard Mainstream Rock Charts last year and got over 1,100 spins Nationally on Active Rock Radio. This was our second time working with the great “Mason Wright,” who directed and shot the music video. We also had our friend Cassiopee’ play the ghost girl in the video. We think it turned out fantastic.


TCS: As an established musician with an interesting career background, how has the coronavirus pandemic affected you both personally and professionally? Have you had to cancel or postpone any tour dates or festival appearances or delay an album release?

SDB: Well everything has been on pause and it really sucks for musicians. We halted production on recording and postponed shows as well as cancelled a big PR campaign we had planned. However, over the last 3 months we’ve been on such a creative high that we totally wrote the new record.

TCS: What effect do you think shutting down music venues across the country has had on our culture? And, what do you think we’ve learned as a result of this pandemic?

SDB: I think that we’ve learned how life can truly change on a dime. People are starving for live music, so I think we will ultimately come out of this for the better on all avenues but businesses, like music venues, are really suffering right now.

TCS: What inspired you to write your first book entitled “Snake Eyes: Confessions of a Replacement Rockstar?”

SDB: I thought I had a very interesting story to tell and once I started writing it, I couldn’t stop. The book chronicles my childhood, early exposure to music up to when I replaced the legendary Tracii Guns in LA Guns. Along the way, you’ll read how I discovered the Sunset Strip music scene, handled relocation to join Roxx Gang, experienced drama amidst stalkers and strippers and so much more.

TCS: Describe for us the song writing process and video concept behind the single entitled “Jack Black Flower”?

SDB: I think “Jack Black Flower” was actually one of the very first songs I wrote for the band. I thought Paul did a great job with the vocal melody and lyrics. This track turned out so great in the studio that we decided to release it as the second single. Additionally, we also produced a music video too. It’s just a live video spattered with some images from different decades in L.A. It’s about the pitfalls and vices of moving to that city to make it as an actor or musician.


TCS: As a recording artist, how have you embraced social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube to market your songs, albums, merchandise and/or appearances?

SDB: Absolutely. As a recording artist, you either embrace social media or you drown.

To stay connected, please join us on the following:

TCS: Tell us about the background behind another favorite entitled “Sympathy For Me”?

SDB: “Sympathy For Me” was one of the first ERK songs written. The music video was a ton of fun to shoot. I thought the recording, which was produced and engineered by Alister James, also turned out quite good too.


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

SDB: At the age of 11, I started playing golf. By the time I was 17, I was a really good golfer. By 20, music had turned into my main passion and became a full-time thing, so I stopped playing. If I hadn’t had music in my life, I would have probably pursued a golfing career.

TCS: What does the short and long-term future look like for you and Electric Radio Kings?

SDB: For Electric Radio Kings, we are totally focused on recording our follow-up to Purrr. Once again, we’ve employed the services of producer Mike Gillies. We feel this record is going to be MONSTROUS! With that, our goal is to become the biggest new rock band of 2021. Unfortunately, 2020 has been cancelled.

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.

Sean D. Austin – Singer-Songwriter, Paranormal Investigator & Demonologist

Written by: Francesco Vincenzo Iacono

Sean Austin is a singer-songwriter, published author, paranormal investigator and demonologist. Currently, Sean is starring on the Travel Channel’s new paranormal show called Ghost Loop. Previously, he also starred on the Destination America Network (Discovery Channel) pilot series The Demon Files with retired NYPD police officer-turned-demonologist, Ralph Sarchie, upon whom the movie Deliver Us from Evil was based.

On and off of TV, Sean travels the country with fellow paranormal investigators, documenting evidence of the paranormal in video, photo and audio forms. He not only employs his growing medium and psychic abilities to investigate and help spirits and families find peace, but he also uses the latest paranormal technologies to “see” and “hear” entities to determine whether or not specific hauntings are residual or intelligent, friendly or malevolent.

With a strong Catholic faith, Sean’s pursuits in the paranormal are grounded in his religious beliefs. In his first published work Shadow Chaser, Sean shares some of the experiences that shaped his path in the pursuit of the unexplained and unknown. In the book, he discloses these profound encounters with the hope of helping people and expanding upon spiritual awareness.

Sean’s musical style exists in the vein of the Goo Goo Dolls and Pearl Jam. His music is heartfelt hitting home to the emotional high and low points of life’s obstacles with doses of encouraging hope within every shadow of our yesterdays. Fans of new Pop Rock Music 2020, Maroon 5, Switchfoot, The Voice artists, America’s Got Talent and American Idol will enjoy listening to Austin’s songs.

In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, we caught up with Sean Austin where we talked about his musical influences, his songwriting and recording process, his first published book and soon to be released second book, his work on Ghost Loop and The Demon Files as well as his short and long-term future plans.

Q&A Session

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

Sean Austin: I first realized I wanted to be a musician around age 12, when I watched Pearl Jam’s music video for their song “Jeremy”. Watching that video and seeing how they represented such a taboo subject like teen suicide, coupled with Eddie Vedder’s highly emotional and forceful vocal performance, it truly left a lasting impression on me. I honestly had full body chills seeing Eddie’s eyes roll up into his head as if he was actually possessed with the spirit of Jeremy Wade Delle, a high school student who shot himself in front of his English class because he was being tormented. From that moment, I knew exactly what my destiny held for me from a career perspective. That experience lured me right in with the desire to sing and play guitar. From there, I took three guitar lessons and then my ear became my teacher. This led me to writing songs and being in a band. Ultimately, I would gravitate toward being a solo artist. On my first solo project, I actually played all the instruments including drums, bass guitar as well as sang.

TCS: 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?

SA: As I mentioned above, Pearl Jam was one of those defining bands that truly influenced me as a musical artist but there were a few others too. Equally, I was also motivated by emotional and inspirational bands such as the Goo Goo Dolls and Swithfoot. The songs these bands create really resonate with the music that I would ideally like to produce. Music has always been my “invisible therapist”. Like those artists, I too enjoy singing about real-life experiences, expressing emotions that hopefully inspire and/or help others cope with daily situations that we all face. The power of being able to extend your emotions from writing lyrics, adding music and then releasing it as a song can really be soul healing. The ultimate goal is to have someone listen to my music and be as inspired the same way my favorite bands moved me.

TCS: Personally, one of my favorite songs off of your Shapeshifter album is the track called “That’s Enough,” so can you share with us the meaning behind the song?

SA: “That’s Enough” was written about someone involved in a toxic relationship. Sometimes, in a relationship, we let things buildup and fester behind the scenes without being honest to ourselves or with one another leading to more chaos. This song examines how people sometimes shutoff their feelings – ultimately leaving the other person emotionally caught up without explanation. This can be a push-pull, back and forth kind of thing but truthfully the individual has to learn to lead more with their head rather than their heart. Even if there are still feelings, he/she has to know when it’s time to walk away. There are always valuable life lessons to be learned but the most important is to not let history repeat itself.


TCS: What inspired you to write your first book entitled Shadow Chaser?

SA: Honestly, the main reason I decided to write Shadow Chaser was because I felt compelled to share some of the experiences that have shaped my path in pursuit of the unknown. In my wildest dreams, I never could have imagined that I would become a published author but in hindsight it was the best decision I ever made. In the book, I disclose my profound experiences in the hopes of potentially helping one person or thousands of people while expanding upon spiritual awareness. As the saying goes, everything happens for a reason and with that kept in mind we should all share our own spiritual experiences for the greater good. Today, my mission or calling is to help souls.

TCS: What is the title of your second book, what is it about and when will it be published?

SA: I plan to call my second book Shadow Chaser The In Between with a tentative Summer 2020 release date. Essentially, this book will serve as a continuation of paranormal experiences and cases that I’ve worked on since the completion of Shadow Chaser. We cover subjects including the demonic possession of a pregnant girl, haunted woods with a demonic pig, a shapeshifting demon forming into a spider and my personal experiences with the actual Amityville Horror House in New York. Additionally, I also provide prayers for the dead giving incentives to earthbound spirits to find peace and accept God’s unconditional love and forgiveness. So, it’s not all dark and evil!

TCS: I understand that you have some connection to the actual Amityville house and the spirit of a young child named John, can you share some specific details with us?

SA: Yes, the connection all started one day while I was live streaming in front of the Amityville house and by the DeFeo gravesite. This little boy, named John, started coming through on my spirit box even asking for prayers. I know that demonic entities can disguise themselves as any voice but according to professional opinion demons would never ask for a prayer. So, I prayed for the little boy as I would any earthbound spirit. For weeks following and even up until today, I’ve felt a presence that has awakened me many times at 3:15 am. After having all of these experiences, I began writing the story about this and all of the unsettling experiences involving the case. I will delve more into the story, and what transpired in my new book.

TCS: Describe for us your experience working with the Spirit Hunters on the Travel Channel’s new series Ghost Loop?

SA: When paranormal entities terrorize the living through endless and repetitive supernatural cycles, manifesting again and again in the same location, it is known as a “ghost loop.” Now, a team of highly specialized paranormal experts known as Spirit Hunters, who focus on this distinct type of haunting, are stepping in to help both the living and the dead. At each haunted location, my team and I build an emotionally charged trigger environment to lure the entity and break the terrifying cycle.

The most important reason why I got involved in the show was based on the opportunity to help people from across the country who are dealing with these types of hauntings. We don’t charge people for this kind of service which is great. Having the financial backing to reach a great number of people that I would’ve never been able to reach on my own is the special factor that attracted me to this project.

TCS: In the Ghost Loop episode entitled “Alarmed and Dangerous” explain how you the Spirit Hunters were able to help a Houston, Texas woman who was being terrorized by an aggressive entity?

SA: In this episode, the Spirit Hunters head to Houston, Texas, to help Becky, a woman being terrorized by an aggressive male entity who rushes her from her front door. The house is steeped in bloody history, the home is packed with negative energy that threatens to tear the team apart.

The story involves a man who was very abusive toward his girlfriend. One night, he lost control and began attacking her. In defending herself, she took matters into her own hands and shot him dead. The man seemed to be manifesting in Becky’s house in one concentrated area. In order to remove the “ghost loop” haunting, we first had to lure him out by recreating a trigger environment linked to the 1920s when this murder allegedly took place. This allowed us the best chance to have the entity listen to us and either accept his judgment in the light or we would need to force him out by blessing the home. In this case, I believe he decided to accept our offer and go towards the light. Becky has not seen this man’s spirit manifest since we were there.


TCS: As a practicing Catholic, under the apprenticeship of retired NYPD police officer-turned-demonologist Ralph Sarchie, tell us about how you learned your crafts of paranormal investigation, mediumship and demonology?

SA: Within the first few years of conducting investigations and having experienced many unique happenings, it truly felt like I had triggered an internal spiritual awakening. As a result, I believe that I had advanced my education and knowledge of the Paranormal but realized that I still needed more training and understanding on why these things occur and how best to protect myself from them.

With that, I purchased several books including Ralph’s Beware of the Night. At the time, I had my own radio podcast and later had him on as a guest and we discussed his book. The first time we chatted, we got into many deep conversations about what he calls, and I now also refer to as, “the Work”. This references the spiritual “calling” of God to be a religious Demonologist. Essentially, investigating cases of the demonic and assisting in the exorcisms of humanity’s most ancient–and most dangerous–foes.

Ralph taught me a lot about demonology especially concerning the different types of cases you can encounter in the process. With the combination of on-the-job training and reading his book now known as Deliver Us From Evil, the name of the movie based on his book, I have learned a great deal of valuable information that has helped me formulate a definitive direction of who I am as an paranormal investigator as well a religious demonologist.

I was tremendously proud to be associated with Ralph. He was involved in the paranormal during its pioneering years when it wasn’t “cool” to be a paranormal investigator. Back then, most people became investigators for research and to genuinely try and help people, not just for the fame on television like it is today.

TCS: Describe for us your experience working with Ralph Sarchie on Destination America’s series The Demon Files?

SA: Working with him on Destination America’s series The Demon Files was nothing short of humbling. It was truly a gift to be a part of such a great show with someone who is so well respected in this field. Ralph has really honed his craft. He has a strong willed personality but shines in his sound belief in faith and knowledge. He approaches each case with the ultimate goal of helping people. I have nothing but the upmost respect for him and for “the Work” he’s accomplished, and I will always be grateful for everything he has done for me personally and spiritually.

TCS: In The Demon Files episode entitled “The Mirror” explain how you and the team helped Leigh-Ann and her family when they were being plagued by demonic attacks?

SA: “The Mirror” was a really emotional case for the team. In this episode, an evil latched onto a family forcing them to reach out to Ralph and his team for help. During the investigation, we found out Leigh-Ann, their daughter, who struggles with addiction and even tried to kill herself, had previously made a pact with the devil by cutting herself over a pentagram. Additionally, we discovered that there was another boy who allegedly took his life on the property too.

Once we entered the home, you could feel the high level of oppressive energy in the house. You could cut through it with a knife. As we investigated, we smelled Sulphur. Ralph performed a religious provocation to force the evil entity out, so we could expose exactly what it was, so we could properly move forward and perform an exorcism on the property. At one point, as Ralph stood near the mirror in the upstairs bathroom, I tasted crushed pills in my mouth. I didn’t know at the time, but Leigh-Ann had taken a bunch of pills in front of that mirror when she attempted to end her life. Another interesting fact we learned about the mirror was that it had been in house with the previous owner and death. It really seemed connected to what was going on.

Towards the end of the night, I was on Leigh-Ann’s bed trying to coerce the alleged boy spirit who took his life to crossover. As soon as I did this, I felt the presence of a demonic entity in the room with me, and I saw this red like mist appear in front of the bed. At the same time, I could see a creature with scales all over its face with piercing fangs and cat like eyes. I stood my ground but then the window drape began to move violently, and I jumped to my feet. Earlier that night, Ralph had been in her room as well and a bunch of DVDs were thrown off the shelf in front of him and one of those DVDs was the movie based on his book Deliver Us From Evil.

In hopes of having Leigh-Ann regain her life and faith, we performed a full exorcism over the house and also had her say a revoking prayer three times in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We felt that this would provide her with the best chance to live without this dark cloud that had been haunting her.

TCS: What is the most bizarre paranormal situation that you’ve worked on during your illustrious career?

SA: Bizarre? Hmm one of the stories I am writing about in my second book is about a girl who was possessed while she was pregnant. The amount of experiences and evidence I have without even being in the same state as the girl is truly astounding. I have recordings of her speaking Latin, English, backwards and even hissing at a crucifix without even seeing me on the phone. I once received 13 scratches on my arm while praying for her on the phone. Oddly enough, I heard her being choked with laughing coming through the phone. I even had one experience of her and her friend calling me screaming bloody murder as they were driving. I could hear pelts hitting the car. Both of them in terror screaming “what is happening right now?” They explained how black birds were hitting the car as they were driving home. To this day, I have never experienced similar things to that level and I believe it’s important to share this horrific unsettling story in hopes of preventing other people from messing around with dark magic.

TCS: What does the short and long-term future look like for Sean Austin?

SA: As previously mentioned, I’m currently working on my second published book. Additionally, I also have a new EP being released in the near future entitled Foresee. Equally, I hope to continue being active as a paranormal investigator and religious demonologist trying to make a significant difference. While I am on this planet, my mission is to help any person or earthbound spirit that I come in contact with in any way possible.

To stay connected, please join me on the following:

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.