Tony Trujillo: Beyond Today

Written by: Frank Iacono

Beyond-Today-Tony-Trujillo

Beyond Today, a hard rock band, started with Guy Johnston, Cory Burke, and Tony Trujillo in June of 2013 in the Lewiston, ID & Clarkston, WA valley areas. Within just a couple weeks of beginning the project, Beyond Today had already written a handful of songs that were ready to be recorded. They chose Amplified Wax Recording Studio in Spokane, WA as their production destination.

Beyond Today completed recording their debut EP in just 2 days. Once they finished the process, they added their forth band member, Vaughn Knoeppel, and started playing shows in Palouse, ID, one of which gathered over 2,000 attendees.

Beyond Today made a name for themselves in their hometown of Lewiston, ID with the early release of their song “Colors” on their local rock radio station Z-Rock 96.5 FM. The song was selected to be a part of the Z-ROCK KOZE Cage Match against big name acts. They won all 5 nights in a row securing their spot in the Z-Rock Hall of Fame. Once their debut EP was released in October of 2013, they started to pick up even more ground, with requests to have them play all over the Northwest. To that extent, they won 2nd Place at The Gorilla Music Battle of the Bands Finals in Spokane, WA.

In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, I had the pleasure of interviewing Tony Trujillo, the bassist and backing vocalist of Beyond Today, and asking him a few questions about his musical influences, his songwriting and recording process, his upcoming tour schedule, and his new album The Artificial Heart.

Q&A Session

The Creative Spotlight: How did you come up with the band name Beyond Today?

Beyond Today started back in June of 2013 in the Lewiston, ID & Clarkston, WA valley. Guy Johnston (our lead vocalist) and I were in a previous project together. We had, at the time, booked studio time to record a handful of tracks with that project but we switched gears to lean more towards the rock side of things, wanting to get that energetic live show aspect going rather than the lighter “indie” stuff we were working on prior. With that studio time already booked, which was only a month out, we realized we needed to get some songs done quickly.

During a two week period of that short time before recording what would ultimately become the basis of our sound and identity, we buckled down and got to writing, fleshing out previous riffs, and wound up finishing seven songs for our initial EP. When it came time to record, which we only had three ten-hour days to complete, we still hadn’t come up with a band name yet, dozens were tossed around but we settled on Beyond Today because it was something that just grabbed us. It was also a kind of mantra for us, as in always looking beyond today to what’s next and to push ourselves to the best of our ability to be able to continue to grow as people, musicians, and a band to get there.

Beyond-Today-Performing

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

I’d have to say I first realized I wanted to be a musician after seeing a Saliva/Default show when I was about 10 or 11 years old in New England. Something about the atmosphere and the energy of their performances just got my total and complete attention, from their music, to the stage presence, and the lighting and effects of the show. I’ve been involved in music ever since.

TCS: For the benefit of those who are not familiar with Tony Trujillo or the band Beyond Today, how would you describe your musical genre?

Hi, I’m Tony Trujillo of Beyond Today, in which I play bass and do the backing vocals for the band. Guy Johnston, is our main vocalist, and plays guitar and piano. Jeremy Wilcox is one of the main guitarists along with Paul Nims, and Tim Thornton is the man on the drum throne.

Beyond Today’s genre can be classified as Rock/ Alt. Rock/ Hard Rock/ Post-Grunge. We get compared a lot, with our similarities, to; Shinedown, Seether, Theory of a Deadman, Killswitch Engage, Saint Asonia, Breaking Benjamin, and many others which I can’t quite recall off of the top of my head. Those ones we certainly hear more often than not though.

Beyond-Today-The-Band

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

I followed a lot of the 90’s and 2000’s rock, hard rock, and metal bands growing up. Some of my favorites were Metallica, Ozzy, Papa Roach, Fuel, Chevelle, Korn, Disturbed, Crossfade, Linkin Park, 3 Doors Down, AFI, Cold, Theory of a Deadman, Default, Saliva, Filter, Big Wreck, Thornley, Deftones, Soundgarden, Thousand Foot Krutch, Pantera, Anberlin, Jerry Cantrell, Alice In Chains, and Three Days Grace, just to name a few. Music is almost all about listening, and I certainly learned a lot listening to those bands. A lot with phrasing, how notes move together to create the triads and chords used in constructing songs, and how syllabic rhythm played a role in vocal lines, melody, and lyrics.


TCS: Take us behind the scenes in the making of your new full length album entitled The Artificial Heart. What was your favorite part of its production and the most challenging from an artistic perspective?

We started the writing process on the album back at the end of 2014, and started the recording process in March of 2015. This album was a lot of fun for us as a band. We wanted to feed off of the response we received from our EP namely with our song “Colors”. We wanted to build upon what we did with that and create some more high energy in your face kind of rock in our own way. We also re-recorded some of the older tunes to match the sound we were originally going for had we not been cut short on the recording time in the beginning of the band. That made the album full length with thirteen songs. It was quite the feat for us, but was always a goal we had, to get a full length out to really showcase all of the different songs we have.

My favorite part of the album recording process was the production of it. After the “scratch tracks” were recorded we really got to dive in and add things such as effects, harmonies, strings, and other interesting sounds that made the songs really stand out and become more and more personal to us. The challenging part was finding “that” sound with guitar tones and making them really punch. Luckily we came across the amps by the name of Kemper Profiling Amplifiers. Which allowed us to get the sounds we were after, making that larger than life guitar sound that we were after.

Beyond-Today-The -Artifical-Heart

TCS: Personally, one of my favorite songs off of The Artificial Heart is the title track called “The Artificial Heart,” so can you share with us the meaning behind it and the video concept

The concept behind the song “The Artificial Heart” was from the viewpoint of falling in love with someone but they didn’t feel that they were good enough for you, so you’d wait as long as you could because you knew that a relationship with them could really be something great if not wonderful, and trying your damnedest to help them see themselves in a better light as it were, but sometimes the ‘waiting’ can cause too much pain on both sides. The video that Jimmy did was kind of out of the blue, we already had some ideas for one that we would shoot, but he did one for our song “Starlight” that was pretty cool. He made the video for “The Artificial Heart” and we thought it was a pretty cool interpretation.


TCS: Can you describe for us the background to the hit single entitled “Stay” that also appears on The Artificial Heart?

“Stay” is another one about a snapshot in a relationship, in where you first meet the person, and just want to really stay with them and lose yourselves in each other. It’s about that moment. That first sight kind of aspect.


TCS: What’s the most unusual place that you’ve played or made a recording? And, how did the qualities of that place affect the show/recording?

One of the strangest places I’ve played personally was during a show at night outdoors, when a torrential rain storm struck and soaked just about every piece of gear, but the show went on, until it cut the power. It was pretty fun, except replacing the equipment afterwards.

TCS: Tell us about the Beyond Today song writing, recording, and video production process behind the song “Sunburnt Cradle”?

That one was just a song we wrote quickly that had a really good feel to it. The lyric video I made in after effects. I actually do all of the graphics and things in that nature for the band. Saves us a lot of money not having to hire out.


TCS: Is there a particular venue that you’ve always wanted to play? And, what other entertainer or entertainers would you most like to have play alongside you on that stage?

One venue that I’ve always wanted to play is the Whiskey a Go Go in West Hollywood, California. I’d love the opportunity to play with the likes of Victor Wooten, Marcus Miller, or Stanley Clarke. They are some killer bass players.

TCS: In what ways do you market your appearances, sell merchandise, and stay connected to your fan base?

We try to look as professional as we possibly can. We make attention grabbing graphics and sell interesting one of a kind merchandise items, including dog tags, shot glasses, leather wrist bands, and other knick-knacks.

Beyond-Today-Merch

Additionally, we stay connected to our fans at shows and online media via the following:

TCS: Name a band or musician, past or present, who you flat-out LOVE and think more people should be listening to. What’s one of your all-time favorite recordings by this band/musician?

Definitely one band everyone should check out is a band out of Tennessee called Skytown Riot. We toured with those guys back in 2014, My favorite song by them would have to be “Runaway Princess” or “Soul or System”.


TCS: What does the short and long-term outlook look like for Beyond Today?

We’ve got some really cool shows planned for this summer. In June, we are headlining The Knitting Factory in Spokane, WA. Later this Summer/Early Fall we plan to go into the recording studio and do pre-production on the next album which will be out spring of next year. We also have some other very big things in the works that we’ll be announcing later on, as well as some music videos. You’ll just have to come check out what we got coming up.

Song List on The Artificial Heart (2016)

Beyond-Today

  1. Break Me
  2. Aftermath
  3. Where We Go
  4. Stay
  5. Colors
  6. Going Back
  7. StarlightT
  8. The Divide
  9. Silver Tongue
  10. Ghost
  11. Inside the Fire
  12. The Artificial Heart
  13. Blackbird

About Frank Iacono

Frank Iacono Photo

Frank Iacono is a highly skilled results-oriented Strategic Marketing Professional with proven critical thinking, problem solving, and project management skills, developed through more than 20 years of experience concentrated in integrated marketing strategies. Frank brings a thorough, hands-on understanding of marketing strategies and technological platforms as related to applications available for web design, content development, email marketing, site and campaign analytics, search marketing and optimization, service and product marketing, lead and demand generation, social media, and customer retention.

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

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Joleene DesRosiers Moody – Speaker, Writer, and Blogger

Written by: Frank Iacono

Joleene DesRosiers Moody

Joleene DesRosiers Moody is a former central New York television reporter and anchor. During her career in television she helped people through her investigative work and human-interest stories. However, through those years, Joleene suffered the wrath of addiction, loss through death, relationship challenges, and other personal struggles, eventually hitting rock-bottom.

As a reporter and anchor, Joleene saw people fight — and fight hard — to overcome obstacles every day, and it gave her the strength to stand up and do the same for herself. After struggling for years in a place that didn’t satisfy her true personal dreams and desires to write and speak and inspire on stage, she bravely left the security of her job to embark on a journey that allowed her to unearth her greatest dreams and desires while profiting generously at the same time.

Today, Joleene is a powerful keynote speaker, author, blogger, and business consultant. Her message helps those who want to uncover and discover who and what they are truly meant to be and do. As a speaker and trainer, she serves business and organizations, helping them improve communication, speaking and presenting so they are effective selling their message.

In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, I had the pleasure of interviewing Joleene DesRosiers Moody and asking her questions about her background as a reporter and anchor, her overall career, her first published book, and her upcoming public speaking engagements.

Q&A Session

The Creative Spotlight: At what age did you become interested in working in the television industry as a reporter and anchor? And, who or what inspired you to pursue a career in that profession?

I was a local television reporter and anchor in Central New York for ten years. I’ve always wanted to be “in the spotlight,” if you will, and never had a problem being front and center. Since I was a kid, I was intrigued with the notion of being on television. I remember a local commercial for a rug company where the spokesperson was the daughter of the owner. I turned to my Dad and said, “I want to do that someday.” And now I do! Outside of writing and speaking, I actually belong to a talent agency and do local and national commercials all the time. It’s a riot. My ultimate goal is to actually be in a highly distributed film with a significant part. I auditioned for a big movie recently, but wasn’t chosen. I would have been an extra in the background, but hey, it’s a start, right?

Joleene-DesRosiers-Moody

TCS: For the benefit of those who may not be too familiar with Joleene DesRosiers Moody or your overall body of work, please describe for us your career at a glance.

I am a creative soul that inspires other creatives to delve into their passion and discover how to monetize from those passions. As a professional speaker, I deliver keynotes that inspire my audience to “Take Your Voice Back.” Too often we listen to the debilitating voice of others that stomp on our dreams and tell us we are foolish for having them. One is never too old to do or be anything.

I am a writer, too. I LOVE to write. I love, love, love it. And I was guilty of listening to those voices that told me (and still tell me) I can’t ever make money as a writer. So for years I buried the desire. I have recently unleashed the writer beast in me, and am working with a producer in Hollywood on a screenplay that I’ve written. I also had the honor of seeing a comedic play I wrote unfold on the stage here in Syracuse, New York. I am the author of three books and most recently, started a blog. I am also a ghost blogger for other entrepreneurs. Additionally, I am a business magazine journalist and columnist. As outgoing as I can be, it seems I’ve become more complacent to stay home with my dogs and write, write, write. I am following my passion and learning how to monetize from it. I can’t think of a better way to live life.

Joleene-DesRosiers-Moody-Creative-Entrepreneurs

TCS: How do you think being a former central New York television reporter and anchor prepared you for your career as a creative coach, speaker, author, and playwright?

Oh, what a great question. As a reporter, I learned how to ask questions that evoke emotion. As an anchor, I learned how to look confident, even when I wasn’t. I also learned how to write short, powerful, accurate stories. I learned how to get to the point. I’ve been a magazine journalist for the past 9 years. Let me tell you, I am LUCKY. My editor really appreciates my work. Too often in too many newsrooms, the reporters and journalists are considered “a dime a dozen.” So if one leaves, it’s no big deal. They are quickly replaceable. I recently had words with my editor over an incident and told him I was done writing for him. I have to say, I wasn’t very nice. I fully expected him to watch me happily walk out the door. But he didn’t. He didn’t want me to quit writing for him. He told me my work was valuable and was actually changing the readership of the magazine. Honestly, I was stunned. Freelance writers are everywhere. He could have told me good-bye and to not let the door hit me in the ass on the way out. But he didn’t. He clearly valued me and my work. That situation improved our relationship.

Being a reporter also taught me how to sell, believe it or not. There is nothing like knocking on the door of a mother that just lost her child and asking her to let me shine a light in her face and shove a microphone under her nose. I am the LAST person she wants to talk to. I quickly learned compassion. I made our conversation about her. I never made it about me. Sure, I had to have my story written and edited for the 5 o’clock news and sure, I had to compete with other stations and getting her reaction would put us at the top — but when I learned to really feel the struggle and come in as a compassionate, genuine person, I was often successful. It’s like that with sales. Don’t be pushy. Be real. It will take you miles. This is also what made me a successful business coach. I don’t coach anymore, but when I did, I turned out very successful, happy clients. They trusted me. And they trusted me because I was real.

 

TCS: Can you give us at least three “Good to Know” facts about you?

  • I love dogs. I often toy with the idea of starting a rescue on three acres of land. However, I kind of need to have the land first.
  • I don’t take shit from anybody. I’m 43 years old. I’m living for me. As loving as I am, I’m not afraid to tell someone how I feel.
  • I am a neat freak. My house is always in order, always clean.

TCS: Tell us about the concept behind your first paperback book released in 2012 entitled Memoirs of Normalcy: Journey from Sedentary to Extraordinary?

I wrote Memoirs of Normalcy: Journey from Sedentary to Extraordinary two years after I left my career in news. What I did was brave. It was bold. I quit my job with no plan. Well, sort of. My plan was to become a speaker and writer. That’s all I knew. I didn’t know how to do it, but I knew I would figure it out along the way. And I did. So I wrote the book to inspire others to do the same. I don’t mean I expect everyone in the world to quit their jobs if their unhappy, but I think sometimes the right words from the right person can nudge them in the right direction. I am a huge risk taker — so for me to quit without a “sure thing” to step into was quite shocking to many. 95% of the population wouldn’t do that. But the truth is, when your back is up against the wall, you will always figure it out.

TCS: From Memoirs of Normalcy, can you tell us specifically what you mean by “Do I Stay? Or Do I Grow?

You can either stay where you are, miserable, afraid, and unhappy, or you can grow into the remarkable soul you were meant to be. An alarming number of people choose to stay. My work with my voice and my words is to encourage them to grow.

TCS: Share with us some of the details surrounding your recent conversation with follow motivational and inspirational keynote speaker Patrick Schwerdtfeger?

I bought Patrick’s course on how to find paid speaking opportunities to see how it compared with my own experience. I have two audio courses and two e-books that teach people this very thing, but I wanted to see what I didn’t know. After going through the course, there were some “holes” in the information that still had me asking questions. So I emailed him and asked him if I could buy an hour of his time to fill in those holes. He agreed. I paid him $125 bucks and asked him whatever I wanted. He was great. He was very professional, very on point. I wanted to record him so I could take notes and refer back to our talk, but I couldn’t find my digital recorder. So I attempted to record him on my computer, but the app kept freezing. All I could think was, “Universe, why don’t you want me to have this information?” I know now it’s because the Universe has been pushing me to write first and speak second. Of course I got TONS form it, but he gave me specifics that I couldn’t write down fast enough. ANYWAY…it turns out I was doing and teaching exactly what he was, only he makes the search a full-time gig. It’s a LOT of work looking for paid speaking opportunities, but once you get in on the ground floor of a few, you’re golden.

TCS: Tell us about what you mean when you say “Take Your Voice Back” in a powerful 3-minute video you created back in November of 2014?

Oh my gosh, I forgot about this video! I created it for an international speaking organization and they put it in their virtual newsletter. The idea of the “Take Your Voice Back” campaign is to encourage others to stop letting others speak for them. To stop letting others take your voice away when you express your wants and desires. I seriously believe that’s why so many of us are crippled in fear; we take the opinions of others as gospel. If we are told at an early age that we can’t have something, we believe it. And so we “stay” unhappy. When we decide to take our voice back, all of that changes — and we step into a place where we really can live out our dreams and desires.

 

TCS: Provide us with some background on the podcast you did on the topic of “Kicking Fear in the Face”?

Ah, that was a fun podcast to do. “Kicking Fear in the Face”. Yeah. We can never fully get rid of fear. It’s the polar opposite of love, and without fear we wouldn’t know love. That being said, we have to learn how to go through life with fear by our side. That doesn’t mean we have to accept it and let it take us over, it simply means we have to learn how to manage it. I like to “kick” it out of my way. Once I do, I am able to stand firmly in front of someone and say, “Look. You are struggling in business and it’s killing you. It’s hurting you. Here’s how I can help.” By finding someone’s pain, you can make them understand that they won’t successfully grow in business until they admit they are IN pain…and are willing to do something about it. So much fear keeps them from making a phone call or having a conversation that could sell their services. They are scared to death that selling means they are being pushy. Well, it’s only pushy if you make the close of the sale about YOU. Remember, make it about them.

Joleene-Moody-Podcast

TCS: Can you share with us some of details surrounding your podcast appearance on Business Women Rock entitled “How to Build a 6 Figure Speaking and Consulting”?

I invest in myself regularly. For 8 months, I was a guest on a series of Podcasts because I hired Jessica Rhodes, Founder and CEO of Interview Connections www.interviewconnections.com, to book me. She booked me at least 3 to 4 times a month. Those interviews helped me grow exponentially.

Joleene-DesRosiers-Moody-BizWomenRock

TCS: Have you embraced social media marketing strategies to promote and market your business?

Yes, I have used social media to market upcoming speaking engagements, and stay connected with my audience via the following vehicles:

  • Facebook – I’ve utilized Facebook ads and I DON’T love them. I think entrepreneurs and coaches have infiltrated this marketing practice to the point that it’s often unbearable. I never liked doing them. I never really profited from them, either. I know lots of people have, so let me be clear that I’m only sharing my experience.I don’t post much on Facebook these days, unless I’m sharing a post of a missing dog, or sharing my upcoming #Blab episode for my show called #SpeakerPro. Blab is a Twitter platform. It’s live video and is often used to host live interviews. I focus on a topic for speakers, invite expert guests, and viewers can come into the room to watch and listen.
  • Twitter – I tweet every day. That’s been my goal the last three months. I never really engaged in Twitter until then. I use Tweetdeck to “stack” my tweets. It’s driven more traffic to my site and helped me sell lots more eBooks.
  • YouTube – I used to do video blogs called ‘Rapid Fire Coaching,’ so I utilized YouTube that way. Now I use YouTube to upload my #Blab interviews.
  • Pinterest – I utilize Pinterest to promote to “Take Your Voice Back,” the insanely honest, fun, and highly informational blog for creative entrepreneurs
  • Instagram – I utilize Instagram to market the “Take Your Voice Back,” blog to creative entrepreneurs
  • Google + – I don’t really use Google+. I never really got into it. I have an account, but I’m not active on it.

TCS: Nowadays, what does an average workday consist of for Joleene DesRosiers Moody?

It really does vary. Some days I stay home all day, writing in my jammies. If I’m not writing, I’m searching for speaking gigs. If I’m not searching for speaking gigs, I’m stacking my tweets for Twitter. If I’m not stacking, I’m tinkering with my website. If I’m not tinkering, I’m traveling to a gig. No single day is ever the same.

 

In an article entitled “Use Failure As A Lesson For Growth” can you describe for us what was the most eye-opening failure that you experienced?

Definitely the bombed talk I speak about in that article. That particular article is my column, Entrepreneurs Edge, which is published monthly in the business magazine I write for. I chose to write about my bombed talk because:

  • It happened in the region where the magazine is published and I knew all eyes would read it,
  • Every single person in the world is going to have something horrible happen to them that is going to make them want to run and hide.

This was eye opening because it made me realize that not everyone is going to love me. Innately, we all want to be liked and accepted. But the truth is, that’s never going to be. Having that experience made me realize that we always have miles to go in love, life, and in business. We never truly “arrive.” Life is a journey, right? Even as a seasoned speaker, I am still prone to mistakes. For those that didn’t read the article, I delivered a comedic/inspirational talk that was NOT well received. It happens. It took me several weeks to get over it. But I learned. And while I doubted myself as a pro for a little while there, I came out even more humble than before, which made me realize that humility is an incredible gift.

 

TCS: Tell us about the most exciting personal leadership productivity keynote speaker event you’ve participated in and are there any upcoming speaking engagements we should know about?

I would have to say it was in 2012 when I spoke for the New York State Association of Tax Receivers and Collectors (NYSATRC). These people were thirsty for motivation. It was a private speaking event with roughly 150 people in the room. I sold 100 books that day. They LOVED the message of taking their voice back. That room went from tired and exhausted to alive and hopeful. I don’t have any public speaking engagements scheduled for 2016. Most of what I do now are private (e.g., Colleges, Business Retreats).

TCS: What is one significant message you want to convey to someone attending your public speaking engagements?

Stop listening to other people that don’t follow their heart. Seriously. One of my favorite quotes is from Brene Brown: “If you aren’t in the arena also getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback.”

When we lament about what we want to do with our lives and how we want to do it, we are getting our asses kicked emotionally. When someone gives us their feedback on why we shouldn’t do something and how it won’t work and blah, blah, blah, we need to remember those very words. DO WHAT YOU WANT. Who gives a “bleep” what others say. If they can’t have it, neither can you. That’s basically what they’re saying when they tell you your dream is foolish. I want my listeners and readers to go after it anyway.

Books from Joleene DesRosiers Moody

How to Write a Talk That Sells

How to write a Talk that sells
How to Write a Talk That Sells is specifically for those that need guidance with delivering talks that sell. And by sell, I mean talks that transform and move listeners to take action and buy from you, whether you deliver a keynote or a presentation. In the end, the right people will be attracted to you and your work. They will follow you on social media and attend your workshops. They will buy your books and contract to work with you.

How To Find and Create Paid Speaking Opportunities

joleen_desrosiers-moody-book
How To Find and Create Paid Speaking Opportunities is for creative artists, writers, speakers, entertainers, and entrepreneurs that want to make money doing what they love. It’s for any creative soul, really, any divine heart that wants to tell his or her story by speaking and teaching their truth. This book is going to show you how to do that. You will be successful at this, but you must be diligent and dedicated.

Memoirs of Normalcy: Journey from Sedentary to Extraordinary

Memoirs-of-NormalcyMemoirs of Normalcy: Journey from Sedentary to Extraordinary chronicles the story of how Joleene left her television news job while inspiring others to follow their own passions and talents to create a profitable and fulfilling career. For many, it gave them the courage they needed to leave behind the places, people, and things that caused them pain. Discover how a few simple changes, coupled with faith, can give you the life and the work you long to have.

About Frank Iacono

Frank Iacono Photo

Frank Iacono is a highly skilled results-oriented Strategic Marketing Professional with proven critical thinking, problem solving, and project management skills, developed through more than 20 years of experience concentrated in integrated marketing strategies. Frank brings a thorough, hands-on understanding of marketing strategies and technological platforms as related to applications available for web design, content development, email marketing, site and campaign analytics, search marketing and optimization, service and product marketing, lead and demand generation, social media, and customer retention.

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

Ashley Dulaney: Actress

Written by: Frank Iacono

Ashley Dulaney

Ashley Dulaney is an American born actress who was born in Tupelo, Mississippi, the hometown of “the King of Rock and Roll” Elvis Presley. From a very young age, Ashley always knew that she wanted to be an actor. To that extent, she attended the University of Mississippi in Oxford, MS and graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting.

During Ashley’s “Ole Miss” career, she garnered roles in university theatre productions such as 5 Women Wearing the Same Dress, Cyrano de Bergerac, and Lysistrata. Post-graduation, she moved straight to Los Angeles, California and continued to perform in the theatre which ultimately lead to roles in commercials and television.

In 2012, Ashley appeared in the TV series Frat House Musical, one of the first projects that she booked when she arrived in LA, as Erica.  The series was sponsored by Subway and won a student Emmy. Later that same year, she was worked with Joan and Melissa Rivers in a Turbo Tax commercial. She is best known for playing Harper in Babysitter’s Black Book (2015) and Rebecca in The House Sitter (2015). Additionally, she has guest starred on some amazing shows like Scandal, Criminal Minds, Brooklyn 99, Chasing Life, WorkAholics, Bones, Stitchers, and a recurring role as Caprice on the last season of FX’s Justified.

In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ashley Dulaney and asking her a few questions about what first got her interested in acting, her career as an actress, her experience in working with Joan and Melissa Rivers, her roles in two 2015 Lifetime movies, and her upcoming projects.

Q&A Session

The Creative Spotlight: At what age did you become interested in becoming an actress? And, who or what inspired you to pursue a career in this profession?

I think I’ve always known I wanted to be an actor. I don’t know that it was one single person or moment that really solidified that this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. It was more I just loved playing. I loved using my imagination and I was always connected to the arts and being on stage or performing just made me really happy.

Ashley-Dulaney

TCS: For the benefit of those who may not be too familiar with Ashley Dulaney or your overall body of work, please describe for us your career at a glance? 

I grew up in the south and got my Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Acting from the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) and moved straight to Los Angeles, California right after college. I started working in Theatre right away and that lead to commercials and television. I’ve been blessed enough to work with Lifetime twice in 2015 (Babysitter’s Black Book and The House Sitter). I’ve guest spotted on some amazing shows like Scandal, Criminal Minds, Brooklyn 99, Chasing Life, WorkAholics, Stitchers, and I had a recurring role on the last season of Justified.


TCS: Can you give us three “Good to Know” facts about you? 

  1. I was born and raised in Mississippi and come from the hometown of Elvis Presley.
  2. I have a pact with one of best friends to travel someplace new in the world every year.
  3. I have a continuing goal with myself to read at least 12 new books every year.

TCS: How did you prepare for your role as Harper in Lee Friedlander’s 2015 Drama Babysitter’s Black Book

Playing Harper in Babysitter’s Black Book was a lot of fun. It’s always a blast getting to play “the mean girl”. When I prep for any character I really try to place myself in that situation so that when I’m working all of my actions are coming from an honest and vulnerable place. None of us like to be mean but we’ve all felt jealousy and anger, which Harper pretty much stayed in, so I tapped in to that. It just allows the character to be real in that moment.


TCS: Describe for us your experience in playing Rebecca in Jim Issa’s 2015 Creepy Thriller entitled The House Sitter

Rebecca was a dream role. It was by far the most emotionally draining character I’ve ever gotten to play which in itself is a gift. Rebecca is so twisted and broken, so as an actor when you’re given the chance to play such an intense character everyday it is like being on the playground. She is a character with a lot of twists and turns. It’s also a cool experience to tap into such extreme emotions. It was just a blessing to be a part of that project.


TCS: How much fun did you have playing Erica in the Comedy, Musical Frat House Musical in 2013? 

Frat House was actually one of the first projects that I booked in LA. It was sponsored by Subway and was just so creative and fun. It ended up being selected and won a student Emmy, which is always really fun.


TCS: Can you tell us a little bit about how you landed the role in the TV commercial for Turbo Tax? 

Working with Joan and Melissa Rivers on Turbo Tax was such a surreal experience. I went to audition for the commercial and casting actually had me talk about someone I would love to meet and I brought up Joan Rivers and how I would love for her to just destroy my style on Fashion Police. I don’t remember if they were already planning to do the commercial or how it came about but I was so shocked when I heard I booked it and I was going to get to act opposite them. It was my first acting job in LA and to get work with such a legend was insane. They were both so kind and gracious, not to mention insanely feisty. I just loved it.


TCS: What is your favorite film of all time? And, how has this film influenced your acting career? 

That is a really hard question for me because I have so many favorite movies… If I was going classic movie I would say The Princess Bride. But if I was going on something that had really influenced me recently I would say Swimfan. I love the obsession quality in that movie and would be lying if I said I didn’t watch it as soon as I found out I booked Rebecca in The House Sitter.

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TCS: As an actress, is there a specific role or type of character that you haven’t played yet but would really like to? 

This type of question is always really hard for me to pinpoint because with my career so far, I never saw the roles coming that I’ve been blessed enough to get the chance to play. Of course as an actor you just always want to play something that connects with people, even if it’s just to make someone laugh for two seconds. So really all I can say is I hope to be given the opportunity to just create new characters whatever they may be.

TCS: What do you feel is the hardest part of getting into the mindset of a character? 

I would say not having judgment on who you’re playing.


TCS: What different acting techniques are required when acting in drama and comedy? Which do you prefer? 

It’s always hard for me to pick my favorite because I love them both in different ways, but I love laughter and having the chance to make someone happy is such an amazing feeling, so I am going to have to go with comedy.

TCS: Can you share with us your most interesting set story?

My most interesting set story would have to be my role on Justified. I loved the character of Caprice so much when I read for her, but she was only supposed to be on one episode. The amazing team at Justified allowed her to come back a few more times this last season and it was just such an amazing experience to see a character grow and not know where the writers were going to take her.

Ashley-Dulaney-Justified

TCS: Describe for us how you created the 3Monkeys Theatre Company in Woodland Hills, California?

3Monkeys still holds a very special place in my heart. When I first moved out to LA I came in contact with a really amazing teacher who had a space and a small group of us sat down and found a play we wanted to do, so we created a company and made it happen. It was such a cool experience to be with something from the ground up and watch it take on a life of its own. I love theatre. I come from a background in it and it will always be my first home.

TCS: Can you tell us about any upcoming projects? 

My role on Workaholics starts airing this month. I will also be guest starring on an upcoming episode of Bones and later this summer will be on Stitchers on ABC Family.

About Frank Iacono

Frank Iacono - The Creative Spotlight

Frank Iacono is a highly skilled results-oriented Strategic Marketing Professional with proven critical thinking, problem solving, and project management skills, developed through more than 20 years of experience concentrated in integrated marketing strategies. Frank brings a thorough, hands-on understanding of marketing strategies and technological platforms as related to applications available for web design, content development, email marketing, site and campaign analytics, search marketing and optimization, service and product marketing, lead and demand generation, social media, and customer retention.

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

Kick It Out: A Tribute To Heart

Written by: Frank Iacono

Kick-It-Out-A-Tribute-Band-Logo

Have you ever wished you could experience the masterful voice of Ann Wilson, the craftsmanship of guitarist Nancy Wilson, and the rest of the legendary Rock and Roll Hall of Fame group hailing from Seattle, Washington known as Heart? If so, then Kick It Out A Tribute To Heart, based in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and South New Jersey area, featuring long-time friends Sandy Hall and Susan Salmon is a must-see experience for you!

Kick It Out is a tribute band that was born out of a sincere respect, admiration, and love of Heart and their incredible and timeless music. As fans, all the members of Kick It Out have followed the Wilson sister’s careers since the early 1970’s. As musicians, the band feels passionately about performing Heart’s music with authenticity and integrity.

Kick It Out, a collection of seasoned musicians and performers experienced in both national and international music communities, is committed to providing all the power and adrenaline of a Heart concert while always staying true to the soul and magic of their unforgettable songs. For those eager “to keep the love alive”, it’s an experience guaranteed to leave audiences thrilled, emotionally engaged, and moved.

In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sandy Hall, Susan Salmon, and Joe DeLuca from Kick It Out A Tribute To Heart and asking them a few questions about their musical influences, their career as a tribute band, their set list, and their past and upcoming performances.

Q&A Session

The Creative Spotlight: Can you introduce us to the Kick It Out A Tribute To Heart lineup and share with us how you decided on the band name?

Kick It Out: We were throwing around some Heart song titles as names and many of them had already been taken by other Heart tribute bands all over the country, so our guitarist Billy Salmon thought that Kick It Out would be a good band name. The song “Kick It Out” appears on the Little Queen album.

The Kick It Out A Tribute To Heart lineup features:

  • Sandy Hall — Lead Vocals
  • Susan Salmon — Electric & Acoustic Guitar, Mandolin, and Background Vocals
  • Billy Salmon — Electric Guitar
  • Mark Evans — Bass Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, and Background Vocals
  • Joe DeLuca — Keyboards and Background Vocals
  • Ritchie DeCarlo — Drums and Background Vocals

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TCS: So how long has Kick It Out A Tribute To Heart been playing together and how did you get started?

KIO: We were out performing during the Summer of 2009. I started talking to our original bass player Chris Hall and Jeff Gordon (former KIO drummer) who I have known since my teenage years and Susan Salmon (KIO guitarist) that I knew from Archbishop Ryan High School believe it or not about forming this band at the end of 2008. I believe we started talking about it after I saw Heart perform at the Susquehanna Center in Camden NJ with Journey and Cheap Trick. I thought…you know…I would LOVE to do a tribute to Heart and I know exactly who would be the perfect “Nancy”….Susan Salmon! Wow! I can’t believe it has been THAT long! I have always been and still am a BIG Heart fan. Moved and inspired by their music ever since I heard the album Dream Boat Annie. Ann and Nancy Wilson were a big inspiration and reason why I started singing professionally. It was the love of and connection to their music really. The music is challenging and vocally like a master vocal class. It takes a lot of stamina, power, and control to sing those songs for up to 2 hours.

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TCS: At what age did you become interested in music? And, who or what inspired you to pursue a career as musicians?

Sandy Hall: I was in grade school, like maybe 3rd grade and I fell in love with music. I remember singing Karen Carpenter songs, The Beatles, Elton John, The Who, Jefferson Starship, and of course HEART. I would say that Ann and Nancy Wilson, Pat Benatar, David Bowie, The Who, Led Zeppelin, The Pretenders, and Stevie Nicks all of them inspired me to purse music as a career.

Susan Salmon: I became interested in music at the age of 3. My mother was a piano teacher and she inspired me to pursue a musical career.

Joe DeLuca: For me, my love of music began when I was 10. I remember listening to my sister and brother’s 45’s of The Beatles, 3 Dog Night, The Doors, Motown, and etc.


TCS: Sandy did you think early on that you sounded like Ann Wilson or was it something that you discovered over time?

SH: Early on I actually felt and identified with Karen Carpenter’s tone and vocals in the alto/lower vocal register. Then when I started to really wail and rock out songs like Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit”, Led Zeppelin’s “Black Dog”, and Bette Midler’s version of “When A Man Loves A Woman” from the movie The Rose…well then I really started to appreciate the female rock vocal and of course I started singing Heart songs like “Magic Man” and “Crazy On You” and I really did identify and connect to the upper range and power vocals of Ann Wilson. If you listen to those songs….you almost hear that lower warmer tone in the lower range and then the build up and jump to the full voice wailing. It was a combination of the Karen Carpenter tone and then some Robert Plant wailing in the upper range. It was challenging, yet very moving on a deep, deep low in the gut level kind of soul connection vocally. There is something really freeing when you sing in a strong full voice in that higher vocal register. Certainly there is an adrenaline high there. I like a challenge so naturally I felt that singing Ann Wilson’s songs would help me become a better vocalist.


TCS: Why do you guys think tribute bands have become so prominent in the past ten years or so? And, has Kick It Out A Tribute To Heart ever been criticized for being a tribute band?

KIO: Well, some artists like Queen, Pink Floyd, Genesis, Led Zeppelin are just not touring anymore or very infrequently and there is a desire in people to hear the music live in a nostalgic way and more frequently. You know recreate the feeling of that music that you fell in love with as a kid in a more intimate way….in a small venue instead of a large stadium in the nose bleed seats where you are looking at the artist over a big projected screen. Personally, I think people want to hear the music that they love live and in person and feel the connection to the music during a live performance. Tribute artists like Kick It Out channel the original artists during a performance in a smaller more accessible intimate level at a venue where they feel more connected to the artists and also at a more affordable cost as concert tickets are through the roof.

As for being criticized as a tribute band. No, Kick It Out has not been criticized for being a Heart tribute band. Although I know there is a school of thought out there that musicians should only perform their own music. My answer to that is that classical musicians in a way are playing covers and not their own original music and the very, very best are playing a piece as close to the original written music as humanly possible. So in a way that is what tribute artists do also. Ha!! And, I have to say that people do have a very high expectation of you when you put it out there that you are paying a tribute to what many consider the greatest female vocalist of this generation. That’s a lot of pressure actually. You can feel them checking you out and ready to put you down. I do my best to do a respectful tribute. Not an imitation. Of course, you want to recreate the experience for people so you do what you can to channel the original artists. A tribute is by definition an act of gratitude, affection, respect, and honor.


TCS: Let’s talk about the music for a moment. When you’re in a tribute band, obviously your music will be picked apart and compared to the original. So how did Kick It Out A Tribute To Heart sculpt its sound and its stage performance?

KIO: I think it comes very naturally for us. We all connect to the music and love it so playing it was easy even though the songs are challenging. When you love something you do your best to play it well. The stage performance is a combination of who we are and our own individual personalities with the understanding and intention of “channeling” the energy of Heart. You want to channel that energy and essence so that the audience can “feel” the songs as if they were at a Heart concert. But I do really feel that we all are infusing our own individual presence on stage in our performances. Again….it’s not an “imitation or impression” of Heart and their music …it’s a “tribute”….our tribute.

TCS: What do you guys feel is the hardest aspect of re-creating a Heart show?

KIO: For me it’s the stamina and power needed sing up to 2 hours during each show. It takes a lot of vocal control and lung power. I also feel that we would all agree that it is frustrating if you don’t have a good sound tech who knows the songs and they don’t turn up the guitars when they need to be up front and also for me it is essential to have good in ear monitor balance and mix as I depend on that to sing in pitch and not blow out my voice. If all that is in place…it’s a blast and not hard at all.

Kick-It-Out-A-Tribute-Band-To-Heart-Peforming

TCS: What do you feel sets Kick It Out A Tribute To Heart apart from other Heart tribute bands?

KIO: There is an aspect to my voice that has a similar timber and tone on these songs and power and energy on the high notes. Of course there is a visual resemblance that Susan and I have to Ann and Nancy. Additionally, Susan can actually play Nancy’s parts on both the guitar and mandolin whereas many Heart tribute bands don’t have that . She is a top notch musician. The band is made up of seasoned professional multi-talented musicians with excellent stage presence and high energy. Billy has that early Roger Fisher vibe going on too and is an excellent player and performer. Same goes for the other members, Mark Evans is a top notch pro all the way around, Ritchie DeCarlo, and Joe DeLuca also…pros with great attitudes.

TCS: Have you played with any other Heart tribute bands and if so what type of reaction have you received?

KIO: No. We have not.

TCS: How many gigs does Kick It Out A Tribute To Heart play annually and what and where are the venues in which you’ve performed?

KIO: We are a specialty act so we don’t play every week. On average we play about 10 to 12 good gigs a year. We don’t want to over saturate the area and Heart also is actively touring every year. We want to give people the music when they miss a Heart show or when they are not touring. All of us are also all involved in other music projects and we try and balance all of that out. We have played as far south at Virginia and north up to Boston and in between. We love outdoor music festivals, amphitheaters, casinos, and theaters like Delmarva Bike Week, Penny Pack Park, Sellersville theater, Scottish Rite Theater, Showcase Live in MA, Delaware Park Casino, Hollywood Casino, Wildwood Crest Concerts. In 2015, we played at the Burlington Amphitheater and La Costa in Sea Isle, New Jersey.

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

KIO: The most requested Heart songs during our shows are:

  • ”Barracuda”
  • ”Crazy On You”
  • ”Alone”
  • ”Never”
  • ”What About Love”
  • ”Magic Man”


TCS: Has Kick It Out A Tribute To Heart ever performed internationally? And, if you could perform in any venue in the world right now, national or international, where would that be and why?

KIO: No we have not performed internationally. We would though for the right situation and venue. There is a great festival in Akron, Ohio called Lock 3 that would be awesome, perhaps a cruise like Monsters of Rock (MOR) which our bass player who is also a front man/writer, Mark Evans just played MOR with his original band Heaven’s Edge. We love big stages, big crowds…anywhere where there are people who love Heart music and where the stage and sound are professionals. Why? Well it is an unbelievable high to play to a huge crowd….the energy is infectious and we would get to travel and see the world.

TCS: Of the songs that Kick It Out A Tribute To Heart plays from Heart’s extensive library which are your most and least favorite? Equally, is there a song from Heart that you guys really love that is not included in the set currently? If yes, then why.

KIO” We love “Crazy On You” and “Rockin’ Heaven Down”. The song “Alone” is also great and very moving and powerful too. I don’t think that we picked up songs that we didn’t like. Then again, we love them all. Ha! I would love to do “Mistral Wind”. Very powerful, magical song we just have not had a chance to add it to the set yet. The great thing about this band is that we play these great songs that we love.

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TCS: Individually, what’s your favorite Heart song of all time?

SH: For me it is “Crazy On You” from Dreamboat Annie.

SS: It is really hard to choose a favorite. It switches all the time. Right now, the song, “How Deep It Goes” from Dreamboat Annie plays in my head. Before it was “Sylvan Song” and “Dream of the Archer” both from Little Queen. I like the more obscure songs that show a lot of Heart.

JD: I really like Heart’s “Who Will You Run To” from Bad Animals

TCS: As a collective group, the band, what has been the toughest challenge you’ve faced to date, and do you think it made you stronger as performers?

KIO: The toughest challenge is always with sound and mix. The outdoor shows can be challenging in that way as wind and weather can really affect how it all turns out. We try and go with the flow and do the best show we possibly can no matter the obstacles.

TCS: How do you market Kick It Out A Tribute To Heart songs, merchandise, and appearances?

KIO: To stay connected with our fans, we market our songs, merchandise, and appearances on:

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TCS: Has anyone in Kick It Out A Tribute To Heart met any of the members of Heart? And, how thrilled was the band when Heart was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013?

KIO: We were thrilled of course! It’s about time they were recognized for their contribution to music as musicians and women! I (Sandy Hall) have met Ann and Nancy 3 times now. The first time was back in the 80’s when they came to Philadelphia on tour. I got to go back stage and meet them and hang for a while talking with Howard Leese. That was a really cool experience and a real spontaneous hang. I was so star stuck and shy and didn’t say very much to Ann and Nancy except “you are so great”. The last two times were recently during their organized VIP Meet and Greet thing before the show. During one of those two sessions both Susan and I met them together. They were nice.

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TCS: Besides Kick It Out A Tribute To Heart, if you could play a set with any artist alive or dead who would you choose and why?

SH: I would love to play/sing with Ann Wilson, Robert Plant, and John Lennon all were inspirational to me.

SS: Probably Jeff Beck. I love the feel of his playing.

JD: I would love to play to play a set with Tom Petty, Leon Russel, Joe Cocker, Alice In Chains, and Soundgarden.

TCS: What’s the short and long-term future look like for Kick It Out A Tribute To Heart?

KIO: We just want to keep doing what we are doing which is having fun playing songs that we love with great band mates who are also family and friends. We would love to do more of the larger spring/summer venues where the people go crazy for the music!

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

KIO: Do it because you love and connect to the music. The money is secondary and won’t always be there. Get a good agent or person in the band that books you in the right venues. Don’t over saturate your audience locally. Be very selective about what venues you play.

About Frank Iacono

Frank Iacono Photo

Frank Iacono is a highly skilled results-oriented Strategic Marketing Professional with proven critical thinking, problem solving, and project management skills, developed through more than 20 years of experience concentrated in integrated marketing strategies. Frank brings a thorough, hands-on understanding of marketing strategies and technological platforms as related to applications available for web design, content development, email marketing, site and campaign analytics, search marketing and optimization, service and product marketing, lead and demand generation, social media, and customer retention.

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

The Creative Spotlight: 2015

Written by: Frank Iacono

2015-Spotlights

The end of the year causes us to reflect, and in this spirit, I thought it would be fun to recount The Creative Spotlight blog posts from 2015. When it comes to The Creative Spotlight, the goal is simple. Introduce readers to the best local and national musicians, artists, actors, business owners, motivational speakers, photographers, and other published authors. Consider The Creative Spotlight as the ultimate destination for unearthing a wealth of undiscovered talent, reading exciting interviews, learning helpful tips and tricks, and news that you can use…plus lots of great ideas for enriching your life and enjoying yourself.

As we welcome 2016, we want to make sure that you did not miss any of the 18 articles from 2015. This blog includes a complete, categorized list of The Creative Spotlight posts that were published in 2015.

January 2015

Marilyn Russell: Morning Show Host

March 2015

Chris LeGrand: Rolling Stones Tribute Band

April 2015

Neill Byrnes: Draw The Line Aerosmith Tribute Band

Shaun Benson: Actor and Director

May 2015

Carolyn Bennett-Sullivan: Author

June 2015

Dawn Botti: Singer and Songwriter

July 2015

Joanna Maria Morales Miarrostami: Artist

Sheila Brown: Summer Nites Bed and Breakfast 

August 2015

Travis Clark: We The Kings

Duffer’s: Restaurant and Ice Cream Parlor

Ages Apart: Alternative Rock Band

Jack Morey: Morey’s Piers

Derek Crider: Singer and Songwriter

September 2015

Everything Falls: Modern Rock Band

Aandra Bohlen: Business Coach

October 2015

Michelle Antonucci Smith: Zumba® Fitness Instructor

November 2015

Meisha Johnson: TV Personality

Karen Mansfield: Singer And Songwriter

About Frank Iacono

Frank Iacono Photo

Frank Iacono is a highly skilled results-oriented Strategic Marketing Professional with proven critical thinking, problem solving, and project management skills, developed through more than 20 years of experience concentrated in integrated marketing strategies. Frank brings a thorough, hands-on understanding of marketing strategies and technological platforms as related to applications available for web design, content development, email marketing, site and campaign analytics, search marketing and optimization, service and product marketing, lead and demand generation, social media, and customer retention.

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

Karen Mansfield: Singer And Songwriter

Written by: Frank Iacono

Karen-Mansfield-Mesa-Promo

Singer-songwriter Karen Mansfield, long considered a mainstay of the legendary Asbury Park, New Jersey music scene, is best known for her enticing onstage presence and mesmerizing contralto vocal range.

Mansfield, who began her career as the frontperson in the 80’s all-girl punk band known as the Bleeding Knees, has been described as highly melodic and enchantingly haunting. Lyrically, she forms a strong bond with her audience by connecting through a range of deep emotions involving everyday love and relationship situations.

Over her career, Mansfield has recorded and performed with numerous national artists including, Jewel, Concrete Blonde, Whirling Dervishes, Bobby Bandiera (Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, Jon Bon Jovi), Shawn Pelton (Saturday Night Live Band), Mikeal Jorgensen (Wilco), Erik Paparazzi (Cat Power), John Conte (Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes), John Eddie, Vance Gilbert, Johnny Thunders, and Willie Nile.

In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, I had the pleasure of interviewing Karen Mansfield and asking her a few questions about her musical inspiration and influences, her songwriting and recording process, her upcoming appearances, and her self-titled debut six song EP.

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 in your journey?

I was very young when my maternal grandmother would come over and sing to us and give us each a song of our own to learn and perform for the next time she’s visit. Mine was “There is a Tavern in the Town”. I remember looking forward to singing it for her and learning new songs. Her brother had been a vaudeville performer so she taught us all the tunes she’d learned from him.

Karen-Mansfield

I remember at a family party standing on a picnic table in the backyard of my Aunt and Uncle’s home, singing a song a made up, “Rock ‘n’ Roll in My Tummy”. We later figured out that I must have been 3 or 4 at the time.

Then on my 7th birthday I saw the Carpenters in concert and that was a big deal. My mom was a fan, and we had all their albums and 45’s. I think having heard the music in my home and also on the radio, then experiencing it live — also feeling some kind of connection with Karen because we had the same first name, (you know little kids think like that) — the combo of it all struck me and I’ve never been the same since. Karen was wearing a beautiful gown singing her heart out, and then she ran off stage and changed into some slacks and came out, sat behind the drum set and rocked out! I was thrilled!! I knew what I wanted to do with my life since that moment. I begged Santa for a drum set every year and never stopped singing and making up songs.

I believe that my father’s Grundig stereo console from Germany was instrumental in my early musical development. I remember my parents showing me how to turn it on and use the turntable. I remember feeling the warmth and hearing the hum of the tubes, playing LP’s and singles, dancing around the living room, singing and acting out the words to every song. I loved it! Certainly my favorite pastime as a youngster.

We had a piano in our living room that I used to color on the keys with crayons. I remember trying to sound out familiar melodies. My parents didn’t play, but my dad knew enough to teach me, “Heart and Soul” and “Nickelodeon”. It was tough playing though, when everyone else wanted to watch TV.

Karen-Mansfield-Performing

Later when I was ten my dad gave me a miniature reel-to-reel recorder he hadn’t used in years. We went to Radio Shack and bought a cheap little mini microphone. He showed me how it worked and I fell in love with recording, making up characters and songs on the spot.

Another early influence that I feel steered me into music was our family parties. My mom came from a large family with 11 siblings, and when they’d all get together they’d spend a good portion of the night singing, and having a ball. The last song of the evening was always “Side By Side”. I can recall wanting to be a part of that kind of fun and comradery, and of course, all that singing.

TCS: For the benefit of those who are not familiar with Karen Mansfield, how would you describe your musical genre?

I don’t feel I have a genre other than rock. It’s eclectic, but if I had to I’d say Retro-Pop Rock, Roots, Adult Alternative Pop, Americana, Alternative Country, Singer Songwriter. People have said I sound like Janis Joplin, Emmylou Harris, Olivia Newton John, PJ Harvey, and Karen Carpenter. I guess one would have to listen to decide for one’s self I think. I’m not aiming at any specific genre except rock. I just want to make great music.


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

Elvis! I remember staying up late to watch the comeback special. I was pretty young, but I do remember! I’m pretty sure he influenced “Rock ‘n’ Roll in my Tummy”.

I loved Dinah Shore, Hee Haw, Partridge Family, and the Osmond’s; honestly anything music drew me in. Since there were six of us Mansfield kids, I wondered why we weren’t in a band with a TV show!

In the late 70’s my brother ordered a bunch of records from K-Tel for $.99 each. One of the albums he received was called “British Gold”, a compilation of hits like “Bus Stop” by the Hollies, “The Letter” by the Box Tops, “World Without Love” Peter and Gordon, Derek and the Dominoes, Cream, The Yardbirds, and more. I loved it. Since we didn’t have a ton of records I’d play that one and the Elvis greatest hits record and Linda Ronstadt over and over.

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We used to spend a lot of time at my Uncle Rocky and Aunt Cherie’s and he’d always be listening to the country station 1050 WHN. I started listening in my room on a little transistor radio under my pillow; so there is that country-based influence.

I was a pretty big Donny and Marie fan as a middle schooler. Then my tastes changed as I got into high school. I absolutely loved The Doors; definitely my favorite band of all-time. I was into B-52’s, Led Zeppelin, The Who, early Ozzy Osbourne, and Bruce Springsteen. I later got into Patsy Cline and Billie Holiday.

TCS: Take us behind the scenes in the making of your 2014 self-titled EP Karen Mansfield. What was your favorite part of its production and the most challenging from an artistic perspective?

My favorite part of making this record was working with the guys I chose for the project. Rob Tanico is just bursting with creative genius and loves music possibly more than anyone I’ve ever met. I knew I was in good hands with him as producer and musical director. We had a magical day at Shorefire Recording Studios in Long Branch, NJ laying down live tracks for bass, drums, and guitar. Most tracks were done on the first or second take. I love that room and Joey DeMaeo is solid gold. I felt that having P.K. Lavengood on guitar, David Halpern on drums, and Rob on bass it was going to be a great studio experience and it certainly was. They’re all of course so familiar with each other, having worked together for so many years; P.K. and Dave playing with John Eddie and Rob and Dave with Mr. Reality and Highway Nine. The energy was great and I felt that everyone was equally excited for the project.

The only challenge I had was being patient waiting for the rough mixes. Rob put a lot into this project and played nearly everything that wasn’t laid down on that first day in the studio. I consider myself a pretty patient person but the excitement of completing this album proved to the contrary.


I had the best artists working on the photos and album artwork. I had such a great experience working with my art director Barbie, who just happens to now be my sister-in-law. I couldn’t be happier with Steve Greenwell’s job mixing it, and Turtle Tone with a fine mastering job. I enjoyed working with everyone at Disc Makers and CD Baby.

It was all very exciting and encouraging.  There was a bit of panic and juggling for me to make it all happen, but I’m very happy for the experience and can’t wait to do it again.

TCS: Personally, one of my favorite songs off of that EP is the track called “I Know You Know,” so can you share with us the writing process and the meaning behind it?

Actually, this was one of those songs that writes itself and it the whole process takes less than 15 minutes. I’m not sure where the inspiration for this song came from but I remember it fell upon me while I was in the studio recording a record in the early 90’s. I guess I wanted to write about that electric intensity, that magnetic pull of attraction, and the waiting, knowing after the first kiss, etc., you might get that feeling back. Not like it was prior. So, you wait, in the excitement and the desire. You leave it up to other person to make the first move. Maybe you’re not sure they’re feeling what you are. It’s the buzz of sensory overdrive and the anticipation of that magic moment when you succumb to the inevitable.


TCS: Tell us about how rewarding it was to serve as the frontperson for the all-girl punk band Bleeding Knees and how it prepared you for your solo career?

I enjoyed my time thoroughly during the Bleeding Knees days. I honestly didn’t know what I was doing. I had my fist gig booked before I even had enough songs for our set. I was shy and hid behind bangs that fell into my eyes. It was a great time of writing about whatever came to mind, what I thought was funny, or lame, and what would shock people. Honestly we were out of control. I barely knew how to tune my guitar. We were funny! People loved coming out and getting the joke! Checking out what obnoxious thing would we do next. The songs were funny, crude, silly and we had a blast. I recall someone after one of our shows at the Green Parrot in Neptune, NJ saying we reminded them of Pebbles and Bam Bam from The Flintstones but with cuss words. It was a lot of fun. The other members were still interested in coming up with more outrageous and raunchy material when I felt it was time for me to take things a bit more seriously as a songwriter.

I never wanted to perform solo and was waiting to come across players who’d want to back me up. One day my friend Alex Goetchius called asking me to open for his band, Piece of Wood, at the Brighton Bar in Long Branch. He encouraged me to play solo. I’d never turned down a show before and although I was petrified I did the show anyway. So, I feel fronting the Bleeding Knees taught me that I can get out there no matter what and connect with the audience whether it be with a band or by myself with an acoustic guitar. I guess I was ok at it since I ended up being nominated 9 times and winning 3 Asbury Park Music awards in the “Top Female Solo” category.

Karen-Mansfield-Bleeding-Knees

TCS: Can you share with us some details about your time performing with numerous artists such as Jewel, Bobby Bandiera (Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes and Jon Bon Jovi), Shawn Pelton (Saturday Night Live Band), Mikeal Jorgensen (Wilco), and Concrete Blonde just to name a few?

I opened for Jewel at the Saint in Asbury Park just about six months before her album went platinum and everybody knew who she was. She was not feeling well that night so she stayed in her van until her performance. Great voice, though she did a bit of yodeling, which was kinda different for Asbury Park. I was impressed.

My sister dragged me out to see Bobby Bandiera on a Wednesday night at Cheers in Long Branch circa ’89 or ’90. On his break we were introduced and immediately he asked, “ya wanna sing?”. This became a weekly occurrence, never rehearsed, always a ton of fun. He’d call me up to do “I Got You Babe”, “Love Potion #9”, “Dream Lover”, “Me and Bobby McGee”, “Stop Dragging My Heart Around”, and more. It was wild fun. Bobby is fantastic.

It was certainly the place to be on Wednesday nights. I think I stopped making the scene in ’96, around the time I had my daughter but I’ll always remember how he encouraged me and included me.

Shawn Pelton played with John Eddie and I’d known him from the local music scene and from playing with P.K.’s band Without Fear, also at Cheers. Then in ’92 or ’93 when I was making a record in Red Bank we called in Shawn to play on most of the 11 tracks. He’s the best!! The album has never been completed but one single entitled “Jessie” was released and is available still on ReverbNation. He’s such a phenomenal player and so amazing to work with!

Mikael Jorgensen and Erik Paparozzi were in a local early ’90’s band which I absolutely loved, called Lizard Music. I met them at an open mic at the Ink Well in West End and fell in love with them! I requested them on all the shows I did and we became great friends. We had a lot of laughs and we encouraged and believed in each other’s music. It was a sweet time!! Then when their bass player, Chris Guice, was in California playing bass for a kids show on Nickelodeon, “You Can’t Do That On Television”, Mikael, Erik, and I formed as “Karen’s Lizard” as per request by Brighton Bar promoter Jacko Monahan. We did a few shows mixing up the set with half my tunes and half Lizard Music tunes. The guys had such amazing harmonies and I just loved hearing my songs with their added magic.

During the early to mid-90’s I had many opportunities to open for national acts. One of the most exciting of those times was when I got the chance to open for Concrete Blonde during their Bloodletting tour. The show was at the Fast Lane is Asbury Park. The place was packed and the audience was wild, and super receptive to me and my acoustic guitar. Johnette Napolitano and the guys were awesome!!

TCS: Tell us about the background story behind another favorite off of your new EP entitled “Your Lies”?

The title says it all, “Your Lies”. I think it’s about the affect the lies have on the broken lover, the hopelessness of the situation when one is addicted to the lies of unhealthy love. I’ve found sometimes there’s a dream that underneath all the falsehood there might be a person of substance who could be capable of something real and good and pure. It’s a tremendously sad song.


TCS: Share with us your experience in playing at the Light of Day Festival in January of 2015?

My performance for Light of Day 2015 was at Asbury Lanes, in Asbury Park. My band was Rob Tanico on bass, P.K. Lavengood on guitar, Billy Siegel on Keys and David Halpern on drums. We played for a half an hour and did mostly all the songs on the EP, plus a cover of Dolly Parton’s “Joleen”. It was one of the best shows we’ve done so far. It’s always such an honor to perform for Light of Day and to be a part of finding a cure for Parkinson’s and related diseases.

TCS: How thrilling was it for you when the Asbury Press wrote an article featuring you entitled “Jersey Shore Treasure Karen Mansfield Returns to Scene”?

Oh, it felt great! I’ve felt loved for a great many years now, having been a part of the scene for so long.

I took a long break to be with my daughter and try other career options. As my daughter grew up I felt I was being called back to my music. My return was certainly greeted with a warm welcome and I couldn’t be happier. I’m very grateful to be welcomed back to the music community with open arms. It’s like having a second family! Certainly blessed to have all the live and support I continue to receive!!

TCS: From your new EP, please describe for us the writing and recording process behind the single entitled “Just A Man”?

”Just a Man” came out of me talking to a friend about a guy I was hung up on, and her being sick of me going on and on describing all of his wonderful attributes. She finally looked and me and said, “he’s just a man!” Kinda like, get over it! Of course my response was, “yeah, but he does it to me”. Not all of them do so I thought it was worth putting into a song.

The song wrote itself. Rob came up with the early Rolling Stones feel for the recording. It’s one of my favorites to play live; and audiences connect with it too.

When someone “does it to you” it feels great, and that’s what this song is about.


TCS: After all these years of chasing your musical dreams, what do you feel keeps you motivated to continue recording and performing?

I am motivated by the desire to reach the listeners who connect with my writing and my performance. I don’t know that I’ve done that to the best of my ability yet, at least not on the scale that I believe I can. Also, I feel this is a calling and to turn around at this point would just not be acceptable. Most of all, I continue because of the love of music. I’m still that little three-year-old getting goosebumps from watching Elvis in that leather suit, teaching us all how it’s done. I’m blessed to feel what I do every time I make folks happy with my music.

Lastly, the most important reason is to teach my daughter to follow her dreams, to be true to herself no matter what anyone says. To find out what brings you joy and to do it with all her heart, soul, and strength. To dig deep inside, work hard, and never give up.

TCS: What’s the most unusual place that you’ve played or made a recording? And, how did the qualities of that place affect the show/recording?

My very first show was on ’85 or ’86, I with my friend Diana at a furniture gallery for a holiday event called “Festival of the Trees”. It was a silent auction for elaborately decorated Christmas trees. We played in front of a fancy staircase and had to move every 2 minutes when shoppers or staff wanted to come through. It was pretty awkward but we had fun.

I’ve played the 8×10 Club in Baltimore, hit my head on the ceiling trying to get on stage. Cool place though. We were there the day after Michelle Shocked.

Karen-Mansfield-Blue

TCS: In what ways do you market your appearances?

I usually post my events on my Facebook Music/Band page. I also use Bandsintown, ReverbNation, and my website KarenMansfield.com. Additionally, I tweet on my Twitter account, post on Instagram, Tumbler, Pinterest, and sometimes on LinkedIn.

To stay connected with Karen Mansfield, please visit the following:

Tee shirts are on their way. And, my CDs are for sale at all of my shows and are also available on the following:

TCS: Is there a particular venue that you’ve always wanted to play either as a member of Bleeding Knees or as a solo performer? And, what other entertainer or entertainers would you most like to have play alongside you on that stage?

While in the Bleeding Knees I was content just gigging locally. I was still very shy and apprehensive in those days. Nowadays I’d like to travel to perform in cities like Nashville, Asheville, Austin, Philly, New York, where ever there’s a cool music scene, where ever I can meet my listeners. I’d like to perform in other countries as well. There are many venues I look forward to performing in! I can’t wait to play whatever venues the future holds for me.

As far as performing alongside other entertainers, I am open to whatever comes my way!

I’m looking forward to an upcoming trip to Mesa, AZ where I’ll be performing for the Mesa Music Festival November 13-15, 2015. It’s going to be a huge event with Matt Pinfield giving the keynote address at the opening ceremony.

I look forward to meeting the locals there and meeting many of the artists and industry professionals in town for the event.

Karen-Mansfield-Songwriter

TCS: What famous song do you wish you had been credited with writing and performing?

There isn’t a song that comes to mind that I wish I’d written. Though, there are amazing songs out there, that of course, when I hear them I wish I would write a song of equal intensity, sensitivity, depth of soul, and brilliance.

I’ve always thought that I’d love to make a record like Carol King’s Tapestry. It’s got everything and it’s wonderful from start to finish.

I guess if I had to pick one song I might go with “On a Clear Day (You Can See Forever)”, because I find it so inspiring.

TCS: Name a band or musician, past or present, who you flat-out LOVE and think more people should be listening to. What’s one of your all-time favorite recordings by this band/musician?

I love J.D. McPherson. And his tune “North Side Gal” changed my life.  I also love Lucinda Williams and all of her songs, especially her album Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone.

TCS: What does the short and long-term outlook look like for Karen Mansfield?

Short term is Mesa, AZ for the first ever Mesa Music Festival November 13-15, 2015. Then I am hopefully heading into the studio to start my next album. I’m hoping to play more music festivals, house concerts, and shows out of my hometown region.

Long term, I plan to keep making music, writing, recording and performing, and meeting great folks like you along the way.

Song List on Karen Mansfield (2014)

Karen-Mansfield-CD

  1. “I Know You Know”
  2. “No More Suffering”
  3. “Your Lies”
  4. “Just a Man”
  5. “Destiny”
  6. “Keep On (For the Sunny Days)”

About Frank Iacono

Frank Iacono Photo

Frank Iacono is a highly skilled results-oriented Strategic Marketing Professional with proven critical thinking, problem solving, and project management skills, developed through more than 20 years of experience concentrated in integrated marketing strategies. Frank brings a thorough, hands-on understanding of marketing strategies and technological platforms as related to applications available for web design, content development, email marketing, site and campaign analytics, search marketing and optimization, service and product marketing, lead and demand generation, social media, and customer retention.

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

Meisha Johnson: TV Personality

Written by: Frank Iacono

meisha-johnson-head-shot

Meisha Johnson, a Minnesota born native and Journalism major from the University of Minnesota and Anoka Ramsey College, joined the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania CBS 3-owned KYW-TV in mid-July of 2015 as the morning traffic reporter. Prior to moving to Philadelphia, Meisha worked as a traffic reporter for KMSP, the FOX 9 Morning News affiliate, in Minneapolis-St. Paul since 2013.

Meisha, an outdoor sports enthusiast, is a veteran performer in everything from hosting TV shows and extreme sports reporting for networks such as FOX Sports, VERSUS, SPEED Channel, ABC and CBS Sports, as well as acting in commercials, theater, and independent films such as 13 Hours in a Warehouse (2008), Cold Feet (2008), and Fall Into Me (2006).

Meisha is fluent in Swedish and attended the University of Uppsala while living in Sweden for several years after high school. She has also served as the spokesperson and host for K-Swiss fitness on the national shopping network, EVINE Live, and a corporate speaker for a plethora of different companies.

In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, I had the pleasure of interviewing Meisha Johnson and asking her a few questions about her career inspirations, her overall background and experience, her movie roles, her meeting with legendary Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Don Felder, and her new job as the morning traffic reporter for CBS 3-owned KYW-TV.

Q&A Session

The Creative Spotlight: At what age did you become interested in TV hosting, modeling, and acting? And, who or what inspired you to pursue a career in this profession?

Meisha Johnson: At a very young age, I began watching scary movies with my mother. My father dabbled in theater, and his father, my grandfather, worked as a Director for the well-renowned Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, MN. From my earliest memories, and clearly weaved throughout my DNA, I loved performing. Beginning in elementary school, I would act in any play possible- and I always wanted to play the antagonist role. I had a wildly creative imagination and began writing scary movie scripts in fifth grade. I’d hold auditions in the backyard for my friends and neighbor kids, and every year would have an annual haunted house to raise money for movie props. My love for the performing arts has followed with me throughout my entire career. As far as modeling is concerned, that was never something I wanted to do. It would come across my path from time to time, but it was certainly never my passion. After college, TV Hosting came knocking at the door and it was love at first job. In terms of what or who inspired me, in truth, I followed my heart. There was no escaping it, no other choice, no other path to pursue. I knew who I was- what I loved- and I knew I was to follow that inner voice.


TCS: For the benefit of those who may not be too familiar with Meisha Johnson or your overall body of work, please describe for us your career at a glance?

MJ: I started out acting in local and national TV commercials, local film and theater. I did a brief appearance for the Young and the Restless while studying at the University of Minnesota’s Journalism school, as well as dabbled in a few TV pilots. From there I began hosting sports TV shows for FOX Sports, CBS Sports, Versus and Speed channel, and was also the spokesperson for several different companies such as K-Swiss Fitness, 3M, Polaris and many others. From there I began hosting on the nationally syndicated network, EVINE Live (formerly ShopNBC), and was then offered a job as a TV host on our local CW Television Network. I turned down the job at the CW when FOX 9 News contacted me around the same time offering me a part-time position in news.

Reel – Meisha P Johnson – Host from Amy Waksmonski on Vimeo.


TCS: Can you give us three “Good to Know” facts about you?

MJ: 1) I was a waitress throughout high school and a lifeguard/diving instructor afterwards 2) I absolutely love animals. If I wasn’t working in television, I would dedicate my life to working with/for them, and I’d love to have a pot-bellied pig one day 3) My father was a professional boxer so I grew up ringside. I’m a tough cookie 😉 – and three bonus, 4) I had iguana’s as pets growing up so I’ve got an iguana tattoo on my back in memory of them, 5) I lived in Sweden for 3 years and speak swedish, 6) My middle name, “P.J.” – yes, PJ is my middle name, stands for “Phoebe Jean.”


TCS: Can you describe for us your longtime presence in the snowmobile industry, most notably as the host of the Sledhead 24/7 TV Show airing on FOX Sports North and of the ISOC Amsoil Championship Snocross Series on the SPEED Channel?

MJ: When I think about the past decade of my working career, Sled Head 24/7 stands out as extraordinarily instrumental. I spent 8 years of my life hosting powersports shows and “Sled Head” is where I began my career as TV Host. I was acting in a TV pilot when the producer asked if I could ride a snowmobile – in which I responded with a firm, “yes.” I auditioned for the show (Sled Head), landed the job, and “Sled Head” became my baby and the racing community became my extended family. Still to this day, the fans of that show, and all the other TV shows I’ve hosted, still follow my career here at CBS 3. Bless their hearts, they watch the show online. I’m moved beyond words when I think about all the experiences I’ve had because of those years in the powersports pits (snocross, supercross, motorcross, ATV racing). It was a lot of hard work, no doubt, but I wouldn’t trade my sports hosting past for nothin’. It’s been an incredible journey and I’m forever grateful for the memories.


TCS: Describe for us your experience playing Brandy in Tim VandeSteeg’s 2006 Comedy, Drama Fall Into Me?

MJ: “Fall Into Me” was my very first “real” feature film. It was such a great learning experience. As with all “firsts”, it’s the film I “cut my teeth on” so-to-speak. This is where I learned how a true feature film works and is shot, what I should and shouldn’t do, and how grueling long days on-set can actually be. I loved playing the part of Brandy. She was the antagonist, a supporting lead role, with an edgy, no “BS” side that was fun to play.


TCS: How did you prepare for your role as Jennifer Wilkins in Writer/Director Dav Kaufman’s 2008 Horror, Thriller 13 Hours in a Warehouse?

MJ: To be honest, I really didn’t prepare all that much. I wanted to have a genuine fear as things happened in the scene as opposed to over-rehearsing. Instead, I tapped into that “what would you do?” moment and rolled with whatever emotions came out naturally.


TCS: How much fun did you have playing Carol Deering in Ross McNamara’s 2008 Screwball Romantic Comedy entitled Cold Feet, a fast-paced, banter-filled style of Hepburn/Grant films from the ’40s?

MJ: Lol! “Cold Feet.” Oh this movie was so much fun. First off, it was a comedy so being on-set with a bunch of comedians is bound to make for some hilarious work days. Secondly, I had the lead role so I was on-set almost every single day which I loved. Third, well… it was my first on-screen kiss… and I was a nervous wreck the whole time… but, I found out how unromantic on-screen romance really is – Lol. Carol was a strong protagonist character that I could relate to in terms of wanting to make right choices while having a good sense of humor about all the craziness life brings. I still smile when I think about how fun it was to make.


TCS: As an actress, is there a specific role or type of character that you haven’t played yet but would really like to?

MJ: I’d love to play an edgy, meaty role on a controversial topic. Something gritty, creative and authentic. Main-stream Hollywood movies don’t interest me as much as the independent one’s that evoke a lot of emotion and difference of opinion. The kind that makes you think, “What in the world would I do in this situation?”


TCS: How thrilling was it to join CBS 3’s ‘Eyewitness News This Morning’ in Philadelphia as traffic reporter, after serving as a traffic reporter with KMSP, the Fox station in Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN? And, please describe for us your first day on July 20th and how entertaining it was to have met the Phillie Phanatic?

MJ: When I was contacted in the Midwest by CBS 3 in Philly about a possible job offer, I was incredibly excited… and nervous all at the same time. It was a big decision moving out of my Midwest “comfort zone” to the big east coast. That said, there are no accidents in this life so I knew when the door opened it was my time to walk through. My first day was amazing! The viewers were sweet and welcoming and producers and management couldn’t have made me feel more welcome. They went out of their way to make it special and I’ll never forget it. And, as you would expect, the one’s that made me feel the most welcome in the beginning, are still my “besties” at the station to this very day. That said, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the viewers! The fans/viewers of the morning show have also become my besties (on social media) as well. Being out here alone, they’ve become family to me in a way. I spend every morning, Monday through Friday, with them for our Twitter “#coffeedate.” Truly, I don’t know if they’ll ever really understand how much they mean to me. As far as the Phillie Phanatic is concerned, let’s just say we hit off immediately. It was love at first fuzzy kiss on-air! Lol!

Meisha-Johnson-Eyewitness-News-KYW

TCS: Nowadays, what does an average workday consist of for Meisha Johnson?

MJ: Things have changed quite a bit since the world of “freelance.” I try to go to bed around 6pm Monday through Friday. My alarm goes off at 1:30 a.m. I do hair and make-up until around 3am and then I head off to the studio. From about 3:30 – 4:15 I prepare (final touches, hair/make-up, align traffic hits, etc) and we go LIVE at 4:30a. It takes a lot of discipline to stick to this kind of a schedule, but it’s pretty cool to have such strict structure as well. On Friday’s I try to nap after work so I can stay up a bit later in the evening, or I hop on a plane to Minneapolis for the weekend. Saturday’s are the only day of the week I allow myself to “sleep in” although I’m still usually up by 7-8am. Sundays I set an alarm around 4-5am to try and get on a schedule again, and Sunday evening it’s lights out at 6pm again :).


TCS: Can you tell us about ‪a program you started about a year ago called #‎AskMeishaMonday‬?

MJ: #AskMeishaMonday is by far the most unknown yet important work I’ve done. Throughout my televeision career, I’ve always interacted with my fans online (facebook, twitter, instagram, etc). Over the years, many of them would open up to me, telling me about struggles they were going through or looking for friendly, non-biased, unemotional advice. A large majority who would write were going through sticky situations they didn’t want their immediate friends or family to know, and/or didn’t want to go to a counselor, so they’d turn to me for a second opinion or prayer. I realized this enormous need for people to have someone to turn to, even if just an ear to listen. Over time, and to make it more time efficient and affective for all, I began opening up my social media sites on Monday’s solely to interact with those in need. #AskMeishaMonday was birthed from a desire in me not wanting anyone I’m connected to feeling alone. We’re all equipped with gifts we can use to help others. Offering advice, prayer, an ear to listen, and counsel to others happens to be one of mine. It’s one of the most important things I’ll ever do with my time. My life’s ministry. It doesn’t matter if I’ve met the person or not- if we’re connected, via social media or otherwise, they are not alone. Since moving to Philly, I haven’t opened #AskMeishaMonday up again, but I plan on doing so in the near future.


TCS: Recently you posted on Facebook that you visited Atlantic City for the first time, please share with us your overall experience?

MJ: I literally did a drive-by in Atlantic City! I was on a mission to learn some of the roads so I went on a little road trip. When the warm weather returns, I plan playing a slot machine, catching a concert, and enjoying the shore ;).

TCS: How exciting was it when you met Don Felder, one of the greatest guitarists and songwriters, from the legendary Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees The Eagles?

MJ: When I got the phone call from CBS that Don Felder wanted to meet “the traffic girl” I was quite taken aback. “Me? Why?” was my first response. I was already done with work for the day when I received the phone call but I drove back to meet him anyway. On the way back to the studio, I drove over a nail and got a flat tire. So Don, being the sweetheart he is, drove me back to corporate housing in his limo – lol. Truly, aside from being the legend he is, Don is such a gentleman and such a wonderful person. I’m grateful to have met him that day, and crazy enough, we’ve kept in contact since then. Today I can say I’m honored to now call him my friend.

Meisha-Johnson-and-Don-Felder-Eagles

TCS: Looking back over your career, if you had to do it all over again, is there something that you would do differently? If so, what would it be?

MJ: I have absolutely NO regrets and I wouldn’t do anything differently. That doesn’t mean everything has been smooth sailing. Life isn’t that way as we all know. However, I firmly believe we’re exactly where we’re supposed to be right now even if we don’t fully understand why. Everything I’ve done in the past has helped me develop the skills and know-how for the work I do today, and the work I’ll do in the future. Our past is the building blocks for the firm foundation needed moving ahead into the future. Life is a crazy fun adventure and, no matter what is to come, there will never be any regrets.

About Frank Iacono

Frank Iacono - The Creative Spotlight

Frank Iacono is a highly skilled results-oriented Strategic Marketing Professional with proven critical thinking, problem solving, and project management skills, developed through more than 20 years of experience concentrated in integrated marketing strategies. Frank brings a thorough, hands-on understanding of marketing strategies and technological platforms as related to applications available for web design, content development, email marketing, site and campaign analytics, search marketing and optimization, service and product marketing, lead and demand generation, social media, and customer retention.

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

Michelle Antonucci Smith: Zumba® Fitness Instructor

Written by: Frank Iacono

Michelle-Antonucci-Smith

Michelle Antonucci Smith is licensed to teach Zumba®, Zumba Gold®, Zumba Toning®, Zumba Senato®, Zumba Step® and Zumba Kids® and has been a Zumba® Instructor since 2011. She is an active member of the Zumba Instructor’s Network. Her goal is to have people leave her class sweating, smiling, and wanting more.

For Michelle, the most important thing to her when she teaches Zumba® is to make it a great experience for her students ─ just have FUN! She has a passion for leading and promoting a healthy lifestyle through physical activity and nutritional cleansing. She was able to lose 40 lbs. by living a healthy lifestyle and now is passionate about helping others reach their fitness and health goals. Her high energy classes have been presented throughout New Jersey and in Europe. Today she continues to travel, learn, teach, and share her love for movement with the world.

Michelle’s success as a Zumba Fitness Instructor is highly attributed to the loving support of her family, friends, teachers, and passionate Zumba lovers along the way. She loves to provide “exercise in disguise” through Zumba, inspiration, motivation, and consistent encouragement for her clients. She is also a mom to two very active boys. In her spare time, she loves spending time with her friends and family, reading, and going to the beach.

In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, I had the pleasure of interviewing Michelle Antonucci Smith and asking her a few questions about her career as a Zumba®, her background, her certifications, and her high energy class sessions.

Q&A Session

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

Michelle Antonucci Smith: Zumba® Fitness is a total body workout, combining all elements of fitness – cardio, muscle conditioning, balance, flexibility, and boosted energy. Zumba® takes the “work” out of workout, by mixing low-intensity and high-intensity moves for an interval style, calorie-burning dance fitness party. Zumba® Fitness classes are often called exercise in disguise!

I started taking Zumba® classes in 2005. I just had my second child and was looking to get back in shape. I immediately became addicted to the classes. After being a student for 6 years, I decided to become a Zumba® Instructor.

Michelle-Antonucci-Smith-Zumba

TCS: Are you a certified Zumba® instructor? And, do you have any other certifications?

MAS: I am licensed to teach Zumba®, Zumba Gold®, Zumba Toning®, Zumba Senato®, Zumba Step® and Zumba Kids®. I am also active member of the Zumba® Instructor’s Network (ZIN). I received my license in February of 2011. Although I love to take other types of fitness classes such as weight training classes, spin, yoga, etc. I only teach Zumba® Fitness.


TCS: Do you think that Zumba® is a lot like high impact aerobics? If so, why?

MAS: Zumba® is similar to high impact aerobics in the sense that it is a cardio workout. However, the premise of Zumba® is to combine both high and low intensity songs to create an interval type training. Studies have shown that people tend to burn more calories via interval training than with a comparable period of steady-pace exercise.


TCS: Where are you currently holding your Zumba® classes?

MAS: I am definitely a gym rat! I do not own my own studio but I teach at various gyms. You can find my complete schedule on http://www.zumba.com. I work at several Work Out Worlds, Meridian Fitness, Brick Fitness for Women, and Gold’s Gym ─ all located in the Monmouth County New Jersey Shore area.


TCS: Why do you think people are going so crazy for Zumba®? And, what is the age group of the people that participate in your Zumba® classes?

MAS: In the beginning, many “experts” claimed that Zumba® was just another fad. However, I disagree! Zumba® was created by founder Beto Perez in the mid 1990’s. I think it has only gotten more popular with each year. The reason so many people go crazy for Zumba® is simple. The moment the beat drops, it is an instant party. There is no other class that I have taken at any gym where people are smiling, laughing, and having fun from start to finish AND getting in an amazing workout at the same time. You can expect lots of smiles, sweat, and laughs in a Zumba® class, not to mention the kick ass music! I have students in high school, college, stay at home moms, and retirees, so there is no set age group for Zumba ─ young and old all have a great time, not to mention that both women AND men attend my classes.


TCS: For those who’ve never taken Zumba®, what does a beginner need to know before taking a class? Do you have any tips for newbies?

MAS: My class rule is: “Smile, Have Fun, and LOVE Pitbull.” My best tip for a newbie is to go into a class just expecting to have fun. Don’t get caught up in worrying about making a wrong move. There are no wrong moves in Zumba® ─ only accidental solos. All the gyms I teach at, and most gyms in general, offer either a free day or free week pass, so I encourage everyone reading this to just try a class. I recommend wearing either a cross-training sneaker or a dance sneaker. Popular brands such as Ryka, Bloch, Capezio, and Sansha have dance sneakers. Zumba® Fitness also has their own line of dance sneakers.


TCS: Are there certain Zumba® classes designed specifically for beginners?

MAS: Zumba® is a perfect class whether your fitness level is at a beginner, intermediate, or advanced level. The key is that each individual go at their own pace and the moves can be modified to the individual’s level. However, there is a specialty Zumba® class called Zumba Gold®. Zumba Gold® is geared towards the active older adult who is looking for a modified Zumba® class that recreates the original moves they love at a lower-intensity. You can take a Zumba® class every day if you like but if you are new to exercise in general, then I would recommend 3 x a week to start.

TCS: What if you are not coordinated and can’t dance can you still take a Zumba® class?

The biggest comment I hear from someone that has never attended a class is that they are intimated to try Zumba® because “they are not coordinated.” I want people to know that they do not have to be superstar dancers or be super coordinated to take a class. The key to Zumba® is to just let go and have fun!


TCS: Will Zumba® help adults get in shape and lose weight?

MAS: Zumba® is an amazing cardiovascular workout. Many of my students have lost weight after they started taking classes but you have to combine it with the right nutrition if you really want to see results. To achieve a safe weekly weight loss the emphasis is really 80% on nutrition and 20% on exercise. The amount of calories you can burn in Zumba® depends on a few factors, but the average is between 500 to 1,000 calories per hour of Zumba®.

TCS: Can Zumba® classes help adults increase their focus, establish self-confidence and enhance coordination much like karate?

MAS: That is a great question and yes to all! Learning the dancing moves in Zumba® can greatly improve coordination. Zumba® routines, thanks to their dancing roots, can lower inhibitions (in a good way). Zumba® will improve your posture, which will naturally increase your confidence, and slowly mastering routine after Zumba® routine will increase your confidence in a Zumba® class and everywhere else.


TCS: What kind of music is played during your Zumba® class? Do you allow the students to make song requests?

MAS: One of my favorite parts about being a Zumba® instructor is the variety of music that I can expose my students to. In a typical Zumba® class the emphasis is on Latin and International music. The 4 core rhythms are Merengue, Cumbia, Reggaeton, and Salsa. I will always have those 4 core rhythms in my class. However, I may also feature a Tango, Flamenco, Bollywood, Quebradita, Bachata, African, Belly Dancing, Axe, Calypso, Soca, or Latin Pop. I will also include current pop music ─ including my favorite artist Pitbull because my students love to dance to songs that they are familiar with. I love when students request a specific song!

TCS: Is there a high demand for Zumba® instructors? And, what is the best way for someone to find a local Zumba® instructor or class?

MAS: There is definitely a high demand for Zumba® classes and most gym schedules offer a variety of days and times for Zumba® because it is still one of the most popular group fitness classes to take. However, there are so many women and men that have become licensed to teach, that it may be difficult at times to find a class to teach if you are a new instructor. The best way to find a licensed instructor is to:

  • Go To Zumba.com
  • Select Find a Class in Your ‘Hood!
  • Enter Your Zip Code
  • Hit Search Classes
  • View The Available Classes in Your Area. Only Licensed ZINS Can Add their Class Schedule.

Zumba-Find-A-Class

TCS: If a student is unable to make it to a class, do you recommend any good Zumba® DVDs?

MAS: Zumba® has several DVD’s but the two most popular are the Zumba® Fitness Super Cardio Dance Party, and Zumba® Fitness Exhilarate Body Shaping System DVD Set. Zumba® Fitness also has some amazing video games for both Wii and Xbox 360. However, in my opinion nothing beats a live class!

TCS: Why do some Zumba® Instructors wear one pant leg up and one pant leg down? Is it all about attitude? And, do you do that too?

MAS: That style did not originate with Zumba® but was a mid-90s trend first spotted in LL Cool J’s “Hey Lover” music video in 1995. The style quickly became one of the trends that personified that era of hip-hop style. I don’t really see many Zumba® instructors doing that any longer. For me, it is all about the Capri pants or Harem pants.


TCS: In what ways do you market your business and stay connected to your audience?

MAS: I market my business and stay connected with my audience via the following vehicles:

TCS: Why do some Zumba® Instructors wear tassels on your pants? What does it mean? And, do you wear them?

MAS: When I first started teaching Zumba® in 2011 the tassel pants were big in Zumba®, but again most instructors I know do not wear them. We do a lot of booty shaking in Zumba® so having tassels, does make it more fun!

TCS: Why don’t some Zumba® Instructors verbally cue their students or talk more during the class? What is your style preference?

MAS: The traditional Zumba® class emphasizes non-verbal cueing, as it offers many benefits to a class. Non-verbal cueing allows the instructor and students to feel the music and enjoy the party atmosphere of a Zumba® Fitness class. I am not like most instructors, and I do wear a headset. I definitely keep the party atmosphere going and only use the headset at a minimum for basic cues, but I find that my students appreciate both the combination of verbal and non-verbal cueing that I offer.


TCS: Why do you think Zumba® instructors are so different from one another?

MAS: This is the most important point that people should take away from this article. You can take a Zumba® class with 20 different instructors, and each class will be completely different. One of the best things about being an instructor is the total freedom Zumba® gives us to add our own flavor and style ─ as long as we follow the basic guidelines Zumba® provided to us. It is key that students try a variety of instructors, in order to find a few that they connect with the most.

TCS: Is there any other information that you can provide to someone interested in Zumba® that we didn’t cover in the interview already?

MAS: I think we covered just about everything. I hope to see some of your readers in my Zumba® class with one pant leg up and tassels swinging!

About Frank Iacono

Frank Iacono - The Creative Spotlight

Frank Iacono is a highly skilled results-oriented Strategic Marketing Professional with proven critical thinking, problem solving, and project management skills, developed through more than 20 years of experience concentrated in integrated marketing strategies. Frank brings a thorough, hands-on understanding of marketing strategies and technological platforms as related to applications available for web design, content development, email marketing, site and campaign analytics, search marketing and optimization, service and product marketing, lead and demand generation, social media, and customer retention.

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

Everything Falls: Modern Rock Band

Written by: Frank Iacono

Everything-falls-band

Everything Falls burst onto the Washington D.C. metro rock scene in early 2012, touring for their debut EP Fight From Within. Fast-forward to the summer of 2015, and Everything Falls is set to release their sophomore EP Through The Storm. The new album is a collection of songs that front man Aaron Linkous wrote while touring in 2012 and in the years after while the band was relocating from Washington D.C. to northern New Jersey.

Throughout 2011, Everything Falls was just getting things started. After bringing Mike Smith on board to play bass, the duo eventually ended up working with Producer Scott Robinson at his Sonic Sweets Recording studio in Beltsville, MD. What was born there would be the band’s debut release, Fight From Within. It was released in November of 2011 and included their first mainstream hit, “Sorry To Say.” The video for “Sorry To Say” was featured on national media outlets such as Blank TV, Pure Grain Audio, The Cool TV, and Renegade Radio. In addition, Hard Rock Café, Planet Hollywood, Gold’s Gym, and Royal Caribbean Cruise Line chose to promote the single. The song was also used by nationally televised and British-based professional wrestling program, UK Wrestling Experience. Other notable hits off of the album were the singles “Come On” and “Everything That You Wanted.”

In late 2012, Everything Falls continued their promotional tour for the EP, and ultimately landed an interview with The Real Radio Show in Long Island, NY. As the band gained momentum, new opportunities presented themselves, and Linkous eventually made the difficult decision to relocate the band to the New York City metro area.

In 2013, rebuilding of the band started. Kenny Sheldon, the new lead guitarist who was discovered at one of the many auditions held in the summer of 2013, quickly found his niche within Aaron’s songs. Unfortunately, it would be another two years before the band would be fully completed, with the lineup changing several times over. In early 2015, two additional band members were brought on board just before heading into the world-renowned Barber Shop Studios with Producer Brody Greif.

Comprised of Aaron Linkous, Kenny Sheldon, Danny Rojo, and Matt Regan. Everything Falls is weathered, but not broken. “Everything Falls has accomplished a lot up to this point, but we still have so much room for growth,” said Linkous. “We’re hungry to break into the regional scene and to make our live show something that fans are lining up to see. I believe that our new EP was appropriately named. After everything that it’s taken to get back to this point, it definitely feels like we’ve been through a storm. Fortunately, that storm forged a new path for our sound and helped to solidify who we are as musicians. We’re extremely proud of our sophomore EP, and we believe the fans will agree that it was worth the wait.”

In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, I had the pleasure of interviewing Aaron Linkous, Kenny Sheldon, Danny Rojo, and Matt Regan of Everything Falls and asking them a few questions about their musical influences, their songwriting and recording process, their upcoming tour schedule, and their new EP Through The Storm.

Q&A Session

The Creative Spotlight: How did you come up with the band name Everything Falls?

Aaron Linkous: My wife, Mandy, and I share a love for hiking to waterfalls. As Mike Smith, a bassist and the first person I got to join the band with me back in 2010, and myself were toying around with many names I started to think about all of the cool waterfall names I’ve heard and seen over the years. So, I naturally just started putting different words in front of “falls” and I ended up with Everything Falls. It sounded catchy, so it stuck as our band name ever since.

Everything-Falls-Logo

TCS: For the benefit of those who are not familiar with Everything Falls, how would you describe your musical genre?

AL: I would describe our sound as modern rock and maybe a bit of 90’s alternative. We’ve been compared to Stone Temple Pilots, Metallica, Breaking Benjamin, and a host of other bands, but we have a unique and fresh sound that sets us apart from all of those bands. The band originally started in Rockville, MD in 2010. We recorded our first EP Fight From Within throughout 2011 with producer Scott Robinson at his Sonic Sweets Studio in Beltsville, MD. We released that EP in December of 2011 and toured regionally throughout 2012.

TCS: Can you introduce us to the Everything Falls lineup and tell us what each person in the band does?

AL: The Everything Falls band lineup consists of the following (shown below left to right):

  • Matt Regan – Drummer
  • Kenny Sheldon – Lead Guitarist & Backing Vocals
  • Aaron Linkous – Lead Vocalist & Rhythm Guitarist
  • Danny Rojo – Bassist & Backing Vocals (former bassist Amriel Kissner is shown in pic)

Everything-falls-theband

TCS: How long has this current lineup of Everything Falls been playing together and how did you all get started?

AL: This current lineup is fairly new. Danny just came on board about a month ago. We went into the studio with a different bassist (Amriel Kissner), but Amriel was not interested in touring. Matt came on board in January of this year. He came in as we were prepping for our newest EP Through The Storm. He is a long time friend of Kenny and we had been talking about possibly having him out to a practice to see if he would be a good fit for the position. After the first practice I was certain that he was the man for the job. And, Kenny has been with me almost two years now. I landed him in the first round of auditions that I held in July of 2013.

Initially, I thought that I was going to be able to pull things together rather quickly upon moving to New Jersey from Maryland. I’ve been in this situation a few times over my musical career with moves from Blountville to Nashville, TN; Nashville to Rockville, MD; and Rockville to Springfield, NJ, so I knew exactly what steps I needed to take in order to arrange everything. Unfortunately, after Kenny came on board things slowed down rather drastically. I had taken on a 3rd shift job and between it and needing sleep I just didn’t have the time necessary to run the band properly. That all changed after I decided to leave that job late last year and to make music my sole career. Since then the lineup has been finalized, we’ve recorded Through The Storm and shot a video for the lead off single “Let It Go (Enemy)”, and are now gearing up for regional touring in the very near future. It’s taken some time to pull everything back together, but I feel that we have a very solid lineup now.

Everything-falls-performing

TCS: Can you describe for us the song writing, studio recording, and video production process behind the lead single “Let It Go (Enemy)” from Through The Storm?

I began writing “Let It Go (Enemy)” in mid-2012. I wanted a song with a little more power to it. Something that would truly rile a live crowd up. In the studio we stuck to that live feel. We didn’t spend time tweaking every little strum on the guitar or on the drums. It was the feeling of the song that we were after and I believe we achieved that driving beat that just calls out to all of the head bangers out there. We recorded bass and drums simultaneously together. Followed with myself cranking out the rhythm tracks. We followed it up with lead guitar and vocals. It’s polished, but not overly polished and you can still sense that original energy that I imagined the song would have from the moment I started writing it. The making of the video was much the same. We planned out an excellent storyboard, but some things we did tweak on the fly. It was a rather large shoot as I think the whole video has around 15 separate actors or musicians in it. Not enormous or anything, but a rather large undertaking for an indie band that’s trying to keep to a budget. Ultimately, it turned out extremely well and I believe the audience will enjoy it upon its release. No date has been firmly picked just yet, but we’re shooting for around three weeks after the album hits the market.

 

TCS: From a song writing, studio recording, and accompanying music video perspective, can you share with us some of the background surrounding the second single from Through The Storm entitled “Daylight Takes The Dawn”?

I wrote “Daylight Takes The Dawn” (DTTD) back in 2012. It was always meant to be that song about an artist on the road missing his family. I pictured the cold weather and the long days of being away from the people that I love the most. Hopefully, most people will say that I sold that idea.

The recording of DTTD took place at Barbershop Studios in Hopatcong, New Jersey. You can find video of us actually tracking the song on our Facebook page. Quite a funny video! We had a blast though and tried to really sink our teeth into this song. It’s definitely a stand out track from our sophomore CD Through The Storm.

The video for DTTD was filmed, directed, and edited by the TV/Film department at DeSales University in Center Valley, PA. The video was filmed on location at DeSales along with home scenes shot at mine and my wife’s current Townhouse in NJ. We simply stuck to the storyline conveyed in the song and tried our best to make it as realistic as possible for the audience. The weather even helped out nicely here in NJ by dropping some snow on the ground just in time for the filming. We had a wonderful team assigned to the project and we couldn’t be any prouder of this video. Everyone should check it out if they haven’t already! Also, share it like crazy on your social platforms!!! We truly need everyone’s support.

 

TCS: Aaron at what age did you realize that you wanted to be a musician?

AL: I always sang when I was younger. If I didn’t have the lyrics to a song, then I’d sit down with a piece of paper and listen to the song over and over until I had all the lyrics. It was a hobby of mine I guess, but it helped me later on when I started writing songs. I picked up the guitar at the age of 12. My best friend at the time played guitar. When I would go to his house he was always playing, so it became kind of boring just watching him play and I figured I should probably learn to play too. I played in a high school band. We played around my hometown at middle school dances, local festivals, we even played a wedding reception once. I was probably 18 though when I realized that music was something that I was very passionate about and that I wanted to pursue. From there I put myself through college at MTSU where I majored in the recording industry program. MTSU is one of the top recording programs in the country. I believe it was something like only 52 candidates made it into the program every semester. So, you started out with massive classes and by the time you were at the end of the program there might have been 15 people per class. I specifically put myself through that program because I wanted a career in music.


TCS: As a band what famous musicians do each of you admire and how have they influenced you both individually and collectively?

AL: I’m definitely a huge fan of 90’s music. The first rock band I really listened to was Live. From there I listened to Green Day, Bush, Nirvana, Stone Temple Pilots, Soundgarden, Metallica and so many others that I’d be naming them all day. Once I was in high school I started listening to a lot of Lynyrd Skynyrd and Creedence Clearwater Revival. I was actually nicknamed “Little Fogerty” because a lot of my fellow classmates thought I sounded just like John Fogerty. I was asked by teachers and students to sing in the middle of class and even in the middle of lunch one day. One of my football coaches was talking to another teacher about my singing and my coach said, “go ahead and sing for him.” I was a little hesitant, but did it anyways. The whole lunch room went silent and they just started listening to me sing. That was pretty cool and I think to this day that CCR and Fogerty has made my voice what it is. From there, I listened to bands like Lifehouse, Three Doors Down, Three Days Grace, Nickelback, Theory of a Deadman, Seether, Breaking Benjamin, Matchbox 20, and the list goes on. Every one of these bands taught me something about songwriting or writing lyrics with great imagery. I didn’t just listen to these albums I studied them.

Kenny Sheldon: When I first started playing guitar, I was heavily influenced by Live, and Metallica. Over the years my musical tastes have evolved, and I have Frank Zappa to thank (indirectly) for two of my essential developmental influences on guitar: Trey Anastasio (Phish), and John Petrucci (Dream Theater)…both of whom regard Zappa as a major influence of theirs.

Danny Rojo: Jaco Pastorius as he inspired me to play bass. I was playing guitar and clarinet, and the first moment I heard Pastorius playing bass, I decided the bass would be my signature instrument for the rest of my life, because of his sound, energy, and performance. Equally, I would say Eddie Van Halen because as a musician, I always admired innovation. I believe he’s the most innovative rock musician. He discovered sounds on the guitar that no one ever knew how to make before.

Matt Regan: For me, Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater), Brad Wilk (Rage Against The Machine), David Silveria (Korn), Chad Sexton (311), Matt Cameron (Soundgarden), Jeremy Taggart (Our Lady Peace), and Jose Pasillas (Incubus). I grew up playing along to all of these drummers and they’ve helped influence much of what I play today. Portnoy introduced me to drumming with a double bass drum pedal.

TCS: Can you describe for us the Everything Falls song writing, recording, and video production process behind the song “Sorry to Say” which appeared on the EP Fight From Within?

AL: I wrote the song “Sorry To Say” when I was 18. It’s a song that I’ve played and recorded with my band Linkous in Nashville and with Everything Falls. So, this song has been a standard song for me for almost 14 years now. I recorded the song with producer Scott Robinson at his Sonic Sweets Studio. On the track I played rhythm guitar, bass, and sang lead vocals and harmonies.

The video production was done by Taylor Morden and Joe Mach. They also did all of the set design. The storyline was created by my wife Mandy Linkous. We hired 3 individuals to be a part of the video. Nic Detorie played the lead actor along with our female lead Brittany Martz. Tara Brown was our second female actress. We shot the video over two days at a warehouse in Falls Church, VA. It was actually where Mike Smith and I worked. Our boss suggested and allowed us to use the space, which was a tremendous help. Taylor and Joe did an outstanding job with the production and I’ve been very proud to show that video to anybody and everybody that I can.


TCS: What types of guitars, drums, and other musical equipment does Everything Falls use?

AL: Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier through a Marshall 2 x12 cabinet. I have three guitars: White-Gibson SG, Black-Gibson Les Paul Studio, and a Red-PRS SE Singlecut.

KS: Guitars: PRS Custom 22 Artist Series, Jackson RR3 Rhoads V (mods: Seymour Duncan neck/bridge pickups), Epiphone Les Paul Standard (mods: Seymour Duncan neck/bridge pickups), Ibanez AF75 hollowbody. Amps: Hughes & Kettner (head), Marshall (head), Crate (cab), Orange (cab). Effects: MXR, BOSS, Ibanez, and BBE pedals.

DR: Custom-made Warwick Streamer Deluxe 5-string, a Fender Jazz vintage 1978 bass and a fretless Fender Precision 1976 bass. I use a Mark Bass head and cabinets (endorsed), EBS pedals (endorsed) and Audix microphones (endorsed).

MR: 5 piece Pearl Export Pro series with a Pearl Eliminator Demon Drive double bass pedal and Pearl Eliminator high hat. Cymbals are a mix of Sabian AAX Omni ride, O-Zone splash, and Omni crash. Sabian HHX china, crash, Paiste splash. Sabian high hats and a Sabian Portnoy Mini Max Stax splash and China kang.

TCS: Personally, one of my favorite songs originally off of the EP Fight From Within is the track called “Everything That You Wanted,” so can you share with us the meaning behind it?

AL: I wrote the song “Everything That You Wanted” around 2006 while living in Nashville. I was in college at the time and had been married for a little over a year to my wife. I think at that time I just felt like there was nothing that could stop me from accomplishing what I wanted in this world. So many times people had told me that it’s just a dream and that you’ll never be able to amount to anything in the industry. Or, that you’re crazy for even trying to do this. To be told that you’re not good enough or the many discouraging things people say. Even my own thoughts were sometimes the enemy because I would start to listen to what people had said. This was my answer back to all that negativity and I think it resonates with a lot of people.


TCS: What do you think separates Everything Falls from similar bands and keeps you guys motivated to continue as a group?

AL: From what most of our fans have said, it’s our songwriting. They have told us that they instantly realized this wasn’t just another garage band. The last EP sonically sounded amazing as well thanks to Scott Robinson. That has definitely catapulted us out there.

I’ve approached this band kind of like a solo artist and I’ve built this band around my songs and my voice. It was necessary for me to set things up that way because I have had to move several times and may still have to in the future due to my wife’s job. It’s been a blessing in disguise though because this design has allowed me to grow my sound and given me flexibility to maneuver the many pitfalls that you run into in this industry.

TCS: Can you describe for us the song writing and recording background with the song “Come On” which also appeared on the EP Fight From Within?

I wrote “Come On” in 2008 I believe. I wanted to get a bit of a party song going, so I started out with the riff you hear in the beginning of the song. I started mumbling some words and “Come On” just naturally fell into place. Once I had the chorus I wasn’t quite sure what to do with the verses, so I imagined a bit of a bar scene. When I finished it was basically a story about a woman every guy was trying to hit on, but she only had eyes for me. Producer Scott Robinson also recorded “Come On” at Sonic Sweets. It featured Mike Smith on bass, Evan Louis on lead guitar, and Jeff Miklaszewski on drums.


TCS: In what ways does Everything Falls market band appearances, sell merchandise, and stay connected to your fans?

Our email newsletters are our number one way to keep up with our fans. You can sign up by going to our ReverbNation page or through the widget on the home page of our website. There are monthly giveaways and sales that you will not hear about elsewhere. Additionally, we have an online store our fans can access through our website http://www.everythingfallsband.com.

To stay connected with Everything Falls, please visit the following:

TCS: Take us behind the scenes in the making of your sophomore EP entitled Through The Storm. What was your favorite part of its production and the most challenging from an artistic perspective?

AL: The tracking for the album was done in February of this year at the beautiful Barber Shop Studios in Hopatcong, NJ (Breaking Benjamin, Chad Smith, Warren Hayes, The Pretty Reckless, and a host of other greats have all recorded there). We spent three days there with producer Brody Greif. The studio was right on lake Hopatcong and at the time the lake was completely frozen over with snow all around it and it was a gorgeous view to take in every morning before we started tracking.

Honestly, I think everyone in the band has a different idea of what was the best part of production. Personally, my favorite is always tracking vocals. It’s that point when I get to hear everything finally coming together. One of the most challenging aspects that we had to deal with was maneuvering around the weather. I believe it snowed two out of three days that we were there. I think the second morning we showed up and the temperature was just above single digits. Not the best weather to load in a bunch of gear. Once we were at the studio we were working for 12-13 hours solid. In the end, everything turned out very well though and I strongly believe the fans are going to be thrilled with the new EP. The staff and interns were all very helpful and did an amazing job at Barber Shop. The studio manager Ryan Barber was a pleasure to work with as well.


TCS: Is there a particular venue that Everything Falls has always wanted to play? And, what other entertainer or entertainers would you most like to have play alongside you on that stage?

AL: Madison Square Garden in New York, but I’d also love to play at The Ryman Theatre and Riverfront Park in Nashville, TN. I would love to play alongside bands like Breaking Benjamin, Staind, Metallica, Three Doors Down, and Shinedown.

KS: In New York, I would love to perform at Radio City Music Hall or the Beacon Theatre. In Boston, I would love to play at the Orpheum Theatre or the House of Blues. However, the venue I would most like to play, which I consider to be the Holy Grail for all musicians who live, or have lived in Boston is Fenway Park. I’ve seen Paul McCartney, Phish, and Dave Matthews Band there. Every show there had an amazing vibe, and because I played baseball from T-Ball to high school, it had another intangible layer of sentimentality for me. So, I would most like to play a show at Fenway Park, opening (if not co-headlining) for The Dropkick Murphys. The energy in that place, for that band, in Boston…it must be absolutely bonkers! Out of control insanity that I would love for us to be a part of!

DR: For me, it would have to be either Wembley Stadium or Madison Square Garden. And, I would love to be up on that stage with Dave Grohl, Lzzy Hale, Eddie Van Halen, and Stevie Wonder.

MR: Alongside Rage Against The Machine at Woodstock.


TCS: What famous song do you wish you had been credited with writing and performing?

AL: That’s a tough question! I can think of a ton of great songs that I wish I had penned and performed. I would have to say “Unchained Melody” by the Righteous Brothers. That’s hands down one of the most beautiful songs ever written in my opinion.

KS: I find myself saying “Bohemian Rhapsody” whenever I’m asked this particular question. I mean, how can you not wish you wrote the greatest song in rock and roll history? As for performing it, even though Queen didn’t play the middle section, I’ve always wanted to perform the song in its entirety!

DR: Van Halen’s “Running with the Devil”.

MR: Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb”.

TCS: What does the short and long-term outlook look like for Everything Falls?

AL: Short-term: We release our new EP. The leadoff single for the EP will be “Let It Go (Enemy)” and the video will be out shortly after the release of the album. We’re also in rehearsals right now to gear up for touring (no dates announced yet).

Long-Term: We hope to put out at least four singles from this EP all with their own video. We also intend to be back in the studio around the first of next year to start working on another EP.

Booking Everything Falls

For booking information, please contact Aaron Linkous via email at everythingfallsband@gmail.com.

Song List on Through the Storm (2015)

Everything-Falls-Through-The-Storm

  1. “Let It Go (Enemy)”
  2. “This Time”
  3. “Burn”
  4. “Breaking Free”
  5. “Daylight Takes the Dawn”

Song List on Fight From Within (2011)

Everything-Falls-Fight-From Within

  1. “Sorry To Say”
  2. “Come On”
  3. “Everything That You Wanted”
  4. “Understand”
  5. “Dying Day”

About Frank Iacono

Frank Iacono - The Creative Spotlight

Frank Iacono is a highly skilled results-oriented Strategic Marketing Professional with proven critical thinking, problem solving, and project management skills, developed through more than 20 years of experience concentrated in integrated marketing strategies. Frank brings a thorough, hands-on understanding of marketing strategies and technological platforms as related to applications available for web design, content development, email marketing, site and campaign analytics, search marketing and optimization, service and product marketing, lead and demand generation, social media, and customer retention.

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

Aandra Bohlen: Business Coach

Written by: Frank Iacono

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Ever thought you’re not good enough, wondered if anyone would ever pay for what you offer, and are scared out of your mind to take big risks in your life? If you have then Aandra Bohlen is the right prescription for your state of mental health. Aandra will boost your confidence and clear your mindset so you’ll have what it takes to start and run a successful business.

Aandra is a 6-figure (soon-to-be 7-figures) Entrepreneur, Business Consultant, and Certified Empowerment Coach who’s not afraid to ask tough questions. Whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, nine to fiver, or seasoned entrepreneur, she helps business owners cultivate grit, clarify their ideas, set boundaries, and bust limiting beliefs so they can create, awaken, or maintain the business and lifestyle of their dreams.

Aandra is extremely passionate and highly energetic. Her enthusiasm is infectious and she helps clients create a balanced, healthy, passionate, and purposeful life. She finds creative ways for clients to share their passions and live the kind of lifestyle that doesn’t require them to give up freedom for money. She understands and respects that everything that her clients need is already within them. They just sometimes need the support of a consultant or coach to help draw it out.

So, if you’re prepared to go full-speed in your life and biz then you need to contact Aandra Bohlen today. Aandra provides telephone coaching services, holds classes and workshops, and offers entrepreneur tips, tricks, and other information through her website and social media avenues such as Facebook and Periscope.

In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, I had the pleasure of interviewing Aandra Bohlen and asking her questions about her career, her Biz B.A.B.E community, her Craft Camp, and her upcoming speaking engagements.

Q&A Session

The Creative Spotlight: For the benefit of those who may not be too familiar with you or your work, please describe for us your overall career at a glance?

Aandra Bohlen: I’ve worked with aspiring and new entrepreneurs for the last 8 years working with them on the basic fundamentals to launching a business but mostly incorporate my coaching into the sessions by working with my clients to remove the resistance, cultivate confidence, and bust limiting beliefs that are standing in the way of launching their business.

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TCS: What would you say are the major similarities and differences between working with individuals and/or companies as a consultant and a coach?

AB: I actually don’t work with companies. I work with solo and soulful entrepreneurs who are ready to own their power and activate their gifts within to be of service to the world through their business.


TCS: What personal qualities do you feel that you bring to the individuals and/or companies that you work with that helps them develop into successful entrepreneurs?

AB: The greatest gift I bring to my clients is the intuitive ability to help them clear the blocks that are holding them back from launching their business. In reality, many aspiring entrepreneurs lack the skills, but that can be taught. What really holds them back is the WILL to see themselves as the entrepreneurs they aspire to be which is where I come into play. I am gifted in helping them build while breaking down and break through to their own gifts within.

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TCS: Tell us about what you mean when you say it all starts with grit?

AB: GRIT is the success trait that is going to distinguish and develop the mental toughness required to be a successful entrepreneur. To be “gritty” means that you are willing to see your goals through LONG TERM, that your spirit can not be shaken in spite of the fears, obstacles, or setbacks. It essentially is saying that you have a GROWTH mindset vs. a FIXED mindset. I love talking about grit because in my experience it is the ONE indicator that is shared by some of the most successful entrepreneurs out there. From Oprah Winfrey to Gary Vaynerchuk they possess GRIT; courage, passion, delayed gratification, resilience, and guts.

To find out how gritty you are you can download the FREE guide to grit and take the test at http://aandrabohlen.com

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TCS: Please describe how aspiring entrepreneurs typically get tripped up in stop-start cycles.

AB: This is a cycle that I myself have found myself in. It’s not just exclusive to new entrepreneurs. Even the most successful entrepreneurs can find themselves feeling stuck or spinning but they quickly remember and move themselves through any fear, resistance, or confusion. Let’s face it, to own a business requires a hell of a lot more than intellect. It requires courage and confidence. Yet so many doubt themselves, lack the confidence, and struggle with discovering how they really want to show up in their business. This is where they start, then stop, then start, then stop again… They get in their own way. I specifically coach clients on how to stop the vicious cycle by first TELLING THE TRUTH about what it really is that is creating the “stop” in their journey to becoming a business owner. And let’s face it, this is NOT for everyone. Right now, it’s alluring. Everyone wants to be their own boss, but very few have what it takes. By working with me, I focus on helping clients develop and strengthen the characteristics that will need to be in place in order to own a business.


TCS: Provide us with some details concerning your four week group coaching Craft Camp that takes participants from refining to shining?

AB: This camp was created in response to many Periscope viewers saying they had no clue what their business point of view was and couldn’t clearly articulate WHO they serve and how to serve them. This is a group coaching program where I take the clients through identifying their core message, gaining clarity on who they truly want to serve, and developing their first of offer and how to present this offer to the marketplace. This essentially is helping them develop the foundation of their business. I’ve decided to beta-test this with the first wave of students which began on July 16, 2015 and the next wave began on July 30, 2015.

To stay connected with me and discover any future opportunities to take this course, please join my Biz BABE Facebook Mastermind group at http://aandrabohlen.com/joinbizbabes.

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TCS: Can you please provide us with specific details about your Biz B.A.B.E community?

AB: Biz B.A.B.E.S is a private FREE non-spammy mastermind community I’ve created on Facebook to bring bold, ambitious, beautiful entrepreneurs together who are ready to soar. Think of this group as a band of like-minded souls who want to position themselves where they are emotionally and spiritually walking their authentic, passionate, and profitable entrepreneurial path alongside other BABES. I’ve made it my mission to provide expert business advice, mindset support, peer support and exclusive mentorship from me, a six-figure business owner who has made it my mission to help other entrepreneurs achieve high levels of success. For now, this is a free group. However, because of the value that is given and the time I spend interacting with the group, it may at some point be even more exclusively available through a membership based entrance fee. So if you want to come on… come now!

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TCS: Tell us about the most exciting personal leadership productivity keynote speaker event that you’ve participated in? And, are there any upcoming keynote speaker engagements we should know about?

AB: The most powerful personal leadership group I participated in was with John C Maxwell on the 21 Laws of Irrefutable leadership. I am currently opening myself up to begin speaking with my first engagement set for October 17, 2015, in Tempe Arizona and the Spirit of Business Conference at Southwest Institute of Healing Arts.

For more information or event registration, please contact me 480-944-9244.

TCS: In what ways do you market your business, speaking engagements, and stay connected to your audience?

AB: I market my business, upcoming speaking engagements, and stay connected with my audience via the following vehicles:

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TCS: As a Business Consultant and Certified Empowerment Coach, what has been the toughest challenge you’ve faced to date, and do you think it made you stronger as instructor and mentor?

AB: The greatest challenge I’ve faced to date was in re-identifying who I really wanted to serve. Just as I coach many entrepreneurs to claim who they serve, I found myself serving aspiring entrepreneurs who were eating up my help and support but weren’t taking the opportunity to grow themselves, thus their business seriously enough to actually invest in themselves through my courses and private coaching offerings. As a result, I recognized that my ideal client profile will evolve as I continue to evolve, thus I need to follow my own advice and continue to refine this as I’m clarifying who the best fit is for me. So while I still work with entrepreneurs I now will work with any entrepreneur whether they are new, aspiring or slightly seasoned who recognizes that they are stuck, stalling, or spinning in the gap and need me to help them up level and push themselves through the knothole, thus the gap to get to the other side of it.

TCS: Can you share with us a time when the training or coaching you delivered resulted in significant bottom line results for an individual and/or company?

AB: Because most of my coaching is mindset there are a ton of victories I can share when my clients are stuck in a space of inactivity and spinning. The bottom line for them is STARTING and that in itself is a success! Most recently one of my clients who was playing small in their business, as a result of our time together with my coaching/consulting they increased their prices and are now set to push through the first level of six-figures this year!

About Frank Iacono

Frank Iacono - The Creative Spotlight

Frank Iacono is a highly skilled results-oriented Strategic Marketing Professional with proven critical thinking, problem solving, and project management skills, developed through more than 20 years of experience concentrated in integrated marketing strategies. Frank brings a thorough, hands-on understanding of marketing strategies and technological platforms as related to applications available for web design, content development, email marketing, site and campaign analytics, search marketing and optimization, service and product marketing, lead and demand generation, social media, and customer retention.

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