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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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.

Ages Apart: Alternative Rock Band

Written by: Frank Iacono

Ages-Apart

In 2006, Ages Apart came together to write and produce music that they felt people needed to hear. They wanted to impact and change a culture held captive by stagnant radio recycled pop sounds and bring to the world music with substance and depth, where not all band’s sound and look the same.

With that, Ages Apart balanced beauty and aggression on their critically acclaimed 2009 debut release Can You Hear Me. The album is packed full of singles that scream the whispered fears and guilty secrets of a disenfranchised generation. Guided by veteran producer Travis Wyrick, who has worked with P.O.D, 10 Years, and Pillar, the band achieved a sound both daring and familiar, at times introspective and at others furiously emotional.

Over the years Ages Apart has been together, they have toured through over 20 states and gained the attention of the industry. Black and White magazine calls them “Timeless”. Timothy Toutges of Ed Jones Productions in Nashville raves “Ages Apart is a world class band that will go all the way! This is what Rock & Roll dreams are made of”.

Now, Ages Apart returns in 2015 with their widely anticipated sophomore release S.T.A.T.I.C. — an intense and multidimensional narrative of a broken society. With words of truth, meaning, and inspiration in times of need for a disenchanted world, S.T.A.T.I.C. asks you to See Through All The Intelligent Chaos.

In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, I had the pleasure of interviewing Cody Webb, Will Bradley, and Chris Srygley of Ages Apart and asking them a few questions about their musical influences, their songwriting and recording process, their summer tour with Hinder, and their new CD S.T.A.T.I.C.

Q&A Session

The Creative Spotlight: Can you introduce us to the Ages Apart lineup and tell us what each person in the band does?

Ages Apart: The Ages Apart lineup consists of the following:

  • Cody Webb – Lead Singer & Guitarist
  • Will Bradley – Bassist
  • Chris Srygley – Drummer

Ages-Apart-Band

TCS: How did you come up with the band name Ages Apart and is there any specific meaning behind it?

Chris Srygley: The name Ages Apart came about because the original lineup varied in age, and came from different backgrounds musically and personally.

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

Will Bradley: Ages Apart is an Alternative Rock band. Fans mostly compare us to bands like 30 Seconds to Mars, Breaking Benjamin, and Shinedown.


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

Cody Webb: The current lineup has been together since 2011. I started the concept back in 2006 and Chris and I formed Ages Apart shortly thereafter in 2007. After an exhaustive search for a bassist, Marcus Chapman came in and filled the position. Marcus had to step down from his position in 2009 because of health issues. From 2009-2010 we had fill-ins tour with us until Will came on-board at the beginning of 2011. Will had been a fan of the band for years and was familiar with the material. He quickly became a permanent member of Ages Apart.

TCS: Cody, at what age did you realize that you wanted to be a musician? And, what famous musicians do you admire and how have they influenced you?

CW: I knew from the earliest that I can remember that I was going to be a part of the music world. I started beating on guitars before I could crawl and started writing songs around 7 years old. I have many influences in music but no one person, artist, or band really. My biggest influence is life.


TCS: Can you describe for us the Ages Apart song writing, recording, and video production process behind the song “Last Time” which appeared on the debut album Can You Hear Me?

CW: “Last Time” was written like most of our songs. I’ll come up with lyrics and vocal melodies and cut demos and start pre-production. After I have the arrangements set, we start studio production where everyone tracks their parts individually until we get the sound exactly how we want it.


TCS: What types of guitars, drums, and other musical equipment does Ages Apart use?

CW: I use Gibson and Taylor guitars, Marshall amps, TC Electronic effects, Lucid Audio Project and Spectraflex cables, SIT strings, Shure, and Line 6 mics. Will uses Fender basses, Acoustic brand amps, Lucid Audio Project cables, SansAmp effects/driver/DI, and Line 6 wireless systems. Chris uses Mapex drums, Vater sticks, Shure, Audix, and Sennheiser mics, Lucid Audio Project cables, and Zildjian cymbals.

The band is sponsored by and proudly uses Venue Magic for stage production and sound effects, Lucid Audio Project cables, Effect Audio IEM cables, CLS Road Cases, and Fishman pickups in our acoustic guitars.

TCS: Personally, one of my favorite songs off of Can You Hear Me is the track called “I Believed,” so can you share with us the meaning behind it?

CW: Everyone has their own interpretation and meaning of “I Believed” so I don’t want to take away from anyone’s personal experience of the song. To answer your question though, it’s essentially about putting your entire trust in someone, giving your all to them, to later find out that the person and relationship isn’t what you thought it was at all.


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

CW: Our live show for one. We work hard to give the fans a killer show experience leaving them with something to remember for the rest of their lives. We aim to not just deliver the music, but to make a connection with everyone that we can. Another thing that I think makes Ages Apart unique is that the sounds you hear on our records are real. We don’t use fake/replaced drums, auto-tune, or anything like that. What you hear is what was played.

TCS: Can you describe for us the background behind the song “How Long” which appears on your widely anticipated sophomore release entitled S.T.A.T.I.C.?

CW: “How Long” is about the loss of self-respect which results in a loss of respect for others and other things. It’s about the amount of attention we put towards things of little to no value instead of focusing on helping each other and working together to make the world a better place. It’s about the lack of appreciation and respect for those here before us that worked extremely hard and died so we can enjoy everything we take for granted today.


TCS: So, what does S.T.A.T.I.C. stand for and how did you decide on it for the album name?

CW: S.T.A.T.I.C. stands for See Through All The Intelligent Chaos. I came up with the title while working on final lyrics for the record. The message of the record is ultimately about less division and coming together as a human race.

TCS: From an artistic perspective, what was your favorite part in the making of S.T.A.T.I.C. and what is your favorite song off of the album?

CW: Our favorite part of making S.T.A.T.I.C. is that we got to record it exactly how we wanted. This time around, we had no outside influence. It’s really hard for me to nail down a favorite song. I love all of them and they all have different personalities.

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

CW: Although social media is a huge part of our outreach, we like to personally meet our fans. Our website is the hub of information and communication for us. We run our social media page so that’s where people can chat with us directly. Our merchandise is distributed through many stores throughout the world and that continues to grow daily.

To stay connected with Ages Apart, please visit the following:

Ages-Apart-The-Band

TCS: Share with us how excited you guys are to be touring with Hinder this summer and tell us how you landed the gig?

CW: We were very excited to have been on the road with Hinder this summer. It was a blast and those guys are good people. We’ve made a lot of new friends on this tour and are very thankful and proud to have been invited.

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

CW: We’d like to play Red Rocks in Colorado and would love to share the stage with Foo Fighters.

TCS: What does the short and long-term outlook look like for Ages Apart?

CW: We’ll continue touring in support of our new album S.T.A.T.I.C. and are constantly writing new material for the next record. Everyone checking out this interview, I invite you to grab a copy of our new album from your favorite retailer and come see a show.

Song List on S.T.A.T.I.C. (2015)

Ages-Apart-STATIC

  1. Civil War
  2. Wake Up
  3. How Long
  4. Victim
  5. Could It Be
  6. I’m Right Here
  7. Broken Home
  8. Where Do We Go
  9. This Is Goodbye
  10. Fight

Song List on Can Your Hear Me (2009)

Ages Apart - Can You Hear Me

  1. Intro
  2. Last Time
  3. Taking Me Down
  4. I Believed
  5. Letting Go
  6. My Own Disaster
  7. Torn
  8. Lost
  9. Burden
  10. Let Someone In

Booking Ages Apart

For booking information, please contact David Adkins at 503-983-3949 or via email at dadkins@integritymusicmanagement.com.

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.

Shaun Benson: Actor and Director

Written by: Frank Iacono and Celeste Iacono

Shaun Benson

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

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

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

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

Q&A Session

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

TCS: Describe for us your experience working on documentaries such as Flight of the Butterflies and Casting By.

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

COMEDY! COMEDY! COMEDY!

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

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

 

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

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

 

TCS: Can you tell us about any upcoming projects?

I’m currently shooting a number of episodes for Steven Soderbergh’s The Girlfriend Experience and just shot a cameo for a film called Back Country that should be out next year. Other than that Emmy Rouge will head to LA to record next month and my producing partners and I will begin our next film that I’ll direct.

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.

The Creative Spotlight: 2014 Review

Written by: Frank Iacono

the-creative-spotlight-recap-2014

In an article entitled “There’s Just No Explaining 2014,”by Pulitzer Prize-winning humor columnist and author Dave Barry, he described 2014 as a year of mysteries. To illustrate, Barry cited some of the more baffling occurrences including the invasion of the nation by the polar vortex, the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, the beheadings by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the viral acceptance of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, the security breech at the White House, the violent protests in Ferguson, Missouri, the arrival of the Ebola virus, and the monster snowstorm that dumped more than four feet of snow on Buffalo, New York.

Now when it comes to The Creative Spotlight there is no mystery. The goal of The Creative Spotlight is to introduce readers to local musicians, artists, 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 2015, we want to make sure that you did not miss any of the 13 articles from 2014. This blog includes a complete, categorized list of The Creative Spotlight posts that were published in 2014.

January2014

Emma Stevens: Singer and Songwriter

March 2014

Dayna Steele: Find Your Inner Rock Star

Nigel Bennett: Lead Rock Guitarist

April 2014

Dwayne Wimmer: Personal Trainer

May 2014

Almshouse: Original Rock-n-Roll

Scarletta: Top Nashville Trio

June 2014

Harry Francis Giovan: Singer and Songwriter

Tom’s Attic: Rock Cover Band

September 2014

Victoria Watts: Singer and Songwriter

October 2014

Chillin’ with Charlie: Rock Cover Band

Peter Beckett: Singer and Songwriter

November 2014

Robert C. Jackson: Contemporary Realist

kRUSH: A Tribute To Rush

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.

Jenn Bostic: Singer and Songwriter

Written by: Frank Iacono

jenn-bostic-singer-songwriter

Jenn Bostic, a singer and songwriter who was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania but raised in a small town 30 miles west of Minneapolis in Waconia, Minnesota, grew up singing with her family around the piano. Bostic’s career as a singer and songwriter began when she was 10 years old, in the back seat of her father’s car with her older brother on the way to school. A horrific crash that killed her dad, a hobby musician who taught her folk songs like “Sunny Side of the Street,” and turned her on to Emmylou Harris and Bonnie Raitt, changed the 25-year-old’s life forever.

“Losing my dad like that was the most painful moment in my life,” said Bostic, during a recent phone interview. “My dad was the first person to encourage me to play music and try different instruments.”

Bostic recalled that the first time she sat down at the piano after the accident; she shut her eyes and felt her dad’s presence next to her.

“Songwriting started as a therapy for me,” said Bostic. “I wrote songs that really dug deep for me. It was a way I could still connect with him. I still feel like I constantly have his voice around me.”

In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jenn Bostic and asking her a few questions about her musical influences, her passion for music, her career, her new CD release, and her upcoming performance at World Café Live.

Q&A Session

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

I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember. My family loved music and I still recall many sing-a-longs after dinner around my dad’s guitar. Unfortunately he passed away in a car accident when I was ten years old, and songwriting became the therapy that got me through that tragic time. The first time I sat down at the piano and started playing after I lost him, I know I wanted to play music forever.

jenn-bostic-performing

TCS: What famous musicians and/or bands do you admire and how have they influenced your music style and song writing?

My dad, Jim Bostic, was so talented! He could play any instrument he picked up. He and my mom always encouraged my brother Jeff and I to play, listen to, and respond to music. It was a huge blessing and created such an incredible outlet for both my brother and I after we lost our dad. I developed such an emotional connection with music that artists like Bonnie Raitt and Sarah McLachlan, who have an amazing way of emoting their lyrics, really influenced my performances. As I became more serious about my writing, I continued listening to their music along with Marc Broussard, Sara Bareilles, Jon McLaughlin, The Beatles, and so many more. I’m constantly learning new things and being influenced by the music I hear.

TCS: How would you describe your musical genre and sound?

I’m an emotive pop singer/songwriter. My first album “Keep Lookin for Love,” is definitely pop/country, but as I began to grow as an artist, I found myself writing more emotional pop songs that fit in the vein of Sara Bareilles, Regina Spektor and Missy Higgins. The musical genre lines continue to blur, and as long as the music is touching people I’m happy to fall into a few different categories.

TCS: In what ways have the places where you have lived (born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, raised in Waconia, Minnesota, and now live in Nashville, Tennessee) affected your musical tastes and the music in which you create?

I feel very blessed that I have had the opportunity to travel throughout my life. Aside from living in a few different places; being born in Philadelphia, growing up in Minnesota, studying at Berklee College of Music in Boston and now living in Nashville, Tennessee, being a touring musician brings me too many different areas and I have the opportunity to meet many different people. The more I experience, the more I have to write about. I am still growing and learning as a person, and in the same way my songs are growing with me. New cities, new experiences, new relationships find their way into the songs I’m creating.

TCS: How do you respond to South Carolina’s The Anderson Independent-Mail, the local newspaper for Anderson County, who described you as “too pop for country and too country for pop”?

I actually don’t recall that statement, I think they were quoting me because after the release of my first record, a few Nashville record labels told me I was “too pop for country and too country for pop.” This is the story I tell before performing the first track, “Change,” off my brand new record “Jealous.” It was a difficult thing to hear at that time, but looking back I’m so glad that comment was made. I had the opportunity to step back and reflect and remember why I fell in love with songwriting in the first place. “Jealous” is a collection of my best songs and really are little nuggets of my heart.

jenn-bostic-performing-on-stage

TCS: Tell us about how important your time at the famed Berklee School of Music in Boston, Massachusetts was for you as a singer, songwriter, and overall performer?

Studying at Berklee College of Music was an amazing experience. I learned so much in those four years. The relationships and friendships I made during my time there are still very present in my life today. I received a degree in Music Education from Berklee, as I love teaching kids and getting them excited about music. I’ve been able to use that experience to conduct a few songwriting clinics at different middle and high schools across the US. I was also very blessed with the chance to perform in both the Singer’s Showcase and Commencement Concert at Berklee.

During college I was also the lead singer of a country cover band called DiggerDawg. We played country/rock covers every weekend in bars across the east coast. We also traveled overseas to Kuwait and Iraq for an AFE tour in 2008 to perform for our troops. I was really able to experiment with my vocal and learned a lot about songwriting just by performing songs that had gained so much success night after night.

Jenn-Bostic-Jealous-CD

TCS: Take us behind the scenes in the making of your newly released sophomore CD entitled “Jealous”? What was your favorite part of its production and the most challenging from an artistic perspective?

“Jealous” is a collection of my best songs thus far. Most of them come from personal experience, including “Jealous of the Angels”, which is a tribute to my dad who passed away when I was ten. “Not Yet” is a song I wrote with my producer Barrett Yeretsian (Christina Perri, Andy Grammer), which is a hopeful anthem of encouragement to never give up on a dream. “Just One Day”, “Missin a Man”, and “Lips on Mine”, are all songs written for my husband who I’ve been married to for two years, each during a different season of our relationship. I put my heart and soul into that record and I am so excited to finally be sharing it with the world.

TCS: Recently you went back and performed with a full band in your hometown of Waconia, Minnesota! Incidentally that is where you filmed a memorable performance of the song “Jealous of the Angels” in honor of your father. How was that experience?

The video shoot for Jealous of the Angels was an emotional one. I had never shot a music video before, so it was a brand new experience in a very familiar environment on a very difficult subject matter. The video was filmed in my hometown of Waconia, Minnesota, in the house I grew up in, on the piano my dad taught me to play. There was a beautiful glittering snow with overcast skies most of the day, and just as we filmed at Dad’s gravesite, the sky opened up and this small patch of sun came down where we were. It really was a magical moment.

TCS: Personally, one of my favorite songs off of your 2009 debut CD release entitled Keep Lookin For Love is the track called “Never Too Late,” so can you share with us the meaning behind it?

It’s been so long since I wrote that song with my fellow Berklee grad Charlie Hutto. Charlie produced that first record and taught me so much about songwriting and the industry in general. He is a great friend, who shares the same values in life and faith that I do. I think we were in a conversation about forgiveness and how it’s never too late to make things right with someone. It’s been incredible to see people connect with different songs on each of the records, and I’m so glad that one connected with you.

Tell us all about your upcoming performance on Wednesday, August 14, 2013, at World Café Live Philadelphia where you be joined by Tim Williams and Ayla Brown?

Wednesday, August 14th is going to be a really special night. Tim Williams and Ayla Brown are two of my dearest friends and World Café Live is such an amazing venue. I’m so excited to be returning to Philadelphia and this time with strings!

Ticket Information

  • $20 – All Ages
  • Show starts at 8pm
  • Limited dinner menu and full bar available
  • Limited seating available first come first serve
  • All tickets are General Admission

Jenn Bostic

TCS: Tell us about your performance along with cowriter Damon Brown of the song “Join Hands” at the 4th Annual Thirst Gala in Beverly Hills, California, supporting the Thirst Project, an organization raising awareness and bringing a solution to the global water crisis?

Damon Brown was actually the choreographer for my high school show choir, which is how we initially met. When I moved to Nashville and started a career in songwriting, we had tossed around the idea of writing together. I love the chemistry of co-writing in person rather than via skype or email, and since he isn’t located in Nashville there wasn’t anything really pushing us to finish something. However, he introduced me to Seth Maxwell, the creator of Thirst Project, and proposed the idea of writing a song for the organization. I was so moved by the fact that 20% of the world’s population does not have clean water, and that Thirst Project is drilling wells in these communities, already providing clean water for over 100,000 people, that I felt compelled to do something to help. Songs come from anything that makes my heart beat faster, and it didn’t take Damon and I too long to come up with something that expressed our feelings toward the issue.

It was an honor to be asked to sing the song at this year’s gala, and to sing with the John Burroughs Powerhouse Show Choir made it unforgettable.

Jenn Bostic

TCS: During your career you’ve been very active in the United Kingdom; can you share with us your involvement with YoungMinds, an organization based in the UK which helps people to live life from a positive perspective?

YoungMinds is an organization that focuses on enhancing the emotional wellbeing and mental health of young people. This organization speaks to be, as I remember the difficulty of facing the tragedy of loss when my dad was killed in a car accident. I was so grateful to have music to help me through that, but I’m very aware of the fact that not everyone has that outlet and it’s important for grief and closure, that children find those outlets. YoungMinds does an amazing job in assisting these young people to do just that.

jenn-bostic-images

TCS: Tell us about how special it was performing Bonnie Raitt’s “Love Me Like a Man,” with the Grand Ole Opry house band during your debut at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee?

That performance was surreal. The Opry house band is made up of absolute legends! Those players are amazing and it was an honor to be standing on that stage, The Mother Church of Country Music. Bonnie Raitt is my absolute favorite singer, and I actually saw her live for the first time on that very stage 2 or 3 months prior to the performance. I honestly feel like I blinked and it was over, but it’s a moment I’ll never forget.

TCS: Share with us some of the major country recording artists that you’ve played with during your career. Any specific performances stand out? If so, please explain why.

Back in college when I was the lead singer of country/rock cover band DiggerDawg, we had the opportunity to do some sidestage performances at some major country artist concerts including Reba McEntire, Alan Jackson, Josh Turner, Brad Paisley, Sugarland and Gretchen Wilson. I think Gretchen Wilson has an incredible vocal and was a huge fan in college. That was probably my most favorite show to be a part of.

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

I haven’t recorded in too many strange places, but I have performed a lot of different venues. Each one has its own unique quirk and it’s hard to pinpoint the strangest, however I think it’s important to adapt and roll with the punches. My job as a performer is to share my heart and entertain whoever’s listening.

TCS: Right now, what aspect of making music excites you the most and what aspect of making music gets you the most discouraged?

Creating new music is such an exciting thing. To create a song out of thin air blows my mind. It’s so much fun to watch each song come to life. The music business is a bit of a rollercoaster, and some days are better than others. I try to focus on the positive and remember that I’m writing songs and singing them for a living. That always brings the spring back in my step.

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

“Can’t Make You Love Me”. I think it is the best song ever written.

TCS: Who would you most like to party with and why?

I don’t know how hard we would “party,” but I’d love to sit down with Bonnie Raitt to hear her stories and pick her brain.

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’ve got to revert back to Bonnie Raitt. She’s amazing. Her voice is unmistakable. I don’t think enough of the younger generations are hearing music like hers.

TCS: If you weren’t a musician, what do you think you would you be doing instead? And, please explain why.

Teaching music. I love doing it and have a degree in it, as I mentioned earlier. It’s so fulfilling to see someone learn something new musically and watch that light bulb go off.

TCS: What specific advice do you have for young female artists wanting to become singers, songwriters, and/or performers?

Make a promise to yourself never to give up. Perform for anyone who will listen and don’t ever stop learning new things.

The biggest thing I’ve learned as an artist is to stop worrying about what I think everybody else wants and to write music that I love. “When I started to focus on touching lives, that’s when things started happening, and that’s what makes me happy.”

Song List on Jealous (2013)

jenn-bostic-jealous

1. Change
2. Anywhere but Here
3. Jealous of the Angels
4. Not Yet
5. Wait for Me
6. Let’s Get Ahead of Ourselves
7. Snowstorm (Acoustic)
8. Give Me Back My Pride
9. Just One Day
10. Missin’ a Man
11. Lips on Mine

Song List on Change (2011)

jenn-bostic-change-ep

1. Let’s Get Ahead of Ourselves
2. Wait for Me
3. Jealous of the Angels
4. Change
5. Missin’ a Man
6. Snowstorm (Acoustic)

Song List on Keep Lookin’ for Love (2009)

jenn-bostic-keep-lookin-for-love

1. Wish I Would Have
2. Good for Somethin
3. Kiss My Rainy Day Away
4. Gay or Taken
5. Mess It Up With Love
6. Dance Like Nobody’s Watchin
7. Keep Lookin’ for Love
8. Never Too Late
9. Saturday With You
10. Lay It On Thick
11. My Brother & Me
12. Good In Goodbye

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.

Ten Toes Up: Funk-infused Rock Quartet

Written by: Frank Iacono

Ten Toes Up

During the summer of 2012, while vacationing with my family in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina we went to Plyler Park and had the pleasure of seeing Ten Toes Up. Ten Toes Up (TTU) is a funk-infused rock quartet from Murrells Inlet, South Carolina. With a nod to the rock bands of old, Ten Toes Up incorporates the funk of the 70’s mixed with southern rock and roll and the blue-eyed blues of the Allman Brothers. The instrumentation is percussion heavy with a dual-drumming rhythm section led by bass and guitar.

Ten Toes Up started with founding member’s drummer Adam Miller and bassist and vocalist Charles Freeman playing together in a small church in a small town. After playing with several different musicians around the beach, they invited percussionist and vocalist Joshua Gregory to join the band after he sat in to jam with them during a show at Drunken Jacks in Murrells Inlet. While playing a show in Charleston, South Carolina, William Craven sat in as lead vocalist and guitarist and was offered the job full time.

Ten Toes Up swept entertainment magazine The Surge’s 2011 reader’s choice awards winning best band, best lead singer, best drummer, best bass player, best song writer, best guitar player and best original band in Myrtle Beach. They’ve been featured both on the cover of The Surge and Coastal Business Life. The band has been endorsed by Haywire Custom Guitars, Hercules Stands, Clayton USA picks, Mental Case Road Cases, and Axekisser Guitar Cables.

Recently, Ten Toes Up rocked-out on ABC’s “LowCountry Live” on Fox’s “Not The News” and Time Warner Cable’s “Live at the Jam Room”. Three of their songs were played in daily rotation on a local TV station. Additionally, they’ve headlined at The House of Blues and their wide appeal has given them opportunities to share the stage with Uncle Kracker, The Wailers, JJ Grey and Mofro, the hip- hop star Twista, The North Mississippi Allstars, New Riders Of The Purple Sage, The Bod-eans, and Cowboy Mouth.

In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, I had the pleasure of interviewing Joshua Gregory, the percussionist and vocalist of Ten Toes Up, and asked him questions about the band’s unique sound, musical influences, favorite performers, passion for music, songwriting and upcoming projects.

Q&A Session

CS: How did you come up with the band name Ten Toes Up?

We bought an old moving company’s truck and it was called Ten Toes Up. We all are really laid back so we just went with it… (Fib). We honestly despise this question… sorry 🙂

Ten Toes Up Truck

CS: How would you describe your music genre (i.e., funk, rock, classic rock, alternative, hard rock, etc.)?

Our music is eclectic, we like traditional sounds as well as some more modern. We would like to be known as rock, just rock and nothing but rock but, it’s all subjective. We have been described as roots rock, whatever the hell that means.

TTU in Plyler Park

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

We all admire real rock bands of old including, Led Zeppelin, Allman Brothers Band, The Rolling Stones, Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, and many more… Some of our more recent influences include Jack White, The Black Keys, Cage The Elephant just to name a few.

CS: How do you market TTU songs, albums, merchandise, and appearances (i.e., Band Website, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn, or advertising such as print and online marketing?

Pretty much all of those things. Our website www.TenToesUp.com; it has links to all of those sites as well as iTunes and an online store. Obviously though, Facebook rules all.

You can also visit us on the following sites too:

CS: On your website, tell us what your fans can do or learn about TTU?

Mainly it’s set up to be a quick look at our tour dates. We do have artist information pages and personal bios if you want to get all stalker and find out where we’re all from; and our favorite color is green.

Ten-Toes-Up-Website

CS: Take us through some highlights of the 2011 studio album Sleeping Lion including the hit “Set Me On Fire”?

The Sleeping Lion record was the first time we hired a producer instead of self-producing it all. We had Danielle Howle, a local SC music legend , come in and work with re-writing songs and filling in the spaces that we were having trouble with. It’s funny you specifically asked about Set Me On Fire because that is actually her singing the background vocals and it ended up being one of our all-time favorite tracks.

CS: During a benefit show at the Charleston Aquarium you performed what Ten Toes Up calls a signature move can you expand on that?

Basically it started as an accident that worked out great. A few years ago Joshua was doing a drum solo and asked Charles if he could slap some of his bass strings while he held a chord. Somehow it really worked out and it brought down the house. Since then, it has flourished into its own entity, becoming a signature part of our live show.

Ten Toes Up Joshua

CS: What is the best and worst part of being a musician?

Well the obvious, getting to do what we love for a living is definitely the best part! Sometimes people tell us that our music gets them through a bad day or helped them through tough times. There is no better feeling then someone saying your music makes them feel good, or puts a smile on their face!

One of the worst parts is probably the whole 3rd shift lifestyle. Needless to say we eat dinner at 3am a lot. Traveling is also fun, but it wears on you after a while, being away from our families and all. Careful what you wish for kiddies, it’s not all glitz and glamour trust us!

CS: What is the most exciting project you’ve worked on to date?

Well we did a few showcases in Nashville this January. From that, we found a producer who really liked our sound and wanted to work with us. We went back in May and recorded a 12 song full length album at the infamous Sound Emporium studio. This is by far the biggest thing we have ever done. The record is being mixed and mastered now, and should be out later this fall!

Ten-Toes-Up-The-Band

CS: 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?

Jack White and The Raconteurs self-titled album” The Raconteurs ”

CS: What aspect of making music excites and discourages you the most?

The exciting part is creating a new sound or different approach, the discouraging part is realizing it’s already been done before when you are finished! You know it’s awesome when you write a song and one of your band mates says that sounds just like… (fill in the blank)

CS: Describe the last time you wrote a song highlighting how it came about and describe how it turned out?

The last song we wrote collectively was an instrumental. We were asked by our producers in Nashville to write one for the new record. It ended up being one of our favorite songs to record and was just all around fun! The instrumental is based on a true story using sounds as emotions and dialogue. Sorry, can’t really tell you what the story is about because there might be a hint of incriminating evidence involved.

Ten-Toes-Up-The-Band-Playin

CS: What’s the most unusual place TTU has ever played or made a recording? How did the qualities of that place affect the show/recording (i.e., please describe where, what happened and how TTU handled it)?

Can’t really think of an unusual place, we did open up for JJ Grey and Mofro at the Greenfield Lake Amphitheater and it poured down rain on us in the middle of our set. To this day people that were at that show said that was one of the coolest rock and roll moments they have ever seen. The bottom dropped out on us and we didn’t skip a beat, fear of electrocution and all!

CS: During appearances, does TTU play a combination of cover songs and originals? If so, what is the blend of covers to originals?

In our home market we are very lucky to have made a mass of fans that enjoy our original songs. There aren’t really any other working bands in this area that do what we do. Any given night you will usually hear 80/20 percent of originals to covers.

CS: Musically what is TTU up to right now (current or upcoming recordings, tours, extravaganzas, experiments, top-secret projects, etc.)?

Our biggest thing right now is we need a national booking agent. We have offers to play from here to Oregon but putting it all together is the hardest part. We have a live album being released in a week and, like we said before, our big Nashville album is due to come out later in the fall. We hope this album helps us find representation and gets some radio play in markets we haven’t been to yet (so when we do show up they will already know the musical styling’s of Ten Toes Up!)

Ten-Toes-Up-The-Band-playin

CS: Does anyone in the band ever get nervous before a performance or a competition? If so, how do he and/or the band deal with that extra adrenaline?

Sure we all deal with nerves from time to time but honestly I think we all feel more at home on stage than anywhere else. It’s in our blood to be performers and it’s what we do best!

CS: How do you think our world would be if music was never invented? And, why?

Music is one of the few things that everyone on this planet can relate to. I can’t think of a time when a war was started because of different tastes in music. Now you through religion into the mix and BOMBS away!! A world without music is nowhere any of us would want to live, especially because we would be out of a sweet job!

CS: How often and for how long do you practice as a band?

Most of our rehearsing is done in the offseason. We work really hard during the summer months so we try not to burn ourselves out.

CS: If you weren’t musicians what would each of you be doing?

Adam – History teacher
William (BJ) – Engineer
Charles – Chef
Joshua – Gigolo

Ten-Toes-Up-The-Band-Member

CS: What advice would you give to kids wanting to start a band?

Don’t! Rock and roll is dead and pay attention in school! (just kidding) Our first bit of advice is to find some people you get along with. Being in a band is like being married to four people at the same time and you have to keep them all happy.. Most importantly leave your egos at the door and have fun. If you’re having a blast your energy will spread through the crowd like wildfire. If your attitude is bad it will have the same effect on your audience.

Song List on Live Volume 2

Ten-Toes-Up-Live

1. Set Me On Fire
2. Alabama Roads
3. Instant Karma
4. Jesse James
5. Struggles
6. Walk Again
7. Secrets
8. Sleeping Lion
9. Howlin’ For You

Song List on Sleeping Lion (2011)

Ten-Toes-Up-Sleeping-Lion

1. I Know You’re Coming With Me
2. Set Me On Fire
3. Sleeping Lion
4. The Fortune Is Easy
5. Walk Again
6. Feel It All Over
7. Twenty-One
8. Emma Be Patient
9. Just a Woman
10. Make You Happy
11. Carolina Mess
12. Struggles

Song List on Bridges & Breakdowns (2008)

Ten Toes Up Bridges & Breakdowns

1. Summertime
2. 1939
3. Don’t You Realize
4. Can You Help Me
5. Waiting for the Sun
6. Homeless
7. Slow Sunday Drivers
8. Alabama Roads
9. One Drink a Day
10. Pleased to Meet You
11. Soldier

Song List on Trip On Troubles (2006)

Ten Toes Up Trip On Troubles

1. Secrets
2. Gracene
3. Trip On Troubles
4. Devil’s Tea
5. She Was Right
6. Faith Is
7. Places
8. Knows the World

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.

Jordan White: Singer, Songwriter and Guitarist

Written by: Frank Iacono

Jordan White

Jordan White, an American rock musician and singer-songwriter, was born in Cranford, New Jersey and raised in Nazareth, Pennsylvania where he learned to play guitar and classical piano. White’s smooth energetic vocals pay homage to the eloquent confessional singer-songwriter movement of the 1970’s blended with a vibe from the alternative rock explosion brought on by likes of bands such as Nirvana and Counting Crows.

In February 2010, Jordan White’s original song “September” recorded with KineticBlu, was selected by Sony Music/Red Distribution for inclusion on a national release of hot new musical acts. The song put the PA-based band into the spotlight with over 1.5 million hits on Myspace. In August 2010, White himself was nominated for three 2010 Lehigh Valley Music Awards for Best Songwriter, Best Lyricist, and Best Band Website, being chosen amongst 3,000 other fan and industry nominees. White performed at the awards ceremony on December 5, 2010 in which was well received.

In May of 2012, White released his EP, entitled “Four Songs” which includes new songs,” “Maybe, Amy,” “Bloodshot,” “Before I Go Out” and “No Promises”. White’s songs contain moments of pop and the flavor of southern rock paired with plenty of clean guitar licks and riffs which unravel among piano and the singer’s clear and distinctive sound.

During his career, White has shared the stage and opened for national acts such as Third Eye Blind, Vertical Horizon, Bowling For Soup, Sharon Little, Ryan Star, and American Idol runner-up contestants Katharine McPhee and Crystal Bowersox.

In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, I had the pleasure of interviewing the singer, songwriter and guitarist to ask him a few questions about his musical influences, his favorite performers, his passion for music, his career and his latest EP release.

Q&A Session

CS: How old were you when you first developed an interest in playing music? And, what was the first instrument you learned to play?

I was probably around two years old when I began singing. I would sing randomly anywhere, anytime, or so I’m told. Often in grocery stores while my mom was pushing me around in the shopping cart. The first instrument I learned was the keyboard. During 2nd grade for my birthday, my parents bought me one of those little Casio keyboards and I sort of self taught myself how to play it. At least as far as I could go at that age. It wasn’t until I was around 12 years old that I got my first guitar and actually took lessons, then I also began taking piano lessons too.
Jordan White
CS: What are your favorite Groups, Performers and Albums?

I can actually tell you what my top 5 favorite albums ever are, in no particular order:

The musicians in that list all are very important to me, both emotionally and in an inspirational sense. They all put on fantastic live shows, sometimes so over the top, it can put you in a bit of a “fog” for a day or two after until that high slowly dissipates. I can tell you the greatest show I have ever seen was the Counting Crows playing in eastern Pennsylvania maybe 6 years ago. It was the last show of their long U.S. tour and they just gave it everything they had.

CS: What famous musicians do you admire and how have they influenced you personally and professionally?

I really admire someone like Jackson Browne because he’s always managed to keep it about the music. When Jackson Browne comes around touring, it’s not this huge circus; it’s clear the people there are there for the music. I saw him perform live just recently, solo, on the guitar and piano. He played all his hits and all the more obscure fan favorites. It was as intimate as if he was sitting around playing songs in your living room. Browne is one of the most profound lyricists of his generation and his singing flows out effortlessly.


CS: How would you describe your music genre (i.e., funk, rock, classic rock, alternative, hard rock, etc.)?

I describe our sound as if a 1970’s confessional singer-songwriter blended with a more grandiose alternative band from the 1990’s. I think the 1970’s and the 1990’s were the best decades for music, even now in 2012. Of course I wasn’t around in the 1970’s but I had my father’s records to draw me into that period. As far as my music, it’s very lyrically oriented. I spend a lot of time on the lyrics because what I’m saying is just as important to me as what you’re hearing.

CS: How do you market your songs, albums, merchandise, and appearances (i.e., website, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, MySpace, iTunes, LinkedIn, or advertising such as print and online marketing)?

You just keep plugging along until good things happen. We live in a very different time now than we did in say, 1996; the music industry has changed so dramatically. The problem with the transition between 1996 and now is that the music industry failed to recognize the changes as they were happening and therefore had no way to capitalize on it. Four years ago, it was all about MySpace if you were in a band. I know. I was a featured artist on their website which millions and millions of people saw. And then, just a few years later, MySpace is basically on life support. I can’t tell you the last time I heard someone mention anything about it to me. Facebook just rushed in and took over, using MySpace as the template for what you DON’T want to do, and so far it’s worked.

Fans can also reach me on my website (shown below) at JordanWhiteMusic.com, Twitter.com/JordanFWhite, ReverbNation.com/JordanWhiteMusic and on Wikipedia.

Jordan White

There are still traditional ways to promote your music too. Hanging fliers, selling tickets and CD’s out of the back of your car, and the whole word of mouth thing. So both of these can still apply to music marketing even in the year 2012. Know who your fans are, and where they are.

CS: On your website, tell us what your fans can do or learn about you and your music?

Well we’ve compiled a list of “frequently asked questions” or FAQ that anyone can check out; some of the questions are trivial and some of them are heavier. The website is updated daily so anytime you log on you’ll have the most current information available. I also can be contacted via e-mail which is Comments@jordanwhitemusic.com and if I have the time I will answer personally.

CS: What is the most exciting project you’ve worked on to date?

I’ve done some amazing things. As far as the most exciting, I guess it depends on your point of view. I’ve sang for thousands of people with confetti falling through the air in Ocean City, Maryland on New Year’s Eve which was just insane, and I’ve also played intimate acoustic performances for smaller groups of people where I just fell “in the groove”. If I had to pick one singular thing, it would probably be the recent recording sessions of the new “Four Songs” EP. I waited many years to finally be in a position to make a record I really wanted to make. And I hope just as much that other people like it too. “Four Songs” is now available on iTunes, Amazon and CDBaby.com.

CS: 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 really really dig Ritchie Valens. Sure his career only lasted a few months but he had such potential. There was even the 1987 Bio-opic film about his life, La Bamba which was my favorite movie when I was a little kid. One day my dad came home from work with the official “La Bamba” soundtrack (performed by Los Lobos) and I was hooked. I played it over and over until people finally told me to shut up. I think Valen’s song “Donna” is one of the greatest pop songs ever written.

CS: What aspect of making music excites and discourages you the most?

Nothing discourages me about making music! I do it for the release of energy and to get the things stuck inside of my head out on paper where it seems easier to file, and put in the proper places, sometimes.

Jordan White

CS: What are the names of other bands that you’ve played in?

I’ve been involved in quite a few bands. To name a few of them: Three Sided Letters, Jaded Son, The Fuzzy Bunny Slippers, Black & White Letters, KineticBlu. And of course I’ve done lots of solo work. View photos of Friends and Fans.

CS: How would you describe the local music scene in Pennsylvania? And, how has it helped you develop as an artist?

Well it’s probably not the easiest place to be a musician. There’s a big cover band scene especially around the Philadelphia area, and of course the resort towns a long the Jersey shore. I was in one of the bigger cover bands for awhile and it’s fairly controversial. There’s lots of people who hate them and lots of people who go out to see them play. There’s some musicians who refuse to play anyone else’s songs, and then there’s those who ONLY play other people’s songs. I think a mixture of both is a good idea, and at our shows we play a good amount of cover songs mixed in with our originals. I’ve had many good opportunities playing music in Pennsylvania, and the state has produced a lot of great bands that went onto sell millions of records, but so has New Jersey, where I’m originally from.

CS: Describe the last time you wrote a song highlighting how it came about and describe how it turned out?

I recently wrote a song called “Whiskey on the Way” – the title came from a random conversation about literally well, picking up some whiskey on the way to a gig. The song sort of revolved around the notion of taking things day to day after some kind of traumatic event and sometimes things get so hectic you just have to “get it on the way” – whatever it may be.

CS: Is there a specific message you want your songs to convey to your fans?

The songs are largely introspective, they are very much about the self. I just try to describe the world around me, and the people and things inside of it. Because we may see different things, but we all see some of the same things. And there’s always a new way of writing about it.

Jordan White

CS: What’s the most unusual place you’ve ever played or made a recording? How did the qualities of that place affect the show/recording (i.e., please describe where, what happened and how you handled it)?

Probably opening up for Asher Roth, the “I Love College” song guy. That was quite an experience.

CS: Do you ever get nervous before a performance or a competition? If so, how do you deal with that extra adrenaline?

Do I ever get nervous? Sure, sometimes. It all depends on the environment and maybe even my mood prior to the show. Sometimes I’ll get a few butterflies right before I start playing at a place I’ve never played at before. Sometimes I don’t. If people are listening and engaged, that calms me down. To be honest, I like to have a beer or two before I start a gig. I’m not sitting there pounding whiskey or anything, but I like to sip on a Miller Lite or something. I also find it funny because sometimes I’ll get nervous playing for a smaller crowd than an enormous one. I’m not sure why that is, maybe it’s some kind of psychological deflection.

CS: In 2006, you advanced to the third round of American Idol: Season 5 so tell us about that experience and why you’ve since publicly criticized the selection techniques used by producers of the show?

Sure. First, the problem is American Idol is misleading. You think that you show up to some room and get to sing for Simon, Randy & Paula (who were the judges at the time) but in reality they put contestants through months of “rounds” before you get to the point, singing in front of other people who are supposed to be producers. Also, the selection techniques of who got to go through was a little bizarre. I personally heard the producers pass on some of the greatest singers I had ever heard, mostly women, for whatever reason. Then they go and let what we called at the time the “bad people” through to see Simon, Randy & Paula, with full knowledge that they would be rejected and humiliated because it was clear to anyone within 100 yards of this person that they couldn’t sing. All for the ratings, I guess. You also had to sign a contract that said you had no legal recourse and be subjected to public humiliation in the event you were one of those “bad people” on the TV show. My friend who made it through a few rounds as well was in the group with Sanjaya, and he told me that the producers made him tease his hair all wild like it was that one season. So just remember, it’s not what it seems.

CS: Can you talk about your philanthropic activities citing a recent performance in which you shared the stage with American Idol: Season 9 runner-up Crystal Bowersox, indie rockers Hawthorne Heights and singer Carmen Magro at the Stabler Arena in Bethlehem, PA benefiting juvenile diabetes?

Over the years, I’ve played at plenty of fund-raising events. I remember back in the winter of 2010 I played a benefit to support victims of the devastating earthquake in Haiti. Wyclef Jean ran that one with the American Red Cross. Then later that summer, I performed at the “Songs For The Spill” event which raised funds for the BP oil disaster. There was also a show for juvenile diabetes with a couple of the American Idol winners and runner-ups in 2011.

CS: Tell us how your original song “September” was released nationally through Sony Music/BMG/Red Distribution on iTunes, Napster, Rhapsody, and Amazon among 20 other major online MP3 retailers?

Well, “September” had racked up quite a few plays on MySpace; I’m talking like 2 million. Because of that, MySpace made me the “featured artist” for a day or two on the site. Now this was back in 2008 when MySpace was one of the most popular websites in the world, and a subsidiary of Sony Music came across the song and asked me if I’d like it included on a compilation CD. A few weeks later, the paper came across my desk and I signed them, and the rest is history.

CS: In April 2012, you finished recording your new EP entitled “Four Songs” with producer Scott Tice and released it on July 4, 2012, so how proud are you of the tracks “Maybe Amy”, “Bloodshot”, “Before I Go Out”, and “No Promises” from an artistic perspective?

I’m proud of the new EP “Four Songs“, it was the record I’d been waiting to make for a long time. Musically, they are a very diverse group of songs, and a lot of talented musicians worked on the project.

CS: Tell us about the meaning behind the last track on the EP called “No Promises” and describe the writing and recording process?

No Promises” is a bitter piano ballad about someone who just tosses you aside, someone who let you down, someone you can’t trust. Specifically, I wrote it about getting back together with an ex. As we know, if a relationship ended a first time, there’s a good chance it will end a second time. So that’s why I called it “No Promises” because in that type of situation there really aren’t any. The song recalls specific memories when I realized the relationship was deteriorating and it was out of my hands. The final verse ends with “You gave me no promises / and you kept them all.”

To read some of the song “meanings” & interpretations, please go here.

Jordan White

CS: What types of guitars, pianos, and other musical equipment do you use?

I am sponsored by Martin Guitar so currently I’ve been performing with a Martin OMC3 from their Performing Artist series, which is an absolutely beautiful instrument with a wonderful bright sound, and I also have Gibson acoustic I practice on. I play a modified Fender Telecaster Deluxe for electric guitar; I play a full size 88-key Yamaha P-60 grand stage piano and a Casio CTK-7000 keyboard/synthesizer/workstatio For live sound equipment, we use Shure microphones, Behringer amplifiers and Yamaha speakers and monitors. I also use a Shure wireless inner-ear monitor which is very useful for the larger shows. For live shows, you can’t go wrong with Shure products.

CS: During your musical career have you been nominated and won any awards?

I’ve been nominated several years in a row for best songwriter and best male vocalist in the Lehigh Valley Music Awards although I have not yet won. This year, I’ve been nominated in 3 categories: Best Lyricist, Best Singer-Songwriter and Best Folk Band/Soloist. To cast your vote through 10/15, please go here. I’ve also been nominated for the Bucks/Montgomery Music Awards; there’s a lot of talented musicians in the area. Our band KineticBlu did win Alternative Addiction.com’s “Next Big Thing” award where around 40,000 people cast votes for their favorite band online. We were up against a bunch of other bands and we came out on top. For more information, please read my Press page.

CS: If you weren’t a musician what would you be doing?

I think I’d be a flower delivery guy. Everywhere you go, people would be happy to see you!

CS: What do you think our world would be like if music was never invented? And, why?

Well, the first time a caveman banged two rocks together in a particular pattern, they didn’t know it, but they made music. Because music is really just organized sound. Though if the world had never seen actual music, such as classical or rock n’ roll, well it would be a very bleak place. We’d be a lot worse off than we are now with the state of things.

CS: What advice do you have for kids wanting form a band and get into the music business?

Do what you’re best at. If you’re a better guitar player than a singer, then play guitar and find a singer. And vice-versa. Also there’s a lot more than just playing music when you’re in a band with big dreams. There’s business and a lot that goes on behind the scenes that needs to be taken care of. You really can’t just show up at gigs and expect that to work out for you all the time. You need to form connections with experienced people in the business and learn from them, and you will grow.

Song List on Four Songs EP (2012)

Jordan White: Singer, Songwriter and Guitarist

1. Maybe, Amy
2. Bloodshot
3. Before I Go Out
4. No Promises

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.

Tim Williams: Singer, Songwriter and Guitarist

Written by: Frank Iacono

Tim Williams

Since releasing his debut independent EP entitled We Begin back on July 1, 2009, to a packed house downstairs at World Café Live in Philadelphia, Tim Williams has been busy building a loyal and enthusiastic fan base. Tim’s tireless desire and passion for performing keeps him on the live music circuit constantly — playing approximately 300 live shows annually.

Through the years, Tim has become a mainstay at Manayunk’s Bourbon Blue on Sunday Nights and has performed at renowned local venues such as World Café Live, Tin Angel, The Trocadero, Milkboy, Steel City, The Grape Room, Dawson St. Pub, The Note and Riverstage at Penn’s Landing. Tim regularly embarks on national acoustic tours, having played all over the United States and beyond. His travels have landed him as the musical guest at The Second City Mainstage in Chicago as well as The Bitter End and Rockwood Music Hall in New York City.

Tim has received solid regional radio play thanks to 93.7 WSTW’s Mark Rogers of Hometown Heroes, Wendy Rollins at Radio 104.5 FM Philadelphia and 93.3 WMMR’s Jaxon’s Local Shots the Podcast. In 2011, Tim was chosen as a finalist in Wawa’s Welcome America Contest thru Live Nation and he was voted into the Final Four thru Radio 104.5’s Local Band Search in both 2011 and 2012. On July 28, 2012, Tim and his band performed to 10,000 people at the Radio 104.5 Summer Block Party as direct support for JJAMZ and Of Monsters and Men.

In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, I had the pleasure of interviewing the singer, songwriter and guitarist to ask him a few questions about his childhood musical influences, his favorite performers, his passion for music, his career and his upcoming CD release of Blue Ribbon at World Café Live.

Q&A Session

TCS: Take us back to when you first started playing guitar and fell in love with the instrument? And, what was the first tune you learned to play?

My first guitar was a Black Fender Squire Electric with a White Pick guard and a whammy bar. A very cool guitar for an 8 year old! I remember learning “One” (an instrumental) by Metallica and “Every Rose Has It’s Thorn” by Poison.

TCS: Did you decide early on that playing guitar in a band was going to be your life?

I didn’t consider pursuing it as a career until after college when I was in my early 20s.

TCS: What was the first genre of music you loved?

I grew up listening to Don Henley, Journey, Bruce Springsteen, etc… through my parents. The first tapes that I bought were Guns N’ Roses, Poison, Metallica,
etc…

TCS: Who were some of your early musical influences? And, why?

Pearl Jam TEN really woke me up musically. So did Counting Crows, Matchbox 20 and a lot of mid 90s alternative rock.

TCS: When was the first time you stepped onstage?

It was during a 3rd Grade Talent Show at Uwchlan Hills Elementary School in Downingtown, PA. It was in the middle of the Gulf War and I sang "God Bless the USA" by Lee Greenwood.

TCS: Why do you think the guitar became such an important part of your life? And, what motivates you to continue doing what you do?

The guitar was always a means to an end for me as a singer. I’ve been taking piano lessons for the last year now to back-learn that instrument as well. I guess to answer your question; music is such a big part of everyone’s life that being able to play an instrument really connects you to that aspect of life… You can be a part of the soundtrack. It’s a form of expression but it’s also a form of nostalgia. Maybe even more so.

Tim Williams: Singer, Songwriter and Guitarist

TCS: If you weren’t a musician what would you be doing instead?

I initially set out to be an actor. I’ve done quite a bit of theater, TV and film. But if I were to get away from the arts all together… hmmm. I wanted to be an astronaut as a kid! Then I realized I’m afraid of heights. These days I find myself reading a lot of Physics / Science books. So I think in another life I would’ve been a Quantum Physicist or Astronomer.

TCS: How did the current band lineup come together?

Sachino “Cellonator” Tsinadze (cello) and Clay McElwee (lead guitar) were the original band members. I was bartending and gigging at Agave Grill in Amber, PA and we met there. Matt Galletti (drums) and I did a musical together at St. Joseph’s University. He was in the pit band and I was making a cameo as an alumni. Kat Bowman (keys) is my producer/friend Matt Santry’s keyboard player/teacher. Pete Ahern (bass) is a friend of a friend I met 5+ years ago and he’s in a killer full-time band called Kristen and the Noise… so I split bass time with him and Sean Smith whom I met on the local music scene through mutual friends. Dan O’Brien rounds out the band on guitar/mando/vocals and is a friend on the local music scene. I also play with Mr. Mike on Cajon (Latin percussion) on acoustic tours and Val Vuolo on fiddle.

TCS: Could you share with us your connection with Clay McElwee, who was recently featured in a previous edition of The Creative Spotlight?

Clay McElwee has been a close friend, guitar teacher, band mate and mentor in many ways to me over the last half decade. He’s a guy that has taught me quite a bit about guitar (2 years’ worth of lessons) and we’ve shared the stage probably 100 times. We met by happenstance while I was bartending in Ambler as he would come through as his acoustic duo “Clay Pigeons”. I could tell how good he was and luckily got him on board with my band!

TCS: Do you have a favorite style of guitar? If so, please describe why it is your favorite and why it is so special to you?

I love Acoustic, open tunings and dynamic, hard/fast strumming patterns – i.e. Glen Hansard, Matt Nathanson, etc. It’s emotive. It’s also highly relatable to me because most nights I’m out there solo with an acoustic guitar in my hand.

TCS: Describe the last time you wrote a song highlighting how it came about and describe how it turned out?

I usually write the music first and hum the vocal melody. The song “Course Correct” (conveniently available on iTunes! Hint hint) came about this year on St. Patty’s day. I was playing a Country Club and no one was listening. So, I hit record on my phone’s voice recorder and improved a song for 4 minutes. I sang gibberish and barely rhymed it – if anyone had been listening they would’ve thought I’d lost my mind. But, I went home that night and listened back with my guitar and notebook in hand. Because of that improv session, the backbone of that tune was written that night. It took another couple of weeks to iron out the structure/lyrics. That was the most unconventional way I’ve written. Usually I have an idea of a verse or chorus, I record it, and come back to it when I’m feeling it… but those usually don’t amount to full songs. I will say though that any song that I’ve recorded has come together in one sitting (most of it). There’s something to be said about feeling it in the moment and getting it down on paper (or recording it) when you’re feeling creative.

TCS: Can you share with us your song recording process?

I work with producer Matt Santry out of Tin Ace City Studios. We start by recording scratch acoustic demos with just guitar and vocals to a click track to lock in a tempo. From there we record drums and bass together over at East Coast Recording Company with James Cravero. From here we layer. Keys, Electric Guitar, etc… lastly I sing and add harmonies. We don’t record the record live because the parts aren’t written until we go into the studio. I’m primarily a solo musician so the orchestrations are collaboration between me, Matt and the musicians in the studio. That’s always a fun process discovering which direction we are taking the tunes. When it’s all said I done, I use Sterling Sound in NYC to Master.

TCS: What’s the most unusual place you’ve ever played or made a recording? And, how did the qualities of that place affect the show/recording (i.e., please describe where, what happened and how you handled it)?

I play about 300 shows a year so there have been many strange gigs in the last few years. One of the most special was last October with the show I play music for, My Fix It Up Life (myfixituplife.com) . We were invited to Joplin, MO to take part in rebuilding Cunningham Park for Extreme Makeover: Home Edition’s final 200th episode. Mr. Mike and I played a full gig on a working construction site to hundreds of volunteers, crew and cast members of the show. That experience led to the song "Joplin" on my latest CD, Blue Ribbon.

Tim Williams: Singer, Songwriter and Guitarist

TCS: How does the size of the venue and/or audience affect your performance?

Smaller venues like Tin Angel or Bourbon Blue are fun because you get direct interaction with individual audience members. I usually prefer these because it’s a more intimate, laid back, personal experience for both me and the audience. This summer we played to 6,000 people at the Piazza at Schmidt’s for Radio 104.5’s Summer Block Party and that was at the complete opposite end of the spectrum. But I have to say, those 30 minutes was the most fun I’ve ever had on stage. Playing to that many people can NEVER get old. Everyone in the crowd puts out this great energy and you feed off of it on stage.

TCS: Do you have a big record collection? And, what bands are you listening to today on your iPod?

I have a record collection handed down from my parents of about 100 records. On my iPod, these days, I’m listening to Butch Walker, Ryan Bingham, Drew Kennedy, Simplified (playing World Café with us Sept. 26th), Colin Hay, fun., Mat Kearney, The Script, Ryan Star & Needtobreathe.

TCS: What’s your favorite song? And, why?

That’s tough. “Heart of the Matter” by Don Henley reminds me of my parents and is a song I remember hearing very early on… “Thunder Road” by Bruce Springsteen reminds me of home back in Monmouth Beach, NJ… “Best Thing You Never Had” by Butch Walker is my favorite song to see performed live.

TCS: How do you market your songs, albums, merchandise, and appearances (i.e., website, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn, or advertising such as print and online marketing (list all available web properties)?

Everything gets routed through TimWilliams.com – it’s my marketing home. Facebook, Twitter, etc… it’s all linked up through there.

TCS: On your website, tell us what fans of you and your music can do or learn about Tim Williams?

Head over to Timwilliams.com and sign up for my mailing list, visit the BIO page to read up about me, the MEDIA page to read this article along with videos, songs and lyrics… and "follow" me on Twitter @timgwilliams or "like" my on facebook.com/officialtimwilliams to stay up to date.

Tim Williams: Singer, Songwriter and Guitarist

TCS: You’ve been a staple on the north east’s music scene for some time now, playing 300 live shows annually so who have you shared a stage with during you career?

Of Monsters and Men, JJAMZ, Ryan Star, Jeffrey Gaines, Kevin Hearn of Barenaked Ladies), Diane Birch, Adam Kowalczyk (formerly of Live), Tim Blane, Bronze Radio Return, Jenn Bostic, Shovelhook, and many, many more great people. Some of these gigs have been thanks to Radio 104.5 and World Café Live.

TCS: Tell us about some of your recent TV and radio performances?

I’ve been shown a lot of love from the TV show Eye Opener on PHL17! I’ll be back on Tuesday Sept. 25th to promote my World Café Live CD Release show. I’ve been seen on NBC’s the 10! Show in Philly with my band, the NBC 10pm News, and have performed in studio at Radio 104.5, 93.7 WSTW Hometown Heroes with Mark Rogers, and 1370 AM The Buzz with Mike Holliday. I travel the country with Mark and Theresa Clement of “My Fix It Up Life” as their house band… and because of that role I’ve been lucky enough to appear on Restaurant: Impossible on the Food Network and perform for 4 “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” builds.

TCS: How special is it going back to your alma mater St. Joseph’s University and singing the National Anthem before Men’s and Women’s Basketball Games?

It’s surreal actually. It wasn’t too long ago when I was the red shirt wearing, painted face screaming freshmen in the stands cheering on Jameer Nelson. To be back singing is an honor I don’t take for granted. The Hawk Will Never Die!

TCS: So, how did you get involved with hosting open mic night on Thursday nights at Original Baxter’s Paoli on Rt. 30 at the corner of Rt. 252? And, describe for us what types of acts are featured?

I had been playing Baxter’s on Thursday nights for about the last 3 years thanks to Red phone Entertainment, a local booking agency… it slowly started gaining a following of local musicians that would come out and sit in for a song or two. After a few months of this we decided that the natural progression was to make it an official open mic. We get piano players, song writers, guitar players… We’ve had a 4 year old sing before and just last week we had our first stand-up comedian! It’s always a great time… and I encourage anybody who’d like to come out, regardless of age or ability, to do so.

TCS: How excited are you about the upcoming release of your second studio album and first full-length release, Blue Ribbon, due out on Wednesday, September 26, 2012?

Very excited! I’m really proud of this record, Blue Ribbon, and I think it’s an honest example of where I am as a songwriter right now in 2012. I’m constantly learning and trying to better myself so it’s an improvement from 2009’s We Begin, which I love dearly but as it is with any art… you don’t want to be defined by one project. For 3 years, I have been defined by one album so I’m very excited to get more recorded material out there! I’m knee deep in piano these days, so the 3rd album may focus more on that… who knows. That’s the beauty of it. I believe that the album you make should be a direct reflection of your styles, abilities, and tastes of where you are at that moment. If you follow a country album up with a rock album, that’s cool. So long as you’re honest with yourself.

TCS: Back in July of 2009 you released your first EP We Begin at World Café Live and now you are returning to the same stage to release Blue Ribbon (produced by Matt Santry ) so tell us how this came about i.e., mention the appearance of Jenn Bostic too)?

The talent buyer at World Café Live remembered my first CD Release from 2009 and was cool enough to book the band and I again for this show. I heard that we broke records for Food/Beverage sales at the first Release so I’m shooting for that again! Jenn Bostic is a dear friend from Nashville by way of MN and will be opening the show along with Simplified (from Charlotte – recently appeared on the Rock Boat and their latest CD Brighter Days was produced by a member of OAR). I think Jenn’s one of the best in business. No question. She’s a friend but I’m also a fan and anything I can do to help her build a bigger crowd in Philly I’m happy to. Come out to the show and you’ll see what she’s all about. Her song “Jealous of the Angels” has surpassed 690k views on YouTube.

TCS: What is the best way to contact you about attending the CD release night, booking an appearance, purchasing one of your CDs or learning about your upcoming events?

My website TimWilliams.com has ALL of that info. There’s a ticket link for World Café, there’s iTunes and Amazon links for both of my CDs, my schedule is always up to date and you can email me directly through the site.

Tim Williams: Singer, Songwriter and Guitarist

TCS: What is the best and worst part of being a musician?

The best part is that I’m living my dream. I’m working in a job that is pure and honest, I can curse (ha), and it’s cathartic and therapeutic. Music is a universal language. I’ve jammed with countless musicians and strangers and music brings everyone together, regardless of age, race, sexual orientation, or whatever. The worst part is that there is no long term plan financially. You need to be very proactive about booking in advance, and you need the help of so many good people (booking agents, radio stations, bar owners, and fans). You can’t do this on your own and if you think you can you’re sure to fail.

TCS: What do you think our world would be like if music was never invented? And, why?

Quiet. I think it would be very quiet.

TCS: What advice do you have for kids wanting to play guitar, form a band and get into the music business?

Sing! AND play guitar. If you do both, you’ll never go hungry and you’ll always be able to find solo work in restaurants, bars, weddings, etc… Practice, practice, practice. Realize that you need to work very hard to succeed. And most importantly, define what success means to you. We can’t all be John Mayer or Tim McGraw or Lady Gaga. The reality of a working, professional musician is being open to every sort of gig and opportunity there is… weddings, cafes, and bars with 3 people listening… and TAKE those gigs and play them like you’re playing Madison Square Garden.

Song List on Blue Ribbon (2012)

Tim Williams: Singer, Songwriter and Guitarist

1. Come What Will
2. Course Correct (Featuring Ernie Halter)
3. My Fix It Up Life
4. Falling Away
5. Retreat
6. Joplin
7. Back Again
8. Part of the Plan
9. Heart of the Matter (Live)
10. Blue Ribbon

Song List on We Begin (2009)

Tim Williams: Singer, Songwriter and Guitarist

1. Breeze
2. Separation
3. He Just Knows
4. Chained
5. Seem To Miss
6. Back Nine Course Correct (Featuring Ernie Halter)

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.

Clay McElwee: Guitarist and Guitar Educator

Written by: Frank Iacono

Clay McElwee

Over the last 15 years, Clay McElwee has been a prominent guitarist on the Philadelphia music scene. Clay has played and experimented with various artists and musical formats, including Rio, a 10 piece high-end wedding and corporate band, Solid (funk rock), Clay Pigeons (an acoustic solo, duo, trio), the Dave Weiner Band (instrumental guitar-driven music) as well as a Solo Project (rock and blues-based).

In February 2011, Clay teamed up with local singer/songwriter Tim Williams to record the single, “My Fix It Up Life.” The song featuring Clay on lead guitar was produced by Philly-favorite Matt Santry and written for and inspired by Williams’ friends Mark and Theresa Clement of MyFixitUpLife.com. The Matchbox 20-like single is available for download on iTunes.

In March of 2012, Clay finished production on 2 new original songs: “Seven Steps” and “The High Ground”. Clips of both songs are now available on his MySpace under the Music section.

I recently caught up with the self-employed musician, singer, song writer, guitarist and guitar educator to ask him a few questions about his childhood influences, his favorite performers and his passion for music. And now, ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, allow me to introduce to you Mr. Clay McElwee in this edition of The Creative Spotlight.

Q&A Session

TCS: How old were you when you first developed an interest in playing music? And, what was the first instrument you learned to play?

Clay McElwee: I was about 8 years old when I got interested in playing music. I played the piano for about 2 years. I played pretty much until my mom couldn’t handle my incessant demands for a guitar any longer!

TCS: What was the first tune you learned to play?

CM: I can’t honestly remember what my first song was on piano, but I do remember first learning Van Halen’s song “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” on guitar I believe.

TCS: Who or what influenced you to become a musician?

CM: Several things…My parents had a lot of 60’s and 70’s records in their collection. Their collection included a lot of Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Rush, and other “guitar-heavy” music. That was a big influence on me. I also had a neighbor that was a few years older than me that played guitar. So he was a big early influence. He actually helped me buy my first guitar from a Philly pawn shop!

TCS: What motivates you to do what you do?

CM: Just being able to create music and share it with others is motivation enough. This business isn’t for everyone. You have to really be a self-starter, diverse and prepared to work odd hours, long nights, weekends, etc…


TCS: Which famous musicians do you admire the most? And, why?

CM: There are so many great musicians and styles out there, it’s hard to name them all or even single out a few. I’m a big rock/blues guy so I’d say musicians/guitarists that have been around for decades get the most appreciation from me.

I admire guys like:

  • BB King
  • Billy Gibbons
  • Jimmy Page
  • Jeff Beck
  • Eddie Van Halen

TCS: Which famous musicians have you learned from?

CM: As I mentioned above I admire guitarists like BB King, Billy Gibbons, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck and Eddie Van Halen. Honestly, I subconsciously learn a little from everyone, whether they are “famous” musicians or some of my own guitar students. I’ve learned over the years that you never know where your next lesson is going to come from!!!

TCS: What are your favorite Groups, Performers and Albums?

CM: My favorite groups are the “supergroups” from the 60’s and 70’ such as Led Zeppelin, The Who and The Beatles. Anything and everything from them appear on my iPod.

TCS: Why do you think the guitar is such an important part of your life?

CM: Quite honestly I just never got tired of it. In fact I’m more into the guitar now than I’ve ever been before in my life. Every year I get into it more and more. The more excited I get about it, the more there is to learn. There are so many styles, techniques, etc… You’ll never know it all!

TCS: If you weren’t a musician what would you be doing?

CM: I have a few college degrees (Master’s degree in Business and a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry) so I’d probably end up somewhere in that field/fields. It’s always nice to have a backup plan!

TCS: How do you think our world would be if music was never invented? And, why?

CM: The biggest thing would be that memories would be different. When’s the last time you heard a song and it reminded of you of some event or person in your life? Music is an interesting soundtrack to our lives (past and present). It’s hard to imagine life without music!

TCS: What is your favorite type of guitar?

CM: I’ve always been a big Fender Stratocaster fan. It sounds great, and it is designed for comfort. You really can’t go wrong with that. I have a bunch of other random guitars that I use on specific projects when I need a certain sound but the Stratocaster is the perfect “Swiss-Army Knife, Alone on a Deserted Island” type of guitar.

Clay McElwee: Guitarist and Guitar Educator

TCS: Do you have a website(s) and what can fans of your music do or learn about you on the site?

CM: Yes, my website is http://www.claysmusic.com. The site features pictures, audio clips, live performance dates and detailed descriptions of my latest projects. It’s an ever evolving process. Eventually, I’m working towards having video guitar lessons set up on the site as a free service to all of my existing guitar students.

TCS: How do you market your songs, appearances, event bookings (i.e., referrals, advertising such as print and online marketing)?

CM: To market my songs, appearances and event booking I use the website as well as social media sites such as Facebook and MySpace.

TCS: Have you embraced Social Media to promote your musical career?

CM: Yes, I’ve embraced Facebook especially. It’s a great way to remind people of my public performances. It almost always results in people turning out at a gig. I get a lot of people periodically asking me what I’ve been up to musically. Facebook is a great way to answer them all at once.

TCS: What is the best way to contact you about booking an appearance, purchasing one of your CDs, scheduling an event or arranging for private lessons?

CM: My website http://www.claysmusic.com has all of my contact info. Additionally, I can be reached by phone at 610.764.5310, via email at claymcelwee@comcast.net, Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/clay.mcelwee and on MySpace at http://www.myspace.com/claymcelwee.

TCS: What is the most exciting project you have worked on to date?

CM: My recent original project is by far my favorite. I spent so many years working on other people’s albums/projects that I unfortunately neglected my own. In 2010, I made a big commitment to start working more on my own personal material. I’m loving it!

TCS: What is the best and worst part of being a musician?

CM: The best part is that you get to make a living doing what you love every day. The worst part is having a schedule that is almost completely opposite of most of the working population. I work almost all nights and weekends. I miss out on a lot of events geared towards the typical “9 to 5 person”.

TCS: What bands did you listen to when you were growing up and what bands do you listen to today?

CM: I listen to many of the same artists now as I did growing up such as Van Halen, Rush, Pearl Jam, Led Zeppelin and most late 70’s and 80’s rock. Additionally, I listen to many instrumental guitarists such as Jeff Beck and Django Reinhardt as well as “old” jazz players such as Miles Davis and Wes Montgomery.

TCS: What distracts you while you’re on stage?

CM: Nothing really distracts me. I’ve been performing almost 20 years now…it’s pretty much like an on and off switch between onstage and offstage.

TCS: What’s the saddest song you’ve ever heard?

CM: Kermit the Frog singing the “Rainbow Connection” from one of the Muppet Movies. And, yes I am serious.

TCS: If you had to listen to one artist for the rest of your life, who would it be?

CM: There’s a band out of Canada named “The Tea Party” that a friend of mine got me into about 20 years ago. I never get tired of hearing their songs. Virtually unknown in the United States, they have been extremely popular in Canada and Australia for decades.

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?

CM: My favorite Tea Party album is called “Splendor Solis”.

TCS: What aspect of making music excites and discourages you the most?

CM: The most exciting aspect is that a new idea can come from anywhere and at any time! This unpredictability can also be the most discouraging aspect when you are not in front of the instrument. I actually have sung melodies while driving so I wouldn’t forget them until I arrived home so I could properly run inside and record them!

TCS: Describe the last time you wrote a song highlighting how it came about and describe how it turned out?

CM: Most of my song ideas come from just noodling on a particular chord sequence or solo pattern. I often build “Frankenstein” songs by recording little bits of a song and then matching them up with previously recorded ideas that seem to fit well (same key, style, etc…). Not an easy process most of the time (i.e., kind of like “Musical Tetris” if you remember that video game) but it usually ends up working for me.

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

CM: Wow! There are too many to remember them all. However, there’s one that sticks out in my mind. Years ago I played a fraternity party at Lehigh University. It is a beautiful campus but I performed in a very old building and the breakers kept blowing out after every song or two. Luckily a lot of spare fuses were on hand! It was a pretty funny night.

TCS: What are the names of the bands you have been in since you started playing guitar?

CM: Another question that there are so many that it is “hard to remember them all”. Let’s see there’s some interesting ones: Macbeth, Empty Season, Shudder Dogs, Mental Floss, Action Figures, The Delicate Few, Rio, Solid (2 videos shown below), Clay Pigeons, Blue Tile Fever and the list goes on and on…




TCS: How would you describe your music genre (i.e., funk, classic rock, rock, alternative, hard rock, etc.)?

CM: My musical genre is pretty diverse. I enjoy so many different styles that they tend to leak out into my own music. I’d say I’m a blues/rock guy at heart. The sound can be hard rock at times, but I’m not afraid to try and pull off a pop song every once and a while.

TCS: Do you play a combination of cover songs and originals at appearances?

CM: Usually it’s either an “original performance” or a “cover performance”. Every once in a while (when appropriate) I’ll throw one of my own songs in a cover appearance.

TCS: Back in 2006, you toured with Dave Weiner, a touring guitarist for legendary guitarist Steve Vai, can you tell us about that experience?

CM: Dave’s a Philly guy and we became friends through a mutual musician friend. Touring with Dave was certainly a fun experience. The instrumental rock guitar genre is a smaller but very devoted market. I met some talented musicians and passionate fans during that experience. A lot of practicing was involved in getting those songs right! Because his music is so complex and there are many guitar parts going on simultaneously, we spent many hours figuring out who would play this part, that part, etc…

Clay McElwee: Guitarist and Guitar Educator

TCS: Recently you appeared on the new Tim Williams Single “My Fix It Up Life” so how did that come about? And, where can someone listen to and download that song?

CM: Tim is a former guitar student of mine and a fellow musician on the Philadelphia music circuit. We’ve done a few projects together over the years. Tim is currently involved with the production of “My Fix it Up Life”, a home improvement show. He was asked to write the theme song and I ended up playing guitar on it. I believe that song (and many of his other songs) can be purchased on iTunes.


TCS: What are you up to right now, music-wise (Current or upcoming recordings, tours, extravaganzas, experiments, top-secret projects, etc.)?

CM: My main focus outside of my “normal” workload (teaching and performing) is recording my own music. Most people don’t realize the amount of hours involved in the process. Very time consuming, but it’s very rewarding to hear your own ideas come together into a finished song. I probably have over 200 song ideas that I’ll eventually consolidate into full songs and record. Should keep me busy for the next 30 years or so!

TCS: When did you begin teaching private guitar lessons and where is the place located?

CM: I’ve been teaching for over 10 years now (since 2001) and I currently teach at Beam’s School of Music located in the Frazer/Malvern area off of Lancaster Pike.

TCS: How do you handle mistakes during a performance?

CM: Just keep going. Forget it and move on. The funny thing is that usually the only one that notices that you’ve made a mistake is yourself!

TCS: Do you get nervous before a performance or a competition?

CM: No. I’ve been doing it so long its second nature at this point.

TCS: How often and for how long do you practice?

CM: It depends. I have long stretches of consecutive performance days where I may only get a few minutes here and there to really practice. I try to practice at least for an hour a day.

TCS: Do you have advice for kids wanting to get into the music business?

CM: It can really be summed up in two words: Diversify Yourself! Learn to sing as well as play an instrument. Be prepared to learn as many styles as you can. Jam with different people. They always say it’s “who” you know, not “what” you know. This is certainly true in the music biz to an extent, but there are many different ways of making a living with music…the more you know the better.

TCS: What advice would you give to beginners who are nervous about playing the guitar?

CM: Realize that EVERYONE starts at the beginning. Make a commitment to set a specific amount of time to play/practice each day and do your best to try and stick to it. You will see improvement! It will be slow at times but you will improve. And, lastly don’t forget to have fun. It’s hard work but very rewarding!

Why Should You Hire Clay McElwee

Why Should You Hire Clay McElwee: Guitarist and Guitar Educator

If you’ve been considering guitar lessons, if you’re a beginner and want to learn everything about guitar from the ground up or if you’re a seasoned professional player who’s looking for new ideas and a fresh approach Clay McElwee can help.

Since every student has different interests and needs, topics may vary but will typically include:

  • Reading Music and Guitar Notation (tablature)
  • Proper left and right hand techniques
  • Understanding scales and placement in different musical styles
  • Learning and using common “riffs” based on scales
  • Understanding chords/chord shapes
  • Typical chord progressions/transitions and their placement in different musical styles
  • Common guitar techniques (bends, slides, hammer-ons, etc…)
  • Understanding timing (to develop accuracy and speed)
  • Playing songs that the student wishes to learn (see below)*

*An Effective Way of Teaching:

Whenever possible, topics for a given lesson are derived from guitar techniques found within a song that a student has interest in learning. This method of teaching keeps the learning process flowing while providing the student with exciting “exercises” to practice at home.

Clay is currently teaching private guitar lessons on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings at Beam’s School of Music in Frazer, PA. To check lesson availability, please call him at 610-764-5310. For additional information, including music, videos, tour dates, photos and an opportunity to sign up for his mailing list, please visit http://www.claysmusic.com.

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.