Jean-Francois Perotin – The Rockin Krolik

Written by: Frank Iacono

Jean-Francois Perotin - The Rockin Krolik

Jean-Francois Perotin (a.k.a. The Rockin Krolik) is a french born Canadian singer-songwriter. The Rockin Krolik writes and sings wearing his heart on his sleeve finding inspiration in everyday life, relationships, nature, society and last but not least…us, the people of the world!

In a roundabout way, The Rockin Krolik’s debut album All About The Journey (released June 2019) is an introduction. The release features a selection of 10 songs written over the last 20 years proving that it’s never too late to fulfill a dream.

Tracks like “Out Of Here” and “Human Nature” off the record give listeners a taste of his melodic rock, featuring catchy hooks with a sprinkle of his folk and pop influences. Tugging on our heartstrings, The Rockin Krolik introduces us to his world, which invites us to think, feel and celebrate.

In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, we caught up with The Rockin Krolik where he talked about his musical influences, his songwriting and recording process, his new CD All About The Journey as well as his short and long-term future plans.

Check out the article below, and make sure to follow his journey!

Q&A Session

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

Jean-Francois Perotin: For as long as I can remember, I always enjoyed performing, singing, goofing around and dressing up. I used to play my older brother’s vinyl records and listened to albums from The Beatles, Supertramp, The Smiths, B52’s and sang along. It just always felt natural to sing. It wasn’t until I was 25, when I picked up a guitar and began my career as a musician. I was highly influenced by artist/bands such as Pearl Jam, The Cranberries, Alanis Morissette amongst other artists. By writing and performing my own music, I felt like I could freely express myself.

Jean-Francois Perotin - The Rockin Krolik

TCS: What famous musical artists and/or bands were among your early influences and describe for us how they impacted and/or shaped your musical style?

JFP: Pearl Jam and especially lead singer Eddie Vedder is by far my main vocal influence. The Cranberries for the simple melodies and Dolores O’Riordan’s voice and harmonies as well as Alanis Morrissette for her unconventional song writing style and word placement. All in all, as a songwriter I work to be as honest as these artists and keep doing what feels right. It’s what I think influenced me the most…how real, raw and true to themselves they truly are.

TCS: For the benefit of those who may not be too familiar with The Rockin Krolik or your musical career, please share with us the origin of this unique name and its specific meaning?

JFP: I created The Rockin Krolik about 4 years ago. My full name, Jean-Francois Perotin, is French and it is usually a mouth full so I thought that I would pick a name that would allow me to create a brand and perform as either a solo artist or band. I’m serious about my music but want to have fun while doing it. So, my nickname “Krolik” was an obvious pick. It means bunny in Polish…my wife is Polish. I do, however, realize that it’s still a mouthful for some though!

Jean-Francois Perotin - The Rockin Krolik

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

JFP: I would describe my overall sound as Rock with some 90’s Alternative and Pop Rock influences. However, the acoustic versions of my songs probably have more of an indie rock and folk-like vibe sound.

TCS: Take us behind the scenes in the making of your first full album experience entitled All About the Journey. What was your favorite part of its production and the most challenging from an artistic perspective?

JFP: As a 100% novice, this was such an amazing learning experience. I worked with Anton Evans of Village Works Canada who is a very hands-on Producer. It was such a great fit working with him. He was very cooperative during the entire process. A true mind reader as to what I wanted as an end result with the songs. Anton used bed tracks with guitar and vocals that we recorded together, and we then took one song at a time and built them up layer by layer. Anton did all the heavy lifting, I provided direction and feedback and showed up whenever he needed me to re-cut vocals, guitar, add harmonica and some electric guitar.

The production highlight was my collaboration with Ontario-born vocalist & guitarist Cheryl Ireland who graciously agreed to record the track entitled “A Minute Longer” with me. I felt good about this song, but this duo exceeded my expectations.

The main challenge was probably to let go and trust someone else to work with my music and also remain open to their suggestions and input. It would have been counterproductive to be too protective anyways. The whole point of working with a producer like Anton is to get their feel and sound.

TCS: Personally, one of my favorite songs off of All About the Journey is the track called “Out Of Here,” so can you share with us its meaning as well as the concept behind the video concept?

JFP: I wrote the first words for this song about 20 years ago in Berlin, Germany…when I took a trip to visit my brother who lives there. I just needed a break and a change of scenery for a bit to get perspective.

I remember walking the streets, walking a lot actually, sitting in cafés, drawing and writing, just enjoying life and feeling like I was experiencing something beyond anything I had ever felt before, being free, feeling free with a clear and light mind, clear and light heart.

The song evolved slightly over the years…About 4 years ago, I reworked the rhythm pattern a bit and came up with what it sounds like today…It was also the first really upbeat, positive, happy song I wrote.

For the video, I had two concepts in mind…I always refer to Ferris Bueller when I talk about this song because of how free he chooses to be so I thought about going down that path. In the end, I decided to go with the animals. First because, I love animals and second because I felt they represent freedom better than anything else!


TCS: In what ways have the places where you have lived affected your musical tastes and the music in which you create?

JFP: I moved around a lot in the 90s and the early 2000s until my big move to Canada in 2008. My experience in these countries as well as the people and friends I crossed paths with along the way helped shape who I am today and have had a direct influence in the way I write and see the world. I think that the more exposure you get, the more you can rely on real-life experience to write songs and as a result get closer to being honest and true, which I believe is how people relate to songs.

TCS: Tell us about the background story behind another favorite off of the album entitled “Human Nature”?

JFP: I wrote “Human Nature” after 9/11. Like millions of people all over the world, I was deeply affected by the event. Since my teenage years, I have visited the United States many times and developed strong friendships with many people.

The irony of all this is how easy it is to hide behind religious beliefs to excuse or explain acts of violence, from all sides.

When our leaders around the globe, make decisions they do not have our best interests at heart and ultimately innocent people pay the price.

So yes, religion and the political climate is at the center of this song, but the theme remains universal. Is this Human Nature? Is that the best we can do, the best we can be?


TCS: Could you describe for us one of the weirdest experiences you had during the course of your music career?

JFP: I can’t really think of anything really weird, but I was playing in a marina one night in the south of France and my back was to the water. It was an extremely windy night, so much so that a gust of wind blew a speaker off its stand and in the water. I had to quickly stop playing, strip and then dive into the water to get it back. Thankfully the wind helped dry it quickly and I was able to continue.

TCS: Describe for us the song writing process and video concept behind the single entitled “My Last Breath”?

As you may have already guessed, the song “My Last Breath” is about the end of a relationship that sucked the life out of me. With a break-up, you don’t get instant relief. In some cases, you may have to deal with someone who does not want to let go or just can’t move on. Continuously, denying that the end has come, and that things won’t be the same again. These are certainly tough times, and I think that anyone can relate no matter which side of the situation that you are on.

“My Last Breath” came from the fact that I was already emotionally drained from the relationship itself and breaking it off was the last straw. It truly felt like any attempt to answer the questions, explain or justify myself got me closer to my actual last breath.

As for the video concept, I came up the idea while I was putting together an Instagram/Facebook post. I originally wanted to shoot the video in a lake or maybe even a river but when the opportunity arose to utilize my neighbor’s pool before the end of the summer season, I took it. As they say timing is everything. I wanted to be 100% under water the whole time to make the audience hold their breath too as they watched. So, tell me did it work?


TCS: As an independent artist, how do you market your songs, albums, merchandise and appearances?

JFP: DIY!! Full stack creative!

Last year, I came across the CD Baby conference videos on YouTube. They were both eye and mind opening! From there, I bought Ari Herstand’s book How To Make It in the New Music Business: Practical Tips on Building a Loyal Following and Making a Living as a Musician and joined his Facebook group. From there, I discovered “Indepreneur”. In my opinion, these guys are the best on the market. Especially, when it comes to marketing for musicians, and there are a few out there, using the tools and technology currently at our disposal but also adapting to this ever-changing environment. It’s tough to keep up as an independent artist and it gets overwhelming quickly!

Facebook is by far my main platform and where I focus most of my marketing activity and keep updated. I have learned through “Indepreneur” to create targeted ad campaigns to reach out to potential fans around the world and, once in my ecosystem, keep them “warm” and engaged. I have my shop set up on Facebook and my website for merchandise.

Locally, I gig around (on average twice a month) and perform at showcases whenever the opportunity is available to promote myself and sell merch (e.g., CDs, & T-shirts)

Overall, time is of the essence and it most be used wisely. The key is to use whatever time I have to do something, anything (even small) for the business and do it consistently.

To stay connected, please join us on 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?

JFP: It is really difficult for me not to say Pearl Jam but even harder to select an all-time favorite song from their vast music library. However, a band that I only started listening to when I moved to Canada is called The Tragically Hip. Prior to that, I had never heard of them before. And, one of my favorite songs of theirs is a tack entitled “Bobcaygeon“.

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

JFP: I would say I am an artist at heart. I think being a musician allows me to check the most boxes from my to-do list including self-expression both mentally and physically as well as performing. Additionally, I also love to draw, sculpt and work with wood. So, to answer the question, I would say I would either be a graphic designer or a cabinet maker of sorts!

Jean-Francois Perotin - The Rockin Krolik

TCS: What does the short and long-term future look like for Jean-Francois Perotin and The Rockin Krolik?

JFP: Consistency remains the main goal. I have a Facebook Live event every Friday at 8am EST that I want to continue doing and getting better at it.

I also want to release music more often, 3 to 4 times a year, instead of waiting to have enough material for an album. If I have a song that I feel may be a good single, I will work to release it.

Most importantly, I want to connect with my audience no matter how big or small. Perform, perform and perform some more! That has been my goal since the beginning.

Last but not least, I want to take pleasure doing what I do. Have fun. Life is too short not to! After all, It’s All About the Journey! 🙂

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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Michelle Leigh: Lead Singer & Songwriter

Written by: Frank Iacono

Michelle Leigh, touted as “The New Queen of Southern Rock”, hails from Bakersville, North Carolina; a small Appalachian town steeped in the tradition of mountain music and gospel hymns. Michelle grew up in what she calls a “Norman Rockwell” setting, where doors were never locked, neighbors were always quick to lend a hand and no matter how old you were, manners were always in style.

Edgy and honest, Ms. Leigh’s songwriting style amplifies real-life situations, real-life problems and real-life solutions. Her music says out loud what everyone else is already thinking. Her country rock sound has been described as Sugarland soaked in Janis Joplin and Tina Turner overtones, with a healthy mix of Dolly for inspiration. Her smoky vocals and driving rhythms, will break your heart with a ballad, and then heal it with a hard shot of whiskey.

In 2012, Michelle was listed in the Top 25 out of over 2,200 entries in GAC/ Music City Songwriter’s Competition for her ballad “Babydoll”, and Honorable Mention in the Smoky Mountain Songwriter’s Competition for the rock-infused song “Black Ink”. The following year, she was named the winner of the Charlotte Music Awards 2013 Women in Rock Showcase.

In both 2015 and 2016, she was presented with the prestigious Josie Music Awards Southern Rock Artist of the Year. Equally, she was awarded the highly-respected 2016 JMA Southern Rock Song of the Year for “Somebody’s Someone”. During 2017, she was honored with the People’s Choice Award-Jacksonville for Country’Southern Rock and the JMA Southern Rock Video of the Year for “Devil Music”. In September, JMA awarded her with the 2018 JMA Entertainer of the Year Southern Rock and 2018 JMA Video of the Year for the hard-hitting “Blood Water”.

In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, I had the pleasure of interviewing Michelle Leigh and asking her a few questions about her musical influences, her songwriting and recording process, her new smash hit single and award-winning video “Blood Water” and her short and long-term future plans.

Q&A Session

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

Michelle Leigh: At a young age, I taught myself how to play a little piano on an old player piano my family had in our back bedroom. I have ALWAYS loved music and singing-far back as I can remember.

TCS: Could you tell us in your own words how you would describe your overall sound and musical genre? And, what famous musical artists and/or bands were among your early influences and describe for us how they impacted and/or shaped your musical style?

ML: I would describe my overall sound and musical genre as Country flavored Southern Rock! I love all kinds of music, but 70’s & 80’s Country artists like Molly Hatchet, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Travis Tritt…I LOVE the sound of all those guys! My influences? I admire so many, but I love Tina Turner, Dolly Parton, Ann Wilson…gosh, the list goes on and on. I think anyone an artist admires ends up being somewhat of an influence.

TCS: Can you introduce us to your band lineup and tell us what each person does?

ML: The band lineup consists of:

  • Michelle Leigh – Lead Vocals
  • Stewart Dalrymple – Bass, Vocals & Acoustic Guitar
  • Doug Green – Lead Guitar
  • Andy Orth – Keys
  • Robb Williamson – Drums
  • Barry Lee Harwood – Special Guest Guitarist on occasion (formerly of Rossington Collins)

TCS: For the benefit of those who may not be too familiar with Michelle Leigh or your musical career, please describe for us how you started out from Bakersville, North Carolina, a small Appalachian town steeped in the tradition of mountain music and gospel hymns, and eventually ended up being a southern rock lead singer?

ML: I was very active in my high school chorus, college tour choirs and beauty pageants. That lead to acoustic performances with my brother Mark, then onto performing with my own bands. My style of singing and certainly my writing style has always been on the edgier side. Southern Rock gave me a much-needed home when Nashville didn’t really want anything to do with me.

TCS: Michelle, could you tell us a little bit about your experience competing in the 2018 Josie Music Awards and how excited you were to win Entertainer of the Year (Southern Rock) and Music Video of the Year for the song “Blood Water.”

ML: I am VERY PROUD to be a six-time Josie Music Awards (JMA) winner! The JMA’s are the largest independent music award organization, part of The Josie Network, LLC of Brands. This year, I won a JMA for Music Video of the Year for “Blood Water,” a hard-hitting video dealing with sexual abuse. It’s a very difficult topic, and I felt strongly about it being addressed head-on and no punches pulled. The gamble paid off.

In 2018, I was honored to be nominated for 6 Josie Music Awards. Although with this year’s STIFF competition, I honestly believed that I might receive only one of the awards. I truly didn’t think I was even going to get anywhere NEAR the Entertainer of the Year…So, I’m sitting their drinking water, ready to hear anyone’s name but mine! Then Miss Heidi Parton and Josie Passantino called my name for Southern Rock Entertainer of the Year. It didn’t really register at first, but I tell you, I was SO blown away! I am NOT a “tears” person, but I was boo-hooing like a baby when I accepted the Entertainer of the Year! It is my most treasured award, to date!


TCS: How would you describe your overall songwriting style?

ML: Raw and honest. I do not shy away from hard topics. I do have some softer songs, but I prefer to write about real life topics. Music really helps people, you know?  Music heals.

TCS: Personally, one of my favorite tracks off your Redemption album is a song called “Devil Music” which you co-wrote with Charlie Kelley. Can you share with us some of the background behind your hit and the video produced by Built to Fall Productions?

ML: “Devil Music” started out being a tribute song for the late Popcorn Sutton, his widow had asked me to write a song for him. The song took a turn away from Popcorn’s story and wasn’t fitting what I wanted to convey about him. So, I initially scrapped it and wrote another one called “The Legend” for Popcorn. However, I felt “Devil Music” was too good to throw away, so I gave it another go. I fixed a few things and the rest is history.

Doug Green, my guitar player, heard the song and instantly came up with the video’s storyline. I called Michael Spears, the owner of Built to Fall Productions who handles all of my music videos and told him the storyline and he loved it. We were able to film the video at a buddy’s house down in Black Creek community in Middleburg, Florida. Gene Rogers and his wife Christy opened their home and property up to us for the weekend. Two days later, the raw footage was completed! I do want to mention that Doug’s girlfriend Renee Closson, built MANY of the props, as well as handled costuming and makeup. She was awesome!


TCS: I can’t imagine what it felt like to walk out on stage to perform for the very first time. Could you tell us about the experience and how it compares to your performances today?

ML: My very first solo performance was for the Miss Mitchell High School pageant. My mother made my outfit and I sang “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”. I was really terrified! Today, I still get butterflies, but the good kind! The excitement gives me an electric feeling. There is truly nothing like performing live.

TCS: Could you describe the song writing process and video concept behind the single entitled “Lightning in a Bottle”? And, please tell us a little bit about your experience competing in the 2019 Josie Music Awards and how excited you were to win Music Video of the Year for this song?

ML: The song title “Lightning in a Bottle” came from a person I used to know who once used that phrase. Over the years, it stuck with me – the meaning of catching such a rarity and doing the impossible, if only for a short amount of time. Everything has a shelf life, love is no exception.

The video was definitely challenging. The Sr. Manager and Owner of B2F Production had this fantastic Wizard of Oz meets Mad Max apocalypse vision. Personally, I think they did a great job of capturing that vision. I loved winning the 2019 JMA award for Video of the Year for “Lightning in a Bottle, although I must admit it was TOTALLY unexpected, as was my Entertainer of the Year win too. I’m truly very blessed.


TCS: Could you tell us one of the strangest places that you played during the course of your career?

ML: I once played at a bar that had those awful, snappy rat traps all over in the bathrooms and seating areas! That wasn’t much fun!

TCS: How do you market your songs, albums, merchandise and appearances?

ML: To stay connected, please join us on the following:

TCS: In the YouTube description of your official music video for “Black Ink” you say, “the smoldering vocals and steely lyrics of this song remind us that it is unwise to tick off a songwriter.” Can you provide the source of inspiration for this track? 

ML: Ha!  No.  I’ll just say that it came from a betrayal by a very close friend.


TCS: How much fun did you have with the official video for your song “Triple J” back in your hometown of Bakersville and at Mack Kell’s Pub and Grill in Asheville, NC?

ML: That was such a great day! Thomas Delmer “Artimus” Pyle, the drummer from Lynyrd Skynyrd and 2006 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, played my “leading man” in the music video. We also had some AWESOME special guest appearances from Charlie Kelley, my producer and his wife Nan. However, my favorite part of the video is the special footage of California Chrome, one of the most famous racehorses in history, which was provided by Sherman Racing. I must say THAT was incredible to me. It is something that I will always treasure.


TCS: Can you share with us your involvement with The Salvation Army and Brother Wolf Animal Rescue charities?

ML: I am a huge supporter of The Angel Tree program by The Salvation Army. And as far as animals go, I will support and donate to about any charity that helps all furbabies!

TCS: From a song writing, studio recording and accompanying music video perspective, can you share with us some of the details surrounding the single entitled “Somebody’s Someone?” 

ML: “Somebody’s Someone” was a result of me being totally disgusted with the actions of those Westborough Church cowards. I was watching their ignorance on the news one day and said, “Don’t they realize that the soldier in that casket is somebody’s father, son…somebody’s someone?” When I sat down to write the song, I decided to use several scenarios of bullying as examples of things we see happening in our own daily lives.


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

ML: I actually own my own decor business. I design, build and install commercial holiday decor for malls, hotels, casinos and amusement parks.  I love everything about my music, but I also love doing custom holiday decor too!

TCS: What does the short and long-term future look like for Michelle Leigh?

ML: I have a brand-new CD in the works including 4 music videos and I’m booking now for a 2019 Tour. Additionally, I will be doing ANYTHING and EVERYTHING possible to keep that Entertainer of the Year award!

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.

Jessie Goergen: Lead Singer & Songwriter

Written by: Frank Iacono

Jessie Goergen (a.k.a. Jessie G.) hails from the small coastal town of Brookings, Oregon. Jessie’s heritage spans across four generations of commercial fishermen and she is no exception. The oldest of three, Jessie grew up in a tightly knit, labor intensive, feast or famine community where the women work right alongside the men.

As a youngster, Jessie spent much of her childhood tagging alongside her father on the docks or aboard the hand-built family boat searching for Dungeness crab and albacore tuna and selling their catch at the market. Fishing wasn’t just to pay the bills; fishing was a way of life and Jessie’s early means to support her true passion—to become a performing artist.

In high school, she started her first rock band and quickly learned what it was like to be paid to play!
 Her open eyes, love of music and determination to succeed earned Jessie a scholarship to attend Linfield College in Oregon where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in both Political Science and The Fine Arts.

In the summer of 2013, Jessie entered a “Battle of The Bands” contest where she won the opening slot to perform before Grammy award-winning country music artist Gretchen Wilson. It was after that once-in-a-lifetime chance that the young, aspiring singer and hit-recording artist “clicked” naturally to form a magical working relationship and kinship.

The newfound friendship later moved Jessie to make the bold decision to follow her dreams in Music City. Gretchen has since signed Jessie to Redneck Records and the two have been hard at work not only on her studio album, but on their upcoming summer tour where Jessie will be featured during Gretchen’s performance.

In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jessie G. and asking her a few questions about her musical influences, her songwriting and recording process, her new smash hit single “Army Ranger” and her short and long-term future plans.

Q&A Session

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

Jessie G.: I started singing when I was in diapers! I used to send out little notes and call family members around my hometown inviting them to attend a talent show I was hosting in my living room. Once they arrived, I made them sit on our couch and watch me sing and dance.

At a young age, I took piano lessons but quit. Later, I was thankful for the training I received, especially since Linfield College in Oregon required students to be proficient in piano to Graduate with a Bachelor of the Arts in Music. Now, I only play instruments if I’m writing by myself otherwise, I leave it to the professionals.

TCS: Could you tell us in your own words how you would describe your overall sound and musical genre? And, what famous musical artists and/or bands were among your early influences and describe for us how they impacted and/or shaped your musical style?

JG: It’s actually hard to describe my overall sound and musical genre especially since it is so heavily influenced by all the varied music I listened to when I grew up. It’s definitely country with the lyric style but it is very rock influenced with the melodies and instrumentation. Sometimes people say they hear punk and hard rock influences in my music too. That makes a lot of sense to me since my dad blasted Aerosmith and Metallica during my entire childhood. My mom balanced it out with Dixie Chicks, Trisha Yearwood and Shania Twain! I’ll just say Country Rock is the genre!


TCS: For the benefit of those who may not be too familiar with Jessie G. or your musical career, please describe for us how you started out from a small coastal town in Brookings, Oregon and eventually ended up being a lead singer?

JG: I was born and raised in a commercial fishing family. We have been farming the seas for 4 generations. With this hard feast or famine lifestyle, I learned at an early age what it meant to work hard. I also learned the skill of being able to live as a self-employed entrepreneur. I grew up competing in all of the local fairs, talent shows and country showdowns that my county and state had to offer. In these competitions, I regularly won first place which encouraged me to keep pursuing a musical career path. Equally, I received a college scholarship for vocal performance and continued to hone my craft. In my heart, I knew that God gave me this gift to share with the world and I knew I would never completely give it up, but I never considered it as my primary career until I met Grammy award-winning Gretchen Wilson. She helped make my dream of becoming a performing artist a reality.

TCS: Jessie, could you tell us a little bit about your experience competing in the “Battle of the Bands” and how that led to your being discovered by Gretchen Wilson?

JG: When I heard that legendary country recording artist Gretchen Wilson was coming to town and there was a chance to open up for her, I literally JUMPED at the opportunity. She was the only relevant female performer in the country and rock scene that truly inspired me. I grew up singing her songs in the competitions I mentioned. I always loved her sound and style. By listening to her music, I could tell she was a true badass. So, I entered into the “Battle of the Bands” and earned the opportunity to open for her! When the time came to meet her after our show, I was honest and real with her. I asked her what I needed to do in order to get to where she is today. Meeting her was truly a career changing moment.

TCS: How excited are you about the release of your brand-new single “Army Ranger” co-written with Melanie Meriney and Michael August?

JG.: To say I am excited is an understatement. This is definitely the proudest I’ve ever been about my music!

TCS: Can you share some of the background on the filming of the official music video for “Army Ranger”?

JG: At the time, we had a small budget and limited resources so my friends, who are all active service members, agreed to gather their gear and uniforms. They even agreed to take part in my video too! I was also convinced to have my real-life boyfriend, who currently serves in the Army, play a part in the recording. We share a steamy kiss at the end. It’s pretty amazing to have people I love be a part of the production.


TCS: Personally, one of my favorite tracks off your new album is a song called “Drop A Line” which was co-written alongside Joshua Withenshaw and Davis Branch, and produced by Grammy-award winning entertainer Gretchen Wilson. Can you share with us some of the background behind you’re hit?

JG: The track, “Drop A Line” is definitely one of my favorites too. I wanted to include a fishing song because of my family lineage with commercial fishing, but I also wanted it to be clever. So, we decided to create a scene of fishing and fishing words with the double entendre of love.


TCS: I can’t imagine what it felt like to walk out on stage to perform for the very first time. Could you tell us about the experience and how it compares to your performances today?

JG: At first you have to work through many things. Stage fright. Not choking. It took me years to get to a place where I could be fully present on stage. It took a long time to be comfortable enough in my stage presence and to be able to improve speaking to my audience. I’ve definitely come a LONG way since the beginning.

TCS: Tell us about the background story behind your performance of “You Lit a Fire” at the BULL Sessions in the Bloodworks Live Studio?

JG: I wrote “You Lit A Fire” a while ago with Davis Branch and Matt Hundley. That song is a very conversational and vulnerable song. The Bloodworks Studio version is one of the first recorded performances released so far. I was so emotional singing it that day. I can’t wait until we release it on the record.


TCS: Could you tell us where some of the coolest and strangest places that you played during the course of your career and what you learned from the experiences?

JG: The coolest place would be in an Apache Helicopter Hanger. The strangest or weirdest place but a ton of fun, was someone’s backyard. I’ve learned that if you play for 2 people or 20,000 people you still have to bring your 100% every time.

TCS: What is the inspiration behind “Cardiac Arrest?” It’s a great song.

JG: I had the idea for this song in my head for the longest time. I wanted to write about the correlation between having a heart attack and suffering from a broken heart. I called my mom up because she’s a nurse and asked her what some medical terms were associated with having a heart attack and how to save someone and then the song wrote itself!


TCS: How do you market your songs, albums, merchandise and appearances?

JG: To stay connected, please join us on the following:

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

JG: Prior to getting my big opportunity with music, I was going to practice law. I don’t know where life would’ve taken me but I’m really happy that it took me here!

TCS: What does the short and long-term future look like for Jessie G.?

JG: Touring, touring and more touring! When you are a new artist, you simply can’t rest! The fishing industry is closely related to the music industry; working on a fishing boat (just like the music industry) toughens you up. You can’t be sensitive or expect a big payday; you have to dive in, go 100%. The harder you work, the more likely it is for a greater pay off. I’ve been doing this since I was 12.

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.

Steve Harris: Lead Singer of Hillbilly Vegas

Written by: Frank Iacono

The name of the Oklahoma-based band Hillbilly Vegas gives you an idea of what to expect from their music – a southern influenced, rockin’ good time. Recently, Hillbilly Vegas, featuring lead singer Steve Harris, signed with Bristol Records and have garnered worldwide distribution with The Orchard, wholly owned by Sony Music Entertainment, and Perry Music Group. The first single entitled “Field Fulla Hillbillies” was written by Grammy Nominated country music singer/songwriter Davie Lee Murphy. “Field Fulla Hillbillies” is receiving positive reaction from radio stations across the country, who are testing and adding the track to their playlists, and it is sure to be a top charting song.

In the 1990’s, Steve was the singer of the popular Dallas, Texas-based Cold Ethyl but like so many other great bands during the same time frame their future was cut short by the emerging Seattle grunge wave. Although it was discouraging, he never completely left the music business. He became a club owner, a writer and part-time performer for many years until everything changed in August of 2008. At that time, he was named as one of the many singers being considered to replace the departed Scott Weiland in the hard rock supergroup Velvet Revolver. However, he and Kerry Plummer, who fronted the nationally popular Loaded Gunn, had been writing and putting together Hillbilly Vegas for 8 months by then and suddenly Steve lost his passion for Modern Rock. With that, he decided to return to his roots and focus solely on Hillbilly Vegas.

Blasting intensity right out of the gate, Hillbilly Vegas got loads of traction with their debut album Ringo Manor. The album moved a whopping 10,000 copies which is highly impressive for an emerging indie band. Equally, their first single entitled “Little Miss Rough and Tumble” scored major chart action by appearing on the National Country Music charts for 26 weeks.

Now, with deeper attitude and edge, they’re celebrating the freewheeling spirit of 76’ and getting everyone to “Shake It Like A Hillbilly” with their fiery, rockin’ new single and high energy video. The same video that landed the band the coveted title of 2016 LiftMaster Garage Band. As the 2016 winner, Hillbilly Vegas performed with country star Lee Brice during the Coca Cola 600 Sprint Cup Series race in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Along with their existing racing sponsorships with Dennis Schoenfeld Racing and Jake Davis Motor Sports the band feels like they’ve got some good mojo happening with the new sponsorships and their future singles, including the crackling party anthem “High Time For A Good Time” which will be used by Rocky Mountain High Brands in a national ad campaign. Times are good in the Hillbilly Vegas universe.

In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, I had the pleasure of interviewing Steve Harris and asking him a few questions about his musical influences, his songwriting and recording process, his upcoming tour schedule and his band’s short and long-term future plans.

Q&A Session

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

Steve Harris: When I was very young I discovered The Partridge Family, an American musical-sitcom starring Shirley Jones and featuring singer, songwriter and guitarist David Cassidy as Keith Partridge. From that moment, I was instantly hooked and wanted to be just like the character portrayed by Cassidy. As far as instruments, I started playing the guitar when I was a teenager. My ultimate passion and desire was to create my own music, so I taught myself how to write songs.

TCS: How did Hillbilly Vegas get started? And, how would you describe the Hillbilly Vegas’ musical genre and overall sound?

SH: We got our start much like everyone else, get a few musicians in a room, and they’re going to start a band every single time. Within six months we had our first contract offer. I think our musical genre can be defined as a combination of Southern rock, country and classic rock. Overall sound…LOUD is probably the best way to describe it…just kidding. Honestly, we are a live band and that’s where we are most comfortable.

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

SH: The Hillbilly Vegas band lineup consists of:

  • Steve Harris – Lead Singer
  • Stacy Thornburg – Lead Guitarist
  • John Reed – Rhythm Guitarist
  • Robb Edwards – Bass Guitarist
  • Troy Hollinger – Drummer

TCS: What famous musical artists and/or bands were among your early influences and helped shaped your musical style?

SH: Oh I don’t know…to be honest life itself is an influence. Where you grow up, what you’re exposed to, what your level of education and personal development are, and etc. Personally, I love musical artists from the 70s including lead vocalists such as Paul Rodgers from Free and Bad Company, Mark Farner from Grand Funk Railroad, Lou Gramm from Foreigner and so many more.

TCS: For the benefit of those who may not be too familiar with Hillbilly Vegas or your musical career, please describe for us how you started out and eventually ended up being the lead singer of the band?

SH: Again, as I mentioned Cassidy’s character Keith Partridge was my first big musical influence. When I was a child that show made me want to be a lead singer in a band. I suppose if you are born to be a performer it’s just inside you. But, for me it took a while to channel my creative energy. I didn’t know how to start a band let alone be a part of one, so I tried theatre and some other similar activities like that until I finally met some guys in high school who had a band and needed a singer. I told them I was a lead singer…I really wasn’t but my theatre background helped. We played our first gig at a skating rink. I just pulled out every David Lee Roth, lead singer of hard rock band Van Halen, move I’d ever seen and the rest was history.

TCS: From an in-studio perspective, which aspects of your 2016 album entitled ’76 did you find least problematic to put together and which were the most troublesome?

SH: Well, truly the ’76 experience was a joy. The back story being…we recorded our first album at Ringo Manor in Nashville, Tennessee but we weren’t completely happy with the overall experience. Our producer was a great guy, but the daily notes that we received from A&R, our recording label, when we arrived at the studio were a real drag. Some “suit” representing the label would listen to our daily work every evening and decide what he thought would be “better.” As a band, we are very proud of all of our work, but it was a constant struggle to maintain some of our own personal identity. With that, we decided that in order to maintain the integrity of ’76, we would leave Nashville and complete the recording process and bring the finished product back to them. So, we moved to Empire Sound in Carrollton, Texas. The most troublesome part of the experience was really just knowing when to quit. We had such a great time being alone in the studio with renowned Texas rock engineer and producer Alex Gerst that we could have kept recording for months.

TCS: Personally, one of my favorite songs off of that album is a song called “High Time For A Good Time” so can you share with us some of the background behind the hit?

SH: The song “High Time For A Good Time” is a very 70s rock influenced song. Stacy, our Lead Guitarist, brought the riff to rehearsal one day and it immediately painted a picture of good times and getting lost in the moment. I wanted anyone who heard the song to feel like they’ve heard it before and been there before. To me, music is a feeling more than anything and I hope this song gives people a good feeling.


TCS: Can you describe the first time you stepped onstage to perform and tell us how does it compare to being on stage now?

SH: The first time I stepped onto a stage to perform I was 6 years old and was wearing a donkey suit for a Christmas play. I made lots of donkey sounds and got a bunch of laughs…I was the loudest guy on stage even though I wasn’t supposed to have any lines or make lots of noises. It’s just the same today minus the donkey suit.

TCS: Tell us about the background story behind another great cut entitled “Long Way Back”?

SH: My grandfather was in the Navy during WW2. He shared a lot of war stories with our family all the time. One particular story always stuck with me. He was stationed on the USS Decator DD-341 and they were in North Africa. During liberty one day, he was sitting on the beach and he could hear music echoing from the ship anchored just off shore. It was the old song “Wreck on the Highway”. He recalled at that moment he never felt so lonely in all his life. He decided if he ever got back to Cecil, AR he was never leaving again. He did, and he didn’t. That’s the story of the song “Long Way Back”.


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?

SH: We once played a venue early in our career that had a pair of Conway Twitty’s pants framed and hanging on the wall. I couldn’t help but wonder why pants? Most of the time you see maybe a jacket, scarf, guitar something like that…but pants. So I had to ask during our performance. How is it that his pants are framed on the wall on this stage? The patrons and management didn’t see the same humor in it that I did and we were asked politely to never return. So that leads me to believe it’s quite a story and they don’t want it to get out…haha!

TCS: Another one of my favorite songs is the track called “Little Miss Rough and Tumble” so can you share with us the inspiration behind it?

SH: That song is very close to my heart. It’s simply about my daughter and how watching her grow up seemed like a blink of an eye.


TCS: How do you market your songs, albums, merchandise and appearances?

SH: For the majority of our career we’ve been completely on our own. We’ve done anything and everything possible to market our music. We recently signed a record deal with Bristol Records who are part of the Sony family and suddenly we have a lot more resources. They are doing an amazing job getting our music and message out. We have high hopes for this new relationship. However, we will never stop hustling and using any trick we can find to get the word out.

To stay connected, please join us on the following:

TCS: How in your opinion do you think people can broaden their horizons when it comes to different types of music?

SH: With today’s technology, music lovers can simply go to their favorite online music service such as Spotify, Pandora and iHeart and select any type of station they want to listen to when they want to listen. Our various Hillbilly Vegas stations on the aforementioned platforms as well as some others play a lot of artists that I never heard of before, but I truly love hearing their music. It’s interesting to see who those music services think sound similar to our music and place on our stations. So, I’d suggest just hitting a station and finding some good stuff you haven’t heard before and give it a listen.

TCS: What do you see yourself doing if you weren’t the lead singer in a band?

SH: For me, I would explore other creative escapes such as voicing cartoons. Prior to discovering music, that was my dream.

TCS: What does the short and long-term future look like for Hillbilly Vegas?

SH: The short-term future for Hillbilly Vegas is to simply board our tour bus and bring our music to as many music lovers and fans as possible. We’re all about creating fun, positive energy and memorable music that gives people a good feeling. I love hearing songs on the radio that stir up feelings that take me back to good times and great places – if we can do that for people, then we’ve achieved success. We can’t wait to get out there and shake the world’s hand and welcome them in to the Hillbilly Vegas family.

The long-term is a bit murkier, we would love to become a highly successful band and be able to keep doing what we are doing at a high level. But you never know what the next day brings in the music industry. So for now, we will remain focused on the short-term and let the long-term sort itself out.

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.

Zeb Christensen: Screaming For Silence

Written by: Frank Iacono

zeb-christensen-header

Hard-hitting rock, heavy breakdowns, and an energetic live performance that never stops entertaining the crowd appropriately describes Zeb Christensen’s Omaha Nebraska-based band named Screaming For Silence. Over the last three years, they have toured nationally and played over four hundred live shows from coast to coast. With that, his band has continually captivated audiences across the nation, gaining new fans during each show at every stop.

During Screaming For Silence’s hectic 2013 touring schedule, they were rewarded with a sponsorship opportunity promoting PRS’s new line of S2 guitars. In 2014, they spent the year touring and recording their first full-length studio album. Their new material was recorded in North Hollywood, California at Grey Area Studios with producer Erik Ron, who has also worked with Motionless In White, We Came As Romans, and New Year’s Day.

With head banging guitar riffs, intense drums, and melodic hooks containing in your face lyrics the members of Screaming For Silence have created their own unique sound. The first single off their self-titled debut is aptly named “The King Is Crowned” garnered radio play across the country and peaked at #29 on Billboard’s Indicator chart. In May of 2015, they were selected by Ernie Ball as the Battle of the Bands for Rock On The Range winners. Having the right combination of talent, work ethic, and road experience they are poised to explode onto the rock scene in 2016.

In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, I had the pleasure of interviewing Zeb Christensen, the lead vocalist of Screaming For Silence, and asking him a few questions about his musical influences, his songwriting and recording process, his upcoming tour schedule, and his band’s new album Screaming For Silence.

Q&A Session

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

Zeb Christensen: I have always been into music. I’ll never forget the first rock concert I went to which was an outdoor festival. The sun was out and the music was loud I loved it! After seeing all of the energy and emotion that the bands were giving I told myself I wanted to do that! I’ve been inspired by so many musicians. Corey Taylor, Johnny Cash, and Eminem. I like everything; if it catches my ear I dig it.

5-25-2016 1-13-40 AM

TCS: For the benefit of those who are not familiar with Zeb Christensen or Screaming For Silence, how would you describe your musical genre?

ZC: We are a five piece Hard Rock band from Omaha, NE. We have been touring nationally for about four years playing over 400 shows in that span. We released our first full length album in 2015 that is self-titled.

The Screaming For Silence band lineup consists of:

  • Zeb Christensen – Vocals
  • Danny Irwin – Guitar/Vocals
  • Casey Newsom – Guitar/Vocals
  • Matt Tatroe – Drums
  • Mike Friese – Bass Guitar

Screaming for Silence 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?

ZC: Our musical influences are really all over the board and I think that really helped shape us as a band. We all are kind of into different genres and that gives us a little different flavor.

TCS: Take us behind the scenes in the making of your self-titled full length album entitled Screaming For Silence. What was your favorite part of its production and the most challenging from an artistic perspective?

ZC: The whole experience was amazing. Getting to work with the guys and Erik Ron on the album was such a blast. My favorite part is getting to hear all the songs come to life from nothing and then all the way to the final product. It’s something we are very proud of and put a lot work and emotion into. I would say the most challenging part of the process is picking which songs go onto the album!

TCS: Personally, one of my favorite songs off of Screaming For Silence is the lead track called “The King Is Crowned,” so can you share with us the meaning behind it and the video concept?

ZC: We knew after finishing the album that this was going to be the first single. It just had all of the elements. We wanted to make a killer video for it so we thought it would be cool to get our hometown of Omaha involved and film it at the Joslyn Castle. Aaron Gum and Tyler Yager really made this video come to life! We thought it was very fitting to film in a castle. There was a huge storm that day and our crowd still showed up in full force to be a part of it. We had a great response from it and got a lot of radio behind it. It ended up peaking at #29 on the Billboard Indicator Chart and #14 on the Under The Radar Chart. We really owe it to all of our fans that helped spread the word and would call and request!


TCS: How thrilling was it to have “The King Is Crowned” selected as the winner of the 2016 NAIRMA Award for Outstanding Song?

ZC: It was the one of my favorite moments as a band. Getting to be there in LA for the whole experience was just awesome. Rubbing elbows with people in bands we look up to and the whole environment was great. When they called our name we were in a little bit of shock I think haha. It just makes you feel like you are doing something right when someone gives you recognition.


TCS: Can you describe for us the background to the 2012 hit single entitled “Helpless” that appeared on your debut EP Relentless?

ZC: The song is about people who just can’t do anything for themselves. They are always throwing themselves a pity party and not doing anything to help the situation. People like that are really tough to deal with.


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?

ZC: We have always had the mind set of we will play anywhere at any time. It makes for a lot of interesting shows! In the end it has also made us who we are. We are so lucky to be able to play music and perform as much as we do!

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?

ZC: The only area of the country we haven’t hit is the Northwest. I can’t wait to get up there. I’d also really like to play The Machine Shop in Flint, MI. I feel like that venue has one of the best reputations in the country. I’d love to tour with Ke$ha.

TCS: Tell us about the Screaming For Silence song writing, recording, and video production process behind the song “Separate” which also appeared on the Relentless?

ZC: We actually worked with Justin Mccain of the band Through Fire from Omaha NE. He’s an amazing artist/songwriter and we were really young. He wanted to do a song together and I think we ended up doing the whole thing in a day. We hadn’t really done much recording at that time so it was awesome to get the experience with him and learn a lot.


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

ZC: We have our own website Screamingforsilence.com and you can also find us on almost every social media outlet (Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/Snapchat etc.) Also all of our music is on iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, Amazon and more!

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?

ZC: I always try to plug bands that are up and coming like us. We just did a lot of touring with some bands that are killer like Guns Out At Sundown, Poynte, Sleep Signals. Also a lot of our good friends just released new music or are about to like Blameshift, 3 Pill Morning, and Another Lost Year.

TCS: What does the short and long-term outlook look like for Screaming For Silence?

ZC: This summer we are doing just mostly festival stuff. Rocklahoma, Rock Fest (Cadott,WI). I’m really looking forward to Locofest in Algona, IA and headlining a new festival in our hometown called The New Generation Music Festival. You can find all of those dates on our website. Then we are heading back to the studio in August to make a new album!

Song List on House of Glass (2017)

  1. House of Glass
  2. Long Way Up
  3. Beetlejuice
  4. Buried Alive
  5. Worth Fighting For

Song List on Screaming For Silence (2015)

Screaming for Silence

  1. Disgrace
  2. The King Is Crowned
  3. Varsity Blues
  4. Hero to Zero
  5. Cutting Ties
  6. No Way Out
  7. Calling Your Bluff
  8. Infested
  9. Don’t Give In
  10. Fly Away

About Frank Iacono

Frank Iacono Photo

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

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

Karen Mansfield: Singer And Songwriter

Written by: Frank Iacono

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

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

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

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

Q&A Session

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

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

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

Karen-Mansfield

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

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

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

Karen-Mansfield-Performing

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Karen-Mansfield-Live-Brighton-Bar

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Karen-Mansfield-Bleeding-Knees

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Karen-Mansfield-Blue

TCS: In what ways do you market your appearances?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Karen-Mansfield-Songwriter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Song List on Thistle and Boon (2018)

  1. “Lover for the Ride”
  2. “The West Side”
  3. “There Was a Girl”
  4. “Break Away”
  5. “Gone”
  6. “Me and Leslie”
  7. “Ain’t Half Bad”
  8. “My New Favorite Thing”
  9. “Don’t Do”
  10. “You Make Me Happy”

Song List on Karen Mansfield (2014)

Karen-Mansfield-CD

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

About Frank Iacono

Frank Iacono Photo

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

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

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.

Travis Clark: We The Kings

Written by: Frank Iacono and Celeste Iacono

Travis-Clark-we-the-kings

We The Kings is a melodic emo-pop band from Bradenton, Florida. Friends since childhood, the original four bandmates consisting of singer and guitarist Travis Clark, guitarist Hunter Thomsen, his bassist brother Drew Thomsen, and drummer Danny Duncan formed We The Kings while attending high school. They adapted their band name from the middle school that all the members attended called Martha B. King Middle School.

In 2007, under the guidance of manager Bret Disend, We The Kings placed a number of tracks on the social networking site PureVolume, a division of SpinMedia, to build online buzz. Meanwhile, they also pursued a deal with EMI’s imprint S-Curve Records, which eventually signed the group. On October 2, 2007, they released their self-titled debut album which was produced by Sam Hollander and mixed by Lou Giordano, both of whom had done work with some of emo-pop’s most marketable acts. That fall, “Check Yes Juliet” cracked the Pop 100, and the group spent much of the following two years on the road supporting the CD and building a loyal fan base.

By late 2009, We The Kings recorded and released their second album entitled Smile Kid. Like the band’s debut, Smile Kid spawned a Top 100 single with “We’ll Be a Dream,” which featured guest vocals from Demi Lovato. They continued to tour heavily, supporting fellow pop punk band All Time Low for several months before headlining their own shows both home and abroad. The shows stretched into 2011, by which point the group had already begun work on a third album Sunshine State of Mind which was released that summer and contained hits like “Friday Is Forever” and “Say You Like Me”.

On December 16, 2013 We The Kings released their fourth studio album entitled Somewhere Somehow which debuted at No. 44 on the US Billboard 200 and at No. 6 on the Rock Albums chart. The album was supported by four singles including “Just Keep Breathing”. In November of 2014, the band released the album Stripped exclusively through iTunes. It features acoustic versions of songs from Somewhere Somehow, including a rendition of the hit “Just Keep Breathing” as well as some new material, “Stone Walls” and the bonus track, “Is This the End?” Currently, Travis and his bandmates are busy working on completing their fifth studio album which should be released in the near future.

In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, I had the pleasure of interviewing Travis Clark of We The Kings and asking him a few questions about the band, his personal background in writing some of their smash hits, his memorable performance at CBGBs in New York, and the band’s soon to be released fifth studio album.

Q&A Session

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

Travis Clark: The band lineup consists of the following (as shown in pic below):

  • Hunter Thomsen – Lead Guitar, Vocals
  • Coley O’Toole – Keyboards, Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
  • Travis Clark – Lead Vocals, Rhythm Guitar, Keyboards
  • Danny Duncan – Drums, Percussion
  • Charles Trippy – Bass Guitar

We-The-Kings-Lineup

TCS: For the benefit of those who are not familiar with We The Kings, where are you from and how would you describe your musical genre?

TC: We The Kings hails from Bradenton, Florida. Through the years, we’ve been listed as a melodic emo-pop band or something somewhere out there but I think we’re just an American rock band.

We-The-Kings-concert

TCS: Describe for us the background to the 2008 hit platinum single and featured iTunes Single of the Week entitled “Check Yes, Juliet” that sold over 250,000 copies and peaked at number 70 on the Billboard Hot 100 list in the US?

TC: “Check Yes, Juliet” was written in the final hours of the writing process and seemed to come out of nowhere. Dave Katz couldn’t seem to get this “Hey Mickey your so fine” sound out of his head and he had to write something for it during the final day of writing.


TCS: Why did you decide to sample a lyric from the song “Story of Your Life” from your second album Smile Kid (2009) and make that lyric the title of your album?

TC: The album title came first as it was always just an expression we used to remind ourselves to always keep it positive no matter what. We just added it to the song as it seemed to fit well with the vibe of that track.


TCS: In what ways does We The Kings market band appearances, sell merchandise, and stay connected to your fans?

TC: YouTube…YouTube…YouTube. We are a YouTube band for sure.

To stay connected with We The Kings, please visit the following:


TCS: After all these years, what separates We The Kings from similar bands and keeps you motivated to continue as a group?

TC: I think it is clearly our personalities. We definitely pride ourselves in engaging with our fans (some of us every day!) with more than just music.

TCS: Why did you choose “Heaven Can Wait” as the lead single for the 2010 album Smile Kid? And, what personal connection do you have with the song?

TC: “Heaven Can Wait” was actually the very first song we wrote and recorded for the album Smile Kid so I think the decision to let it be the lead single was just based on our excitement to get the new music out, so since it was ready, we released it! The connection I have to that song is more of an imaginary fantasy. What I mean by that is, the song was written with the idea that some loves will outlive death. I’ve always been a hopeless romantic writer but this was the first time that I wrote anything along the lines of ‘even death can’t kill our love’… “Heaven can wait” encompasses that idea of death can wait because our love will never die.


TCS: “Just Keep Breathing” from your 2013 album Somewhere Somehow, which after its first week of release debuted at number 44 on the Billboard 200, discusses lead singer Travis Clark’s coping with bullying. Due to this personal track, how fulfilling was it to find out that the song debuted at number 92 on the Billboard Hot 100 list with 48,000 downloads sold?

TC: I remember the day that we found out that “Just Keep Breathing” was in the top 5 of iTunes singles. We were an unsigned band promoting our music by ourselves and our friends and family. We had no idea how much of an impact that song would make. Each song, once it’s released, gives you a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment, but there truly is nothing like hearing that almost 50,000 people just bought your first single within the first couple of days and loved it.


TCS: What aspect of being musicians both excites and discourages We The Kings as a band the most? 

TC: Are there bands that are discouraged to be musicians? I could never imagine haha. We are always encouraged and excited about what we do. Getting together and going on stage is a part of who we are and it will never get old.

TCS: Is there a particular venue that We The Kings has always wanted to play?

TC: I’m pretty satisfied with being able to play CBGBs, the undisputed birthplace of punk, before they closed it down. It’s truly a piece of NY music history and we got to play on that stage. It was an honor really.

CBGB-New York-We-The-Kings

TCS: Over your career, We The Kings has toured with many different types of bands including Slayer, Iron Maiden, and Slash so can you tell us about that experience?

TC: This question is a bit deceiving as that was one festival show that we did in Australia a couple of years ago where those three bands were also featured. As much as I’d like to say that we have influences from Slayer, you can clearly tell that that is not the case.

TCS: What is the most exciting project We The Kings has worked on to date?

TC: Our latest album that will be released soon. The album is still without a title but the songs truly mean a lot to all of us.

Booking We The Kings

For booking information, please contact Matt Galle via email at mgalle@paradigmagency.com.

Song List on We The Kings (2007)

we-the-kings-album

  1. “Secret Valentine”
  2. “Skyway Avenue”
  3. “Check Yes Juliet”
  4. “Stay Young”
  5. “Whoa”
  6. “August Is Over”
  7. “The Quiet”
  8. “Don’t Speak Liar”
  9. “Headlines Read Out…”
  10. “All Again for You”
  11. “This Is Our Town”

Song List on Smile Kid (2009)

we-the-kids-smile-kid

  1. “She Takes Me High”
  2. “Promise the Stars”
  3. “Heaven Can Wait”
  4. “The Story of Your Life”
  5. “Rain Falls Down”
  6. “Summer Love”
  7. “In-n-Out (Animal Style)”
  8. “Spin”
  9. “Anna Maria (All We Need)”
  10. “We’ll Be a Dream (featuring Demi Lovato)”
  11. “What You Do to Me”

Song List on Sunshine State Of Mind (2011)

we-the-kids-sunshine-state-of-mind

  1. “Friday Is Forever”
  2. “Say You Like Me”
  3. “Every Single Dollar”
  4. “The View from Here”
  5. “The Secret to New York”
  6. “Sleep with Me”
  7. “Over You”
  8. “Kiss Me Last”
  9. “Somebody to Call My Own”
  10. “You and Only You”

Song List on Somewhere Somehow (2013)

we-the-kids-somehere-somehow

  1. “Queen of Hearts”
  2. “Find You There”
  3. “I Feel Alive”
  4. “I Like It”
  5. “That Feeling”
  6. “See You In My Dreams”
  7. “Die Young Live Forever”
  8. “Phoenix Hearts”
  9. “Any Other Way”
  10. “Say It Now”
  11. “Art of War”
  12. “Sad Song” (feat. Elena Coats)
  13. “Just Keep Breathing”

Song List on Stripped (2014)

we-the-kings-stripped

  1. “Just Keep Breathing”
  2. “Queen of Hearts”
  3. “I Feel Alive”
  4. “Sad Song” (feat. Elena Coats)
  5. “Any Other Way”
  6. “Art of War”
  7. “See You in My Dreams”
  8. “Find You There”
  9. “Stone Walls”

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.

Neill Byrnes: Draw The Line Aerosmith Tribute Band

Written by: Frank Iacono

Neill-Byrnes-Draw-The-Line

Draw The Line, the Aerosmith Tribute Band, hails from the city that boasts the Red Sox, the New England Patriots, and the Celtics as well as musical groups such as Boston, The Cars, Godsmack, and of course Aerosmith. With over 2,000 performances in over 100 cities Draw The Line, together as an Aersomith tribute band for more than twenty years, has performed in all but two U.S. states including shows in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and other U.S. territories. Additionally, they’ve also toured other countries such as England, Canada, South America, and Japan.

In January of 1998, during an interview, legendary Aerosmith lead singer Steven Tyler singled out Draw The Line as the best of the Aerosmith tribute bands. On Boston’s biggest rock radio station 104.1 WBCN, disc jockey Nick Carter was quoted as saying, “I’ve seen Draw The Line! They ARE Aerosmith!” The band is very popular on the college circuit and has been interviewed by several Boston-based college radio stations over the years including Brandeis University’s 100.1 WBRS. Equally, Draw The Line has also appeared in several Boston area newspapers such as The Patriot Ledger, The Boston Globe, and The Mariner.

Draw The Line is the only tribute band who has been featured on the Official Aerosmith Website as well as that of Aerosmith’s Official Fan Club. With support and accolades from Aerosmith themselves, as well as top DJs, journalists, and fans worldwide, it’s no wonder that they’ve been recognized as a one-of-a-kind. If you love Aerosmith, then the Draw The Line tribute show is one you truly don’t want to miss!

In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, I had the pleasure of interviewing Neill Byrnes from Draw The Line an Aerosmith tribute band and asking him a few questions about his musical influences, his career in a tribute band, their set list, and their past and upcoming performances.

Q&A Session

The Creative Spotlight: Can you introduce us to the Draw The Line lineup and tell us how you decided on the band name?

The Draw The Line band lineup consists of:

  • Neill Byrnes – Lead Vocals, Harmonica, Percussion (Steven Tyler)
  • Gino Caira – Lead Guitar (Joe Perry)
  • Jim Dennis – Lead Guitar (Brad Whitford)
  • Phil Cefalo – Drums (Joey Kramer)
  • Justin Hunt – Bass Guitar (Tom Hamilton)

Back in 1991, at the request of an agency that just picked us up, we changed the band name from Mass Production to one more Aerosmith recognizable. So after long discussions we decided on Draw The Line. We felt that the caricature on the front of that album cover was one of the bands most iconic images, and we could represent ourselves in a very similar fashion. This would be unmistakably recognizable to Aerosmith.

Draw-The-Line-Performance

TCS: So how long has Draw The Line been playing together and how did you get started?

As mentioned, I originally joined a band called Mass Production. It was a semi-Aerosmith tribute, but not serious. about two months after I joined, we decided to go full on Aerosmith tribute and change the name to Draw The Line. That was back in August of 1991. Here we are 24 years later.

 

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

My first influences in music were from my parents. They were from the big band era. They were into artists like Tommy Dorsey, Lawrence Welk, Sinatra, and Slim Whitman. It was the Lawrence Welk Show that turned me on to my first instrument; the trombone. I was exposed to rock and roll through friends and cousins. The Beatles, KISS, Rolling Stones, The Who, and etc. Great 60s and 70s bands. I was probably 8 when I started on the trombone. After being exposed to great theatrical rock bands and the response from the audience these people were getting. I knew that was what I wanted to do.

TCS: Early on Neill did you think that you looked, sounded, or moved like the legendary Steven Tyler or was it something that you discovered over time?

My friends used to tease me on how much I looked like Steven Tyler, but I just shook it off not really paying attention to it. It wasn’t until the same friends convinced me to enter a local Boston area Radio Station (WAAF) sponsored Steven Tyler lookalike contest that I paid attention to it. After winning the contest, the notoriety from it made it impossible to dismiss. It wouldn’t be until a year later that I set on the journey of transforming into him. I studied from a vocal coach that he studied with, worked out constantly, studied hours of video tape, took aerobics classes, gymnastics classes, piano classes, and I worked my butt off in order to be able to do this at the level at which I thought I needed to be at.

 

TCS: Let’s talk about the music for a moment. When you’re in a tribute band, obviously your music will be picked apart and compared to the original. So how did Draw The Line sculpt its sound and its stage performance?

Well when we started, I made sure that we were going to go all the way with it or not even bother. Meaning the look, sound, and mannerisms had to copied to a tee. Each band member had to dedicate themselves to this level of excellence. They had to do an in depth character study. Those that didn’t, ended up being replaced. We wanted to be the best.

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

The hardest part is the attitude and the energy. Being from the same stomping grounds of Aerosmith gives us a similar vibe. We naturally have the same sort of environmental factors that have shaped out personalities. Therefore in some respects, as performers, we come from the same place. Other Aerosmith tributes from other areas do not conjure the same energy. We are authentic being from Boston. Musically, Aerosmith is a tough act to follow. We have dedicated our selves to learning this material to the highest level.

 

TCS: How many gigs does Draw The Line play annually and what and where are some of the venues in which you’ve performed?

Draw The Line plays anywhere from 75-100 gigs a year. We have traveled all over America, Canada, Central America, parts of Europe, and all over the Caribbean. Most of our gigs these days are festivals, casinos, cruise ships, corporate, and private events. We still do a few clubs here and there locally in Massachusetts to ensure that our original fans can still see us often.

TCS: If Draw The Line could perform in any venue in the world right now, national or international, where would that be and why?

It would be one of the legendary venues or festivals like Knebworth, Isle of Wight, Donnington. Just to be on the same stage as some of the greats is a tremendous feeling. The Whiskey in LA is one of those places. I could feel legendary Jim Morrison from The Doors when performing on that stage.

Neill-Byrnes-Draw-The-Line-Performing

TCS: Tell us about how special it was to participate in the Aerosmith Legacy Show, hosted by Ray Tabano the original Aerosmith guitarist?

The legacy show was a culmination of what we have been trying to do from the beginning. Make what we do, a big produced show. Our manager Tricia Byrnes, also my wife, and I drew up the ideas and plans to create this. A show that was a retrospective of Aerosmith’s career. With video, costumes, etc… With Raymond being an old friend we thought what better way to do this, than having an original member tell the story. Someone who was there, on the inside. He came aboard and the show was set. One of the coolest things with Ray, besides the true stories, was playing Train Kept A Rollin’ with him. That is a song that Aerosmith took and made their own. He was part of that. After playing with him, you could clearly see his influence in the early sound of Aerosmith. An epiphany of sorts for us.

Draw-The-Line-Legacy-Show

TCS: Share with us the most requested Aerosmith songs at a typical Draw The Line show?

Making the set list is the hardest part of the show! So many great songs. The catalog is so extensive. We always make our set based on our audience. We do a little demographic research to see which albums did best where. There are certain songs in the show every night. Dream On, Sweet Emotion, Walk This Way, etc.. We try to add a few deep cuts for the diehards. One song that gets requested more than any other is Seasons of Whither. It’s not one of their biggest hits so it doesn’t get in the show every night.

Below, please find an example of a recent set list where we were able to do a lot of deep cuts:

Draw-The-Line-Set-List

TCS: Of the songs that Draw The Line plays from Aerosmith’s extensive library which ones are your most and least favorite? Equally, is there a song from Aerosmith that you guys really love that is not currently included in your set list? If yes, then why.

There are certain songs like Back in the Saddle, One Way Street, Pandora’s Box, and Seasons of Whither that are group favorites. We may not like all the songs before we learn them. But to a man I can honestly say that after learning a song, we come to like it very much. There isn’t a song that we don’t like. Even the ballads. Lol! A song we haven’t done yet… That we would love to do…. would either be Cheesecake or Spaced. They are very obscure but great songs. It’s just a matter of time before we get to them.

TCS: What would you say has been the toughest challenge Draw The Line has faced to date, and do you think it made you stronger as musicians and performers?

I think the toughest challenge was in the beginning. When we first started, we weren’t that good. We really had to face the criticism and It was very difficult. This is a very difficult band to emulate. But we kept at it and we knew that if we just worked hard we would get there, but it wasn’t easy.

TCS: Tell us about how proud Draw The Line was to be named one of The World’s Greatest Tribute Bands Awardee?

Beside being recognized by Aerosmith as the best, this was our crowning moment so far. To be recognized as the greatest at anything is very humbling. It was the culmination of years of hard work and dedication. It was just such an honor. And what a privilege to showcase the band on live TV!! Just an amazing experience. We really couldn’t be more proud. Thanks to all the Aerosmith / DTL FANS THAT MADE THAT HAPPEN!

 

TCS: How do you market Draw The Line songs, merchandise, and appearances?

I let management handle all that! I do post on Twitter and Facebook. Any one can always approach us at the shows. We love to meet people.

TCS: Has anyone in Draw The Line met any of the members of Aerosmith?

Yes we have a professional relationship with the band. Steven came to our show at the whiskey on AXS TV. Brad was at our gig for NASCAR. Joey played a gig with us. Aerosmith has been really supportive of us over the years. Steven has gone so far as to publicly endorse the band and allow us to use that in our promotion. We are licensed to sell their merchandise as well. They have really been unbelievable.

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

I was invited over to England once to sing with an English Aerosmith tribute band for a couple of gigs. The response was fantastic it was a great experience

 

TCS: Besides Draw The Line, if you could individually play a set with any artist alive or dead who would you choose and why?

I think it would be either The Doors or Led Zeppelin. Jimi Hendrix a close third. The late 60s and early 70s was just a time that was magical. All this creative music was coming out and blazing the trail for everyone to follow. It would have been amazing to have witnessed that.

TCS: What does the short and long-term future look like for Draw The Line?

We have never been busier. I thank my lucky stars every day that I am able to make a living playing music. I am truly a blessed person. There’s no reason why Draw The Line cannot continue into the far future. As long as we have our health and they’re still callin’ we’ll be there to rock your world!

Booking Inquiries

Fine Productions
Tricia Byrnes
P.O. Box 586
Accord, MA 02018
Phone: 617-438-9884
Email: Tricia@FineProductions.com
Website: www.FineProductions.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.

Peter Beckett: Singer and Songwriter

Written by: Frank Iacono

peter-beckett-header-image

In 1974, legendary singer/songwriter/musician Peter Beckett, a Liverpool, England native, came to America to join an international group of writer/musicians called Skyband and recorded an album for RCA Records. Unfortunately Skyband was short-lived, but during a glitzy Hollywood party he met singer/guitarist J.C. Crowley. A short time later, Peter formed Player along with Crowley, bassist Ronn Moss, and drummer John Friesen.

In 1978, Player struck gold with the chart-topping, feel-good smash hit co-written by Beckett and Crowley entitled “Baby Come Back.” The song was Player’s biggest single, hitting number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 10 on the soul charts. With the success of “Baby Come Back,” the self-titled debut album went platinum and the band toured extensively. When Player slowed down in the 1980s Beckett focused on film and TV projects while his bandmate Moss gained stardom playing Ridge Forrester on the CBS soap opera series The Bold And The Beautiful.

Between the years 1989-1997, Peter was a featured member of The Little River Band and has written several singles for them. Beckett and Moss reunited in 1997 and completed the fifth Player album entitled Lost In Reality. Then in 1999, they began performing again as Player, usually with all-star lineups of musicians that included members of Foreigner, REO Speedwagon, The Cars, Mister Mister and Little River Band. Now, after an almost 20-year hiatus, Player is back with a new album released in 2013 entitled Too Many Reasons. The album, which features 12 new tracks and a new acoustic version of “Baby Come Back,” was written and produced by Peter.

In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, I had the pleasure of interviewing Peter Beckett and asking him a few questions about his musical influences, his early career in the band Player, his songwriting career, his more memorable performances, and the new Player CD Too Many Reasons.

Q&A Session

The Creative Spotlight: Growing up in Liverpool, England when did you realize music was something you wanted to pursue? And, were there any specific bands that highly influenced your decision?

My brother sneaked me into The Cavern Club in Liverpool when I was about 16 and I got to see The Beatles play live. It was so loud and atmospheric that from that moment I was hooked. One of my favorite bands was The Escorts. I loved their Everly Brothers style harmonies and used to go see them a lot.

TCS: Tell us about when Player showcased “Baby Come Back,” a No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1977, for legendary American record producer and music industry executive Clive Davis and describe how that meeting played itself out?

John Charles Crowley (vocals, keyboards, guitar) and Ronn Moss (bass, vocals) and I were set up to play a handful of songs for Clive at the Beverly Hills Hotel in the ballroom. There was just him sitting out there. We were on the stage playing acoustically. We did about three songs including “Baby Come Back”. Afterwards he took us to his suite, and after telling us that he didn’t hear a hit, he started playing us a bunch of records that he thought were hits. We were deflated. He was very polite, but also wrong (for once).

TCS: Since then “Baby Come Back” has been featured in many TV commercials, more recently to sell Swiffer Sweeper Vac and Swiffer WetJet, so how do you think that either helps or hurts Player?

At this stage of the game and the way the music business has changed, I don’t think anything can hurt. It’s all airplay and gets the song in people’s faces again.

TCS: When you were working on Player’s second album, entitled The Danger Zone, your record company asked you to tour with guitar great Eric Clapton. Can you tell us all about that experience?

I had performed with Clapton several times in England before during the John Mayall and eventually “Cream” days. We knew when we got the news that we would have to toughen up our sound somewhat to do the “Slowhand” tour. This led to the harder edged 1978 album entitled Danger Zone. This came naturally to me as I had played in some harder rock bands in England. I was asked to play with Uriah Heep at one stage but turned it down to stay in Los Angeles as I would have had to move back to London. The “Slowhand” tour was a classic and a great memory.

TCS: Can you introduce us to the current Player band lineup?

  • Peter Beckett: Vocals and Guitar
  • Ronn Moss: Bass and Vocals
  • Rob Math: Lead Guitar and Vocals
  • Jawn Starr: Keyboards
  • Jimmy Carnelli: Drummer (not shown in pic below)

TCS: What do you enjoy most about performing with Player? And, how would say Player differentiates itself from similar bands within the same genre?

We play with a lot of our contemporaries still, and one thing that’s different is we actually have some original members. Lots of name bands out touring these days have no originals. It’s crazy. Over the years we have developed a nice mix of R&B and rock in our stage show that keeps things fun and fresh.

TCS: Over the years, are there any specific Player performances that are particularly memorable for you?

I remember playing in Chicago on the Boz Scaggs’ Silk Degrees tour. We had been touring for a while as our single was going up the Billboard charts. We walked out on stage and the audience reception was much, much bigger than usual. We found out later that the record had hit number one and a lot more people knew who we were.

TCS: What are among some of the strangest venues or gigs you’ve ever played and how did it affect the overall performance?

I did a “theater in the round” one time, and what was supposed to happen was the band would start playing facing the backstage area, By the time we started singing, the stage should have turned and we should have been facing the audience. The stage never turned and we did the whole first song facing backstage. The roadies were in hysterics but they applauded at the end. Then the stage turned and things were back to normal.

TCS: Can you provide us with some background about the acoustic song “I Will” that appears on your 2013 release entitled Too Many Reasons?

I wrote that song with Steve Plunkett a few years back and it seemed to fit alongside the other songs that were chosen for the CD. It was meant to have a kind of Dave Matthews vibe.

TCS: During your career, you’ve done a fair amount of songwriting and a great deal of session work for other artists so can you share with us some of that work?

I can barely remember all of them these days, but off the top of my head I have written songs for:

  • Kenny Rogers
  • Heart
  • Olivia Newton John
  • Survivor
  • Sergio Mendes
  • The Temptations
  • Commodores
  • Janet Jackson
  • Poco
  • Little River Band
  • and many others…including Grace Slick and Bob Weir of The Grateful Dead

Some movie credits include:

  • Major League
  • The Karate Kid
  • Terminator 3
  • Dirty Dancing 2
  • Rock Star
  • Basic
  • St Elmo’s Fire (Grammy Nomination)
  • Frankie and Johnny
  • Transformers

TCS: What do the short and long term plans hold for you and Player?

I am still working on my book, Player has the new CD out entitled Too Many Reasons, we have been doing some TV including General Hospital (see video below), and a big TV show dedicated to Smokey Robinson. Additionally, Player has a big tour of Australia planned in November/December of 2014. My country band “The Limey Cowboy” will be playing live next year after I finish up the CD and get another number one.

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Song List on Too Many Reasons (2013)

Too Many Reasons - Player

  1. “Man On Fire”
  2. “Precious”
  3. “I Will”
  4. “Tell Me”
  5. “The Sins of Yesterday”
  6. “You’re My Addiction”
  7. “Too Many Reasons”
  8. “To the Extreme”
  9. “The Words You Say”
  10. “Life in Color”
  11. “A Part of Me”
  12. “Kites”
  13. “Nothin’ Like You”
  14. “Baby Come Back”

Song List on Lost In Reality (1996)

Lost-In-Reality-Player

  1. “This Is Your Life”
  2. “Without You”
  3. “Footprints In The Sand”
  4. “Something Good”
  5. “After All This Time”
  6. “Baby Come Back”
  7. “Cherry Lane”
  8. “Stand By Me”
  9. “No More Rain”
  10. “Sometimes You Got To Let Go”
  11. “Beautiful Love”
  12. “Just To Be With You”

Song List on Electric Shadow (1995)

Electric-Shadow-Player

  1. “This Is Your Life”
  2. “Without You”
  3. “Footprints in the Sand”
  4. “Something Good”
  5. “Stand by You”
  6. “No More Rain”
  7. “Every Time I Turn Around”
  8. “After All This time”
  9. “Just to Be with You”
  10. “Beautiful Love”
  11. “Baby Come Back”

Song List on Beckett (1991)

Peter-Beckett-CD

  1. “I Told You So”
  2. “My Religion”
  3. “Brother Louie”
  4. “Hangin’ By A Thread”
  5. “The Big Hurt”
  6. “How Can The Girl Refuse”
  7. “Not A Day Goes By”
  8. “The Bottom Line”
  9. “Still Of The Night”
  10. “Falling From Grace”

Song List on Spies Of Life (1982)

Spies-of-Life-Player

  1. “If Looks Could Kill”
  2. “Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid”
  3. “Thank You For The Use Of Your Love”
  4. “It Only Hurts When I Breathe”
  5. “My Mind’s Made Up”
  6. “I’d Rather Be Gone”
  7. “Take Me Back”
  8. “My Survival”
  9. “Born To Be With You”
  10. “In Like Flynn”

Song List on Room With A View (1980)

Room-With-A-View-Player

  1. “Room With A View”
  2. “It’s For You”
  3. “Upside Down”
  4. “Who Do You Think You Are”
  5. “Bad News Travels Fast”
  6. “All Tied Up”
  7. “Givin’ It All”
  8. “It May Never Happen”
  9. “Tip Of The Iceberg”

Song List on Danger Zone (1978)

Peter-Beckett-CD

  1. “Love In The Danger Zone”
  2. “Silver Lining”
  3. “I Just Want To Be With You”
  4. “Forever”
  5. “I’ve Been Thinking”
  6. “Prisoner Of Your Love”
  7. “Join In The Dance”
  8. “Wait Until Tomorrow”
  9. “Let Me Down Easy”

Song List on Player (1977)

Player-Album

  1. “Come On Out”
  2. “Baby Come Back”
  3. “Goodbye (That’s All I Ever Heard)”
  4. “Melanie”
  5. “Every Which Way”
  6. “This Time I’m In It for Love”
  7. “Love Is Where You Find It”
  8. “Movin’ Up”
  9. “Cancellation”
  10. “Trying To Write a Hit Song”

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.