You Sing, I Write: January 2010

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Grammy Awards Tonight on CBS!

The 52nd annual Grammy Awards air tonight on CBS at 8 p.m. Celine Dion, Jennifer Hudson, Smokey Robinson, Carrie Underwood and Usher will be on hand for a special 3-D GRAMMY tribute to Michael Jackson. Do you have your 3-D glasses on hand?

With additional performances by Taylor Swift, Beyoncé, Black Eyed Peas, Bon Jovi, Dave Matthews Band, Green Day, Lady Antebellum, Lady Gaga, Maxwell, Pink, Zac Brown Band and more, the night's sure to be jam-packed.

Taylor Swift and Beyoncé lead with the most nominations and my bet (and hopes) include Kanye West not making an appearance onstage. I'm sure there will be plenty of excitement regardless. Who do you think the big winners will be?

I'll be live tweeting if you don't have a chance to watch the show, so be sure to follow me on Twitter here.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Song of the Week: "Tiny Dancer"

I'm almost certain I've featured this song on the blog before, but after watching Almost Famous last night, I can't help but repost "Tiny Dancer" as my song of the week. The movie is a classic and one I not only relate to, but continuously inspires me on my path as a music journalist. I can't help but smile every time I hear this song.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Taylor Swift's New Venture: Greeting Cards

Taylor Swift is an entrepreneur in her own right. Not only has she stormed the charts and amassed numerous awards, (need I mention her eight Grammy nominations?), but she is now taking her creativity to a new outlet — greeting cards.

Yesterday, MTV News reported her deal with American Greetings. While they won't be in stores for a while, you can take a look at a sample of Swift's inspiring sayings and humorous designs here.

"We are absolutely thrilled and honored to introduce Taylor Swift as the newest writer and creative contributor to the American Greetings family," stated Zev Weiss, Chief Executive Officer at American Greetings in a press release. "Her abilities as a storyteller and songwriter make her a natural at writing cards for consumers of all ages. She has the unique ability to connect with her fans through life experiences and greeting cards do the same--cards help people express, connect and celebrate these events with the important people in their lives. We believe it’s a natural fit!"

The press release explained that Swift will be working with American Greetings’ editorial and creative teams to design, develop and create a line of cards and products that reflect and demonstrate not only her personality, but bring her stories and words to life.

"My idea of a great song is a song that says how I feel better than I could. I feel the same way about greeting cards," Taylor says. "I've always been fascinated by feelings and how we express them to each other. Getting to write and design these cards is a wonderful experience."

What do you think? Will you be buying Swift's greeting cards? I think I just might.

Related Links:
Q&A with Taylor Swift
Hundreds of Fans Camp Out to Meet Taylor Swift
CMA 2009: Six Artists To Watch
Artist to Watch: Taylor Swift

Thursday, January 28, 2010

John Mayer On VH1 Storytellers Tonight!

If you've been reading this blog for any amount of time, you already know my favorite artist (and dream interview) is John Mayer. Whether it's his tell-all nature in his most recent Rolling Stone cover story or his comedy as seen on VH1 special, "John Mayer Has A TV Show," Mayer can do no wrong in my eyes.

A friend reminded me earlier today that he will be performing tonight on VH1's Storytellers at 8 p.m. and you better believe I'll be watching! For a preview, watch below as Mayer sings the first track off his album, Battle Studies. And please, VH1, bring back "John Mayer Has A TV Show!" If you need some assistance, I'll gladly clear my schedule!

Related Links:
John Mayer Debuts Tracks Off New Album at Secret Brooklyn Show
John Mayer Tells All At Z100's Z-Lounge
John Mayer, Colbie Caillat and Brett Dennen Impress in New Jersey
Blast From the Past: John Mayer Concert Review on

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Artist to Watch: Laura Bell Bundy

She's starred in numerous television series and movies as well as acted in on and off Broadway musicals including Legally Blonde, where she was nominated for a Tony Award for her role as Elle Woods. Going back to her love and passion for music, Laura Bell Bundy is releasing Achin’ and Shakin’ and has country fans and critics raving.

A concept album, Achin’ and Shakin’ is two separate albums within one project. Achin’ is a collection of slow and sultry country songs while Shakin’ is a group of sassy songs that are equal parts humor, confidence and attitude.

"I have two different sides of my personality," she explains. "I have a crazy, wild, humorous, outspoken personality, and then I have a depth that only opens up when I am alone or with one other person, and that is captured with this album. I really couldn’t do one without the other."

The first single off Achin’ and Shakin, "Giddy On Up" is just a taste of what's to come for the singer-songwriter. Her first music video, "Giddy On Up" is an entertaining, choreographed tale about a cheating lover. Having already earned comparisons as the Katy Perry of country music, I'm interested to see what the future holds for this country songstress.

Watch the video for "Giddy On Up" below. For more on Laura Bell Bundy, visit her Web site.

Related Links:
Band of the Week: The N Result
Artist of the Week: Michael Nappi
Artist of the Week: Akiva
Artist of the Week: David Ryan Harris

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

10 Career Tips for 2010 From Snoop Dogg, TOMS Shoes Founder and More

The start of the New Year is often a time to reassess goals and accomplishments from the previous year and make fresh resolutions to achieve.

During Global Entrepreneurship Week, the New York Stock Exchange and The Kauffman Foundation sponsored a business event that brought together well-known entrepreneurs like Snoop Dogg and Blake Mycoskie of TOMS Shoes to inspire young entrepreneurs.

Over 200 college students attended a panel discussion which included Snoop Dogg, Mycoskie, Stephen Hanson of B.R. Guest Restaurant Group and Barry Sternlicht of Starwood Capital Group. Moderated by Maria Bartiromo, news anchor for CNBC, the event included discussion on turning points in their careers, business plan development, best practices and pitfalls.

Compiled below are the day’s 10 most prevalent tips along with anecdotes from the entrepreneurs themselves. Heed their advice and start 2010 off right!

1. Follow your passion
A recurring theme throughout each entrepreneur’s discussion was the advice to follow your passion. “Too many people think of entrepreneurship as a career path. Whenever you ask an entrepreneur, it’s never about money or a business plan – that’s the biggest mistake,” Mycoskie said. “The most important thing is to follow your passion.”

2. Be authentic
No one can state this better than Snoop Dogg himself. When asked what his best advice was, he said, “Be original. There are so many things in life people need. Make something no one can compete with.” He used 50 Cent as an example. “50 Cent took Vitamin Water and put the money he made back into the company. Take something very small and make it original.”

3. Study
All of the panelists agreed on the importance of completing college to achieve one’s greatest potential. “You make it easier for yourself if you finish your education because you network and make connections,” Sternlicht said.

4. Don’t lose humility
“People lose fortunes when they lose their intellectual humility,” Sternlicht stated. “Nobody knows everything. Be patient, don’t rush. Don’t be so arrogant. See the potholes in your business. Always have a plan B and think, how can it go wrong?”

5. Fake it ‘til you make it
Before founding TOMS Shoes, Mycoskie started EZ Laundry, a door-to-door laundry service aimed at fellow college students at Southern Methodist University. When he first launched his service no one wanted to give him their laundry, so for 3-4 weeks he and a friend would drive around campus and pretend they were picking up and delivering laundry. Once students became more familiar with the business and thought others were using it, they put their trust in Mycoskie and EZ Laundry took off.

6. Some rules are not made to be broken
When first starting TOMS Shoes, Mycoskie had no experience in shoes or design. He decided to sell shoes out of canvas bags instead of the typical boxes stacked in department stores. Canvas bags created havoc in storing the shoes, eventually leading Nordstrom to discontinue selling the shoes. “There are reasons boxes in stock rooms exist,” he told students.

7. Hustle
“If you had no capital, how did you start TOMS Shoes?” Maria Bartiromo asked. “We just hustled,” Mycoskie said. “Employees can be part of the cause. Our original team was me and three interns I recruited on Craigslist.” There are tremendous amounts of grants and funding for young entrepreneurs, especially if there is a social component, you just have to go out and find it, he stated.

8. Dedication
Stephen Hansen, founder and president of B.R. Guest Restaurants was asked the reasons behind his success to which he joked, “not being married so you can devote all your time to the restaurant.” It takes a huge amount of dedication and staying true to yourself, he said. The restaurant business runs seven days a week, often 18 hours a day and the trick is “not taking your eye off the ball.”

9. Stay on top of your market
Hansen explained that competition is also a great motivator. “I always stay on top of the market. The Internet and social networking are always morphing businesses. Stay with the curve or ahead of the curve and be perceptive. You can’t think what you built will sustain forever, there are always slight changes. Know your business.”

10. Don’t think about failure
One of the world’s leading hotel and leisure companies, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., is known for its innovation and global appeal. Chairman, president and CEO Barry Sternlicht helped with Starwood’s ongoing success and is one of the most respected leaders in the industry. “I never thought about failure. I thought about success. Failure wasn’t an option. I never looked backwards, I kept looking forward,” Sternlicht said.

This post was originally featured on You can read it here.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Calling All Bands for iPhone Beta Testing

A few months ago, Steve from North Carolina State University contacted me about an iPhone application he and some friends are building for bands. He wanted some feedback from people entrenched in the music scene so I had a phoner with him on my thoughts in what bands might be interested in.

Since then, Steve has been working hard to perfect the iPhone app, now named Sound Around. If you're a band and interested in taking part in beta testing (you'll get a free iPhone app!) e-mail me and I'll send you the site and access code. For more information, you can read all about Sound Around below.

Sound Around is a platform for bands to create their own individual iPhone applications. It's a lot like creating a Myspace page — sign up, upload your content, and manage/update that content as time goes on. This gives fans a way to access your songs, videos, photos, news posts, and show schedule from their mobile phone. In addition, they can integrate Twitter accounts so they can see what the band is tweeting and what other people are saying about the band.

The application allows you to link songs and albums to iTunes and makes it easy to buy music on the go. If someone is at a show and likes the song you just played, they can hop on your iPhone app and buy it on the spot. Fans can also take advantage of "push notifications." Two weeks before and the night before a show, fans within a 50 mile radius of the venue will receive a message letting them know you're going to be in town.

These are just a few features Sound Around can offer. If you're interested in testing it out, feel free to e-mail me.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Joshua Radin Brings Intimate Story Telling to Hard Rock Cafe

Joshua Radin pleased all in attendance at Thursday night's intimate gig at Hard Rock Cafe in New York's Times Square. Playing a 40-minute set, Radin performed nine songs with his band. Rotating between old and new tracks, he created a dialogue with the audience, filling them in on the stories behind his songs and responding to questions and requests from fans when asked.

"It's good to be home," Radin said after taking the stage while tuning his guitar. "You gotta play in tune when you're in New York City," he joked before "Brand New Day," a track off his latest album, Simple Times. Radin's soft singing was never overpowered by the instrumental accompaniment and throughout the night the crowd was so quiet his voice was the only thing heard.

"I'm going to play you a sad song," he told the crowd. Midway through a fan screamed it was her birthday, to which Radin asked her name and dedicated "One of Those Days" to her, but not before revealing the heartache behind the song. "This is the only song I ever wrote in the bunk of a tour bus. It was freezing in Minneapolis and the bus wouldn't start and my girlfriend and I just split up."

Another fan interrupts and screams, "Screw her!" and Radin laughs and continues his tale.

"A girl was standing outside the bus waiting for me to come out. This 14-year-old girl shoved a picture with my ex-girlfriend in my face to sign. Not the easiest thing to do, but I got a song out of it."

With light guitar accompaniment and beautiful, emotive vocals Radin sings of heartbreak. "The sight of you is painful/So I crawl underneath my blanket where I can hide away/I know I can't take it anymore/'Cause I see now it's just one of those days."

Radin said "No Envy, No Fear" was inspired by an idea from Bob Dylan's biography and the best advice Dylan was ever given, "to lose all envy and all fear."

"At the time, I had so much envy and fear. Every time I play this song it helps me. Hopefully it helps you too," he said. Performing without a mic at the edge of the stage on acoustic guitar, Radin's voice reverberated throughout the venue. The audience was impressed and Radin seemed equally surprised. "It's rare when you get an audience so quiet when you can do that," he said.

Fans were happy to hear Radin is in the process of making a new record and got to witness a few new tracks Thursday night. "I've got this crazy badass rhythm section on this next song called 'Starting Over.'" A much darker and fuller sound than previous records, the crowd seemed pleased.

"I'm starting over so here we go/If I fall way down, down/Would you catch me?" Radin sang. "Something in the way you looked at me that day/Like someone far away you once knew," he continued. The instrumental interlude included heavier percussion, keyboards and guitar which helped emphasize the emotion behind Radin's vocals.

It's hard to believe Radin just started playing music five years ago. Having been on tour for the past four, he told the crowd "The Ones With the Light" was inspired from the people he meets on tour. With a fun melodica feature and increased electric guitar presence, Radin's newer material proves promising.

"The Rock and the Tide" is so new, Radin hasn't even taught the band yet. While explaining the song and how it is about someone he met on the road, Radin said, "When you're in this business you meet a lot of people being on tour. Either they're cool or they're not."

"Were they cool?" a fan asked.

"Yes she was very cool," Radin replied with a grin. The lyrics explain the song best: "Everyone gets what they want too fast these days/No one knows the way to make things last/Katie I'm through waiting/'Cause I need you now/I'll show how you could take my hand and save me."

Radin closed the night with three well known songs; "Today," "I'd Rather Be With You" and a cover of Bob Dylan's "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright." Having become well known as a wedding song, Radin said "Today" wasn't inspired by a wedding as he's never been married. "Every time I hear someone used it I'm very flattered."

"I was expecting people not to listen tonight, but I'm so glad you did so I'm going to do something special," Radin told the crowd. Ending the night with Dylan's "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright," Radin and his entire band walked off the stage with their instruments in hand and performed in the middle of the floor as fans gathered in a circle around them. I couldn't think of a better way to end the night.

Related Links:
Q&A with Joshua Radin
Joshua Radin Pours His Heart Out In New York
Joshua Radin Interview Featured on Marie Claire
Hotel Cafe Tour Stops In NYC

Friday, January 22, 2010

Help TWLOHA Win $1 Million for Suicide Prevention

Today is the last day you can vote to help To Write Love On Her Arms win one million dollars for suicide prevention. For more information click here.

To watch founder Jamie Tworkowski discuss the story behind the name of non-profit To Write Love On Her Arms as well as see Miley Cyrus teach Joaquin Phoenix and Liv Tyler how to vote see below.

Related Links:
The Article That Began It All
You Sing, I Write + The Jew Spot Present A Benefit For TWLOHA
You Sing, I Write Celebrates Two Years
Why Benefit To Write Love On Her Arms?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Musicians & Media Get Involved In Haiti

By now you've heard about the devastation in Haiti and the aftermath of the earthquake. Many musicians and media outlets have been doing their part to raise money and I thought I'd fill you in on two music related ventures — Paste Magazine's "Songs For Haiti" and MTV's "Hope For Haiti."

Paste Magazine is offering those who donate money to the Haiti earthquake relief unreleased songs from diverse artists including Ludacris, Of Montreal, Andrew Bird, Hanson, Low Anthem, Umphrey’s McGee, Switchfoot, Derek Webb and over 200 others. If you've already donated you still can still participate (just say where you made your donation) as all will have access to "Songs For Haiti" MP3s. All the money raised through Paste will be spread equally among three charities active in Haiti relief: Doctors Without Borders, The Red Cross and Wyclef Jean’s Yele Haiti Earthquake Fund.

"We obviously don’t think people would need incentive to donate in this effort, but perhaps the campaign will inspire more music fans to get involved, or to encourage people who have already donated, to donate again," said Josh Jackson, Paste Magazine Editor-In-Chief. "Music has always been a force that brings people together, and to have so many fantastic artists drop everything to contribute to this effort was very touching," Jackson added.

I couldn't agree more. For more information on "Songs For Haiti" and to donate click here.

Friday night, at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT and 7:00 p.m. CT, MTV along with many other networks will host a night of performances to raise money for Haiti relief. The lineup includes Madonna, Taylor Swift, Alicia Keys, Christina Aguilera, Dave Matthews, John Legend, Justin Timberlake, Stevie Wonder, Wyclef Jean, Bruce Springsteen, Jennifer Hudson, Mary J. Blige, Shakira, Keith Urban, Sheryl Crow, Kid Rock, Sting, Coldplay, Bono, the Edge, Jay-Z and Rihanna.

Additional appearances include former President Bill Clinton, Tom Hanks, Brad Pitt, Robert Pattinson, Will Smith, Julia Roberts, Leonardo DiCaprio, Meryl Streep, Muhammad Ali, Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, Clint Eastwood, Denzel Washington, Halle Berry, Jon Stewart, Matt Damon, Morgan Freeman, Nicole Kidman, Samuel L. Jackson and more.

"Hope for Haiti Now" will begin accepting donations at 12 p.m. ET/9 a.m. PT on Friday, January 22 via the following methods:

Phone: 877-99-HAITI
Text: Text "GIVE" to 50555
Mail: Hope For Haiti Now Fund, Entertainment Industry Foundation, 1201 West 5th Street, Suite T-700, Los Angeles, CA 90017

All musical performances will be available for purchase for 99 cents per song through iTunes beginning Saturday, January 23. iTunes customers will be able to exclusively pre-order both the "Hope for Haiti Now" full performance album ($7.99) and the full two-hour video telecast ($1.99). Pre-orders will be delivered in the days following the telethon. All proceeds will benefit relief funds managed by Hope for Haiti Now charities.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Band of the Week: The N Result

The N Result blend rock and hip-hop for a truly unique musical experience. Bringing to mind the Black Eyed Peas with their alternating singing and rapping style and catchy hooks, the six-piece band crosses multiple genres. Having opened for Ryan Leslie, Motion City Soundtrack and Pharrell Williams of N.E.R.D. and currently receiving quite a buzz by music fans and record executives alike, The N Result are well on their way.

Their soulful, danceable tracks demonstrate their versatility and it's hardly a surprise to learn that lead guitarist Dan Bascom studies jazz while drummer Nate Sankary is a prolific classical musician. Not to mention, MC Chase Innis' catchy rhymes have led him to share the stage with Grammy Award-winning hip-hop artist Speech of Arrested Development. And that's only half the band.

Lead singer/guitarist Ross Lippencott has released three independent solo albums and currently studies music at Rutgers University while keyboarist Eitan Levine combines jazz and funk for a truly fun experience and bassist Bobby Tarantino doubles on acoustic upright bass at venues like the New Jersey Performing Arts Center and WBGO 88.3 FM in Newark, N.J. A band of All Stars isn't too far from the truth.

The band's debut album, Lines is a solid release of 12 high-energy songs. Starting off with upbeat track "On My Shoulders," the listener quickly realizes the depth to The N Result. Singer Lippencott and MC Innis trade lines back and forth throughout the album at an enjoyable pace while each song mixes catchy beats alongside their vocals. Slower tracks like "Complicated" showcase the band's continuing versatility while "So Unsure" has seductive Latin roots accompanied by light percussion, guitars and keyboard. Title track, "Lines" is undeniably catchy and will no doubt have the listener tapping along.

The N Result recently won a Taylor Guitars and Elixir Strings contest where they were awarded recording time at a marquee studio. Watch their video submission below and for more on The N Result, check them out on MySpace and catch their show this Saturday at 10 p.m. at Crash Mansion in New York! (Flier below)

Related Links:

Artist of the Week: Michael Nappi
Artist of the Week: Akiva
Artist of the Week: David Ryan Harris
Artist of the Week: Jacob Vanags

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Artist to Watch: Angel Taylor

I watched Angel Taylor's video premiere for "Like You Do" the other day and quickly fell in love with her voice. With the airy vibe of Colbie Caillat and a distinct soulfulness that brings to mind Corinne Bailey Rae, Taylor is well on her way. Not to mention, her album, Love Travels has been hailed as one of the top debut albums of 2009 and she has toured with Adele.

Watch Angel's video for "Like You Do" below.

For more on Angel, watch her VH1 interview below as she gushes about John Mayer, the first album she ever bought and being discovered at 19.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Q&A with The Ting Tings

The Ting Tings exploded in America last summer with their hit, "That's Not My Name." Since then, UK duo Katie White and Jules De Martino, have been traveling the world in support of their album, We Started Nothing.

I sat down with White and De Martino when they were in town for All Points West. Watch below as the UK sensation discuss the success of their album, hit single and being fashion icons. For more, be sure to visit their Web site and be on the lookout for their upcoming album, Massage Kunst due out later this year!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

What Features Do You Like Best on You Sing, I Write?

This year will bring exciting changes to You Sing, I Write. Wendy Hu, photographer extraordinaire and my concert sidekick, has designed a phenomenal new layout and we're in the process of talking to programers to transfer her design to the site. If you know of any, definitely send them my way and E-mail Me.

On that note, I'm trying to amp up coverage that you enjoy most and make sure Wendy's design showcases what readers want to experience. While funds are tight this year, I'd still love to attend festivals and tour with bands if these are avenues that peak your interest. So, for this week's poll I want to know:

What Features Do You Like Best on You Sing, I Write?

Audio Interviews
Festival Coverage
On the Road/Touring with Bands
Video Interviews

Feel free to leave additional ideas and suggestions in the comments. As always, thanks for keeping up with my adventures!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Song of the Week: "Annie"

Growing up, I was the only girl in my grade named Annie. I remember my math professor in high school singing songs from the musical Annie when he handed back my exams. "The sun will come out tomorrow," he'd sing. On the rare occasion (alright, it was more than once...math wasn't my best subject) that I didn't do well he'd say, "Well, I guess the sun didn't come out today now did it?"

My first job out of college my colleague would always text me, "Annie, are you okay?" Gotta love Michael Jackson's "Smooth Criminal." Music has always had a major impact in my life and when songs have my name in it, I can't help but relate. It seems as if the musician is singing the words right to me. Silly, I know, but it does. So, last week when I caught SafetySuit's performance at Bowery Ballroom and they announced their song, "Annie," I couldn't help but smile.

"Annie don't be shy here/Annie don't just lie there/Looks don't make the world go round/But it comes around/Annie don't be shy here/Annie please don't cry here/I always have to stop myself/Cause you're beautiful," frontman Doug Brown sang.

Not many of you in the blogosphere know this, but I have always been pretty shy. That's why, when friends hear of my escapades of going up to a band after a concert and asking them a few questions or setting up an interview they'd always be incredibly shocked. While I've come a long way these past two years and have definitely stepped out of my comfort zone, the lyrics to SafetySuit's "Annie" still struck home: "Annie don't be shy here."

Song of the week runner up: "Annie" by Mat Kearney. Listen here.

Is your name featured in any songs? What's your favorite? I'd love to hear!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Win a Private Show with Tyrone Wells!

I came across this contest the other day on Twitter. As some of you may remember, Tyrone Wells was one of my top 5 concerts of 2009. This spring, you have a chance to win a private show with Wells and Tony Lucca on their tour bus! I've seen Wells perform several times last year and he always puts on a great show. For more details, read the rules below and for tour dates, visit Wells on MySpace.

How do I win?
Get your friends together and purchase ONE block of tickets. The group that purchases the biggest block wins. Please be sure that your group purchases all tickets together under ONE name.

How do I submit my block of tickets?
E-mail with your ticket receipt anytime between now and 3/3/10. Contest ends at midnight PST on 3/3/10.

What if I have already purchased tickets and want to purchase more?
You can purchase another block and we will add the two totals together.

How many winners are there?
Only one group wins this. This contest is for the whole tour and excludes college shows. There will be ONE winner announced on 3/4/10 and then they will coordinate with Tyrone's tour manager Mark Chipello. If the group is too big to fit on the bus we will work out a private location for the after show party and mini-concert.

How long will the private party/concert be?
Tyrone and Tony will each play a couple songs and then everyone can hang out and mingle.

Questions? Comments? Concerns?
Send an email to, we'll do our best to help!

If anyone's interested in attending his New York show and wants to buy tickets together, E-mail Me!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Artist of the Week: Michael Nappi

At first listen, it never would have occurred to me that Here We Go Again was Michael Nappi's debut album. Incredibly well produced, the album encompasses 13 versatile and radio friendly tracks. Recorded with producer/songwriter Steve Buonanotte and mixed by Grammy Award-winning mix engineer, Jeff Juliano (John Mayer, Jason Mraz, Dave Matthews Band), Here We Go Again is a solid debut release. One can only wonder when Nappi will rightfully explode on the music scene.

Nappi’s passion for music began at an early age with his introduction to his father’s vintage LPs that included The Beatles, Johnny Cash and Elvis. While in fourth-grade, he picked up trumpet and could frequently be found serenading his neighbors from his porch. As a teen, Nappi composed, recorded and performed his music locally.

Of performing, Nappi says, “Whether it’s been to five people slung over their bar stools or to sold out crowds in 5,000-seat theaters, I’ve always considered it a privilege to work as a musician.”

Whether he's talking about broken promises and failed relationships in "7:26," or infatuation on "Disturbed," his singing intrigues the listener. A mix of acoustic ballads and more energetic rock numbers, one thing is certain: Nappi's memorable melodies won't leave your head.

While his singing style is reminiscent to that of Train's Pat Monahan, it's his versatility that impresses most. Here We Go Again was created from a collection of personal stories and, as a result, encompasses introspective and relatable lyrics. On first single, the catchy and haunting "7:26," Nappi sings: "Every drop of rain/Has a story to be told/Before it hits the ground/Giving up and letting go."

With more of an upbeat, electronic beat "Save the Night In a Bottle" hints at the grandeur ambiance of U2. Begging resemblance to U2's "Magnificent," the listener can practically envision Nappi sharing the stage with Bono.

The production quality on Here We Go Again is impressive and Nappi continues to surprise the listener on each track. "Perfectly Clear" features deeper vocals from Nappi with soaring guitar interludes and spot on percussion accompaniment while "Limousine" is a fun party number inviting a girl to "take a ride in my limousine." With a debut release this good, Nappi's "Limousine" dream may become reality.

For more on Michael Nappi, visit him on MySpace.

Recommended: For fans of Train, Better Than Ezra, U2.

Related Links:
Artist of the Week: Akiva
Artist of the Week: David Ryan Harris
Artist of the Week: Jacob Vanags
Band of the Week: Hotspur

Monday, January 11, 2010

Before Parachute, He Was Rocking A Cappella

Jeff Luppino-Esposito of the Newark Pop Culture Examiner just sent me his recent post on Parachute frontman Will Anderson. Before he was selling out venues across the US, Anderson was performing in his college a cappella group, The Virginia Gentleman.

I was lucky enough to attend Parachute's sold-out performance this past Friday at Bowery Ballroom and was truly blown away. One of my first interviews for the blog, it's amazing to see their progress over the years and sell out venues where all in attendance are singing the lyrics to every song word for word. The band's cover of Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight" was completely unexpected and remarkably impressive.

You can watch a few videos from Will's college days below, and for more be sure to check out Luppino-Esposito's article here. Check out Parachute, currently on tour with SafetySuit.

"You Give Me Something"

Will singing lead on Maroon 5's "Wake Up Call"

Related Links:
Q&A with Parachute
Parachute Lands No. 1 Album on iTunes
Q&A with Sparky's Flaw
Audio Interview with Will Anderson of Parachute

Friday, January 8, 2010

Happy Birthday Elvis Presley!

The King of Rock & Roll would have turned 75-years-old today. Whether it's the infamous "Jailhouse Rock" or the delicate "Love Me Tender," his impact on the music industry is undeniable. I compiled a few Elvis videos below. I'd love to know what some of your favorites are!

"Heartbreak Hotel"

"Jailhouse Rock"

"Don't Be Cruel"

"Suspicious Minds"

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Q&A with Orianthi

Orianthi exploded on the music scene in 2009. After her jaw-dropping performance at the 2009 Grammy Awards with Carrie Underwood, Michael Jackson's music director approached her via MySpace to audition for his world tour. Unfortunately, the tour never developed, but if you saw the film This Is It, you will recognize Orianthi as the killer guitarist in his band.

I met up with Orianthi when she was in town in December for a few shows and promoting her debut album, Believe. Having shared the stage with guitar legends including Carlos Santana and Steve Vai and the goal to inspire more girls to pick up the electric guitar, Orianthi is a stand out role model. Read below to learn more about Orianthi's songwriting process, the ideas behind her songs and her experience working with Michael Jackson.

Every time I turn on the radio your single, “According To You” is being played! Did you ever expect for it to do so well?
I’m really happy and thrilled people are connecting to it and really dig the track. We have a lot of fun playing it live.

How did it feel to hear it on the radio for the first time?
The first time I heard “According To You” I was actually in Vegas. We were driving to a radio station and it was so awesome. It felt great. When you’re in a radio station you know they’re going to put it on but when you’re driving in the car and it just comes on when you’re switching stations and you hear it, it’s an awesome moment. Everyone in the car was so excited.

How was the process of recording your debut album, Believe?
The process was great. I moved to the States about three-and-a-half years ago. So the first year moving out I was writing the record and for two years off and on I was recording with Howard Benson and had an awesome time working with him. We actually recorded 18 tracks and narrowed it down to 11. It’s got a real 80s feel to it. It’s pop rock. I’m proud of it. I think it’s an empowering record. I want to inspire more girls to pick up the electric guitar and keep at it. And guys too. Just follow their dreams and believe in themselves. That’s why the record’s called Believe. I think it’s so important to believe in yourself and follow your dreams, because they do come true. If you’re persistent, it’s a lot of hard work and you have to have passion for what you do, but just stick in there.

You really exploded in 2009 performing with Carrie Underwood at the Grammy awards and later Michael Jackson.
Getting invited to the Grammy Awards to jam out with Carrie Underwood was awesome. I’m a big fan of hers and her band is great. Being out there was pretty surreal looking at rock royalty in the audience. It was a great night. I had a lot of fun. Mark Vaden, who is music director of MJ’s band, saw me at the Grammy Awards. He contacted me through MySpace and asked if I’d audition to be part of the band. That was crazy, life changing working with Michael. I was so nervous going in and auditioning for him. It’s been a crazy year. But, I’m just really, really grateful I got to play with Michael and the band and learned so much.

Is there one lesson he taught you about navigating the music industry?
He basically didn’t want us to be nervous. He wanted us to project our energy out and put on a show. He made me believe in myself more for choosing me to be part of it. Just have fun and do your best. He did his best all the time and he was such a perfectionist. I think everyone that was chosen to be part of the tour is going to carry on with his spirit and just follow down our paths, whether it be music or dancing. I think everyone that was involved in the tour; we all have that bond for being a part of it. It felt like a family.

The last song on your album, “God Only Knows,” was that dedicated to him?
Yes. Dedicated to Michael and my good friend Diane who passed, who was only 25. Losing them within two months of each other was really hard. Going through that, writing a song that just means a lot to me. Every time I sing it, it’s pretty emotional. It’s an emotional track.

Have you performed it?
Actually, I did. I was hosting a viewing of This Is It and I played it before the movie acoustically.

What is your songwriting process? Do you work from guitar riffs first or do lyrics come to you?
Both. The writing process is always very different, whether it starts with lyrics or a melody or guitar riff or chords. That’s the exciting thing about it; it never starts the same way. It keeps it interesting. And, working with different people while collaborating, it’s a lot of fun. Sitting in a room and by the end of the day coming up with a song you didn’t think you would have. I actually wrote a new song two days ago.

You’re such a stand-out performer and well respected among guitarists. I saw an interview with Carlos Santana where he said he wants to pass his baton onto you.
It’s so awesome to have the support of your idols. Santana and Steve Vai. Writing a song with Steve Vai for the new record was so much fun. My first ever support was opening for Steve when I was 15 in Adelaide, Australia. Getting Santana’s support, he was the reason why I picked up electric guitar when I was 11, so having that is just so awesome. I look up to them both immensely. I don’t think you can ever stop learning off of players like that.

How do you feel being a woman in such a male dominated industry?
Playing guitar growing up and going to school wasn’t easy for me because guitar is a guy’s thing. I’d get picked on a lot and school wasn’t exactly the easiest time. When you’re lined up at auditions with other guys and you’re going for the same part, they’re like, “You shouldn’t be playing guitar.” Actually, my teacher told me I should play the harp, it’s more feminine. It’s kind of like being a male ballerina in a way.

I think there should be more female guitar players. But, it was really hard going through school so I can see why maybe some would pick it up and then give it up. If they’re going to the same auditions or playing in a band and they’ve got a lot of problems from the guys. Some guys are really supportive, but quite a few weren’t. It was an interesting time for me, but I loved playing guitar so much that I stuck at it. For me, I just want to inspire more girls to pick it up and stick at it and believe in themselves with whatever they do and guys too. You know, you just have to follow down your path. Whatever you get in life, just keep on going down that path.

That goes along with your song, “Feels Like Home.” The lyrics are so inspiring: “Failure never crossed my mind/I will take a chance every time/And spread my wings/I’ve never been afraid to try/Put everything on the line.” It seems like you had this motivation to keep going no matter what anyone else said.
Yeah. “Feels Like Home” is one of the first tracks I wrote coming over from Australia to LA. It feels like home in America now because I have great people around me, awesome friends, people I work with. It just feels like a second home for me. It’s a great place. Ever since I was six and I picked up the guitar for the first time playing along with Elvis songs and looking on the back [and reading ] Made In America, I wanted to come over to America to make a record one day. It was a dream come true to have made the record and to hold the hard copy not too long ago. It’s been crazy. It’s been a real journey.

I love “Think Like A Man.” What was the inspiration behind that song?
Well, it’s pretty lighthearted track with the lyrics, “I’m gonna shorten my attention span/Think like a man.” Actually, Doug [Robb] from Hoobastank, the lead singer, is singing backup in the chorus. I got him to sing the harmonies. He’s like, “Wait a second; I’m bagging men in this song.” He realized after he sang the song. I’m like, “Yup. Sort of, not really.” It’s all in good fun. It’s got a real AC/DC vibe to it as well. The lyrics are really lighthearted. We love playing that song live.

What’s going on through your head when you’re performing?
Lyrics. Chords. Leads. There are quite a few things to remember, but to have fun is the main thing for all of us. We love playing our instruments. I just want to inspire more kids. Mike, my drummer, wants to inspire more kids to play drums. He still has that childlike enthusiasm for playing. I think everyone does in the band. We just try to do our best, but at the same time have fun with it. It’s been a pretty crazy few months. Getting to play full sets has been awesome, when we get to actually play for 45 minutes. I just have a lot of fun playing with my band.

What’s next for you? Do you have any more dream collaborations?
I would love to do a song with B.B. King. That would be awesome. Keith Urban would be amazing. I want to do a song with a rapper, I think that would be pretty awesome to play some leads while someone raps. Timbaland or Jay-Z, that would be really cool. To win a Grammy award would be amazing. And to go on a world tour, just to play around the world and put on an awesome show. I’m already thinking lots of sparkles and pyro extravagance.

Do you remember the first time you picked up your guitar and the moment you decided, “This is what I want to do the rest of my life?”
Yeah. It just felt right picking it up when I was six. I don’t know, it probably sounds weird, but when I first picked it up I remember that feeling of it being almost familiar. It was a challenge, yet it felt familiar. I just have such a passion for it. I want to continue to learn as much as I can from musicians that I jam with. It’s an instrument that’s not an easy thing to play, but every day picking it up and wanting to move forward so when I’m 80 and look back I’ll think that I’ve progressed and evolved as a musician.

What’s your advice to aspiring guitarists?
Practice as much as you can. Play out as much as you can. Form a band. Write as many songs as you can and put it on a CD. Record yourself and send it out to people that you respect. Just get yourself out there. I get a lot of emails like, “What do you suggest I do to make it?” And all I just said is what I did. I put myself out there all the time. If someone came into town that I wanted to support, you just send your CDs to them. Bombard them.

I bombarded Carlos. He probably thought, “Put this girl out of her misery and meet her.” When he came to town I was 18 and I got to meet him and I thought he was going to sign my guitar but I got to meet him and I got to jam with him. His support, that’s how I came over to the States. He was showing the DVD of us jamming. It’s been a crazy dream. It’s a lot of work, but if you have a passion for something just go with it. You can’t just sit in your bedroom hoping it will be handed to you on a platter. If you want music to be your life, acting, whatever you do, do your best, put yourself out there and play as much as you can.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Q&A with Kris Allen

Kris Allen stole the hearts of many this past season on American Idol and, as a result, was crowned winner. Since then, he released his self-titled album and stormed the charts with his first single, a cover of The Script's "Live Like We're Dying," while his performances of "No Boundaries" and "Heartless" garnered similar success.

Before he took the stage at Madison Square Garden for Z100's Jingle Ball in December, Allen filled the press in on his busy year. Read below to find out more on the singer-songwriter, his album, and his run-ins with the cast of Boy Meets World.

What’s your opinion on the Adam Lambert controversy at the American Music Awards?
The first question, huh? Nice. Get it out quick, that’s good. Okay. I didn’t know what you were talking about. I didn’t know if something new happened. You never know. I thought it was Adam being Adam. I’m going to get a shirt that says, “That’s Adam.” It’s who he is. Obviously, he couldn’t do that stuff on Idol so you’re getting to see the real Adam now.

Can you tell us what songs didn’t make the album?
There are a couple. I wrote a song with Mat Kearney that didn’t end up on the album and there are a couple of mine that didn’t end up on the album. Whatever ended up on the album is what we felt like was the best album stuff, so it was good.

I saw you tweeted about meeting Ben Savage. Was that the highlight of your year?
That was great! I met Topanga earlier this year and I met Corey in the airport last night. We stayed in the same hotel.

How are you and your wife adjusting to the long distance relationship?
We actually have had a long distance relationship for five years before this stuff, so this is nothing new to us. We wanted it to end, but…

What do you love most about her?
What do I love most about my wife? That she puts up with me.

What made you release the B-side to The Script’s song as your first single?
What made me? I thought the song was good and obviously the Script wrote the song. I felt like it would be a good transition from the Idol stuff to what’s going on now.

Do you think it’s a good or bad thing that you and the other American Idol contestants released your albums the same day?
I think that’s usually how it goes. I didn’t see it as a bad thing. I think we obviously share fans. If people want mine, Adam and Allison’s CD they’re going to get it.

What do you do to combat writer’s block?
I usually go take a walk or hang out outside. Usually I like to go outside if I’m having inspiration problems.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Faithful Departed: Michael Jackson

While music fans often cling to memories of their first concert experience, I vividly remember the very first music video I watched — Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” It was at my cousin’s house sitting on her mom’s plastic covered couch while our parents sat in the dining room having coffee. “Thriller” gave me nightmares for weeks, and I still cringe every time I see Jackson transform from sweet guy on a date at the movies to a character from the crypt. But, that is the job of a true entertainer — leaving your audience with something to remember. Lucky for us, Jackson has a legacy that will last for years to come.

I don’t know what first sparked my interested in music, but I know Jackson had something to do with it. He paved the way for so many artists, inspired and let each know it was okay to step outside his limits and express his creativity through music. Maybe that’s why I chose music journalism as my career path. Interviewing bands who worked with and were influenced by Jackson has been a humbling experience. Who knows where they’d be, or where I would be, today without that kind of presence in this world.

Growing up, all I ever listened to was New York City’s oldies station, WCBS-FM 101.1. It was my dad’s favorite. The Jackson 5 was part of my childhood, along with Elvis Presley, the Temptations and the Beatles. Songs like “I Want You Back” always put a smile on my face. At nearly three minutes long, it was an endearing track about wanting a girlfriend back. I had no clue what the song was about at the time, but loved it regardless.

His influence and power to inspire go on
Jackson’s life was a rollercoaster ride and there’s little doubt that he was a deeply troubled soul. Over the last few months of his life, Jackson was rehearsing for his upcoming tour dates at the O2 arena in London, which he hailed as his “final curtain call.” It was also supposed to be the answer to the enormous debt Jackson had amassed. He died less than three weeks before his first show, and the rehearsal footage made it to the big screen as This Is It. The film provides a glimpse into what could have been Jackson’s most electrifying performance yet. While watching the film, I was moved by the opportunity to witness what such an incredible performer was really like up close.

I still remember hearing the news of his passing and realizing the effect he had on the world. Whether it’s up-and-coming indie band Lights Resolve titling a song after him, Justin Timberlake or Black Eyed Peas’ praising his work, it is evident that his influence goes far beyond what any of us realize.

Jackson himself was very conscious of his desire to inspire others: “That’s why I write these kinds of songs,” he said in This Is It. “It gives some sense of awareness and awakening and hope to people. I feel so blessed that I can give the world that.”

I couldn’t agree more. Whenever I’m out and I hear a Michael Jackson song come on the radio, I can’t help but smile. His songs will remain an important part of my life. Jackson’s music not only jumped musical hurdles, but cultural and spiritual ones as well. His music is a form of escape, giving people faith and belief that everything will be okay. And, from a three-minute song, sometimes that’s all you need.

This article was originally posted on Busted Halo last week for their Faithful Departed series. You can read it here.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Faithful Departed: DJ AM

Photo Credit: ChildofMidnight

After collaborating with numerous musicians and dabbling in acting, it was DJ AM’s last project that was his most memorable.

Adam Goldstein, best known as DJ AM, battled with addiction for much of his life and remained clean for 11 years. In his last months he filmed Gone Too Far, a series on MTV where he provided intervention for those who struggled with addiction.

An intense series, the show explicitly reveals a day in the life of an addict while offering help to those willing to change their lives. While I’ve never dealt with addiction personally, the show really made an impact on me and restored my faith in the music industry.

Being a music journalist, I’ve heard the horror stories of bands dropped by major labels and the destruction that the touring lifestyle causes on loved ones. However, I’ve hardly ever read about a musician that is truly selfless and making a difference in society. Goldstein changed this. He provided hope and help to numerous addicts and their families and his spirit lives on in those lives he saved.

A troubled soul, who, in the end, lost his life to an accidental overdose, AM gave hope to the families and addicts featured on his show. The opening segment demonstrates his optimism and compassion.

“Some will change. Others won’t. But, I have to keep on trying because everyone deserves a second chance. There is one reason I’m doing this show. To help other people get sober,” he said.

Everyone deserves a second chance

This line stuck with me. Everyone deserves a second chance. Goldstein had one, why can’t others?

A former member of rock/hip hop group Crazy Town (the band is known for their chart-topping 2001 hit single, “Butterfly”), Goldstein worked on albums for numerous artists including Papa Roach, Madonna and Will Smith and was a regular collaborator with Blink-182’s Travis Barker.

Goldstein led a difficult life combating addiction. After many bouts with rehab, he remained clean for more than 11 years. Perhaps what is most tragic is how Goldstein narrowly escaped death last year when his plane crashed after a performance. Barker was also injured while both crew members and two other passengers were killed. Maybe it was this near death experience that gave way to Gone Too Far. Often, when we are faced with adversity; God has a way of changing a near tragedy into something memorable.

Goldstein truly is an inspiration on Gone Too Far, and I can only hope that I can touch as many lives with my writing as he did on that show. While talking to Amy, a 23-year-old heroin addict who stole thousands of dollars from her family, he advised: “Just know that there is hope and that’s what I’m here for.” Having struggled with addiction, the people featured on the show respected and related to Goldstein. “I can’t cure addiction but I can offer Amy a chance at a different life.”

And that he did. In his last months, Goldstein helped numerous addicts and their families combat addiction and receive a new chance at life. Twenty-three-year-old Breezy explained her experience.

“My life from when I first met Adam is so different. I’m very grateful for what he did for me and all the people that were involved in this,” she said. “Adam, if you were here today, I would thank you for giving me my life back and giving me the opportunity to be a better sister and a better daughter, and granddaughter and friend. I can’t express how grateful I am to have been able to meet you and receive this gift from you.”

While DJ AM may have lost his life earlier this year, he saved countless addicts from death and continues to inspire with his last work on Gone Too Far.

This article was originally posted on Busted Halo last week for their Faithful Departed series. You can read it here. Watch the first episode of Gone Too Far below, and for more of the series click here. Warning: Explicit content.


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