You Sing, I Write: May 2009

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Poll of the Week: What CMA Coverage Do You Want To Read? – CMA Music Fest June 11-14, 2009 in Nashville, TN

I've been listening to country music all day in preparation for the CMA Music Festival next week in Nashville! It's always been a dream of mine to visit Nashville and I've already gotten a list of places to visit from some musicians who live there. So psyched!

Currently, I'm in the process of setting up interviews with country artists at the festival as well as some Nashville-based musicians, but I wanted to know what you're most interested in reading throughout the week. I'm sure it will be similar to SXSW, but I want to make sure I write about what's most intriguing to you!

Concert Reviews
Daily Updates
Flip Cam Footage

Which artists are you most excited to read about? And, if you could ask them one question, what would it be? Check out the full lineup here and let me know!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Song of the Week: "Tiny Dancer"

The past three weeks literally have been a whirlwind. From starting a new job in NYC to catching at least two shows a week, it's been insane, but at the same time one of my most inspiring months yet. Not only did I get to cover the legendary Zootopia concert and interview some amazing bands (see me interviewing Fergie above!!!), but I have become even more convinced that this whole music thing is what I absolutely have to continue and pursue to no end.

Whether it was interviewing Mat Kearney on his tour bus this past Tuesday and getting a behind-the-scenes look at life on the road, or seeing a band perform live as they convert every person in the room as fans, it's just been one of those light bulb moments.

What better song then, to feature than Elton John's "Tiny Dancer?" Every time I hear it I think of my all-time favorite film "Almost Famous." And, amazingly enough, the past few weeks I have been living out the movie myself.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

White Rabbits Impress At Sold-Out New York Show

The approaching holiday weekend didn’t deter concertgoers from attending White Rabbits’ sold-out concert at Bowery Ballroom last Thursday night. As they performed an hour-long set of older fan favorites as well as tracks off their most recent release, It’s Frightening, White Rabbits had all in attendance captivated by their live show.

The band’s energy was undeniable from the moment they took the stage for first track, “Rudie Fails.” Whether it was Steve Patterson’s vigor while playing piano or guitarists Alex Even and Greg Roberts jumping around onstage, White Rabbits kept the crowd engaged. Their constant interaction was impressive and permeated throughout the venue.

The lack of between-song banter didn’t matter. Concertgoers were there to see a powerhouse set from the Brooklyn-based band and that’s what they got. Led by dual vocalists Patterson and Roberts, each voice matched the energy of the songs showcased and, at times darker musical accompaniment provided. One highlight was seeing the array of instruments played by the six-piece. Throughout the performance, most band members rotated between helping out on percussion, tambourine as well as keyboards, and always managed to keep things fresh.

The band’s set moved quickly and with great diversity. Alternating from more upbeat track “The Lady Vanishes” to slower ballad, “Company I Keep,” Patterson left the piano for the first time of the night and proved he has just as much energy manning the mic alone as he does on the keys. Older tracks like “The Plot” and “While We Go Dancing” seemed to draw the most excitement while the crowd favorite of the night was vigorous “Percussion Gun.” With half the band playing the drums and the audience dancing and singing along word for word throughout the track, White Rabbits had the audience begging for more and they didn’t disappoint. As they took the stage for an encore, the show ended shortly after midnight to a satisfied audience. And, from the looks of it, the band had a blast as well.

It’s evident from Thursday’s show that White Rabbits is one band to be on the lookout for. With a slot at this year’s All Points West festival, there’s a good chance we’ll be hearing a lot more from them soon.

The Antlers opened up the night and played a 40-minute, six-song set. While the three-piece band has more of an ambient, atmospheric vibe, they had trouble winning over the audience. More onstage interaction between the band members could have resulted in a different outcome. While tracks like “Two” have much potential, less musical accompaniment and more vocals would have made for a much different concert experience.

Cymbals Eat Guitars brought along much-needed energy as the venue began to fill up shortly after 10 p.m. Their mix of indie, alternative rock, and, at times screamo, left the audience questioning what would come next. But, isn’t that what live shows are all about? The band interacted well onstage, which only kept the crowd more fascinated.

While Cymbals Eat Guitars have been compared to Built to Spill and early Modest Mouse, regardless of the comparison they definitely put their own spin on their material as could be witnessed throughout the entirety of their set. Songs like “Cold Spring” had solid electric guitar features while frontman Joseph Ferocious was a fun sight to see while jumping around onstage. Having received rave reviews by music publications and blogs alike, the band is on the cusp of indie greatness.

You can read this review, originally posted on Venus Zine here.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

April Smith and the Great Picture Show Bring Surprises to Mercury Lounge

With frontwoman April Smith's soulful vocals and quirky banter with the audience, April Smith and the Great Picture Show entertained all at Mercury Lounge for an early show last Wednesday. Playing songs off their most recent EP, Live From the Penthouse, the band's versatility is spell bounding.

Whether Smith is singing jazzier track "Terrible Things," a song she dedicated to hit television show, "Dexter," or having a guest band member play the suitcase onstage as if it was a drum (no joke), April Smith and the Great Picture Show kept the audience enthralled for the entirety of their set.

The cabaret inspired show brought to mind many genres; rock, pop, jazz and even classic tunes from the late 50s and 60s. Infused with guitar, bass, keyboards, percussion and melodica, among other surprise instruments, the band kept a lively and easygoing vibe throughout the night.

The energy was fierce during tracks like "Colors" with fun melodica features (think kazoo with a keyboard attached) and tambourine accompaniment, not to mention that suitcase I mentioned earlier. Who knew a band could have the percussion section consist of a suitcase? Definitely a first seeing a suitcase being played onstage.

Stand out track was emotional ballad, "Beloved." Before beginning, Smith told the crowd she wrote "Beloved" about her grandparents. "I hope one day two people in the movie Twilight will be kissing to it," she joked. "Maybe Bella or Edward will make out to this song." With lyrics like "You are the thrill that stilled my beating heart, baby/You are the one I dream the most/But if I cannot have the real thing/I'll gladly settle for your ghost," it's hard not to picture hearing it on the big screen.

Ending their set with fun track "Wow and Flutter," Wednesday night was only a glimpse into the bright future for April Smith and the Great Picture Show. Garnering a slot opening for for The Bangles as well as this year's Lollapalooza is well deserved and I won't be surprised if you'll be hearing April Smith and the Great Picture Show everywhere soon.

For more on April Smith and the Great Picture Show, be sure to visit them on MySpace.

Recommended: For fans of Duffy and Tom Waits with the energy and emotion of PJ Harvey and Etta James.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Q&A with Sean Paul

Releasing his first album in over three years, Sean Paul is back on the road and as busy as ever. Having produced hit singles for Beyoncé and Rihanna in the past, Sean Paul has made a name for himself not only as a hit producer, but also as a solo reggae artist. While singles "Gimme the Light" and Billboard Hot 100 hit "Get Busy" accelerated his solo career, being heard on Beyoncé's No. 1 single "Baby Boy" helped to elevate his staying power.

Last week Sean Paul filled us in on his newest single, "So Fine" as well as life dealing with the constant camera attention. Read below for more on his upcoming album and passion for music.

Tell us about your new single.
New single is called “So Fine.” I think it’s a perfect summer giant. It’s very bouncy. I usually cover stuff that you can hear in the clubs, in the cars. It’s raunchy but also sounds smooth. It has a cool attitude.

Other than that, the record I’ve been working on for three long years. I’m glad to be back on the road. The road is hectic right now. It’s called Imperial Blaze suggesting the king’s fire. I feel like I am a king of certain types of music right now. I’m doing it as hot as ever. Imperial Blaze comes out August 18th. I’m shooting a video for the first single next week.

You’ve collaborated with so many artists over the years. Is there one specific artist or song that stands out as a favorite or most memorable?
All of my work, to me, is just something I’ve put so much thought into. I want people to feel a good feeling off of it. I remember when I heard songs that I like, I try to put that feeling, whatever it is. It might be a madness that nobody else is understanding what I’m talking about. But, that’s what I try to do. All of them have been special to me. I can’t. Every experience; working with a different producer or a different artist is something that you learn from.

What triggers the passion inside of you?
There’s a lot of different things. My motivation towards music is always wanting to have my say out there. To be able to have my five minutes with all these press people and say, “Yo, what up?” And if there’s something really on my mind at the time, I can say it. That’s what motivates me. It’s good to be in the public eye and have my own opinions.

Do you ever get used to the camera flashes?
That’s crazy. It’s very blinding. They’re like, “Sean, here. Here.” I don’t know where I’m looking. I’m not used to it. When do I get used to it? I don’t know. Who is used to people screaming, “Hey! Hey!” in your face and taking pictures? I’m not used to it. It’s cool. I’m liking that they’re taking it, but I’m just not the type of person into that type of thing. I’m usually the person that likes to see everyone else before they see me. Sort of incognito.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Q&A with Soulja Boy Tell 'Em

Photo Credit: Wendy Hu

Soulja Boy Tell 'Em (or Soulja Boy) took the charts by storm in the fall of 2007 with hit single, "Crank That (Soulja Boy)." Not only did he invent a new dance that was everywhere in the clubs, but the song reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100. A pretty impressive feat for a kid just in high school.

His story is inspiring, having recorded and released his debut album independently, soon after his music taking off on the Internet and then signing a record deal a few months later. With current hits, "Kiss Me Thru the Phone" and "Turn My Swag On" heating up the charts, there's nothing this 18-year-old can't do. Read on for his advice to up-and-coming musicians and his definition of swag.

What to you is swag?
Swag is different for each person. For me, swag is the type of jewelry that I wear, the type of clothes I wear or how I have my hair shaped up in the morning. For another person, it’s your appearance. Your style is your swag.

I’ve heard about your notebook of goals. What’s your advice for other teens?
When I was in high school I had a composition notebook and I wrote my list of goals down that I wanted to accomplish in life. One of them was to have a platinum album, to be successful as a famous musician. My advice to anybody who wants to be successful, I just say; believe in hard work and determination because I am living proof that your dreams can come true.

What music beyond Hip-Hop are you listening to? Any rock artists?
I got Lady Gaga on the iPod right now. I’m got digging her latest album. If you want to count Lil Wayne as rock.

With all the money you spend on your bling, do you find it’s appropriate where there are people that can’t afford to eat every day?
I work hard for the money I got with all the hard work that I put in. Whatever I buy I feel as if I should be able to wear it. It’s like a trophy to me. I actually do an annual event every year in Mississippi to help raise money for the kids, but I had to miss that event to come here and perform.

You started as an independent artist and produced the album yourself. What’s your advice to upcoming artists?
I believe in hard work and determination. Any upcoming artist that wants to be successful at anything that they do, I would just say it is possible. Anything is possible. The sky is the limit.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Q&A with Flo Rida

Photo Credit: Wendy Hu

He’s been tearing up the charts with current single “Right Round” and who can forget 2008 hit, “Low?" Flo Rida chatted last week in Zootopia’s press room about his recent single, “Sugar” as well as starting his career touring with 2 Live Crew. Read on for more.

You sample a lot of material on your tracks. How do you decide what to feature in your songs?
I’m always trying different things. I’m a big fan of OutKast. They always try to broaden the horizon every time they drop an album and that’s what I do. It could have been me sampling some blues music or anything. It’s all about the soul and if the record gives me goose bumps after complete.

What songs are you looking forward to this summer?
Definitely my song with Nelly Furtado [“Jump”]. It’s the lead single for a new movie called, G4. We’re actually going to shoot the video in a couple of weeks and it’s definitely going to be huge. “Available” is a new single I have dropping as well with Akon.

Tell me about your current single “Sugar.”
I feel like the ladies around the room like sugar to be sweet. Sampling this Eiffel 65 record was definitely something I loved and I enjoyed. I love doing it at shows because the crowd definitely gets hyped and it’s a great response record.

When was the moment you realized that music was what you wanted to do as a career?
I actually got a chance to open up for Scarface at a nightclub and some guys from 2 Live Crew were there and they asked me to go to Hawaii. Knowing there were things I could do like that definitely motivated me.

Your song “Right Round” broke records for digital downloads. What do you feel about digital downloads vs. going to the store and buying the full album?
Some people are not fortunate enough to go out. There’s a recession right now, so if they can go online and order records than I think it’s a great thing.

What’s your guilty pleasure and why?
We’re gonna keep that on the [singing] low, low, low.

What’s it like performing in front of thousands of fans?
Wow. Just to feel the aura. I always think back to when I didn’t have a record deal. And now to put a smile on the world’s face, I can’t even explain it. It’s crazy.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Q&A with All-American Rejects

Photo Credit: Wendy Hu

The All-American Rejects tour more than most bands I know. It seems as if every few months they're back in New York and I always wind up seeing them because their live show is like none other. Whether it's frontman Tyson Ritter's quirky and unexpected banter with the audience or his incredulous stage antics, you can't help but get in a good laugh.

In real life, AAR are quite amusing as well. Just read their responses from Zootopia's press room below and you'll see what I mean. Currently in Europe, the guys will be on tour with Blink 182 this summer so be sure to check out their MySpace for the dates.

You’re touring with Blink 182 this summer. How did that come about?
I actually saw Tom (DeLonge of Blink 182) last week at a show and I told him, “It’s crazy we’re playing with you because I was throwing CDs at your feet at the very first concert I went to.” It was Bad Religion and Blink 182 and I was darting CDs at them and they just kept kicking them off stage. It’s amazing. It’s literally full circle. Between opening up for Bon Jovi last year and now we’re opening up for Blink 182 — I don’t think there’s anything we can’t do.

Tell me about your new single, “The Wind Blows.”
“The Wind Blows” is a different step for us. We’re definitely not just a pop rock band. Like I said, there are no boundaries for us.

What songs are you looking forward to this summer?
Songs of summer. I don’t know. The songs that you play with your top down in your car and just close your eyes while driving. I know that doesn’t sound too safe. There are some great summer songs. Don Henley, “Boys of Summer.” That’s as good as it gets.

There are a lot of album releases coming up. Which albums are you most looking forward to?
I guess we should say Eminem because he’s on our label. But, I like people that play a lot of instruments. I like to see a lot of instruments onstage.

Do you have any hidden talents or quirks?
Chris is a falconer. He falcons. Like, baby bird, there you go, lets eat it together. Crazy shit. True story.

You guys have had so much success. Do you feel that it happened quicker than most bands?
We were in a van for about five years playing bars and birthday parties. Quicker than some, I imagine. But we definitely paid our dues. It feels good to be here now.

Why is “Gives You Hell” such a huge hit?
I think everybody got hell the first of this year if they were losing their job. It’s so funny, when we put out When the World Comes Down, which is the name of our record, it was right before Obama was elected and everyone was like, “What a terrible title for a record, everything is going to be fine now.” Then all of a sudden a month into it the big bomb of the economy dropped and now everyone is saying, “Wow, what foresight you had.” I’m just glad we’re putting out music in this world right now.

What gives you hell?
I think its your teacher, its your boss, its the policeman that gave you a parking ticket. Mainly it’s the opposite sex. We know how to sing about heartbreak.

You were on “House” recently. Do you plan on doing more acting?
You’re gonna see us all over the place. I’m gonna do movies. Nick’s gonna do I don’t know, shit, he’s gonna do porn. Chris will do falconry professionally so you’ll see him on ESPN doing classes. There’s nothing this band can’t do.

Do you have any advice for bands who want to follow in your footsteps?
Don’t rely just on MySpace or the Inner Web to get your music out there. You still have to do it the old fashioned way and learn how to play your instrument. Get out there and play shows.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Q&A with Ciara

Photo Credit: Wendy Hu

With current single “Love Sex Magic” featuring Justin Timberlake climbing the charts and her recent appearance on "SNL," Ciara is as popular as ever. It can’t hurt that tour dates have just been confirmed for summer shows with Jay-Z and Britney Spears. Read on for the details and Ciara's secret to that fantastic body.

You have a pretty busy summer lined up.
I’ll be touring with Jay-Z a few dates in July; we’ll be doing five cities together. We’ll be doing two times at each city. I’m excited about it. I’ve always loved mixing the rap, R&B and pop together. It’s always been a fun challenge for me but it’s also been very cool to be able to go on tour with a rapper like Jay-Z and then also be able to go on tour with Britney Spears which is what I’m doing in June. It’s fun to be able to do all those extremes.

In a battle scene who would win, Super C or Sasha Fierce?
You know what; I’m just going to say it would be a lot of fun. It would definitely be entertaining. I think Beyonce is really dope and talented. I definitely would get down and do my thing. I can’t really say but I would say it would be a lot of fun.

Sum up your song “Love Sex Magic.”
It’s all about having fun. Playing with the imagination a little bit and just kind of painting a picture for the mind of a guy in a show giving him a little fun, cool show: love, sex, magic.

Which songs are you most excited about this summer?
I’ll be honest, I can’t answer that question as good as I want to because I’m not really aware of every single song that’s out right now. I really am enjoying Lady Gaga and Flo Rida is doing pretty cool with some records. Also the Black Eyed Peas “Boom Boom Boom” is pretty fun. Those are a few things. Also, I have a record called “Work” with Missy Elliot which I’m excited about too and a song called “Like a Surgeon” so those will be a few of my songs as well.

What’s the one work out you can’t live without and why?
Honestly, I haven’t worked out in so long. But, I would say when I work out I love to do my squats and my lunges because it’s all about the toosh. I need to get that toosh sitting up pretty nicely. Lunges and squats are my favorite.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Q&A with Jesse McCartney

Photo Credit: Wendy Hu

With his current single, “How Do You Sleep?” climbing the charts and a tour with New Kids on the Block on the way, heartthrob Jesse McCartney’s life has been pretty busy as of late. It can’t hurt that the singer/actor/entertainer has been hailed “The Heir to Justin Timberlake’s Throne.”

McCartney, like Timberlake, first rose to fame as member of a boy band. Eventually branching out from Dream Street to a solo career, McCartney has proven his prowess as a songwriter. Remember hit Leona Lewis song “Bleeding Love?” Turns out McCartney along with frontman Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic co-wrote it. Are you convinced yet?

McCartney took some time out Saturday to chat about his growing popularity, new single and his idea of a romantic date. Let the swooning begin.

It’s been a year since you released Departure. What have you been up to?
I’ve been in the studio. I’ve been writing. I’ve been working with some other artists. I did a TV show on ABC called “Greek.” Other than that just cooking, hanging out at the house watching the Food Network.

Are you excited about touring with New Kids on the Block?
I’m looking forward to it. Natasha [Bedingfield] toured with them and she told me how great it was. It’s an opportunity for me to play my music for a little bit of an older crowd which will be nice.

What’s going to be your next single after “How Do You Sleep?”
It’s a new record I just finished. I’m very excited about it. It’s with T-Pain and is called “Body Language.” I did a re-release of the album about a month ago Departure: Recharged. It’s one of the records that I added onto the album. It’s like a “Leavin’ Part II” is how I sum it up and hopefully it’ll be another summer ’09 song.

The girls love you. How do you handle all the attention?
It’s interesting. It’s kind of overwhelming. You never get used to that I guess. The fans have been unbelievably supportive. It’s been an interesting ride, this whole music career. I started at kind of an awkward age and somehow made it out okay and I owe a lot to them [the fans]. They’re the heart of my career and the reason I can get up onstage every night.

Do you feel being in Dream Street has helped out with your solo career? What do you like better acting or singing?
Dream Street was definitely a big chapter in my book and I had certainly an unbelievable learning experience. I was very green to how it all worked and the whole recording process and touring process and it opened my eyes in a big way and it prepped me for what was to come. I don’t really have a preference. I like to consider myself an entertainer in whatever outlet it is, whether it is music or film or acting.

Where’s the most romantic spot for a date?
I have no idea. I think just good food. Maybe my house.

What was it like working with the cast of “Greek?”
It was great. I had a great time with all those guys. Scott Michael Foster became a really good friend of mine throughout the process of filming and even after. We shoot pool together now in Hollywood sometimes. That whole cast, the writers, they really do an amazing job and the actors know how to bring it off the paper to life.

What are your predictions of big songs for the summer?
I’m really excited for the Black Eyed Peas. I think that did it again and I’m very excited and anxious for the album. I heard the next single that they’re going to push and I think it’s going to be huge. I’m going to pat myself on the back a little bit. I’m hoping “Body Language” is going to be the next summer ’09 record. I’ve been working on making summer records and I really want to see it go.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Q&A with Black Eyed Peas

Photo Credit: Wendy Hu

They’ve sold millions of albums and have battled breakup rumors for years, but the Black Eyed Peas proved Saturday night that they’re not going anywhere. Their energetic Zootopia set at the IZOD Center in New Jersey had the crowd dancing and partying the night away. And, if their current radio hit, “Boom Boom Pow” is any indication of their upcoming June 9 release, The E.N.D. BEP’s will surely have the summer ’09 record.

While signing autographs for fans, Fergie was nice enough to chat with me about what’s going through her head while performing. Extremely down to earth, her answer may surprise you. Read on to learn what the rest of the gang had to say about the new album, working with Michael Jackson and what President Obama thinks of the Peas.

So tell us about your new album, The E.N.D. The Energy Never Dies. What does that mean? What is it all about? The E.N.D. The Energy Never Dies means a lot of things. But, most importantly it means the end of the rumors that the Black Eyed Peas are breaking up. It’s the end of an era. There used to be record stores like Virgin and Tower and Warehouse and Sam Goody and they’re no longer. The era is moving towards…we don’t know yet. But we’re going to continue to make music and tour and make people dance and make music that can change people’s lives and change our lives as well.

Everybody’s excited about Michael Jackson’s comeback tour. You and Fergie worked with Michael. What was that experience like working with him? The experience working with Michael Jackson was phenomenal. I flew out and worked with him in Ireland and produced songs on his Thriller 25 and a couple of songs on his new record. I don’t know what’s going to end up on the record, but it’s great. He’s a gift to the world.

You just did X Men. Have you ever thought of taking the acting route? That would be cool, but right now I’m focused on the Peas. X Men I filmed last year and I’m so thrilled to be a part of it. It’s a great movie. After the Peas run maybe I’ll think about it.

You set up a scholarship. Why?
I set up a scholarship, the i am scholarship, because someone at some point in time believed in me and my dreams. I made it out of the ghetto. I’m able to take care of my family and I want to provide that same opportunity for some kid that has dreams – especially in this economy. You don’t bail out on kids just because the finances are not there. You still have to let them know that their dreams can become a reality, so I wanted to do my part.

Fergie, looking back on all you’ve accomplished, what’s the highlight of your life so far?
The highlight of my life – going on tour with these guys. Seriously. Honestly, joining this band was such a blessing for me. Just them accepting me into their circle and becoming friends, it really gave me the confidence to be the artist that I had always wanted to be. I never would have been able to do a song like “My Humps” if it wasn’t for these guys and “Fergalicious” or anything like that, if they didn’t give me the confidence to tour and explore Hip-Hop music, one of the loves of my life.

Can you tell us about your next single?
Our second single is called “I Gotta Feeling.” It’s dedicated to all the party people out there in the world that want to go out and party. Mostly every song on the Black Eyed Peas record is painting a picture of our party life. It was a conscious decision to make this type of record. Times are really hard for a lot of people and you want to give them escape and you want to make them feel good about life, especially at these low points.

Taboo: This is the first time we actually had all four of us on a song simultaneously with the verses, which is something different for us. Usually we break up the verses and everybody has their parts. It was a good opportunity for us to show the world what would come of it.

What was the best thing Barack Obama has said to any of you? He told me that he likes my style and he likes the way that I dance.

Are you guys playing the "American Idol" finale? If so, what are you going to perform on it?
Oh. I don’t know if we can say that, ‘cause they told us not to. Guess I just blew it, right?

So what are you going to do?
[starts singing] Boom Boom Boom.

What do you think about when you’re onstage performing?
When to breathe ‘cause jumping around with these guys I realize I do have to sing so I can’t be too out of breath. I’m learning now to perform in heels. I used to not perform in heels. I only did three songs in heels; “Glamorous,” “Fergalicious” and “Big Girls.” “Big Girls” I really don’t have to move much. It’s a new thing for me, learning to dance in heels, so we’ll see how that goes. Also, connecting with the fans. It’s really not just performing out to the light, but really connecting with the people and looking at people.

You can also read this interview on

Monday, May 18, 2009

Zootopia Brings Diverse Lineup to New Jersey

Photo Credit: Wendy Hu

Before I give my full report on Saturday's Zootopia concert I have to preface this entry by explaining that I grew up listening to Z100. It was always my dream in middle and high school (I'll admit in college too) to win tickets and attend a show. In fact, I can't even count how many times I called the radio station in hopes to be caller 100!

Whether it was the Backstreet Boys in the 90s or the Jonas Brothers last year, Zootopia is one of the biggest concerts showcasing today's hottest music and being behind the scenes always seemed so glamorous to me. Never in a million years would I have imagined I'd be attending and sitting in the press room interviewing the artists I grew up listening to. But, that's exactly what I was doing Saturday night and loved every minute of it!

Upon arrival at the IZOD Center in East Rutherford, NJ, Wendy and I were ushered into the press room shortly before 6 p.m. The back wall was lined with video cameras while the front of the room had a dozen or so photographers vying for the perfect location to capture the best shot of each artist. We made our way to the seats and shortly after none other than teen heartthrob Jesse McCartney entered the room. After his photo opp. he made his way to the mics for a quick Q&A.

I realized right away how aggressive you have to be in a press conference set up and by the time the third artist came in, I made sure I got a question in. While one-on-one interviewing will always be my favorite, this set up was definitely a learning experience. I plan on typing up the Q&A's from each artist so you can have complete access to what was discussed. Each night this week I'll post a new interview for you — how does that sound?

As much as I enjoyed the interviews, I had to catch some of the show. While I've seen the All-American Rejects numerous times in concert, their live show is always a treat. Whether it's frontman Tyson Ritter making peculiar comments to the crowd or funny facial contortions, AAR's energy and stage presence is undeniable. Playing a solid set of crowd favorites, "Dirty Little Secret" and "Move Along," they switched gears up a bit by ending with latest single, slower ballad "The Wind Blows." Riding the waves off chart topper "Gives You Hell," "The Wind Blows" is sure to do the same. The guys talked about touring with Blink 182 this summer, so be sure to catch them soon!

Kelly Clarkson is another must-see live. Her arena friendly pop rock is solid and her vocals are always impressive. Not to mention, she had everyone around me singing along to "Since U Been Gone" (yes, even the guys). "I'm all about quality over quantity," Clarkson told the crowd. "My personal philosophy is I do not hook up...unless it's Hugh Jackman or Russell Crowe or someone really hot," she joked before introducing current radio hit "I Do Not Hook Up."

Jesse McCartney opened the night and most likely had all the girls swooning in the crowd. While I watched most of his set from the press room, his dancing and singing style was impressive. Having recently been hailed "The Heir to Justin Timberlake’s Throne," while McCartney definitely has big shoes to fill, I'm rooting for him. As if that's not enough, he'll be touring this summer with New Kids On the Block and will surely win over the older women if he hasn't done so already.

The rest of the night included appearance by Sean Paul, LMFAO and Taylor Momsen as well as the hosts for the evening — Z100's radio station djs. Ciara's performance made me wish I paid more attention in dance class, as her moves were like no one I've ever seen while Flo Rida and Soulja Boy wowed the crowd and surely increased the energy for Black Eyed Peas' closing set.

If anything is certain from their performance Saturday night, the Peas will have the album of the summer. While "Boom Boom Pow" is heating up the charts, next single, "I Gotta Feeling" undeniably will to do the same. The band proved the breakup rumors to be false and their show demonstrated that they're in it for the long haul. Playing past chart toppers, "Where Is the Love," "My Humps" and "Let's Get Retarted" the Peas had concertgoers at the IZOD Center on their feet, dancing and partying along until the last beat of "Boom Boom Pow" was played.
Stay tuned this week for interviews with each of the performers!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Poll of the Week: Which Zootopia Interview Are You Looking Forward To Reading?

Yesterday I had the privilege of covering New York radio station Z100's annual Zootopia concert. With a high energy lineup of artists like Kelly Clarkson, Jesse McCartney, All-American Rejects, Ciara, Solja Boy, Flo Rida and Black Eyed Peas the packed crowd got everything they came for and more. Not to mention special appearances by Sean Paul, LMFAO and Taylor Momsen from "Gossip Girl."

I'll have a full recap of the day's event tomorrow as well as each interview throughout the week. However, for this week's poll question I'm curious as to which artist you're most excited to read about. This will help me figure out which interview to post first. Let me know!

Black Eyed Peas
Jesse McCartney
All-American Rejects
Soulja Boy
Flo Rida

I had some great responses to last week's poll, What New Features Do You Want to See on You Sing, I Write? and definitely plan on adding the "Recommendations" portion to each album and live review so you get a better sense of whether you'd like the featured artist. Also, thanks to Karen's response I really have to consider buying a flip camera and start doing some live video blogging. What do you think?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Song of the Week: "New York, New York"

My first full week back in New York, what better song to feature than "New York, New York" by Frank Sinatra? Such a classic! Reminds me why I want to move to the city that never sleeps . . . any apartment hunting tips for me?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Zootopia 2009 - What Do You Want Covered?

I'll be covering radio station Z100's infamous Zootopia concert tomorrow night at the IZOD Center. For those of you that don't know the line-up, Kelly Clarkson, Jesse McCartney, All-American Rejects, Ciara, Soulja Boy, Flo Rida and Black Eyed Peas will be performing along with some unannounced special guests.

I'll have access to the press room where I can ask each artist questions as well as tickets to cover the show. My question for you is, what do you want to know? What are you dying to ask one of the artists?

I'm going to have to juggle the press room and the performances from the looks of it, so what would you rather read about — an exclusive interview or concert review? Let me know! Question submissions always welcome. For more information on the show and for last minute tickets, click here. I'll be reporting live via Twitter so if you don't yet, make sure you follow me for up-to-the-minute coverage!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Parachute Lands No. 1 Album On iTunes

Photo Credit: Wendy Hu

The rain didn't stop concertgoers from attending Parachute's standing room only performance last Monday night at Mercury Lounge. In fact, if anything, last week was just a preview of what's to come in the upcoming weeks for the Virginia-based band.

This week, their single "Under Control" is featured as the iTunes single of the week and their debut album (due in stores Tuesday, May 19) is already No. 1 on the iTunes chart! Not to mention, my exclusive interview with frontman Will Anderson was just posted on Marie Claire today. You can read it on the blog as well as

I first came across the band last year while they were known as Sparky's Flaw. Catching their performance at The Knitting Factory, I loved what I saw and reviewed it for MTV's concert blog as well as interviewed Will. It's truly amazing to see their progress over the past year — from touring Thursday - Sundays so it wouldn't conflict with college classes to a record deal, national ad campaign and now the top of the charts. I have a feeling this is only the beginning for Parachute.

Playing songs off their debut full-length, Losing Sleep, Parachute gave all in attendance a glimpse into the future last Monday. Having been on tour with Switchfoot, Matt Nathanson and O.A.R. the band proved they're equipped for a headlining show. From the arena friendly pop rock sound of "Back Again" and "Under Control" to the solid saxophone feature in their cover of Billy Joel's "Movin' Out," Parachute truly left an impression.

Their eight song set was diverse, showcasing their ability to switch up the faster tempo tracks with the slower ballads. Introducing "She Is Love" Will Anderson said, "I just wanted to write a simple love song and this is what came out." A beautiful acoustic ballad, the track showcased his soulful, yet angelic vocals.

Quite surprised at the turnout for a 7 p.m. show on a Monday night, Anderson expressed the band's appreciation to the crowd. "Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. We couldn't thank you enough for coming out tonight," he said before ending the night with high energy song "Out of Control." I have a feeling they'll be back to New York in no time.

To download Parachute's song "Under Control" for free on iTunes click here. If you like it, you can purchase the full album for $6 here or buy it in stores May 19th. As if I haven't promoted them enough, I just bought it myself and it's definitely one of the best albums I've heard this year. Check them out on MySpace and catch a show when they're in town!

Recommended: For fans of Maroon 5, The Fray, John Mayer, Matt Nathanson, Jason Reeves.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Presenting the Brent Shuttleworth House Concert Tour

I caught two of Brent Shuttleworth's performances last year and raved about his live show in one of my reviews. Imagine then, my excitement to find out about his *Best Version of Yourself* House Concert Tour 2009. Where, at your request he will show up to your door and serenade you, your friends and family.

Shuttleworth's Facebook page states: "For the next 30 days, in preparation for his national summer tour, he will be taking his vitamins, waking up early, reading, writing, painting, booking, recording, exercising and performing the better part of every single day. He will be respecting the overall health and well-being of himself and his music."

Wait . . . it gets better.

"Let it be known that now, on 10 May 2009 the BEST VERSION of YOURSELF TOUR (BVYT) has officially begun and Brent Shuttleworth WANTS to recruit YOU. Have you ever caught yourself wondering what it would be like to have Brent Shuttleworth playing for you, your friends, family and everyone you have EVER known? WHEREVER you are and WHEREVER you may be, Brent wants to play for you!

If you are interested in organizing a show this summer for your:


Then, Brent will come to you!"

A personal concert? I'm so in, what do you think? Give him a listen, and if you like what you hear be sure to contact for booking.

Watch Brent's video for "When I Reach California" below.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Alternate Side Launch Party with Pela and The Postelles

Photo Credit: Maryanne Ventrice

Mercury Lounge was packed last night in celebration of the official launch of WFUV's new indie music channel, The Alternate Side. And, what better way to kick off the channel than New York's very own indie darlings Pela and The Postelles?

After a short introduction by the station's staff and founders, The Postelles (photo above) took the stage playing tracks off their upcoming debut full length which is being produced by none other than Strokes' guitarist Albert Hammond, Jr. The band has garnered rave reviews as of late with their 60s inspired pop and rock 'n' roll sound. With hooks galore encompassing tracks like "Hey Little Sister" and "123 Stop" it's no wonder they've landed a spot at this year's All Points West Festival.

Watch The Postelles play "123 Stop" last night below.

A Monday performance while the sun is still shining can't be enticing for any band, but Pela sure showed concertgoers that it's quite possible and rather enjoyable. Playing a 45-minute set Pela reminded everyone of what a real rock show should be. Their energetic set and engaging stage presence permeated throughout the room, having the crowd hooked and screaming for more. Whether it was frontman Billy McCarthy leaping off the stage into the crowd or tearing panels off the ceiling (photo below), Pela sure knows how to grab the audience's attention.

The band has been getting quite a buzz and their recent tour dates with The Gaslight Anthem has only helped them gain the recognition they deserve. From last night's performance, it is evident that Pela will be selling out their own headlining shows across the country in no time. Whether it was catchy track, "Tenement Teeth" or their solid cover of The Clash's "Guns of Brixton," Pela left those in attendance impressed.

"Pela rhymes with Layla," McCarthy told the crowd. Soon after guitarist Nate Martinez chimed in, joking, "In Spain it would be paella, but we're not in Spain."

Songs like "Waiting On the Stairs" and "Chapel Song" had solid guitar buildup throughout, fitting the urgency of McCarthy's vocals. Listen to"Waiting On the Stairs" below.

Pela's talent is undeniable and I highly recommend checking them out live for yourself, as listening on MySpace just won't cut it. For more on Pela be sure to visit their Web site and catch a show when they're in town. You won't regret it. If that's not enough for you, watch a video of them covering The Clash below.

For more on The Postelles, be sure to visit their MySpace and to hear more of your favorite indie bands, be sure to tune into 90.7 or check out The Alternate Side online!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Band of the Week: Looking Glass Wars

Former band of the week singer Alex Bondarev of A Moment's Worth passed along Looking Glass Wars' MySpace page, telling me he thought I'd enjoy what I heard. He couldn't have been more right! The New York natives' most recent release, A Place in a Parlor contains tracks that touch upon the varied musical influences of the band's members, including rockabilly, surf, and alt-country, while still maintaining the dark pop-rock sound of their debut album. Do I have you intrigued yet?

"Is This Really Poison" encompasses that punk rock feel, but mid song the tempo unexpectedly changes bringing more of an anthemic, atmospheric feel to the track. Not many bands can make this work, but Looking Glass Wars succeed remarkably. In fact, all the songs featured on their MySpace page have this same result. The listener never knows what to expect and is often pleasantly surprised.

Another unique track, "3AM" starts slower than the previous. With soft and eerie vocals at first, frontman Brendan Rivera quickly crescendos into a scream amidst fitting heavy percussion and bass accompaniment. Eventually the song fades out with soft piano and bell features. While the listener assumes this is the song's eminent end, he is fooled once again as the music picks up, enticing the listener to pay more attention.

While "Oh What A Party It Will Be" is self explanatory with it's title, "Addicted To Your Touch" follows suit with high energy and solid electric guitar riffs. Heavy bass and percussion beats make up the backbone of the track, never faltering.

Having garnered a spot on's 2008 "Absolute 100," Looking Glass Wars show no sign of slowing down. For their music and tour dates, be sure to check the band out on MySpace. What do you think?

For fans of The Killers, Panic at the Disco, The Gaslight Anthem, early Yellowcard.

Photo Credit: Joel Sneak

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Poll of the Week: What New Features Do You Want to See on You Sing, I Write?

Well, I successfully (or unsuccessfully) however you decide to look at it, applied to be Diddy's assistant as you may have read from yesterday's post. The majority of you voted last week for me to apply and wrote the most encouraging messages, which definitely persuaded me to audition. All in all, it was an experience I won't forget anytime soon!

Now onto this week's poll question: What New Features Do You Want to See on You Sing, I Write?

This is more of an open-ended question than a multiple choice selection, so I really want to read your ideas in the comments. I'll give you a few suggestions, but ultimately I'm looking for your creative input this week. While I've learned that many of you enjoy the artist features and interviews from a previous poll, I'm curious to see what my blog may be lacking that you want to see. More contests? Auditions? (for my sake, I hope not!) Music streams? Live Twitter updates on the sidebar? Or, how about recommendations? For example, maybe at the bottom of an album or concert review I'll put a list of artists the musician sounds like. See my Mat Kearney review for an example.

Let me know. My friend Jennilyn and I have been brainstorming in our free time and it's so important to get your ideas as well! Please leave your suggestions in the comments. I look forward to reading each one!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

"I Want To Work For Diddy 2" Audition Recap

Those of you who know me are already aware that I'm not the most outspoken person in the world. In fact, I'm more the sit back and observe type of girl. In normal circumstances this isn't the end-all, but when trying out for a reality show it definitely won't get you hired. At least that's what I learned today, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

I have to be honest, I was debating all week about auditioning. After watching countless videos about Diddy and doing some research, he doesn't seem like the easiest man to work for. One of the most highly regarded figures in the Hip-Hop world, Diddy is as business savvy as they come. Musician, producer, actor, designer, — the list goes on and on. Does he ever sleep? Nope, that's what I learned. His personal mantra is "You can sleep when you're dead." You can get a pretty good idea of how intense working for Diddy really is from the video below.

So, after watching this video you can understand why I was a bit hesitant to go to the audition today. But, I stuck it out and since many of you voted for me to apply and have been giving me tons of encouragement, I decided to go. If anything, it makes for a good blog post, right?

I arrived at the audition location shortly after 9:30 a.m. and there was already a line. Thankfully, I befriended two girls in front of me, one who also turns out to be a writer, so the nearly two hours didn't seem so bad. When they finally ushered us into the venue there was yet more waiting and my nerves started to get the best of me. You know, your heart pounding through your throat and feeling like it's going to explode out of your chest. Ten of us were showed into the room and asked to sit down so we could see each other and then the introductions began.

"Tell me your name, where you're from and why you'd be an asset to Diddy," Douglas told the crowd. "And pay attention to familiarize yourself with each contestant," he continued.

The first seven people before me introduced themselves before someone came over to Douglas (the moderator) and he stepped away for a minute — of course right before my turn. My heart was beating and I could feel myself break out into a cold sweat. "Why am I an asset to Diddy?" I kept thinking. Dedicated, hard working, blah blah blah that's what everyone says.

Douglas came back and it was my turn and I'm pretty sure my voice was shaking. "Hi, I'm Annie Reuter — also a Jersey girl (most of the people in my group were from Jersey)." To be honest I really don't know what I said after that. I'm sure it was something along the lines of "I'm a freelance writer" but I just blanked out and just said whatever came to mind.

The two people after me introduced themselves to the group and then Douglas said, "Alright. So now you all know each other. I want you to tell me who in this group doesn't deserve to be here." I had an idea this was coming, but never really imagined what would happen next. Right away this girl called another girl out, making some remark about the heels she was wearing and how she seems to think she's better than everybody else. A verbal fight erupted and I'm sitting there flabergasted. I mean, I know girls can be mean but this was pretty intense. Then a few guys got into it and start insulting everyone. While I know I should speak up to show that I could handle a situation like this, I just had nothing to say. How am I supposed to tell how well of an assistant a person could be if I just met them? It was all a bit bizzare to me.

Obviously, the people who made it to round two were the outspoken insult-throwing leaders of the pack and that's just fine with me. While I'm sure I have to be a bit tougher to thrive in this industry, name calling and harping on a person's choice of clothing attire are just not something I care to be involved in. At the end of the day, you have to live with yourself and the decisions you make.

A wise man once wrote (aka Mark Twain) "Always do right. This will gratify some people, and astonish the rest." After today, I couldn't agree more.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Song of the Week: "Maybe California"

In honor of Mother's Day this weekend (Sunday for those of you who may have forgotten), Tori Amos is offering a free download of new song, "Maybe California" off her upcoming release, Abnormally Attracted to Sin.

To watch her video introduction and download the track, click here.

You can also watch the music video of "Maybe California" here. If that's not enough for you, listen to Tori talk about the inspiration behind her 10th new album and how she wants listeners to "have a steam bath with a partner with the record sonically," here.

If you like what you heard, be sure to pick up a copy of her album, due in stores May 19th.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Album Review: Mat Kearney's "City of Black & White"

After hit single and title track from 2006's album, Nothing Left to Lose took off, Mat Kearney found himself on the road continuously. Supporting acts like John Mayer, Sheryl Crow and The Fray as well as his own headline stints, Kearney has been making a name for himself ever since.

Three years and many traveled miles later, Kearney is back with City of Black & White, due to hit shelves May 19. Of his release, Kearney has said it is a record about community. “There’s definitely the theme of this traveling/sojourner/vagabond kind of guy landing in the midst of people that he loves, and who love him.”

You can easily see this on first track, “All I Have.” Seemingly talking of the past three years on tour and being away from loved ones, Kearney sings “All I have, all I have, all I have, you know it’s yours/Every breath, every step, every moment I’m looking for/All I have, all I have, all I have is yours/If you watch my heart break a little bit more.”

Kearney has said he listened to U2 and Tom Petty while recording the album and this influence can be heard on many tracks. Additionally, “New York to California” strikingly evokes early Coldplay, specifically Chris Martin’s vocals and piano accompaniment throughout hit single “Clocks.”

Slower ballad “Never Be Ready” recalls Kearney’s radio hit “Nothing Left to Lose” with its catchy chorus and slow buildup throughout the song while “Lifeline” portrays longing, specifically in lyrics, “The world is too big to never ask why/The answers fall straight out of the sky . . . I can’t feel a thing without you by my side/Send me out a lifeline.” At times his voice sounds saddened, as he pours all his emotion into each song.

While there isn’t tremendous variation from track to track, Kearney’s relaxed and familiar vocals are what keep the listener intrigued. Emotional song, “Annie” encompasses a moving tale of a girl needing to break free of her mundane life. A relatable track, the listener can sense the passion and heartbreak felt within each line of the song.

City of Black & White is bound to continue Kearney’s musical success. Pick up a copy May 19th and be sure to catch him live, currently on tour with Keane! Listen to a preview of some songs off his upcoming release on MySpace.

Recommended: For fans of Coldplay, John Mayer, U2 and The Fray.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Rolling Stone's Six Breakout Bands to Watch

If you didn't get a chance to attend this year's Bamboozle festival Rolling Stone has it covered for you. I love featuring new bands on the blog, and wanted to share with you their selection of six up-and-coming bands to watch from this past weekend.

Must admit, I was super psyched to see one of my favorites, Lights Resolve (photo above) added to RS's list as I've covered them a bunch this past year. From interviewing the guys to reviewing one of their show's for MTV, they deserve all the press they've been getting!

To read the Rolling Stone article in it's entirety click here. And be sure to check out their six picks below on MySpace!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Artist of the Week: Natalie Gelman

While she's been getting quite a buzz lately, both from her album release and frequent underground performances in NYC's subways, Natalie Gelman is one musician to keep on your radar. Having been compared to Sheryl Crow, Tori Amos and Jewel with her emotion-filled rock, Gelman remains to set herself apart.

Not your typical everyday singer-songwriter, Gelman vowed to complete an entire 1500 mile tour from Miami, Florida to New York City on rollerblades while performing in venues along the way — all while selling her self-titled debut album and donating the proceeds to Children International. An impressive feat, Gelman survived many obstacles throughout this journey including being hit by cars twice on the tour.

From the saddened heartbreak displayed throughout "Leave" to the struggle of dealing with failure in "Run Away" the listener hears the deep and honest emotion throughout Gelman's music, begging for more. The string feature encompassing "Forgive Me" is remarkably fitting and leaves a lasting impression to the fade out of the song. Each track is as if reading a diary entry, so listen and decipher for yourself.

Learn more about Natalie below in her YouTube video. You can watch as she discusses the start of her NYC subway performances and see her live in action!

For more on Natalie, be sure to visit MySpace and her Web site

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Poll of the Week: Should I Apply To Work For Diddy?

According to last week's poll question, What Do You Enjoy Most on You Sing, I Write? many like my artist interviews the most, so I'll be sure to set up new interviews for you soon! I received some really great comments and suggestions and from the sound of it, you all seem to like what I've been doing so I won't change the structure of my blog too much. Like anything, it's a work in progress and there are always ways to make it better. If you have any tips/suggestions, never hesitate to contact me!

Now onto this week's poll question, a bit random perhaps, but music related as always!

Should I Apply to Work for Diddy?

I'm constantly perusing the job boards in search of more writing opportunities and freelance work and this week I stumbled upon an ad to sign up for VH1's show, "I Want To Work For Diddy 2." Basically, it's a search to be P. Diddy's personal assistant. While I've continuously told my friends that I could never picture myself on a reality show, this seems different and who knows, it could lead to a full time career in the music business.

I know what you're thinking, "Is she crazy?" Sometimes you need to step out of your comfort zone. My aunt gave me a mug as part of my graduation gift a few years ago that had this quote written on it: "Live Boldly. Take Risks. Make somebody say, 'What the hell was that all about?'" and I read that quote everyday when getting ready. I feel like my life has been a crazy roller coaster ride this past year (in a good way) and maybe it's time to branch out once again and try something new.

What do you think? Read the application here and let me know in this week's poll. Comments are always welcome as I'd love to hear what you REALLY think about me applying. Auditions are next Monday so I really have to make up my mind soon and would appreciate your help!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Song of the Week: "Sink Into Me"

Taking Back Sunday's upcoming album, New Again hits shelves June 2. In the meantime, they have tons of widgets (see above) and appearances to keep their fans excited. You can pre-order the Limited Edition Package Car Kit now here.

To listen to a stream of first single, "Sink Into Me" for Quicktime click here. For Windows click here.

Be sure to visit their MySpace to hear title track "New Again" in its entirety. If that's not enough for you, Taking Back Sunday will be performing at Bamboozle tomorrow as well as touring the East Coast allowing fans to listen to the new album with them! Catch them at the locations below:

Monday, May 4 - Philadelphia, PA
910 Route 73 N
Marlton, NJ

Plaza @ King of Prussia
160 N Gulph Rd, SP #1056
King Of Prussia, PA

47 Industrial Hwy
Essington PA, 19029

Tuesday, May 5 - New York, NY
McCaren Park
Bedford Ave and N 12th St
Brooklyn, NY 11222

Herald Center
1293 Broadway
New York, NY

Thursday, May 7 - Boston, MA
Whitehorse Tavern
116 Brighton Ave
Allston, MA 02134

WFNX Event
Fan Pier (near the Bank of America Pavilion (across from Seaport Hotel) on Atlantic Ave)

Newbury Comics
859 Boston/Providence Hwy
Route 1
Norwood, MA 02062

152 Endicott St
Danvers, MA 01923


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