You Sing, I Write: September 2009

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Bruce Springsteen Night One at Giants Stadium

Never in a million years would I imagine I'd be covering U2 and Bruce Springsteen within one week, and at the same venue nonetheless. But, as they say in "Almost Famous" — "It's all happening."

Heading over to Giants Stadium in a few to cover the first night of Springsteen's five nights of concerts and the last at the Stadium. Feel free to follow my updates on Twitter. Full report tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Mat Kearney Tonight at The Fillmore NY @ Irving Plaza

I'll be catching Mat Kearney tonight at The Fillmore NY @ Irving Plaza with some friends and covering it on Twitter if you'd like to follow along. I was lucky enough to meet up with Kearney a few months ago while he was touring with Keane and it was one of my favorite artist interviews yet.

You can read the full transcript of my interview here, as well as listen to the audio. To hear Mat talk about the new album, his writing process and stories behind his songs, click here. For his view on writing about personal relationships, being an opening act and advice to aspiring musicians, click here.

Feel free to follow my updates on Twitter. For more on Mat, visit his Web site.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Band of the Week: This Century

With their pop-punk choruses and fitting musical accompaniment, This Century is a band to keep on your radar. Having played for three weeks as part of the Vans Warped Tour, not to mention previous tours with Hellogoodbye, Secondhand Serenade and Lydia, This Century is well on their way.

In fact, the indie band has sold over 10,000 tracks since January 2009 without any label support. Additionally, This Century has also been featured on PureVolume's front page twice and held the No. 1 unsigned CD on, among many other accomplishments. Not always an easy feat for an unsigned band.

Tracks like "Battling a Heavy Heart" and "No Way Out" have a familiar sound, at times bringing to mind bands like the Plain White T's. With their catchy lyrics ("'Cause I'm a lover/Not a fighter") and arena friendly singalongs (take their endless whoa-oh's throughout "No Way Out") it is no wonder how this band has been impressing audiences throughout their countless national tours.

Piano infused tracks like "Hard To Get" portray an older side of the band while frontman Joel Kanitz's vocals are warm and endearing. An accurate description, their music has been referred to as "dreamlike and melodic, at times fast-paced and captivating." Once you take a listen, I think you'll think the same.

For more on This Century be sure to visit them on MySpace and catch them currently on tour.

Recommended: For fans of Plain White T's, Parachute and to reminisce some of your favorite Warped Tour memories.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Poll of the Week: What Music Do You Want At YSIW's Anniversary Bash?

I'm currently in the process of putting together a concert to celebrate You Sing, I Write's two-year anniversary! Some of you may remember last year's successful show at Maxwell's in Hoboken, which featured talented musicians Joey DeGraw, The Canon Logic and Josh Charles.

This year, I'll be partnering with my friend Monica from The Jew Spot for a night of music at a New York venue where we'll be donating a portion of the ticket sales to one of our favorite non-profit organizations, To Write Love On Her Arms. TWLOHA is a movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. I've been following TWLOHA over the past few years as they've been making a huge impact, especially within the music community.

In joint celebration of our blog anniversaries and site relaunches, Monica and I have decided to join forces with some of our favorite musicians for a night of fun while bringing awareness to important issues that TWLOHA discusses. We're still working out the details, (most likely the show will be in November) in the meantime we'd really love to know what type of music you'd be interested in.

My poll question for this week is: What music do you want to hear at the bash?

A little bit of everything.

Feel free to leave musician/band suggestions in the comments. Stay tuned for more details as they arise. Can't wait for the show! Hope to see you all there.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Song of the Week: "Who Says"

Earlier today, John Mayer premiered the first single off his upcoming release, Battle Studies, on his Web site. Bringing to mind the laid back, folk-infused "Heart of Life" from his last album, Continuum, "Who Says" is an acoustic ballad with little deviation from the John Mayer sound fans know and love.

Sounding like a tongue in cheek number at first, Mayer starts off singing, "Who says I can't get stoned?" He continues, "It's been a long night in New York City/It's been a long time since 22/I don't remember you looking any better/But then again I don't remember you."

Of the track, in the latest issue of Rolling Stone, Mayer says, "When I sing it, I do not think about marijuana — I think about walking around your house naked with a guitar. It's about being in control of the pleasure in your life."

Listen to "Who Says" here.

What do you think? Do you like the new single? Look for the album in stores later this fall.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Q&A with Jer Coons

If you haven't heard of Jer Coons just yet, you will soon. While comparisons to notable singer-songwriters like Jason Mraz abound, Coons has that uniqueness that allows him to standout in today's music scene. From having his current single featured on Hollister's in-store play list to being the third most popular Vermont musician on MySpace, not to mention opening for Colin Hays of Men At Work this summer, Coons is well on his way.

I chatted with Jer while he was in Michigan for a few days before gearing up for his album release and fall tour. Talking candidly about his music, latest album and writing process, Coons' said, "As a songwriter, there is nothing more exciting than hearing a song come together the way you heard it in your head. I just want people to feel like they know me through my music. " And that they will. Read my complete interview below and be sure to pick up a copy of his debut album, Speak, in stores Tuesday, September 29.

Was the recording process for Speak everything you thought it’d be?
Yeah. It was the first time that I was able to record with a band. Everything else was an amalgamation of me trying to play every instrument or having my friends come in and play on a track after I already started the foundation of things. This was the first attempt that I had gotten the band together from the ground floor. It’s a group of guys from Vermont who are incredible musicians and they bring a musicality and authenticity that I really wouldn’t be able to find with people of my own level of experience. They’re absolutely phenomenal.

So, what I did was basically brought these nascent ideas for songs to them at the ground floor and we just worked through them. We let the songs themselves evolve to a point that we felt like we’d been playing them for years before we had recorded them, even though it was condensed into a period of about a month and a half of pre-production.

What’s your typical songwriting process?
The songwriting process, for better or worse, is entirely autobiographical. I can’t really write about something that I haven’t gone through. The downfall as a cynical industry person is that I couldn’t really manufacture something. But, the benefit as a human and as a listener is that I can’t manufacture something so people seem to respond to it because it’s honest. I think if there’s ever a crunch time and I’m forced to go down to the wire and make something up, I don’t have it in me. I think that that’s actually good and I feel excited about that because if there’s ever a time that I have to fake it, I think I’m going to throw in the towel and call it a day 'cause no one wants to hear that.

Do you feel a song comes out better when it really happens to you?
Yeah. It’s definitely everything that’s happened to me. I’ve written dumb songs that aren’t actually things that I play for people and try to create something out of nothing and I don’t think they come out that good. People are smarter than a lot of artists give them credit for, fans especially. Even if people want to dismiss the younger crowd, like 14-year-old-girls, people are like, “They listen to Jonas Brothers, they can’t know what’s going on.” As much as people don’t think they get it, they get it. They’re some of the most perceptive listeners in music, but they’re also some of the most dismissive because if they’ve heard it, they’ve heard it. And they can tell when you’re being honest or when it was just written in a laboratory somewhere.

Your songs are very personal. Are you afraid to reveal too much?
People have their own interpretations of things. I hope that there is enough metaphor and enough ambiguity to make people not read it entirely at face value. Certainly there are songs that people are able to. But, you can’t even think about it as terms as a songwriter. I’m writing purely for therapy and to capture the phrase, lyric or melody that I have in my head exactly as I hear it. Every time I have an idea it pops into my head really quickly and I’m afraid I’m going to forget exactly how I said it. It’s always a struggle to write it down really quickly. I have all these little scraps of paper in my pockets. Some ideas are awful and some ideas may have some quality to it, but I never know until I’ve given it some time. Maybe a week later or two weeks later, I’ll be driving in my car and I’ll be humming a tune and then go grab a guitar and try to flush it out and realize maybe there’s some redeemable quality.

Your first single, “Legs” became pretty popular after being played at Hollister.
That was a total fluke and usually when things are discovered by people there rarely is “an overnight success.” There are always factors that came together in the same way, rarely is it one thing. But, the Hollister thing just came together randomly and it happens to be an audience that is very receptive to my type of music. The target market of Hollister has some overlap with Jer Coons fans apparently. I think it’s a testament to the song, and also I don’t know if this is specifically Hollister consumers, but apparently they’re not lazy. People were willing to put in the effort of looking up artist and song information and taking the time to check me out online and devour the content I have on YouTube. I’m psyched that people cared enough about it to check it out.

You’re the third most popular Vermont artist on MySpace after Phish and Grace Potter.
It’s exciting. Vermont has been very good to me. I’m proud to be born and raised Vermonter. I hope to call it my home my whole life, though my ideal reality is splitting time between Vermont and New York City. I think that’s the best of both worlds. I would love to have a presence in New York without feeling like I have to work in New York to sustain just a closet. The Vermont music scene has been very supportive to me. I love them for it and I hope the feeling is mutual.

The beauty of Vermont — there’s a huge music scene. People love music and the arts and they’re very supportive. It’s a combination, it's big fish small pond sort of thing versus a community like Nashville or LA where there is so much white noise from all the competition that it’s really difficult to make an impact. [In LA and Nashville] there are so many places where the attention is diverted and there are so many venues and bands that it’s tough to make an impact on that level.

Growing up in Vermont, how much has the music scene structured you and your music?
The Vermont music culture is very conducive to jam bands. I think the geography, relaxed state of mind and community — everyone appreciates nature and that makes a lot of jam bands want to play in Vermont. I started to really get into songwriting. I played electric guitar first and switched to acoustic guitar my sophomore year of high school. In a hilarious way, that was almost me being rebellious by rebelling against a less structured type of music and going into a world like pop music that is so constricting and almost the antithesis of that. I have a huge respect and admiration for jam bands. I think it was a response to it being so saturated in my area, to play a type of music that’s not as accepted as a different type of music. I got really fascinated with something that was not formulaic, but that there were rules you had to follow. In a way, I love to try and break convention and fit within the constraints of a song structure and say something unique and do something different that has me laughing because I did it my own way.

Your biography is very different from the typical band bio. (Read Jer's bio here.)
If anything, it’s just poking fun at the nature of things. I was thinking about the industry in general and always get asked how is my “brand” defined? I’m like, it’s not really a brand, it’s me being myself and I’m sort of ridiculous person for better or worse. Honestly, I try and be just Jer. I might put out a record called Just Jer, which is terrible and it may not be commercially successful at all [laughs].

[The bio is] pretty much recognizing that I’m one of a huge number of people trying to do exactly the same thing in terms of the public’s perception. Singer-songwriters are obviously a dime a dozen. The difference between my music and my approach to the whole game is that I’m not trying too hard and I don’t take myself too seriously. People have been responding really well because my songs seem really honest and personal. My bio is just totally tongue in cheek and my type of humor. I try and have every aspect of what I do represent who am instead of who someone thinks that I should be.

How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard it?
It is acoustic pop music, unabashedly pop and a little hint of soul and country. I really do listen to tons of different music; I’ll have Thelonious Monk at one minute and then the Jonas Brothers, but not actually seriously listening to them. It’s definitely a range. Luckily, I was in an environment growing up and musical family that listened to a whole lot of different stuff. Everything from country to, there was church music at some point and I think every little thing you hear is an additive. You start to explore different types of music and I think it comes across in my songs subtly. I listen to a lot of different things and then try to channel that sound that is myself and that is a byproduct of all these different genres.

What was the inspiration behind your first single, “Legs?”
That is a song that is completely autobiographical. I’ll let listeners take their own interpretation and weave the storyline. I will say that it’s exactly what you think it is. It’s about appreciating the little things. It’s about the tiny details of someone that you seem to latch onto, the subtleties that seem to be lost to other people and that’s “the scars on your legs” line. The writing process for it was no different than any other songs. The right number of factors came together to make it resonate with people and people have really latched onto it. Hilariously, they say something has legs; I like to say the song might have legs. Hopefully it can take off. People who have heard it so far at Hollister seem to latch onto the lyrics. It’s just like a diary entry. Everyone has been through that, or if they haven’t, the second they go through it, they’re like, “Oh man, I know what you’re talking about.” It is what it is.

Is there one song on the album that’s a particular favorite or means the most to you?
In terms of songs that are closest to my heart, I don’t know that they’re my favorite, but in terms of ones that mean the most to me, I think it’s a tie between “Film Called Life” and “The Only Trace,” which are the ballads of the record. Those are two songs that were almost difficult to release to people because they were so revealing and also two songs, as a result, that I don’t play live as much. It’s a big hurdle to leap over to get to a point where it’s cool to be that intimate. Those ones are definitely close to home.

In terms of songs I like to play live, I think “Speak” is one of the most fun songs ever because there’s a harmonized guitar part and the beat that my drummer Jeff helps flush out and the bass line that appears from my bass player, it just makes you shake your ass. I’m very excited to get a song like that. We didn’t have any idea about track listing, but the second we recorded that we were like, “Okay, yeah, that’s going to be the first song.”

You were just on tour this summer with Colin Hay from Men At Work, how was that?
It was awesome. He’s massively successfully. I had been covering “Land Down Under” since the eighth grade. I actually randomly have the same booking agent as Colin Hay, so I was lucky enough to get those dates, totally on a whim. So I’m like, “Wait, Colin Hay? The Colin Hay?” I’ve been covering his songs since I was eight, I think I own some royalties. I rightfully got a little freaked out and excited. With any expectations that you have as a fan of anyone, especially on that level, the dude’s sold 30 million records. I was apprehensive about meeting him, because I had no idea what he’d be like. There’s that fear of meeting someone famous because they’re not gonna be all that you hope they would be.

I was so lucky and so excited when I met him. The first night we played together he just walked right into my dressing room and introduces himself. He was so cool, so down to earth and just genuinely nice. He clearly cared and that was the most encouraging thing ever. The shows were great, there was a super supportive crowd and he killed it every night so I was just excited to warm up the crowd for him.

What did you learn from watching him perform every night?
I guess the biggest thing was he is very honest with his stage presence and his self awareness. He was really good, his banter was awesome with the crowd. I think the one thing I took away was . . . the idea that fame or success gets to people’s heads is universal and he pretty much squashed that. That was my biggest fear. Just seeing that you can totally be at that level and be the coolest guy ever was really, really comforting for me. That certainly is something you fear losing as other things come into play.

For more on Jer Coons, be sure to visit him on MySpace and purchase his debut album Tuesday!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

U2 Live At Giants Stadium Tonight!

I'll be attending U2's concert tonight at Giants Stadium with some friends and covering it as the night unfolds on Twitter if you'd like to follow along. I've heard only incredible things about their live show and am so psyched my friend was able to get tickets! Muse is opening so it should be quite a night.

Feel free to follow my updates on Twitter and let me know if you'd like a full blog writeup as well!

Watch below as U2 perform "City Of Blinding Lights" during the opening show of the North American tour in Chicago at Soldier Field September 12. (It's a bit far, but the sound quality is pretty good.)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Ex-Member of The Format Debuts New Song

Today Spin featured Sam Means' first track since the Format disbanded in 2008. His soundtrack to indie comedy, The Sinking of Santa Isabel, will be released September 29, reports.

Definitely a more stripped down feel than his previous band, Means' indie-centric track is catchy and grows on the listener. Click here to listen to the song, "Yeah Yeah" in it's entirety.

What do you think? Will you be purchasing Sam Means' new album?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Artist of the Week: Glass Pear

Glass Pear is Welsh-born singer-songwriter Yestyn Griffiths. Having previously collaborated with his sister, Jem, on her popular debut and sophomore releases, Griffiths eventually decided to record tracks of his own. While his debut album, Streets of Love, is due in stores tomorrow, you may already recognize his voice from first single "Last Day Of Your Life." Mixed by Coldplay producer Danton Supple, the song has been featured in episodes of "Grey’s Anatomy" and "90210."

In a press release, Griffiths explained the story behind his stage name, Glass Pear:

"A lot of the songs I write are about the fragility and transiency of life and love. So I wanted to find a name that expressed that. Apparently the ancient Chinese believed that the pear was a symbol of immortality (pear trees live for a long time)," Griffiths said. "It’s also a symbol of affection in other cultures. In Chinese the word li means both 'pear' and 'separation' and for this reason, tradition says that to avoid a separation, friends and lovers should not divide pears between themselves. So for me a glass pear is a pear that is fragile, breakable, needing protection, just like love."

Streets of Love is a solid release filled with catchy, uplifting lyrics and moving musical accompaniment. On "Last Day Of Your Life," Griffiths sings, "If this was the last day of your life/What would you do to make things right?/If this was the last day of your life/Who you gonna call to make things right?"

The emotive lyrics combined with soaring guitar and string features leave an impact. Additionally, many of the tracks have piano interludes that bring to mind bands like Coldplay and The Fray while his introspective and questioning lyrics recall that of Switchfoot.

Standout track, "Streets of Love," is bound to get stuck in the listener's head. The most upbeat song on the album, Griffiths sings along fitting guitar and percussion beats, "Thinking of the one you love who doesn't know it just because/You're too afraid to be a fool again/People punch and people bruise on these streets of love/Stand up on your own two feet there's more to life than memories my friend."

While the album starts off slowly, with each repeated listen there is something new and unexpected. Griffiths' voice has that familiar and comforting quality to it as he confronts the confusion and heartache of life through continuous questioning within his songs. "What's the point of being human if we're not alive?" he asks on moving ballad, "Colours."

Ending with the captivating "My Ghost" (see video below), Griffiths proves his versatility as a singer-songwriter on his debut release. For more on Glass Pear, visit MySpace and if you like what you hear, be sure to pick up Streets of Love tomorrow.

For fans of Coldplay, Radiohead, The Fray, Switchfoot, Better Than Ezra.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Poll of the Week: Team Taylor or Team Kanye?

I couldn't go anywhere this week without hearing a Taylor Swift song. Kanye West on the other hand, not so much. MTV's Video Music Awards are now a week old, but the press is still abuzz. I was outside Radio City Music Hall when the debacle occurred — five minutes before Swift took to the streets for her live performance (see videos below).

Let's take a look back at the night's events and let me know your opinion in this week's poll. Do you think Kanye's apology was sincere? What would you have done if you were Taylor? Are you tired of hearing all of this being reported? Feel free to leave your response in the comments.

Taylor's (and apparently, Kanye's) acceptance speech:

Taylor Swift performing "You Belong With Me" live:

What you didn't see: After her performance, fans on the street were pounding on the cabs and chanting her name, in a way letting Taylor know they had her back.

Beyonce proves, once again, why she is one of the classiest female artists in the industry today:

Kanye's Apology on "The Jay Leno Show": (29 minutes in)

After watching it all take place, what are your thoughts? Be sure to vote in this week's poll!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Win Tickets to see U2, Elvis Costello and Sheryl Crow

This week is contest frenzy at You Sing, I Write! While I already have a winner to the Ragged Magazine contest from earlier this week, (congrats to Colleen who responded with the correct answer — Switchfoot was the first band I interviewed for the blog) there are a few more contests going on you may be interested in entering.


Kijiji, eBay’s free, family-friendly, local classifieds site, is giving away tickets to the U2 concert next Wednesday at Giants Stadium. Residents of New York and New Jersey can enter by taking the following steps:

1. List an item for sale on Kijiji New York, Kijiji Hudson Valley or Kijiji Newark.
* Include a brief description of the item, as well as why you are willing to sell it for a chance to win the tickets.
* Also include a photo, if possible.

2. Follow Kijiji on Twitter (so you can be notified via direct message if you win).

3. Send a tweet with the link to your Kijiji post and the hashtag #kijiji.

For more information and complete rules click here.

Elvis Costello and Sheryl Crow

Infiniti has secured a handful of exclusive tickets to the Sundance taping of Elvis Costello and Sheryl Crow on September 21 in New York City. Visit:

1. Simply upload a picture of you and your Infiniti on Facebook to be eligible.

2. Just Tweet @InfinitiNews why you love your Infiniti.

Full contest rules are here.

Good luck! Be sure to let me know if you win.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Song of the Week: "Every Dog Has Its Day"

I received an email this week featuring Real Ones' new single, "Every Dog Has Its Day" from their upcoming release, All For The Neighbourhood. After just one listen I immediately fell in love with the song and lyrics behind it. The psychedelic folk-pop vibe is something I haven't heard in a while, and for the five childhood friends from Norway, it works.

Listen to the song here or watch the video below. Love to know what you think!

Every Dog Has Its Day

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Five Albums to Prolong Your Summer

Photo Credit: Wendy Hu

Labor Day has come and gone and as much as we’d like to deny it, autumn is officially here. While it may be time to pack up that bikini, there’s no need to turn the music down. With tunes this good, who said summer has to be over?

Black Eyed Peas – The E.N.D.

The E.N.D., short for The Energy Never Dies, does just that. Released in June, many of the tracks could be heard in clubs and parties all summer long. In fact, it didn’t seem right if the night ended having never heard at least one of Black Eyed Peas’ songs. Hit singles, “Boom Boom Pow,” “I Gotta Feeling,” and “Meet Me Halfway” are undeniably 2009 summer anthems. With their electrifying dance beats, catchy choruses and synth-fused tracks, Black Eyed Peas prove they still know how to get the party started.

Colbie Caillat - Breakthrough

If Colbie Caillat’s new album, Breakthrough, doesn’t emit summer nostalgia, I don’t know what will. You can practically hear the ocean waves and smell the sea salt as she’s singing current radio hit “Fallin’ For You” and moving opening track, “I Won’t.” Of course, that could be because she wrote the album while vacationing in Hawaii. Songs like the laidback acoustic “Droplets,” featuring co-singer/songwriter Jason Reeves, and emotional “I Never Told You” are a breath of fresh air. Bet you can’t help but reminisce about that summer romance.

The Gaslight Anthem - The ’59 Sound

Jersey’s own the Gaslight Anthem have had quite the summer. Having toured the globe in support of their incredibly well received sophomore effort, The ’59 Sound, the band also shared the stage with Bruce Springsteen at Glastonbury Festival in England. If there was one album that epitomized driving down the shore with the top down and radio blasting, it would be this one. Tracks like “Great Expectations,” “Here’s Lookin’ At You, Kid” and “Backseats” are filled with vivid imagery and descriptive narratives of failed relationships, lost youth and somber regrets masked by energetic musical accompaniment. With a punk rock feel combined with that classic Springsteen sound, The ’59 Sound references those long summer days and endless summer nights.

Gloriana - Gloriana

The country outfit’s debut self-titled release encompasses upbeat, high energy songs bound to get the crowd on their feet. This is no summer campfire music. Currently on the road supporting Taylor Swift, the four-piece, made up of brothers Tom and Mike Gossin, Rachel Reinert and Cheyenne Kimball, are sure to change the everyday music lover’s opinion on country. Catchy hit single “Wild At Heart” has been gaining attention throughout the summer, garnering them best single by a new country act in 2009 while tracks like “The Way It Goes” are sure to be just as successful. With fitting fiddle, steel and guitar accompaniment along with the bands’ emotive lyrics, Gloriana is sure to win over music fans everywhere.

Sean Paul – Imperial Blaze

The reggae king is back with his 20-track summer release, Imperial Blaze. Including smash club-centric tracks like “So Fine,” “Now That I’ve Got Your Love” and “Press It Up,” Sean Paul continues to prove his success as a producer and solo reggae artist. At a press conference earlier this summer, Paul talked of his new single. “I think [“So Fine”] is 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.” After listening to the track, I couldn’t agree more. In fact, most of Imperial Blaze has that same flavor: jams that make you want to get out on the dance floor.

What do you think? What albums did I leave out that should be considered? What's your favorite summer album?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

You Sing, I Write/Ragged Magazine Contest

It's been a while since I featured a contest on the blog, so when I heard about Ragged Magazine's VIP Contest, I thought it'd be a great opportunity for readers. Whoever emails me first with the correct answer to the question below will win Ragged's #7 VIP Prize Pack which includes:

Taking Back Sunday's "New Again" CD
A Fine Frenzy's "Bomb in a Birdcage" CD
Landon Pigg's "The Boy Who Never" CD
The Sounds' "Crossing the Rubicon" CD
Those Darlins' "Those Darlins" CD
Busdriver's "Jhelli Beam" CD

If you like the artists above and want to read more about them, be sure to download the issue for free here.

Now for the contest question: Which artist (or band) did I interview first, specifically for You Sing, I Write?

Be sure to email me at with "You Sing, I Write/Ragged Magazine Contest" in the subject line and your name and answer. Thanks for entering and good luck!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Band of the Week: Only Living Boy

This past Friday I caught Only Living Boy's performance at The Court Tavern in New Brunswick. Performing a 45-minute set, the Jersey-based band impressed with their ear-grabbing guitar riffs and infinite energy. In fact, I can't remember the last time I've been at a show when a band's improvisation was so captivating.

The three-piece, which consists of frontman Joe Cirotti on guitar, bassist Eric Curley and drummer Trevor Newcomb, had the room packed as they played songs from their self-titled debut release. While their alternative rock brings to mind classic 70s acts, it is perhaps no wonder that their name was inspired by Simon & Garfunkel's 1970 song "Only Living Boy in New York."

Not new to the music scene, Only Living Boy has been playing together in various forms, perhaps most familiar as Rabid Roy. About to embark on an East Coast tour, the band has shared the stage with notable acts like the New York Dolls.

Only Living Boy has a sound that stands out from other up-and-coming acts today. Niki Coate of WNTI described it best: "a combination of the psych rock inherited from their parents' vinyl and the alternative rock of their own MTV adolescence."

"My Friend," a song Cirotti said is about his dog, brings to mind the Woodstock era and guitar-centric jams of legends like Jimi Hendrix and Carlos Santana while "My Heart Is Burning" has an edgy, almost country rock vibe to it. Cirotti's vocals are captivating as the accompanying percussion and guitar interlude portrays his ongoing angst told within the story of the song.

Additionally, tracks like "How Lovers Have a Ball" continue to exemplify the band's versatility and timelessness. While some songs transform the listener to another era, others maintain a certain charm and relevancy, continuing to keep Only Living Boy on the cusp of a constantly changing music industry.

For more on Only Living Boy and upcoming tour dates be sure to visit their MySpace. To listen to a stream of current single, "Worthless," click here. To listen to "Homesick," click here.

Monday, September 14, 2009

R.I.P. Patrick Swayze

It has been reported that Patrick Swayze has died today, at the age of 57, after his long battle with pancreatic cancer. Perhaps known best for his performances in films like "Dirty Dancing" and "Ghost," it is his advocacy over the years that has been an inspiration to many. Follow CNN's breaking coverage as more information is disclosed here.

I was fortunate to have met and interviewed Swayze while in college at a heart disease awareness event. You can read all about it from my previous blog post here.

Earlier this year, Swayze was interviewed by Barbara Walters' where he talked in depth about his battle, his journey and his career. Watch the opening segment of Walters' interview below. For the remaining clips of the interview, go to YouTube.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

MTV's Video Music Awards Live in NYC Sunday Night!

The VMA's are back and will be taking place live at Radio City Music Hall in New York City tomorrow night. I'm psyched because I will be attending and taking part in the red carpet extravaganza and Taylor Swift's performance (look closely, maybe you'll spot me!).

Performances this year include Janet Jackson with a musical tribute to her brother, Jay-Z, Green Day, Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Muse, Wale, and more. I'm not sure how much access I'll have during the show, but be sure to follow me on Twitter as I update you to all my artist sightings and interviews. Tune in Sunday night at 9P/8C.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Song of the Week: "The Lucky Ones"

Many of you may remember PT Walkley from my interview with him at All Points West this past summer. He just completed a video for "The Lucky Ones," currently my favorite song off his debut album, Mr. Macy Wakes Alone. Watch it below and if you like what you hear, be sure to catch him live in New York next Thursday at Bowery Electric.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Relive Nashville's Country Music Festival with Jake Owen

You all followed my adventures covering the festival this summer, now you can get a musician's take. Travel to Nashville with Jake Owen as he reports live from the ground of this year's CMA Music Festival. Watch the video series on below as Jake describes the history behind some of the town's greatest venues, shows off his wakeboarding skills and performs live.

For more on Jake Owen, watch my interview with him below.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Q&A with Better Than Ezra

No strangers to the music scene, Better Than Ezra have been performing and recording for the past 20 years. While the band admits that it's their engaging live show more than their record sales that have helped their longevity, latest release, Paper Empire, may change that. Their sixth studio album is a solid album with moving singles, "Just One Day" and "Absolutely Still," bound for radio airplay.

In perhaps the busiest (and hottest) Starbucks in New York City, I met up with the members of Better Than Ezra, singer-songwriter Kevin Griffin, bassist Tom Drummond and newest member, drummer Michael Jerome. BTE talked to me about their latest release, communicating with fans, and their live show:

"We really enjoy performing live and you can’t fake that sort of thing. We just have a good time; we try to mix it up every night," Drummond said. "I’ve been told by fans that a lot of them come to the show for the in-between song banter as much as the actual songs. That’s just who we’ve become over the years. We truly enjoy playing our songs, performing every night and playing live music and I think that’s a big reason why we’re still here."

How is Paper Empire different from your previous albums?
Kevin: I think every Better Than Ezra album is different because we’re a band that has always put our influences into our music and you can always hear what we’re listening to when you hear a Better Than Ezra album, for better or for worse. Also, a lot of it was done long distance. I’d have a part and send it to Tom, he’d put bass on it and Michael would come in and play drums. It was really using the Interweb, the Internet machine to do a lot of the album. The bulk of the album was done face to face. New influences, different recording process and this was the first time that we had a lot of different players come and play. On a couple of songs, I just told some of my favorite guitarists that I work with what I wanted. So, I got to sit back and produce a song and not have to beat myself up playing a part that a friend of mine could play a lot better and a lot quicker.

You’ve written songs for many artists including Howie Day, David Cook, Blondie. How do you differentiate writing a song for another artist vs. Better Than Ezra? Do you ever wish you kept a song for yourself?
Kevin: That’s interesting. Sometimes it’s easy writing a David Cook song. I know that a song like “Avalanche” is never going to be on a Better Than Ezra album. It’s too David Cook. There’s a song I wrote with Joshua Radin for his last album, (also featured in movie “Adam”) that just wasn’t going to be a Better Than Ezra song. But then there are the ones like, maybe “Collide” for Howie Day, which could have been a Better Than Ezra song, but at the time we were unsigned. We didn’t have any money to put it out and I just think, "Here’s this 22-year-old kid whose got Epic Records behind him, he needs this ballad." I know they’re going to put all that machinery and pump it behind him.

It takes a lot of belief to get a ballad to happen. A lot of times with a band like us, you need more of an up-tempo song that’s more received as a no brainer by radio people, so you have to make a hard decision like that. There are plenty of times when I’ve got from my band, “Thanks for giving ‘Collide’ away Kevin.” And I’d be like, “Yeah, I know. Sorry.” Most of the time, it’s pretty clear cut, but then there are some songs on this new album, like “Just One Day,” the new single that I wrote with Jeremy Lister. Warner Brothers did a terrible job of promoting that song and I called him up and said, “Hey, we both know that Warner Brothers did a terrible job with your EP. I’d love if Better Than Ezra could do a version of it, change it up and hopefully give it another chance to give it the life we think it should.” That’s happened with a few different co-writers.

I actually wanted to ask you about “Just One Day.” It’s my favorite song on the album. What is the inspiration behind it?
Kevin: It’s in part, just about losing people in your life. I kept coming back to our original guitarist, Joel Rundell, who committed suicide. It was almost 20 years ago. I had never written a song about it and as I was working on the lyrics for “Just One Day,” I kept thinking about Joel and all these things and other people. As you get older you start to lose different people in your life.

It’s basically about all the unresolved things that you have between you. Not only the good things, but the bad things too. It’s saying, if you had one day to spend with them, letting go of the resentment that maybe you have about the way you acted in a relationship or maybe the way you think they did. More, it’s a celebration of a fantasy that you have a moment to share with that person you loved. What I think makes it different than other songs that approach the subject, is that it’s not just about the good, it’s about the bad too. Too many people let resentment and past things really hound them. Carrie Fischer said it best about resentment, “Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” If you had one day to get rid of that, what would you do?

Do you ever hold back when songwriting? Are you ever afraid someone in the audience will hear and make the connection that the song is about them?
Kevin: I don’t know.

Tom: I’ve always wondered that too actually, Kevin.

Kevin: Really? You know what; I guess I’d only be concerned if that song was about something really bad that someone did. But more times than not, I do have songs that people know are about them on every album. It was girlfriends usually. A song called, “Cry In the Sun” was about this great summer romance as a counselor at a camp in North Carolina. That was on our first album. “Under You” was about moving to LA with another girlfriend. There hasn’t been that many. There have been three serious girlfriends. It was about being broke and eating Ramen noodles and barely staying alive, barely being able to survive. And those people know that. More times than not though, people make a song into whatever they think it is anyway. I’ve had people very happy or very miffed that they think a certain song is about them and I’m like, “It has nothing to do with you.”

Better Than Ezra has been around for 20 years now. Have you noticed a change in your fans over the years?
Tom: I think certainly, we’ve been a band that has been able to have our fans grow with us. Every time we put out a new record, I feel like we get some new fans that come along too. In fact, some of the people are starting to bring their kids. That’s how long we’ve been around I guess. It’s really cool because if the parents are that into the band and they start bringing their young kids to the show, they truly love the band. As far as teens go, I think every time you have a new single, that’s who you’re hoping to get. They’re the obvious record downloading crowd so that’s who you’re shooting for. But also, you can’t alienate the crowd you’ve brought with you for 20 years. You have to be true to them too, so that’s what we try to do.

Kevin: This tour, having been off the road for two years, a few times I’ve come off stage and Tom has said, “Man, this is the first time I’ve really noticed that our crowd has gotten a lot older.” It’s a new thing to us too. The experience of being a band, we’ve been around a long time. We have a lot of new fans and that’s refreshing, but I’d say the meat of it are our fans who were fans in the 90s when we started off. It’s just a transition, it’s cool though. These people really support us and feel like we’re part of their lives and come to us and say, “Man, when you play that song it reminds me of me and my girlfriend. We were taking a road trip across the country. I don’t want to bug you about that.” I’m like, “You are not bugging me when you say something like that. That’s the ultimate goal for a musician. To have their song be a part of someone else’s life, like your favorite songs are a part of yours.” It’s fun, but there definitely has been a noticeable change in our demographic.

Social media has a huge role on getting bands noticed today. You use Twitter to hide tickets to the show and backstage passes for fans. That wasn’t around when you first started.
Tom: You’re right. The whole industry has changed, I think four or five times since we’ve been a band. Bands that have the ability to exist for longer than five years, which is generally the lifespan of a band, they’re the bands that are business savvy and they're hip to the new ways. You have to be able to evolve or you dissolve. You have to be hip to MySpace and Twitter and — that’s the one we’re gonna start.

All the bands that have had longevity, you talk about the Rolling Stones, or anybody like that, they’ve always been on top of their game as far as the business side of things go. We pride ourselves on the fact that not that many bands can stay around as long as we have. It takes consistent songwriting, consistent live shows. It takes having an exciting, fun, live show, which I think is one of the key elements that’s missing in a lot of current bands. It takes all of those things plus being on top of your business to make it and be around for this long.

Kevin: You know, I think this is true. We’ve managed to stay around when a lot of our contemporaries who started with us when we did and sold a lot more albums than us. We’ve been able to stick around because of our live show at the end of the day. Growing up in the south and starting off as a bar band, then a band with a college circuit, you really had to be good to be asked back. We had bands that mentored us who were really just great performers. When people come see our show, they leave having a great time. Those other bands who were our contemporaries, just weren’t good live. They were shoegazers and that just couldn’t cut it. All the great artists put a lot of effort into trying to be the best they can be live. And that’s what we’ve done. I like to think that’s part of the reason for our longevity.

You have a very energetic live show. What’s going through your head while you’re performing?
Tom: I think the honest truth to that is that we really enjoy performing live and you can’t fake that sort of thing. We just have a good time; we try to mix it up every night. Kevin is one of the funniest people I know; he is witty, which is fun. It’s different every night. I’ve been told by fans that a lot of them come to the show for the in-between song banter as much as the actual songs. That’s just who we’ve become over the years. We truly enjoy playing our songs, performing every night and playing live music and I think that’s a big reason why we’re still here.

Kevin: I agree with Tom. We have a lot of fun doing what we do. Having Michael in the band, there’s a big part of Michael that’s a ham. He likes to ham it up.

Michael: Honey ham.

Kevin: He’s more of a honey baked ham. I’m more of a Boar’s Head smoked ham. Tom is more, what would you say you’re like?

Tom: [Laughing]. Why are we talking about ham?

Kevin: Then sometimes you’re onstage and you’re just playing and in your mind is a million . . . like, “Did I put that dark shirt in with the whites when I left the house? ‘Cause my clothes are screwed if I did.” And then Tom’s looking at me playing because I missed the lyric of the song. More times than not, you’re paying attention.

Michael: Being the new guy you take in a lot of new information and you’re trying to realize what has been done for the past 12, 15 years and you’re trying to emit that. The songs, the performance. You’re trying to appease fans that have grown to love what they’ve been watching for the last 15 years and what they’ve seen and what they’ve listened to from recordings and so on. I’m conscious of that. I’m a fan myself. So, if I fall in love with a band and their music, I don’t want it to change usually.

Tom: You get fans who just stare at you the whole show.

Michael: And I love it. The folded arms and the Simon’s out there that are just waiting and the comments you get. The really cool, kind comments that come from a lot of people and a lot of them consist of, “Well, I didn’t want to like you. I was ready to hate you.” For me, playing live is very enjoyable and making records is enjoyable, but it’s also a conscious effort to stay present when I’m playing. I tend to watch the show myself. I start having fun and I forget that I’m actually helping to make the show be what it is.

Tom: It’s a tricky situation because the fact that Travis [McNabb, former drummer now in Sugarland] was in the band for most of what the visibility of the band has been for the last 10 years or maybe a little longer, 12 years. We had to really pick the right guy to come in and not only be able play the parts well, but also fit in personality wise. We tend to go out and meet fans after the show and we could have very easily found somebody who was like, “I’m not doing that.” It’s been a really good fit.

Kevin: Our first couple shows at House of Blues in New Orleans, we have these fans, these two girls who are at every show and I didn’t see them. Normally they’re right in front of Tom, but I didn’t see them. We did two shows in a row and I didn’t see them at either show. Apparently, they were in the back by the bar and they were crying nonstop the whole show.

Michael: I just have to say, these particular girls, they’ve seen hundreds of shows. This was probably the first time they ever stood back side of the show instead of front and center in front of Tom or Kevin. After the show, I hear that they’ve been over in the back side crying, folded arms and they just refused. It was two or three shows later, they still hadn’t come up. I think we were in Baton Rouge and I went and talked to one of them. Folded arms, didn’t want to crack a smile. I tried to pour on the charm and really didn’t know it was them, but ever since that they’ve been letting me know how much they appreciated someone that they didn’t want to like coming in and sharing all this stuff. It was kind of funny to me, but it was also . . . that meant a lot and it makes a difference.

Tom: It just goes to prove that people are really hesitant to change in all aspects of life. Sometimes, if you just let go a little bit, you’ll find that really good things can come out of that. Evolve or dissolve.

You’ve survived the industry for 20 years. What is your advice to aspiring musicians who look up to you and want longevity like Better Than Ezra?
Tom: Currently, the technology that exists today is so different than when we started. There are so many great ways to write and produce your own music now and get it out there for people that before maybe would have never heard because you never got it into the hands of the right person at the right company. Now, you can do it yourself. You just can’t be lazy. Teach yourself about the music business and if you’re behind what you do, you can make it happen.

Kevin: When we started, unless you were in a music center, you really felt like you were in the provinces. You were so dislocated from what was going on. With the accessibility and the immediacy of the Internet, to get your music out where it is being heard by people who make a difference in the business and the ability to record yourself with GarageBand or Logic or Ableton or Pro Tools and make great sounded recordings for very little money. It’s all at your fingertips. It’s about how savvy you want to be, how hard you want to work. At the end of the day, it’s not only the person who is talented, but it’s equal parts talent and then hard work, great work ethic. There are so many good bands and musicians who were way more talented than us and maybe more talented than most of your favorite bands, they just didn’t have everything it takes. The get up and go, the drive, the savvy – you have to have all of that. Don’t think it’s just about chasing some muse through a meadow. It’s about capturing that muse, destroying anything that was good about it to begin with, selling it out, commercializing it and packaging it.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Band of the Week: The Ramblers

Their music takes the listener on a journey. While some songs have that classic jazz feel with piano accompaniment and soulful harmonies, others embody more of a laid-back country vibe. They refer to their music as American roots, or for a more descriptive explanation, Jim Croce backed with Booker T. & the M.G.'s. An interesting comparison, but after listening to them I think you'll agree.

Having been compared to The Band in many press reviews, Brooklyn-based band The Ramblers are well on their way to making a name for themselves. It can't hurt that they were selected to open for Levon Helm either.

I caught The Ramblers' performance last Thursday at Joe's Pub where they featured songs off their debut release as well as some new numbers. The captivating four-piece wowed all in the venue with their versatility as many around me could be seen dancing in their seats.

First track, "Ride This Storm," a classic and memorable rock 'n' roll song, was just a glimpse into what the rest of the night would bring. Playing just under an hour, vocals alternated well between guitarist Jeremiah Birnbaum and pianist Scott Stein while the band was rounded out by Shawn Setaro on bass and Steve Purcell on drums.

While Birnbaum's guitar interludes captivated concertgoers, Stein's soulful and jazzy vocals gave each track a new, and at times ethereal feel. The way the band segued from heavier rock 'n' roll to soul, country and folk was impressive. One moment the listener felt he was in a small, New Orleans jazz club and the next, Nashville at a dirt-filled honky tonk — no small feat for a band.

Alternating from soulfully emotional "Hard To Love" to country-esque, "Whiskey Blues," The Ramblers had much to offer their audience. Whatever music you favor, The Ramblers are sure to please one of your desires. Watch below as they play "Always Another Way to Be Gone" live at Joe's Pub.

For more on The Ramblers, be sure to visit them on MySpace and stay tuned for my interview from Thursday's show.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Q&A with You Sing, I Write

I've been getting many comments and emails regarding my recent interview on Jemsite. I must say, it's a little strange to be the one answering the questions instead of asking them. Fun, nonetheless. I figured it'd be a good idea to have the full interview featured on the blog so you can learn more about me, how You Sing, I Write began and some of my musical influences. Thanks again to Ava for the interview! Read below for Jemsite's full write-up.

You Sing, I Write
By Ava

Annie Reuter is making her music dreams come true!

And she's not even a performer.

What she is, though, is an excellent writer and she's used that talent to start an entertaining and fun music blog based on her passion for the craft.

As a friend of Annie's from college, I watched her transform her love for writing and her love for music into the popular blog she has today. I remember when she wrote hundreds of e-mails to friends asking for help with coming up with a name. Hundreds of interviews, music critiques, concert reviews, band members, guitar players, and musicians later--You Sing, I Write is one of the most recognizable blogs on the online music blog scene today.

I had the opportunity to talk to Annie about the creation and inception of the blog and her wonderful adventures and work.

Here's what she had to say:

Why the motivation to start a music blog?

In college I majored in Journalism and wrote every day, whether it was for the school paper, internships or class. After I graduated, my full time job wasn’t writing related and I really missed it. I had this crazy idea to start a music blog where I’d go to shows, write concert reviews and interview bands. I honestly thought only my family and friends would read it but it turned into something bigger than I had ever imagined.

Within a few weeks, I had my first band interview lined up with Switchfoot. The interview and review was featured on MTV’s concert blog as well as the band’s Web site and fans stumbled upon it and started cross linking, sending me emails and leaving comments. Everything spiraled from there and soon I was doing phone interviews with bands on my lunch breaks, getting CD's sent to me in the mail on a weekly (sometimes daily) basis and the rest, as they say, is history.

Who are your musical favorites and why?
I absolutely love John Mayer. (He’s also my dream interview). The way he paints a picture with the stories and emotion in his songs is incredible. I listened to Continuum (his last release) for a good year on repeat. While I love his lyrics, his guitar skills are even better, resulting in being named one of “The New Guitar Gods” by Rolling Stone. The way he plays guitar is mesmerizing. He can tell a story in one guitar riff. If I could play half as good as he does, that would be an accomplishment.

Switchfoot is one of my favorite bands to see live. The energy, onstage banter and fan interaction, whether it’s frontman Jon Foreman crowd surfing or jumping off the drum kit, they know how to put on a good show. Their album, The Beautiful Letdown is one of those albums I go to whenever I need to reassess things in my life. Their songs have so many layers and if you listen closely you always walk away with a new lesson and appreciation for their music.

Tell me about your experiences touring with bands.
Growing up, I was always the fan at the concert constantly wondering what life on the road was like and what exactly went on backstage before the show. Not to disappoint, but it’s not as glamorous in reality as it was in my head. There’s a lot of down time and waiting around between sound check and performing, but it’s the interaction between the crew and the bands that’s fun. There is a real camaraderie between touring bands because their lifestyle is so similar and a lot of people can’t relate. It’s definitely a struggle to constantly be on the road and away from loved ones, but to be able to tour the country and perform to fans every night far outweighs the negatives.

You’ve seen a lot of local, smaller bands before they were signed. What do you think it is that gets a band signed these days?
Persistence, passion and fan interaction. The music industry is one of the hardest to break into. Talent is not enough. There are so many bands out there, but how does one stand out from the next? Most of the bands that I know who have been successful have that “Just Do It” attitude and don’t wait around for a record label to sign them; they go out and make it happen for themselves. Social media is extremely important, MySpace alone isn’t enough anymore. The bands that succeed are on Twitter, filming video blogs and constantly interacting with their fans. You can be the greatest performer in the world, but if you don’t have any fans at your show, you’re not going to get very far.

How integral is the guitar player to each band?
I really feel that the guitar player is just as important as the lead singer in the band. Without the guitarist, you’d have lyrics but no music. The guitar rounds out the sound – those guitar riffs and solos are the parts that are most intriguing throughout a live set and keep me listening song after song.

What about lead singers who play guitar?
Often, the lead singer does play guitar. I personally find it strange when they don’t and are just standing up there with the mic. The guitar is so essential to live shows and music in general. While you can feel the emotion of the song through the lead singer’s voice, the guitar accentuates the story and can change the mood of a song with a simple chord change.

Why should someone who plays guitar or rock music want to read your blog?
I like to think my blog is different from the average music blog. It’s about the people behind the music – their journey, inspirations and passion. Being a musician is such a struggle these days, but I hope my blog provides insight into the everyday life of a musician and the obstacles they overcome. I don’t ask the personal, “Who are you dating” questions, but instead really want to get behind the story of the band and what motivates them to get up every morning and play music.

How is technology slowly changing the role of the guitar player or the lead singer or the band?
I think social media is at the forefront of many successful bands today. You can’t just be the lead singer or guitarist onstage anymore; you have to interact with your fans on a constant basis. Whether you’re on Twitter talking about what you did last night or hiding tickets to the show, fans want to feel like they’re part of it all.

You had an “Almost Famous” moment?
Traveling with D.C. based band Army of Me was definitely my “Almost Famous” moment. Last year AOM were on the “Get a Life” tour with The Used, Straylight Run, Street Drum Corps and Lights Resolve and I trekked along with the guys for a few dates of the tour. I spent most of the time interviewing the musicians and hanging out with each band, getting a feel for the average day of a musician. I think what was most shocking is that it isn’t all glamorous. Musicians are everyday people who have to struggle to pay rent while they’re on tour, deal with vans breaking down all while keeping their relationships back home alive. It’s a lot more work than I had previously imagined. But, in the end the highs outweigh the lows and if you can successfully make it and wake up every day and make music for a living, it’s definitely worth it.

In your opinion, what makes a singer who also happens to be a guitar player (perhaps someone like John Mayer or Vanessa Carlton) get noticed these days?
It’s sad to say, but a lot of times musicians being celebrity gossip tends to heighten their recognition. If John Mayer wasn’t constantly being featured on TMZ or Perez Hilton, most of society wouldn’t even know who he was. While his talent should surpass who he’s dating, it’s unfortunate that some people don’t see this.

What are your future plans for yourself and the blog?
It’s so cliché, but since the first time I saw “Almost Famous” my dream was to be a writer for Rolling Stone. There’s nothing I want more than to travel with bands and find out the stories behind their songs, their struggles in the music business and what motivates them to keep pursuing their careers despite countless obstacles. Music has had such an impact throughout my life and my curiosity about the industry has led me to manage and promote bands in addition to writing for various music publications and my blog. I don’t know what the future holds for me, but I know I’ll continue to pursue a career in music.

Ideally, I would love for You Sing, I Write to be a reputable source for the latest music news and breaking artists. I definitely plan on filming more interviews and touring with bands. Being a household name like Rolling Stone and MTV would be incredible, but more important to me is introducing talented bands to the music enthusiast. There’s nothing more rewarding then receiving a comment that someone loved a band I featured and decided to catch a show or buy the band’s album. In the end, that is all I can really ask for.

Thanks again to Jemsite for featuring me! Is there anything else you'd like to know about me or You Sing, I Write? Be sure to let me know in the comments.

Friday, September 4, 2009

(RED)NIGHTS: A Concert That Saves Lives

I'm sure many of you have heard of (RED), or come across advertisements in Starbucks, Gap, Hallmark, Apple and many other locations. The company was founded by Bono of U2 and Bobby Shriver of DATA to raise money for the Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. (RED) works with companies that create products where a percentage of the profit from each product sold is given directly to Africa to provide medication and help those in need.

In addition to partnering with various brands, (RED) works with artists to create (RED)Nights where the money made from each concert helps save lives. Previous artist activists have included Santigold, O.A.R., The Veronicas, Lisa Hannigan (see above video) and more.

The fall line-up has just been announced and includes concerts by Ingrid Michaelson, Joshua Radin, Brandi Carlile and more. Check out the tour dates below and for more on (RED) visit the Web site here.

Ingrid Michaelson @ Paradise, Boston on September 12th & at the House of Blues, San Diego on October 3rd

Sondre Lerche @ Paradise, Boston on September 13th

Joshua Radin @ the House of Blues, Chicago on September 24th

Brandi Carlile @ the House of Blues, Chicago on September 25th

Thievery Corporation @ the House of Blues, Dallas on October 4th & @ the Fillmore, Miami on October 9th

Built To Spill @ the Fillmore, San Francisco on October 31st & November 1st

The (RED)NIGHTS Web site provides live video footage as well as photo and video uploads for those who attended the show. Watch above for a recap of Lisa Hannigan's concert and below for Matisyahu.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Q&A with Martina McBride

Martina McBride's career is what dreams are made of. Each release garners more recognition and her fan base is greater than it has ever been. A veteran to the country music scene, McBride has been belting out hits for the past 17 years. Not to mention her current single, "I Just Call You Mine," from her tenth studio album, Shine, has been referred to as the wedding song of the summer.

With over 18 million album sales, 22 Top 10 singles, and raising thousands of dollars for YWCA, a domestic violence shelter in Nashville aimed at empowering women and eliminating racism, McBride is an inspiration to women everywhere. "It’s so important for women to support other women. It should be like a family. We should be out there rooting for each other and helping each other out," she says.

I was lucky enough to chat with McBride at the YWCA auction as well as sit in on her press conference at this year's CMA Music Festival in Nashville. Of her YWCA celebrity charity auction, McBride said, "This event goes to help women and children really start over and rebuild there lives in a positive way and I just think that that’s important."

Read on for more on Martina's musical collaborations, her signature wine, and upcoming fall tour.

Can you tell us about your Twittering frenzy?
Is it really a frenzy? I discovered it about 2-3 months ago. It’s really fun. I’m really enjoying it. I don’t try to overdo it, I check in a couple times a day. It’s a cool way to keep in touch with your fans.

You’re not a big fan of flying. How does touring in the UK go for you?

You know, I’ve gotten better. There was a period of time when I was really paralyzed by it, but I’ve gotten a lot better. I flew to Italy last year. Especially when there’s something really worthwhile on the other end and it’s worth the plane flight, I’m okay with it.

Your single “I Just Call You Mine” is the wedding song for the summer.
Well, I hope that it’s the wedding song of the summer! It’s just a love song. I don’t know that I’ve done a straight-up love song like this since “Valentine.” I’m excited about it, it’s beautiful.

Your YWCA fundraiser is this Saturday.
We’re doing the YWCA celebrity auction on Saturday. It’s our 13th year to do it and it just gets bigger and better every year. All the proceeds go to the domestic violence shelter here in Nashville. I’ve heard testimony after testimony that it’s really changed a lot of lives. It’s a place where women and children can go and get a fresh start and get the support that they need to start rebuilding their lives. So, I’m proud to help with that.

I heard you’re putting a tour together. Will it be more arena based?
Yup, we’re going to be going back to arenas. Last summer we did the amphitheaters outside. This fall of course we wouldn’t be outside in amphitheaters in November, so we’re going to be in arenas. I haven’t really started or seen any drawings yet or anything. The thing that is cool, is usually I put out an album and we go right out on tour. This time I do really feel like I have a lot of time to really plan and create a whole new show. We toured so extensively on Waking Up Laughing, even went back to markets a couple times. I really want to create something that’s a whole new experience for the fans.

You recently released the 2006 Martina McBride "Signature Series" wine. What made you take your passion for wine to the next level to have your own line?

It’s funny. We have Blackbird Studios and there’s a Blackbird Vineyard. So, when we were in Napa we stopped by and checked it out and met with the owner. And, really just sat down over a glass of wine and said, “We have the same name. It’s kind of a coincidence. If you ever want to do a signature wine, we’d love to do that.” About a year went buy and he called and said it was the right time to do that.

Can you explain your wine?
It’s really good! I’m not really a good wine speaker, but it’s a lot of fruit. It’s a Cab. It’s a blend of Cab and Merlot and some other kinds of wines. I love it because it has a little bit of chocolate. It’s just a little bit sweet, lots of jam and fruit. A fruit forward is how I think I’d say it.

You had the Jonas Brothers in the studio. Was that a business decision or were you trying to impress your children?
Well, we’re so happy that he came to record in the studio. Of course Delaney and Emma were very, very excited. John said right up front, “I want to tell you, we will try for our daughters not to stalk you while you’re here.” They were actually really good. They ran into each other, but Delaney was very poised. It was great to have him there.

How did you become collaborative with them?
Well, I got to sing with them when they were here in Nashville at the Ryman. They asked me to come sing with them onstage so I got to go to rehearsal, hang out a little bit. They’re really serious about their music, really sweet kids. Got to meet their parents. I wouldn’t say we hang out and are really close friends, but we have connected quite a few times.

How has music festival changed or evolved since you started?
Well, there is the obvious change that it’s not at the Fairgrounds anymore. Sometimes I miss that. There is a certain charm about it being at the Fairgrounds. It’s gotten bigger, we obviously can have more and more fans come every year. So that’s exciting, that we have more room for fans to enjoy what I will always call Fan Fair.

What is your advice to women accomplishing goals and overcoming obstacles?
Perseverance and support. If you can get support from your friends or from your family, that’s important.

You’ve been in the music industry for a while. What keeps you motivated?
I love it. This is my dream, ever since I was a little girl. For me, every minute that I get to do this is a dream come true.

When you’re writing your material, do you feel a song comes out better when it’s based on a real person or experience or fantasy?

I think it’s a little bit of both. I’ve done songs that are obviously about my life and I’ve done songs that are story songs about someone else. The most important thing is that you connect with the lyrics and it feels honest when you sing it.

Be sure to visit Martina's Web site for upcoming tour dates and for more on YWCA, visit their site here.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Stream Jay-Z's Upcoming Release "The Blueprint 3"

Photo Credit: Wendy Hu

Rhapsody is currently offering a full album stream of Jay-Z's upcoming album, The Blueprint 3. While the album's release date isn't until Sept. 11, you can hear it now in its entirety at

The album features hit single "Run This Town" and cameos from artists like Kanye West, Alicia Keys, Rihanna, MGMT and Drake. Users can stream the album via and MTV's "The Leak."

Additionally, Rhapsody is offering Twitter and Facebook contests giving fans a chance to win a copy of the album in advance of its release, autographed Jay-Z memorabilia or a Vizio Connected TV. The contest asks users to Tweet or post to Facebook their favorite Jay-Z song with a short review (including hashtag #RhapWin).

To stream the full album click here.


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