The Greek-English (and Californian) singer/songwriter Athena joins us Friday, a few hours before she sets up and mic checks for her release party that night in Hollywood. The new album, Ready for the Sun, Part 1 (she will explain why it is Part 1 on the show) is a triumph of songwriting, singing and producing. I was fortunate enough to be at an early listening session with her producer and band members while the album was in process and could see then how good it was going to be. There is a reason the BBC did a documentary on Athena. Now that she is her in the music capital of the world, she is growing and blossoming musically even more - she is indeed ready for the sun.
She joins us Friday live, so have your questions ready because you will be able to call in a talk with her. Plus, we have a preview copy of the record and will play some samples.
Kris Angelis pulls off both great singing and great entertainment. Standing onstage at the bordello-like listening room at Bar Lubitsch with her band and Mallory Trunnell from Crimson Calamity providing backup vocals, she sang like her namesake angle and cracked up with stories and conversation.
She gave us seven tight songs, some from her first album, The Left Atrium, and some from her new EP, Heartbreak is Contagious. Angelis is a high energy, hardworking super talented phenomenon and it showed in her stage presence and her connection with the audience. Her very first album won the LA Music Critics Best Female Album Award of 2013 – no mean feat. She also acts in film and TV, raises money to rescue child soldiers, brings music to underserved communities, and performs in venues on both coasts. She has toured with Songs & Whispers, opened for Tyler Hilton, played at the prestigious New Orleans House of Blues, made the finals in the Belk Southern Musician competition, played at Sundance, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and many other festivals and tours around the world.
I have not seen Destiny Malibu live but I plan to as soon as I can. Her songs have great hooks and great production. She has figured out "commercial" very early, but she does it with her own twist. For a 20-year-old, she has figured out a lot about the music business. Being named one of the 25 Break-Out Artists of 2016, by Shutter 16 Magazine was a big break. Not only does it give her bragging rights, it brought her to my attention, as Shutter 16 is one of my review outlets. She is a California born and based 20-year old phenomenon. Her 2015 song "Love Hurts" shot to #1 on the Local ReverbNation Pop Charts. Though new to the scene as a solo artist -- Destiny was 5 when she first appeared on Univision as part of al tribute for 911 victims -- before turning 12, Destiny had written 5 songs played on local radio stations. She has just released a new song, "Oblivion" and will be touring this summer to support it.
So here I am, listening to her 2015 song "Love Hurts" , which made #1 on the Local ReverbNation Pop Charts, and queuing up her new song, "Oblivion" with an eye to the changes and growth I am sure is there. As the father of a 20-something daughter, I know that things can change fast in a year. Tune Friday and we will talk about how much and what growing up fast is like when you are singing for your supper.
I first saw Los Hollywood at the Los Globos club in Los Angeles. They were part of a lineup of ALM bands each with a distinctive take on Latin-Rock-Blues-Rap fusion that is ALM. I really was taken by their music. All inSpahish, with English conversation between songs, I knew exactly what they were singing about. I was doubly taken when I learned their history.
Almost a decade ago,Heidy Flores, Gustavo Mojica and Marcos Mondragón came together and launched what was then a much more risky project, fusion music mostly in Spanish. This was before bands like Los Lobos, La Santa Cecelia and Ozomatli had opened up gringo audiences and began to shape what is now ALM - American Latino Music. They landed Grammy-winner Thom Russo to produce their debut EP and it was a hit. Lind of retro, kind of Chicano rock, flavored with brit-pop , mostly in Spanish, but occasionally they interrupted themselves in English. Altogether a grat fun album and promise of things to come.
The other part of their history that interested me is that they are truly a cross-border band. Founder Heidy Flores is a US-born Mexican-American but her songwriting partner, Marcos Mondragón, is Mexican and currently working just over the border from their San Diego base in Tijuana until he can get a visa. Which means that the band can't always play with him. Never the less it works and works well. Their song CUCU has some of the best hooks in pop music and is on the top of my playlist. Tune in this Friday and talk with them.
Rocked out this past weekend at the Ventura Blues Festival, held at the Camarillo Arts Center, and made possible by Shock Top ale, Guitar Center, 955 KLOS, Doug Deutsch Publicity and many others. This is a small, very comfortable and well organized event for dyed-in-the-wool classic blues fans and blues festival junkies. Great food, plenty to drink, good vendors, super restrooms and a neighborly, fun vibe. The talent was first rate, ranging from 2014 Muddy Award Winner for Best Female Vocalist Rae Gordon to the incandescent Delgado Brothers of East Los Angeles, winner of the 2016 International Blues Challenge. Others onstage included guitar virtuoso Pete Gordon, the always entertaining and smiling Dallas Hodge, and Portland-based Deb Ryder, belting the blues with her band.
The festival was laid out in a soccer field next to the center (an former school) and worked very well both logistically and in terms of sightlines and - despite a few speaker glitches – sound. Plenty of room to dance, plenty of vendors to tour and food for every taste, all of which could be washed down with Shock Top ale, a selection of Plan B Wines, and Patron shots. Fans spread blankets, beach chairs and sunblock and spent the kind of afternoon that is so rare in these days of mega music productions. I recommend it. Check out the videos at my YouTube channel http://bit.ly/1wswDXs and photos on the Music Friday Facebook page. http://bit.ly/1OeQwrx
Getting Jessica Rotter on the show has been an adventure, b ut a good one. She was scheduled about a month ago and had to cancel because of a TV shoot. then we did manage to get her back for a 3 min introduction. Following that, she released her debut album, Plains, and I attended and reviewed the party and met her in person. Now, she is back for a full interview and we have the album to lay for you. She has a lot of stories to tell about her musical family, her TV career, and maybe a surprise or two. This wsill be fun.
Apparently I was in the same room with Kris Angelis Tuesday and didn't know it. I may have even talked with her and didn't know it. We were both at a sound stage at the Red Studios in Hollywood Tuesday afternoon for the shooting of an episode of Audience Music, the AT&T sponsored music and interview show on DirectTV. We likely stood next to each other as we rocked out to Martina McBride who was being taped for the show. So now I must see Kris live next week at her performance in Hollywood at Bar Lubitsch. But in the meantime, I have the pleasure of interviewing her and playing her songs this Friday.
Marisa Gariano includes played with several bands in Los Angeles, and then moved into business, managing hotels and running several educational institutions and education advocacy organizations. She moved into education big time as the CEO and Co-founder Vita Nova Arts and Mosaics School with her husband Rodger Gariano. But that wasn't enough. So she co-founded her own school of music, the Paramount Academy of Music in Los Angeles - it was a perfect fit. Her fascination of the impact music has on the development of the brain and its long lasting effects is a perfect mathc for training the next generation of rock, rap and pop stars.
She was joined in this adventures by Carl Restivo. After graduating from New York University with a B.A. in Film Production & Music Production, Carl was introduced to Wyclef Jean. They bonded instantaneously and began writing, producing, and recording songs for Wyclef's album The Preacher's Son, resulting in the song "Linda", that they wrote together, which also features Carl on guitar and co-lead vocals.
At the request of founder Paul Green, Carl accepted the Music Director position of the new School of Rock in Hollywood, CA. Carl served as Music Director for 5 years, and directed young musicians age 7-17 in over 100 shows. During his time as MD of The School of Rock Hollywood, Carl was asked to join the band Satellite Party by Perry Farrell (Jane's Addiction) and Nuno Bettencourt (Extreme). Restivo served as Music Director, bassist, and backing vocalist of the group, which performed on The Late Show with David Letterman, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and Carson Daly before touring across Europe, UK, and USA. But the lure of Paramount was too much and now he is the music director. And as we will discover in the interview, he brought a lot of friends with him, friends you have probably heard of.
I have talked here before about the creative cauldron that is EastLos - East Los Angeles, an area that actually expands south and north into downtown and even beyond into the San Gabriel Valley. Here the culture of Latin America, especially Mexico, meshes with the culture of American rock and roll and blues and rap and hip hop to produce ALM - American Latin Music. Dozens of bands, singer/songwriters, clubs, producers, agents swirl around mixing forms, mixing languages, mixing cultures and producing stars. And then there are the exceptions, the stars that did not start from the usual cumbia and rock, ranchero and blues, Latin and R&B. Sin Color is one such exception.
Sin Color (Without Color) started not with rock or rap or blues; it started with opera. Sin Color is transforming traditional styles of music into pop soundscapes like their colleagues, but they come at it from a totally different place - classical. Crisia Regaladom, lead singer of the band trained in opera singing since she was ten years old and was ready for a career looking out over the symphony. But popular music pierced the classical bubble and she dipped her toe into the ALM world and now combines her operatic singing voice with pop, creating the band's own unique sound. Sin Color mixes their sound of bossa nova, cumbia, and disco through indie pop, which sparks a shimmering movement and dance experience for their audience.
They are on the cusp of moving into the bright lights, having performed at events and local venues such as Dark Nights at L.A. Live, Día de Los Muertos at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, the East Los Angeles Art Walk, The Moltaban Theater, Plaza de Cultura y Artes, Los Globos, and Boyle Heights favorites, M-Bar, Mariachi Plaza, and Eastside Luv. We are delighted to have them on Music Friday Live!
Jessica Rotter launched her first album Friday night with a sky-high party and a “Purple Rain” tribute to the late artist, formerly known as Prince. The party, produced by BalconyTV’s Cindi Avnet atop the W Hollywood Hotel, was packed with friends, family and fans, all well warmed up in advance by the lively LA-based countryish-rock band, Bjorn and the Sun.
Flanked by her uniquely curated ensemble of musicians -- a mandolinist, a percussionist/rapper, three backup singers, a bass/slide guitarist, drummer, violinist, and cellist -- the TV actress/singer took the stage and without introduction opened with “Flying Off” from the new album Plains. It took the noisily happy crowd a minute to quiet down, but once they did, Rotter’s magnificent voice and warm stage manner made the connection and they were hooked. It wasn’t long before they were singing along.
She gave us 11 songs, most from the album but she threw in a couple of surprises and mashups – “because everybody loves mashups” she told us. Songs ranged from the bass-led pop anthem “Pray for Rain” to the swirling sunshine of “Flowers in My Hair” and the incredibly poignant “Winter Sun”. She also delighted the audience when she announced that one song was written when she discovered she was pregnant. She wrapped up with “Porch Song”, a folk ballad that delivered a stunning emotional payload. But the crowd was not going to let her go and she easily acquiesced to the calls for an encore, bringing Bjorn and the Sun up on stage with her for a group sing of “Purple Rain” with the audience.
Plains will have no trouble standing out in the expanding universe of female-led albums. Rotter has an innovative and deft touch with arrangements – the mandolin and Irish drums mixing perfectly with rapping, cello notes and hot guitar riffs – and a voice that can shift smoothly from inspiring to seductive to melancholy. Most of all, she has that unique ability to sing to you, whether it is from a stage or a CD or stream, her voice and lyrics get under your skin and talk to your DNA. That is a gift that that will propel Jessica Rotter’s star high in the music firmament.