By: Krista Doran

543500_417779881580853_2002762831_nI have been writing the “In The Spotlight” segment of the Out On The Town for several years now, and I have had the distinct pleasure of meeting, seeing and talking with so many great bands in this area. I really consider myself blessed to have had these many opportunities to write about all of them. There are some incredibly talented musicians in this area and I am proud to write these stories about every one of them so that more people can appreciate all the hard work they put into their craft. Every so often however, I will feature a band that really grabs my attention because of their true dedication to providing excellent entertainment. That is why this month I decided to feature Steamboat Annie.

Steamboat Annie formed several years ago out of the ashes of what used to be the popular local cover band, Gear. Founding member of Gear and current drummer for Steamboat Annie Johnny Callan, asked his sister Kelly Callan to sit in on some songs after the original line-up had some personnel changes. At the time, a female fronted band was kind of an anomaly, and Kelly brought her dynamic stage presence and strong vocals which really helped to define the band. Not too long after, Johnny met current Lead Guitarist Josh Bornstein while they were both attending Temple University. They were both Secondary Math Education majors, and prior to this Josh majored in music. Johnny recalls; “Josh would often bring his guitar on campus so he could sneak into into a practice room in between classes.” John took notice and approached Josh, asking him about his playing experience. From there Johnny and Josh formed a friendship and Josh auditioned for Gear. Gear eventually evolved into Jinx, and that was when Bassist Mike Laster came on board. After a few really fun years of making music, they parted ways and Kelly, Josh and Johnny went on as a trio to form what is now Steamboat Annie back in 2004. Mike returned to playing a few years later to round out the quartet.

It’s been almost 9 years now since the current line-up of Steamboat Annie formed. As Kelly stated, “We are actually a very tight, dysfunctional family! To see each other that often every single weekend, every single practice and every single gig for this length of time, you either love and respect each other or you fire someone! There is a mutual respect and close bond that we share. We genuinely like each other and we hope it carries over into our performance.” Steamboat Annie plays a great mix of all genres of music; Classic Rock, 80’s music, Pop, Modern Country, Alternative…you name it, they do it! Their show is a super fun ride through all these different genres, with a sound and visual quality that is top notch and professional. They work hard at what they do and their dedication is why they are one of the most popular cover bands on the local scene right now. Johnny explained, “The care and time we put into making music really matters to us. We are firm believers that hard work and dedication trumps gimmicks.” I could not agree more. If you have the talent to back it up, you do not need any type of gimmick and that is one of the many things that sets this band apart from many of the others. Johnny went on to say, “It’s the effort that produces quality. And, at the end of the day, being in a band is about playing music. Our first priority is to always deliver our best performance and that includes a good sound and light production. If you can convey to the patrons that you care about entertaining them, they will engage you and they will return again and again. We have made so many loyal friends over the years and continue to allow us to do what we love. Without them, we’d still be playing in the basement! We are really grateful for their support.”

When you go to see Steamboat Annie live, you will notice the care they put into setting the mood for the audience. They will usually start off with some Classic Rock favorites and sprinkle in some Country and some Contemporary music. After everyone gets settled in and having fun, they turn things up a notch to get people up and moving. Throughout the night they construct a consistently fun and energetic performance, taking much pride in their musicianship and their connection with the audience. Kelly is often regarded as “The Dork” of the band. She is hilarious, quite clumsy and has learned to embrace it. Even after all these years she still gets stage fright! Kelly explained, “I have gotten much better over the years, but it can still grip me from time to time.” Meanwhile, John is “The Rock Star”, Mike is “The Ham” and Johnny is “The Drummer” (no other descriptor necessary!) These different personalities blend so well on stage because they make fun of each other and just have so much fun doing it!

I asked Kelly what she felt is “different” about Steamboat Annie and she told me, “We really ARE family! Josh and I have been in a relationship for 14 years and Johnny is my brother. Growing up, Johnny was always playing in some heavy Metal band and I was the Country girl. We were as far apart on the musical spectrum as you can imagine! Our mom tried time and time again to get the two of us to play together in a band but I hated his Heavy metal music and Johnny would almost vomit at the thought of playing Country! So while he was rocking his long mullet and spandex, I was in my boots singing Reba McIntyre! But fate eventually stepped in and here we are!”

Everyone in the band has a pretty impressive background in music. Kelly performed in Bandstand USA in her formative years. She would later take her love of Country music and front the very successful Country act, 90 Proof. During this time, she had the honor to open for national acts such as Kitty Wells, Waylon Jennings & The Gatlin bros. Josh studied guitar with Greg Kettinger and majored in Jazz Performance at Temple University. Josh joined Gear with Johnny and Kelly at the ripe young age of 22 and has been with them his entire professional musical career. Recently, Johnny had the privilege to play at the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame as a part of the DeVry University corporate band. Previous to Gear, Johnny had played in several bands in the Buck County Area including Ask Alic, Instinct and Praz. Mike’s background is in Classical music and some years later Jazz, but he obviously has Rock influences as well. Some of his previous cover and original bands were: Medusa, Bad Manners, Bottoms Up, CopyKat, The Jinx, and Almost Famous. In addition to all of this, Kelly has traveled to Nashville to record her CD of original Country music called, “Kelly Callan, Rust & Rhymes” and explained, “It made a little noise and received some airplay. The CD is no longer for sale in stores, but you can get yourself a copy in the back of the “Steamboat Vannie! They are still available for sale at our gigs, but you better hurry, I only have 999 left…..out of the 1,000!” Recently, they have begun incorporating some of her songs into the sets and have been very well received!

When I asked the band what they wanted everyone out there in OOT Land to know the most they told me, “We believe the music should always be the hero. It’s not about flash or individual glory. For us, we play as a unit and support each other musically. It may not make us different, but it does make us sincere. We recently took over booking ourselves and this is our busiest year to date! It sounds silly to say, but we feel like a new band. We are now fully self-sufficient and we own our own brand. That’s not to say that we do not owe a great deal of gratitude to those in the industry that have offered their support and friendship. We would like to thank The Out on The Town magazine, local radio, open mic nights, local venues and bar owners who continue to promote and support local music, among many others, that help keep us all going. In the end, we are grateful. IT’S ALL ROCK & ROLL AND IT’S ALL GOOD!”

You can catch Steamboat Annie playing pretty much every Friday and Saturday night throughout the year. They travel all over NJ and PA playing at many popular clubs, bars, taverns, private parties and corporate events, or any venue in need of great party music. They will be playing quite a bit down the shore this coming summer at great spots like The Oceanic, The Bayshore Inn, Boardwalk Bar & Grill and several others. You can check out their full schedule and also listen to some music samples at www.reverbnation.com/steamboatannie. Take the time to go see this band, because you won’t be disappointed! Steamboat Annie is: Kelly Callan-lead vocals; Johnny Callan-drummer; Josh Bornstein-lead guitarist and Mike Laster- bassist, lead & backing vocals.

by MikeV | Categories: Features, In The Spotlight | Comments Off

By:  Krista Doran

fishoutofwater_2013

It’s been 6 years now since “Fish” started playing in the area and what a 6 years it has been for this highly motivated and energetic band!

Fish Out OF Water started out as just a hobby and as Lead Guitarist Brian Kelly explained, “It originally was just meant to be a little hobby/garage band type thing, but over the years we started playing more and more….We found out that we all really loved it, and so we stuck with it to this day!”  The band plays a great mix of cover songs and will play anything from Classic Rock and Country to Pop, Dubstep, Hard Rock and even Techno.  Their versatile set lists have made them extremely popular and their seemingly innocent “boyish” looks make the girlies go crazy!  But because of their great selection of songs and musicianship, they will appeal to every age group, male or female!

I had the pleasure of interviewing lead Guitarist, Brian Kelly a year or 2 ago and I am happy to see that the band is still doing quite well.  There are so many bands that come and go in this area, but “Fish” definitely has staying power.  I asked Brian to describe a show to me and he explained it like this:  “From the very first song, we bring the energy HARD….Girls are dancing, guys are dancing….everyone is drinking.  By the time the second set comes, very few people are sitting at the bar, because we have them all on the dance floor.  By the third set everyone is singing along!  It’s one GIANT PARTY!”  I also asked him what was different about the band and he explained, “We put our own “rocked up” spin on all songs we play.  For instance, we’ve taken the song “Sweet Caroline” and put a rocked up twist on it.  You really just have to see a live show to really understand how exactly we manage to make everything ROCK the way we do!”

If you go to see Fish Out Of Water LIVE, you are going to notice their shows are usually packed…..Everyone is drinking, dancing and having a great time and that’s what they do…They bring the party!  They also take the time to consistently learn new music to keep their shows fresh and exciting for their fans. This is a band that really gets the crowd into the music because they all really enjoy the music they play.

I asked Brian what he thought the band would really want everyone to know, and he told me “A Fish Out of Water show is not just a “show”…it’s a PARTY.  We want to party with the people that are there watching our show.  We don’t just want to perform music as they watch.  We want to get EVERYONE involved both during our sets and during our breaks in between sets.  It only takes one show and you will be hooked!  I promise!”

Fish Out Of Water is:  Gary Smith – Lead Vocals; Santiago Cannon – Bass/Vocals; Brian Kelly – Lead Guitar/Vocals; Aaron Van Allen – Lead Vocals/Guitar and Tim Burns – Drums.

You can see the band playing at some great local spots including Rho (formerly Katmandu), various shore points and casinos, Havana in New Hope, Mad River Manayunk, Finnegan’s Wake, and they are doing a vertical every Sunday at Sweeney’s Saloon in NE Philly. Go check them out because I know you are going to enjoy it! See www.fishoutofwaterband.com for the complete schedule.

by MikeV | Categories: In The Spotlight | Comments Off

A.K.A
It’s All About The Party
By:  Krista Doran

AKAThere are many cover bands on the scene today playing what they feel people want to hear.  Often times, these bands are wrong and simply fade into the background after a year or two, but not A.K.A.  They originally formed in 1985 and played at many of the local hot spots in NE Philly at the time like Effies, The Philly Cookbook, The Bridgeview and The J. R. Club.  The band has come back to play several times with Lead Vocalist Jimmy McKee and Guitarist Al Stiver at the helm.  In 2012 however, they joined forces with Bassist Mike Laquintano and Drummer John Brasch, and so far this time around has been the most fun for this talented foursome!

I spoke to Lead Singer, Jimmy McKee who explained, “We try to keep in mind that it’s all about the audience and not us.  It’s not about showing off and trying to impress with a ton of leads or intricate arrangements.  It’s about playing music that people relate to, enjoy, sing along with and have fun with.”  With so many bands out there playing the same music, A.K.A keeps it simple and they just want people to be able to enjoy themselves.  As Jimmy told me, “At the end of the night, all we want is for people to come up and say they had a great time, and leave with big smiles on their faces.”

The members of A.K.A have all had a great deal of experience playing in bands through the years.  Mike has played with bands like Horizon, The BBC, PRI and in different versions of AKA. John’s current bands include AKA, Shabby Road, and South Ridge Praise Band. John also fronts his own originals band, Brasch and Bold, and has released a CD of original material.  Al has played guitar and bass most recently with Shabby Road, Tasty Cavemen and Flip N Mickeys.  Jimmy, who’s recently come out of retirement, started as a member of Pink Cadillac, was a regular with The Sister Blue Band, as well as various A.K.A. projects. Jimmy and AL are also very proud to have been featured individually on local music legend George Manney’s 1999 release Last Minute Jam, Vol. 2: Minutes To Millennium.  Their experience and love for playing keeps their shows loose and fun and most of all, enjoyable for all music lovers.

A.K.A plays a great mix of Modern & Classic Rock and Pop, and according to Jimmy, ” Basically any party music that get’s people involved.”  Jimmy also explained, “We’re not above having groups of people on stage with us dancing and singing. We love requests and we love the crowd participating any way they can.  For us its all about the party.”

You can catch A.K.A playing at local venues in both NE Philly and Bucks County, such as Daly’s, Lazy Lanigan’s, Hurricane Jack’s and The Eddington House.  They are always a fun group of guys to see, and they definitely work hard at making sure everyone that comes to see them has a great time.  The music they play is fun and engaging, and you can always count on good times when this band is playing!  To see their full schedule and learn more about the different projects the members are involved with, please visit their website at www.akarocksonline.com.  A.K.A is Jimmy McKee, Lead Vocals; Al Stiver, Guitar & Vocals; Mike Laquintano, Bass & Vocals and John Brasch, Drums & Vocals.

by MikeV | Categories: Features, In The Spotlight | Comments Off

By:  Krista Doran
sc
Here at the OOT, we feature many great bands and musicians from the local area throughout the paper, but the “In The Spotlight” segment is reserved for the best.  I don’t often get to choose the bands I write about, but when I do I choose carefully.  I am very proud to write this issue’s article about a band that has been on the scene many years now and who is truly and exceptionally talented.

A few years back I met local musician, Michael Eli.  At the time, I was booking several rooms in the area and he had sent me some recordings of his band.  I had been working with many other bands at the time, but as soon as I heard these recordings, I was blown away.  Everything about this band stood out and I have kept in touch with Mike ever since.  I am a fan myself, and you will be too, once you hear them.  The band I am referring to is Soul Custody!

I spoke to Mike, who is a very humble and hilarious guy.  Mike explained to me that the band actually formed “by accident.”  About 10 years ago, Mike had moved back home to Philly after living in Los Angeles for 15 years.  He started out just doing some solo shows and after a while started working with several different area musicians as a duo.  One of the musicians he met along the way was Ed Wall and this is where the current band began.  A short while after, Mike’s lifelong friend and bass player Barry Cary started to come and sit in on bass. Things were sounding so good that they decided to call on drummer Steve Shupsky.  Things were sounding great and the guys all felt the band needed one more component.  Mike told me, “Barry and I had seen this amazing guitar player on and off for years and every single time, he just blew us away. Well what do you know, we wind up with him filling in a gig where we needed a 5th musician and we had such a blast that, the rest as they say, is history. We’re still in shock that we have John Bushnell in the band!”

Soul Custody has been impressing music lovers of all kinds now for over 7 years.  They have been able to effectively infuse Soul into the Rock songs they play, as well as Rock into the Soul songs. I asked Mike to explain the kind of music they played and he said, “I think it was Duke Ellington that said ‘There’s only two kinds of music. Good music and bad music’. Mostly I’d say we cover Pop music. Some Rock. Some Soul. Some Blues.  It’s a very energetic and danceable fusion of music. We do our best no matter what genre or style we’re playing, to play Good Music … In addition to playing anywhere from 4 to 8 public shows a month, we also do a lot of private work where we can also play Jazz, Country, or some current Top 40, by request. Some highlights include: Pink Floyd, Rolling Stones, Gavin DeGraw, Journey, Train, The Police, Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Black Crows, Top Petty, Cheap Trick, Beatles, Aerosmith, Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Otis Redding, Ray Charles, Marvin Gaye, Queen, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Jack Johnson etc.”

The kind of music that you will hear at a Soul Custody show is pretty eclectic.  Mike explained, “We’ve built our band on songs that we love. Luckily for us, they turned out to be songs lots of restaurant and bar goers also love. So we really get into our shows. No need to fake it cause we truly LOVE the songs we do and LOVE playing together in this band.”  And this is evident, people.  I have seen them play, and  the chemistry is awesome between all members, whether its the duo, 4 or 5 piece. Each band member has been playing since childhood and have all been working musicians their entire lives. Ed and John teach in addition to playing in the band and Barry is an Audio/Video engineer. All members have toured and worked with many bands big and small, but of course, Mike’s humility wanted to avoid the name dropping.  He is such a cool dude.  Mike does a lot of audio recording and editing, as well and writing and producing original music. He told me about his band, “I can tell you that I get to experience hearing and seeing these guys play all the time. And I still catch myself smiling at what these guys do night after night. These guys are all excellent musicians.”  Mike is right.  I have to agree with that statement 100%.

When you go out to see Soul Custody in action (which I highly recommend), you will see for yourself how engaging and fun they are.  They’ll start many shows off as a duo and play some more mellow instrumental  stuff and will then gradually kick it up as the night goes on.  They can accommodate any room, too, whether a duo, 4 or 5 piece is required. The duo covers all kinds of great songs by Led Zeppelin, Van Morrison, Billy Joel, Eric Clapton, James Taylor, Jason Mraz, Bob Dylan and even Pink. They also mix some Soul and Jazz into their duo shows. The 4 piece version is funky and fresh and will keep everyone dancing all night. The 5 piece version adds a more guitar driven sound. Add in some horns wherever needed and it’s an even bigger sounding band! They even do some originals and in fact, they expect to be playing some of them out soon because Mike’s original CD is scheduled for release in June.

Soul Custody is a great band with an even greater message for their fans.  Mike told me, “We’re just musicians doing our best to help people relax and unwind and disconnect from all the bullshit life throws at them. We don’t really take ourselves too seriously. We’re just a local band that really loves to play and knows how to have a good time. Seems when we’re having fun, it’s contagious. Life is Short. Love one another. Look out for one another. Go support live music with your loved ones and get caught up in moment whenever you can. Hearing live music is an amazing blessing if you’re open to it’s power. We’d love to share that with anyone and everyone that wants to party and have fun.”  Wise words from a wise man. How can you not love this guy?

Everyone needs to get out and see Soul Custody.  You can see them playing monthly at some great venues such as The Washington Crossing Inn, The Logan Inn, Chambers 19, The Sycamore Grill, Earl’s Bucks County and The Dog & Bull.  They also play pretty regularly at The Ivy Tavern, McStews and Coconut Cove.  You can read up on the band and check out their schedule at www.soulcustody.net.  Go there now to hear some great samples of their jams – you will be dancing in your chair just listening to that!  Soul Custody is Michael Eli – Guitars & Lead & Backing Vocals, Ed Wall – Keyboards & Lead & Backing Vocals, Barry Cary – Bass & Backing Vocals, Steve Shupsky – Drums & Backing Vocals and John Bushnell – Lead Guitar & Backing Vocals.




by MikeV | Categories: Features, In The Spotlight | Comments Off

By: Krista Doran

tangled_logo
Tangled is a new cover band just emerging onto the scene and we thought you all would want to know about them.  Actually, they have been out before, but now with an all new line-up of great musicians that are veterans of the local music scene.
Tangled actually formed 3 years ago and right off the bat they were hitting things hard.  They even competed in the WMGK House Band competition, making it all the way to the finals!  They didn’t win the title, but it gave them the push they needed to continue working hard. Unfortunately, that line-up didn’t last very long and a few of the original members decided to do a re-vamp.  So, just over the course of the last few months, they picked up guitarist and keyboard player, Rob Traegler and my good friend and super awesome Lead Guitarist, Mike Margiotta (aka “Guitar Mike”).
I interviewed their drummer, Gary Breza who told me, “Tangled is playing a great mix of music from the 70’s through to today’s Rock.  We feel most comfortable with the Classic Hard Rock style like Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, AC/DC, among others, but we also play more current stuff by Godsmack, JET, STP and The Foo Fighters, too.  While we play classic favorites, we also like to dig down a little deeper and play some of those great “B” side beauties as well.”
Tangled had a GREAT turn out at their very first gig together on 1/11/13 at The Ivy Tavern in Hamilton, NJ and Gary told me, “If our first night out of the box is any indication of things to come, there is a ton of fun coming down the road for both the audience and the band.” This new line-up has great chemistry and each player brings a great deal of playing experience to the band.  Gary explained, “There is no lack of talent or weak spots in this band.  Everyone works hard and has specific strong attributes that they bring to the table and use to propel this band.”  Some of the places you will be able to see Tangled will be The Sticky Wicket in Hamilton, NJ; McGinn’s South in Jackson, NJ and McStew’s in Levittown, PA.  Their full schedule will soon be posted on their website www.tangledrocks.com and you can friend them on Facebook by looking up “Tang Led”.
If you can’t get enough of Classic Hard Rock, then Tangled is a band you will want to check out.  They play good Old School Hard Rock that is in your face.  They even do a few originals!  But Hard Rock is their roots and its what they do best so make sure to get out and see them!  Tangled is:  John Webb – Lead Vocals and Acoustic Guitar; Dino Colarocco – Bass, Lead and Backing Vocals; Rob Traegler – Keys, Guitar, Lead and Backing Vocals; Gary Breza – Drums and Backing Vocals and Mike “Guitar Mike” Margiotta – Lead Guitar.

by MikeV | Categories: Bands, In The Spotlight | Comments Off

Everybody Scream!

Dec 31, 2012

By: Krista Doran
screamIf you like live music and are looking for a band that provides a high energy party-like atmosphere, then you need to check out the band Scream.
Scream was formed back in 2009 by Danny Nogo from the band Digital Getdown.  Now newly re-vamped using the same formula they started out with, this new line-up also features female vocals keeping a focus on pop-driven music.
The band plays everything you love in the Top 40, Rock and Country genres and now with rapper with Nicky T in the band, Scream is able to bring back some more dance hip hop songs as well. This ALL NEW line up has been rehearsing for about 4 now and their very first show is scheduled for Saturday, January 12th at McStew’s Irish Sports Bar located at 5316 New Falls Road in Levittown.
Scream is a band that plays whatever it takes to keep people on the dance floor.  I spoke to Danny Nogo about the all new line up and he told me, “when you come to a Scream show we want to take you away from all your troubles, show you a good time and remember anytime your feeling down, just come scream with us and we will take care of you!”
The new band is:   Nicky T (Rapper/Lead Vocals), Jessica Lauren (Lead Vocals) Joe Lowery (Guitar), Joey Potts (Bass), and Kyle Moken (Drums).  This band has something for everyone…if you want to dance, rock out or even line dance, you can do that at a new Scream show!  Be sure to check them out at McStew’s or starting on January 17th, every Thursday at the new Sheffield Taven!  To see the full line-up of shows, get more info about the band or to get booking information please go to their website, www.screamband.com.

by MikeV | Categories: Bands, Features, In The Spotlight | Comments Off

By:  Krista Doran
courtney_jansen_article_photoEvery once in a while a brand new original artist comes fourth from the Philly area that inspires all of us with their music.  Many of you already know the artist I am about to present from her band Gypsy Wisdom and have grown to love her; not just for her musical talents, but also for the truly beautiful person she is.  Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Courtney Jansen!
Courtney just release her CD, “Closer To Eden”, an expressive, fresh and energetic collaboration between Courtney, her husband Danny Gunz, and co-writer and producer Stephen McKnight.  The soulful and poppy, positive sounds of her CD come from her inner-strength and leads the listener down Courtney’s own personal path of self-awareness. I first met Courtney a few years back, when a mutual friend of ours, Lori Stidham, gathered a bunch of local musicians together for an event she called, Lovefest.  I was instantly drawn to Courtney.  She has a glow of peace and love around her, and it embraces you whenever she performs.  She is just one of those people that has a warmth about her everyone appreciates. I had the privilege of interviewing Courtney, and instead of working the questions into a story like I do for most interviews, I decided to just print the questions and answers below, so that all of our readers could get a better idea of her personality.  Here is what we discussed:


Q: Who are your major influences?
A:  Whitney Houston and Alanis Morissette

Q:  How long have you been together?
A:  This project has only been myself, my husband (Danny Gunz), producer/songwriter (Stephen McKnight), and two stellar drummers (Bobby Pyrilis and Kevin Soffera). We’re not a band per say. Me, Danny, and Stephen have been working together on this project for about a year now.

Q:  Why this group of guys/what’s the chemistry like?
A:  Well the chemistry with my husband is a given:) Knowing someone so deeply has allowed us to finish each other’s sentences and, in this case, lyrics. Stephen has proven to be the perfect piece to finish this tripod off. When one of us hits a creative wall, someone is always there to break it down with a fresh idea.

Q:  Who writes your songs? What the main inspiration for most of your songs?
A:  It’s very collaborative between the 3 of us. The general pattern has been, I come up with the initial subject matter, Danny gives it a rewrite with fresh eyes, and Stephen composes music around it all. But, it’s really a mix of all those things. As for the inspiration, this whole album has been about self discovery, inner strength, and moving on.

Q:  What is the process you use to write?
A:  For the first two tracks, I had little voice memos on my phone that I brought to Danny and Stephen and we built up from there. The last track, “Surrender”, was a song that Stephen had begun writing a while ago with me in mind, so we just started grooving with that sweet guitar lick and came out with a sweet EP closer.

Q:  Has your music evolved since you first began playing music together?
A:  Very much so. We actually tried to get this project fired up in 2010, but as always with life, things happened and we had to put in on pause. The songs I was going to record in 2010 are much different than what we have with Closer To Eden. As I always say, “everything happens for a reason” and where I was during this writing process in 2012 was more where I wanted to be as far as inspiration and creativity.

Q:  What has been your biggest challenge as a band?
A:  TIME! As you know, Danny and I are in the cover band Gypsy Wisdom and Stephen is in the cover band Steal the Sky. Between the travel, life’s daily chores, and everything else sometimes it’s hard to get out there and do all the things I’d like to do with this EP. But, we accept challenges! And, time will be what it will be. We have things in the works for 2013 and as long as I put them in my iPhone, they will ALL GET DONE! haha

Q:  What genre would you say you fall under?
A:  Pop rock

Q:  What are your shows like?
A:  Our first original show will be in the new year, but I can tell you what those will be like. Energetic, warm, emotional, and definitely entertaining, especially with the line up of musicians who will be around me:)

Q:  How do you all like touring?
A:  When you do what you love with people you love, does it really matter where you are? Nah;)

Q:  What do you want everyone to know about your band?
A:  Once upon a time, I wanted to be a famous performer. I wanted to be on Star Search with Ed McMahon soooo bad. haha. That carried over for awhile. I wanted the world to know my name. Over the past few years, as I’ve really come to know who I am, that shifted… big time. Now, I just want to inspire people to know themselves as they really are through the beauty of music and lyrics. The world can be a tough place if we let ourselves believe all the hype about appearances, material things, etc. But none of that is important. Being strong and healthy is beautiful. Sharing love is beautiful. That’s what I”m trying to do with my songs:)

Q:  What have you done locally?
A:  I have been working in radio stations for the past couple years recording radio jingles and I have very supportive friends who are working on some things for us, I’ll keep you posted. There is also a World Cafe Live show in the works that will be with two amazing women artists. This will be a highlight of my life kinda night.

Q:  What do you want the Philly area to know about you and the band?
A:  We’re comin’ for ya! Make sure to check the website (www.courtneyjansen.com) for all upcoming events and info. We plan to get out and share what we got in the new year and I hope to have people feeling like they’re on cloud nine after a night of positive messages on sweet melodies with some very talented musicians.

Q:  What’s your advice for new original bands?
A:  Just be honest. Never write or play a note for someone else. Make it real from your heart because at the end of the day, we all have different taste in music. We’re not going to please everyone. So make something that you are proud of. That’s what original music is all about for me:)


You can check out the first single from the CD entitled, “The Girl I Used To Be”, on itunes, and you can also grab the CD on CDBaby.  Simply go to her website www.courtneyjansen.com to check it out right now!  All of us here at the OOT would like to congratulate Courtney, Danny and Stephen on such a wonderful offering of great music!

by MikeV | Categories: Features, In The Spotlight | Comments Off

The Story Of Soraia:
5439363Our story starts on a particularly cold, gray winter evening. Two men stand hovering over the lifeless body of Mansour. One panics while the other holds her – tears streaming from his face dripping onto her pale skin as a needle, which provided a potent shot of cocaine to her left arm, lies next to her motionless body. There was no pulse.

For Mansour, this was just one of many failed attempts at ending her life.

Her middle class upbringing masked an emotionally and physically abusive home life that became hopeless when her mother, who was her protector, her confidante, and her best friend, passed away when Soraia was only 17. She quickly descended into a destructive lifestyle of drug and alcohol abuse. The next four years brought violent relationships, escalating drug use, and the witnessing of horrific events while living with junkies and pushers.

Try as she may, she could not escape the self-imposed abusive lifestyle which had become her reality. Penniless, homeless and left for dead, that fateful night should have been the epilogue of Soraia’s turbulent life. But it wasn’t. Soraia was rescued by the only person who could save her: herself.

With a newfound resolve, she got sober, re-entered college, and finished in two years with a teaching degree and the hope in her heart to finally begin a life she was yet waiting to live. Still, teaching proved not enough to quell her intense longing for expression. She turned to poetry, writing, and finally her first love, singing. Driven and determined, tough and still tender, she began her singing career winning over fans immediately with her passion, pain, and raw emotion. Soraia formed her band in late 2004, and began writing songs and performing live anywhere and everywhere she could. With the same intensity and resolve she had approached every addiction she ever had, she went after her heart’s ultimate desire.

Soraia gives life to her experiences through her voice, and molds the best and worst of her life story through song. A warrior at heart, nowhere is the true Soraia more visible than on stage during one of the band’s ferociously energetic, intoxicating live shows. Her voice showcases the will to survive with a defiant, full-throated vocal performance reminiscent of the great women of rock, such as Grace Slick and Tina Turner. Her sexuality and rawness demand attention of even the most passive of listeners- inviting all of us to the danger rock n’ roll promised to be.

Whether in a hot, sweaty rock club or a massive amphitheatre, Soraia’s charisma and spirit transcends the concert stage and reaches all those who witness SORAIA live. Rarely will you see a band with so much magic and soul as SORAIA. And never will you hear a story so full of hope and heart as that of Soraia Mansour. Her every breath is a testament that miracles really do exist, and that the underdog really can win the whole world.


On June 6, 2012 Jon Bon Jovi attended a Soraia Industry Showcase in Philadelphia, PA. On September 26, 2012 in NYC, Jon Bon Jovi was spotted again at Soraia’s Industry Showcase in support of their upcoming major release.

Band Members:
ZouZou Mansour – Vocals
Anthony Renzulli – Rhythm Guitar
Brain Cassidy – Lead Guitar
Travis Smith – Bass Guitar
Jason Miraglia – Drums
Mike Lawson – Keyboard

SHOW DATES:
Thu Nov 15 – 10:30PM
Rebel Rock Bar
Acoustic Show


Fri Nov 23 – 9PM
Club Risque


Thu Nov 29 – 5PM
Soraia LIVE! on 93.3 WMMR FM’s “Camp Out for Hunger” on Jaxon’s Show


Fri Nov 30 – 5PM
Soraia on Radio 104.5 FM Philadelphia: “Live at 5″


Fri Nov 30 – 8PM
Bus Stop Music Cafe/Record Store
ALL AGES ACOUSTIC SHOW


Thu Dec 06 – 11PM
Hot Shots
21+


Fri Dec 07 – 9PM
Studio 98


Fri Dec 21 – 9PM
A Holiday Evening with Soraia at Sine Studios
ALL AGES


Fri Jan 11 2013 – 9PM
JB McGinnes


Sat Jan 26 2013
The Note
18+


For all updates on Soraia, please visit
SORAIA.COM

by MikeV | Categories: Bands, In The Spotlight | Comments Off

By:  Krista Doran
564714_3985974091671_1691240409_nSince 1994, there has been one band consistently rocking the Philly Cover band scene and that band is Steamroller Picnic!

I spoke to Lead singer, Judge DeFazio and asked him what their shows are like and he explained, “We usually play 3 sets of popular, high energy music that appeals to each person in the room at some point. We like to get the crowd involved. Whether it be a Birthday girl, bachelorette party, or guys that want to rock with us.”

No matter where this band plays, whether it be a big club or local bar, this band gives it their all.  They will rock the place from the first note to the last and people are always very entertained, that’s a fact. What makes this band different is their commitment to what they are doing and the chemistry of the current line-up.  There have been quite a few members in and out of the band over the years, but Judge told me, “the four of us just seem to be able to read each other’s minds.This makes for a truly unique performance each and every time we play.”

Steamroller Picnic can ignite any party or venue with the vast list of genres in which they play.  They play songs from Usher and Cee-Lo to Rage Against The Machine and Metallica and will keep the party going all night long.  All members of the band have strong backgrounds in music and have been playing in many bands and side projects over the years.

You can see the band playing all over the area and quite a bit in Atlantic City including The Borgata, Showboat, Bally’s, Golden Nugget, The Hilton and Tropicana – just to name a few.  When not in AC, they play in several other bars and clubs in the Philly area.

The guys in the band also dabble in their own original side projects.  For instance Judge explained, “Bones is currently in the band  ”The Endless March”. The competition was created by 93.3 WMMR to pick 6 person band comprised of the best musicians from the Philly region. They played Susquehanna Bank Center for the MMRBQ w/ Shinedown & Godsmack this past summer. And are playing Sold Out show at TLA on Halloween!”

It’s good to know that Steamroller Picnic is still out there doing their thing.  They still rock each and every place they play, and they are better than ever!  If you want to go see them live, here is their current schedule:  11/2: Dover Downs Fire & Ice – Dover, DE; 11/3: RiRa’s Irish Pub – Atlantic City, NJ; 11/8: The Social @ Revel – Atlantic City, NJ; 11/17: Cap’ns Corner – Woodbury, NJ; 11/24: PC Pub – Pennsburg, PA;11/30: Top Dog – Cherry Hill; NJ, 12/1: Borgata’s Gypsy Bar – Atlantic City, NJ; 12/8: SugarHouse Refinery Bar – Philadelphia, PA; 12/22: Cap’ns Corner – Woodbury, NJ; 12/29: Top Dog; 12/31: The Piazza @ Schmidt’s – Philly.

If you are interested in booking the band, please contact Shore Bets at 215-884-4357. You can also check them outr online at www.steamrollerpicnic.com!

by MikeV | Categories: Bands, In The Spotlight | Comments Off

By:  Krista Doran



electric_boaSince 2008 Electric Boa has been tearing up the original music scene with their own unique brand of Rock and Roll.  With very powerful lyrics and a very strong, guitar driven sound this band has certainly positioned themselves as one of the most talked about original bands in the area.
I spoke to drummer Ken Mondillo about the band and what they are all about.  I was particularly interested in what their song writing process was like and he told me, “Higgsy writes all the songs. I’ve asked him more than a few times where he gets his inspiration from & he tells me that it just comes to him. One of our new songs that we are currently working on came from his girlfriend watching the HBO show “True Blood”. To tell you the truth his mind doesn’t work like yours or mine. Higgs sees things in a different light which allows his expressions to come out in lyrics that are truly unique.”  The combination of musicians in this band works so well together.  Ken told me, “Higgsy will play us the melody or riff on an acoustic guitar & we start building it from there. He usually has the whole song in his head…music & everything. We just find a way to pull it out of him & translate it into a song. Joe Fortino & Higgsy are kind of the arrangers of the songs & Tripp, G & myself build up the songs from there .”  What this band is able to accomplish is truly a team effort.

As with most bands, there are always challenges, but The Electric Boa is focused on what they are doing.  I asked Ken what some of their biggest challenges as a band were and he told me, “I wouldn’t say it’s a challenge because every band goes through this, but trying to get your music heard is always a priority. Whether it be by getting the biggest gig or getting your music played on the radio, the challenge will always be there. The Electric Boa will keep pumping out killer tunes & promoting our shows, big or small, as much as we can. We want to build a fan base within every venue we play!” And they have been doing just that!  Their shows are full of energy.  They don’t just get up there and play.  This band puts on a real Rock Show for their fans.  In fact, they will be playing the Grand Opening of JC’s Washington House (formerly Whiskey Tango) on September 28th so be sure to get out and see what makes The Electric Boa different!
For everyone that is already a fan and those of you that certainly will become a fan once you experience The Electric Boa, I am happy to say they have a bunch of new music coming out!  This is going to be a very exciting follow up to their current CD, “Candy Coated Cyanide.”  Ken explained “Songs are written & being worked as we speak so every Boa show your going to get new stuff. We also have more shows booked but we’ll be posting them on our website & Facebook page soon.”  This band definitely has a personality all it’s own and their swagger comes from their lead singer, Higgsy.  Ken told me, “His mind is in places I’ve never visited. He’s bringing a whole new genre to the rock scene with his lyrics alone.”  This band’s chemistry just works.  From the subtle notes that  guitarist Joe Fortino add in that just make things “snap”, to bassist Greg Cornwell bringing the groove, and the heavy hitting guitar of Gregg Tripp, I can see why Ken decided to move from the cover scene to take a stab at writing and performing originals.  Ken’s power drumming deserves a place in the original scene and adds a steady component that drives their music.

If you are just now hearing about The Electric Boa, where have you been?  They already have some great accolades, including opening for national acts such as Skid Row, Anvil & Kix. Earlier in 2012 they opened for Octane at The Electric Factory. Ken tells me they want to do so much more, and I have a feeling they definitely will!  ”We want to entertain as many people as possible with our music. There are many great bands out there on the original scene & we don’t want to take anything away from any of them but come out to an Electric Boa show & see for yourselves that we are trying to be as unique as possible with our tunes & our stage show. We put on a “concert” for you & make every show worth it’s money,”  Ken told me and spoken like a true pro, who knows what he wants. After seeing the band, all I have to say is keep an eye on these guys. They are making Philly proud!

Be sure to check out their website at www.electricboa.com to keep up with thier tour dates and when the new stuff is coming out!  The Electric Boa is:  Higgsy – Lead vocals; Joe Fortino – Guitar;  Gregg Tripp – Guitar; Greg “G” Cornwall – Bass and Ken Mondillo – Drums.  SUPPORT LOCAL LIVE MUSIC!

by MikeV | Categories: Bands, In The Spotlight | Comments Off