Under A Neapolitan Sky – Chapter Three

With the official release of my debut novella, “Neapolitan Sky” just two weeks away, I’m putting the call out to anyone who writes or blogs and would be interested in doing a review/write up of the story.

Due to publishing commitments, I won’t be able to offer this for everyone. But if you’re interested about doing a review / Q&A for your website and can commit the time to reading the 151-page story and helping me get the word out, I can send you a PDF version of the book to review.

In case you missed it, here is the synospis of the story:

“Dreams of becoming a professional writer are abruptly put on hold for college student Nica Mitchell following the unexpected death of her mother and her father’s cancer diagnosis.

Forced to return home when he’s hospitalized after encountering a near death experience, Nica learns her father has been keeping a dark secret. Something in between the stages of life and death that, when revealed, will change her life forever.”

I’ve also created a trailer for the book, which you can see below:

The official release date for Neapolitan Sky is Tuesday, May 8th. If you’re in the Bethlehem, PA area, I’ll be doing a signing on Saturday, May 26th from 1-3 p.m. at The Moravian Book Shop , located at 428 Main Street, Bethlehem, PA 18018.

If you’re interested in helping me spread the word about Neapolitan Sky, please let me know by filling out the form below. If you don’t write but would still like to help, you can share my author page on Amazon and Goodreads. I’m also on Facebook and Twitter. I appreciate any help you can give! Watch for more suprises in the coming weeks, including some giveaways.

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‘Attention Attention’: Guitarist Zach Myers Discusses Shinedown’s New Album

Photo by: Jimmy Fontaine

Attention Attention is the new album from multi-platinum rockers, Shinedown, and the follow-up to the band’s acclaimed 2015 release, Threat to Survival.

Produced in-house by bassist, Eric Bass, the 14-track album—an emotional and physical journey that follows an individual’s life from the lowest lows to the highest highs—is perhaps the band’s most raw and personal to date. .

From the ominous opener, “Devil”—with its rush of unpredictable rhythms and roaring guitars—to infectious tracks like “The Human Radio,” “Black Soul” and “Brilliant,” Attention Attention is a powerful and enduring statement about the resolve of the human spirit.

In addition to the new album [which will be released on May 4], Shinedown are prepping for a major summer co-headlining tour with Godsmack.

Guitar World recently spoke with the band’s guitarist, Zach Myers, about the new album and more in this new interview.

Attention Attention has been described as a concept album. Was that the original intention going in?

We didn’t really set out to make a concept record, and it wasn’t until we got to the middle of making the album that we began to realize what it was. It wasn’t something that was forced but came very naturally. But it’s not a concept in the typical sense. It has its own vibe.

How would you describe the concept?

It’s funny, our last record was called Threat to Survival, and this record is almost about self-survival. At times, it’s about one person and other times, it’s about all four of us. We write about what we know, and that’s ourselves and what we personally go through. The album starts out with “Devil”, which is about being in the worst place you can possibly be. It’s when you’ve dug yourself a fifteen-foot hole and now you have to figure out how to get out. Then the album ends with “Brilliant,” which is romantic serendipity. A coming to light within yourself and realizing that you can do many things on your own.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Zach Myers By Clicking Here!

Guitarist Bruno Major Talks Songwriting, Touring With Sam Smith

Following the release of his 12-song project, A Song For Every Moon, last year, London-based guitarist Bruno Major found himself playing for sold-out audiences in North America, and arenas in the U.K. with pop megastar Sam Smith.

Originally a seasoned jazz musician, Major began his career as a session guitarist at the age of 16. His distinctive playing style, inspired songwriting and soulful vocals have earned him legions of fans worldwide. And with more music and another run of his own headlining dates in Europe and North America on the horizon, he’s an artist to watch in the months ahead.

Guitar World recently spoke with Major about his music and more in this new interview.

To someone who may not be familiar, how would you describe your style of music?

At the core of it, it’s songwriting. I’ve played guitar since I was seven and as a jazz musician, I was influenced by Chet Baker, Louie Armstrong and the Great American Songbook. There’s a lot of musicality and soul that I try to emulate as a songwriter. I’m also a huge fan of electronic music and artists like Radiohead and Kendrick Lamar. There’s a lot of hip-hop and electronic music when it comes to the production.

In your opinion, what makes jazz so timeless and special?

There’s a wide spectrum of music that’s covered under the umbrella of jazz. What attracted me was that it seemed to be the key to understanding music at large. Whenever I hear jazz, I can also hear everything I love about pop and classical. In a way, it’s like learning a language, like English or French. If you want to communicate your feelings accurately, you have to be fluent in the language that you’re speaking. Grammatically, jazz is the most difficult form.

What’s your songwriting process typically like? What inspires you when you write?

It can be something that someone says; a line in a book I’m reading, or I can sit down at the piano and an idea will fall out. There’s no real set pattern to the process. All I know is that when the moment comes, and you get the feeling that a song’s coming, you have to drop everything and make sure that you’re ready to chase it.

Read the rest of my
With Bruno Major by Clicking Here!

Interview: Vixen bassist Share Ross goes in depth on new project, Twin Flames Radio

Vixen bassist, Share Ross describes her new project with husband Bam, Twin Flames Radio, as a love affair from the heart and a crime of passion. The album, more than a decade in the making, draws from the duo’s eclectic 1970s musical sentiment; with a lush, layered production as well as a multitude of harmonic-laden and hooky songs.

Case in point is the infectious track, “Peace & Love & Rock & Roll,” a song with a relevant, anthemic chorus complete with a John Lennon-esque “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” refrain performed by members of The School of Rock. Twin Flames Radio also has its share of musical guests, which includes Tyketto guitarist, Chris Green and Vixen’s Janet Gardner,

With Twin Flames Radio, Ross – already well-known for her work in Vixen as well as 90’s super-group, Contraband, Bubble and more recently, as bassist in Joe Elliot’s Down ‘n’ Outz, and Bam (Bubble, Jo Dog & The Desperados) have created an album that combines the best elements of 70’s rock and pop with a polished, 21st century charm.

AXS recently spoke with Share Ross about Twin Flames Radio and more in this new interview.

AXS: How did the Twin Flames Radio project come about?

Share Ross: It was something that’s been happening for a really long time. Bam and I have had a band, Bubble, since the nineties. But after we moved to Florida and started playing again, we discovered that our songwriting had changed. The songs we wrote just didn’t fit the “Bubble” wrapping, so many of them sat for a really long time. It took a bold step to make this project, but we were committed to it.

AXS: What was the songwriting process like?

SR: It was all over the place. I’m one of those people who believes that you don’t actually write a song. You have a muse and the song is given to you. A lot of what you hear on the album was actually recorded during the writing process. In fact, 75% of the original vocals on the song, “Got That Thing” were made up on the spot. Other songs, like “Peace & Love & Rock and Roll” began with Bam just sitting down with the guitar.

AXS: You mentioned “Peace & Love & Rock & Roll.” What else can you tell me about it?

SR: Lyrically, it’s written from the stand point of still being here with all of our friends. We’re all older than we ever thought we’d be, and we’re still doing things in music. The musical approach was very interesting. As we were writing we kept thinking, Ok, what Would [David] Bowie do? What would T-Rex do? What would Big Star do? It was a totally conscious decision.

AXS: How did the kids from The School of Rock get involved on the track?

SR: There’s a point in the song where I had the idea of having the vocal part sound like John Lennon’s “Happy Xmas (War is Over).” Bam and I knew that we wouldn’t be able to sing it like little kids, so I thought of the School Of Rock. We went down there with microphones and five adorable girls sang it. It was really cool.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Share Ross by Clicking Here!

AXS Premiere: Guitarist Christie Lenée Unveils Her Infectious Cover of Ed Sheeran’s ‘Castle On The Hill’

Christie Lenée, the 2017 International Fingerstyle Guitar Champion has been wowing audiences with her guitar wizardry. Through the use of harmonics and tapping, Lenée’s infectious style utilizes all parts of the guitar and combines elements of folk, rock and pop into one tasty and eclectic musical stew.

Lenée’s brand new video, a cover of Ed Sheeran’s hit, “Castle On The Hill” showcases the guitarist at her finest.

AXS recently spoke with Lenée about her new video and more in this exclusive interview.

AXS: What made you decide to do a version of Ed Sheeran’s “Castle On The Hill”?

Christie Lenée: I don’t do covers very often, but that song really hits home for me. It’s one of those songs I wish that I had written. Throughout high school, you grow up in different crowds. Some people become doctors; get into music, or find themselves becoming stars on Broadway, while others die at a young age from going down the wrong roads. There’s a feeling of freedom and hope and remembering the good times in that song. I love the symbolism and thinking about what could’ve been or what might have happened if you went down another road. It can be interpreted in a lot of different ways.

AXS: How do you approach taking the original version of the song and transposing it into your style of playing?

CL: I’ll start out by first learning the song the original way. Next, I’ll listen to the bass and other instruments to hear what everything in the song is doing. Then, I’ll figure out things to emulate what I’m hearing, using open strings and tunings that fill in the bassline and chords. The biggest challenge is often figuring out what key to sing it in, especially if it’s a male voice. In this case, Ed sings in a lower octave and then in the chorus, he sings it up high.

Click here to listen to  Lenée’s version of “Castle On The Hill”.

AXS: How would you describe your style of music?

CL: I’ve always described it as what it would be like if Joni Mitchell, Michael Hedges and Dave Matthews had a child [laughs]. They’ve all been a huge influence on me. My favorite thing to do is combining the tapping style into contemporary music and seeing how they can work together. I’m constantly working toward integrating those sounds together.

AXS: Is this song part of a large project you’re working on?

CL: This is the beginning of a series of songs I’m putting out that will eventually lead up to an entire album. Each song will have a video to go along with it, and when everyone is familiar with them, I’ll release an album along with a few other surprises!

Read more of my
Interview with Christie Lenée by Clicking Here!

‘When Legends Rise’: Sully Erna and Tony Rombola Discuss Godsmack’s New Album

Photo: Troy Smith

20 years after the release of their debut album—and more than 20 million in album sales later—Godsmack are back with their seventh studio album, When Legends Rise. It’s the band’s first album of new material in four years, following the monster success of 2014’s 1000hp.

Produced by frontman Sully Erna and Erik Ron, the sonically intense, layered record contains the signature Godsmack sound, while pushing the band to new limits of musical creativity at the same time.

From the tribal percussion and lethal riffs at the opening of the title track to the groove-fueled power of songs like “Bulletproof,” “Every Part of Me,” and “Someday,” a theme of rebirth runs through the entire album. When Legends Rise also contains the infectious sleeper track, “Under Your Scars,” the first ballad to ever make its way onto a Godsmack album.

Guitar World recently sat down with Erna and Godsmack’s lead guitarist, Tony Rombola, to talk about When Legends Rise, gear and more in this new interview.

How does When Legends Rise compare to some of Godsmack’s previous work?

Sully Erna: This record is a complete rebirth and a conscious decision to experiment and explore new sounds and more modern melodies, and to invent the next chapter in the band’s career. From zero to 20 [years] has certainly been one journey, and we were beginning to feel like the same thing was happening over and over. So, we took the time to dig in and get to work on taking it to a new level. There’s a whole new generation of fans coming up, and we want to evolve with them. There’s been a lot of changes in our own lives as well and I think this music reflects that.

What’s your songwriting process like?

Erna: It happens in all different ways. Most of the time, it starts with music. But there have been songs that began acapella and then the music was added later. There’s even been times where I’ll play drums and write to grooves I enjoy playing. For the most part, we write what we feel is the best music at the time and hope other people will enjoy it as well. This album also gave me opportunity to explore writing with outside writers who normally wouldn’t be a part of what we do. It opened a different side and allowed me to think outside the box.

Let’s discuss a few tracks from the new album, beginning with “When Legends Rise.”

Erna: The title is a metaphorical statement for rebirth. It’s really about this band coming to a place, both individually and musically, where we wanted to burn this thing down and rebuild it in a different way. For me, I’d gone through a transition over the last few years where I eliminated all the negative things from my life. The other guys in the band were also going through their own transformations, so there were a lot of things that seemed like a rebirth. “Legends” is a metaphor for the phoenix rising from the ashes. It’s a theme that runs throughout the whole record.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Sully Erna & Tony Rombola
By Clicking Here!

Under A Neapolitan Sky – Chapter Two

“Dreams of becoming a professional writer are abruptly put on hold for college student Nica Mitchell following the unexpected death of her mother and her father’s cancer diagnosis.

Forced to return home when he’s hospitalized after encountering a near death experience, Nica learns her father has been keeping a dark secret. Something in between the stages of life and death that, when revealed, will change her life forever.”

The synopsis is just a small taste of my brand new novella, Neapolitan Sky, which I’m excited to announce will be released on Tuesday, May 8th!

Over the course of my writing career, I’ve interviewed hundreds of artists, musicians and authors; co-authored three children’s books and have written more than 2,000 articles for this blog, Guitar World, AXS and Yahoo! I can honestly say that this was the most challenging and creatively satisfying thing I’ve ever done.

It was exciting to see this story go from a blank document to template to final draft. In between, there were more than a dozen test readers who provided feedback and input; multiple late night re-writes and edits to enhance the flow of the story and the final review from the publisher.

Now, I’m super-excited to share with you the book trailer for Neapolitan Sky:

This short trailer gives more clues into the story. Each photo and video has something deeper to say. The trailer also includes a little cameo by yours truly.

Neapolitan Sky will be available online at all of the major outlets. You can even call your favorite bookstore and have them order it for you.

I hope you’ll be along for the ride on May 8th!