Category: Entertainment

Birthday Reflections at 50

October 5th, 2019 – My 50th Birthday.

I’m sitting here in a daze, trying to comprehend what I’ve just written. It can’t be true, can it? A whole f#cking half century? WOW!

I liken it to the same feeling I had twenty years ago, when the calendar was getting ready to change over to the year 2000 and the eventual dawning of a new millenium. I vividly remember, when I was growing up, that year seemed like it was a lifetime away. I’m talking futuristic, meet George Jetson style distance. And yet, not only have we reached that year, but we’ve now gone almost twenty years beyond it.

The past 365 days have been some of the best and absolute worst days of my entire life. It started in January when my very first interview, with Dan Donegan from Disturbed, was posted in the pages of Guitar World magazine. I will NEVER forget the day I walked into the shopping center on a misty gray afternoon and saw the new issue sitting on the shelves. It was like when Indiana Jones first saw the golden idol in “Raiders of The Lost Ark.” Or the feeling I had when I opened it up and fumbled through its crisp white pages and saw that my name had been printed under “Contributing Writers.”  Knowing that this magazine would be in stores all over the world was surreal. Thinking about it now still gives me chills. I went on to do three more interviews this year – one with Jim Heath (Reverand Horton Heat), one with Vivian Campbell (Def Leppard, Dio) and another with Alan Parsons.

Another monumental event that took place this year was my daughter’s high school graduation this past June. One that, when I think about it now, really puts the big FIVE-OH into perspective. I still remember putting her on the school bus for her very first day back in 2006. Back then, I was on the cusp of turning 37 and thought to myself, “Wow! She will graduate the same year I turn 50. That’s so far away.”

And now here we are.

Still makes me think about my own tenure in the hallowed halls of education and the day I received my first student ID card. This was wayyyy back in 1980. I looked at the reverse side of that card and saw “Year Grad – 1987” printed and thought THAT was a lifetime away. Realizing that by this time next year the card will be 40 years old is simply unbelievable to me.

This past year was also the one where I had to say goodbye to the best dog I’ve ever had — just three days before this monumental birthday. To say that I was devastated is an understatement, but a wonderful tribe of family and friends have made the burden a little bit easier.

So, what’s in store for this next journey around the sun? Well, I’m hard at work on two new books. The first is a prequel to “Neapolitan Sky,” which takes place thirty years before the events of that story. The other is another thriller based on the whole ancestry concept. There is a lot of life left to live, art to create, books to write, interviews to be done and most importantly, love to give freely.

This song always makes me stop in my tracks whenever I hear it. Does it do the same for you?

There’s an odd sense of immortality you have when you’re young that makes you believe time will always stand still, and that you’ll never be as old as your parents (my father died at the age of 51)… but then you take a nap and wake up to find yourself in that role.

But if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the last few days of my 40’s is that it’s no longer about the years left in your life. It’s about the life left in your years.

Interview: Savannah Outen Discusses Her Infectious New Single, ‘The Hard Way’

In the years since Savannah Outen’s began her artistic journey at the age of fifteen the beautiful songstress has found unprecedented musical success. For, in addition to becoming a fixture on the Radio Disney charts her ubiquitous renditions of various cover songs have garnered her more than 120 million views on YouTube.

Last year, Outen’s hauntingly ethereal track, “Sad In The Summer” spoke about letting go of the past and finding freedom. With her infectious new track, “The Hard Way,” the beautiful artist has managed to discover something else — a sound like no other.

Not only does “The Hard Way” feature Outen’s hook-laden melodies and distinctly powerful vocal prowess but the track showcases a deep level of emotional artistic maturity, proving that she’s becoming an even bigger force to be reckoned with.

I recently spoke with Outen about “The Hard Way,” songwriting and more in this exclusive new interview.

How did the new single, “The Hard Way,” originate?

Savannah Outen: For this track, I was in the studio with writer, Adam Melchor, and producer, Giulio Cercato. It was the first time the three of us had worked together and there were great vibes right from the start. I like to live a song before I write about it and that day we were all venting about the music industry and our individual takes and experiences. I was telling them how long I’ve been pursuing music and that there was a period I went through where I was feeling a little bit of doubt. We started with that idea. There’s a phase in your life when you’re in your twenties and maybe just getting out of college. A time when you love what you do but nothing’s happening. It’s a song telling you to keep going and trust your gut. Even if it takes longer than you thought. We wanted it to be fun but not too serious, with a cool 60’s/70’s vibe. It’s a song about my life and I’m so glad it’s out for everyone to hear.

What was the recording process like?

SO: Since we already knew what we wanted to say we needed to find a groove to match. The thing I love about this track is that it steers in the sonic direction of where I’m going. I loved infusing synths and live instruments and diving deeper into a gritty alternative world.

What can you tell me about the video for “The Hard Way?”

SO: I made the video with a great friend of mine, Ryan Espinosa. The video is fun and lighthearted and I even got my band involved. The cool thing is the song, artwork and video were all done with people that are close to me, which makes it even more special.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Savannah Outen by Clicking Here!

‘Mixtape’: Executive Producer Natalie Barandes Discusses Infectious New AXS TV Series

One of the coolest, and most revealing, classic rock series has got to be AXS TV’s new star-studded “Mixtape,” which airs Thursday nights at 8:30pE/5:30pP.

Dubbed the story of a musical artist’s life through the songs that they love each of the eight-episode series shines a light on a different rock icon as they sit down to discuss some of their favorite songs of all time. In doing so, they not only share a personal playlist of music that shaped their lives but also tell stories of how the songs impacted their own musical trajectory. They also reveal things about themselves you may never have heard before.

The debut season includes appearances by such legendary artists as Mick Jones & Kelly Hansen (Foreigner), Kevin Cronin and Dave Amato (REO Speedwagon), Rick Springfield, Don McLean, Robby Krieger (The Doors) and Micky Dolenz (The Monkees). For fans of the classic rock genre this is a series and musical celebration that is not to be missed.

I recently spoke to executive producer and Natalie Barandes (Founder/Creative Chief Joy Factory) about “Mixtape,” her career and much more in this exclusive new interview.

What inspired the new AXS TV series, “Mixtape?” How did it all come about?

Natalie Barandes: I have a friend from high school who I used to trade mix tapes with. She’s always been a collector and one day she brought me over a stack of them. They had so much great music on them. I remember listening to them and seeing the variation of how it went from one song to the next to the next. It was a story of my life. That’s when I thought this could be a great format to profile a musical artist and the songs they grew up with and loved. We could understand them on a whole different level.

What’s the format of the show?

NB: Every episode has the same four-chapter format: Influences, The Rise, then the Deep Dive, which is a defining moment that usually has a nugget you may not know about. It ends with Today and Tomorrow, which is what’s going on with the artist right now and what they’re listening to. 

What were some of the interesting things you discovered while working on the show?

NB: When you look at the artists in the series as a whole you see a lot of similarities in age and musical influences, but then you realize how different their career trajectories became. For example, Mick Jones [Foreigner] talks about Buddy Holly and then so does Don McLean. They both had a lot of love for the same guy but had very different careers. On the classic rock side you can see The Beatles were a huge influence, but there’s also a lot pre-Beatles music that was important to their careers, like Cliff Richard and Gerry and The Pacemakers.

Photo courtesy AXS TV – Joy Factory

What were some of the challenges of putting together the series?

NB: I had to do an extensive amount of research and we were tied to a tight budget, timeline and turnaround. Once we booked the artist I had about ninety minutes to take a journey into their lives and the music that inspired them. It was a challenge but once we were in the room together it was amazing.

Was having a career in entertainment something you always envisioned?

NB: Absolutely. I grew up in New York and my family was in the entertainment business. My father and uncle were both involved in Broadway Theater so I saw everything when I was growing up. In the 80s I had the opportunity to work for MTV and did weekend promos for a few years. That formulated my background. Then when I moved to Los Angeles in the 90s a lot of my early work was doing video profiles for record labels where I did a lot of amazing interviews.

Are there any other projects you’re currently working on?

NB: One of the things we’re working on is taking the concept of “Mixtape” and playlist and expanding it into multiple genres, like “Mixtape Country,” “Mixtape RnB, Hip-hop.” There’s even interest in “Mixtape Gospel and Christian” as well as “Mixtape Comedy,” where comedians tell stories about their lives through the comedy that they love.

What satisfies you the most about “Mixtape” and what would you like viewers to take away from watching?

NB: I remember after we finished filming the episode with Kevin Cronin and Dave Amato from REO Speedwagon, I came out with tears in my eyes and told someone that I have the best job in the world. I got to sit five feet away from a band I loved growing up and talked music. The same goes for Mick Jones and Kelly Hansen from Foreigner, or getting to listen to Don McLean sing “American Pie.” These are songs that were my favorites growing up. “Mixtape” is an absolute gift for anyone who loves music and my hope is the show opens your mind to how much wonderful music there is in the world. Some of which you may never even knew existed.

 “Mixtape” airs Thursday nights at 8:30pE / 5:30pP on AXS TV.

Interview: Emma Taylor Discusses Her Ethereal New Single, ‘For Forever’

Following the release of her infectious single, “My Dear,” and having taking some time off to finish her education, singer-songwriter Emma Taylor is back with a powerful new track. The ubiquitously-charged, “For Forever.”

The single, inspired from stories the songstress heard from friends about unhappy relationships, is both poignant and poetic. Moreover, it’s a track that, when stripped to its barest of essentials, resonates deep with emotion and energy — both a key to Taylor’s signature sound. At its core, “For Forever” is a song that not only yearns for repeated listenings but also showcases the depth of maturity in Taylor’s vocal and artistic prowess.

I recently spoke with Taylor about the new single, her songwriting and much more in this exclusive new interview.

How did the new single, ‘For Forever’ come about?

Emma Taylor: All my songs have an underlying theme of love, loss and relationships. I love telling stories or taking a small emotion and creating an entire song out of it. I’m at the age where my friends have been dating guys or trying to date guys. Some of them are unhappy but will tell me they’re scared of being alone. I took that idea. It’s a song about being in a toxic relationship with someone but not willing to take the risk of being alone because you’re so used to being comfortable. It’s uncomfortable to have change in your life, and it’s something everyone can relate to. Not just with love but in taking risks in their careers. I drew all those emotions and put it into the song.

What else can you tell me about the writing and recording process?

ET: The basis of the song and the skeleton happened so naturally. Originally, “For Forever” was just a placeholder title. I tried to find different words but I just couldn’t get it out of my head. I remember when I first had the chorus and melody and posted the idea on Instagram. It sounds the same now as it did then. You know a song is going to be digestible if it sounds good with just guitar and vocals. If you can break it down and it still has depth you know it’s going to be special. This is such a deep song and I want people to just listen to the words and story.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Emma Taylor by Clicking Here.

Interview: Liv Warfield Discusses Her Emotional New Single, ‘Mantra’

From her days as a member of Prince’s New Power Generation to her acclaimed solo career and time fronting Roadcase Royale, her ubiquitously cool project with Nancy Wilson (Heart), there can be no denying that powerhouse vocalist Liv Warfield is a force of to be reckoned with. As evidenced by her emotionally-charged new single, “Mantra.”

Written by Warfield along with longtime friend and guitarist Ryan Waters, the song is a roller coaster ride of blues and soul, and equally as honest in its surreality.

Backed by Waters’ tasty guitar prowess and a 42-piece orchestra (arranged by Grammy-winning conductor, Mateo Messina), “Mantra” not only showcases the artist’s unique and powerful vocal range but is also an undying message of hope.

The song, which took nearly four years to complete, and had even piqued the interest of Prince himself shortly before his passing, is indicative of an artist who’s found her musical foundation.

I recently spoke with Warfield about “Mantra”, her work with Roadcase Royale, Prince and much more in this exclusive new interview.

How did “Mantra” come about?

Liv Warfield: As an independent artist, we’re always trying to find the next thing. Ryan Waters and I had the song in an infant stage around the same time I had the chance to open-up for Heart. Prince was still alive at the time and when he heard the song he was wowed by it. The song is full of emotional highs and low and the lyrics are what I was feeling. It’s taken four years to complete but I think everyone can relate to the song’s roller coaster ride.

I have to ask you, what was it like working with Prince?

LW: It was incredible and an experience like no other. There’s so many emotions I feel across the board whenever I think of him. He was a teacher, a mentor and a friend. One of the best experiences for me was being able to watch him on stage. Just the energy he put off to everyone. You couldn’t help but just freeze in the moment. It was magic and I miss him every single day.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Liv Warfield by Clicking Here!

Interview: Lita Ford Discusses Upcoming Quakertown, PA Performance, Gives Update on New Album

Photo: Gary Brown — Shovel Head Studios

Whether it’s her early years as a member of the all-female, proto-punk rock group, The Runaways, her sultry vocal prowess and guitar sexiness on monster hits like “Kiss Me Deadly,” “Close My Eyes Forever,” and “Playin’ With Fire,” or the tenacity on tracks from her emotionally-charged album, “Living Like A Runaway,” there’s no denying that Lita Ford has earned the title of legend.

Never one to rest on her laurels, the reigning Queen of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal has been hard at work on her next project. A concept album being produced by long time friend, and famed guitarist Gary Hoey. Ford is also currently embarked on another round of summer touring, with a killer band that includes bassist Marty O’Brien, drummer Bobby Rock and guitar wizard, Patrick Kennison.

On Wednesday, August 28, Ford will bring her high-energy show to Quakertown’s Univest Performance Center, where she’ll be supporting another of the genre’s most legendary artists, Vince Neil of Mötley Crüe. The event is part of Quakertown’s annual “Sounds of Summer” concert series.

I recently spoke with Ford about her upcoming performance in Quakertown, new music and more in this exclusive new interview.

What can fans expect from your upcoming performance with Vince Neil in Quakertown?

Lita Ford: It’s a high-energy show with great songs and a smoking hot band. The good thing about it is that I’ve been blessed with great musicians and we all feed off each other. It’s a fun show from beginning to end.

What can you tell me about your musical relationship with Vince Neil?

LF: Vince is family. I’ve known him since the early Runaways days and the two of us grew up together in the music industry. He’s had a lot of great and devastating things happen in his life but he’s such a great guy. I just love him.

What do you think makes your music so timeless and special after all these years?

LF: I think it’s because it was real. That’s not to say that today’s music isn’t real, but it’s so sterile these days. Back in the 70s and 80s the music was just so raw. You could have as much hair as you wanted or wear really colorful clothes. It was a really cool vibe. It doesn’t seem like there are a lot of real rock stars anymore. It’s almost like once the 80’s ended they all started disappearing.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Lita Ford by Clicking Here!

Interview: Singer-Songwriter Brooke Josephson Discusses Her Upcoming New York City Performance, New Music

Brooke Josephson

Read the rest of my
Interview with Brooke Josephson by Clicking Here.