Interview: Micah Wilshire discusses his new jazz inspired EP, ‘Manifesto’

Already an in-demand Nashville-based musician, Micah Wilshire’scontributions to music include session work for artists like Darius Rucker, Dierks Bentley and Jake Owen. As a writer, he’s scored big with television and film placements as well as songs for orchestrally dark-pop artists like Katie Garfield and country/rock newcomer Kasey Tyndall. Now, Wilshire is getting ready to explore a different side of his musical craft—one he’s waited nearly two decades to do—with his beautifully crafted, jazz-inspired EP, Manifesto.

Wilshire brings out the heavy hitters for Manifesto, including contributions from bassists John Patitucci and Willie Weeks along with drummer Nir Z. Three of the songs on Manifesto were co-produced with Dennis Matkosky, whose resume includes working with Al Jarreau, George Benson and George Duke.

With Manifesto, Wilshire may have delivered an EP that’s twenty years in the making, but as groove-laden tracks like “In The Stars,” “Woman,” and “Be With Me Tonight” confirm, it’s an album that was certainly worth the wait.

AXS recently spoke with Micah Wilshire about Manifesto and more in this new interview.

AXS: How did this project come about?

Micah Wilshire: I had thought about doing a project like this for about twenty years. The issue was, when I moved to Nashville I immediately started doing session work, which was fun but put things on the back burner. Eventually, you get to a point in your life where you say you know what? I’m going to do something where there’s no pre-condition, and this was about my love of jazz, soul and pop music.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Micah Wilshire Here!


Interview: Kasey Tyndall discusses her debut album, ‘Between Salvation And Survival’

Having already captured the attention of country/rock fans with her high-energy live performances, road warrior and singer/songwriter Kasey Tyndall has finally unleashed her debut album – the ferocious Between Salvation and Survival’.

Produced by Tommy Cecil (Luke Bryan, Jake Owen, Parmalee), Tyndall’s creative passion and country-rock rawness perfectly shines on the new album. From singles like “Everything is Texas” and “Bar That’s Open” to feel-good songs like “Friday Night” and the confident female jam, “Everyday Girl”, Between Salvation and Survival is a ten-song, introspection of well-crafted material that combines the beautiful, North Carolina native’s relatable lyrics and gritty vocals with hook-laden melodies and warm, Southern charm.

Tyndall has done more than one hundred shows in 2017 and shows no sign of slowing down. Her resume already includes touring with the likes of Kane Brown and Granger Smith as well as providing direct support for Parmalee on their Hotdamalama Tour.

AXS recently spoke with Kasey Tyndall about Between Salvation and Survival and more in this exclusive new interview.

AXS: How would you describe your debut album in terms of its sound?

Kasey Tyndall: It’s three-parts country, two-parts rock, a splash of redneck and a twist of rowdy, all shaken and poured over ice in a great big solo cup [laughs]. I was exposed to a lot of diverse music when I was growing up. Everything from Hank Williams Jr. and Willie Nelson to Joan Jett and AC/DC. My music lands somewhere in there.

AXS: What was the songwriting process like for Between Salvation and Survival’?

KT: The process is rarely the same twice. Sometimes it starts with a lyric idea or even a title. Other times, I’ll just sit down with other writers and we’ll talk about what’s going on in life and write a song about it. This album is very autobiographical. From the rockers like “Boots Stompin” and “Bar That’s Open” to the more sensitive songs like “Bottle & The Bible” and “Everything is Texas”. They all have elements of my personal life.

AXS: You mentioned some of the songs and I’d like to ask you about a few and get your thoughts on them. Maybe what inspired them or something else about them, starting with “Bar That’s Open.”

KT: I wrote this song with Ashley McBryde and Lainey Wilson. I remember when we first got into the writer’s room, Ashley sits a bottle of Jack Daniels down on the table and says, “All right girls, we’re gonna write a good song today.” I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised it’s a song about drinking [laughs].

You can read the rest of my
Interview with Kasey Tyndall by
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Interview: Mark Slaughter discusses his new single, ‘Halfway There’, career highlights

Released in May from EMP Label Group, Halfway There is a stunning return to form for legendary rock vocalist, Mark Slaughter. His new album channels the classic feel of early Slaughter albums like Stick it to Ya and The Wild Life while at the same time providing material with an adrenaline-fueled, twenty-first century appeal.

Slaughter also does a bit of soul-searching on the new release. Particularly on the album’s emotionally-driven title track. A ballad that’s easily on par with hits like “Fly To The Angels” and continues to showcase Slaughter as one of rock’s most recognizable and versatile artists.

AXS recently spoke with Mark Slaughter about the new single and more in this new interview.

AXS: “Halfway There” is your new single and the title track of your album released earlier this year. Can you tell me what inspired it?

Mark Slaughter: The concept I was speaking to with Bill Jordan [co-writer] was a song that talks about how things change as we get older. At this age, we’re all starting to lose our parents and many others around us. We thought this is where we are in life. So, we wanted to write a song that really got in there about what we’re going through. It hits the nail on the head.

AXS: How would you describe the new album in terms of its sound and how it relates to some of your previous work?

MS: There’s definitely an aspect of Slaughter in there. A lot of people don’t realize that Dana Strum and I wrote, produced and perform the music to this day. We’re the only guys from our genre that had that much control back then and still carry it. The records I’m doing now are ones where I’m in control and making the songs come across the best they can be.

AXS: What’s your songwriting process like?

MS: I usually write music first. I hear orchestras in my head and then follow the bouncing the ball with what the melody is. There’s something about how the song feels and how the melodic structure works that’s important to me. The lyrics usually come after the fact.

You can read the rest of my
Interview with Mark Slaughter by
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Interview: Lindsey Stirling discusses her holiday Album, ‘Warmer In The Winter’ and ‘Dancing With The Stars’

Photo by Cara Robbins and used with permission.

Warmer In The Winter is the first holiday album from critically-acclaimed electronic violinist Lindsey Stirling. The album features the multi-talented artist’s renditions of such holiday favorites as “Angels We Have Heard on High,” “Carol of The Bells,” “I Saw Three Ships” and “Jingle Bell Rock” as well as several original numbers written by Stirling.

Stirling in joined by a slew of other chart-topping, special guest artists on Warmer In The Winter, including Becky G, Sabrina Carpenter, Trombone Shorty and Alex Gaskarth of All Time Low.

AXS recently spoke with Lindsey about Warmer In The Winter, her time on “Dancing With The Stars” [where she placed second with her partner, Mark Ballas] and more in this exclusive new interview.

AXS: What made you decide to do a Christmas album?

Lindsey Stirling: I love Christmas music and one of my favorite things about it is how it ties people to their memories. Everyone has their own favorite Christmas songs that have become tradition and brings back tangible memories. I’ve always wanted to do a Christmas album and hope that this music can add to people’s holiday memories and traditions the same way certain songs tie me to mine.

AXS: Was there a certain criteria or theme you had in mind when choosing which songs you wanted to cover?

LS: I don’t think I’ve ever done so much homework for an album [laughs]. I spent hours listening to Christmas music and making playlists. Deciding not only what songs to do but also what style to do each song in. It includes some of my favorites but other songs I chose because they really sang on the violin or brought out the symphonic element. There are so many different sides of Christmas. There’s the big band, classic sound and then there’s the magical, symphony sound. Half of the album is with the live band and horns and the other half is with symphonic strings playing live. It was a first for me to be able to do an album in this way and to work with arrangers and composing. It was a lot of fun.

AXS: Let’s discuss a few tracks from the album, starting with “Angels We Have Heard On High.”

LS: That’s always been one of my favorite Christmas songs. I remember when I was a kid my family would make cookies and then we’d all go deliver them to neighbors by caroling. “Angels We Have Heard on High” was a song we sang so well together. On a personal note, I lost several people who were really close to me over the last few years, and the thought of angels has taken on a whole new meaning. I’ve felt the influence of angels in my life so strongly in the last few years. Not only the idea of angels but people I know and love who are looking out for me. That’s why I spent quite a bit of time making that song so special. Because it’s special to me.

You can read the rest of my
Interview with Lindsey Stirling by
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Moody Blues’ Justin Hayward Talks Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction, Revisiting ‘Days of Future Passed’

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame recently announced its class of 2018. The list of inductees included—along with Bon Jovi, the Cars, Dire Straits and Nina Simone—the Moody Blues.

For the Moody Blues, who spent the year celebrating the 50th anniversary of their landmark album, Days of Future Passed, the induction is long overdue. The band, which features Justin Hayward (lead guitar, vocals), John Lodge (bass guitar, vocals) and Graeme Edge (drums), will receive the honor alongside former members Ray Thomas (flute/vocals) and Mike Pinder (keyboard/mellotron/vocals).

Guitar World recently spoke with Hayward about the Moody Blues’ upcoming induction and more.

An artist becomes eligible for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 25 years after the release of their first commercial recording. The Moody Blues have more than doubled that. So, I guess the first logical question to ask would be, did you think this day would ever come?

To be honest, I kind of doubted it because it had been so long. But when it finally happened I was absolutely thrilled. For Moody Blues fans, it’s galvanized the music they love. I’m very pleased for them and for us. It’s a privilege to be in the same street as Buddy Holly and the Everly Brothers, and then to have Nina Simone inducted posthumously at the same time makes the whole thing complete. She was such a huge influence on me in my late teens and early twenties.

How did her music inspire you?

I think she was a musician’s musician, and those albums she made in the early to mid-Fifties were an exercise in how to put emotion across in a song and to feel it. There was a beautiful tragedy in her singing and playing that I haven’t heard since.

The band’s induction will include former members Mike Pinder and Ray Thomas. Are there any plans for a musical reunion with them at the ceremony?

I think the spirit is willing. Let’s put it that way.

The band has been celebrating the 50th anniversary of Days of Future Passed, a celebration that will continue into the new year. Can you tell me about your January tour plans that end in Vegas?

It starts with the Moody Blues Cruise, which is always great fun. It’s wonderful for the fans who get to see and hear us up close and intimate. Vegas is another place where Moodies fans like to gather. I remember the first time we ever played there I wasn’t sure if we even belonged. I thought, ‘What are we doing here?’ But then as we rolled into town I saw there was a big poster for Neil Young, who’s the king of credibility. That’s when I said, ‘Oh, this is OK, then.’ [laughs].

You can read the rest of my
Interview with Justin Hayward by Clicking Here!

Actress Sara Castro Discusses New Film, ‘Christmas Crime Story’, Career

A botched Christmas Eve robbery leads down a destructive path for a police officer reconnecting with his estranged mother, a coming-apart-at-the-seams amateur photographer, his vindictive and murderous fiancee, her secret lover and a strung-out mall Santa…as they all converge in one explosive and deadly night.

“Christmas Crime Story” is a new film starring Eric Close, Adrian Paul, Scott Bailey and Neraida Bega that’s set in Los Angeles during the holiday season. The film revolves around multiple characters whose lives unexpectedly intersect before, during and after a liquor store robbery.

With a cool linear storyline and beautifully shot cinematography combined with engaging characters and systemic plot twists, “Christmas Crime Story” is not your typical happy holiday fare, but for fans of films like “Memento” and “Reservoir Dogs” it just might make the perfect gift.

Sara Castro plays the role of Kasey Edwards, the wife of a mall Santa and mother of a child suffering from cancer. It’s a role somewhat similar to the one the beautiful actress played with conviction in 2013’s “The Shift”. But here, we continue to find Castro’s development as an artist both emotionally engaging and refreshingly relevant.

I recently spoke with Sara Castro about “Christmas Crime Story”, her career and more in this exclusive new interview.

How did you become involved in “Christmas Crime Story”?

I had worked with one of the producers [Vince Lozano] on another film, “Halfway to Hell” and we stayed really good friends. He often said that he’d loved to work with me again and when this part came up he thought of me for the role. I went in for a reading with him and the other decision makers and everything went well. A month later, they called me with the news and we were off and running.

What was it that attracted you to the role

I’m really into unpredictable films and love challenging myself. This was a similar character to what I’ve played in the past but with a completely different backstory.

What can you tell me about your character, Kasey Edwards?

Kasey is a wife and mother who’s overwhelmed by everything that’s going on with her family. Both she and her husband have a lot of personal issues. Their daughter is dying of cancer and Kasey’s relying on her husband to help get them out of financial trouble. It’s a sad ending for her.

Kasey has such an emotional arc to her story. Is there anything you do to prepare for such a role?

I like to write a backstory on the character so I know where she’s coming from. I think you have to give a character some background substance to know where you’re heading. When I write a past it also helps me mold the character and give her colors. So, when I’m on set and do become the character, I’m able to embrace it and include a little bit of Sara in Kasey. 

What kind of a backstory did you write for Kasey?

I believed Kasey got married at a very young age and at some point her husband was a very important person in the world. Then their daughter got sick, he lost his job and it all just crumbled down from there and became a constant struggle.

What was the filming process like?

It was a pretty fast shoot over a two-week span. The diner scene was shot in downtown L.A. at an old diner that was actually closed, and they re-opened it for us.

How has he reaction been to the film?

It’s been great. It was picked up in September for distribution and has been out ever since. It’s a great indication that people are really connecting with it.

Have you ever given thought to getting on the other side of the camera at some point?

I think I’d love to direct one day. It’s another interesting and creative side of the job. It’s definitely something I’d like to pursue in the future.

What are you most looking forward to about this next phase of your career?

I’m looking forward to longevity. As long as there’s longevity and something new coming up I’m happy. The unpredictable and the unknown is also exciting, because it means anything can happen at any moment. Personally, I’d love to travel and be bi-coastal. I have family in Chicago and would enjoy going back and forth. It would give me the opportunity to see them and really be a dream come true.

Christmas Crime Story” is available now on Blu-Ray, DVD and streaming services.

Guitarist Hannah Wicklund Discusses Her New Album, Writing Process

Formed when their frontwoman was just nine years old and with a voice and guitar-driven swagger that instantly conjures up images of Janis Joplin and Susan Tedeschi, Hannah Wicklund and The Steppin Stones have consistently stood out as a young band on the rise.

The band’s self-titled, fifth album [produced by Sadler Valden and set for a January 26 release] draws from the guitarist’s classic rock influences, which range from Jimi Hendrix and Jeff Beck to Fleetwood Mac and Tom Petty. The result is a fiery combination of blues-rock passion that pays homage to her musical roots while giving them modern, 21-century feel.

With her tasty fret work and tireless work ethic, Wicklund is a guitarist to watch for 2018.

Guitar World recently spoke with Wicklund about her new album, songwriting, gear and more.

How would you describe your style of music?

It’s raw but very authentic and genuine. It’s also a good representation of what the last year and a half of my life has been like. This new album is my most mature piece of work as far as sound goes, and an ode to my classic rock roots.

What’s your writing process like?

Honestly? It’s different every song. There have been songs that begin with a musical idea approach, where the riff comes first and is followed by forming a melody. Other songs could start from just a lyrical idea.

Something else I’ve been doing lately is taking a strong title and writing the song from there. “Shadow Boxes” is an example of a song I had originally written and then scrapped everything except for the title. Then there are songs like “Crushin”, which is more of a riff-based, bluesy song. I’d been playing that riff for a long time and developed it into a song.

Let’s discuss a few other tracks from the new album, beginning with “Bomb Through The Breeze.”

That’s a song that Sadler [Valden] and I co-wrote in one sitting. It started out with the riff and then we took cues from each other and built it from there. It’s a song about standing up for yourself.

You can read the rest of my
Interview with Hannah Wicklund Here!