Shira’s Story Corner: Brooke Josephson Discusses Daughter’s Inspiring Cause

Shira Josephson

There’s an old adage that says the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and in the case of acclaimed singer/songwriter/artist Brooke Josephson, that sentiment couldn’t be more true. Josephson’s creative gene has been passed down to her daughter, Shira, in a uniquely wonderful way.

Shira Josephson, a book lover and Junior Ambassador at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, noticed that many of the hospital’s patients were so ill that they didn’t have access to the hospital’s first-floor story corner. So the resilient eight-year-old did what any forward-thinking artist would do — she created one of her own.

Last summer, Shira and her mother started Shira’s Story Corner, a video series where the young girl reads some of her favorite books that are later shared with patients. Shira’s weekly series was an insant success; bringing comfort and virtual companionship to many of the non-profit hospital’s isolated patients.

The Junior Ambassadors are the hospital’s youth fundraising group, and following a recent trip to New York City where she befriended another girl, Shira wrote and illustrated her own book, “The Girl On The Subway,” to help raise funds for the hospital. To date, Shira has raised more than $13,000 from book sales and other fundraising efforts.

On Saturday, October 6th, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles will hold its annual Junior Ambassador Action Day, where every donation made will be matched dollar for dollar. This year, The Josephson Family and Shira’s Story Corner are the matching donors. In addition to other fundraising activities planned for the day, Shira will be selling copies of “The Girl On The Subway” as well as her brand new book, “The Fickle Cat Called Pickles,” with all proceeds benefiting CHLA.

As for Shira’s mother, Brooke Josephson, the songstress will be back in New York City on September 21st for a performance at Prohibition. The show will be in support of her amazing new EP, “Sexy N’ Domesticated’. She’ll follow it up with a trip to Amsterdam to shoot the video for a remix of her song, “Mr. Fix It”, with DJ Rocky G.

I recently spoke with Brooke Josephson about Shira’s cause and much more in this exclusive new interview.

How did your family become involved with Children’s Hospital Los Angeles?

A few of Shira’s classmates in pre-school had been patients at the hospital and were blown away by the work they had done for them and their families. Then, two weeks before Shira graduated from pre-school, she fell and broke her arm pretty badly. It required her going under anesthesia for surgery and having to wear three different casts. The time she was away from us was very brief but it left such an impact on her. Then she started thinking about her friends who had been born with heart defects and needed to have surgery every few years. That’s when we started donating and getting involved. 

When did Shira’s love of reading originate?

I’ve always loved books. Even when I growing up, I’d always volunteer in our school library re-shelving books while everyone else was at recess. When Shira was a baby, I’d read to her every night. Then, once she started reading on her own, it became a passion for her as well.

How did she become involved the Junior Ambassador program and what inspired Shira’s Story Corner?

When Shira was going into first grade, we started looking into other ways of getting involved instead of just writing a check. That’s when we found out about the Junior Ambassador program, and Shira loved it right away. The program is a mixture of kids from the community as well as current patients. Shira was able to work alongside kids her own age right up to high school seniors. It was during her second training session, when they were doing a tour of the hospital, that they came to the end of the hall, where doors led to floors where the kids were too sick to have visitors.

Afterwards, Shira seemed sad, so I asked her what was wrong. She explained to me that the tour had ended because they couldn’t go past a certain point. Then she lit up and came up with an idea. There was a story corner on the first floor of the hospital; and even though the sick kids couldn’t go there, what if she could make her own story corner and bring it to them? One where she could read books and I could make videos for them to watch. It took off from there! 

What inspired Shira to write her own book, “The Girl On The Subway”?

Part of being a Junior Ambassador is creating your own fundraisers, and it was at one of the brainstorming sessions that Shira decided to make her own book. Part of that came from a story she’d read called “The Chocolate Bar” that a little boy had written for his friend who had a rare disease. They had sold the book to raise money for his friend’s treatment. Since we had recently taken a trip to New York, Shira wanted to write a book about a girl her age she met on the subway. To date, she’s raised more than $13,000 between her book and other fundraising. Even other kids in her elementary school have joined the Junior Ambassador program after seeing the work she’s done. It’s been exciting to watch the ripple effect.

What can you tell me about her new book, “The Fickle Cat Called Pickles?” 

She actually came up with the idea when she was being interviewed about “The Girl On The Subway” for the hospital. She loves to eat pickles and always wanted to have a cat, but because of allergies, we can only have dogs. One of the cool things was when she was drawing the characters. She wanted the middle part of their bodies to be in the shape of a pickle and the cat’s head to have a heart-shaped face.

Let’s talk about this year’s Children’s Hospital of L.A. Junior Ambassador Action Day.

It’s one day set aside where every dollar donated to the hospital is matched. This year on Action Day, Saturday, October 6th, you can purchase copies of Shira’s books, or you can also go to the CHLA website to make a donation.

Is there a message you’d like people to take away from Shira’s work?

I’m blown away by kids and their courage, even with Shira’s book, “The Girl On The Subway”. She literally just met the girl, and when the adults saw how well they were interacting they asked her how long the two of them had been friends. Shira told them, “We just met.” Then everyone started asking each other why we can’t do this as adults. It was humbling and inspiring. We all need the ability to look each other in the eye and make the world a better place.


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Interview: Love Ghost’s Finnegan Bell and Mya Greene discuss the band’s new album, ‘Lobotomy

Love Ghost is a young, alternative rock band that’s been playing venues in and around the L.A. area for the past three years. What’s even more amazing than a few of the band members still being in high school is the fact that they’ve opened for bands like Buckcherry and Smash Mouth and were recently awarded Best Alternative Band in the 2017 Hollywood Music In Media Awards.

Love Ghost’s first full-length album, Lobotomy is a psychedelic, groove-ridden collective of songs hearkening to the days of grunge, but with a uniquely cool, twenty-first-century vibe. Songs like “This is The Truth,” “Nowhere” and “Parasitical Identity” tastefully capture the youth-ridden angst but with a fresh, deeper sense of maturity.

In addition to the new album, the band is gearing up for its next round of live dates, which includes opening for Fuel at the Canyon Club in Santa Clarita, CA on Friday, Sept. 14.

Love Ghost is Finnegan Bell (vocals/guitar), Mya Greene (viola), Ryan Stevens (bass) and Samson Young (drums).

AXS recently spoke with Bell and Greene about Lobotomy and more in this exclusive new interview.

AXS: How did Love Ghost come together?

Finnegan Bell: It actually started a few years ago. The original lineup included people I had brought together from school and from being a part of the School of Rock. Me and Mya actually met at a jam session and because our parents work in casting together.

AXS: How would you describe the sound of Love Ghost’s album, Lobotomy?

Mya Greene: There are a lot of inspirations but we’re not copycatting anyone. It has its own unique sound.

FB: It’s definitely grunge and hard rock, but there are also elements of classical, pop and even a little bit of psychedelic.

AXS: What’s your songwriting process like?

FB: For me, it usually starts with the melody, instrumentation or guitar part. Then I’ll bring it to the band, who’ll expand on it, and then I’ll write lyrics on top of it.

MG: A lot of the time what happens is that we’ll all get together and have jam sessions where song ideas will come out. Then we’ll come up with our own parts and make suggestions on each other’s parts.

AXS: Let’s discuss a few tracks from Lobotomy, starting with “This Is The Truth.”

FB: I wrote the lyrics for that one. There was a time in my life when I had reached a spiritual plateau and was numb to almost everything. That song is me trying to force myself to be able to find a direction or motivation to get out of an eternal numbness.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Love Ghost by Clicking Here!

Interview: Guitarist Craig Goldy discusses his new project, ‘Dream Child’

Dream Child is the new band founded by ex-Dio guitarist Craig Goldy that was conceived after a brainstorming session with the president of Frontiers Records. Goldy’s mission was to pay homage to two of his favorite bands, Deep Purple and Rainbow, but in a unique and ferociously cool way. Joining him in the line-up are some of rock’s most dynamic players, including Simon Wright (drums), Wayne Findlay (keyboards), Diego Valdez (vocals) and featured guest, Rudy Sarzo(bass).

Dream Child’s debut, Until Death Do We Meet Again, and songs like “Weird World,” “You Can’t Take Me Down,” “”Under The Wire,” and “One Step Beyond The Grave” succeed in conjuring up images of Goldy’s musical heroes, but it’s also an album that’s best experienced loud and with a set of headphones.

AXS recently spoke with Craig Goldy about Dream Child and more in this exclusive new interview.

AXS: How did Dream Child come about?

Craig Goldy: It actually began when I was on the phone with the president of Frontiers Records, Serafino Perugina. Deep Purple and Rainbow have always been my favorite bands. I’d been watching some of my their videos on YouTube and noticed that a lot of the comments were all the same: “They don’t make music like this anymore.” I casually mentioned that to Serafino and he said, “Well, can you?” I told him I could. Then he said, “Can you get Rudy Sarzo and Simon Wright?” I told him I could do that too and that I’d also like to have Wayne Findlay on keyboards. Then he asked me who I’d have sing.

AXS: What was your answer to him?

CG: About eight years ago, a friend of Diego Valdez sent me an mp3 of a Dio cover he did of a song me and Ronnie wrote for the Killing The Dragon album called “Push”. It was so good it was frightening. It was almost as if Ronnie had covered his own song. I remember calling Diego and telling him how great I thought he was and that someday we’d do an album together. When we lost Ronnie in 2010, I was destroyed and it took a long time for me to get the inspiration to do original music again. But I remember saying at his first public memorial that whenever I do original music again I’d like to utilize everything I learned from the master in such a way that I hope would make him proud. The mission of this album is to recapture an old era that was thought to be long gone and never return, and that’s what we did.

AXS: What was the songwriting process like for Until Death Do We Meet Again?

CG: Since I had learned Ronnie’s method on how songs, melody lines, lyrics and titles were written, I decided to utilize it. Me and Chas West wrote “Under The Wire” and “Midnight Song” together. Jeff Pilson [Foreigner] wrote the first verse of “It Is What It Is” and then I took it from there. Doogie White had written the melody line and some of the lyrics to “Until Death Do We Meet Again” and then me and Wayne took it apart and added a middle section. Simon and I were in the same room together when we did the drums. Rudy got an amazing bass tone and [co-producer] Allesandro Del Vecchio was able to make it even more aggressive. Even Diego added some different melodies that made everything better.  It was a real collaboration.

AXS: Let’s discuss a few tracks from the new album beginning with “Weird World.”

CG: I’ve always wanted to do a song like that. I had the chorus in my head for a while but it needed to be… weird! The riff for the middle section was originally the verse for the melody and lyrics of the song, “It Is What It Is.” It was a song that needed special treatment and an odd middle section.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Craig Goldy by Clicking Here!

Actress Erin Fleming Discusses Her Role in Emotionally Charged New Film, ‘Custody Road’

From the time she learned to walk, Erin Fleming knew performing would be her calling. The beautiful, multi-talented actress, producer and director certainly has a knack for creating emotionally powerful characters. A feat that’s evidenced in her new film, “Custody Road”.

In “Custody Road” Fleming plays the role of Ashley Towne; the ex-wife of a struggling, up and coming comedian named Logan (portrayed by Josh Daugherty). The film centers on the trials and tribulations of the couple as they battle in court for custody of their young son. But when Logan enlists the help of friends and goes to extremes in an attempt to get his own way, the lives of many are forever changed.

Written and directed by John Lacy, the world of “Custody Road” is best described as a hauntingly desperate landscape. A turbulent and authentically relevant story with an amazing ensemble cast and an insatiable “Sleeping With The Enemy” vibe. Fleming’s performance is particularly appealing, as she channels her own personal struggles into creating an emotionally flawed character that resonates with audiences.

I recently spoke with Erin Fleming about her role in “Custody Road” and more in this exclusive new interview.

How did you become involved in “Custody Road”?

My very good friend and co-star, Frank Crim (who plays Otis in the film), called me up one day and told me about a role he thought I’d be perfect for. He wanted to know when I’d be available to meet the director, John Lacy. So, John and I met and history was made. I actually met Josh [Daugherty] on that same day. It was chemistry from the very start.

What was it that attracted you to the project?

The character of Ashley relates to many women who’ve gone through trauma in their lives. She’s someone who’s gone through a difficult lifestyle with her mother and father; surviving an abusive husband, and then having her husband continue to bully her after the divorce. Those kind of things are what a lot of women have to face daily, and most of their stories are never told. I was so happy to see that John was willing to explore such a powerful story. It’s something we really need more of.

As an actress, is there a certain mindset you have to get in to take on such a role?

We all have our own personal traumas we go through, so exploring my own world and the things I’ve had to deal with was a major factor in getting into the character. I also had an abusive boyfriend for years and so, for me, it was instantly personal.

Erin Fleming – Custody Road

How would you describe the story of “Custody Road”?

It’s a story about two broken people really struggling within themselves and over the custody of their son, and the journey of figuring out how to heal.

What else can you tell me about your character, Ashley?

Ashley comes from a really dysfunctional family. One that was always hiding behind the false pretenses of religion. She’s desperately trying to break free of that world and uses her body and herself to find a connection she never had with her personal life. She’s trying to pursue her own salvation like so many humans do in life. But we sometimes hurt each other along the way, when all we’re really trying to do is help ourselves.

Click here to watch the trailer for Custody Road.

What was the filming process like?

It was such a fun journey to meet these people and become a big family. I really enjoy working with directors with a pro attitude and John’s technique is fantastic. Being that he also comes from the acting world made it that much better. The chemistry between Josh and I was spontaneous and wonderful. We really understood each other well. It was fun, and terrifying, to explore the lives we were creating. I’ve also been wanting to work with Frank Crim for years. The entire cast was so talented and the set was really special. It was amazing all around.

Was a career in entertainment something you always knew would be your calling?

I’ve wanted to act ever since my body and brain could communicate with the world. Everything was art to me. My dad is an actor and my mom is a makeup artist. Dancing and acting is what fed my soul. I started acting professionally when I was five with the Seattle Children’s Theatre and then with Seattle Repertory Theatre. From there, I traveled in a show in San Diego when I was seventeen and when I was finished with the show, I moved to L.A.

Do you ever foresee yourself getting on the other side of the camera at some point – either as a writer, producer or director?

I started my own company, Shakespeare In The Sphere, in 2015 with Tony Williams and Don Purnell. We produce film, television pilots and 360 degree educational and behind the scenes entertainment. I also direct many of the projects. The learning curve is interesting to me and fascinating.

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

Right now, I’m producing a TV pilot that has some seriously amazing talent attached. I’m in the cast as well and it’s very exciting. I have to leave it at that for now but stay tuned!

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

I’m looking forward to the next creative journey. I love what I do and am so blessed with my strength and hardworking ability as a woman. “Custody Road” is such an amazing film that really speaks to the human experience. I’m ready for whatever comes next.

Interview: Singer-songwriter Joey Sykes discusses his new project, Honey River

Inspired by his love of California rock and frequent songwriting trips to Nashville, singer-songwriter, and Babysguitarist, Joey Sykes has formed a new project, Honey River. A trio that blends the influence of country-rock artists like the Eagles, Tom Petty and Jackson Browne with well-crafted lyrics and insatiable melodies.

Joined by Jay Mags (vocals/bass/guitar) and Chris Vincent (guitars/vocals/dobro/mandolin), Sykes and Honey River have recently released their first single and video, “Peace, Love”. An infectiously harmonic track that calls for a simpler time in an ever-changing and volatile world.

AXS recently spoke with Joey Sykes about Honey River and their forthcoming album, I Miss America, songwriting and more in this exclusive new interview.

AXS: How did your new project, Honey River, come about?

Joey Sykes: I’ve been going to Nashville for the last twelve years and have written with some of the most amazing writers. During this time, I’ve been piling up a lot of really great songs and was disappointed that they weren’t getting their due. I’ve always been a fan of the Southern California and country-rock genres and it inspired me to go for it. I pulled in a few great drummers on the album, including Steve Ferrone (Tom Petty). I wanted to make the record I wanted to make and I’m really proud of it.

AXS: How would you describe the music of Honey River?

JS: First and foremost, it’s always about the song. The eleven songs on this record are very strong, both lyrically and melodically. As far as a sound, Americana and country rock are good ways to describe it. There are country elements in the lyric writing and harmonies, but it also has the Tom Petty, Jackson Browne and Eagles kind of rock.

AXS: What was the songwriting process like?

JS: Whenever I get in a room with someone, I’ll usually be the one to throw out the musical idea and melody. But the thing that’s great about working with Nashville lyric writers is that they’re able to dig in and craft a really clean story. I just love that. That’s what I learned on for the bulk of this album.

AXS: Let’s discuss a few tracks from the new album, beginning with “Peace, Love”.

JS: That was a song I wrote myself. The world seems to be at a crossroad right now. I’m not a news junkie but it always seems to be in your face. “Peace, Love” is really just a simple summary. Is it too much to ask to just live our lives, have a laugh here and there and have peace? To just be happy with whatever you are whatever level you’re at? It’s a simple thought but that’s what the song is about. It’s a very timely message.

AXS: How about the track, “I Miss America”?

JS: We’re shooting a video for that one right now. Anyone who sees the title might think its political but it’s not. It’s basically just me writing about what I miss about growing up and what America meant to me as a kid. Simpler things once again. It’s about the things you have growing up that, as you get a little older, don’t seem to be as readily available as they were when you were younger.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Joey Sykes by Clicking Here!

Dispatch Guitarist Chad Stokes Discusses the Band’s New Album, ‘Location 13’

Photo: Allen Ralph

Following the success of their first album in five years, America, Location 12, Dispatch—along with producer John Dragonetti and engineer Mike Sawitzke—went back to the studio to wrap up some recording they didn’t finish the first time around.

The result is Location 13, a collection of material the band has been steadily releasing, one song at a time, every few weeks throughout the summer and will culminate as an album after the last song is released.

The new album finds the band continuing to push boundaries and break new ground. With honest, emotional storytelling and an eclectic sound that infuses the best elements of rock, Americana and folk, Dispatch are entering a new era with the passion and vigor of a band in its infancy and the experience of one that’s been together for more than twenty years.

Guitar World recently sat down with Chad Stokes, the band’s guitarist, to talk about Location 13, gear and more in this new interview.

How does the music on Location 13 compare to some of the band’s previous work?

This album came on the heels of America, Location 12. I see them both as siblings to each other, but this one is a bit darker and a little heavier. The songs we’ve written over these last two years feel more cohesive compared to our recording and writing processes of years gone by.

What was the writing process like?

For me, it usually starts with just messing around with a melody line on a guitar. If it sticks with you as the days go by, then you start fleshing it out. As you start working on it more you begin to see if the song is showing up. Sometimes, you feel like you may be walking through mud, but if you keep walking you get that little extra thing that tells you the song is worth finishing and sharing with the guys.

Let’s discuss a few tracks from Location 13, beginning with “Letter To Lady J.”

That song started right around the time when Eric Garner was killed by police in New York. It was preceded by Trayvon Martin and followed by Michael Brown and Tamir Rice. I’m not anti-police at all and have great friends in the field, but there is a racial problem we have in this country with authority, profiling, fear and accountability. The chorus is vague enough to be about justice, but for me the genesis of the song came from police brutality and the overuse of violence and lack of accountability.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Chad Stokes by Clicking Here!