New England to receive Legend Award

New England
New England

New England will receive the Legend Award at this year’s seventh annual Limelight Magazine Music Awards ceremony that will take place at the Spire Center for Performing Arts in Plymouth, Mass, on Saturday, March 21, 2015.

Hailing from Boston, Mass., New England is a four-piece rock band that features John Fannon (guitar and vocals), Hirsh Gardner (drums and vocals), Gary Shea (bass), and Jimmy Waldo (keyboards and vocals). The band broke out of the local music scene in 1979 with the release of their self-titled debut album, New England, on Infinity/MCA Records. It was produced by Mike Stone and Paul Stanley of KISS and contained the Top 40 single “Don’t Ever Wanna Lose Ya.”

After touring extensively throughout most of 1979, they released their second album Explorer Suite in 1980 and their third album Waking Wild in 1981. The band also spent a lot of time on the road, touring with bands such as AC/DC, Journey, Kiss, Rush, among others. They eventually broke up due to a lack of support from their record label.

While New England reunited for a few short sets since then, they performed their first full length concert since 1983 at the Regent Theatre in Arlington, Mass., on August 15, 2014. They are now gearing up for the release of their first new album in over 30 years and are ready to start a new chapter in their career.

“We’re really excited to present this special award to New England this year,” said Jay Kenney, who co-founded Limelight Magazine in October 2006. “I had the opportunity to see New England perform live at their reunion concert last summer. People came from all over the United States and the rest of the world to see them. They are a talented band who will finally be recognized for their stellar musicianship and great songwriting skills.”

The Legend Award is presented annually to a band or musician from New England who has been around for at least 25 years and is still going strong today. Past recipients of this award include Extreme (2014), BOSTON (2013), The Fools (2012) and MASS (2011).

The Limelight Magazine Music Awards honors bands and musicians from New England who were selected by readers of the magazine in an online poll. This year’s event will be hosted by singer-songwriter Ashley Jordan, of Harvard, Mass. Performers scheduled to appear include Blue Cat Groove, Cardboard Ox, Cold Engines, Christa Gniadek, Jenna Lotti, Most Dangerous Men Alive, Seth Newton and Ilene Springer.

The Spire Center for Performing Arts is located at 25 ½ Court Street in Plymouth. The venue has a full bar and homemade goodies will be available for sale.

Tickets for the awards show are $10.50 in advance and $13 day of show. They can be purchased online HERE.

Robin Lane to receive Unsung Hero award

Robin Lane
Robin Lane

Singer-songwriter Robin Lane will receive the Unsung Hero Award at this year’s seventh annual Limelight Magazine Music Awards ceremony that will take place at the Spire Center for Performing Arts in Plymouth, MA, on March 21st.

Lane began her musical career singing with Neil Young on his Everybody Knows This is Nowhere album. After relocating to Cambridge, Mass., in the ‘70s, she went on to form her renowned band Robin Lane & The Chartbusters, whose hit single “When Things Go Wrong” was the eleventh video broadcast on the debut day of MTV.

After releasing two more albums (5 Live and Imitation Life), Lane disbanded her group to focus on raising her child. In 2001, she moved to Western Massachusetts and began working with women who had survived sexual assault, domestic violence, child abuse, and trafficking. As a survivor of domestic violence as a child and adult, Lane eventually founded Songbird Sings – a non-profit organization dedicated to helping survivors of abuse through the use of songwriting as a therapeutic tool.

“The songs written in our programs help women and girls find their voices, bringing their stories to light so that healing can occur,” said Lane in a statement on her organization’s website. “This opportunity to tell their stories to witnesses with similar experiences becomes a cathartic jumping-off point; a validating first step in the transformation of many lives. Songbird Sings exists to help break the silence abuse hides behind so that one day we can live in a world free of violence.”

Furthermore, Lane has been a presenter at conferences, universities, corporations, prisons, and private events throughout the country. She is involved with the Foundation to be Named Later and Hot Stove Cool Music, helping to raise funds for the Red Sox charitable roster.

A recipient of the E-chievement award from E-town Radio and The Ripple Effect Award from the Women’s Fund of Western MA, Lane has also compiled a CD entitled A Woman’s Voice from over 100 songs written by women in her A Woman’s Voice program.

The Unsung Hero award is given to a musician from New England who has made a significant contribution to the lives of others without asking for anything in return. Lane is the third recipient of this award. It was presented to Lisa Guyer in 2013 and Ayla Brown in 2014.

“Each year we always pick an influential musician who gives generously of his or her time for our Unsung Hero award and this year isn’t any different,” said Katie Botelho, co-owner of Limelight Magazine. “It’s an honor to present this award to Robin and we’re excited that she’ll be attending the ceremony to accept it.”

The Limelight Magazine Music Awards honors bands and musicians from New England who were selected by readers of the magazine in an online poll. This year’s event will be hosted by singer-songwriter Ashley Jordan, of Harvard, Mass. Performers scheduled to appear include Blue Cat Groove, Cardboard Ox, Cold Engines, Christa Gniadek, Jenna Lotti, Most Dangerous Men Alive, Seth Newton and Ilene Springer.

Sponsors for this year’s event include Cannery Music Hall, Carmela’s Restaurant, Mamma Mia’s Restaurant, Rok Pix by Kristen Pierson, and Tiny & Son’s Auto Glass Repair.

The Spire Center for Performing Arts is located at 25 ½ Court Street in Plymouth. The venue has a full bar and homemade goodies will be available for sale.

Tickets for the awards show are $10.50 in advance and $13 day of show. They can be purchased online by clicking HERE.

Editor’s Note: Robin Lane will appear on “Twilight Showcase Radio” on 95.9 WATD-FM at 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 8, to discuss her music career and work with Songbird Sings. “Twilight Showcase Radio” is hosted by singer/songwriters Sandy Streid and Keith James. Tune in live or listen online at http://www.959watd.com.

Meytal Cohen: Versatile drummer and YouTube sensation blazes her own path

Meytal Cohen
Meytal Cohen

Born and raised in Israel and the youngest of seven children, Meytal Cohen started playing drums at age 18. After serving a mandatory two year stint in the Israeli Defense Force, Cohen relocated to Los Angeles to pursue a drumming career. She enrolled in the Los Angeles Music Academy and graduated with a degree.

It wasn’t easy at first, but Cohen caught her first big break when she and some of her friends filmed an audition video for America’s Got Talent of an electric string rendition of System of a Down’s “Toxicity.” The show didn’t think much of them, but the video went on to become a viral hit with almost 10 million views. As a result, she decided to continue uploading YouTube videos of her doing cover songs and her viewership has grown to over 120,000,000 views, with over 1,000,000 likes on Facebook.

Last December, Cohen headlined a sold out performance at the Whiskey a Go Go in Los Angeles and is embarking on a two-date East Coast tour that will hit Brighton Music Hall in Brighton, Mass., on March 24, 2015. At this show, she will play a mix of songs from her upcoming studio album of original tunes and covers that her fans have grown to know and love.

We recently caught up with Cohen who graciously answered our questions for this interview.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE (LM): You were born and raised in Israel, graduating with a theater major from Blich High School and serving for two years in the Israel Defense Force, before relocating to Los Angeles and enrolling in the Los Angeles Music Academy to focus on drumming. Why did you eventually decide to play the drums and relocate to Los Angeles?
METYAL COHEN: I remember being drawn to drums from a young age, and even asking my mom if I could have a drum set. But she said no, and put me in the tap dancing class instead (I actually really liked it, it’s kind of similar to drumming in a way) Then, later on, in high school, I got into metal music and that really sparked my interest in drums again, as they’re so prominent in that style of music. So, I decided I was going to get a drum set and take lessons, even though my mom was still against it. I got a really shitty job till I was able to buy my first drum set and started taking drum lessons. My teacher at the time was a graduate from a music school in L.A. so I assume that’s how I got the idea in my head. When I eventually decided to go for it, I wasn’t playing for very long, but felt it was now or never type of thing. I was just released from the Israeli Defense Force and was supposed to go to med school, but then changed my plans and decided to relocate to Los Angeles and try to become a professional drummer. I figured I can always go study in a year or two if it didn’t work out. Of course, it didn’t work out in a year or two. It took way longer, but I just kept hoping and trying different ways to make it work. I really didn’t want to go to med school. It was really my mom that wanted that.
LM: The Los Angeles Music Academy has world class drum instructors on their staff. How did your time there help you as a musician?
COHEN: Since I wasn’t playing for very long when I enrolled at the L.A. Music Academy, I feel that I wasn’t really able to make the best of it. The true school for me was covering my favorite songs. I would pick songs that were way harder than what I was capable of playing, and worked my way into being able to play them. That helped me develop my ears as well as my technique.
LM: Since attending the Los Angeles Music Academy, you’ve made a name for yourself. What advice would you give to aspiring female musicians, especially those that want to pursue drumming as a career?
COHEN: Follow your heart, learn from but don’t compare yourself to other drummers, have patience, and remember there are no rules for how your success will come.
LM: Your website contains a number of videos of you playing cover songs, including songs by Dream Theater, Rush, System of a Down and Tool. You’ve obviously invested a lot of time into your online videos and you’ve reached a jaw dropping number of views. What made you decide to start making drum videos? Did you expect them to become so popular online?
COHEN: Me and some friends shot an audition video to America’s Got Talent of an electric string rendition of System of a Down’s “Toxicity.” The show didn’t think much of us, but the video went on to become a viral hit (almost 10 million views now). I was getting a lot of requests from people for more videos and I was practicing a few songs at the time already. So, I decided to shoot those covers, just by myself, as the girls at the time were busy with other projects. The response was pretty amazing. I have to give a lot of the credit to my boyfriend, Lior, who at the time was shooting the videos and editing them. He saw the amazing potential and really encouraged me to shoot more video. We decided to shoot 100 drum covers and see what happens as a result. I personally never imagined that I would gain so much support and feel incredibly fortunate.
LM: Most of your drum covers are of metal, hard rock or progressive rock bands. What draws you to this type of music? How do you go about selecting a song to cover?
COHEN: I was introduced to metal music through my first boyfriend when I was about 17. He gave me a mix tape and it had Pantera, Korn, Deftones, Metallica and some other amazing bands. I totally got into it and the best thing about it was the drumming. The songs I cover are a mix of my favorite songs and songs people request.
LM: In some of your videos you are playing barefoot. Do you have a preference? Does it make a difference either way?
COHEN: Lately, I’ve come to the realization that I have way more power with shoes on. My opinion already changed several times since I started playing. Both work!
LM: Who are some of your biggest musical influences?
COHEN: Tool would have to be my biggest influence. I love everything about that band. Danny Carey’s drum patterns, Maynard’s vocals, lyrics that make you feel, and melodies that are not that complicated and yet brilliant.
LM: Given your strong following online, have your considered offering drum lessons online or even becoming a drum instructor someday?
COHEN: No, I don’t think I’m the greatest teacher. Doing something and explaining how you do it are two very different things.
LM: You played a sold out show at the Whiskey a Go Go in December. How did that show go? What was the audience reaction like to your set?
COHEN: I was really nervous about that show, but it went great and it was amazing to meet everyone that’s been following and supporting me for so long. The response was overwhelmingly positive and so many good things have happened as a result. I was able to sign with a really good management and booking agencies, here in the U.S. and in Europe, and I was also offered two headlining shows in New York and in Boston this coming March. You should come out!
LM: How much time do you spend rehearsing for a show with your band?
COHEN: For this first show we did, I was practicing like a mad woman because I was so nervous, as it was the first time I played live since I made YouTube my home-base. As a band, we rehearsed for two weeks. My singer lives in Ohio and my guitarist lives in Salt Lake City, which makes practicing very expensive. For these next shows, we’ll probably only rehearse together once or twice before the show.
LM: For your show at Brighton Music Hall in Brighton, MA, on March 24, will you be playing your own songs, covers or both?
COHEN: We’ll be playing songs from my soon-to-be released album. I’ve posted a few of my original songs on my Facebook page already, and the response has been amazing with over 10,000 likes within the first day. We’ll definitely play a couple of covers too, after all that’s how it all began!
LM: Do you already have a band in place for this show? If so, who will be performing with you on stage?
COHEN: I’ve been so fortunate to collaborate with some amazingly talented musicians. My singer, Eric Emery, has the most amazing vocal range I’ve ever heard. My lead guitarist, Travis Montgomery, is like a machine with feel; my second guitarist, Doc Coyle, of God Forbid, needs no introduction, and my awesome bassist Anel Pedrero.
LM: Given your versatility as a drummer, I would think you’d be in demand from other musicians. Are you open to collaborating with other musicians?
COHEN: I’m always open for new and exciting opportunities!
LM: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
COHEN: Thank you so much for this interview!

http://www.meytalcohen.com
http://www.facebook.com/meyta1cohen
http://www.witter.com/meyta1cohen

‘Falcon Crest’ filming locations

Falcon Crest is an American television show that aired on CBS for nine seasons from December 4, 1981, to May 17, 1990. It aired after Dallas at 10 p.m. on Friday nights for most of its run and a total of 227 episodes were produced. It was a top 30 show for its first six seasons, reaching a peak of #7 during its third season (1983-1984). On a recent trip to Napa Valley, I couldn’t resist taking screen shots from the DVDs of the first two seasons and finding the actual filming locations to see what they looked like today. Unfortunately, I was unable to get any photos at the Spring Mountain Winery which served as the exterior of the estate of Angela Channing (portrayed by the late Jane Wyman).

IMG_2327A - Falcon CrestB - Falcon CrestC - Falcon CrestD - Falcon CrestE - Falcon CrestF - Falcon CrestG - Falcon CrestH - Falcon CrestI - Falcon CrestJ - Falcon CrestK - Falcon Crest

 

 

Nominees revealed for 7th annual music awards

We are pleased to announce the nominees for this year’s 7th Annual Limelight Magazine Music Awards. Like prior years, the nominating process was completely fan driven, with the exception of “Song of the Year” which was nominated by four radio DJs (Steve Scarpetti, John Shea, Lori Welch and Cat Wilson) who support the local music scene. In addition, the Legend and Unsung Hero awards were selected by the co-owners of Limelight and will be announced at a later date.

Over the past two weeks, we solicited nominations for each category. The top eight artists who received the most nominations were placed in them. Anyone who won an award in a specific category last year is ineligible to be nominated for that same award this year, unless it’s for new music being released (such as a song, album, or video). Public voting begins today and lasts until 11:59 PM on Friday, Feb. 6.

An all-ages awards ceremony will be held at Spire Center for Performing Arts in Plymouth, Mass., on Saturday, March 21, 2015, at 7 p.m., where the winners will be revealed. Advanced tickets can be purchased online HERE. Tickets will also be available at the door on the day of show.

Like last year, eight artists will be randomly selected from all the nominees and asked to perform at the awards show. Performing at the ceremony does not mean that artist has won an award.

We’d like to acknowledge the generosity of the following businesses for sponsoring this year’s awards show: Cannery Music Hall, Carmela’s Restaurant, Mamma Mia’s Restaurant, Rok Pix by Kristen Pierson, and Tiny & Son’s Auto Glass Repair.

If you have any questions, many of them will likely be answered at this link: http://limelightmagazine.com/music-awards/faq. Please take the time to read this before contacting us.

Check out the list of nominees below and be sure to vote in our poll HERE. (Please note that while the poll will let you vote as many times as you want, only four votes are counted for each I.P. address per day).

Young Performer of the Year
As We Know It
Black Diamonds
Dogtown
Coda Sky
Conundrum Nine
Joey Grieve
Emily Hodges
Aaron Norcross, Jr.

Tribute Band of the Year
Beatles for Sale – Tribute to The Beatles
Bikini Whale – Tribute to B52s
Gun Powder Gelatine: Tribute to Queen
Let It Bleed – Tribute to The Rolling Stones
Pretendica – A Tribute to The Pretenders & Elastica
Stormbringer – Tribute to early Deep Purple
Welcome to the Jungle – Tribute to Guns N Roses
Young Rust – Tribute to Neil Young

Metal Act of the Year
Absense of Despair
All For Blood
Along Came the Flood
False Images
On Your Deathbed
Protean Collective
Revisions
Without Warning

Country Artist of the Year
Kate Cameron
Matt Casey
Ben Cesare
Brianna Grace
Alec MacGillivray
Katie Perkins
Mariah Rose
Shana Stack Band

New Artist of the Year
Angry Ginger
Cardboard Ox
Cold Engines
Dionysus Park Ranger
The Dust Ruffles
Jones River Band
Shell Shock
Wild Surfaces

Live Act of the Year
The Copacetics
Mindset X
The Quins
Sidewalk Driver
The Sleepeaters
Smith & Weeden
Marianne Toilet and The Runs
21st Century Fugitives

Singer-Songwriter of the Year
Emily Correia
Amy Fairchild
Jeff Gobush
Jake Hill
Leighann Alexandra Hodgkins
Esmeree Skye
Monica Rizzio
Jennifer Teft

Song of the Year
Bim Skala Bim – “Buses, Boats. Plabes, Trains & Taxis”
Crooked Coast – “Loose Tooth”
Christa Gniadek – “You”
Jenna Lotti – “Medicine”
The October Accord – “Better Off Without You”
Hayley Sabella – “February”
Sex Coffee – “What It Takes”
We Own Land – “Life”

Female Vocalist of the Year
Petrina Foley
Jen Kearney
Jenna Lotti
Molly Pinto Madigan
Alissa Musto
Bethany Pierce
Ilene Springer
Lisa Yves

Male Vocalist of the Year
Walter Barlow
Paul Horton
Joe Macey
Bruce Macksoud
Seth Newton
Michael Spaulding
Carlin Tripp
Mark Whitaker

Album of the Year (Group)
Bees Deluxe – Trouble In Paradise
Blocks of Seven – Outta Nowhere
Haunt the House – Jack Rabbit Jones
Dan Lawson Band – Soldiers of Fortune
Rula Bula – Townies
Erin Harpe & The Delta Swingers – Love Whip Blues
The Quins – A Tale of Love and Evil
We Were Astronauts – Artificial Light

Album of the Year (Solo)
Krista Baroni – The Alabaster Girl
Susan Cattaneo – Haunted Heart
Mark Erelli – Milltowns
Jane Fallon – Tangled in a Tree
Dan Masterson – Learn To Live
My Silent Bravery (Matthew Wade) – Diamond From Coal
Jeff Root – The Pig in the Python
Carlin Tripp – Back To The Soil

Video of the Year (Group)
Aurora – “Changing Winds”
Parsonsfield — “Let The Mermaids Flirt With Me”
A Simple Complex – “Felo-de-se”
Singlecast – “Running to You”
Special Guests – “What You Do To Me”
Trophy Wives – “I’m Gonna Make You Famous”
War Games – “Mountains (Acoustic)”
Weld Square – “Rip That Sucker Off”

Video of the Year (Solo)
Boston Catalano – “Stronger”
Sam Chase – “Nebraska”
Jessie Chris – “Chameleon”
Munk Duane -“Some Rivers”
Jenna Lotti – “Red Line Love”
Jilly Martin – “Kiss Somebody Tonight”
Joe Merrick – “Kiss Me Like It’s New Year’s Eve”
Andrew Smith – “Pop”

Band of the Year
Blue Cat Groove
Closer Than We Appear
Didn’t Planet
Elephants of Scotland
The House on Cliff
Karma and the Truth
Most Dangerous Men Alive
The October Accord

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Frequently asked questions about Limelight Music Awards

Limelight Magazine is committed to supporting the local music scene of New England with its annual music awards ceremony which is held in the late winter or early spring. Each year dozens of musicians are recognized for their immense creativity and talent. Please read over these frequently asked questions before contacting us with your own.

When and where is the 2015 Limelight Magazine Music Awards?
The 7th Annual Limelight Magazine Music Awards will be held at the Spire Center for Performing Arts, located at 25 ½ Court Street in Plymouth, MA, on Saturday, March 21, 2014, at 7 PM.

How long does the ceremony typically last?
The ceremony typically runs between three and four hours.

Is it all ages?
The Limelight Magazine Music Awards is an all-ages event.

Is there beer and wine?
Beer and wine is available for purchase at The Spire.

Is there food?
Light refreshments will be available for purchase.

Is parking free?
Parking is free across the street from the venue.

How much are tickets?
Tickets are $10.50 in advance and $13 day of show. Please visit brownpapertickets.com or spirecenter.org to purchase them.

How does a musician get nominated?
The nominating process is completely fan driven, with the exception of “Song of the Year” which is nominated by radio DJs who support the local music scene. For two weeks in mid-January, we solicit nominations each day for a specific category. Nominations can be e-mailed to limelightmusicawards@gmail.com. The top eight musicians for each category are placed on the ballot for public voting. Please like our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/limelightmagazine to stay up-to-date. Due to the high volume of nominations we receive, all nominations must be in the subject of the e-mail. Only one nomination per e-mail.

What are the categories for the Limelight Magazine Music Awards?
The categories generally stay the same each year, but we are open to adding new ones. The categories for 2015 are: Album of the Year (Group), Album of the Year (Solo), Band of the Year, Country Artist of the Year, Female Vocalist of the Year, Live Act of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year, Metal Act of the Year, New Artist of the Year, Progressive Rock Act of the Year (NEW), Singer-Songwriter of the Year, Song of the Year, Tribute Band of the Year, Video of the Year (Group), Video of the Year (solo), and Young Performer of the Year.

The following special awards are also presented: Legend Award (given to an artist from New England who has been around for at least 25 years and is going strong today) and Unsung Hero Award (given to a musician from New England who made a contribution in the lives of others without asking for anything in return). These are decided by the staff of Limelight Magazine.

Are there any restrictions on who can be nominated?
Anyone one who has received an award in a specific category last year is ineligible to be nominated for that same award this year, unless it is for new music. For example, the act who won Tribute Band of the Year in 2013 is ineligible to receive that award in 2014. However, the group who won Album of the Year in 2013 is eligible to be nominated in 2014 if they have a new studio album out. (Runner ups can be nominated since they didn’t win).

Will I be notified of my nomination?
You will be contacted by Limelight Magazine either by e-mail or through Facebook before public voting begins.

When does public voting begin and end?
Public voting runs for one week. It begins on Saturday, January 31, at noon and ends on Friday, February 6, at 11:45 PM.

I’ve been nominated for an award, can I perform at the awards ceremony?
Eight artists will be randomly selected from all the nominees and asked to perform at the awards show.

I’ve been selected to perform, does this mean I’ve won an award?
Once again, you’ve been randomly selected to perform. This does not mean that you’ve won an award.

Do nominees have to pay for tickets?
Unfortunately, we have to charge everyone who attends, except the musicians who are performing at the awards ceremony. It is our hope to one day get enough sponsors to cover our overhead costs but that hasn’t happened as of yet. All proceeds from the awards show go toward our efforts to support and promote the local music scene in New England.

Are the musicians who’ve won an award told beforehand?
No. The winners are only announced at the awards ceremony, with the exception of the special award (i.e. Legend, Unsung Hero) recipients.

I have a gig or another commitment on the night of the music awards, can you please tell me if I’ve won?
No. Unfortunately, secrets are never kept and we abide by our own rules. If you cannot attend and no one can accept on your behalf, we will notify you on the following day and your award can be picked up at a mutually agreeable location.

How can my business sponsor the Limelight Magazine Music Awards?
We offer two affordable sponsorship packages that range from $150 to $250. Here’s how your business will be showcased through your generous sponsorship.

Package #1: $150
• Your business will be featured on the online poll. We’re once again expecting over 40,000 votes.
• Your logo (or business name) will be placed on all promo materials for the music awards, including posters, flyers and web-based ads.
• Your logo (or business name) will be placed in the program for the event.
• At least one mention per week until the music awards on our Facebook pages. We reach over 5,000 people.

Package #2: $250
• All of the above, plus:
• A clickable sidebar ad on our website, limelightmagazine.com, that will run until June 30, 2015. Our website typically gets over 3,500 unique visitors per week.
• One ad in our monthly e-blast that is sent to nearly 15,000 people to promote our upcoming events. Our open rate is between 50 and 57 percent and our list keeps growing.

If you are interested in a sponsorship, please contact our publisher, JKB Entertainment Group, by e-mail at jkbbooking@gmail.com by January 28, 2015.

Jake Hill and Hayley Sabella join forces as Billington Sea

Billington Sea (Photo by Allison DiMaggio)
Billington Sea (Photo by Allison DiMaggio)

Hailing from Plymouth, Mass., critically acclaimed singer-songwriters Jake Hill and Hayley Sabella have joined forces on a new project called Billington Sea. The duo recently recorded a self-titled E.P. that draws from the sensible musicality of Sabella threaded with the raw lyrical style of songwriting storyteller Hill. Swooning and introspective, the twosome use thoughtful wordplay, mindful, panoramic imagery and nostalgic folk melodies to comment on the good and evil of the eternal human condition. Seamlessly melded vocals evoke the feeling of eras past while crafting it together with memorable stories of the modern age. The duo have a CD release party for their premiere album on Saturday, January 31, at 8 p.m. at the Spire Center for Performing Arts, located at 25 ½ Court Street in Plymouth, with Cape Cod singer-songwriter, Monica Rizzio, opening the show. We recently caught up with Hill and Sabella to discuss their exciting new project.

Limelight Magazine (LM): You’re both established musicians on the South Shore, why did you decide to collaborate and form Billington Sea?
Hayley Sabella (Sabella): Cause it’s fun! We have good creative chemistry and have helped each other develop as writers. “Iron sharpens iron” is the metaphor I like to use for it.
Jake Hill (Hill): We decided we should write together because we live about 10 minutes away from one another. And, once I heard her Farm Fingers EP, I knew she had the same sickness that I have, and that is the unbreakable bond to the language and music.

LM: Why did you decide to name yourselves Billington Sea?
Sabella: Being Plymouth natives who spend a lot of time outside (I’m a farmer, Jake’s big into fishing) we looked at local pond names for inspiration. Originally we just liked the ring of the name, but finding out the story behind its namesake won us over.
Hill: You have to name the band something, or else you will be stuck with an acronym or something cheesy.

LM: In a press release, your music is described as “a spellbinding blend of rootsy folk with country undertones.” Can you elaborate on this?
Sabella: We found that once we hit the studio, the songs developed pretty effortlessly and the collection of songs took on its own distinctive sound. As an individual writer, I tend to be a bit unfocused and enamored by all kinds of possibilities, so I was intrigued by the fact that the Billington Sea songs fit so naturally within the parameters of what people classify as “folk” music. It’s relaxing to be a part of something that has an easy identity. (Not that the identity matters a whole lot). But the instrumentation and production styles support what people think of as a folk/country genre—upright bass, country shuffle percussion, finger-style picking, simple but polished.
Hill: I’m not sure why people need to describe music at all, but it needs to be done I guess. Hayley’s a much better guitar player than I am, so anything that is described musically is her fault. We’re folk singers. We both are obsessed with the artistic side of rap music. We’re totally weirdos. I’m surprised we made anything palatable at all.

LM: How long did it take to record your debut EP? Can you discuss your songwriting process?
Sabella: We were in the studio for four days total, but there was careful pre- and post-production that really made the outcome something we’re proud to share, even with a limited amount of time. The songwriting process all happens in the music room at Jake’s residence. I don’t want to unveil the creative process entirely because I hear its bad luck. But there’s usually a healthy combination of unfocused play and hyper-focused, nitty-gritty, “that song will be finished today” style writing. I will say that while we each do both, I tend to have a more musical approach, and Jake tends to come at songs from a literary perspective.
Hill: We were prepared, we were professional (kind of), and we were in amazing hands at the Anchour Studio. I wish we could have done seven more songs, but alas the cost of making professional records is a serious investment, and in this economy, we could only do five.

LM: The album also features Cameron Lopez and Danny McKellick on percussion, Karl Anderson on keys, Mike Burd on upright bass and Josh Ray on bass guitar. Why were these musicians selected and will they be performing with you at your CD release concert at the Spire on Jan. 31st?
Sabella: These are all players who are fairly local to Anchour Studio, the place we recorded at. We selected [them] because they’re good at what they do and we knew they’d enhance the project. They won’t make it for the CD release. Jake’s Deep Creek band will be backing us.
Hill: It was amazing to work with all those cats. Mike Burd is in my opinion the best roots/folk bassman to ever live. Having him in the studio was a treat. He’s been playing with David Mallett for like 30-something years and those records have shaped me as a writer and a singer. Also, Karl and Josh were amazing producers [who have] wonderful execution and beautiful ideas. Cameron Lopez was a hot shot too. Like a drum machine, that new a little Spanish….My boys will be backing us. They’re amazing. Some of the best musicians I’ve ever been around.

LM: Speaking of your CD release concert, what can your fans expect at this show?
Sabella: A grand ol’ time! A sprinkle of songs, new and old, combined with a big heaping pile of goofing off. We like to entertain ourselves with good banter, and hope it entertains the audience too.
Hill: They can expect the best show that either of us has ever performed. Maybe even a headstand.

LM: Monica Rizzio is opening the show. She’s also built a loyal following throughout the region, especially Cape Cod. For people coming to your show who may not know her, why was she selected to open the show and what does she add to the bill?
Sabella: Monica is super talented and a good friend of ours. We thought her style and personality would fit the vibe.
Hill: Monica is a doll. She does amazing things in the musical community, especially on the Cape, and is revered for her fiddle skills and songwriting abilities. We picked her because she promised to play some fiddle with us, and because she rules.

LM: As a singer/songwriter duo, what do you admire most musically about your colleague?
Sabella: Jake is a lyrics genius. He’s studied the greats in both songwriting and literature and it shows. He has a knack for communicating layered concepts using the smallest possible words. In doing so, he’s able to stir up all kinds of feelings, but he’s never self-indulgent or gratuitous.
Hill: Hayley’s one of the best singer/songwriters I’ve ever heard. I admire everything that it has taken to become that.

LM: Do you expect this collaboration to continue into the foreseeable future?
Sabella: So long as we’re both in Plymouth writing songs, I don’t see why we’d end it. I just know we’ve stumbled upon something special that both of us have grown from and it’s hard to imagine writing a song now without at least getting Jake’s feedback.
Hill: I would assume yes. We have a wonderful time creating with one another. It is my life’s joy to make beautiful music with wonderful people.

LM: How can our readers purchase your music?
Sabella: The usual online markets (Bandcamp, iTunes, Amazon, etc.) and in person at our merchandise table.

LM: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Sabella: One of the songs on the record, “Let It Pass,” is actually also a video. We recorded the audio live, and shot the visuals at the same time. Thought that was a unique way to do things, and it’s available for a preview as of January 13th.
Hill: Viva la Billington Sea!!!

Music and entertainment coverage since October 2006!

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