Archive | January, 2012

Paul Bielatowicz: A man with diverse talents

30 Jan

By JESSICA A. BOTELHO

When he’s not playing guitar for the Carl Palmer Band or touring with Neal Morse, Paul Bielatowicz spends his time writing. In fact, he is a columnist for two British magazines, Guitar and Guitar Techniques, and has two guitar instruction books scheduled for release this year.

He said the first book charts the evolution of electric guitar playing, while providing tips on how to emulate their styles. Many of the guitarists featured are legendary artists who inspired him through the years, including Eric Clapton, Eddie Van Halen and Nuno Bettencourt. Bielatowicz shows how they influenced each other, with each chapter charting one player to the next.

“It’s kind of like a rock guitarists’ family tree,” he said. “The second book, which is coming out later in the year, is based around the same idea but uses the evolution of technique rather than style.”’

Bielatowicz, who taught guitar at Brighton Institute of Modern Music in the U.K. but gave up teaching the summer of 2010 when touring and recording began to dominate his life, dedicated the last chapter of both books to his readers, as he feels they are an additional link in the chain of guitar evolution. The point, he said, is for readers to take ideas from other guitarists and use it to create their own voice on the instrument.

Moreover, Bielatowicz also kept an online blog when The Carl Palmer Band did a U.S. tour in the summer of 2006.

“It helps me remember the experience and allows me to share a glimpse of ‘behind the scenes life’ with fans,” he said. “Two-thousand eleven was the first U.S. tour I didn’t keep a diary for, and I was surprised by how many people said they really missed it. I had no idea people had enjoyed it so much. Knowing that, I’ll definitely be doing it again.”

Bielatowicz became a member of Palmer’s band in 2003 when Palmer was on the prowl for a guitarist. Palmer asked friends for a few suggestions and guitarist Guthrie Govan recommended Bielatowicz.

But, before he hit the road with Palmer, he needed to learn guitar parts that were contrived from Keith Emerson’s keyboard arrangements, as much of the music was recreations of Emerson, Lake and Palmer material. Palmer gave him copies of the band’s live CDs and a three-month learning process began.

“It was probably the most intense study period I’ve ever had,” Bielatowicz said. “I remember transcribing stuff on Christmas day – that’s how much the pressure was on. Since then, I’ve done all the arranging of new tunes myself, and that’s actually been a lot easier for me because it’s meant that I’ve been able to arrange everything in a way that plays to my strengths as a guitarist. As every artist knows, that is the secret to sounding good.”

Through touring with Palmer, Bielatowicz got the opportunity to play guitar for Neal Morse, a multi-instrumentalist and progressive rock composer, who is also known for his Christian-rock background. Bielatowicz said Morse is one of his heroes and he was surprised and honored when the composer asked him to join him on tour.

“I couldn’t believe my luck,” said Bielatowicz. “Playing with him is amazing. I don’t say this lightly, but Neal is a genius. I’ve never worked with anyone like him. He just eats, sleeps and breathes music. No matter how many times I play with him, I’m always in awe.”

While Bielatowicz said he doesn’t share Morse’s faith, he respects him for it. He described Morse as one of the most “emotionally open” people he’s ever met and is impressed he is able to translate that feeling into music.

“He never holds back when he’s performing,” said Bielatowicz. “I’ve done rock festivals with him, playing to audiences of the meanest looking metal heads, and I’ve seen them reduced to tears through the music. That is really quite something. Those moments are some of the most moving I’ve ever experienced.”

When gigging with Morse, Bielatowicz said his role is very different to the role he plays with Palmer’s band. With Morse, he feels like he’s a “smaller ingredient” in a bigger recipe.

For example, on Morse’s last tour, Bielatowicz was part of an eight-piece band, which he said encourages him to play differently than he plays in Palmer’s trio.

“In Carl’s band, I’m the one playing all the melodies, as well as the harmonies, whenever possible,” he said. “A lot of the time, the challenge is to try to play as much as possible in order to fill out the sound. After all, I’m trying to replicate 10 fingers of a keyboard player. In Neal’s band, I’m trying to play as little as possible so I don’t intrude on anyone else’s sonic space.”

As if his resume isn’t impressive enough, Bielatowicz played with guitarist Les Paul, who established the development of the solid-body electric guitar in the 1940s. The two met while he was gigging in New York, as Palmer’s manager, Bruce Pilato, knew Paul and took Bielatowicz to a jazz club where Paul was performing.

“We ended up going into his dressing room before the show to meet him,” Bielatowicz said. “He was in his 90s then, but was still just as sharp and witty as anyone I’ve ever met. As soon as I met him, he told me that I was going to get up and play with him during his show. That was my introduction to New York and I’ve loved it ever since.”

Overall, Bielatowicz enjoys the East Coast. In fact, he said the highlights of last year’s U.S. tour with Palmer were at the Tupelo Music Hall in Londonderry, New Hampshire, and The Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River, Massachusetts, two shows the band set up with Limelight Magazine’s publisher, JKB Management and Booking.

“I’ve worked with literally hundreds of promoters and booking agents all over the world, but you guys on the East Coast have got something really special with JKB,” said Bielatowicz. “It’s rare I get to meet people who do such a good job and put such care, attention and love into what they do.”

Before he became a successful guitarist, Bielatowicz was interested in something entirely different: gymnastics. When he was five, he said the sport was his “obsession” and he participated in several competitions.

But, he got to a point where he was training four times a week and his body couldn’t handle the stress, as he sustained many injuries. Faced with the choice of either cutting back on training or giving up, he decided put aside gymnastics by the time he was 11, turning to guitar.

“I’d already played around on the guitar since I was seven, but it wasn’t until I gave up gymnastics that I made the conscious decision to really go for it,” Bielatowicz said. “Everyone expected me to be really upset, but instead I just threw all my energy into the guitar and never looked back.”

These days, Bielatowicz plans on writing a solo album, which will focus on playing classical pieces on guitar. He hopes the album will make them sound as if they were written for guitar, while maintaining their originality and integrity.

“I’m using a very simple gear setup-one guitar going directly into an old 70s valve amp with the gain turned down low-in order to give as much of the pure sound of the guitar as possible,” he said. “That’s as back-to-basics as you can possibly get with an electric guitar and that’s the way a classical musician would approach recording.”

He’s also thinking about having a string quartet appear on some of the pieces, yet nothing has been finalized. Further, he’s been discussing different options with a producer.

When he’s not “having tea and scones,” as he resides in Brighton, England, which he described as an “amazing seaside town,” Bielatowicz likes to spend free time running along the seafront.  He said he looks forward to time alone.

“It’s just me, the wind, the sea and my iPod,” he said. “It’s great head space and gives me both a mental and physical workout. I’m not sure anybody actually enjoys the pain and discomfort of a morning run, but I find the feeling of pushing yourself on and resisting the urge to stop, fuels determination for achieving everything else in life.”

At the moment, Bielatowicz is proud to be part of Palmer’s band. He’s reveling in the thrill of it all.

“It’s a great honor,” he said. “He’s given me the opportunity to travel the world playing music, which any rock guitarist would dream of. I consider myself very lucky.”

 

Paul Bielatowicz

Jensen says success is the best revenge

13 Jan

By JESSICA A. BOTELHO

“Music is my life,” said singer/songwriter Jillian Jensen, 19, who in February is set to release a three-song demo, which she said features some of her most personal compositions.

She will also perform acoustic versions of her new material at the fifth annual Limelight Magazine Music Award Show at Firehouse 13 in Providence on March 10.

“Getting to play is so cool and I’m excited that I get to be there with a bunch of talented artists,” she said. “I like being able to listen to their stories.”

But Jensen has a story of her own to tell and said she’s thinking about releasing a single this month, “From the Outside.” The song offers an intimate glimpse of a time she was bullied at school during her younger years.

When she was in junior high, she said she witnessed a schoolmate make a “bad choice” that was harmful to him and those around him. Wanting to help, she informed school officials. Shortly after, prank phone calls, cyber bullying and verbal harassment ensued.

“I was tortured and called, ‘tattletale,’ and ‘snitch,’”  Jensen said. “I was so confused and used to cry myself to sleep. I didn’t know how to cope.”

Not wanting to worry them, Jensen didn’t tell her parents of the situation. Through it all, she said she kept a smile on her face and pretended everything was fine.

“I guess that was the pageant side of me,” said Jensen, who began competing in beauty pageants as a toddler and won the title of Little Miss Talent New England before she turned two.

Nevertheless, her parents found out about the tormenting and transferred her to another school, as they noticed their daughter was depressed and isolated. She said getting away from it helped her grow.

“I learned that you can’t stop what every one else is saying but you can change how you deal with it,” said Jensen. “Now, I’m more vocal about it.”

Because of the experience, Jensen wants to support children and teens struggling with feeling alone and under attack. Through her music and website at jillianjensen.weebly.com, she hopes to lend her wisdom on the topic to others and help them overcome the abuse, teaching them to turn negatives to positives.

“People can contact me privately so they can talk and hear firsthand from someone that’s been through it,” she said.

Oddly, Jensen said some of the people who bullied her often attempt to add her as a “friend” on Facebook and other social media networks. She simply ignores them and believes “success is the greatest revenge.”

“Instead of worrying about what people think of you, you should be thinking about how to better yourself,” said Jensen. “If you get to where you want to be it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks.”

Not only does Jensen hope to help people with her music, she also wants to entertain them. When onstage, there’s no place she’d rather be.

“I feel at home onstage and putting a smile on someone’s face keeps me going,” she said. “I want people to feel my music so much that they can’t help but smile or cry because they just get it.”

It’s no surprise Jensen is at ease when performing, as she participated in several pageants through the years and won the contest for Miss Massachusetts Teen America 2007; the South Coast Idol winner 2006; and the Burt Wood Idol in 2006 and 2004.

Additionally, she was chosen out of 3,700 applicants as one of 150 to compete in the U.S.A. Talent Show Case in Las Vegas, Nevada in 2004. There, she earned first place in acting and placed in the top 20 best performers.

These days, she no longer takes part in pageants but is grateful for the opportunity.

“I had to be very proper and meticulous and that’s exactly what I didn’t want to be,” said Jensen. “But they are awesome outlets for people to gain scholarships and make friends. I enjoyed the community service aspect of them, too.”

She also got an education in performing when at the age of 16 she auditioned for American Idol, a reality television singing show that began airing on FOX in 2002. In August, she also performed on the morning talk and variety show, ABC’s LIVE! with Regis and Kelly, as one of two backup singers for former leader of the Pussycat Dolls, Nicole Scherzinger, who serves as a judge for FOX’s X-Factor, a show similar to American Idol.

Further, Jensen learned a lot about being a team player when she sang with the Varsity Girls, a Mattapoisett-based teen girl group.

“It taught me how to give my input and how to listen to others,” she said. “Being solo, I get to do my own music and it’s a good feeling because it’s my own. I know what I was feeling when I wrote it and I don’t have to create emotion for it. Instead, it comes naturally.”

But Jensen is also sharing her musical knowledge, too, as she teaches music composition, guitar and piano. While she first picked up guitar before her second birthday, she began dabbling on piano when she was six.

“I would take anything I heard and learn it from ear,” she said. “It was something that just came naturally to me.”

Now, she also plays bass, drums, violin, saxophone and ukulele, most of which will be featured in her new music. She described her style as a mix of “everything” and is looking forward to releasing the album.

“I’m really excited about it,” said Jensen.

Jillian Jensen

Personal reflection on JKB’s first year in business

11 Jan

By Katie F. Botelho

Looking back on this past year, 2011 has been one of the greatest years of my life. I went from working part-time, not knowing what my future was going to hold after graduating, to becoming a business woman with a blink of an eye. Talk about a life changing experience. I’ve always enjoyed music, ever since I was a little child, but I never expected music would be such an important part of who I am and what I do.

Once JKB Management and Booking started, it didn’t seem real to me that I actually co-owned my own business. It only struck me when we were driving to our first show which was Uriah Heep at Tupelo Music Hall in Londonderry, NH, on June 28. The feeling was unlike anything I’ve ever felt. I actually felt important because I was doing something great with my life. Never in a million years did I think I would be working with talented artists who have been around for years and are still performing great music today. After leaving the show, I thought to myself, “wow, this is really happening.” The whole experience has been so surreal to me and I’m very fortunate to be where I am today.

Along with Uriah Heep, we also booked the Carl Palmer Band at Tupelo Music Hall (on Oct. 20) and the Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River, MA, (on Oct. 22). I must say that was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. Booking two shows back-to-back gave us the opportunity to really get to know everyone in the band and build a relationship that’s unlike any other. Besides having two amazing sold out shows, we left knowing we had met some great people. The Carl Palmer Band was a great way to end 2011, as it gave us the confidence and encouragement to make 2012 even better!

Meanwhile, if that wasn’t good enough, in August, I became co-owner of Limelight Magazine as well, making JKB Management and Booking and Limelight Magazine the best it has ever been. Not only are both businesses doing great, but we also have the best staff. Everybody works so well together and that’s what a business should be all about. Without a good staff, you have nothing.

Looking ahead to the future, we have two shows in March of 2012, being Jon Anderson, former lead vocalist of YES, on March 17 and Comedian Paula Poundstone on March 31. Both shows are at the Narrows Center for the Arts. But those aren’t the only shows New England has to look forward to. We plan to book even more acts in 2012 that you won’t want to miss. Who would’ve thought we could book such great shows right in our own backyard. I’m proud to be part of such a great business and happy that I can bring entertainment and laughter to the lives of others.

JKB has done so well in its first year of business, and we don’t plan on stopping there. Our goals are to book as many local shows as we possibly can so you don’t have to drive long distances to have a nice night out. With these shows, we will make a bigger name for ourselves and, of course, our main concern is to make our patrons and those around us happy. We have worked so hard and it certainly has paid off. Cheers to 2012 and to a successful year filled with laughter, music and love!

Katie F. Botelho

The Amazing Kreskin solves crimes and reads minds

5 Jan

By JESSICA A. BOTELHO

 The Amazing Kreskin has flown more than 3 million miles during the six decades of his mind reading career and on Jan. 14, he is looking forward to visiting the Zeiterion Performing Arts Center in New Bedford. He said he is excited because New England hypnotizes him, as the area gives him time to reflect on life, walk the side streets to explore and relax.

Of course, it might have something to do with the fact that he’s from Montclair, New Jersey.

“When you go to New England, you begin to get a feel of what America is really like,” said Kreskin, whose birth name is George Joseph Kresge, Jr. “It’s one of my favorite parts of the United States because it reminds you of what we’re losing in other parts of our country, where things are so busy and people are not paying attention to what’s going on. It’s a different state of mind and there’s something about it that’s very precious.”

Last year, Kreskin made 237 appearances around the world. If he didn’t travel so much he said he would most likely own six dogs, a llama, a pig and more cats. The mentalist, who described himself as an avid camper and lover of the outdoors, already has four felines.

But that doesn’t mean he regrets the journey he’s been on.

“My life has truly been adventurous,” Kreskin said.

Through the years, he has astonished audiences across the globe not only with his mind reading techniques, but also with his keen skills at predicting the future. He predicted the U.S. Presidential Election of 2008 and logged the results with a written statement made 11 months earlier. Democrat Barrack Obama was victorious.

Also, he predicted the Super Bowl winner as the New York Giants three days before the game on FOX Business News. Prophecies such as this earned him the nickname, “The Nostradamus of the Twentieth Century.”

Keeping up with his forecasts, he’s predicted the winner of next year’s presidential election, as well. On his latest appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, he wrote his prediction on a piece of paper, sealed it in an envelope and put it in a safe at NBC Studios in New York.

“I’m the only one that knows the combination,” Kreskin said. “A second copy was sent to Robin Leach, a third is with a broadcaster in New Jersey and a fourth is hanging over the bar at Patsy’s [Italian Restaurant in Manhattan]. The packages will be opened a few days after the election.”

To further prove his talent, he requests that his check for performing be hidden somewhere within the venue he’s appearing, which he will do at The Z on Jan. 14. If he fails to find it, he forfeits the fee. After more than 65 years, he’s failed nine times.

“I lost $51,000 one evening in New Zealand,” he said. “It’s been a dramatic challenge.”

He said he’s found his payment in some “wild” places. At a show at the University of Villanova in Pennsylvania with an audience of 8,000 parents and students, he approached a gentleman and asked him to open his mouth.

“It was really an embarrassing thing to do,” Kreskin said. “I started to walk away but then I turned back to him and said, ‘Could you show me the roof of your mouth?’ and he reached into his mouth, took out his upper plates and handed me my check.”

Not only does Kreskin use his gift to entertain, he also uses it to solve crimes, as he is a training consultant to law enforcement and security personnel. He has worked on 84 cases and said he was successful in nearly a third of them.

A few years ago, in a city just outside of Chicago, Illinois, a college man had gone missing. The police gave up on the case but Kreskin held a performance and asked witnesses to come. One man in the audience vividly remembered an important scene from the night the man disappeared.

“I used a technique to tap into his subconscious and the man’s body was found in his car at the bottom of a lake,” he said.

In another case, a woman was walking away from her college in Reno, Nevada to go to her car and was kidnapped and murdered. Kreskin said there were no clues, however, his involvement in solving the crime was announced in newspapers and three men came forward who said they were in the area that day. Kreskin was able to interview two of the three separately for an hour and a half.

“They remember stopping at a red light and seeing students exiting the school heading to their cars,” he said. “All I had was a photo of the victim.”

The image of a man slowly came to the minds of the witnesses, said Kreskin, and a police sketch artist reconstructed a composite picture of the assailant as they described him. The final draft of the drawing was published in a newspaper and two months later a man was apprehended in Los Angeles.

“He was already a suspect in two other murders,” Kreskin said. “I was in Reno at a theater about to go into my dressing room and a man approached me. He said, ‘I want to thank you.’ It was the father of the murdered girl.”

But Kreskin said he doesn’t take up cases often. It’s too much of an emotional experience.

“I couldn’t do it all the time because it’s heart wrenching,” he said.

While he isn’t interested in pursuing a career in law enforcement, he said he’d probably be performing his act on the street had he not made it as a mentalist. But he also said his loved ones would say differently.

“If you spoke to friends of mine 20 or 30 years ago I’d be teaching if I were not performing,” he said. “I’d be a very understanding and sympathetic teacher but I’d also be a tough marker.”

Yet, Kreskin has been a successful mind reader and had a television series, wrote at least 16 books, a board game made in honor of him, as well as his own theme song arranged by the renowned Skitch Henderson at Carnegie Hall. He’s also appeared on several talk and variety shows. Movies, including Dinner For Schmucks, which starred Steve Carell and Paul Rudd, and The Great Buck Howard, which Tom Hanks produced and co-starred with John Malkovich in 2009, have been made documenting his life.

“Who would have thought a couple years ago Tom Hanks would do a movie based on yours truly?” Kreskin said.

But Kreskin is humble and credits his fans with his success. He acknowledges that he needs an audience to put on a performance.

“They are an intricate part of it and, without them, I don’t have a show because I’m reading their thoughts,” he said. “There are no footlights between myself and my audience because they are not coming to hear a concert or watch a play. They are coming to be part of the program.”

Kreskin began performing professionally about a decade after he discovered his talent while playing, “hot and cold,” as a child. To play, children hide an object and one has to search for it. As one is on the hunt for the object, the others say “hot” if he is near it and “cold” otherwise.

At the age of nine, his brother hid a coin in the upstairs of the home they shared with their parents, grandparents and uncle. Kreskin walked through the kitchen, into their uncle’s bedroom, climbed on a chair, reached behind a curtain rod and found the coin without a word from his brother.

“I realized I forgot to tell my brother to talk to me,” he said. “There was no conversation so I’m sure my grandparents from Sicily thought I had the evil eye or something.”

Whether is he playing a game with family or performing for a sold out crowd, Kreskin said his programs have a message.

“We can do so much in life without a lot of equipment if we only set our minds to it,” he said.

The Amazing Kreskin

Kiley Evans: The new voice on the radio

3 Jan

By JESSICA A. BOTELHO

Country singer/songwriter Kiley Evans, 24, is no stranger to appearing on radio and television, as she performed her hit, “Papa’s Song” on the Steve Katsos Show and was accompanied by cellist Morgan Santos.

Additionally, her first single “Johnny Depp,” which was released a year ago, has played on multiple regional stations such as WCIB-Cool 102; WNBR-88.1; WATD-95.9; as well as WCTK- 98.1, a major country station better known as Cat Country. According to Evans, she is the only unsigned artist being played on Cat Country at the moment.

But before she made it to radio and T.V., she was a young girl whose father instilled in her a love of music. She remembers when he soothed her to sleep with his guitar playing at bedtime while growing up in their home located just outside Boston. In fact, she said he often used it as bribery for her to brush her teeth and put on pajamas.

“Then, he’d play ‘Puff the Magic Dragon’ or the Winnie the Pooh theme song,” said Evans. “We were the house on the street that always had music coming out of it. I assumed everyone’s dad played guitar when I was younger.”

Yet, it wasn’t until her teen years that country music entered her life. In high school, her father had two tickets to see country star Vince Gill. He planned to go with a friend but at the last minute his buddy backed out, freeing a ticket for his daughter.

“Sugerland opened and I loved it,” she said. “It was a sound I wasn’t used to. That was the turning point for me so I grabbed onto country music and ran with it. I remember falling in love with music but I never thought I’d actually be pursuing it for a career.”

Jennifer Nettles, the vocalist for Sugerland, is just one female singer Evans gravitates toward. She also enjoys artists like Reba McIntyre and Miranda Lambert, who inspired her to write music.

The first time she composed a song was in her college days at Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston, where she was majoring in Engineering. On semester break, she had free time and began fiddling around with her father’s guitar, an old Guild, the same one he brought with him to college.

“I think I started playing because I really missed my dad and he allowed me to take his guitar with me to school as a security blanket,” Evans said. “Up until a few years ago I didn’t really know how to play it. I only knew the three basic chords he taught me.”

Then a friend sent her a link posted by Country Music Television that advertised an original song contest and encouraged musicians to film a homemade video. Her song “The Only One” made the top 64 of a few thousand applicants and a clip aired on national television, launching her into the music spotlight.

“I loved everything about it and I never went back to college,” she said. “It’s clear to me that there’s nothing else I’d rather do.”

Since then, Evans released a five-song self-titled EP in September and filmed a video for her song, “Johnny Depp.” In addition to “Johnny Depp,” the EP features “Papa’s Song,” which was influenced by her grandfather. She said the two songs are nothing alike, as “Johnny Depp” is a pop-country tune, while “Papa’s Song” it’s more of a stripped down folk song.

“It’s a full story and a lot of people listen to country music for stories,” Evans said. “Every time I sing it I still have the emotion I was feeling when I wrote it. It’s something I feel very strongly about.”

Her grandfather, who she is extremely close to, is the first person she played it for because she wanted to be sure he was comfortable with her singing about his life experiences.

It all started when they were watching a baseball game. During a commercial break, she asked him if he had had ever been in love before he met her grandmother. He told her he had, as he met a woman when he was in the service and stationed in Texas. After he was discharged, he traveled back to his hometown in Massachusetts and planned to save money to send for her. Time went by and it never happened.

“It was the worst heartbreak he’s ever known,” said Evens. “The song is about how your greatest love is usually your greatest heartbreak.”

For Evans, her greatest love is music and she recently journeyed to Nashville to get a taste of the music scene. She said she always wondered what it would be like and to her pleasure it was better than expected.

“Everywhere you turn people are all about music,” said Evans. “No matter who you bump into on the street they are in the music business. I felt at home there because I knew everyone was doing the same thing I was and I automatically had something in common with everyone.”

Evans plans to travel back to Nashville in February and will then head back home to record a new batch of songs. For now, visit stevekatsos.com to stream her appearance on The Steve Katsos Show and check out the website for airings.

Kiley Evans

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