BY JULIA CIRIGNANO WITH CONTRIBUTIONS FROM J. KENNEY
From 2007 to 2013, Limelight Magazine released 13 print issues. In 2009, Limelight decided to focus their attention more on their website and decrease the number of print issues. They allegedly made this switch due to the growing popularity of online magazines, but there was an entirely different reason why the shift was made – the covers of the magazine were cursed!
For almost every act that appeared on the cover of Limelight Magazine, the band either suffered a line up change or broke up after the issue came out. Stranger things have also happened to some of the bands as well. This article is to expose the true story of why being on the cover of Limelight Magazine may not be such a great idea!
On October 13, 2006 (ironically a Friday the 13th), one of the founders of Limelight Magazine went to see The Flower Kings at the Regent Theatre in Arlington, Mass. The opening act was a band from Allston, Mass., called Fluttr Effect. After seeing them perform live, it was decided they would be the cover story of the very first issue that was supposed to go to print in late December for a winter release.
Fluttr Effect was a progressive rock band full of potential that consisted of Troy Kidwell, Vessela Stoyanova, Valerie Thompson, J. Marchionna and Kara Trott. They had just released their second studio album Marking Time and were aggressively promoting it.
Soon after conducting an interview with the band, Limelight Magazine’s graphic design team were busy laying out the issue. A tentative cover was created on December 27th which featured Fluttr Effect. Two days later, the underground performance space where Fluttr Effect rehearsed, called Pan9, caught on fire and the building was evacuated (see Boston.com news story HERE). Due to the fire, the first issue of Limelight Magazine was delayed.
Around this time, Limelight landed an interview with Brad Delp, lead vocalist of BOSTON and the Beatles tribute band Beetlejuice. He was interviewed by Limelight over the phone at 2 p.m. on February 22, 2007. At the conclusion of the interview, he invited the Limelight staff to his Beatlejuice show in Salem, N.H., the following night. At the end of the show, Limelight talked to Delp. They mentioned that they were looking forward to seeing him perform with BOSTON over the summer. He surprised them by replying with, “Maybe. We’ll see.”
The interview with Limelight ended up being the last print interview Delp did before he died on March 9th, 2007 (see Delp’s obituary in The Boston Globe HERE). Due to his death, an editorial decision was made to dedicate the first issue to him. The cover showed Delp cross legged in casual clothing with his head resting on his intertwined fingers. Fluttr Effect became the centerfold story and was not featured on the cover with the exception of small teaser photo.
The other images featured on that cover had a series of unfortunate events. Luke’s Record Exchange in Pawtucket, R.I., went out of business (see story about its closure in The Valley Breeze HERE), Toolfist: A Tribute to Tool saw the departure of their lead vocalist and passing of their extraordinary guitarist William F. Meehan on September 16, 2012 (see Meehan’s obituary from The Boston Globe HERE), and Charlie Domenici, the former lead vocalist of Dream Theater, had plans for a tour following the release of his studio album trilogy, but that never materialized.
Limelight released their second edition in the fall of 2007. A hard rocking band called MASS from Revere, Mass., was featured on the cover. Although the curse affected them less than the previous issue, their bassist Lou Spagnola left the band soon after the magazine came out and was replaced by former bassist Michael Palumbo.
In the winter for 2007, Limelight released their third issue which featured the alternative rock group Hello Mahalo. The cover featured the four members of Hello Mahalo casually posing by a tree. This band had great potential, support from their label, a manager with a lot of connections, and lots of airplay on local radio stations. The band consisted of Justin Joyce, Jared Pizarro, Justin Hardy and Tom Stanwood. They had just released their debut full length album Dawning Days in November 2007. Yet, soon after the release of the magazine, the band broke up due to personal and private matters. Joyce and Pizarro went on to start their own band called JaJu but never reached the success that Hello Mahalo once had.
In the spring of 2008, Beetlejuice was featured on the cover of Limelight. This Beatles tribute band now consisted of four core members John “Muzz” Muzzy (drums), Steve Baker (keyboard, guitar), Joe Holaday (bass) and Dave Mitchell (guitar). They were featured on the cover with big smiles. They band surprisingly was not impacted by the curse and we’d like to think that Brad Delp’s generous and kind spirit is watching over them. However, the other tribute bands pictured on the cover saw limited activity after the issue came out.
The progressive metal band Dream Theater was featured on the cover of Limelight’s summer issue in 2008. Since this band was such a big and successful act at the time, there was a lot of excitement about this cover. The band agreed to do a cover shoot at the Orpheum Theater in Boston, Mass., on May 20, 2008, fifteen minutes before they went on stage. The band members were all very close and were excited to be going on the road for their “Progressive Nation” tour.
While seemingly nothing happened right away, two years after the issue was released Mike Portnoy, the drummer and one of their founding members, announced he was leaving on Sept. 8, 2010 (see Portnoy’s Facebook statement HERE). Due to his prevalence within the band, this was a major heartbreak to their fans. The band now consists of John Myung, John Petrucci, James LaBrie, Jordan Rudess, and Mike Mangini.
Zox was the cover story of the fall 2008 issue. Although this local band had seemingly great potential (they were touring all over Europe and America) they slowly faded out of the public eye after the issue was released. They released an album titled Line in the Sand in 2008 and haven’t released anything since. Since 2008, they haven’t played only sporadic shows.
At this point, Limelight took a step back and began to see the trail of wreckage this curse was leaving behind. Because of this realization, they came up with a theme for the next issue which combined music and tattoo art. Limelight released this issue in the fall of 2008 titled “When Two Worlds Collide” referencing the combination of music and tattoos.
A musician was featured on the cover along with someone’s back with tattoos on it. What is interesting about this cover is that the musician who was featured was from a local band called Killswitch Engage. Although the entire band wasn’t on the cover, the curse eventually got to them. In early 2012, the band announced that Howard Jones was leaving the band after nine years with them (see Killswitch Engage’s Facebook statement HERE). He was later replaced by Jesse Leach, the band’s original vocalist. The band now consists of Leach, Joel Stroetzel, Mike D’Antonio, Adam Dutkiewicz, and Justin Foley.
In the spring of 2009, a local band called Psycle was on the cover of the magazine. Yet, once again, despite their obvious potential, the band broke up not long after the issue hit the newsstands with each member pursuing their own thing.
At this point, Limelight launched its website while continuing to print their quarterly issues. Interestingly, the artists who were featured on the website were luckily untouched by the curse but those on the cover were still affected.
In the summer of 2009, Heather Rose and The Drama covered Limelight Magazine with a mystery novel type of photo. Ironically, Limelight titled the article “Moving Beyond the Drama” because there was nothing but drama in Rose’s music career. Once again, the band broke up soon after appearing on the cover. Rose chose to pursue a solo career to avoid any further headaches in her life.
Around this time, the editorial staff of Limelight began to loathe the curse and the havoc it had caused on so many artists. Consequently, they decided to remove their name from the next issue and call it Picks. They kept the Limelight Magazine name for their website but retired it for their next print issue. Their online publication was thriving and, with high hopes, they chose to feature The Candace Brooks Band of Providence, R.I., on the cover of their fall 2009 issue. Limelight had a great relationship with the indie rock band but their plans to avoid the curse didn’t work. After the issue came out, the band slowed down their activity and their gigs were far and few in between. Although they are still friends, they rarely play music together anymore.
In the late 2000s, there was a shift in people’s tastes due to advances in technology and the internet. Many of music’s bigger print publications were shutting down including Circus (1969-2006), Hit Parader (1942-2008), Metal Edge (1985-2009) and Metal Maniacs (1989-2009). Because of this shift, Limelight decided to focus more of their efforts on booking national touring acts and posting only online articles to adapt to the times. They didn’t release a print issue for the fall 2009 or spring 2010.
After skipping two seasons, the publishers of Limelight decided to release a summer issue in 2010. Since Picks didn’t help to prevent the curse, they switched back to their original name Limelight Magazine. After nearly six months away from print, they figured the curse might be gone once and for all.
Unlike prior issues, the summer 2010 issue expanded the geographical region which the publishers usually picked local artists to feature. However, the cover story still went to a local artist; this time Grand Evolution from Worcester, Mass. The issue mainly focused on this one band’s story. Four out of five band members were featured on the cover in a beach themed layout, highlighting a serious Sarah Kenyon in a pink dress and the rest of the band playing in the sand.
When the band met for the cover shoot, one of the band members was unable to show up – a worrisome sign that the curse was back and rearing its ugly head a little earlier than normal.
Within the time of the magazine’s release and soon after, the band began to internally combust. On the eve of their first major tour of the United States, their keyboard player departed, leaving the band to go out on the road as a four piece. Upon their return, they lost two more members – their bassist and longstanding guitarist. This left the band with only two of its members that were featured on the cover and inside the issue. Since then, the band has soldiered on, albeit with various lineup changes over the years.
Rather than take on the curse with another issue, the publishers of Limelight decided to wait an entire year before their next issue. Released in the summer of 2012, the publishers of Limelight decided to risk one of their own. This issue featured a band that they also managed called York. On the cover, the band was seen holding picture frames in a humorous fashion. The band were gradually making a name for themselves throughout New England. They headlined the Hard Rock Café in Boston, opened for Gary Cherone’s Hurtsmile at Showcase Live in Foxboro, Mass., had airplay on a number of radio stations in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and were semi-finalists in the annual WBRU Rock Hunt. However, like almost every band that was featured on the cover, the band lost its drummer and guitarist shortly after the issue came out and eventually broke up. All of the members currently have happy lives outside of local music scene.
With the splitting up of another band, the publishers of Limelight seriously questioned releasing any more print issues. In fact, they took a break for two years while creating a vibrant online presence free from the curse. But, after a change in Limelight’s management team, the co-owners decided to release another issue in the summer of 2013, which was their final issue to date.
Being extra cautious this time, the co-owners of Limelight decided to change printing plants and the overall layout of the magazine. They also went with a new logo to break away from the past and held a contest called “We’ve Got You Covered” on June 8th where three judges would decide who would be featured on the cover. Grace Morrison and the RSO (Really Small Orchestra) won and were featured on the cover holding their instruments with bright smiles.
The band was incredible yet the curse still struck them just as hard as the others. Their future seemed bright as a band since they were playing shows all over New England but within months of the release inner turmoil within the band led to their dissolution. Morrison went out on her own to pursue a solo career and continues to tour the area with a lot of success.
There has never been another print issue of Limelight Magazine since. However, feature stories continue to appear on this website free of the curse!