Joan Osborne has been pursuing music for over 20 years and she has just hit her creative climax with her newest album Love and Hate. Osborne’s story began when she moved to New York City in the late 80’s when she founded her own record label called Womanly Hips. Osborne pursed her love for singing and songwriting and gained substantial success in 1995 when she released her first major label album, Relish, featuring the hit single “One Of Us”. Although this album gained substantial attention, Osbourne made her intentions clear as stated in her website bio, “She was more interested in musical integrity and creative longevity than transient pop success.”
Osborne has always been ahead of her time. She bravely stepped out into New York alone and opened her own record label. She has also been open about both her sexual and creative freedom. With one compilation album, one holiday album, two live albums, and seven studio albums under her belt, Osborne still felt that she had creativity that needed to be let out. Osborne worked on Love and Hate for several years before perfecting and releasing her eighth studio album in 2014. This album explores many different aspects of both love and hate. Within this album, Osborne once again displays her iconic, raw lyrics and bluesy voice.
Osborne will be performing a show consisting of stripped down versions of songs from Love and Hate, as well as songs from her other studio albums, at the Spire Center for Performing Arts, located at 25 ½ Court Street in Plymouth, Mass, this Thursday, Dec. 8th. Purchase tickets HERE.
“If fans are familiar with the full band versions of the songs from the album or from seeing us live, they can expect a more intimate experience,” Osborne said “For the duo and trio shows we strip the songs down to their bare essence and the fans have told us over and over that it is a very emotionally affecting show, that they hear things in the songs that they never have heard before.”
At the show, Osborne will be bringing playing with two other talented musicians: Jack Petruzzelli and Andrew Carillo.
“I will be bringing two excellent musicians who are also old friends,” Osborne said. “Jack has been a collaborator since the early nineties, and we came up together playing in the clubs and bars of Manhattan. He and I have also coproduced the last two albums that I’ve released. Jack plays with Patti Smith, with Rufus Wainwright, and is a founding member of the Fab Faux which is the world’s premier Beatles cover band. Andrew has been working with me since the early 2000’s and he and Jack together have a great sound. They are also really fun to hang out with, and because they have known me for so long, they have lots of embarrassing stories about me!”
Osborne said it’s much different performing as a duo or trio compared to having a full band.
“Performing with the full band is a lot of fun but there is something about doing a duo or trio that is both more challenging and more satisfying for a singer,” Osborne said. “You have nowhere to hide but you can also work with a lot of subtleties that get lost in a band configuration, and the shows tend to be more emotionally intense because of that.”
Since Love and Hate’s release, the album has received many positive reviews. What makes it so much more different from Osborne’s previously released music is her focus on songwriting.
“We first started writing material for Love and Hate a full seven years before the album was released,” Osborne said. “It took us that long to find our way to what the album wanted to be. It started as an effort to create something that was stylistically in the world of Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks or Pink Moon by Nick Drake but as we worked on it the themes of romantic love–in all its many variations–began rising to the surface and I realized that that was what the record wanted to be. So for that reason, we were all very busy with other projects, it took us a long time to get to the end result but I think that was a good thing. I like the fact that every song went through many versions before being fully realized. I think the writing is as strong or stronger than anything I have done.”
For Osborne, Love and Hate is one of the most personally-charged, creatively ambitious efforts of her two-decades-plus recording career.
“I think the subject matter, romantic love, is a very complicated one at this time in my life and in the life of my family and friends,” Osborne said. “Most popular songs tend to explore the territory of a new love or of kicking someone to the curb after you can’t take it anymore. There is a huge area in between those two points, an area that is very complex, and that is what I see people in my world living through; trying to negotiate and it’s both very difficult and very rewarding. I wanted to explore love in that way, to get into all the messy details of a deeper love.”
As a seasoned musician and songwriter, Osborne now feels that she is truly writing for herself and she is making up her own rules. Her dedicated fans have followed Osborne through her growth and she is grateful they are willing to evolve with her.
“I know that doing music for a living is very privileged life, even though it can be very difficult,” Osborne said. “I know that I would not be able to do this unless I had fans who came to the shows, who bought CDs and T-shirts, and who have stayed with me through all the different styles and incarnations I’ve traveled through. I honestly have no idea what I would be doing if I could not do music, so my fans have been my salvation.”
Osborne has been nominated for seven Grammy Awards; six in the 90’s and one in 2013.
“Of course it’s nice to be recognized in that way,” Osborne said. “It’s nice to feel that you are part of a larger community of music artists and going to the Grammy awards, seeing the other artists from all different genres, always makes me feel connected to this huge web of people making music around the world.”
With many years of experience as a musician, Osborne still manages to create compelling and refreshing music.
“I have jumped around from genre to genre, which can be seen as commercial suicide in a way,” Osborne said. “I can only say that I have followed my instincts more than any plan for commercial success and I don’t honestly know whether that has been a good thing but that’s been my choice.”
“I think my experience makes it easier for me to create music,” she added. “I think it allows me to cut through the noise and get to the heart of the matter more quickly. I don’t feel bored: music is like the ocean, you can dive in and swim your whole life and you will never get to the other side.”
Osborne also has a lot of memorable moments since the release of Relish in 1995.
“I have been really fortunate to be welcomed into a lot of different musical worlds,” she said. “I have sung with Lucciano Pavarotti in Italy, I have sung with Stevie Wonder at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I’ve toured with The Dead, dueted with Bob Dylan and I’ve sung with Patti Smith. Those have been highlights but honestly they have not been any more wonderful than just performing with my band in front of a crowd on a normal night. There’s something about the communal emotional experience of that which transcends everyday life and elevates us all.”
While Osborne hasn’t released any new music in two years, she is currently working on a set of Bob Dylan songs that she hopes to start recording this winter.
“Our next album will be a set of Bob Dylan songs,” Osborne explained. “It’s a project I have long wanted to do and the residency we did at the Café Carlyle back in March was the springboard for this album; we did two weeks of nothing but Bob Dylan songs and it was amazing. I felt like what an actor must feel like doing Shakespeare, the material is so rich. So we’ve been in pre-production for that and will be going into the studio shortly after our show in Plymouth.”
Tickets to Osborne’s show at The Spire are $45. The venue features superior acoustics, custom state of the art lighting and sound systems and original period architectural details, offering patrons an exceptional performing arts experience.
Looking for a store with a variety of vintage, heavy metal music along with classic rock and punk records? Roger Chouinard will be hosting the grand opening of his new shop Purchase Street Records on Saturday, December 3rd. The shop is named due to its location at 767 Purchase Street, in New Bedford, Mass. This shop will sell a variety of vintage records, tapes, and T-shirts focusing on the theme of heavy metal, punk and hard rock music.
Chouinard recently spoke with Limelight Magazine about why he chose to open up the store.
“I took a year off from my previous ownership,” he explained. “I’ve been doing the buying and selling throughout my life and I’ve always enjoyed music because I play drums and I have a musical heritage with family members.”
Chouinard chose to open up the shop in New Bedford because he grew up in the area and has pursued music within the local music scene.
“My bands and I see this as a forthcoming city in the arts district,” he said. “I really just wanted to bring music back to the area as when I was growing up it was a city that everyone of them wanted to play and make a name for themselves in.”
At Purchase Street Records, Chouinard will mainly be selling vintage records, tapes, and T-shirts. Many of his items are rare finds since Chouinard has been collecting rare metal, punk, and hard rock items for years.
“I’ve collected so many heavy metal/hard rock items in bulk because I know that style of music and for some reason it finds me,” Chouinard said. “I have a lot of Euro metal, heavy metal, and even indie titles. With that said, I also have some of the best classic rock collections that you can find and you know everybody loves classic rock.”
As a business owner, Chouinard has set some goals for Purchase Street Records.
“My goals are for the shop is to be an outstanding business in the community and bring back vinyl,” he said. “I hope to make somebody’s day when they find a record they been looking for forever.”
Not only is Chouinard a lover of music but his uncle, the late Bobby Chouinard, also inspired him. Bobby was the drummer for Billy Squier, Beggars and Thieves, Peter Wolf, and several other acts.
“My uncle taught me that anything can be achieved and you treat people the same way no matter if they are on their way up or on their way down,” Chouinard said. “Everyone’s a person no matter who, what or how they’ve lived in life.”
At Purchase Street Records, Chouinard will also be selling his uncle Bobby’s book titled Bobby Chouinard: Drummer Extraordinaire. The book was published by Roger Chouinard and it’s about Bobby’s life and the different bands he played with.
“If you’re a lover of music please go like our Facebook page, Purchase Street Records (click HERE), and if you’re not a big music collector please pass on my name to somebody that is. I hope everybody has a great holiday,” Chouinard said.
MASS is known as a hard rock band from Revere, Mass., but they have decided to show another side of themselves with the release of a four song Christmas CD Holden on to Christmas. You may know these four musicians as the rockers that they are but they are also all fathers who believe that no child should go without presents on Christmas.
The band first decided to give to Toys for Tots in 2010 when they released their first Christmas single. They released a second Christmas single in 2014 and once again donated the proceeds to Toys for Tots. This year, MASS decided to step up their game by releasing a full, four song Christmas CD, which is limited to 500 copies and they’re already selling fast. Get your copy HERE!
Limelight Magazine spoke with MASS vocalist Louis St. August about the success of the first two Christmas releases and the band’s inspiration for expanding their Christmas tradition by releasing a Christmas CD this year. The first Christmas single they released did very well and they were able to raise around $3,000 for Toys for Tots. For the Christmas release in 2014, MASS ended up raising even more money for the charity. Since there was only a limited number of copies for both of these releases, MASS decided to put that music, remastered on a CD, with one original MASS Christmas song.
“We have the three songs that we previously recorded and a brand new original Christmas song called ‘Holden on to Christmas’,” St. August explained. “We had them all remastered and we put them all together on the CD.”
The CD was just released on November 17th but already around 300 out of the limited 500 copies have been sold. Along with this impressive first week of sales, MASS is glad to be able to once again give Toys for Tots a substantial donation.
“No child should go without receiving at least one gift on Christmas,” August said. “We felt strongly about that, especially myself, so I presented the idea to the guys [Gene D’tria, Mike Palumbo, and Joey “Vee” Vadala] and they all agreed.”
Not only is this CD a grouping of four merry songs but it is also a true MASS album. With so many other Christmas albums out there, St. August talked about what makes this CD different.
“Our fans like MASS music so they like our renditions of the songs that are rock but also Christmas,” he said. “People who have written me back really appreciate the new song we wrote so I think the CD is different than other Christmas CD’s because we have a little bit of a different style and our voices are different. It’s coming from a melodic, hard rock band and it’s just showing a different side of us; a side that can do ballads and happy, Christmas tunes.”
St. August first started thinking about creating a Christmas CD in August since the band would need that much time to create Holden on to Christmas.
“I started it in August and I actually sang the Christmas song that we wrote on a hot day in September,” he said. “I had to kind of force myself into the Christmas spirit.”
Holden on to Christmas consists of three previously released songs, “Jingle Bell Rock”, “Grown Up Christmas List”, and “Where Are You Christmas”. The last song on the CD is the title track which is a original MASS Christmas song “Holden On To Christmas”. St. August explained how that last song came into fruition.
“We’re coming out with a brand new album next year, a full length album,” he explained. “It will be our ninth studio album. We wrote a couple songs when we were in the studio and one of the songs just didn’t fit with the rest. So my idea was, ‘why don’t we change it and make that into a Christmas song?’ I put Christmas lyrics on it and added some Christmas kind of atmosphere to it with sleigh bells and the choir.”
MASS hopes to continue releasing Christmas music every few years and also donate as much money as they can to Toys for Tots. MASS has even considered doing a possible MASS Christmas concert in the next couple of years.
Guitarist Paul Bielatowicz and bassist Simon Fitzpatrick will be back on the road this December by popular demand. Both are extremely talented musicians known for their work with drummer Carl Palmer, of Emerson, Lake & Palmer and Asia. For their December run of dates, Bielatowicz and Fitzpatrick will be premiering one act from their soundtrack written for the classic silent film Nosferatu.
Bielatowicz is a sensational guitarist from Lancashire, England. He attended school at Leeds College of Music and pursued music for a while before he was offered the opportunity to play guitar for the Carl Palmer Band. Although he has only released one solo album in 2014 titled Preludes & Etudes, he has a vast history within the music industry touring the world, recording music, and playing phenomenal live shows with musicians such as Neal Morse (Spock’s Beard), Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater), Paul Gilbert (Mr. Big) and Les Paul.
For a while, Bielatowicz toyed with the idea of creating a soundtrack to a silent film. In the same out-of-the-box manner in which he approaches many of his projects, Bielatowicz chose to write a soundtrack for Nosferatu, a silent German expressionist horror film, after watching the movie a few years ago.
“I feel that music and art should connect people on an individual and personal level,” Bielatowicz said. “Sadly we live in a society that seems to be moving away from that idea, where mass media and maximum profits are the primary goals of creativity. I’m always looking for ways to rebel against this modern day trend – writing and performing a live soundtrack to a 95-year-old silent movie just seemed like the right thing to do!”
“The name I gave to the silent movie soundtrack project is The Orchestra of Lost Emotions,” Bielatowicz said. “With all the wonderful technological media innovations we have today, I feel like we miss out on a more personal experience – our physical and personal relationship with the world is becoming a lost emotion – hence the name of the project.”
Bielatowicz loves to challenge himself as a musician so creating a soundtrack for a movie such as Nosferatu that has been surrounded by so much hype has been an exciting experience for him.
“I think the history that surrounds Nosferatu makes it a very attractive movie to tackle,” Bielatowicz said. “The director’s initial plan was to make a version of Bram Stoker’s Dracula but when permission was denied by Stoker’s family, he decided to go ahead and make the film anyway, tweaking the script and changing the characters’ names – Count Dracula became Count Orlok for example – in an attempt to avoid copyright infringement. Despite their efforts, the changes were not enough to avoid a lawsuit. Shortly after its debut, a judge ruled in favor of the Stoker estate and ordered all copies of the movie to be destroyed.”
Thankfully, some copies of the film survived, and today it’s become a cult classic. The movie sprouted a wave a creativity within Bielatowicz and he knew this was the project for him.
“Nosferatu has the reputation for being a creepy horror movie, which of course it is but it’s also so much more than that,” Bielatowicz explained. “F. W. Murnau was the genius director of his day and the movie is a cinematic masterpiece full of innovative camera techniques, cutting edge special effects and emotional acting performances. It’s difficult to imagine how innovative Murnau actually was in his early silent movies – you have to remember he was literally inventing the media of cinema at the time and the films he made still stand up as a benchmark for modern day movies to be measured by.”
“Not wanting to give too much away, Nosferatu doesn’t follow the standard plot norms we came to expect of Hollywood over the 100(ish) years that followed,” Bielatowicz said. “The hero turns out to be not-so heroic, while his love interest becomes the heroine in an emotional climax to the movie. That’s definitely not what audiences would have expected in the early 1920s. The way Murnau succeeds in communicating these subtleties and emotions using the medium of silent acting and camera work is nothing short of genius.”
The Orchestra of Lost Emotions is a multi-cultural soundtrack. Bielatowicz combined his English heritage and the original film’s German elements to create a masterpiece. This piece of art also incorporated Bielatowicz’s rock sound with a mixture of classical music.
“I guess my influences as a composer aren’t what you’d typically expect for a rock guitarist!” Bielatowicz said. “Classical music has always been my passion and there’s a huge classical influence in the music I’ve written for this soundtrack. As for the German connection, I think fans of classical music will recognize a huge tip of the hat to Beethoven throughout.”
Bielatowicz talked about the main characteristics that differentiate the Nosferatu soundtrackfrom his previous material such as his stripped back solo album Preludes & Etudes.
“The biggest difference is that I’ve written all the music to tie in very closely with onscreen action,” Bielatowicz explained. “Scoring for a silent movie allows you the freedom not only to write music which evokes the emotions of a scene but also to incorporate sound effects into the music. Elements such as footsteps, door slams etc. are all incorporated in the music as an attempt to blur the lines between soundtrack and sound effects.”
The soundtrack is split into four acts. Bielatowicz will be premiering the first act on his December tour along with the first 30 minutes of the film.
“[The first act] is a great introduction to the movie and goes right up until the dramatic moment where the main character first meets Count Orlok the vampire,” Bielatowicz explained.
Along with the premiere of Nosferatu, Bielatowicz will also be playing a variety of covers and original music.
“We’ll be playing a selection of classical showpieces, including a lot of music from my solo album Preludes & Etudes,” he said. “You can expect to hear movements from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, some Beethoven favorites, Chopin Etudes, Debussy ballads, famous opera overtures all arranged for electric guitar, bass guitar and Chapman stick, like you’ve never heard them before! Mine and Simon’s tour follows an extensive tour with Carl Palmer, where we’ve been playing tribute to the late Keith Emerson, so you can probably expect a couple of ELP [Emerson, Lake & Palmer] classics thrown in too!”
The last time Bielatowicz and Fitzpatrick played together, they received rave reviews. Both musicians always put on a dynamic instrumental performance, and this one is bound to be even better due to the premiere of the soundtrack. Bielatowicz confirms his true talent by creating an all instrumental playlist that never bores the audience and never begs for vocals.
“I think variety is the key to maintaining an audience’s interest in any musical setting,” Bielatowicz said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re solo instrumentalist, a full band with vocals or a 90 piece orchestra, if everything you play sounds the same then your audience is going to get bored pretty quickly. Obviously, the fewer elements or instruments you have in a band, the more creative you have to be about maintaining variety but as long as you remain mindful of that then it’s possible to keep an audience’s interest no matter what instruments you have at your disposal. Dynamics play a big part, as does instrumentation, the use of different sound effects and obviously having 25 minutes of your set devoted to playing a soundtrack along with a movie screening helps a lot too! Audiences can expect a carefully thought-out set, specifically designed to keep them on the edge of their seats for the entire duration of the show.”
Bielatowicz has been playing alongside Fitzpatrick for many years and is excited to embark on another tour with him.
“Not only is Simon one of my best friends but he’s also one of the most gifted musicians I’ve had the pleasure of playing with,” Bielatowicz said. “I think our musical styles compliment each other perfectly – there’s no one else I’d rather do this tour with. I guarantee audiences will see him doing things they never thought possible on the bass guitar or Chapman Stick!”
Over the years, their relationship has grown and they have pushed each other to be the best musicians they can be. Their musical chemistry is evident during their live performance and this bond has been created and solidified through their years of friendship and musical expansion.
“I definitely think we’ve inspired each other to take our instruments to new places,” Bielatowicz said. “The way we both play our instruments is quite un-guitary and un-bassy and I think it’s fair to say we’ve influenced each other on our musical journeys.”
Here’s is the complete list of tour dates for Bielatowicz and Fitzpatrick’s tour. Visit the websites of the public venues to purchase tickets.
December 8, 2016 – Pawnee, IL (Private Concert)
December 9, 2016 – Milwaukee, WI (Private Concert)
December 10, 2016 – Chicago, IL (Private Concert)
December 11, 2016 – Gibsonia, PA (Private Concert)
December 12, 2016 – Blend of Seven Winery, Delaware, OH
December 15, 2016 – Tupelo Music Hall, Londonderry, NH
December 17, 2016 – Hollis, NH (Private Concert)
December 18, 2016 – Hartford Road Cafe, Hartford, CT
December 20, 2016 – Schwenksville, PA (Private Concert)
December 21, 2016 – Triad Theatre, New York, NY
December 22, 2016 – Narrows Center for the Arts, Fall River, MA
Liz Bills has a voice as sweet as cotton candy and as harsh as a dull knife. Her words erupt from deep down in her stomach and burst from her pink lips with hypnotic qualities. Bills is a mixture of Alanis Morrisette and Brandi Carlile with a passion for pop and psychedelic music. After one listen you will be swept into Bills’ rainbow colored world where she will gnaw at your heart strings then help you dance away the pain.
Liz Bills grew up in Haverhill, Mass., and started composing and performing music at the age of eight. She played piano with classically trained pianist Lynn Willby and self-taught herself guitar. In 2011, Bills attended Berklee College of Music where she studied songwriting and vocals.
During her classical studies courses, Bills decided to form a rock band, called Analog Heart.
“We formed back in 2011 on Craigslist,” she said. “I decided I wanted to start my own rock band from scratch so I took a chance and placed an ad. I found Jesse soon after and we clicked right away. Most of our members have been from Craigslist including the new lineup and we are all very close.”
Analog Heart released an EP in 2012 consisting of Liz Bills on vocals, Jesse Cohen on guitar, and Austin Ferrante on drums. The band’s music has been given many labels such as indie, alternative rock, alt-country, pop, blues, and R&B.
Bills and David Cook were both on the TV show American Idol, yet Bills explained that her band name Analog Heart has no connection to the Cook album with the same title.
“I love hearts and wanted that in our name,” Bills explained. “I also wanted to write organic and honest music from the heart so that’s where Analog came from.”
Bills was on Season 12 of American Idol. She spoke about the experience where she made it all it way to the top 30 female and top 60 total.
“It was a very humbling experience reminding me to never stop working hard at singing and performing because I was surrounded by incredible musicians,” Bills explained. “It also taught me a bit about the demands of being on a major TV network competition and how it is more about the show itself then about the singing. Not that I have anything against that, it just opened my eyes to the reality that shows like [American Idol and] The Voice are shows and singer’s lives are put on national TV. It’s also helped me become very strong and take people’s opinions with a grain of salt.”
She also would like to be a contestant on The Voice someday.
“I’ve learned that I must trust myself, stay true to myself, and not be sensitive or take things personally and keep working hard,” Bills said. “I now audition for The Voice every six months. It took me seven years of auditions with American Idol to make it on the show.”
While pursuing The Voice, teaching music lessons, and playing shows with Analog Heart, Bills also finds time to post YouTube videos displaying her immense, raw talent. On YouTube she covered many of today’s popular musicians such as Beyonce, Ed Sheeran, Vance Joy, Taylor Swift, John Legend, Sia, Hozier, Ariana Grande, and Meghan Trainor.
Within these covers, Bills explores her vocals which are both potent and sensitive and her creative ability. Bills talked about how YouTube has helped to propel her career.
“YouTube has been a way for me to connect with my fans and my students (I teach voice, guitar and piano lessons for a living),” Bills said. “I treat YouTube as a resume — a way to show people what I can do.”
Along with the artists Bills has covered on YouTube, she is also inspired by “Hanson, Billy Joel, Lady Gaga, Grace Potter, the killers and other classic rock music.”
“I actually love pop music and bring that element into the band. I will be launching my solo project this winter with an EP,” she said.
She explained that this album is going to be more pop than the pop/rock sound that Analog Heart has captured.
Jesse Cohen and Bills are the two main songwriters in Analog Heart. While Bills leans more towards a love for pop, Cohen will always be a rocker. They combine both their tastes to create Analog Heart’s unique sound.
Although their tastes in music may differ a bit, they have found one similarity. Both Bills and Cohen’s music style and music videos have been influenced greatly by the psychedelic era.
“We shied away from this for a long time because we wanted to be ‘modern’ but through that experience we have come to embrace what we gravitate to naturally, which is this groovy hippy late 60s/70s feel,” Bills said.
Analog Heart truly expressed their psychedelic vibe in their new music video for “Come Alive.” Click HERE to see the video.
“I wanted to do something fun and colorful and I also didn’t want to take myself too seriously, though the song itself is about abusive relationships and of course that isn’t something to laugh about,” Bills said. “I am over my angsty music writing years and just want to make people smile and feel good about themselves and to be entertained.”
“Come Alive” is featured on Analog Heart’s newest album titled Sun Here I Come that was released on March 5, 2016. Bills talked about the album title and the song it was named after.
“We wrote a song called ‘Sun Here I Come’ and it’s about coming out of a depression I was going through,” Bills said. “I remember being in the woods camping with the sun on my face and feeling better than I had in a long time, that’s where the title comes from.”
Bills explained how the band has evolved since their EP release in 2012 and their first full album Sun Here I Come.
“The EP sounds very young and polished, more poppy,” she said. “I wrote all four of the songs on the EP at the time. We were a new band still trying to find ourselves together. The latest album is much more mature, more guitar driven with Jesse’s influence writing half of the songs, more uplifting and positive with my emotional shift from depression to self-love and acceptance.”
Bills expanded more on the positive themes within Sun Here I Come and the main message she hopes to convey with this album.
“I want people to feel empowered and strong and loved and like they can do anything!” she exclaimed. “This is the kind of album you put on when you want to pump yourself up!”
With new positive energy, Bills talked about the band’s plans for the future.
“Our plans are to write a lot of new music, tour in the spring and tour in the late summer to support the next album. We will also be releasing a single this winter,” she said.
In 2010, singer-songwriter Ashley Jordan was just one of many street performers in Boston until she released her debut album at only 17 years old. Six years later, Jordan is currently in the process of releasing her fourth studio album titled He’s Crazy and has gained substantial recognition. She has won over twenty awards from radio stations, country award organizations, and magazines, including Limelight Magazine.
“I started playing the guitar and singing at about the age of 13,” said Jordan. “I started doing open mics in the area and one night I was at Amazing Things Open Mic (in Framingham, Mass.) and the featured performer was a guy by the name of John Gerard. He was an incredible performer — he was so passionate about every song he performed and his guitar playing and songwriting were so meaningful that I had to meet him. I was a shy girl and John was a tough looking guy with tattoos and a mysterious demeanor but I walked right up to him and introduced myself.”
This moment of bravery opened a giant door for Jordan. She ended up working with Gerard for several years and took advantage of every opportunity he gave her. He introduced her to busking (street performing). She met many street performers through Gerard and he helped her become one herself.
“I started doing busking myself on the streets of Harvard Square and that’s really where I learned a lot about performing and writing songs that people wanted to listen to,” Jordan said. “John had a close family friend who had a home studio (Steve Rapson) and John introduced me to him and asked if he would record me. I had already written a bunch of songs – so we started recording them one by one and it turned into an album!”
This was her first experience with recording and it wouldn’t be her last. Jordan continued her story as she talked about her appreciation for the other people and producers who have helped to propel her career.
“At the age of 19, I completed my second album called Liquid Words with producer Don Hooper at his studio called Juke Village Records in Shrewsbury, Mass.,” Jordan said. “Don heard me perform at a festival and said he believed in my music and decided to not only produce my second album but covered all the costs as well. Then when I was 21, I recorded my third album called Nothing In Doubt with Adam Jensen at Night Owl Studio in Boston and the album was funded by my generous fans through a Kickstarter campaign. With my latest album this year, He’s Crazy, I had the honor of recording with Joe Merrick at his Guilty Dog Studio in Marshfield, Mass. The amazing male vocals/harmonies you hear on my newest album are Joe’s voice and he also played many different instruments on my album. It was really great working with Joe!”
Jordan wrote every single song on her debut album and has continued to make songwriting the focus on all of her other albums.
“Songwriting is as important to me as performing because the songs I write are usually written by me alone and are very personal and provide the emotional connection that goes far beyond performing a cover song,” Jordan said. “I feel strongly about songwriting and feel that there’s a huge difference between an artist who just performs music and an artist who writes and performs music. It’s just feels like a different level of connection.”
Jordan gave the backstory into the life of a young girl with a passion for writing that turned into a woman with a talent so compelling she was able to make a career out of it.
“I started writing lyrics before I even would call them lyrics,” Jordan began. “They were more poems or thoughts in a journal when I was 11 or 12 years old. I was a very shy child and loved to sing alone but never would perform in front of anyone. One time my family and some close friends overheard me singing privately in another room and they came running in to hear me. I recall thinking, ‘Oh, maybe my singing is good?’ So I secretly entered a talent show in sixth grade and shocked my parents by marching up on stage and belting out an Avril Lavigne song. The overwhelmingly positive reaction I got was probably what pushed me forward. I learned to play the guitar and suddenly all my journal writing became song lyrics and things sort of moved on from there.”
Now a seasoned songwriter and musician, Jordan has played shows with many big names in country and pop music.
“Probably the most memorable show was when I won a contest to open for Mixfest 2015 by Boston radio station Mix 104.1 and got to open for 40,000 people at the Hatch Shell in Boston,” she said. “I got to hang out with Phillip Phillips and Christina Perri (and more) and it was an amazing crowd in Boston that really responded to my original music.”
“Another memorable show was more recently when Nash Icon Radio asked me to open for Trace Adkins at Indian Ranch in Webster, Mass.,” Jordan continued “First of all, Indian Ranch is an awesome place and Nash Icon Radio in Worcester is an incredible group of people! I was so excited to share the stage with Trace and what made it even more memorable was that they asked me to do a 45 minute set. That gave me the time to really play full-out to a country audience and I felt like my music was a fit!”
Jordan recently finished her fourth album He’s Crazy. While it is for sale at her shows in CD form, it hasn’t been officially released yet.
“I have some interest in the album and I want to be smart about making the full release,” Jordan explained. “I’ve decided to release one song, ‘Weapon’ and it will be available on iTunes in the near future. The response to my album so far has been incredible. Matt Reid, music director at Mix 104.1 Boston radio, got an early copy and he loved it so much he decided to play every song on the album (he played one song each night for 10 nights) because he said he loved them all and couldn’t decide which ones to play.”
Reid was recently quoted saying, “My favorite album of 2015? Adel’s 25. My favorite album of 2016, so far? Boston singer/songwriter and Open MixFest 2014 Winner, Ashley Jordan’s He’s Crazy.”
Jordan talked about the surprising way in which her fans of responded to “Weapon,” which is one of her own personal favorites on the album.
“I guess I really love ‘Weapon’ because it resonates strongly with me,” Jordan said. “I actually wrote it about a relationship but people have been coming to me and responding to the song at a whole different level given the violence that has been going on in our country recently. So it’s touched a nerve and I love that.”
Jordan explained why He’s Crazy is different than her previous releases.
“I’ve taken a long time to release it,” she began. “My past albums were completed and it was a rush to get the physical CD in time for the release shows and everything going on. This time I have the album in hand and now I’m sort of sitting on it. I’ve been selling it at shows but I’m waiting for the right time and circumstances to move forward.”
“Recording this album was a different process than past albums because when I wrote the songs I could hear every single instrument and harmony that was going to be in the song,” Jordan explained. “I could just hear it. I knew what I wanted very clearly.”
Along with those differences, He’s Crazy is also far more personal than Jordan’s other albums.
“I think the songs came together more quickly because I had so much material to use given a tough breakup and other things that were going on in my life,” Jordan explained. “It cleanses the soul to write about a crazy ex-boyfriend but that’s not all my last album is about. I also seem to write songs in clusters. I’ll be in a creative mode and songs just flow out of me. Then there will be a quiet time. At any given time I may be working on three or four songs.”
With a life that circulates around her songwriting, it’s a blessing that Jordan finds writing so self-healing.
“It’s like therapy only much cheaper,” she said. “There’s so much emotion behind a lot of my songs that sometimes I can’t record them for a while because I am so emotional when I perform them but I’m not embarrassed about that because the emotional content is what I think people connect to. My songs are honest and I try to tell the truth.”
Jordan also spoke about her recent experience meeting Garth Brooks at the IEBA conference in Nashville.
“Garth Brooks is amazing. He is bigger than life and a total sweetheart,” Jordan exclaimed. “I was in Nashville doing a showcase as part of the IEBA conference which books shows for artists and entertainers at venues/casinos etc. Garth was being honored and received an award and later they had an incredible show with performances by Randy Houser, Eric Pasley and more. It was a very small and intimate setting and all of a sudden there was Garth just hanging out! He was so cool and I was in awe of him. I had performed a pre-show for him at the DCU Center some time ago so we had a small connection!”
Jordan said there was one specific moment with Brooks that she will never forget.
“He is such a gentleman,” she said. “An elderly woman who is highly regarded in the industry came into the room and the whole room sort of quieted down. Garth bowed down to her, took off his hat, and she cupped his face in her hands as she walked by. It was so sweet and exactly what I would have expected from him and so cool to see in person.”
Check out Jordan’s newest single “Weapon” which was released in late October on iTunes. You can also keep up with Jordan on her social media pages by clicking on the following links: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.
If you’re an aspiring young musician and ever wondered what it’s like to be in a band or perform in front of a crowd of people, then it’s time to enroll in TJ’s All Star Band Program!
Found by Todd Salpietro, owner of TJ’s Music in Fall River, Mass., TJ’s All Star Band Program functions as a way for young musicians to become genuine rock stars, giving them the opportunity to rehearse and play live with other musicians on a real stage in front of a real audience.
“It took some tweaking along the way but I really feel like the program we have now is special,” said Salpietro. “I think that when people see this they will want to be part of it.”
In 2011, Salpietro had been teaching private music lessons for about 15 years. He enjoyed his work but wished his students could play with other musicians. As a result, Salpietro decided to start the All Star Band Program. Over the years, it has grown and the benefits that members acquire has been better that Salpietro could have expected.
TJ’s All Star Band functions as a way for young musicians to become rock stars. Currently, the band consists of about 18 students who range in age from 10 to 18. The youngest member started playing with the All Star Band when she was only seven. The older band members are around 18. Although there are similar programs and music camps in the region, this one is undeniably different.
“After a year of practicing, these kids live the songs,” Salpietro said. “Now we’re really starting to see the quality in the students of professional players. It’s amazing when you see these kids play you think they’re kids and, ‘aw it’s cute kids are playing,’ but it’s not like that. They are really really that good.”
Salpietro talked about the program and its goals for each student.
“Here at TJ’s Music we promote a performance-based music lesson program where we’re always working towards an ensemble,” he said. “We do three recitals a year for our private instruction lessons and we also do the All Star Band shows.”
The All Star Band used to play three shows a year but recently Salpietro has decided to put on one show a month with the band. Because of this change, the band members are now always working towards a show. There is a steady stream to regular practice and performances in which they learn not only how to perform but also what to expect at a show, how to set up the stage, how to plug in their instruments, etc.
“I just want them to become the best player and the most knowledgeable player that they possibly can be,” he said. “I want them to have the tools that I had to learn on my own.”
Salpietro spoke about the high standards which he holds for his students. He treats them with the same respect he would a musician his own age and expects the same type of respect, commitment, and work ethic from them. He explained that his students work very hard to be as good as they are. They aren’t treated like children who all get participation ribbons but as true, seasoned musicians who have to learn how to accept criticism and grow from it.
The students typically meet once a week and practice with the guidance of Salpietro and four other musicians.
“We meet every Wednesday night from 6 to 8 p.m.,” he said. “We have four music mentors. We have Gary Faria, Joseph Rebelo, Dennis King, and Danielle Hasket.”
Along with the band’s weekly practice on Wednesday nights, they are also allowed to use the practice room whenever it is available. Salpietro rents out the room to other bands to practice but All Star Band members can typically get as many extra hours of practice a week as they would like.
“They can come in and practice any day and they do,” Salpietro said. “It’s really awesome because we’ve facilitated almost a 24/7 place for them to practice with all the equipment there and it’s all top of the line gear.”
After students leave the program, they are fully prepared to join the music world.
“You came here and you learned the tools,” he said. “Everything here that you learned you can go and do a gig with. You know how to set up a stage and prepare for the ensemble. You know how to prepare your song. You know how to conduct a practice. They learn everything here. It’s not just a recital where you learn your parts and play them.”
Salpietro spoke further on what he believes is the most important part of the All Star program. Although this wasn’t his mission when he created the program, it has become a characteristic of the program that he is most proud of – the ways in which his students gain confidence.
“We watch these kids go from telling me that ‘I am deathly afraid to step one foot on that stage’ to their playing every song in the set and they’re absolutely loving it,” he said. “Gaining that confidence and the team building skills to be able to get on stage is so important.”
Members of the All Star Band are all very close, calling this program their family. Salpietro talked about the confidence and team work that these musicians gain from being in the band. While some people may use sports to gain these skills, musicians work together in a band just as a football or dance team.
“This is the dark side. These are the other guys,” Salpietro said with a laugh. “They don’t really participate in that type of stuff. They play in a band. We’ve created that place to be able to go and gain those life skills. These are real deal life skills that they are going to use for the rest of their life and not only playing music but at their jobs.”
Salpietro doesn’t choose to shelter his students from the realities of both life and the life of a musician but he is careful when selecting venues for his students. With musicians as young as ten years old, he is very careful to not subject them to a bar full of drunks or any possibly dangerous situations.
“We play at bars but we usually rent the bar out for the afternoon where the only people drinking are the parents,” he explained. “That’s something that is really important to me. I don’t think at their age that they should be exposed to that kind of thing.”
One venue that Salpietro likes his All Star Band to perform at is the Narrows Center for the Arts, located at 16 Anawan Street in Fall River. Salpietro knew they had made it to a new level when they got invited to play there by the venue’s Executive Director Patrick Norton.
“He invited us to play at The Narrows and it was the best phone call I have ever gotten,” said Salpietro, who also taught music lessons for both of Norton’s children. “I am so fortunate to have a venue like The Narrows invite our kids to play at. It feels good.”
In fact, TJ’s All Star Band will be playing their next show at the Narrow Center on Sunday, November 20th at noon. Tickets can be purchased HERE.
While the All Star Band typically targets younger musicians, Salpietro is also interested in expanding this age range. Although he has never set an official age cap, he said musicians usually want to go out on their own once they’re around eighteen year old.
Consequently, Salpietro said he would love to host a separate, older group of musicians if he found people who were interested. He said people sometimes have uncomfortable feelings when they learn a new instrument later in life. He would like to be able to create a safe environment for older musicians where they can feel free to explore new instruments, mess up, practice, and perfect their skills.
“When you’re in your 30’s and you’re trying to play an instrument, where do you go?” Salpietro said. “You’re kind of embarrassed. You don’t want to go to an open jam and play the three chords that you know. You want to come to a safe haven like this where we’re all learning and we’re all sharing the same common interest. A place where if you make a mistake, I’m not going to laugh because I just made the same mistake a half-hour ago.”
Looking ahead to the future, Salpietro said he would like to see the program grow.
“I would love to expand things. However, I think I have expanded to the level of what we could financially handle,” Salpietro explained. “If I had numbers of like 30/35 people coming in, we would be able to do a lot more. That’s why I’m trying to build this. I really believe that this deserves so much more than it gets.”
TJ’s Music is located at 347 South Main Street in Fall River, Mass. Visit their website by clicking HERE.
Sex, drugs & rock n’ roll. That’s all you need to be a successful musician, right? Not so much. Twenty-first century women know better. In 2016, musicians and humans alike are beginning to realize that a healthy body leads to a healthy mind. Confidence and happiness is created through self-love and respect for your own body. If you are nice to your body, it will be nice to you in return.
Limelight Magazine recently spoke to three female musicians from Massachusetts (Amy Marie, Amanda Lee McCarthy and Erin Elizabeth Ollis) who candidly shared their personal stories about weight loss and physical fitness. These three women took control of their own lives and proved that eating health and exercising actually does work. We also spoke to a personal trainer (Nina McGoff) who offered expert advice for this story.
Amy Marie (of Just Like That)
Amy Marieis singer/songwriter from the band Just Like That. This spring, she won “Female Vocalist of the Year” at the 8th Annual Limelight Magazine Music Awards in April 2016. With raw, honest lyrics, Amy Marie has inspired her fans to be open and honest. She has also inspired people to be physically healthy because she believes physical health leads to one’s mental health.
Amy Marie spoke with Limelight Magazine about her journey in becoming the healthy, happy woman that she is today.
Amy Marie started the interview by talking about her band Just Like That and how being in the band has changed her as a person. Before auditioning for the band, she had had experience as a classical singer yet she didn’t have any experience fronting a rock band.
“I had zero experience in fronting a band and my appreciation and respect for the energy it takes to be a working performer has exponentially increased,” Amy Marie began. “It’s helped hone my communication skills as well since we all know being in a working band is kind of like a marriage and takes a lot of non-verbal as well as verbal discussion to make things really work in a ‘band family’. Because of my bandmates support as well as countless hard working hours performing I most importantly gained the experience I needed as a vocalist and an artist to branch into writing and performing my own music. I credit my experience with Just Like That to helping me find that big part of myself.”
Amy Marie talked about her former writing partner and how he helped her to open up and become the raw, honest musician she is today. She explained how she uses singing and songwriting in a self-healing way.
“I was at first really apprehensive that audiences wouldn’t listen to them as I don’t hold back anything when the lyrics would come out of me,” she said. “Sometimes my lyrics come from really traumatic incidents. Sometimes the songs would be so painful to perform I wouldn’t be able to sing them for months after they were written because emotionally they would be too intense for me. However, eventually I learned letting go of those emotions and just let the songs take on lives of their own really helped me with self-healing. The first song I ever wrote with him, ‘Stay Awake’ saved my life, a few times. Eventually I realized that people like that kind of emotional rawness and confidence to put it all out there when it comes to song writers. So I kept writing.”
Amy Marie explained why she doesn’t believe that staying healthy while being a musician is difficult.
“I think that the choice to live a healthy lifestyle is all about maintaining balance and finding out what your body can and cannot tolerate,” she said. “Do I like to eat healthy and exercise regularly? Yes. Do I always? No, but I know my limitations. Some nights after a late gig I’m starving and the only place that’s open for a snack is McDonalds. Do I enjoy it? Yep. Do I feel it the next day? You bet your ass. I know my body well and know what it needs to get the energy and ‘good’ feeling back so I take a few days and get back on track. Those kinds of nights make me hope that I’ll remember to grab a protein bar to bring when I’m working a gig more than an hour away next time but it doesn’t always happen! Finding time to exercise is hard enough. Working a full-time job, being a mom, as well as working gigs, but somehow I find it because I know that I need to work out a certain amount a week to maintain my weight as well as have the energy level to do all of those fun jobs.”
Amy Marie talked about the specific ways in which she balances her career and healthy body. While she has the additional struggle of being a musician, she also realizes that everyone has a job and life will always get in the way. Everyone has excuses why they can’t work out and Amy Marie explains how she overcomes her own excuses.
“When it comes to working out I try to schedule my ‘rest’ workout days on the days I have gigs,” she said. “My other full-time career is running a gym/personal training studio here on the Cape and I find the best way for me to stay motivated to eat healthy and workout is being held accountable by my members there. They look to me for inspiration and ideas on how to balance ‘life’ with being healthy so I try my best to set a good example.”
Amy Marie has many good tips for musicians and also anybody who is trying to balance a busy schedule with a healthy body.
“Twice a week I do a meal prep and make myself plenty of quick meals to have during the week,” Amy Marie said. “For example I cook three chicken breasts, chop all of my lettuce/veggies for my salads, make a couple cups of quinoa or brown rice or sweet potato. I mostly try to follow a balanced macro flexible diet although I tend to eat the same things pretty often. This keeps it easy, especially when I’m not a very picky eater. Once or twice a week I have a treat like some ice cream with my son or some kind of alcoholic beverage after a gig with my band. Some weeks I have more, some I have less.”
Although eating well is a huge part of in staying healthy, Amy Marie also explained her workout schedule.
“I workout at least every other day but probably about five days a week,” she said. “I switch up my routine every few weeks. Being that I work at a gym, Koko FitClub, my training is very easy since most of the time I follow my SmartTraining protocol that I’ve set up for myself based on my fitness goals with our equipment. However, I like to switch it up with at home workouts that I set up with my trainer. They are quick and very intense and help when I need to shred down the pounds quick. I also love to run outdoors a couple of times a week, it’s very good for the body and spirit.”
Moreover, Amy Marie discussed her journey in becoming the healthy, happy woman she is today. Although she first decided to live a healthier life because she was overweight, she believes that what comes first is self-esteem, self-worth, and self-respect. Once you empower yourself, you can achieve the weight loss you want.
“In 2011, I was an overweight, miserable human being with no self-esteem, a very inaccurate body image and very unhealthy lifestyle,” she began. “Up until that point, I had never learned to take care of myself as I spent the majority of my time taking care of others (I became a mother at 20 years old and have three beautiful children). This led me down a very dark path of self-destruction to try and make myself happy. The truth was that happiness was never anyone else’s responsibility but my own. To get to this point I had to hit rock bottom. I realized that the only thing that was truly in my control was two things: what I put in my mouth and how I moved my body.”
“What I realized during that time is that everyone has a set of skills, talents and qualities they can offer to other people that can either help, inspire, motivate or make them have an overall sense of wellness,” Amy Marie continued. “You can make others happy without sacrificing your own happiness just by being yourself. I found these qualities about myself at that time. When I started to take control of what I put in my mouth and how much I moved, I started small: ‘eat less, move more’ was my policy.”
Eventually, Amy Marie started noticing a difference in her body.
“When the weight started dropping off (I was my heaviest at 247 pounds) and others saw me diligently working at it, it became infective and others started following me and asking for advice,” she said. “This accountability has become one of my strongest motivators to stay in shape and continue the healthy lifestyle I’ve adopted.”
Amy Marie concluded with a few more tips for anyone struggling with their weight.
“Anything is possible if you want it bad enough,” she said. “Having a solid support system is essential for any lifestyle change as well as the belief that you are capable and worthy of your own attention and respect. Making time for yourself and your health is as essential for your new physical self as your emotional and mental health. Learn to embrace a healthy relationship with food and fake it until you make it. Even if you hate exercise with a passion, do it anyway and tell yourself you love it. Eventually it becomes habit and before you know it you’re teaching a Zumba class and preaching the benefits of quinoa. It happens.”
Amanda Lee McCarthy
Amanda Lee McCarthyis a singer/songwriter from New Hampshire. She has released two EP’s consisting of all original music. While her music is mostly pop, she also incorporates alternative, rock, country, indie, and blues. McCarthy has won many awards including “Singer/Songwriter of the Year” by Limelight Magazine in 2013.
McCarthy recently spoke with Limelight about her new lifestyle. She explains how she balances the life of being a busy musician with keeping a healthy body. McCarthy acknowledged that staying healthy is hard for a lot of people but it’s especially difficult for musicians due to their chaotic schedules.
“I definitely think there is a challenge that comes along with staying healthy, especially with me in particular,” McCarthy said. “I am on the road driving to gigs very often and when I am at my busiest, it feels as though I live in my car. Not having a lot of time to prepare healthy meals, I used to find myself constantly in the drive thru line at McDonald’s, Dunkin Donuts, etc. It took a lot of discipline to snap out of that habit and choose healthier snacks and meals when I am on the run.’
McCarthy talked about her personal journey towards the happy, healthy woman she is today.
“I was personally very unhappy with my body and my appearance,” she began. “It really clicked with me when I started performing with my band members as opposed to only playing acoustic shows. I realized that always having my guitar in front of me was almost like a safety net and a shield to hide the parts of my body I was insecure about. It made me nervous to really open up and perform to the best of my ability when singing with my band.”
Once McCarthy realized she was unhappy with her appearance, she made a change. Her first step was eating healthier. She went pescatarian for a while and eventually settled on a diet that she was happy with.
“I’ve lost almost thirty pounds and feel much more comfortable on stage now,” she said. “It’s much easier to let loose and get into the music without being so insecure about my appearance, and even off stage, my confidence in my body and myself has skyrocketed.”
McCarthy talked about the strategies she uses to stay healthy while actively pursuing her musical career. She started by talking about the black hole of snacking. Although snacking can be one of weight loss’s biggest enemies, McCarthy explained some ways in which she snacks in a healthy way.
“All gas station marts, in addition to junk food, offer granola/energy bars, trail mix, nuts, peanut butter crackers, (most offer) bananas, and many more great options if you are hungry and need a snack,” she said. “If you feel the need to munch on something, I highly recommend Harvest Snaps. Also, Dunkin Donuts offers their DDSmart menu which has some healthier options lower in fat and calories. I also really enjoy ProSnax snack packs, which I have seen available in both Walmart and Hannaford’s. My final advice, if you have an early start to your day, is to wake up even 20 minutes earlier and eat breakfast at home as opposed to grabbing something on the run. Not only is it better for you but you save money as well!”
Eating well is the most important challenge for someone trying to lose weight but so is working out. McCarthy said that she wishes she had more time to workout but can only fit in some formal walking workouts since she is also a full-time mom to a beautiful two year old daughter. For musicians, or anybody with a busy schedule, McCarthy recommends making diet changes the priority, especially at first. She also recommends switching things up and keeping your diet interesting so you don’t stray.
“I know it’s so tough to balance the on-the-run lifestyle with healthy lifestyle choices,” McCarthy began. “My best advice, especially with food and snacks, is to mix it up. When I eat the same things, I find myself craving a default to a cheeseburger or a bacon filled breakfast sandwich. Mix up your snacks: granola bar one day, fruit the next, nuts the day after. Meals: Don’t just eat salad. Include different vegetables, rices, and a variety of protein. Even if you don’t eat meats, you can find great amounts of protein in fish, beans and avocados.”
McCarthy also spoke about the connection between a healthy body and a healthy mind.
“For me personally, having a healthier body led to me having a healthier mind but it was because of an unhealthy mind that I had an unhealthy body with unhealthy habits,” she said. “However, I’d say that a healthy body can lead to a healthy mind quicker than the other way around. All it takes is the inspiration to start, willpower to avoid the cravings, and the courage to stick it out until you start to see a difference in your body. From there, the inspiration is natural and will carry you through to whatever your own personal health goal may be.”
Erin Elizabeth Ollis (of Thirty 6 Red)
Erin Ollis is a local singer/songwriter born and raised in central Mass. She is both a solo artist and country singer in the band Thirty 6 Red. With a passion for music and also fashion, Ollis told Limelight Magazine about her journey in becoming the confident, healthy woman she is today.
Ollis has joined Thirty 6 Red two years ago, and since then has grown both as a persona and as a musician.
“I couldn’t be happier with how my life has evolved though joining the band,” Ollis said. “I have gained a tremendous amount of confidence and better stage presence. The songs that we perform are a variety of country and rock and, specifically with the rocks songs, I had to completely break out of my shell. My band members knew that I had the potential to break that shell and with their help and guidance, I certainly have.”
As Ollis began to break out of her shell and thrive within the music scene, she noticed one thing that was holding her back. While she wasn’t drastically overweight, she wasn’t happy with the way she was being portrayed as a musician on social media. This pressure was all she needed to start treating her body better by both eating right and exercising.
“I became very disappointed with the way I physically looked in mostly all of the pictures of me on social media,” she said.
Ollis now had the impending pressure of being a touring musician, on top of being a female touring musician. She knew she needed to make a change within her lifestyle but she didn’t know how.
“I then turned to Weight Watchers which really helped me in a positive way,” Ollis said. “Yes, it is a diet plan but it was easy to follow and I became really good at watching my ‘food points.’ I made it a habit to weigh in at their facility every Sunday to track my progress. With the diet came the workout routines. It definitely took time to stick to a specific routine but after a while, it became easier. I stopped looking at it as a ‘diet’ and thought of it more as a lifestyle change.”
Once Ollis committed to her new workout and eating habit she began to lead a far healthier life. Although she doesn’t use Weight Watchers anymore, they taught her how to create a healthy, long-term lifestyle.
“Soon enough people started commenting on my weight loss and it was exciting to tell them how much weight I actually lost,” Ollis said. “I am currently down 39 pounds. I’ve learned how to have more self-control and what I should and shouldn’t be eating. I owe all of my motivation and dedication to Thirty 6 Red. My band members have supported me through it all and without them, I’m not sure what I would be doing today.”
Ollis spoke about how she managed to stay healthy while pursuing her career in music and also her full time job in the Healthcare industry.
“It’s definitely a challenge to get in a workout when the band travels for shows, so if I can’t fit a workout in, I do make sure that I’m not eating junk food all day long,” she said. “Of course, I will still indulge here and there, but I still have a weight goal for myself and don’t want to lose focus.”
When Ollis does have time to workout, she has a very specific routine. One thing she has also discovered is the benefits to doing all different types of workouts.
“I try to workout about four to five times a week, sometimes more,” Ollis said. “I do mix up my workout routines because I’ve noticed that from doing the same type of routine, my body stopped showing results. I recently started taking barre classes, which are really fun. I couldn’t walk for about two days afterwards, but it is definitely one of my favorite workouts.”
Over time, Ollis has gotten into a habit that works for her.
“I’m usually up at 5:20 a.m. to workout before I go to work. I found that this is the best time for me personally to workout because it gets me energized and ready for the day,” Ollis explained. “I’ve definitely become a fan of a few of the Beachbody workouts because even though they are about 30 to 45 minute workouts, they are definitely effective. I also belong to Worcester Fitness, which offers great workout classes such as spin, cardio sport and morning pump, to name a few of my favorites.”
Ollis has great tips for her fellow musicians who struggle with staying healthy on the road.
“If you know that your band will be ordering a bunch of appetizers, be sure to bring your own healthy snacks and keep busy while everyone else is chowing down,” she said. “Whether you’re practicing through your set list for the show or just listening to some new tunes, keep your eye on the prize and stay focused!”
Ollis is now a new woman with even better fashion.
“After I shed a lot of my weight, I knew it was time for a fashion makeover,” she said. “I ended up connecting with my friend and personal stylist, Danielle Marie. She is also the “fashionista Gemini” behind, A Chic Voyage, which is an awesome site where she shares amazing fashion tips and the latest fashion trends. By answering a few questions for her, she was able to transform me into a more confident version of myself. She taught me that it’s okay to show a little skin here and there and to always dress to impress! With her guidance, I’m now not afraid to wear certain outfits that I was too scared to before the weight loss. She has definitely been an inspiration to me!”
Nina McGoffhas been a group fitness instructor for eight years and a personal trainer for four years. She has several group fitness certifications such as Group Fitness Certification, AFAA 2007, BodyCombat, LesMills, BodyPump, LesMills BodyAttack, LesMills Spinning, and MADDOGG. She also has the following training certifications: TRX Suspension Trainer, Personal Trainer, NASM, and TRX Rip Trainer, and is certified as a level 1 Nutrition Coach, Precision Nutrition.
McGoff has a true passion for the work she does and spoke with Limelight Magazine about what inspired her to become a personal trainer and what keeps her passionate about her work.
“After teaching a class one day, a woman approached me and told me that my class was the best part of her day and that she has been feeling great since attending regularly and I knew right there and then that I wanted to do it full-time,” McGoff said. “I love being part of someone’s journey to a better self. Helping people fall in love with fitness, that’s inspiring.”
Many touring musicians struggle with balancing their career and healthy bodies. McGoff spoke about this struggle.
“The challenging schedule is probably the biggest hurdle,” she said. “It’s hard to make healthy choices when constantly on the road or on the go. It can be done, but it takes a very conscious effort.”
McGoff had great advice to give musicians struggling with staying healthy while on tour.
“Start focusing on making better choices no matter what your options or situation is,” McGoff said. “If fast food is the only option, ask for a side of fruit instead of fries, chose a bottled water instead of a sugary fountain drink. Protein bars and drinks can be great on the go options. Make an effort to hit the hotel gym (if available) or get out and exercise even if it’s just for 15-20 minutes daily when on the road. A little can make a big difference.”
McGoff loves music and uses it to pump her up while working out. She talked about what she likes to listen to and why,
“Anything that inspires me to work harder, run faster,” McGoff said. “When I’m running I like anything with a beat that builds up and drops an intense beat for a short amount time, it pushes me to go faster even if just for 10 seconds. And, I love listening to old school hip-hop and reggae when I’m strength training.”
Visit “FIT with Nina” on Facebook by clicking HERE. This page is loaded with helpful tips on how to eat healthy and exercise regularly.
Halloween may be over but the Hudson Horror Show is gearing up for 12-hours of horror and cult 35-mm films on Saturday, December 3, 2016, from noon to midnight at Empire South Hills 8 in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
Now in its sixth year, Chris Alo founded the Hudson Horror Show in 2010. At that time, he planned to host only one show, but because of its enormous success, he has continued programing and hosting this biennial event ever since.
For these movie marathons, people come from all over the Northeast to attend them. Each event is a 12-hour movie marathon where Alo chooses six films to show — five announced movies and one surprise feature. People are also drawn to this event because of the wonderful reputation that the local vendors at the show have acquired, selling a variety of horror-themed merchandise and more.
In an interview with Limelight Magazine, Alo introduced us to a boy destined to be hosting horror movie marathons.
“I was the first guy to get two VCRs and now I’m the first guy to get a surround sound system,” Alo said. “I was always the guy who was having my friends over to watch movies. Having access to all the different versions of film, I would hunt out rare and obscure movies and trailers. I have always been a big fan of horror and sci-fi so I was always the guy who was presenting movies to my friends.”
As the years went on, Alo’s love for both the genres of horror and sci-fi and his passion for 35-mm screenings grew. He attended many 35-mm movie screenings with his wife Denise McGuigan and one day she said to him, ‘Wow, you enjoy this so much, why don’t you try putting on your own show?’”
Along with the support of his wife, Alo had a friend who has greatly helped him on his journey.
“I had a friend [Tad Leger] who worked for Grindhouse Releasing and specialized in re-releasing films on 35-mm,” Alo said. “So we got together and we put the first show together, thinking that we’ll do it this one time and never do it again, but it was a huge success and here we are 20 shows later.”
Alo is very passionate about screening movies off 35-mm. He finds this type of movie projection very special and nostalgic and many people agree with him.
“I’m an old guy and I’m a nostalgic guy,” Alo began. “I like collecting old comic books and old toys and old posters. So to me, seeing these movies the way they were meant to be seen is very much a nostalgic thing. It’s like playing a record. It might not have the crystal clear sound of a CD. It might have the occasional hop or scratch but the whole thing of putting a record on a turntable and lifting the arm all adds to the experience and the charm of it and to me it’s the same thing as showing movies the way they were meant to be seen off 35-mm film with tons of old school 35-mm drive-in trailers before each movie.”
Since the first Hudson Horror Show which took place on May 22, 2010, this event has grown and evolved. Part of the event’s continued success is due to their endurance. In 2010, 35-mm screenings were more popular but as many theaters stopped screening in this format, the Hudson Horror Show became a bigger commodity.
“So now, us showing movies exclusively off 35-mm film has definitely grown to mean much more than it did,” Alo said.
Two more changes have also taken place over the past six years which has greatly influenced the Hudson Horror Show. Although the shows are usually hosted at Empire South Hills 8, Alo has also partnered with Alamo Drafthouse in Yonkers, NY, where he occasionally hosts shows. With more accessibility to theaters due to his reputation, Alo has been able to expand his events more and more as the years go on.
“When we started we were in one theater but we’ve grown so popular over the past six years that we actually are in two rooms now in the same theater now,” Alo said, “What we have now is two separate festivals running at the same time and we alternate the schedule.”
This year’s Hudson Horror takes place on December 3rd at Empire South Hills 8 in Poughkeepsie, NY. The films which have already been announced are I Spit On Your Grave (1978), Robocop (1987), The Howling, Death Race 2000, and The Hitcher (1986). There will also be a screening of a sixth surprise film.
These six films will be shown in theaters #1 and #6. Get your tickets soon because theater #6 is already sold out! Both rooms will be playing the same movies just in a different order. You can check out the schedule HERE.
“The lineup I think is really good,” Alo said. “I’m biased but I think some of the lineups in the past were not as strong as this one.”
Along with the announced lineup, Alo spoke about the mystery movie.
“We have a great horror mystery movie,” he said. “I can’t say much about it but it’s definitely a fan favorite.”
Alo talked about the way in which he chooses the films for each event. He said that he likes to focus on variety so there is something for everyone to enjoy whether you prefer the funny horror movie, serious horror movie, sci-fi horror movie, etc.
“I think that’s kind of our niche,” Alo explained. “Other people will program a show where they’re running five zombie movies in a row or five Friday the 13th movies in a row but I think mixing it up makes it more interesting because there will be something for everyone.”
Alo spoke about the struggle he faces when trying to choose movies and then finding them. For instance, he talks about two movies that he hasn’t been able to find which are both fan favorites and a Limelight Magazine favorite.
“I absolutely love the Death Wish movies,” Alo said. “The problem, which is a problem that always plagues us, is we don’t know anybody who has 35-mm film prints of the [first two] Death Wish movies, but if we could find them we would definitely love to run them.”
Along with the movie screenings, there will be many local vendors at the show who will be selling a variety of merchandise available to anyone even if you don’t buy a ticket to see the movies.
“We will have about 20 vendors,” Alo said. “The way the theater is set up we have like a double lobby. There’s an outside lobby and an inside lobby. So we fill up both lobby areas with about 20 vendor tables and they sell all sorts of merchandise such as t-shirts, posters, magnets, comic books, action figures, homemade art, art prints, homemade horror related keychains, CDs, Blu-rays, just all sorts of stuff.”
Along with running these successful movie marathons, Alo has also been a successful magazine and newspaper writer for the past fourteen years. He has written for magazine such as Hit Parader, Circus, Metal Maniacs, and Metal Edge, and interviewed many hard rock bands such as Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Guns N’ Roses, Slipknot, Disturbed, Rush and Judas Priest.
“I interview bands, do concert photography, and do concert reviews, mostly for heavy metal bands,” Alo said.
Although many of the magazines that Alo has written for are unfortunately no longer published because the internet put them out of business, Alo still writes.
“Now I write for More Sugar Magazine, which is a local entertainment newspaper,” he said. “There is also a magazine in South America that I write for called Roadie Crew.”
Tickets for the December 3rd Hudson Horror Show are just $38.00 in advance and can be purchased HERE.
Throughout 2016, Limelight Magazine has spotlighted a number of great film score composers and the soundtracks they created, primarily in the horror movie genre. We think everyone would agree that classic films such as Psycho, Halloween and Friday the 13th just wouldn’t be the same without their memorable scores.
When we found out that J. Blake Fichera, of New York, recently authored a book called Scored to Death: Conversations with Some of Horror’s Greatest Composers, we couldn’t wait to interview him for a feature story.
In his book, Fichera interviewed 14 renowned film score composers who have created music for such films as The Beyond, The Conjuring, Friday the 13th, Halloween, Hellraiser, House of the Devil, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Supsiria and many more. Among the composers he interviewed are: Nathan Barr, Charles Bernstein, Joseph Bishara, Simon Boswell, John Carpenter, Jay Chattaway, Fabio Frizzi, Jeff Grace, Maurizio Guarini, Tom Hajdu, Alan Howarth, Harry Manfredini, Claudio Simonetti, and Christopher Young.
In our interview with Fichera, he spoke about why he chose to write Scored to Death, how he chose each composer, the format of his book, and a number of other interesting things.
“My favorite kinds of books are film and music-related non-fiction and horror film scores are a genre of music that I am passionate about,” Fichera said. “So the decision to write Scored to Death actually, kind of, came out of necessity. I really wanted to read a book like it but I couldn’t find one, so I decided to write it myself.”
Fichera explained why he felt confident about writing the book due to his experience interviewing artists.
“I have been interviewing musicians and film-related people for various publications and websites, off and on, for years,” Fichera said. “In my own mind, it didn’t seem that crazy at the time. Had I not had experience as an interviewer, I may have been too intimidated to actually go through with it but I knew that talking to artists about what they do was something I really loved doing. So I decided to just go for it and now, almost 3 years later, the book has been completed, published, released and luckily, the feedback has been pretty good.”
Fichera is obviously a skilled writer, editor, producer, and musician. Although his parents were not musicians, music has always been a big part of his life, starting with the influence of his grandfather.
“My grandfather was actually a dancer, singer and one half of a comedy duo called Fisher and Marks,” Fichera said. “They were the comic relief in a couple of forgotten music-themed movies in the 1950s and had a live act, etc. I guess music and performing may be in my DNA somewhere, but my grandfather died when I was pretty young so I don’t think he was a direct influence on my love for music and performing live.”
Although his parents were not musicians, they kindled Fichera’s love for music during his childhood that has continued into the present day.
“My parents and my older brother are all music-lovers, with pretty eclectic tastes and I think that is where my love for music, and so many different kinds of music, stems from,” he said. “Listening to music is just something I always did and then when I was in high school, I started playing guitar. Now as an adult, I perform live regularly in New York City.”
In Scored to Death, Fichera interviewed a variety of classic and contemporary film composers over the phone, with the exception of Fabio Frizzi which was done by e-mail because of the language barrier.
“I love horror film music so picking composers I liked and wanted to talk to was my first priority,” Fichera began. “That was really the most important thing to me, because this was a passion project. I didn’t have a publisher when I started. I was doing this on my own and for myself, so I wanted to enjoy the experience! Also, of course, featuring some composers of iconic scores from iconic horror films was important but I’d say even more important to me, was interviewing a diverse group of artists. I really wanted to cover as wide a spectrum of horror film music and artistry as I could.”
Scored to Death is a great read especially for anyone who is interested in horror film scores. One interesting thing about the book is the way it’s structured with self-contained interviews. This way, readers can jump from one composer to another without necessarily reading the book from beginning to end.
“I didn’t really have a format in mind when I started writing, because I didn’t know what I was going to get,” Fichera said. “I think one of the book’s biggest strengths is that the interviews feel very conversational. I think because of that, giving each of the composers their own chapter, seemed to be the best option. I really just wanted to do whatever would serve the book best and ultimately I decided that keeping each interview/conversation intact seemed to be the way I would want to read them.”
Fichera enjoyed interviewing all of the 14 composers. He said each of them had something interesting and unique to add to the book.
“I think all of the composers really opened up and had very insightful things to say about themselves, their work, their process, the business, etc.,” Fichera said. “What I will say though, is that I’ve had more than a few people tell me that they like how ‘raw’ the Christopher Young interview is and I think that is because Chris and I got a bit into the nitty-gritty, regarding the ups and downs of being a composer in the film industry, and he was extremely candid and honest about it. It seems that many readers are finding that part of his interview very enlightening and interesting.”
Despite being very happy with the composers he chose to interview, Fichera said there were some that he wanted to interview but wasn’t able to.
“Two of the biggest deciding factors regarding who actually ended up in the book were (1) could I find contact information for them and (2) did they get back to me,” he said. “Nobody declined to participate, but several people or their agents just never got back to me. Now that could be because the contact information I found was false or out of date, etc., but nonetheless, they are not in the book.”
Fichera doesn’t have a favorite horror movie composer but he did mention one of his biggest inspirations.
“The biggest inspirations for my pursuing the book were probably John Carpenter and the band Goblin,” Fichera said.
Due to Fichera’s passion for many horror movies, he couldn’t possibly pick a favorite.
“I don’t have one favorite horror film but I will say that one of my favorite horror films is John Carpenter’s The Thing,” Fichera said.
Fichera said he has been inspired and intrigued by the genre of horror for a while now.
“In one way or another, horror has always been a very big part of my life,” he said. “Although I didn’t get serious about horror films and really start to study them and explore all aspects of them until high school and then especially in film school/college.”
Fichera promoted the book with a signing at Dark Delicacies in Burbank, CA, on August 21, 2016. He talked about how he found out about the store.
“I took a trip to Los Angeles in the spring and had the great pleasure and honor of hanging out with a few of the composers featured in the book,” Fichera said. “While at dinner with Harry Manfredini and Joseph Bishara, they told me that I should check out this bookstore called Dark Delicacies while I was in town because they thought I would love it.”
One thing led to another and the store owners Sue and Del Howison ended up hosting Fichera for a signing at their store. While many of the composers whom Fichera interviewed attended the event, Fichera was surprised to see Charles Bernstein and Alan Howarth in attendance. This was Fichera’s first time meeting them. He talked about the experience and the support he received.
“I knew Harry, Joseph and Chris would come because those are three of the composers I spent time with during my spring trip to LA and they all expressed that they would definitely be there,” Fichera began. “Several of the other composers that live in the area expressed that they would love to attend, if their scheduled permitted, so that was the reason for the uncertainty regarding Charles and Alan. I knew they wanted to come but I wasn’t sure they would be able to. Thankfully they did show up!”
Fichera has been surprised by his own success and thrilled by the outcome at the Dark Delicacies signing.
“The signing was amazing! I had never done one before, so I don’t know what a ‘good turnout’ is for that kind of thing but the store’s owners seemed happy. So that made me happy,” Fichera said. “To me it was a bit like a dream. Before the signing, Joseph Bishara and I were standing around chatting and he commented, ‘Hey people are starting to line up already. That’s great!’ For some reason I replied, ‘Yeah, but they are all here to see you guys (meaning the composers, not me)’ and he looked at me and said, ‘Maybe, but we are all here because of you and to support your book. Don’t forget that.’ Which left me kind of speechless because I never really thought about it that way. For some reason, it hadn’t sunk in that five of horror’s most iconic composers were not only in the same room together but they were there, specifically to support the book and me!”
Fichera also spoke about how glad he is that many boutique labels, such as Mondo, Death Waltz and Waxwork Records, are now filling the void in the marketplace by releasing horror movie soundtracks on vinyl.
“I am extremely happy that these scores are having a renaissance and being distributed,” Fichera said. “It is about time that these composers and their amazing work are being highlighted and given their due. I do have to admit though, that I don’t love the ‘limited edition’ and ‘variant’ aspects of that business. It has been getting better because labels are now releasing less limited ‘standard’ editions of soundtracks in addition to the ‘limited editions’ but much like variant comic book covers and the way the DVD/Blu-ray industry releases a new-and-improved edition of beloved films every year or so, I can’t help but feel like it preys on and takes advantage of the loyalty and passion of the true fans and collectors.”
Most of the feedback that Scored to Death has received so far has been positive. Fichera talked about his surprise due to the positive reaction that he hadn’t expected but gladly accepts.
“There haven’t been that many formal reviews but the ones that have been written are favorable,” Fichera said. “The book was just included on a list of ‘10 Essential Books for the Horror Fan,’ which is amazing because it is in some very good company. The coolest thing though, and something I totally wasn’t expecting, is that people are sending me and posting pictures of their personal copies of the book on social media. I find that amazing and a bit surreal. That’s my baby popping up in pictures from all over the world! I love that and I’m grateful to everyone that has purchased a copy and has supported the book and I hope they enjoy reading it as much I enjoyed working on it.”
You can grab your copy of Scored to Death: Conversations with Some of Horror’s Greatest Composers on Amazon by clicking HERE and it can be ordered at most local bookstores.
“I’m hoping to do more signings and I will be selling and signing books at various horror conventions in the future,” Fichera said. “If people are interested in that kind of stuff or just want to keep up with all things Scored to Death, they can follow the book on Facebook and Twitter @ScoredtoDeath.”
Also check out one of Fichera’s other projects.
“I co-host a very fun and nostalgic movie-themed podcast called Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers,” Fichera said. “If you love movies and listen to podcasts, give us a listen when you get a chance. It’s available on iTunes and most other podcast sites and apps and people can follow that on Facebook and Twitter as well, if they like.”
Music and entertainment coverage since October 2006!