Category Archives: Up & Coming Artists

Kate Eppers finds ‘The Wishing Well’

BY JAY KENNEY

Kate Eppers is a singer, songwriter and actress from Salem, Mass., who just released her catchy debut album The Wishing Well. The album contains seven songs with each song telling a story of the stages Eppers was going through in the summer of 2014. It starts off sad, angry, confused, as she was going through something very traumatic at the time. Then, the songs change, transitioning to the soundtrack of a truly euphonic state, as she was falling madly in love. The album ends with an instrumental that is compilation of all the songs on the album. After listening to it from start to finish, we knew she was someone we wanted to feature in Limelight Magazine. What follows is our interview with Eppers where she candidly answered our questions about her album, acting career and some other interesting things.

Kate Eppers debut solo album is called “The Wishing Well” (PHOTO BY JEREMY DORSON PHOTOGRAPHY, SUBMITTED BY KATE EPPERS)

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE (LM): You just released your debut studio album The Wishing Well on March 17th. You started the songwriting process in 2014 and it finally came to fruition three years later. How do you feel about the finished product?

KATE EPPERS: I feel the album came out completely different than I thought it would, better than I ever dreamed. Originally, I thought this was going to be a three song EP, but the songs just kept coming. They flew out of me in such a brief period, less than two months. I wrote most of the songs on my keyboard. I knew I would keep the piano in most of them but I never imagined what the songs would evolve into through the production process. “Burn This City to the Ground” was powerful enough in its organic state of piano and vocals, but once the guitars, strings, and toms were brought in, the song took an even darker turn. “Follow Me” was beautiful to me in its simplicity, but once flutes, drums and dreamy flowing strings were incorporated, it became almost unrecognizable. The results are very satisfying, reminiscent of Disney I’ve been told. The Wishing Well now as a completed album has surprised me as the songs took on a life of their own. I am surprised at what the evolution of the music produced, and I couldn’t be happier with the results.

LM: Your album has a theme to it, with each song telling a story of the stages you were going through in the summer of 2014. Can you elaborate on this for our readers because understating the order of songs and how the record flows adds a special dimension to it? 

KATE EPPERS: This album truly is a time stamp of my life during the summer of 2014, except for “Prove That You’re Real” which I wrote years prior. The songs were written as I was experiencing extreme pain and extreme happiness (mostly happiness). At times my feelings were simultaneous with the writing of the songs. Other times the writing took place after the fact when I was in a place, a state where I was better able to channel those emotions into the creation of a song. The songs were specifically placed in consecutive order of which they were written. “Silence” begins my story which is a somber song of betrayal and sorrow. Following this was “For Me There’s Only You” in which I crafted a song using my fantasy obsessed imagination. This was a tale of an immortal woman searching for her long dead lover. I had the chorus and melody in my head for years, but had never moved forward with bringing it life. “Burn This City to the Ground” was a poem I wrote to deal with the same trauma I was going through when I wrote “Silence”. The decision to turn this into a song was ultra-challenging, as I have never written words before music before. Upon completion of writing this song, I was elated as it turned out as I had hoped. [It’s] dark, dramatic, and melodic. The next two songs “Follow Me” and “The Wishing Well” flowed out of me in such a natural way as I fell in love again (intensely). I fell into a state of euphoria in which I had never experienced or knew possible! I hope this comes through in the album – a feeling of pure happiness, of dreams coming true.

LM: Of the seven songs on the album, do you have a particular favorite and why?

KATE EPPERS: An honorable mention would be “Follow me”. It was my way of asking the man I was falling in love with to be with me always, to never leave my side. However, I would say the title track “The Wishing Well” is my absolute favorite, mostly due to the severe emotionality and honesty it represents. I was falling so deeply in love, and existing in such a magical world when I wrote this. This song personifies the passion and intensity of that relationship, of that blessed moment in time. When I listen to it, I get intense chills as powerful images and feelings are awoken. It’s so overpowering that I cannot always listen.

LM: The final song on the album is an instrumental compilation of tracks called “Medley of the Melodies.” This adds a nice touch. Why did you decide to close the album like this? 

KATE EPPERS: About halfway through the recording process of this album, I started playing around on the piano attempting to see if any of the songs fit into each other. I imagined a medley would be a fun and creative way to wrap up the journey that these songs take you through. It’s a way to recap all the collective melodies which represent my words, my heart and my life. Originally, it was just going to be piano. Upon the completion of recording the medley, I longed to hear other instruments and plug-ins dancing around the keys. I also thought it would be a treat to hear the melodies from The Wishing Well come alive in another way. It was exciting to hear parts of “For Me There’s Only You” with dark undertones, an organ and a chorus! “Follow me” turned string heavy and classical, romantic. “Medley of the Melodies” was the very last song completed on the album.

LM: After listening to The Wishing Well, many of the songs have a Blackmore’s Night vibe making them very unique. You’re vocal style is also similar to their vocalist Candice Night. Were you familiar with Blackmore’s Night when you recorded the album? Has anyone else compared you to them?

KATE EPPERS: What’s funny is last week an actor I worked with on an independent film sent me a message asking if I had ever heard of Blackmore’s Night. He stated it strongly reminded him of my music. I was not familiar with them and now I am absolutely a fan. “Magical Night” sounds like a beautiful, medieval, Celtic fantasy come to life! Any comparison between me and them is a huge compliment that I’m happy to take. Candace Night has such a unique, sweet voice. Music that evokes fantastical imagery is something that I will be hooked on immediately.

LM: Who are some of your biggest influences in the music industry that impacted the recording of The Wishing Well or inspired you to be a singer-songwriter?

KATE EPPERS: I grew up adoring Mariah Carey, as well as obsessively singing and listening to all Disney music. (I still LOVE Disney and was in Disneyworld and Disneyland this year). As a tween, I went to a Tori Amos concert and was fortunate enough to meet her. I went with a good friend and her father was friends with the amazing Matt Chamberlain who at the time was Tori’s drummer. Tori was so sweet and kind and I became a super fan. She heavily influenced me with her beautiful, operatic voice flowing through her piano heavy, unique, experimental songs. She truly does not fit into one specific genre, and her songs can change their sound from album to album. My favorite album of hers, if I had to pick one, would be To Venus and Back. “Concertina” may be my favorite Tori Amos song of all time.

LM: Do you plan to do any touring to support your new album?

KATE EPPERS: I am hoping to have a CD release show sooner than later! I have to gather the pieces all together. Stay tuned for CD release show information as it’s scheduled. In the meantime, I play with my cover band (Teal Street Band) typically at weddings and private parties. We will be at Bunratty tavern in Reading, Mass., on Thursday, June 15, from 7 to 10pm.

LM: Along with the new album, you’ve recently updated your website, kateepers.com. Besides this site, what other ways can people access your music online?

KATE EPPERS: I am happy to announce kateeppers.com is live! In addition to this I have a very active YouTube page with the music video “For Me There’s Only You” from The Wishing Well. (Click HERE to view this video). This video was filmed in my hometown of Salem, Massachusetts, by Astropiano films. My music can be downloaded on iTunes and Amazon, or streamed  free on Spotify, SoundCloud and Reverbnation. My website also offers a few free downloads.

LM: Outside of music, you are also an actress. You have a cool demo reel on Vimeo. Do you have any acting or film related projects in the works?

KATE EPPERS: I had the pleasure of playing a lead in the upcoming film entitled The Chair from Bald Dog Productions. It was filmed in Boston at the end of 2016 and is now in post-production. This is a 1920s-themed period film. I have a song in the movie called “Show You A Good Time”. This was co-written by the insanely talented Boston rock band One Time Mountain! From writing and producing the song with OTM, all the way to filming my scenes, it was an unbelievable experience. I can’t wait for the film to be done. I am also just beginning to study a script for an upcoming horror movie in which I will be contributing music to as well.

LM: Do you have a preference for music or acting or do you like both equally?

KATE EPPERS: It’s hard to pick just one. I adore being part of a project which incorporates both of my favorite things, music and acting. I have found the act of completing an album to be so exciting and fulfilling. With that being said, there is nothing more fun than being part of a live musical theater show with an incredible cast dancing and singing all around you! Before having my own music video, I was featured in eight or so music videos for other artists, typically playing “the girl” in the video. Performing in music videos is crazy fun and addictive. It’s another example of incorporating acting and music together. It’s me completely in my element.

LM: Anything you’d like to add to this interview?

KATE EPPERS: Thank you so much to Limelight Magazine for taking the time to listen to my album and allow me to open up about something so personal and pivotal in my life. I appreciate it so very much! Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share.

Kate Eppers (PHOTO BY LEE MAC PHOTO, SUBMITTED BY KATE EPPERS)

Sinners Inc. to open for Black ‘N Blue at Narrows Center in Fall River

BY JULIA CIRIGNANO

photo-sinner-inc-kathy-silvia-aka-mama-ballz
Sinners Inc. (PHOTO BY KATHY SILVIA (A.K.A. MAMA BALLZ), SUBMITTED BY MATT SINNER)

Are you excited for the Black ‘N Blue show on July 20th at the Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River, Mass.? Well, it’s time to get even more pumped because JKB Entertainment Group has just announced that Sinners Inc. is the support act for the show! Purchase tickets HERE.

Sinners Inc. perfects the combination of both classic and modern rock music. The band has been inspired by classic rock bands such as Ozzy Osbourne, Black Sabbath, KISS, Van Halen, ZZ Top, Metallica, Anthrax, and Iron Maiden. They cover many of these bands and popular rock bands, pulling off exceptional covers of songs by The Pretty Reckless.

While they have accomplished this goal and draw audiences to their shows with both their skills and charisma, they now hope to push the limit of rock even farther by creating their own modern rock n’ roll music.

Limelight Magazine recently spoke with one of the band’s guitarists Matt Sinner about this amazing opportunity they have to open up for Black ‘N Blue’s first New England appearance in over 30 years.

“It is such an honor to be picked to open up for Black ‘N Blue,” Sinner said. “They’ve always been one of my favorite bands, so you can see it’s kind of a dream come true. I’m talking about ‘Hold On To Eighteen’, ‘Autoblast’, ‘Chains Around Heaven.’ Those songs are great and this should be a great show. I’m excited just talking about it!!”

This show will be Sinners Inc.’s first time performing at the Narrows Center.

“It’s very cool to be playing The Narrows Center,” Sinner said. “I’ve heard a lot of good things about the venue. I see there is a lot of top notch bands that have graced that stage, so it will be great to rock it. Sinners Inc. have been fortunate enough to play some of New England’s best venues including The Cannery in Southbridge, Mass., and the very popular JR’s Fastlane in Cranston, R.I., where a lot of our good friends and fans love to go.”

Sinners Inc. originated in Groton, CT. The band has been playing together for over three years and focuses on creating modern rock music. Besides Sinner, band members include Ally Gatcomb, William Spettman, Justin Grimm and new member Jake Perry who will make his live debut at JR‘s Fastlane in Cranston, R.I., on March 31st.

“Sinners Inc. was formed out of our love to do something different,” Sinner explained. “The covers we do are cutting edge and from modern bands like The Pretty Reckless, Halestorm, In this Moment, Shinedown, and Pop Evil. Our originals are a direct reflection of what’s new and modern sounding.”

While Sinners Inc. prefers to play their original, modern rock tunes they also enjoy playing covers from some of their favorite bands.

“In a perfect world we would be playing all original music but doing the cover thing has really helped us get into some great clubs and venues, then we sneak our original stuff into the set,” Sinner said.

Sinners Inc. has been inspired by classic rock and metal bands yet as a modern rock band, Sinners Inc. hopes to follow in these legendary band’s footsteps while still creating original music.

“I do believe we’re in touch with what’s new and fresh coming out today,” Sinner explained. “It’s quite exciting to be the first to do this stuff and a lot of fun to play.”

Because of the band’s dedication to candid covers along with their original music, Sinners Inc. refers to themselves both as a rock band and a cover/tribute band.

“Maybe we are a tribute to the modern hard and heavy and I don’t mind that at all,” Sinner said.

No matter what music they’re rocking, Sinners Inc. is a performance driven band.

“Our band just has such a great chemistry when we perform,” Sinner said. “We’re all such great friends and you can really tell we enjoy what we do and have a fun time doing it.”

Throughout the past three years they have been playing together, Sinner mentioned some of his personal favorite shows they’ve played.

“In September we played the Stafford Palace in Stafford, CT, with Metal Queen Doro Pesch,” he explained. “That was definitely a blast and to get some great compliments was priceless. A lot of our friends came out to support us which made it even better.”

Sinners Inc. also has big plans for the future. In their spirit of stepping out of the box and creating unique rock music, the band is currently working on recording a new album.

“We are currently recording a new CD that we should have done late spring or early summer,” Sinner said. “It’s new fresh modern music that I know will go over well everywhere we play.”

Sinners Inc. is beyond excited to open up for Black ‘N Blue on July 20th and would like to thank JKB Entertainment Group/Limelight Magazine for making it happen.

“Last I would personally like to thank [the co-owners of JKB Entertainment Group] Jay and Katie for hooking this up for us and all of you at the legendary Limelight Magazine,” Sinner said. “It has been so awesome working with you all and I hope this is the beginning of a great relationship. I would also like to give a shout out to my band mates Ally Gatcomb, Justin Grimm, Jake Perry and Will Spettman. I love you guys and it’s such a pleasure to share this with you.”

The Narrows Center is located at 16 Anawan Street in Fall River, Mass. Tickets to this show can be purchased by clicking HERE or by calling the box office at 508-324-1926. For those wanting to purchase tickets in person, box office hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 12 noon to 5 p.m.

Exit 18 aims high

BY JULIA CIRIGNANO

Exit 18 is the love child of Paramore and The Pretty Reckless. The band consists of Julia Perry, lead vocals and occasional pianist, and her brother Dylan Perry on drums. Perry also twitches off lead vocals with Sean Leahy who also plays guitar. In addition, Doug Mears plays guitar and Darren Muise plays bass.

Julia Perry encompasses the sexy rage of Taylor Momsen creating a perfect contrast between Leahy’s vocals while the band carries roaring instrumentals. Whether Perry is rocking pigtails or black lace, her songs carry the same emotion driven sensibility contrasting with attitude and pure rock n’ roll.

Exit 18’s music deals with relatable topics such as relationships, pain, femininity, masculinity, and everything in between. For example, one of the band’s most popular songs titled “Seventeen” is a trippy coming of age rock tune. Check out this video of Exit 18 performing the song at The Hard Rock Cafe in Boston by clicking HERE.

All originating from Beverly, Mass., (right off exit 18 on Route 128) these five musicians are far more talented than their age may suggest. Julia Perry and Leahy are 18, Mears and Muise are 19, and Dylan Perry is 21. Age occasionally restricts the band from playing at specific venues or playing later shows. Besides that, the band has chosen to use their age to their advantage.

“I wouldn’t know if my age affects how I perform,” Julia Perry said. “I can’t possibly get an objective perspective on that. If anything my age is a force of passion for me, everyone loves to patronize the baby. I feed on that. It riles me up.”

All five members of Exit 18 have known each over for several years. Julia Perry, Muise, and Mears first formed a band called One Track Mind with other musicians that eventually morphed into Exit 18, replacing the members they lost with Leahy and Dylan Perry. Muise shifted from playing drums to playing bass and Dylan Perry picked up drums.

“We all were members of ‘rock school,’ which was a music program that brought local kids together to play rock and roll run by our now manager Randy Leventhal,” Julia Perry said. “We played covers back then [of songs by] Velvet Revolver, Foo Fighters, Talking Heads, Audioslave, My Chemical Romance, etc. It was liberating.”

Loving what they do and hoping to expand, the band reached a turning point in the spring of 2016 which Julia Perry considers the first day of their musical career.

“In the spring of 2016 we met Bryan LaMontagne or BL the Hook Slaya, as we call him,” Julia Perry said. “He was a prominent hip hop producer, who by some incredible twist of fate moved his studio next to The Music Connection, which had always been our lifelong practice space. He heard us through the walls and felt something. That was the first day of our career.”

Since Exit 18 plays many gigs in Beverly, Mass and surround towns, they have the support of many friends and locals music fans.

“It’s so surreal to feel this kind of support so close to home,” Julia Perry said. “Playing your own music in front of people comes with such a sense of vulnerability, to be validated in that kind of expression is just the best feeling. The fact that people seem to give a shit about the words we have to say? Since when! Y’know?”

Julia Perry and the entire band have grown and learned to love the thrill of performing. One of the biggest shows for this band was when they played at The Hard Rock Cafe in Boston in 2014. They had a great time at the show and have played at this venue three times since then. Another one of Julia Perry’s favorite shows took place in May 2016.

“The first show we played with Dylan at Pickled Onion last May was hype,” Julia Perry said. “He brought this shot of energy that just permeated through the whole band. We also played a movie gala last summer for a book called No Backing Down, we walked the red carpet, met a few NFL players; it felt like the beginning of something real to be honest.”

The entire band is full of youthful energy, especially Julia Perry who, when she gets on stage, transforms to an angry rocker with both grace and sass. Through her music and especially her performances, Julia Perry is able to transform into the woman she wants to be and the superhero that her fans look up to.

“I pour everything I have to offer into the music that I write and performing it is just beyond cathartic,” she explained. “In school, kids are always taught to sit down, shut up and listen. It’s brainwashing! But on stage, I am allowed to share my thoughts and ideas unapologetically. It’s the freedom of expression that feels so good. It’s like performing brings me back to my body when I’m so swept away in meaningless bullshit. I can become this version of myself who is just free and wild and present, I feel limitless, it’s electrifying.”

Exit 18 is managed by Randy Leventhal, both a fellow musician and mentor whom the whole band has known for many years.

“We’ve been with our boy since ‘nam,” Leahy said about Leventhal. “He practically raised us. I can’t think of anyone I have more respect for. He set the precedent of what it means to be a rock band real early for us. Truly our best friend.”

Exit 18 has recently been recording a full length album at Hook Slaya Recording Studios in Danvers, Mass., with Leventhal and LaMontagne.

“We have a plethora of songs ready to go!” Dylan Perry said. “We’re fortunate to have two unbelievable singer/songwriters in the band. Julia’s dynamics are demonstrated by her powerful and sensual vocals and lyrics that still exemplify her innate vulnerability. She draws inspiration from The Deftones and Portishead, which provide our band with some darker undertones. On the other hand, Sean has gift for writing infectious rock songs with pop sensibilities. His riffs reflect Green Day, supplemented with Beatles like complex harmonies. The dichotomy of Sean and Julia’s respective style form a surprisingly cohesive sound. They balance each other out. The world’s not ready to hear it.”

The band is currently putting all of their energy into both the music and logistics of this new album. The band is both working hard and dreaming big.

“Goal number 1 is to make our record sound unbelievable,” Mears said. “Chris Gehringer of New York City’s Sterling Sound (who already mastered a seven song demo for us) is the industry’s best master engineer and has agreed to master our full album. We gotta make sure our mixes are ripping for him. With Grammy nominated producer BL The Hook Slaya [Bryan LaMontagne] that shouldn’t be a problem. Goal number 2 is to release our first full-length debut album with label support. New York City entertainment layer Wallace Collins currently represents us. He has represented some of the industry’s top artists. We are fortunate to have him shopping our project and generating interest from multiple major labels. With that being said, we believe it is within our realm to tour the world and single-handedly save rock and roll.”

Look out for a Exit 18 remix coming soon!

“The number one Latin producers in the world Alcover & Xtassy are remixing our forthcoming single,” said Muise. “Danza Kuduro anyone?”

Exit 18 will be playing The Hard Rock Cafe in Boston this Saturday, February 11. They will be joined by Flight of Fire (who are filming a live music video), A Simple Complex, Soundstreet and Sons Lunaris. The band will also be playing at The Spotlight in Beverly in May, as well as a few shows in Amherst where Dylan Perry goes to school.

“Like” their page on Facebook by clicking HERE for updates on the band!

Exit 18 (PHOTO BY DYLAN STAID, SUBMITTED BY DYLAN PERRY)
Exit 18 (PHOTO BY DYLAN STAID, SUBMITTED BY DYLAN PERRY)

Shanna Jackman: Practicing the art of giving through music

BY JULIA CIRIGNANO

Shanna Jackman (PHOTO BY JUSTIN MAYOTTE PHOTOGRAPHY, SUBMITTED BY SHANNA JACKMAN)
Shanna Jackman (PHOTO BY JUSTIN MAYOTTE PHOTOGRAPHY, SUBMITTED BY SHANNA JACKMAN)

Shanna Jackman is the United States military’s biggest fan and you should be hers. Raised by both a musical and military family, it’s no surprise that she has pursued a career as a singer/songwriter with her main focus being military support. Jackman is a true American country artist with a passion for singing the National Anthem, riding her motorcycle, and dedicating her life to the men and women who have dedicated theirs to our country.

Jackman’s love for music started during her early childhood. Although she didn’t start taking music lessons until she was 12 years old, her household has always been full of music.

“My mother would sing to my sister and I growing up, so she loved all types of music too,” Jackman said. “I grew up listening to Patsy Cline, Barbara Streisand, to Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin. As I grew older I was inspired from Broadway music (because I also love theater) and artists like Mariah Carey, Alicia Keys, Celine Dion, Alanis Morrisette, Jewel, Martina McBride and Faith Hill. These artists are just a few that shaped me and helped me to find my own style.”

As a lover of music with obvious talent, Jackman continued playing music during her adolescence, teenage years, and throughout college. After college, she wrote and recorded music with several different bands.

“I’ve worked with bands called ZeroDrift, Shanna Jackman Band, From Within (did one show haha), Not in Kansas and then back to Shanna Jackman Band,” she said. “Now I am working on a new project. I will be working with the incredible singer and musician, Adam Fox, and we are working on an acoustic duo band called Whiskey & Wine.”

Through Jackman’s experimental years playing with different bands, she learned who she is as an artist. With each experience, she gained the skills which were put towards the release of her self-titled debut EP in 2013.

“I started writing pop/indie/folk music when I returned from college and started working with Jim Ligor from ZeroDrift (local band),” Jackman explained. “When I then realized country music is my comfort zone and where I feel best suits my voice I formed the band Not in Kansas. We played for years together as a cover band but I knew that I wanted to show my fans that I can do more than play other people’s music.”

Although Jackman had some success with Not in Kansas, she pushed herself to write original music and release a solo EP.

“I was connected to the great artist/songwriter Nancy Beaudette and her friend Connie Mims,” Jackman explained. “They made it their mission to work with me so that I can produce my first EP. Over many Google hangout (video chat) sessions, we wrote six songs that were later recorded on my first EP in Nashville in 2013. All of which was funded via Kickstarter by my friends, family, fans and even strangers!”

Since the release of her debut EP, Jackman hasn’t stopped working and looking towards the future. She is currently working on putting together an acoustic duo band with Adam Fox called Whiskey & Wine. Jackman and Fox met coincidentally but it turned out to be fate.

“A couple of years ago I was performing at Loretta’s in Boston and a group of gentleman came up to me and asked if their friend (who was having his Bachelor’s party) could sing a tune for us,” Jackman said. “I said ‘absolutely’ and he took the stage and rocked it. His name was Adam Fox. A few months ago, Adam reached out to me on Facebook and asked if I remembered him and was looking to start a duo and asked if I was interested. Of course I couldn’t forget that voice of his and his British accent when he spoke, so I quickly agreed to meet with him and sign him up for a show I had that September!”

Although Jackman is a true country singer now, the first music she recorded was covers of songs by non-country artists such as Mariah Carey, Jewel, Alanis Morrisette and Amy Grant. Jackman has explored different genres of music but deep down country music has always been in her blood.

“My maternal grandmother was a huge country fan,” Jackman said. “She even looked like Patsy Cline, they would say. She always had country playing in the house when my mother was growing up. My grandmother passed away when I was young but her love for country music transcended generations. My mother and aunts always had country playing and it was always fond memories for me whenever I heard it playing! My father’s family is very much into bluegrass music. Growing up I got to see another side of country music that is truly enjoyable to watch and listen too!”

Jackman herself has a many favorite country musicians, not only because of their music but also because of their military support which is very important to her.

“Lee Greenwoods song ‘God Bless the USA’ was played at every opening and closing ceremony during my participation in the Skills USA state competitions in high school,” Jackman said. “I remember hearing that song and being so proud of my country and our military that I feel that really set the foundation for my passion to give back. Many people are familiar with Toby Keith and his patriotic songs but artists like Trace Atkins, Johnny Cash (“Ragged Old Flag” is amazing), Darryl Worley, and also my friend and local artist Ayla Brown.”

“I Drive Your Truck” by Lee Brice is one of Jackman’s favorite patriotic songs.

“It has a special place in my heart, mainly because I have come to know the family of SFC Jared C Monti, a Raynham native who lost his life in June of 2006 in Afghanistan while trying to save one of his own,” she said. “SFC Monti is a Medal of Honor recipient and his father Paul still drives Jared’s truck every day. I’ve had the honor to drive in the truck as well and have Paul and Jared’s truck in my military tribute music video for my song ‘We’ve Got Your Back’.”

Jackman has had the honor of opening up for some of country’s biggest names such as Ronnie Dunn, Blake Shelton, Sara Evans, Gretchen Wilson, Dierks Bentley, Alan Jackson, Darryl Worley, Lee Brice, Little Big Town, Collin Raye, Jo-Dee Messina, and Steve Azar.

“What a truly amazing experience to have the opportunity to open up for these artist and play for their fans,” Jackman said. “I have been fortunate enough to meet many of them as well, which was also very special. Lee Brice stood out for me because he was the most welcoming, kind hearted person. He even played a song he was working on for me in his dressing room and gave my mom a hug.”

With many country artists paving the way and inspiring Jackman, she has turned into quite a talented songwriter. Her songs are authentic since she writes about real events that happened to her.

“All the songs I have written I have experienced (good or bad),” she said. “It’s the only way I know how to write. Even when I would choose cover songs to perform, I had to be able to connect to that song in some way because if the passion is not there, then it’s not worth singing.”

On April 16, 2016, Jackman was awarded the Unsung Hero Award by Limelight Magazine. The Unsung Hero Award was given to Jackman since she has made a significant contribution to many local military organizations without asking for anything in return. She has made it her mission to never forget the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. She has used her music to support the military in many ways, most recently with her video for the song “We’ve Got Your Back.”

“I was shocked, speechless, to say the least,” Jackman said. “I was grateful to Limelight for recognizing artists that do more than perform on a stage.”

Jackman was honored to receive this award but also felt shocked and somewhat uncomfortable because she was not expecting recognition for the military work she does.

“I don’t give back in order to receive anything in return,” Jackman explained. “I feel it’s my duty as an artist, as an American and as a human being. I didn’t grow up with a lot of money but I grew up with love and faith and the meaning and importance in helping others. I felt I had a purpose to give back to those that risk it all for our freedom and our country. It’s the least I could do.”

Jackman has always been passionate and appreciative of the military forces and has used her platform as a musician to support of the military is any way she could.

“I’ve always had a passion for my country but I think that when I made it my mission to give back was when I began to perform the National Anthem in police uniform,” Jackman explained. “I was a reserve police officer for some time and began performing the Anthem locally representing my town. I was honored to represent my department and sing my country’s Anthem but it was the feedback I would receive especially from those in our military after I sang that began overwhelming for me.”

Jackman’s connection with many personnel from the military sparked her passion to support them.

“I began to hear their stories and learn what it meant to be a Gold Star parent,” Jackman said. “It was so important to me to be able to perform the Anthem in a manner that was respectable in hopes to thank those who served under what that song represents and to give the passion the song so rightfully deserves. In performing it, I hope I gave inspiration, hope and passion for our country and our Military, and made Americans feel proud to be American.”

Jackman has been inspired by many soldier’s stories but she also comes from a military family herself.

“I actually do have members of my family that were in the military but I was actually unaware of that until just these past few years,” Jackman explained. “I knew my father served but other than that no one in my family talked about it. I began creating my family tree on ancestry.com and have come to know a very long line of military members. I have family members that served in Revolutionary War, WWI and WWII, Korean War, Desert Storm, during peacetime and so much more. I learned that my maternal grandmother even sang for the troops!!”

Jackman has succeeded in supporting the military by performing patriotic songs and being part of patriotic events and charities.

“I hope that I am able to continue to perform the National Anthem and my song ‘We’ve Got Your Back’,” Jackman said. “I am working on more patriotic songs to add but whether it is singing or riding my motorcycle in a charity ride to honor veterans, I will continue to give back any way I can.”

Jackman’s passion for the National Anthem is evident when she is performing it so she has been asked to sing the song many times for the Boston Bruins, Red Sox, Celtics, Revolution and many other charity events.

“I can’t explain what it feels to perform our country’s Anthem and have sport fans sing along with you,” Jackman said. “Someone said to me that I have a great gift when it comes to having the honor to perform this song for others, because in that moment we are all focused on one thing: our country. It brings me so much pride to have that opportunity and part of me also hopes that if I sing it with enough passion that maybe the players will win that game for us too!”

While her military support will always be her number one focus, Jackman does plan on recording more music.

“I am heading back down to Nashville in December to record a new single,” she said. “I am very excited about this next song as it represents the line of work I do as a public safety dispatcher and to all my brothers and sisters in law enforcement and our first responders. I wrote the song with Lance Carpenter and Ayla Brown. I hope to record a music video for it after it is completed as well.”

With new music on the horizon, Jackman focuses on the message the wants to present, the people she wants to inspire, and the stories she wants to tell.

“I just hope to continue to write about my story, my experiences in hopes to reach others that have felt the same, and/or to inspire them in the process,” said Jackman “I want my new music to show all sides of my style while providing my fans with what they know and expect from me. The beauty of music and the lyrics of a song is that it can transcend generations, races, cultures etc., it can bring people together and connect in a way that I am not sure what else can. I feel so blessed that I have an opportunity to do that.”

Jackman hopes to inspire others with her passion not only music but also her support of the military because it is a cause that she finds extremely important.

“Just want to thank you for talking with me especially about my passion for giving back to our military and their families and I hope that others can and will do the same,” Jackman said. “Sometimes it just takes a simple smile and thank you to someone you see in uniform. On Veteran’s Day or any day, it’s important for them to know they are not forgotten.”

blindspot gears up for debut E.P. & release party

BY JULIA CIRIGNANO

blindspot (PHOTO BY MARK MYERS PHOTOGRAPHY, SUBMITTED BY ALEXA ECONOMOU)
blindspot (PHOTO BY MARK MYERS PHOTOGRAPHY, SUBMITTED BY ALEXA ECONOMOU)

If you like Paramore, U2, The Killers, Neon Trees, Coldplay, and Aerosmith then you will love blindspot. The band is fronted by lead singer Alexa Economou, accompanied by Chris Cormier and Austin Ferrante. Blindspot is an indie rock band from Lowell, Mass. They will be releasing their debut EP on February 24, 2017, followed by a release show at The Middle East Upstairs on February 25th. The music video for their lead single off this EP is titled “Every Time You Close Your Eyes” and has just been released!

Economou and Cormier have been friends since high school and eventually started pursuing music together.

“Chris got into sound recording and he began recording me performing cover songs,” Economou said. “Eventually, he asked me to sing at an open mic and I gathered up the courage to do it. From there we started writing together and eventually started playing gigs as a band. The rest is history. The two of us met Austin through playing shows with other bands that he was in, and we recruited him to become an official member of blindspot this past fall.”

While blindspot is based out of Lowell, the band plays many shows in the Boston area as well as New Hampshire and New York.

“We typically play at places like The Middle East, Thunder Road, etc.,” Economou explained. “We also head up to New Hampshire pretty often to play venues such as Fury’s Publick House in Dover. We have a residency coming up there in January on every Wednesday night of the month. This year we have also travelled to New York a lot for some really cool gigs.”

Over the last two years, blindspot has had the opportunity to open up for some well known bands such as Gin Blossoms, Candlebox, Plain White T’s, Buckcherry, Puddle of Mudd, Scott Weiland of Stone Temple Pilots, Finger Eleven, Fuel, Saving Abel, Smile Empty Soul, and Tantric.

“The most memorable shows have been when we won a battle of the bands to open for Puddle of Mudd, when we opened for Gin Blossoms to a sold out crowd of over 600 people, and when we opened for Scott Weiland from Stone Temple Pilots, a true legend,” Economou said. “One of my most recent favorite shows was actually on my birthday this past September at The Whiskey Barrel Bar in Haverhill, Mass. We had so many friends and fans show up that night to support us and I could not have imagined spending my birthday any other way. We also ventured out on our first official tour this past spring and travelled all the way down the East Coast, where we had a lot of great shows and experiences in new cities.”

One of the biggest acts blindspot has opened up for was Steven Tyler of Aerosmith at Laconia Fest this past summer.

“Opening for Steven Tyler was nothing short of a dream come true,” Economou said. “When I found out that we were going to be opening for him, I was in a state of shock and very nervous on the days leading up to the show. Steven has been my idol, role model, and inspiration since I first got into music at a very young age. He and Aerosmith have shaped my entire life because I would not be who I am today without their music. My sole focus on the day of the show was on nailing blindspot’s performance and walking away satisfied that we played the same show as the one and only Steven Tyler. Yet the icing on the cake came after the show when I got to meet Steven and he asked me about my band and even kissed me! It was definitely an experience that I will never forget.”

Blindspot’s debut, self-titled EP will be released on February 24th, 2017. The following night, the band will be playing a release show at The Middle East Upstairs in Cambridge, Mass.

“We have released a handful of singles over the last two years but we really feel as if this EP epitomizes who we are as a band and so we wanted to title it as our name to show who we are,” Economou said.

The music on this EP shows the growth that blindspot has gone through over the past two years they’ve been playing together. The band has written some songs together yet they finally feel that they have created a compilation of music that is purely blindspot originals. They believe in these songs and are excited for the world to hear them.

“We have become better musicians and songwriters over time so the performance is definitely stronger for everyone as well as the sound quality,” Economou explained. “We definitely love the music we have previously released but we are extra excited to showcase our new material.”

The lead single off this EP is titled “Every Time You Close Your Eyes.” For the music video, blindspot decided to use a concept that also follows a common theme within the band as a whole, the concept of vision, blindness, sight, eyes, etc.

“The main theme in the video is that we are all wearing blindfolds. The song is called ‘Every Time You Close Your Eyes’ so the blindfolds signify the concept of eyes,” Economou explained. “The meaning of the song is the internal conflict of the heart vs. the mind where the heart is telling you one thing that you might desire but the mind is telling you that it might not be good for you and you should let it go.”

Check out the video HERE.

“The video depicts me walking through rooms blindfolded where the audience sees strange things happening behind closed doors yet I can’t see them even though I want to,” Economou said. “Eventually, I am able to let go of the blindfold and become free from everything holding me back from who I want to be. The video was done with 41st Casanova Productions and we are super stoked with how it came out.”

Blindspot chose this song as the lead single off their new EP because they believe it is the best representation of the band.

“We wanted to introduce the EP with a song that is fun but has a strong meaning behind it,” Economou said. “It is already one of our favorite songs to play so we wanted to share it with everyone as the first single and also let it really come alive visually by putting a video to it.

Check out blindspot at their website HERE and Facebook page HERE.

Hard works pays off for singer/songwriter Erinn Brown

BY JULIA CIRIGNANO

Erinn Brown Band (SUBMITTED PHOTO BY NANCY WESTON)
Erinn Brown Band (SUBMITTED PHOTO BY NANCY WESTON)

Erinn Brown is living proof that if you work hard enough you can become a successful musician. Singer/songwriter Brown has released three records with The Erinn Brown Band: Road Signs To The Sun, Don’t Forget About It and Ruled My Life with The Erinn Brown Band. She currently plays gigs around her hometown of Salem, Mass., and also teaches private music lessons to a variety of different age groups.

Brown is a gifted musician herself yet she still loves teaching private home and studio lessons, private lessons at Endicott College in Beverly, Mass, and will soon be teaching the Modern Band Project at Endicott. She is beyond happy with her current musician career. She loves being part of both the Salem music scene and the Endicott College community.

Brown attended Berklee College of Music where she majored in Professional Music with a concentration in Performing and Songwriting. She uses many of the skills she learned there when she teaches music lessons and also when she writes her own music.

Brown has been teaching private music lessons for younger kids for eighteen years and teaching at Endicott College for over five years. At Endicott, she teaches piano, guitar and voice lessons.

“I started working there because the music and arts program decided they wanted to implement private lessons as an option for students,” Brown explained. “I was asked if I wanted to teach there privately. It was exciting for me to get involved in that because it’s a different level. I had been teaching little kids so it’s nice to have the adult students.”

After being part of the Endicott College community for such a long time, Brown was recently asked to teach the Modern Band project at Endicott for the Spring 2017 semester. During these fifteen weeks, she will be helping several students form a band and prepare for live performances on campus.

“I was just asked to fill in this coming semester to teach a class which I’ve never done before,” Brown said. “I’m really excited about it and I’m really nervous.”

Brown fits perfectly into the Endicott community, especially the performing arts family. She looks forward to her new, additional role within the community.

“I feel very lucky to be part of it. I think it’s a really neat program,” she said. “The people who I have been working with there are creative and fun and thoughtful. I feel a good sense of community and that’s comforting.”

Brown has been pursuing her own music with The Erinn Brown Band for over ten years. She plays many local venues with her band and also as a trio, duo, and solo act. Brown has grown both through her experience teaching and her work with her band.

“The Erinn Brown Band with all the different musicians has been inspiring to me,” she said. “I will always appreciate their input. It’s similar in the way I’ve grown with my teaching. I’m always learning from other people.”

Brown has worked with many different local musicians, yet her current band consists of Steve Peabody on drums, Sven Larson or Bryan Sheehan on bass, Randy Leventhal on lead guitar, and Brown on rhythm guitar and lead vocals. Brown has known Peabody the longest and talked about how he became part of the band.

“I worked with my drummer in college,” she said. “We were in an ensemble together and we wound up taking a couple classes together. We were good friends.”

While Brown and Peabody drifted apart after graduation, he ended up finding her on MySpace in 2005.

“At that time, the drummer I had been working with had just passed away so it was perfect timing for Steve to contact me; both as a good friend and being supportive and also he’s a great drummer,” Brown explained.

Brown’s work within her band is very near and dear to her heart. Her music is personal since her writing is so raw and honest. Brown has been a writer her whole life whether she is writing for herself or songwriting. While themes such as relationships may have first inspired her writing, she has also pushed her some towards more mature and controversial topics.

“I think I wrote mostly about my relationships in the beginning then expanded,” Brown explained. “Relationships are always a big part of my writing but I tried to, I mean didn’t necessarily try it just came out, but to be more political and socially aware in my writing. On my second record I wrote a song called ‘And In The End’ and that was very driven by the politics at the time. Feeling a split between political parties and others, kind of what’s going on these days.”

Brown has always written music that is very real and true to herself, to the point where she sometimes finds it hard to sing her own lyrics. She only writes about events and feelings which she has experienced, so recording and performing these songs can sometimes be very emotional for her.

Brown is currently working on some songs for a new record with various political themes. Keep your eye out for a new Erinn Brown Band record that will hoping be coming out in 2017. Brown has also written some songs with her drummer Peabody which she said will definitely be on the new record.

While Brown is dedicated to her band, she sometimes plays shows as a solo act, and some as a trio. She also plays many shows with her guitarist/boyfriend Randy Leventhal. No matter what the setup, Brown loves the community of musicians and friends she has acquired since moving to Salem.

“We play at In The Pig’s Eye in Salem frequently. It’s like a second home to me,” Brown explained. “When I first moved up this way, I first started playing guitar in front of people at this place. Before, I was a singer who just fronted bands. The Pig’s Eye was always a place that I enjoyed going to and hanging out with people there. Of course, the clientele changes but it always feels comfortable there and it’s really nice to feel that comfort with my friends; my best friend Randy on guitar and my friend Steve on drums.”

Brown plays at many other venues around the Salem area. While many of them are now closed, she still enjoys playing at Brodie’s Seaport since they have a big enough stage for her whole band to perform. She also plays at many venues in Somerville, such as Sally O’Brien’s.

Check out The Erinn Brown Band’s official website to get the latest update on her show schedule HERE. Also, check out the band’s Facebook page for updates HERE.

Liz Bills ‘Comes Alive’ through a variety of music endeavors

BY JULIA CIRIGNANO

Analog Heart (PHOTO BY SHIVOHN FLEMING PHOTOGARPHY, SUBMITTED BY LIZ BILLS)
Analog Heart (PHOTO BY SHIVOHN FLEMING PHOTOGRAPHY, SUBMITTED BY LIZ BILLS)

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.