Headspace release debut album, embark on tour

Headspace

By JESSICA A. BOTELHO

Headspace, a British progressive rock band consisting of five best friends, including keyboardist Adam Wakeman, just kicked-off a U.K. tour in support of their debut album, “I Am Anonymous.” It follows their 2006 EP “I Am….,” which was recorded just in time for the band to earn the honor of opening for Ozzy Osbourne during the European leg of Ozzy’s 2007 Black Rain tour.

In a recent e-mail interview, Wakeman, son of former YES keyboardist Rick Wakeman, said Headspace is excited about performing again after spending the last five years writing and recording their full-length album. They are thrilled to be getting the chance not only to perform, but to also reconnect with one another.

“The writing took place over many years purely because of our individual schedules,” Wakeman said. “I was on tour most of 2007/8 and 2010/11 with Ozzy, so a lot was done by sending ideas back and forth. I am very lucky to spend a lot of time with bands such as Ozzy’s or Sabbath and many other artists I really enjoy, I just felt that I never actually got to see some of my older friends and this gave us the opportunity to get together and work as a band on something for ourselves. This band is the sum of its five parts and everyone’s input is essential.”

The Headspace line-up includes Wakeman, plus Damian Wilson on vocals, drummer Richard Brook, bassist Lee Pomeroy, and guitarist Pete Rinaldi. Wakeman said he and Rinaldi got together as often as possible to collaborate and sent the rest of the band what they worked on so they could add their parts.

“Damian wrote all the lyrics and the majority of the melodies, plus a few acoustic sections, too,” said Wakeman. “‘Soldier’ was a finished song he bought to the table, but it was too ‘folky’ with major chords, so I just got him to sing the melody and played some different chords to make it fit with the band.”

From there, the album continued to evolve. During the process, Wilson and Rinaldi came up with the idea for a concept album, which encourages the listener to ponder his or her relationship with humanity and the mental battles he or she endures.

Wakeman said the concept can be analyzed by showing the connection with The Kübler-Ross model, commonly known as The Five Stages of Grief, a hypothesis introduced by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’ book, On Death and Dying.

“The Soldier in our story is reflecting on emotions from coming back from war and struggling to understand Man’s inhumanity to fellow Man,” said Wakeman. “He is also questioning religion in ‘In Hell’s Name,’ and in ‘The Big Day,’ he ends up on a plane on its final journey. ‘Heads were bowed – Hand’s clenched with fear,’ draws a beautiful image of people in the ‘brace’ position. Are they praying or just ‘bracing’ for the crash? At a time like that no one knows what’s going through your head. Is the search for a God futile and pointless, or is that where it begins?”

As is often the case with most prog-rock bands, many of the album tracks are lengthy, as one is 15 minutes long, and at least four others hover around 10 minutes. There are eight songs on the album.

“We don’t ever have any preconceived ideas about song length,” Wakeman said. “We had lots of time to reflect on sections and whole songs, and we recorded the whole album first to make sure it worked musically and lyrically. Then we re-recorded everything again.”

Wakeman said the experience was fulfilling and highlighted attributes of each of his band mates, noting that they are the “most talented musicians I know, and the people I would choose to spend time with, if I actually had any free time.”

Aside from their musical talents, he said Rinaldi brings clarity to a lot of situations and helps him with the business dealings for the band. Also, they have their comical sides, as well.

“Because we all know each other so well, there’s a lot of humor involved when we’re all together,” said Wakeman. “Lee and Rich are great fun to be around and Damo is the most random character I know, which is why he’s so good as a front man.”

Wakeman went on to say that some of the situations Damo gets into on tour are quite interesting, to say the least. He anticipates the remainder of their current tour to be no different.

“He was once late for a recording session at my studio because he was arrested on a bus after being wrongly pointed out as a robber,” Wakeman said. “Another time, he was thrown out of a bar and arrested for someone else starting a bar fight [and was] released with no charge. He just seems to find himself in the most bizarre situations.”

Touring with Ozzy, he said, is just as entertaining, as well as enjoyable.

“Ozzy is a true, old school rock royalty in my book,” Wakeman said. “He has the utmost respect for people and is the most genuine, honest person I know. What you see is what you get and that’s pretty rare in anyone and almost extinct in the music business.”

Another well-known musician in Wakeman’s life is, of course, his father. Having a highly talented keyboardist/composer like Rick Wakeman as a dad has put a bit of pressure on him, yet, he has developed his own notoriety through the years.

“When I was young and we toured and recorded albums together, there were people who just said, ‘He’s only doing that because his dad’s Rick Wakeman,’” he said. “But once I got a bit older and worked with a lot of other artists, I think people realize that I have my own career.”
He also said he father was and continues to be a huge inspiration.

“He’s the person I call with questions about the business that I need advice on, because chances are he has come across it in his long career,” Wakeman said. “I appreciate YES a lot more now than when I was younger. I swapped my YES albums for a football when I was eight.”

For Wakeman, he’s just grateful to be a musician. He said he loves being able to jump from one project to another so he never gets bored.

“I recently finished a film score for a British indie film called “Nothing Man” and then went straight on tour with Ozzy and Friends for the summer,” he said. “Then it was lots of press for the Headspace shows and album, and a recording session with a singer/writer from Nashville.

I have friends who gave up touring to just be writers or producers, but I know that I would really miss touring if I were to stop doing it. You can never replace the feeling of playing in front of a crowd and seeing people really enjoying a show.”

To learn more about Headspace or find out how to purchase their music, visit headspaceonline.com.

“The Rev” Al Green is ‘Still in Love’ with music

Al Green

By JESSICA A. BOTELHO

 Music icon Al Green, 66, has been making what he calls “smooching music” for more than 40 years and, for the first time in his career, he’ll be performing at New Bedford’s Zeiterion Theatre this Sunday, Aug. 26. He anticipates the experience will be “Simply Beautiful.”

“You know Al and he is going to do what he do in New Bedford,” said Green, a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer who has sold more than 20 million records. “I want to feel what New Bedford is like. I’ve been to other cities in Massachusetts but I aint never been to New Bedford.”

Green not only is a performer but a Reverend, and is the pastor of the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Memphis, Tennessee. It’s not far from his home which is located in close proximity to Graceland.

But this Sunday he’ll be bestowing his blessings on his musical fans by playing a medley of Motown songs from artists like Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, The Four Tops and The Temptations, plus his own biggest hits like “I’m Still in Love with You,” “Tired of Being Alone,” and “Look What You Done for Me.”

“I’m going to do all that good stuff,” Green said.

He’ll also sing fan favorite, “Let’s Stay Together,” a song so popular the President of the United States is familiar with it. In fact, to the surprise – and delight – of the crowd, Obama sang its opening lines at a rally in New York in January.

“He improved that in there – I didn’t know what he was doing but I thought it was kind of neat,” said Green, who was in the audience at the time. “I didn’t even know the President even knew my song but he sounded better than me. I said, ‘Oh, man. He’s going to put me out of a job. If he’s sounding that good I won’t be singing long.’”

All joking aside, Green has nothing to worry about – he’s been selling out shows during his current tour. So far, he said he’s having a “fantastic” time and finds it rewarding to look out into the crowd and witness people enjoying themselves.

“I can see that expression on their faces when I start to sing and they get into a finger-snapping groove-type thing,” he said.

In a similar way, Green hopes he has a positive effect as a preacher. While he knows a performer and a Reverend are different, he said they are comparable because they offer people a piece of his heart.

“A Reverend is a Reverend, a performer is a performer, and a show is a show, but it exemplifies the real life facts of the person that’s doing the show,” he said.

As for being a Reverend specifically, he appreciates the “significance” of it. He wishes more people would find the harmony he found.

“If everybody had significance of being a reverend you wouldn’t have some shooting in a theater about some movie that’s coming out,” he said. “Can you imagine all the lives that have damaged by this? It’s a show – it’s not for killings folks. If you have the tranquility of what we’re talking about then you wouldn’t be carrying an assault rifle around.”

Instead, Green is focusing on a few special things – creating new music, as he has an album in the works; as well as sharing love and happiness, both on and off stage.

“I dance, I pass out roses, I blow kisses, I hug people, I tell them that their love is worth something and that really are special,” he said. “You’ve got to think you’re wonderful. I think you’re wonderful.”

But that’s not all fans can expect from him at The Z.

“I’ve got 14 people on stage and we pack a tight ship,” said Green. “To all my Limelight fans, we kick butt out there.”

The Zeiterion Performing Arts Center’s box office is located at 684 Purchase Street, New Bedford, MA. Box Office Hours: M-F 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sat 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and one hour before each performance. Parking is free in an adjacent garage. For more information, visit http://www.zeiterion.org.

L.A. band releases first EP, working on another

The Borrower’s Debt
(Photo by Anton Anderson)

By JESSICA A. BOTELHO

For The Borrower’s Debt, an acoustic indie/folk trio based in Los Angeles, California, March brought along the release of their debut EP, “A Treehouse Narrative,” and June found them immersed in a nine-show tour of the East Coast, giving fans their nostalgic sound and guitar-driven music.

These days, the band is gigging throughout L.A., working on another album and fondly remembering the unique and unexpected way they formed last year.

After being friends and working together for about six months, Tommy Gardner, the band’s baritone voice, and Jordan Hearn, the band’s alto voice,  realized they had similar taste in music and began playing together.  In time, they decided they needed a soprano and posted an ad on Craigslist hoping to find the missing link.

“We really love three-part harmony and we wanted that to be a part of the group,” said Hearn, who is originally from Arkansas.

To their delight, Callie Ray replied and they set up an audition at Hearn’s apartment in Burbank. However, to their horror, they were locked out.

“It was hilarious because I was meeting these people for the first time and they were just standing on the sidewalk with their guitars like, ‘We can’t get in the apartment so I guess we’re just going to play out here,’” said Ray, a New Jersey native who also plays guitar, ukulele, and flute. “It was surprisingly comfortable for how awkward that could have been. It was a memorable audition.”

Gardner agreed and said most of the try-out was held in the back of Ray’s hatchback Ford Escort. Nevertheless, they liked what they heard and hired her.

“We were on the side of the road playing songs and felt our voices sounded really well together,” said Gardner, former guitarist for the now-dissolved Rhode Island band, Someday Providence. “That’s become the vibe of the band – we play anywhere. There’s no place too big or too small.”

While Ray wasn’t involved with the writing process of “A Treehouse Narrative,” her vocals appear on the album and she has been contributing to the band’s current writings.

Also, Gardner produced the six-track album and co-wrote it with Hearn at Hearn’s

apartment, which resembles a tree house, hence the album’s title. Then, they recorded it at Gardner’s place.

“I would bring in a musical idea and only have one or two lines and Jordan and I would create more,” Gardner said. “He’d give me his input about where he thought the song should go. It was a collaborative effort.”

As noted, all three members play guitar, with Gardner also playing piano, and Hearn bringing his banjo and harmonica skills to the mix. The band cites Good Old War, The Civil Wars, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, and Alison Krauss & Union Station as some of their biggest influences.

To purchase “A Treehouse Narrative,” check out other merchandise or learn more about The Borrower’s Debt, visit theborrowersdebt.com.

NEGB1 promotes local music and beyond

By JESSICA A. BOTELHO

 “There are unknown musicians everywhere and we want to give them a place that plays their music,” said Jeff Royds, founder and owner of NEGB1.com, an online radio station that mainly streams music by local, unsigned artists. “Other sites are good, but they also mix in famous rock stars and rappers, so local music gets lost in the shuffle. At NEGB1, you’re going to find local music no matter what.”

Since 2007, Royds, along with a handful of volunteer staff members, including his wife of two years, Cassandra, have been helping local acts all of genres by playing their music. Royds is happy to report that NEGB1, formerly known as Boston Garage Bands, as well as New England Garage Bands, continues to expand and now promotes music from unsigned bands across the globe.

Operated by EA Kroll Productions, NEGB1also helps promote music through their social networking site, which allows bands and musicians to create a free online profile they can use to interact with other bands, promoters, club owners, as well as list upcoming shows, send event invitations, post blogs, photos, plus upload music and videos. They are consistentlygrowing in memberships, said Royds, with more than 20,000 people visiting NEGB1 per day.

If acts choose, they can subscribe to a lifetime membership for $50 or $35 for a year.

Those who register for premium profiles, of course, receive more perks.

While premium members may upload as many songs as they please, plus keep 100 percent of the profit they earn from sales, non-premium members may upload 10 songs and are obligated to pay a 30 percent surcharge on all music sales.

Also, lifetime members save 6.25 percent each time they shop at the Music Go Round, a used music store in Natick, just for singing up.

That’s not all. Each month, NEGB1 makes a compilation CD of premium member music and submits it to the programming department of SiriusXM satellite radio, further promoting the music. Additionally, lifetime memberships carry over if a band breaks up and then reunites.

“We really push our premium members,” said Royds. “It’s kind of an incentive to help us pay our bills.”

To generate funds, NEGB1 holds an annual T-shirt drive. T-shirts are always available, however, the staff encourages sales this time of year and offers special deals to make people more aware of the website. T-shirts are $20 a piece with free shipping and can be purchased at NEGB1.com.

Though few and far between, the station also gains revenue via advertisements placed by local bands and musicians.

“If you put up too many ads, it becomes MySpace,” Royds said. “Facebook is doing the same thing. It takes away from the music and the bands.”

Moreover, NEGB1, which operates out of Massachusetts, hosts a live pod cast interview show, Behind the Scenes, every Wednesday at 7 p.m. During the show, Royds invites a local act to the studio and musicians play tracks from their albums and perform a few live songs.

“I’ve always been a big bonus-features type of guy and if I know more about the bands, I tend to like them more,” he said. Most recently, Royds got the opportunity to interview Artie Kornfeld, a co-organizer of the original Woodstock.

Additionally, Royds holds a local top 20 count down on the last Friday of each month. This allows listeners to suggest their favorite local songs.

“It gets people more involved and gets the musicians promoting their music a little bit more,” said Royds.

The task of downloading a special player or subscribing is not required, said Royds, as fans can listen from any CPU, smart phone, iPod Touch or iPad 24-hours a day, seven days a week at NEGB1.com.

Fans can also play the NEGB1 video game for free. It’s similar to Guitar Hero in the sense that notes flash across the screen and a player must hit the correct keys to complete a song and advance to the next level.

In the game, which was designed by Becker College students, players must successfully perform at four venues, including a garage, small club, big club and an arena, before quality to gig on the White House lawn.

“It’s pretty cool,” Royds said.

But, Royds has a real Battle of the Band contest in the works. The final round of a five round tournament is set for August 18 at The Raven in Worcester from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. For a $5 admission, fans will get to see seven bands compete for more than $4,000 worth of cash and prizes.

In addition to operating NEGB1, Royds, who was named one of Pulse Magazine’s Top 10 Most People to Watch for 2010, is the former vocalist and guitarist for the dissolved local rock band, Bullethead. The band performed their last show June 2 at Uncle Eddie’s in Salisbury Beach, Massachusetts.

Now, he fronts a Johnny Cash tribute band, A Boy Named Sue, along with a few members of Bullethead, with his wife singing the female parts.

Royds also is coping with a battle of his own, as he recently underwent surgery to remove thyroid cancer. Still, it’s not impacting his spirit.

“Life doesn’t have to slow down just because you’re sick,” he said.

Also, he’s both touched and humbled that his friends have reached out and created an online fundraiser for him, as he’ll be out of work for the next few weeks recovering without pay. He’s especially thankful to Ray Auger, the co-host for NEBG1’s local top 20 and frontman for Whiskey Bent, as well as Patrick Parkinson of the band Center Link.

“I was embarrassed at first because I never wanted to accept handouts but it shows me that they appreciate what I’m doing for the local music scene,” said Royds, a father of five who works full-time. “I appreciate all the support I’ve gotten over the past few weeks since I made it public. It’s an amazing thing and I’m moved beyond belief for all the support.”

To make a donation, visit gofundme.com/wzmso. If bands or musicians are interested in appearing on Behind the Scenes, e-mail Royds at radio@negb1.com. For more information about NEGB1 visit NEGB1.com.

The Flower Kings set to sprout through Europe this fall

The Flower Kings

By JESSICA A. BOTELHO

After taking a five-year break between recording studio albums, the progressive rock band The Flower Kings recently released a new album, Banks of Eden, and Roine Stolt, the band’s founder, vocalist and guitarist, says it’s in full bloom. Also, the seeds have been planted for a 30-date European tour, which will blossom in September.

Stolt says the hiatus was necessary to recharge the band’s batteries and restore creative juices. It gave them the power to produce a bouquet of quality material.

“We were going on and on for years making new albums and tours and after a while you just lose without a clue why you keep doing it,” he said. “I think it is extremely important to make music for the right reason, and money, while important, shall not be the prime reason to go on. Now, we are back [and] hungry to set the TFK wheels in motion again. There is so much fun ahead of us and so much new music to be written.”

The band, which consists of Stolt, bassist Jonas Reingold, keyboardist Tomas Bodin, singer and guitarist Hasse Froberg and drummer Felix Lehrmann, began recording the album in late January at Varispeed Studios in Sweden.  It was recorded in the style of early progressive rock records, with all members playing live in one room.

“It was very important to actually play it together, just like all great bands and records from the classic era,” he said. “It’s about chemistry and interplay – a band that cannot play the music live in the studio will most certainly run into a problem once a tour comes up.”

While Pat Mastelotto of King Crimson, as well as Stick Men, played drums for several live dates with The Flower Kings in the past, the band sought a different drummer for a permanent slot in the band, as Mastelotto lives in Texas and the band is based in Sweden.

Instead, they made a more logistical choice when they hired Lehrmenn of Berlin, Germany.

“It takes only one hour to fly here from Berlin so it is all manageable,” Stolt said. “By the way, he is so much fun and a powerhouse drummer. I think it took me about five minutes to realize [Lehrmenn] is very lighthearted and passionate about his playing. He is a driven professional drummer with great confidence [and] that’s one of the things we were looking for.”

With Lehremenn on board, the band is looking forward to taking with them a vast catalog of songs on tour. Stolt promised fans will be treated to “quite a few” songs from the new album, plus “old favorites.”

“We could, of course, search for songs that are more obscure but in the end everyone is just looking for a good time,” Stolt says. “If I go see Paul McCartney, I’d rather hear him play ‘The Long and Winding Road,’ ‘Penny Lane,’ ‘Let It Be’ or ‘Live and Let Die’ than any obscure song from his vast solo material. I guess we’re just blessed to have really interesting and emotional material to play. We do not rely on a couple of single hit tunes; we rely on a multitude of rock symphonies.”

Following the tour, Stolt says he and the boys will start working on another album. He also said he sees the band doing an American tour in early 2013, with stops in Canada and Mexico. As far as anything else, he’s being a bit tight-lipped.

“The rest I’ll leave ‘open,’ as it’s more interesting to just wait and see where the music takes us,” said Stolt. “There is an awful lot of interest for the band at the moment. I can see great things happening in the near future.”

One thing Stolt is interested in talking about is the fact that the band openly embraces being categorized as a progressive rock band, as there are a lot of bands and musicians who refuse to associate with the progressive rock title.

“I’ve never thought of my music as ‘progressive’ until others said it was, but I’m OK as long as people know what the music is about,” he said. “I’d rather walk tall and be proud of being a progressive musician than hide. When people like Steve Wilson [of Porcupine Tree and Blackfield] say they were afraid of being tagged with the old prog bands I just find it sad and a bit opportunist. I’ve never made any excuses for my music or afraid to admit I once loved the music of Procol Harum, King Crimson, Yes or Genesis.  They were part of my musical upbringing, just like Hendrix, Deep Purple, Fleetwood Mac, The Beatles [and] ABBA.”

On a lighter note, he says the music, coupled with the freedom to create whatever he wants, whenever he wants, is the best part about being in The Flower Kings.

“Plus, of course, the camaraderie being a band on the road – us against the world. It’s a powerful thing being in a ‘team.’,” he said.

Get ready to wig out to ‘Hairspray’

Hairspray

By JESSICA BOTELHO

 NEW BEDFORD – With his production of the international hit “Hairspray,” Armand Marchand, executive producer and founder of New Bedford Festival Theatre, is hoping to tease the nostalgic side of theatergoers and transport them to 1962, a year when laughter, romance, music and dancing dominated the heart of every teenager.

The production will be an exclusive seven-performance New England summer 2012 presentation by New Bedford Festival Theatre and run at the Zeiterion Performing Arts Center in New Bedford for two consecutive weekends this July.

“If you like ‘Grease,’ you’re going to love ‘Hairspray,’” Marchand said in a recent phone interview. “It’s a hot title and the music is very upbeat. It’s like going to a big party. “People will be dancing and moving in the aisles at The Z.”

Set in Baltimore, the family friendly musical comedy tangos through the life of Tracy Turnblad, a big girl with an even bigger heart, who hopes to dance on the Corny Collins T.V. Dance Show, which is based on the nationally televised show, “American Bandstand.”

After winning a spot to appear on the show, Tracy morphs from an outsider to a teen celebrity overnight and leads a revolt to dethrone the show’s Teen Queen, win the affection of the cutest guy, and help racially integrate the crowd without messing up her bob.

Infused with the era’s trendiest hairstyles, dance moves and music from a variation of genres, such as Rock ‘n’ Roll, Doo-wop and Motown, the plot speaks to diversity and the acceptance of individual differences, whether based on racial, ethnic, religious or even a person’s physical appearance, as the underdogs and stereotypical outcasts are depicted as heroes.

“If we can all dance together at the end of the day, it’s a wonderful thing,” Marchand said. “And I think a lot of people will come see the show because it’s the kind of music everyone grew up on. When I was growing up with “American Bandstand,” it made me happy, even on a day that was difficult.”

For Marchand, “Hairspray” gives him the opportunity to not only relive the era he grew up in, but also a chance to pay homage to longtime “American Bandstand” host Dick Clark, a television producer who promoted musical acts of all races and was also considered a pioneer in advancing the acceptance of racial diversity on his daily teen dance show. Sadly, Clark passed away on April 18 and the entire run of “Hairspray” will be dedicated to him.

“He was an amazing man and we feel that we owe him a tribute,” Marchand said. “I’ve watched his work for more than 50 years and I’m happy that we’re able to recognize what he’s done. He’s an American show business icon.”

Marchand said he was 14 when he started watching “American Bandstand” in the late 1950s. During that time, the show was on five days a week, from 2:30 p.m. in the afternoon until 5 p.m.

Regular dancers who appeared on the show, which was filmed in Philadelphia, were from South Philadelphia High School. Three of the boys later become famous singers, including Frankie Avalon, Fabian, and Bobby Rydell.

“One of the girls in my neighborhood used to say, ‘OK. After school tomorrow, everyone can come over to my house and we can dance in front of the T.V. with ‘American Bandstand’ on,’” Marchand said. “There’s no such show anymore.”

Audiences who purchase tickets to “Hairspray” can expect the professional settings and costumes, expert sound and lighting, as well as talented performers that New Bedford Festival Theatre is known for.

While rehearsals won’t begin until early July, Marchand is excited about the cast, particularly LauraMarie Rondinella, who will be playing the part of Tracy.

“She’s an Italian girl from Jersey City, New Jersey, and she’s perfect for the show,” he said. “She’s five feet tall and has a smile that lights up the entire room. When she sings, ‘Good Morning, Baltimore,’ your day is 10 times better. I was so glad when she accepted the contract because she’s adorable and has a great personality. She’s just like Tracy and wins everyone over in the show.”

As far as other roles, Ryan Overberg, a student at Boston Conservatory, will star as heartthrob Link Larkin,  and Lizzy Palmer, who performed in a recent production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” at the Court House Center for the Arts in West Kingston, Rhode Island, will star as Teen Queen Amber Von Tussle.

Further, Aaron Fried will play the part of Edna; John Costa will star as Wilber; and Bobby Sylvia will play Corny Collins.

The show will also feature a production staff of Director/Choreographer Michael Susko; Musical Director/Conductor Juan Rodriguez; and Artistic Director George Charbonneau. Marc Shaiman and Scott Whitman, who wrote music for NBC’s hit show “Smash,” composed the music of “Hairspray.”

“I’m hoping they write a sequel and show the characters’ lives in college,” Marchand said. “But, that’s not up to me. I don’t write musicals; I produce them.”

Marchand, who taught English for 35 years at New Bedford High School, said he is thrilled to be celebrating Clark during the New Bedford Festival Theatre’s 23rd season with his first production of “Hairspray,” which opened on Broadway in 2002 and ran for more than eight years.

“Dick Clark, we are not going to ‘stop the beat,’” he said, referring to the play’s final number, “You Can’t Stop the Beat.” “You started it and we’re going to keep it going.”

Tickets for “Hairspray,” winner of eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical, are on sale at the Zeiterion’s box office, located at 684 Purchase Street, by calling 508-994-2900 or by visiting zeiterion.org.

Showings include July 20 and July 21 at 7:30 p.m.; July 22 at 2 p.m.; July 26 at 7 p.m.; July 27 and July 28 at 7:30 p.m.; and July 29 at 2 p.m.

Guyer encourages youth to let dreams take center stage

Lisa Guyer

By JESSICA A. BOTELHO

“Play an instrument.”

That’s Lisa Guyer’s top tip for aspiring singers, especially females.  But, it’s one of many pieces of advice the singer/songwriter plans to teach students of both genders aged 13 to 18 during her five-day music program, the Lisa Guyer’s Music Empowerment Program, which runs June 25th through the 29th at Wilton-Lyndeborough High School, located at 57 School Road in Wilton, New Hampshire.

“With all the experience I have from being out on the road learning things the hard way, I feel like I can give them the opportunity to learn about what it’s like being on stage,” says Guyer, 48, who has been performing professionally for 31 years. “We’re going to have a blast. No one’s going to be wrong unless they don’t try.”

The goal of the program, Guyer says, is to help young performers find what she and her team of three instructors call the “golden nugget,” or “it factor.” In other words, Guyer, along with Heidi Pauer, a teacher in the New Hampshire school system and also a member of Guyer’s staff of mentors, wrote the program to encourage students to forget their inhibitions and bring out their inner artists.

“Do I think you can teach ‘it factor?’ No, but I think we’re all born with a light inside us that needs to be polished and honed,” she said. “I’m going to try to help them shine.”

Guyer and Pauer, as well as Kim Riley, a fellow musician, and Linda Erb, a local teacher, will teach approximately 60 students collaboratively, as well as break them down into four groups of 12 to 15 from time to time, to guide them through various topics.

Subjects include movement, in which mentors will show students how to share the focus between playing music, feeling music and letting music “free your body;” thinking outside the box, a session designed to teach the art of improvisation as it relates to live performances; jigsaw symphony, a topic in which collaboration is the main objective, and blind inspiration, a workshop that promises to draw on the senses.

Further, Guyer intends to have a one-on-one with each student on the first day.

“It’s not going to be children sitting in class with a piece of paper and a pencil-that’s not going to happen,” she said. “It’s going to be recess all day, but structured. I’m hoping they make new friends and write a new song together.”

For Guyer, not only is it important that students have the ability to perform independently, as she says she makes half her income by playing solo shows, it’s vital that they open their minds to teaming up with other musicians, too.

In fact, after Sully Erna of Godsmack asked her to sing vocals on the song “Hollow,” which appeared on Godsmack’s 2007 release, IV, she recorded and toured with Erna for  his 2010 solo album, Avalon.

“We’ve always had a mutual admiration for each other and we got into this space where he asked me to do the solo thing with him. That became Avalon and I’m very grateful that someone in his position, friend or no friend, was very gracious with me,” she said of Erna, who she has been close with for more than 20 years.  “He gave me lead vocal appearances and back up vocals through the whole thing and for him to put me in the limelight was incredible. He’s a really great guy and a really sweet soul.”

Also, during the Avalon tour, a show at the Wilbur Theater in Boston was filmed for upcoming release. While Guyer didn’t watch the film at the time she was interviewed by Limelight Magazine, she says Erna assured her it is “beautiful,” and she was able to listen to the audio.

“It sounds amazing,” she said.

Aside from being a vocalist, Guyer plays piano and a “little bit of drums.” She’s been performing since she was four and comes from a highly musical family. As a child, she and her family frequently put on vaudevillian shows at senior centers and churches. Whether she was singing, doing comedy acts, or even taking dance classes with 18-year-olds by the time she was seven, she believes the experience helped make her a well-rounded performer.

“It gave me that confidence to do my thing,” says Guyer, who in addition to singing and writing music enjoys interior decorating, photography and gardening.

“I’m always out with Mother Nature,” she says. “It gives me peace.”

Eventually, Guyer hopes to teach her program to adults. For now, she’s focused on making sure she holds a camp every school vacation so she can give advice to aspiring young musicians.

“The industry has changed so much since I was younger and the best thing I can say is practice and work on it,” she says. “Do everything you can to be in school shows and be as diverse as you can. Get out there. Be creative. Put your music up on YouTube. Keep honing your craft. Let no one tell you that you can’t do it.”

To learn more about Lisa Guyer’s Music Empowerment Program or to enroll online, visit lisaguyermusic.com, call 603-554-8602 or email lgmep12@gmail.com.

Music and entertainment coverage since October 2006!