The Mystix and Liz Frame ready to play Blue Ocean Music Hall

The Mystix

By JESSICA A. BOTELHO

Jo Lily of the five-piece Americana Roots ensemble, The Mystix, said they are at an all-time career high. In May, they kicked-off their “Ramble Roots Tour” in support of their fourth studio album, “Mighty Tone,” and since then, everything has been going even better than they imagined.

“We’re achieving the highest level of success the band has ever gone through – we’ve sold out every single show,” he said of their 10-date national tour. “We brought in a phenomenal guy for the tour, Jerry Portnoy, who’s an iconic harp player. He played for Muddy Waters and Eric Clapton. He’s probably the best-known harp player in the world right now, expect for James Cotton. He brings a lot to the show.”

Additionally, guitarist and singer/songwriter Ricky “King” Russell, who has performed with acts such as David “Honey Boy” Edwards, John Lee Hooker, Duke Robillard, Roomful of Blues and James Montgomery, has been touring with them. He opened for Steve Miller last August and has been featured on House of Blues Radio Hour, hosted by actor Dan Akroyd.

With the star-studded line-up, Lily, guitarist and lead vocalist, hopes they also sell out their next performance, which will take place Oct. 27th at the Blue Ocean Music Hall in Salisbury, Mass. Opening the night will be Liz Frame and the Kickers, a female-driven band from the North Shore area.

Lily, as well as Frame, who handles lead vocals and guitar for her band, have never gigged at the venue. Both bands can’t wait to play there.

“I’m looking forward to playing it,” Frame said. “It’s just beautiful.”

Lily shares her sentiments.

“It’s a great club and we’re thrilled to be playing there with Liz,” he said. “I think she’s going to be a really strong addition for the show and I think she’ll bring in a lot of her own fans because she’s very strong in the area. She’s really a good friend of ours. We have gigged together in the past, sung duets together, we’re friends, and I have a lot of respect for her songwriting and performing.”

For Frame, the feeling is mutual. Not only is she excited to play the venue, she’s pleased to share the bill with The Mystix.

“They are a great band to work with,” she said. “I’ve done a little bit of stuff with them before as a solo performer and I know Jo really well. He’s a good guy and I’ve worked with a number of the musicians in the band in the studio, so I’m connected to them. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

During the show, The Mystix, comprised of an all-star veteran lineup of artists such as guitarist Bobby B. Keyes, drummer Marty Richards, bassist Marty Ballou, and keyboardist Tom West, will begin filming a live album. The recording will mark their fifth, as well as their first live release.

From there, Lily said they plan to visit Europe for a tour, and then hit the studio to master the live album, which will come out in the spring.

So, why has the band decided to tour Europe?

“We’re doing extremely well in Europe, particularly in the Netherlands, Belgium, Holland, Germany, France, and we’re working on the U.K. right now,” Lily said. “We’re  planning on taking a trip to Europe probably next summer.”

Of course, they are fairing quite well in the U.S., too. “The Mighty Tone” has received airplay on American radio, particularly on Boston stations, including WUMB, among others.

Also, they’ll be featured on “The Loft,” a show that airs on SiriusXM Radio. Meg Griffin, a former New York radio disc jockey, will be conducting the interviewing.

Griffin plays The Mystix regularly on her show, said Lily, and has interviewed musicians like Mick Jagger and Paul Simon.

“She’s a legendary broadcaster,” said Lily, who noted Portnoy is scheduled to join them for the interview.

Recording for “The Loft,” which will highlight the history of the band, starts Oct. 29th and will be aired at least three times during the next few months. The band will be posting the dates on their website at themystix.com.

In similar fashion to The Mystix, Liz Frame and the Kickers also plan to release a live album, which Frame said she hopes will be available in early 2013. After that, they’ll embark on a mid-Atlantic tour.

Frame, who writes all the material, described their originals as “fun music that’s tightly written and very catchy.” She wrote her first song at the young age of nine during a long drive to the beach with her parents.

“It’s something that I feel I was born to do,” she said.

The band has an emphasis on vocals, often with two and three part harmonies. Frame shares vocals with band members Lynne Taylor, who plays upright bass, as well as Kristine Malpica, a percussionist. Guitarist Mark Toolan, drummer
Charlie Farr, and harmonica player Jason Novak join them in the band.

Frame said while they used to be more acoustic-based, they are a little more “hard-hitting” these days.

“I really like the direction it’s going,” she said. “People who go to our shows and have not seen us before will come up to me and tell me it doesn’t sound like original material, in that it sounds like covers they’ve just never heard. That is the best form of flattery because it means that we’re doing something right when it comes to the material.”

She is also happy with the direction her career as a musician is going. While she was offered record deals early on in her career, she turned them down to raise her daughter.

“It wasn’t an easy decision, but it was a natural decision to make because at the time she was young and I knew that I wasn’t going to sacrifice her childhood and time with her for a full-fledged career in music because I knew what that career would take and I didn’t have it in me,” said Frame. “I was OK with that and, looking back, I’m really glad that I made that decision because coming into music at this stage of my life I’m a much better performer than I’ve ever been. I’m much more confident and I’m a better songwriter. I feel as if I was meant to wait. I wouldn’t be having nearly as much fun if I did it back then.”

Moreover, she said she’s content that she waited because it’s much easier for artists to promote their music today. The Internet, she said, makes it simple for musicians to get their name out there.

“Now, you can put your stuff online,” said Frame. “That wasn’t the case 20 years ago.”

Either way, she said she enjoys being part of a band, as well as composing new material.

“I love the whole group effort and the people I work with are great,” she said. “And performing live is the ultimate thing.”

Lily feels the same.

“I love the music and the feeling we get when we connect with an audience,” he said. “It’s intoxicating and impossible to put it down. I love the camaraderie of the band. It’s the best I’ve ever had in any group. We have a warmth and camaraderie that I’ve never experienced in all my years of playing and it’s been really special for everybody.”

To purchase tickets to the show call 978-462-5888 or visit northshorepavillion.com.

For more information about The Mystix visit themystix.com. Additional information on Liz Frame and the Kickers is at lizframeandthekickers.com. Both bands have fan pages on Facebook, as well.

Zebra bringing over 37 years of entertainment to R.I.

By JESSICA A. BOTELHO

Hard rock trio, ZEBRA, will be playing at the Rock Junction in Coventry, R.I., on Oct. 26th at 8 p.m. for a special show by Limelight Magazine publisher JKB Booking. Joined by local rockers Fall and Bounce, who will be opening the evening, ZEBRA will perform hits from their own catalog, plus a one-hour Led Zeppelin encore set. It will be their only New England appearance.

“We don’t play up there a lot to begin with – maybe once every couple years, but we do have a history in Rhode Island,” said vocalist and guitarist Randy Jackson. “We used to play at the Living Room in Providence a lot. That used to be a steady gig for us in the 80s and early 90s. We have a pretty good fan base there, so it’s always good to come down.”

Jackson, who formed ZEBRA in the mid-1970s with bassist Felix Hanemann and drummer Guy Gelso, said fans should expect to hear popular ZEBRA tracks, as well as Zeppelin classics, such as “Heartbreaker,” “The Immigrant Song,” and “Kashmir.”

“We used to do a lot of Led Zeppelin back when we first started in 1975 to 1979, so we have a pretty big repertoire to choose from,” Jackson said.

Since they’re performing music they’ve been playing for more than 35 years, they don’t rehearse often. That comes in handy, said Jackson, as the members of the band don’t live in the same state.

“Guy is back in New Orleans now, and Felix and I both live in Long Island,” he said. “If we rehearse at all it’s just at sound check because we’ve only been doing 10 to 20 shows a year.”

But that might change in the near future. In between gigs, the band is in the process of arranging new material, which they’d like to record soon.
“We hope to have it out if not this year, sometime next year,” he said. “I’ve got so many songs written and I want it to be different from everything we’ve done.”

Also, on Oct. 18th they will be inducted to the Long Island Music Hall of Fame. While they originated in New Orleans, Louisiana, and were inducted to the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 2010, Long Island is honoring them, too.

“It’s awesome,” he said. “It’s nice that Long Island made an exception for us.”

Despite a brief hiatus in the early 1990s, the band has been together for 37 years. The “roughest” part, Jackson said, was the first five years.

“We were really active playing at clubs and partying too much, but it was a time when we probably would have broken up if we were going to,” he said. “We got through that and it’s been relatively smooth sailing for us. We’re all family and we’ve accepted everybody for who they are. Carrying on like that keeps any organization together and I think it’s really important for the fans to have the original band.”

Jackson mentioned that the members shared many of the same interests in music when they first formed and were heavily influenced by Led Zeppelin, Rush, The Moody Blues and YES. The Beatles are also high on the list.

“I’m a big Beatles fan, and Felix is too, but he’s also a huge Rolling Stones fan,” said Jackson. “I like the Stones, but I wasn’t as familiar with them as Felix was. When Journey came out, Guy was a big fan; I was not. There are certainly differences among us, but enough similarities that are a big part of why we are still together after all this time.”

In addition to playing with ZEBRA, Jackson often performs solo acoustic gigs, as well as shows with symphony orchestras throughout the United States, doing arrangements of music by Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Pink Floyd and The Eagles, to name a few.

He began teaming up with the orchestras in 1996, when his now-late agent Jim McGinnis contacted and informed him that an East Coast promoter started a company that combined classic rock with an orchestra. The concept was to perform the music of one group at each show.

“They did a trial run of the show in Virginia Beach and wanted a different singer,” Jackson said. “I flew down to Virginia, met Brent Havens, the conductor, and we’ve been doing shows ever since.”

As noted, Jackson is a fan of The Beatles, and in the liner notes of the ZEBRA’s best of CD, he mentions that the first concert he ever saw was The Beatles at City Park Stadium in New Orleans in 1964. He was just nine-years-old at the time.

“It was like Christmas and Mardi Gras all rolled into one,” he said. “I love the music and I was so young that I didn’t really understand – I just knew it was exciting. It made a big impression on me.”

Jackson said that his neighborhood friend wanted to go to the show, too, but his parents didn’t take him to the show because they didn’t approve of The Beatles. Little did they know the band would be one of the most successful and influential acts of all time.

“I remember his mother saying years later, ‘That was one thing I’ll always regret,’” he said. “But that’s the kind of time it was. Like all other musical groups, parents are a little leery of them when they first come out.”

Speaking of The Beatles, Jackson played John Lennon’s Mellotron, an electro-mechanical, polyphonic tape replay keyboard, for the ZEBRA song, “Who’s Behind the Door.” Jackson got the opportunity thanks to producer Jack Douglas, who produced ZEBRA’s first album, as well as Lennon’s final album, “Double Fantasy.”

“We were up at the record plant in New York where Lennon recorded the album and the Mellotron was still there,” Jackson said. “Jack brought it in and told me it was John’s, so sitting there planning Lennon’s Mellotron was kind of surreal for me. That’s what was great about recording with Jack. I got to hear a lot about my idols and people I looked up to from a guy who experienced it first hand.”

For tickets to the Oct. 26th show at The Rock Junction, visit www.brownpapertickets.com/event/239202. Tickets are $25 in advance and $27 the day of the event.

For more information about ZEBRA, visit their website thedoor.com.

Teenager Alissa Musto gracefully juggles full schedule

Alissa Musto

By JESSICA A. BOTELHO

Whether she’s performing, composing, staring on a television show, serving as captain of her high school tennis team or practicing with the jazz band, Alissa Musto, 17, is happy.

“A lot of people ask me how I balance everything, but the truth is it’s really not that hard,” said Musto, a nominee for “Best Female Vocalist” in the 2011 Limelight Magazine Music Awards. “If you like the things you are doing, they don’t really become chores. They aren’t things that you have to do – they are things that you get to do and that makes it so much easier.”

Musto, who lives in Rehoboth, Mass., is a senior at Providence Country Day School in East Providence. Classically trained in piano, she recently landed a Saturday night residency at Scampi’s Restaurant in Portsmouth, R.I., where she performs from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. each week.

She’s also putting together a new album, a follow-up to her self-titled, four-track E.P., which was released in May 2011. The E.P. featured “Doesn’t Matter,” the award-winning track that earned her a slot in the top three at the 2011 national Music On & Up Showcase grand finale.

“I have some originals that I’ve been working on, not only that I’ve written the words to, but the musical parts on the piano, too,” said Musto.

Additionally, Musto has been building her portfolio, as she’s played at venues such as Foxwoods, Mohegan Sun, and Hard Rock Café during the last year. While she’s undecided about what she wants to study, she’s thinking about going to college for music locally, and is interested in continuing to gig in the area post high school.

“I’m hoping that if I stay around here for college, I’ll still be able to play out on weekends,” she said. “I’ll be 18, so I’ll be able to play more venues.”

And the greatest thing about performing, said Musto, is the challenge. Having the support of fans doesn’t hurt, either.

“It’s not just representing the songs that I’m playing – it shows all the hard work and time that I’ve put into it, from the thought process of picking the songs, to the years of piano training that made it possible for me to learn those songs,” she said.  “Going up there and performing and knowing that people appreciate what you do means so much.”

In fact, Musto’s fans have publicly praised her skills in the comment sections of her YouTube videos. Some of her admirers describe her as a female Elton John and the next Debbie Harry (of Blondie).

“I can only hope and wish to achieve some of the success they have,” said Musto. “When people make comparisons from across the country or across the world, it means so much to me knowing that they think I have the potential to be great like them.”

But Musto doesn’t let the praise go to her head. Perhaps, she learned to be modest from her father, Billy Musto, a well-know local artist.

“He’s been in this area’s music scene for a long time and it’s amazing how humble he remains throughout the whole process,” she said. “We don’t go anywhere without somebody recognizing him.”

Aside from her dad, Musto cited Bruce Springsteen as one of her biggest influences. The most amazing thing about “The Boss,” she said, is his voice.

“He doesn’t exactly have this voice that a lot of people would think is great, but it fits with what he does and I feel like I’m the same way,” Musto said. “I don’t have this big, strong opera-like voice that a lot of these girl singers of today have, but I think I have a unique voice.”

Not only does Musto view him as a superb songwriter and musician, she loves his performances. In August, she got the opportunity to see him live for the first time.

“Just the way he can get a crowd going for four hours straight was just so amazing,” she said “He’s such a great entertainer. He’s the whole package – it’s not just one thing.”

Yet, considering Musto’s resume, she’s the total package, too. As noted, she’s very versatile, as she began taking piano lessons at age five. She also dabbles with the guitar and harmonica, and is able to juggle her music career with school, tennis, jazz band, and Teenage Critic, a culture and arts show for teens that airs on PBS.

“We cover all types of cool things that would appeal to teenagers,” said Musto. “We did the Limelight Magazine Music Awards, different cultural restaurants, art events. It’s helped me so much, not only with interviewing, but as a performer, too. It’s good to be well-rounded because you never know when other things will help you in life.”

In terms of TV exposure, NBC aired a special on Musto in 2004 as part of the “Spotlight on the Student Artist” series. The same year, when she was nine, she was featured on “America’s Most Talented Kids,” earning bragging rights of being the youngest performer to appear on the show.

“I didn’t have a lot of experience being in front of a camera at that age, but it was a really good experience and I think it helped me so much in moving forward,” said Musto. “I came back from that doing a lot of other local competitions.”

Some of the competitions include the “Kidz Star USA Talent Search,” which attracted more than 45,000 entries during Summer 2011. For this competition, she was selected as a top ten finalist.

Further, she won first place in the 12-and-under category at “New England Performs,” a festival in 2011 that showcased more than two hundred young artists from all six New England states.

Musto also competed and won other competitions, including “Rhode Island’s Got Talent” in 2008, “Talent Quest TV Show” in 2009, and was a runner-up in “Taunton’s Got Talent” in 2011. She performed on multiple New England-based shows including “The Rhode Show” and “Community Auditions: Star of the Day.”

In 2010, she was named “Piano Act of the Year” in the international “Golden Ribby Awards” sponsored by Wonderworld TV. She played live for an audience of more than 2,000 viewers.

The same year, she partnered with GreenSchools, a non-profit environmental organization, and earned the title of “Green Rocker Ambassador”, or spokesperson. Through the program, she is a featured performer at schools, fairs and other events throughout New England, with a main goal of raising awareness about the importance of being eco-friendly.

“I wrote a theme song for them that I performed at the [Massachusetts] State House [last year] and play at a lot of other functions they have to try to get the message out there for environment,” Musto said. She was also awarded a citation from the State of Massachusetts and House of Representatives for musical achievement and involvement in the community.

For a full list of Musto’s accomplishments, as well as more information, visit alissamusto.wix.com.

The Jessica Prouty Band: All Grown Up

Jessica Prouty Band (Photo by Merina Zeller)

By JESSICA A. BOTELHO

While four of the five members of the Jessica Prouty Band aren’t old enough to legally enjoy a cocktail, they’re finally able to play at clubs after spending the last five years performing throughout the northeast at family-friendly events, such as theaters, fairs, school programs and charity gatherings.

“Those were great experiences, so we’ve really been able to enjoy the whole spectrum of entertainment,” said the band’s namesake, lead vocalist and bassist, Jessica Prouty, 18.

This winter, the Boston-based rock band plans to hit the studio to begin recording a fourth album. At the moment, they’re working on arranging music to lyrics Prouty has written, plus juggling the responsibility of being college students, as Prouty, along with the band’s two guitarists and backup vocalists, Cody Nilsen, 19, and Aaron Shuman, 22, are studying at Boston’s Berklee College of Music.

“It definitely is difficult, but we’re planning regular weekly practices over at the Berklee Fordham facility, and we’re really putting the band right up there in priority with our schoolwork,” said Prouty, who is majoring in music business. Nilsen is studying professional music, while Shuman has taken up contemporary writing and production.

“It’s helped us musically, too. I didn’t have a strong music theory background walking into Berklee and after my first year I’ve learned so much.”

They hope to apply what they’ve learned to their new album, which will be produced by Brian Maes, who fronts his own band, as well as performs with Ernie and the Automatics as lead vocalist and keyboardist. Prouty met Maes before she formed her band at a summer garage band camp he operated.

After camp, Maes contacted her and praised her original recordings, some of which she composed on her own, and others she wrote with her former band, Undecided Youth.

“He said, ‘Wow, you have some really good songs,’” said Prouty.

Maes then asked her if she would consider using his local studio to record an album under his record label, Briola Records. She discussed it with her parents and took him up in his offer.

“At that point, we started making a CD,” she said. “I didn’t want session players – I really wanted to have a band because I missed it so much.”

From there, she asked fellow camper and keyboardist, Andy Covino, 17, to join her. She also approached a few former members of Undecided Youth, including drummer Cam Pelkey, 19, who has been friends with Prouty since third grade.

Pelkey jumped at the chance and hasn’t looked back.

“Just being able to talk music and spend time with these guys has been the best experience of my life,” he said.

Shuman, the newest band member, who joined in May, agrees. Prouty met him in a shared course at Berklee.

“I love playing out and hanging out with these guys,” he said. “We get a lot of playing time, which I love. It’s everything a musician could want.”

The addition of a second guitarist, Prouty said, has enriched the band beyond her

expectations. The rest of the band concurs.

“It’s brought such a full sound to the whole project,” she said. “We can do so much more now.”

Through the course of their career, the band has won several battle of the band competitions. A few of the most notable include the 2012 Ryan J. Lariviere Battle of the Bands event, where they earned several prizes, as well as the honor of playing at the New England Music Awards at the Lowell Auditorium in Massachusetts this April, plus funding to record their album.

Additionally, they won second place in the NAMM-sponsored nationwide SchoolJamUSA contest in California at Downtown Disney. There, Prouty received the title of “Best Vocalist,” while Pelkey earned the title of “Best Drummer.”

Further, they were named “Band of the Year” at the 2012 Limelight Music Awards, along with runner up for “Best Live Act” and “Best Female Vocalist.” They performed at the event as well.

“That was so much fun,” Prouty said. “It was a cool experience. We have the awards hanging up at home.”

Aside from all their accolades, their original songs have been played on multiple radio stations, such as Boston’s 92.5 The River, WFNX, WAAF, WATD, Pixy 103, WBRU, Cool 102, WTOS, and 106.3 The Bone.

They hope their new album will garnish them with more airplay, but for now they are focusing on completing the music.

“Cody and I are working on the bare bones of a song and then the rest of the band will finish the piece,” Prouty said. “I think that’s how it’s going to work for the rest of the songs, as well. It’s been going really cool so far.”

To learn more about the band, visit jessicaprouty.com.

Repost – Jensen says success is the best revenge

(The following story was originally posted on our website on Jan. 13, 2012. Due to the heavy traffic to this site following Jillian Jensen’s appearance on tonight’s episode of the “X-Factor,” we’ve put it on our homepage as a convenience to our readers.)

Jillian Jensen

By JESSICA A. BOTELHO

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Music and entertainment coverage since October 2006!