FM96 Presents: Wednesday July 11th, 2018
Shinedown have built their name on rock songs both brutal in power and epic in scope. Now, with their latest album, Shinedown (Brent Smith, Barry Kerch, Eric Bass, and Zach Myers) veer away from that densely layered sonic palette and take a more direct approach. Featuring lead single “Cut the Cord” — a blistering track that shot to #1 on Active Rock radio — Threat to Survival finds the multi-platinum-selling band achieving their most powerful sound ever and offering up their most important album to date.
As Smith explains, Shinedown’s approach on Threat to Survival had much to do with the emotionally raw material at the heart of the album. “When we started the writing process we realized the changes that had taken place over the past 2 years, our experiences, the relationships that had come and gone, the album really took on a life of its own,” says Smith. “It’s like the songs were saying to us, ‘The songs were so honest, it felt necessary to present them in the most straightforward way possible.”
In forming the emotional core of the album, Shinedown delved into many of the most thorny issues facing the band members in recent years, such as Smith’s navigating his role as a father. “There’s not any song that’s directly about my son, but as we were writing I was asking myself a lot of questions about what it means to be a good father,” he says. “It forced me to look at who I am as a person and what’s really important to me at this point in my life.” In both the writing process and in the final product, that unflinching self-examination proved sometimes devastating but ultimately life-affirming. “I always say that I write songs because it’s therapy, and that very much held true on the writing of this album,” Smith notes.
Throughout Threat to Survival, Shinedown explore matters of life and death and beauty and pain with a fierce energy and indomitable spirit. On “Cut the Cord” — a song that continues a record-setting streak in which each of the 19 singles released over Shinedown’s career has climbed to the upper regions of the radio charts — the band looks at the insidious nature of self-destruction and puts out a call for self-empowerment. “Some people might listen to ‘Cut the Cord’ and think it’s about drug addiction,” says Smith, pointing to one of the song’s most piercing lyrics (“’Cause agony breeds no reward for one more hit and one last score”). “But really it’s about anything that might wrap itself around you and keep you from becoming the person you truly want to be.” Produced by Shinedown’s own Eric Bass, “Cut the Cord” fuses Smith’s growling vocal work with thunderous drumming and lead-heavy guitar riffs, weaving in spooky, choirlike background vocals to thrilling effect.
Elsewhere on Threat to Survival, Shinedown instill their self-reflection with a brighter mood that’s often exhilarating in its intensity. On the piano-laced “How Did You Love,” for instance, Smith’s soaring vocals demand an exacting reassessment of how to go about building a more meaningful life. (“It’s not what you believe/Those prayers will make you bleed/But while you’re on your knees/How did you love?”). “That song’s about asking yourself about how you’ve dealt with difficult situations in your life, and whether you tried to give some love to the world or just allowed hate and negativity to consume you,” says Smith. “So the lyric is ‘How did you love?’, but really the question is ‘How did you live?’”
A bold statement of determination against all odds, “State of My Head” opens with an ethereal, dreamlike intro before powering forward as a groove-driven anthem (“The only way I’m leaving is dead/That’s the state of my head”). With its stomping rhythm and surging guitar work, “Outcast” is as a full-throttle celebration of unbridled confidence and daring manifesto of Shinedown’s dedication to constantly outdoing themselves as artists. And on “Black Cadillac,” Smith delivers a darkly charged but soulful epic that twists its funereal metaphor into a strikingly hopeful message. “For me ‘Black Cadillac’ is a warning to take inventory of who you are and realize that nobody owes you anything in this world,” says Smith. “It’s about looking around and noticing the things you’ve maybe taken for granted, and deciding to become something better than that before your time’s up.”
“If you’re going to make something that’s going to exist forever, sometimes you have to fight yourself to get out what you need to express,” says Smith. “You need to break down all the walls and get rid of whatever distractions that might be holding you back.”
Shinedown continually bring both staggering musicality and a powerful emotional complexity to their music. “There’s always been a certain level of positivity with Shinedown — that’s even where our name came from,” says Smith. “There’s a sense that everything that’s bad has a little bit of good to it, just like everything that’s good has a little bit of bad. The songs on this album address the reality that we’re all going to die at some point and that sometimes the willingness to survive is all you have. It’s about holding onto that sheer will to live, and getting through whatever might come your way because the legacy that you leave behind is what will carry you on to your next journey.”
Pete Loeffler-Guitars, Vocals ** Sam Loeffler-Drums ** Dean Bernardini-Bass, Vocals
CHEVELLE is the understated musical powerhouse who have continually delivered rock anthems for the past 24 years. 7 number one hits, 17 songs reaching the top 10 charts, over 4 million records sold in the USA and many more world wide. Platinum and gold albums across their 8 studio records and successful live CD and two live DVD releases completes their extensive body of work to date. Its all credit to their continuing dedication to be true to their craft, the genre and their fans. Chevelle’s last two Album releases, La Gargola and The North Corridor both debuted #1 on the Billboard rock charts and #3 and #8 respectively, on the Billboard top 200 charts. With no signs of this Chicago alternative rock trio slowing down any time soon, their numerous chart topping releases have certainly earned this band a place in American rock music history.
After more than two decades together, numerous releases, and countless world wide tours, the
outfit consisting of brothers Pete Loeffler [guitars, vocals], Sam Loeffler [drums], and brother in-law, Dean Bernardini [bass, vocals] have confidently sailed through decades of uncharted waters and have emerge with a collection that’s equally intricate and intimate.
Certainly it builds upon the group’s impressive foundation, including the 2002 platinum-selling genre staple Wonder What’s Next and the 2004 gold-selling follow-up This Type of Thinking Could Do Us In which debuted #8 on the Billboard Top 200. The releases that followed held their own against the ever changing faces of popular music for the time. 2007’s Vena Sera reached #2 for Rock album on the Billboard charts. 2009’s release Sci-Fi Crimes reached #6 on the Billboard Top 200 and #1 on the alternative charts. 2011’s Hats Off to The Bull reached #5 on the Billboard Top 200, 2014’s La Gargola debuted #3 on the Billboard Top 200. Most recently, 2016’s The North Corridor album debuted #8 and soon reached #2 on the Billboard Top 200. La Gargola and The North Corridor both debuted #1 on the Billboard rock charts with The North Corridor vinyl release reaching #7 on the Billboard top 25 Vinyl charts.
“You don’t want to repeat yourself,” affirms Sam. “We want to seize something different with each song.
Every record has to take on its own identity. As an artist, you have to progress and evolve.” As they continue to master their craft, Chevelle take on the critics and prove time and time again that they a force to be reckoned with.
Thursday July 12th, 2018
For the past 30 years, Cyndi Lauper has been dazzling—and surprising—her fans all over the world. A multi-talented artist and one of music’s most beloved icons, she has racked up global record sales of over 50 million albums and has won countless awards, including two Grammys, an Emmy, and a Tony, a distinction as a New York Times Best Selling author, as well as numerous honors for her tireless activism. Lauper is just one Academy Award (Oscar) away from the distinguished EGOT designation, an honor that only 13 other brilliant artists have ever achieved.
This year marks another significant milestone for Lauper – a celebration of 30 years as a solo artist. And while she will make time to appreciate the past, Lauper is laser-focused on the future.
This April, Lauper will celebrate the anniversary of her groundbreaking, record-setting debut album with She’s So Unusual: A 30th Anniversary Celebration. The 2-CD deluxe edition will feature the original album, rare demos, live concert recording as well as remixes by some of today’s hottest DJs and producers. She’s So Unusual, Lauper’s debut solo album, is a colorful portrait of a unique and multifaceted talent. The album, produced by Rick Chertoff and featuring Rob Hyman and Eric Bazilian of the Philadelphia band the Hooters, features some of Lauper’s most well-known songs and perennial radio favorites including “Girls Just Want To Have Fun,” “Time After Time,” “She Bop,” “Money Changes Everything,” and “All Through the Night.” She’s So Unusual made Lauper a household name and music history, making her the first female artist to have four top 5 singles on a debut album.
This spring, Lauper will join her good friend Cher as a special guest on 36 dates of Cher’s Dressed To Kill Tour. Lauper previously performed over one hundred shows during Cher’s Believe Tour, Living Proof Tour and The Farewell Tour. She is also nominated alongside Madonna, John Mellencamp, and Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page and Robert Plant to join the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame 2014 class which will be announced this June.
Cyndi, who won great acclaim with her 2006 stage debut as Jenny in The Threepenny Opera, wrote the Tony® Award winning original score (music and lyrics) for the smash hit Broadway adaptation of the British film Kinky Boots. The musical, which opened on The Great White Way last year, won 6 Tony® Awards – including Best Musical and Leading Actor in a Musical for Billy Porter – brings together a powerhouse team: Cyndi, legendary producers Daryl Roth and Hal Luftig, four-time Tony® Award-winner Harvey Fierstein (who wrote the book), and venerable director and choreographer Jerry Mitchell. This January, the Original Broadway Cast Recording also won the Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album, marking Lauper’s second Grammy win – 30 years after her first.
Inspired by a true story, Kinky Boots tells the tale of one Charlie Price, who is forced to step in and save his family’s shoe factory in Northern England following the sudden death of his father. Help arrives from the most unlikely of angels—a charismatic drag performer named Lola. Together, this improbable duo revitalizes the ailing business and helps them grow into the men their fathers dreamed they would become. In the process—and buoyed by Cyndi’s unforgettable score of instant classics, from lively comic tunes to bring-down-the-house stunners—they transform an entire community through the power of acceptance. It’s a message that could not be timelier.
And, the critics agree! The New York Times’ Ben Brantley says, “Cyndi Lauper knows how to work a crowd. Making her Broadway debut as a composer with Kinky Boots… this storied singer has created a love- and heat-seeking score that performs like a pop star on Ecstasy. Try to resist if you must… you might as well just give it up to the audience-hugging charisma of her songs.” The Associated Press raves, “thank goodness for songwriter Cyndi Lauper,” and the New York Post shares that “it’s no surprise that her (Lauper’s) first score, Kinky Boots, finds her at ease on Broadway… if the show’s about people coming into their own, Lauper’s leading the pack.” And, Variety says ,“Cyndi Lauper’s score has the driving energy and uplifting spirit of a roller derby… Lauper not only knows how to write super show tunes, she knows how to spread the joy around.”
Of course, Cyndi has always been an advocate for people who are different (among whom she proudly counts herself.) She details this journey in her 2012 New York Times Best Selling autobiography, Cyndi Lauper: A Memoir. Written with journalist Jancee Dunn and published by Atria Books, the memoir details for the first time Cyndi’s tumultuous years growing up in Queens, the ups and downs of a career that has spanned over three decades, her conflicted feelings on fame, and her advocacy of equality for all that led to the creation of her foundation, the True Colors Fund.
Cyndi writes with moving detail about how she left her chaotic home life at 17 with no prospects and no money. While taking jobs at the racetrack, as an I-Hop waitress and gal Friday, music was her refuge. She moved from band to band, playing small gigs, and finally landed a solo deal. In 1983 she broke out with the album She’s So Unusual, which earned Lauper her first Grammy Award for Best New Artist and made her the first female artist in history to have four top 5 singles on a debut album.
“Sometimes I come off good, sometimes not so good,” says Lauper. “But I never wanted this book to be anything but my truth. It’s not about what people think of me, but what I learned along the way. And if telling the story of what I went through can help someone else, then it’s worth it.”
An Emmy Award winner for her guest-starring role as Marianne Lugasso on “Mad About You,” Cyndi continues to show her range as an actress and personality on television and film. Since 2011, Cyndi can be seen on the Fox TV show Bones in the recurring role as the bewitching psychic Avalon Harmonia. In film, Cyndi has appeared in such motion pictures as Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle (Fine Line/Mirimax), Life With Mikey (Touchstone), Off and Running (Independent), and Vibes (Columbia/Imagine). Perhaps most notable has been her affecting, acclaimed performance opposite Christopher Walken in The Opportunist (Independent).
Helping others has always been a guiding force for Cyndi. An unwavering advocate for equality since long before she became famous, she co-founded the True Colors Fund in 2008 to further her commitment. The organization works to bring an end to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth homelessness through its Forty to None Project and inspire everyone to get involved in advancing equality for all through its Give a Damn Campaign.
Cyndi’s particular commitment to helping these vulnerable youth is driven by the fact that they are on the street primarily due to family rejection based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. “As a mother, I can’t ever imagine throwing my child away. I can’t imagine kicking a kid out of my house. I can’t imagine rejecting a person who is, literally, a part of me,” says Lauper.
In addition, Cyndi is the Honorary Chairperson and a co-founder of the True Colors Residence, the first project of its kind to provide a permanent, supportive, and secure home to formerly homeless LGBT youth in New York City.
Looking to the near future, Cyndi will once again turn back to her first love—creating new music. For now, she’s mum on the details of her next original album, but one thing is for sure: it’s yet another invigorating challenge for this ever-changing artist—a woman who is never afraid to push herself creatively, and take her many fans along for the ride.
As a rock star, reality star, spokesperson, businessman, and philanthropist, Bret Michaels does more jobs in a single day than most people do in an entire lifetime. Depending on the hour of the day he’s a cultural icon, a rock god, an entrepreneur, a TV star, a father, the face of the American Diabetes Association, a supercross enthusiast, solo artist, Poison frontman, and a generous donor to a myriad of charitable causes.
Michaels first rose to fame as the frontman of Poison. As one of rock’s most iconic and enduring bands, Poison defined the fast, gritty, and glamorous rock ‘n’ roll scene. Since the band’s beginning, Poison has achieved massive success- releasing eight studio albums, four live albums, and selling over 30 million records worldwide and 16.5 million records in the U.S. alone.
The band has charted 10 singles in the Top 40 on Billboard’s Hot 100 including the number-one single, “Every Rose Has It’s Thorn.” Twenty-five years after their debut, Poison is still recording music and performing together.
Bret Michaels’ solo career has been equally successful: his most recent solo album, “Custom Built,” released in July of 2010, topped the charts, reaching #1 on Billboard’s Hard Rock list. His current solo tour, “Get Your Rock On” is selling out arenas across the country and his forthcoming solo album of the same name will be released this summer.
Michaels has achieved stunning success in the realm of reality TV as well. His “Rock of Love” television series is one of the most successful in VH1’s history. VH1 and Bret Michaels teamed up again for his family-oriented 2010 docu-series “Bret Michaels: Life As I Know It.” He went head to head with some of the brightest minds in business on Donald Trump’s NBC hit, “Celebrity Apprentice” and went on to “Trump” the competition with his Trop-A-Rocka Snapple drink.
Michaels’ Trop-a-Rocka Diet Snapple proved to be a fan-favorite- so much so that fans rallied to continue its distribution. He is thrilled to be continuing his partnership with Snapple, remarking, “When I created my Diet Snapple Trop-A-Rocka Tea, I made it my mission to design the best-tasting diet drink on earth – made from the best stuff on earth. Creating Diet Snapple Trop-A-Rocka Tea and donating $250,000 to Diabetes research was just the beginning. I’m thrilled that Snapple will be making Trop-A-Rocka a part of its permanent offering.”
Philanthropy remains an important facet of Michaels’ career. A lifelong diabetic, he partnered with the American Diabetes Association in 2010, acting as a spokesperson and sponsor. Beyond his role as spokesperson Michaels has gone on to help Ford raise an additional $400,000 for diabetes research at the Barrett-Jackson auto auction this past February as well as donating numerous items for auction for Diabetes related events.
Michaels’ charitable outreach extends far beyond diabetes, however. Rocking out and giving back go hand in hand for Michaels, who supports a diverse array of charities and causes. In March 2011, he performed at Muhammad Ali’s Celebrity Fight Night in support of the Muhammad Ali Foundation, which gives to those suffering from Parkinson’s disease. Michaels was so touched by the event and the cause that he donated $20,000 of his own money to the Muhammad Ali Foundation to help heal those afflicted by Parkinson’s. Michaels took on the role of fundraiser as well, raising more than $200,000 for the Barrow Brain Tumor Foundation, with a star-studded dinner in his own home. He is also a supporter of the Camelot Therapeutic ranch and sponsors a horse with his family. The ranch provides services at no charge to adults and children with disabilities.
Michaels continues to stretch himself and challenge himself to take on new projects in music, business, and beyond. He recently partnered with legendary guitar company, Dean Guitars, to design his first ever signature Bret Michaels series. Michaels calls Dean Guitars “the only guitars that can keep up with me, holding up tour after tour.” He is also actively involved in the world of extreme sports. He created and awarded the first annual Bret Michaels Rock Hard, Ride Hard Award for supercross – a cash prize for the toughest and most tenacious supercross rider of the season – on May 7, 2011. The award will be given out again in 2012.
Michaels has teamed with PetSmart for the “Pet’s Rock” collection, which will debut in 2012. “As a dedicated pet owners myself, this is a natural partnership for me, and I can’t wait to unveil the collection,” Michaels said. “I know my own pets rock, and I wanted to design a line of pet products every bit as fun and cool as they are.”
Also in 2012, Michaels is teaming up with Reader’s Digest for their We Hear You America campaign – the popular national, grassroots initiative that serves as a catalyst to empower Americans to help their local communities by casting votes at ReadersDigest.com on behalf of their hometowns. Bret Michaels is the perfect partner for this campaign because he brings his experiences as a survivor, a rocker, a father, a philanthropist, and an American who has traveled this great land by tour bus from coast-to-coast. “As a musician and an artist, I wanted to get involved in the We Hear You America campaign because it’s not only about inspiring people to improve their lives and their communities, but about giving everyone a voice,” says Michaels. “It starts with all of you. Go to ReadersDigest.com every day to vote for your hometown. Your votes, joined with others in your community, could get your hometown funds and promotional support from the We Hear You America campaign.”
Bret Michaels may have been in spotlight for decades, but he is certainly showing no signs of slowing down.
It was in 1983 that Howard Jones first burst upon the contemporary music scene with his very English songwriting, pioneering synthesizers and thought provoking lyrics. He set out his manifesto in his very first single ‘ New Song’. The lyrics called on the listener to challenge their preconceived ideas, to see both sides and ‘throw off your mental chains’. New Song was recently used in a pivotal scene in ‘Breaking Bad’ where Aaron Paul’s character Jessie Pinkman questions if he wants to ‘play by the rules’. New Song peaked at number 3 in the UK singles charts. Along with ‘New Song’, The first two albums, ‘Humans Lib’ and ‘Dream into Action’, brought Howard a host of hits including ‘Things Can Only Get Better’, ‘What is Love?’, ‘Pearl In The Shell’, ‘Like to Get To know You Well’, ‘Hide And Seek’ (performed at Live Aid), ‘Look Mama’ and ‘No One Is To Blame’, which reached No.1 in the US. Howard has sold over 8 million albums across the globe and is one of a select group of British artists who have comprehensively ‘broken America’.
Howard’s Synthesiser driven debut influenced a new generation of electronic and dance musicians. Widely regarded as a pioneer of synths such as the Roland Juno 60, Jupiter 8 and Moog Prodigy he has worked with contemporary electronic artists such as Ferry Corsten, Eric Prydz and most recently Cedric Gervais. Howard enjoyed 14 weeks in the billboard dance chart top 40 in 2013 with his collaboration with Cedric on a new version of ‘Things Can Only Get Better’. Howard continues to operate at the forefront of music technology in both his live shows and productions.
Howard Jones has earned a reputation within the music industry for pioneering the ‘independent artist DIY’ approach, developing the essential connection between artist and fans. Howard was the first artist to make a recording of that nights gig available on CD to purchase. The CD would even feature digital artwork of photos taken during the gig. His latest project ‘Engage’ is entirely music fan funded with money raised via studio visits, the creation of personalised ‘Piano Solos’ composed specifically for fans and a unique “arthouse” interactive book.
Howard Jones continues to tour across the world every year performing to hundreds of thousands of music fans. His current high tech band features Jonathan Atkinson on electric drums and Robbie Bronnimann on sequencing and additional keyboards. Recent highlights include 80+ shows in 2015 alone including his new multimedia show ‘Engage’ at The indigo at the 02’ in London, The Saban Theatre in LA and at the Gramercy in New York City. The ground-breaking multi-media show incorporated specially commissioned visuals, projected both in front and behind the band and invited the audience to participate through smart phone apps, customised clothing, and fluorescent makeup. This year also found Howard performing numerous intimate solo shows entitled ‘The Songs – The Piano – The Stories.’ The shows take the audience on a personal trip through Howard’s 30 year music career. Many of his best known songs were composed on his favourite instrument; the piano. At these shows Howard shares behind the scenes stories and reveals the inspiration behind the songs.
Platinum Blonde is back, but don’t call it a reunion. In reality, it’s more like the band has simply taken a finger off of the pause button with the release of its new album Now & Never.
With five albums that have all gone Platinum seven times over and garnered multiple Juno Award nominations, along with an induction into the Music and Broadcast Industry Hall of Fame, it’s easy to wonder what else was there is for Platinum Blonde to accomplish? As it turns out, quite a lot.
“There’s been no resting on the laurels of the past successes,” says frontman Mark Holmes. “I appreciate every last thing I’ve got, but you have to embrace what’s coming towards you. The golden age is forever, it’s right now.”
Indeed, the re-ignition of the band has been a very long time coming. It wasn’t for lack of demand – the appetite for the signature new wave rock sound that swept up throngs of fans has hardly waned since the boys pressed pause in 1991.
As the years passed the band became somewhat of a cult mystery. When electronic dance tastemakers Crystal Castles teamed with Robert Smith of The Cure in 2010 to record a cover version of Platinum Blonde’s “Not In Love” an entire new generation of fans began clamoring to discover the band’s music.
For Holmes, though, there would be no rushing into any new touring without fresh music. This conviction lead to dismissing numerous offers to cash in by performing on the “greatest hits” concert circuit.
“We were not going to tour unless there was a new record,” declares Holmes with unshakeable certainty. “You can’t stop evolving. You’ve got to stay current, you can’t limit yourself.”
If his assertions are the mission statement of the band, then the proof has always been in the music.
In January 1983, at the beginning of a decade where pop music was often adrift in flash and kitsch, the Toronto-based outfit consisting of Holmes, Sergio Galli (guitar), and Chris Steffler (drums) emerged from the club scene with a more substantial offering. At the core of their unremittingly danceable new wave influence were three musically fluent artists who had something relevant to say.
Accolade for the band came fast and furiously. In autumn 1983 the group debuted Six Track Attack – an EP washed with crisp, slinky guitar and synth along with punchy rhythms. The release fuelled such an enormous amount of hype for the band that it charted at #39 – an unprecedented feat for the era.
Instantly, Platinum Blonde became one of the biggest commodities of the burgeoning new wave landscape.
Six Track Attack became the ground on which the triple-Platinum selling LP Standing In The Dark was built. Before the close of 1984 the band had invaded radio airwaves with four hit singles – “Doesn’t Really Matter”, “Standing In The Dark”, “Sad Sad Rain”, and “Not In Love”.
As MTV and MuchMusic took their nascent first steps into pop culture in the mid-80s, Platinum Blonde experimented with the visual aesthetic of its music. Already heralded as having a uniquely bold style, the music videos for “Standing In The Dark” and “Doesn’t Really Matter” added an innovative vision to the singles. High rotation on MuchMusic took the band from a radio sensation to a television staple standing on the edge of the newest music platform, and dominating it.
In 1985, the release of the follow-up album Alien Shores saw Platinum Blonde expand more broadly. With the addition of bassist and keyboardist Kenny MacLean, the band became a full fledged four-piece. The lead single “Crying Over You” peaked at #1 on the charts, helping propel the release to go Platinum five times over.
By the time their third album Contact was released 1988, the evolution of Platinum Blonde was beginning to pull the band in a new direction, with each member beginning to branch into the waters of solo projects. After their 1990 album Yeah Yeah Yeah the band felt compelled to explore these newly emerging creative avenues in separate ways.
Since that parting, there’s been little time for the group to wax nostalgic as they continued to enjoy success with a number of their respective solo efforts. Never one to remain idle, Holmes founded the Mod Club which has become a paragon of the Toronto club scene. He remained close to his former bandmates, leaving the door for future collaboration wide open.
The impetus for a Platinum Blonde renaissance came in the form of bassist Kenny MacLean who playfully prodded Holmes to get the band back together. After a series of one-off shows in the early 2000s it seemed like the time for a full-blown revival was ripe.
In 2008, while in the middle of navigating the prospect of reuniting, MacLean suddenly suffered a fatal heart attack in his recording studio. The sudden passing of their bandmate left Holmes and Galli stunned and grief-stricken, temporarily derailing the plans to record new material.
To Holmes, the memory of their dear friend and bandmate had an enormous impact on the new life Platinum Blonde has taken. “He left this world on a positive note, that energy is in everything we do now.”
Holmes and Galli enlisted the expertise of bassist Rob Laidlaw and drummer Dan Todd to round out the reinvigorated lineup. They teamed with producer and engineer Murray Daigle and immediately it was apparent that things were finally falling into place.
“When we got back together it really felt like no time had passed,” says Holmes. “It’s all fresh, and it all came together perfectly.”
The panache and passionate soul of Platinum Blonde’s music is vivid in the 10 tracks that comprise Now & Never. A finely wrought mélange of crisp rock and sultry electro-pop, the leading single “Beautiful” entwines highly evolved strings and guitar work over an intense beat that is capable of holding any dance floor captive. Throughout its entirety, seemingly contradictory rock and dance influences melt together seamlessly.
Holmes credits his métier as a DJ for informing the fresh spirit of new Platinum Blonde material, “Its bound to influence the music. As a producer and DJ, we are the ones at the very edge of music movements. I live for the future. All the bands that I was doing remixes for lately seem to sound like Platinum Blonde. So I thought it might be the right time for a dose of the real thing”.
That sentiment of forward thinking spills directly into tracks like “From Here” where Holmes belts the line “…time for me to be a thousand years from here.” It’s a call for freedom from outdated thinking, he says, in a world that doesn’t always bear a lot of hope for the future.
“To be free is a right everybody has,” he explains. “It’s a song of independence, and about facing the fear of being on your own.”
Across time, the one constant of Platinum Blonde has always been an unquenchable yen to evolve. With Now & Never, the band that’s made a career of forging it’s own path continues to roam free.
“The album title pretty much sums it up for me,” Richard Page says with a wry smile. The veteran writer/artist is referring to both his second solo album, Peculiar Life (released on his own Little Dume Music label) and his bifurcated career, which belies F. Scott Fitzgerald’s contention that there are no second acts in American life. Page spent the 1980s fronting the bands Pages and the chart-topping Mr. Mister(celebrated in the chorus hook of Train’s current hit “Hey Soul Sister,” which goes, “Hey soul sister, ain’t that Mr. Mister on the radio, stereo”) before becoming the provider of material for others, in part via his longstanding relationships with producer David Foster.
But functioning purely as a writer for hire “doesn’t scratch the itch of wanting to do your own thing, especially when you have to make compromises,” Page explains of the motivation behind the writing and recording of Peculiar Life, his first album since 1995’s Shelter Me. “So I really started missing this again, though it amps my life up tremendously and is hard on the family. But there’s something special about doing your own record and making your own music that I really missed, and I didn’t know how much I missed it until I went through this experience.”
Gathering the all-star core band of drummer Vinnie Colaiuta (Jeff Beck, Sting, Herbie Hancock), percussionist Luis Conte (Pat Matheny, James Taylor, Jackson Browne), bassist Kevin McCormick (a mainstay of Browne’s longtime band) and guitarist James Harrah (Chris Botti, Elton John, John Prine), augmented on certain tracks by pedal steel giant Greg Leisz (k.d. lang, Wilco, T Bone Burnett) and violin virtuoso L. Shankar (Peter Gabriel, John McLaughlin, Talking Heads), the Malibu-based artist brought a special set of songs to the nearby studio of his surfer buddy Richard Gibbs (an Oingo Boingo member turned film scorer), who’d readily agreed to co-produce after hearing the material.
“Richard, who’s a great musician and helped me a lot, insisted that we have live musicians playing everything,” says Page. “To me, if music sounds and feels good, I don’t really care if it was played by a machine or human beings. But I admit, I’d gotten swept up in programming because it’s so easy to write when you program, with so many tools at your fingertips. But having done this record, I can now see that I’d forgotten how nuanced real musicianship can be. I had most of the songs somewhat arranged already, and many of the vocals were done here at my studio. I took over the mockups—essentially song demos with programmed sounds, vocals and some guitar—to Richard’s studio, and we replaced nearly all the instruments. The guys appreciated being able to play to songs that already had lead and background vocals and ideas that were already finished thoughts. So it worked out pretty cool that way.”
The resulting album—mixed by the brilliant Elliot Scheiner (Steely Dan, Fleetwood Mac, Eagles)—sounds as taut and vibrant as you’d expect from the collective chops and experience of this crew; the revelation here has to do with the depth of Page’s writing. The dozen songs range from the brightness of “Brand New Day” (“When I wrote that one, I was thinking that things are gonna be OK, and it’s OK to say so”) to the dark night of the soul evoked in “Shadow on My Life”; from the life-embracing pop of “No Tomorrow” (co-written with his old friend Richard Marx) and “You Are Mine” (a collaboration with Nashville-based songsmiths Melissa Pierce and Mike Busbee) and to the album’s three-pronged spiritual center, comprising the provocative title song, the contemplative “Worldly Things” and the widescreen epic “When You Come Around,” each of them at once intensely personal and universally relatable.
Describing “Peculiar Life,” Page says, “The line, ‘I’ve got too much invested in this peculiar life’ speaks of grasping, and the grasping has to do with believing that all this is real and wanting a payoff from it. And the hardest thing to do is to let all that go and not be so affected by loss or gain, winning or losing. The struggle I have in my life is to try to balance those things out, so that I’m not so affected emotionally when things go wrong or, conversely, when things go right—to find that place where you’re not swinging back and forth so hard that you suffer from either incredible glee or unbearable unhappiness. The metaphor of feeling like you’re drowning speaks to not having a clear resolve to get out of this mess. So that song says a lot about where I’m at.”
The companion piece “Worldly Things” turns on the lines, “Sometimes I don’t feel so strong/Days go by, barely hangin’ on/Shine a light in my eye so I can find my way home.” According to Page, the song’s narrator is pondering the question, “Why can’t I seem to find any true meaning or happiness in life? It seems like that’s a common struggle for many of us.”
“When You come Around,” written with composer/programmer Jochem van der Saag, is “a song of gratitude or devotion to a spiritual friend, or a greater being, but it also could mean different things to different people. Jochem, who came up with the spatial qualities in the arrangement, had a riff that I really liked, so I took that riff home and wrote the song to it, basically. One of my favorite songs of all time is George Harrison’s ‘Within You, Without You’ from Sgt. Pepper, and I’m sure it was a subconscious inspiration.”
Accumulated over a number of years, these songs spoke to Page in a different way from the rest of his output. “When I write a song,” he explains, “I automatically think, ‘Who could I pitch that to?’ And with some of these songs I would think, ‘Nobody.’ Not because they’re so great but because I just can’t imagine anyone else doing them; they’re so personal and have so much of my own stamp on them. Frankly, some songs can work for many different singers, but with these, I felt I needed to do my own thing with them.”
Page is spending the summer on the road in the company of another set of A-list musicians, playing bass and singing with Ringo Starr’s All-Starr Band. The 2010 lineup also boasts keyboardists Edgar Winter and Gary Wright, guitarists Rick Derringer and Wally Palmer (The Romantics), and drummer Gregg Bissonette. The downside is that the tour takes him away from his home life with his four kids and his wife of 30 years. “Linda has had a huge impact on my life,” he says, “and I’m sure I wouldn’t be the same guy without her. She’s really helped guide me. And put up with a lot”
And speaking of inspiration, inseparable from the expression of meaningful thoughts and feelings is the craft that goes into the creative process. “I have a short list of the artists I feel are the standard bearers,” Page points out, “and if I can even emulate them a tiny bit, that’s what I’m after at this point in my life. There was a time a while back when all I listened to were Stevie Wonder and Steely Dan, because I thought those two were at the high point of the craft. I couldn’t go there myself and felt frustrated by that, but kept trying anyway. This is my humble effort at paying homage to the kings and queens of songwriting, and who knows, perhaps inspire someone else”
As well-known for their bizarrely teased haircuts as their hit single “I Ran (So Far Away),” A Flock of Seagulls were one of the infamous one-hit wonders of the new wave era. Growing out of the synth-heavy and ruthlessly stylish new romantic movement, A Flock of Seagulls were a little too robotic and arrived a little too late to be true new romantics, but their sleek dance-pop was forever indebted to the short-lived movement. The group benefitted considerably from MTV’s heavy rotation of the “I Ran” video in the summer of 1982.
Hairdresser Mike Score (lead vocals, keyboards) formed A Flock of Seagulls with his brother Ali (drums) and fellow hairdresser Frank Maudsley (bass) in 1980, adding guitarist Paul Reynolds several months later. The group released its debut EP on Cocteau Records early in 1981, and while the record failed to chart, its lead track, “Telecommunication,” became an underground hit in Euro-disco and new wave clubs. The band signed a major-label contract with Jive by the end of the year, and their eponymous debut album appeared in the spring of 1982. “I Ran (So Far Away)” was released as the first single from the album, and MTV quickly picked up on its icily attractive video, which featured long shots of Mike Score and his distinctive, cascading hair. The single climbed into the American Top Ten, taking the album along with it. In the U.K., “I Ran” didn’t make the Top 40, but “Wishing (If I Had a Photograph of You)” reached number ten later that year; in America, that single became a Top 40 hit in 1983, after “Space Age Love Song” peaked at number 30. “Wishing” was taken from the group’s second album, Listen (1983), which was moderately successful.
The band released 1984’s The Story of a Young Heart failed to produce any hit singles but Reynolds left after the album and was replaced by Gary Steadnin; the band also added keyboardist Chris Chryssaphis. The new lineup was showcased on 1986’s Dream Come True. Shortly after its release, the band broke up. Mike Score assembled a new lineup of A Flock of Seagulls in 1989, releasing the single “Magic” and touring the U.S.A. The band continued to tour worldwide, although with major changes to its members, and in 1996 released a new album, The Light at the End of the World.
30 years ago, they told us: “You can dance if you want to” — and we did.
A few years later, they said the world would “Go Pop” — and it did.
Men Without Hats have been creating iconic, irresistible music for more than three decades, and, logging literally thousands of touring miles over the years, have honed their live set to a sonically dynamic, thought-provoking dance party, winning over millions of fans in the process.
Led by charismatic front man/lead singer/songwriter Ivan Doroschuk, MWH has surged back into the public eye, beginning with a breakout show at 2011’s SXSW, and followed first by the release of their seventh album, Love in the Age of War, and then by extensive, well-received tours throughout North America and across the world in the years since.
Along with keyboard players Lou Dawson and Rachel Ashmore, plus guitarist Sho Murray, Ivan and the ’Hats have been delivering high-energy shows packed with all of the band’s absurdly catchy lyrics and melodies, as well as great tracks from their new release, which picks up precisely where the hit-makers left off.
“Sure, lots has changed in music over the last few decades,” says Doroschuk, “but the world still loves a hooky song with a bit of edge that can get you thinking.”
And that’s always been what the ’Hats deliver: tracks that get you bopping across the dance floor with subtle messages that haunt you long after the music has ended.
It’s no surprise that this band has topped charts all over the world, and even picked up a 1983 Grammy nomination for Best Group.
The Hats’ catalogue sounds as fresh and relevant as ever, and their hits have been featured on The Simpsons, Family Guy, and Glee. Their hit single, “Pop Goes the World,” also lights up TV screens in a commercial for Tide.
Men Without Hats have been providing a hit- and hook-filled soundtrack to our lives since the 80s, and now the band powers magnificently into the 21st Century with a fantastic new album and a summer tour through the U.S., Canada, and beyond.
They once said you could “dance if you want to,” but these days, audiences at Men Without Hats shows usually can’t stop themselves, anyway.
Virgin Radio Presents: Friday July 13th, 2018
Boyz II Men remains one of the most truly iconic R&B groups in music history. The group redefined popular R&B and continues to create timeless hits that appeal to fans across all generations, the band has penned and performed some of the most celebrated classics of the past two decades. The group’s 4 Grammy Awards are just the tip of the iceberg: throughout their 25-year career, Boyz II Men have also won a whopping 9 American Music Awards, 9 Soul Train Awards, 3 Billboard Awards, and a 2011 MOBO Award for Outstanding Contribution to Music, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, as well and a Casino Entertainment Award for their acclaimed residency at the Mirage Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, which has been ongoing since 2013.
The trio holds the distinction of being the best-selling R&B group of all time, with an astounding 60 million albums sold. And the reason is abundantly clear: for the past two decades Boyz II Men have given fans a rich catalogue of hits filled with smooth harmonies and enduring themes. And for Boyz II Men the hits just keep on coming—the group continues to craft new albums and bring their legendary act to stages across the world.
Boyz II Men’s past hits include: “End of the Road,” “I’ll Make Love to You,” “One Sweet Day,” “Motownphilly” and many others. And their recent albums have earned them major critical acclaim as well. Their Decca label debut, Motown: A Journey Through Hitsville USA (Decca/Universal), on November 13, 2007 earned them two Grammy Nominations.
In 2011, Boyz II Men marked their 20th anniversary by releasing a landmark album, fittingly titled Twenty. The album contains the group’s first original material in nearly a decade as well as a dozen remasetered classic, career-defining hits. Twenty debuted at #20 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums Chart, #4 on the Billboard R&B album chart, #10 on the Billboard Digital Album Chart, and placed #1 on the iTunes R&B Soul Album chart. Twenty’s first single, “More Than You’ll Ever Know” cracked into the top 15 on Urban AC charts.
Boyz II Men have won fans the world over with their soulful multi-octave sound and incredible vocals. Given the monumental success of their albums and the timeless quality of their vocals, it’s easy to see why Boyz II Men remains the most popular R&B group of all time. Ask any successful pop or R&B superstar which artists have inspired them- chances are Boyz II Men will be at the top. From Justin Timberlake and Usher to Justin Bieber and Beyonce, the most successful stars in the industry look to Boyz II Men as their idols.
Beyond making music, giving back is also important to Boyz II Men- the group has its own charity called Boyz II Men House which lends support to individuals and organizations that focus on improving quality of life and helping to unlock human potential, while contributing to the health and vitality of those less fortunate.
Although Boyz II Men continues to tour across the country and around the globe, performing a mix of their latest tracks and treasured classics, the group currently has a residency at famed Las Vegas venue The Mirage through the end of 2018. Boyz II Men have made R&B accessible to the masses and have helped the genre come into its own—and fans throughout the world flock.
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Rhona Bennett, Terry Ellis and Cindy Herron-Braggs
“That which is timeless is also the most timely.”
― Joseph Pearce
Timeless! That’s what comes to mind the moment the resonant voices of En Vogue pour through the airwaves. With their new single, Rocket, steadily pushing its way onto radio playlists across the country, the ladies are poised for more chart-topping success with the global release of their “Electric Café” album on Entertainment One Music.
En Vogue, current members Cindy Herron-Braggs, Terry Ellis and Rhona Bennett are recognized as one of the top 5 highest selling American female music groups in history, En Vogue has sold over 20 million albums to date. Their effortless transition into the digital age, complemented by their effortless chic, has garnered the group over 30 million streams and 26 million plus YouTube views on their Top 6 hit singles alone; smashes such as Hold On, Free Your Mind, Never Gonna Get It, Giving Him Something He Can Feel, Don’t Let Go, and Whatta Man (feat. Salt N Pepa).
In March 2018, the group will present their most diverse work yet with the release of the album “Electric Café.” “We were just looking for a vibe,” says founding member Cindy Herron-Braggs of the group’s first studio album since 2004. “In the beginning, we were feeling that electronic dance sound, but then the music started to evolve creatively.” Electric Café features collaborations with some of today’s most sought-after producers and artists, including Ne-Yo, who penned the lead single Rocket with production by Curtis “Sauce” Wilson and Raphael Saadiq, who wrote and produced the smoking hot track, I’m Good.
The Hip-Hop laced Have a Seat ft. Snoop Dogg was penned by writer/producer Taura Stinson, and the group’s original production duo, Denzil Foster and Thomas McElroy, tapped back into En Vogue’s signature sound with Déjà vu and Blue Skies.
Known for their show stopping performances, En Vogue stays in demand. 2018 kicks off with a European tour hitting Dublin, Ireland followed by shows throughout the United Kingdom, Holland and Germany.
“There has never been a time when we didn’t have a show on the books,” says founding member Terry Ellis. “We’re blessed to have a global fan base that gives us so much love, so much genuine enthusiasm, every time we walk out on that stage.”
The ladies attribute their stellar figures and age-defying looks to a primarily plant-based diet and vigorous fitness routine. For them, the ability to consistently deliver high-energy performances is paramount; it is also what keeps their legions of fans wanting more. Simply put, “We just love our craft,” says Cindy Herron-Braggs.
While the seasoned songbirds stay connected to their R&B roots, their appreciation for diverse musical genres is reflected in their new project. “We love the authenticity of Hip Hop and the fusion of old school rhythm with a contemporary sound,” says Rhona Barrett.
When not on the road, they donate their time to philanthropic causes such as The HollyRod Foundation, which provides medical, physical, and emotional support to families living with autism and individuals battling Parkinson’s disease. They also support non-profit organizations that rescue victims from human trafficking and provide them with educational and job training.
Since their debut En Vogue has set the standard for female R&B/Pop groups and promise to continue that tradition with Electric Café. Their appeal is timeless; and in a world full of ‘one-hit’ wonders, that makes their new collection of music – timely.
Déjà vu & Blue Skies
Produced by Denzil Foster
Written By: Denzil Foster, Thomas McElroy, Cindy Herron, Terry Ellis, Rhona Bennett
Produced by Sauce
Written by Shaffer Smith, Curtis “Sauce” Wilson
Written & Produced by Raphael Saadiq
Reach 4 Me & Oceans Deep
Produced by Dem Jointz
Written by Dwayne A. Abernathy, Jr., Isabella Peschardt
Have a Seat (Ft. Snoop Dogg)
Produced by Kid Monroe, additional Production by writer producer Taura Stinson
The Grammy Award winning, Platinum-album selling, New Jersey super-group, Naughty By Nature, has a twenty-year track record of creating the hits and party anthems that have become the soundtrack to our lives. Their music has smashed through mainstream barriers all while remaining true to the sound, message and grit of the hood. And now, these three kings of the Hip-Hop anthem have formally claimed their titles with the 20th Anniversary album, Anthem Inc.
Life is good. Treach, Vin Rock and DJ Kay Gee kep doing what they do best: creating undeniably classic, handraising, life-affirming, Hip-Hop music. “We wouldn’t have reunited if we didn’t think we could give people that authentic Naughty feeling,” says the group’s master lyricist Treach. “This new album is definitely gonna take you back, but just like we always did, we’ve invented a new sound, a bunch of new flows and after being without an album for so long, we’ve gotta lotta things to say.”
Few groups in music can boast a twenty-year career that has been both consistent and history making. Naughty By Nature, initially called New Style, began performing at talent shows and were discovered by fellow New Jersey native and then-emerging Hip-Hop artist, Queen Latifah. Eventually signing the group to her management company Flavor Unit Management, Latifah helped them land a deal with Tommy Boy Records.
Naughty By Nature’s self-titled debut album was released in 1991 and quickly assaulted the music charts with the instant classic #1 hit “O.P.P.” The group quickly became crossover stars, while maintaining their ghetto sensibility. To date, their success and longevity as a Hip-Hop group has been unparalleled. The trio went on to produce their follow-up albums that have become part of America’s Hip- Hop legacy: 19 Naughty III (1993), Poverty’s Paradise (1995) and Nature’s Fury (1999).
Inevitably, a break-up in 1999 would lead to the group members each following different, yet equally successful, personal endeavors. As a producer, Kay Gee went onto produce award winning music with artists including: Luther Vandross, Notorious B.I.G, Jaheim, Next and Zhane. As an actor, Treach found success in film and television offering critically acclaimed performances in HBO’s original series The Sopranos and OZ, along with Jason’s Lyric, Soul Food, the Hip-Hop cult-classic Juice and several other films.
As the marketing genius behind the group, Vin Rock developed Naughty Gear, one of the first Hip-Hop inspired clothing lines. When he got a hold of the worldwide web, he mastered it with www.NaughtyByNature.com, further developing and expanding the reach of the Naughty brand. Throughout this time, Treach and Vin Rock continued to tour and perform around the world. In 2002, the duo struck a deal with TVT Records and produced their last album, IIcons.
Fast forward to 2008… After years of steady touring and itching to get back in the studio, both Treach and Vin agreed, that in order for the next album to have that authentic sound and feel of Naughty By Nature, they must reunite with DJ Kay Gee. At this same time, VH1 bestowed their coveted “Hip-Hop Honor” to the group as innovators of our culture. Joining the ranks of Big Daddy Kane, Rakim and Eazy E., the group received their “HipHop Honors” in October of 2008.
The group continues to tour globally, ripping stages from Australia to Canada and New Jersey to South Africa. Naughty By Nature is on their A-game and have no plans to stop anytime soon.
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With over 17 million records sold worldwide, Grammy award-winning and multi-platinum recording artist Coolio is an artist known around the world as a musical and cooking master of extraordinary reinvention.
Growing up during the time of tremendous change in Compton, Calif., Coolio fed on struggle and used it as a launching pad of continual reinvention that led to selling over 17 million records globally and a long list of concerts to adoring fans in Africa, Israel, Russia, Japan, Thailand, Brazil, Australia, Turkey, the United States and throughout Europe. He gave back to the community by serving as the spokesman for the Asthma and Allergies Foundation.
Coolio initially took over the world rap scene through the “Gangsta’s Paradise” release, which won a Grammy Award in 1996 for Best Rap Performance, Solo. “Gangsta’s Paradise” would also be featured on the “Dangerous Minds” soundtrack and movie. “Gangsta’s Paradise,” also featuring LV on vocals, was also nominated for a Grammy for Best Song of the Year and it sold over six million copies and was Billboard Magazine’s number one single in 1995.
The world recognition led to his music being featured Coolio for several major motion pictures including: Space Jam, Clueless, The Big Payback, Panther, New Jersey Drive, The Jerk Boys, Eddie, Half Baked and many more. He also composed the theme song for the popular kids TV series KENAN on Nickelodeon.
The awards for his hard-hitting style are many. Coolio has won an American Music Award, three MTV awards, two Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards and a World Music award. He has received six Grammy award nominations (1994, 1995 and 1996), two Billboard Music awards (1994 and 1996), two ASCAP awards (1996, 1997), three MTV video awards (1996 and 1997), four American Online Awards (1996) and was the Playboy Music Poll winner in 1997.
Coolio successfully made the transition from performer to actor during the 90s. He co-stared in the motion picture Retirement with Bill Cobb, Peter Falk, Charlie Murphy and Rip Torn. The film featured music from Coolio’s “Return of the Gangsta” album. Coolio has also starred in several HBO films and series as well as making cameos in Bateman Dare Devil.
His television accomplishments have included the reality TV show on the Oxygen network, “Coolio’s Rules,” and the ghetto funk cooking web series, “Cooking with Coolio,” which logged over four million hits on the web. Television appearances included programs like Celebrity Cook Off and Celebrity Chopped.
His musical collaborations continued with “From the Bottom to the Top.” Coolio changed his style and opened up to working with many European and International disc jockeys such as Benny Benassi, Ives la rock, and Paul Oakenfold just to name a few. He also got the aide of his son A.I., who was a featured artist on the album. The first single is collaboration with Coolio and the Oscar-winning “Ennio Morricone,” one of the most famous soundtrack composers of the last 50 years.
Coolio’s Album “El Cool Magnigico” was released in Europe on Jan 15, 2003. Featured artists on that album included hip-hop performer Miss Toi, country legend Kenny Rogers, Krazye Bone from Bone thugs n Harmony, B-real of Cypress Hill and Daz Dillinger. Associated Press stated that, “Coolio returns to Hip-Hop with El Cool Magnifico, and every track on the disc is a winner.” The New York Post praised the album and wrote, “El Cool Magnifico is excellent from top to bottom”. The album sold over 1.8 million copies worldwide.
No stranger to the world of cartoons, Coolio recorded the single and music video “Dexter” (what’s his name) for “Dexter’s Laboratory: Home Boy Genius – The Hip-Hop Experiment.” This was a creative and fun album featuring big name hip-hop artists such as De La Soul and Will I Am. “The Hip-Hop Experiment” album features original songs inspired by Dexter’s Laboratory, the top rated, Emmy nominated Cartoon Network series.
An ingenious chameleon, Coolio launched his book, “Cookin’ with Coolio: 5 Star Meals at a 1 Star Price,” in 2009, which would become a New York Times bestseller. This move expanded his audience base from the stage to kitchens across the globe. Branding himself as the “ghetto gourmet,” Coolio used his creativity and the inspiration of his mother to refine old-school recipes into accessible, fresh options.
Coolio’s interest in cooking started as a youngster. After a failed grilled cheese, his mother chose to make him pay her back for the charred mess by helping out in the kitchen. Rather than hate every minute of cleaning and scrubbing, Coolio fell in love with cooking.
Later in life, when his mother passed, the love of cooking turned into an obsession with rediscovering and reinventing all her old recipes. He interviewed aunts, friends and relatives until he found her lost secrets. Then, Coolio took the lessons of his elders and morphed the recipes into healthier options that remained affordable.
The secret ingredient of Coolio’s recipes is his unconventional approach to culinary instruction. His style is brash and in your face for which he doesn’t apologize. “People learn better when they’re entertained. Cooking isn’t just for the starched-stiff elite. Everyone should know how to cook something,” said the ghetto gourmet.
Currently performing and touring worldwide on the “I Love the 90’s Tour”, Coolio is also working on a new cookbook with his best friend and bandmate, smooth jazz saxophonist Jarez. The recipes will continue on the theme of insane deliciousness that anyone can recreate. The recipes are designed to be accessible with easy to assemble ingredients that everyone will recognize. From the tang of balsamic vinegar to the freshness of chopped peppers, the new cookbook is something that everyone needs in their kitchen.
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The Billboard Top Ten songs chart for 1995 contains the following names: Coolio, TLC, Seal, Boyz II Men, Mariah Carey, Madonna, and a man named Montell Jordan. This Is How We Do It was a breakout new jack-swing song that topped the Hot 100 for seven weeks and R&B charts for eight. Jordan, tall and handsome with a silky-smooth voice, established himself as a powerful presence in music, brimming with talent, savvy, and charm. Over his nearly twenty year career in music, Jordan has released seven studio albums, fourteen singles, and is a Grammy nominated artist selling more than 10 million records world wide.
From South Central Los Angeles to Pepperdine University in Malibu, Montell was on course to attend law school when a professor said one of his biggest regrets was missing the chance to pursue music. In a flash, Montell recognized that if he was ever going to take a shot at music he needed to do it then. He put together a demo, which eventually landed in the hands of Def Jam Records and Russell Simmons. This Is How We Do It, which used a sample of Slick Rick’s ‘Children’s Story,’ took off and his first of many number one singles was born.
Following years of awards, achievements and accolades in television, music and film that never seemed to satisfy, Montell learned that without fame he’s a husband, a dad, and a friend. He stepped away from the entertainment business for many years in search of significance over success. “I had to learn who Montell was outside of music to determine that I make music and music doesn’t make me.” In that time away, Montell was able to reevaluate his priorities and ultimately find his passion. This was found as he connected with his childhood faith.
Montell speaks, teaches, mentors, ministers to married couples and continues songwriting and performing today. Following a five year R&B musical hiatus, Jordan now does music again as he has determined both what he is gifted to do and what he is purposed to do and allowed those worlds to meet. Montell now serves more than 13,000 people from 130+ nations around the world each weekend as an Executive Pastor at Victory World Church in Norcross, GA. He continues to redefine music, mentor men and mend marriages through Victory, an ideal place that builds families, transforms communities, reconciles cultures and impacts nations.
In his musical past, Montell had already shown an ability to stretch boundaries of genre and style and uses this same ability to influence, impact and inspire today. Jordan’s musical achievements are still recognized worldwide and he and his wife of 20+ years, Kristin Jordan are releasing a marriage book in 2017 titled, “This Is How We Do It; Making Your Marriage A Masterpeace.” During summer 2016, Jordan’s released his self-published autobiography, “Becoming Unfamous; The Journey From How We Do It To How He Do It.” It is available now at www.montell-jordan.com.
Montell’s Faith is the reason he desires to share the good news of his journey with all who are willing to listen, be encouraged, and possibly transformed as he was.
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In the music business, perhaps the most dreamed about position that fans and musicians alike fantasize over is being the lead singer in a group. Especially when you consider the massive accomplishments of icons like Beyonce Knowles, Justin Timberlake, and the late, great King of Pop Michael Jackson, all former lead singers of legendary groups who went on to have stellar solo careers. Added to this super exclusive club of musical geniuses is Sisqo`, long time front man of the multi-platinum group Dru Hill and a Grammy nominated solo artist whose talent is so extraordinary, he towers as the perfect example of a true quadruple threat, excelling as a first class singer, dancer, songwriter, and actor. Born Mark Althavean Andrews in a city synonymous with drugs and extreme violence Baltimore, Maryland, served as the rearing site for an artist who will undoubtedly go down in music history as one of the most talented and flamboyant all around entertainers, past or present, to have ever picked up a microphone. Strong words maybe, but then again one need only look, listen or simply observe the six pack having dancing machine in action to know that a talent this amazing comes only so often. At a time when charismatic singers who can really sang and dance is a rarity, Sisqo` to the contrary shines as the consummate showman fearless in his pursuit to push the limits of creativity.
While still only in his early thirties, Sisqo` is nearly a 20-year music veteran who thus far has had a career that many of the brightest and most successful singers of today can only dream of. As the voice behind a vast list of classics such as “Tell Me”, “Incomplete”, “In My Bed”, “5 Steps”, “How Deep Is Your Love”, “We’re Not Making Love No More”, and the earth shattering smash single “The Thong Song”, for which he caused an international mania of epic proportions, are just some of the hit records that have secured Sisqo’s place in music history. Responsible for a jaw dropping thirty million records sold worldwide explains why several of the hottest young singers in the industry regularly call on Sisqo` for performance tips and career advice. A true
talent of the highest kind, Sisqo is as passionate about acting as he is about singing, most evident in his long list of television and film roles to include “Sisqo’s Shakedown” (MTV); “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” (ABC); “I Love the New Millennium” (VH-1); “Gone Country” (CMT); “Keith Sweat’s Platinum House” (Centric); “Celebrity Big Brother” (UK); and films “Get Over It”, “Pieces of April”, “Surf School”, and the immensely popular “Show Dogs” starring Academy Award Winner Cuba Gooding, Jr. Admired by several fellow superstar artists, Sisqo` has written for and recorded with industry heavyweights Mya (It’s all About Me), DMX (What These Bitches Want), and Lil’ Kim (How Many Licks). Arguably the most popular musicians on the planet at the beginning of the new millennium, Sisqo` won an astonishing six Billboard awards in 2000–Male Artist of the Year, Male Hot 100 Singles Artist of the Year, R&B/Hip-Hop Artist of the Year, New R&B/Hip-Hop Artist of the Year, R&B/Hip-Hop Male Artist of the Year, and R&B/Hip-Hop Singles Artist of the Year, as well as MTV’s Best Hip-Hop Video for “The Thong Song”.
With the release of “Back to the Future”, Dru Hill’s monstrous lead single off the group’s fourth studio album “Indrupendence Day”, totally destroying clubs, radio, and the internet along with his third solo album entitled “Last Dragon” due out soon, the czar of flashy hairstyles who was once flown to London, England by his idol Michael Jackson to be praised in person by “The King”, is now poised to become the new King of Pop.
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FM96 Presents: Saturday July 14th, 2018
The darkest moments in history — those when fear and hate trump all else — are the times that define us. As politicians use bigoted rhetoric to gain power at home and abroad, and fringe groups creep from the shadows, it’s tempting to succumb to despair and defeatism. But Rise Against is challenging fans to create a bold new identity together: one that is stronger than these setbacks, and bigger than any election. WOLVES, their 8th studio release, is about recognizing the power within all of us; it’s a primal call for the prey to become the hunters.
“If you are in the wilderness and you hear wolves howling, what you’re hearing might be an animal lost or mourning,” says Rise Against’s Tim McIlrath. “But it doesn’t make you any less afraid. You know they’re there. And you know what this powerful pack of animals is capable of.”
For 18 years, Rise Against has kept its moral compass steady, using their international punk platform to speak out for social justice. The band cut its teeth during the George W. Bush administration and has released records across three presidencies, but today’s political climate forced the band to step back and rethink how they define themselves.
The record was originally titled “Mourning in America,” but after the U.S. presidential election that rang hollow. It felt somber and hopeless. Members of the band felt those emotions, too, but decided they needed to create an album that focused more on our potential than our failings. They knew it needed teeth and claws. The result is WOLVES, a soundtrack for the hunt.
“In many ways, a Rise Against show is a safe space for our fans,” McIlrath says. “But I realized that I don’t only want to create safe spaces, I want to create dangerous spaces where misogyny can’t exist, where xenophobia can’t exist. I want to create spaces where those sentiments don’t have any air, and they suffocate: where those ideas die. WOLVES isn’t about creating a safe space, it’s about creating a space that’s dangerous for injustice.”
The influence of the U.S. presidential election can clearly be heard in songs like “Walls” (“the monsters lost in history are now making their return”) and “Welcome to the Breakdown” (“ignoring the facts, intoxicated by the throne”). WOLVES is of course shaped by the new presidency, but it’s not limited to it. There is a spirit of resistance and optimism here that transcends our current crisis, and will outlast any politician.
Like all Rise Against records, the band tackles political struggles alongside personal ones, creating songs as complex as their fans. On tracks like “House on Fire” and “Politics of Love,” one can hear echoes of the iconic punk/folk songwriter Billy Bragg in McIlrath’s words; the personal is political, the political is personal, and it’s all rooted in a revolutionary, uncompromising love.
This evolution in Rise Against’s identity came against the backdrop of other changes for the band. For 11 years, they had worked closely with producer Bill Stevenson, of the Descendents and Black Flag fame. With Descendents on tour and Stevenson tied up, Rise Against stepped out of their comfort zone and began working with Nick Raskulinecz, the Grammy-winning producer who has partnered with Foo Fighters, Alice in Chains, and Deftones.
Recording with Raskulinecz meant moving to Nashville, Tennessee — far from the band’s familiar worlds of Chicago and Los Angeles, and a firmly red state where Rise Against has rarely played. Political yard signs and conversations around town were constant reminders to the band that they were in new territory. And even though Nashville is a music town, it’s country — not punk or hardcore. During the band’s five months in the area, these outsider feelings shaped the identity of WOLVES.
Living in the South transformed the record in some unexpected ways. “As people on the news are arguing about immigration and class warfare, we are driving down the highway and seeing Civil War battlefields and monuments,” McIlrath says. “When you tour these battlefields, you hear about what kind of muskets they used. But shouldn’t we be talking about what got us to that point as a country?”
As further evidence of the geographic influence on the record, it’s comprised not just of anthems of resistance, but also reconciliation. Living in Nashville drove home that we can’t just focus on our differences, McIlrath says. If we can stop and talk to each other, face to face, we might realize our common ground. We are all wolves in the same pack, circling at the gates.
“They say we’re divided, we are conquered,” McIlrath sings. “But our enemies have never been each other.”
– Will Potter [willpotter.com]
Outsiders always leave enduring impressions. By veering away from the pack, these mavericks confidently lead the charge for others to follow. Since 2003, Three Days Grace has staked a spot amongst the hard rock vanguard, quietly breaking records, toppling charts, moving millions of units worldwide, and making history by holding the all-time record for “most #1 singles at Active Rock Radio ever” with 13. The Ontario, Canada quartet—Matt Walst [lead vocals], Barry Stock [lead guitar], Brad Walst [bass], and Neil Sanderson [drums, percussion, keyboards, programming]—continue to blaze that trail on their sixth full-length album, the aptly titled Outsider [RCA Records].
“To me, Outsider represents the journey to find your place,” says Brad. “The world feels crazy at times. We try to get away from that every once in a while. We do our own thing, and we’re comfortable doing it. We have always looked forward—and not backwards. That’s an ongoing theme for us here.”
“It’s what we’ve done in many ways by being on the outside,” agrees Neil. “This is all about taking a step back from life’s madness without destroying yourself, cutting everyone off, or going crazy. You get a break and find the space to create.”
That’s exactly what the musicians did in the fall of 2016. Instead of congregating in a downtown Toronto rehearsal space, they initially wrote in a converted garage behind Brad’s house located two hours from the city. Eventually, they retreated to Neil’s 90-acre farm to further hone ideas. Following daytime snowmobile trips, the guys often sat around bonfires with acoustic guitars, tapping into the wild spirit surrounding them.
“We grew up hanging out in the woods and building fires,” smiles Brad. “Home is where the heart is. This is where we’re most comfortable. We were able to focus on our craft. We spent more time writing this than any other project. It has a sense of seclusion to it. It’s like we naturally migrated back.”
As the songs took shape, the band packed up and headed to the remote Ontario’s Jukasa Studios. In order to capture that energy, they called upon longtime friends and collaborators. Producers Gavin Brown and Howard Benson returned to the fold, with Mike Plotnikoff engineering and Chris Lord-Alge on mixing duty.
“We put our ultimate dream team together,” smiles Barry. “These guys have all been a part of the family for a long time. It was amazing to have everybody onboard.”
“That production team hasn’t happened since One-X,” adds Neil. “We were lucky to get this group together. It made sense because we were in a similar headspace.”
As much as it upholds tradition, Outsider represents progression for Three Days Grace. Marking his second offering as part of the band, Matt showed “a new level of confidence and brought a ton of ideas,” according to his brother Brad. Meanwhile, Neil expanded the signature electronic palette, integrating analog synths and standout programming with the help of Rhys Fulber [Fear Factory, Frontline Assembly]. He casually nodded to electronic influences as diverse as Nine Inch Nails, White Zombie, Bring Me The Horizon, Lana Del Rey, and a surprising cult classic…
“We really love the movie Lost Boys and its score,” smiles Barry. “The whole thing has this dark, spacey, and eerie vibe. Those dudes were vampires and definitely outsiders!”
“I’ve always loved darker industrial music,” Neil elaborates. “I devoted a lot of time to those sounds and finding ways to integrate them. It was using these elements to create dynamic in the songs and not just overlaying them. You’ll hear moments where the keyboards or wide synth sounds are featured. Then, the guitar hits you in the chest. It made everything more interesting.”
First single “The Mountain” evinces that evolution. Those cinematic sonic flourishes augment arena-ready riffing before summiting towards a seismic and shuddering refrain, “I’m still surviving, keep climbing, keep climbing the mountain.”
“You wake up every day in a monotonous situation and resent what’s ahead,” Neil reveals. “You’re intimidated. However, you don’t have a choice but to put your boots on and face it, because there is no other option. It’s emotionally charged. A lot of this music is about yearning to escape, yet not knowing what’s on the other side. You can’t take your life, so you decide to make the jump into the unknown.”
“It comes down to surviving every day and just not giving up,” Matt concurs. “You can’t allow the bad thoughts to take over. We all go through trials and tribulations. The key is to keep going.”
“I Am An Outsider” serves as a clarion call for the four-piece with its heavy and hypnotic chant. “It’s the main theme,” explains Brad. “You break away from the inner circle and find your own path.
There are ups and downs, but you end up where you’re meant to be.” Then, there’s “Infra-Red,” an airy production gives way to a sharp seesaw of guitars and luminous vocals. “There are some people you just connect with,” says Matt. “You get along with them instantly, because you understand each other. ‘Infra-Red’ is finding that person who gets you.”
Elsewhere, the venomous “Me Against You” hinges on a hypnotic groove and scalding chorus, while the ethereal “Love Me or Leave Me” transmits loneliness encased in swaths of synths.
Given this undeniable unpredictability, Outsider feels right at home alongside a catalog of fan favorites from Three Days Grace. In 2015, Human marked the group’s second straight bow at #1 on the Billboard Top Hard Rock Albums Chart as well as their fourth consecutive debut in Top 20 of the Top 200. It spawned two #1 singles “Painkiller” and “I Am Machine,” signaling their 13th overall and 5th consecutive number ones on the Active Rock Radio chart. Moreover, the four-piece consistently averaged a staggering 3.9 million monthly listeners on Spotify—remaining “one of the most listened to rock bands in the world.” In 2012, Transit of Venus soared to the Top 5 of the Top 200 and garnered a nod for “Best Rock Album of the Year” at the Juno Awards. The seminal One-X  notched an RIAA triple-platinum certification as Three Days Grace  was minted platinum and Life Starts Now went gold. To date, their veritable arsenal of number one includes “Chalk Outline,” “The High Road,” “Misery Loves My Company,” “World So Cold,” “Good Life,” “Break,” “Never Too Late,” “Animal I Have Become,” “Pain,” “Just Like You,” and “Home.”
In the end, Outsider speaks directly to that army of fans around the globe.
“I’d love for them to relate to it,” Brad leaves off. “I want people to feel like they can put it on and know they’re not alone. We’re on this journey as outsiders together.”
“Hopefully, this music can help people,” concludes Matt. “It bonds us all, and there’s no better way to connect.”
“Complacency is such a disease when you’re in a band,” says Tyler Connolly, singer and guitarist for Theory. “People are so afraid to progress, but you have to change—you can’t just write the same song over and over. So when I saw where this record was going, I said to the other guys, ‘We’re in a car and it’s going off a cliff. Do you want to jump out or ride it to the bottom?’ “
With their sixth studio album, Wake Up Call, Theory hit the reset button, diving into a new sound, a new approach, even a new location. The more melodic, intimate style that defines the project is a bold move for one of the leading rock bands in the world. Since forming in British Columbia in 2001, Theory of a Deadman—Connolly, guitarist Dave Brenner, bassist Dean Back, and drummer Joey Dandeneau—have placed nine songs in the Top 10 on the rock charts, including the Number One hits “Bad Girlfriend,” “Lowlife,” “So Happy,” and “Angel.”
Following the success of 2014’s Savages album (which reached the Top Ten on the Hot 100 albums chart, and topped both the Alternative and Hard Rock charts), Connolly began writing again, but he was frustrated by what he was hearing. “The songs all felt like they were in the same place as the last record,” he says, “and I wasn’t happy, I just didn’t like what we were doing.”
He bought a piano for himself, an instrument he had never played, and he soon discovered that it was unlocking something new. “I started writing songs that felt musically different,” he says. “It opened my mind to different ideas, and I think that was the catapult for where this album went.”
But maybe this story starts much further back. Connolly’s father was a piano player, and he grew up surrounded by the sound of the keyboard. “As soon as I started noodling, thirty years of hearing my dad play opened up this whole thing that didn’t exist before,” he says. “There were sounds I heard my whole life but ignored, ingrained inside me.
“It was crazy how fast stuff came out of me,” he continues. “Every time I sat down at the piano, I would write a song. And I don’t think I’ve ever felt such freedom—I could write anything, I felt no fear about upsetting people or pressure to write any specific kind of song.”
Connolly noticed a shift not only in the melodies he was coming up with, but in the words as well. “When I finished the lyrics to ‘RX’ [the first single from Wake Up Call], I felt like I had something to say. I really wanted to write great lyrics, not just throw stuff on there or give the fans something to crank up in the car.”
The songs also tapped into a new sense of maturity, even contentment. “On our fourth record [2011’s The Truth Is…], I had just gone through a divorce and I was so angry, stuff came out that was really hateful,” he says. “This time, there’s much less aggro stuff—nothing comes from a place of spite or anger.”
Connolly and drummer Dandeneau worked up demos for the new songs via email, initially trying to make them “as naked as possible.” Only when they went into the studio did they think more consciously about how to present the new material; as Connolly says “to put the clothes on—like, ‘Does this one need jeans or a suit?’ “
The band’s next decisive move was to commit to a new producer for Wake Up Call. In fact, though, Martin Terefe—who has worked with a wide range of artists including Jason Mraz, Mary J. Blige, and Train—expressed interest in collaborating with them first. “Our label sent Martin some of the songs blind,” explains Connolly, “and he heard them and said, ‘Is this a pop artist?’ They told him no, it was the opposite, it was a rock band, and he said he wanted to do it.”
Theory headed to Terefe’s Kensaltown Studios in London for a grand experiment. “It was like a first date,” says Connolly. “He was on ground he was not comfortable with, and everything seemed so scary to us—everything he suggested was the opposite of what we wanted. We definitely had some sleepless nights, but we just had to jump in the water and go for it.”
Songs went into directions that surprised the band members. Dandeneau was especially taken with the sparse demo of a song called “Time Machine,” but in the studio it assumed a more breezy and rhythmic feel.
Listening back to the album on the final night before they headed home, the band got to the track “Loner” and suddenly felt dissatisfied. “It was just terrible!,” says Connolly. “We were all like, ‘What happened?’ So it’s the last night, we’re eating dinner, and we said, ‘Let’s just bang it out.’ We deleted it and started over, slowed it down and changed the key, and we finished that night. It was such a pat on the back to the band that after seven weeks, we knew we could track a whole song in a few hours.”
Connolly points to the song “Echoes” as a breakthrough for both his writing and his vocal performance. “It’s a very U2-ish song,” he says, “kind of that one-take, ‘Where the Streets Have No Name’ feel, and I’ve never really done that before. ‘Echoes’ really hits home with me—as you get older, you have more past and less future, more memories. It’s so hard to let go of all those past things, the things that I think about when I’m going to sleep.
“Martin made me sing in this big room with everyone else watching,” he continues. “It was so emotional, you can hear my voice cracking—I’d never had that hard a time getting through a song. But I felt such attachment to these songs, you can really hear it in my voice.”
In the year leading up to Wake Up Call, Theory released a series of unlikely covers—“Hallelujah” (which came out the week of Leonard Cohen’s death last November, though it had been recorded months earlier), Sting’s “Shape of My Heart,” “Cold Water” by Major Lazer. “Those were just me sitting at home bored, trying to get outside the box,” says Connolly. “They’re all so out of my element and so difficult to sing.”
One of these covers, Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game,” makes for an unexpected closing track on the album. “We had a bunch of great songs and didn’t need to throw in a cover,” says the singer, “but we thought this one could turn into something great.”
Now comes the challenge of integrating this new material alongside the band’s beloved catalogue on stage. “There’s a real dichotomy of Theory now, two very different sides,” says Connolly. “Not that we want to get away from our old songs, but the new songs are so diverse, such a juxtaposition. We’ve been playing ‘RX’ and it’s super-different, and we’ll add another couple in the fall tour. We’re really working on building a big show, and trying to make it all more visual, as well.”
Tyler Connolly knows that the ambitions of Wake Up Call—from its more atmospheric songs to its most propulsive and beat-driven—may meet with some resistance from Theory’s fan base. “It might be a little awkward, but we were always a songs band, not a sound band—we’re not AC/DC,” he says. “We’ve also been seeing that rock music was becoming smaller, more of an invite-only clique, and we really wanted to make something big and very progressive for us. And hopefully, the rest of the bands will cheer us on, and maybe be a little less afraid to try something different.”
Texas King formed in 2013 and before long, began earning a reputation for their high-energy rock shows. After tours of Ontario and the east coast of Canada to support a debut EP, October 2017 saw the release of their anticipated full-length album Circles. The albums lead single “Boomerang” generated attention at Canadian radio, most notably at Toronto’s 102.1 The Edge, and led to an appearance on Global TV during their Canadian release tour.
It’s often said that Texas King is best experienced when seen, not just heard. Now armed with their hook-filled debut, the band is ready to make their mark in the world of rock music – one rowdy club at a time.
*Rock the Park is a rain or shine event
*Artists are subject to change
*All ticket sales are final
*Tickets purchased are for the festival not individual artists
*Lawn chairs not permitted