Ilona Pal’s Americana Single “A Farm In Indiana” Pays Tribute to James Dean’s Hometown

Ilona Pal cd single cover artwork

What you have written, and written well, obviously came from the heart and, for me,“A Farm in Indiana” has that same haunting quality as Willie Nelson’s “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain”. And it’s not because it’s about James Dean, it’s just a great song.  I have now listened to it repeatedly and I don’t tire of hearing it.” — Jim Hayes

Ilona Pal has travelled the rails between Montreal and Ottawa many times over, but in November of 2017, that train ride, and a movie about friendship, love and loss inspired a song that gave her wings to fly.

The movie was the 2015 feature film “Life”: the story of photographer Dennis Stock’s historic 1955 photo shoot of iconic actor James Dean in Fairmount, Indiana, for that still famous spread in Life Magazine.

“The song was a gift,” says Ilona. “I wasn’t looking to write a song about James Dean that day, the song was looking for me.” But when the last frame of the film faded to black and the words ‘James Dean died 6 months later’ appeared on the screen, she felt a wave of emotion well up in her chest. That wave soon reached her creative spirit, and all at once, most of the lyrics and melody that would become A Farm In Indiana were born.

Pal, an insightful singer-songwriter from Montreal, first emerged as an independent Canadian New Country artist with her debut single, Hold On Heart, and self-titled album. She landed a spot on the roster at Peter Asher Management in LA, alongside such notable artists as Linda Ronstadt, James Taylor and Joni Mitchell. French recordings of her songs have ranked #1 in Quebec and received ADISQ award nominations. Film credits include the closing theme song for Time At The Top (Showtime, HBO).

Produced by Les Cooper (The Good Lovelies, Jill Barber, Andy Stochansky, Craig Cardiff, Meaghan Smith, Madison Violet and David Myles, among others.), a Juno award-winning producer, Les is a songwriter, arranger and multi-instrumentalist, whose arrangements have frequently been compared to those of past greats such as Nelson Riddle and Duke Ellington, earning him a reputation as a composer with a classic and timeless sound.

A Farm in Indiana is their first collaborative writing effort.

Les brought in the magnificent Drew Jurecka to play violin. His soaring emotional solo was a first take, and captured the essence of the song beautifully. His passionate playing conjures up images of love and loss, as well as the sweetness of home and longing to be there. Stylistically, the down-home feel evokes genuine feelings of comfort. The solo is the heart of the arrangement, which features Cooper on guitar, lap steel and banjo, rounding out the ‘Americana’ folk tune.

“The train had a huge influence on this song. It was born on a train, inspired by a train ride when at the age of nine, James Dean brought his mother’s remains back to Fairmount, Indiana from LA, and it was the train that took me to Les in Toronto to produce the song,” mused Pal. “One thing I knew for sure was that the train had to be represented in the rhythm of the song.”

Pal then contacted the Main Street Fairmount organization in Indiana to propose a partnership. She would attach their fundraising initiative to her music video to aid the town of Fairmount in its ongoing effort towards the restoration and preservation of James Dean’s hometown. This was a complete leap of faith on their behalf, but the proposal was met with incredible enthusiasm and excitement, and soon, plans for a performance at the annual James Dean Festival in September were also underway.

“The highlight of making this connection for me was the day I called Marcus Winslow,” says Pal. Winslow, James Dean’s cousin, was like a little brother to him. To this day, he lives on the farm that both inspired the song and figures prominently in the photos of Dean from 1955. So, on a lovely summer afternoon, she called Marcus and told him all about the song. “He’s a gracious man of few words. He listened intently as I explained what I was trying to do,” Ilona recalls. It all seemed to come full circle as she recited the lyrics to him. The song had ultimately ‘come home’, to the place of its inspiration—the dream of every songwriter. 

In September 2018, Ilona performed A Farm in Indiana at the James Dean Festival in Fairmount, Indiana. Appearing on the Main Street stage and at the James Dean memorial service at the Back Creek Friends Church, a huge privilege and honour!

According to Ilona, “this song has legs and it’s moving on a mission unto itself.” She’s just very grateful to be along for the journey and happy the song chose her.

Today would have been James Dean’s 88th birthday.

www.ilonapal.com

Ann Vriend Wins Cobalt Prize for “It’s Happening” at 2019 Maple Blues Awards

Ann Vriend wins Cobalt Prize

Edmonton based singer-songwriter Ann Vriend won the Toronto Blues Society‘s 5th Annual Cobalt Prize Contemporary Blues Composition Award (her second win!) at the 22nd Annual Maple Blues Awards on Monday, February 4, 2019 for her song “It’s Happening”, an empowering and gritty, inner-city soul anthem.  Paul Reddick, the founder of the award and a Juno award-winning musician and songwriter, and the panel of judges chose Ann’s song from 55 different entries!

“It’s Happening” was recorded June 4, 2018, with students from the Sifton Elementary School ChoirSifton Elementary is a school in North Edmonton where some students come from war-torn countries and traumatizing and/or impoverished situations. The funding of this recording was made possible via an anonymous donor who saw the students and AV perform at a school fundraiser May 4, 2018. The donor was so moved and inspired by the performance of the song that he immediately asked how it could be immortalized by a studio recording of it. A week later he graciously provided the funding for this endeavor. A month to the day after their debut performance, the students, AV, and her producer and videographer, Tino Zolfo (Poppa Champagne), were in the recording studio recording the song and making a music video for it. None of the students had been in a recording studio prior to this date, but have since inspired many people with their talent, hope, and enthusiasm for this venture. AV and all involved in the making of this video would like to thank everyone for listening and being part of this experience. 

CREDITS

Words, Music, Choir Arrangement, Lead Vocals, Keys: AV
Choir: Sifton Elementary School Choir, directed by Music Teacher Kristina Kuchta
Bass, Percussion, Programming, Music Production, Video Filming, Video Director, Video Editing: Tino Zolfo (Poppa Champagne)

Music recorded by Randor Lin at Velveteen Audio, Edmonton
Music mixed by Brandon Unis, Edmonton
Music mastered by Peter Letros, Wreckhouse Mastering, Toronto
Video filmed at Velveteen Audio, Edmonton, AB, Canada
Camera Assistance by Brad Nelson, Cylinder Sound & Film
Project Coordinated by AV, Highlands Jr High Principal Brad Burns, Sifton Elementary School Principal Martin Fechner, Music Teacher Kristina Kuchta, and the Edmonton Public Schools Foundation via Tracy Poulin

You can purchase the song at: https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/annvriend6

ARTIST LINKS

Spotify: https://play.spotify.com/artist/3vjHMysd98leqhwDotu9fZ

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/AnnVriend

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AnnVriend

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AnnVriend

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/annvriend  

In Conversation with Bob Geldof’s Drummer of 25 Years and Author of Timing Is Everything (a Memoir), Niall Power

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There aren’t many people who know me who don’t know how much I love Bob Geldof and The Boomtown Rats. Even though I’m not always up to date with the latest camp Geldof news, it’s a love that has lasted for 40 years. So, when Bob’s drummer of 25 years (for his solo career), Niall Power, wrote to me through Facebook to advise me of his story since their last Canadian tour, I was at first delighted and then saddened by the news of his retirement from drumming due to Parkinson’s disease. However, it didn’t take long to realize that this is a man who doesn’t let life get him down, which is evident upon reading Timing Is Everything, Niall’s inspiring memoir, published in 2017.

Niall, after reading your book, I was left with the impression that you consider yourself an ordinary man, perhaps quiet and shy, certainly easy-going, who just happened to have a passion for drumming. However, although you never had a plan for your music career, you ended up having quite an extraordinary experience as a session musician, playing for many bands, including Stepaside, Les Enfants, Ordinary Man, Eamonn Gibney, Westlife and most notably, Bob Geldof, with whom you performed for 25 years.

How does a musician get as far as you have in his career without a plan?

I can sum that up in one word, ‘Luck’.

I never set out to be a session drummer and end up playing with so many bands.
As a teenager in the early 1970s, my ambition was to form my own band with my friends, write our own songs and hopefully be the rock gods of the future, like our idols, Led Zeppelin or Deep Purple.

Niall Power 1960

Niall Power in 1960.

My dad was a soldier in the Curragh Camp, Co Kildare, and there were two army marching bands who paraded past our home on most days. I loved their drummers from an early age. There weren’t many teenagers playing musical instruments in the area, so it was always going to be difficult to finalize a lineup for the band.

I was playing the unfashionable accordion and wearing a kilt in the school band during

Niall Power in 1970 on left with accordion.

1970, on left, with accordion.

the ‘Summer of Love’ in 1967. But as soon as I heard The Beatles on the radio, I realized then that I had to learn how to play another instrument to be in a rock band.  I chose the drums after seeing Mickey Dolenz, drummer with The Monkees on television, larking around and generally having fun.

After a few years of practice, much to the annoyance of the neighbors, I finally mastered the art of drumming and set out to join any band that would have me. I had no plan of action for how I was going to achieve this. My armory consisted of my dodgy first drum kit, long hair, a smile and buckets of enthusiasm for the task ahead.

For someone who clearly states in the preface of your book that you are not a writer, I congratulate you on the great achievement of having compiled your memoir, Timing Is Everything, which was written on an iPad with the index finger of your right hand! That, in itself, is a testament to your passion and determination to see a project through to its completion, and your resilience in the face of adversity. You are truly an inspiration, not just because of your drumming prowess, but because of the strength of your character.

I couldn’t help but notice your incredibly positive attitude about life in general and wondered to what would you attribute it?

My attitude to life has never changed from the outset.

I had a very safe and happy childhood and I seem to have kept that feeling with me throughout my musical career. My parents always encouraged me to follow my heart, even though they probably didn’t understand how you could possibly make a living from hitting things, whilst hoping I would come to my senses and get a proper job.  I don’t worry about stuff, including Parkinson’s. Above all, I love playing and creating music, just seeing people in the audience responding in kind to the noise that we make is good enough for me. Not many people get to live out their dreams every day…it’s been some trip.

“And what a drummer. Without question one of the best. I know from whence I speak. In the course of my 40 years playing rock ‘n’ roll, Niall Power is up there/alongside/on par with/equal to literally the Big Hitters. He’s a fucking amazing player.”

 

“Man he can sing.”

 

“He glued the band together. Everyone loved him. He was the spirit of the thing. The joy of it. The love of gigging. The fierce ecstasy of playing music…What a man to travel the world with for over 25 years. What a friend to share so much of your life with. The things we’ve done and seen and been together. He’ll remember. I won’t.” 

~ Bob Geldof, Introduction to Timing Is Everything

In the introduction of your book, written by Bob Geldof, he says that the tedium of touring never seemed to affect you. How was that possible? 

Sure, life on the road can be tedious at times. You’re living in a bubble with other musicians and roadies with deadlines to meet every day. Things can get a bit out of hand, tempers flare, we’d do a bad gig, one person thought the gig was great, the other five thought it was crap. Musicians live for the road and as much as I like travelling on the tour bus (your home away from home), it’s only okay for a few weeks. I loved waking up in a different country each day and going for a walk down the Champs Elysees in Paris after being in Amsterdam the previous night. But you also need to stop touring, stop moving at the speed of sound and be at home with your own family. I have always kept a low profile on the road and steered clear of any aggravation that may have been brewing from time to time. As our tour manager ‘The Mick’ (RIP) used to say, “we’re only up for the day.” 

You played with Bob for the Live 8 concert on 2 July 2005 which was undoubtedly one of, if not the biggest, career high of your life. I know that the experience must have been surreal, but what singular treasured memory do you take away from that event? 

I have many memories from that great day in July at Live 8.

The one that sticks in my mind the most is the fact that I had to play someone else’s drum kit without seeing it first. As I play left-handed, the kit was set up right-handed for the previous band’s drummer. So, I walked on stage in front of thousands of people in Hyde Park, live to the world on television, with no time to swap things around.

The song was ‘I Don’t Like Mondays’ and was probably the only song that I could play with the kit being the wrong way around. There was also no vocal microphone, so I did the backing vocals, “tell me why”, into fresh air. You can view this video on YouTube.

It was amazing hanging out backstage with all the other acts including Beatle, Paul McCartney, who signed a copy of my Beatles White Album CD cover, which I just happened to have in my pocket. Timing is Everything! 

 

Do you know if Bob has any plans to record a new album? If so, will you be singing background vocals on it? 

As far as I know, The Boomtown Rats are due to release a new album in 2019.

There are no new recording plans for another Bob solo album this year. I would hope to make a cameo appearance on backing vocals, when and if the opportunity arises.

I cannot help but ask, is there anything you can tell Bob’s super fans about him that they wouldn’t already know? 

Niall Power and Bob Geldof

2011 London. Photo by Eddy Valdameri.

I don’t usually comment on Bob, but I will say it has been a great pleasure to have had the opportunity to keep the beat behind him for all those years. I never expected it to last more than one tour. A truly amazing time that I will remember forever. His most thoughtful words to me were when I was first diagnosed with Parkinson’s. He said, “You have a job for life in this band.” I replied, “What if I can’t drum?” He said, “We’ll find something for you to do,” so I ended up playing the spoons. 

Do you think that your remarkable memory is simply due to genetics or a result of years having to remember so many songs? 

I put the memory thing down to the fact that I loved every minute of being in a band. It’s not just the Geldof band, but all the bands that I’ve been involved with. I can recall the musicians, most of the songs and how to play them, the venues, the years, etc.; it just seems to stay with me.

Don’t ask me to add and subtract as that part of my memory is definitely missing. 

Have you ever researched whether spicy food such as the Indian curry you so love, may have a positive effect on your brain?

I never looked into the benefits of spicy food on the brain.

Many musicians have a fondness for Indian curry and while visiting a new town with the band, someone would always be on the lookout for the best Indian restaurant.
My DNA tells me that way back many centuries ago, my ancestors are likely to be of Middle Eastern origin, so that’s good enough for me.

I love that your favourite television program during the 1960s was The Monkees! I was born in 1964 but I also remember watching that show when I was a kid and loving it. Have you ever been able to play with Mickey Dolenz? Did you know that he and Mike Nesmith went back on tour last year as The Monkees Present: The Mike and Mickey Show before Nesmith had a quadruple bypass? It might not be too late for you to jam with them! 

Yeah, as mentioned previously, The Monkees were a big part of my musical influences. Every Saturday evening, they were featured on our RTE channel. We only had one TV station in the sixties and music programs were few and far between. It was always ballad singers or light entertainment TV shows with very little choice for young people. Radio was the only option to hear the pop tunes of the day like The Beatles or The Rolling Stones. The Monkees were a breath of fresh air in a dull television schedule.

I met their drummer Mickey Dolenz in Nottingham, England in 1985 when he was working for a TV station. Charming man, and I told him how I would copy his drumming style with my air drumming in front of the television. He’s likely responsible for me being a left-handed drummer as he never seemed to set his kit up the same way twice. He wasn’t a drummer at all, just an actor who played drums in a TV show.

It would be cool to catch up with him again.

One of my favourite sections of your book was on the Thin White Duke. As a lifelong fan of David Bowie, your recollection of having once been his driver delighted me! Do you regret not telling him that you were Bob’s drummer? That was surely a big lesson that timing is everything!!

No, I don’t regret not telling David Bowie that I was a drummer. First rule of employment is that you do the job you were asked to do. My brief was that I wasn’t allowed to speak or ask questions unless I was spoken to. This is normal with celebrities and their hired drivers.

When the opportunity arose and I was just driving David on his own to rehearsal, we did have conversations about various things during the three weeks that I was his band’s driver. Anyway, he did find out that I was a drummer for Bob when both bands played at a concert in Paris a few weeks after my driving job finished.

He was a charming man and I’m so glad I was able to be that close to an icon of the music world.

Niall Power Dubai

Niall Power in Dubai. Photo by Mark Cowne.

Your book contains a very matter of fact outline of your career as a session drummer who travelled the world with many bands, but I noticed that you refrained from including saucy road stories about the types of antics that go on between traveling band mates. Surely, you have one or two amusing anecdotes to share in this regard? 

I’m sure you’ve heard of the phrase, “What happens on the road stays on the road.”  

Well you can’t blame a girl for trying!

On the road, you’ve rubbed shoulders with some of the greats in the music world. What was the single most exciting moment that you experienced and who was it with?

It has to be my first ever time to play live onstage, at the Liverpool Irish Centre in 1975.

Niall Power age 17.

1975 London, age 17.

For the previous four years I’d been bashing away at home, wondering if I was ever going to get it together as a drummer. I was a roadie for all of 1974 with a local band called Just Four. They invited me to go to England on tour with them and I managed to befriend their support group called Midnight who were based in Birmingham. I stayed in England after the tour and moved to London to stay with my friend Jim Sullivan and his family. Jim was the guitarist when we tried unsuccessfully to start our band in the Curragh some years previously. I had told Midnight that I was a drummer looking for a job, and if they were ever changing their drummer to get in touch with me in London.
I received a letter in the post a few months later to ask if I would like to return to Birmingham and join Midnight. I couldn’t believe it, I had never played onstage with a band before and that first gig in Liverpool was a blast. I was probably terrible on the night, but you have to start somewhere and that was where it all began. 

If you could have played with any musician in the world that you haven’t played with, who would you choose?

It has to be George Harrison.

I just loved his music and his vibe. Over the years I have played in many cover bands who performed Beatles tunes in their sets, but it would have been magic to get a chance to play “Here Comes the Sun” with George. 

You have travelled all over the world in your career. What is your favourite place to visit and why?

It would have to be India. We played there on three separate occasions and I loved it. The music is enthralling, the food is incredible, the friendly nature of the people and the sheer size of the place is amazing.

Driving anywhere is a task only to be undertaken by a kamikaze.

The sounds, smells, colours and the poverty have to be seen to be believed.
A truly wonderful country to visit.

Since you retired from drumming in 2015, you have been absorbed in genealogical research, both for yourself and others. What have you been doing in this regard since the publication of your book?

Initially, I only undertook the genealogical search for my own family tree. I found this process to be very helpful for my Parkinson’s situation as it gave me something positive to do after my diagnosis.

I needed a task to engage the brain, almost like doing a crossword puzzle and trying to find answers to the clues. There are many discrepancies on old documents, and it is painstaking work trying to decipher the handwriting and make sense of the information. I’m sure it helped me take my mind off the fact that I was losing the fine motor movements on my left side and my drumming skill was disappearing fast.

I have helped some friends with their own family research, but I’m not going to make a career out of it as it’s very time consuming.

Many Irish documents relating to births, marriages and deaths were destroyed by fire in the Irish Civil War, and only the 1901 and 1911 census records are available to view.
I’m still active with regard to my own family tree and I’ve traced many relations, in Canada and the USA. 

Are you and your wife, Michelle, still farming or working as entrepreneurs? 

Unfortunately, I can’t work anymore with my left hand shaking. It’s now 11 years since

Niall Power at home

Niall in 2016.

diagnosis and the motor skills on my left side are gradually disappearing. For example, I cannot put a letter into an envelope or hold a newspaper without my hand trembling.

I’m so used to the shaking that it that doesn’t bother me anymore, and even though it’s a progressive and incurable disease, I just get on with it and make the best of every day usually tending to the garden. Michelle is my career. 

Can you tell us more about your diet and exercise regime and anything else that has enabled you to make the best of your life with Parkinson’s disease?

Most people will tell you that they altered their diet after a Parkinson’s diagnosis, which I did. I did it as a reaction rather than a necessity. It’s a scary time and the need to do anything to solve the problem is great. My first move was to get supplements from the chemist and I also tried a course of acupuncture and meditation. No real benefits from any of these.

I was aged 50 at the time of diagnosis and in reasonably good shape, so I joined my local swimming club and gym. I rarely miss a day and workout on the treadmill and the bicycle, with some light weights. Then it’s into the pool where I power walk in the water and generally have some fun. This activity may not suit some Parkinson’s patients who have issues with their walking, but I find it very rewarding. You have to find something that works for you and stick with it. Never give up. 

How would you like to be able to help others who have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s? 

During the last year I spoke at a few Parkinson’s related events and basically, I just informed the patients about my exercise routine, and how good it can make you feel to do something for yourself that gives you enjoyment and has many other health benefits. 

What have you been doing since your book was published in 2017?

Since the publication of my book I’ve been trying to keep busy. I went to Australia last October and cycled around 1,200 kilometers in the glorious sunshine state of Queensland. My symptoms decreased significantly, and I will be informing my neurologist about this at my next checkup.

Timing Is Everything will be featured in the book nook at the World Parkinson Congress in Kyoto this year, and who knows, a cure may be soon be found.

Niall Power in 2018

Niall Power in 2018. Photo by Frank Smith.

Inspirational New Soul Song & Video for “Flame” by AV (Ann Vriend) with Highlands Junior High Music Class

Today, “Flame” — the song and music video that Edmonton singer-songwriter, soul songstress AV (Ann Vriend, my client of 10 years) did with the Highlands Junior High music class — was released to the world! The funding of this recording was made possible via an anonymous donor who saw these students and Ann perform at a school fundraiser on May 4, 2018. The donor was so moved and inspired by the performance of the song that he immediately asked how it could be immortalized by a studio recording of it. A week later he graciously provided the funding for this endeavor.

Less than a month after their debut performance, the students, Ann, her producer and videographer, Tino Zolfo, were in the recording studio at Velveteen Audio in Edmonton recording the song and making a music video for it. None of the students had been in a recording studio prior to this date, but have since inspired many people with their talent, hope, and enthusiasm for this venture. Ann Vriend thanks Principal Brad Burns for the initial vision for the project and everyone for listening and being part of this experience.

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www.annvriend.com

 

Sultans of String Premiere Video for the Song “Turkish Greensleeves” from Christmas Caravan

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SULTANS OF STRING PREMIERE VIDEO FOR THE SONG TURKISH GREENSLEEVES 

BAND ON TOUR OCTOBER/NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 

CHRISTMAS CARAVAN AVAILABLE NOW ON MCKHOOL RECORDS/CREATIVE ENTERTAINMENT NETWORK – A DIVISION OF SONY MUSIC

Sultans of String premiere a new video for the song “Turkish Greensleeves” featuring Gundem Yayli Grubu from their album Christmas Caravan. See it here: https://youtu.be/kIBRBPF7Gw0

The Sultans of String are: Chris McKhool · Chendy Leon, Jr. · Eddie Paton · Drew Birston · Kevin Laliberté. The band is set to take their genre-bending mix of songs to venues across Canada and US. See full schedule below for shows for the whole family.

“The world-music group Sultans of String aim for international hybrids on the holiday album Christmas Caravan” – New York Times Christmas Hits List

As we get closer to the holiday season expect to hear songs from the band’s acclaimed album Christmas Caravan. Released in 2017 Christmas Caravan charted at #6 on Billboard’s World Music Chart and delivers musical harmony with its diverse sound. Co-produced by bandleader and violinist Chris McKhool, along with John “Beetle” Bailey who has been nominated by the Canadian Folk Music Awards as producer of the year for the release (results Dec. 8).

“Sultans of String keeps imaginative imperatives in overdrive for the entirety of Christmas Caravan, a generous pitch for global unity through the music of Christmas, Kwanzaa and Hanukkah. These five musicians have jubilantly recharged the classics with arrangements that demand attention” – Downbeat

Sultans of String are 3x JUNO nominees/3x CFMA winning ambassadors of musical diversity. In 2017 they were recognized by the Folk Music Ontario Awards who honored Chris McKhool and Richard Bona with The Songs From the Heart Folk Music from Around the World Award for their song “Sing For Kwanzaa” from Christmas Caravan.

one is hard-pressed to recall anything quite like Christmas Caravan by Canada’s iconic ensemble the Sultans of String” World Music Report

On Christmas Caravan you with find collaborations with 6x Grammy winning Paddy Moloney (The Chieftains), Ruben Blades & Luba Mason (Panamanian 7 Grammy and 5 Latin Grammy Award winner), platinum-selling jazz vocalist Nikki Yanofsky, 2x JUNO/Grammy Winner Alex Cuba, Benoit Bourque of Quebec’s Bottine Souriante (3x JUNOs, 4x Gold, 3x Platinum records), Sweet Honey in the Rock (Grammy winning all-woman, African-American a cappella group), Cameroon’s Richard Bona (Paul Simon, Herbie Hancock), Canada’s singer to the stars Rebecca Campbell (Emmylou Harris, Alanis Morissette), singer Mary Fahl from NYC’s October Project, a recording collective of Turkish Roma violinists in Istanbul, Sudanese-Canadian singer Waleed Abdulhamid, Nashville-based JUNO Award winning country singer Crystal Shawanda, sitar virtuoso Anwar Khurshid, and hang drum player David Charrier from France.

See them at the following venues across Canada and the US:

Oct 14 – Bluffton, OH – Bluffton Townhall Concert Series
Oct 18 – Terrebonne, QC Chapelle du Collège Saint-Sacrement / Trio
Oct 19 – Gorham, NH – Medallion Opera House
Oct 20 – Gorham, NH – Medallion Opera House (10 am for young audiences)
Oct 21 – L’Assomption, QC – Theatre Hector-Charland / Quartet
Nov 1 – El Dorado, CA – El Dorado County Community Concerts
Nov 2 – Auburn, CA – Auburn Placer Performing Arts Center (10 am & 1 pm for young audiences)
Nov 2 – Auburn, CA – Auburn Placer Performing Arts Center – evening show
Nov 3 – Santa Monica, CA – McCabe’s
Nov 4 – Santa Monica, CA – McCabe’s (10:30 am for young audiences)
Nov 22 – Owen Sound ON – Heartwood Hall
Nov 24 – Utopia ON – Utopia Hall
Nov 25 – Kitchener ON – Registry Theatre
Nov 29 – Invermere BC – Pynelogs Cultural Centre-Columbia Valley Arts
Dec 1 and 2 – Cranbrook BC – Symphony of the Kootenays
Dec 3 – Golden BC – Kicking Horse Culture
Dec 4 – Trail BC – Charles Bailey Theatre
Dec 5 – Vancouver BC – Centennial Theatre
Dec 7 – Maple Ridge BC – ACT Arts Centre
Dec 12 – Picton ON – Regent Theatre
Dec 13 – Markham ON – Flato Markham Theatre
Dec 14 – Sudbury ON – Collège Boréal Concert Hall
Dec 15 – Welland ON – Welland-Port Colborne Concert Assn
Dec 16 – London ON – Aeolian Hall
Dec 17 – Lindsay ON – Academy Theatre
Dec 18 – Ottawa ON – NAC Studio Theatre
Dec 19 – Bellows Falls VT – Stone Church Center
Dec 20 – Norfolk CT – Infinity Hall
Dec 21 – Stroudsburg PA – Chester Concerts
Dec 22 – Boston MA – Extended Play Sessions
Dec 23 – Cazenovia NY – Catherine Cummings Theater

Christmas Caravan was produced with the support of the City of Toronto through the Toronto Arts Council.  We would like to acknowledge funding support from the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario. This project is funded in part by FACTOR, the Government of Canada and Canada’s private radio broadcasters.

www.sultansofstring.com
http://twitter.com/sultansofstring
www.facebook.com/sultansofstring
www.instagram.com/sultansofstring

Dana Gordon at Independent Music Media at HiDanaGirl@aol.com / #213-864-2690

ANN VRIEND (AV) Releases New Single + Video IT’S HAPPENING w/ Special Performance by Sifton Elementary Student Choir

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TORONTO – Award-winning soul singer ANN VRIEND (AV) releases a new video and single entitled “IT’S HAPPENING.” Commissioned for a school fundraiser, the students of Sifton Elementary School Choir accompany AV on this empowering and gritty, inner-city soul anthem. The efforts will culminate on Friday, October 26at 2:15 pm with a special performance at the school, 4305 134 Ave NW, Edmonton, AB. For more info please visit www.annvriend.com.

AV sings her heart out about her views of the world; her matter-of-fact, non-sugar-coated observations from her inner city neighborhood; her hard life lessons – and yet there is a soulful, hopeful persistence for herself and the world to be better.

The children’s choir AV recruited to sing the song “It’s Happening” with her, are living proof that as she sings, the change to a more diverse and inclusive society “is already happening.” Propelled by an unstoppable and compelling electric piano groove, the lyrics describe the transcendence of tough circumstances, with a compassionate heart.  With her voice sounding like that of the late Aretha Franklin in her very early Gospel days, AV offers a powerful, socially conscious exhortation.

“It’s Happening” was recorded June 4, 2018, with students from the Sifton Elementary School Choir. Sifton Elementary is a school in North Edmonton where many students come from war-torn countries and traumatizing and/or impoverished situations. The funding of this recording was made possible via an anonymous donor who saw the students and AV perform at a school fundraiser on May 4, 2018. The donor was so moved and inspired by the performance of the song, that he immediately asked how it could be immortalized by a studio recording of it. A week later he graciously provided the funding for this endeavor.  A month to the day after their debut performance, the students, AV, and her producer and videographer, Tino Zolfo, were in the recording studio recording the song and making a music video for it. None of the students had been in a recording studio prior to this date, but have since inspired many people with their talent, hope, and enthusiasm for this venture. AV and all involved in the making of this video would like to thank everyone for listening and being part of this experience.

www.annvriend.com
https://open.spotify.com/album/3HPEpM2xRp3n3k3ujaKCUG
https://play.spotify.com/artist/3vjHMysd98leqhwDotu9fZ
www.youtube.com/user/AnnVriend
www.facebook.com/AnnVriend
https://twitter.com/AnnVriend
www.instagram.com/annvriend

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For more information, photos, mp3s, WAV files, CD copies, interviews, please contact:

MEDIA CONTACT:
SPEAK Music | Beverly Kreller, Publicist
bev@speak-music.com | 416-922-3620
Twitter: @SPEAKMusicPR
Facebook: www.facebook.com/beverly.kreller

“Merry Christmas Darling: Carpenters’ Christmas” Theatrical Touring Show Hits the Road For the Holiday Season

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 10, 2018

“MERRY CHRISTMAS DARLING: CARPENTERS’ CHRISTMAS”
THEATRICAL TOURING SHOW HITS THE ROAD FOR THE HOLIDAY SEASON

 “WE’VE ONLY JUST BEGUN: CARPENTERS REMEMBERED” SHOW
RESUMES PERFORMANCES IN JANUARY

Starring Singer Michelle Berting Brett, Both Shows Celebrate the Music of the
Top-Selling Band of the 1970’s

Merry Christmas Darling: Carpenters’ Christmas, the special holiday version of We’ve Only Just Begun: Carpenters Remembered, the definitive celebration of the seminal brother and sister duo the Carpenters in words and music, begins a holiday season run of shows with a return to the Celebrity Theatre at Don Laughlin’s Riverside Resort in Laughlin, Nevada immediately after Thanksgiving.  Playing November 28 through December 2 at the famed resort and casino, Merry Christmas Darling: Carpenters’ Christmas is based around the Carpenters’ iconic Christmas albums.

Led by singer Michelle Berting Brett and accompanied by a live, seven-piece Nashville band directed by Harry Sharpe, the show re-creates the Carpenters’ original sound, presenting an intimate behind-the-scenes portrait of one of the most successful recording acts of all time.

Merry Christmas Darling: Carpenters’ Christmas follows the format of its parent

MichelleBB-Santa Hat

Michelle Berting Brett in “Merry Christmas Darling: Carpenters’ Christmas” (photo by Pierre Gautreau)

We’ve Only Just Begun: Carpenters Remembered in that the history of the Carpenters is told via their iconic songs. For the Christmas presentation, Berting Brett focuses attention on the duo’s Christmas albums and television specials as well as talking about their Christmas experiences.  The festive show includes holiday classics such as “Sleigh Ride,” “The Christmas Song,” “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” “Winter Wonderland,” “Jingle Bells,” “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” “Do You Hear What I Hear,” and of course, “Merry Christmas Darling.”

The show’s holiday music is culled from the Carpenters’ Christmas Portrait (1978) and An Old-Fashioned Christmas (released in 1984 after the death of Karen Carpenter). A two-CD set of those two albums was released as the Christmas Collection, making Carpenters’ holiday music an enduring staple of every holiday season. The holiday edition of the show also generously intersperses the Carpenters’ well-known classics, among them “We’ve Only Just Begun,” “Close To You” and a rousing medley of the Carpenters’ greatest hits.

The duo of Karen and Richard Carpenter have sold well over 100 million records worldwide, and 2019 will mark the 50th Anniversary of The Carpenters signing with A&M Records and releasing their first album.  The We’ve Only Just Begun: Carpenters Remembered show will be part of that celebration when the show returns to the Downey Theatre in Downey, California, hometown of the Carpenters, on April 25, 2019.

We’ve Only Just Begun: Carpenters Remembered, an intimate behind-the-scenes portrait of the pop music phenomenon that defined an era, has been playing in theatres and showrooms all over the US since 2013.  It grew out of an idea Berting Brett, a farm girl from a musical family in Saskatchewan, conceived after being told repeatedly that she sounded like Karen Carpenter.  Berting Brett, who studied opera and musical theatre and then toured the world in show bands and in her own cabaret shows while based in Toronto, was encouraged by her now-husband, producer Mark Brett, to create a one-woman show based around the Carpenters’ music.  The show played a small club in Toronto with Berting Brett accompanied only by a pianist. That was 2009, and now with this husband and wife team at the helm, the little SRO cabaret show has evolved into a touring production that has now played major showrooms in the U.S.

BroadwayWorld.com said of Brett:  “Michelle Berting Brett is essentially an adult Disney princess with a whole lot of stage presence, and a unique energy while telling their stories and singing their songs,” while music journalist Paul Grein, writing about that show in the Tolucan Times, stated:  “This is an exceptionally well-produced show that does justice to an act whose music has proved to be timeless.”

A CD of We’ve Only Just Begun: Carpenters Remembered, recorded in Nashville, includes performances of the Carpenters’ most memorable songs, among them “Close to You,” “Yesterday Once More,” “Rainy Days & Mondays” and, of course, “We’ve Only Just Begun.” It is available at shows as well as from CD Baby, iTunes and Amazon.

MCD-Carpenters' Christmas 2-Michelle Morrissette (Photographer)

Michelle Berting Brett with 7-piece backing band led by musical director Harry Sharpe performing
“Merry Christmas Darling: Carpenters’ Christmas” (photo by Michelle Morrisette)

“Merry Christmas Darling:  Carpenters’ Christmas”
2018 tour dates:

Wednesday, November 28 – Sunday, December 2 – Don’s Celebrity Theater, Don Laughlin’s Riverside Resort, Laughlin, NV
Friday, December 7 – Wolf Den, Mohegan Sun, Uncasville, CT
Saturday, December 8 – Norwood Theatre, Norwood, MA
Sunday, December 9 – Paramount Hudson Valley Theatre, Peekskill, NY
Saturday, December 15 – Little River Casino,  Manistee, MI
Saturday, December 22 – Blue Water Resort & Casino, Parker, AZ

 “We’ve Only Just Begun:  Carpenters Remembered”
2019 tour dates:

Friday, January 4 – Maltz Jupiter Theatre – Jupiter,  FL
Sunday, January  6 – 2 PM Matinee – Central Park Performing Arts Center – Largo, FL
Wednesday, January 9 & Friday, January 11 – Falany Performing Arts Center, Waleska, GA
Thursday, January 10 – Donald W. Nixon Centre for Performing & Visual Arts, Newnan, GA
Saturday, January 12 – Jabez Sanford Hardin Performing Arts Center, Evans, GA
Friday, February 15 – Kirby Center, Wilkes Barre, PA
Saturday, April 25, 2019 – Downey Theatre, Downey, CA

For media information, contact:
Sharon Weisz, W3 Public Relations
w3pr@yahoo.com  323-934-2700
www.w3publicrelations.com

Visit:
www.WeveOnlyJustBegunShow.com
www.Facebook.com/WeveOnlyJustBegun
www.Twitter.com/WOJBCarpenters

Video Links:

 

 

 

 

 

Good Bones is the Sophomore Video from Abby Zotz’s Upcoming CD, Local Honey, Releasing Oct. 13, 2018

GoodBonesTitleTile

Canadian singer-songwriter Abby Zotz contemplates the stories an old house could tell in her second video release from her solo recording, Local Honey. Good Bones, another co-write with long-time collaborator and former Two Roads Home partner, Bryan Williston, has a warm folk-country feel and features her live band with videography and direction by Ryan Osman. 

“The song was inspired by the home of our friend Marney Simmons, a charming and traditional dwelling in Mulgrave, Nova Scotia that overlooks the Strait of Canso and Cape Breton Island,” Abby explains. “My mother’s family is from Belmont NS, and hers was another fine old place. It was easy to let our imaginations roam through time and create snapshots of lives lived within these walls.”

Ryan’s careful attention to detail and the presence of the band create the deep fondness and humour found in real human connection and add depth to the message of the song: “that we stand alone, but within a larger community, and that our bones, like a home’s, must be lived in and loved if we’re to make any sense of this life.”

Join Abby for her very special album release concert for Local Honey at Kingston Road United Church, 975 Kingston Rd, Toronto, ON M4E 1T1 on Saturday, October 13, 2018 at 7:30 pm. Tickets are available at: https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3603396

abbyzmusic.com

Chairman George lights up the NAC Fourth Stage, Oct. 17-18

Chairman George Greek-Chinese fusion album Bringing the Greek Party to China!
Chairman George lights up the NAC Fourth Stage Oct. 17-18
Local Greek-Chinese fusion master brings the Greek-Chinese party to Ottawa

CD Release Concert for Chairman George’s groundbreaking Greek-Chinese fusion album Bringing the Greek Party to China!. Extravaganza featuring popular Greek songs performed in Mandarin Chinese. Chairman George and his band offer the perfect musical introduction, from one ancient culture to another. It’s a Mediterranean cruise up the Yangtze, and this is the party. Also features Fred Guignion (electric guitars), Yadong Guan (pipa), Ross Murray (drums), Anders Drerup (guitars, electric bass, vox) and Zichan Yang (guzheng).  Ώπα!   干杯!
Local Greek-Chinese fusion master brings the Greek-Chinese party to Ottawa

“Boy, does it work!” — Penguin Eggs

“I am committed to multiculturalism and it is very refreshing and enjoyable to hear the cross-cultural elements… It was very entertaining — Eva Siekierska, member of the Bahai Community of Ottawa

“Possibly barking mad!” — Sing Out!

Canadians do not need to be reminded of the significance of Oct. 17, 2018.

It has been a long time coming.  It has been the subject of discussion and debate at home and abroad. Soon, the wait will be over.

For it is on that date that Ottawa’s internationally acclaimed Chairman George and band will light up the Fourth Stage with the first of two concerts in celebration of the release of the striking album Bringing the Greek Party to China!

A unique concoction that defies musical as well as linguistic constraints, George’s revolutionary collection of toe-tappers spotlights the sound of an artist who would dare play pied piper to a global village. Accompanied by some of the city’s finest players, “Chairman” George Sapounidis boldly lays waste to convention as Greek melodies are married to Mandarin Chinese vocals and traditional folk tunes are reborn as disco dance floor-fillers.

Fusion has never felt so good. Or been so much fun.

The subject of two documentary films, George Sapounidis has long pursued his dream of drawing new sounds from old worlds. He has sung and played Chinese favourites. He has recorded an album of Greek classics. The eccentric Greek-Canadian has indeed brought his party to China, on a series of well-received tours and appearances in front of hundreds of millions on Chinese television. Now, he is bringing it all back home, as Greece and China meet for a two-night musical summit in Ottawa.

The man has his bouzouki at the ready. Moreover, he has a stellar band that includes stalwart locals Fred Guignion, Anders Drerup and Ross Murray alongside Yadong Guan and Zichan Yang. It’s guitars meet guzheng as daring new adventures are forged. With a beat.

The latest Chairman George album has been described as “groundbreaking.” That seems an understatement: George’s new music bores a hole from Ottawa to Beijing. A pipeline, if you will, to bring an unnatural resource to a vast market.

It is a love letter from one ancient culture to another. A marriage of styles and sounds. The New Old World. A trans-Pacific partnership that seems a fair trade.

Prepare for two nights of bouzouki madness at the National Arts Centre’s Fourth Stage, Oct. 17 and 18. Tickets are $35 plus surcharges and are available at the NAC Box Office or through ticketmaster.ca. You may also order by phone at 1-888-991-2787.

Chairman George Official 2018 Music Video ‘Golden Night’

For further details or to set up an interview with Chairman George: info@chairmangeorge.com. chairmangeorge.com

Critically Acclaimed Blues-Rock Guitarist, Songwriter and Vocalist Jim Allchin Announces Prime Blues, His Newest LP, for Release September 21, 2018

Produced by Grammy and Blues Music Award Winner Tom Hambridge and featuring a team of veteran studio and touring professionals including special guests
Bobby Rush and Mike Zito

Jim Allchin Prime Blues

SEATTLE, WA, September 12, 2018 /24-7PressRelease/ — Jim Allchin, American guitarist, philanthropist, and a former software executive, is releasing his fourth widely distributed contemporary blues album: Prime Blues. Prime Blues was produced by Producer and Grammy®, ASCAP and Blues Music Award winner Tom Hambridge, whose production credits include: Buddy Guy, Marcia Ball, Susan Tedeschi and James Cotton, among many others.

Prime Blues features 14 new tracks performed by an all-star group of musicians including: bassist Glenn Worf, rhythm guitarists Rob McNelley, Bob Britt and Kenny Greenburg, keyboardist Kevin McKendree, drummer Tom Hambridge, vocalist Mycle Wastman, The Memphis Horns and special guest vocalists Grammy-winner Bobby Rush, and Blues Award winner Mike Zito.

Hambridge stated: “I’m so very proud of this major step forward in Jim’s journey as a Bluesman. We had an absolute blast co-writing some of the songs, planning and recording Prime Blues and we’re anxious for blues fans around the globe to hear these incredible tunes and performances.”

Featured in Apple Music and receiving wide critical acclaim, Allchin’s last LP, Decisions, topped Contemporary Blues and Blues Rock charts for months and was named a Top 20 Blues Rock Album of 2017 by the venerable Roots Music Report (RMR), the number one independent music chart in the world. RMR compiles radio airplay data from radio stations around the globe that play Roots Music and is widely considered a real-time industry barometer.

The reviewers said:
• “Decisions is Jim Allchin’s best release to date!” Blues Bytes Review
• “Lovers of modern blues need to check him out.” Norman Darwen, Blues in the South Review
• “If you decide to hear some great music, here it is!” Smoky Mountain Blues Society
• “Allchin flat out rips!” Rick Bowen, NW Blues

Allchin added: “The title Prime Blues refers to both my love of the blues as well as my love of mathematics. Prime Blues is more concentrated blues than my past albums and at the same time more diverse in terms of style, guitar technique, and guitar tone. Each song tells a story – about an experience, life observation, or my life philosophy in general. I hope you find some of these songs just flat out fun. And about that mathematics reference? Study the grill cloth on the front cover and let us know what you see.”

Prime Blues is widely available from iTunesSpotifyAmazon and the official website, jimallchin.com for digital downloads and CDs.

Founded in 2013, Artisanship Music Nashville is a multimedia production, marketing and distribution company dedicated to uncommonly great music and the artists who love to create and perform for audiences around the globe. We work with both well-established and emerging artists from concept to launch on their musical, entertainment and educational endeavors. Artisanship Music is a proud member of the Americana Music Association, The National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, NSAI and ASCAP.

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