Month: January 2014

Renaissance’s New Guitarist Ryche Chlanda

Originally Published March 3, 2013

Ryche Chlanda is an accomplished guitarist. He has been a musician, vocalist, songwriter, composer and producer for over thirty years. He was a founding member of America’s first progressive rock group, Fireballet, in the 1970’s. The band’s first album, Night on Bald Mountain, was produced by King Crimson founding member Ian McDonald who went on to additional fame with Foreigner. During that time Ryche worked on the Intergalactic Touring Band project. For a period during his solo career he played with the progressive band Nektar where he became a “bandmate” and friend with Larry Fast. Soon after, Ryche was signed as a recording artist managed by Hit & Run Music joining fellow performers there Genesis, Phil Collins and Peter Gabriel. Ryche recorded his first solo album during this time.

His musical journey led him to writing and singing for films, including the title track for “Build for Speed”. A severely fractured arm altered his musical journey and he returned home to rehab his arm. During that time he built a studio and focused on writing and producing. In 1993, Ryche was asked to write and produce aerobic musical tracks for exercise gurus Denise Austin and Joanie Greggains which resulted in sales of over 2 million tapes. This led to working on productions for Motown and sessions with members of Todd Rundgren’s band, the OJ’s, Billy Joel and countless others.

After years of touring and studio work, he devoted the last several years to song writing and composing, but the thrill of performing has led him back to the stage and the upcoming release of his new album, Hidden Me. It also provided an opportunity to work with his old friend, Larry Fast.

David Cohen: Do you listen to classical music?

Ryche: I love classical music! My father was a Juilliard graduate and my mother was a singer and songwriter. The first music I learned on the guitar was Prelude for Lute #4. Even now I don’t use a pick when I play the guitar.

David Cohen: Where you a Renaissance fan?

Ryche: I was. When I was in the band Fireballet, back in the 70’s (first record produced by Ian McDonald of King Crimson) it was basically America’s first progressive rock band. We supported Renaissance at Trenton State College I became a fan on the spot. We did our set then I went into the audience to watch them and I was blown away

David: What year was that?

Ryche: 1975.

David: You were young!

Ryche: I was a tadpole!!

David: Was it through working with Larry Fast that you found out about their needs?

Ryche: Yes, it was. Larry gave me the phone call that there was a tragedy and they were auditioning guitarists. I had spoken with Annie and she asked if I would you like to audition. Of course! I’m not sure how it came together but I got the phone call from Larry.

David: What did you play for the audition?

Ryche: I spoke with Annie on the phone, we clicked right away and then she turned to over to Rave-the musical director. He gave me four songs to learn for the audition. I learned Carpet of the Sun, I Think of You, Ocean Gypsy and Mother Russia. I was familiar with the songs but never played them.

David: When you auditioned was it with the whole band?

Ryche: When I was going to the audition I was singing the songs in my head and thinking of the chord changes and I went an hour out of the way in the wrong direction. So I was late for the audition. I called them and told them what I did and they were laughing.
David: Where was the audition?

Ryche: It was at Rave’s studio in Ridgewood, NJ.

So I got there, I walked in and it was Annie, Frank Pagano, David Keys and Rave. I walked in, plugged in and the first song was Carpet of the Sun. It all felt so good, it all clicked. We did the other songs and it was beautiful. They left the room after the audition and I was sitting there thinking, OK. Then after about five minutes Rave came out and hands me an itinerary and asks me into the room. I walked into the other room and there was an opened bottle of wine. They said, “welcome to Renaissance” and we toasted. It was a moment I will never forget.

During the audition I was pinching myself.

David: Will you have a voice in the presentation or will you just sit back for a time?

Ryche: I think that’s the way to do it. Annie gave me a DVD to listen to. I’ve been playing it, sleeping to it, eating to it; I’ve been working on it daily. You know when another guitar player comes in it’s going to be a little different. But I think I’m just going to try to capture Michael’s essence and let my voice grow with it in time.

David: Are you going to use Ovation Guitar’s? I spoke with Michael not that long ago and he mentioned his specific change from Ovation to Martin.

Ryche: I actually played his Martin in rehearsal. It was the most beautiful guitar I’ve ever played. I use ovations but what I’m going to use for the Renaissance tour is a Taylor Auditorium which is from the early 90’s and Guild F12 from 1977. I’m also bringing a 6 & 12 string Ovation for backup.

David: Have rehearsals started yet?
Ryche: Rehearsals start early April.

David: What will this do with your solo career? You have your CD Hidden Me that you just finished.
Ryche: Hidden Me was an EP but Larry Fast and I finished a few more tracks so it’s a full CD now. It will be coming out soon but I put that all aside to work with Renaissance. I’m actually playing the Sellersville Theater on March 26th. I’m debuting the CD there.

David: Is it in your contract that you can’t play out as yourself while working with Renaissance?
Ryche: No as a matter of fact, Annie was the person who got me the gig at the Sellersville. She is very supportive of letting the artist be artists but I am totally devoting all my time to Renaissance.
David: Has Annie sung any of your songs?

Ryche: Wouldn’t that be a dream come true. No, we just did that one audition and we’ve been in touch a lot but right now we’re focusing on Renaissance material. There’s a lot of work to get done with that.
I am happy and honored to be a part of Renaissance. I am really looking forward to being with them up there.

David: When you auditioned was it with the whole band?

Ryche: When I was going to the audition I was singing the songs in my head and thinking of the chord changes and I went an hour out of the way in the wrong direction. So I was late for the audition. I called them and told them what I did and they were laughing.
David: Where was the audition?

Ryche: It was at Rave’s studio in Ridgewood, NJ.
So I got there, I walked in and it was Annie, Frank Pagano, David Keys and Rave. I walked in, plugged in and the first song was Carpet of the Sun. It all felt so good, it all clicked. We did the other songs and it was beautiful. They left the room after the audition and I was sitting there thinking, OK. Then after about five minutes Rave came out and hands me an itinerary and asks me into the room. I walked into the other room and there was an opened bottle of wine. They said, “welcome to Renaissance” and we toasted. It was a moment I will never forget.

During the audition I was pinching myself.

David: Will you have a voice in the presentation or will you just sit back for a time?

Ryche: I think that’s the way to do it. Annie gave me a DVD to listen to. I’ve been playing it, sleeping to it, eating to it; I’ve been working on it daily. You know when another guitar player comes in it’s going to be a little different. But I think I’m just going to try to capture Michael’s essence and let my voice grow with it in time.

David: Are you going to use Ovation Guitar’s? I spoke with Michael not that long ago and he mentioned his specific change from Ovation to Martin.

Ryche: I actually played his Martin in rehearsal. It was the most beautiful guitar I’ve ever played. I use ovations but what I’m going to use for the Renaissance tour is a Taylor Auditorium which is from the early 90’s and Guild F12 from 1977. I’m also bringing a 6 & 12 string Ovation for backup.

David: Have rehearsals started yet?

Ryche: Rehearsals start early April.

David: What will this do with your solo career? You have your CD Hidden Me that you just finished.

Ryche: Hidden Me was an EP but Larry Fast and I finished a few more tracks so it’s a full CD now. It will be coming out soon but I put that all aside to work with Renaissance. I’m actually playing the Sellersville Theater on March 26th. I’m debuting the CD there.

David: Is it in your contract that you can’t play out as yourself while working with Renaissance?

Ryche: No as a matter of fact, Annie was the person who got me the gig at the Sellersville. She is very supportive of letting the artist be artists but I am totally devoting all my time to Renaissance.

David: Has Annie sung any of your songs?

Ryche: Wouldn’t that be a dream come true. No, we just did that one audition and we’ve been in touch a lot but right now we’re focusing on Renaissance material. There’s a lot of work to get done with that.
I am happy and honored to be a part of Renaissance. I am really looking forward to being with them up there.

John & Judy -In The Wood

Philadelphia brother and sister duo John & Judy release their debut CD In The Wood. Preforming together since childhood the In The Wood recording sessions culminated after a three-year gigging and writing period. In The Wood was recorded in the latter half of 2013 and reflecting back John & Judy state that due to their shared intuition the creative process flowed more smoothly than other bands might have experienced.
Judy on a five-string-electric viola and vocals brother John on guitar and vocals the twelve song thirty-two minute CD offers unique twists and turns along the meandering flow of the mighty river of music contained in the CD. Backing up John & Judy on various songs is: Tom Reock on drums, bass and Hammond B-3 organ along with Gin Ah Lim on violin.  In The Wood was produced by Tom Reock at Squirrel Ranch Studios in Hamilton, New Jersey.
Keeping the music in the family John demonstrates his guitar chops on a Guild D60 that his father bought back in the 1980’s along with his Martin-000-15sm and American Standard Strat throughout the recordings.  At first the duo was apprehensive about writing their own lyrics but after a lack of success in finding a lyricist the words fell into place and they were able to produce this first product in what will hopefully be a series of great recording in the future.

In The Wood available at:
www.cdbaby.com/cd/johnjudy

Vist John & Judy on FaceBook
John & Judy In The Wood

Rediscovering Guitarist Rolly Brown

On a Christmas Eve many years ago while exiting the Market-Frankford line at 40th Street in sight of all reaching street level was an elderly woman laying on the ground calling out for help. The sidewalks were icy, all around rested dirty old snow while the wind whipped extremely cold air. Only two people came to her aid.

While balancing myself on the ice clutching my guitar trying not to slip or to have my guitar stolen in the process of helping the woman another guitarist who happened to be on the train also came to her assistance. In turn he clutched his guitar and balanced himself in the same manner as I. That other guitarist was Rolly Brown. We didn’t know each other until that moment and working in concert helped the woman to her apartment a few blocks north of Market on 40th Street. The area was a much different place in 1978 and we found camaraderie in getting back to the safe zone after we assisted the woman in getting home safely. It turned out that Rolly lived around the corner from the friend I was on my way to visit. We exchanged phone numbers and went on our way. It was the early period of my studies on the classical guitar. The discovery of guitarist Rolly Brown led to my introduction into a uniquely different way of guitar playing.

Rolly Brown never went away. He has been a staple in the Philadelphia music scene as far back as the 1970’s. Rolly’s guitar skills have him ranked among the finest guitarists on an international level and has performed along side many musicians of note. The list of accomplishments for Rolly Brown is extensive which includes National Fingerpicking Champion, nominee in the Philadelphia Music Awards and radio show host.

The rediscovery of the guitar playing of Rolly Brown came as a result of the new form of public transportation-Face Book. The full circle in the rediscovery came when I saw his name and picture listed on the page of the friend that I was visiting in 1978 that placed us on the Market-Frankford Line at the same time.

For a guitar player or any musician the entire effort to obtain information before the trial of public performance is based on the theory of discovery so all melodies, rhythms and phrasing will be presented with as much knowledge as possible and that neither audience or performer will be kept secret from the true meaning of the music. Through suppling information on clinics, performance and theoretical education rollybrown.com is an  information source that leads one to discovery.

The site also includes information regarding Rolly’s performance schedule and CD’s.

Rolly Brown:
www.rollybrown.com
www.youtube.com/djangokeli
rollyguitar.wordpress.com/

Annie Haslam/Renaissance The Yestival-Interview w/classical guitarist David Cohen

 Annie Haslam Renaissance – Grandine il Vento
Interview with classical guitarist David Cohen

Michael Dunford (1944 -2012) guitarist and principle composer for Renaissance passed away on November 20, 2012 from a cerebral hemorrhage. Annie Haslam stated that the band will continue touring in the future, despite losing “our ‘guiding light’ Michael Dunford”. In February 2013, it was announced that Ryche Chlanda would be the guitarist on their 2013 tour.

Yestival
Saturday August 3, 2013
Susquehanna Bank Center Camden NJ

Annie Haslam is a singer-songwriter with credits worthy of some of the most well known entertainers in the world. Primarily known for her role as the lead singer with the English classical rock band ‘Renaissance’ she later became equally heralded as a solo artist. Annie has traveled the world delighting audiences, most recently as far off as Japan and Brazil with her five octave voice and warm personality. Despite such a busy and varied life in music, Annie recently has been bestowed with an entirely new gift; she has embarked on a whole new journey in the form of oil painting. This came as a complete surprise and wondrous discovery, both to her and her fans. On somewhat of a mission, Annie has been painting fervently for since 2002, with colors and movement that make you want to walk right into the canvas. She has been described as a ‘Dream Expressionist’. Her art is organic, yet with a dream-like feel, it is contemporary but does not seem to be influenced by anything other than her own feelings and thoughts.

Part I
David Cohen: The first time we spoke you said “I was also one of those people that was a little afraid of change. The older I get the easier it is to change. It’s a hard thing to do, change something you know.” that has always stuck in my head.

Annie Haslam: If you can’t confront those things you can never change and move on.

David: When we first spoke you stopped singing and had no intention of singing again. What changed your mind?

Annie: Well, I woke up one morning and decided that I wanted do more singing.

David: What brought Renaissance back together for this CD?

Annie: In 2000 we recorded Tuscany and a short tour of Japan in 2001. I called Micky on that one to see if he wanted to do something but not with all the original band. We just wanted to work with John Tout and Terry Sullivan. Roy Wood filled in on bass and some backing vocals. After we did that album we didn’t intend to go any further with it. Micky and I kept in touch because we were friends and also in charge of re-releases and such. A few times after that he called me to see if I was interested in getting the band back together and I didn’t want to do it. Then in 2009 he called me and said, “Listen I know what you’re going to say”, and I said I didn’t want to do it. But then I said yes but only if he got John Scher involved (former band manager). So we started getting all the arrangements together and then there was a conflict with the dates with Jon Camp. So he pulled out and then Terry and John followed. At that point we didn’t know if we could pull it off with just MD and myself, but John Scher had the confidence and so the rest is history. John knew I had kept the band name alive over the years and also had a fairly strong fan base, whilst touring and recording with my own solo band. It was decided to go forward, but we didn’t make that decision lightly, but this was our only chance or it wasn’t going to happen at all.

I contacted Rave Tesar and David J Keyes who were in my band and then we contacted Frank Pagano and then found Tom Brislin who was on the Yes Symphonic Tour. We did the tour – it was named our 40th anniversary tour.

David: The first show without Michael must have been difficult.

Annie: The first show was very difficult for us, we were almost all in tears. It was very difficult for me. I knew Micky for forty-one years. Micky was right next to me onstage and I felt that gap. What we did was put Ryche (who was now playing guitar) next to Jason with Dave in the middle. This worked better for me and for Dave as we sang together and the closeness helped the healing process we all needed. That’s how it has always been anyway, bass in the middle.
I was consumed by a lot of emotion, sadness and doubt that I may be doing the wrong thing carrying on without Micky.

Having someone else on stage playing his parts was quite unreal, but Ryche did a good job.

David: There’s so much interaction with fans now with the Internet and Facebook. How did the fans react that you were going on with Renaissance?

Annie: Very positive – supportive. There were a few people who wrote and said it’s time to let it go, without Micky it’s not Renaissance. That’s ridiculous because Renaissance is the songs and my voice as well. It was very powerful with the both of us. I was thinking of not doing it. But then I thought of the fans and the music that needed to be heard. The songs were so powerful and emotional, how could you not go on? It’s the joy of going out and singing and making people happy that is the most important thing to me.

Annie Haslam Part II

Interview with classical guitarist David Cohen

David: You mentioned on stage that you don’t like Vultures Fly High because it’s a negative song. The lyrics written for the band have always been spiritual in a sense. How come you never wrote songs like, you broke my heart now I’m gonna drag your name through the mud? 

Annie: ‘Vultures’ is my least favorite of Betty Thatcher’s lyrics. I’ve never liked it because it’s negative. It’s not so hopeful. I was concerned about performing Cold is Being ‘live’ on this past tour because it alludes to death. Particularly with Micky not being there, “The dying has begun” that was difficult singing that. I don’t know why people would want to write about negative subjects, I could not do that myself. Why would you need to spread negativity around? People need to be uplifted, especially now. We need to be healed- taken care of. People need to go away from a show feeling contented and happy.
Music is very powerful as you know. The older material – Betty’s work, is phenomenal. I wouldn’t say I am a songwriter, I can do it but it’s not my number one thing by any stretch of the imagination. But I am proud of the words on this album. I think I did a good job, especially Symphony of Light, it’s my favorite and The Mystic and the Muse I love as well.

David: Where did Grandine il Vento come from?
Annie: It was called Hail the Wind originally, and then I said to Micky let’s translate the title to Italian and also the whole chorus. I did the wrong thing, I looked online and found the tranlastion for Hail the Wind, which was Grandine il Vento. After we put the lead vocals on the song we get to Grandine il Vento and Jason a couple weeks before we were going to mix said, “Annie I think you’re pronouncing some words wrong. I don’t think your pronunciation Grandine il Vento is correct and your singing mi instead of ma in the chorus”. We found a friend of Raves who is Italian and he spent time helping me to get it right. The fact is Grandine il Vento means hailstones in the wind but it was too late we already had the album cover printed. However I do sing about a storm in the song so it really does fit.
David: Does a song like that come from creation or are you infusing parts of yourself in it? Like the line the sheltering sky caressing me somehow I turned around and lost my way.

Annie: This song is basically about me. There’s the line that the mirror becomes a door. I have a large mirror in my bedroom that I believe is a portal. Also when I am painting I feel I am plugged into two worlds – I have no idea where I go. I never have preconceived ideas when I paint – the images just flow through me.

David: The line Skin like Porcelain is just in itself a great line. Where did that song come from?
Annie: It’s really weird, Micky and I were shopping one day and he was looking for gifts to take home to his wife. He was looking at a piece of clothing when another lady who was looking at clothes got talking to me and mentioned the word ‘Porcelain’. I really liked it and wrote it down. Then it was in my memory and when Micky wrote the rough draft of the song he used it as the working title.
I was also inspired by a video of Africa, and the guys were playing in the other room and I said this really has an African feel, can we change the arrangement and instrumentation to something of that nature. Seeing the video of the African village really inspired me. The ideas came from two different places. The words came very quickly. It poured out like a painting on an easel.
David: You have two duets on this album. There is Blood Silver Like Moonlight with John Wetton. That is a very powerful lilting duet about being in an angels choir. You also have the duet Cry to the World with Ian Anderson playing flute. You sing, “There is a plan to call all true men to make a stand, now’s the time, now is the time”.
Is Annie calling for a revolution?

Annie: That song is for everyone to come together. I get upset about racism and borders.
David: Has your painting changed since you started singing again?
Annie: I think my painting is developing all the time, but no, they are two separate places in my heart.

Annie Haslam Part III

                              Interview with classical guitarist David Cohen

David: Does Renaissance have regular rehearsal time?
Annie: No because the other members have other bands they play in and sessions etc, they work all the time. In the 1970’s we did because we were working all the time together.
David: Even though you have the new album are there any new songs?

Annie: No, we don’t have anything new right now.
David: When we spoke last you said you never practice and that your voice is not a fragile instrument.
Annie: To get my lungs in shape I’ve been swimming. I do scales and sing along to opera and fave singers. I was in the back brace for so long, it was debilitating. What I do if I have shows or a tour coming up is I stay away from people because I don’t want to pick up a bug. It’s a shame because I’ve missed a lot of good things.
David: You also don’t have air conditioning in your house.
Annie: No I don’t. I had air in the past but I’ve noticed it affects my voice. I have fans screaming in the house now, I mean FANS!
David: The YESTIVAL is coming up. How did you get that gig?
Annie: We got a call from our agent out of the blue. What an opportunity! Of course we said yes. When we were first told about this I immediately thought about how Micky would have loved this, especially after all the work we put into the last four years.
David: The band just finished a tour. Does it get harder to tour as you get older?
Annie: We did the tour in April making up for the shows we lost last fall because of my back, and we added more to the mix. We ended the tour in Florida, which was nice because I got to spend time with some friends. It wasn’t difficult, but because of having the brace on for so long it was debilitating, I couldn’t bend over or exercise. I had to be so careful. I had this brace on for twenty-four hours a day for eight months. Weaning off it I had to be careful with that also. Now I want to get myself in shape by the time we tour again.
Somebody asked me if I thought I’d be doing this at this time in my life. I didn’t even think about it when I was younger. I lived from day to day. As long as my voice and the body are willing and the audience wants to see us in concert I will carry on.
David: It’s like Ian Anderson said, “I’ll die with my boots on”.

Annie: “Yeah and I’ll have my shoes off”.

Lili Añel-I Can See Bliss From Here, Interview w/Classical Guitarist David Cohen

July 26, 2013 8:00pm
w/ Norman Taylor
Burlap And Bean
204 S Newtown Street Rd
Newtown Square, PA
Tickets $10, $12 at door
Artist website: www.lilianel.org
Tickets: Burlap & Bean

Lili Añel (nee Eulalia Añel) is an American singer-songwriter and performing artist originally from New York City. She was born in El Barrio, Spanish Harlem and raised in the South Bronx. She moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 2004, where the local music scene embraced her, along with airplay and guest appearances on NPR station WXPN. She performed in and around Philadelphia, the Lehigh Valley, Delaware, New Jersey as well as continuing to perform in New York City. Her style is diverse, reflecting her background which is a hybrid.

The single “Supposed To Be” from her most recent CD release Every Second In Between was listed in USA Today’s “Playlist” September 15, 2009, by Steve Jones.

I became a fan of Lili’s at the first sound I heard come from her voice. The guitar was nice too! I wrote an article about her many years ago called, The Summer of Lili Añel-that was the music that defined that season that year. Even before I knew of Lili Añel our paths crossed only to discover it years later. It was at a Joan Armatrading concert. I overheard a very specific conversation and I wanted so bad to turn to the woman speaking and say,”You have the most amazing voice”. I never did but in a conversation years later I discovered it was Lili Añel. When I heard talk of a new CD I emailed Lili to see if she would want to do an interview this early. Lili replied, “With you at the helm, of course”. I was and am honored!

Lili Añel’s new CD “I Can See Bliss From Here” will be her 6th recorded release. It is set to be released in September of 2013. I Can See Bliss From Here is Produced by: Lili Añel and Dale Melton.

David: On this CD you have taken more control by co-producing.

Lili: I co-produced on my CD “Dream Again” and I’ve learned a great deal since that time so I was open to doing so again. Producing one’s own work is daunting. In my case I wore various hats, I wrote the songs and arrangements, I played guitar and sang and I co-produced.  It is both personal as well as objective. Sometimes that line blurs.  That’s where its crucial, at least for me, to have a co-producer. I was very fortunate to work with Dale Melton (“The Melton Brothers”).

In the past when I worked with producers, recommendations regarding the songs and their arrangements were taken into account and executed based on the business of music, radio and expectations. While some artists agreeing with these ideas have had some success, I’m not necessarily in agreement. A good example is song lengths.  On “Supposed To Be” the single from my last CD there is a tag at the end where I sing in Spanish. The song which has a Latin lilt to it really lent itself to include either Spanish or Portuguese languages. This also made the song longer. I wanted to record the song as I’d written it but was counseled against it. I was told radio wouldn’t play it as no one would know what I was singing and it also made the song longer.  While I wanted to include the Spanish tag, I also wanted to be business-minded, of course, wanting to not limit the opportunity for my song to be played on the radio. Its an excellent song and I wanted it to be heard.  I did not agree that the song was too long or that it would not be played because of Spanish language being sung at the end of the song.

I wish I had stuck to my original idea.  When I play this song at my performances, I have had the experience of audience members who own the CD asking why the Spanish ending isn’t on the record.  As well, the stations we thought would really run the song barley played it, if at all. Lesson learned. I don’t think the song would have been played any more or less on the stations that did play it. At this stage of my career as an artist I have to be 100% true to myself. The songs on this new recording are individual and diverse from each other.  I asked myself how these would fuse together to make a story, make sense stylistically. My co-producer, Dale Melton who also plays on the CD said, “don’t worry about it, it will come together in the end’. So I gave no thought to radio, and if they would/would not play these songs, if they were too long, the wrong key, etc.  I recorded the songs just how I wanted them to be.  In the long run, it’s a chance you take; the hope is that people will enjoy the songs, the music.

David: I never thought of a wrong key for radio.

Lili: Listen, you’d be surprised what I’ve heard and experienced from the higher ups in the industry. I’ve been told in the past a song was in the ‘wrong key for radio’. I’ve been told ‘it’s too low people aren’t going to listen.’ They think of the wildest stuff. I don’t know if any of it is true, but I don’t subscribe to it. I’ve made recordings where, for example, three songs in a row were in the same key. I was told we couldn’t have them next to each other. Have you ever listened to a Bruce Springsteen album? Dylan? Business people think like that and they have to, for whatever their reasons, but I finally decided that these issues or concepts are not mine.

David: Did moving to Philadelphia from New York change your writing style?

Lil: That’s a good question. I think I’ve kept evolving because I’ve kept evolving as a person-moved to a new place. I would say yes. There’s a lot more music here. New York’s music scene seems to have been dying for some time with clubs closing, opportunities dwindling. When I moved here it was like, wow there’s a lot of open mics, different places to go hear music and opportunities to perform once people know who you are and you put it out there. I wrote more and I think my writing got better. Moving here allowed me to hear more and play more, be more open.

David: There is a lot of anxiety in the words on your new CD. Where is this coming from?

Lili: I wouldn’t say it’s “a lot of anxiety” but there are a couple of songs that reflect what’s gone on in the country with the downturn of the economy and its effect, which is intense. It certainly had a profound effect on my life. In the song Climb the Wall the bridge states, “it can all be gone forever/in the blink of an eye/lose your job/lose your car/lose your house/lose your time/lose your mind/what’s left to help us?”

So many have been left with nothing. If not for my husband being employed, I would have nothing, I don’t know where I’d be. I lost my job. The law firm where I worked closed their doors and over 2,000 people were out of work. Long story short unemployment ran out, I had no income coming in. With little exception, most musicians burn the candle at both ends, have day-jobs. Finding employment has been difficult. I’m not alone. In the midst of it all, I have struggled with alopecia for many years and all my hair fell out. I thought to myself, now what am I going to do? I accepted what life has thrown at me and move forward. I continue to roll with the punches. I feel very positive, especially about my music. I am lucky to have been able to make this recording, co-produce and work with Dale Melton who is an amazing musician/producer/engineer as well as a good friend.

This new recording “I Can See Bliss From Here” not only speaks the affect of the economy’s downturn, but its also autobiographical, hopeful and creative. I’m a songwriter, you create stories, you embellish. The song Something to Do is autobiographical and I worked on for quite some time, I am happy that it finally came together. It speaks of my beginnings, how I was ‘…born and raised in El Barrio on 110th Street..’. Its really a testament to my Mom who always told me that if I kept love in my heart, I would be ok. She used to say “love will save the day”.

I had a great time recording this song. I brought up musicians I’d worked with in New York years ago and they added good flavor to the song. My friend Charlie Alletto plays Cuban Tres guitar, Yasuyo Kimura on percussion (congas, guiro, shakers, you name it) and Victor Rendon on timbales and bongos. I also had a horn arrangement written by renowned arranger, Joe Mannozzi of the famed New York salsa band “Tipica ‘73”. The horn section is brilliantly executed by some of Philadelphia’s finest, Patrick Hughes (trumpet), Larry Toft (trombone), David Fishkin (alto sax) and Steven Gokh (tenor sax). It’s a fun song.

David: How did you start working with Dale Melton?

Lili: I met his brother first. I was playing a concert in 2007 and he approached me and we talked. He is an identical twin like my sister and me. I thought I was talking to Dale when I was speaking to his brother, Dennis. We exchanged numbers and kept in touch. We are very like-minded and have similar interests musically. We began to play some co-bills that went over really well. Dale asked me at one point if I had new songs with respects to recording. I told him I had plenty of songs. He stated he had a studio and we should consider recording an EP just to see how we worked together. It was one of the best if not the best experiences working with him so we decided to record a full album.

David: Is Jef Lee Johnson on the CD?

Lili: No. Jef Lee passed away this past January. Gone too soon. It was a shock to the music community in Philadelphia and the music world, in general. Jef Lee had worked with many people, most recently he’d been on tour with Esperanza Spalding. He was an amazing guitarist as well as an incredible singer and songwriter. He has a large discography of original recordings.

I met Jef when I recorded my last CD ‘Every Second in Between’. Glenn Barratt who produced this CD advised me that Jef Lee Johnson would be playing guitar. I was thrilled. It was my sister who introduced Jef’s playing to me when he played with and produced Rachelle Ferrell years before. I remember calling my sister with excitement and in tears that Jef was going to be on my record. Jef Lee was going to play on this new CD. I had told him I also wanted to record one of his songs. He was happy about this. I was saddened that he didn’t record on this CD. I recorded his song “Today”. His song closes out my new CD. I love this song and am very happy at how it turned out.
David: Will you be playing music from the CD at the Burlap & Beam on July 26th?

Lili: Some songs from the new CD scaled down. It will just be myself, and Mike Kurman on bass. I’ll revisit some of the songs from the past I have six CD’s there’s a lot of music there.

David: Can you see bliss?

I certainly can. Not only do I see it, I am in the process of attaining it; the landscape moves ever closer.

The Amazing Guitarist: Trevor Gordon Hall

“In the genre of intriguing guitar players Trevor really stands out. His music is both soothing and challenging”

Graham Nash

How do you react when you get a great review on guitar playing your from somebody like Graham Nash?  Philadelphia guitarist Trevor Gordon Hall was humbled and honored. While Philadelphia is his home and world is becoming his playground having played festivals in Europe and North America Trevor states that playing at Chris’s in Philadelphia in March of 2013 with legend Pat Martino was a dream come true for him.

Trevor’s most recent project led him to collaborate with various builders to redesign a kalimba to mount on the surface of a guitar. The interesting combination and Hall’s virtuosity can be heard on his debut release “Entelechy” on Candyrat Records. In true fashion and the purest form of African folk music the tines of the kalimba attached to his guitar resonate through the body of his guitar giving his compositions a shimmering effect.
Trevor has two shows coming up in the Philadelphia area before he heads north to Canada for a few shows. Catching Trevor live is a must for all guitar fans. That goal can be accomplished on Wednesday July 24th 2013 as part of the Sundown Music Series in the Park in Haddon Heights, NJ also Tuesday July 30th, at the Eagleview Town Square in Exton, PA.

Artist website: www.trevorgordonhall.com
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Jill Pasternak interviews guitarists -Crossover WRTI 90.1FM Phila July 20, 201

Saturday July 20, 2013
Crossover w/ Jill Pasternak
WRTI 90.1FM Philadelphia
streaming at http://wrti.org/term/david-cohen
11:30AM-12:30

Every Saturday Jill Pasternak’s interview show Crossover spotlights notable music and musicians from the classical and jazz worlds – and the periphery as well!  Totally un-scripted and spontaneous, Crossover sounds like nothing else on the dial — more like friends chatting over coffee than a broadcast interview.

This Saturday July 20, 2013 Jill’s program will feature two classical guitarists giving listeners a beautiful background soundscape to play against the swirl of their air conditioners during this heatwave that is gripping the North East.

The program is broken into two segments. The first featuring Philadelphia classical guitarist David Cohen. Selections from Cohen’s CD, DAVID COHEN: GUITAR will be played. Jill and David also talk about his work for the Monmouth & Ocean Counties Food Bank and the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia. Jill writes about Cohen, “This week we feature a musician who has gone well beyond his role as an entertainer to become an active member of humanitarian causes he believes in”. Portions from the sale of his CD go to Fox Chase Cancer Center.

In a repeat presentation the second part of the program features classical guitar Milos Karadaglic. The stunning success of 31-year-old classical guitar virtuoso  is validated after the first notes of Pasion, his second Deutsche Grammophon release. Known simply as “Milos,” the guitarist’s technical expertise and respect for the music he loves enhances the beauty of a varied menu of popular folk and challenging classical selections. The sprinkling of recognizable time-worn tangos contrast perfectly with the excitement of the “nuevo” world of Astor Piazolla. Terrific!

Sanders Bohlke in Philly-Interview w/ David Cohen Classical Guitarist

In an article I wrote a few years back I explained that my climate seasons are marked by the music that captures me at that particular time. It could be re-discovering or discovering a classical composer, finding a new type of bagpiping I never knew existed, or a release from one of my favorite pipa players or something that is totally new to me. I listen to beautiful. The summer of 2013 is the summer of Sanders Bohlke.

Bohlke’s current release Ghost Boy is described as “Inspired by a wintertime retreat to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia”. The music on the CD chronicles the isolation that creeps in when the days get shorter and you’re further and further removed from society.

Sanders opens for Rachael Yamagata at the Union Transfer on Thursday July 11, 2013 and has received rave reviews for his ability to transfer the experience of the CD to the confines of a solo opening act. Philadelphia will be the third to the last stop on this tour. That has spanned the months of June and July across North America.

Sanders Bohlke
Thursday July 11, 2013 Philadelphia
Union Transfer
ARTIST WEBSITE

David Cohen: Right now there is little information about you. You’re from Alabama?

Sanders Bohlke: Actually Mississippi, a town called Sparta. I lived in Alabama for a period.

DC: How old were you when you picked up the guitar? 

Sanders: I was probably 15.

DC: What were you listening to that made you want to play the guitar?

Sanders: It was more like a bunch of my friends were getting into music so it seemed the thing to do. I listened to a lot of blues. My dad listened to James Taylor so I tried to learn those songs. I listened to a lot of blues growing up in Mississippi. It was hard not to listen to the blues, it’s kind of everywhere. I listened to R.L. Burnside, The Mississippi All Stars were becoming popular I was listening to them around the age 16.

DC: So then is your music something unusual to come out of Mississippi?

Sandes: In a way yes but in a way not really. The music I’m doing has a soulful element to it – Mississippi, New Orleans, Alabama that’s all soul central. I feel it’s very native to Mississippi but I put a different spin on it on purpose, I’m not a just a soul singer or blues musician or singer/songwriter and I don’t want to be so I try to bring in different elements in from different things that inspire me. But yeah, I would say it is very native of Mississippi.

DC: When you write songs are they thought out before hand, or a work in process?

Sanders: It’s a little bit of both. I’ve written all kinds of ways. I’m settling in now to more like write as I go. I’ll sit down and find a melody I like and hum along with the piece and take it from there. Sometimes the songs end up meaning something that I was intending to write about at some at point but I don’t sit down with the focus to write a song about this or that. In retrospect I’ve revisited songs and realized that I was thinking a lot about that at the time.

DC: Are your songs more autobiographical than not?

Sanders: There are elements from my own life. They are stories that I think about or have dreams about or read about.

DC: You speak a lot about death and create images that come from a perspective of someone grieving. In the press release it quoted you as saying that the music came from the solitude of a winter retreat in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Was this CD coming from a period of grieving?

Sanders: No, death and the end of the world interest me because we really don’t know a lot about it. It’s interesting because we don’t know a lot about it but it also gives me the freedom to create what death is and what this world is. It’s very freeing to write about things like that because you’re never wrong about it. It’s fantasy in a way. So for me it creates a lot of freedom and it’s interesting.

DC: On the other hand the CD has elements that are very romantic. In the song Serious you write, “If you’re serious I’ll be serious too. I’ll ripe your heart out like you want me to, I’ll kiss your mouth and you’ll be better for it” and later you write, “Why you left me this is serious, I can’t love you like you want me to”. In Pharaoh you write, “There was a time when I was Pharaoh, but the breaking of my heart has just begun”. I was thinking Oh this poor guy is in the mountains getting over someone.

Sanders: The funny thing is I’m happily married. My wife teases me all the time that there is something I’m not telling her. For me the reason I write these things is because it’s more exciting for me to write about heart break because I don’t deal with heart break. I don’t get to confront these emotions so it’s almost healthy to go through the up and downs in my music. It’s interesting for me to create my own characters and my own heartache – my own misery.

DC: It has been seven years since the release of your first CD. What did you do in that time?

Sanders: I actually did a lot. I wrote a lot and we put out a lot of singles. The reason it took so long was because we couldn’t find a group of songs that would make an album. My manager would say there are plenty of songs to make an album but for me they weren’t the songs I wanted for my sophomore album. So we kept just writing. We had a bunch of singles and decided to sell them as singles. A couple of the songs were picked up by T.V. shows. The hope was that people would hear them and want to buy the song. So we ended up doing that and it gave my fans the chance to hear my changes and grow with the changes in my music so they would not feel left out. There were a few hard-core followers from the first CD that love this one. This CD is very different than my first.

DC: I wondered if you worked in a hardware store or some place during that period.

Sanders: I had a few side jobs. There was a lot of writing, a lot of recording. I have a lot of songs that aren’t released yet.

DC: How long did it take to record the CD?

Sanders: Not very long at all. We spent two days in Nashville. I went to Nashville three or four days before the session to rehearse with the band. It was three guys from Nashville. We rehearsed the songs and went into the studio and in two days recorded nine songs live in the studio full band. Then we went through some overdubs in Birmingham and then got it mixed in Nashville. It didn’t take long. It was the process of figuring what to do with the record when it was made.

DC: Going back to something you said, what was the worst job you had during the period between albums?

Sanders: It was the worst only because it was so monotonous but it was kind of interesting. I hated it at the time but I really am mad at myself for not taking it all in at the time. I worked in a screen-printing shop. It was actually a good experience but I hated it at the time. I use to go home almost in tears that I hated the job. One of my favorite songs came from that period.

DC: Which one?

Part 2 SANDERS BOHLKE PART II

Sanders: I wrote Search and Destroy which is one of my favorites. I wrote that in about an hour.

DC: Interesting! Is that where the line, “I was wide awake with bodies in the gutter”comes from?

Sanders: No, well maybe subconsciously. It was more just one of those things where I had a vision of what the world would be like if it ended. It was the story of a guy experiencing the thing and explaining it to his daughter.

DC: When I first heard the CD and found out you were playing in Philly I knew I had to be there. I was wondering if you would be able to get across the artistry of the album in an opening position. So far all of the reviews have been very positive about your performance.

Sanders: I know from the crowds reaction and a lot of the people come up to me after the shows. A lot of people don’t expect much from the opener and found out they like what I’m doing. It’s been really cool to hear that. It’s been a great tour. I was a fan of Rachael’s before she invited me. A lot of people are buying the CD and I feel like I’m making honest fans.

DC: What kind of guitars do you use?

Sanders: That’s funny question because a lot of people ask me that. My acoustic is a Gibson J-45 but my main guitar is a Peavey P-60. I think it’s a 1988 or 1989 Peavey. It was a $200 guitar I found it in a little guitar consignment shop in Oxford when I was living there. It was kind of temperamental at first and gave me a few problems and then one day it just worked and has worked perfectly since then. I love the sound it makes. I love the way it feels – it’s my baby. I don’t know what I’d do without this guitar.

DC: What effscts do you use?

Sanders: I have a Boss Loop Station and I have a Holy Grail Reverb Pedal and I use the reverb on my amp. I have to fill a lot of space on stage so I use a Roland 404 Sampler.

DC: What’s next? You’ve been touring twenty-eight days and there are three show left on this tour.

Sanders: I’ll be writing a lot. We have an EP coming out. We’re working on mastering that now.

DC: Will this be your first time in Philadelphia?

Sanders: I was there many years ago. I opened for The Frey at the Electric Factory. I am looking forward to playing at the Union Transfer. I hear it is a really nice venue. I’m excited to be in Philadelphia again.

GashouseRadio.com-Give Piece a Chance by David Cohen

Not that far in the past it was not uncommon to see the musicians of orchestras and the opera sitting on the couches of the evening talks shows, part of a celebrity panel on games shows and even subjects in the gossip columns. Classical music having a role in the performance of popular culture did exist. It wasn’t uncommon for progressive rock bands like Renaissance, Emerson, Lake & Palmer and Jethro Tull to incorporate classical themes into their music or for radio programmers to play classical music back to back with their hardcore music draws. That was the case for Philadelphia classical guitarist Linda Cohen (no relation) who had regular airplay on WMMR in the 1970’s while having pop star status in the city. Popular culture dropping one of its characters is the effect of many factors that could range from an aging core audience, consolidation of radio stations for programming models that play color coded music to fill the time between commercial segments along with the very slow adaptation of classical music marketers to a new world order filled with technological information webs that have left classical music relegated to a past time for the elite.

The Citizenry is armed now with the resources to defend themselves against the control of marketers and slow thinkers by making their needs known. Through creators of their own unbiased and non-commercial saturated outlets for music and music information we the people can make our choices. Word just has to get out! PhiladelphiaClassicalMusic.com started in 2005 when there was not a comprehensive list on the Internet for the classical music in Philadelphia that gave opportunity to every classical musician in the area. LocalArtsLive.com started by classical music maven Sharon Torello and has been running since 2011 filling the void of social media interaction for the Philadelphia classical music scene. While the owners of these sites are pulling from outside the box a few sympathizers from other genres are pulling on the rope in syncopation.

In April of 2013 the JAM Awards(Jersey Acoustic Music) committee nominated and gave award to a classical guitarist for Top Instrumentalist in the guitar category. This first time honoring classical music in the awards has had the door opened for recognition in the thriving Jersey Shore music scene. This is the same scene that gave birth to Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi and Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes. Closer to the Philadelphia market is GashouseRadio.com. Like Torello of LocalArtsLive.com and Cohen of PhiladelphiaClassicalMusic.com GashouseRadio.com founders Dustin Dellinger and Jim Hass stepped up to the control panel because of the lack of support for local artists in the their genre. Dellinger having been in the Philly music scene for many years realized after the break up of his last band-A Case of the Monday’s after ten years, that he had to take a different role in music. The same is the case with GashouseRadio Co-Founder Jim Hass. Both Dellinger and Hass evaluated their experiences and like the other mavens started with their own money to create outlets for the overlooked artists in Philadelphia. “I’ve noticed that other cities like Boston have such a thriving and supportive local music scene where people go out to listen to live music. It’s hard getting people out to shows in Philly. Part of the problem is that the music fans don’t know who the bands are here.” Dellinger explains.

The commitment of GashouseRadio.com is not only to play the music from independent bands and solo artists from Philadelphia but includes CD tracks from well-established bands that do not receive deserving airplay on other stations. While the formatting of Gashouse primarily seeks submissions from the local rock musicians they are willing to give a piece of classical music a chance. That is not to say you will hear a Beethoven symphony on Gashouse but music more on the lines of a soloist or a side project of a progressive nature from composers or some of the university students in the area who would be more likely to tune in. “People send us their music, we listen to it and if we think it will work we play it on air. We have thumbs up and thumbs down choices for our listeners. It’s up to them if we keep it in rotation. If there’s a piece of classical music that our listener like that’s great.” Dustin explains.

With allies such as the JAM Awards committee and on a more local level GashouseRadio.com classical music can meander its course into a larger tributary leading to a larger body of listeners. How fertile the lands of the Philly music scene can become with such powerful nutrients in its streets. GashouseRadio.com runs 24-7 with live programming at various times through out the day. All we are saying is give piece a chance.

The Keith Calmes & Chiel Meijering Experience by David Cohen

During the process of writing the music for what would be my first CD release I had to take into consideration being a sole proprietor in music that I might be producing a very costly set of individually wrapped coasters. At the time I had the resources of Temple University’s Business Research Lab at my disposal. So I embarked on a research project for myself that would allow me to find the answers to the questions-who is listening to classical music and where do they get their information?

The findings gave me answers I didn’t expect. In the background information regarding the sustainability of classical music, the image came to mind of a flowers blooming process. On one side is a leaf of classical music that delivers the experience expectations of the aging core audience. The leaf opposite is the music delivered to the audience that is looking to expand their experiences with new music. The bud coming up in the center is the music that will fit the needs of both audiences as well as having an appeal to an audience who usually do not participate in the experience of classical music. The flower resulting from the bud is the music that reaches beyond the many challenges classical music faces in order for it to survive as a vital presenting force.

The images from my research returned when I received a copy of the recording Asbury Lanes, a collaboration between Dutch composer Chiel Meijering and classical guitarist Keith Calmes of Wall NJ. The two are onto something with their sound. It is the bud developing between the leaves of classical music that reminded me of the Russian Five. Only Chiel Meijering and Keith Calmes didn’t start working together to change the course or give identity to a structure.

The music is from a highly creative period for both Meijering and Calmes that resulted in the release of eight recordings in 2012. Asbury Lanes is the release that can be equated to the beauty the eye beholds when the flower fully blooms. In addition to his work with Meijering, Calmes has released a solo classical guitar recording -All We Know is Now. This new music composed for and on the guitar is the experience that can draw in the younger demographic, many of whom grew up in the 1960’s listening to a lot of rock & roll and don’t relate to Bach, Beethoven and Brahms. All We Know is Now was a year in the making and offers the listener a cohesive progression of pieces where Calmes guides his guests through an intricate melodic and rhythmic experience through his masterful guitar playing.

There is another release on the way resulting from the collaboration between Meijering and Calmes – Ladies Collection: trios and quartets for electric and acoustic guitar. Although not released at this point the experience has started with the anticipation. I know my experience expectations will be met when I take the journey. I am reminded of a scene from Cecil B. DeMille’s Moses where a woman in her daily toil looks up and upon seeing the messenger exclaims, Moses!

Artists & recordings websites:
Keith Calmes           Cheil Meijering          itunes