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Alien Ant Farm

in Bands/Bands A by

Alien Ant Farm is an American rock band that formed in Riverside, California in 1996. They have released five studio albums and sold over 5 million units worldwide. The band’s cover of Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal” topped the Billboard Alternative songs charts in 2001 and was featured in the film American Pie 2.

They released their debut album Greatest Hits independently in 1999, then signed to DreamWorks Records in 2000. Their second album ANThology was released in 2001 and has been certified platinum by the RIAA, selling over one million copies and reaching number 11 on the Billboard 200. Following up that was their third album, TruANT, released in 2003. The album was produced by brothers Robert and Dean DeLeo of Stone Temple Pilots, and made it to number 42 on the Billboard 200. In 2005 the band recorded their next album 3rd Draft, however its release was denied by the label after Geffen bought out DreamWorks. It was eventually released in 2006 as Up in the Attic, charting at number 114 on the Billboard 200. After several years of sporadic touring, the band’s fifth studio album Always and Forever was released in February 2015.

Albert Lee

in Bands/Bands A by

Albert Lee is one of the most respected and renowned guitarists in music history, having worked with The Everly Brothers, Eric Clapton, Emmylou Harris and The Cricketts over his long and illustrious career. The British-born country-rock artist started his career during the emerging rock ‘n’ roll scene of sixties London, when he swapped bands with the likes of Jimmy Page and Chris Farlowe.

After moving to the U.S. and assimilating himself into the country music scene, Albert quickly garnered a reputation as one of the fastest guitar players in the business. He recorded a number of solo albums, and won a Grammy in 2002 for his contribution on ‘Foggy Mountain Breakdown’. He continues to tour today, and plays his signature Ernie Ball Music Man Guitar.

The Baseball Project

in Bands/Bands B by

The Baseball Project is a supergroup composed of Peter Buck, Mike Mills, Scott McCaughey, Steve Wynn and Linda Pitmon formed in 2007. The performers came together from discussions between McCaughey and Wynn at R.E.M.’s March 21, 2007 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. They invited Buck to play bass guitar and Pitmon on drums and recorded their first album, Volume 1: Frozen Ropes and Dying Quails later that year. Buck and McCaughey have previously played together in Robyn Hitchcock and The Venus 3, The Minus 5, R.E.M., and Tuatara. Wynn is the former leader of The Dream Syndicate as well as Gutterball and currently plays with Pitmon in Steve Wynn & the Miracle 3.

The second album from The Baseball Project, Volume 2: High and Inside, was released on March 1, 2011 on Yep Roc Records. The band followed the record’s release with a tour covering the U.S. and appearances at Spring Training games in Arizona’s Cactus League.(http://www.yeproc.com/artists/the-baseball-project/)

The band also recorded a ‘real time’ commentary on the 2010 baseball season for ESPN.com: one song every month made available as a free download. The collection was released in 2011 (along with unreleased extra tracks from Volume 1: Frozen Ropes and Dying Quails and Volume 2: High and Inside,) as The Broadside Ballads.

Their third album, 3rd, was released in 2014.

The Mavericks

in Bands/Bands M by

The Mavericks, the eclectic rock and country group known for crisscrossing musical boundaries with abandon, has gone through three distinct phases since it was founded in Miami in 1989. An initial period of heady success marked by big hits and critical acclaim in the ‘90s. A long hiatus starting 2003 when the musicians each went their own way. And finally, a triumphant reunion in 2012 which held long enough for them to recently celebrate the band’s 30th anniversary.

En Español flips the band’s usual fusion formula, which adds a striking assortment of genres – salsa, ska, norteño, mariachi, and much more – to its sturdy rock/country base. Now, the foundation is solidly Latin with streaks of irreverent rock and twangy guitars running through it, all branded with the unmistakable Mavericks style.

The inspiration for this labor of love is rooted in the immigrant experience of the band’s founder. He was christened Raúl Francisco Martínez-Malo Jr., the son of Cuban exiles who was born and raised in the stimulating immigrant environment of Miami’s Little Havana. 

His parents, Raul Sr. and Norma, both came to the United States in the early 60s, fleeing Fidel Castro’s communist revolution. They met after arriving in Miami, got married and bought a home in the shadow of the old Orange Bowl, west of downtown. The hub of the growing clan was the abode of Malo’s maternal grandfather, who himself had immigrated from Spain to Cuba, later bringing his family to Florida.

As Malo entered adolescence in the 1970s, the Latin music industry was flourishing in the United States. Pop and folk music from many countries flooded Latin communities. Recordings from many countries were distributed domestically by major labels, sold in neighborhood discotecas, and broadcast on television and radio via a booming network of Spanish-language media.

Malo’s musical milieu was a mind-expanding cultural mashup.  At home, there was a family piano to play at family gatherings, and his grandfather regaled guests with his “beautiful baritone,” Malo recalls.  And there was a stream of music always in the air. Songs by Cuba’s venerable Omara Portuondo, Mexico’s romantic Trio Los Panchos, and brash mariachi superstar Vicente Fernandez. But his father also loved Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline, while his mother exposed him to the refined art of opera and classical music. 

The budding musician soaked in the sounds, unlike many first-generation teenagers who reject their parents’ music as corny or old-fashioned.

“I was never one of those kids who were like, ‘Ah, I hate that music,’” says Malo. “I liked it all, and I would take it all in. To me, it was just part of the vocabulary, part of the DNA.”

Japanese Breakfast

in Bands/Bands J by

A solo moniker for Philadelphia musician Michelle Zauner, Japanese Breakfast is known for her artfully experimental, deeply intimate brand of indie pop. Taking a break from her band Little Big League, Zauner debuted in 2013 with the melodically lo-fi cassette release June. Along with further work with Little Big League, she has continued to expand her sonic palette, weaving in atmospheric synths, electric guitars, and electronics on 2016’s Psychopomp and 2017’s Soft Sounds from Another Planet. In 2021, she hit number two on the New York Times nonfiction best-seller list with her memoir, Crying in H Mart, which found her exploring her Korean heritage in the wake of her mother’s death from cancer. That same year, she released a companion album, Jubilee.

Born in 1989 in Seoul, South Korea to a Korean mother and Jewish-American father, Zauner grew up in Eugene, Oregon, where her parents moved when she was still an infant. Later, she attended Bryn Mawr college and played in several indie rock bands before forming the group Little Big League around 2011. In 2013, she moved back home to Oregon to help care for her mother, who had been diagnosed with cancer. It was during this period that she initially started Japanese Breakfast as part of a month-long, song-a-day writing challenge. The result was 2013’s June, an intimate set of melodic, electric guitar-accompanied lo-fi tunes issued on cassette by Ranch Records. She continued to write solo and with her band, releasing Japanese Breakfast’s sophomore album, Where Is My Great Big Feeling?, and the Seagreen Records cassette American Sound, in the summer of 2014. Little Big League’s Tropical Jinx arrived that October.

With a varied palette including markedly bigger, synth-boosted sounds that bridged lo-fi and indie pop, Japanese Breakfast’s Yellow K Records debut, Psychopomp, was released in the spring of 2016. The album dealt with the emotional fallout of her mother’s death, and was, in Zauner’s mind, the one and only Japanese Breakfast record. She soon changed her mind, signed with Dead Oceans (which re-released Psychopomp to a wider audience), and began work on another album with the help of producer Craig Hendrix, who had also helmed Little Big League’s debut LP. The pair played the bulk of the instruments on the record and went for a much bigger sound, taking the project out of the bedroom and into a large space. An expansive mix from indie pop alchemist Jorge Elbrecht made it sound even larger, as Zauner delved into themes like grief, dead pop stars, outer space, and moving on. Soft Sounds from Another Planet was released by Dead Oceans in July 2017, hitting the upper reaches of multiple critics’ end-of-year lists.

Further sessions with Hendrix — this time with a sprightly, pop-focused, string- and horn-bolstered sound — led to the completion of another record in 2019. However, the COVID-19 pandemic caused Jubilee’s release to be delayed until 2021. Productive as ever, Zauner used the downtime to write a memoir, Crying in H Mart, which found her exploring her Korean heritage in the wake of her mother’s death. Released several months prior to Jubilee, the book reached number two on the New York Times nonfiction best-seller list.

Sevendust

in Bands/Bands S by

Sevendust is ranked among the top groups in new metal (“nu-metal”), a rock hybrid that combines traditional heavy metal with elements of industrial rock, pop music ballads, hip-hop, R&B harmonies, and lyrics that alternate between life-affirming and nihilistic. Almost-constant touring as both headliners and as openers for bands such as Creed, Megadeath, Godsmack, and Metallica, combined with increased airplay and participation in the Van’s Warped Tour, Iggy Pop’s R.O.A.R. Fest tour, Ozzy Osbourne’s Ozzfest tour, and the Tatoo the Earth tour, have raised Sevendust’s popularity and sales to levels approaching other nu-metal acts such as Powerman 5000, Staind, and Slayer. Like other nu-metal bands, Sevendust is noted for its socially conscious lyrics and musical accessibility, the latter often credited to lead singer Lajon Witherspoon’s vocals, which have been compared favorably to Living Colour’s Corey Glover and the Doors’ Jim Morrison.

The band formed as Crawlspace in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1995. Drummer Morgan Rose told Jason Bracelin in CMJ New Music Monthly that his father was a guitarist and his mother, who followed the Raspberries in the 1970s, took her young son to see David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust tour, which he witnessed while sitting on the shoulders of a security guard. He credits his father with teaching him guitar and claimed that he was able to play Jimi Hendrix’s “If 6 Was 9” when he was three years old. Rose teamed with Lajon Witherspoon, who has been performing in a variety of soul-music oriented bands.

The group almost didn’t get its big break. When they discovered that an Atlanta industry showcase gig they had booked was obscure and difficult to locate, they almost cancelled. Luckily, they played anyhow, and some executives from the record company TVT got lost looking for another club and saw Crawlspace’s set instead. The group signed with TVT. By 1996 the band had a manager, former Twisted Sister band guitarist Jay Jay French, and had contributed the song “My Ruin” to the soundtrack of the film Mortal Kombat: More Kombat.

Sevendust recorded their self-titled debut album with producer Toby Wright after changing their name in 1997. Sevendust earned gold record status, helped along with a half-hour television concert entitled Sevendust: Live and Loud and plenty of touring. The band’s follow-up effort, Home, released in 1999, also went gold. Sevendust members, however, dismissed it as unrepresentative of the group’s abilities. “We got a few really good songs out of it, and there’s some songs on there that’ll never get played again. Never,” Rose told Bracelin.

Grayscale brings “Umbra” tour to Harrisburg

in Featured Events by

Philadelphia alt-rock band Grayscale has announced its third full-length album, “Umbra,” the follow up to 2019’s “Nella Vita” and 2017’s debut “Adornment.” The album finds the band – Collin Walsh (lead vocals), Andrew Kyne (guitar), Nick Ventimiglia (bass), Dallas Molster (guitar), and Nick Veno (drums) – not reborn, but refined as they truly came into their sound.

Their story: Five best friends got together and started a band. They took intimate urban stories of broken hearts, bad drugs, blissful sex, and busted dreams and turned them into one alternative rock cult favorite after another.

Then, they crossed into the next dimension with a bold depiction of the big sound they’d always hinted at uplifted on a high of gospel harmonies, horn solos, and the kind of lyrics you get tattooed in places you want people to see (and places you don’t want people to see).

“This band is how we express ourselves,” Walsh said. “I come from an old-school Irish family that didn’t talk about feelings. This band means so much to me, because I’ve been best friends with these guys since I was 13 years old. We’ve known each other for 60 percent of our lives at this point. These are real stories. We love what we do. It’s why we’re alive.

“In a celestial sense, ‘Umbra’ is the area of complete darkness in an eclipse. It’s a shadowy interior that would otherwise be surrounded by light. The sound of the record is pop-rock on the outside, but when you listen to what I’m saying, the stories on the inner core are sexual, vindictive, and wicked. That’s the concept. It reflects the authenticity of who we are as an East Coast rock band. We’re not trying to be anything other than exactly what we are.”

Read the full article at PhiladelphiaWeekly.com.

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VERIVERY bring K-pop to H•MAC

in Featured Events by

VERIVERY have announced that they will be holding ‘2021 VERIVERY 1st TOUR IN U.S.’ from December 5 through December 20!

This is VERIVERY’s first U.S. concert tour since their debut in 2019, and they plan to meet with their fans by performing in 9 different cities. Starting in Los Angeles, Tempe, Dallas, Houston, St. Louis, Fort Wayne, Cleveland, to Harrisburg, VERIVERY will wrap up their concert tour in New York City. 

VERIVERY have shown a steady growth as K-pop idols of the current generation, ranking #1 on U.S. Billboard‘s ‘World Digital Song Sales Chart’ with their tracks “G.B.T.B.” and “Get Away”. In addition to all the VERIVERY members participating in the music composition and lyric writings of their tracks, their charismatic stage performances and visuals continue to receive love from fans all around the world.

Meanwhile, the VERIVERY members are currently preparing for their U.S. tour while taking in mind the safety protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19. They plan to follow all preventative measures when performing on stage.

Read the full article at AllKPop.com.

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Al Di Meola

in Bands/Bands A by

A bona fide guitar hero and perennial poll-winner, Al Di Meola has been recognized internationally over the past four decades as virtuoso of the highest order. A prolific composer and prodigious six-string talent, Di Meola has amassed over 20 albums as a leader while collaborating on a dozen or so others with the likes of the fusion supergroup Return To Forever (with Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke and Lenny White), the celebrated acoustic guitar trio featuring fellow virtuosos John McLaughlin and Paco de Lucia, and the Rite of Strings trio with bassist Clarke and violinist Jean-Luc Ponty.

AGOURA HILLS, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 20: (EDITORS NOTE: Image has been converted to black and white) Jazz musician Al Di Meola performs onstage during the ‘Past, Present and Future’ tour at The Canyon on September 20, 2019 in Agoura Hills, California. (Photo by Scott Dudelson/Getty Images)

And while his dazzling technique on both acoustic and electric guitars has afforded him regal status among the hordes of fretboard aficionados who regularly flock to his concerts, the depth of Di Meola’s writing along with the soulfulness and his inherent lyricism of his guitaristic expression have won him legions of fans worldwide beyond the guitar aficionado set.

Al Di Meola’s ongoing fascination with complex rhythmic syncopation combined with provocative lyrical melodies and sophisticated harmony has been at the heart of his music throughout a celebrated career that has spanned four decades and earned him critical accolades, three gold albums and more than six million in record sales worldwide. A bona fide guitar hero, perennial poll-winner, and prolific composer, he has amassed over 20 albums as a leader while collaborating on a dozen or so others with the likes of the fusion supergroup Return to Forever (with Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke and Lenny White), the celebrated acoustic Guitar Trio featuring fellow virtuosos John McLaughlin and Paco de Lucia, and the Rite of Strings trio with bassist Clarke and violinist Jean-Luc Ponty. And while his dazzling technique on both acoustic and electric guitars has afforded him regal status among the hordes of fretboard fanatics who regularly flock to his concerts, the depth of Di Meola’s writing along with the soulfulness and the inherent lyricism of his guitaristic expression have won him legions of fans worldwide beyond the guitar aficionado set.

​A pioneer of blending world music and jazz, going back to early Latin-tinged fusion outings like 1976’s Land of the Midnight Sun, 1977’s Elegant Gypsy and 1978’s Casino, the guitar great continues to explore the rich influence of flamenco, tango, Middle Eastern, Brazilian and African music with his World Sinfonia, an ambitious pan-global group that he formed in 1991. Their exhilarating world music fusion has been documented on such releases as 2000’s The Grande Passion (featuring the Toronto Symphony Orchestra), 2007’s Live in London, 2011’s Pursuit of Radical Rhapsody and the stunning 2012 DVD, Morocco Fantasia (recorded at the Mawazine Festival in Rabat, Morocco and featuring special guests Said Chraibi on oud, Abdellah Meri on violin and Tari Ben Ali on percussion).

​Growing up in Bergenfield, NJ with the music of Elvis Presley, The Ventures and The Beatles, Di Meola naturally gravitated to guitar as a youngster and by his early teens was already an accomplished player. Attaining such impressive skills at such a young age didn’t come easy for Al, but rather was the result of focused dedication and intensive periods of woodshedding between his junior and senior years in high school. “I used to practice the guitar eight to ten hours a day,” he told Down Beat. “And I was trying to find myself, or find the kind of music that suited where I was going with the guitar.”

​His earliest role models in jazz included guitarists Tal Farlow and Kenny Burrell. But when he discovered Larry Coryell, whom Al would later dub “The Godfather of Fusion,” he was taken with the guitarist’s unprecedented blending of jazz, blues and rock into one seamless vocabulary on the instrument. “I used to ride the bus from New Jersey to see him at little clubs in Greenwich Village,” he recalls. “Wherever he was playing, I’d be there.” In 1972, Al enrolled at the Berklee College of Music in Boston and by the second semester there began playing in a fusion quartet led by keyboardist Barry Miles. When a gig tape of that band was later passed on to Chick Corea by a friend of Al’s in 1974, the 19-year-old guitarist was tapped to join Corea’s fusion supergroup Return to Forever as a replacement for guitarist Bill Connors. After three landmark recordings with Return to Forever — 1974’s Where Have I Known You Before, 1975’s Grammy Award winning No Mystery and 1976’s Romantic Warrior — the group disbanded and Al subsequently started up his career as a solo artist. His 1976 debut as a leader, Land of the Midnight Sun, was a blazing showcase of his signature chops and Latintinged compositions that featured a stellar cast including drummers Steve Gadd and Lenny White, bassist Anthony Jackson and Jaco Pastorius, keyboardists Jan Hammer, Barry Miles and Chick Corea and percussionist Mingo Lewis. Over the course of six more albums with Columbia Records – Elegant Gypsy, Casino, Splendido Hotel, Electric Rendezvous, Tour De Force and Scenario – Al established himself as an influential force in contemporary music. 1980 marked the triumph of the acoustic guitar trio with Paco De Lucia and John McLaughlin. Their debut recording on Columbia Records, Friday Night in San Francisco, became a landmark recording that surpassed the four million mark in sales. The following year, 1981, Di Meola was inducted into Guitar Player’s Gallery of Greats after five consecutive wins as Best Jazz Guitarist in the magazine’s Readers Poll and winning best album and acoustic guitarist for a total of a record eleven wins. The three virtuosos in the trio toured together from 1980 through 1983, releasing the studio album Passion, Grace & Fire in 1982. In 1995, they reunited for a third recording, Guitar Trio, follow by another triumphant world tour.

In early 1996, Di Meola formed a new trio with the violinist Jean-Luc Ponty and RTF bandmate Stanley Clarke called The Rite of Strings. Their self-titled debut was released in 1995. Di Meola subsequently recorded with the likes of opera superstar Luciano Pavarotti, pop stars Paul Simon, classical guitarist Manuel Barrueco, and Italian pop star Pino Daniele. Over the course of his career, he has also worked and recorded with Phil Collins, Carlos Santana, Steve Winwood, Wayne Shorter, Tony Williams, Herbie Hancock, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Milton Naciemento, Egberto Gismonti, Stevie Wonder, Les Paul, Jimmy Page, Steve Vai, Frank Zappa and Cuban pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba.

​Di Meola’s 2013 release All Your Life was an acoustic tour de force that had him revisiting the music of a seminal influence – The Beatles. “I really credit the Beatles for the reason why I play guitar,” he says. “That was a major catalyst for me to want to learn music, so their impact was pretty strong.” A virtual one-man show of virtuosity, it features the guitar great interpreting 14 familiar Beatles tunes in the stripped-down setting of strictly acoustic guitar.

In 2015 he released Elysium, which finds the guitar great blending the lush tones of his nylon string Conde Hermanos acoustic prototype model and a ’71 Les Paul electric (his Return to Forever and Elegant Gypsy axe) in a collection of songs that are at once invigorating and alluring. “It represents a new composition phase for me, whereby the writing became, in a sense, my therapy during a challenging personal transition in my life,” he said. In the same year he was honored as the 22nd recipient of the Montreal Jazz Festival’s Miles Davis Award, created in 1994 to honor a great international jazz musician for the entire body of his or her work and for that musician’s influence in regenerating the jazz idiom.

​2018 marked a new era for Al Di Meola: His first of six signed projects with German record label ear music, “OPUS” was released in March. The Grammy award winning virtuoso says: “With Opus I wanted to further my compositional skills as I think that the evolution of this part of my persona has labelled me more composer/guitarist than guitarist/composer. For the first time in my life, I have written music being happy, I’m in a wonderful relationship with my wife, I have a baby girl and a beautiful family that inspires me every day. I believe it shows in the music.” In July 2018 Di Meola received the Honorary Doctorate Degree of Music of his former alma mater Berklee School of Music.

​A retrospective of Al Di Meola’s nearly 50 year acclaimed career is expressed through his latest Ear Music release of March 2020 “ACROSS THE UNIVERSE” with his virtuosic arrangements and creative interpretations of 14 Beatles songs with lightning speed electric guitar orchestrations balanced with lavish acoustic arrangements.

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