Megan Burtt brings her Cure for Love to Idaho

Megan Burtt and the Cure for Love are an indie pop band out of Denver, Colorado and are currently on tour throughout the northwest.  We caught up with the tour during a stop at the Slate Creek Brewing Company in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

Photo by Chelle-S Imaging

I had the distinct pleasure of writing their artist profile when I was working with AXS.com.  I first met Burtt when I was covering the Durango Songwriters Conference a few years back, and have always enjoyed her music and her philosophy on life.

Photo by Chelle-S Imaging

It was a perfect night for music.  The stage was set up in the back parking lot, and the venue, famous for its local brews, was packed as the first notes emanated from Burtt’s guitar.  She was joined by her partner-in-crime, Justin Peterson for this intimate performance, and the combination proved to be the perfect remedy for the hot summer night.

The harmonies between Burtt and Peterson are the stuff of legends, as they beautifully blended both their voices and instruments into a love song to the universe.  Their voices are uniquely suited for those harmonies, and their dual guitars created the perfect melody for the songs that Burtt has so lovingly created.

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Even with just the two of them, Burtt and Peterson evoke more emotion and deliver more musical punch than a whole stage full of musicians.  Burtt writes songs that speak of real life, and draw the listeners into the mix with every note and word.  She is living proof of why some of today’s best music is coming from the indie side of the house.

Photo by Chelle-S Imaging

Burtt turned in two sets before darkness and the venue’s closing bade her goodbye.  She kept the audience, which included her aunt and friends from the local area, in total awe and amazement as they sipped their brews and ciders, and carried on muted conversations.  Burtt’s music was the perfect backdrop to this amazing and relaxing summer night.  She even did a request for me and played the perfectly lovely “Fast as I Go,” which I simply adore, as the final song of her first set.

Photo by Chelle-S Imaging

The tour continues until August 7, with stops at the Mississippi Sound Studios in Portland, Oregon on July 30; at Whirled Pies in Eugene, Oregon on July 31; at the Axe & Fiddle in Cottage Grove, Oregon on August 1; at the world famous Hotel Utah in San Francisco on August 3; the Bay of Pines in Monterey, California on August 4; at Hopmonk in Sebastopol, California on August 5 and Alleged in Ogden, Utah on August 6 before closing out at the Crested Butte Arts Festival in Crested Butte, Colorado on August 7.

For more info on Burtt, check out her website and Facebook pages, follow her on Twitter, and don’t forget to subscribe to her YouTube channel.

Thanks to Chelle Stipe of Chelle-S Imaging for the photographs.

 

 

 

 

 

Getting to know the 2016 LA Music Critic Award winners – Gabe Dixon

Continuing on with our introductions of the winners from the LA Music Critic Awards for the first half of 2016, our featured artist today is Gabe Dixon, the winner of “Best single” for his hit song “Crave,” as well as Best Pop/Rock Male Artist.

When we reviewed his album Turns to Gold back in May, the comparison was made to Dixon’s music being akin to that of Bruce Hornsby and Phil Vassar.  Come to find out during our almost one-hour interview that Dixon has connections with both of these superstars.  The Gabe Dixon Band once opened a concert for Bruce Hornsby, while Dixon and Vassar are friends, having shared the stage at a huge gala in their native Nashville.

Ready to learn more about Dixon and his music?  Sit back, dig in and learn things.  Let me warn you – this is a long one (I did mention the interview ran an hour, right?)

IVB:  How long have you been performing?

GD:  I started performing pretty young, around the age of 12.  I had started learning piano at the age of 7, and got into the music of Elton John, Ray Charles and the Beatles.  I grew up in Nashville, and my mom encouraged me to audition for a teen band.  I did and was selected to be a part of the band Six Shooter, signed to Curb Records.  We were basically a country version of a boy band.  I wasn’t a big fan of the music, but they did keep us on tour a lot, with weekends during the school year and then all summer long.  The touring gave me a lot of experience and the ride lasted about four or five years.  It also gave me the confidence to start writing my own stuff, which I did around age 15.  It also gave me the confidence to start playing whenever I could, mostly keyboards in other people’s band.  By the time I got to college at the University of Miami, I was doing my own stuff.  After graduation, I moved to New York City, and I have been playing off and on ever since.

IVB:  Who are your influences?

GD:  My early influences were blues and songwriter based musicians like Jerry Lee Lewis, Elton John, The Beatles, Stevie Ray Vaughan, as well as stuff my parents listened to, late 60s and early 70s artists like Joe Cocker, Ray Charles, Paul Simon, Michael Jackson and U2.  Their music gave me a sense of songwriting and the basics.  That style was planted deep within me.  Everything I do now springs from that.  As I matured I got into my own stuff and loved jam band and improvisation stuff, and artists like the Dave Matthews Band and Phish, which led to Jeff Buckley and Radiohead.   Since those early days there have been so many influences that I can’t identify a single source.

IVB: What made you decide to DIY?

GD:  I’d never done it before and many of my friends had done it their whole careers.  I had previously signed with both Warner Brothers and Conchord Records, and had shopped my stuff around and gotten offers.  I just didn’t feel there was strong interest anywhere, so I decided to sever ties and try it as an indie.  I have never owned my own masters before so that’s a different experience.  Basically, I just wanted to try it all out and wanted to take charge of what I was doing.  I was intrigued by the whole crowd funding model of working directly with my fans.  I raised the funds I needed and got to become closer to my fans.  It was a good learning experience for me, allowing me to be more extroverted and interact with my fans.  When I was signed to a label, I never had this much say in who was working for me, so this is a great new experience.  I even left my old management firm after 10 years.  Doing it DIY has allowed me learn to trust myself and my intuition.  When it came time to get a publicist, I interviewed a bunch of them but never felt that connection until I met Laura (Goldfarb of Red Boot PR).   I want those who represent me to all be good people.  I never understood this before when the label did everything for me.

IVB:  Do you want to go back to being a mainstream artist?

GD:  I’m not sure at this time.  Just released my last album (Turns to Gold) in April.  (Going back) will depend on who the label is and what type of services they provide.  Their business models have all changed.  Right now my managers also own a publishing company and everything is more centered around me.  I’m transitioning more to being a songwriter, and I like not having to be on the road all the time.  I’ll never stop being an artist.  If it makes sense next time around, then I’ll probably go with them.

IVB:  What are your future plans?

GD:  I’m going on tour with David Ryan Harris (Twobadours) around most of the US.  I’m planning to take some time in late fall/early winter to do more songwriting and then maybe another short run in December.  I’m also hoping to go overseas next spring to Europe and the UK.  I want to work this album as long as I can.  I am doing a show with my friend Kenny Loggins.  I spent two tours opening for Loggins & Messina.  Someone is doing a documentary retrospective on the band and I was asked to be part of the taping in Chicago this weekend (July 29-30).  Other than that, my main focus right now is writing songs for my own project.  I will probably do something else in the next couple of years.

IVB:  Any good stories from touring/recording/performing?

GD:  I have lots of embarrassing stories, but we won’t go there.  I never can come up with these on the spot.  I’ve spent so much time on the road.  There was this one time in high school when I was playing in a blues band and we had a regular gig on Tuesday nights.  One night we were playing along and we heard that The Black Crowes would come by.  They showed up on our last song so we decided to continue playing.  They watched us and clapped and then got up and sat in with us for a “shake your money maker” jam session.  I was 16, and never thought they would remember me.  Many years later I was performing at SunFest in West Palm Beach.  We were coming off the stage when they showed up.  I went up and introduced myself and they totally remembered me.  They said I was a legend in their band and they kept telling people about this young kid who was killing to on blues piano.  Today, my son and the son of their drummer go to the same school.

IVB:  Where can your fans find out more about you?

GD:  I have the usual social media.  They can follow me on Twitter and Instagram, like my fan page on Facebook, and check out my website.  I love hearing from my fans.  They can also subscribe to my YouTube channel.

Getting to know the 2016 LA Music Critic Award winners – Diana Rein

Welcome to our new series on Indie Voice Blog.  Now that the winners of the LA Music Critic Awards for the first half of 2016 have been announced, we decided to help you get to know the winning artists through a series of interviews/stories about them.  Our first featured artist is three-time winner Diana Rein.

Rein won “Best CD – Female” for Long Road, “Best Blues Artist” and was the overwhelming selection for “Fan Favorite,” getting almost twice the votes of her nearest competitor.

All of these articles will follow the same format, so dig it and learn things about Ms. Rein and her music.

IVB:  How long have you been performing?

DR:  I officially started performing in 2007, although I have always loved music.  Unfortunately, those early performing years took a toll on my vocal cords and I developed polyps, forcing me to take a break in 2011 for vocal surgery.  I was doing an exercise during acting class where the teacher had me screaming.  After the class, I couldn’t talk for three weeks.  I realized I needed help, so I consulted a doctor, who scheduled me for the surgery.  After taking time to heal, I started learning to play guitar in 2013, culminating in the recording of my album in 2015.

IVB:  Who are your influences?

DR:  I break down my influences into two categories.  For my vocals, they would be Bonnie Raitt, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston.  As a child I was also influenced by the music of Prince as a child.  My uncle was a drummer in a band.  When I was 8, I was at the Back Room in Chicago where he was performing and I invited to perform.  The vocalist in the band taught me the blues signature and I got to improvise on stage.  For my guitar playing, it would definitely be Stevie Ray Vaughan, although I was also heavily influenced as a child by the playing of Tom Kefer of Cinderella.  Other contemporary influences are the blues legends, like BB King and Buddy Guy.

IVB:  What made you decide to DIY?

DR:  I just wanted to send it (my music) out into the universe and see what happened.  At the time my son was only two, and I was with him almost 24/7, so I couldn’t leave him to go off to a studio and record.  Doing my stuff the DIY way allowed me to work around my schedule and record when I was free without feeling guilty about it.  I had the tools and the room to do it.  I taught myself how to play bass and program the drum machine.  I also reached out to friends and fellow musicians for advice on how to do it.

IVB:  Are you seeking to be a mainstream artist?

DR:  Right now I am very happy being an indie but would love to be more involved in the mainstream blues world.  I love how Bonnie Raitt’s career has taken shape because she is a household name, but is also very revered in the Blues world.  I truly love being surrounded by blues-loving people.

IVB:  What are your future plans?

DR:  I recently joined up with Kenny “Big Daddy” Williams and his band the Papermoon Gypsys.  We will be performing at some upcoming blues festivals and charity events.  We are also competing in the Temecula Valley Music Awards showcases.  We are performing at the Real Blues Festival at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano on August 14 at 4 p.m.  Our set is just before James Harmon Band and KK Martin Band play.  We are also playing at the Long Beach New Blues Festival in September.  With the Papermoon Gypsys, we are working on a new album of more traditional blues.

IVB:  Do you have any good stories from touring/recording/performing?

DR:  I haven’t done any touring yet, but have recently learned not to wear leather at a hot outdoor venue.  We recently played the Orange County Fair on a hot sweltering day and learned that (wearing leather) was a mistake.

IVB:  Where can your fans find out more about you?

DR:  I have the usual social media.  They can follow me on Twitter and Instagram, like my fan page on Facebook, and check out my website.  I love hearing from my fans.  They can also subscribe to my YouTube channel.  Also check out my publicist, Doug Deutsch Publicity Services, if you need a great one.

LA Music Critic Award winners announced for first half of 2016

Wow.  What an impressive group of musicians and music were nominated for awards during the first half of 2016, and what amazing stuff is waiting to be announced for the second half.  Again, thanks to all the fans for your support of these awards, and for your input.  Thanks also to our amazing panel of Jen Lyneis, Steve Belkin, Laura Goldfarb, Doug Deutsch, Melissa Dragich-Cordero, Kim Grant, Michelle King, Heather Jacks and Patrick O’Heffernan for your valuable suggestions and votes.

Without further ado, here are the winners of the LA Music Critic Awards for the first half of 2016.  Winners are indicated in bold:

Best EP Female: Rooted Clarity (Katie Garibaldi),  Heartbreak is Contagious (Kris Angelis), Endless Road (Alexis Keegan)

Best EP Male:  Royal Blue (Lasers Lasers Birmingham), LA 14 (Rod Melancon)

Best EP Band:  29:11 (One From Many)

Best CD Female: Dressed up for Goodbye (Corinne Cook), Blow (Emily Clibourn), Cure for Dreaming (Jenny Gillespie), Hold Fast Open Palm (Sarah Ault), Long Road (Diana Rein), Popular Songs for Wholesome Families (Rae Fitzgerald)

Best CD Male: Northeastsouthwest (Mike Jacoby), Sugarland (Brian Whelan)Turns to Gold (Gabe Dixon), Let me in (Chi McClean), Blood Moon (Morgan Washam)

Best CD Band: … and friends (Jason Adamo Band), Love & Rent (The BGP), New Coastline (Riddle & the Stars), II (Lovers & Poets), Gung Ho (Freddy & Francine)

Best Single:  “Jackal II” (Rae Fitzgerald), “Big Man” (Jenni Alpert), “Crave” (Gabe Dixon), “Desire (Lo Que Vale La Pena)” (Halo Circus), “Diamond” (Kaylee Keller), “The Machine” (The Daybreaks)

Best Video (cover):  “Better When I’m Dancing” (Redhead Express), “Love Yourself” (Redhead Express), “Blue” (Alice Wallace), “I Knew I Loved You” (Redhead Express), “Cruel Summer” (The Daybreaks)

Best Video (live):  “Headrush” (Jamey Geston), “I am” (Katie Garibaldi), “Beautiful Forever” (Marina V), “Trespassing” (McKail Seely ft Jesse McLeod)

Best Video (comedy):  “Honest Singing Telegrams” (Un5gettable), “Sorry” (Un5gettable)

Best Video (lyrical):  “Pregunto” (Sin Color), “Diamonds (Vip mix)” (Kaylee Keller x VinylJackers), “Pieces of April” (Jerad Finck),  “Holding Her Freedom” (Gabe Dixon), “Blood in the Water” (Jerad Finck)

Best Video (official) Female:   “Lonely Love” (Ryal), “Last One” (McKail Seely), “Jackal II” (Rae Fitzgerald), “Paper Bag” (Anni Piper), “Diamond” (Kaylee Keller), “I Just Don’t Care Anymore” (Alice Wallace)

Best Video (official) Male:   “Crave” (Gabe Dixon), “Perry” (Rod Melancon), “Evergreen” (Shane Alexander)

Best Video (official) Band:   “Desire (Lo Que Vale La Pena)” (Halo Circus), “You + Me in the Summer” (Lovers & Poets), “Calico Concrete” (The Spider Accomplice), “These Three Words” (One From Many)

Best Video (series):  “Los Angeles:  The Abduction” (The Spider Accomplice)

Best Rock Band:  Halo Circus, The Spider Accomplice

Best Pop Band:  the BGP, Freddy & Francine, Lovers & Poets, One From Many

Best Country/Americana Band:  Riddle & the Stars, Jason Adamo Band, Junk Parlor

Best Pop/Rock Male Artist: Gabe Dixon

Best Pop/Rock Female Artist:  Kris Angeles, Sarah Ault, Allison Iraheta, Alexis Keegan

Best Blues Artist:  Anni Piper, Diana Rein

Best Country/Americana Artist:  Brian Whelan, Rod Melancon, Lasers Lasers Birmingham, Alice Wallace

Icon Award:  Ronnie Mack, Dave Yaden, Shane Alexander, Darwin Johnson

Best Live Residency Series:  Dave Yaden & Mike Rossi – Super Tuesdays Live at Butter’d Up

Fan Favorite – It was another wild year as 13 different artists were nominated for fan favorite.  When the dust settled, the artists with the most votes included Kris Angeles, Junk Parlor, Halo Circus, Alice Wallace, Diana Rein, Kaylee Keller and Jason Adamo.  After all the votes were counted, Diana Rein came out on top, with Halo Circus her closest competitor.  Who will it be for the second half?  Only the fans know for sure.

 

LA Music Critic Awards nominations announced for first half of 2016

The time has come again to recognize the incredible indie talent in the world of music.  We are so thrilled to have so much of it this year, and are looking forward to one of the most productive years for indie music in a long time.

On behalf of our wonderful committee, composed of Bob Leggett, Jennifer Lyneis, Michelle King, Melissa Dragich-Cordero, Steve Belkin, Heather Jacks, Kim Grant, Doug Deutsch, Laura Goldfarb and Patrick O’Heffernan, we now present our nominations for the first half of 2016.  Remember, the Fan Favorite Award  is nominated by you.  Simply leave a comment below or on our Facebook page.  The artist who gets the most votes will be the winner.  Support your favorite by voting now.

Best EP Female: Rooted Clarity (Katie Garibaldi),  Heartbreak is Contagious (Kris Angelis), Endless Road (Alexis Keegan)

Best EP Male:  Royal Blue (Lasers Lasers Birmingham), LA 14 (Rod Melancon)

Best EP Band:  29:11 (One From Many)

Best CD Female: Dressed up for Goodbye (Corinne Cook), Blow (Emily Clibourn), Cure for Dreaming (Jenny Gillespie), Hold Fast Open Palm (Sarah Ault), Long Road (Diana Rein), Popular Songs for Wholesome Families (Rae Fitzgerald)

Best CD Male: Northeastsouthwest (Mike Jacoby), Sugarland (Brian Whelan), Turns to Gold (Gabe Dixon), Let me in (Chi McClean), Blood Moon (Morgan Washam)

Best CD Band: … and friends (Jason Adamo Band), Love & Rent (The BGP), New Coastline (Riddle & the Stars), II (Lovers & Poets), Gung Ho (Freddy & Francine)

Best Single:  “Jackal II” (Rae Fitzgerald), “Big Man” (Jenni Alpert), “Crave” (Gabe Dixon), “Desire (Lo Que Vale La Pena)” (Halo Circus), “Diamond” (Kaylee Keller), “The Machine” (The Daybreaks)

Best Video (cover):  “Better When I’m Dancing” (Redhead Express), “Love Yourself” (Redhead Express), “Blue” (Alice Wallace), “I Knew I Loved You” (Redhead Express), “Cruel Summer” (The Daybreaks)

Best Video (live):  “Headrush” (Jamey Geston), “I am” (Katie Garibaldi), “Beautiful Forever” (Marina V), “Trespassing” (McKail Seely ft Jesse McLeod)

Best Video (comedy):  “Honest Singing Telegrams” (Un5gettable), “Sorry” (Un5gettable)

Best Video (lyrical):  “Pregunto” (Sin Color), “Diamonds (Vip mix)” (Kaylee Keller x VinylJackers), “Pieces of April” (Jerad Finck),  “Holding Her Freedom” (Gabe Dixon), “Blood in the Water” (Jerad Finck)

Best Video (official) Female:   “Lonely Love” (Ryal), “Last One” (McKail Seely), “Jackal II” (Rae Fitzgerald), “Paper Bag” (Anni Piper), “Diamond” (Kaylee Keller), “I Just Don’t Care Anymore” (Alice Wallace)

Best Video (official) Male:   “Crave” (Gabe Dixon), “Perry” (Rod Melancon), “Evergreen” (Shane Alexander)

Best Video (official) Band:   “Desire (Lo Que Vale La Pena)” (Halo Circus), “You + Me in the Summer” (Lovers & Poets), “Calico Concrete” (The Spider Accomplice), “These Three Words” (One From Many)

Best Video (series):  “Los Angeles:  The Abduction” (The Spider Accomplice)

Best Rock Band:  Halo Circus, The Spider Accomplice

Best Pop Band:  the BGP, Freddy & Francine, Lovers & Poets, One From Many

Best Country/Americana Band:  Riddle & the Stars, Jason Adamo Band, Junk Parlor

Best Pop/Rock Male Artist: Gabe Dixon

Best Pop/Rock Female Artist:  Kris Angeles, Sarah Ault, Allison Iraheta, Alexis Keegan

Best Blues Artist:  Anni Piper, Diana Rein

Best Country/Americana Artist:  Brian Whelan, Rod Melancon, Lasers Lasers Birmingham, Alice Wallace

Icon Award:  Ronnie Mack, Dave Yaden, Shane Alexander, Darwin Johnson

Fan Favorite – Who will it be this time?  this one is yours to nominate and vote.  Simply leave a comment below or on our Facebook page with the name of your favorite indie artist.

Winners will be announced on July 22.

 

Shane Alexander’s new CD is pure ‘Bliss’

Ever since he burst onto the indie music scene with the release of his debut album The Middle Way in 2005, Shane Alexander has been making a name for himself.

During the past 11 years, he has released five CDs, toured throughout the United States and 11 other countries as both a headliner and as support for such notable acts as Bon Iver, Jewel, John Hiatt, Suzanne Vega, Seal, Styx and Yes, and has had his music placed in more than 100 television shows and films.  His recent track “Skyway Drive-in” from 2013’s Ladera recently surpassed more than 6.5 million plays on Spotify.

His latest offering, Bliss, is further proof that Alexander has a handle on creating incredible music.  The new CD, which will be released on July 8, is the first to be recorded in Alexander’s own Buddhaland Studios in Ventura County, California, about 150 miles up the coast from Los Angeles.

“It was an amazing experience to be at the helm in my own studio, at long last,” said Alexander, “there are many first takes on this record, which led to the songs feeling organic and honest.”

According to his press release, “Bliss is a timeless tribute to both the artist’s classic rock influences and more recent contemporaries such as Jonathan Wilson, Ryan Adams and Conor Oberst. . .” (courtesy of Kim Grant, KG Music Press).    Based on our listen of the CD, we could not agree more.

Our favorite track is the second one, “Something Real Never Dies,” but the CD is packed with great songs that should be placed on repeat while the listener sits back and relaxes.  In fact, this CD should be considered the soundtrack for relaxation.

Several of the musicians that made his last release, Ladera, so good have returned to play on Bliss, including lapsteel by Ojai’s own Jesse Siebenberg and keys by Peter Adams (Josh Groban, Tears for Fears, Ricki Lee Jones).  Alexander also adds two members of his current live band, bassist Vic Ruiz and drummer Josh Grolemund, to the mix, as well as incredible harmonies from vocalists Justine Bennett, Jamie Drake and Sarah Pigion.  He even brings back drummer/percussionist Aaron Sterling (John Mayer, The Civil Wars, Taylor Swift) from his 2010 release Mono Solo on three tracks.

We especially love the cover art, which is hand drawn by veteran rock-n-roll artist Alan Forbes.

Alexander will be performing for his fans in Los Angeles on July 6 at the world-famous Troubadour before heading off on his summer US tour.  He plans to tour Europe in the fall of 2016.

For more info on Alexander, check out his website and Facebook pages, follow him on Twitter, and subscribe to his YouTube channel.