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Jeff Fetterman: Bottle Full of Blues Review

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

Bottle Full of Blues is the second release from guitarist/singer/songwriter, Jeff Fetterman. This eleven song collection has plenty to satisfy any blues rocker. It also demonstrates how much an artist can grow from his first album to his second album.  Bottle Full of Bluespacks a lot more punch in the production, and playing departments than Fetterman’s noteworthy debut Long Hard Road. With influences as diverse as Prince, Springsteen, and Hendrix, Fetterman and company take us on unique musical journey while stopping off at a lot of familiar destinations.

This album covers a lot of territory from funky rave ups like the opening track, “Paradise” that showcase Jeff’s in the pocket riffing, to the driving Delbert McClinton inspired boogie woogie of “Southbound.” The latter, flavored with pounding piano and screaming harmonica is a real hip shaker. The title track “Bottle Full of Blues” is a drippy soulful blues ballad and is a lesson in blues guitar tone and phrasing. Jeff’s lines seem to slowly tease and tempt as he takes his time resolving each phrase. His soloing is as melodlic as David Gilmour and as soulful Hendrix. On the instrumental “Devil’s Shuffle” he lays down some southern blues picking that would put a smile on Dickey Bett’s face. The rhythm section of John McGuire on drums and Ralph Rietinger III keep it tight and driving from start to finish. Rietinger’s funk style is a great addition to the Fetterman sound and makes tracks like “Talk to Me” and “Funky Candy” really pop. Judy Kessler shines on backing vocals and helps elevate songs like the southern gospel inspired “Wash My Blues Away” to heavenly heights.

With only two albums under his belt, Jeff Fetterman is a relatively new artist, but he seems to have come to the world stage very well developed as musician. Great playing, singing and songwriting never go out of style and Bottle Full of Blues is a testament to all three.

The Review: 8.5/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– Out of Time
– Bottle Full of Blues
– Paradise
– Wash My Blues Away

The Hit

– Funky Candy

Review by Lou Lombardi

Charlie Wheeler Trio: Rewind Review

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

rewind-300×273.jpgThe Charlie Wheeler Trio exudes a toughness and desperation that can only be cultivated in the working class, unforgiving hills of of northern, PA, from which they hail.  On their latest CD Rewind, they sport a driving brand of groove-rock that is reminiscent of the Black Crowes and The Allman Brothers Band, coupled with the blunt force of post grunge hard rock. Powered by the rhythm section of Rad Akers on drums and Dave Fink on bass, Charlie Wheeler describes his trio as a “song first” type of band. While expansive, improvisational jamming is a key component to their live show, Rewind (their third album) is a solid group of structured songs which allow Wheeler to tear into his vocal and lead guitar work with reckless, pent up hostility.

Rewind, uses a much more basic approach than Charlie’s previous CDs. Relying solely on bass, guitar, drums and vocals, Wheeler, along with producer and engineer Anthony Brown opted to make an album with “more mud on your boots and grit on your hands,” as Wheeler states.  Wheeler’s guitar work is aggressive and in the pocket and always serves the song. He has a great mix of chops and soul,  but it’s  his voice that will get most people’s attention. There is attitude in his delivery that you just don’t hear that much in this genre.  It’s conversational but the conversation always has a hint of “go f**k yourself”. Imagine Joe Strummer or Mike Ness singing the blues and you’re getting close.

While Charlie is a great guitarist and vocalist what really makes Rewind work is the song-writing. Strip away the crushing rhythm section, smoking guitar work, snarling vocals and we are left with a set of very beautiful and touching songs.  From the tough, woman done me wrong of the opening track “Love Letter” to the sardonic humor of “Semi Good Lookin’,” Charlie introduces us to a cast of very memorable characters. “Makin Love in the Afternoon” tells the story of a couple who’s Facebook relationship status would mostly likely read “It’s Complicated.” He muses about  mortality and human frailty  in “The Ghost of Who You Were”, and while his lyrics may put a lump in your throat, the music always says, “get up off your ass and deal with it!”  There is no shortage of muscle on this album. Wheeler’s guitar work and the band’s incessant grooving perfectly compliment the solid song-writing. Rewind will have you rocking hard and driving way too fast while you contemplate, life, love and loss.

The Review: 8.5/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– Rewind
– The Ghost of Who You Were
– Lady Luck
– I Like to Wander
– Love Letter

The Big Hit

– Love Letter

Review by Lou Lombardi

Don’t Kill The Full-Length Album

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

 

 

April 22, 2015

 

 

 

 

 

In this age of digital downloading and music streaming services, many artists feel that the death of the full-length album is upon us. And that is 100% false!

 

The full-length album is still the industry standard. All major artists from Kanye to U2 are releasing them and fans are buying them. The full-length album is your resume, especially if you’re a songwriter. You are showing your fans that HEY; I can do a lot more than just write and release one song. I can put together 10-12 songs in a cohesive format with the same sound. It says a lot about where the artist is in Anybody can sit down with the awesome technology we have today and bang out a song with software on their computer. It can be uploaded to YouTube or Facebook and in just a few hours the entire process, from writing to recording to uploading, has been completed. But the full-length album says I’m serious.

 

I’m here to play in the big leagues. I’m a lot more than an EP. If you plan on selling your music and doing shows, fans will balk at paying $10 for a six song EP. Give them a full-length album and don’t forget the physical product component to all of this. Sure a download  is nice, but fans want to take something home with them after your show. They want the actual CD, the tangible product in their hands. A CD with extras will allow fans to pop that into their computer and access any type of special content you want to share. Maybe it’s an interview with you, a behind-the-scenes look at your writing process.

 

Whatever it is, you’re allowing your fans to step into your world, making a true connection. I don’t think enough artists are doing this.  Don’t waste your time doing an EP, especially if you’re a band. EP’s are great for bands that have a few  records out already and want to give something small to their fans while they work on something bigger.

 

 I know what you’re thinking. I can’t get 10 songs together that I like. And that’s OK. One option is to  create some clever remakes of already popular songs. Choose songs that work really well with your  existing style, or think outside the box and do some songs totally out of your genre putting a cool new twist on them.

 

The remake is important in terms of marketing. People search songs online and yours could come up which can lead them to your website and ultimately your entire album.

The full-length album is the pinnacle. It’s a major milestone for any artist and the more of these that you  put out, the better. Don’t get discouraged and feel you spent too much time and money and didn’t see a massive return. If you couldn’t sell it, if people weren’t downloading it, it doesn’t mean it wasn’t well done. There are other factors that go into the marketing of your album and we will discuss that in an Solidify your place in the business by consistently making music. The first album is the first step and it’s a major one. If you are just starting out, jump in with two feet. I believe in you!

My Own Holiday: Reason to Bleed Review

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

Reason To Bleed

It might be easy to lump My Own Holiday in with other Guitar and Drum ensembles, like The Black Keys or The White Stripes but on their latest album, Reason to Bleed, My Own Holiday carve out a niche all their own. Their traditional meets modern approach is blues for the next generation.

Joey Chrisman’s post Nirvana voice could very well redefine what the traditional blues singer sounds like. He’s vulnerable in all the right places and just when you think he’s about to falter he flexes his muscles like Popeye after downing a can of spinach and puts a whooping on your ass that you’ll feel for days. Nick Bartolo’s drumming is solid and holds the low end together so well that you don’t really miss the bass guitar.  The stripped down sound serves the material very well. There is no overplaying or long jams. My Own Holiday seems to have adopted the Tom Petty philosophy of “don’t bore us; take us to the chorus.”

The album opens with a groovy little rocker, “Hold On Me” and progresses from there. “Whiskey in the Well” is a David Rawlings-esque acoustic ballad, and “On the Floor Blues” is an example of how these guys can play down and dirty blues with the best of the them.  They reinvent boogie rock with the track “Smile” and create one of the most interesting moments on the record.

While there is definitely a lot of rock and roll on Reason to Bleed, don’t be fooled. Chrisman and Bartolo are blues men at heart. Reason to Bleed is spattered with all the blood and guts that made Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Water’s such powerful artists in their day.With Reason to Bleed,  My Own Holiday joins the  fraternity of blues based acts like Gary Clark Jr. and others who are redefining the genre.

The Review: 9/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– Hold On Me
– Smile
– Reason To Bleed
– On The Floor Blues

The Big Hit

– Hold On Me

Review by Lou Lombardi

Always Serve the Song

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

serve1.JPGAlways Serve the Song

Why Sometimes You Need To Give Up What Is Most Precious To You. 

 

You’re sitting in traffic, you’re taking a shower, you’re daydreaming at work, and it comes to you. THE IDEA. And you literally cannot wait to get home and start writing. If you’ve ever sat down to write a song, you know it’s not easy. Finding the right balance between all of the elements involved is quite an art form.

 

But you have that magic idea and you know that it’s going to be awesome. You’ve come up with a sweet guitar riff and you’ve been air guitar-ing it all day; you’ve created the catchiest hook and you’ve been singing it non-stop; or you’ve developed the perfect melody and you just know that you’re on the edge of a hit song. You are inspired. You are confident. You are ready. You are.   You start working and you’re coming up with more and more parts. Now you have A and B and   C. But then it happens…you hit the wall. You’re stuck. You’ve got great material individually. 

 

That original idea, that original inspiration is now stopping you, it doesn’t fit. So you struggle. You tell yourself it has to fit; it was the basis of this whole song! You wrestle with it for days, weeks, even months, always coming back to it, but never finding the solution. You have become emotionally attached to this part of your song and it’s precious to you. But you know what, it’s not only okay, it’s necessary, to give up what’s most precious to you sometimes. If you’re really listening, the music will tell you what belongs and what doesn’t. And more often than not, that original idea is what needs to go. Sure, it got you going, gave the song life, and maybe it can be incorporated into another piece, but for this particular song, it has to go. 

 

I was talking to one of my friends who is an artist, and he was telling me how this applies to his craft, as well. He would start a piece and then realize it was going in a completely new direction and he had to scrap his original idea. It doesn’t mean that the original idea wasn’t great; it just means it wasn’t great for right now. But it did help create something beautiful. 

 

Maybe you get this awesome idea to write a song about all the injustice in the world. It’s on your  mind and you want to get the words down to match the feeling. But as you start writing, the song turns into more about love and relationships. And trying to incorporate injustice into the lyrics is what is making you stuck. So stop. It might be precious to you in that moment, you might feel  attached, but letting go and serving the song is always the answer. 

Maybe it’s an arrangement. You think it’s revolutionary, it’s going to be a massive hit, but the pieces just don’t fit. Songs are like puzzles, and you know that even the slightest difference in a piece causes the puzzle to be incomplete, so learn to adapt and let go, find the pieces that fit. 

 

Serve the song.

 

A great guitarist knows that even if he has an awesome lick he wants to play; he has to play a The music will tell you what it wants. Always. Never forget that. Don’t be afraid to scrap what you started with and let it evolve into something so much more. And those scraps can be saved into a file to revisit at a later time. I have a file just like this on my computer. Be grateful for those ideas. Every idea is important and serves a purpose. But don’t  let attachment ruin your process. It’s just one piece. You’ll write many more. To your success!

 

#llstrangelove #loulombardi #loudinipodcast

S.Y.S.T.E.M

Friday, January 30th, 2015

SystemSystem. That word might make you think of a lot of things. A video game system, a surround sound system, an exercise system, etc., but I want you look at that word in an entirely new way. Remember this simple mnemonic device: Save Yourself Sacred Time, Energy & Money. Run into a lot of musicians and we talk about what they are doing. Some are trying to figure out how to play their guitar faster, others want to sing higher in their chest voice, some are trying to book more gigs.

All of them are trying to figure out how to accomplish these tasks, but why?? Read more.

 

Eric Gales: Good For Sumthin’ Review

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

Good For Sumthin'

This is Eric Gales’ thirteenth album under his own name since his debut with the Eric Gales Band in 1991. Eric got started early in his life playing guitar at the tender age of four when he began “borrowing” his brother Eugene’s guitar. Although Eric isn’t naturally left-handed, he plays that way because his brother did. However, unlike a lot of other “lefties,” he strings the guitar for right-handed playing. This is one of the things that gives Eric a unique voice on the guitar. Since his 1991 debut at the age of 16, Eric has received accolades from all the great guitar masters of our day including Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana and Eric Johnson, to name a few. He has also guested on many records, as well as been a part of some well received compilation albums over the years. Most recently, he’s been a member of the supergroup Pinnick, Gales and Pridgen who just released their second album this year, simply entitled PGP2, and also announced a 2015 tour. Read more.

 

Mike Zito and the Wheel: Songs from the Road Review

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

Songs From The Road

Songs from the Road by Mike Zito and the Wheel is Mike’s latest album under his own name. This is a burning set of blues-based rock, Americana and soul. This live album is part of a two disc set that also includes a DVD of the show at the Dosey Doe in Houston, Texas. The playing is tight and flawless while the mix is clean and clear. You hear every nuance of Mike’s soulful voice, and what a voice it is! Mike has the soul of Otis Redding and Sam Cooke, with the thick grit of Duane Allman, Delbert McClinton and Bob Seger.

The album opens with the funky blues jam “Don’t Break a Leg” but Mike quickly shifts gears to the Springsteen/Seger-esque “Greyhound,” a song about life on the road. Mike changes the mood once again during the mid to slow tempo soul ballad, “Little Red Corvette.”  Yes, a cover of the Prince song. This is definitely one of the album’s highlights. Mike’s treatment is reminiscent of Ben Harper’s remake of Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing.” He takes this familiar song to a whole new place and suddenly a song about getting laid in a Corvette takes on a very romantic feel. Read more.

 

Is The democratization of the music business is a complete failure?

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

I grew up in the 1980’s. That was the era of the big labels, big tours, and big hair! 😉 Lot’s of $$$ was made. Bands from the 60’s and early 70’s would talk about how they had been screwed but that these 80’s bands were raking it in.  Go back and watch Billy Joel’s or John Fogarty’s  episodes of “Behind the Music”.  Bands were getting screwed over left and right from everyone including promoters, managers, and record labels.   The attitude among the ruling elite of the music business was, “These are hippies. Keep ’em doped up and make sure they have a lot of groupies and they’ll be happy.  They don’t know how to handle money. So, we’ll just take care of that for them.”  This is why many artists from the late 60’s and early 70’s ended up penniless once the ringing in everyone’s ears had faded.


Thankfully, by the end of the 1970’s things were changing and in the 1980’s with the advent of MTV, smarter artists and a legacy of horror stories from a decade before the music artist ruled the planet.  The artists of that area were some of the most influential people in the world and some of the most financially successful.  Some of the 70’s and 60’s artist also enjoyed major come backs and financial success  during that period. The image of the music artistThe exact opposite of today.


So what the hell happened?

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Gene Simmons and many others would like to blame the current state of affairs on grunge.  In the early 1990’s rock music under went an over haul. From an artistic stand point, it appears to have been necessary.  Grunge was sort of a reset button and while some artists of that movement were very understated in there performances band’s like Rage Against the Machine had crowds gathered in mosh pits.  It wasn’t all dark stages, depression, and shoe gazing.  Keep in mind that any time there has been a major change in the world there are always several galvanizing factors.  For instance,  the Vietnam war, the Kennedy assasination, experimentation with psychodelic drugs  and Watergate all went in to the pot that created hippy movement.  It wasn’t just one factor.  With that in mind  let get back to the “glory days” of the late 1970’s and 1980’s.


In the 80’s   it was very expensive to record an album, master it, do a video and promote it.  Record labels would spend thousands before the song or album was even released and without ever knowing  what kind of  return on investment they could expect.  Why was it so expensive?  It actually takes a village to get a band recorded, video recorded, and promoted.  Many of you reading this now have learned this the hard way. We will get back to that in a minute. Albums like Purple Rain, and Born in the USA had scores of people making sure that everything got done and the it was done well.  This was still no guarantee of financial success but records were really well made. The artist concentrated on writing great music. The band concentrated on playing that music perfectly live and in the studio. The video director and his team gave the video their complete attention and the people at the label worked hard to get the record and the video played and supported (paid for) the tour.   It was a good model. Rather expensive but it worked, and it gave a lot of artists of that era a lot of financial and social capital .  Then some one had a “better” idea…


Winy whiners whining….

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So we have this well oiled machine, but still some people weren’t happy. Many artists felt that major labels controlled the business.  The big evil corporations were squelching the true artists.  Many cried “No fair!”  That was their right to do so . The war raged for about 10 to 15 years and when the smoke cleared.  The label system was dead. The indie artists had won.  The music business was now completely “democratic”.   We wanted a “fair” system… and guess what? We got our wish. The business is completely democratic.  You can record a great sounding record in your house.  There are mastering services that will master your record very well for very low price or you can even do that your self. Technology also makes creating a video very inexpensive and quick and there are literally HUNDREDS of marketing services aimed at the indie musician’s price point. The internet allows your to promote yourself all day and night practically for free .  Now everyone can be a rock star!


Where are all of these Rock Stars???

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With all of this technology and free promotion why isn’t EVERYONE a rock star?  If you are a musician reading this, you have probably noticed that while all of this democracy sounds good…I mean democracy HAS to be good right? Why don’t have I have the success that I feel I should or even feel that I deserve?  About 20 years ago something disturbing started happening. You would buy a CD from your favorite artist only to realize that the only good song was the one that you heard on the radio.  This is REALLY what happened to the music business.  The push to do more, spend less, and get that return on investment quicker lead to albums being cranked out with maybe one good song, instead of an album’s worth a great material.  Fans began to become skeptical.  I’m not making this up. This became a huge topic in the music press at the end of the 90’s and early 2000’s.  Bands like Hootie and the Blowfish would put out an album full of great material. They sold millions and in an effort to duplicate that success they rushed to do another record. The second album tanked.  This happened with many artists of that  era. You cannot pull a bait and switch on your customers.  You will loose EVERY TIME!


Album sales were declining. Internet downloading was increasing.  People thought… “Hey his last record was pretty weak. Why should I spend $14.99 on his CD only to be disappointed when I can get it for free on the web?”  I’ll digress here for minute. Did you find $14.99 price for a CD rather high in the last sentence? That was actually a bargain price for a CD at the time. Many CD’s were selling for $17.99 and some as high as $19.99. It’s hard to image people these days spending that kind of money on a CD, if they would even buy one at all.  This is how bad things really are. The combination of weaker material, customer disillusionment, internet down loading, the money drying up, and more options for people to spend their entertainment dollar on non music related things  is what got us to where we are today.


Democracy in Action!

 democracy.jpg

So…fast forward and it’s 2014. The business is heavily segmented. Most of the music that makes it on the radio does not translate well live unless you are the original artist.  So even cover bands are struggling.  Hip-hop and Country have surpassed the success of rock many times over.  Now that it’s all democratic, artist has too much on her plate. She needs to write, record, produce, mix and master her own record. book her own shows, do her own promotion,  film her own video and carry her own equipment.  Most record labels are just that “labels”. They are just the business structure that the artist herself must set up.  There is a lot of freedom these days but with freedom come responsibility.  This is why everyone isn’t an indie sensation.  Very few can maintain this work ethic. It’s a bitch doing it all yourself. Remember you STILL need to keep the lights on and feed yourself. A lot of people get all excited when they see how wide open the business really is. It is wide open. There is a lot of really unique, interesting, fun, catchy, and downright great music out there.  Many artists who could not find a platform even 5 years ago are on tour and making  a living at it. But they busted their asses to get there.  They joint ventured with other aritists and businesses. They learned how to out source a lot of their promotion costs. They barter. They find a way.  They have learned that it really does take a village.

So… why AREN’T you a Rock Star?

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

 

What is standing between you and your Dreams?

You’ve got that dream, that desire. You want to record that album. You want to become a great slide guitar player. You want to be able to sing just like Robert Plant. You want to learn every riff and every lick that Van Halen ever played. You want to be a great songwriter like James Taylor, Stephen Stills, or Neil Young.

So, what’s holding you back? Why aren’t you doing it? Why haven’t you done it? What do you say to yourself about these dreams? Do you tell yourself they are silly, just childhood fantasies, that they could never really come true?

I have the answer as to why you are telling yourself these things. There’s ONE big thing holding you back. It holds me back, people on my team back, the guys in my band back, everyone I work with back…it’s called resistance.

It’s within every single one of us. What we perceive as that little voice in our heads. The “Oh, you should start that tomorrow,” voice. The “It’s too late to record anything now,” voice. It gives us excuse upon excuse… you’re too tired, too busy, too old, too young. It reminds me of that joke by comedian Jim Gaffigan. He talks about being “too fat to go  work out.”

This is the kind of logic that resistance will use on you. It tells you anything and everything to keep you from going after your dreams. And it comes in different forms, uses a lot of tactics. I want to break some of these down for you.

 

 

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  1. Rationalization or “rational lies”

We tell ourselves these lies. Sure, you probably do need to get up early for work, but is that really keeping you from reaching a goal? The real reason you didn’t get something done? Our dreams, passions are the reasons we are here on this planet, so why so often do we feel pulled away from our “life’s work?”

This little demon resistance is around to keep us in check, from going too crazy, or getting into trouble. It wants to keep our life copacetic. It likes routine, not risk. It doesn’t want to deal with the shenanigans of fulfilling our heart’s desire. It doesn’t like danger and it will make sure we know it. “You’re gonna spend how much??”

  1. Physical or Mental Form

You come home from work, you grab a quick bite to eat, and go into the studio to start writing a song. All of a sudden you feel tired, or you feel like you have a headache. So you tell yourself you’ll watch TV for a bit, until you feel better. Until your “symptoms” go away. It’s just resistance. Are you really tired? Do you really have a headache?

Maybe the physical form is an actual person. You set aside time to get work done, and the phone rings. It’s an old friend that wants to go golfing, catch a show, whatever. Resistance is calling you away from your dreams. That sneaky bitch.

Even when you’re in a good mood, you can experience resistance. If you feel like you got a lot done in a day, you might take it easy that night. Or on the other hand, a bad mood can bring it on. If you haven’t started that project yet, why start now. Start next week. You’re just letting yourself down. You’re never going to do the work.

So, what do you DO about resistance? How do you combat it?

  1. Expect it.

You’ll never have a day without it. The most successful people in the world have it: Donald Trump, Prince, Lady Gaga, no one is safe.

You have to know it’s going to happen, watch for it. If you’re feeling a certain way, ask yourself if those feeling are taking you closer or farther from your dream, your life’s work. When it comes down to procrastination, physical feelings, rationalization, here’s a good tool to use: make yourself a bargain.

I call it the “Ten Minute Bargain.” Let’s go back to that headache you had earlier. Just try to work through it for 10 minutes and see what happens. I guarantee that 90% of the time, that headache will become a lot more manageable, or even disappear. And that work session will go from 10 minutes to maybe hours. You can beat resistance. The hardest thing about ANYTHING is the beginning of it.

  1. Meditation.

I’m not talking about some ultra-spiritual thing, moving into other dimensions and communing with the beings of the ether. But I am talking about sitting and becoming quiet. If your mind starts to wander, bring yourself back to breath, stare at a candle, a metronome, draw a spot on the wall, focus on something. Try to do this for 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the evening. You’ll train yourself to deal with resistance. Focusing on the breathing or the spot on the wall, it helps you defeat resistance in that moment.

  1. Finish your work.

If it doesn’t get you in the beginning, it will get you at the end. People will tell you that you are afraid of failure, but actually you are afraid of success. We hear stories all the time…the musician that blew the audition because he was out partying the night before…the friend that finally got the interview of his dreams, but failed the drug test. All forms of resistance. Remind yourself that you deserve success and that you can handle success. Then you’ll really start to grow.

Use the tools: Preparation, meditation, completion. And I’ll add one more…accountability. Talk to other people about your dreams, and about their dreams, your combined issues with resistance. It will help keep it top of mind.

You don’t want the live you’re living and your unlived life. Kick resistance in the ass today!