Tag Archives: Fusion

CD Review “Maragold” by Maragold



Maragold is a rock band founded by guitar virtuoso Greg Howe and bassist Kevin Vicchione. For those not in the guitar community, Greg is a world renown player  and has played with such artist as Justin Timberlake, N’Sync, Christina Aguilara, Michael Jackson, Rihana, Lady Antebellum, P Diddy, T-Pain, Salt and Peppa not to mention jazz fusion legends like Victor Wooton, Dennis Chambers and other world reknown players like Richie Kotzen and Stu Hamm. Actually Greg’s song “Jump Start” is my favorite guitar instrumental of all time. So needless to say I had high expectations when I heard about this project and holy shit does it deliver. Greg has the very rare ability to be a virtuoso and still play for the song. His solo’s are so amazing and vintage Greg but sound completely original in a sea of completely unoriginal players who all sound the same in today’s scene. You will never hear a “typical” lick or sound from Greg but you will be amazed and wonder why more players don’t strive for a unique voice like his.

First let me tell you about the other musicians on the project. Singer and relative newcomer Meghan Krauss is the best female rock singer to come out since Sass Jordan. This lady can sing with the best of them and evokes that excitement from inside you that you so rarely hear from singers anymore, as they are all canned and predictable. Meghan will knock you on your ass and remind you why you listen to rock in the first place.

Bass Player Kevin Vecchione is a SOLID player. Kevin is obviously capable of so much more and that is the beauty of his playing here. He plays exactly what is needed for the song, never anymore and drives the buss with drummer Gianluca Palmieri so that the pocket is strong and every song leads you like it should. I have a feeling we will be hearing a lot more about Kevin in the years to come as opportunities arise to showcase his immense talent.

Drummer Gianluca Palmieri is the epitome of a “pocket” player on this CD. It’s so great to hear players that know how to play for the song no matter how good a musician they are. It can be very tempting to play too much or show off and while Gianluca plays some incredibly fresh grooves to allow you to see his true talent without showing off, it’s never over stated and is truly a part of the songwriting as opposed to just being a drum track. The rhythm section of Vecchione and Palmieri is as good as it gets and something all players should listen to and learn from.

The single “Evergreen Is Golder” is a straight out knock you on your ass “Hello world I am Meghan Krauss and I am going to kick your ass!” statement. A great rock song with a blistering solo and incredible hook. Written by Greg, Kevin and Greg’s brother Al Howe, this song is a hit single through and through. I hope to God someone gets behind this for radio. Hell I’ll push it myself.

“Saturday Sun” and “Lullaby” are other rockers that shine, no pun intended. Another high point for me was “Paradigm Tsunami.” This CD is not your typical rock record by any means. It has blues, jazz, rhythmic displacement and all kinds of cool elements that really bring out the color and flavor of the songs. Meghan takes advantage of every opportunity is now in the “best singer you have never heard” of  category along with Richie Kotzen.

“Maragold” is a must buy CD and one of the top 2 CD releases of 2013 along with Steve Lukather’s new CD “Transition” and the best rock CD since “Forty Deuce” featuring Richie Kotzen. You can no longer say there aren’t any good rock bands anymore. Maragold may be just what the hurting rock genre needed, a good old shot of in your face, kicking your ass rock n’ roll. Thank God for Maragold.

Five out of Five ass kicking stars.

Go buy it now here:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/evergreen-is-golder-single/id619283574 NOW!


Gretchen Menn “Hale Souls” CD Review


By David Lowry

I came across Gretchen Menn from a fellow guitar players post on Facebook and was instantly intrigued by what I heard. The reason it caught my attention is the person who posted it is one of my favorite new players and I trust his judgment when it come to guitar players and music. In a world full of guitar shredders all putting out their own CD’s it is hard to find those that truly stand out with a sense of melody, strong arranging, great phrasing and most importantly their own unique sound. We have been inundated with Yngwie Malsteen clones over the last 25 years so the guitar players that have worked hard to have their own voice are extremely rare to find and very gratifying to listen to usually. Gretchen has accomplished that feat in spades. On her first debut CD “Hale Souls,” Gretchen has managed to do what many guitar instrumentalists fail too, she doesn’t sound like a clone of anyone else.

Gretchen has added a mix of different guitar instrumentations on “Hale Souls” as which is a nice change of pace. It’s not in your face guitar the whole time; there is a violin instrumental called “Walking Shadow,” and acoustic diddy “Fast Crowd,” and a classically inspired song “Fading.” Gretchen has thrown rock, fusion, jazz, flatpicking, world music and classical all into this CD to give us a very well rounded effort and a strong look at how incredibly talented this musician is. Strong rock cuts like “Scrap Metal,” “Oleo Strut,” and “Valentino’s Victory Lap” burst out the gate with great feel, phrasing and just enough technique to quench us guitar instrumental freaks loves need for speed.

Gretchen has her own signature sound that harkens back to the early prog greats and a modern edge that makes it hard to classify her. Gretchen arrives with a very strong debut CD and shows great promise to make a name for herself early in her career to achieve the household name status so many of her guitar peers have sought for many years. “Hale Souls” doesn’t hit on all marks like the legendary “Tones” by Eric Johnson or Michael Lee Firkins self-titled CD does on it’s first time out but it’s an amazing first effort and Gretchen has let the guitar world know she his here to stay and ready to take it over.  I find myself listening to it over and over again so I’ll rate it a solid 8 out of 10 stars and eagerly anticipate the next Gretchen Menn CD. This is a very brave and bold debut CD and it should be a part of every guitar enthusiast’s music collection.

Look for great things from this musician! You can find out more about Gretchen at http://www.gretchenmenn.com

Hannah Ford – Drums Renaissance Woman

By David Lowry

In our second installment of our “Musician Spotlight” blog we are showcasing an amazing young talent in drummer Hannah Ford. When I say amazing, I mean more than just her ability on her chosen instrument. Having met Hannah, her family, having attended one of her clinics and watching her use of her endorsements, opportunities and social media, this is one artist that has really learned what this business is about and what it takes to make it. More importantly is she hasn’t lost focus on why she does it. As important as the “business” sides of things are in music, Hannah has somehow avoided becoming jaded, negative and still has a childlike love for playing. Hannah attended the Chicago College of Performing Arts and still works with multiple Grammy award-winning drummer Paul Wertico to constantly refine her skills. Hannah has also worked with music legends like Jeff Berlin, Wynton Marsalis, Ignacio Berroa and Butch Miles.

From a technical perspective Hannah is road ready for any gig. She has the chops, creativity and energy to drive the bus for any artist or band. Her performances are always energetic, engaging and her smile when playing is just as attention capturing as her skills or performance. She really is the whole package. Being an attractive young female, it would be easy to dismiss her skills and say, “oh, it’s all because of her looks,” which would be an incredible disservice to Hannah. She has substance, skills, and a drive that just wont quit. She works harder than just about any musician I have ever met and leaves you feeling like you have known her all your life when you meet her. She is engaging and most importantly she is there to inspire others. Hannah makes sure she focuses completely on the person she is talking too and you can see her passion for passing on her love of the drums and encouraging others to follow their dreams. She completely understands how to relate to her fan base and how important they are to her.

Currently Hannah is a rock band called “Bellevue Suite,” has a tour she puts on for her “Peace, Love & Drums” multi-media show and recently did some shows with bassist Nik West. Hannah is also doing workshops for Guitar Center, a judge for the “Hit Like a Girl” 2012 contest and is regular a feature on the drumchannel.com. In the recent past she has played with the fusion trio “Pandorum,” played drums for the musical “White Noise” produced by Whoopi Goldberg that ran for two months at the Royal George Theater in Chicago and the Hannah Ford Band.

Hannah and her father/manager Dave Ford with PLAD Productions have done an absolutely incredible job of marketing her without the money that everyone says you need in today’s music industry. Both are dedicated and hard working individuals that strive to make great things happen for Hannah’s career. It also says a lot about their relationship and family dynamic to be able to pull this off without all the drama many entertainment families go through.

Hannah is endorsed by: Gretsch, Zildjian, Gibraltar, Toca, Vater, Kelly Shu Concepts, Shure microphones, Wornstar Clothing, ThunderEcho Drums, Prentice Practice Pads, Roland, MaxHeads Custom Bass Drum Heads, and Evans. Quite honestly, I have never seen an artist work as hard to promote her endorsements and utilizes them to the full potential they should be used. She is one of the few artists the get the power of her endorsements and what you can accomplish with them if you are creative, hard working and are marketing to the hilt.

Hannah is rare jewel in the music world. She understands what it takes, works hard to get there and does it happily. She has set her self up since childhood to be as well rounded a musician as she could be. The breadth of her skills as a drummer, a businessperson, a marketer and being a genuinely nice person to work with are her major strength. While other musicians are out trying to be a rock star, Hannah is a rock star and is also building a career that most will never have because they don’t get it like Hannah does.

For more information about Hannah Ford please check out the following links:




At the time of this writing The Lowry Agency and Hannah Ford have no affiliation with each other.