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DeLana Stevens and The Beggar Saints CD Review


DeLana Stevens and The Beggar Saints

DeLana Stevens has been a Nashville staple for years now and unfortunately Nashville isn’t really a rock town because they are sitting on one of the best voices I have heard in this town easily. I wrote an article on her live performance for Metalholic Magazine a year ago here: http://metalholic.com/delana-stevens-and-the-beggar-saints-tune-up-nashville/. Miss Stevens is simply one of the most underrated performers in Nashville period. Not only can she sing with the best of them but she is a better performer than almost all of them when it comes to actually emoting and connecting with the audience. When DeLana Stevens sings you feel it. Everywhere. This is the kind of vocalist that shakes your soul and brings feelings up out of you that make you want to blush at the minimum.

Her new CD “DeLana Stevens and The Beggar Saints” is a tour de force of smokey, sexy vocals on a bed of rock guitar and hook laden songs that most bands wish they could write and pull off. A song by DeLana Stevens and The Beggar Saints means a song that is for the song only. Nothing out of place. Nothing distracting. Just pure solid rock and roll with tinge of souther rock or country hear and there. There isn’t a week on track on this CD and makes you scratch your head in wonder WTF is going on with people to let this artist sit here while others with questionable ability become millionaires.

I don’t know DeLana’s story or how her career has gone, but I know this. She deserves a lot more than what she is getting press and attention wise. This is an artist with serious vocal chops and ability with a smart band behind her that support her musically like they should. If you are looking for an artist to get behind with drive, actual talent and great hit potential songs than this is the one. To say otherwise is completely foolish.

To write a proper review for this CD is almost impossible and would be incredibly long as I truly love every song and it is hit after hit. Let me just say, if you don’t buy this, you are missing something big.

Track 1 – Drown: A mid tempo rocker opened with a finger picked distorted guitar and and from the first line you already know this song is going to be good. A nice pre-chorus build that draws you straight into a great chorus. A very strong opening track that lays down the law and announces DeLana is here to rock you out of your boots.

Track 2 – Forbidden: The new single track opens with a slinky little guitar line with arpeggiated chords setting a nice tone from the start. The layers are nicely done here with plenty of space for the song to breathe. Another incredibly strong track that pulls you in a different direction but still rocks and has your ears orgasming at DeLana’s seductive voice. It’s almost like she is right there singing in your ear. Chills…….

Track 3 – Leave on the Lights: This track starts slower but yet somehow the intensity from DeLana’s vocals are always there. It’s like she is singing into your soul. Another strong effort and deeply engaging song.

Track 4 – Sidewalk Prophet: Big power chord opening with a shift to another slinky guitar line. A sexy, fun song that I am sure will lead to lots of dirty dancing on the floor.

Track 5 – Fantasy: a slow burner that opens with DeLana harmonizing with herself. A powerful song with a huge chorus and shows DeLana’s ability to keep that intensity in her vocals no matter where the song takes her.

Track 6 – Bohemian Grove: Another mid to slow tempo burn. A nice use of rhythm in both the music and vocal lines.

Track 7 – Damaged: Slow, a bit sad and real. DeLana brings out the things we want to say but never want to be vulnerable enough to do so.

Track 8 – I Got Even: A completely different feel for the intro. Slow, chordal as well as ringing open strings with DeLana’s vocals echoed. Jumps right into a up tempo, in your face chorus.

Track 9 – Nobody: A up beat song, one of my favorites actually. Great hook with a fun groove and breakdown section that sets up the return of the big chorus.

Track 10 – Give a Little: This is a raucous raise your beer party party song. A decent hook and an upbeat end to the CD with a “play” on words to be heard not told.

I don’t have the details  of the CD as to who wrote the songs or who produced it but it is all top notch. Whom ever wrote the songs are very talented and the production is great. The band is I am sure much more capable than they show because they play only what is necessary for the song. There are bright spots for them but it’s all only to enhance the song and never a showmanship this. Complete musical maturity in the songwriting and playing. You never feel like you are listening to the same song on this CD like with so many artists. The writing is so well done and the hooks so completely their own and different, each song is it’s own experience and always for the better.

This is rock and roll at it’s best. Stripped down, sexy as hell and leaving space for the music and vocals to tug at your soul. I don’t like to compare one artist to another or say they are like so and so because it’s an injustice the artist I am reviewing. DeLana Stevens is the simply the best rock artist in Nashville. Her vocals can stand with anybody you can think of and her presence is big enough to tower above everything going on around her. It is her show and she owns it. More artists should learn this ability.

There is nothing packaged, corporate about this band. What you see is what you get and it’s everything we loved about the huge acts of the 70’s with today’s twist and possibly a better singer. Certainly one better than we are used to hearing today.

This CD is up there with The Winery Dogs, Maragold, Steve Lukather as one of the best CD’s of the year. 10 out of 10 stars emphatically!

Get a free copy of the song “Forbidden” here: http://www.delanastevens.net/ and hear for yourself your next favorite artist.

The Lowry Agency is in no way associated with DeLana Stevens and The Beggar Saints. All statements are my opinion and mine alone.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/delanastevensband?ref=br_tf

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DeLanaStevens


The Winery Dogs CD Review by David Lowry


The Winery Dogs

 

To call The Winery Dogs a supergroup would be a injustice in my mind. Sometimes supergroups are set up to sell CD’s not that is a bad thing and certainly not all did that with that intention in mind, but sometimes it just seems like a ploy and most don’t last very long. Even though The Winery Dogs consist of three of the most world renowned musicians especially in the rock world, this doesn’t feel anything like a super group. The three piece power trio of bass legend Billy Sheehan, world renown drummer Mike Portnoy, and guitar virtuoso Richie Kotzen who is also the ridiculously talented singer brings us the biggest wall of sound sings King’s X burst on the scene back in the 1980’s. If for some reason you are not familiar with these musicians, just click on their names to view their website and history. You won’t find a more accomplished 3 piece on the planet.

Anyone who knows me knows that these three musicians are probably my top three favorite in the world so when I heard they were coming together to put out a CD I was excited beyond belief to say the least. Anyone who knows me also knows that my favorite musician in the world is Richie Kotzen and it is about time the world finally hear him on a platform that show cases more than just his guitar playing which is what he has long been considered one of the best players in the world. Richie Kotzen’s vocalizations are reminiscent of the Philadelphia soul last really heard by Daryl Hall. If you ever go back through Richie’s solo catalog and listen, you will be amazed at how this guy has remained under the radar for so long. Having interviewed Richie twice on my radio show “Live From Music City,” I can tell you this guy is as humble as they come and more talented than just about everyone who thinks they are God’s gift to music.  Billy Sheehan and Mike Portnoy are no stranger to the musical limelight as they are widely interviewed for their well known virtuosity and have transcended their instruments in the mainstream to become household names in the music world.

The Winery Dogs are a classic rock trio that brings back the art of songwriting, melodies and bursts of virtuosity at just the right moments in songs which of course is a sign of musical maturity in their songwriting. Musicians like this could easily blow are minds with their virtuosity as it is specifically what all three are know for, but The Winery Dogs aren’t about that. This is rock at it finest level and one of the most poignant examples of how to be  incredibly creative, have a completely unique sound, using virtuoso talent and musical knowledge to showcase all of it and put out one of the best rock CD’s in years let alone 2013.

The first single  and track “Elevate” is an up tempo rocker with an incredibly hooky chorus that captures you right away with it’s charm and attitude. Richie and Billy have doubled instrumental lines that add something that in today’s rock that you don’t really hear anymore as well a very cool break down section again another lost art in todays rock songwriting. The versus are a nice contrast to the chorus as they have a slow, bluesy, slightly darker feel before bursting into the chorus which brings the song up to another level. Great rock song and great feel with of course amazing playing and a smoking melodic guitar solo by Richie.

The second single and also track “Desire” is another smoking rocker that opens with Richie vamping chords and then settles into a sexy groove pushed by just the bass and drums. The chorus drives the song into a new gear and rings with a simple catchiness that keeps you singing the song all day long in your head. The bridge really separates the rest of the song like a bridge should followed by a break down that showcases Billy and Richie again and keeps the song very fresh. The solo is a simple statement by Richie that is melodic with a slow build to a frenzy finish.

The CD’s fourth track “I’m No Angel” is my personal favorite on the CD and starts with a very sexy bluesy guitar line and by Richie that sets a mood that really allows the lyrics to stand out. The broody feel of the verse is highlighted by an up lifting pre-chorus and chorus. The way that the band highlights the parts of their songs with their melodic lines and creativity really shine in this song. Richie’s voice brings a haunted quality to the lyrics that make this song so relatable to many of us I am sure. Richie’s solo’s are melodic, phrased beautifully and as always tell a story within the story itself.

The sleeper track is “We Are One” a blistering rocker that strikes out on its own and screams single! The CD closes out with two ballads “The Dying” and “Regret.” Both songs are beautiful, haunting and show incredible depth in the songwriting.

Bottom line: This CD is what every musician who is serious about songwriting and learning to play should aspire to. Being able to play your instrument only allows you be more creative, add colors, textures, melodies and lines to enhance each songs “experience” for the listeners. Being able to create soundscapes should be the goal of every musician. The songwriting is top notch and this CD should not only reinforce the musical abilities of these musicians but showcase their songwriting in a new way that garners respect from the public as a whole. The Winery Dogs allow Richie to stand out and radiate his immense talent and this should solidify him as one the best all around musicians in music today as he does all the lead vocals, guitars and keys on this CD. He singing is among the best in rock today and let this be a statement to the world at how incredibly talented this man is. Take note world, this is simply one of the top 3 rock CD’s of 2013 besides Steve Lukather‘s “Transition” and Maragold ‘s (featuring guitar virtuoso Greg Howe and new vocal powerhouse Meghan Krauss) sef-titled CD . No where on the planet will you find a more talented, musical and gifted band than this. Go buy this now or forever miss out on one the best CD to come out in years.

Find out more about The Winery Dogs here:

www.thewinerydogs.com

https://www.facebook.com/TheWineryDogs

https://twitter.com/TheWineryDogs

 

 

 

 


Maragold Has Something Most Bands Don’t.


Maragold

Earlier I was looking at my numbers for this blog and was completely amazed at how well it was doing the last couple days based on one CD review for the band Maragold. Yesterday when I released it it was already doing double it’s average daily but then around 11:00pm CST the band posted it on Facebook and holy crap did it explode. It his had more views by 10 times the amount of any other CD review or musician spotlight I have written. Here is the key, each one posted it pretty much on their personal and band page on Facebook. Most bands don’t do this. They maybe post it once on their band page and not on their personal pages and they interacted with their fans about it. When I released it in the morning two of the band members and the band twitter account RT’d it once and that was it. For further reference on this please read my blog “Creating The “Buzz,” It’s Your Responsibility.”

What does this mean? It means that Maragold has found a way to reach it’s audience like no other band I have reviewed for or spotlighted. It means “true” fans not Facebook likes are extremely excited about them. It means they have actually offered up something the public wants. They did this in spite of having never released a CD and the only member of the band with a real name is was co-founder Greg Howe who is a well known guitar instrumentalist. Well known being relative in the world of music. Yes most guitar players know who he is, but the world doesn’t. Please note that Maragold didn’t ask me for a review. I just did it because when I listened to the CD it was so good I really had no choice.

Everyday on Facebook I see bands complaining about how hard it is or how the industry keeps people down etc… That is complete bunk. Is it hard yes but most bands don’t work hard enough, give the public something they want to buy or shoot themselves in the foot with poor promotion and bad social media skills. Is it anyone else’s fault you can’t make it? No. For whatever reason, Maragold has touched an audience with no prior CD, no real history of gigging, nothing but the past success of guitar player Greg Howe and each other individuals past endeavors. They made it happen without anything other than hard work, determination, incredible talent and most importantly at this stage knowing how to build up a release. Now because of this, hopefully with continued hard work, the songs which are amazing,  will be the deciding factor in their long term success.

This audience interaction is what every band should be striving for, for without it, you have nothing.

Pre-order the Maragold CD here: http://www.maragoldband.com/


Phoenix Drive CD Release Party Live Music Review – Hard Rock Café 8/7/12


I was really looking forward to this CD release party as I have seen Phoenix Drive twice before and have been very impressed both times. I have to say I was blown away this time. Phoenix Drive took the stage with an energy that I had not witnessed from them before. I am not sure if the was the excitement of the night or the chemistry with new drummer David Rollins but it was a welcome sight to behold. I am a big fan of high energy and bands that realize that part of their job is entertaining the crowd.

Phoenix Drive in my estimation has always had impeccable vocal harmonies and this night was no exception. The blend of both lead vocalist Jon Scott and Felicity Combs along with bass player and background vocalist Brian Powers are smooth, melodic and always sound just right. Jon and Felicity both have beautiful voices and compliment each other so well and they both share the stage without either one overshadowing the other. Jon Scott has a fresh voice that I feel separates Phoenix Drive from many other acts out there that all sound the same. Scott’s shining moment to me is his live performance of “She Ain’t Coming Home.”  Felicity Combs vocals are sweet and melodic with a rich tone that brings it all the voices together. You can really hear her on my favorite “live” Phoenix Drive song “Trouble Down,” a sexy, swampy slow groove tune where Felicity really shines.

Guitarist Chris Combs is very capable player with an incredible sense of melody and top notch chops. Chris was the most-welcome surprise last night as for the first time I saw him really energized on stage. Watching him rip into the songs was a delight and made me want to pick up my guitar and play, which very rarely happens to me at a live music event unless the player is simply amazing. New drummer David Rollins fits well into his new role and really solidified the night. Rollins is a very tight pocket player that added a nice intensity that really showed through during the performance. Bassist Brian Powers is the “entertainer” and brings the “show” to the stage. Powers is a well rounded bass player who locks up perfectly with drummer Rollins to drive the bus like no other. A solid vocalist in his own right, Powers is a crucial fixture in the band and brings a ton to the live performance.

The thing about a Phoenix Drive performance is you are always in the “moment” with them. Their music is so good that you aren’t distracted by anything else. Their songwriting is very strong, the vocals are amazing and their performances are flawless.

This “CD” Release Party was the best performance I have seen at any CD Release Party and I would give it a 9 out 10 stars with the only knock is it wasn’t long enough. It certainly left me wanting more and I can’t wait for the next Phoenix Drive performance.

Phoenix Drive is a must see band and dare I say, no matter what genre of music you like. You will love this band.

You can find out more about Phoenix Drive here:

http://www.phoenixdrive.net

http://www.facebook.com/phoenixdrive

http://www.twitter.com/phoenix_drive

http://www.reverbnation.com/phoenixdrive


Delana Stevens and The Beggar Saints – Live at the Rutledge LMV 08/04/12


I had the opportunity to have a day off for once and decided believe it or not to go see live music which I never on my days off. A friend posted on Facebook a fundraising event at the Rutledge LMV and there was a artist on there I had been wanting to see for a few years but never had the chance to so I decided to go. I went early to help support the event but was really only there to see Delana Stevens and The Beggar Saints. I was not disappointed. They were hands and above the best band I saw that night.

Delana brings to the live performance much of what I write in my blogs and am always looking for in a front person and artist. First off let me say she can SING! She is a top-notch singer with a thick voluptuous voice that rocks your face off. Not once did I hear her go out of pitch which here in Nashville I find very rarely especially in the rock scene. She showed up looking like a star unlike many of today’s bands who dress like they are going to K-mart to go shopping instead of being entertainers with a job to do. She brings a ton of energy to the stage working it from side to side and completely owning it. Delana worked the crowd even though it wasn’t huge like this one unfortunately wasn’t. She makes great eye contact, engages the listener and talks to them. In other words, she didn’t treat it like an unimportant gig or act disappointed in the crowd size. Whether it’s 30 people or 3,000 you can tell she treats them all the same. Delana has an easy way about her which helps makes her personable, but when she is up there, she commands the attention and she leaves no doubt that she is a future star.

The Beggar Saints are a very tight and professional straight-ahead rock band. Their performance was crystal clear which is a big plus to me. They leave the spotlight to Delana but are energetic enough to balance out the stage and pick their spots to shine like a band should. The vocal harmonies were tight and clear. The songs were strong and even better live then the recordings in my honest opinion. They lend themselves well to live performance and the hooks are huge. Song after song, the choruses draw you in and you don’t feel like you are listening to the same song over and over again like many bands I have seen. The band performed “Magic Man” by Heart and anyone who is a musician knows how hard it is to cover any song sung by the amazing Ann Wilson but Delana pulled it off powerfully and flawlessly. That alone should tell you how good her voice is enough to draw you out and watch her.

This is one of those scratch your head and wonder why the hell Delana hasn’t been picked up kind of artists. She is certainly of the caliber to be on any stage of any size and can hold her own with anybody else in the business.  I am confident, with proper marketing and more shows, Delana has a great shot a major success.

All in all, they put on the best rock show I have seen in Nashville in a long time. All the pieces were there and if you get the chance, check out Delana Stevens and the Beggar Saints. I promise you will love it. I did.

You can find out more about Delana Stevens and the Beggar Saints here:

www.delanastevens.com

www.facebook.com/delanastevensband?ref=ts

www.twitter.com/delanastevens


Agent Cooper “From The Ashes” CD Review


By David Lowry

Agent Cooper is a prog rock band from Atlanta, GA that has a gentle throw back sound to some of the classic prog rock bands from the 60’s and 70’s in it’s heyday but at the same time has captured some of the modern sounds of today’s prog monsters with one exception. Agent Cooper understands how to write a hook and make a song radio friendly which many of today prog rockers don’t do either by design or not being able to step out of their own virtuosity and simplify things. Neither is bad, one way has a certain fan base just as the other does. I know when I listen to prog, I am not looking for three-minute songs that are just ear candy. Agent Cooper has done a great job of melding the two together and hopefully on their end being able to capture a much larger audience because of it.

“From The Ashes” is the bands third CD but first with this current line-up. It’s more of an EP really with six songs on it and “The Stand” being the strongest of the six in my personal opinion. It’s a happy song in its melodic structure but a very strong song lyrically in standing up for yourself. It’s an interesting contrast in the way the music is written and the way the lyrics provide a completely different feel. It is an acoustic based song with soaring vocals, an uplifting pre-chorus, a very strong chorus and the use of the B3 organ and keyboards are a nice thing to hear again in today’s music. It’s definitely something we don’t hear enough of with the younger musicians of today.

Agent Cooper have the ability to weave in and out of time changes, key changes and tempo’s with the best of them and it always provides an interesting ride through out the songs, which is really the point of a song. To take you on a journey, the great thing about Agent Cooper is it isn’t just a lyrical journey, it’s a sonic one as well. Singer Doug Busbee brings back a vocal styling sorely missed in today’s rock music. He does his predecessors proud and the band as a whole does a great job with harmony vocals. There are plenty of spots in the songs where this is a highlight and adds a rich color and depth to the music without it ever feeling like they are showing off. This can be said as a whole of all the music and the musicians. The musicianship was brilliant from everyone in the band and played so well that it never took anything away from the song.

I thoroughly enjoyed this EP and am really looking forward to hearing more from this exciting band. A truly stellar effort on their part to bring us a style of music we don’t get enough of. Thank you Agent Cooper for bringing back a style of music that harkens the greatness of the 70’s prog rockers but catapults it into the now.

You can find out more about Agent Cooper at www.agentcooper.com.

At the time of this writing The Lowry Agency and Agent Cooper have no affiliation.


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:

www.hannahforddrums.com

https://twitter.com/#!/hannahforddrums

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hannah-Ford-Fan-Page/111758348891232

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