Wednesday, December 31, 2014
Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Popular area singer finds artistic expression through new CD
DECEMBER 17, 2014
“I felt like I needed to do my art,” says Train. “And I felt like I needed to heal from investing in a relationship that failed and that put me through the most extreme emotions that I’d ever felt in my life.”
Though, with M80, Train has graced the stages of NEPA for nearly a decade, her resume also includes plenty of national work. From 1999-2000, she toured the country as a backup singer with Liz Phair, co-headlining shows with artists such as Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Dixie Chicks, Queen Latifah and Deborah Cox. With Phair she also toured as an opener for Alanis Morissette, and last year, as a solo artist, she opened for Motley Crue. Simply put, Train has befriended many musicians, which might explain why “Diary” not only features work by former Breaking Benjamin members Aaron Fink, Mark James Klepaski and Chad Szeliga, but also Nick Coyle (Lifer/The Drama Club/Stardog Champion), Tyler Grady (American Idol), Dale Stewart (Seether,) Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (Guns ‘N Roses) and Clint Lowery (Sevendust), who co-wrote five songs.
Train says initially, she was not planning on an all-star album, but as the sessions began, the record took on a life of its own.
“At the very beginning, I didn’t think about getting all of the big players on it,” she says. “But as it developed, I just started thinking ‘Let me ask so and so, who I’ve known for X amount of years, and have never, ever asked for a favor.’ I guess once I got one person, and then two, I thought ‘I’m getting everybody.’ ”
“Diary” is a big-sounding album with booming production. Tracks include “Love & Hate,” “Time To Shine,” “Small Town,” “Tides” and “Beauty For Ashes.” There’s also an explosive cover of My Bloody Valentine’s “Only Shallow.” Train says writing the songs was cathartic and that the process became a bit of a journey.
“At first, the songwriting relied more heavily on lyrics,” she says. “I have one song that’s actually kind of poppy, but it’s a very sad song, and I don’t think it was until Clint from Sevendust entered the picture that some of the darker elements that I really craved were brought out. I don’t know why I didn’t go there on my own originally, but Clint brought it out. I touched on subjects that were not happy, because I definitely was not happy. With life in general, I was happy, but I was still healing and still wounded.”
She held nothing back.
“I needed to express all of this in a very honest way, like a musical diary,” she says. “I know I’m not the only one who has encountered loss, suffering and grief. I had a lot to say that people could relate to, and I needed to say it. Finally, my music was coming alive and my healing was well under way. I wrote about everything that I went through.”
In addition to penning songs about relationships, Train also tackled other topics.
“I included a song against bullying called ‘Breathe Out,’ ” she says. “I hang out with a lot of gay people and I’ve heard painful stories about what they’ve gone through. Although I’m straight, I was bullied in school because of my frizzy hair, and then when I was the new girl. It was horrible. I didn’t have many friends growing up. Kids are brutal.”
Such songs have already connected with people.
“Before my CD was finished, I had the opportunity to open for Motley Crue,” says Train. “I felt completely at home on that stage, and I received a lot of positive feedback on Facebook, including one mother that reached out to me and said she found my song ‘Time to Shine’ online. She then went on to say how her son was bullied in school and had mentioned suicide. They listened to my song and cried together. He said one day it would be his ‘time to shine.’ I cried when I read this. I wrote to her and offered to talk to him over Skype. She was so excited. I spoke to this amazingly smart, cute, and funny 12 year-old for two hours. We laughed, and he did mention the suicide thoughts to me. I said, ‘Why would you kill yourself and let them win? Stay alive just to piss them off!’ He laughed and agreed.”
Train says she then sent the boy the song “‘Breathe Out.” It too connected.
“They thanked me for reaching out by having the lyrics to my song printed on a canvas over a beautiful photograph of storm clouds the mother had taken,” she says. “I bawled when I received that gift. I’m still in touch with them. Over the summer, the young boy gained confidence from that talk and is hardly bothered at all by those bullies. I heard he even has his first girlfriend. “
Train credits her own faith in God in getting her through tough times. She says that the CD cover, which was shot in England and shows her leaning on a cross, is reflective of that. And through it all, she’s also maintained good humor. She says that her” “first post-divorce kiss” was with none other than Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Gregg Allman, with whom she had a brief romance that turned into a steady friendship.
“I think Gregg Allman is the only person I didn’t get to play on the album,” she says with a laugh.
“Diary” is available at the Gallery of Sound as well as iTunes, CD Baby and Amazon and can be heard on Spotify. It is also available at M80’s shows and at www.janetrainonline.com. Train says that after a few years of work, she is happy to finally get her music out there to her fans.
“This was a selfish effort,” she says. “I don’t mean it in a bad way. I wasn’t doing it for money or anything. It was selfish in that I really, really needed to get this out to help me heal and to feel accomplished. In all of the years I’ve been doing music, since I was 12, I never once put out a full CD. I’m excited that it’s done, and what’s making everything new for me is the people that are telling me what songs they love, and what they mean to them. That’s the part that’s pretty awesome.”
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
“I've never done something this close to home,” he says. “To my knowledge, we’ve never had a benefit for someone in my family. And the response, to be honest, was overwhelming. We’ve been involved with the music scene in this area for so long. I started playing out in bands when I was 16 or 17, and I’m 41 now. Everybody wanted to be a part of this. It’s going to be an amazing show.”
Thursday, November 20, 2014
|The Phyllis Hopkins Electric Trio, which just released a new CD, will appear on WBRE-TV's 'PA Live' on Monday|
MUSIC ON THE MENU
Phyllis Hopkins has always loved the blues. Even when she was growing up, listening to what is now considered classic rock, it was the blues element of the music that she appreciated the most. And for a good portion of her life, she’s done much more than just listen to it. She’s played it.
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
November 12, 2014
|Flaxy Morgan in The Times Leader - 1994|
WHEN: Saturday, Nov. 15 at 9:30 p.m.
INFO: (570) 208-2695
ON THE WEB: www.facebook.com/flaxymorgan
(Alan K. Stout has covered rock and pop music in Northeastern Pennsylvania since 1992. His weekly radio show, ‘Music On The Menu,’ airs every Sunday form 9-10 p.m. on 105 The River. This past summer, his kids briefly hijacked Richie Kossuth’s drum kit at the St. Al’s bazaar.)
Wednesday, November 5, 2014
To say that Paul Kantner has seen and done it all would be an understatement. The core member of both Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship was on stage at Woodstock in 1969. He played on albums that included tracks such as the thumping “Somebody To Love” and the moody “Miracles.” His musical collaborations include work with everyone from Jerry Garcia to David Crosby and Carlos Santana. The legendary Bill Graham once managed his band. He and the iconic Grace Slick had a child together.
Born in San Francisco, Kantner, 73, was a pioneer of psychedelic rock and is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And on November 8, he’ll bring the band he still leads, Jefferson Starship, to The Theater at Lackawanna College.
Weaving through the history of Jefferson Airplane/Jefferson Starship can be both fascinating and dizzying. Not only did the name of the group change, but there’s been a revolving door of group members. The use of the word “Jefferson” in the band’s name even involved a lawsuit. At times, things have been messy. For Kantner, however, it all appears to be water under the bridge. He’s a relaxed and happy man. And he still loves taking the group on the road.
“I like to think we have one of the best band’s in the country, if not the world,” says Kantner. “The mystical nature of music just carries me on, endlessly, to go out and do what we do. The thrilling part of it doesn’t stop. Music has always been a thrill for me. What did Kurt Vonnegut say? ‘And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, 'If this isn't nice, I don't know what is.’ It applies very heavily to what we do.”
In addition to his work with music, Kantner has been a political and social activist. Add to that the internal feuds, romances and legal actions that have also all been a part of the Jefferson Airplane/Jefferson Starship journey, and you could say Kantner’s had a volatile life. But in conversation, he still comes off as a laid back, easy-going Californian and a product of the ‘60s generation. He says bumps and turns are to be expected in life. And he enjoys them.
“I’ve always likened it to white water rafting,” he says of his career in music. “You’re going around curves, and you don’t quite know what’s going to happen. You sort of know what’s going to happen, but there’s always something that will hit you and take you to that thrilling place. It’s an alternate quantum universe in its own way. Very few people, in general, get to enjoy the benefits of that kind of life, so not to do it would be worse than doing it. Somebody once said, ‘If you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much room. ‘ ”
Kantner co-wrote the Jefferson Airplane classic “Volunteers,” a song which helped push forward the counter-culture movement of the ‘60s and could be considered one of the signature songs of the Woodstock generation. He says his own history of standing up to authority dates back to when he was still a child. His mother died when he was in second grade and he was sent to a Catholic military boarding school. It was there, he says, when he first began to feel a strong sense of rebellion.
He did not like the school.
“I figure I ought to be a serial killer by now,” he says with a chuckle. “Fortunately, I channeled it into something else. I like the altered consciousness of it. People say that certain things are forbidden to you. In Catholic school, I asked ‘What are they?’ And then I immediately walked out and got a list in my mind of things I should be doing in life.”
Music topped the list. It continues to inspire him.
“Just the elegant architecture of music itself is something that nobody quite understands,” he says. “Why does a combination of notes and chords and melodies and voices work together in such a thrilling way? You don’t know why it works, but it does. And I’m swept away by it almost every time.”
Throughout nearly 50 years of recording, Kantner is the only member of Jefferson Airplane/Jefferson Starship to play on every album with the “Jefferson” name on it. Kantner seems prideful of this, but also finds it amusing.
“On some level, it means I can’t get another job,” he says with a laugh. “What else am I going to do? San Francisco, particularly, represents something to me. I always call it ‘49 square miles surrounded entirely by reality.’ To paraphrase Somerset Maugham: “There’s three rules in rock and roll. Unfortunately, nobody knows what they are.’ I’m still working on that. And I haven’t been executed yet, so I figure I’m getting away with something, and I haven’t found a better thing to do in this adventure than the alternate quantum that I’m working in. It’s a frontier for me, and it’s always an adventure. You never quite know what’s going to happen, and it generally quite thrilling to go out on a stage and do what we do.”
WHERE: The Theater at Lackawanna College, 501 Vine Street Scranton
WHEN: Saturday, November 8 at 7 p.m.
TICKETS: $40 and $47, available at www.etix.com
INFO: (570) 955-1455 or www.lackawanna.edu/communityconcerts
Alan K. Stout on Facebook:
Thursday, October 30, 2014
By ALAN K. STOUT
Throughout the course of an average year, dozens of songwriters, bands and musicians from Northeastern Pennsylvania release albums. Rock albums. Country albums. Indie albums. Metal albums. On any given week, one of them is likely to be dropping.
“Rhythm Of Our Hearts,” however – the new album from Mike Dougherty – does not fall into the category of any of those genres. His album is a soul album. And there’s nothing average about it. It is one of the best regionally released records of the year.
“My influences, hands-down, are Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye,” says Dougherty. “Up until just a few years ago, I’d always listened to a lot of rock, like Led Zeppelin, but I was playing with The Woody Browns Project, and they really turned me on to some funk and soul, and I realized that I enjoyed singing funk and soul music way more than rock. It felt right to me. The first time I listened to ‘Songs in The Key of Life’ all the way through, I just knew that soul music was the way to go. Marvin Gaye’s ‘What’s Going On” … the lyrics stay true to this day. Listening to those albums had a big impact on my life.”
Dougherty says he first began writing songs while still in high school and that he’s been writing every day ever since. Highlights of “Rhythm Of Our Hearts” include the title track, “How You Feel,” “On The Ground” and “Can We Be Together.” The vocals are smooth, the arrangements are clever and the music is engaging. He says he sometimes finds inspiration for writing by watching TV, especially the news.
Still, with just one listen to the album, it becomes clear that Dougherty’s biggest muse is love. Romance shows up in many of the songs.
“I have a lot of inspiration, but one of the biggest ones came about a year before I started writing music for this album,” he says. “I met the love of my life, and just being with her brought out the best in me. I’d needed to have a guitar when I was with her, because just singing to her is how I wrote some of my favorite songs on the album.”
Dougherty can be found on Facebook and the album is available at Gallery of Sound, CD Baby, Amazon and iTunes. He says that while he wrote all of the songs himself on an acoustic guitar, and that while he was able to imagine how they’d sound with a full production, it was the studio musicians that played on it that helped make it a true soul record.
“It was amazing,” he says. “Just to hear those guys play what I’d been hearing in my head while writing those songs was just amazing. It was so surreal. It was like the best moment of my life. The first time I heard ‘Can We Be Together’ with a horn section and the background vocals … I had a tear in my eye.”
He hopes listeners will not only be able to put themselves into the songs, but also learn a little bit more about him through the music.
“Every song is a piece of me,” he says. “If the listener is someone I know and have known for a while, I want them to hear who I am. I’m not a very sociable person, but when it comes to music , I’m very outgoing. I just want them to hear my point of view on life and love, and how I truly feel, because it’s my easiest way to communicate. For others, I just want them to hear a fresh new sound which blends my rock influences with my old soul. I want them to hear the love that I put into this project.”
(Alan K. Stout has covered rock and pop music in Northeastern Pennsylvania since 1992. His weekly radio show, “Music On The Menu,” can be heard every Sunday from 9-10 p.m. on 105 The River. He is currently playing four tracks from the ”Rhythm of Our Hearts" album on the show. This story also appeared in the October 29, 2014 edition of The Weekender.)
Thursday, October 16, 2014
MUSIC ON THE MENU
October, 15, 2014
Songwriters can often be quite protective of their songs. They don’t like producers tweaking them too much, and sometimes, they don’t even like other artists to cover them, even if it’s being done as gesture of respect. When The Foo Fighters once covered a Prince song, the famed Purple One famously told them that they should stick to writing their own music.
"Under The Covers: The Songs of Tom Flannery’"is available at www.tomflannery.com
(Alan K. Stout has covered rock and pop music in Northeastern Pennsylvania since 1992. His weekly radio show, “Music On The Menu,” airs every Sunday from 9-10 p.m. on 105 The River. This story also appears in the October 15, 2014 edition of The Weekender.)
Saturday, October 11, 2014
10, 2014, I was presented with the “Lifetime Achievement Award” at The
Steamtown Music Awards, which were a part of The Electric City Music
Conference. I was told I was being given the award because of my career in
music journalism, radio, and in presenting musical events. It was a very
humbling and flattering experience, and after being introduced with some very
kind words from Joe Caviston, one of the event’s organizers, and Michael Lello
of Highway 81 Revisited, and Lobo from 105 The River, I was asked to say a few
words. Thankfully, Joe had told me in advance that they hoped I might give a
little speech, and so I was able to prepare. And that, to me, was what made
this all very special, because it gave me the opportunity to thank some of the
people that helped get me there. Some of those people were in the audience. Some were not. Regardless, I thought I’d post an outline of my words
here on my blog. I kept it all to about five minutes, but I just wanted
everyone to know how much they are appreciated:
First, I’d like to thank everyone involved in The Electric City Music Conference for this award, especially Joe and Ken, who have worked very hard at making this event happen. When you’re out there writing your stories, or doing your radio show, or putting on an event, you never really know if anyone cares. But tonight, you’ve told me that you do care, and I truly appreciate that. And when you are being given a 'lifetime' achievement award, there were obviously a lot of people along that way that you’ve encountered in your life that helped get you there. And I’d like to take just a few minutes to thank them. And I guess I’ll start with where it all began …
My late grandfather, for really being the first one to turn me on the beauty of music. Listening to records with him in his "parlor" on his beautiful floor-style stereo - which was essentially a large piece furniture - had a great impact on my life. He was very serious about his music. He loved that stereo and he loved his records, and my grandfather and I did not watch much TV. We listened to music. All the time. Thank you, grandpa.
My parents. When I was a teenager, music was my life. And my parents were OK with that. Back in the ‘80s, long before we had an amphitheater at Montage and an arena in Wilkes-Barre, you had to go out of town to see your favorite bands. And if you weren’t old enough to drive, you needed someone to take you. In 1982, I asked my parents if they’d take me to see this band called The Who at the old JFK Stadium in Philadelphia. And they agreed to do it. They dropped me and a buddy of mine off in front of the stadium before the show, while they went to spend the day in the city, and when they picked me up a few hours later, I was not the same person. That day changed my life. It was my first concert, and it was the first time I truly experienced the power and the beauty of rock and roll. Over the next few years, until I got old enough to drive myself, my parents would shuttle my friends and I off to other shows in places like New York or Allentown. They always supported my love for music, and that's a big part of the reason I'm here tonight. Thank you, Mom and Dad.
In 1992, I expressed an interest in writing about music, or music journalism. The Times Leader gave me that opportunity, and once they did, I ran with and have run with it to this day. There were many people there that were instrumental in the success of my career, including Paul Gallagher, who hired me as a music correspondent, Mary Therese Biebel, who gave me my first full-time job in the newsroom, and Chris Ritchie, who gave me the opportunity to be a features writer. And, of course, Joe Butkiewicz, who was probably my greatest mentor in journalism. The years I worked for him were my favorite years at The Times Leader and The Weekender. Thank you, Times Leader and Weekender, and all of the people that I worked with there over the course of 18 years. I am thinking about all of you tonight.
Lyn Carey. Not only did she own the coolest rock club in town, but she also published her own music magazine called “Sound Check.” In 1993, she asked me to write for that magazine. I was still a very young writer at the time, and through that magazine, more readers and more musicians immediately became more familiar with my work. I only wrote for “Sound Check” for two years, but it had a very important impact on my career. Thank you, Lyn.
My friend Joe Ohrin, who is here tonight. Joe took me under his wing a bit back in the ‘80s at WRKC-Radio King’s College. He had his own show, and I often sat in with him. And even though we were just small college station in Wilkes-Barre, PA, we didn’t think any artist was too big for us to try and interview, and we landed some interviews with some of rock’s biggest bands. I learned that from Joe, and took that same approach with me to The Times Leader and The Weekender. Thank you, Joe.
My friend Jim Rosensteel, who has helped me archive many of my older interviews and concert reviews online. It’s nice to know that a concert review or an interview you did 20 years ago can still be read, and that wouldn’t be possible without Jim helping me with my websites. Thank you, Jim.
Jim Rising, for first giving me my own radio show 10 years ago on The Mountain, and Dave Stewart, who produced the show for many years. And to everyone at 105 The River. I’ve been there for a year now - it's one year this week - and I want to thank everyone there for making me feel so welcome and for helping keep local music on the radio. Thank you to Vince, who is here tonight, and to Lobo, who is also here. I am very proud to call 105 The River my home base for music.
Mitch Kornfeld and everyone at The Woodlands. For 10 years, The Woodlands was our home for “Concert For A Cause,” for which they pretty much let us take over the entire complex. Thank you for that, Mitch, and to Richie Kossuth, Gene Smith and everyone at Rock Street Music for helping make that event so special.
I want to thank KISS. KISS, with songs such as “Get All You Can Take” and “King Of The Mountain,” helped changed my life. In the ‘80s, when I was a teenager, KISS often wrote about the concept of individuality and self-worth. They helped guide me towards the attitude of not really giving a damn what anybody else thinks of you, and to just be yourself. Thank you, KISS. That
had an incredibly positive impact on my
life, not only as a journalist, but as a person. Thank you, also, to U2 and
Bruce Springsteen, for showing me that rock and roll could be thoughtful and
poignant, and thank you to Van Halen, for showing me that rock and roll could
be great without being thoughtful and poignant. And thank you to Elvis Presley
and The Beatles, for changing everything. None of us would be here tonight if
it were not for you.
Thank you to The Badlees and my friend Bret Alexander. In 1993, while at the newspaper, I received an album called “The Unfortunate Result of Spare Time.” That album changed the way I thought about everything when it came to local music. It was just as good as anything I’d ever heard before, and about a year and a half later, when the band dropped “River Songs,” I heard an album that was better than just about anything I’d ever heard before. And they were from right here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Writing about The Badlees at that time was probably the most exciting thing I’ve ever written about. It was magic. They were the best band I ever wrote about. And I remain a fan of their music, still, to this day, including their current projects. I also want to thank Breaking Benjamin. When I wrote the very first story about them about 14 years ago, they didn’t even have a band photo. We took one for them, on the roof of the Times leader. A few short years later, they were a platinum band. They showed me that it can happen, because it did happen. If you’re a young band out there, don’t forget it.
I want to thank every single band or artist that ever called me up at the newspaper or reached out to me in any way and asked that I might write about them. I want to thank every single band or artist that ever sent me a CD and asked me to consider playing it on the radio. And I want to thank every single band or artist that ever performed at one of the events I helped put together, whether it was ‘Concert For A Cause,’ or the old original music series that we did at The Waterfront or The Woodlands, or the current music series we now do at Mohegan Sun. You have all bettered my life with your music. It seems like whenever I write about a band, or play them on the radio, or work with them on an event, they thank me. I thank YOU. Thank YOU for thinking of me. This is our music scene, and we’re all in this together.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, I thank my readers
and my listeners. Thank you for reading my stories, listening to my show, and
coming to the events that I’ve worked on. It means more to me than you
will ever know.
Again, I thank all of the wonderful people that have had such a great impact on my career in music. And, again, I want to thank the Electric City Music Conference for this award, and for the opportunity to thank everyone. There is a GREAT weekend of music conferences and live performances on tap here in Scranton, and I hope you can take it all in and enjoy it.
I leave you with a thought from AC/DC …
For those about to rock, I salute you.
Thank you. And God bless you.