Thursday, July 30, 2009

NYC Artists around town THIS WEEKEND!

So many great shows featuring our insanely talented NYC Artists happening this weekend... Take a look!


DAN TORRES- Final Night of Dan's Rockwood Residency, 10pm at Rockwood Music Hall- Full Band w/Ryan Vaughn, Patrick Firth, Dan Tirer, and Brian Killeen!

FRIDAY, 7/31

BESS ROGERS- Quest for Glory Tour w/Allison Weiss and Leila Broussard... The Living Room, 9pm.

MARTIN RIVAS- Late night at Rockwood! 1:00am show at Rockwood Music Hall... finish off your night with some great music!!


BRENT SHUTTLEWORTH- Rockwood Music Hall, 10pm, with special guests Ryan Vaughn, Wes Hutchinson, and Dan Torres. Don't miss it!

If you are in town be sure to come hang out!!


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Bess Rogers: The Songbird

As her sweetly bold and outwardly brazen melodies glaze over charmed audiences, enthusiastically clapping and moving to the cheerful beat, it’s hard to imagine that Bess Rogers grew up shy and timid, fearful to take the stage and dazzle people with her powerful talent. “I remember doing open mic nights as a 16-year-old and you could barely hear my voice,” Bess confides. “I didn’t think I could be a singer, but I really wanted to be… It turned out I just needed the confidence.”

Clearly that confidence was found, as this now seasoned performer has established a career envious to many NYC Artists, playing live venues throughout the city and touring with fellow artists and friends. Born into a melodic world by a mother who played harpsichord with a Baroque-Renaissance style group, Bess was raised with constant music around the house; learning the flute in fourth grade and eventually moving on to add guitar, piano, and ukulele to her instrument repertoire. Rogers is currently studying the trumpet, keeping her mind, music, and talent fresh with new sounds and influences.

Earning a Master’s Degree in Studio Composition from SUNY Purchase, the Long Island native first hit the New York scene while still in college, playing out once or twice a month, before finally falling into the Lower East Side circle upon moving permanently to the city four years ago. Rogers has come a long way from her first gig at The Lion’s Den (now known as Sullivan Hall), laughing as she recalls the experience as “a bunch of frat guys talking.” Bess adds, “And no one would come.”

Now Bess packs the crowds at LES institutions such as Rockwood Music Hall and The Living Room, finding the intimacy and attentiveness of these venues extremely nurturing for independent artists. “One of the great things [about NYC] is that there’s such a strong and supportive community for independent artists. I’ve met so many people who are doing the same thing and we all help each other in some sense. I’ve found that support system is really important… I couldn’t imagine doing this out in North Dakota on my own,” she confesses with a light laugh. Meeting fellow artists at shows facilitates that environment, particularly as the talent pool expands and fellow singer-songwriters sit in on each other’s sets. “That’s one of the things I love about Rockwood,” admits Rogers. “There’s something about the atmosphere there… I think every city has that one spot where the people are like-minded, open and friendly.”

In addition to circulating the LES, Bess engaged in several tours in the past few years, playing alongside Allie Moss, Ian Axel, and Ingrid Michaelson, including opening for the Dave Matthews Band with Michaelson. Next on the agenda is the upcoming Quest for Glory Tour, which kicks off this Friday, July 31 at The Living Room in NYC. The “theme” tour consists of three very different yet complimentary singer/songwriters- Rogers, Allison Weiss, and Leila Broussard, and will include daily video blogs and spirited stage acts to add a dash of spunk to the savvy musical flair.

The tour follows the release of Rogers’ latest EP “Travel Back” a brilliantly colorful expression of sound that leaves it’s listeners smiling, moving, and compelled to sing along to the irresistible and beautifully executed lyrics. Recorded at friend and colleague Dan Romer’s studio and released in April, the EP is seasoned with the perfect blend of organic, natural sound and creative experimentation, with a variety in tracks from “Yellow Bird” that sweetly lulls to “I Don’t Worry” that speeds up the heartbeat and gets the toes tapping excitedly. “I don't really make music with other people's reactions in mind,” Bess reveals about her songwriting process. “I make the music that's inside of me and that makes me feel, and if it makes other people feel something well that's great but I have no expectations for how it will emotionally affect other people. It's different for everybody.”

The once-reluctant singer has definitely traveled forward from the days of writing theme songs for her group of friends and forcing herself to perform open mics every night of high school to overcome a fear of performing. With a blossoming livelihood and an abundance of opportunities unfolding each day, Bess plans to keep touring and building her career from all angles, particularly the writing and recording aspect. “There’s something about creating in the studio or sitting in my room and writing that’s the most emotionally fulfilling thing that I do,” she confesses. “And I think if I can sustain this life- have a great music career and still continue to make creative, unique, music… that’s what it’s all about.”

A long career is certainly in store for this lovely, engaging songbird, whose melodies enliven and restore faith in the simple, real beauty of music for music’s sake.

To listen to Bess’ music and check out tour dates please visit,, or become a fan at

To check out the Quest For Glory tour please visit

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Josh Dion: The Man, The Myth, The Legend

A heart beat. Sometimes pulsing rapidly, nearly taking your breath away with it’s hurried thumping against your chest. Other times its steady. Rhythmic. Softly telling the story of the emotions flooding your mind, overflowing your conscience and into this essential organ. Every now and then it stops for a moment. The stillness robs your natural airflow, lingers for a brief second, and then resumes a steady pace. A Josh Dion drum beat. It mimics the heart beat so perfectly, your body vibrates at the pace of the music, moving, feeling, exalting energy that eagerly attempts to match the spirit and soul Josh Dion brings to the stage.

A lifelong drummer whose upbeat, funky, and earthy music sets him worlds apart from the standard NYC singer-songwriter, Dion’s musical travels have encountered both speed bumps and express lanes, providing learning opportunities and carving invaluable life lessons along the way. From the drum kit received for his first birthday to the first song he wrote at age 24, the once-aspiring jazz drummer performed everything from wedding gigs to blues gigs to children’s music to make his way to the top. Understanding the importance of networking, Dion claims, “You never say no to anything. Before you know it, you have a pretty good living going.”

Good living it's been for Josh, who formed the Josh Dion Band four years ago after a brief touring stint with the band ulu, an opportunity he shared with fellow JD band member and bass player Brian Killeen. It was during these travels that Josh started writing lyrics and keeping a journal of life experiences, a creative outlet that opened many doors in his future. After the tour he spent a short period playing with Chuck Loeb, honing and exploring his vocal capabilities, put together the Josh Dion Band, and engaged in four years worth of performances, time on the road, and invaluable adventures that shaped where he is today. The band parted ways this past January, and since then Josh has been focused on writing and building the next chapter of his career.

An artist who “cut his teeth” at venues like The Bitter End and the Bleecker Street scene, Dion is currently building an expanded fan base and exposing his music to different locations in NY’s Lower East Side. “I’m trying to find what my true personality is,” Josh explains, pausing for a moment to collect his thoughts. “I think we become more complex, especially in this day and age… there’s just so much. I’m coming from so many different types of music it’s really hard to narrow down [my sound]. Everything is a mixture of everything else now… Eventually you get into a groove of what works for your performing style and sound, how you want people to respond to it, and how you want to be perceived.”

The one-time “old soul” is moving forward and living in the now, setting no boundaries and staying focused on what goals lie ahead. Influenced in phases over the course of time, classic rock, blues, Dixie ragtime, old jazz, big band, soul, funk, and gospel are some of the many sounds that musically permeate through his listeners. Often feeling isolated as a drummer who didn’t follow the traditional singer-songwriter path, Dion struggles to find his place in the music scene, opting to march to his own beat more often than not. Finding new homes in places like Sullivan Hall and Rockwood Music Hall helped quench some of the thirst for new. “I really like Rockwood,” Dion exclaims. “I feel like people are going there, there’s something exciting happening. I’m interested in that.” With such an eclectic personal style, a place like Rockwood has exposed Josh to a continuous flow of people open to a variety of sounds, garnering that universal appeal he strives for with his music.

A creature of natural progression, Dion takes a moment to ruminate about his travels to Spain with the Josh Dion Band for the WOMAD Festival, an experience that reminded him of the power and pleasure of life as a musician. Painting a picturesque background of looming Medieval castles and gently rolling hills, Josh describes the moment he understood exactly what his music could accomplish: “We played a show to about 1,000 people… [The show] was explosive... we connected- it was a beautiful thing. The next day I had a ‘drum clinic’ to teach… people found out and thought it was another show but it wasn’t, it was just me and my drum set.” Not wanting to disappoint the confused audience, Dion called bassist Brian Killeen on stage, and the two had a blast putting on an impromptu show at three in the afternoon. “I remember realizing ‘I could do that!’” he recalls, understanding finally, “Don’t show any fear. Don’t allow yourself to go there. Just make music… When you’re giving your all and you feel a huge pull from the audience, you have to give more.”

Audience response is crucial to Josh Dion, who loves nothing more than to see people grooving and dancing as he rocks out onstage. “People take so many different things away from lyrics and songs, it’s whatever you’re feeling really,” Josh offers. “I get it from people and I want to give it to people. I want them to feel that energy.” Approaching songwriting from a drummer’s perspective is slightly different, and sometimes Dion has found the strongest songs actually happen sans instruments- “The best hook comes when there isn’t anything there.”

Falling somewhere in the middle of R&B and singer-songwriter roots rock, Josh tunes into the heart of the song, taking into account strong lyrics and how the audience will react. “A song is like that one emotion that makes you feel a lyric,” Dion reveals thoughtfully. “You get a part of a song and it’ll have a hook to it, that one lyric, and you’ll just know. It will be a life force, and you just have to protect it. Build around it. That’s the essence of the song.”

From the eight-year-old rock drummer with a mullet to the powerful adult presence that commands every stage and drum set with life and energy, Josh Dion is musical force to be reckoned with. This approachable, genuine, and engaging entertainer humbly understands the struggle, the learning curve, and the risk that comes with the musician’s life, and eagerly looks to share the knowledge life has bestowed, living by the priceless lesson a drum teacher once taught him, “What’s mine is yours.”

Pass it on.

Be sure to catch Josh this Friday, July 24, 9:00 pm at Rockwood Music Hall, and on September 5 at the Mercury Lounge!

For more info on Josh Dion, including music and tour dates, please visit or find Josh on Facebook-

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Tonight at the Canal Room!!

Tonight the Canal Room presents the Artists You Should Know Series, featuring a fantastic line-up of artists....

CALEB HAWLEY- NYC Artist Caleb Hawley dazzles the crowd with his high energy, audibly stimulating performances! A master guitar player, Caleb has impressed audiences throughout the New York City indie scene, from packed house, standing ovations at The Living Room to thoroughly entertaining crowds at Rockwood Music Hall and The Bitter End. Currently working on his next CD, Caleb is sure to captivate you with his subtle humor, powerful vocal cords, and excellent command of music and sound.

TINA MATHIEU- A beautiful songstress whose power and soul intensely seep through her lyrics, Tina brings life to the stage and honesty to the song. With songs like "Little Secret" full of truth and relatability, Tina exudes messages in her music that bring a sense of comfort and empathy to her passion, raw style.

ZACH HURD- Preparing to release his next full length album, Zach has been diligently playing his way around the NYC music scene. Impressing the most popular venues, Zach cultivated a devoted fan following, who are drawn to the incredible array of acoustic funk mixed with a dash of soul pop. After delivering a standout EP in 2008 titled "The Small Places," Zach is excited to finally share his "Changing Landscapes" at The Living Room record release show on August 27.

JOHN SCHMITT- This aggressive singer-songwriter, who placed third in the New York Songwriter's Circle contest for his powerful song "Ophelia," has made on obvious commitment to spread his music around, playing gigs all over New York and beyond. John's love for music is apparent both onstage and off, working for the NYSC hosting their "Loft Series" and consistently supporting other artists and colleagues throughout the community. Passionately expressing his life experiences through moving and entertaining lyrics, his full length, self-entitled CD is now available for your listening pleasure.

CHRIS AYER- Tonight marks the CD Release of Chris Ayer's latest album! After major success placing as a finalist in the New York Songwriter's Circle for his song, "Awake," Ayer has been back in the studio putting together an album that's sure to please his eagerly awaiting fans. Spending an equal amount of time in home-base NYC and touring the country, Chris infuses his acoustic singer-songwriter sound with a folk twist that can both soothe and move the soul while keeping the body stirring to the beat.

To learn more about these artists visit their myspace music pages:

Be sure to head to the CANAL ROOM- at 7:30pm TONIGHT to check out this talented group of artists!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Deena Goodman: The Queen of the Scene

No grass grows under Deena Goodman’s feet, the fiery songstress and powerful promoter of New York City’s independent artist community. A graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, Deena is well-versed in all aspects of the industry, from performing and booking to songwriting, socializing, and selling. Well-known by friends and colleagues as the founder of Rebel Spirit Music, an organization formulated to help network and nurture the artist scene; Goodman has been immersed in the NY music world since moving to the city at age 18, and continues to share her whirlwind force of talent, passion, and philanthropy on every road she travels.

Diving head first into the music business on both ends, Deena spent most of college songwriting, meeting producers, and interning with hard-hitting companies like Warner Brothers Records and the prestigious PR firm Susan Blond, with whom she got a job upon graduation. Choosing to heavily pursue a solo music career, Deena eventually left Blond’s agency, picking up the position of Saturday night party promoter with client The Canal Room, and spent the rest of her time lighting up the stages of Mercury Lounge, Bowery Ballroom, and Joe’s Pub with her mesmerizing, soulful voice. A brilliant networking force, Deena simultaneously started bolstering relationships with fellow artists through BMI, strategically booking shows with musician friends who drew strong followings such as Casey Shea, Atomic Tom, Wes Hutchinson, and Brent Shuttleworth.

Four years into her musical pursuit fate stepped in and handed her an unfortunate card- a cyst was discovered on Goodman’s vocal chords and surgery was required, rendering an uncertain future for her singing career. Not willing to walk away from the life she worked so persistently to build, Goodman took a new approach to the industry. “I was always as good of a businesswoman as I was a singer, maybe even a better businesswoman,” Deena reveals. Using the necessary sabbatical as an opportunity to try something new, Goodman joined forces with Dean McCarthy, a fellow music enthusiast, to create and promote events through their newfound organization, Rebel Spirit Music. The goal was simple: to discover great music, perform it for big audiences, and in turn get the individual artists to start playing with one another, promoting a “troubadour, 1970s hippie-vibe” that translated beautifully into the current scene. Deena enlisted the great and powerful Rockwood Music Hall as the main venue for these events, which hosts Rebel Spirit once a month since its inception in December 2007. “The fact that it’s at Rockwood really helps because it’s the center of music for most of the community in the Lower East Side,” Goodman explains, crediting Rockwood’s senior booker Tommy Merrill with intelligently constructing which acts perform each evening. “[Rebel Spirit and Rockwood] work hand-in-hand very well together.”

Rebel Spirit Music Series has since expanded to include venues like the Canal Room, where Deena also works as a booker, and Tavern on the Green during the summer season. Drawing industry representatives, artists, and music lovers from all over the city, the concept has been warmly received and is eternally evolving. Goodman had the first ten months booked in her head from the start, pulling from friends and contacts she made during her involvement with the New York Songwriter’s Circle, and pairing those with new, undiscovered gems McCarthy found hidden throughout the city and Brooklyn. “People really like the community vibe,” she notes, observing that most advertising for the series comes from positive word-of-mouth.

In working first with the Songwriter’s Circle, Goodman was able to establish friendships with groups of musicians, getting to know the different cliques who played together both professionally and socially. Becoming increasingly aware of the importance of introducing people, Deena proceeded to blend the lines of the groups that had formed. “Cliques are not a bad thing. They are what help artists cultivate, grow and support themselves,” she states confidently and smiles, “I just think they should all know each other.”

Goodman excitedly shares what Rebel Spirit has brought to the scene: “People treat each other as artists, put each other in their bands, feature their friends in sets, utilize each other’s talents to make their shows better, and bring these different personalities to the light of their audiences.” So many of these artists would not have found each other if not for sharing the common stage, further proving the incredible power music has of bringing people together.

The organization’s home base can be found at, a website developed “by artists, for artists,” that grabs writers, photographers, PR people, and other resources and displays them at one table for everyone to feast on. Deena wisely rationalizes, “It’s better to pursue something as a group than one-on-one,” which has been a major factor in the success of this useful coalition of artistry. One of Goodman’s goals is to develop the website even further- expanding the database, promoting additional series, and tie in more industry representatives. “It’s all about building a name for this grass roots community of artists doing everything for themselves,” Deena affirms, showcasing a passion for this project that’s parallel to the sparks that fly when she takes the stage.

An exemplary model of the duality between business and the arts, Goodman is inspired by good lyrics, perfectly executed live music events, happy audiences, music lovers, people who believe in sharing the wealth, and most of all, people. The strong, confident, and dynamic enthusiasm she emits is simply captivating, and her well-constructed words and devotion to the indie music journey will hook anyone eager to hear, know, and discover more.

To learn about Deena as a singer-songwriter please visit To be further educated in opportunities with Rebel Spirit Music check out

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Casey Shea: The Time Machine

Close your eyes for a moment and picture this:

You’re sitting on a soft patch of grass nestled within the intricately wrapped streets of New York City’s Greenwich Village. The year is 1968, and splattered around you on this warm, breezy summer day are artists of every shape and style. Guitars hang loosely in the laps of the emerging singer-songwriters, fingers strumming softly, voices singing boldly as the sun blazes high above. It’s a simpler time. Love and peace are not jewelry adorned because they’re “trendy,” but symbols of eternal hope and spirit. Beliefs about what the world should be drip organically through honest, stripped music and your soul feels pure joy in listening to these singer-songwriters convey their stories, sometimes subtly, sometimes loudly and brazenly. Your mind is at ease, your heart is full, and your body softly sways to the light, jubilant music of the folk-rock scene.

Now open your eyes and listen to a Casey Shea song… Tell me how you feel.

Casey Shea is the ultimate time machine, using classic sounds from the guitar and drums to make music in its simplest form. Heavily influenced by The Beatles since first seeing Paul McCartney perform at JazzFest at age 12, Casey has developed a uniquely vintage composition of songs that depict a love and appreciation for classic rock. From the soothing, airy “Roll Your Windows Down,” recently featured on “One Tree Hill” to the quirky, animated “Lartigue” that effortlessly gets the crowd moving and shaking, Shea brings an aura to the stage that produces beaming smiles during these troubled times.

A contagious grin spreads on this singer-songwriter’s face, as he reflects on the path that brought him here. Always a singer, it was not until college at Florida State University that he recognized the need to nurture a career in music and songwriting. Abandoning a place on the university golf team and forming a band with another teammate, Casey plowed down the melodious road and never looked back. A hopeless romantic who credits wife Langhorne as the secret to his success, the natural jokester also finds unadulterated pleasure in making crazy, humorous videos- the complete quintessential package of a well-balanced artist: love, laughter, and immeasurable talent.

Since arriving in NYC five years ago, band names like Casey Shea and the Amorous Monks, Casey Shea and The Cows Come Home, and Casey Shea and The Worst Band Name Ever, have become synonymous with Shea’s unconventional approach to music and life in general. In discussing the multiple name alterations, Shea slyly claims, “I can deal with it for one show no matter how good or bad it is. I never have to commit to anything.” The band now consists of a solitary name- Casey Shea- and set members, all fellow musicians and singer-songwriters, include: Jeff Jacobson (guitar), Gilbert Gilmore (guitar), Wes Hutchinson (bass), Jamie Alegre (drums), and Michael Leonhart (keyboard, horns, the “X” factor).

In January 2009, Shea combined forces with Wesley Verhoeve of Family Records to introduce the public to a catalog of solo works. Not wanting to have one big record release show and then be done with it, Casey and Wes questioned, “How can we put out this music in a unique way?” The answer: The “ABC’s” Singles Release shows, a multitude of performances booked at different venues over the course of the year, each featuring two professional recordings and one informal demo made at home- the A side, B side, and C side. The concept, another throwback to the past, quickly garnered a fantastically devoted audience following.

The key to Casey’s success with the “ABC’s” is his truly humble manner in promoting and sharing his work. Shea offers all the music on his website- as free downloads, allowing fans to obtain the latest releases prior to the show. The site, creatively designed and executed by Jeff Schram, is user friendly and enjoyably interactive, showcasing Shea’s clever mind and innovative personality with colors, backgrounds, and even a font that resonates the same perennial theme. Casey’s blog is also part of the website, full of entries that help build reader interest and offer a true sense of the singer’s dynamic individuality. “My theory is if you put yourself out there people will respond,” he explains.

Discussing the method behind his madness, Casey laid out his approach to sharing music in the era of digital music: “In today’s world everything is easily accessible. People who don’t have the money or don’t believe they have to pay for [music] will find it somehow. So why not at least have it on my site for free? If you want it, please come get it. The more people have it on their mp3 players or hard drives the better.”

Musing over a time when people still had record players, this old-fashioned soul sometimes wonders where music is headed in the future. Shea’s main desire is to make a product that touches people, garnering a consistent aura of community, and let that take the lead. “At this point I just want to get it out to as many people as possible, encourage people to take it, steal it, and spread it around,” Casey admits candidly.

After being discouraged by the “every-man-for-himself” attitude of the Nashville music scene where he had previously pursued his career, Casey found the naturally helpful demeanor and sense of kinship in New York City surprisingly refreshing. “It makes a world of difference when somebody’s just nice to you,” Shea confidently states. Always promoting and spreading positive energy to friends and colleagues, Casey has developed a beautiful reputation of being one of the most generous artists in the business. Participating recently in Martin and Craig’s “Backscratch Sessions,” he observes how much talent there is in the small world we live in, and its ability to bring people together to grow in unity.

With the abundance of great music happening in a compact space, Shea speaks openly of each venues strengths: “At Rockwood Music Hall you can pretty much see a great act from 6pm-2am any night of the week. The Living Room- same deal. And Pianos has great margaritas!” he exclaims with a devilish smile, knowing his reputation for promoting the establishment’s infamously strong, tequila-laden drinks.

Casey Shea is unquestionably a staple in this NYC Artists Scene, embodying the spirit of classic music, blurring the lines between past and present, and creating an exquisitely harmonious device to transport audiences to the world as it should be.

For more information about Casey Shea please check out the following sites:

The 6th ABC’s Singles Release will be held this Saturday, July 11, 8:00pm at the Gramercy Theatre. Casey will be joined by fellow Family Records artists Matt Singer, Pearl and the Beard, and Wakey! Wakey! for a fantastic night of music. Come check it out!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Today's NYC Artists News!

Happy Wednesday everyone!

Lots of great things happening in the NYC indie music world this week!

Check it out....

THURSDAY, JULY 9- Dan Torres Residency begins at Rockwood! Here's the details from Dan...

I'm proud to announce that I'll be doing 4 weeks straight at my favorite NYC venue, Rockwood Music Hall. The month long event will include 4 totally different performances filled with special guests and never before seen arrangements of my music. Each week will include things I've never tried before, so come check out as many shows as you can!!

July 9th, 10pm: Solo/Special Guests: w/ Casey Shea, Martin Rivas, & Bess Rogers
This show will feature some of my favorite New York artists. I'll be doing a duet of one of my songs with each special guest in their unique style. Check them out on MySpace!

July 16th, 10pm: Acoustic Trio: w/ Emily Hope Price (Cello) & Ryan Vaughn(Percussion)
Finally! The return of acoustic tunes with me and my cellist! This time we're going to be doing even more songs with Emily singing and adding on Mr. Ryan Vaughn!

July 23rd, 10pm: String Ensemble (w/ Emily Price, Will Martina, Shuo Zhang, Curtis Stewart and Paula Cho!)
All string arrangements by Dan Torres with one special secret cover song arranged by Tarrah Reynolds

July 30th, 10pm: Full Band
Featuring:Ryan Vaughn(Drums), Brian Killeen (Bass), Dan Tirer (Guitar) & Patrick Firth (Piano/Organ)
Finally, my full band show! We'll definitely be playing some brand new songs!!

Rockwood Music Hall
196 Allen Street, NYC 10002

FRIDAY, JULY 10- Pete & J, Bess Rogers, and Allie Moss at The Saint in Asbury Park, NJ. Doors open at 8pm, Tickets $10 advance/$12 door.


Village Voice & WRXP Present The Know Music Series Featuring Family Records
Saturday, July 11th - 8PM

The Family comes together for our first time at The Gramercy Theatre - Saturday, July 11th at 8PM.

Casey Shea's final single release, and performances by Wakey!Wakey!, Matt Singer, and Pearl and the Beard.

We do hope you can make it!

Gramercy Theatre
127 East 23rd St
New York, NY




Wanduta is the first-of-its-kind members-only organization for you, the working independent musician. Our goal is to help you keep doing what you do for as long as you want to do it. As a Wanduta Member, the things you need will cost less and you will have access to affordable healthcare and additional music industry resources.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Sami Akbari: Great Things Come in Small Packages

The overwhelming presence and massive power behind Sami Akbari’s voice makes it hard to believe the vocally gifted entertainer stands at a mere five feet tall. With lyrics that reach untapped sectors of your soul, a quality of sound that both soothes and inspires, and a natural comedic flare, it’s impossible not to adore this fiery up-and-coming singer-songwriter.

Exploring the arts from a young age, Sami Akbari dabbled with piano, violin, and guitar beginning at five years old, and has been singing for as long as her memory serves. With Bob Denver, Ritchie Havens, Bob Marley, and Neil Diamond playing on the stereo in Akbari’s childhood home, a father who wrote poetry, a mother who played guitar, and a realization at age six that she could belt out Annie’s “Tomorrow,” Sami’s destiny laid on solid ground early on, simply waiting for the right moment to bring it to life.

Despite a passion for music and singing, along with an “unhealthy” obsession with The Beatles laced throughout her adolescence, it was not until freshman year of college that Akbari made the commitment to nurture her brimming talent. While on the committee “Mainstage” at Roanoke College, Sami held the responsibility of handling hospitality and taking care of the musical acts performing at the school- and the first act happened to be John Mayer. “It was the first time I was behind the scenes at a concert and able to see how the whole day was put together,” Akbari reveals. “Seeing the show and how people were reacting to him made me see it through new eyes.” Feeling relatively depressed after the event concluded, Sami longed to relive the experience and excitement, and immediately started back into guitar lessons and songwriting.

After college Sami picked up and moved to New York City, ready to pursue the dream and uncovering obstacles each step of the way. Finding tremendous support within the community, Akbari notes the lack of jealousy and the abundance of happiness artists exhibit for one another. “You come to New York with this image that there are so many people and musicians and it’s going to be so hard, and it is. But it’s actually a small community and it’s amazing how many people you end up knowing,” she observes with a smile. “It’s weird, it makes the rest of the music world smaller too because all of a sudden you’re connected to these people in different ways that would not have existed outside of New York.”

Akbari credits the Brooklyn-based group Local Correspondents, an organization that promotes independent artists, with helping to overcome a lack of confidence and getting her feet wet in the scene. Upon arriving in the city a little over a year ago, Sami spent most Tuesday evenings at Bar 4 in Williamsburg, where she met fellow artists Jessi Robertson and Brian Speaker, two people instrumental in helping her land her first gig at Piano’s top floor. The connection with Local Correspondents has kept the ball rolling as the venue list continually grows, now including Akbari’s favorite place to play, The Living Room, a place she adores for it’s loyal and attentive audiences and diversity of acts.

Commanding attention on any stage is effortless for Sami Akbari, who professes her favorite part of performing is simply audience interaction. “I love entertaining people!” she sparkles with enthusiasm. A harmonious voice dripping with longing, love, and heartache is often balanced with quirky banter, an engaging laugh, and honest commentary, keeping her listener’s emotions well rounded.

Inspired most often by music, different instruments, such as the micro-chord, will stimulate Akbari’s creative senses. The singer-songwriter often struggles with the “songwriting” end of the spectrum, finding it easier to compose music first, and then see where it flows lyrically. “It’s really hard for me,” Sami reveals, echoing a feeling familiar to many artists in this scene. “I know a lot of people who can sit down and write four amazing songs and I hate them. Sometimes it takes me a year to write a really good song.”

Regardless of the development process, Akbari continues to produce music that’s beautifully honest, absolutely relatable, and perfectly enchanting, as heard on her 2007 debut “Somebody Else’s Stranger,” a four-track EP that resonates with young love, self-discovery, and finding strength through pain. Propelling forward with recording new tracks and dominating live performances, Sami is making her way through the scene, bright-eyed and quick-tongued, proving once and for all amazing things come in small packages.

For more information on Sami Akbari visit or find Sami on Facebook

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Happening this JULY at NYC Artists Scene

June was an incredible month for music and the arts in New York City, with live venues packed every night introducing the hottest acts emerging out of the scene! Keep checking the site daily for weekly show listings and new articles on the most talented people in town...

Exclusive interviews this July include: Casey Shea, Sami Akbari, Josh Dion, Deena Goodman, Bess Rogers, Derek James, and more!

Have a safe and happy holiday weekend everyone!