On September 28th, I was invited to attend a stellar music indistry showcase, in St. Peterburg, FL. It had
been exactly ten years prior that I was fortunate enough to enjoy regional music up there and this was indeed
the best means of a return visit and one of the best days in regional music to date for this music writer! It
was so refreshing to meet an entire new roster of to that area, local musicians just trying to make it out
here and get to talk and know their stories.
J-Rock Staffieri and Patty Baccielo are the main inventors and hosts of this fabulous celebration of music, and you may all tune into the Rock Solid Pressure Radio Show weekly with J-Rock to stay up to date with all things in local, regional and national music for the St. Pete and surrounding areas. The State Theater provided the stage for this marathon of progressively harder music along with the passing hours into the late evening. The hosts, panelists, bands, families and fans were all pluses and added bonuses to the music to round out the best regional music experience for this fan, so thank you to everyone.
Speaking of the panelists from the music/movie industry, a quick thank you to: Jason Bieler (CEO of BIELER BROTHERS RECORDS, he also plays in Saigon Kick. Matt LaPlant (Music Producer - flew in from L.A.), Nick & Jen Katona (CEO of MELODIC REVOLUTION RECORDS), Matt Day (CEO of STM RECORDS or SPREAD THE METAL RECORDS - flew in from Canada), Rejean Germain (CEO of HIGH SONIC RECORDS), Quinton Sheer (Entertainment Lawyer at Q ENTERTAINMENT LAW), Sharon Whetstone (Producer for the upcoming film 'VENDETTA'), and Felix DeLuna (Mastermind at DDRUM). All of these professionals made time in their professional schedules to spend a rather long day listening to and critiquing regional and national acts basically, here in St. Pete. Blunt Force Trauma had just joined us straight off a tour of Japan and they originate from Australia...so this event is a celebratory opportunity at it's finest for any musician invited to appear in front of this panel. It was a privilege spending this afternoon with you all!
The event launched with a one man show, talented beyond what sound one person can produce with Pete Berwick, the self-termed 'Cow Punk Pioneer', starting things off with his Folk Rock style and edge of James Dean and Johnny Cash all wrapped up into one man, a guitar and a harmonica! Pete hails from Illinois roots and is signed out of Nashville currently. Pete commands your attention being one person in the spotlight and wows you with his lyrics and songs.
He records with a full band but prefers the lone man show, and it works! This Neil Young and Bob Dylan fan seriously enjoyed the afternoon launch with Mr. Berwick and the interview afterwards, as well. Pete Berwick is a name to remember, as he loves touring the Southeastern corner of this nation, make sure to take in his show! Pete wrote a novel titled 'Bar Singer' and now enjoys playing in a more independent entity, you will see more of him, this fan predicts. Check out Pete and all performers Facebook pages for all performance updates, go to Pete's page here.
Drive 31 was second on the roster for this event, and all though this fan has covered this band numerous times this past year, this was the first performance I got to take in inside and within an arena. This was the best I have heard them sound yet, job well done! Fronted by two teens that master guitar strings like pros with Austin (14) and Jack-Michael (17), this band is only beginning and the panelists agreed! To finally hear them in the right setting indoors with the sound pumped behind them that you cannot achieve outdoors with sound was jaw dropping! A couple years of experience and you will hear the name Jack-Michael and Drive 31 more and more. Stop by the bands Facebook page to catch all dates they are slated to play regionally and check out Drive 31.
This band that blends the youth of the future in sound with the seasoned band members of Mark and Troy to level out the sound of this band with classic touches and cover selections. This band will be around for a long time to come, just maybe on larger stages as this band grows along with it's fronting members! Sample Drive 31 today and get out to a show!
Next up and first regional fave of the day for this fan was, Blaine the Mono. My interview with Randi Stickles, lead vocalist for Blaine the Mono, was one of the day's toppers. In a few minutes I learned a lot about her and her band but she earned immediate respect from me, in that speaking to me she looked me straight in the eye. In business I was taught to look for that in people and come to find out, Randi hails from the Pennsylvania corner like I do as well and the wavelength began from there! Ms. Stickles and remaining members of Blaine are driven and determined and it shows in their performance and bleeds through in any interview process. There is a clear vision of success throughout this band...and it shall come to them, no doubt!
Blaine the Mono are based out of the Orlando scene and have been together for two years with a combo of both northern and Tampa native musicians that gets their point across on a stage. Randi tossed the Alternative Rock label for their sound, and it is that with the best female vocals in this genre regionally, to this fan's ears. You have the hard driving drums setting the tempo, the guitar rips the air waves and then the vocal style of Randi enters this sound fold to complete this quartet rather nicely. Randi reminded this fan of a vocal range and style of Natalie Merchant, set to harder tones and more texture to what Randi shares with a touch of a female howl tucked onto the end of lyrics. The writing style is clean in this band and it appears to just flow from them, showcasing Randi a bit more is all this fan hopes to see a bit more, as her vocal tells the story. Sample Blaine the Mono here.
Blaine the Mono has played The Driven Tour and also the Earthday Birthday Tour, most recently but you can be sure to hear much more from this line up in the future. The potential for this band is endless and it's just beginning, stay up to date with the band here:
Another female fronted band was next to take the State Theater stage and they call themselves after their lead vocalist, who is Virginia Rose. With her matching, firey red locks complimenting her red dress for this performance, it was clear where the focus needed to be! This vocal firehouse is backed by a six piece band that means business where sound and song layout are concerned, they alter their song style to cover things in variety but still maintain their unique sound and vocal styles. The lovely Virginia has written everything original this band performs, as she has written music since she as ten years old!
Ms. Rose haunts vocally in the style of Amy Lee within the Evanesence camp and in a similar style to most of the harder selections this line up offers any audience. Their single 'Wake up,' was a rather large hit with the panelists for the event, and with the library they pack this band is another merely at the starting gate. We all will hear more from Virginia Rose Band regionally and that is a guarantee, this band is a family and what the band requires comes first with these members. The entire scene up there is a huge family and to be welcomed in such a warming fashion only confirms that fact. These bands succeed together in their region and it shows on the stage!
Their one gutitarist had joined the band only one full week prior to this date and unless they told you this, you would have absolutely no clue in their performance, it just works and will take off from here. Remember Virginia Rose Band, because you will hear this name and band for years to come! Sample Viriginia Rose here.
This is part one of the interview portion of the event and part two is right behind this issue! There are many more interviews to follow along with some very special announcements to be made concerning the bands that took part in the Rock Solid Pressure Industry Showcase 2013! Check out the page and radio show that J-Rock Staffieri hosts right here. All announcements from this grand event will take place on his show and it airs at 7:00 PM!