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Marcus Alland Has A Message… And Bars

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Marcus Alland is a young and upcoming rapper calling Prince George’s County, Maryland his home. While Marcus originally hails from Queens, NY, a notorious hip hop hotbed, it wasn’t until he moved to Maryland and started singing in his local church choir that he realized the impact that music had on him. Choir participation led to producing beats which in turn led to rapping, all by the young age of 16. He has grown exponentially as an artist since then and his progress is on full display with his latest releases.

Alland’s latest single, the inspirational “The Sky Is Never The Limit” is an uplifting message of positivity and serves as a motivational speech to its listeners. With the simple refrain of “…get up and get it…” Marcus encourages others and himself to make the most of the situation. Alland has made a habit of making songs with a positive message as of late. His single “Young Black & Gifted”, which dropped in October of 2020, is an ode to the late Chadwick Boseman, a man who greatly inspired Marcus and his ambitions as an artist. Boseman was and still is a hero to many, specifically to many young black men, and Marcus had always dreamed of acting alongside Boseman. While those ambitions will sadly not be realized, Marcus was still able to tap into the creative power that Boseman brought to the screen. “Young Black & Gifted” is an incredible ode to the legacy of Boseman and to the limitless potential of all young and gifted black men and women.

Over the past decade plus there has been an ongoing conversation in the hip hop community about the value of so-called ‘conscious rap’ as opposed to top 40 or radio rap. Marcus Alland has made it clear with “The Sky Is Never The Limit” and “Young Black & Gifted” that there doesn’t need to be just one or the other and that both genres can flow seamlessly together. “The Sky Is Never The Limit”, while carrying an uplifting message, is also a straight-up banger. This is a “windows down on a summer night, rolling with the crew, volume all the way up” kind of song. Its’ energy is infectious, and if you play it on repeat you’ll be three spins in before you realize the song has started over.

Rap has suffered no shortage of young and talented up and comers in the past decade and it is safe to say that the genre is in good hands with the amazing crop of artists who have arisen over the past few years. It should also be noted that there are a whole ‘nother crop of young artists who are banging on the door demanding to be heard, and Marcus Alland is most definitely one of them. And while Marcus has certainly carved his own path musically his swagger is reminiscent of another well known DMV resident and rapper, Wale. Marcus’ talent and ambition are a force to be reckoned with and it would be no great surprise to see him dominating the rap charts in a years’ time. He has the bars, the production skills, and the message to take himself to great heights. After all, the sky is never the limit for those who are young black and gifted.

Written by Ian Logue

Matt Westin Talks About His Latest Single “Thin Blue Line”

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  1. We’re thrilled to have you for an interview, Matt!  How has 2021 been treating you so far, all things considered?

Thanks for having me! 2021 has been pretty good so far, and definitely better than last year. The release of my latest single “Thin Blue Line” in February has been successful and very positive. I’ve been building my band and looking forward to performing live as soon as venues open up, which they seem to be starting to. I was also in Boca Raton in March to perform a few songs for footage on a TV show called Club TV. That was a lot of fun. I’m excited for the rest of the year! 

2. Your single “Thin Blue Line” is very personal to you.  Please tell us about the song.

Yes, “Thin Blue Line” is special for a lot of reasons. This song was written in 2019, before things got really crazy regarding police and protests and riots, but released in such a timely manner that I think it was really meant to happen this way. The song was inspired by my law enforcement friends who have dedicated their lives to the sacred duty of protecting and serving their communities. I’ve heard their stories, seen the pain and pride in their eyes, and I’m amazed at their courage and selflessness. I couldn’t do their work, not knowing if I’d even come home at the end of the day, and I wanted to thank them in my own personal way. The positive message of love and sacrifice in “Thin Blue Line” is what needs to be heard, now more than ever, and I pray that it does some good in this crazy world we live in.

3. Do you feel like people “get” what you’re trying to do with your music?

I do, thankfully. The response to my debut album “Legacy”, and even more so to the singles I’ve released, has been more incredible than I imagined when I first got into this crazy business. I try to release songs that mean something to me, are relatable, and have some kind of message, while also staying true to my love for country music from different eras as well as rock. I just try to make music that I like, and if other people like it, then that’s wonderful.

4. Growing up, who did you listen to?  Do you still listen to those artists, or have your tastes changed as you’ve gotten older?

My first memory of music is when my dad gave me a cassette of Elvis’ hits when I was about 3 years old, and I listened to it on my bedroom floor in awe. Elvis has been an influence ever since. But, I’ve listened to just about every genre of music since I was a kid. Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson, Johnny Cash, and Toby Keith have always been favorites of mine. My first favorite rock band was Queen, then it was Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, and Metallica. My first favorite R&B group was Boyz II Men. I love old school hip hop and rap as well. Believe it or not, Frank Sinatra was a grade school favorite of mine, and his music later inspired me to learn how to sing. Frank’s still my absolute favorite today, and I still love all the bands and artists I grew up exploring.

5. You are also an actor.  Tell us about the movie you have coming up, and how you got that gig?

Yes, I was cast as a young Johnny Cash in an upcoming film called “116 MacDougal”. That’s the address of the famous Gaslight Cafe in Greenwich Village New York in the late 50s and early 60s. The film is about the Gaslight Cafe, its owner John Mitchell, and how it was a huge part of the counter culture movement that began at that time. John had to protect his artists from the mob, the government, the police, and the FBI because their message was considered counter culture and a threat to society. Many famous folk musicians and beat writers performed there and spent time there. In fact, Bob Dylan got his start there as an 18 year old boy! The cast includes iconic characters such as Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, Peter, Paul, and Mary, Johnny Cash, Salvador Dali, Andy Warhol, Alan Ginsburg, Jack Kerouac, and many many more. The story is based on actual accounts from interviews with the surviving artists. It’s really an untold piece of American and music history! And the soundtrack is incredible too! I was suggested for the role by a friend of mine that’s involved in the film. When the producers learned that Johnny Cash would stop in the Gaslight Cafe to perform whenever he was in town, they just had to include such an iconic character. They called me, and I just happened to have a recording of myself singing Folsom Prison Blues, so I sent it over to them. Within a few hours, it was an unanimous decision to cast me in the role, and I was the only person they even auditioned. It’s quite an honor and very exciting.

6. What is one song that you never change when it comes on?

Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys Are Back In Town” reminds me of one time riding with my dad in his Jeep when I was a kid. It came on the radio back to back on two different stations, and I always liked the song, so we listened to it twice. My dad was probably slightly annoyed by this, but it’s a memory that I still cherish. 

7. Are you involved in any charitable works?  If so, what?

I donate to charitable causes from time to time, and every year I attend a “gun bash” that is run by and benefits the Fraternal Order of Police. I have quite a few friends in law enforcement, so this event is not only a great time, but also for a cause that is personal to me. I will likely be performing my latest single “Thin Blue Line” at the upcoming event in August.

8. Tell us one thing about you that most people would be surprised to know.

I taught myself how to sing, and I couldn’t sing at all when I was younger. In fact, I was rejected from a middle school play because I couldn’t sing! I never would have thought that I would become an international country recording artist.

9. Tell us what’s next for you, on the music front.

I’ll be promoting my song “Thin Blue Line” while working on a plan with my producer Bryan Cole. I’m writing a few more songs in the coming months to round out my 2nd album, and trying to get in front of some bigger record labels. I am really trying to make 2021 a year of progress for my career.

10. What do you hope that people will think of when they hear the name Matt Westin?

I hope they think of a good man, who was true to himself and what he believes in, and made good music that reflected that.

Unsafe Tap Water Kills Holland’s Famous Pop Singer Sharmila’s Young Daughter Tanisha Chandenie

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Unsafe tap water kills Holland’s famous pop singer Sharmila’s young daughter Tanisha Chandenie Though the Holland administrative assures the people that drinking tap water is completely safe, there have been incidents of people becoming sick after consuming it in the country. Eminent pop singer-songwriter Sharmila has recently lost her young daughter in a terrible incident linked to tap water. Her daughter Tanisha Chandenie was only 25 years old when she died. On last Saturday, April 3rd, the talented young woman lost her battle to a sickness related to tap water and succumbed to death. Sharmila and her daughter have never taken the risk of drinking tap water into account. Like every other citizen in the country, they thought it was perfectly safe to consume it. There was a mention in the media a few years back that the tap water was unsafe in the city. But she did not know or research about it until the incident happened. Both of them became sick drinking tap water. Though she overcame it, her daughter could not fight back. Tanisha was a bright student, who was very much invested in her school and studying. She used to play the keyboard and wrote a few of her own songs. She also had a great talent for drawing and painting. She was an outgoing person spending quality time with friends. She was very popular among her peers being a kind-hearted and caring person. She always inspired everyone around her with her optimistic thought and positive vibes. The unsafe tap water could take more lives such as her if the government does not come up with a solution. Sharmila is fighting to bring the matter to the attention of the people who are in danger of losing their lives. 

Universal Music Dominican Republic

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Universal Music Dominican Republic is an American-Dominican record label that operates as a division of Universal Music Group. It was founded in 2021 in La Capital, Dominican Republic by singer-songwriter Janix Marie. Mendez (Janix Mendez). It’s stablished to provide services to unsigned & signed Artists around the globe primarily on the main island it’s based on. With more than 30+ artists signed to UMG Latin, Universal Music Dominican Republic is merging them all to their system. 

How It Started:

In 2017, Mendez had been talking about stablishing a music group business that could provide tools for artists that are in the needs of help, those mentioned she quoted “LGBTQ rights would be added to the business, people of color would be always welcomed, people with disabilities would always stay on top-lists.” 

As a result to start, Mendez started developing her own music career distributing her music through-out small music businesses such as DistroKid, Ditto Music, & United Masters. Her #1 successful single “Isaiah” made her acknowledge the hard work she has done to get to where she is now and decided to finally open up what it’s now to be called “Universal Music Dominican Republic” abbreviated as “UMGRD” or “UMRD”. Her biggest inspiration has been “Lady Gaga, Madonna & Ariana Grande”.

Who is Janix Mendez?:

Janix Marie Mendez more commonly referred to as Janix Mendez is a Dominican singer, songwriter, producer, LGBTQ+ activist & advocate, and model. She was born in San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic, shifting herself to New York with her family to continue her life’s journey.

RISING RAPPER KAY HOLLA TO LOOKING OUT FOR FROM EAST NEW YORK, BROOKLYN NY

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Kay Holla is a Hip Hop artist worth looking out for rising artist in 2021. Kay Holla started out 2021 with first promo single “Incarcerated Scarfaces” (Freestyle) a classic by Raekwon released on January 12, 2021 to pay homage to one of his music influencers. His first official single “Chain Glo” (Produced by Trench Lord B & Engineered by Official Stichel) released on February 5, 2021 shows artistry and talent that can get stuck in your head, exactly where you want it to be. Kay Holla second official single released March 15,  2021 entitle “Secure The Bag” (Produced by Sixx Digits & Engineered by Official Stichel). Both singles on Spotify and Apple Music streams raised to over 20k+ in 35+ countries. Kay Holla’s music definitely offers unique flow, a catchy vibe, and a banger that can be played in all enjoyment purposes.

Kay Holla was born in East New York,  Brooklyn, New York. He started rapping at the age of 9. Kay Holla was inspired with music at an early age, an escape from reality. Inspired by Raekwon, Cassidy, Ransom, Stack Bundles, Freck Billionaire, Styles P, Max B, Nate Dogg, Chinx Drugz, Don Q, and Cam’ron. Kay Holla vision to start in the entertainment industry materialized after he enter several showcases throughout New York City and won a showcase to perform for New York dj  DJ Self “Prince of NY”.

Kay Holla’s music story will provide the listeners of his life obstacles he had to overcome and the way he has been able to make it though and continue to follow his dream.

Website: https://unitedmasters.com/kay-holla

Spotify: 

Instagram: https://instagram.com/kayholla

Billboard World Music Interview with Robert Andrew Wagner of The Little Wretches

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  1. We’re thrilled to have you for an interview, Robert!  How has 2021 been treating you so far, all things considered?

Okay, you asked for it. How I’m being treated isn’t the question. How I respond to how I’m being treated, that’s the question. That’s what I can control.

I do a lot of work with at-risk teens. I was eavesdropping when one boy was teaching another boy how to write a love-letter to a girl, “You start off with the title of a song. Get it? You don’t have the words to say what you feel, but the song does. She’ll hear the song in her head while she reads your letter.”

So I am going to answer your question with some song titles, kind of the 2021 soundtrack of my mind. 

HOW INSENSITIVE, a bossa nova Brazilian thing by Jobim. I’ve heard two versions, one by Petula Clark and the other by Tony Bennett. “How unmoved and cold I must have seemed…Did I just turn and stare in icy silence?” Or NO FEELINGS by The Sex Pistols. That’s me, blocking out all the pain and going straight ahead.

Or I AIN’T EVER SATISFIED by Steve Earle. Or THE WIND by Cat Stevens. DIAMONDS AND RUST by Joan Baez. PROMISES PROMISES by Generation X. WHEN I’M GONE by Phil Ochs. That’s me vowing to make the most of the time I have.

There’s a line by Ray Wylie Hubbard, “The days I keep my gratitude higher than my expectations, I have really good days.” MOTHER BLUES is the song.

I’m like a wild salmon. I just keep swimming against the current no matter what.

2. Your album “Undesirables and Anarchists” has received a lot of press and airplay.  Are you surprised that your music has been so well received?

Yikes, I’m supposed to be some kind of writer, but for some reason I have a compulsion to answer with quotes and song-titles. 

This reference might be a little obscure, but when MMA fighter Nate Diaz upset Conor McGregor, they gave him the mic in the center of the octagon, and he said, “I’m not surprised, mother-effers.” Then Joe Rogan pulls the mic back, “You can’t talk like that on this network.”

Before the fight, Diaz called out McGregor with something like, “You’re taking everything I worked for, mother-effer!”

Well, nobody had taken anything I’d worked for, but when I started The Little Wretches, I expected to be recognized and appreciated. Let me in. Move over. I’m here now. 

And instead, I had to watch other people walk through the door while security at the gate seemed to have orders to prevent my entry. So now I’ve got a foot in the door. 

But the thing is with The Little Wretches, we have a vast catalogue, wide-ranging. Acoustic stuff. Punk-ish stuff. Beatle-esque stuff. Spoken-word. Some people might hear UNDESIRABLES & ANARCHISTS and later be disappointed when they discover that the rest of our music sounds different. But I’m banking on the idea that a good number of people will discover the catalogue and end up getting it all.

3. Do you feel like people “get” what you’re trying to do with your music?

This is a feel-good culture. People use music as a mood-regulator, like a cigarette, a cup of coffee or a cocktail. Advertisers pair images of their products with songs. Retail outlets have songs playing in the background as you shop. It’s all about feeling good.

In many ways, the entertainment business is like a drug-pusher, “I got ups, downs, loosies, hallucinogenics, organics, anything you need.” And we who create the music are like chemists. We make the stuff. How it is used is beyond our control. Dylan songs once associated with the Civil Rights Movement are now being used to sell cars.

What’s the key to a hit song? A HOOK! I understand that the way to guarantee repeat-business is to get the customer hooked. 

But I ain’t a dealer, I’m a healer. I make medicine that can heal you or hurt you. The kind of medicine I make is not for everybody. It may have side-effects.

People like me, the things that made us who we are, we’re not supposed to talk about in public. Our experiences are supposed to be kept to ourselves. Nobody wants to see our scars. But I’ve got some stories to tell, and many yet to be told, and I tell them through song. 

When it comes to feel-good music as the soundtrack of commerce, my stuff is no better or worse than anybody else’s. But that’s not my game.

Most people are here to get high. I’m here to save lives. Some people “get it,” and they’re the ones that matter.

4. Growing up, who did you listen to?  Do you still listen to those artists, or have your tastes changed as you’ve gotten older?

I mentioned earlier that I work with at-risk kids. The white kids’re wearing tee-shirts with DARK SIDE OF THE MOON, The Ramones, The Doors, and they’re listening to their parents and grandparents’ music collections. Led Zeppelin. Jimi Hendrix. 

That’s how it was for me—my mom’s record collection and television shows like HEE HAW, THE SMOTHERS BROTHERS, JOHNNY CASH, GLEN CAMPBELL, MIDNIGHT SPECIAL, DON KIRSHNER’S ROCK CONCERT.

My own collection started out with 7” singles—The Hollies, The Beach Boys, The Doors. When it came to LPs, I started with The Beatles. And before I moved on to other artists, I had every album The Beatles had ever made. Then it was The Who. The Kinks. The Velvet Underground. The Rolling Stones. The Doors. Then I went back to study Johnny Cash, Roy Clark and Buck Owens. Tom Jones. Elvis Presley. Jerry Lee Lewis. All the music from those old shows.

What do they say, “Diamonds are forever.” 

Of course, Bob Dylan is Bob Dylan. For those of us who take writing seriously, the first time you hear HIGHWAY 61 REVISITED or BLONDE ON BLONDE, your life changes.

5. You’re originally from Pittsburgh.  Tell us about Pittsburgh and also, where you live now?

The Pittsburgh I grew up in doesn’t exist anymore. 

My grandparents came to Pittsburgh from Europe in the hope of becoming entrepreneurs. Back home, they were under the thumb of the Hungarians, then Hitler, then Stalin. Thank God they got on that boat. Here in the USA, of course, they had the Great Depression, but at least they didn’t have tanks and storm-troopers rolling down the streets.

My parents grew up in the industrial heyday of the steel mills, smoke so thick your clothes would be covered with soot when you took them off the clothesline. My dad grew up on the border of what was called SoHo and The Hill District, a legendary Black community. My dad had a Mississippi-accent. He grew up around so many people who’d migrated from the South that he picked up their dialect. My dad was born in the same year and grew up in the same neighborhood as Andy Warhol, and I used to live across the trolley tracks from where Andy Warhol was buried.

Now, I go back to Pittsburgh, and everybody is from somewhere else. We natives are like wildlife, “Oh look, there’s a flock of natives walking down the street. Don’t they talk funny? Aren’t they scary? What brutes!”

My friends in Pittsburgh think I live in Philadelphia, but I live along the Schuylkill River and Perkiomen Creek valleys, places that used to be vacation-destinations for rich people from Philly. Woods. Horse farms. Corn fields. Bean fields. More woods. Small towns and villages.

And bit by bit, those horse farms and corn fields are turning into housing developments. 

I’m told people in South Philly are really hard core, but compared to what I know from Pittsburgh, well, there is no comparison. 

Let me give you an example. 

In Philly, they’re over-the-top with opening and holding doors for each other. That’s nice, right? Courteous. Polite. Let me get the door for you! No, let ME get the door for YOU.

By contrast, and maybe this is just me and I’m some kind of weirdo, but in old Pittsburgh, if you tried to hold the door for me, I’d take it as an insult. We hold doors for ladies and old people. What you tryna say? Who are YOU to hold a door for ME? You tryna say I’m weak? You tryna say I’m crippled? You tryna say I can’t hold the door for myself? 

Get it? 

My generation of Pittsburghers were all about self-reliance, independence, take care of yourself, your family, and your neighborhood. We don’t want nobody’s help. We don’t want nobody’s handout. 

Like I said, the Pittsburgh I grew up in doesn’t exist anymore.

6. What is one song that you never change when it comes on?

There are a lot of songs I would never change when they come on. I read somewhere that Mickey Rourke, the actor, had it set so that every time he got in his limo, Bob Dylan’s KNOCKING ON HEAVEN’S DOOR would play. 

My, that’s a tough question. One song? I’d have to go with SWEET JANE by The Velvet Underground, the original album version from LOADED. I loved that song for years with only the slightest ideas as to what the lyrics were alluding to. For me, that song is a celebration of the absolute outsiders who find a way to carve a niche for a little bit of love and joy, right smack dab in the middle of a world that hates them.

7. Are you involved in any charitable works?  If so, what?

Touchy subject. Charitable works aren’t really charity if they’re done in public. But I’ll tell you some issues that I care about, though even that is hard for me without my getting on a soapbox.

I was talking earlier about feel-good culture. I think a lot of people engage in charitable work because it makes them feel better about themselves. I ask myself, what are the issues that could present a cornerstone for empowerment? How can I help someone to the extent that they don’t need help anymore?

For me, the cornerstone issues involve LITERACY and MINISTRY. A lot of people don’t know this, but public education in the American colonies started in New England among Puritans who needed every person to be able to read and study The Bible. 

In the past, I was very involved in political activism. In college, I was involved in an organization called the ANTI-IMPERIALIST STUDENT UNION. In truth, though, we were Marxists agitating around international and domestic “hot button” issues that would allow us to demonstrate that “socialist revolution is the only solution.” I am now hypersensitive to manipulation, when people say they want one thing but are deceptively operating under an agenda that wants something else. 

Over time, I came to accept that everywhere the state has taken over the economy, rights and liberties are eroded to the point of nonexistence. Ultimately, John Lennon’s utopian IMAGINE turns into a dehumanizing reality.

So I’m looking for ways to HUMANIZE, and I’m crazy enough to believe that people are made in the image of God. So in order to understand how to become more human, I have to study the Divine. I’ve learned that I have a choice, and I’ve made that choice. 

I want to empower other people through literacy, and literacy places people on a path on which they, like me, will see that they have choices and are free to choose.

Literacy leads to freedom. 

Now, even literacy can’t help you much if you’re starving. So I also support networks and organizations devoted to feeding the hungry. But give a person a fish and they eat for a day, right? Teach a person to fish… Teach. Teach. Teach. Language literacy. Media literacy. Cultural literacy. Political literacy. In the beginning was the Word, my brothers and sisters. Amen.

8. Tell us one thing about you that most people would be surprised to know.

Did you ever hear the song by The Who, “Don’t pretend that you know me ‘cause I don’t even know myself?” I mostly live in my own little dream world, telling myself a story in which I’m one of the good guys. 

HEROES AND VILLAINS by The Beach Boys was the first record I ever bought. Then I had buyer’s remorse, snuck back into the record shop, put Heroes and Villains back on the shelf and picked up CARRIE ANN by The Hollies. A person working in the store saw me and told me what I had done was technically against the law and could be considered stealing, but she wouldn’t get me in trouble. I wonder if my whole worldview isn’t contained in that stupid little Beach Boys song.

9. Tell us what’s next for you, on the music front.

The same lineup of The Little Wretches that made UNDESIRABLES & ANARCHISTS is recording a collection of songs called RED BEETS & HORSERADISH.  Lyrically, it consists of musical portraits and cinematography of the soul, songs about sick people, old people, crazy people, stubborn people. You know, just your basic fare about bitter suffering and salvation, paradoxically uplifting given the seriousness of the subjects. 

The songs are awesome, and I can play all of them solo. Let’s face it, it isn’t realistic to expect the whole band to be able to tour right now, but I can go out all by myself and knock people out with these songs. 

For UNDESIRABLES & ANARCHISTS, we were very tight and well-rehearsed. We had road-tested songs that had been shaped in battle, if I can get away with that metaphor. This time, we’re dealing with songs that we’ve not previously played or performed together. 

John Carson’s bass and Mike Madden’s drums sound great. John Carson came up with bass lines far superior to anything I would have imagined. I hope people recognize what he’s contributed to this band. And Mike Madden is my Jim Keltner.

HK Hilner’s piano has yet to be recorded. I hope he turns some of these songs into something that would sound at home on The Rolling Stones’s BEGGARS BANQUET or LET IT BLEED. 

Rosa Colucci hasn’t yet infused the project with her majesty. She’s the Joan Baez to my Bob Dylan, the Emmylou Harris to my Gram Parsons. And she has great percussion ideas.

I’m playing mostly acoustic guitars, and I’m very self conscious about my vocals. I’m not sure how to deliver the lyrics. I have decisions to make with my limited voice. I’ve got a whisper voice, a belter voice, a conversational voice. I have to figure out how to best deliver these lyrics, but I cringe at the sound of my own voice. 

The one thing of which I am absolutely certain, though, is that these are great songs, and nobody but me could have written them. 

10. What do you hope that people will think of when they hear the name Little Wretches?

“AMAZING GRACE, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.” PSALM 23. I hope people think of our songs, BORN WITH A GIFT, THANKS FOR SAVING MY LIFE, THE TASTE OF DIRT. I hope people think of THE BEATITUDES. Blessed are the meek, the downtrodden, the poor in spirit, the persecuted, and The Little Wretches. 

I hope that’s not too much hope for you.

IZZIES CARAVAN BILLBOARD INTERVIEW

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  1. We’re thrilled to have you for an interview, Izzie!  How has 2021 been treating you so far, all things considered?

A.) Hi there. Really glad to be here. In all honesty, it’s been a bit of a roller-coaster livin’ in the Covid world. Musically, though there’s been a very productive spillover from last year and we’re neck-deep in the recording and production of our upcoming album called ‘Blow The Lid’. Its on track for a June 15th release so we’re really excited about that. All in all, it’s been challenging but you gotta have a thick-skin to get through these times and making music sure helps at therapeutic level. 

2. Your single “Return To Midway” is really heating up.  I’ve heard it on several spotify playlists already.  Are you surprised that it’s being so well received?

A.) Yeah this track in particular means a lot to me personally. We’ve actually had this song in the catalogue since 2006 but decided to bring it back in revamped version and associate it very proudly with the #restorethesnyderverse movement. Being a childhood DC fan, growing up with these iconic characters, and seeing them come to life on the screen with Zack Snyder’s Justice League was a surreal experience. At a more political level, whats more important to me is the preservation of artistic integrity and the vision of the artist should stand above corporate hijacking. 

3. Do you feel like people “get” what you’re trying to do with your music?

A.) Honestly, from the inception of this project, I knew our backs were always going to be against the wall with how we approach music and what we create in this current musical climate. I tend to be very traditionalist in the sense that rock n’ roll and the blues were grounded in reality and there was a certain sense of, to use that word again, integrity about it where the entire song, the entire album, the entire process of it was the life-blood of the band…not some tik-tok clip that goes viral. Currently, we’re substituting music as an art form for the commercialised gimmick that needs to be sold and I’ve never bought into that mentality nor will I ever do so. I can’t subscribe to these pseudo-intellectual postmodern narratives that we’re held hostage by. To me I’d rather have a 100 people genuinely appreciate the music I make rather than having a million superficial ‘views’ or ‘likes’. I mean that sincerely. And the fact that record companies do their ‘head-hunting’ based on algorithms is in my estimation bloody lazy. Most of our songs hit the 5-minute mark with ease, including some of the ballads, that we’ve done, and I don’t really care whether thats not the acceptable standard. In ‘Blow The Lid’ we have an 18-minute song…yeah, that’s right…18-minutes, called ‘Curse of Anastasia’ and frankly speaking if that’s how long it takes to capture the spirit of the song, then that’s what we’ll do. 

4. Growing up, who did you listen to?  Do you still listen to those artists, or have your tastes changed as you’ve gotten older?

A.) Growing up I was really fortunate that my dad would be playing records by Dire Straits and Pink Floyd, and then of course listening to The Stones, Zeppelin, getting absolutely floored by the early Aerosmith records…Guns N Roses became the biggest thing and that was a fun era. So, rock n’ roll was always in my blood. But youthful naïveté obscured the fact that there was something way more powerful behind all these bands and that was the blues. Once I got into the blues, that changed my life. Buddy Guy, Johnny Winter, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Clapton, Stevie Ray…the list goes on and on. Absolutely life changing. I literally have Rory Gallagher cranked up right now and there’s just nothing better. This is life!  

5. You took about a 6 month hiatus between releases, where we rarely heard anything from you.  Where did you go?

A.) Let’s just say Covid hit home. Roque (bass) actually contracted it, quarantining, keeping low on the music front, keeping the day job alive. It’s tough being in this business and important to balance the rigours of real life with artistic pursuits. 

6. What is one song that you never change when it comes on?

A.) That’s easy enough. ‘Dream On’ by Aerosmith, which to me personally is my greatest rock n’ roll song ever. Those early Aerosmith records mean everything to me…that power, raw energy of the blues. Absolutely fantastic stuff. I’d throw in Tom Petty’s ‘Runnin’ Down A Dream’ as well. 

7. Tell us one thing about you that most people would be surprised to know.

A.) That I pursued my academic work in Philosophy and that’s still my other passion in life.

8. Tell us what’s next for you, on the music front.

A.) At this point of time, my entire focus is on getting this album done and getting it out there on June 15th. We’ve already released a bunch of these songs and it’s been awesome so far. ‘Return to Midway’ and ‘Blow The Lid’ – the title-track – both debuted really well on iTunes Blues. We’re also releasing lyrics videos for each song, possibly a couple of official videos if the situation allows, and spreading the good word out to the rock and blues fans who are looking for some new music in the traditional vein. Honestly though, with the way things are, I don’t see ourselves sitting idle for long and chances are right after the release of ‘Blow The Lid’, we’ll probably be back in the studio not long after that. 

9. What do you hope that people will think of when they hear the name Izzie’s Caravan?

A.) I just hope people see us for holding true to our beliefs and the fact that we take real pride in our ability to create our art the way we want to. Like I said, we’re not here to smash any records or attend lame award shows that don’t even have any respect for the kind of music we play anymore. Often when someone comes to me and says “Man, this is really awesome…I cranked this up in the car” is the ultimate sense of satisfaction for me! 

BTS Receive Apology From Chilean TV Network Over Racist Skit: ‘We Ask For Your Forgiveness’

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Mega TV’s “Mi Barrio” sketch show featured a xenophobic skit mocking COVID-19 with actors parodying the South Korean group.

Chilean TV network Mega issued an apology to BTS on Tuesday (April 13) following intense backlash over a COVID-19 sketch on the show Mi Barrio that featured actors parodying the South Korean group. According to the Korea Times, the racist, xenophobic skit that aired on Sunday (April 11) had five comedians dressed as BTS members, who introduced themselves as “Kim Jong Uno,” “Kim Jong Dos,” etc., speaking in mocking Korean accents, getting vaccinated and making inappropriate jokes about Asians and the novel coronavirus.

In reaction to the controversy — which unleashed a flood of angry tweets from the ARMY demanding an apology coupled with the hashtag #ElRacismoNoEsComedia (racism is not comedy) — the network issued a mea culpa on Tuesday (April 13). “On the controversy unleashed this weekend as a result of a sketch broadcast on the program Mi Barrio, Megamedia wishes to declare the following: humor helps people deal with the difficult moments of the pandemic that we are going through,” read a translation of the statement.

Taylor Swift Turns ‘Fearless’ Castoffs Into an EP of Gems With ‘From the Vault’ 6-Pack

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On the Billboard Pop Shop Podcast, we take a closer listen to the half-dozen “new” songs released as part of Swift’s re-recorded “Fearless (Taylor’s Version).”

We already knew Fearless was a classic project — after all, Taylor Swift won album of the year at the Grammys for her sophomore set — but what we didn’t know until this week was how many great songs were left on the cutting-room floor back when it was released in 2008.

Along with her new re-recording of the album, dubbed Fearless (Taylor’s Version), Swifties also got six never-before-released “From the Vault” songs. “You All Over Me,” featuring Maren Morris, and the rumor-mill-igniting “Mr. Perfectly Fine” came out first, and then the other four came out with the re-recording on Friday: “We Were Happy” (which includes Keith Urban background vocals); “That’s When,” featuring Urban; “Don’t You”; and “Bye Bye Baby.”

Meet Jesse Atkinson: Music Visionary and CEO Of Urban Threshold

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Jesse Christopher Atkinson is a 15-year music industry veteran. He’s an author, an activist, a marketing specialist, and a lecturer. He is also the CEO of Urban Threshold Enterprises Inc., and the founder of the Underground Music Awards and The A&R Power Summit. Moreover, Jesse Atkinson wrote the critically acclaimed, bestselling eBook “The Independent Music Grind.”

Urban Threshold has been a powerful force within the independent urban music scene for close to two decades. The company has emerged as one of the premier marketing/publicity firms for independent music artists and producers in the country. Urban Threshold has secured media placements for its clients in major media outlets such as XXL magazine, Hip Hop Weekly magazine, TheSource.com, Shade 45 Sirius/XM radio, AllHipHop.com, Billboard Magazine, Vlad TV Thisis50.com, etc.

In 2001, Mr. Atkinson created the acclaimed Underground Music Awards. The 15-year-old event has become the biggest and brightest award show for independent urban music artists in America. The UMA award show has received press from MTV, BET, The Source, Hot 97 and the village voice. Past winners of Urban Threshold’s Underground Music Awards include Nicki Minaj, (MGK) Machine Gun Kelly, Fred The Godson, J Cole, Joyner Lucas, Remy Ma, Styles P, and Papoose among others.

In addition to honoring the future stars, the UMA’s also pay homage to the legends. Past honorees include Hip-Hop legends like RUN DMC, Whodini, Ice T, Naughty By Nature, EPMD, Slick Rick, Grandmaster Flash, DJ Red Alert, DJ Kid Capri, Kool G Rap, and M.O.P.

Equally important, in 2001, Jesse Atkinson founded The A&R Power Summit seminar series. The illustrious A&R Power Summit’s comprehensive program schedule of panels, workshops, and music listening sessions address the important issues affecting the music industry today. The A&R Power Summit offers lively moderators, diverse participants, in depth discussions, fantastic performances and spirited debates.

Jesse Atkinson grew up in the Bronx, NY, the birthplace of Hip Hop. Music has always been part of his life. He attended Pace University, where he studied finance and marketing. After college, he worked on Wall Street for over 20 years as an account executive. He had long stints at Oppenheimer & Co. and A.G. Edwards and sons.

Jesse Atkinson is a visionary. He is laying down the foundation for the creation of an Independent Artist Stock Exchange, whereby independent music artists and producers can sell shares in their brands and raise investment capital for their movements. This will be a great opportunity for investors to get involved with an artist at the ground level before he or she reaches superstar status. As well, Jesse Atkinson created a one of a kind award show called The Urban Producer Awards. The slogan is “create a beat and produce a legacy.”  The philosophical tag line is “Live The Moment. Live The Beat.” The Urban Producer Awards program honors the often-unrecognized music producers within the urban music marketplace. According to Jesse Atkinson, “today’s urban music producers are the modern day Beethovens, Mozarts, Bachs and Tchalkovskies.”

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/urbanthreshold1/

Website: http://www.indiemusicgrind.com/ 

Email: IndependentMusicGrind@Gmail.com

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