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Whisky a Go Go

West Hollywood, CA

Material: Oklahoma-based band Kirra is looking to bring true rock back to the forefront with “Fly,” “Tappy Girlmore” and (personal favorite), “Lay You Down.” While the songs tend to blend together on the group’s debut album, they take on new life when experienced live. Most notably, “Fly” is the band’s most diverse track and leaves little question as to why it was chosen as their lead single. This bit of diversity, however, may not yet be enough to make the band stand out in a crowded genre. Musicianship: There is no denying that the band can play and sing, but it is lead guitarist Daxton Page who truly dazzles with his solos. Unfortunately, his virtuosity tends to overshadow his bandmates. Singer Jesse Williamson is inconsistent. His talent shines through, then dims noticeably before shining through again. This may be due to nerves and will be remedied with more performances. The live versions of their songs, however, do add a bit of charisma and an “IT” factor that is lacking in the recorded versions. Kirra would



Contact: Web: The Players: Jesse Williamson, lead vocals, rhythm guitar; Daxton Page, lead guitar; Ryne McNeill, bass, backing vocals; Zach Stafford, drums.

do well to harness their live energy in the studio when it comes to making their next recording.

and McNeill adds a great bass layer—but there remains a certain disconnect.

Performance: The band has the components that, separately, make them a good rock act. They follow the formula of groups such as 8stops7, Godsmack and Seether to a T. The problem is, the pieces haven’t fit together yet. Williamson has the voice, Page plays one hell of a solo, Stafford’s muscle drives the music

Summary: Kirra is on the correct path to bringing back the rock sound of the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, but they haven’t put it together yet. Currently the band lacks stage presence and vitality and they should treat their next performances as golden opportunities to hone their stagecraft. – Victoria Patneaude


Red Bank RiverFest

Red Bank, NJ

Contact: Web: The Players: Sam Sims, vocals, guitar, ukulele, harmonica; Dimitris Kulaga, percussion, full drum kit, backup vocals; Kyle Ward, lead guitar, backup vocals; Aaron Manzo, bass, backup vocals. Material: Folk-rock artist Sam Sims’ eclectic style blends acoustic-based songs by infusing them with rock elements, as well as Hawaiian influences, a culture that he has gravitated to after numerous visits there. (Sims also writes many of his songs on the ukulele.) As a performer, he describes himself as a musician 54 October 2015


timbre is similar and his style easy to embrace. He doesn’t over-sing or resort to stylistic vocal tricks to put across the material. Sims gets strong support from his three bandmates who connect well to their frontman, the music and above of all, each other. Kulaga on percussion and drum kit supplies the light but necessary rhythmic touches to complement Sims while Ward injects well-timed guitar fills and Manzo adeptly tows the line on bass.

who “encourages positivity by performing high quality music” and also one who “provides music education through performance and charitable outreach.” This is evident in his songs’ subject matter and overall tone. In “It is Love,” Sims espouses all the things that comprise real and true love; a tender ballad (in the style of a list song): “It’s never angry, it’s never sad, it’s never jaded, it’s always glad. It’s never jealous, it’s never wrong”… paying off with the tag line “It is love.” In “War Become Love,” Sims puts forth this message—accurately summed up in its title— in a non-preachy or judgmental way. Musicianship: It’s easy to see why Jim Croce is one of this performer’s influences. Sims’ vocal

Performance: The artist delivered a comprehensive and reliable set. With the audience a mixture of Sims fans and newcomers, the artist had something for everyone, balancing original material with celebrated heavy-hitting covers like Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold” and The Eagles’ “Hotel California,” both respectable renditions. Sims’ persona is even-keeled, projecting a healthy dose of confidence without any selfindulgent fanfare. There is room, however, for more audience interaction that would give the crowd a wider window into what informs some of his songwriting or perhaps briefly digressing to share anecdotes to reveal more of what makes him tick. Summary: Sam Sims has his musical chops down, a cohesive backing band and is a more than decent craftsman when it comes to songwriting. He could add dimension and drama to the show by stepping out and connecting more with the audience, offering insights into his life or his songs’ backstory— especially since he is promoting his personal philosophy through music. His work has been licensed by CBS’s Hawaii Five-0 among others and he has new releases coming out soon. – Ellen Woloshin

Music Connection October 2015  

Music Connection presents its 2015 mastering and radio issue featuring hip-hop recording artist and producer B.o.B. Elsewhere in the issue w...

Music Connection October 2015  

Music Connection presents its 2015 mastering and radio issue featuring hip-hop recording artist and producer B.o.B. Elsewhere in the issue w...