Alex B Jodie Saueraker David Fiorenza
Special Edition, Summer 2014, #154
Contents Editor’s Notes Sherry Lynn’s Beautiful Life Alex B: Working Like A Champion Exponent Entertainment: Making Its Dent In The Music Scene .
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Editor’s Notes Several months back, I had big plans. After over 20 years of writing solely about music and songwriting, stories started trickling in from other creative disciplines: film, fashion, writing, and even cooking! It’s possible that these stories were always there, but I just never paid any attention to them. Not to get all new age-y or anything, but I decided to open myself up to these new stories and start a publication in which I could literally cover anything. I planned, plotted, interviewed, and wrote feverishly to prepare for this new venture that I would call Cut To: — a title acknowledging the fact that I would “cutaway” from music to cover virtually anything else. About the time everything was falling in place, my writing started to receive attention, an editor liked what I did, and I was offered a job as a national entertainment journalist. A real paying job. Don’t get me wrong, I had derived an income from my writing throughout the early years, but once everyone had a blog and would eagerly write for free, it made it very tough to find a way to earn a living with words. So, I took the position at AXS.com, mistakenly thinking, Yes I could meet my daily deadlines at AXS.com and still produce two monthly magazines. After about six weeks of four hours sleep each night and making little to no headway on my two magazines, it became pretty clear that I needed to focus on my paying job... or else I would lose it. [And just so you don’t think I’m slacking, besides my writing gig, I also had a full time teaching gig and two other part time jobs. No complaints, I love everything I do, however, there are only so many hours that we get.]
I decided that I had to make that hard call: the magazines would go on hiatus. Songwriter’s Monthly material would start being published on AXS.com in between my regular assignments, and Cut To: material would wind up on Examiner.com. With a humiliating amount of unpublished interviews, that meant I was letting down a fairly large number of actors, musicians, authors, chefs, etc. Most were extremely understanding and willing to wait or eager to do something completely new for a different outlet. Others, however, were not so understanding. Or even nice. After the dust had settled and my strategy was in place to start moving forward again, I realized that still left me with one loose end. Long, long, long time contributor, musician, and good friend David Fiorenza had graciously been doing interviews and writing stories to help me with my workload. I couldn’t run David’s stories on sites where I was personally contracted to produce unique content, so he started a Facebook page called Philly Area Music Reviews — which I urge you to check out! — to bring attention to deserving artists. Still, I had three excellent Fiorenza originals in my possession that were written specifically for Songwriter’s Monthly. What to do? This David Fiorenza-written special edition of Songwriter’s Monthly, that’s what! Enjoy! P.S. That’s David on the left performing in his duo Fiorenza-Dowlin.
Sherry Lynn’s Beautiful Life
by David Fiorenza
Preparing for my interview with Sherry Lynn, I had so many questions and I wondered if she would take the time to indulge me. From her greeting, “Hello David,” I knew I was speaking to a true, down-to-earth country artist. Our interview took place on a beautiful sunny afternoon when both of us could have been enjoying the first rites of spring. However, Sherry took the time to discuss life, music, Nashville, Crystal Gayle, and the Grand Ole Opry with me. Songwriter’s Monthly: How did you get to sing a duet with Crystal Gayle?
Sherry Lynn: I opened up for her at the Broadway Theatre in Pitman, New Jersey. After the show, we got to talk with Crystal, her road manager, and her husband Bill, and they were all such great, down-to-earth people. I admired Crystal when I was younger, and my Aunt Debbie had long hair, like Crystal, that I use to brush. I thought just opening up for Crystal was a dream, but to sing a duet with her was an amazing experience! SM: How did you know what song to record? Sherry Lynn: Both of us were looking for a song that was suitable as a duet and had a good positive message. We looked at many songs and agreed upon “Beautiful Life” written by Danny Wells. He’s written so many good tunes from George Strait’s “Check Yes or No” to Rascal Flatts’ “These Days.” We recorded the song last December at Audio 51 studios in Nashville. It was truly an incredible experience to be able to sing and record in her studio. She is such a legend in country music. SM: Who was the producer on “Beautiful Life”? Sherry Lynn: We were able to get Ted Hewitt, who produced many of Rodney Atkins number one hits. Crystal’s son, Christos Gatzimos, was the engineer. Everyone worked so well together. SM: Tell me more about the new CD, A Beautiful Life. Sherry Lynn: We recorded the CD in Nashville at Ronnie Milsap’s studio. Here I was recording the CD and it involved another country legend: Ronnie Milsap! The studio is known as Ronnie’s Place. It was a great experience that I will always remember. SM: Could you tell me more about Ronnie’s Place. Sherry Lynn: So many artists have recorded there, from Tammy Wynette to Loretta Lynn. The soundboards and other equipment still had the Braille next to the knobs from when Ronnie recorded there. To be able to record in Nashville was another dream... and so was working with so many good songwriters! SM: Who were some of the songwriters for your CD?
Sherry Lynn: For the 10 songs on the CD, we were looking for writers who already had a proven track record for hits. We found Kelley Lovelace (eight number one hits for Brad Paisley) for “Girls Will Be Girls.” We were also fortunate to have the ASCAP 2009 “Songwriter of the Year” Ashley Gorley, who wrote top hits for Carrie Underwood. We looked for more songs and chose songwriters Edward Monroe Hill and Karyn Rochelle. Ed wrote for George Strait and Karyn wrote for both Trisha Yearwood and Kelly Pickler. As an indie artist, I am thrilled to record their songs because they are all A-list songwriters. SM: Now that the CD has been released, how has the response been? Sherry Lynn: The CD was released to radio here and Europe. The song “Girls Will Be Girls” climbed to #33 on the Music Row Country Breakout charts. We are happy to have airplay in many states. I have also received emails from fans in the South and Midwest telling me that they heard the song on their radio station. We are continuing to go into markets where we have not had airplay and we are getting a great reaction and response! Some New Jersey country radio stations have been spinning the song, as well. SM: You have accomplished so much in your career. You sang the National Anthem at a Philadelphia Phillies game, you have performed at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, you were an opening act for the WXTU 92.5 FM radio anniversary show, and you have been an opening act for so many country artists and legends. What is next for you this year? Sherry Lynn: We will be re-releasing a song that was finished late in the holiday season last year called, “Christmas on my Mind,” as well as finishing the recording of a few more songs for a Christmas EP. [At the time of this interview, three other songs plus a video for “Christmas on my Mind” have already been completed for the project.] My management team continues to look for quality shows for me and my band to build my fan base, and I continue to look for great songwriters for our next recording project. [This summer, Sherry traveled to Nashville for her second consecutive year of performances at the CMA Music Festival. She also performed two shows during the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games.] SM: Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to me.
Sherry Lynn: My pleasure! The best place to find more information on Sherry Lynn and her music is at: www.sherrylynnmusic.com. Once there, you can get all of the updates on Sherry by connecting to any of her social media outlets. A Beautiful Life , Sherry’s new 10 song CD, is available for purchase at her site as well. Author’s note: I had the opportunity and pleasure to open up for Sherry and her band in New Jersey about two and a half years ago. My duo, Fiorenza-Dowlin, was treated with respect and encouragement from Sherry Lynn, her band, and her management. David’s band, Fiorenza-Dowlin, is currently celebrating their 15th year together. David Fiorenza teaches Economics of Art & Entertainment at Villanova University. The website for his duo, Fiorenza-Dowlin, is at www.reverbnation.com/ fiorenzadowlin.
Alex B: Working Like A Champion by David Fiorenza
Driving home on a Friday afternoon after teaching some basic Macroeconomics to freshmen in a large lecture hall, I was gladly anticipating an upcoming interview I had scheduled with a rising star from Philadelphia named Alex B. While talking with Michael Buonopane, Alex’s father, I could hear music in the background. I asked him what songs he was listening to on the stereo and his reply was, “That is Alex and the band rehearsing.” I knew I’d found something unique. A teenage boy with his backup band practicing on a Friday afternoon, very rare but very committed to the music. I was amazed, as I was not hearing a “garage band.” This was the sound of a group that had already headlined at some medium sized rooms in the Philadelphia area. This was the live sound of Alex and his group. They were not sampling music or
singing karaoke, but playing their instruments and singing all the tracks as they prepared for their next few shows. The band and Alex practice at least twice a week. Also, Alex takes guitar and voice lessons and has two dance lessons each week in between all the work at school. The results of this intense effort can be seen at the band’s live shows and on all social media outlets. Views on YouTube alone are over 2 million as they add a new video each month to keep their 9,000 subscribers satisfied. Add to that their Twitter following has grown to over 21,000 which keeps fans connected daily — and even hourly — to the latest Alex B information. All of these numbers are very impressive, and this is all before a debut CD has even been released. However, I can tell you that this artist is not about pushing numbers up to get noticed. He does not need to do that as his pop songs are filled with catchy lyrics and the same high quality musical hooks you would hear from a seasoned artist on Top 40 radio. The debut CD should be out within a few months of this article. In the meantime, you can listen to a bevy of very good, well-written songs by Alex, himself, on Reverbnation. A couple of the radio-ready songs on the site include “Airplane” and “This Thing Called Love.” Alex’s next step will be to perform as a headliner in some of the area’s major venues. [On August 13, Alex B will be performing at Xfinity Live's outdoor concert stage with Lil Rock doing a preconcert show before One Direction takes the stage across the parking lot at the Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.] The focus, passion, and determination I see in Alex B and his group are similar to a professional sports team that has the championship title as it’s goal. This could happen to Alex, it may take some time, but I can sense the momentum building and the music maturing. There will be more opportunities to see Alex B in the Philadelphia area and beyond as the band is currently in serious discussions with major labels and distribution companies for the debut CD. David Fiorenza teaches Economics of Art & Entertainment at Villanova University. The website for his duo, Fiorenza-Dowlin, is at www.reverbnation.com/ fiorenzadowlin.
Exponent Entertainment: Making Its Dent In The Music Scene by David Fiorenza
Jodie E. Saueraker Upon her return from the Jersey Shore Festival in Seaside Heights, I was able to sit down and discuss music with Jodie E. Saueraker of Exponent Entertainment. SM: Welcome back from the Jersey Shore Festival! I know you have been involved with music for a good amount of time in the Philadelphia area. Could you start by discussing your role in Exponent Entertainment. Jodie Saueraker: Thanks David! I had a blast at the festival. I saw so many great bands and I was completely blown away by the talent. Exponent was the brainchild of me and my partner Ccelli. We met years ago when he ran a label in South Jersey.
I had gone in to do some hooks for some tracks they were producing, and while I was there, an artist was talking to me about a press release, so I helped him edit it. At that moment, I knew I could help artists, and so did Ccelli. Exponent was born a few months later. It was in an effort to empower artists to create their careers. We wanted to teach people so they could move forward and not feel intimidated by the music business. SM: That is great. Who else is involved with Exponent Entertainment? Jodie: Exponent is me and Ccelli, who also happens to be my fiancé. We have a small team including Mar’z Muzik who does both promotions and engineering; Mikeyes who does all our multi-media work; Kalesse and Jen Quattro, both of whom assist with promotions; and two awesome interns. We manage two artists, as well: Rich Quick and Jay Griffy. They are incredibly busy right now and both are super talented artists. SM: What are some of the past and future events you’ve done with Exponent? Jodie: Wow, we have done a lot! We brought a lot of big names into the city. Currently, we are focusing on an east coast tour for Rich Quick, which will include states from Maine all the way down to Florida. We also are assisting with the Liberty Music Festival in Philadelphia this August. SM: Tell me about some of the other musical projects and ventures you are involved in at the moment? Jodie: Currently, I am Operations Manager for That Mag, a quarterly music publication and website. I co-host a radio show on GasHouseRadio.com every Wednesday at 6 p.m. And, as previously noted, Exponent is one of the sponsors for the Liberty Music Festival. I have been doing a lot of panels and speaking engagements recently. I also co-chair the Buy Local committee for the Sustainable Business Network. SM: What do you think Philadelphia has to offer in the way of music for younger artists who are looking to network or perform?
Jodie: Philadelphia is a gold mine if you know how to use it right! So many of the greats got their start right here in our city! It’s important to understand where you came from to know where you are going. Once you have a grasp on the foundation of Philadelphia music then get out there and network. Every resource you need is here in the city. You just have to ask the right questions. Take everything in that you are told and apply what makes sense to you. Just be consistent and never stop honing your craft. SM: The description on Exponent’s Facebook page talks about uniting artists in the area. Has that been accomplished? Jodie: I really feel we did, but there is a lot more work to be done. Because we work in the rock, pop, folk, and hip hop scenes, we were able to bring people of different genres together. I would like to see much more of this happening, though. Even artists within their own scene can always do more networking. Exponent has been very successful in creating collaborations with artists in the area and we’ve done a great job of stimulating relationships within the industry, for example bringing together promoters with artists. This was done so the whole industry could grow together. We move stronger as a group. SM: Where can musicians and music lovers find out more about Exponent Entertainment? Jodie: You can visit our website at www.ExponentEnt.com or you can listen to the radio show on www.GasHouseRadio.com every Wednesday at 6 p.m.! Also, I am a big fan of Twitter, so you can find me at @ExponentEnt. SM: Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to me. Jodie: Thank you so much, David, for thinking of me! It’s been an honor. David Fiorenza teaches Economics of Art & Entertainment at Villanova University. The website for his duo, Fiorenza-Dowlin, is at www.reverbnation.com/ fiorenzadowlin.
This special edition of Songwriter's Monthly features the writing of David Fiorenza and his interviews with Sherry Lynn, Alex B, and Exponen...
Published on Jul 27, 2014
This special edition of Songwriter's Monthly features the writing of David Fiorenza and his interviews with Sherry Lynn, Alex B, and Exponen...