Archive for the 'Musician Spotlight' Category

17
Oct
12

Guest Star: ‘Cause he’s the Saxman

Detroit-born saxophonist, arranger and composer, Aaron McEvers was raised surrounded by music. From an early age he knew that it was more than just a part of him, it was what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. This sax player from Chicago Groove Collective is one of the best in town. Read below to learn more about him and his adventures of all things music!

Stitely Entertianment (SE): What are the five songs you’re listening to the most right now?
Aaron McEvers (AM): Its easier to list five artists. I rarely listen to a small set of tunes over and over:
1. Bartok (especially Divertimento for strings)
2. my friend Matt Ulery‘s groups
3. Bennie Golson
4. Steely Dan
5. Herbie Hancock

SE: Who or what inspired you to be a professional musician?
AM: I grew up always knowing I would play something. My dad and my uncle were always playing the piano, so I was around it. It wasn’t until about 8th grade that I knew it would consume my life. I was both fortunate and cursed that I didn’t choose the profession, it chose me.

SE:  Do you play in any other groups? Tell us about them.
AM: My own regular band, for which I write all the music, is M13. We’ve played monthly for years. We’re working on an album now. M13 is a 13 piece ensemble that I assembled about 8 years ago. It is made up of professional players with different backgrounds who can really play hard. Jazz is at its core, but there are so many flavors in the music that its hard to describe. I just try write music that’s fresh to hear and fun to play. Until our album is finished, check out the website at M13chicago.com

AM at Trump

Playing away at the Trump Tower

SE: How did you become involved with music?
AM: I started when I was 10 in my school’s band program. If I knew then what I know now I’d have also

studied more drums, piano or even bass.

SE: What was your first concert?
AM: The first big concert I ever heard was Peter Frampton opening for Stevie Nicks, back in Detroit. The first real concert I played was a touring series throughout northern Europe. I was 17 at the time. I wish I could do that again.

SE: If you could share the stage with any musician, dead or alive, who would it be?
AM: There are so many. Tony Williams comes to mind.

SE: You are stuck on a desert island forever. Which three albums do you want with you?
AM: 1. Bartok – Concerto for Orchestra
2. John Coltrane’s – A Love Supreme
3. Miles Davis and Gil Evans – Miles Ahead

19
Sep
12

guest star: Lina Ain’t Misbehavin’ at Stitely

After her church debut at age three, Lina Wass knew she was destined for the stage. This theatre darling and singer from Stitely’s Chicago Groove Collective is a total sweetheart. Read on to get to know her a bit better!

Stitely Entertainment (SE): What are the songs you’re listening to the most right now?
Lina Wass (LW):
1. “We Are Young” by Fun
2. “Somebody That I Used To Know” by Gotye
3. “Not Guilty” by Mandisa

SE: Who or what inspired you to be a professional musician?
LW: I always loved the arts and music. I started dance class at the age of three as well as sang my first solo in church. My church solo consisted of a verse in “Silent Night,” and I sang it once in English and once in German. I’m half German on my mom’s side and she taught me that song as well as played the piano for me. After my solo was over I looked at her and said into the microphone “Did I do good, mom?” Of course she said yes to her three year old hopeful daughter. My mom has been a big support and influence in music helping me to sing, teaching me to harmonize, and to plunk away at a piano.  I also remember my first entrance in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor at the Chicago Theatre with Donnie Osmond. I was 12 or 13 years old. The lights were dim and we came in from the back of the house at the top of the show. The stage looked like an amazing magical place as I ran towards it. The energy was intense. It really took my breath away and I knew from that moment I wanted to be a singer!

SE: Do you have any regular gigs?
LW: My regular “gig” currently is as a Volunteer Worship Leader at Harvest Bible Chapel. I love being a part of the worship team and giving praises to the Lord. Sadly it wasn’t always that way. That journey in my life was pretty dark with a bright ending but that’s for another day. What is great is that I started singing in church, and I made it full circle back! Amen.

Ain’t Misbehavin’ at the Goodman

SE: Do you sing in any other groups?
LW: I don’t sing with other groups at the moment but who knows what the future holds. I went to the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University for musical theater and loved it. My professor, Dr. Bruce Kirle became my mentor and really took me under his wing. He showed me what I was capable of and really helped me to believe in myself.  He passed away in 2007 but I think of him often. I have performed in musicals around the Chicago area including Ain’t Misbehavin‘ at the Goodman Theatre. That was and still is a dream come true. I was treated like royalty there and got to work with some stars in the theatre industry.

SE: How did you become involved with music?
LW: Besides dancing and singing at a young age. I also sang in choirs in Jr. High and High School. Continuing my love of singing by singing in talent shows and the school musicals. School has always been a great place to get involved in music and the arts. I hope and pray that it continues to be an option for kids.

SE: What was your first concert?
LW: My first Concert was Janet Jackson. And my first Broadway musical was Chicago.

SE: If you could share the stage with any musician, dead or alive, who would it be?
LW: If I could share the stage with someone it would be Whitney Houston. I’ve always loved her and that flawless voice.  I grew up on Whitney.

SE: Beatles or Stones?
LW: Beatles or Stones? I say Beatles for sure!

15
Aug
12

Guest Star: Melissa Explains it All

Cellist Melissa Bach is one of the more recent additions to the Stitely family, but she’s already made a place for herself as an AMAZING instrumentalist. If you booked a string ensemble for your wedding ceremony, she’s the mastermind who makes sure you hear the music you want, no matter what your musical taste. Her arrangements of modern songs like “The Luckiest” by Ben Folds and “Let Go” by Frou Frou allow Stitely brides & grooms to include a little classical elegance in their modern wedding or civil union ceremony. Read on to get to know this cello chick a little better, and scroll down to hear more recordings of some unexpected songs, including “All of The Lights” by Kanye West, whom she played with at Lollapalooza in 2008!

“Let Go” by Frou Frou

“The Luckiest” by Ben Folds

Stitely Entertainment (SE): What are the five songs you’re listening to the most right now?
Melissa Bach (MB):
1. “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” by Stevie Wonder  (I just wrote an arrangement of that tune for the ensemble I’m in, Quartet Parapluie.)
2. “Crystalised” by The xx
3. “Helplessness Blues” by Fleet Foxes
4. “Re: Stacks” by Bon Iver
5. “Fake Empire” by The National

SE: Who or what inspired you to be a professional musician?
MB: Although neither of my parents are musicians, they are both great appreciators of music. My parents never tried to steer me away from pursuing a career in music. They believed I could make it, and that just bolstered my own confidence in myself. I studied (and mostly still perform) classical music, but my dad’s gi-normous record collection of indie rock music got me really tapping my toes. It’s been fun for me to play orchestral concerts and then juxtapose that experience by touring with rock bands.

SE:What’s your craziest event story?
MB: Well, most classical music concerts and gigs are pretty tame, but things tend to get more interesting at rock gigs… it’s hard to pick the best story, but I can narrow it down to two shows. When I played with Pinetop Seven, the headlining band on our tour (to remain unnamed) got in an argument with the audience during their set in Omaha, which resulted in a parking lot brawl after the show. Or, in a weather-related calamity, I played at Lollapalooza last year with Portugal.The Man. It poured directly before our set started; and during the show, the tented canopy over the stage, which had collected all the rain water, broke open right over my head — all the gear on stage was soaked, and I was drenched, as was my poor cello. Fortunately, no damage was done to my instrument, but it reminds me that I need to buy a cheap stage cello for rock shows! (Note: Right after this incident Portugal. The Man went on to make national headlines when their van and trailer with their (probably still soaked) gear was stolen!)

SE: How did you become involved with music?
MB: My grandfather bought my family a piano when I was in third grade, hence the start of private piano lessons! I loved playing the piano, but in sixth grade was introduced to the cello through the public school system. It captured my attention, and slowly the piano fell by the wayside (although I continued to study it until graduating from high school). Now that I’m teaching privately, I clearly see that although the initial step for music often times comes from the parents, the motivation for excelling has to come from the individual. So, my involvement in music came from my parents, but the motivation to succeed came from within.

SE: What was your first concert?
MB: Although I play a range of music styles, I’m primarily a classical musician, so the first concert that stands out in memory is classical. I remember seeing Yo-Yo Ma with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra when I was a kid and was mesmerized. I had probably been playing cello for a year at that point, but seeing him perform made me want to work harder.

SE: If you could share the stage with any musician, dead or alive, who would it be?
MB: There are so many talented musicians I’d like to share the stage with, but I guess I’ve always idolized Yo-Yo Ma. I mean, he’s been on Sesame Street.

SE: You are stuck on a desert island forever. Which three albums do you want with you?
MB: This is an impossible question… I mean, if I was stranded on a desert island, I don’t expect that I’d be lucky enough to have three of my favorite albums WITH me. But if I was planning on being stranded on some desolate island somewhere and could pack for it ahead of time with only three albums, these are the three that I would pick today (ask me tomorrow for three different picks):
1. Palo Santo by Shearwater
2. Bon Iver by Bon Iver
3. London Symphony Orchestra (conducted by Previn) recording of Samuel Barber’s Violin Concerto, performed by Gil Shaham

“All of the Lights” by Kanye West

“Walcott” by Vampire Weekend

“Starlight” by Muse

25
Jul
12

Guest Star: Fun with Frank Check

This months guest star is Frank Check, drummer of the Chicago Groove Collective! Frank has earned many awards as a jazz soloist, as well as several other awards including the First Chair award from from Instrumentalist Magazine, the John Phillip Sousa award, and the very prestigious Semper Fidelis award form the United States Marine Corp. We thought we’d chat with this award winning musician to get to know him just a little bit better.

SE: What are the five songs or albums you’re listening to the most right now?
Frank Check (FC):
Sting – Ten Summoner’s Tales
Jill Scott – Who is Jill Scott? – Words and Sounds, Vol. 1
Red Hot Chili Peppers – Blood Sugar Sex Magik
Zakir Hussein – Essence of Rhythm
Phil Lesh and Friends – Bootleg from Riviera Show (10/20/02)
 
SE: Who or what inspired you to be a professional musician?
FC: My brothers, they always had bands rehearsing at our house when I was a kid and I wanted to be just like them!  One plays guitar and the other plays bass…naturally drums fit right in!
 
SE: What’s your craziest event or gig story?
FC: Several months ago I was playing at a bar gig where several individuals consumed more drinks than they should have (shocking).  I was playing drums behind a clear drum shield and watched as a drunken audience member grabbed a beer bottle off of a tray and threw it at the stage where it shattered on the drum shield and sprayed all over.  Several people escorted the individual out the door.  On the bright side, the Plexiglas saved me and my drums from the beer bottle and guy who threw the bottle came back to apologize a few weeks later!
 
SE: Do you have any regular gigs?
FC: Every Sunday night I play a “live-band karaoke” gig at McGee’s Tavern from 8-11pm.
 
SE: What was your first concert?
FC: I am lucky because my parents took me to several concerts as a kid and I could not even guess which one was first.  The first concert that I asked to go to was AC/DC – Ballbreaker Tour in 96′.  Great way to start!
 
SE: If you could share the stage with any musician, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
FC:I will have to adjust the question a bit because that musician and I would need a great cast of characters working with us to make the situation ideal.  I have always thought of music as an ensemble experience and I have always idolized bands and not individuals.  The most important things to me as a drummer are having a killing bass player and guitarists that take you on a journey when they solo.  If I could play with any band I would choose The Allman Brothers Band.  The entire band is incredible and knows how to achieve something amazing and different every time they play.  Each musician in that group relies on the others to make it great!
 
SE: You’re stuck on a desert island forever. Which three albums do you want with you?
FC: This response could change daily!  If I was heading to that island today these would be my choices.
Led Zeppelin – Houses of the Holy
Michael Jackson – Off the Wall
Herbie Hancock – Head Hunters
 
SE: Beatles or Stones?
FC: Stones!
13
Jun
12

Guest Star: DJ John mixes it up

Stitely DJs are masters of music mixology. With years of classical training and professional spinning experience, these modern artists understand music inside and out. Their vast knowledge of different genres and HUGE music collection ensure an experience that satisfies both your taste as well as those of your guests.

Stitely’s newest addition, DJ John Norman is no exception. DJ John knows how to tastefully spin and emcee for your event (no cheese here.) His knowledge and experience really shine when he’s working on weddings, corporate events and fundraisers. He works intimately with clients, pinpointing their specific desires in order to match them with songs that are sure to keep the dance floor packed all night. DJ John is able to read the crowd and adjust his playlist accordingly, always choosing songs that fit the particular style and ambiance of the event.

Fun and spontaneous, DJ John is also a fantastic KJ (that’s karaoke DJ) with a list of over 8,000 songs to choose from! It’s a great, interactive option if you’re looking for a way to get your guests involved from the start. Have it all followed up by a dynamic dance party.

No matter what styles you want, DJ John has got you covered. Read on to get to know him better, including his mixing philosophy, how he works with clients and his own favorite melodies.

Also check out his mixes below, recorded May 2012. His wide-ranging mash-up “The Time Traveler’s Boogie,” features hits from the 40’s through the 2000’s. His most modern mixes are the “2012 Party Rock Mix,” ”Dance Floor Quick Cuts” and the “Indie-Electro Mix.” They really show his knowledge of the most popular music at the time, sure to make your event a huge success.

The Time Traveler’s Boogie

2012 Party Rock Mix

Dance Floor Quick Cuts

Indie-Electro Mix

Stitely Entertainment (SE): What are the five songs you’re listening to the most right now?
DJ John:
• Pále – Genghis Beat
• Brackles – Never Coming Down
• James Blake – I Only Know (What I Know Now)
• Blacksmif – Golden Horn
• Radiohead – There There

SE: How did you become involved with music?
DJ John: I became involved with music later than most, growing up I was set on being a cartoonist. I was always intrigued by music, like wanting to play saxophone in 4th grade or getting a pair of turntables the next year, but it didn’t work out until a few years later. At 13 I got bit by the drumming bug while randomly looking for drum sets on Ebay, and after finally saving up enough money and begging my parents I got my first set in early 2001.

SE: Who are your musical inspirations?

DJ John: My musical inspirations have grown pretty wide the last few years. In high school I was inspired by people like Mike Portnoy, Lee Morgan, Max Roach, Clifford Brown, Béla Bartók and Thom Yorke. Recently I’ve been inspired by a multitude of people producing music in the UK like James Blake and Mount Kimbie, as well as other artists like Ari Hoenig, Jean-Michel Pilc, Igor Stravinsky, Flying Lotus, Aluna George and Béyonce.

SE: How and when did you get started as a DJ? Why do you enjoy it?
DJ John: I started as a DJ in college after I was introduced to composition and production using MIDI and a DAW. I started writing music in high school and realized that I really enjoyed expressing my ideas through composing, and I was always looking for new ways to create music. Being introduced to electronic music and DJing opened up more doors than I knew what to do with. The aspect of taking every style of music that has inspired me throughout the years, or continues to inspire me, is what I love most about being a DJ. The art of mixing two completely different styles together to create a brand new sound is what makes DJing such an enjoyable experience for me.

SE: Tell us a little bit about your DJ style and mixing philosophy.
DJ John: My style is to try to be as creative as the situation allows. If I’m up to my own devices and people are coming to hear me, then I love to play music that (to me) is interesting from a composition perspective and is also dance-able. One of my favorite things to do is to combine an a capella version of an older favorite/hit with a groove from something brand new; live mash-ups (when done right) create a ton of energy. If I’m hired for an event that asks for a specific type of genre or style, then I’ll play songs that cater to what they ask for. If the night is going really well and I think that the crowd will like it, I’ll try to incorporate my own style within the popular songs.

SE: How do you choose music that appeals to crowds of all ages?

DJ John: Two ways: I gauge the crowd’s reactions and I do my homework. DJing isn’t just playing one song into another; it’s about having an encyclopedia’s worth of music history knowledge to draw from, while being flexible to whatever the crowd wants to hear. If someone asks for a song from the 60’s and the crowd loves it, I need to know what other songs from the 60’s not only sound similar to the one playing but were also popular at the same time and why. I also need to be aware of what songs will help transition from style to style or time period to time period; a quick transition to a radically different genre might deter people from dancing to what you’re playing.

SE: Do you play any instruments? Are you in any musical groups? Tell us about them.
DJ John: I do, currently I play drums, sing and play trumpet. I’ve been playing drums and singing in a local group called Dozens, and in a group called the Bethany Joy Quintet.

SE: What was your first concert?

DJ John: My first concert was playing trumpet in my high school band in the fall of 2001. I don’t remember anything about it except watching the top jazz band and thinking, “that’d be cool to play in.”

SE: You are stuck on a desert island forever. Which three albums do you want with you?

DJ John:
• James Blake – James Blake
• Radiohead – OK Computer
• Béla Bártók – Concert for Orchestra (Hungarian Orchestra conducted by Zoltán Kocsis)

SE: Beatles or Stones?

DJ John: Beatles!

09
May
12

guest star: bob baglione of chicago groove collective

This month’s Musician Spotlight features Bob Baglione, lead guitarist and vocalist of Stitely Entertainment’s Chicago Groove Collective. Bob’s creative upbringing influenced his love for a wide variety of musical styles from Jazz, Funk, Rock, Pop and Soul making him a perfect fit for CGC. We sat down with Bob and heard what’s on his iPod now as well as the funniest event story of all time entitled, “Frankenstein Pants.” Check it out!
Stitely Entertainment (SE): What are the three songs or albums you’re listening to the most right now?

Bob Baglione (BB):

Nomad’s Land by Sixen

I Can See Your House from Here by John Scofield and Pat Methany

Mountains in the Cloud by Miroslav Vitous

SE: Who or what inspired you to be a professional musician?

BB: My brother and his band. My brother played in the Drum Corp in middle school and in high school, he got involved with various rock bands. They would frequently rehearse Beatles and R&B type tunes, a la James Brown, at the house.

SE: What’s your craziest event story (that you can share)?

BB: I call this story, “Frankenstein Pants” and you’ll see why. I was living in Hawaii with a 14-piece touring group playing the Military and Tourist Circuit in Waikiki/Honolulu.  On our day off, we would hit the local reefs and snorkel.  One of the fans from Pearl Harbor Navy base, who was enamored with one of the female vocalists, decided to stop by and visit and ask her out.  He showed up all decked out to impress her but lost his nerve.  When the guys decided to go snorkeling he asked if he could come with.  We had to remind him that we did not have any swimming trunks his size.  Not being very bright, he responded “no problem,  I have an idea.”  He found a pair of scissors and proceeded to cut his dress pants.  We all went snorkeling in the surf and this guy tagged along in his dress shirt, black cut off dress pants, shoes and socks.  We kept our distance.  At the end of our little trip, and returning back to the house, we all decided to go out and eat.  He decided he wanted to come and eat too.  We reminded him, “how can you possibly go out to a restaurant after you chopped off you pants with a pair of scissors?  Not only that, You’re wet.”  He said “no problem,  I have an idea.”  He borrowed a needle and thread and proceeded to sew his pants back together..  One leg was longer than the other and the seams looked like Frankenstein’s head.  So we all went out and had food and drink.  At the end of it, we all came back and called it a day.  This poor fool…he didn’t impress the girl, and ended up on the back stairs of the house, in the rain, crying and throwing up on himself.  Someone finally had to drive him back to the Naval Base.  That was the craziest thing I’ve ever seen.

SE: Do you have any regular gigs?

BB: I am employed by Immanual Lutheran Church in Elmhurst, IL, Phat Jazz Organ Trio at Dragon Lounge in Oak Park, IL, Chase, Bill Dickens Band, Hyper-Harp Project, Dave Polk Project and of course, CGC (Chicago Groove Collective.)

SE: What was the first concert you attended? 

The Crying Shames

SE: If you could share the stage with any musician, dead or alive, who would it be?

BB: Herbie Hancock or Chick Corea

SE: You’re stuck on a desert island forever. Which three albums do you want with you? 

Primal Tracks by Scott Henderson & Tribal Tech

Multiplicity by Dave Weckl

White Heat by Barry Miles with Pat Martino

SE: Beatles or Stones? 

BB: Stones

Check out Bob’s tear up the stage during this amazing performance at Cafe Milano in Nashville, TN! Wow!

06
Apr
12

guest star: jamie martinez of stephanie rogers band

Playing tuba, upright and electric bass, Jamie Martinez of Stephanie Rogers Band, has toured across the country playing everything from mariachi choir to musical theater. He has been featured on more than 30 recordings, many of which have had regular radio rotation in a variety of markets. We sat down with Jamie and learned what’s playing on his iPod and what inspires him as an artist.

Stitely Entertainment (SE): What are the five songs or albums you’re listening to the most right now?

Jamie Martinez (JM):

1. Antifogmatic by The Punch Brothers

2. Spirit Moves by Dave Douglas and Brass Ecstasy

3. Sea Sew by Lisa Hannigan

4. Ya Yo Me Curé by Jerry Gonzalez

5. Sweeney Todd: the Demon Barber of Fleet Street (original cast)

SE:  Who or what inspired you to be a professional musician?

JM: I’m pretty lucky in having a creative family.

SE: What’s your craziest event or gig story?

JM: Hmmm… I’ll go so far as to say that all of my top stories involve bacchanalian behavior and quantum leaps in questionable judgment. It’s probably best if there’s no evidence in print.

SE: Do you have any regular gigs?

JM: The groups I’ve had the pleasure of recently include: A current run of the musical “Always… Patsy Cline,” at Theatre at the Center; my favorite children’s performer Jeanie B and the Jelly Beans; the ever classy Skokie Chicks; an explorative soundtrack ensemble called Dewey Defeats Truman; the funkiest of the funky, Bunky Futt; and last but not cliché-ably least are the blues bands, Tobasko Sound Kitchen and 8 Miles South.

SE: What was your first concert?

JM: My first big concert is still the best. My family went to see Miles Davis at the Hollywood Bowl, Playboy Jazz Festival with Bill Cosby doing the M.C.

SE: If you could share the stage with any musician, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

JM: My father.

SE: You’re stuck on a desert island forever. Which three albums do you want with you?

JM: I’d probably be looking to build one of those hand-crank coconut radios that they had on Gilligan’s Island. Having such a limited amount of music would crash my higher functions.

SE: Beatles or Stones?

JM: Sondheim




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