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official opinions: Asia’s Top 10 Songs of 2011

Hey guys! My name is Asia Elsner and I am the new Marketing and Multimedia Intern at Stitely. You’ll learn much more about me next week but I wanted to introduce myself by sharing my top songs of this past year. Even though it’s 2012, these 2011 hits are still on repeat on my iPod!


#10 –  No Church in the Wild

Artist: Jay-Z and Kanye West feat. Frank Ocean

Album: Watch the Throne

This song is just killer. I start it before my workout and it gets me so pumped!


#9 – Skyscraper

Artist: Demi Lovato

Album: Unbroken

After Lovato was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and spent some time in rehab, the former Disney pop star came back with this amazing song showing everyone how she’s stronger than ever.


#8 – Pumped Up Kicks

Artist: Foster the People

Album: Torches

Though recorded in 2009, Foster the People got initial attention when this song appeared in an episode of the popular TV series Entourage. It went on to reach #1 on Billboard’s Top US Alternative Songs in 2011.


#7 – We Found Love

Artist: Rihanna

Album: Talk That Talk

Rihanna is simply unstoppable! This song is the lead single coming off of her latest album, Talk That Talk. Her previous album, Loud, featured number one hits like, “S&M,” “Cheers (Drink to That)” and  “Only Girl (in the World)” (All of which almost made the list!)


#6 – Paradise

Artist: Coldplay

Album: Mylo Xyloto

I am so impressed with Coldplay’s newest CD, Mylo Xyloto. Lead singer Chris Martin’s vocals are hauntingly captivating and give this new song that classic Coldplay charm. Also, the video features Martin in an elephant suit trying to find his way home to his herd of elephant band members. So there’s that.


#5 – Rumour Has It/Someone Like You

Artist: Glee Cast

Original Artist: Adele

Album: Glee: The Music, Volume 7

Simply put, Adele + Glee = MUSICAL GENIUS.


#4 – The One That Got Away

Artist: Katy Perry

Album: Teenage Dream

It’s a rare thing when a Katy Perry song gives me chills but when it happens, it is so good. The video tells an amazing story in a short five minutes about a lost love. Get the Kleenex ready.


#3 – Midnight City

Artist: M83

Album: Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming

This is my favorite song to put on when I am about to go out for the night. And as with many other songs during 2011, there is a great sax solo at the end!


#2 – Why I Love You

Artist: Jay-Z and Kanye West feat. Mr. Hudson

Album: Watch the Throne

This is the only album to have two songs on my Top 10 list and it is well deserved! Much of the song samples the song, “I ❤ You So” by Cassius, one of my other favorite songs.


#1 – Who You Are

Artist: Jessie J

Album: Who You Are

Jessie J has a beautiful way of telling stories through song, making her my favorite artist of 2011. Her unique vocals carry a power that, in my opinion, no other artist can compare with.  This song stands out because of its positive message and its ability to showcase Jessie J as the amazing vocalist she is. She has the quirk of Lady Gaga with the musical talent of Adele.

“It’s okay to not be okay…tears don’t mean you’re losing, everybody’s bruising, just be true to who you are” – Lyrics from Who You Are


Guest Star: Jeff Stitely tells us his start in music

For this month’s Musician Spotlight, who better to sit down with than Stitely Entertainment’s own Jeff Stitely? We found out what inspires the President/Founder as a professional musician, what’s on his iPod and more.

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

Jeff Stitely (JS):

1) Rihanna – We Found Love

2) Chris Siebold & Psycles

3) Wayne Shorter – Speak No Evil

4) Salif Keita – Soro

5) Howard Levy – Trio Globo

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

JS: Well, I have had a drive to be a musician since I was 10.  But I’d have to say the first person was Ron Helm, my junior high school band director. He was like a shining light in the teachers that I had at the time. He was so engaged and loved music so much. I was already turned on to music but he had a vision for me going beyond what most kids do. When I was in 8th grade, he had me audition for the all-state band, which was something I’d never heard of and also something that no one in junior high had done before. I auditioned and became the all-state timpanist in the concert band. We then went upstate and the best musicians in the whole state we there. It was just an incredible experience…hanging out with these amazing musicians and learning that there was a whole world of people who are serious about being musicians.

The other person who was a huge inspiration was my dad. He played for the church and just loved music. He played classical music around the house when I was young and as with Ron, he helped make music a part of my life.

SE: What’s your craziest event story?

JS: I got hired to sub for another drummer at the Medinah Country Club and it ended up being a trio with two really old guys. It was for all the male members of the country club, all of whom were between the ages of 70 and 95. We played background music for the men as they were just hanging out and socializing, when they brought a stripper in! The stripper was at least 60 years old and I had to play music while she was stripping for these men! It was definitely one of my weirdest gigs…

SE: Do you have any regular gigs?

JS: I have a jazz trio gig at The Clubhouse in Oakbrook, IL the third Thursday every month. Generally, I just lead the company and play private events with gigs at jazz clubs periodically.

SE: What was your first concert?

JS: The first professional gig I played at was at the Old Spain with a piano player as a piano and drum duo behind the bar. We played and sang as people were eating dinner and I was only 15 years old. And that summer, I got a gig on a cruise ship!

As for the first concert I’ve ever been to, my dad had season tickets to the Broward County Performing Arts Series and I saw all sorts of performances. The first jazz concert that I remember was George Shearing and I also saw Rusty Jones perform with him, who is an amazing drummer who now lives in Chicago.

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

JS: John Coltrane. There was an authenticity and a searching quality that he had his whole life. There was an undying quest for who he was and what’s possible in terms of his instrument…what’s possible in terms of expression…what’s possible in terms of the power that music can have to move people.

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


  1. Wayne Shorter – Speak No Evil
  2.  Joni Mitchell – Night Ride Home
  3. Salif Keita – Soro

SE: Beatles or Stones?

JS: Beatles. Because of their songwriting.


Official opinions: on a clear monday you can see forever

Today’s Music Monday is dedicated to Stitely‘s sales rep Ed Lines, Jr. who is recovering well from his eye surgery this past month. Enjoy Johnny Nash‘s 1972 hit, “I Can See Clearly Now.”


official opinions: music monday meltdown!

Every Monday the Stitely Entertainment office starts its week with music chosen by a different staff member. Thus the creation of Music Monday. It’s a fun way to expose each other to new and different artists, and the videos run the gamut of musical styles from classical to indie rock to jazz. So we present to you, for your listening and watching pleasure, the highlights of 2011’s Music Mondays!















official opinions: Peggy’s pumpkin perfection

Stitely‘s Master Chef Peggy Latko has done it again! Warm up the winter with her delicious homemade pumpkin ravioli recipe!

Making the dough:
This ingredients list is very loose, and you should play with the proportions until you get nice soft and supple dough. If the dough is very firm and hard to knead – add more egg yolks or water. If the dough is too soft and sticky to knead, add a little more flour until you can work with it. Don’t worry about it much, as long as you can knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic then you will be fine.

  • 3 cups of flour
  • 5 egg yolks
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Enough water to make a smooth dough (if needed)

Beat the egg yolks and add them and the salt to a mixing bowl already filled with flour. Use your hands and mix to form dough. If you can’t get all the flour hydrated into a dough, add more water until you can form a nice firm but sticky dough. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes, or until it is smooth and stretchy. Although you can roll out the ravioli sheets immediately, letting the dough rest for 20 minutes or more allows the proteins in the dough to relax and makes rolling much easier. Rest the dough covered under the mixing bowl so it won’t dry out too much.

Rolling out the Ravioli Pasta Sheets
OK, once you have rested your dough, tear off a bigger than golf ball smaller than baseball sized hunk. Flatten it out with your rolling pin and start to roll. The dough will be sticky, so you will need a bowl of flour on hand. Sprinkle a little flour on the table and on the dough and roll it firmly a few times. After a few good rolls, lift the dough sheet off of the counter and flip it over, adding a little more flour onto the counter and onto the dough sheet as necessary. Use as little flour as you can get away with, but always keep the dough sheet loose and sliding on the counter. Keep rolling and flipping and rolling and flipping until you get dough that is paper thin. This will take a little while and a little effort, but it’s worth it. You want to be able to see your hand through the dough when you lift it off of the counter. Don’t worry if your dough sheet is irregularly shaped – it won’t matter.

Cutting the Ravioli Dough
Once you have rolled out a sheet of dough nice and thinly, give your rolling arms a break and cut out your ravioli shapes. I like to use a water glass as a mold (About 3-4 inches in diameter). Invert the glass and press down on the dough with the top of the
glass. Trace a knife point around the dough until you have cut out a circle of pasta (cookie cutter style). Repeat, cutting as many pasta circles as you can from your sheet of dough. Take the scraps that you have cut from around the glass mold and add them back into your (covered) dough ball for future rolling.

Making the Filling:
Filling Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 1 cup roasted butternut squash puree or Pumpkin Puree (I used canned)
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground white pepper
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus 2 ounces
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • 1 recipe pasta dough, rolled out into wide ribbons, about 1/4-inch thick
  • 12 fresh sage leaves
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley leaves

In a large sauté pan, over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the shallots and sauté for 1 minute. Add the squash puree and cook until the mixture is slightly dry, about 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the cream and continue to cook
for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in 3 tablespoons cheese and nutmeg, to taste. Cool completely.

Filling the Ravioli
So now you have a counter filled with cut-out circles of dough. In the center of each circle, place about a teaspoon of your filling. Use as much filling as you can get away with and still be able to close of the ravioli well. In a bowl, beat an egg and then using your finger, spread a little beaten egg around the outside of the pasta circle. This beaten egg is the glue that will seal the folded over pasta circle into a finished ravioli. Fold the pasta circle over the filling and press the top down into the bottom, crimping with your fingers to fuse the dough and form a seal. Try to work from one side to the other, squeezing the air out as you go. Once you have filled all your circles and crimped them into ravioli, place them on a floured baking sheet and start rolling your next ball of dough into a pasta sheet.

If you plan on making these in advance, place the baking sheet full of finished ravioli (in one layer only) in the freezer. Once the ravioli have frozen solid, you can transfer them into a Tupperware style container and continue to freeze them until ready to use. When ready to eat them, drop the frozen ravioli directly into boiling water for 4 or 5 minutes, and then toss with sauce.

Serving and Eating the Ravioli!
In a large sauté pan, melt 8 tablespoons of butter. Add the sage to the butter and continue to cook until the butter starts to brown. Remove from the heat.

Place some of the pasta in the center of each serving plate. Spoon the butter sauce over the pasta. Sprinkle the 2 ounces of cheese over each plate and garnish with parsley. Enjoy!


guest star: Frank’s new home bass

Stitely Entertainment is proud to work with some amazing musicians- Frank Russell is definitely one of them. When he’s not playing bass in Stitely’s 312 Chicago, Frank is tearing it up all over town and the airwaves. He just launched a brand new website and completed his second solo album called “Circle Without End,” which is opening to equally positive reviews by fans and critics alike. According to jazz critic and author, Neil Tesser, “Vintage fusion lives – with a 90s sheen and a 21st century twist – courtesy of Chicago bass guitarist Frank Russell. He’s funneled an all-star cast of modern Chi-town stars into arrangements as crisp and bracing as a stiff wind off Lake Michigan.”

Be sure to check out Russell’s new site and hear what he has to say in this 2010 interview with Jeff Stitely.


Guest Star: Brought to you by The Beatles- Derrick Procell

After seeing the Beatles perform live on the Ed Sullivan show, Derrick Procell knew he wanted to be in the spotlight. Like all artists with whom we work, Derrick has his own unique style that stems from his piano and harmonica background. Whether Derrick is leading Stitely’s Chicago Groove Collective or performing as a piano-vocalist, he is living his childhood dream. In this interview, Derrick discusses his whirlwind of a music career with us.

Stitely Entertainment: What are the five songs you’re listening to the most right now?
Derrick Procell: I don’t know about particular songs… but the five records I’m listening to the most right now are: Glen Campbell- “Ghost On The Canvas,” Fountains of Wayne- “Sky Full of Holes,” Kasey Chambers- “Little Bird,” Tom Petty- “Mojo, and Paul Simon– “So Beautiful So What.”

SE: Who or what inspired you to be a professional musician?
DP: Elvis, The Beatles, and all of the other artists I saw on the Ed Sullivan show.

SE: What’s your craziest event story?
DP: Probably not suitable for general consumption!

SE: Do you have any regular gigs?
DP: They’re mostly irregular.

SE: Do you play in any other groups? Tell us about them.
DP: Occasionally with the Chicago Catz…when they need a white boy rocker who can blow harp. Sometimes I lead my own band under different names. Last gig playing a mix of favorite covers… Steely Dan, Warren Zevon, etc.. plus some originals as Random Act.

SE: How did you become involved with music?
DP: Mandatory piano lessons as a child. Began singing with rock bands in the ’60’s and haven’t stopped since.

SE: What was your first concert?
DP: The Young Rascals.

SE: If you could share the stage with any musician, dead or alive, who would it be?
DP: I’m too humbled by so many musicians out there, but if I could sit in with anyone it would be Little Feat.

SE: You are stuck on a desert island forever. Which three albums do you want with you?
DP: Bruce Hornsby- “Scenes From the Southside,” Jimi Hendrix- “Are You Experienced,” and Weather Report- “Mysterious Traveler.”

SE: Beatles or Stones?
DP: Trick question… Beatles AND Stones!

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Delivering a mind-blowing musical performance at an event is an art and planning it is a science. Stitely Entertainment has mastered both by planning and executing thousands of events.

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