Ewing High School, Ewing, NJ, Receives 50k Grant For Music Programs

Here are the Ewing High School Kids Loving Their Support.
Miss Amy says, "Help the kids in your schools. Find a grant for something important to build their talents."

A donation of $50,000 was made today to the Ewing Education Foundation, earmarked for the Ewing High School Music department, made possible by the Rowe Carter Charitable Trust.

Presentation of this grant was made at Ewing High School auditorium by GRAMMY® Nominated Recording Artist Miss Amy, who played a key role in bringing together the donor and the school. “As parents, teachers, administrators and a community, we support this music program. We understand the potential that studying music can bring forth in kids. There is power in music!” Miss Amy explained in the presentation to the students and factulty. “It is our hope that this will inspire all of the other schools who did not place, to not give up, but to inspire organizations in the position to help to step-up and take action.”

School music programs need funding, but the story of how this grant emerged is an interesting one. In November a team of Ewing High School (EHS) students produced a video submission for the Glee Give-A-Note contest that awards cash prizes for the best videos. Many in the school started posting the contest entry to Facebook for visibility. The video caught the attention of Miss Amy, who reached out to the members of the Rowe Carter Charitable Trust, who were also moved by it. Miss Amy, also, called Wayne Staub, President, and Heather Kerns Latini, Executive Director of the Ewing Education Foundation, and organized a time for them all to see the music program in action, to observe the orchestra and choirs.

A representative of the Rowe Carter Charitable Trust interviewed music students about their experiences in the Ewing district elementary schools and Fisher Middle School, who explained why music is important to them.

Student responses ranged from, “music teaches about different cultures and languages” to “it teaches about history, and helps us understand other subjects like math.” Another replied, “Music is everything, a vital thread that connects humankind throughout time.”

When asked what the music department needed, the students collectively explained there is need for repair, replacement of instruments, newer tools and technology, such as sound equipment. When asked what they would spend the Glee money on if they won, the reply was that, although the need is great in the high school, it would be best spent on the feeder music programs in the elementary and middle school in the district.

On December 15th the students were disappointed to find out they did not place in the Glee contest. However, the Rowe Carter Charitable Trust has stepped up to provide a consolation prize of equal magnitude to first place. The grant is to be allocated by a committee of high school students, Mr. Olson, EHS Band Director and Mrs. Forness, EHS Choir Director.


Emily Hurd's two area shows: CD release on Jan. 20, at SPACE w/ Raul Midon on Jan. 27

Chicago-based Emily Hurd will be performing and throwing a CD Release Show for her album, LONG LOST GHOSTS at Strobe Studios, 2631 W. Division Street, in Chicago, on January 20th at 8:00 pm. This show will be video taped and recorded. Admission is $10. Seating is limited, and people must RSVP to attend via e-mail at contact@emilyhurd.com. You can also call 773.486.1459 for more information. The web site is http://stroberecording.com/.

On January 27, Emily opens for Raul Midon, at Evanston Space, 1245 Chicago Ave., in Evanston, IL. Showtime is 8 PM, and the venue phone is 847-492-8860. The web site is http://evanstonspace.com/

LONG LOST GHOSTS is Emily's latest album, featuring her signature voice and folk-pop songs that tell stories of old-fashioned love and its bittersweet triumph. Highlights include the irresistible blues-tinged hit, "Irreparably Yours" and the palpable nostalgia of the cross-country driving tune "Long Lost Ghosts." Emily's fervent crooning uplifts in "My Favorite Part," "Silent Conversations," and "I Won't Tell a Soul." Emily's music echoes the uptempo balladry and intelligent anthems often linked to kindred troubadours Lyle Lovett and Steve Earle.”

Emily wrote LONG LOST GHOST's songs on her ukulele and recorded them on the vintage grand piano at Chicago's King Size Sound Labs. The record features an all-star line-up of Chicago musicians: John Abbey (Robbie Fulks, Amy Speace), Darren Garvey (Cameron McGill and What Army, Miles Nielsen), Sue Demel (Sons of the Never Wrong, Come Sunday), and Maria McCullough (SleepyLou, Jonas Friddle).

Over the course of her eight full-length studio albums, Emily has shared the stage and/or opened for Irma Thomas, Bettye Lavette, Roger McGuinn, and Ozomatli. Her music is featured on the popular CBS crime drama NCIS. She appears on the prestigious Old Town School of Folk Music "Songbook" collection (released by Bloodshot Records). She is a winner/finalist in the John Lennon Songwriting Contest, NPR's NewSong Contest, and The International Songwriting Competition.

Touring across the heartland, the wild west, and east coast parts of America, Emily has been meeting new fans at every show she plays, from coffeehouses and schools, to TV and radio shows and festivals, including events that fans have organized, most notably an annual “Emilyfest” in rural North Carolina (the next one is scheduled for October 13, 2012).





Band Available For Interviews In Advance of Shows, Which Feature Special Guest Keyboardist Andy Burton!

The Smithereens are kicking off the new year with something special for their fans. From January 13-21, The Smithereens Winter Tour 2012 will feature special guest Andy Burton on keyboards! Singer/guitarist Pat DiNizio, guitarist Jim Babjak, drummer Dennis Diken, and bassist Severo "The Thrilla" Jornacion are excited to share the stage with Andy, who's played with Ian Hunter, Robert Plant and Southside Johnny (to name just a few). It's the first time The Smithereens have had a keyboard player in the band, and they're going to take advantage of their expanded sound by digging deep into their catalog for some rarely heard tracks to complement their fan-pleasing set that features 30 years of hits and songs from their critically acclaimed current album "SMITHEREENS 2011."

The new album, "2011" reunited the Smithereens with producer Don Dixon (R.E.M.) who helmed the group's first two albums, the power-pop masterpiece ESPECIALLY FOR YOU and GREEN THOUGHTS. USA TODAY's BRIAN MANSFIELD wrote, "From start to finish, '2011' is classic Smithereens: Marshall-amped post-mod power-pop."  Little Steven's Underground Garage channel on Sirius XM dubbed the single "Sorry" "as the coolest song on the planet."  FRESH AIR & NPR commentator Ken Tucker, said, "'2011' is hypnotic...everything in Smithereens world is like a film noir shot in psychedelic colors.  A great Rock 'n' Roll band!"  And the Chicago Sun Times declared, "The Smithereens haven't aged a day."

The Smithereens first performed in March 1980 in Hillside, N.J. Over the next five years, the group played both in the States and overseas, and released the EPs: GIRLS ABOUT TOWN (1980) and BEAUTY AND SADNESS (1983), and did a stint as Otis Blackwell's backup band.  Pat sent a cassette of the band’s material to Enigma Records, which was distributed by Capitol/EMI. The executive, who signed them, was a fan of the band's when he was in college radio. The Smithereens finally had a record deal.  ESPECIALLY FOR YOU was released in July 1986.  GREEN THOUGHTS, 11 followed, all netting top 40 hits.  It's said that Nirvana's Kurt Cobain listened to the Smithereens as he wrote 'NEVERMIND."

In all, the group's releasd nine albums, with titles that include GOD SAVE THE SMITHEREENS, ATTACK OF THE SMITHEREENS (RARITIES), A DATE WITH THE SMITHEREENS. The Smithereens have two gold albums, have sold 6 million albums worldwide. They have appeared on every major television show including SNL, Tonight Show, Arsenio Hall, and live on National Public Radio.  Such memorable Smithereens songs as "Girl Like You," "Blood & Roses," and "Only A Memory" have become FM staples.


Fri., Jan. 13:  Rams Head Tavern, Annapolis, MD   
Sat., Jan. 14: The State Theatre, Falls Church, VA  
Fri.,  Jan.  20: World Cafe Live, Philadelphia, PA
Sat., Jan. 21: BB King Blues Club, New York, NY  


KJ Denhert

KJ Denhert is celebrating her 15 years as a working urban folk jazz singer-songwriter on March 16, 2012, at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center. She is in the studio with Tomas Donker, and there's a video of her in the studio at her youtube page.

There's a great quote from KJ in the video, "Life is scary now, but the joyous part is the art you get from it."

Rolling Stone.com caught KJ live in concert as she performed at the 90th Anniversary of the Local 802 (Musicians Union) benefit that Steve Earle organized for the Union. http://www.rollingstone.com/music/photos/pete-seeger-honored-at-musicians-union-benefit-20111205/kj-denhert-0204468
In addition to KJ and Steve, the show included Rosanne Cash, Paul Shaffer, Pete Seeger , Nelly McKay....



Miss Amy, GRAMMY Nominee and Lehigh Valley Music Award Winner

(left to right: Miss Amy, NARAS' Mark Schultz, Lehigh Valley Music Award organizer Gloria Domino).

Heads up on Amy Otey (Miss Amy), who--alongside of Lady Gaga, Kanye West, the Yellowjackets, LL Cool J., and Amy's friend Ledisi--is a multiple GRAMMY nominee this year. Her album, FITNESS ROCK & ROLL has been nominated for Best Children's Album. She also appears on another nominated album by the same crew who produced HEALTHY FOOD FOR THOUGHT: GOOD ENOUGH TO EAT, the GRAMMY-nominated album I'm on (with Moby, Julian Lennon, Michael O'Keefe, Tom Chapin, Cathy Fink, and Jann Klose) from last year.

This past Sunday, Dec. 4, Amy won Best Children's performer in the Lehigh Valley Music Awards. She says, "Today Lehigh Valley, tomorrow the Grammys, and next year--all the kids of America will be more fit and rockin'!"

I don't remember what it was we said to each other the moment we met, but in the second moment, we each declared, "I love you!" to each other at the same time!  And by the end of the night, we were dueling splits on the floor together in a bar!

In addition to taking advantage of Amy's well-earned nomination, we're working on Amy's inner city schools' appearances where she performs dynamic work outs and concerts with the kids at the same time. Whether they're in the audience or on stage with her, for them Amy's shows have the same dynamic power we get from going to KISS and Garth Brooks' concerts. She's a 40-something year old Mom, with a sense of humor, inspiration, and wow!

Lonnie Hill

Occasionally a journalist turns me on to a new artist that inspires me.  Anne Raso, the celebrity editor for TEEN STAR magazines, introduced me to an American Country Music Artist  who has a "Waltz Across Texas" kind of vibe.  

Lonnie is based in Franklin, TN, near Nashville Music City U.S A, and has songs on his web site, http://www.lonniehill.net. He's been playing in Nashville and Oklahoma, Kansas, Alabama, Tennessee for years, and in Las Vegas, March 2005. He finds a great deal of satisfaction performing for people from all walks of life from all over the world.

I hear quite a bit from his fans in the Philippines.

Lonnie had the privilege of meeting country music star Buck Owens at his Crystal Palace Club in Bakersfield, CA. Before Buck died, the two became friends. Lonnie is involved with fundraising for Mercy Children's Clinic Hospital, a non-profit for children who don't have insurance. He has also helped raise money for the American Red Cross.

He's a lifer, and I'm looking to find allies for him, folks who really enjoy his music.   So if you're interested in helping me share his great music, let me know.

Friend Lonnie on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002929177532


The Smithereens on the road in January

I'm promoting shows for the Smithereens' January 2012 tour. Leadsinger Pat Dinizio, drummer Dennis Diken, guitarist Jim Babjak, and bassist Severo "The Thrilla" Jornacion will be available for interviews. Dates are: Rams Head (1/13), The State Theater (1/14), World Cafe Live, Philly (1/20), and BB King Blues Club (1/21).

(Our friends in Las Vegas should check out Pat's Confessions of a Rock Star, Wednesdays through Mondays at the Riviera Hotel Casio. http://www.rivierahotel.com/las-vegas-entertainment/confessions-of-a-rock-star/)

The Smithereens - Jim, Dennis, Pat, The Thrilla

A new video from the Smithereens' called "Sorry."



The Kinetic King

The Kinetic King recently broke the world's record for blowing up 6818 tongue depressors, and you can see it here: http://www.youtube.com/lunatim

We've got an EPK at http://thekineticking-epk.blogspot.com/
I'm looking to get him booked at colleges for workshops and performances. If you've suggestions, please let me know.


Jann Klose

Jann is currently in the studio working on a new album with multi-platinum award winning producer David Bendeth (Bruce Hornsby, Elvis Presley, Breaking Benjamin, Paramore). There's a teaser on soundcloud.com of one of the new songs, called "Falling Tears," on which Jann plays electric guitar.
Jann Klose - Falling Tears by jannklose

Jann is now the proud owner of a curvaceous Epiphone Casino! It's been a very busy fall for him, playing shows in California, Canada (w/ The Yardbirds' Jim McCarty) and the Midwest. There are some new live performances up on his YouTube page from an interview with Martin Guitars earlier this year. Jann and his band will be performing at Rockwood Music Hall's Stage 2 on Saturday, Dec 10th from 7-9 PM before he heads to his native Germany to play Hamburg on Dec 23rd. 


Emily Hurd

I met Emily Hurd and Vonda Shepard through my work promoting Jann Klose all these years.  It was a co-bill at Chicago's Skokie Theater.   She seemed like a female Randy Newman, with elements of Nanci Griffith a young Olivia Newton-John, and Mary Richards (Mary Tyler Moore).  She loves fry boots, animals, yoga.  She's rescued dogs. Her video for the title track of her new album, LONG LOST GHOSTS. 

Emily wants to stay on the road no matter how much or little money she makes. I'm looking for shows, co-bills, openers, house concerts from the Midwest on out, on the East coast, West coast, the South.

We're having a record release party on January 14 at Strobe Studios, Chicago! Admission is $10. Seating is limited, and people must RSVP to attend via e-mail at contact@emilyhurd.com.


A little over a year in the making, Long Lost Ghosts is the album Emily Hurd’s fans have been waiting for, featuring her signature voice and folk-pop songs that tell stories of old-fashioned love and its bittersweet triumph. Highlights include the irresistible blues-tinged hit, "Irreparably Yours" and the palpable nostalgia of the cross-country driving tune "Long Lost Ghosts." Emily's fervent crooning uplifts in "My Favorite Part," "Silent Conversations," and "I Won't Tell a Soul." For the first time in a long time, she trades in her regular heartbreaker imagery for a welcome dose of contentment in "Brand New," "Skipping Stones," and "Easy Call." The songsmith sings it like she feels it.

Over the course of her eight full-length studio albums, Emily's singer-songwriter stylings have effortlessly fused pure vocals and chillingly sparse music with chamber pop, indie soul, and gypsy jazz. On Long Lost Ghosts, she does what she does best: combining acoustic instruments and vivid nature metaphors—singing of winter wheat, crickets, gravel roads, and skylarks—to connect with her audience.

The lilt in her voice is as endearing as ever, and the support of her backing band enhances without distracting from the delicate and hopeful vibe that has come to define Emily Hurd’s music.

Lush vocals, vibrant acoustic production, and tones of defiant optimism run through all the songs on Long Lost Ghosts, echoing the uptempo balladry and intelligent anthems, often linked to kindred troubadours Lyle Lovett and Steve Earle. Emily wrote the songs on her ukulele and recorded them on the vintage grand piano at Chicago’s King Size Sound Labs. The record features an all-star line-up of Chicago musicians: John Abbey (Robbie Fulks, Amy Speace), Darren Garvey (Cameron McGill and What Army, Miles Nielsen), Sue Demel (Sons of the Never Wrong, Come Sunday), and Maria McCullough (Sleepy Lou, Jonas Friddle).

Emily Hurd is an inspirational national indie act, performing for growing pockets of loyal followers who revel in her ample cache of new and old original songs. She's shared the stage and/or opened for Irma Thomas, Bettye Lavette, Roger McGuinn, and Ozomatli. Her music is featured on the popular CBS crime drama NCIS. She plays live on WGN TV and radio, WXRT radio, amongst other acclaimed Chicago music institutions. She appears on the prestigious Old Town School of Folk Music "Songbook" collection (released by Bloodshot Records). She is a winner/finalist in the John Lennon Songwriting Contest, NPR's NewSong Contest, and The International Songwriting Competition.

Her supporters in the Southeast run the annual “Emilyfest” in an open barn down in a holler of rural North Carolina. The big skies and high country grass at Emilyfest serve as the perfect backdrop for her fans to listen and lose themselves for a while in her inimitable lyrics. Just listen...



Joe Deninzon & Stratospheerius

Stay tuned for an announcement on Stratospheerius' next album, THE NEXT WORLD. In January we'll have Joe's electric violin method book, "PLUGGING IN: A Guide to Gear and New Techniques for the 21st Century Violinist," on Mel Bay Books. Download the photo here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8320698@N05/6194339498/sizes/l/in/photostream/

New video of Joe jamming on mandolin with Stratospheerius on the instrumental "Gutterpunk Blues" at

Hear Stratospheerius live Friday night, Dec. 9th, first at the Shrine in Harlem at 8 PM, and then in Nyack, at Olive's at midnight. January 11, Stratospheerius and Out of the Beardspace rock Philadelphia's North Star Bar.


Vonda Shepard

My Vonda story started with seeing her at BB King Blues Club in New York City, and she changed my life, awakened something deep within me. In concert she was singing songs that related to some of my relationship issues and also hit home with all the nostalgia that springs up when dear friends (including pets) die. She was magnanimous on stage--talking with her audience, celebrating people's relationships, and singing her heart out with a natural and powerful voice. She has her own sound that--to me--seems to combine soul and country and pop and jazz in her music. Very earthy presence, and a raw and straight forward alto voice. After the show, I saw how she listened to her fans and took time to get to know them. I had to ask her, "Are you a student of people?"

I realized why David E. Kelley cast her as the bar singer on the TV series, Ally McBeal--she's a person who really listens to others.

Vonda and her piano. That's SOLO, the new album which features many of Vonda’s originals ("Lose My Way," "Don’t Cry Ilene," "The Sunset Marquis," "Soothe Me," "I Know Better," ) as well as some favorite cover ballads ("Walk Away Renee" and "You Belong To Me").
SOLO provides the perfect opportunity to get to know Vonda's earthy and accessible style and her intimate interaction with her audience. During the coming year, most of Vonda's shows will feature just her heart, voice and piano. This includes more openers with Sugarland, with whom she’s worked since 2010. The clarity of her voice and the grace of Vonda at her piano on SOLO shows the beauty and richness of Vonda’s music. Says RED at Redhotvelvet.co.uk: “It’d be hard to argue that the Californian is a bad performer. She’s incredible… Shepard gracefully pounds the grand piano and manages to ooze a presence which seeps into the spellbound audience… it’s thoroughly refreshing to see such inherent talent performed naturally with such sunny disposition… Delectable.”

With over 12 million album sales to her name, two Golden Globes, two Emmy Awards, two Screen Actor’s Guild Awards as well as the Billboard prize for selling the most television soundtrack records in history for the hit TV series “Ally McBeal,” Vonda is a world-renowned artist who continues to delight audiences with her magnanimous live performances.  She dedicates songs, tells stories, and—at the same time—projects dynamic charisma and intimacy with her audience.
Just as Vonda's songs reflect an independent woman with profound and self-reflective insights on relationships, her approach to running her career in today's ever-changing music scene is based on that same strength and sense of purpose. She is a consummate artist and businesswoman with her own label, Hotele´ Records.  "I love the idea of making and releasing my own records exactly the way I envision them, then going on the road, getting the music out there and having a blast doing it all.  I have a tremendous amount of energy for music and life.”

Born in New York City, Vonda's family moved to Los Angeles when she was a child, and by age 14, she was performing original material at small L.A. clubs. She played keyboards and sang with Rickie Lee Jones, Al Jarreau, and Jackson Browne, eventually opening for Browne in the U.S. and Asia. She has also performed with the Indigo Girls and The Funk Bros. (a highlight of her life), and she has shared the stage at music festivals with Sting, The Eurythmics, Santana, and Matchbox 20.  

"Can't We Try," her duet with Dan Hill, hit number 6 in 1987. In that same year, Vonda secured her first solo deal with Reprise Records and two years later her eponymous album was released. The Top 10 AC Radio and VH1 hit single “Don't Cry Ilene” brought her outstanding and unmistakably bluesy voice to a wide audience and caught the attention of the critics.  In 1992, her follow-up album, THE RADICAL LIGHT was released.

Vonda has always taken a unique approach to her career, attracting everyone from established music artists to television producers to rally behind her. In 1995, no longer with Reprise, Vonda borrowed money (and Jackson Browne's studio) to make her third recording, IT'S GOOD, EVE, and released it independently.  It was this album that caught David E. Kelley's ear right at the moment he was searching for a voice for his new TV show “Ally McBeal.”  Throughout the show’s five year run, Vonda performed on each episode and produced the show's music, recording almost 500 songs featuring artists including Gladys Knight, Sting, Barry Manilow, Al Green, Chubby Checker and Jon Bon Jovi.

Along with her six Ally McBeal Soundtracks, Vonda also recorded BY 7:30, produced by Mitchell Froom (Crowded House, Elvis Costello, Randy Newman). The two went on to make 2002’s CHINEATOWN, FROM THE SUN (2008), and now SOLO.

Most recently, in addition to opening for Sugarland's summer 2010 and 2011 tours, Vonda has been performing at her own international and domestic concerts, plus numerous private and fund-raising events. Vonda has also been in the studio recording her next album.


FITNESS ROCK & ROLL by Miss Amy Is Nominated for A GRAMMY®

Miss Amy's FITNESS ROCK & ROLL has been nominated for a GRAMMY® Award for the 54th Grammy Celebrations to broadcast on CBS-TV and the internet at http://www.grammy.com on February 12, 2012.

Known as "The First Lady of Musical Fitness" by the National Children's Entertainment Guide, Miss Amy is THE Kids Rocker/Fitness Guru. This GRAMMY Nominated Featured Artist, Miss Amy also serves as an Official Advocate for the President's Challenge Program, and PC All-American in September 2010,  encouraging families to stay physically active through her warm engaging manner and positively enriching original music.

Honored to have performed at The White House Egg Roll 2010, Miss Amy is a singer/songwriter, an accredited music educator and a fitness instructor. She earned her BBA in Strategic Management at University of North Texas and her Certificate of Gerontology at Rutgers University. Additionally Miss Amy has over 20 years of fitness instruction experience being accredited for Kids & Teen Fitness, Yoga I & II, Pilates, Tai-Chi, Strength Training, Primary Aerobics and Pre/Post Natal Fitness, and she is a certified Youth/Adolescent Fitness Trainer.

As an Advocate for the President's Challenge Program (a program of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports), Miss Amy encourages families to work toward earning the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award while inspiring and motivating young people to learn about their bodies and build healthy habits for life through her interactive Fitness Rock & Roll shows.

In addition to Miss Amy's nomination for FITNESS ROCK & ROLL, she's contributed work to the Wildflower CD (2010) in support of Women in Art in Pennsylvania and recorded on the International Baby 101 (English/Japanese/Spanish) project which earned the NAPPA Gold Award in 2004 and the Creative Child Excellence Award of 2006. Her I Wanna Know How It Works! song was included in the award-winning, WXPN Kids Corner, 20th Anniversary Celebration CD and ranked #5 for the Kids Corner top 10 songs of 2009. She has been featured in several books most notably; Singing; A Practical Guide to Pursuing the Art (The Performing Arts) (2009) for young adults by Rebecca Friskin and Shake & Shout: 16 Noisy, Lively Story Programs ( 2008) for children by Rob Reid.

An active member of the Philadelphia NARAS Chapter, Miss Amy also serves on the NJ Partnership For Healthy Kids committee, and volunteers with Musicians On Call at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

FITNESS ROCK & ROLL is the third album Miss Amy is on that's been nominated for a GRAMMY. She appears also on HEALTHY FOOD FOR THOUGHT: GOOD ENOUGH TO EAT, as well as on another project this year, ALL ABOUT BULLIES... BIG AND SMALL.