Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Some Fabulous Live Reviews :)

Hey all!

I wanted to highlight some WONDERFUL reviews written on me from you beautiful, gorgeous, fantastic Laura Cheadle funky fans (well, more like FRIENDS to me)

Here they are in all their glory. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!
Monday, July 9, 2007
Funky Fresh Jersey Girl

How to describe the music of Laura Cheadle? It's probably best understood as a rich stew—or, in the sweltering heat in which I am writing this, a summer salad—the recipe for which goes something like this: two cups of old-school soul; one and a half cups of acoustic singer/songwriter; one cup of classic pop; one tablespoon of rock 'n' roll; jazz and blues to taste. Best served funky.

The 21-year-old songstress grew up in a heavily musical family, which put her in a position to either love music or hate music. Fortunately, she took the former course: "Music is my life and is so natural and medicating to me," she explains. "I need it just the same as I need air to breathe. I can't imagine living without it and I am thrilled to have grown up in such a musical environment." Laura's comments on the making of her current studio album, Falling In, reveal that music is still largely a family affair for this Jersey girl: "The main musicians [on Falling In] are myself on rhythm guitar and vocals, my father James S. Cheadle on keyboards, my brother Jimmy Lee Cheadle on lead guitar, Dave Sikorski on bass, Bill Grillo on drums and Justin Hirsch on percussion. […] I wrote all of the music originally on my acoustic guitar so it was a blast making this album with a live band."

The songs on Falling In deal with the usual themes of love, lust, infatuation, and separation, but there is no mistaking this for a typical "been there, done that" affair by yet another pretty girl with a guitar. First off, there's Laura's smoky voice, which veers from a sultry, seductive whisper to an electrifying gospel-tinged shout. Then there's her songcraft, based on ringing, textured guitar chords with jazzy chromatics, often employing tempo changes and slightly unorthodox chord sequences. "I taught myself how to play the guitar at age 15 and I don't really have a conventional way of writing or playing," she says with some amusement. "I wrote all of these songs during different times of my life and just developed a style that felt like me." Indeed, that style carries over to her lyrics, which often contain stream-of-consciousness musings related in a strangely poetic manner. For example, "Perfect Design" offers pairings like "I take you in my lips, devourin' every inch/Your charm and your mind, your whole perfect design"—phrases so pure and delicate I hesitate to apply such a stark label as "sexually explicit" to them. "Midst Of Your Mystery" is even more hauntingly down-to-earth: "It was kinda scary when the car said check engine/You just smiled and reassured we'd be just fine […] Deep down I wish we woulda got stranded, just to spend another moment with you."

When combined with the musicianship of her band and her father's production, Laura's songs get transformed into intriguing sonic collages. "Bright and Beautiful" combines the funk of a vintage Stevie Wonder track with a summery breeziness reminiscent of Malo's "Suavecito." And that's only part of the story. Laura: "For 'Bright and Beautiful,' we kept my music how it was written on the guitar but randomly decided to put a 'jazz break' in the middle of the song. I LOVE how it turned out." The album's title track starts off like the greatest ballad that Dionne Warwick never recorded, only to jump into a hip-swaying dance groove along the lines of War on happy juice. "Midst Of Your Mystery" marries the ethereal atmosphere of Rachael Yamagata's gentler songs to the down-and-dirty sound of a bluesy bar band, while "Love Map" brings in a country flavor on its swinging choruses. According to Laura, "that was not intentional. My acoustic version of ["Love Map"] does not sound country at all. My brother Jimmy Lee enjoys country music and he was playing that guitar riff on the album."

Two of the selections on Falling In differ so notably from the rest of the album that they deserve special mention. The ominous, minor-keyed "Replaying" is a quietly dramatic pop opus whose sound exists out of place and time, and Laura told me that it strikes a special chord with her: "I wrote 'Replaying' a few years ago and it's about a love that I had to let go of. I enjoy how this song came out because the music matches my emotion at the time. It's one of my favorite tracks on my CD because I was actually crying during the vocal." Equally eerie is the acoustic "Surrounded," whose lyrics are atypically abstract: "Affection takes over my world/All is surrounded by a single girl. Will she wander to an escape?/Cluttered with worries, there's no steps to take." Naturally, Laura can account for the singularity of this particular tune: "I wrote 'Surrounded' after my album was finished and about to be released. I went back in the studio to lay it down just to have it. I then decided to make it a bonus track. Many of my songs are love songs, but I wrote 'Surrounded' completely about life. I woke up with it in my head and wrote it down. It's really about figuring out different parts of your life and trying not to worry about what happens next."

So that's Laura Cheadle as an in-studio recording artist. But Laura Cheadle is more than just an in-studio recording artist; she's a personality. For one thing, she is an eccentric free spirit. Friend her on MySpace and it'll be just a matter of time before she fills your message center with random bulletins informing you of her latest road trip or the last Tower of Power concert she attended. She even poses all sorts of—you guessed it—random questions to her fans and shares photos and drawings in her bulletins and blogs. It's clear that she believes strongly in being connected to her fans, which the internet allows her to do with some semblance of ease. However, it is in person that Laura gets to make the ultimate connection with her funky followers.

Whether you see Laura acoustically or with her live band (also featuring her dad and her bro), she is sure to get wrapped up in a world of her own, letting each song take her and propel her into a realm understandable only by those who truly feel the power of her music. In an acoustic setting, she lets the raw emotion of her songs do the talking. With a full band behind her, she takes control of the stage, shaking and swaying every inch of her dancer's form to every single beat of the music. Either way, she banters freely with the audience, displaying a natural charm and a quirky sense of humor—both hard to resist. And in that moment when she looks out into the crowd and sees you dancing or singing along to her music and she engages your eyes, lingers for a moment, and winks, it is far beyond a mere connection. It is a genuine spiritual exchange. Or at least that's my perspective as a fan. Happily, Laura's perspective as the artist is similar: "Live performances are my favorite! The rush from the crowd is incredible and you get to be so spontaneous with the arrangements of music and performance. I live to perform. Acoustic shows are a great intimate setting where you can tell the crowd where [and] when each song was written. Full band shows are amazing because I get to dance and really stretch out vocally. I also love having that musical connection with all of my bandmates where we don't have to say a single word during a performance, yet we know exactly what each other is thinking."

What's next on the horizon for this rising young star? "I finished my brand new song '10 Weeks of Immortality' and that is up on my MySpace page for a listen. I am working on a new album, which will probably be finished by next year or so. I have been writing like crazy and feel like I just keep growing and growing. I went away on vacation last week and wrote four more songs." She adds, smiling, "It's hard to say how each song will turn out because I am getting inspired more and more every single day."

In the meantime, Falling In is readily available in CD form and on iTunes, and Laura also has a fun(ky) live CD which you can order directly from her. At the time of this writing, there are also some highly entertaining videos on her MySpace profile ("The MySpace Funk" has to be seen to be believed). It is fortunate that Laura Cheadle's music can be accessed so easily in this high-tech digital world, for she is an artist who has it all: the looks, the moves, the charisma, and the TALENT to back it all up.

Or, to put it more simply: Laura Cheadle is bright and beautiful.

For music and more information:

Many thanks to Laura Cheadle for the interview.

Copyright © 2007 S.J. Dibai. All rights reserved.
January 13, 2008
Laura Cheadle at The Baggott Inn
Filed under: Artist Spotlight — eduardothefreek @ 3:12 am
Three words that can sum this up:
Born To Perform!

Laura Cheadle just broke open the Baggott Inn!
It didn't matter that I was having this weird conversation with this odd Asian woman. The Baggott Inn is a great place and makes me want to be 20 again and live in the village! So I could just go to shows constantly.
The opening:
Unfortunately I almost went into the club next to the Baggott Inn. I was like, "The cover is suppose to be 5…Not 15. I'm hear to see Laura Cheadle."
Guy was like, "Laura who?" Well I knew then that I was going to wrong place.
The Entrance:
I walked in like a stud. Sashaying into the room like a fish between the reeds. I make my way to the back and am surprised to find a great….Little stage. It's the village, but I thought it was still small…..That would be so over exposed as the night went on. My sashay only broken by the fact that I don't do it well and seriously I wasn't there to sashay.
Fortunately…The first act: Kristen Cerelli was probably funnier than any comedian next door and her songs were captivating.
Laura Joy: So this shy young lady came on. The audience was not into her, but I was into her. She did look a bit like she just fell of the bus from Kansas (Update: I think it may actually be Arizona), but I was captivated by her. I have a way of focusing on someone and she was just incredible despite the audiences lukewarm response.
OK…Finally….Laura Cheadle:
I saw her come in and went over to say hi. I waited until the Asian woman made her introductions.
I walked up and introduced myself. Laura is a warm person, but loud confined spaces are not my strong suit so I ran for cover. Plus I must have been blushing like a school girl that just showed my knickers, because Laura is far more beautiful in full motion. I shook her hand….Oh wait no…I squished the poor womans hand. She had such so soft delicate fingers.
Laura Goes On!
Wow….Wow….Amazing. She just blew the doors off the joint. Her voice resonating off the wall of the Baggott Inn from a voice that just pulled you in like a crashing neutron star.
She started with "Lay me down" and just captivated the audience….Who were already screaming for Laura anyway. The Asian woman just sat unstirred…But I knew…Inside she was rocking!….Sorry…Funking!
I remember "Come Together" coming next. Which was awesome and had the whole joint singing along.
"Midst of your Mystery" came next and just brought the house down. It's bluesy/Funky beat just sent the place astir. Even the lights started to fade because of the heat the Laura was generating. It was at this moment that I imagined the Baggott Inn as this entire ampitheater with stadium seating. She would fill the place with her energy alone.
I must mention now. Laura's energy on stage must have raised the season in the joint from semi-winter to full on summer. There are some people like Jim Morrison and Ozzy that just bring such presence to the stage that no matter the venue…..They widen its expanse. Laura is one of these people.
There was a set they did just before the last that just touched on every musical genre imaginable that showed the breadth and depth of the Cheadle family band. It's like they said to each other outside…just before entering…..Lets blow the roof off this joint.
Finally and happily….I heard the drum beat start for Superstition by Steve Wonder. Superstition to me is like the baddest song ever created and Laura with her deep vocals brought justice to a song I find dear to my heart. Than to my Funking amazement…Another one bites the dust comes out of nowhere and than another amazing Stevie Wonder song….Living in the City. At that point the nice Asian lady had left in a hurry after a phone call and I was just blowing in the wind and found a superb spot to enjoy the powerful vocals coming from Laura.
I must also mention the band….Which was just Incredible. The Cheadle family band as I call them, are just amazing. Laura's Dad, James S. Cheadle is an amazing keyboardist that brings his own flavor to classics by Stevie Wonder as well as Laura's originals.
What more can be said about Jimmy Lee Cheadle. Laura's Brother…I believe. This guy is an incredible guitarist. Being a guitarist myself I just watched his style all night. His solo's were amazing. Only one complaint. I've never been taken by finger tapping, but it worked here. Also the solos were very high on the fret board. Not that I mind that at all. Just that the upper strings bring a nice fullness to solos as well. These aren't criticisms. Damn…I wish I could play like that! He is incredible!!!!
Paul Galonsky (on Drums) and Dil McDaniel (on 5 hundred string bass or something) just set an amazing backdrop for what was an incredible set.
My only wish…..10 hours of just listening to Laura and the band play their hearts out.
It was amazing. As a musician it is one of those sets that makes you thinks, "Hmmmm Maybe I should go back to the drawing board."
Than again…Each person has their own style and funk….And I think Laura bring the best out of everybody onstage and offstage.
If you have only seen her on myspace. See her live. It is FUNKING amazing!
BLOG BY: Mr. Mace

As the new year begins, so begins another chapter in the life of Mr. Mace. Making preparations for the transition from Manhattan living to Sin City, I have decided to make the most of my remaining time here. Me being the music fanatic, I love attending concerts. Nothing like a live show.

New Year's started off with a bang as I caught a very energetic show by the talented soul sister Jill Scott at Madison Square Garden - who was the opening act for a hilarious Chris Rock. (that man is a fool for real). Much thanks to my man Rudy Calvo for the hook up on that one.

The New York area also has a lot of very talented lesser well-known artists and I have made a commitment to support, where able, shows that I had not had a chance to catch before. I started this past weekend with the ultra funky Laura Cheadle, a New Jersey native who now resides in PA, but makes regular stops in the NY area -- most recently at the Baggot Inn. Performing to a packed and enthusiastic crowd, this young (she's only 21!!) but mature soul/funk/rock siren shimmied and swayed to a live band while she crooned and caressed lyrics one would think someone much older would have written. I enjoyed her spirited covers as well as original material and congratulated her afterward on a great show. (not that she needed my validation, her audience was validation enough, lol.) If you're in the area and get a chance to see her, please do. You can check out her Myspace page as well.

I look forward to more shows in the coming weeks and months and will let you know what's going on with the best of the best.

Laura Cheadle, doing her thang...

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