Interview with cooking sensation Paula Deen

Paula Deen Picture

Courtesy of Paula Deen Ventures

I had the chance to sit down and talk with cooking sensation, Paula Deen about her tour, “Paula Deen Live!” and the new digital  Paula Deen Network that she is launching on Sept. 24, 2014, to bring her fans not only convenience, but easier access to all her recipes. Deen will be in Atlanta at the Woodruff Art Center on Tuesday, Aug. 26,  and tickets are still available through Ticketmaster.


In September, you will be starting up a digital network called the Paula Deen Network. After a break from the spotlight, what made you decide to jump back in and go with a digital platform verses the traditional broadcast medium?


I decided to launch the Paula Deen Network online because it is going to make finding my recipes, tips and shows more convenient than ever! My fans will be able to access everything Paula Deen in one place, whenever and wherever they want from a smart phone, tablet or computer. I can’t wait until the network launches on Sept. 24! My fans can pre-register for the network now by going to

What new and exciting experiences can a viewer expect to see through your new network?


The Paula Deen Network is going to feature short-form and long-form content that will allow fans to cook along with me step-by step as I showcase recipes, tips, ingredients and products. There will be different themes, such as “Leftover Mondays” and “Taco Tuesdays,” and I’ll have plenty of holiday-themed content as well! There will also be a lot of entertainment and lifestyle programs on the network, which I can’t wait to share with my fans. For instance, one program may feature the best of Southern living, such as decorating tips for the holidays and discovering hidden gems with local merchants to entertaining game shows and hilarious bloopers! The Paula Deen Network was created for my wonderful fans, and I think the content we’re creating is proof of that!


You’re about to return to your multi-city nationwide tour on Aug. 6 in San Antonio, Texas. What are you looking forward to the most in your live 90-minute “Paula Deen Live!” show?


I just can’t wait to meet all my amazing fans! They’re truly a gift! We’ll be cooking up some of my tastiest dishes using delicious Springer Mountain Farms chicken, talking about food and family, playing games, and even giving the audience an exclusive sneak peek of the shows that will be on my brand new digital lifestyle network, the Paula Deen Network, which launches this September.


What has been the most unexpected surprise for you in doing this venture?


Oh my goodness, this whole tour has been such a happy surprise for me! When I kicked off my tour in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., the very first night I just became so emotional when I walked out on stage. Seeing all of those beautiful faces smiling back at Michael and me, words just can’t describe it. My fans will never know just how much they mean to me.


What is it about cooking that inspires you to share your recipes and stories to all your fans?


I’ve always loved cooking and the best part about it is creating delicious meals for the ones you love. So many of my recipes have a story behind it, especially about my family, so it’s so wonderful to be able to share these fond stories and my recipes with my fans. Food really brings people together; it brings me closer to my fans so that they can learn new recipes and where they came from!


What is your biggest dream with this experience?


I can’t wait to take my fans on this exciting journey with me! The ultimate goal of my new ventures is to reach even more of my incredible fans, and give them access to all of my recipes, tips and shows on their own schedule. I want to make their experience as enjoyable and convenient as possible, while making sure they have loads of fun learning a new recipe or getting a look into all the behind-the-scenes action with me and my family!


Paula Deen Live Tour Dates

Friday, Aug. 15 – Savannah, Ga., at Lucas Theater

Tuesday, Aug. 26 – Atlanta, Ga., at Woodruff Arts Center

Wednesday, Aug. 27 – Nashville, Tenn., at TPAC – Andrew Jackson Hall

Tuesday, Sept. 16 – Birmingham, Ala., at Alabama Theatre

Thursday, Sept. 18 – Jacksonville, Fla., at TUCPA – Jacoby Symphony Hall

Wednesday, Sept. 24 – Charlotte, N.C., at BPAC – Belk Theater

Friday, Sept. 26 – Savannah, Ga., at Lucas Theatre

Tuesday, Oct. 14 – Boston, Mass., at Symphony Hall

Saturday, Oct. 25 – Pensacola, Fla., at Saenger Theatre

Tuesday, Nov. 11 – Orlando, Fla., at Hard Rock Hotel

Thursday, Nov.13 – Clearwater, Fla., at Ruth Eckerd Hall

(Hed) Pe is ready to lead you into battle with ‘Evolution’



By: Mary Lynn Ritch


(Hed) Pe makes heavy rap/rock/reagge infused albums like with color and detail. Each song on Evolution sounds different from the next without losing their signature sound.

Evolution starts off with tapping on a tribal drum in “No Way Out.” The drum sounds incredibly peaceful but before you believe (Hed) Pe has gone all spa channel on XM radio, Jaxson starts shredding on guitar. Towards the end of the song, Jared clearly screams “We’ve come such a long way” and it’s hard to believe those peaceful seconds were part of the same song. (Hed) Pe is back with a brutal vengeance that although different from previous records doesn’t veer off very far from their signature sound.

A major theme in Evolution is that the band has embraced their change in direction and if you don’t like it—then too bad. “There ain’t nothing else to lose because I’ve played too many games,” Jared sings as the band channels Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page’s guitar in Stairway to Heaven is channeled in “2 Many Games.” The band is prepared for any backlash for this sentiment in “There’s no Tomorrow” which sounds black metal infused. “The revolution is on the way,” Jared screams from the gut, “When the walls come down then I’m gonna be right there on the front line. Waiting on the right side on the front line like there’s no tomorrow.”

Other highlights from Evolution include “Never Alone,” “Let it Burn” and “One More Body” that will for sure get a crowd moving and into the pit. It sounds like a uprising led by the band as “One more body is screamed” followed by group vocals chanting “round em up” accompanied by the double base. “Lie to Me” is also an impressive reggae song with a modern twist on the genre.

(Hed) PE is releasing Evolution July 22–the first album the band has released in four years and is currently on tour. Guitarist Jackson Benge had the chance to speak with me about the new tunes, how it’s easier to work with an independent label, touring and performing at the 15th Annual Gathering of the Juggalos.


Are you excited about this new album?

Yea, this album is a little different than our previous work but we are all really proud of the finished product. I am glad to finally get this out to the fans.


What are the band’s biggest influences?

Black Sabbath, Beastie Boys and bands like Slayer to name a few. But with this new album you’ll notice there are some reggae songs because Jared is influenced by Bob Marley and we wanted to try something new.


I listened to “Only in Amerika” and “Evolution” and you guys also sound like you’re influenced by ICP?

A lot of people tell us that and it’s funny because we started gaining a Juggalo fan base. They’ll show up at our shows with their clown makeup and it’s really cool. Also, we’ve played at the Gathering of the Juggalos in the past and are doing that again this tour.


What is playing at the Gathering at the Juggalos like?

It’s three or four days at this big festival in the middle of nowhere. You can actually feel that welcoming, family dynamic in the crowd.


So you’d say classifying the Juggalos as a gang was an unfair assumption?

I think it’s absolutely absurd and ridiculous. The Juggalos are just following a band they like and I think it’s pretty unfair to label someone or think they are dangerous just for being themselves and liking a band. In every situation there are bad people that make others look bad. So if we went into every situation with that mindset there would be many groups considered gangs. You don’t have to like their music, but you can respect them as people by not judging them.


What is touring like?

It’s definitely not for everyone but I enjoy it. The band is spread out all over the country and we rarely get a chance to all be in the same state. It will be fun to reunite with them.


It’s not for everyone? What do you mean by that?

Well, we all have families and it’s difficult to leave them and go away for a few months on a bus that goes across country seeing different people every night. It gets kind of exhausting but at the same time, I love it.


Lets switch gears a little bit when you joined the band in 2004 you were signed to Jive which was a major label and now you’ve gone the independent route with Pavement. I’m noticing that is a trend amongst artists these days. Are independent labels better and cater more towards bands in your opinion?

Major labels are great for advertising but they have so many artists on board they can’t work closely with them. We like working with Pavement because they really pay attention to detail which we didn’t get with Jive. I believe the independent labels we’ve worked with have really gone to bat for us and helped us get the most from the work we do.


(Hed) Pe is currently on tour and Evolution will be out July 22 which can be purchased on iTunes. For more information and tour dates visit (Hed) Pe’s website or Facebook page.


(Hed) Pe Tour Dates

July 15 – Destin, FL  @ Club LA
July 16 – Orlando @ Bombshell’s Tavern
July 17 –  St Petersburg @ State Theater
July 18 – Ft Lauderdale @ Culture Room
July 19 – Jacksonville @ Aqua On The Rock
July 20 – Knoxville @ The Concourse
July 22 – Beckley, WV  @ Muncheez
July 23 – Thornville, OH @ Gathering Of Juggalos


Artist, gallery-owner and podcaster Aunia Kahn talks entrepreneurship and overcoming fear

This article appears as the cover story in July/August 2014

Aunia Kahn and Russell J. Moon opened Alexi Era Gallery in late 2013

By Ellen Eldridge


Overcoming truly terrifying events like child abuse and severe illness allowed an artist to understand the frailty of life, and the importance of making it count.


Aunia Kahn and Russell J. Moon opened Alexi Era Gallery in late 2013, with a vision to bring cutting edge art to the conservative Midwest. As if being a fine artist and opening her own gallery wasn’t enough, Kahn started hosting the Create and Inspire Podcast in April 2014.


She describes her vision as a weekly art-focused podcast sharing inspirational tips, tricks, advice and featuring interviews with successful artists and art focused businesses to help you manifest your dreams. Kahn has the talent to back up her art career and now she has the authority to speak to budding entrepreneurs about taking the plunge and making our art our business.


AuniaKahn“Fear is the hardest part of being an entrepreneur,” Kahn says, and she describes the nagging voice of doubt as asking, “how are you going to back up this amazing idea?”


She says she works 14-18 hours a day, but that though this is “the hardest job I’ve ever had,” she says, “It’s scary, but it’s exciting.”


Part of the reason Kahn is so willing to obsessively pursue her dreams comes from battling illness.


“I’m obsessive with what I do, partly because of being sick,” Kahn says, describing a feeling of having lost time due to her illness, and being homebound. “I overcommit myself,” she says, which instantly hits home with all the artists struggling to balance commitments. But in Kahn’s case, she says she feels like she has a lot of catching up to do.


Kahn describes her time ill at home from 2002 on as an experience that kept a social creature bound; she says she longed for interaction and missed people. “I’m a social creature who was homebound for so long,” she says describing the importance of the World Trade Center to her in 2010.


In April 2012 I almost died,” Kahn says. “By April 2013, I started to feel better and I could walk again. I was 114 pounds at 5’9 at my worst.”


Though Kahn continued to curate shows from home while ill, she couldn’t travel. “When you’re at death’s door and you start to feel better again, everything’s a miracle,” she says.


The idea that she might never have gotten better coupled with the inability to get out and even experience her hometown led Kahn to fully appreciate what life offers. “Sometimes, I’m brought to tears at the simple realization that I can drive myself,” she says.


“It’s no joke: I believe everything happens for a reason,”

she says of the letdowns as much as the successes she’s experienced in her life and in her career as an artists and entrepreneur. When Kahn started the Alexi Gallery, which opened in November 2013, she had only just sold an original piece of art that allowed her to pay the first month’s rent on the space. Kahn called the buyer to tell him that his purchase provided what she needed to open her gallery, and he told her that he wanted a second piece so he went ahead and bought it then, providing more room for the Alexi Gallery to thrive. “I didn’t have anything else, but I didn’t have to put money on a credit card,” Kahn says. “I just believed in myself and I just did it.”


Kahn says that when someone has a passion for something, other people will want to be a part of it. After surviving years of child abuse, followed by years of illness, and coming out healthy, gives Kahn a feeling of faith in whatever she wants to do. Facing death has a way of making anything seem possible, she says. “I don’t give up very easily and I work very hard,” she says.


In trying to find a balance between acting as a business owner and an artist, “It’s all about making time and setting a schedule,” Kahn says. She decides how much time to spend on the marketing and working in the gallery, but allots hours for creating art as well. “When you love what you do it’s hard to stop,” she says. “I don’t really know when to stop.”


Perfectionism is something Kahn says borders on psychological illness. While she says she thinks she absolutely is a perfectionist, she understands that the fine line to draw comes at the price of moving forward.


“I think it [perfectionism] can harbor people’s ability to better themselves,” she says. “When people are really focused on making something perfect, I think it’s a psychological problem.” Artists and makers have to be able to let go to continue creating and improving, she says.


Kahn admits she looks back on work she created years ago and feels like she should try to improve it, but she says she knows she has to let it go and learn from the mistakes.


“I have to let go and take what I learned and apply it to the next thing,” she says, adding that perfection is something neither she nor any artist will achieve, and striving for perfectionism only leads to a constant lack of satisfaction.


Though fine artists and illustrators often have a reputation for introversion, Kahn is highly involved in public speaking. “The no. 1 fear statistically is public speaking,” she says. “I was trying to get out and do something, so I took a class.”


She became involved with public speaking after a professor invited her to return to speak in front of a college class at Southwestern Illinois College.


“I’m not the typical artist. I know that, which is why I reach out to other artists and advocate for them,” Kahn says. “Artists create. They visually represent their feelings; they don’t verbally represent their feelings.”


Kahn laughs as she admits that she never would have imagined her career in public speaking from her perspective of a high school girl who panicked during speech class, running out to never return. Kahn says she failed that class, yet she learned from her mistakes and moved on toward self-improvement and success.


“I speak at classes and I adapt my story,” she says. “I talk about bullying, mental disorders and overcoming adversity.”


One of Kahn’s favorite quotes, she says, is “Leap and your wings will appear.” She says she wanted to do a podcast for two or three years, because while sick she listened to and was inspired by John Dumas’ podcast,


She started the Create and Inspire podcast in April 2014, after her hope was renewed from Dumas himself, Kahn says. When he invited her to be a guest speaker on “Entrepreneur On Fire,” he told her she was ‘a natural’ afterward, Kahn says.


“It changed my life and finally pushed me into doing my own podcast,” Kahn says.


Faith in herself led Kahn to pursue her passion. For a long time she couldn’t do the simple things people take for granted, like walk around her town or breath well.


Artists and all artistic entrepreneurs should take the time to listen to the Create and Inspire podcast Thursday nights. Take notes on working together, and learn from other artists and entrepreneurs because that, Kahn says, is the fastest way to success.

Interview with Melanie Martinez on ‘Dollhouse’ EP and Life out on the Road

Melanie Martinez art1

Interview by Danielle Boise


Melanie Martinez recently released her debut EP, Dollhouse, out on May 20 with a retro vibe meeting broken doll as Martinez’s child-like innocence is both captivating and heart-breaking as the 18-year ingénue delves deeper look into what underneath the surface of “perfection.”

Before kicking off on tour, Martinez sat down with Target Audience Magazine to discuss what it was like to be on NBC’s “The Voice,” creating music and what we can expect from her full-length album.


How did being on the NBC smash-hit, “The Voice,” help prepare you as an artist?

The show really put me out of my comfort zone. I learned how to perform under pressure on live television, and not mess up! I also learned from all of the other contestants there who were more seasoned than me.


What’s your favorite element in the process of creating music?

The story! The concept is always the core of the song. I’ve always been a story teller and there is not one song that I’ve ever written that is like “wait what am I talking about?”


You sing about what’s behind the façade of a perfection set to pop notes, what made you decide to tackle these dark issues on Dollhouse? And will your full-length album contain more songs that push those boundaries?

When Kinetics, One Love and I wrote that song we wanted to explore a few things. A story of a dysfunctional family who’s hiding being a perfect plastic façade – which is something that a lot of families go through; kind of like “Edward Scissorhands.” The perfect home with the perfect lawn and they all look the same. But behind each house there’s a screwed up group of people who are hiding being wealth and perfection. “Dollhouse” also has a double meaning for how people view celebrities. They are so perfect on television and on red carpet events, but they just want to be themselves without people judging their every move as if they have made no mistakes themselves.


Which song on Dollhouse speaks to you the most in this moment? Where were you (emotionally) when you were writing these songs?

“Carousel” is my favorite of the songs on my Dollhouse EP. It’s a perfect example of how my full length album is going to be. All very inspired by childhood and the contrast between light and dark. The light of “Carousel” is the carnival theme. Carnivals were my favorite growing up and still are to this day. The dark part of it is the story lying underneath. It’s about a boy who tricked me into falling in love with him and led me to the carousel where we ended up getting stuck. I wasn’t able to get off of that same ride. I was never able to reach him and he was okay with that.


Who is currently influencing you right now – either in film, book, art or music?

Tim Burton is a huge inspiration to me. All of his movies have this cartoony child-like quality to them but have dark tones lying underneath. I think that’s why I’ve been into the whole contrast thing for my music.


You’re getting ready to hit the road for a tour in June. What are the highs and lows of being out on the road as a new artist? And how do you find balance between being out on the road and a family life?

Playing live is my favorite thing about being an artist. Seeing people smile and have fun, or cry during a really emotional song. Just watching them be so intimate and share their emotions in the moment. Music can do so many things to your heart, it’s incredible. My dad comes on tour with me so it’s nice to have one part of my family with me. I talk to my mom and brother a lot on the phone. It’s not too bad. Also since I’m a new artist I haven’t toured for that long yet.


When can we expect your full length LP to be released? Do you have a title for it?

Maybe sometime in September or October. Definitely by the end of this year. And it will be called Cry Baby. It’s kind of like a giant pack of very blunt children story books. I’m looking forward to seeing which songs stand out to people the most.


If you are fans of independent, strong-willed, artistic women, like Lana Del Rey, Regina Spektor or Paloma Faith, then give Melanie Martinez a twirl. Martinez will be heading out on tour starting June 4 at World Café Live in Philadelphia and will be making her way to Atlanta’s Vinyl on June 10.

Melanie Martinez Tour Dates

June 4 – Philadelphia @ World Café Live

June 5 – Norfolk @ FM Backstage

June 7 – Asheville @ The Lab

June 9 – Nashville @ The High Watt

June 10 – Atlanta @ Vinyl

June 12 – Carrboro, NC @ Cat’s Cradle

June 14 – Charlottesville, VA @ The Southern

June 15 – Baltimore @ Soundstage

June 16 – Vienna, VA @ Jammin’ Java

June 18 – Portland, ME @ Port City Music Hall

June 19 – Boston @ The Middle East

June 21 – Providence @ The Met

June 24 – New York @ Marlin Room at Webster Hall

Interview with the band The Bitteroots



Interview by Danielle Boise


The Bitteroots are an Atlanta-Decatur jam band fused with a grassroots bluesy rock that is filled with heart and soul, emphasizing on the heart of the matter with Laura’s Dee’s enigmatic voice full of lush notes drawing the listeners and rounded out with a stellar cast of musicians. If you’re musical tastes runs the gamut from Melissa Etheridge to The Tedeschi Trucks Band and Beth Hart, then check out The Bitteroots.

How would you describe your sound? 



Mike Davis (drums): We’re kind of a mixture or jam and pop. Underneath Laura’s really powerful vocals there’s a solid band that’s not afraid to take chances and stretch out a little.


Kyle Bryant (guitars): I think Mike’s description describes it pretty well. We can play back to back songs in a set where the first is a three to four minute structured pop song, and the next is eight minutes long jam with a lot of improvisation. We like to fly without a net a little bit.


Laura’s vocals are bittersweet and heartbreaking, especially with “Under The Big Sky,” what inspired this song? 


Laura Dees (vocals): Each year, we take a trip for a writing retreat to south Georgia.  The location is secluded, private and extremely laid back.  There are no distractions which allows us to explore and focus on our writing and quite honestly, the home on the property is so conducive for our creativity.


One beautiful day during our retreat, Mike captured an amazing photo of the farmland surrounding the old historic house we were staying in.  What really caught our eye was how clear and blue the sky was that day.  For me, it was an open and honest feeling and it inspired the lyrics and melody of “Under the Big Sky.”  We knew after seeing this photo, it had to be the cover and after the writing was complete, we had our title.


What inspires your writing process? Who are you currently listening to that you are absolutely blown away by? 


Kyle Bryant (guitars): For me, I’m always looking to come up with a guitar part that adds to a song as a whole. I feel like my guitar part should be a memorable part of the song, whether it be a signature hook or riff, solo, or just a simple chord change that is just a little different than anticipated.  For two songs of our recent EP, “Defenseless” and “Under the Big Sky,” I was just playing riffs in between practice breaks that I had written years and years ago that had never developed into full fledged songs. Thankfully, the band liked them, and every member added their own touch and feel (and great lyrics from Laura) to create the songs they are today. I’m looking forward to seeing what else we can come up with as a group moving forward


Laura Dees (vocals): Everyday life inspires me.  My own personal journeys, watching, engaging and listening to others around me also drives my curiosity.  I’m currently listening to Lucinda Williams and Steve Earle.  The songwriting is so pure and real – I just love it.


 How would you describe getting up on stage and performing live verses going into the recording studio to write and record? 


Kyle Bryant (guitars): As much as I love recording new material in the studio, my favorite part of being in a band is absolutely playing live. Having an audience, especially one who is actively into what you are playing, makes all the hard work of playing music worth it. Plus, with the improvisational nature in which we approach a lot of our songs, we have a chance to play them differently every time we are up there. It’s definitely exciting to start a song or solo and know where you’re going, but not exactly how you’re going to get there.


That said, you have to write and record new material to have songs to play. It’s definitely a rewarding process in itself to leave the studio with a recorded document of exactly where you are as a band at that moment, and share with everyone.


Laura Dees (vocals): I personally love the energy the audience brings when we perform live.  When recording it’s difficult to capture the “it” moment such as one of Kyle’s incredible guitar solos or Bill and Mike feeding off each other as they work their way into a jam session.  Their talents really shine during our performances and you can see it and feel it.  It’s just so much fun to be a part of!


You are getting ready to celebrate six years of performing together, who has the journey been so far? Where do you see the band going? 


Bill Taylor (bass/vocals): These past 6 years have been really amazing. We’ve played on some of the biggest stages in town playing main stages at The Dogwood Festival, The Sweetwater 420 Festival (in both 2011 and 2013), The Decatur Arts Festival and The Summer Shade Fest, just to name a few. We’ve produced 4 recording projects – 2 full length and 2 EPs. We played with some of our favorite bands including The Freddy Jones Band, Allgood, and Col. Bruce Hampton. We played live on the 11Alive morning show and currently have our song “Defenseless” in rotation on 100.5FM as part of their “Local Licks” program. It’s been a great ride so far!


In some ways, we feel like we’ve just started to hit our stride. The band’s sound has been morphing for the past few years, but with the recent addition of Kyle Bryant on lead guitar, we’ve really opened up the sound and we are really enjoying the new direction of a more improvisational approach to our live shows. One of the aspects of our live shows, is that we almost always bring in guests to sit in and augment that particular show. No two shows are ever the same. One of the benefits of being part of local music scene, is we’ve met some incredible musicians. And we’ve been able to bring in some of those musicians as guests on percussion, saxophone, harmonica, vocals, guitars and pedal steel guitars which has been great and always keeps everything really fresh.


Up until about a year or so ago, we had primarily played in Atlanta, and mostly in our hometown of Decatur, but this last year has taken us out into the suburbs and other venues in Metro Atlanta. Later this year, we have dates in Macon, Milledgeville and Athens, so we are finally taking the show on the road. We are probably going to take 2014 to continue to work up the new sound. I’d expect we’ll have another full length album (possibly a live album) sometime in 2015.


Laura Dees (vocals): With several line-up changes through the years, I feel we are finally capturing “our” sound.  We’re always moving forward and challenging ourselves to try new things, but the scary part has been change. As we push forward, we have learned change can be a wonderful thing.  Kyle has been a crucial part of the shift in our live performances, our writing and our overall sound.


How is it being a local band on the scene? What advice have you found to be beneficial? 


Laura Dees (vocals): I’m so happy to be a part of this band and a part of the musical community in Atlanta.  We have met some talented and creative professionals and the support they have shown though the years has been amazing.


As far as advice, a really good friend gave me a little advice/reality check the other day…”don’t worry about what others think and stay true to who you are.”  Although you always hear this in life…but it’s so hard to follow when you’re pulled in so many different directions.  Oh yeah and “always have a Plan B if the music thing doesn’t pay the bills.”


The Bitteroots Concert Schedule

April 30 – Atlanta @ Limerick Junction

May 17 – Decatur, GA @ Eddie’s Attic

Jun 28 – Duluth, GA @ Sweetwater Bar and Grill

July 9 – Atlanta @ 10 High Club

July 26 – Marietta, GA @ The 120 Tavern & Music Hall

Aug 9 – Woodstock, GA @ Ronnie John’s Sunset Grille

Aug 23 – Atlanta @ The Star Bar

Sept 6 – Decatur, GA @ Big Tex Cantina

Sept 14 – Atlanta @ Atlanta Arts Festival

Sept 20 – Milledgeville, GA @ Buffington’s

Interview and Photo Gallery for John Sebastian at Unity North Atlanta on 3/14/14

Photos from the March 14 Unity North Atlanta Church Concert by Chuck Holloway


“The Golden Road” – John Sebastian

Interview with John Sebastian by Don Aters


In general, I never do phone interviews because they are informal and often distant. For John Sebastian, however, I made an immediate exception. This storied icon and The Lovin Spoonful were one of the noted bands who rivaled The British Invasion of the sixties with tunes such as “Didn’t have To Be So Nice,” “Nashville Cats,” “Summer in the City” and Sebastian’s rock n’ roll lullaby, “Darling Be Home Soon.”
A product of Greenwich Village and the jug band craze of embryonic folk venues of early ’60s, Sebastian became well known for his proficiency as a writer with The Mugwumps (Cass Elliott) as well as his exceptional prowess as a noted harmonica player (200 or more guest appearances on other albums inclusive of The Doors). Sebastian was marked for success from the very beginning. His fleeting moment as leader of The Spoonful was fleeting, a granule of sand in the hourglass of “musical time.”
Joe Butler, Steve Boone, Zal Yanovsky and John Sebastian were on the fast track for musical immortality and the songs that eased the pain and broadened the smiles of an entire culture continue to this day. During the decade of decadence and internal strife, John and The Lovin Spoonful were “the source for musical anarchy.” The royalty of rock n’ roll that would breathe fire in the decaying embers of political mayhem and the youth of an entire culture that were lost in the proverbial shuffle of “mainstream.” There were few questions for Sebastian, mostly we conversed about his current exploration of jug band.


We briefly alluded to his historic appearance at Woodstock, when he was pushed on the stage by Artie Kornfeld to appease the crowd during one of the many moments of torrential downpours on Yasgur’s farm. Although Sebastian was not contractually obligated, his brief set would forever be remembered by the 500,000 fans who endured the four days of inclement weather.
His call came directly from home in Woodstock, an appropriate place for a storied musician of given magnitude. Sebastian candidly spoke of his achievements, a cache of written songs that have transcended the decades. A scion in birth, this fabled musician and respected survivor of The Woodstock Nation continues to roll on the musical railroad, a credit to the genre and to society in general.


His tour brings him to Atlanta and to Fur Peace Ranch in Ohio. It’s a chance to digress to those euphoric days when “Summer in the City” resonated across the land, pain and progress were measured by the chosen bands of a weary nation of youthful malcontents. Psycho babbling of the majority in today music is at an end and so it continues with music that matters so, “Stomp your hands” and “Clap your feet,” Sebastian is on the way like the saying, “The likes of him may never travel this way again.”

Interview with Colin Vinson of Seven Handle Circus

Seven Handle Circus

Seven Handle Circus

By: Danielle Boise


I’ve been listening to Whiskey Stills & Sleeping Pills quite a bit, I love how the songs flow from one another seamlessly in quiet and manic swells. There is something hopelessly romantic about the album. I love the bluegrass, rock roots of Whiskey Stills & Sleeping, what direction will your new material go in?


Well, we definitely aim to keep the flow and manic swells part. The new stuff is a bit darker and more introspective, yet the elements of bluegrass and rock are still very prevalent. We’ve made it a point to use our bluegrass instrumentation in new and interesting ways, adding extra dimensions to the ‘bluegrass’ sound and keeping things modern.


…Just kidding. It’s actually a Huey Lewis and the News cover album.


You announce in the middle of January that with a successful Kickstarter campaign that a new album is pending. How is the recording coming along? Can you give us an expected release date? And do you have a title yet?


Recording is going great! We were unable to locate Steve but found a sexy Spanish mandolin player named Esteban that filled in nicely. All of the tracking is finished and we’re moving on to editing and mixing. Tom Drummond (of Better Than Ezra fame) is producing the album and we’re really impressed with his work and dedication. I can’t give you an exact release date, but it should be available for all your summer cruising needs. So far the frontrunner for the title is “Target Audience Magazine.”


With a fresh crisp sense of high-energy infused into each song, how do you hold onto the vitality of your sound when recording new material?


The new material may be darker and more emotional, but the energy is still very present. We’re also getting a lot more comfortable taking the energy level down, allowing for more intimate sections in songs. The dynamics add a lot. If the track is still lacking vitality after that, we just play it twice as fast. That usually does it.


What’s the best part of performing live vs recording in the studio?


When you are playing live and you just nail a song, the crowd lets you know and it’s one of the best feelings you can imagine. In the studio, when you nail a song, Tom just gets on the talkback mic and says, “Good job. Let’s get one more.”


Starting February 28, you will head out on the road for a couple of dates. How do you prepare to be out on the road for any length of time? What most are you looking forward to being out on the road?


Mostly a lot of stretching. And tongue twisters. We love just getting out on the road and stretching and doing tongue twisters. Also, we can’t wait to see all the silly stuff we can find in rural gas stations. It can get pretty weird.


Finally, what are you looking headlong into 2014?


It seems like we have more fun every year. This year is obviously huge for us because we will release our first full length album. Can’t wait to see what happens.


Seven Handle Circus Tour Dates

Feb. 28 – Charleston, SC @ The WindJammer
March 01 – Augusta, GA @ Sky City
March 07 – Atlanta, GA @ Terminal West
March 15 – Savannah, GA @ Savannah St. Patrick’s Day
April 04 – Macon, GA @ Cox Capitol Theatre
April 05 – Lafayette, GA @ TDawg’s Back Porch Hootennany

Interview with Hannah Holbrook of SHEL

Image above used with permission.  © Taylor Ballantyne.


Better B# - TAM Banner


Last year, after becoming infatuated with learning the mandolin, I stumbled upon a young woman’s Youtube video in which she played Bach on an octave mandolin. Her name was Eva Holbrook, a member of the all-sister four-piece called SHEL from Fort Collins, Colorado. Shortly thereafter, I discovered that the group was playing at a venue just up the road in Washington D.C. I didn’t need to think very hard about attending, as I’d already been impressed by each of them via their homemade music videos which were posted online. Though the venue itself was questionable, they still put on an astounding show and all of them were very down to Earth when I approached them after the performance. We tossed around the idea of doing an interview and, after a few scheduling issues, I was finally able to ask the eldest Holbrook, Hannah, a few questions about the band and her new solo piano EP, Late Bloomer.

 Interview with Hannah Holbrook of SHEL on February 18, 2014.

All of you are accomplished players, but I know Liza was originally learning the harp before discovering her love for percussion. Did the rest of you immediately know the instruments you wanted to play, or was it more of a trial and error of love?

We all tried to start with guitar, but it didn’t really stick. Sarah and Eva play it now, along with bass and Eva plays cello. I picked piano and fell in love. I can’t seem to put that kind of time and energy into any other instrument.

Originally you four were a back-up band for your father’s music. You’ve also played with your brother, Isaac. Was it because of this upbringing that it was obvious you’d form a band with each other, or did some of you test the waters with other musicians before “coming back home”?

We had and still do have solo projects and little side projects here and there, but SHEL is a full time gig and we’ve been thinking about it that way for about 10 years.

Who came up with the idea to use each of your initials to form the band name? Were there any other band names thrown out there before “SHEL” was settled on?

I’m not sure who to give credit on this one. We were sitting around the kitchen table brainstorming a band name and someone, maybe mom, took all our initials and wrote them out in random order on a sheet of paper. We had HESL (in order of age), we had SEHL… meh… we had LESH… we had SHEL. Well, that makes the most sense.

All of you are, deservingly, endorsed by various instrument companies. How did you arrive at using the brands who sponsor you?

I think it all starts with word of mouth. I had been hearing about Kurzweil keyboards from a very young age. I tried out some other brands when I first started, but, being a pianist and a purist, I wasn’t satisfied with the fake piano patches. Nothing sounded remotely real until I tried out a Kurzweil 12 years ago at the recommendation of my father. I’ve been hooked ever since.

As you told me you’d be going by plane during this interview, I was wondering about instrument travel. I’ve heard horror stories about musicians who have their instruments mishandled by airline staff. Do you have any horror stories of your own in this matter, or tips for those musicians who are worried about keeping the tools of their trade safe?

No horror stories. We fly SouthWest 😉

And my advise for the worried traveler is pretty obvious: if your instrument is to big for the overhead bin, a flight case is always a good idea, or do what I often do as a keyboard player, back-line/rent your instrument and have it delivered to the venue.

How does the writing process work in SHEL? You mentioned on social media that you’re starting to write more songs together, so I take it that the dynamic is evolving?

Historically, Eva would write a song and bring the chords and lyrics to us. Then we’d each arrange our parts and go out and perform it. Now we all find ourselves sitting down and writing out the chords and lyrics together. It’s a different sound, a different style, and it’s been great learning to collaborate together with way.

You recently released a solo EP of piano compositions called Late Bloomer. The title is interesting because you’re the oldest sister. Can you tell us more about that release? What separates that music from the rest of SHEL’s writing?

This is a collection of pieces I’ve been working on for a couple years. Some of them I started in college, a couple of them I actually just finished days before recording. I played one of the compositions for one of my former piano teachers and she said: “Wow, Hannah! I didn’t know you had that in you. You really are a late bloomer.” She used to tell me that from time to time in high school… and when she said it that last time, I thought it was a fitting title for an EP that I would have liked to have released a few years ago, but I wasn’t quite ready. This is a very different style from SHEL’s writing. It’s influenced primarily by classical, jazz, and contemporary composers like Mozart, Rachmaninov, Chopin, Gershwin, and Ennio Morricone. The solo piano element also sets it apart.

SHEL - Hannah Holbrook - Late Bloomer

Whose idea was it to include “The Battle Of Evermore” by Led Zeppelin on the full-length album? Obviously it’s one of the greatest mandolin rock songs ever, so it makes sense, but was there a particular moment where you all decided it needed to be on the record?

Our dad kept telling us to learn it. Then a couple fans told us. Finally, Scott Borchetta with Big Machine suggested it. After we learned it, it felt like a natural fit.

What do you find yourselves doing as of late, alone or together, in between concerts to keep yourselves entertained?

There isn’t a lot of downtime these days. Music is very much our lives during the day and at night. But occasionally, we’ll sneak out for a movie. If the weather is nice – a hike, a run, some Ultimate Frisbee. And if we get a day off, we’ll be spending it with family or close friends catching up.

Why does Liza punch people when she sees a Dunkin Doughnuts?

It’s kinda like that Punch Buggy game where you punch someone when you see a Volkswagen Beetle.

As always, each of us is faced with the large, blank canvas of the future. What’s next for the ladies of SHEL?

We’re working on our second full length album right now. We’ll be in Nashville writing and recording that until June, then we’ll hit the road!

I want to take a moment to thank each of you, Hannah, for taking the time to answer these questions. To close, what one piece of advice would you give to yourself if you could go back and speak to yourself ten years ago?

I would have told myself to keep writing what I loved and not worry quite so much about trying to write what other people might want to hear. When you have something on your heart, it’s worth putting it out there.


For more on Hannah and SHEL, visit:
SHEL Official Website
Buy SHEL’s debut album: iTunes | Amazon | From The Band
Buy Hannah Holbrook’s Late Bloomer EP: iTunes | Amazon | From Hannah
SHEL on Facebook
SHEL on Twitter
SHEL on Youtube

Interview with Jason Boland of Kodaline

Courtesy of Ben Johnson

Courtesy of Ben Johnson


Interview by Danielle Boise


2013 was a pretty significant year for the Dublin-based indie quintet Kodaline, as the band released it’s debut full-length album, In a Perfect World and now have returned to the states for the band’s first headlining North American tour. In between tour stops, Jason Boland took some time to discuss the comforts of life on the road, what his favorite song is on the set list and when the band plans to return to the studio to lay down some new material.


You just kicked off the North American leg of your tour a few days ago with LP in support. How does it feel to be back in the states headlining, especially with a number of shows already sold out?


It’s absolutely incredible for us to be able to come back to the states so quickly. We’re playing a lot of rooms and towns that we’ve been to before, so it very strange for us, America is still very new to us Irish lads. We’ve had such a great response on this tour so far and have been able to upgrade some of the shows which we never expected.


What are the pressures of being the headliner verses being one of the opening acts on the bill?


We really like being a support act sometimes. It’s a different type of gig and really pushes you to raise your game. Our very first tour was supporting The Cranberries around France in really big venues and that put a fire under us to perform and try get some new people to listen to our music. Being a headliner is a lot of fun though. We can play our whole album now and have some fun with the audience. They’re two different types of show, but we love doing them both.


And which do you prefer touring your own shows or doing the festival circuit?


Festivals are like a school trip with all your favorite bands. We were playing football with Macklemore last summer and Frisbee with Tame Impala. Everyone is in great form for festival season as well, I think it’s just the sun really!


Now that you will be out on tour through June; what do you love most about being out on the road? What do you miss most from being home? And how do you find the comforts of home out on the road?


We just really love traveling so touring is the best way to see the world for us. Not many people get to go around the world with their best friends. Our crew is like a little family. I think that’s what helps us stay on the road for so long. We are big tea drinkers so thats probably the main thing we miss. No where does tea like Ireland. Vinny made himself a traveling PS4 system for this tour just to bring a few home comforts.


How do you mix things up on the road so you don’t become bored or that it becomes a rut of doing the “same old thing?”


This tour we’ve been demoing a lot on the road and trying out new songs live. Everytime you play a gig it’s a bit different depending on the crowd and the energy in the room so we’re definitely not bored yet!


What is your favorite song on the set list right at this moment that you enjoy performing live?

We’ve just added “Talk” to the set and it’s going down really so far. It’s really fun to play I don’t know why it took us so long to start playing it!


Which song do you think has the most impact with your audience?

All I Want” is probably the loudest song in the set purely based on how loud the audience sings it. It’s amazing hearing it being sung back to us. Just over a year ago we were still playing tiny shows and now this stuff is happening which is like a dream come true for us.


Are you gearing up to head into the studio for a new album or EP this year?


We’ve been demoing since we finished the first album. We’re constantly writing and recording so we will definitely put out an EP or two this year. I think album two will arrive sometime near 2015 though, we want to get it right.


2013 was a very big year for the band, with the release of 3 EPs (The High Hopes, Love Like This, Brand New Day), along with your first full-length release of In a Perfect World. I love the poignant sway behind In a Perfect World, its expressively powerful and truly a pleasure to get lost in; I especially love “One Day.” How does it feel to take in all you’ve experienced and what do you hope the rest of 2014 will bring?


We’re just very grateful that we’re getting the chance to make this our career. We only really stopped at Christmas and that was the first chance we had to take it in. It was probably the busiest year in any of our lives, but we had so much fun it just flew by! We’re going to be on the road until about November this year so lots of Festivals and Gigs until the next chance to look back and take it in.


If you get a chance, check out Kodaline out on tour right now with LP in support.


2/20/14             Austin, TX                     The Parish
2/25/14             San Diego, CA              Casbah
2/26/14             San Francisco, CA        GreatAmericanMusic Hall
2/27/14             Los Angeles, CA           El Rey
3/02/14             Denver, CO                   Bluebird Theater
3/06/14             Columbus, OH              A&R Music Bar
3/07/14             Chicago, IL                   Bottom Lounge

Interview with Country Sweetheart Brynn Marie

Brynn Marie

Brynn Marie



Interview by Danielle Boise Photos by Chuck Holloway


Growing up in a musical family, it was no surprise the Brynn Marie decided that life, either out on the road or in the recording studio would be the life for this country sweetheart. Brynn Marie took a little time out of her hectic schedule to talk with Target Audience Magazine about her musical aspirations, life on the road and what it means to be an independent artist in the mecca of country, Music City.


What inspired you to enter the music industry?


My love for music and performing. I was raised in a musical family. I started playing the violin at a very young age and by the time I was 18, I was playing in a band all around my hometown. A few years later, with words of advice from my Gram, I decided to move to Nashville to pursue my dreams.


There is a bit of grit and no-nonsense in your music, like with “Just Like That,” the sass of “Bandaid on a Bullet Hole, while “Hung on the Line” (with Ford Thurston) has such a sexy, earthy quality to the song – it shows the diversity in your work. Can you in your own words describe the sound of your music and where you want to go with it?


I connect to songs and write songs that I can relate to first and foremost. I love incorporating the rock-ish grit of a guitar, but I do love the traditional country elements like a banjo, steel and fiddle in my music. That truly defines me. It takes a piece of everything that I grew to love and turns it into my own.



How is it working in Nashville while being an independent artist?

It can be tough. There are many talented people that have moved to Nashville to reach for the same goals. It’s great to be surrounded by all kinds of talented musicians, it pushes you harder, but you do need to stand out, be true to yourself and be original.


How is it being an independent artist and trying to get your music out to the masses? What have you found to be the platform that works best for you to connect with your fans and have your voice heard?


I think it’s somewhat easier to get your music out there as an independent artist. There are so many ways to do it, the only problem to that is everyone is doing the same thing. I’ve been lucky enough to tour a lot and travel. I feel like you can only go so far pushing your music online. It’s being on the road that has helped me a ton. I’ve been able to travel all over the country and meet the fans, talk with the fans and play my music for them.


You’ve already have logged an impressive amount of live performances; how was it being on tour with the likes of Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo? What did you take away from that experience?


2013 really was a fun year. I traveled everywhere! I think it was almost 90 shows, which is a lot for an independent artist. Touring with Pat & Neil was a learning experience that I will never forget. It was an education that you can’t buy. I mean I got to watch Pat & Neil do their thing every night from the side of the stage after my performance and I learned so much by just watching them connect with the fans through their live show. It taught me how fans become dedicated to an artist and how important it is for an artist to embrace that.


What is your favorite song to sing live?

My favorite song to sing live is “I’m Sorry.” I get lost when I sing that song. It’s a moment in my show where it seems everything just goes away in my mind. I get so focused in on that song vocally and emotionally and it shows in my performance.


When will you head into studio to work on new material?

I’ve been writing a ton of new songs. I’ve been lucky enough to start writing with some of the great writers in Nashville. There have been a few songs I’ve been playing out live for over a year that hasn’t been recorded yet. I love testing new material on  a crowd first, before I record it. I wanna make sure the fans connect with the music and lyric.


What is the most important lesson you’ve learned so far?


Stay true to yourself and always work hard.


What do you foresee for 2014?

A lot of touring and traveling. I wanna do more than last year. I’d love to get new music out to the fans this year as well. It’s an open road ahead and I’m excited for it.


Photos of Brynn Marie from an intimate performance at Smith’s Olde Bar on January 26 by Chuck Holloway.