Damian Sage LIVE at Room 5 Lounge

In my little blogging world, I am most regularly invited to singer-songwritery events, filled with acoustic guitars or a lone keyboard, mournful relationship lyrics over major chords. But the bluesy sound of Damian Sage broke through the glass ceiling of singer-songwriterdom, proving you can make anything old, new.

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Backed by guitarist Brian Simpson, drummer Jamie Douglass, and bassist Ted Russel Kamp, Sage took the intimate, but enthusiastic audience on a journey back. With classic rock and bluesy sounds so familiar and comforting, yet flavored with Sage’s unique storytelling, his music is like an Old Fashioned laced with something unexpected and exciting.

The night was filled with Sage’s intense and surprising originals, stories pulled from his childhood in New York and past relationships, with the occasional nod to some of his favorite LA bands, The Doors and Guns N’ Roses. With the conclusion of each story, the crowd’s cheers grew louder, ebbing Sage on, begging for more of this rare, soulful sound the commercialized city is starving for.

In his cut up jeans and white t-shirt, Sage owned the crowd with his charming New York accent, pinot noir obsession, and self-deprecating humor, infiltrating a swanky Los Angeles neighborhood with the good time feels of your favorite hometown bar. As Sage brought the audience through relatable scenarios and extreme tempo changes, their emotions soared with their cheers. The roof almost came down with “Suitcase Full of Blues”, a masterfully crafted number about a woman he had known as a child who stood on her own two feet and powerfully cast a bad man out of her life with the words “I got some bad news, and here’s your suitcase full of blues.”

By the end of the too short set, the audience called for an encore, but were left with the bittersweet remnants of a powerful lesson in storytelling and staying true to yourself.

 

 

The video for Sage’s “Caught Between The Rhymes” will air on new reality series The Romance next month.

In the meantime, join 10s of thousands of fans and follow Damian Sage Music across social media:
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And remember to stay bluesy.

Drea Dorman is a singer-songwriter and music blogger living in Los Angeles, CA. Learn more about Drea and her music at www.dreaofficialmusic.com.

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ASTR Live at The Troubadour

It is always a pleasure to be asked to cover a sold out show: the energy is guaranteed to be high, and in a place like The Troubadour in West Hollywood, the night will undoubtedly be a success. The Troubadour is known as one of the rare venues who truly makes a point to honor the musicians it headlines as well as the audience it draws. Subsequently, loyal music fans from across the metro and even out of state flock to the historic venue to see some of the best shows in LA, set on a small, intimate stage that makes the experience all the more memorable.

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Saturday night’s show was started off by DJ Grant Owens, most  popularly known as the producer and host of We Found New Music, a  radio show on Laguna’s KX 93.5 which tackles the important  task of bringing those new and promising acts to the forefront of  its listeners’ radar. Owens, who also works at major record label  Universal Music Group, began the night playing alternative,  electro-pop favorites from bands like The Knocks, and nodded  to upcoming act ASTR by playing their ever popular cover of  Drake’s “Hold On We’re Going Home”. The DJ’s debut at Troubadour was a hit, and the perfect primer  to the next act, The Black and The White.

The three man show, made up of frontman and lead guitarist Juilio Tavarez, bassist Mario Gonzalez, and longtime drummer Cliff Sarcona, stormed the stage with their incredibly playful and exuberant presence. Tavarez matched his impossibly tight pants with even tighter vocals, dancing easily between his passionate baritone and a surprisingly powerful falsetto. The band carried the energy of ensembles much larger, and louder, proving that three was all that was needed to bring an already eager audience to their feet. Backed by a psychedelic video display and surrounded by an increasingly enthusiastic audience, The Black and The White doled out a welcome overdose of music that can only be created by those who still remember and respect the art form that is musical expression. Between the three band members and the brilliant addition of backtracks towards the middle of the set, The Black and The White reminded Troubadour goers why they flock to the venue in the first place: to hear unique, powerful, and eclectic music from seasoned performers who are hungry to share their craft and create an experience with their audience.

Up next came the headlining duo from New York City, ASTR. The crowd went wild as stunning redhead and lead vocalist Zoe Silverman and producer, percussionist, and keyboardist Adam Pallin hit the stage. From the bass drop of their first song “Razor”, the crowd was screaming their appreciation and singing along. Silverman kept the crowd moving as she demonstrated her theatrical dance and performance skills, as Pallin kept the show going by captaining his production machines and electronic drum set. A dramatic duo to be sure, ASTR filled the stage with their explosive presence and heart-pumping music that bled lyrical finesse. Their visuals emphasized the retro foundation of their music, which, paired with galactic production, makes for an irresistible and addictive combination. ASTR premiered a new song at Troubadour that night, which could easily catapult the duo into mainstream success. With its catchy lyrics, use of pop and hip hop beats, and something that is undeniably ASTR, the song has all the makings of a hit. The band finished their set with their lead single “Operate”, off their debut 2014 EP “Varsity”. The crowd, already whistling and screaming at the end of every song, including a performance of the Drake cover already teased by DJ Grant Owens earlier that night, offered an uproar of applause when the duo closed on “Operate”. As DJ Pleasure Principle ascended the stairs to bring the night to a close, there was no doubt the audience had witnessed performance greatness that night.

From DJs Grant Owen and Pleasure Principle, to three-man band The Black and The White, to powerhouse duo ASTR, this night at the Troubadour proved that it doesn’t take large numbers to make a wave: a few can accomplish much when they have the passion and vision to do what the majority would never dare to do. Here’s to the few, with big dreams and bigger voices, and to the venues and organizations like Troubadour and We Found New Music who support them along their way.

Drea Dorman is a singer-songwriter and music enthusiast living in Los Angeles, CA. Learn more about Drea and her music at www.dreaofficialmusic.com.

Alexa LIVE at Station Unplugged (The W Hollywood)

The singer from rock band Oversoul hit the stage in an acoustic set last night to promote her upcoming solo EP at Station Unplugged, courtesy of the W hotel in Hollywood.

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Based in San Diego, Alexa Villa, known on the music scene as “Alexa”, is a singer-songwriter, talented pianist, and model. The young artist spends her time between San Diego, where her band Oversoul is based, and LA where she ventures for meetings, shows, and model calls (LA Fashion Week and the spread of Women’s Wear Daily, to name a few).

Last night, Alexa left her band at home, calling only on the guitar and background vocal talents of her brother, Ryan, also a member of Oversoul, to accompany her in her first solo show in Los Angeles in a while.

Promoting her upcoming EP (release date TBA), Alexa appeared behind a full weighted keyboard, armed with black leather and spidery fish-netted legs that mean business.

Her rock background was apparent, but if the audience thought her looks were stunning, they soon found that there is more to Alexa than meets the eye. The moment Alexa starts singing, the world stops to listen. The 20 year old’s wailing, powerhouse vocals, perfect for the rock scene, are surprisingly well-suited for her own compositions, which detail the power struggle in relationships and the sometimes difficult task of accepting things the way they are. Alexa’s chant sections bring the listener to the party, while her chromatic melodies catch us off-guard, showcasing her musical expertise.

Alexa highlighted the show with the leaked track from her upcoming EP, “Do What You Do To Me” – a playful number, if not somewhat masochistic, as love almost always is. Joining the ranks of popular rock voices Amy Lee (Evanescence) and Hayley Williams (Paramore), Alexa’s vocals soared from rock party song to the intense solo ballad, “Hope”, which was recently recorded at the legendary Jungle Room studios in LA.

With a voice built to fill out larger venues, it is no wonder Alexa is finding success in the rock world as front woman of Oversoul, but she also has the important ability to stand alone, without the support of a rock band behind her. As her vocals brought people pouring into the popular night spot from the train station and the street, catching mere musical phrases and wanting more,  it became clear that Alexa’s solo venture has just as much promise as her rock career, if not more.

This young lady has it all – the look, the voice, the writing ability, the musical talent. The only way to describe Alexa: simply stunning.

Alexa’s new track “Picture Perfect” has gained critical acclaim and airplay in San Diego. You can catch Alexa at a free show at The House of Blues – San Diego on August 5th, at 8pm. 

For more on Alexa, and to stay up to date on her solo EP release and shows in Los Angeles, follow her on instagram and twitter @thealexavilla, find her on Facebookand listen to her music on soundcloud.

Drea Dorman is a singer-songwriter and music enthusiast living in Los Angeles, CA. Learn more about Drea and her music at www.dreaofficialmusic.com.

Nuthin’ Under A Million (N.U.M.) LIVE at Avalon

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The historic venue Avalon on Hollywood and Vine was packed to the brim last night, in celebration of one of entertainment’s greatest stars, Beyonce. Waiting for the crowd inside was the five-piece production and songwriting group Nuthin’ Under A Million, also referred to as N.U.M. Some artists would be intimidated by the swell of a rowdy crowd, but this group did more than handle the stage with ease – come 12:30am, they took over.

When their time came, Tony, David (DJ), Shanda, and Milana (fifth member Tommy (TB)) hit the stage with explosive energy, turning heads on the packed dance floor to see what this fivesome had to offer. The group’s choreography, sex appeal, and the unique, powerhouse vocals of each individual artist did not disappoint. After just two songs, the crowd was begging for more. The group’s smash hit “The World Is Mine” had the crowd jumping with it’s tantalizing beats and the sparkling performance that accompanied the superb production.

To play at Avalon is a great achievement for the group, and any group, looking to  break into the music industry. The venue originally opened in 1927 as the Hollywood Playhouse, and has since hosted historical events such as the Beatle’s American debut and Jackson Five’s TV debut. More recently, EDM greats like Grammy-winner Skrillex have gotten their start on the Avalon stage.

Nuthin’ Under A Million proved last night that they fit right in with these greats, and that they will certainly be an act to watch for. With tens of thousands of followers on social media and hundreds of thousands of YouTube views, N.U.M. has gained international acclaim with such hits as “Above the Pharoah”, which reached Top 10 on the MTV charts in Italy. The group has been compared to power groups LMFAO and the Black Eyed Peas, but what sets Nuthin’ Under A Million apart is that each member the group can stand alone as an artist, songwriter, and/or producer. This powerful combination of talent matched with their diverse musical backgrounds can only be a recipe for success.

For more on Nuthin’ Under A Million, visit www.nummusic.com.

Drea Dorman is a singer-songwriter and music enthusiast living in Los Angeles, CA. Learn more about Drea and her music at www.dreaofficialmusic.com.

 

Brandon Bassir at House of Blues – West Hollywood

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Little did I know that this week’s ticket to House of Blues would be also be a one way ticket back to the nostalgia of the greatest jam sessions of America’s funky musical past. That’s exactly where 17-year-old Brandon Bassir transported the audience who filled dance floor of the iconic music venue on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles Saturday night.

Backed by a full band and a load of charisma, the Los Angeles native singer-songwriter showed off his stunning falsetto and killer James Brown dance moves, much to the delight of everyone present. With his magnetic presence, Bassir effortlessly drew the crowd to the dance floor with songs from his recently released EP “22”, and looking around at the party inside, no one would have guessed it was only 8pm.

With sounds reminiscent of such musical greats as Elvis Presley and Bobby Darin, Bassir did more than just “wow” the crowd with upbeat, cleverly composed originals; he also managed to cover songs by popular vocalists Frank Sinatra and current favorite Adam Levine of Maroon 5. Taking the risk of inevitable comparison to these game-changing artists, Bassir’s bravery silenced skeptics with a spectacular vocal performance, and successfully transformed these Billboard favorites into a unique and pleasing flavor that was all Brandon Bassir.

It is true that Bassir’s smooth rap sections, flawless falsetto lines, and an unmistakable nod to the early eras of funky dance music draw immediate comparisons to accomplished artists such as Justin Timberlake, Bruno Mars, and Jason Mraz, but Brandon Bassir has something entirely his own to bring to the table. At just 17, he is already a passionate performer capable of bringing people to their feet with his music.

Bassir’s excellent vocal control and enthusiastic stage presence has landed the young artist in the top 25 for Macy’s iHeart Radio Rising Star Awards this year, where his “boy next door” look and catchy track “I Got It” has garnered him over 22,000 followers on Twitter and support across social media platforms. 

 

For more on Brandon Bassir, follow him on social media at https://twitter.com/BrandonBassir and https://www.facebook.com/pages/Brandon-Bassir/560941983952042.

You can vote for Brandon Bassir in Macy’s iHeart Radio Rising Star Awards at http://macys.iheart.com/entries/profile/8.html.

 

Drea Dorman is a singer-songwriter and music enthusiast living in Los Angeles, CA. Learn more about Drea and her music at www.dreaofficialmusic.com.