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December 2008
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Contante & Sonante presents: Fly Away "The Songs of David Foster"


Fly Away / The Songs of David Foster is an album that brings new life to some of the brighter gems in the immense catalogue of David Foster. Featuring a spectacular cast of vocalists, including Bill Champlin, Jeff Pescetto, Cecily Gardner, Robbie Dupree, Bill LaBounty, Joe Pizzulo, Ole Borud, Bill Cantos, Arnold McCuller, Frank Adahl, Lisa Lovbrand, and the unforgettable Warren Wiebe, backed-up by an elite group of studio musicians, including David Foster himself, Jay Graydon, John Robinson, Michael Landau, Paul Jackson Jr, Nathan East, Abe Laboriel, Neil Stubenhaus, Dan Warner, Jeremy Lubbock, Tollak Ollestad, Ramon Stagnaro, Brandon Fields and many others, this is a once-in-a-lifetime record that will not fail to live up to the expectations of the most demanding Foster fans. 

In advance of the release of the full-length album, Contante & Sonante presents a limited edition 3-song EP previewing two of the album's songs, "In The Stone" and "No Explanation", plus a BONUS TRACK,"After All", performed by the soulful Leslie Smith, which is available only on this EP release. 

"In The Stone" is a powerful cover of the Foster-penned Earth, Wind & Fire classic. This amazing version is respectful to the original yet presents exciting new elements. The legendary Bill Champlin on lead vocals adds some soul to this funky jam, supported by the smoking Danish All Star Horns and an all-star rhythm section that includes John "JR" Robinson on drums, Nathan East on bass and Paul Jackson Jr. on guitar. 

"No Explanation", originally performed by Peter Cetera for the Pretty Woman soundtrack, is a ballad that Foster co-wrote with singer/songwriter Bill LaBounty. What a treat to listen to LaBounty's take on his own song! The acoustic setting is perfect for the singer's evocative performance, supported by the wonderful harmonica of Tollak Ollestad and some tasteful guitar playing by Dan Warner. The result is pure bliss. 

"After All" is one the musical gems that Foster created with Jay Graydon for Al Jarreau. Here, an inventive arrangement breathes new life into this smooth ballad, featuring the voice of the very soulful singer Leslie Smith, a horn arrangement by Jan Glaesel, and fantastic musicianship by session greats John "JR" Robinson, Abe Laboriel and Dan Warner. Remember, this wonderful track won't be included in the full-length album, so you won't want to miss it! 

EP track listing: 
1. In The Stone (Bill Champlin) 
2. No Explanation (Bill LaBounty) 
3. After All (Leslie Smith) * bonus track not included on the full-length CD 

CD track listing: 
1. Prelude (Tomi Malm --feat. D. Foster) 
2. In The Stone (Bill Champlin) 
3. No Explanation (Bill LaBounty) 
4. Jojo (Arnold McCuller) 
5. The Colour Of My Love (Frank Adahl) 
6. Heart To Heart (Jeff Pescetto) 
7. Fly Away (Robbie Dupree) 
8. Look What You've Done To Me (Cecily Gardner --feat D. Foster)
9. Through The Fire (Ole Borud) 
10. The Best Of Me (Lisa Lovbrand) 
11. Nothin' You Can Do About It (Frank Adahl) 
12. Whatever We Imagine (Bill Cantos) 
13. When Will The World Be Like Lovers (J. Pescetto, R. Dupree, B. Cantos, A. McCuller, J. Pizzulo and F. Adahl) 
14. Live Each Day (Warren Wiebe) 

Andreas Aleman "This is life"


"Another great artist from sweden is born. His name is Andreas Aleman! His "This is life" has all the grooves you can expect from the best. If you like Tower of Power and Bill Champlin, you will love Andreas's music for sure!" 
Arnaud Leger

Andreas Aleman was born and raised in Södertälje (Sweden). He began his musical career at the age of 3 when he started playing accordion and piano. Not long after that he began writing his own music. He found his musical style early on, largely thanks to his parents’ record collection, which included everything from soul, funk, blues, rock, gospel and country. He listened, studied, and learned these different genres and taught himself how to play in all these styles. 

This formed the basis of his musical direction. While still in school, he played with various bands, which was where he began to utilize and develop his unique singing voice. When he was 16 he started getting musician and vocal gigs in Stockholm and since then has played in many different ensembles, bands and other music-related connections. He started focusing on songwriting after meeting songwriter/producer Brian Hobbs, EIDOLON PRODUCTIONS

They started collaborating and this collaboration has resulted in many songs in various styles and genres, as well as co-productions and a good friendship. In 2002 Andreas was awarded a grant from the Swedish Performing Rights Association, STIM (Svenska Tonsättares Internationella Musikbyrå). Currently, he is working full-time with music and runs his own company, Andreas Aleman Music.

Thanks to Brian Hobbs

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Craig Bickhardt’s new album "Brother To The Wind"


Craig Bickhardt’s new CD Brother To The Wind contains some of the best work he has done in a long career dedicated to ennobling the art of song.  One listen and you'll be reminded of the days when artists like James Taylor, Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell and Gordon Lightfoot were pioneering the singer-songwriter genre.

"Music used to change people,” Bickhardt notes. “Records used to be made for careful listeners who read the lyrics and talked about the songs, interpreted their meanings. That’s the kind of music I relate to.”  Craig is following in the traditions of his admired predecessors.

For the project, Bickhardt dug deep into his 800-tune catalog.  The record contains songs that have already proven their strength, having been recorded by Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Trisha Yearwood, Tony Rice, Charlie Louvin and others. But Craig is not merely some hit maker capitalizing on his thoroughbred discography. Throughout his extraordinary career Craig picked up many believers among the better artists of his generation. You can hear them sitting in on nearly every cut of the CD; Janis Ian, Beth Nielsen Chapman, Tim O'Brien, Darrell Scott, Maura O'Connell, Rusty Young, Jack Sundrud and a host of others. "I wanted to include some of the artists and friends I've known and respected on this CD.  You get to a point where you realize you don't have forever in this world. It's time to do the things I've put off, and one of those things is to sing and pick with these great people I've met and admired.

Native Pennsylvanian Craig Bickhardt’s big break came unexpectedly in 1982 when he was chosen to write and sing two songs for Robert Duvall's Academy Award winning film "Tender Mercies". In the wake of that film’s success, Craig made his move to Nashville where his songs found their way onto platinum and Grammy winning CDs by legends such as Ray Charles, B. B. King, Alison Krauss, Martina McBride, The Judds and Dianne Schuur to name just a few. Along with his friends and collaborators Thom Schuyler, Fred Knobloch and Don Schlitz, Craig also helped to establish the original Writers In The Round series at The Bluebird Café.

He went on to have three hits as an artist when he joined Schuyler and Knobloch to make their SKB CD No Easy Horses for MTM Records. The group's version of Craig's song "Givers And Takers" entered the top ten on the Billboard country charts in the fall of 1988. His work on Music Row garnered him several boxes full of awards from ASCAP, the CMA, and the IAMA. In 2006 Bickhardt made the bold move to leave Nashville and return to the concert stage and to his roots in eastern Pennsylvania.  Since his move he has shared the stage with Kathy Mattea, Judy Collins, Billy Joe Shaver, Livingston Taylor, and Janis Ian among others.  His performance at the 2008 Philadelphia Folk Festival prompted the concert’s promoter Jesse Lundy to say, “Craig Bickhardt stands among the giants of songwriting. His main stage show at this year's Philly Folk Festival was absolutely outstanding.”

Ashton Shepherd "Sounds so good"


Ashton Shepherd writes in a style that is as refreshing and direct as her personality. You won’t hear many “kiss-off” songs with more sass and attitude than “Takin’ Off This Pain.” Her bell-like voice chimes with innocence on the charming rural celebration “Sounds So Good.” She’s a feisty, fun country gal on the loose “I Like Being Single” and “Not Right Now.” “Old Memory That Don’t Remember Me” and “Whiskey Won the Battle” are classic-sounding “weeper” ballads that could have been written a generation ago. 
Her moods range from a touching story song like “How Big Are Angel Wings” to a fiery hillbilly rocker like “The Bigger the Heart, the Harder They Fall.” The drenched-in-steel love ballad “Lost in You” contrasts beautifully with her striking, woman-to-woman saga “Regular Joe.” 
Her beloved “Pickin’ Shed” is the subject of one particularly friendly ditty, and her powerful housewife lyric “I Ain’t Dead Yet” is another page from her autobiography. 

All of these potent tunes are on Sounds So Good, the debut Ashton Shepherd album from MCA Nashville. All of them were written before she turned 21. m the time I was five, six, seven years old.” The words come spilling out of her in a chatty rush. Ashton has an open-hearted candor that is instantly endearing. She speaks exactly like the country girl she has always been. She was born Ashton Delilah Shepherd on August 16, 1986. Her dad, Donnie, worked in a paper mill along the Alabama River. Mom Denise was a housewife and mother to Ashton, her two older brothers and younger sister. Both parents sang, and Denise’s attempts at guitar playing were emulated by both of her sons. But Ashton was even more precocious. As a child, she sang classic country tunes at local fairs, benefit shows and community events. When she was 14, her older brothers urged her to take up the guitar. When she was 15, her parents funded an album recorded at Alabama group member Jeff Cook’s studio in Ft. Payne, Alabama. Her mother took the cover photo. 

In June 2006, she entered and won a talent contest in Gilbertown, Alabama. The prize was being the opening act for Lorrie Morgan in concert. A Nashville record producer heard Ashton, asked for a copy of her CD and invited her to come to Nashville to record some of her tunes. She arrived in Music City on August 29, 2006.

Aware that she would need an attorney to deal with the Nashville music business, she telephoned an office she located on the Internet. The woman on the other end of the phone was kind and helpful. She was also connected, since she worked for the legendary producer and guitarist Jerry Kennedy. This led to meeting Jerry’s son Shelby Kennedy, who brought Ashton Shepherd to MCA. Less than a year from the date she arrived in Music City, Sounds So Good was completed with producer Buddy Cannon (Kenny Chesney, Reba McEntire, etc.). “Everybody has said they’ve never seen anything happen like this,” says the honky-tonk Cinderella. “I can’t wait to meet people and for people to meet me. I hope everybody connects with my music as well as Nashville has. I think they will. I think people will feel the realness in my songs. I’ve always dreamed of this ride I’m about to take. I feel as blessed as I’ve ever felt in my life.”

Steve Postell "Time still knocking"


That golden California Sound comes alive again on 'Time Still Knocking', Steve Postell's Immergent Records debut. This rich, organic work draws on rock, folk, blues, country and R&B, all distilled through well-honed craftsmanship coupled with genuine heart and the musical camaraderie of a staggeringly talented group of musicians.

A singer-songwriter, guitarist, producer, Steve's remarkable career begins a new chapter on 'Time Still Knocking' which features a wide array of legendary musicians. Contributors and collaborators include David Crosby, Jennifer Warnes, John Oates, Robben Ford, Eric Johnson, Paul Barrere, Dave Koz and many others.

The album’s opener, the inviting, bluesy 'Coming Through', is one of the few tracks that Steve wrote on his own as most of the songs are collaborations. His songwriting partners ranged from rock veteran John Oates (Hall & Oates) on the baroque folk-rock of 'Straight For the Moon', to hard rocker Kip Winger on the churning 'Change in the Circle'. “Even though Kip, John and the others are all different, there’s a kind of common thread, true of every person who worked with me on this record,” Steve says. “They all understand and strive for a very high level of artistry. That’s what connects everything, not their styles.

The music on 'Time Still Knocking' crackles with a sense of discovery, yet is also instantly familiar. The rising harmonies in 'Background Noise' and 'Catch The Wind' tap into a legacy that includes CSN&Y and the Eagles, among others. Steve also pays tribute to his influences with Buzz Feiten’s 'Long Way Home' (featuring Buzzy and jazz legend Dave Koz) and Little Feat’s 'Missing You', sharing vocals with the song's writer, guitarist Paul Barrere.

For Steve Postell, 'Time Still Knocking' is the culmination of dedicated work, lasting friendships and creative partnerships for a complete musician who knows where he’s been and looks to the future with anticipation.

Thanks to Peter Holmstedt at Hemifran

All Day Sucker "The big pretend"


All Day Sucker (their name comes from a Stevie Wonder song) may be somewhat new to the music scene, having just released their second CD that’s brimming with heady, street-smart yet refreshingly sweet, sophisticated melodic rock. What gives their instantly memorable hooks a soulful resonance are sharp musicianship and a grounded lyrical sense that illuminates mature, authentic feelings.

This isn’t a group conceived in a flash-in-the pan marketing plan, or thrown together to appeal to someone’s idea of a target demographic. Core members singer Morty Coyle and keyboardist Jordan Summers started playing together in high school, fronting bands that cut its teeth in jazz, as well as pop, R&B, new wave and blues classics. While recording original material, they became an underground sensation, performing those jaw-dropping covers at Canter’s Kibbutz room open jam in Hollywood. 

Thanks to Peter Holmstedt at Hemifran

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Claire Holley "HUSH"


Claire Chamblin Holley, a native of Mississippi, was exposed from an early age to the southland's rich variety of musical influences, and from an early age she responded. She took a ukulele to church and sat out in the hot car strumming it between Sunday school and the church service. She ruined her father's classical guitar by replacing the nylon strings with steel strings so she could imitate what she'd been hearing on her favorite record Chet Atkins and Merle Travis Traveling Show. 

She moved to North Carolina, where she collaborated with producer John Plymale on the 1999 release, Sanctuary, a visionary collection of traditional hymns and gospel songs which struck a chord with many radio listeners: "Every time we play 'Bounty of the Lord' ... the phones ring and ring." (Keith Weston, WUNC Chapel Hill, NC). She signed with Yep Roc Records soonafter and her self-titled release from the label was featured on NPR's Weekend Edition with Liane Hansen. Performing Songwriter calls her work on this record, "straightforward, unabashed, and beautiful." She moved to Los Angeles and began the initial writing of this latest collection of songs on HUSH. Most of the basic tracks were recorded live in a friend’s high ceilinged living room in Glendale, CA, with an upstairs bedroom serving as the control room.

The album features locals, Greg Leisz, whose pedal steel swims in the opening track, Don Heffington, whose restrained touch on the drums shines on “Simple Meals.” In addition to the release of Hush, Holley has been at work composing music for an independent film, The Fence. She published an essay about the making of Hush, on last June, 2008.

Thanks to Peter Holmstedt at Hemifran

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Greg Coppeland "Diana and James"


Greg Coppeland new cd "DIANA AND JAMES" was recorded at Groove Masters in Santa Monica and Winslow Ct. Studio in Los Angeles. Copeland is accompanied by a stellar group of musicians that include, in addition to Greg Leisz on guitars: Jennifer Condos and Bob Glaub (bass); David Piltch (upright bass); Jay Bellerose, Danny Frankel and Don Heffington (drums and percussion); Patrick Warren (keyboards); Phil Parlapiano (keyboards and horns); and Gabe Witcher (violin). Carla Kihlstedt - a founding member of groups including Tin Hat, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum and 2 Foot Yard - is also featured on violin and delivers a gorgeous co-lead vocal on "Palace Of Love." Heather Waters and Danny Ott appear on harmony vocals. 

Reflecting on his return to songwriting, Copeland says, "It's like that saying, 'if you build it they will come.' If you offer yourself to it, if you show up, the songs will come to you. But first you have to show up. You do your best and hope another one comes, but you never know." As for offering up his first album in 25 years, Copeland says, "it's like putting a baby in a little reed boat and pushing it out into the river."

Thanks to Peter Holmstedt at Hemifran

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Pat Green's new album "What I'm for"


Pat Green has always been known for his "let the good times roll" attitude and guy-next-door charm. His new studio album, WHAT I'M FOR, presents a versatile and passionate artist whose contagious enthusiasm for life is the foundation of this collection. Green and his new producer, Dann Huff (Keith Urban, Dixie Chicks), brought a go-big-or-go-home attitude to their first collaboration and captured the energy of Green's legendary live shows.

Big Dume "Inside my head"


Reflective of the Malibu coastline for which they are named, Big Dume deliver a musical blend of power, beauty and danger while seductively evoking extraordinary emotion. Formed in early 2004 by singer/songwriter Brandon Jenner and a close knit group of musicians emerging from the growing Malibu music scene at venues including the Malibu Inn and the Dume Room, Big Dume released their debut full-length CD titled, Inside My Head, on July 26, 2008. 

Opening with the dark and introspective title track, "Inside My Head" moves through an incredible fusion of styles, thought-provoking lyrics and emotive arrangements before closing with a stripped down acoustic confessional in "I Lost You." Loaded with textured melodies and biting honesty, the album ventures deeply into the complex balance between love and loss; narcissism and humility; sensitivity and cynicism; confusion and clarity; while within it all, an addictive curiosity leads the listener from one track to the next with heightened interest. 

A commanding presence on stage, Brandon Jenner, at age 24, is in every way a natural born star. With a pedigree and environment overflowing with talent and charisma, Brandon is the first-born of gold-medal Olympian Bruce Jenner and pop-culture beauty and award winning lyricist, Linda Thompson. Thompson later married 14-time GRAMMY Award winning producer David Foster, who has been a close part of Brandon’s life and growth for 20 years.