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February 2013
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April 2013

Charming Grace

Avenue Of Allies announce the release of the debut self-titled Charming Grace album on April 12.

The pure AOR of the international recording project Charming Grace is based on the idea of writing songs in the classic style of the 80s and recording them as duets. To give the record its own identity all songs are sung by one main lead vocalist while the featured duet partners are picked individually for each tune because of their special musical talents. The concept was developed by Pierpaolo "Zorro 11" Monti (drums – Shining Line, Lionville) together with Davide "Dave Rox" Barbieri (lead vocals & keyboards – Wheels Of Fire) and Amos Monti (bass - Shining Line, Lionville).

After having met in 2010 through their mutual friend Gregor Klee, owner of the Avenue Of Allies label, the trio soon discovered that they have a love for AOR and Melodic Rock in common. Already during 2011 the trio made plans how to combine their talents and the brain storming began which guests should be invited for the recordings of each song. As far as it comes to handling an all-star project, Zorro and Amos had already the experience of their successful self-titled Shining Line album under their belts. Dave has also worked with various internationally renowned musicians, like James Christian (House Of Lords), Robin Beck, Rob Marcello (Danger Danger) and Michele Luppi (Los Angeles, Secret Sphere) for the recordings of the two albums of his own band Wheels Of Fire, “Hollywood Rocks” and “Up For Anything”.

Most of the songs for the album are written by Zorro together with Dave and they also picked two songs to record them in the Charming Grace style, Bon Jovi's “Everybody's Broken” and Belinda Carlisle's Top 10 hit from 1989 “Leave A Light On”. Over the course of the months the CHARMING GRACE guest list became a very special round up of musicians as it includes artists which haven't been in a recording studio for years or even decades. Prime example is David Forbes, whose unique vocal talent was one of the major keys to turn Boulevard, the Canadian band he fronted during the late 80s and early 90s, into the cult act they are among AOR connoisseurs. Other very welcome guests on lead vocals celebrating a glorious return to the AOR and Melodic Rock world are the Scandinavians Bente Smaavik (Perfect Crime, Blonde On Blonde), Thomas Lassar (Crystal Blue), Henrik Launbjerg (Toys Of Joy) and Kimmo Bloom (Urban Tale) and from the States Moon Calhoun (Michael Thompson Band), who is accompanied by his mate Jeff Paris on backing vocals. The new generation of vocalists is represented by Nick Workman (Vega), Stefano Lionetti (Lionville), Michele Luppi (Los Angeles), Josh Zighetti (Hungryheart) and Gui Oliver (Auras). In addition to Bente the female part of CHARMING GRACE is taken over by the husky voiced Jesse Galante, an American born singer with Italian roots and the wonderful newcomer Aurë.

Among the ranks of the “Charming Grace Guitar Army” are the Swedes Sven Larsson (Street Talk, Lionville) and Peter Friestedt (Williams/Friestedt), local Italian string masters Roberto Priori (Danger Zone), Mario Percudani (Hungryheart, Shining Line, Mitch Malloy), Stefano Lionetti (Lionville), Mario Manzani (Florence 99), Steve De Biasi (Gunshy), Stefano Zeni (Wheels Of Fire), Andrea Lanza (Skill In Veins), Carmine Martone and Matteo Serra, while Tom Martin (Vega) is representing the UK. 

Andrew Strong "The Commitments Years & Beyond"

Andrew Strong was a huge hit playing the role of Deco in Alan Parker’s cult movie 'The Commitments', more than 16 million copies of the soundtrack album sold across the planet. Nominated for a Grammy in 1991, Andrew left the group shortly after the film release, appearing on stage with the Rolling Stones, Elton John, Prince, Lenny Kravitz, Deep Purple and Bryan Adams, among many others. A regular on the concert circuit (essentially in the US), he recorded for various majors between 1993 and 2006 (his 1993, 2001 and 2002 releases all went platinum).

Andrew is coming back even stronger today with this detonating live set, covering songs from The Commitments era, as well as several forgotten soul and blues-rock classics. Strong, and still at the top!

Thanks to Peter Holmstedt at Hemifran

Annie Keating "For Keeps"

New-York based singer-songwriter Annie Keating's 5th album, "For Keeps" is indeed a keeper. Beautifully crafted songs combined with musical hooks and punches knock the listener in the chest, making this album an instant classic. With refreshing honesty, grit and timelessness, Keating and her band of musical magic makers achieve a sound that is both complex and simple, new and vintage. The first song gets its hooks in you and after 12 tracks you just want more.

This Brooklyn-based songwriter knows how to write and deliver beautiful songs with a magical earthly rich voice and arrangement that transfixes. She has picked up a great (and well served) reputation over the course of her 4 previous albums, but here on "For Keeps" Keating truly shines. No frills or posturing - her sultry voice cuts straight to the heart. On her 5th album release, she has arrived as an international songwriting tour de force.

Talent spotted by BBC Radio 2’s Bob Harris, Keating appeared live on the Bob Harris show in 2008 and has gone on to perform at leading national and international festivals including Take Root (Holland), the Glasgow Americana Festival (Scotland), the NJ Folk Festival, NXNE in Canada, NEMO and MEANY music fests and the Mountain Stage New Song finals.

Thanks to Peter Holmstedt at Hemifran


Keating has performed on the bill with the likes of John Haitt, Dan Bern, Natalia Zuckerman, Bon Iver, Hot Club of Cowtown, Anne Heaton, Boris McCutcheon, Shannon McNally and many others.