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“Alison, please take good care; spread your wings and slip the air. California’s everywhere. Hold your head up to the sky; kiss the angels as they cry. California is somewhere.”

That’s a verse from the song “Alison California,”off of local pop-rock band My Radio’s most recent album release, “Tada IV.” It’s an evocatively written and beautifully recorded album that effectively captures the band’s vintage rock sound which features a heavy dose of classic rock and guitars.

The five-piece, which consists of local restauranteurs JP Powell (songwriter, vocals, keyboards) and Hunter Johnson (drums), along with Brett Lemon and Jake Zuckerman (guitar), and Jeff Hofmann (bass), originally formed in 2008 after Powell first met Johnson in 2006. Powell, a graduate of Salem High School, had spent a number of years in Boston where he attended the Berklee College of Music and was the front man for Chauncey, a popular indie-rock band whose first album was named “Best-Rock Album of 2002” by Boston Magazine.

Powell admits he was a bit jaded with music when he decided to leave Boston after Chauncey fell apart. He and wife Shaleen decided it was time for something new and found their way back to Powell’s hometown.

“I met Hunter at Mill Mountain Coffee in Salem,” Powell shared in a recent interview. “We hit it off and decided to start playing music together. I have a rule that if I don’t like hanging out with a person, I don’t want to be in a band with them. In My Radio, my best friends are people I play music with.”

In addition to their band, Powell’s and Hunter’s friendship also led to a collaboration of a different nature. In 2010, the duo opened Lucky, a farm-to-table restaurant located on Kirk Avenue in Downtown Roanoke, known for its craft cocktails and unique vibe. A few years later, along with Zuckerman, they opened a second downtown Italian eatery, Fortunato.

“As with our restaurants, the setting for our music is everything,” said Powell. “That’s what gives us the best chance for success.”

Choosing that setting was part of the inspiration for the first two songs recorded for “Tada IV.” The initial recording session, which doubled as bachelor party for Lemon, was in a studio in Hollywood, California, with Powell’s long-time friend and producer David Spreng. The result exceeded the band’s expectations.

“Going in studio is my favorite thing,” said Powell. “We didn’t really have a sound for this album until after we recorded those first two songs, which happen to be the last two tracks on the album.”

The band’s California connections aren’t something new. After the release of the first CD, “Give Us the Sun,” in 2009, the group signed with Ocean Park Music Group of Santa Monica, California. That led to some commercial success with the song “Yeah Yeah Yeah,” which was featured on the Demi Moore / David Duchovny movie “The Joneses” and was also used as a music bed on Fox Sports.

As a whole, “Tada IV” tells a story of journey, love, and loss. Each of the albums seven tracks features a different female character. Along the way, listeners will uncover an East Coast girl en route to LA to find her dreams (Alison), an ex-porn star turned photographer, even Powell’s wife makes an appearance in the song “Shaleen and Steve McQueen”. The last track on the album, which was also one of the first ones recorded, “What Have I Done,” is the story of a wrecked relationship, but also speaks to Powell’s own personal reflection about music.

“When I wrote it I was very stuck musically,” Powell acknowledged. “I had broken my relationship with music, a relationship that’s very important to me. I didn’t want to have it destroy me. In the end, it’s about asking for inspiration.”

Listeners can find the full album and hear the result of that inspiration for themselves by streaming it on Spotify or purchasing the album online (visit Better yet, Roanoke’s independent record store, The Bazaar, has the vinyl version of the album for sale. Soon, fans can also view the video for “Alison California,” filmed and produced by Lemon, online at YouTube.

#Tada #Album #TheBazaar #AlisonCalifornia


By Ashley Lucas

On Saturday night, the Spot on Kirk will host a wonderful local band, Place Called Home, for its debut album release show. If past shows have been an indicator, whether at Martin’s or the Deschutes Street Pub, this will be one for the books.

Place Called Home formed in 2014 when a group of friends gathered around a campfire with guitars and cigars.   The product of this bonfire brotherhood is their self-titled album, which is a perfectly eclectic mix of roots rock and folksy pop. Influenced by the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughn, Eric Clapton, The Lumineers, Bob Dylan, Dawes, and Needtobreathe, Place Called Home’s songs are as diverse as their idols. The vocals by lead singer Wes Winebarger are off-the-charts fantastic, and a strong rhythmic backing by actual brothers, Josh and Jeremy Smelser, rounds out Mike Loritsch’s soaring guitar solos that give Place Called Home their distinctive sound.

There are plenty of bands made up of accomplished musicians, but what makes an album worth listening to is the quality of the songwriting. This band has it all; well-written songs, musical talent, and the heart, soul and humbleness that it takes to truly reach an audience.   Many of the songs were co-written by Josh Smelser and Winebarger, but it was Loritsch that wrote the band’s favorite: “Appalachia”.   Smelser explained, “[Appalachia’s] got that four on the floor driving groove that we all love, and it always seems to get everyone jumping and dancing (ourselves included!). Mike wrote the song about overcoming some of the challenges he’s faced in life, and the music is incredibly energetic, so it’s always a celebration for us when we play it!”

Other standouts from the album include the slower paced “A Place to Call Home”, which is a percussive masterpiece that could be played on any radio station in the country. “Return to Dust” offers a sweet sentimental reprieve from the up-tempo tracks like “We Ride” and “Greatness of Man”. Melodically strong tunes like “Chasing Stars” and “Between the Ocean and Shore” appeal to listeners craving an anthemic pop-rock ear treat. “Better Man” starts out with a White Stripes-esque guitar riff, but interestingly transforms into what is best described as a hard rock ballad.

What all the songs have in common is a sense of purpose and that purpose is to communicate their connection as a band via music. When asked about Place Called Home’s goals, Smelser said, “it’s always been a goal of ours to provide and promote community. It’s so much easier to overcome life’s struggles when you’re surrounded by people who will support you and lift you up. That’s what we strive to be for each other and we do our best to encourage others to show love at all costs and seek out those genuine relationships themselves”.

If you’re into Of Monsters and Men, the Lumineers, and Needtobreathe, you will 100% love this band.

#Folk #Pop #Rock #Album


By Ashley Lucas

After three years of playing together, Roanoke-based country band, The Low Low Chariot are about to release their much anticipated full LP, titled “Believer”, an album that lead singer, JD Sutphin, said has been years in the making. Sutphin, who was previously in rock band Madrone, said the switch to playing country music was an easy transition. “I found a stash of my grandpa’s songs that he had never recorded. I learned the songs, and it completely changed my life”. Sutphin’s grandfather was a touring country musician and it seems he may be a follower of those footsteps, a believer in those beliefs.

That’s the power of music. At certain points in life, a certain genre of music may define your tastes, but as life changes and evolves, so does the music we grow to love. And it seems like the evolution from rock to country has been a valuable deviation for the former rocker. “Chariot has been all about writing songs, less about business, and we’ve had more success in three months than I had in three years with Madrone.” The process of songwriting also changed. “Writing rock songs was always about cathartically getting over something. Country can be happy. Country can tell a story.” Sutphin, like country-great Dwight Yoakam, wrote most of the album while driving in the car; “I’d start with a vocal idea, sing the guitar melody, and go back later and try to figure out what I wanted to say”.

The band, which consists of Sutphin, Blaine Davis and Joshua Mason, chose to record their upcoming album at Omni Studios in Nashville, TN. Chosen because of the good vibes and great albums born out of it, the band was able to record most of the ten tracks in one take. Those tracks sound like what you’ve come to expect from the Low Low Chariot: a solid variety of mid-tempo songs that fall somewhere between Old Dominion and Kings of Leon.

There’s a little something for everyone on this album. For those who like a strong pop country punch, there’s “This Whiskey”, which, at a little over three minutes, feels ready for big time radio play. For those who want to take a little trip back in time, there’s “Glass Coke Bottle”, a song which Sutphin wrote about visiting his grandmother.  Surely all Chariot fans will love a live version of the anthemic “Swingin’”, and the album opener, “Carolina Ocean”, with its Eagles-esque harmonic intro, is a great stage setter for the rest of the album.

“Believer” is a well-produced, well-written freshman album. If these songs tell a story, it’s a story of musical evolution, of childhood memories, of sadness, and of optimism. There’s a good amount of vulnerability in the lyrics, which makes you want to listen, not just hear. It’s telling that Sutphin’s favorite song on the album, “Make Me Feel Something” because this album will definitely make YOU feel something.

#Album #Believer #Country #Bands

New Album Alert: “Believer” by Low Low Chariot

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