Category Archives: Listening Recommendations

Tim Isberg – a listening recommendation

Tim Isberg

What is your latest release and what type of music is it? Latest record is full length album released Oct 2015 Tears Along The Road, produced by JUNO winner Miles Wilkinson. It is an Alt-Country blend of Americana and contemporary Folk. The CD was selected by Music Canada in their top 25 favourite albums (all genres) produced in Canada in 2015.

Quick description of the songs: Tears Along The Road is a first fully produced CD, following a 2005 underground CD Coming Home. Live shows are an occasion to personally engage the audience with genuine stories and original songs of a ‘singer-songwriter-soldier’, and sometimes an eclectic mix of covers spanning rock, blues and roots and even celtic genres. Too many influences to mention, but songs are in stylings of Rodney Crowell, Lennie Gallant, Ryan Adams, Blue Rodeo and JJ Cale.

Brief biography:
Originally from southern Alberta, veteran soldier Tim Isberg is an accomplished singer-songwriter who is emerging in the performance scene after a lengthy hiatus from music to serve in the Canadian Army.

From Rwanda to Afghanistan, Tim experienced the challenges of living and working in different cultures and conflicts, and amid the best and worst humanity has to offer. As a performer, he has entertained audiences in many corners of the world, including a recent 10-concert international tour in 2016.

Tim is a story-teller who brings well crafted songs to the stage and a unique and endearing array of life experiences he shares in a way that makes each listener feel connected.

Nominated for 2016 ACMA Male Artist of the Year, Tim’s album Tears Along The Road was released in October 2015 and recorded with celebrated JUNO award-winning producer-engineer Miles Wilkinson and selected by Music Canada as one of the Top 25 Favourite Albums of 2015.

Tim performs solo, duo, and often with his full band consisting of Blaine Doherty on guitar, Dean Pierno on percussion, Kim Lesaca on bass, and additional guests on pedal steel or violin.

Links for People to Buy It:
Tim’s website

Tim’s promo links:
Tim’s website

What are you working on now?
Working toward another recording project for fall 2017, and writing … always. Also, writing a chapter for a book to be published by Simon & Schuster in summer 2017, Everyday Heroes: Inspirational Stories from Men and Women in the Canadian Armed Forces.

Tim’s listening recommendation:
Lynne Hanson, Lindi Ortega, Badfinger! (Tommy Evans was a close pal of my best friend).

Countermeasure – a listening recommendation

Countermeasure’s new video has just been released!

After wowing audiences at the Big Burns Supper in Dumfries and at Europe’s most prestigious a cappella event, the London A Cappella Festival, in 2015, Countermeasure returned to Scotland in 2016 to make their Edinburgh Festival Fringe debut, performing their show 14 Characters at theSpace @ Surgeons Hall (5-6th, 8-13th August) and Space Triplex (15-20th August).

Featuring 14 members of Canada’s top young vocal talent, Countermeasure are renowned in their native Canada for their sophisticated arrangements, seamless harmonies, lively performances and infectious energy. Their dramatically choreographed show, where every song tells a story, received standing ovations worldwide.

We launched our UK tour to rave reviews:
“12 Stars! Extraordinary group, breathtaking talent, unmissable concert. Superlatives abound and mine is the first of many.” Andy Bungay, Wandsworth Radio, UK

★★★★★55 minutes of pure gold! East Coast 107.6 FM (2016)
“Spellbinding group with perfect harmonies, a pleasure to work with. The audience loved it and wanted more.” Theatre Utopia, Croydon, England

“★★★★Impressive stuff. This really is a show with everything.” Edinburgh49+3

Formed in 2010, Countermeasure are led by award-winning composer/arranger Aaron Jensen and perform original compositions and re-imagined standards by the likes of Cole Porter to the Beatles, with a strong accent on pop and jazz arrangements The group displays unaccompanied singing at its best, incorporating innovative live looping, vocal percussion, and instrument sounds made by the voice. Their musical aesthetic is sufficiently eclectic for the group to headline international contemporary choral concerts, play the main stage at jazz festivals, coerce club-goers onto dance floors and collaborate in esoteric interdisciplinary art projects. They have shared stages with vocal heavy hitters from Naturally 7 and The Swingle Singers to Corey Hart and Blue Rodeo.

During their Fringe run, they dipped into tracks from their second album, Made To Measure, which was released in Canada on 14th July, 2016, and has been enjoying strong airplay in Canada and the UK; its predecessor, 14 Characters, won one of the two spots in the Best Jazz Album category from the Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards in the USA.

When Countermeasure singer Steve Cole decided to propose to his girlfriend, Dawne Shonfield, he knew it would be during her visit to Edinburgh but was looking for the perfect moment. And he found it – in the middle of a Countermeasure performance on Wednesday at The Space at Edinburgh Festival Fringe! He picked Dawne to go on stage for their regular Copacabana song routine, which has audience members trying their hand at singing, dancing, and beat boxing. To the surprise of cast and crew, Steve stopped the show and gave a heartfelt speech about Dawne being the song in his heart. And then he got down on one knee, proposed marriage, and she said “yes”! Tears flowed on stage and in the audience – and then a choked-up Countermeasure had to finish the show with their signature “Takin’ It Home”. Expect the unexpected at a Countermeasure show!

“Such a fantastic show… fabulous and beautifully sung songs”. ***** – East Coast FM 107.6 (Edinburgh)

“I have seen 100s of a cappella shows but what these Canadians are doing here at #LACF2015 (London A Cappella Festival) is unheard of. What a joy and a pleasure.”- Florian Statdler, VocalBlog, Germany

For artist information, visit their website.
Check Countermeasure out on their YouTube page.

Aaron Jensen and J-M – Countermeasure: 14 Characters Interview on Broadway Baby Radio

Countermeasure Performing at SING! The Toronto Vocal Arts Festival 2016

Countermeasure at Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2016

Live from Railtown with Cory Price – Countermeasure Mar. 13, 2017

Heart Failure Research Unit – a listening recommendation

Thanks to Reading Recommendations-promoted author Sharon Clark for telling me about this group of musicians who also just happen to be Research Doctors at the University of Calgary.

From Sharon:
It has been a great privilege for me to work with a group of very bright medical doctors and researchers, some being both. I was always impressed with their medical and scientific expertise, but I was amazed to find out that these individuals also are very talented musicians.

Dustin Anderson wrote and sang the songs in this CD. He obtained a PhD in Neuroscience and is currently a medical resident in Internal Medicine.

Vadim Iablokov obtained his PhD in Gastroenterology and now he too is in medical school. He plays the drums.

Lorrie Matheson – a professional musician and producer – had a variety of roles. He not only played keyboard, bass and guitar, but was also the producer of this CD. He plays in multiple bands, both folk and rock. His latest album “The Night is for Sleepers” was available in 2013.

Dan Muruve, is a doctor and researcher that I am fortunate to work for. He is a nephrologist who also has two research labs – one in basic research studying chronic kidney disease and the other investigating markers in various patient kidney diseases. He plays guitar here.

I also had the good fortune to work with Simon Hirota during his Post-Doctoral studies. Currently he also has his own lab focusing on acute and chronic inflammatory diseases in the gastrointestinal tract. He plays bass on earlier records.

These people have worked hard to become experts in their fields. They balance their demanding careers through their musical creativity, which they hold to the same high standards.

Heart Failure Research Unit

What is your latest release and what type of music is it?
Temporary Dreams is the latest CD. It is alternative rock/folk

Quick description of the music you perform:
We have recorded 3 albums with this current lineup. Our musical influences are diverse and include Hayden, Pavement, Neil Young, The Figgs, The Replacements, Tom Petty, Elvis Costello, Frank Black, Ryan Adams.


Your band bio:
We are all medical doctors or research scientists. Heart Failure Research Unit is the brainchild of Calgary’s Dustin Anderson – a prolific songwriter who combines his love of weirdo psych-roots and classic troubadours to make an incredibly engaging indie-folk hybrid. Drawing on his vast life experience, his lyrics are wise and weary, heavy and hopeful, his voice warm and inviting, like your favorite sofa at Grandpa’s cabin.

Links for people to buy your music:

Your promo links:

What are you working on now?
We are planning to make another record in 2016 and have a CD release party this fall.

Please recommend the name of a musician or band whose work you’ve enjoyed hearing lately.
Courtney Barnett

Bobby Cameron – a listening recommendation

I first saw Bobby Cameron perform at the annual Beaches International Jazz Festival in Toronto, and always enjoyed listening to his music at several subsequent festivals I attended. (I grew up in The Beach, by the way, so Bobby was playing my ‘hood!) I bought a couple of his CDs at that time then was pleased to learn he had been living in Edmonton while I was still in Calgary. When I saw his announcement on Facebook recently that he was releasing a new CD I just had to invite him to participate in my Listening Recommendations feature!

10003034_10201968680513915_1128735056_n Bobby Cameron

What is your latest release? Comfort Zone – Released March 7, 2015

Quick description of the music you perform: Multi-Award-Winning Roots ‘n’ Blues Artist. Platinum and Gold Award-Winning Producer / Songwriter (Jully Black, Canadian Idol). Released four CDs to date.

His Americana approach hangs out on the corner of Springsteen and Clapton.

Your brief bio:
The jagged rock foundations of Cape Breton may be a far cry from the dry and desolate flats of the western Canadian prairies, but to Bobby Cameron, they both speak of the rugged terrain that served as backdrops to his upbringing and apt metaphors for the journey he took to seek his musical fortune.

Years ago, Cameron left the rustic island weaned on the rock-and-roll styles of the legendary Matt Minglewood and blues icon Dutch Mason, both genre counterpoints to the Celtic-flavoured roots music that dominated the region, hoping for a niche of his own in which to flourish. He found a cultural sanctuary in Edmonton in the 1980s, where he began to cut his teeth as a musical contender.

“I got my energy from the Maritimes,” recalls Cameron. “There is an intensity of just giving it all you’ve got when you get the chance. Jimmy Rankin, Minglewood, Mason… they’d all get up there and for 90 minutes, they absolutely turn it up. Going from a small community to a larger centre in Canada, you get a mindset that you have a lot to prove.”


The credentials came quickly for Cameron, who first garnered national attention winning the MuchMusic Guitar Warz competition in 1990, leading to several appearances with Jeff Healey, one of the contest’s judges. Other adjudicators were held spellbound by his virtuosity and riveting action on the fretboard as Cameron managed to capture the fiery emotion and down-home feel that reflected his energy and heritage. Armed with his acoustic, he could make any locale seem like a front- porch jam. And with his electric guitar, Cameron could churn out the sounds of a kid from a hinterland, burning to be heard by the rest of the multitudes. It’s that ability and drive that continues to be a hallmark of his live show.

But while he proved he could generate excitement onstage as a formidable guitarist and hold his own with the best six-stringers the country had to offer, Cameron knew that to truly stand out among his peers, he had to create his own material.

“I realized there were a million guitar players out there,” said Cameron. “It really came down to the point that if I wanted to get anywhere, I had to learn how to write really good songs.”

His first crack at releasing his own songs culminated in his eponymous debut in 1994, which was produced by Randy Staub (U2, Metallica, Bon Jovi), yielding national adult-contemporary charting of two singles, Human Fortress and If I Wait For You, the latter featuring a video that received heavy rotation on CMT Canada. Between gigs and songwriting stints, Cameron followed up with his second outing Drowning on Dry Land five years later, which featured Release Me, another prominent single on Canadian radio. In 2003, Cameron headed to Nashville to recorded Emotional Drift, which sparked several accolades and a finalist berth in the Americana category of the ISC International Songwriting Competition, beating out more than 11,000 entries from more than 70 nations.

Over time, Cameron’s steady output of creativity started turning heads, especially among musical pundits who marveled at the performer’s ability to expand on his proficiency on the guitar by penning works that also got the attention of other songwriters. He even made it onto the payroll of New York-based publishing company Carlin America Inc. which administered the creative content for Canadian Idol and American Idol. During that tenure, Cameron hit paydirt with October Skies, which was covered by Canadian Idol winner Ryan Malcolm on his platinum-selling CD.

It wasn’t long before he was introduced into the songwriting big leagues, when he began collaborating with the likes of Luke McMaster (Rhianna, Nick Lachey), Stan Meissner (Celine Dion, Starship), Daryl Burgess (Colin James, Patty Loveless) and John Capek (Rod Stewart, Bonnie Raitt), who would eventually help Cameron with his own material. Part of his efforts resulted in Jully Black’s Juno-winning album Reunion, which featured Just A Moment, co-written between Cameron, Black and Black-Eyed Peas member Keith Harris.

Besides the Juno, Cameron’s also accumulated a mantelpiece of awards over the years, including three Alberta Recording Industries Association titles (including Best Rock Artist on Record two consecutive years) and a SOCAN songwriter of the year distinction for his Human Fortress tune presented as part of the ARIA awards. He’s also landed BMG Platinum Sales and Universal Gold Sales awards, became a prairie winner of SOCAN National Songwriting Competition and won the Mix 96 Super Session Competition.

One personal highlight of Cameron’s was when he was selected by blues legend Long John Baldry to be in his band. Cameron toured North America with the British star on and off for three years. But as a solo act Cameron has also shared the stage with Chris De Burg, Colin James, Lee Roy Parnell, Burton Cummings, Big Sugar, Loverboy, April Wine, The Kentucky Headhunters and even with members of The Rolling Stones at one surprising occasion.

Through it all, and with his fourth album, Comfort Zone, Cameron remains grounded, content to remain in Edmonton where he says the talent of the local music community is ferocious and amazing. Married with two children, Cameron is also a regular contributor to the community, especially with the charity Autism Society of Edmonton Area.

“This is what I do and I’m proud of it,” says Cameron. “It’s all about the music, but with a family of my own, you’ve got to find balance. It’s so easy to get lost with thinking about getting and charting a single. It’s been an amazing journey and I’ve learned a lot. I’m very grateful for the things I’ve been able to do and have learned to enjoy it more. It’s been great, I’ve had no regrets.”

And much like the jagged topography that’s helped define Canada, Bobby Cameron is still rocking to his own beat.

10856502_10155202682245018_3976306617613850825_o BOBBY CAMERON LIVE – NORTHERN LIGHTS CONCERT SERIES- MARCH 28 – Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Doors 7:00 / show 8:00 / $20
Queen Alexandra Community Hall / 10425 University Avenue

There will be a LIMITED NUMBER OF TICKETS made available at the door on March 28 starting at 7:00 p.m.

Anchored in his Cape Breton upbringing, Bobby Cameron brings to his music a riveting mix of styles, from folk and roots to blues and rock. Bobby does not re-invent himself to suit the current climate, having instead built a career moving from an ace guitarist in rock bands, to a valued sideman, to a frontman, to a singer-songwriter. We are excited to hear Bobby present his latest CD, Comfort Zone, in an acoustic setting.

Links to buy Bobby’s music:

Bobby’s promo links:
CD Baby

Listen to Bobby’s music on Soundcloud
And an interview: Bobby Cameron new single ” In The Light Of Day” radio debut on 1015 THE HAWK

What are you working on now?
Promoting new CD Comfort Zone. Producing other artists.

Bobby’s listening recommendation:
John Campbelljohn

IMG_7108Here are a couple of photos of Bobby Cameron at the 2008 Toronto Beaches Jazz Festival taken by my friend Jim. Bobby was set up on Queen St. at the corner of the street where Jim and Janice live (two blocks away from my childhood home). Their son Robert had a chance to meet Bobby and get his autograph that evening.IMG_71 13

John Bottomley – a listening recommendation



I first met John Bottomley the year we entered Queen’s University at Kingston (a very long time ago!) and joined The Queen’s Bands, me playing clarinet in the marching band and John playing bagpipes in the pipe band. We recently reconnected – as these things seem to go – on Facebook, where I discovered John is still playing the bagpipes, is very accomplished and successful, and also now recording. So here’s John to tell you more …


John Bottomley

What is your latest release and what type of music is it?
An all piobroch (classical bagpiping music with a theme and variation structure) CD based on independent research into one of the earliest manuscripts available, the Campbell Canntaireachd. The manuscript does not indicate note lengths at all – it’s all written out in vocables – so the player has to use his or her musical sense and training to interpret the tunes.


Quick description of the music you perform:
Bagpipes – I have thousands of tunes I can play at this point! I’ve recorded four CDs, all solo piping. I’ve also done some composing, and the pibroch I composed has been posted on the Piobaireachd Society’s website in Scotland.

10998849_10153411650035283_298452665_oYour brief bio:
I have been playing since 1963, before anyone in North America even knew there was a Beatles. I have competed and judged all up and down the United States and Canada, from Nova Scotia to Texas. I’ve been taught by a number of the finest players in the world, and listened to a variety of styles to create my own. I also did the piping part of the soundtrack for the feature film TROOPER, which is now available through iTunes and Google Play, as well as many other outlets. Apparently Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan, whose music is also in the film, weren’t good enough to compose and play the pipe tunes.

Links for people to buy your music or hear you perform
On my website there is a shopping link. The release that would probably be most interesting to a non-piper is Bagpipe Classics New and Old. It contains a number of more popular tunes as well as tunes with strong melodic hooks to introduce more of the piping idiom to a casual listener.


Promo links:
My Facebook page often has announcements about what I’m doing.

What are you working on now?
I’m planning two more CDs. The first is going to be called Well Grounded, and it will be a collection of a number of pibroch grounds (the opening variation of the tune) designed for people in the lower competition grades. An educational CD basically. The second will be call My Favorite Things, with seven or eight of my favorite tunes.

Please recommend the name of a musician or band whose work you’ve enjoyed hearing lately.
I loves me some Dave Matthews. And The Cream – Disraeli Gears. Johnny Winter always played like he meant it, and the Tannahill Weavers, a Scottish folk group.

Queen’s Pipe Band playing Scotland the Brave

Oil thigh na Banrighinn a’Banrighinn gu brath!
Cha-gheill! Cha-gheill! Cha-gheill!

Queen’s Bands playing Oil Thigh

Oh, and, what the heck! I’m feeling incredibly nostalgic after putting together John’s promotion so here’s the

Queen’s Bands with Old Queen’s Sweater/Oil Thigh!

“For it’s not for knowledge that we go to college but to raise hell all the year!”

Paul Wensley – a listening recommendation

This is the third installment in a series of Listening Recommendations. Today I’m pleased to present Paul Wensley – Paul and I attended the same high school, Malvern Collegiate Institute, in Toronto! Since graduating, Paul has been an actor, voice actor, producer, editor and is also a fine musician, singer/songwriter.

Screen Shot 2014-11-06 at 12.30.40 PMPaul Wensley

What is your latest release and what type of music is it? Smooch You Crazy – pop rock

Quick description of the music you perform:
Paul writes/performs a mixture of different styles of music including rock, progressive rock, soft rock. His eclectic influences include David Bowie, Steely Dan, Hall & Oates, Blink 182, John Williams, Hans Zimmer, Thomas Newman, Peter Gabriel, Paul McCartney and many others.

Your brief bio:
Paul is an international award-winning producer, writer, editor of promos and trailers. In 2009, while producing promos for the CBC series Being Erica, and after years of using library music for his numerous promos and trailers, Paul decided to score one with original music. This launched an unwavering musical passion that encompasses scores for numerous film/television projects and a multitude of songs. Recently, record producer Tim Thorney (Alanis Morissette) produced three of Paul’s tracks.

Links for people to buy your music or hear you perform:
*A New Big Bang for sale on iTunes (produced by Tim Thorney)
Smooch You CrazyYouTube
Focus AwayYouTube
Not Hooked Up RightSoundcloud
No EscapeSoundcloud
A New Big Bang (lyric video) – YouTube
Breathe In (cover) – YouTube
Big Wall (lyrics) – YouTube
Buckley’s commercial

Your promo links:
YouTube Channel

What are you working on now?
Paul is working on completing his first CD.

Please recommend the name of a musician or band whose work you’ve enjoyed hearing lately.
I think Chasing Pavements by Adele is the perfect song.

Path of a Bullet – Put some Ike under your tree this Christmas!

I am so pleased, and proud, and downright giddy, that a story I’ve written is being included in the new anthology, Path of a Bullet, A Collection of Short Stories Featuring Ike that Tim Baker has put together for release on Dec. 1 as an eBook and in print.

I don’t mind telling you, I’ve fallen in love with Ike, Tim’s main fictional character, since I first discovered the novels in 2013. Tim began writing short stories featuring Ike late last year, and when he put out a call for stories written by friends and readers, I just had to write one. I went with fan fiction, and have taken Ike for a visit to my own milieu. I tried to make Bequia Blues as much an homage to both Ike and Tim as I could, and those in the know will recognize many of Tim’s other characters, colleagues, friends, family members–even his favourite movie–as I could name within the short story-form limit. The point is that I had a lot of fun writing this story and I hope Readers will get a kick out of reading it, as well.

Besides the 12 stories in the collection written by Tim Baker, and 1 by me, there are 5 other contributors, each with their own short story: Rebecca Heishman, Gi Arena, Ann Marie Vancas, L.F. Young, and Becky M. Pourchot.

And here’s the cool part … 3 of the Authors, Tim, Rebecca and L.F. (Lockie) Young, have been previously featured on my blog – the promotion site I created, Reading Recommendations. Also, the book will include an introduction written by another RR Author, S.K. Nicholls. And, if that isn’t enough for you, Seumas Gallacher, also previously featured on my blog, has written a great blurb to give the book some advance promotion. Just feast your eyes on what he has to say about this collection!


If you want to place an advance order for Path of a Bullet, I’m sure Tim Baker will not be averse to hearing from you. Either contact him through his website (where you may also see the other titles he has published and perhaps order a few of those, as well) or, if you’re shy, just contact me and I’ll make sure your name is added to the list. This is one present you may decide to wrap and tag to give to yourself – it’s that good!

Outstanding, in fact! (As Ike would say.)

Chad Ingram – a listening recommendation

Welcome to Listening Recommendations , the second in a series of recommendations of musicians and musical groups I enjoy! Just like my other Author promotion blog, Reading Recommendations, I introduce blog readers to interesting and exciting Indie Musicians who are recording and performing right now, anywhere in the world!

Chad picture 3 Chad Ingram

What type of music do you perform?
I don’t really have a latest release. I’ve recorded some demos of my own music here and there and would like to record a full-length album of my own material at some point, when time allows. I’d classify my own music as some kind of eclectic rock. It’s rock-based, at least. I have a YouTube channel where I post quick iPhone videos of myself performing. A few with my percussive accomplice Tim Tofflemire. It’s mostly cover songs on there. A few originals.

Quick description of the songs you perform and your musical influences.
I’m influenced by too many musicians to name, from a wide swath of genres and timeframes.

Certainly the music of my parents – the pop and rock of the 1950s through the 1970s – has had a major impact on me. Buddy Holly, Elvis, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Band, Bowie, Dylan, Van Morrison, all the Motown artists. They made up the soundtrack of my childhood.

The music of grandparents was important too, this being mostly classic country – Hank Williams, Buck Owens, Johnny Cash, etc. – on the paternal side, and big band – Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Count Basie, etc. – on the maternal side.

Grunge rock was big in my youth, with bands like Nirvana, Sound Garden, Pearl Jam, Silverchair and Oasis providing the musical backdrop to elementary school. During high school I was obsessed with the Dave Matthews Band and Radiohead and in post-secondary years my focus turned more to funk, blues and jazz, as well as jam bands such as Phish and Bela Fleck and the Flecktones.

When performing cover tunes, I’ll often funk-ify them a little bit. I think the key to performing covers is not to try to recreate the originals, but to make them your own as much as possible. Play the song as it feels natural to you. Sing in your own voice.

Chad picture 1

Your brief bio:
My father and his father both played guitar and my grandmother was a conservatory-trained pianist, so music was always around. I started playing guitar when I was 10. My grandparents would take me to the country music open mic sessions at the Moose Lodge in Lindsay on Sunday afternoons. That’s where I first got on stage.

I played bass guitar in concert and jazz bands in high school and also in an alt rock band – Also Known As – with some friends. I started writing songs during that period, at 17 or so. I also played bass in a band with some friends at university in Ottawa.

While I still play bass occasionally, it’s mostly guitar – and mostly acoustic guitar, at that – these days. I have a rotating roster of musical friends who join me for shows, mostly in Haliburton County, where I live and work as a journalist.

Where may people hear you perform?
The Dominion Hotel in Minden, Ontario
Canoe FM Concert Hall on Oct. 18th (then archived)
The Highlanders Bar in Haliburton, Ontario
Chad’s YouTube page where he uploads his recordings

What are you working on now?
Nothing in particular. I’m playing a live show at the Canoe FM concert hall in Haliburton on Oct.18. Would like to do some recording during the winter.

Please recommend the name of a musician or band whose work you’ve enjoyed hearing lately. Right now I’m listening to a lot of alt-j(∆), an experimental rock band from Britain, Shovels and Rope, a gritty, husband-and-wife country duo from South Carolina and a Canadian band called Half Moon Run.

Chad picture 2

Vern Shank and The Cherry Drops – a listening recommendation

Welcome to Listening Recommendations the first of what I hope will be a series of recommendations of musicians and musical groups I enjoy! Just like my other Author promotion blog, Reading Recommendations, I will be introducing blog readers to interesting and exciting Indie Musicians who are recording and performing right now, anywhere in the world!

The Cherry Drops(1) Vern Shank and The Cherry Drops

What is your latest release and what type of music is it? Everything’s Groovy is our release. We are a retro powerpop band, 60’s, 70’s garage rock and bubblegum mixed with alternative rock.

Quick description of the songs: 14 songs on our debut release. We are influenced by The Beach Boys, The Beatles, The Archies, Partridge Family along with a little flare of Tom Petty, The B52’s, Cheap Trick, Queen, Raspberries & The Sweet.

The Cherry Drops

Your biography:
The Cherry Drops exploded onto the musical scene like a warm cherry pie on a hot day in the summer of 2012. The band is comprised of Vern Shank, principal songwriter, lead vocalist and melody maker, along with Joshua Cobb, background vocals and producer. In addition, Evan Foster from Seattle, WA, lends some blazing guitar solos on a track, as well as bassist Jamie Markowski and TJ Rosenman who are featured on The Cherry Drops project.

Laverne Shank, a.k.a. Vern, grew up around Philadelphia, PA, with an early start in the music & film arts. While in school, Vern was in band, chorus and stage and he also played guitar. Vern was cast for a small part as an extra in the movie Witness, starring Harrison Ford that was being filmed in his old hometown. The experience made Vern catch the “bug” to go to “Hollywood”.

Upon graduation, he moved to L.A. and attended music school, playing in a band at age 19-22. During his tenure at the school, Vern took a few film classes for acting and tried his hand in writing a few scripts. He also DJ’d a bit on the local college radio station, which at the time aired on the campus and around the area outside of the school. It was a hip station for the students.

He returned back home a few years later and soon became manager of a few area music and video retail stores called The Wall, later renamed to FYE (For Your Entertainment). It was during this time that Vern met his future business partner of almost 25 years, Art Bourasseau.

The Cherry Drops - Press Kit Photo - JPG

Vern & Art quickly realized that the entertainment field was where they both belonged. They left the retail side of the music industry and both began working for a division of Sony Music as label reps. They then decided to join forces in business. Collaborating and bouncing ideas back and forth on two separate music business ventures, Art took the helm and started an independent music label called MuSick Recordings. They also collectively opened a professional DJ company called Pyramid Disc Jockeys.

After several years, in 2000, Vern’s business partner moved to Burbank in L.A. to “head up” the music label end of things where it made perfect sense to be in the music biz in the “City Of Angels”. Vern had originally planned on going back to L.A. also, but for personal reasons, moved to Florida instead to expand the DJ company and entertainment in Orlando and the coastlines of sunny Florida.

With Vern taking full control of the DJ company in Florida that same year, Pyramid Disc Jockeys soon became one of the larger entertainment companies in the Daytona Beach, Orlando & Jacksonville areas for weddings and parties.

Vern also resumed his on-air DJ skills as part of the radio station, The Blizzard 93.3 FM located in Flagler County. He DJ’d on the air 4 days a week in the early evening time slot. He also had his own pre-recorded radio program called The Beach & Island Show on that station which aired on Saturday “happy hour” time beginning at 5pm where he spun the island & the beach music of the surf, sand, sunshine & sea. The station unfortunately disbanded after 5 years.

With the demise of The Blizzard, Vern opened up a small music store called the Flagler Music Factory which gave lessons for guitar, bass, drums, keyboards and vocals. The store also sold musical instruments and accessories. As the economy began to tank because of the market crash and the housing market crunch, the recession caused the store to slowly loose ground. Unfortunately, he had to make a tough decision but eventually was forced to retire it.

In 2009, with Pyramid still in full force Vern returned to radio as well and was hired as the “live” DJ for a different radio station, Beach 92.7 FM in Florida for remote broadcasts requiring a jock to be present during radio sponsored events.

Through these years, Vern and Art remained in close contact. Inspired by Art’s successful independent music label in California, Vern expanded his own business in 2010 to include an indie label and artist management company under the name Pyramid Music Productions. The first musician signed to Pyramid’s label was Top 40 Dance artist, Mark E. Walker; formerly of MCSC, Stevie B. and C+C Music Factory fame. Mark’s debut EP titled Here We Go was released under the Pyramid Music Label in 2010.

In early 2011, Vern co-wrote several songs with Mark, including Into the Future featuring legendary rapper, Freedom Williams of C+C Music Factory. These songs were released in digital format under the label along with the video (Mark E. Walker; feat. Freedom Williams). Together, Vern and a fellow associate, Dave Grabner, helped negotiate a deal to sign Mark to Ritmo Records, a well-established dance label.

Shortly thereafter, Vern noticed a local singer/songwriter, David Lane. Vern began guiding David’s musical career and in 2011 became David’s management company. In order to expand David’s career, Vern joined forces and introduced him to Art of Musick Recordings. Vern continues to manage David’s career working closely with Art. David’s debut was released on the MuSick Recordings label in Burbank, CA. in 2012.

During the summer of 2012, Vern launched his own band project, The Cherry Drops, a retro power-pop band with a 60’s and 70’s feel and yet with a refreshingly new rock sound. He is lead singer, musician and principal songwriter of the band. The band’s debut was released June 21, 2013 (The first day of summer!)

Vern still finds time to run his DJ business along with the band label & artist management company but has recently re-visited his SCREENWRITING projects. In 2008 he had begun writing again and by 2012 he really began to get serious with his film, music, video and television screenplay projects. A few of his latest scripts include a sci-fi comedy, fantasy movie titled Transference and an action/drama with a working title called Bullet Time.

In January of 2013 Vern began to collaborate with the old Blizzard radio station head that he used to work for, to open up Flagler Beach, FL’s very own radio station The Surf (Surf 1700 AM / 97.3 FM) which hit the airwaves June 2013. He co-owns and runs the station directly on the Atlantic Ocean at The Flagler Pier bringing beach & island music with a happy sunshine pop oldies feel across the airwaves and online to the sunny beaches of Florida and beyond.

Vern maintains residence throughout the year in both Florida and in the Burbank, CA, area for his business ventures. This schedule enables him to work on all of his entertainment related projects.

Links for people to buy it:
CD available at our Website.
Downloads available on EVERY online music Download out there including iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, Googleplay, TargetMusic, Rhapsody, Best Buy, etc.

The Cherry Drops’ promo links:
Outta’ Sight Music Video
The Cherry Drops YouTube Channel
Surf 97.3 FM Radio Station
Pyramid Disc Jockeys
LaVerne Shank Films

Cherry Drops Sirius XM2

We were also very honored and humbled to announce that we were chosen and named “The Coolest Song In The World” for our song Outta Sight by SiriusXM Radio Little Steven’s Underground Garage/ Stevie Van Zandt. Steven of course is Bruce Springsten’s E-Street Band band mate and proprietor of the Sirius XM affiliate. He was also in the hit TV Show The Sopranos. We will be on heavy full rotation from now on Sirius XM (CH. 21) as well as his syndicate terrestrial radio show that began on 8/10/14 and is on station’s across the country. Our interview aired on Friday 8/15. Other songs from our album Everything’s Groovy is also in rotation as well from here on.

Little Steven Cool10

What are you working on now?
Our 2nd album (yet untitled) and another music video for another song from our first album called Pop, Pop, (‘Til You Drop) that will partially be animated and part real life. The animation is being created by Sue Bielenberg of The Simpsons & King Of The Hill fame.

Please recommend the name of a musician or band whose work you’ve enjoyed lately.
Locksley, Drifting Sand & Al Jardine’s solo album.