I’m thrilled to announce that American Idol has partnered with Gigmor to find the next generation of singing superstars for season 2 on ABC. Needless to say, we’re thrilled that one of the biggest singing competitions in the world has chosen Gigmor as the best way to discover and evaluate the next generation of talent. Gigmor members will have the chance to be offered a Front of the Line Pass at one of 23 audition cities. We look forward to continuing the partnership to future seasons of American Idol as well as upcoming seasons of America’s Got Talent.
There’s nothing like a sweet, charming pop song to brighten your day or at least make it a little bit brighter. Add a little rock to it, and you get a certain energy with that quiet twinge of funk. This combination will addict you and draw you closer. In this genre, and with this style of rock-infused pop songs, artists can come to a happy medium and range – one that transcends the two genres gently while never fully leaving one or the other in the dark. Los Angeles-based band 7 Less embodies this combination discussed before. Their mixes of melodies and are creative yet simple and humane. Listen to them here performing their original song, “Don’t Go,” in their music video.
The group is relatively new – they only formed in the year of 2017. However, they’re already on a roll, producing songs and an EP and receiving acclaim from around the music industry. The band has been previewing their new six-track EP entitled “Two Sides of the Story” all around Los Angeles, and it even caught the attention of a Channel Islands music professor. Craig Bickel said that their song “Let’s Fall in Love” is “a lovely song with enormous potential.” Take a listen!
The three members of 7 Less have some interesting music backgrounds. Lead singer Marc Rasec picked up the guitar at age 11 and taught himself to play from music books his father gave him. From there, his music career blossomed, and he used his struggles in high school to add an emotional level to his songwriting and performing. The band’s drummer, John Htun, is the son of a well known Burmese artist named David Htun Htun. He moved out to Los Angeles in 2003 to immerse himself in the American music industry some more, and ended up meeting Rasec in 2016. The two of them teamed up for a few shows together and ultimately decided that it was a match. Since then, their band received an endorsement from Zion Cymbals for a few of their music videos and a contract for the band’s upcoming projects. Obviously, they are off to a great start as a band. Take a look at their official music video for their original song, “New Zealand.”
7 Less is off to a pretty much ideal and fantastic start in Los Angeles thus far, and they’re on a roll. Be sure to check out their page to see when their next gig is, so you can go and support these guys in concert. If you get the chance to see them live, you’re in for a treat.
If you want to talk about true Angeleno musicians and figureheads, Shea Welsh is quite a prototype. Though he was born in Baltimore and raised in the East Coast, he obviously found his niche in the famed music capital. First and foremost, he is a massively accomplished guitarist, having performed with members of some of the most famous bands to grace the music industry and logged countless hours in the recording studio with various artists. His ability to transcend multiple genres “keeps him at the top of many music-makers’ lists.”
(Pictured above mid-concert.)
Shea fronts an LA-grown band that performed for three years on Thursday nights at Pip’s on La Brea as a part of a residency, so it’s not hard to see that he loves to perform. He’s very involved in the Jazz world and has really dipped into that scene – he’s headlined at Jazz festivals like the Long Island Jazz & Blues festival and the Panama Jazz festival to name a few. He’s been a sideman for many groups, always being flexible in his ability to adapt and create, whether it’s with a small combo or a big-band like Paul McDonald’s. Check out Shea performing “Sancho T. Panza,” an original composition, with his band. Perhaps this will give you a sense of just how talented he is.
Not only has he made his mark on the scene as an artist, but he has also done quite a lot of work as a producer and a writer. His most recent producing project was the The Hipnotics’ debut recording along with his work helping to write and produce Michelle Coltrane’s second album. However, this isn’t all. Shea decided early to give back to the industry that shaped him through education. He is a member of the faculty at the University of Southern California’s Thorton School of Music and has written a few instructional books on Blues and Jazz. Most recently, he has opened The Shea Welsh Institute of Jazz as a branch of The Conservatory of Performing Arts over near Westwood in Los Angeles. The school is open for dedicated high school and middle school students looking for an intense experience and immersion into the study of Jazz. He will be giving these kids masterclasses in theory, performance, and repertoire, and they are bound to benefit from his experience and absolute mastery. He’s pictured below with some of his students.
Shea is certainly making his mark, not only on stage and in the halls, but almost most importantly, in the minds of the young. His commitment to his young students goes to show how much he truly cares about bringing out the love of music in as many people as he can. If all of this wasn’t impressive enough, there’s one more thing. In addition to all of his work with Michelle Coltrane, Shea released his own debut jazz album entitled Arrival to the world earlier in 2017. Go give this album a listen, as it will take you to a place different from all others. His unique composition will grab all listeners with intent and fury and also with the soft tenderness of the blues. Look out for Shea Welsh around Los Angeles – whether he’s performing, producing, writing or teaching. Wherever he is, he is leaving quite a stamp on this historic city.
Frank Sinatra By Columbia Pictures Corporation – Public Domain
Swing is a smooth and groovy style of jazz music that first gained popularity in the 30s and 40s. In fact, the years between 1935 and 1946 were known as the swing era, a decade in which big bands and bandleaders dominated the music scene and caused people to come up with new dance moves that went with the emerging new style.
Swing is such an influential style that to this day, its elements can be heard in genres like pop, hip hop, soul, funk, ska, and even rock. The reason for this is simple. Classic swing very expertly walks the line between catchy and classy. In a way, it’s jazz that’s very smoothly arranged into what can also be considered pop.
Diana Krall’s “Devil May Care” is pure swing. It’s Frank Sinatra in a suit, sipping whiskey in between crooning while being backed by a big brass band. It is perfectly timed breaks and leaps from the horn section accompanied by an ace on the drums. It’s dance-friendly jazz that’s highly polished but never to the point of being robotic. It’s the coolest, classiest music that America ever produced. And because of all this, the influence of big band swing can still be felt in today’s contemporary music.
Flypaper points out that elements of swing and jazz are scattered everywhere in modern music. From the iconic Beatles to the 90s horns-and-hip-hop outfits Digable Planets and A Tribe Called Quest, swing is an ever-present element in a number of modern genres and sub-genres. Because of their inherently tight and versatile nature, jazz and swing can structurally fit into almost any style of modern music.
Some artists even directly pull samples from the swing era in order to create new and original material. In an interview on Bandcamp, hip hop artist L’Orange offers a glimpse of his roots as a musician and how he was influenced by swing. As a teen, he was a big fan of old radio shows which he would listen to in the bright orange car that he drove to high school (that’s where his moniker comes from). This early interest led him to produce albums and songs that directly lift samples from dusty Billie Holiday records, early 20th century radio broadcasts, and big band swing from the 40s. Sometimes, it results in hip-hop tunes that are decidedly vintage swing.
Dance is also a big part of what makes swing timeless, and The Guardian reports that swing dance is very much alive and well. From London to Moscow, swing dance camps continue to offer lessons on traditional Lindy Hop and other swing dances – sometimes combined with modern improvisations taken from other styles of dance.
Another aspect of what makes swing so timeless is the sheer swagger of its icons. When it comes to classy swag, no one can hold a candle to Frank Sinatra. His name is practically synonymous with swing. As he and his beloved Rat Pack took the world by storm in the 50s and 60s, swing went along for the ride. Sinatra’s responsible for popularizing countless swing hits. These include classics like “I’ve Got You Under My Skin”, and “Fly Me to The Moon”. Sinatra’s songs not only captured a style of music perfectly, they also epitomized an era and a way of living. PartyPoker calls “Luck be a Lady” one of the greatest poker songs ever and the song symbolizes the excitement of Sinatra’s swing era effortlessly. Thanks to the smooth styling of artists like Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, and Duke Ellington, swing continues to inspire today’s musicians to make original music that almost anyone
can dance to.
There’s nothing like a charismatic twin-duo to get a room grooving. Today let’s look at the jazzy R&B/Soul and Pop group stationed in Los Angeles, Atlantis the Band, led by the Merriweather twins – brothers bound not only by blood but by their simple love of music. Their voices blend smoothly with a cool dynamic; lead singer Travis Merriweather leads the group with his sweet but edgy melodies and impressive range, while his brother Rustein Merriweather provides the the fruity rap component with his quick, magnetic, syncopated verse. Watch the band performing their own version of the Beastie Boys’ “Sabrosa” live at the Viper Room in Los Angeles.
The band also has a pretty stacked cast in regards to instrumentation. In addition to Travis with funky bass lines and Rustein’s adeptness on the keyboard, there is some serious backup. They’re joined by the Regiment Horns – Sean Eric on trumpet, Kevin Lloyd Williams, Jr. on trombone and Leon Silva on the sax. On drums sits Grammy award-winner Lyndon Rochelle, whose drum solos captivate and will leave an awestruck audience wanting more. Takahito Mori’s guitar interludes and riffs rock the stage and fill the sound with eccentric, gleaming energy. They are also joined by Grammy nominated producer and drummer Taylor Gordon in addition to Natalie Stephenson on vocals. Watch them here performing a cover of Santana’s “Maria Maria” at Couture in Hollywood. Be sure to catch Mori’s epic guitar solo about 50 seconds in!
The band has performed at some notable venues, such as The Mint, The Peppermint Club, Sofitel Beverly Hills, Sunset Tower, and The House of Blues on Sunset. The twins have also been involved at a political level with Hillary and Bill Clinton, after being invited back during college to take part in the Clinton Global Initiative University summit. The two of them stayed connected with the Clintons and Travis even got to work on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 election campaign. See lead singer Travis Merriweather showing off his vocals with “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Atlantis the Band, thanks to the initial catapulting by the twins back in college, has emerged as a powerful band with an intense range of talent – everywhere from their emotional depth and soul to excited hip-hop beats – and their innovative interpretations and writing proves them to be very worthy of the stage. Be sure to check out their page to see and listen to more of their music. Also, although they began in Texas, their music-making happens in Los Angeles, so if you’re in the area, be sure to check on their Upcoming Gigs category so that you can hear their hearty music live! Here’s one last clip of them covering Jay Z’s “Can’t Knock The Hustle” at the House of Blues on Sunset.