Making his LA mark: Shea Welsh

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.

 

 

Atlantis the Band: Spotlight

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.

 

 

Emma-Jane Thommen – UK to LA

From upbeat, mysterious funk to sweet, emotional soul – Emma-Jane Thommen has it all. This Gigmor artist has mastered strong range of style, and with each song, she tells her story with her smooth, simple harmonies. Perfect, limited accompaniment grooves with her in every song, and her sounds are easy on the ears – perfect for a long car rides or even meditation! Listen to her performing her original “Running with my Eyes Closed” at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles.

 

 

 

Emma-Jane has performed at some pretty notable venues around the world. A few of these venues include the Pyramids in Egypt, many US and UK festivals, on board the Queen Mary II on a cruise to New York, as well as at LA’s Greek Theater opening for Norah Jones & Corinne Bailey Rae. Watch this moody performance of another on of her original songs, “Open Eyes,” at The Hotel Cafe in LA.

 

 

She enjoys writing her own music, but also loves has quite a knack for covering songs. She covers many different artists but her recordings are always infused with her unique mysteriousness and sentimentality.  Her melodies are dark, beautiful, and smoky, and keep listeners hooked, as she evokes something in sound much deeper than her lyrics. Watch this artsy video with her chilling cover of Nina Simone’s “Feelin’ Good.”

 

 

Emma-Jane is currently stationed in LA, and performing regularly at Hollywood’s famous music venue, The Sayers Club. She is also on her way to a milestone moment, as she’s currently working on a soon-to-be-released EP with Elton John’s Rocket Music in London & LA. If you’re in London or LA, check her page for gigs and definitely look out for her to try to see her in concert; from her videos, it sure seems like she is a marvel live. Watch this last clip of her performing her original song, “Halfway House” at the Sayers Club.

 

 

Getting To Know You: Detroit band Sail exclusive interview

Today’s feature is on up and coming rock band Sail, out of Detroit, MI. They have a ton of awesome covers featured on their Gigmor profile and we actually got to spotlight their “Limelight” cover on our “Gigmor’s Best 80’s Covers” blog post. We had the chance to sit down with their lead vocalist Anthony Fink and their drummer Tom Lowe. They weighed in on the band’s current state and a little bit about their beginnings.

 

Gigmor: Thanks for sitting down with us today guys. First question. What is each of your musical backgrounds? How did that lead you to Sail?

Anthony: I grew up classically trained in piano starting when I was about seven years old, then I got really into choir and eventually wanted to try it in college. I got into the Western School of Music, I really went for it when I wanted to. Then I decided to leave college to pursue gigging and that’s when I ran into them [Sail]. They like me, I like them, for about two years now we’ve been jamming out and it’s been great.

Tom: I started playing guitar in elementary school, then I started getting into drums in middle school. I kept with both of them for a while after. Aside from that, my first ever band experience was [playing with] a couple of my friends from church. We practiced a couple times a week and played some gigs. Now we’re here, doing Sail, and have two guitar players, a bassist, and a new female vocalist and have a ton of shows lined up.

 

Gigmor: How’s the songwriting process going so far for Sail?

Anthony: As every musician knows it’s a difficult process as well as a fun one. I actually have my solo EP out on iTunes– I’ve been writing since my freshmen year of high school. The other members are pretty into it too. As far as the band’s writing process it’s more about the collective sound. Each member kind of goes in different directions and eventually it all comes together.

Tom: We haven’t written that much music. We’re still working to perfect our four-hour set. Once we have time to put our own individual stuff on the table we’ll see what we come up with as a group.

 

Gigmor: Hit any speed bumps along the way?

Anthony: Creative differences obviously, people are going to want to express what they want to do. It’s never anything bad and always gets worked out. But it is imperative that everyone is on the same page in the end.

 

Gigmor: If you had to pick one, would you play only covers or only originals? Any personal favorites?

Anthony: Right now we want to do more originals, we’ll never not do covers. We love them too. We like to imitate the covers we play with a little bit of a modern flare to it. Some of my favorites personally are “Creep” by Radiohead and “House of the Rising Sun” by The Animals, the audience always loves “Limelight” by Rush.

Tom: I’d say originals. A cover band lets you make a living, but ideally I’d say originals. My favorite is probably…..”Soul To Squeeze” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

 

 

Gigmor: One selfish question real quick… How did you find out about Gigmor? How do you like it?

A: Our manager Cheri is very good at networking, your site seemed like it had a lot of action. We liked what we saw and just hopped in! The site looks great and is pretty easy to navigate.

 

G: On your Gigmor page we saw you said you were “Willing to Dress for Events”…any absurd requests?

A: Not yet! We would love to and are up for whatever!

T: Nothing weird, just suit and tie for weddings and stuff.

 

G: Okay, last question. What are the best and worst song requests an audience member has made?

A: There haven’t been many requests, we used to get “Freebird” all the time.

T: I can’t even think of a worst… well I guess it might have been “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons. I think it just went bad because that song is pretty synthy and obviously we’re more acoustic. That was more like it didn’t go over well not really a bad request. One of the better requests we got was “Short Skirt Long Jacket” by Cake. I love that song.

 

G: Well thanks so much for taking the time to sit down with us and best of luck!

Check out the band’s website www.sailbandofficial.com and their Gigmor page as well as a couple of their cover videos below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Gigmor guest blogger: Ari Kapner