New video! Rihanna – Stay [Cover] Sarah Sellers

New video, finally!!!!! I am a MASSIVE Rihanna fan and Stay is hands down one of my favorite tracks off her latest album. So in honor of her Grammy performance next Sunday I thought I would try my hand at this amazing track.

A special thanks to my producers Josh Goode and Bradley Prakope for making this video my best one yet! Let me know what you guys think in the comment box below!

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Sofar Sounds & a Little Holiday Cheer!

Sofar Sounds Dallas

Merry Merry Christmas!!! It’s hard to believe another year is almost over and the holiday season is quickly passing us by. It’s been a whirlwind year and I couldn’t feel more blessed with the wonderful things 2012 brought my way. I’m looking forward to an exciting food and music filled 2013.

I’m back in my hometown of Oklahoma City for the holidays, stuffing my face with every casserole and pie under the sun. So in my brief moment of relaxation I wanted to take a few minutes to update you guys on a really cool event I was recently a part of.

Back in July I was hired to review a “secret” show in Denton by GoodBAMMSho for Sofar Sounds. It was hands down one of the coolest things I’ve experienced musically. I instantly fell in love with the idea and had to be a part of it. After months of staying in contact with the local Sofar coordinator she reached out to me to participate in their Christmas show in Dallas and of course, I was happy to oblige!

Sarah Sellers - Sofar Sounds

The host of the event was a wonderful lover of music who was one of the first supporters and people to open their home to Sofar Dallas. She had a beautiful home in Lakewood that was packed with eager music fans ready to discover new talent.

My producer Josh Goode and I performed 3 original tunes along with a special Christmas rendition of Jingle Bells (see below). Scroll to the bottom of the post for a video of our original song No Mistake, along with a link to the entire show, including all 5 acts, courtesy of livestream.

Sarah Sellers - Sofar Sounds

WFAA Channel 8 was also on hand to cover the show and I was fortunate enough to sit down with David Schechter for a brief interview and preview of my original song Go and Get Gone. Check out the full story here!

Check out this great organization and sign up on their email list to see a Sofar event in your city!

Last but not least I’m excited to announce I’ll be releasing my first single, produced and co-written with Josh Goode and Bradley Prakope of Goode Vibes Music, in January. I’ll be posting a special preview on my YouTube channel so make sure you subscribe to hear it first! I hope you have a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday!

In the spirit of the holidays I recorded a newly revamped version of Jingle Bells! Check it out! 🙂

No Mistake – Music & Lyrics by Sarah Sellers & Josh Goode

Sofar Sounds Dallas – #237 Worldwide – Full Performance

Photo Credits: Giovanni Gallucci & John Perry

ZZ Ward Brings Her Dirty Shine to Dallas [Interview]

ZZ Ward - Trees Dallas

Thank you GoodBAMMSho for the amazing opportunity to interview one of my favorite artists! Here’s the interview!!


Wednesday night ZZ Ward brought her Down and Dirty Shine tour to a packed house at Trees in Dallas. With her signature fedora, blinged out tooth and delicious blend of hip-hop and blues, there is nothing mediocre about this Oregon native.

Performing songs from her debut album, Til the Casket Drops, and Eleven Roses mixtape, ZZ delivers an effortless swagger onstage that feels completely raw and authentic when she performs. Jumping from the keys, guitar, harmonica, and yes, even the drums the amount of talent in this pint size singer is ridiculous.

Before the show started I was able to sit down with the singer and talk about love, what songwriting means to her and what’s ahead in 2013.

ZZ Ward - Trees Dallas

Is this your first time performing in Dallas?

I was here for a radio show for NPR but no I’ve never played a show. This is my first time at this venue. I really like Texas a lot, love the whole feel.

I love how you’ve merged hip-hop and blues to make a sound that’s completely unique and yours. Starting out did you ever feel the pressure to conform to a particular “radio friendly” or “industry specific” sound?

Luckily no, the label that I chose to sign with, I based my decision on the people who worked for Hollywood Records. I mean they really just believed in my artistry from the beginning. From the moment I played my songs for them they loved it, which is wonderful. I never felt like I had to try and be what was cool or what was popular. I really had a lot of freedom making the record.

Do you feel like that’s an issue in the industry today, not having a lot of creative freedom?

I think on the industry side a lot of people don’t want to take chances. You know, they don’t want to lose. They’re scared to lose and a lot of times, I think they shelve artists because of that. I know artists that are making records and they can’t put their record out because there are so many people behind it. So I’m very thankful for where I’m at.

ZZ Ward - Trees Dallas

Save My Life is such a beautiful tune and you can definitely hear that Fitz and the Tantrums flare. What was the process like working with Michael Fitzpatrick?

It was wonderful working with Fitz. He has such a good throwback feel. We wrote the song at his house, where he actually records a lot of the Fitz and the Tantrums albums. He definitely brings that throwback feel. He’s just such a great, real down to earth guy.

The metaphors and visualization in your songs are so vivid and relatable. How old were you when you wrote your first song? 

I use to write pieces of songs. I was just putting a lot of ideas together, sometimes like five pieces, and every song would be like Bohemian Rhapsody. So, I would say the first time I sat down at the piano and wrote a full song I was 13.

Do you consider songwriting to be a blessing or a curse?

I think it’s a blessing and a curse. When I was writing this record I locked myself in my apartment and I didn’t live a normal life for a while. I didn’t go out to the bars and sometimes I would be writing and if the song wasn’t done I wouldn’t go out. But it feels so good when you actually finish a song and you like it. There’s really no other high. It’s a pretty great experience.

ZZ Ward - Trees Dallas

How many songs did you write for the record?

Well you know that’s interesting, that’s a good question. There wasn’t a lot of fat. I didn’t really write a lot of songs, actually I didn’t finish probably any songs that didn’t go on the record. Every song that I finished went on the record. But it depends, I’m very critical from the beginning. So if I’m writing something that I think is okay, it doesn’t make me feel sexy or mad, or empowered, if it doesn’t give me a strong emotion from whatever side that it’s on then I’ll usually throw it out.

When I wrote Home I had been working on another song for about 3 hours and all of a sudden I just went into the chords of Home and had a melody and I was like, this is great. Forget the other song. You kind of just have to follow it.

Your passion and pain really shine on this record. How easily do you fall in love?

Well I don’t know, it might have changed a while ago. Then I might have said something different because when you’re young you think you’re in love but you don’t really know what love is. I don’t think I fall in love very easily, but I love very hard.

ZZ Ward - Trees Dallas

The title track, Til the Casket Drops, you’ve said is “a song about going to war for someone that you love. Not only was it the first song I wrote for the album, but it ended up being the perfect embodiment and emotional foundation for the entire album”. Was the song written early on for the album or later?  

It was the first song I wrote for the record and I didn’t know I was writing it for an album. I feel like Til the Casket Drops was the first song where I really, I didn’t shy away from who I was going to be as an artist. I just kind of embraced it and that was the first song that did that.

How did it shape the rest of the direction for the album?

I think just the concept of the song about going to war for somebody that you love and the ups and downs of relationships. I think the album is a very passionate record. So it just made since that it would be the title of the record.

Put the Gun Down is the first song Neff-U produced on the album. You’ve mentioned all the sonic experimentation that went on during recording it. What final mix or part sealed the deal for you knowing the song was perfect and finished?

You know that song came so easily. When we were in the studio, being the first song we worked on, we didn’t really put a lot of stuff in. I think some of the hardest times in music are when you get stuck . If you get stuck with something and you have to push and push and push until it sounds right, that will test your patience. With Put the Gun Down we didn’t really have that. Neff-U played piano, I wrote the guitar structure to it, I actually already had that, and then he did the drums. It was actually pretty straight forward with that track.

The metaphor, Put the Gun Down, is so brilliant, in your writing do you come up with the metaphor first or do you just start writing?

It’s easier that way. I mean it doesn’t always work that way. A lot of times it’s just, you have to write, or you want to write. It would be the easiest thing in the world if you had a million ideas that were great concepts for songs. If you can get that story, I feel like it’s almost like writing a script. If you have that one story or idea that’s different, it’s easier from there. But it doesn’t always happen that way.

Last Love song, I didn’t know what I was going to call it. I wrote the chorus, I had everything, but I didn’t have a hook. So I just called it Last Love Song, I’ll tell the story about the song at my show, because I didn’t want to write anymore songs about that person anymore. That’s why it became Last Love Song. So it just depends.

ZZ Ward - Trees Dallas

For Blue Eyes Blind: Ludwig Goransson said “you are one of the new voices of today and it’s never been so easy writing a song with someone.” Why do you think the creative chemistry worked so well between your melodies and his beats?

You know what, I don’t have an answer for that. I didn’t do a lot of co-writes on this record but I have done a lot of co-writing since I moved to Los Angeles. Before I wrote this record I went in with a lot of different people  and wrote a lot of songs. I learned a lot from it. I think it helped shape me to be a better writer. But two of the co-writes, one was with Fitz and the other with Ludwig, I don’t know, they just worked. I didn’t walk in and say, man I’ve got to hit this sound, we have to get a song for the record. I really didn’t feel that pressure. I went in with Ludwig, came up with some chords, a melody for the chorus, Ludwig just dropped this ridiculous beat in and it kind of went from there. It was really easy with him.

On Crying Wolf Rich Parry of Blended Babies said that “you took a very rough idea and made it shine or “made that shit shine”. Then he added that “ONLY sometimes drinking too much in the studio is a good thing.” How many drinks did it take exactly to build the song?

Well it’s really interesting because that song came along and for me, coming up with an idea that is different and hasn’t been done before, I don’t feel like you have a lot of opportunities to do that. It’s always really fun and special when you can do that.

I was sitting there with Blended Babies going through some of the tracks and I heard Maceo Haymes from the O’My’s singing on this track. I was sitting there and I could kind of come up with the idea in my head, I was really excited, and I asked, “was he drunk when he sang this?” And they were like, “yeah he was throwing some ideas down, he was drinking, wasted on whiskey, we told him go in there and just sing some melody. Don’t even worry about the lyrics.”

It’s authentic, he was really wasted when he sang that. So I was like, oh my gosh this is the perfect opportunity for me to vent about being in some of the relationships I’d been in where this person is wasted and they’re constantly doing this and that, threatening you, and I had the best idea in my head. I don’t think anyone in the room really knew it but I was like, I’ll show you, I’ll show you…I’m going to write this song.

I flipped Kendrick Lamar’s Look Out for Detox and he was cool enough to rap on the track.

What was it like working with Kendrick?

He’s such a talented guy. I think it’s incredible how he went into such an obscure song, and it is one of those songs where it doesn’t really need someone on it because it’s so different. But putting him on it was such a left idea and he just destroyed it.

ZZ Ward - Trees Dallas

You were discovered on MySpace. How can artists utilize today’s social media to propel their music career?

It’s a different world. I heard an older musician on a late night show and he was talking about when there use to be no such thing as social media. Now, every performance you do, every performance I do, goes up online. No matter where I am, I mean there is no forgiveness.

But I think if you’re an upcoming artist you can definitely use social media to your advantage. You can cover songs and get a following on YouTube. But if I would give any advice, to an upcoming or aspiring musician, it would be to write your own music. It takes time to find the right people to help you get to where you want to go. It’s not a one man or one woman job, you definitely need to have a team of people that can help you. You can’t wait for people, so my advice would be to think about what kind of music you want to make and start the train yourself.

What was it like moving from Oregon to LA?

Scary, terrifying…it was terrifying. About 6 months ago for some reason I started having those memories about what it was first like to move down and I was so depressed when I first moved. I left everything behind. I left a boyfriend behind, I literally started a new life. It was really scary but I just realized there wasn’t enough for me where I lived for what I wanted to do. I needed to get around people that were doing the same stuff I was doing.

From Eleven Roses to the Criminal EP and now Til the Casket drops and this amazing year you’ve had. What are you looking forward to the most in 2013?

The thing about being a recording artist is there’s a lot of variety and there’s a lot of stuff that nobody can tell you how it’s going to go. You just kind of have to go with it, buckle up and go for the ride. I’m excited about doing different stuff, doing different performances. I’m doing a co-headlining tour at the end of January with Delta Rae. So we’ll just see where it takes us.

New Video! Rihanna – Diamonds [Cover] Sarah Sellers

For all of my lovely foodies I owe you guys some food posts…and you will get them, soon. I made a delicious batch of Beef Veggie Soup last week that I must share with everyone and of course, my State Fair of Texas adventure was thoroughly documented.

In the meantime, I recorded a new video this weekend so check it out and let me know what you think in the comment box below.

Jillette Johnson Talks “Whiskey & Frosting” & Being Fearless [Interview]

When Fiona Apple wrote about a Shadowboxer and feeling like a Criminal it was impossible to not become transfixed with the world she painted with her lyrics. The nineties and early aughts bred a slew of female singer songwriters  that told the deepest stories through song.

Over the years popular music has become increasingly watered down, with focus on lyrical content falling in second place to house beats and campy tales of love and partying with friends. With the success of artists like Adele it’s clear that people still crave and respond to music that’s emotional and above all, honest.

With the debut of her EP, Whiskey & Frosting, I sat down with Wind-Up Records artist Jillette Johnson to talk about growing up in New York, what inspires her and what the future holds.

Growing up in New York Jillette was born to a non-musical family with the passion to entertain and create at an early age. She started piano lessons at 6 and writing at 8 years old. With the support of her parents she started playing venues in New York City at just 12 years old. After getting her first manager at the same age Jillette used NYC as her canvas to create music that was open and honest.

That honesty caught the attention of Wind-Up Records Executive Gregg Wattenberg with the title track Cameron.

“Powder and a brush can cover any cuts / And quickly running cotton under cold water / Rinses out the blood marks / Cameron you’re a star, a light where there is dark” 

tells the story of being alienated for our differences and embracing that uniqueness. After being signed to Wind-Up Jillette started writing for Whisking & Frosting.

Jillette isn’t resting on her laurels, “All of the music on the EP was written by me in my apartment over the last year. I’m having a lot of fun but it’s just the beginning. There’s a lot more work to be done.”

With her debut album set for an early 2013 release she’ll spend the next few months creating a buzz with the EP and radio in the winter. So where did Whiskey & Frosting come from?

After a horrible day Jillette and her boyfriend were headed back to her apartment where she hoped they would spend a quiet night alone. When they walked in all of her friends were there to throw her a surprise party and on the menu for dinner…whiskey and frosting, two of her favorite things.

“Whiskey and Frosting represents that twinkle in my eye and saying something real or dark with a hint of sweetness.”

Jillette doesn’t shy away from dark messages and difficult subjects. That fearlessness in her writing, the desire to create her own little world, has kept her on the creative path that has lead her up to this point. “It’s so important to be real and honest when you’re creating music.”

That realness meant turning down a prime spot on the hit show The Voice this past season. After attending an audition with a friend she turned down the opportunity to continue on the creative path she began, and to not compromise the voice she worked so hard to build throughout her career.

“It takes a lot of courage to audition for a talent show, you go through a lot. What I do is very holistic and unfortunately there’s no room for that in a show meant to entertain people. It feels like sacrilege to not be myself and for my voice to not be heard.”

This commitment to her music and bringing authenticity to what she creates also meant leaving New York University after one year to put 100% of her energy behind her career. When I asked her what would she be doing if she wasn’t creating music her response was simple,

“I never considered doing anything else. If you have a plan B then your plan A doesn’t really matter. I wanted everything I did to be about my career.”

That passion  and vulnerability is evident in songs like Pauvre Coeur (poor heart).

“Dare I say I was enamored / By the stories of your pain / You were darkened in the wild fight / And I was tangled in your mane.”

The story of compromising yourself in a broken relationship that leaves you completely lost is told beautifully over Johnson’s aching vocals and rolling piano.

“I was trying to make you see me / Like the way you did before / So I took off my clothes and I opened a bottle / And told you I’d do whatever you wanted / Naked on the floor, crying I’m too beautiful / Oh my poor, poor, pauvre coeur / Beats no more.”

Jillette sings and composes with a passion that comes from such an authentic place. From her own life experiences to the streets of New York Jillette is influenced by life around her and the city that raised her.

“New York has hugely influenced me. There’s so much to draw inspiration from. I really think it’s the epicenter of the universe, so much beauty to inspire.”

Music legends Paul Simon, Prince, Carol King and Randy Newman are a few musicians that have influenced Johnson and her creativity. Newman’s simple approach to his lyrics and music that isn’t “overly flowery but to the point and eloquent” is what inspires Johnson. “They help me figure out what I want to say. I have to have a message in my music.”

Torpedo is Whiskey & Frosting’s anthem tune with Jillette’s beautifully layered vocals and poignant piano  laced with hard hitting drums and of course, those lyrics.

“So come on torpedo do your worst / Get me right in the heart, blow me up ’til you see my ghost / But I will not lay down in the road / I will not make it easy / I ain’t got no saints or saviors / This is guerrilla and I will fight this war / So come on torpedo.”

Whiskey & Frosting Track Listing:

  • Cameron – Where it all began!
  • Torpedo – Most upbeat track on the EP
  • When the Ship Goes Down“Probably the best song I’ve ever written”
  • Heathen – Friend favorite
  • Pauvre Coeur“The most fun to play live”

Since this is Sarah’s Musical Kitchen I took the opportunity to ask Jillette who were some of her favorite NYC artists and of course, what are some of her favorite places to eat and drink in the city.

Favorite Local Musicians:

Favorite Places to Eat & Drink:

What’s your favorite thing to cook? “Beef Stew for my mom.” I think we need a recipe!

It was a pleasure speaking with Jillette. The eloquence and passion in her music is evident when she speaks about her musical journey and what the future holds. Her fearless approach to writing and absolute awareness of who she is as an artist is refreshing and inspiring. Whiskey & Frosting is the heart and soul of a talented artist waiting to just blow you away. Download it today and look for the debut album in early 2013.

Image Courtesy: Jillette Johnson & Wind-Up Records

New Video, West Coast Dreams & Promising Opportunities!

I’m writing you from 37,856 feet on my way to the City of Angels for a fun week of gorgeous weather and networking opportunities. First things first, for the first time in years I’m actually enjoying my flight thanks to Virgin America. I’ve never flown the airline before and now I’m officially spoiled. If you get the chance, book a seat, the experience is better then any carrier I’ve ever flown on. Moving on….

Last week I posted a new video of my partner in crime, Josh Goode, and me covering ZZ Ward’s “Got it Bad”. Since she’s been a huge inspiration on the new material we decided to record another cover of her latest single, “Put the Gun Down”. So here you are, another YouTube video to tide you guys over until the new material is released. If you live in Dallas and want to check out the new music first come to the House of Blues on September 29th! I’ll be opening for Monica with Josh Goode and some other amazing musicians.

It’s been a few years since I’ve been to LA and I couldn’t be more excited. Tonight Matt and I are kicking things off with a party hosted by Yahoo! featuring one of my favorite bands, Chairlift. I won’t be reviewing the show but I’ll definitely be documenting the night’s events. Maybe I’ll even get a chance to meet Caroline Polacheck…wishful thinking.

The rest of the week I have a few meetings with some new contacts and old friends. It’s amazing what the universe delivers to you once you stop holding back and put yourself out there. Never stop dreaming!

xoxo

Photo Credit: Juan Guevara’s Flickr Stream

New Video! “Got it Bad” – ZZ Ward Cover by Sarah Sellers & Josh Goode

Over the last few months I’ve been working with Josh Goode from Goode Vibes Music on some original tunes and I am sooo excited to start recording the stuff we’ve written. Tonight we met for our normal writing session and ended up talking about our biggest musical inspirations and who has inspired me the most over the last few months. ZZ Ward has heavily influenced the new material and it seemed only fitting to cover one of my favorite tracks off her mixtape, Eleven Roses! So here it is, about 7 months overdue, a new YouTube cover!

We did one take to capture the rawness that you only get without over rehearsing and over analyzing the song…which can be hard for me to do!

Let me know what you think in the comments below!

GoodBAMMSho’s Coming Out Party at the Live Oak Music Hall & Lounge [Review]

Friday night the Live Oak Music Hall & Lounge hosted the GoodBAMMSho launch party with 4 talented Texas bands, and a whole lotta rock and roll.

The good folks at GoodBAMMSho have been kind enough to post my musical ramblings of some of the best shows coming through the DFW area. So, of course I wouldn’t have missed out on the opportunity to check out some great live music at one of Ft. Worth’s newest venues. First things first, the venue was a perfect choice for the festivities. Equipped with a rooftop patio and enough beers on tap to keep you occupied all night, some sleek decor and a spacious music hall, I might have to add this to my list of places to play soon!

Starting off the night was Dallas’ own, The Red 100’s. The 2011 “Best Blues Act [Dallas Observer]” definitely came to put on a show. The high energy trio made up for the lack of energy in the audience onstage with broken guitar strings & heart pounding tunes. These guys played their asses off.

Drummer Kyle Scheumack started things off vocally before passing the torch to the remaining members throughout the course of the set. Unfortunately the crowd seemed perfectly comfortable in their seats until guitarist Robbie D Love reminded everyone this was a rock show. When you thought they couldn’t get any more energetic they rose to the occasion once everyone decided to stretch their legs and come to the front of the stage.

Meshing a unique blend of blues and rock, even throwing in an ear busting cover of Johnny Be Good, these guys might not be at the top of my list of vocal stewards, but damn they sure can play.

Shifting the night to a more rockabilly/classic rock vibe were Dallas based rockers, The Roomsounds. The first time I saw these guys was at the La Grange in Deep Ellum, opening for Morning Teleportation. I liked them then and I really like them now.

Everything about these guys is in sync. From the opening song, to their denim and boots, you can really feel the synergy of the group down to the last tune. With a new album available for download and a slew of performances scheduled throughout the remainder of 2012, you’ll definitely catch me at another Roomsounds show soon.

What’s Ft. Worth without some country music? The third band of the night, The Will Callers, definitely brought an interesting twist to modern day Americana/Country music. By no means am I an expert on the subject but I will say, these guys had me intrigued from the start.

Once I got past the amazing 50’s inspired look of the band my eyes went directly to guitarist Justin Elliott. From his straw hat to his flaming shoes this guy wins the prize for most animated. Aside from being an amazing musician you could feel the energy he was putting out from the stage.

Not to take away from the rest of the group, this band was magnetic. Finally getting some people out of their seat, lead singer Jake Murphy’s classic voice was laced with the perfect amount of country twang. It’s exciting to come out to local shows and see the massive amount of talent we have in this city, and The Will Callers were no exception.

Closing out a night full of some very talented musicians was Canadian/Austin duo Black Pistol Fire. There’s really no other way I can describe these guys other then simply…amazing.

It’s impossible not to make an immediate comparison to Rock’s favorite duo of the year, The Black Keys, with their gritty guitar and hard pounding drum beats…these guys were something else. In an industry mired with over-production it’s refreshing to see two musicians completely turn a venue inside out with a guitar and set of drums.

Guitarist and frontman Kevin McKeown lit up the stage alongside drummer Eric Owen. Playing so hard to the point Owen knocked over his drums, these guys owned the night. Tearing through a slew of garage rock/blues tunes, remnants of Dan Auerbach and The White Stripes could be heard in McKeown’s vocal chops.

I couldn’t have chosen a better band to close out a great night of local music. Even coming back on stage for an encore these guys knew what the crowd wanted, and they delivered 1000% percent.

Congrats to GoodBAMMSho on their official launch and thanks Mac for putting on a great event! Until next time.

Happy Listening!

 

Guess Who I’m Opening for at the House of Blues Dallas?!

I am so excited to announce I have the amazing opportunity to open for a Grammy Award winning R&B artist at the House of Blues Dallas, September 29th! I’ve been hard at work writing some new material and I can’t wait to perform it for the first time. I’ll be doing a meet and greet after the show so if you’re in the Dallas area come out and say hello!

Click on the video below to find out who I’m opening for!

Sofar Sounds, Songs from a Room: My New Favorite Way to Watch a Show [Review]

Check out my latest review for GoodBAMMSho!

Ahhh the living room. Whether it’s a tiny apartment in NYC or a mini mansion with a 100 inch TV, I would make the assumption that the majority of people spend the better part of their relaxation camped out in the confines of their living room. From movie night to dinner time it’s one of my favorite places to be, so why not invite some of the best local talent to join you.

Sofar Sounds, Songs From a Room, brings secret “pop-up” gigs into the homes of people all over the world. It’s hush hush. So secretive in fact, you don’t even know who’s playing until you walk through the door. This past Saturday I was fortunate to land on the guest list and attend Sofar’s latest event in the small music hub of Denton, TX.

A long stream of cars lined the quiet suburban street with musicians and music lovers filing in with excitement lingering on their faces. When I approached the house my social anxiety started to creep up but was swiftly knocked down by the cordial smiles and friendliness of the Sofar staff. Buckets of ice were waiting by the door for guests to chill their beverages and the regulars were quickly spotted holding their decorative cushions to mask the hard wood floors. This was already one of the coolest things I’ve done in a while.

On the bill for the night’s show were 4 talented acts from Austin, Denton and yes, Portsmouth, UK. First up, UK artist Tom Bertram.

Flanked in some pretty awesome purple socks and a thick British accent, Tom Bertram had the most unbeatable intro of the night.

“Our first performer is a singer songwriter from Portsmouth. He’s performed alongside Noel Gallagher and yes, he’s even performed for the Queen.”

Come to find out he also played for a few Twilight premieres across the pond (cue the swooning of hundreds of teenage girls everywhere). Tom only played a few songs before taking over the duties of MC for the rest of the night and I must say, he did a phenomenal job.

Opening with his first worldwide single, She’s Like a Drug, he immediately reminded me of a young Pete Yorn with his soulful tone and love stricken songs. Ending with his unreleased single You Give me Love, Tom showed off some serious talent and charisma that kept everyone charmed throughout the evening.

Tiny toy pianos, a banjo, stand-up base, accordions, and a lot of creativity came with the next group…Austin based  quartet trio, Haun’s Mill. Husband and wife duo Nord Anderson and Eliza Wren and bassist Courtney Jackson filled the room with their unique musical style that blended a bit of Indie, Folk, Country and yes, “Spaghetti Western” as the band likes to call it.

Eliza’s delicate voice whispered beautifully within tunes that seemed to come from another era. No amps, no speakers and did I mention a mini toy piano?? I was completely transfixed by the instrument of my childhood while Eliza played next to Nord’s soulful voice and Courtney’s bellowing plucks. Brilliant.

Ryan Thomas Becker and Last Joke was definitely my favorite band of the night. The musical foursome had a vibe that was 100% passionate and completely entertaining.

The group’s chemistry was solid throughout the set, trading off bluesy licks with an original Denton feel. The University of North Texas continues to churn out some of the DFW area’s finest local musicians in this small town music hub. With musicians like Ryan Thomas Becker and his friends it definitely won’t stay a hidden gem for long.

One of my favorite tunes from the “Six Songs Written for Our Friends” EP was The Train. Melancholy, raw and emotional, Ryan and the boys left everything out on the living room floor with this performance. The vocals were powerful and the melody flowed perfectly into each string and beat of the drum. Loved it! Not to mention, apparently the Last Joke have “the greatest Tumblr blog ever”….so I guess you better check it out HERE!

Sofar did a great job bringing together 4 unique bands to one room. Each sound meshed perfectly together, making for a pretty cool way to spend a Saturday night.

The Backwater Opera is definitely one of the quirkiest groups I’ve seen live. With their playful banter and curious musical inspirations, “this is a song about a sandwich”, the group closed out the show with infectious grooves comprised of bluegrass and classical music.

Besides the fact that the group was funny and engaging, these guys and gals were some kick ass musicians. Playing a hand full of instrumentals this group really showcases the amazing talent this small town has to offer. Marisa Korth had an insane tonality that showcased her bluegrass roots next to Robert Sherwood and Carlo Canlas’ harmonies. Crazy talented and an overall fun group to see.

Thanks Sofar Sounds for spoiling me into thinking I need to see every band now in the comfort of my own living room. Check out their website and get on the waiting list, the experience is an absolute must!

Until the next show! Happy Listening!

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