News From Hemifran December 2015

Hemifrån is an independent A&R, promotion and marketing company, based in the heart of Sweden, specializing in, what they call, “gut music” – The kind of music that you can feel in your gut, no matter what. Hemifran is promoting a lot of singer-songwriter, westcoast-pop, country, AOR and more. Here are featured some of their latest news – it is not all west coast, but dig into it!

bloom

Echo Bloom – Blue (Songs & Whispers)

After bouncing between Washington DC, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, Echo Bloom’s founder, Kyle Evans eventually caught the muse he was searching for in Berlin. Completely submerged in the German culture, Evans found inspiration in dusty libraries along the Spree and long, quiet bike rides through the city. He holed up in an apartment and woodshedded for months, the seclusion allowing him the perfect environment to completely focus on his work. After a few months, he left Germany with material for three records. Because each album seemed to fit into slightly different genres, Evans began thinking about them as different seasons, different countries and finally, different colors. ‘Blue’ would be the more folk-oriented of the group, ‘Red’ would be more country rock, and ‘Green’ would be more classic pop.

Finally taking root in Brooklyn, Evans drew on his diverse background, including a stint focusing on electro-acoustic recording, a home-grown love of 60’s surf rock, and a deep and abiding passion for Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals to create the intricately layered and carefully composed tracks of the albums “Blue”, “Red” and “Green”. The group continued to blossom into a robust touring ensemble visiting Europe the first time in 2014. That quintet adds Aviva Jaye on alto vocals and piano, Jason Mattis on bass, and Cody Rahm on percussion. Echo Bloom will be touring “Blue” in November of 2015 and “Red” in Summer 2016 across Europe and the US. “Green” and the music film “Blue Shift” will be available in 2017. More information at Hemifran.

krokoff

Scott Krokoff – Realizations & Declarations, Vol. 2

With a rich and melodic sound drawn primarily from his love of 60’s and 70’s music, New Yorker Scott Krokoff (pronounce Crow-Cough) weaves elements of folk, rock and country pop into confessional and compelling americana. He is an evocative and introspective songwriter, and a deft finger-picker in the vein of James Taylor and Paul Simon with “an edge of Replacements styled alt rock to his strum” (Hiplanta).

While he has supported his young family as an active lawyer, Scott is adamant that one should never put a shelf life on his or her dreams. As such, many of Scott’s songs are about not giving up and pursuing what you love. 2007’s ‘A Better Life’ and 2012’s ‘Realizations and Declarations, Vol 1’ both brimmed with lovely and tuneful revelations that proselytized the art of taking risks in life.

Scott’s latest record, 2015’s ‘Realizations & Declarations Vol 2’, has thus far received rave reviews praising Scott’s “terrific imaginative powers” (Bearded Magazine), and his “graceful tales of morality and perseverance” (The Vinyl District), with “melodies that’ll have you humming for days” (Nooga), and “music in the vein of 60’s and 70’s songsmiths, but also recalling hot up-and-comers like Father John Misty” (PopDose).

One of Scott’s favorite experiences was when his biggest fan flew him from New York to Belgium at his expense to play his 10th year wedding anniversary. That fan later explained to Scott that he was so inspired by his music, he felt compelled to revive his own musical dreams. Scott’s situation is proof positive that if you really want to, you’ll find a way. More information at Hemifran.

Nazametz

Judy Nazemetz – Variety Park

Judy Nazemetz found her niche in New York City when she entered the world of improvisation and discovered she had a talent for instantly making up blues songs, rap songs, songs in the style of Stephen Sondheim, folk songs, songs in whatever genre and subject the audience shouted out. She improvised operettas, rock operas, Broadway musicals. Everything created on the spot, nothing ever written, and everything forgotten as soon as it was performed.

It wasn’t until one day, years later, after Judy had moved from New York to the Los Angeles improv scene (and, starting to unpack, she found a blank notebook and a pencil that actually had a point on it) that Judy began writing songs. She ended up with an album of 12 genres of music and a garage-full of still unpacked boxes.

Judy enlisted producer and bass player extraordinaire Chad Watson to put the album together. From their first meeting at a Starbucks in LA’s Topanga Canyon, where she explained to Chad how she needed each song to come across in its own different style (Chad nodding ever so politely, finally saying “wait, polka?”), to the project’s end, they knew they were meant to work together. Chad brought in Brad Swanson as engineer and percussionist, and then brought in the finest musicians in Los Angeles, and beyond, and ”Variety Pak” was born.

Judy’s sung in musicals, on commercials, on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (with and without Jim Carrey), with Fred Willard, Marty Stuart and for the legendary Mike Stoller when she sang the lead in the Broadway workshops of his show “The People In The Picture”. She’s appeared with Ellen DeGeneres in her sitcoms, in movies and in over 100 television shows and commercials. With the release of her debut album, ”Variety Pak”, Judy brings together all of her writing, comedy, performance, musical theatre and life experience into a single fun-filled package. More information at Hemifran.

Nichols

Penny Nichols – Golden State

Like many musicians in the Sixties, Penny Nichols started her career as a folksinger in coffeehouses around Orange County, CA. She shared stages with many legendary artists such as Jackson Browne, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Linda Ronstadt, Jennifer Warnes, Mary McCaslin and many others. In 1964 & 1965 she sang in a bluegrass band with John, Bill & Alice McEuen (John then took Jackson Browne’s place in the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and the rest is history) and then formed a duo with Kathy Smith called the Greasy Mountain Butterballs which toured Vietnam in the fall of 1966. Upon returning, she opened the show for numerous artists at the Troubadour and the Ash Grove in Hollywood.

In the spring of 1967, Penny rode up to San Francisco on the back of a Harley motorcycle and decided to stay in the bay area for a while. She performed in concerts and clubs all over the bay area including: the Fillmore, the Avalon, the Matrix and opened for bands such as Big Brother & the Holding Co, Steve Miller, Quicksilver Messenger Service, 13th Floor Elevators, Chocolate Watchband, Jefferson Airplane and others. During the “Summer of Love”, Penny played at the Big Sur Folk Festival and recorded her first album, “Penny’s Arcade”, for Buddha Records. (It eventually sold over 50,000 copies) After touring the U.S. promoting her album in the fall, she toured Europe in the winter of 1968, staying with George & Patty Harrison and recording at Apple Studios while in London. More information at Hemifran.

rel_16.01.15_Garlin

Rachel Garlin – Wink at July

In the 7 years since the 2008 release of “Bound To Be Mountains”, Rachel Garlin moved back to her home state of California from New York City, got married, had a baby, then another, and was serendipitously offered a job as a music teacher at a local school. Given the fullness of this period of time (new motherhood, a new day job, and a new city) it’s a wonder that her 5th album, “Wink At July”, happened at all. But the songs kept coming and fortuitously for Garlin, located just two short blocks from her home, was San Francisco’s renowned Decibelle Studio, a longstanding studio space steeped in real music by real people and the setting was perfect for her latest effort.

“Wink At July” takes the listener on a journey from the Berkeley Hills to the Isles of Scotland (her mother’s homeland), from Keith Haring’s graffiti to the studio of an elusive artist, from Gwendolyn Brooks poetry to letters and words exchanged between friends and loved ones. Collaborators on the album included Michael Urbano (John Hiatt, Smash Mouth), Prairie Prince (Journey, Chris Isaak, John Fogerty), as well as Garlin’s longtime bandmates Julie Wolf (Ani DiFranco, Indigo Girls) and Jon Evans (Tori Amos, Sarah McLachlan.) “Wink At July”, continues in the vein of Garlin’s trademark “story songs” that won her past notable accolades at The Newport Folk Festival Talent Search (1st place), The New York Songwriter’s Circle and as a twice finalist in the Telluride Bluegrass Festival Troubadour contest. More information at Hemifran.

snowapple

Snowapple – Illusion

Sometimes the hardest part of telling a story is choosing what to leave out. The three young Dutch women who make up Snowapple have done a lot of living, more so than many musicians twice their age. Dig beneath the surface of this earthy, almost unassuming, folk and chanson trio, and you’ll find a tangle of rich and varied life experiences.

Laurien has an international career as an opera singer, but also finds time to moonlight with gypsy-punk groups, model the outfits of up-and-coming Dutch fashion designer Mo Benchellal and read post-graduate physics at the University of Amsterdam.

Una is a talented jazz singer who has worked with numerous bands from across the Netherlands and France. She is also the daughter of the celebrated and much-loved South African jazz saxophonist and composer, Sean Bergin (1948-2012), who first found notoriety by performing illegally with black township musicians in defiance of the apartheid regime.

Laura is a singer, composer and conductor from Latvia who has lived and worked as a musician in the Netherlands since 2007. Her musical background of Latvian folk music and 12 years of European academic music studies complements a strong interest in modern jazz and the popular music of Brazil, along with a more recent exploration of singer-songwriter compositions. Laura was awarded the Best Composition Prize in the 2012 Dutch Jazz Competition.

Together they are Snowapple, a group that ambitiously draws upon markedly different musical genres to create a uniquely eclectic yet wholly natural sound. Their eponymous debut album (released in 2013 on V2 Records in BeNeLux, Debt Records in the UK and Zip Records in the US) is beautiful and beguiling in equal measure, full of catchy pop-folk numbers punctuated by excursions into the darker and more romantic side of the human condition.

Their new album, “Illusions”, shows a marked growth and experimentation in the band’s repertoire, and has a richer, more developed sound. For this album they worked with a wide range of producers and musicians, including Joeri Saal (Studio 150), Roald van Oosten (Ceasar, Ghosttrucker), Chris Hamilton (Eek Recordings), Alan Purves (Dazzled Kid), Dave Menckenhorst (Sir Yes Sir, Miss Molly and Me), Daniel Schaub (Jack Beauregard). The band is on a continual whistle-stop tour of continental Europe, UK and USA. More information at Hemifran.

webb

Wendy Webb – This Is The Moment

American singer-songwriter Wendy Webb releases her 4th album, ”This Is The Moment”.

Reminiscent of classic records by Jackson Browne, Joni Mitchell and Norah Jones, Webb takes you on a journey with her poetic lyrics by fusing elements of folk, pop, jazz and blues while creating her own style. Webb’s debut album, ”Morning In New York”, won critical acclaim in 2003 and was followed by recordings of live solo performances on her first vinyl album, ”Moon On Havana”, in 2010. 2 years later she released ”Edge Of Town” along with her first music video, “Has To Be My Birthday”. ”This Is The Moment” was produced by Danny Morgan and John McLane, and was mastered by Chris Bellman, who has worked with artists such as Neil Young, Carole King, Elton John, Ricky Lee Jones, Van Halen and many more.

Wendy Webb has received honors in the ’John Lennon Songwriting Contest’ as well as the ’Lilith Fair Songwriting Competition’. In November 2013, Webb played to a sold out crowd at Herb Strauss Theatre in Florida and returned recently to celebrate the completion of her latest album, ”This Is The Moment”, released in the US in 2015. Originally from Iowa, Webb now resides in Florida and has also performed in Cuba, Paris, and New York.

Webb has produced 3 videos for ”This Is The Moment”, beginning with the single “Venus Is Rocking In The Cradle Of the Moon”, followed by “Florida” with live concert footage and photography. ”Long Day In The Sun” images come from a trip to the old walled city of Cartagena, Colombia. In her recent video, Webb combines elements from her trips to Cuba in 2007 and 2008 where she first recorded the song “Moon On Havana”. Visiting Cuba inspired her to write and record her second album, ”Moon On Havana”.

In March 2015, Webb was invited by the US Florida House on Capitol Hill in Washington DC to perform her song “Florida” for members and distinguished guests. Webb received a standing ovation following her performance at the historic Decatur House in Washington April 30th, 2015. Webb returned to Herb Strauss Theater, Sanibel, Florida on November 15th, 2015 for her ’November Moon’ concert. She is currently working on her next album, ”Step Out Of Line”, to be released on Spooky Moon Records in 2016. More information at Hemifran.

About the author

Good music enriches your life. At BLUE DESERT we are passionate about this particular yet wide-ranging style of music we call West Coast Music. This site is a modest tribute to the music and the performing artists, who through the (many) years have given us - and continue to give us - endless hours of musical enjoyment. As long-time fans we want to share our enthusiasm, experiences and views with fellow connoisseurs as well as curious newcomers. If we can do our bit to help promote this great music and all the gifted artist – well, then we have succeeded.