Virginia Artists

Caroline Weinroth: Pageant Queen/ Rock Star

Caroline Weinroth performing with Cinema Hearts. Photo by Ethan Sahlin.

Can someone actually be the lead singer, electric guitarist and songwriter for a rock band while at the same time serving as a titleholder for the Miss Virginia/Miss America organization? If your name is Caroline Weinroth, the answer is yes!

Originally from Fairfax, Virginia, Caroline is currently a graduate student at George Mason University and is pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing, with a concentration in Poetry. She also earned her undergraduate degree from George Mason in Theater Performance and Audio Engineering.

While Caroline was an undergraduate at George Mason, she formed a band called Cinema Hearts with her brother Erich Weinroth. This is how Caroline describes her band: “A pageant queen fronts a rock ‘n’ roll band: Haunting harmonies soar over electric guitar in Cinema Hearts’ tribute to the Wall of Sound.”

Caroline’s Cinema Hearts band was selected “Best Local Band 2017” by Northern Virginia Magazine last year and the band has recorded two albums during their career. Cinema Hearts regularly tours at concert venues around the Northern Virginia/DC/Maryland area and also has played in major east coast cities such as New York, Philadelphia and Richmond.

In addition to her leadership with Cinema Hearts, Caroline is also a pageant queen. Last year, she served as Miss Mountain Laurel 2017 and then competed in the Miss Virginia 2017 state pageant. Then in February earlier this year, Caroline won the Miss Northern Virginia 2018 title and will be competing in the Miss Virginia 2018 pageant next month in Lynchburg, Virginia.

Being the front woman for a rock band is not always an easy thing. One prime example of the type of hardship Caroline has encountered is gender discrimination. Three years ago Caroline was on a family vacation in Corona, California and touring the Fender guitar factory when she faced an extreme dose of sexism.

Caroline Weinroth. Photo by Ethan Sahlin.

Caroline describes the Fender factory experience on her blog: “I wore my She Shreds t-shirt and told the tour guide how happy I was to be at the factory, because I play a Fender Jaguar. Instead of welcoming me and treating me like the other older men guitarists in our tour group, the tour guide said, “Wow, you really play? Chicks who play are so cool.” He prodded me the whole tour, testing me with hard questions about pick-ups and gear and telling me my Modern Player Jaguar was not a “real Fender instrument.” It was hard to be reminded at the place where my favorite guitars are made, ‘You’re not part of the boys’ club’. Later that day, I cried in a hotel bathroom and wrote the lyrics to “Fender Factory.”

The song Caroline wrote that day, “Fender Factory” has become one of Cinema Hearts most popular songs. Caroline plays her Fender electric guitar with this tune as she sings the chorus, “Doesn’t make me wanna buy a Strat, when you talk to me like that.” The song has a catchy new wave/punk groove and features a guitar solo by Caroline during the middle part of the tune. The song absolutely rocks!

Although both men and women love the “Fender Factory” song, it especially resonates with women who have faced sexism not only in music but also with other areas in their lives. Here is a video of “Fender Factory” when Cinema Hearts played the song in Brooklyn, New York during March 2018:

For the upcoming Miss Virginia 2018 pageant, Caroline’s community service platform is Music Empowerment, a movement to create civic change through music education and performance.

On Caroline’s website she states what her goal is when she competes in the pageant: “My platform is Music Empowerment, because I believe that music has the power to impact individuals and communities. I advocate for women and girls in music by performing with my band, speaking at music events, and collaborating with arts groups. One of my favorite groups I’ve volunteered with was Girls Rock Roanoke, a music camp for girls in Roanoke, Virginia.”

Caroline Weinroth – Miss Northern Virginia 2018. Photo by Carlos Velez.

With the Miss Virginia 2018 pageant happening next month, Caroline will be singing and playing her electric guitar during the talent part of the competition. I am not sure if there has ever been a Miss Virginia contestant to play a guitar for the talent section of the competition before, but I am excited that Caroline will get the opportunity to play her Fender guitar next month in Lynchburg.

You can vote for Caroline to win the Miss Virginia “People’s Choice” award here.

Both the 2017 Cinema Hearts album “Burned and Burnished” and the 2016 debut album “Feels Like Forever” are available for streaming and purchase with Bandcamp, iTunes, Spotify, and Amazon.

In reviewing Caroline’s mission of music empowerment, she already promotes that type of activity through her Miss Northern Virginia 2018 functions and also with the leadership of her Cinema Hearts band.

Cinema Hearts performing. Photo by Ethan Sahlin.

No matter the outcome of the Miss Virginia pageant 2018 next month, I am confident that Caroline Weinroth will continue to be a positive role model for music empowerment throughout the commonwealth of Virginia.

To subscribe to my blog via email, please click the “Follow” button in the menu above. I am looking forward reading your comments on my latest blog message. Rock on!

 

 

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Music, Retro Rock

1978: The Greatest Year In Music?

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1978 albums I bought at Speakertree Record Shop in Lynchburg, VA.

When I first saw the title of an NPR article, “40 Years Later: Was 1978 The Greatest Year In Music?” I immediately thought that the writers of this commentary about music from 1978 were absolutely absurd. To even consider the possibility that 1978 was among the greatest years in modern music history sounded utterly ridiculous to this fellow.

As a student at James Madison University and having lived through the 1978 music scene, disco ruled as the most popular genre of music that year. Disco songs spent 30 out of the 52 weeks at the number 1 position of the Billboard Hot 100 during that year. Bees Gees, Andy Gibb, Bee Gees, Donna Summer (and did I mention Bee Gees?) all dominated popular music in America. Even the Rolling Stones hit number 1 with a disco record “Miss You” during 1978 for crying out loud!

For many music fans, the disco era was a low point in the recording industry and it was amazing that NPR (or anyone else) considered 1978 to be the greatest year in music. So I started thinking: Let me investigate the music released in 1978. Maybe I was missing something?

So I submit to you that there were actually some great albums and singles released during 1978. As the NPR article stated, “Kate Bush, The Cars, Devo, Dire Straits, The B-52’s, The Police, Buzzcocks and Van Halen released their debut albums” 40 years ago. Disco may have been king in 1978 but new rock artists emerged during this year.

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Speakertree Record Shop in Lynchburg, VA

So I have come up with a listing of worthy top albums and singles from 1978. There are no ranking with my lists and music is listed in a random order. Many of the singles I am listing were not big Top 40 hits but are significant songs by these artists (and much better than the all of the disco songs that were hits during 1978).

“This Year’s Model” album by Elvis Costello and the Attractions: One of the most critically acclaimed albums from 1978 features the single “Pump it Up” which has one of the best rhythm sections from the 70’s and helped to bring Costello into the forefront of the new wave genre of music.

“More Songs About Building and Foods” album by Talking Heads: Released during the fall of 1978, the band’s cover of Al Green’s “Take Me to the River” became the first Top 30 hit for the group. Also in early 1978, a song from the Talking Heads ‘77 debut album entitled “Psycho Killer” was released as a single. This signature debut hit has one of the best bass lines in rock history.

“Outlandos d’Amour” album by The Police: The debut album by the rock trio mixes reggae, punk and rock that many considered “new wave” and has the memorable single “Roxanne.” Also on the album are “Can’t Stand Losing You” and “So Lonely” that helped to define the music output by the English band.

“Easter” album by Patti Smith Group: One of the leaders of the punk rock movement, the “Easter” album became her most successful with religious imagery from the Christian faith. Smith’s song “Because the Night”, that was co-written by Bruce Springsteen, was the biggest hit single during her career.

“Darkness on the Edge of Town” album by Bruce Springsteen: Since I mentioned Springsteen above, this is the appropriate place to mention that the 1978 album was the follow up to the landmark signature album “Born To Run” from 1975. The Boss delivers three of his best songs ever on this album: “The Promised Land,” “Badlands” and “Prove It All Night.”

“The Last Waltz” album by The Band: Although The Band’s last concert was on Thanksgiving Day 1976, the soundtrack for “The Last Waltz” was not released until 1978. Joining The Band for this historic concert were Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Emmylou Harris, Neil Young, Eric Clapton, The Staple Singers and a few other artists. In my humble opinion, the best overall rock album released during 1978.

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Stardust by Wille Nelson, a record I purchased at Speakertree Record Shop in Lynchburg, VA

 “Stardust” album by Willie Nelson: The “Outlaw Country” music artist switched gears in 1978 and recorded an album of early 20th century American pop standards by famous composers such as Irving Berlin and George Gershwin. Nelson had lots of music variety with different genres on the album: jazz, pop, folk and country. Interpretations of “Georgia on My Mind”, “Blue Skies” and “Stardust” provided Nelson with new respect in the eyes of fans across multiple categories of music.

In the singles only category, there are 4 songs I want to highlight from 1978 that are memorable but were not hits in America: “I Wanna Be Sedated” by The Ramones, “Wuthering Heights” by Kate Bush, “Rock Lobster” by The B-52’s and “Surrender” by Cheap Trick. All four of those songs are more substantial than just about all of the top 10 disco hits that charted on the Billboard Hot 100 during 1978.

Although I do not agree with NPR and their hypothesis that 1978 was the greatest year for music, I also can’t totally dismiss the entire year as musically wasted. I do submit that 1978 had many albums and individual single songs that merit consideration as some of the best music to be released during the late 70’s. 1978 is not the greatest year in music history but it does have some excellent tunes that stand the test of time.

To subscribe to my blog via email, please click the “Follow” button in the menu above. I am looking forward reading your comments on the music from 1978. Rock on!

 

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Music

Gibson Guitars: End of an Era?

Gibson Guitars on display at Kelley’s Music in Roanoke, Virginia

Last Tuesday, Gibson guitars filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and announced that the company plans to continue guitar production in the foreseeable future while under bankruptcy protection. Gibson Guitars started in 1902 and continues to be one of the largest guitar makers in America.

According to an article by Jonathan Mattise of the Associated Press, “Gibson guitars have been such a fixture in music history that Chuck Berry was laid to rest with his, B.B. King affectionately named his “Lucille” and Eric Clapton borrowed one from George Harrison to play the solo on the Beatles’ ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps.’”

One of Gibson’s most famous guitars is the legendary “Les Paul” SG (Solid Guitar). Les Paul was one of the pioneers of the solid-body electric guitar and the guitar named after him became one of the most popular selling guitars during the 50’s and early 60’s.

According to the Gibson Guitars website, Les Paul withdrew the endorsement of his guitar in 1960 and the company renamed the “Les Paul SG” to “Gibson SG” in 1961.   Then in 1968, Les Paul partnered once again with Gibson and guitars with the Les Paul name are still being made here in 2018.

The Gibson SG remains the biggest selling guitar with the Gibson Guitar Company. The SG model has become a rock standard but it is also a favorite guitar of choice for other types of musical genres including jazz, blues, and country.

The list of rock musicians who have played Gibson guitars during their careers seems endless with many of the performers being members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Here are just a few of the many names that you may have heard of before: Chuck Berry, Jack Bruce, Eric Clapton, Sheryl Crow, Bob Dylan, The Edge, Dave Grohl, George Harrison, Joan Jett, BB King, John Lennon, Bob Marley, Paul McCartney, Jimmy Page, Keith Richards, Carlos Santana, Pete Townshend, Eddie Van Halen, Joe Walsh, and Neil Young.

More Gibson Guitars on display at Kelley’s Music in Roanoke, Virginia

Many famous musicians play Gibson guitars, but I’m most curious about my readers’ experiences with these guitars.

If you own a Gibson guitar, who kind do you own? Are you satisfied with the Gibson guitar you own and would you buy another Gibson in the future?

For those that own other brands of guitars like Fender, Takamine or any other kind of guitar other than Gibson? Would you buy another guitar of the brand you currently own?

My final question for any guitar players: Do you have any stories about your guitar and how it has special meaning to you?

To subscribe to my blog via email, please click the “Follow” button in the menu above. I am looking forward reading your thoughts and stories on guitars. As always, rock on!

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Virginia Artists

Adele Marie Music: “No, I’m Not Done”

Adele Marie, "What it Was About You"

“What it Was About You” album artwork. Art credit: Adele Marie

As the title of my blog indicates, I will be writing about various musical topics within my local sphere of interest here in Virginia as well as giving my perspective on the historical aspects of popular music. I will also be giving out information and critiquing musical concerts that I attend from time to time. Hang on to your hats and welcome to my ride.

For my first blog of 2018, I am featuring Virginia artist Adele Marie. I want to say right up front that Virginia’s Adele Marie is not to be confused with the British singer-songwriter Adele who is known for hits like “Rolling in the Deep”, “Someone Like You” and “Hello.”

Adele Marie spent her high school years in Roanoke, Virginia before heading off to college. She attended Shenandoah Conservatory of Music and then received a Bachelor of music degree at Radford University with a concentration in music therapy, classical guitar and voice. Currently Adele Marie is residing in Alexandria, Virginia.

Last Christmas, Adele Marie released a ten song album “What It Was About You.” The album features 10 songs and is available for streaming or purchase online.

I am going to be focusing on one of Adele Marie’s newest songs, “No, I’m Not Done” for the rest of this blog as I viewed a video of her tune that she released on YouTube last weekend.

After I viewed this video, I asked Adele Marie about her lyrics and the message of her new song. She replied, “This song is about letting someone go, but still feeling deeply emotional about that person. It also resonates with the challenges of being a highly sensitive and empathetic person in a relationship.”

Obviously, the message of “No, I’m Not Done” resonates with anyone having gone through a similar situation in a relationship. Another positive aspect of Adele Marie’s song is the music and vocals with her new tune.

When viewing the video, I love that fact that Adele Marie starts off playing an electric guitar and then accompanies herself by playing the keyboard. The tune has a new age/folk quiet groove that produces an almost magical, dreamy flow. Adele Marie’s vocals bring forth emotions of both angst and reluctance with an almost hypnotic, yet soothing appeal.

The other aspect that I like about the video is the swirling visuals behind Adele Marie that gives the film clip a psychedelic feel. Plus the double box feature on the video also is visually pleasing to the eye.

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Art credit: Adele Marie

I hope you will check out Adele Marie’s music after reading about her and listening to her music either here on my blog and/or via the Internet. As I wrap up my first blog, I hope you liked my musical musing on Adele Marie. Please feel free to share your thoughts on my blog and any comments on my featured artist and her music.

 

Until my next post: Rock on!

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Retro Rock

Retro Rock

Friday night provided an interesting event for me as I attended a retro rock concert featuring Styx, Foreigner and Don Felder.  It was a surreal happening as the mostly baby boomer crowd seemed to enjoy all aspects of this retrograde concert.  I would guess that 50 would be the medium age of those who attended this blast from the past.

First up for the night was Don Felder and his band.  Felder was a member of the Eagles, started his set with “Already Gone” and then played other Eagles’ classics such as “One of These Nights”, “Those Shoes” and “Witchy Woman.”  For his last song, Felder invited Styx member Tommy Shaw to sing and play guitar for “Hotel California.”  Shaw and Felder’s guitar playing for the instrumental ending of “Hotel California” was superb.  After the completion of Felder’s set, I wondered why the Eagles and Felder couldn’t patch up their differences and play as a unified band once again?  I guess I can always dream.

Next up was Styx.  Of the three groups, Styx put on the best show and provided good entertainment along with sounding tight with their music and vocals. My favorite song of the night was “Renegade.”  Tommy Shaw and James Young are the only 2 original members of Styx still with the band but the other newer members compliment Shaw and Young in a positive way.  The one thing that is missing from Styx is original member Dennis De Young.  Apparently Shaw and De Young had a “falling out” and De Young will not have anything to do with Styx. It is a shame because Styx did not play any of their biggest hits  (“Best of Times”, “Babe” or Mr. Roboto”) during the concert because they are Dennis De Young’s songs.  It sure would be nice if Shaw and De Young could “bury the hatchet” and unite together again in Styx.  I guess I can always dream.

Last to hit the stage was Foreigner.  I am going to say right up front that this band misses Lou Gramm, the former lead vocalist for Foreigner.  The current lead vocalist has a nice voice but is no Lou Gramm.  Mick Jones is the only original member still with the band and he only played on the last four songs at the end of their set.  It felt like I was watching a Foreigner “tribute” band.  The highlights of their set included “Juke Box Hero”, the saxophone playing in “Urgent” and “I Want To Know What Love Is”, which featured a local choir to sing the chorus.  I sure do wish that Gramm and Jones could get back together for a Foreigner reunion tour.  I guess I can always dream.

My final observations on the crowd:   At a 1980 Styx concert, the smell of pot would have been in the air.  In 2014, the crowd gets high drinking 9 dollar cans of beer and all smoking is banned.

At a 1980 Foreigner concert, girls sat on their boyfriend’s shoulders dancing to the music.  In 2014,  drunk women dance by themselves, with horrible form, oblivious to anyone around, how bad they look……..and they just keep on dancing.

At a Don Felder/Eagles concert in 1980, people would use bic lighters to try and entice an encore performance.  In 2014, people  use their smart phone light to encourage an encore.

Old rockers don’t die, just just fade away.

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AT40

Casey Kasem Memories

It was sad to hear the news today that legendary radio voice Casey Kasem passed away at age 82. Kasem was the voice of American Top 40 from the beginning with the first show aired on July 4th, 1970.  He continued to be the voice of AT40 until his last show on July 4th, 2009.

When WBLU Salem started running AT40, I used to try and listen to the show every week. Kasem would count down the 40 biggest songs on the Billboard Hot 100 and I would always hear how songs were charting nationally compared to the two Top 40 stations in the Roanoke area (WBLU and WROV Roanoke).  As a whole, WROV generally added songs earlier than TOP 40 powerhouse stations like WLS Chicago and WABC New York, so the AT40 countdown each week tended to be a little bit behind what the top ten songs were in Roanoke.

Here are the songs that Casey Kasem played on the first AT40 show on July 4th, 1970:

AMERICAN TOP 40 – JULY 4, 1970
40 Marvin Gaye – The End Of Our Road
39 Mark Lindsay – Silver Bird
38 Eric Burdon and War – Spill The Wine
37 Crabby Appleton – Go Back
36 B.J. Thomas – I Just Can’t Help Believing
35 Aretha Franklin – Spirit In The Dark
34 John Phillips – Mississippi
33 The Flaming Ember – Westbound #9
32 The Four Tops – It’s All In The Game
31 The 5th Dimension – Save The Country
30 Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young – Ohio
29 Ray Stevens – Everything Is Beautiful
28 The Impressions – Check Out Your Mind!
27 The Moody Blues – Question
26 Stevie Wonder – Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours
25 The Archies – Sugar, Sugar
24 Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young – Teach Your Children
23 The Poppy Family – Which Way You Goin’ Billy?
Oldie: Bill Cosby – Little Ole Man
22 The Moments – Love On A Two-Way Street
21 Mountain – Mississippi Queen
20 Bread – Make It With You
19 Pacific Gas and Electric – Are You Ready?
18 Charles Wright and The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band – Love Land
17 Alive ‘N Kickin’ – Tighter, Tighter
16 White Plains – My Baby Loves Lovin’
15 Miguel Rios – A Song Of Joy
Oldie: Louis Armstrong – Hello, Dolly!
14 Brotherhood Of Man – United We Stand
13 Rare Earth – Get Ready
12 The Five Stairsteps – O-o-h Child
11 The Pipkins – Gimme Dat Ding
10 Vanity Fair – Hitchin’ A Ride
Oldie: Blood, Sweat, and Tears – Spinning Wheel
09 Elvis Presley – The Wonder Of You
08 The Beatles – The Long And Winding Road
07 The Carpenters – (They Long To Be) Close To You
06 Melanie- Lay Down (Candles In The Rain)
05 Freda Payne – Band Of Gold
04 Blues Image – Ride Captain Ride
03 The Temptations – Ball Of Confusion (That’s What The World Is Today)
02 The Jackson 5 – The Love You Save
Oldie: The Rolling Stones – (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
01 Three Dog Night – Mama Told Me (Not To Come)  ** 1 week @ no. 1 **
As you can tell, Top 40 radio had a lot of variety during the summer of 1970.  Thank you Casey Kasem for bringing the top songs to us every week on American Top 40.  You will be missed!

What are your memories of Casey Kasem and American Top 40?  Were you a regular listener of AT40 at some point in your life?

Since this is my first blog, I am interested in hearing your comments in relation to my musical musings.   I welcome your thoughts and hope you will follow my blog as we explore musical history together.  As Casey Kasem once said, “And don’t forget: keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.

 

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