The Big Apple Indie Music Series

Last week was beyond busy for me. It started out on Tuesday when I was on the set of The Blacklist. My car had a bigger part than me, but I was fine with that. Then on Wednesday I headed to a SAG Foundation CAP event by casting director Jeffrey Vigneault after meeting with my friend Mary Clem, who is helping me write a monologue.

The busy week continued on Thursday when I attended a SAG-AFTRA Conservatory class with Geany Masai who worked with us on cold copy auditioning for TV and Film. She was awesome. I had to leave the class early to run to my TAP NYC troupe meeting to try out my newly written monologue called “The Retired Dancer.”

Then Friday took me to The Big Apple Indie Music Series (TBAIMS) after Jon Landers invited me to discover and cover this event. So, that’s going to be the focus of this week’s column. TBAIMS was held at LQ (Latin Quarters) on Lexington Ave. in NYC. The focus of the event was on five different artist groups who were the chosen few who took to the stage to showcase their talents.

“I am committed and focused,” remarked Jon when we chatted. “Music is international and it is the best therapy for any issue in life.”

Last week I talked about RAW, which is an event for artists of all kinds. Well, TBAIMS is for musicians. As Jon noted, it’s “a monthly event designed to support the independent music artists of all genres by providing them with a platform and venue to perform a 20-minute live set in front of music, entertainment, television and film industry executives that attend our events each month.”

Jon started TBAIMS in 1999. As a former drummer he knows what it’s like to attempt to stand out amongst the sea of talent (good and bad) in the music world. So, his goal was to create this event that would allow selected artists to gain visibility.

More recently, Jon partnered with Brian Jaccoma of TalentArmy.com who has been working in Music, Film and Television since he was 16 years old. His business claim to fame is helping Cablevision grow into a billion dollar cable empire.

Thanks for Jon Reverbnation was pulled into the mix and they chose one artist from over 2500 monthly applicants to be one of the performers for the night.

Brian’s accolades are many and his awards come from projects he’s either produced or been involved with in the United States, Japan and Europe. The awards include an Academy Award® for "Tango," an Emmy® in Special Effects for "The Orchestra," among numerous others.

His film "Briefly Brian" was awarded the Cannes Gold Lion (1st Place) in the festival and was seen on HBO. Brian is proud of having helped artists secure several major record deals. He has worked with legendary Rock Stars, and Rock And Roll Hall of Famers, KISS, and many more.These days Brian is the CEO of TalentArmy.com, he helps connect artists to music executives.

Among those performing was a band named Sylvana, who I give high marks to because when she heard I’d be there she made a point of keeping in touch with me. It’s a given that if you want to succeed you can’t just focus on your craft but also on ensuring you have a good marketing plan and I give Sylvana an A+ for understanding and being pro-active.

In the first contact she had with me, Sylvana remarked, “I'm excited to announce that the band will be starting a collectible thematic poster series that play on the latter half of our band name ‘The Moment.’ The first of the poster series is ‘Sylvana Joyce and The Moment...of Exposure’ as a promotion for the Big Apple Indie Music Series showcase.

Sylvana even has a plan to promote the poster. “The first poster is designed/illustrated by me, and will be distributed around Manhattan. We're hoping it will introduce new fans to the band through art pieces that stand on their own, and create intrigue about both the band and the shows we play. Referenced in the first poster is the figure from the Belgian surrealist painting ‘Son of Man’ by Rene Margritte, a man with a trench coat and bowler hat, with a face obscured by an apple. I thought it was a great allusion to the concept of the elusive/hidden and the exposed, not to mention that the sponsor of the industry event is The Big Apple Indie Music Series.”

I included so much about the poster in this column because I think artists need to see examples of how other artists think outside the box and even learn from these ideas so that they come up with some of their own.

Of course, Sylvana has big hopes for their appearance and commented, “we’re hoping the showcase will build more buzz about us in the industry; our live show is our biggest asset and hope to wow fans and suits alike.

The band’s performance was “wow” and did electrify the audience. In addition to Sylvana playing the piano the other band members made the room echo with their incredible musical talents. For more about the band, you can read the Huffington Post feature article written about them http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jaime-lubin/bohemian-rhapsody-indie-b_b_3660624.html.

But before I move on I’d like to give you a few more details about Sylvana Joyce. A native New Yorker, this gal was only a wee tot of four years old when she started writing songs. She wrote what she calls “scribbles on construction paper with crayola markers.”

Over the years she performed in several Broadway productions that forced her to drop out of school. Ultimately, she chose to return to finish her studies and graduated from Boston University, majoring in music education and piano performance at their conservatory.

Her band, Sylvana Joyce +The Moment, was founded in 2010 with her childhood friend/violinist Sean-David Cunningham. Her songs are a mix of Blues Rock and Romanian Folk music. In 2013, she beat out over 160 contestants in Waltz-Astoria's Ultimate Singer-Songwriter Competition (TUSSC5), which immediately moved her career forward.

Since then they have performed in over 15 festivals. She is best known for her hit single, "The Break," which was featured on the NBC TV Show "Jimmy Lloyd Songwriter Showcase.”

Others who were showcased included Cold Roses who performed their old-style country blend of rock n’ roll, blues, soul and americana music. This group is truly cool high energy and it was clear they love sharing their musical talents.

In June of 2013, 93.3 WMMR out of Philly (and considered its largest rock radio station) awarded them the title of "Artist of the Month." Theirs is a cool way to breathe new life into rock and roll.

Singer and songwriter Ivelisse del Carmen hails from Puerto Rico and she sang her Spanish songs to the backdrop of the guitar played by Rafael Rosa. She performed a delightful array of songs, some she wrote and others she wrote the sound track for. She had a lovely voice and it was a nice relaxing performance but sometimes hard to hear because of all the conversations going on.

She recently recorded her very first album “Amor y Tierra.” Ivelisse has classical training and she brings that into her songs combined with a Latino rhythm and other Spanish influences. While she did not play the guitar she is an accomplished guitarist thanks to her Puerto Rican musician and composer grandfather.

“Uplifting and heart-warming” is probably one of the best ways to describe her music which is both light and energetic. One of her songs “De poco a poquito” recently won The Akademia Music Award for Best World Song 2014.

"Hisham Abul Fotouh, aka XS who hails from Cairo Egypt, is the first Arab-American singer featured in the United States. His road to being a musician is a compelling story and began when severe depression caused a potential heart condition. His music saved his life.

Realizing what music has done for him has inspired XS to bring that joy and unity to others which began with the release of his first album in 2011, called "The New Born.”The album was dedicated to his fellow Egyptian countrymen and to his late father who passed away on February 2011. It was his father who inspired him to make his music dreams a reality.

It was inn 2013 that his hit single “Let It Go” was released. This song was a semi-finalist in the Dance/Electronica category in the International Songwriting Competition, which many consider the number one song writing competition in the world.

XS combines R&B, Pop and dance with his Middle Eastern influence, which creates a new and interesting combination.

Brazilian Thiago is another talented musician who hails from outside the U.S. borders. While he was born in Rio de Janeiro, he spent most of his life in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

His entertainment career started when he was just 9 years old drawing live caricatures of guests for an Argentina television show. From there he immersed himself in both a television and theatre career.

Eventually he moved from Argentina to the United States in the hopes of expanding his talent. Thiago considers New York his home now but his focus is to have his music transcend the world.

If you want to know more about The Big Apple Indie Music Series visit their web site at www.tbaims.com.

I’m always looking for fun things to learn or do so if you have any ideas feel free to reach out to me at dderosa1@optonline.net.

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