Steve Lukather and Bill Evans’ Toxic Monkey @ The Iridium (Dec 4-9, 2018)

After a year of planning, Steve Lukather and Bill Evans’ Toxic Monkey return to New York City at The Iridium for a six night run, from Tuesday December 4 through Sunday December 9 at 8:30pm. There will be an additional 10:30 pm showing Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

When you’ve played with the greatest musicians in the world, enough simply does not exist. Guitarist Steve Lukather, otherwise known as the founding member of TOTO, recorded on Michael Jackson’s’ Thriller, the best-selling album of all time. Saxophonist Bill Evans anchored himself performing with Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock. You can look up the rest of the laundry list; to play with one of these greats alone, would be a professional musicians wet-dream.

Buckle-in. This will be a no-holds-barred, jazz, blues and vocals gig. “It is a lot of intense shedding, but there will be great music too,” said Evans. “We wanted to do this in a club that is conducive to what we’re going to do – And that is The Iridium. We’re gonna have some fun, blow the walls down and kick some serious ass.” After Evans heard the repertoire from Steve, he knew.

When you have a group with Keith Carlock (Steely Dan/John Mayer) on drums, Will Lee (CBS Orchestra) on Bass and Steve Weingart (Simon Phillips) on keyboards, that is one hell of a band,” said Evans. “We are going to get up there and start ripping, right from the beginning.” The All-Grammy-Award-Winning group will perform anything from Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck and Robin Trower to material from Steve’s Los Lobotomys and Evans’ Soul Bop. Toxic Monkey wrote ten beautiful songs as well. All of which will be jam-packed into the intimate space of The Iridium.

More jaw-dropping than their discographies and talent combined, Toxic Monkey went out of their way to make this run happen. They want this – just as much as you don’t want to miss it. Particularly, Evans holds Luke in high esteem, a feeling that extends outward amongst bandmates and friends.

Being a guitar fan, “I have certain guitar heros that I’ve always wanted to play with and listen to. Steve Lukather is at the top of that list,” said Evans. “I like the fact that he takes so many risks and comes from so many diverse musical backgrounds; rock, jazz – it doesn’t matter, he is ridiculous at all types of music.”

People are gonna get what they came for. That’s what it was like at The Blue Note, seven years ago. “Steve wears his emotions on his sleeve, as well as his guitar playing. He is not preconceived. He creates in the moment and just goes – trust me, I would hear if it was different,” affirmed Evans. Every night Lukather is creating something fresh, which makes Toxic Monkey worth it for Evans.

“There’s always something special about a first night; And a lot of times, the first can be one of the best, because the energy is so high. We will be plugging in to go,” said Evans. Many of these tunes will be played for the first time. After a night under their belts, Toxic Monkey will be ‘kicking-ass’ on Wednesday. By Thursday there’s no telling what could, and will, happen.

The best part, is that all dates are left open for things to bloom. When you play with this caliber of musicians, there is a certain sentimentality for the music. Spontaneity may include Steve calling out a half-time feel in A-Major, mid-set, and then shred a huge guitar solo. The goal is for Toxic Monkey to have fun, with the players they all want to play with.

Unplug. Turn off your cellphones. Laugh. Be there and be present for this magical six-night series. “When Steve gets up to the mic, he says anything; and I mean anything,” said Evans. Consider yourselves warned. Dig out your best of dirty jokes to be featured as that nights winner, picked by yours truly, Steve. And don’t worry, the strip poker will be confined to the back room. It’s going to be one wild hang.



Brooklyn Comes Alive: ‘My Life Before, Then Forever After’ with Karina Rykman



Multi-instrumentalist Marco Benevento entrust his iconic top-hat upon Karina Rykman, a fill-in bassist in her early 20’s at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. Rykman’s mouth agape; Marco’s stare tracked dead in her eyes, sealed shut in the moment. She was in disbelief, but this three-day stint would soon end. It didn’t.

Benevento, in addition to Ween bassist, Dave Dreiwitz, played instrumental roles in shaping Rykman-on-the-rise. She dove head first into a towering repertoire of Benevento tunes,  learning them backwards and forwards, day-in and day-out, Rykman recalls.

“That first run with Marco was one of the most spectacular moments of my life. I thought that was my last show with them ever,” said Rykman, increasing with excitement. “It was the best time, then scaling the walls (of the Music Hall Of Williamsburg green room post set) throwing ice, tequila and limes.” The room was packed with Karina’s friends, family and teachers. Karina was home.

“Marco is committed to the vibe and always goes the extra mile,” said Rykman, as she reminisced about the pop-up record player and miles of christmas lights that decorate their oasis backstage. Night after night the ‘Green Room Road Case,’ lives on as Karina’s enthusiasm parallels her sheer musical talent.

The New York Native has a pure starvation and aestheticism for all things music. It predates her Benevento/Dreiwitz days. It is infectious – inspiring all those around her. In eighth grade, two years after quitting piano lessons in sixth grade, a friend placed a guitar in her lap and taught her The White Stripes “Seven Nation Army.”

“I remember my life before [that moment], then, forever after,” said Rykman. “I was fixated on playing all the time. That was my vibe.”

Two years after joining Benevento’s band full time, Rykman comes full circle, hosting the second set of The Jam Room at Brooklyn Comes Alive on Saturday, September 29th, at Music Hall of Williamsburg. Rykman will host alongside Turkuaz guitarist, Craig Brodhead, to an undisclosed list of phenomenal musicians and guests. The set will start at 1:45 am, merely 15-minutes after Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winner and The Meters’ bassist, George Porter Jr.  ends the first installment of this unique collaboration.

The Jam will consist of 100-percent improvised music. “How do you prepare for that?,” asked Rykman. “Simply put, you don’t.” Take all the music you’ve learned, scales you’ve studied or harmonies you’ve practiced and “throw them all out the window! It is a crazy exercise of staying focused and in the moment,” added Rykman.

“I’ve played with people 20-plus years older than me; musicians who have committed themselves longer than I have been alive. It’s really humbling. I’m always absorbing because they have been there. I am just delighted to be accepted.”


The female bassist will also be playing with her new project, The Karina Rykman Experiment, at BCA at Rough Trade from 5 to 6 pm. Rykman’s Trio consist of NYU friends, Chris Corsico on drums and Adam November on guitar. “The guys in my band are slaying. Crushing it onstage and off. November is a loop-master and creates a whole world of soundscapes, so there is a lot going on.”

Three is the magic number. Karina first performed in a trio with Benevento and has taken matters into her own hands. “Harmonically it’s just me and Marco, which makes me deeply, deeply focused on what he is doing. I play a lot of lead and fuzz bass too, which almost acts like a guitar sonically.” Expect no less when The Karina Rykman Experiment takes the stage.

New-Yorkers beware, Rykman deems Brooklyn Comes Alive is not for the weak of heart. Whether she is proving-ground with her own ensemble, backing Marco in pure biss, or sneaking off to see as much new music as she can, BCA will be another one for the books.

“There’s this scene where people come out to see great improvisers improvise. It’s not for everyone, but there is something to be said to observe those who have toured their asses off and have played music for so many years.” Especially, in the Jam Room. “A collaboration brews with people that don’t perform together often, or ever!,” explains Karina. “To see someone who has put in their 10,000 hours create on the spot, is something to behold.”

Nobody knows what to expect. As the Jam Room takes flight, the motion will be from “recreational to medical, if you know what I’m saying,” said Rykman [laughs].


“Three north-Brooklyn venues…become shapeshifting artistic petri dishes during the annual improv-oriented rock/jazz/other festival known as Brooklyn Comes Alive.” – Village Voice

Inspired by the vibrant musical communities of Brooklyn and New Orleans, the event brings together more than 50 artists, allowing them to carry out passion projects, play with their musical heroes and collaborate in never-before-seen formations. Each attendee will receive a wristband that grants access to every venue and makes hopping from set to set a breeze, recreating and paying homage to the atmosphere of Jazz Fest by night, which initially inspired the festival’s concept.

Past editions of Brooklyn Comes Alive have seen unforgettable cross-collaborations amongst legends and favorites like George Porter Jr., John Scofield, Johnny Vidacovich, John Medeski, Bernard Purdie, Henry Butler, Oteil Burbridge, Cyril Neville, Eric Krasno, Jon Cleary, Joe Russo, Skerik, and Marco Benevento, plus members of Umphrey’s McGee, moe., The Disco Biscuits, The String Cheese Incident, Trey Anastasio Band, Lotus, Snarky Puppy, Lettuce, Soulive, The Motet, The New Mastersounds, Break Science and more. Tributes to Herbie Hancock, Earth Wind & Fire, The Allman Brothers, Jamiroquai, and Green Day comprise just a few of the many highlights over the last three years. Some groups, like [Br]eaking [Bi]scuits (members of the Disco Biscuits and Break Science), have even gone on to become nationally touring projects after their Brooklyn Comes Alive debut.

Victor Wainwright Brings The Train To Funk ‘N Waffles

“The blues was bleeding the same blood as me. The blues didn’t have to explain the mystery of pain that I felt; it was there in the songs and voices of singers like Lonnie Johnson and Blind Lemon Jefferson, in the cries of their guitars.”

B.B. King, Blues All Around Me: The Autobiography of B.B. Kingvictorlive.jpg

Attention, passengers. This is your conductor speaking. Victor Wainwright and The Train is about to leave the station. Please stand clear of the Boogie Woogie and enjoy the ride.

Four-time BMA Pinetop Perkins Piano Player of the Year winner (‘13,’14,’17,‘18) and BMA BB King Entertainer & Band of the Year recipient (‘16), Victor Wainwright sets out on his new endeavor, Victor Wainwright and the Train. The 12-track, band-titled album not only pays homage to the Blues, but also is a full-fledged attack on the music industry – a rebirth of the genre.

Wainwright is an entertainer – period. “Musicality and the songs themself are second,” said Wainwright. Growing up, Victor idolized BB King. “Seeing King for the first time changed my life! When I watched him, right away I could put my finger on exactly what IT was.” Sheer musical talent and technical skills on stage can only be admired by musicians and artist alike. For the lay listener it is about seeing a great show. They want to be entertained.

“Artists need to take up the mantle and use Blues as a tool to see past the 1-4-5 (a rudimental chord progression) of a guy sitting on a porch, singing about his dog,” said Wainwright. “I want to invite people in and get them to be apart of this community. It needs younger people to keep it alive.”

As the highly anticipated Funk ‘n Waffles shows in Syracuse and Rochester approach later this week, diehards and Blues-fans-to-be will have their hands full. The steam train will take flight at Funk ‘n Waffles Downtown in Syracuse, Friday July 6. Showtime *8 pm (corrected from 6pm). And carry on Saturday July 7 at Funk ‘n Waffles Music Hall in Rochester, NY, beginning at 8 pm also. Tickets: $15. (advance), $20. (door). Info: (585) 448-0354 or visit


Musically people haven’t seen anything like this before. It touches on new and exciting, while being familiar and honoring the Blues,” said Wainwright. Victor hinted at a few surprises that will be in store for these gigs including more original music, familiar tunes from your childhood and songs outside the normal Blues repertoire. In addition, Doug Woolverton, who played on the record, will be joining the Train for these Funk ‘n Waffles dates. “Laughter is a huge part of our show. When people are laughing with you, in combination with slow songs, sung from the heart – it becomes a super powerful combo!”

The record is a testament, backing the mountain of Wainwright’s accomplishments. It is a stout stew of Boogie Woogie, Blues, Rock ’n Roll, wailing horns and free-flowing expression from the drums, keys and bass. The opening track, “Healing” leaves no time for thought. In-your-face stride piano reverberates, before the track takes off in up-tempo eighth-notes topped with Wainwrights soaring voice. The Train is alive.


Not only did Wainwright compose all of the record, but also produced it himself, with the help of Dave Gross in New Jersey. “What I tried to convey is power. Not in a Marvel comic book sense, but in the form of passion,” said Wainwright. “Exactly like a steam train.” All of the overwhelming energy captured on stage is heard on tape. The band feeds off each other collectively in the studio, achieving something monumental.

“Wiltshire Grave” has a spooky, New Orleans second-line feel, featuring Pat Harrington on guitar. The tune lingers, allowing you to digest the beauty in each instrument. The raging horns punch through making way for sweeping keyboard licks and an edgy solo guitar. The track also features off-the-cuff percussion effects such as a baseball bat and bicycle bell. All listeners are stopped dead in their tracks. Likewise, “Money” sits back in the pocket, relatable in message – warranting payment to Uncle Sam without delay. Let’s hope he can catch the up-tempo localmotive.

Notably, the album pays a direct tribute to Wainwright’s idol, BB King, in “Thank you Lucille.” For Victor, “some things deserve to be said as directly as possible.” Upon hearing of King’s passing, Wainwright rushed to the side of the road. His world came to a complete halt. “Lucille is a deity. King talks to her like it is human. I almost felt said for her,” said Wainwright. “She will live on!”

Victor Wainwright and the Train was released March 9, 2018 and quickly topped the National Roots Music Report charts for Blues in April. It now sits sixth in the Top 50.



New Jersey Powerhouse Rock Band The Mosers play PIANOS NYC next Tuesday

MOSERS FLYERPhotos: Eric Mooney

Powerhouse rock band The Mosers will perform at Pianos Showroom NYC on Tuesday September 22, along with an eclectic group of acts including Anna Rose, The Racer, Afika NX and The Classic Kids.

The Mosers have been coined as an “angry-Weezer,” fusing the nostalgia of 90’s feel with a modern  rock ‘n’ roll attitude. The Mosers are comprised of Mike Pellegrino, Dave Ryan, Rick Szpakowski and Matt Kulper. They will begin their first U.S. tour following the release of their debut EP and single “Cold-Hearted Girl.”

“Cold-Hearted Girl” was written in a New Jersey rehearsal space and was something that came together like four pieces of a puzzle, according to Pellegrino.

We a just a bunch of guys that love rock ‘n’ roll and are trying to be real in everything we do, said Pellegrino “We are real people that go through the rollercoaster of life” just like everyone else.

“I can’t sing a lyric that I do not believe in,” said Pellegrino; a testament to the band’s raw and captivating energy. “We all have something important to say and when we go on stage we mean business.”

“Cold-Hearted Girl” captures the essence of the band, maintaining their down to earth image and relatable lyrics. After all, “We are just a group of New Jersey kids, now trying to cut our teeth in New York City,” said Pellegrino.

The music video for “Cold-Hearted Girl” peeks into the personality of each band member and simultaneously paints them as a whole. Moving collages of the band performing, hanging out with friends and jamming out in a basement rehearsal space all highlight that each member is truly enjoying themselves as well as the music. The video was produced by Daniel Iglesias Jr., who has worked groups like Young Rising Sons, Blink 182 and X Ambassadors.

Photo Credit: Eric Mooney
Photo Credit: Eric Mooney

Pellegrino recalls some vivid childhood memories that lured him into a sonic world of rock ‘n’ roll. “I was really young (maybe six or so) when a Pearl Jam music video on MTV came on in my livingroom. I just saw something remarkable. I remember telling myself, ‘I want to play guitar’.”

But the Pellegrino family was no stranger to musical talent. “My father had a baby grand piano in the house and really wanted me to play classical piano,” said Pellegrino. As a rock ‘n’ roll adolescent, Pellegrino naturally rejected the music of his parents and instead was drawn to satisfy his own ear.

Pellegrino’s cousin , who was about eight years older, made the aspiring guitarist three mixtapes after revealing his new obsession.

Weezer, The Blue Album. Greenday, Dookie, with a particular affixation on “Welcome To Paradise”. Rancid, Out Comes The Wolves. And the rest was history.

Jeff LeBlanc’s ‘Vision’ Is the Story of a Matured Songwriter

jeff1Independent singer/songwriter Jeff LeBlanc has matured into a new chapter, pushing his musical limits with his latest effort, Vision. The 7-track album is concise and effective sucking you into the heart of LeBlanc’s story.

The 29 year-old Long Island native is no stranger to success after being named The Sirius XM Singer/Songwriter Discovery of the Year. Likewise, LeBlanc earned a spot on the iTunes Top 200 Singer/Songwriter Charts and received praise from MTV, Pulse Magazine and countless media outlets across New England.

After launching a successful Kickstarter campaign, LeBlanc surpassed his $12,000 goal which led him to Nashville’s Sound Emporium. This was a defining moment for LeBlanc – to record in the same studio as artists like Jack ClementJohnny CashWillie NelsonTaylor Swift and Kenny Chesney.

“I do a lot of heavy lifting on acoustic guitar and play about half of the electric guitar on the record,” said LeBlanc. “I had a clear picture of the album’s landscape,” but LeBlanc couldn’t have done it without a talented group of musicians. Some of Nashville’s best helped bring LeBlanc’ vision to light including, Tony Lucido (bass), Jeremy Lutito (drums, programing), Ken Lewis (percussion), Mike Payne (electric guitar) and Stephen Gause. LeBlanc also had the pleasure to work with Matt Stanfield (keys), Liz Longley (vocals) and Paul Nelson on cello

The opening track “Lost Tonight” begins with LeBlanc’s confident picking and a heavy quarter-note pulse from the bass drum which builds naturally into the rest of the album. “I front loaded the album with three upbeat songs,” said LeBlanc, which draws you in effortlessly.

“Stumbled”, the album’s second track is full of creativity and musicality. The lighthearted groove sits back in the pocket and is fused with drum loops and post production that makes you sway. “This track wouldn’t be the same without the programing, 1980’s drum machine and Lutito playing over it,” said LeBlanc. “There’s purposely a lot of push and pull with ‘Stumbled’ and the overall album,” added LeBlanc.

“Occupy” is like taking deep breaths. LeBlanc’s energy is redirected into the melodic guitar backing, organs and sentimental vocals that open the door into the soul of a evolved musician. Other tracks like “Love is Gone” and “Always You” are no different in their approach to captivate the listener.

“I spent a lot of time listening to the album while driving around in the car,” said LeBlanc. “I wanted there to be a story.” Evident in “Almost You,”  the feeling of driving down the open road becomes synonymous with love, heartbreak and solitude. The upbeat groove keeps driving like the wheels of a car while LeBlanc recounts “Gotta drive til’ I can’t drive no more / And I’m standing here outside your door / Holding one last chance that you’ll be there alone.”

Despite the album’s length, LeBlanc does not leave his story unfinished. The closing track “Why Do I Worry” features a clear acoustic guitar and piano that fills your body and mind. There’s a evident motion in the chorus as LeBlanc sings to himself “Why do I worry, Why do I care…I got to let go.”

“Right now I am really into piano and ‘Why Do I Worry” is kind of upbeat, yet very emotional,” said LeBlanc. “It’s weird how you can create emotion through an instrument and Matt Stanfield did exactly that on the piano.

Overall the response of the album has been strong. LeBlanc has touring plans in the works and has lots of things in limbo with Sirius XM. “Fans are connecting on a deeper level, which is what I was going for,” said LeBlanc. “I am trying to embrace the way things are changing in the music industry” added LeBlanc.

This album holds a special place in the heart of LeBlanc’s fans. Recently, LeBlanc performed two private events for families that funded a large part of the Kickstarter. “It was a super cool experience because these people have really invested a  lot of time and energy into your music – they are here for you,” said LeBlanc.
Read More – Published on Live For Live Music :

The Present Meets The Past With Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox

Also Published with: Live For Live Music – {READ HERE

American jazz composer and pianist George Gershwin once stated that “true music must repeat the thought and inspirations of the people and the time,” but jazz has taken a backseat – almost foreign to the modern ear. Gershwin realized that all good music will find its way back to the listener. In other words, If you have ever been nostalgic for an era in which you have not lived then you may find familiarity in Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox.

Just as the name implies, Postmodern Jukebox is a project that reinterprets popular songs in the traditional styles of jazz, ragtime, new orleans and blues. PMJ found instant success on YouTube, where they have reached over one million subscribers and their videos have each gained upwards of 12 million views. In the past five years alone, PMJ has covered artists from MadonnaMiley Cyrus and Selena Gomez to Katy Perry and Lady Gaga. Each cover is refreshing and unique not only because of the musicianship and instrumentation, but due to their ability to encapsulate an era – freezing you in time.

“The moment I saw the potential of PMJ was when we did a doo-wop version of Miley Cyrus’ ‘We Can’t Stop’. That video blew up and was the most watched video on YouTube in one day,” said PMJ founder Scott Bradlee. Like most PMJ videos, it features traditional instruments and clothing of the era they are trying to depict. PMJ’s “We Can’t Stop” also features Brooklyn’s Tee-Tones, an a capella doo wop group. “Seeing that reaction made me realize that the public is really interested in this project and the idea became much bigger than we originally thought,” added Bradlee – it has mainstream appeal.

Watch Postmodern Jukebox’s video of Miley Cyrus’ “We Can’t Stop” below:

After you have watched two or three PMJ videos you realize that these guys, and gals, are the real deal. From their ragtime version of Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” to Radiohead’s “Creep,” sung as a triumphant ballad proving PMJ is eclectic and diverse. Their Radiohead cover features Haley Reinhart on vocals, Ben Golder-Novick on sax, James Hall on trombone and a tight rhythm section. Reinhart’s vocals are overpowering and the video was cut in one take. Other covers include a Mariachi version of Avicii‘s “Wake Me Up” sung in spanish, a vintage motown take on Katy Perry’s “Roar” and Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass” featuring upright bass.

What makes Postmodern Jukebox different than most is that “we are all live performers first and foremost, then we went back to YouTube,” said Bradlee. It took a few years to find like minded musicians, but now PMJ has more than 50 musicians and artists who have joined them on tour and in their videos. Originally Bradlee grew up as a self-taught jazz pianist. He used to play restaurant gigs and small clubs as background music and has now toured across the country and Europe.

“The whole idea of transforming pop songs into older styles began when I was in school. I became frustrated with the jazz piano scene and didn’t have an outlet to express myself,” said Bradlee. Inspired by staples in jazz like Gershwin, Jelly Roll Morton, Fats Waller and Art Tatum Bradlee “devoured the whole jazz tradition.” In high school Bradlee would absorb “whatever he could get his hands on” like Duke Ellington and was later attracted to R&B and soul. Bradlee would play along to cassettes and CD’s rented from the library in a variety of different styles. In this discovery Bradlee realized that there is lineage of jazz and blues in all eras and styles of music.

His first video was medley of 80’s songs in the ragtime style, and the video instantly went viral. In the last five years with PMJ Bradlee has gotten a crash course in social media and realized there’s another way to get your ideas out – hence YouTube. Although PMJ concepts were present in Bradlee’s childhood he never expected to have worked with such great musicians and talent. “What’s cool about this project is there hasn’t been any rules,” said Bradlee. “The best projects are always collaborations and I am always interested to hear other peoples input because it really helps shape the creative process.”

Now that you have been infected with the Postmodern Jukebox bug, you would expect things to get boring rather quickly – wrong. PMJ is committed to releasing a new video every two weeks, and is now on their first official U.S. tour, which will reach a total of 41 cities across the country.

Last Saturday, May 9th, PMJ performed for a full house at Toad’s Place in New Haven, CT. Their musicianship is only half of the battle. Postmodern Jukebox is more than a cover band – they are entertainment, comedy, fashion and history all in one. The band, and much of the crowd, were dressed in vintage clothing and the vocalist regularly changed outfits to match the era and style of each arrangement. The show was like a time capsule transplanting you to a turn of the century Vaudeville show. PMJ also featured tap dancer and choreographer Sarah Reich who added both musical and visual talent to the show. Reich was named “20 Hot Tappers Under 20” in 2009 and was seen on FOX’s So You Think You Can Dance. Her ability to tap, trade solos and fill in between an already dynamic group was jawdropping.

“Postmodern Jukebox is a variety show, but at the end of the day there is just a bunch of talented people on stage. No matter where we are we want to convey a sense of intimacy and want people to feel like they are at a party back in time,” said Bradlee. With such a wide array of talent Bradlee has been overwhelmed at the positive response from true music fans alike. At first Bradlee was worried that jazz musicians would not dig this project and was surprised at their love and support. “Some of our fans are even metal heads (all they do is listen to metal music), but they love what we do. It has been an interesting journey that is cross-spanning generations,” added Bradlee.

So if you ever wanted to experience the sophistication of these eras, but do not understand it, know the songs or artists behind them then Postmodern Jukebox is your fix for nostalgic, diversity and talent – all in support of hardworking live musicians.

Check out some of our favorite PMJ videos below, and be sure to catch them on tour!

Also Published with: Live For Live Music – {READ HERE}

Jeff LeBlanc marks a new chapter with ‘Vision’

jeff1– Also Published In The Fairfield Mirror –

New York native Jeff LeBlanc is on tour with his highly anticipated album “Vision,” which will be released on May 12. LeBlanc is a likable, down-to-earth musician who has honed the art of songwriting. The Sirius XM “Singer/Songwriter Discovery of the Year” nominee broke the Top 10 of the iTunes Top 200 Singer/Songwriter Chart – twice. His latest, “My Own Way There” (2013), “is like driving with the top down.” “With Jeff at the wheel, he takes you on a winding road through a varied landscape of songs and stories,” stated MTV. Its predecessor, “Worth Holding On To,” (2011) climbed to number three on the iTunes chart and both albums began rotation on Sirius XM’s The Coffee House. Now in the spotlight, the Sacred Heart 2008 alumnus began touring with Gavin DeGraw, Chris Isaak, Ingrid Michaelson, Luke Bryan, Lifehouse and David Archuleta. As a self-managed artist, LeBlanc has made great strides since his 2009 debut “Signals” EP. LeBlanc’s music has appeared on MTV series like “Jersey Shore,” “Teen Mom,” “The Real World” and “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.”

The 29 year-old will be headed to Fairfield Theatre Company on Friday, May 1 as part of his album release party – which also includes a stop at Joe’s Pub (New York City) on April 26 and at Club Passim (Cambridge, Mass.) on May 6 . LeBlanc is a regular at StageOne and no stranger to Fairfield’s campus – including his appearance on WVOF last month, where LeBlanc played a track off the new record.

Since then LeBlanc has released a single off of the album “Stumbled,” which is available for those who pre-order “Vision.” The single recounts the blunders of dating and heartbreak, but is contrasted by LeBlanc’s upbeat groove and catch hook: “I can’t believe it, how quick you broke my heart in two / I can’t believe it how I stumbled over you.”

“Vision” was tracked at Nashville’s Sound Emporium, which has seen artists from Jack Clement and Johnny Cash to Willie Nelson, Taylor Swift and Kenny Chesney. In his artist bio, LeBlanc wrote “Listening to this album feels like catching up with an old friend over a cup of coffee” – a mixture of maturity, intimacy and familiarity. “I was listening to a lot of pop music,” said LeBlanc. “I saw Justin Timberlake live and listened to bands like Michael Jackson which began to influence this record. I started playing simple songs, like ‘Stumbled’ which is only two chords, over drum loops and programming.” All of this translated into a simplistic and relatable song-form. 

Based on LeBlanc’s track record, “Vision” marks a new chapter for both the emerging artist and his fans alike. On this brink, what makes LeBlanc’s records so addictive? It has been narrowed down – a humble feeling and energy behind each hook that captivates and rejuvenates in the ears of the listener; so roll-down those windows and tune in to the “vision” ahead.