Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Singer/Songwriter/Performer Jaafar

The 21st Century has opened a Pandora’s box of grand infusions. Blending cultural sounds musically is nothing new per se, but it has never gained the popularity vote on radio top 10 playlists
. Maybe, that is what the new century is about... the calling sounds of independence merging the beauty from all corners of our world into creating a new work of art. Possibly, Jaafar is leading the way from his corner with his infusion of music, culture, passion and social commentary with his new album and tour to follow...

Interview with Singer/Songwriter/Performer Jaafar

27/05/2015- Song River
(Vents Magazine)

Song: How has western music influenced your homeland of Jordan? 

Jaafar: Western music is pretty prevalent on the pop radio stations, but we also get a lot of European.

In Jordan there are our radio stations that play Tom Petty and other music mix ins from Europe too. Pop music is more prevalent over metal among the youth, but we of course have eastern influences strong influences as well.

S: Has it been a good thing?

Jaafar: For the most part certainly. The younger generation, all of us now, are living in an age when all of the influences are coming in from everywhere. There are more rock bands coming up. More western oriented, especially with the internet and all.

S: What were some of your early influences musically? How about creatively outside of music?

Jaafar: Early on it was middle eastern music, we listened to "Rai..." which is a genre of middle eastern music, they were the first to turn me on to the musical side of music. Later on I began listening to the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Elvis that turned me onto the writing, add in later still listening to Petty and Sting- it all has influenced my songwriting. In terms of songwriting, it has formed my writing.

S: What are some of the artistic outlets?

Jaafar: Yes, actually I went to art school in London for two years. Painting, and drawing.

S: How did your family feel about your desire to be a songwriter and a performer, touring the world and then making a move to Florida?

Jaafar: (laughed) I don't think it surprised them at all, I was always singing around the house. I sang loud all the time. I had written and recorded my first demo when I was just 16. From there I have been just working on my writing, voice, focusing on that.

As for the move, I had attended the university here in Florida, so I have been here for a good while. My family fly's over often, but as of late since I am working on this album and tour I have not been able to go back myself as much, maybe just a couple of days here and there.

S: Did you have any professional training?

Jaafar: I am not classically trained. I have taken a few lessons here and there to work on my breathing and sound. However, I am always working on developing my breathing to help my vocals.

S: What have been some of the differences you've noticed in music, fans, and how everything fits together as you travel around the world?

 Jaafar: I do notice. Well, of course in my hometown of Jordan I am well-known. It's the fans for your music, because my music is on the radio. So, when I perform back home it is different from here. 

Here mostly, I play in clubs, and the response has been great! When I play my new music, it's always well received.

S: You released the single, “You Got Me Good” in 2013, then recently you released, “Oasis” will they be on this new album?

Jaafar: They are not a part of this new album. “You Got Me Good” was published back home, and on the radio. It gave them a taste of my music.

 “Oasis” is a follow-up and was released, we also made a video to it as well, and you can find it on YouTube. 

The first single coming from the new album is, “Sixteen.” The working title for the new album is: “Folktale of Spring” and we are looking towards the end of 2015 to release it. 9 tracks total.

S: What are some of the experiences you’ve drawn from that have helped you write this album?

Jaafar: Growing up where you are surrounded by conflict stricken areas on all sides, when you grow up in a place like that, you can become numb or used to it. Being now outside, now looking at the world around us, it is everywhere. It is happening everywhere, and it is sad, so I decided to write about that. That is where the story for “Sixteen” fits in. It is telling from a point of view. The connections now are all around us, and we all now are living them.

Then there is also a very nostalgic part to my music that reflect back, a bit of nostalgia, remembering how it used to be. Really overall, my album is a social commentary.

S: Our own world views influence or creative ways of relaying what we perceive. How are you helping people outside of your view understand your music? How do you make those connections?

Jaafar: I think what is good about the song “Sixteen” is the little hook in it, it will help others think about what I am saying. When youth are in the picture and there is mistreatment there or you lost your parents, its the idea of innocence being deprived. Whether you are close to that or not... we can all relate.

S: What are some of your favorite eastern sounds to blend into your western pop?

Jaafar: I have worked with this great string ensemble out of Istanbul. Their influences are mixed into the sounds I love.

I actually had learned to play the violin back when I was sixteen. I love strings.

S: With the Cuban influences in the Miami area, and even Caribbean sounds coming from Florida have those sounds found a way into your fusions of style?

Jaafar: They have definitely been an influence. It's the Latin market, the Los Angeles of the Latin market. Living here with the sounds from Jamaica, Cuba, and more. You can hear the influences of Jamaican sounds on a couple of my tracks. Nothing was intentional, but we certainly are globally infusing.

S: Everything has a method and time table to help things move forward. Who are you working with on producing this album and why?

Jaafar: I wrote and co-produce all my own music. I have worked with Jonathan Fuzessy too. Those who are in my band, they are incredible. Then in the strings they are from the middle east. And playing live is my favorite thing to do, being on stage is the best. It brings the songs to life, and I believe they showcase the songs really well. We have a great time on stage.

S: Tour dates for the states?

Jaafar: Official tour will begin after the album is released and I am looking so forward to it! I love music, and it is something I do all the time!


Artist to Watch For:
KaiL Baxley
A Light That Never Dies

27/05/2-15- Song River
(Vents Magazine)

There is something about drawing from your own roots, the small towns, the life experiences, our woes, our joys, the triumphs and the troubles of our own. Whether those troubles were our own doing or created by those who were responsible for us, they are all the ingredients to stir our souls and create through storytelling the things only felt in our own complex imaginations. Musically KaiL Baxley brings his second album through Forty Below Records, “A Light That Never Dies.” Co-produced with producer/engineer Eric Corne (recording credits: Glen Campbell, Kim Deal, Lucinda Williams, and John Mayall) it is a bare bones recording, raw, oozing the analog sound with fortitude to tell the story straight with the complexities unhindered through KaiL's own style.

“A Light That Never Dies” from beginning to end drew me in and settled its hooks into my willingness to be taken. The ability KaiL has to paint imagery with spoken word set to easy guitar... I was out of the room and off somewhere in an instant. Every track releases a new emotional state of consciousness and emotive mood. When the intrigue of the harmonica releases itself you can feel it through your body, it's as if it pierces your soul. The addition of the slide, and at times a violin into the mix, created familiar old haunts. Times past came flooding back from my childhood. Stories and experiences waft down into the backwoods of the south. I could taste the heavy grit, smell the smoke from the cinder ash can burning yesterdays garbage, hear my momma calling for supper and taste what food was coming... as night birds called, and the stars danced over head... all while we rocked our souls to the front porch sounds of creations blues.

“Still Wonder” a piano interlude of layered ghosting vocals is the pause between the blues, gospel and soul, and rock... KaiL Baxley... knows who he is and what he is doing. “A Light That Never Dies” is a feast for the musical mind, the breath of a beating heart, and the storm that rages the spirit to forge its way into the blissful imagery captured in time, melody and rhythm.

KaiL Baxley has found his inspiration from his own well of living, loving, and experiences to tell his story, his music and welcome all into his world all while keeping his music true.

Mirrors of Paradise

SWBN Eps. 4
Radio DJ Speaks From the Heart

*Editors Note: The aim and desire here is to offer a wide-variety of music styles, and creative genres.  A place where anyone who has a heart and soul for the arts can find out about someone new, or read about their long time favorites. The arts are a place wide-open to venture into, experiment, try-on, discover- whether writer, lyricist, painter, inker, makeup artist, poetry in motion, instruments, rock, soul, blues, funk, country, pop, rap, reggae, brush, pen, or clay... it's all collectively the beat that keeps the world in motion, the dreamers dreaming, and the faithful believing.- Song River 

Each Wednesday's Feature will be: 
Spoken Word for the Broken Nerves- Feat. Devin James.  

Devin James started a project called "Spoken Word for the Broken Nerves."  It features poetry, and adapted songs in spoken word format caught on video.  Six episodes have been filmed so far in Portland and Seattle, and more will be coming out as the year goes on.  The poetry is based on life, and has no specific theme or subject matter.  "Anything goes, for anything prose."- Devin James

Devin James will be having a new radio show coming soon on SkyHigh Radio. Follow Devin on social media for more information.
M Matic Art

Motobunny's New Album Review

I have always wanted to sit down at a café table with Tom Waits and Iggy Pop along with Pia Zadora…. I have now just added Motobunny to this epitome of rock and pop culture imagery. Motobunny’s music is a thematic twist of, “C’mon and get it boys ‘cuz we are bad aces!”- Song River

To read more click: Yab Yum

Friday, May 22, 2015

Music Picks for the Week Ending:
May 22nd, 2015

22/05/15- Song River  

A weekly feature choosing music from around the world: International, Stateside, Local.  Sharing a variety of sounds, genres and styles to set your curiosity into motion, and allow you to discover new music.

Supporting the independent musicians, and those who just believe music is more than just a good beat you can dance  to... It is an experience that moves one's soul! 

International Pick of the Week:

Romain Virgo- Jamaica 
Genre: Reggae
Album: The System (Click HERE)


In 2007, Romain Virgo made history as the youngest contestant ever to win Digicel Rising Stars, Jamaica’s talent competition, at the age of 17. Virgo was sensational throughout the 2007 competition and outshone his opponents with singing skills that seemed to stretch beyond the talent of a 17 year old.

Now two years later, his career definitely seems to be on the rise. His single Can’t Sleep is still climbing up the Jamaican charts and already gained him attention outside Jamaica as well. Love Doctor on the Automatic riddim is already getting loads of airplay as well as his single Wanna Go Home. Romain Virgo manages to build his musical career while still doing a five-year bachelor’s degree in performance at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts in Kingston, studying for a major in voice and minor in keyboard. 

Click HERE to read more.

Soul Provider

Stateside Pick of the Week:

Somi- New York

Genre: New African Soul & Jazz
Album:  "The Lagos Music Salon"

Somi's style, and grace is the "New African Soul and Jazz" of these modern times. Shimmering and filled with grace, Somi's music is the delightful mood setting brush of love, her voice is the perfume of a thousand stars.- Song River 


In late 2011, acclaimed East African vocalist & songwriter Somi decided to move from New York City to Lagos, Nigeria for 18 months in search of new inspiration. The result: a new album she calls The Lagos Music Salon released in August 2014 as her major label debut on Sony Music/Okeh - landing at #1 on US Jazz charts.  The album, which features special guests Angelique Kidjo,Common and Ambrose Akinmusire, draws it material from the tropical city's boastful cosmopolitanism, urgent inspiration, and giant spirit - straddling the worlds of African jazz, soul, and pop with a newfound ease and a voice that Vogue Magazine simply calls “Superb!”
Born in Illinois to immigrants from Rwanda and Uganda, the African and Jazz legacies are always crucial to her sound. Often referred to as a modern-day Miriam Makeba, JazzTimes magazine describes her live performance as “the earthy gutsiness of Nina Simone blended with the vocal beauty of Dianne Reeves,” while Billboard exclaims that she’s “all elegance and awe…utterly captivating.”
Click Here to read more

Ginger Me Slowly

Local Pick of the week: 

The Haymarket Squares- Phoenix, Az.
Genre: Punkgrass for the people.


Armed with tight vocal harmonies, bluegrass instruments and a heaping dose of righteous anger, The Haymarket Squares are Arizona's premier purveyors of punkgrass.

Founded in 2009, the band has played more than 300 shows in the U.S., Canada and Europe. They've developed a loyal following among folks who appreciate rabble-rousing lyrics wrapped in a catchy melody.

Known for long sets and short songs, a typical Haymarket Squares show features ecstatic dancing, blindingly fast mandolin, and broad smiles. Who knew changing the world (or at least singing about it) could be so much fun?

Buy My Vote

Dos Local Picks of the week!!!!

Chris Daniels & the Kings- Colorado
Genre: Blues w/ a twist of funk'n'soul
Album: Funky To The Bone

A little old time classic funk... bringing the jones'n down to the raise the roof and shake your tail feather to.- Song River

Chris Daniels & the Kings played their first show on March 14, 1984. Chris has toured Europe 20 times and played in the States from South Carolina to Seattle, New York City to LA. The seven piece rockin' band, called "funky-blues" by the Europeans, is an all out "horn band" celebrating their 24th year making great R&B, funk, "jump blues" and rock n roll. In THE SUMMER OF 2008 they will release their 11th CD. Their 10TH CD (called 10) came out IN EUROPE in 2006! They have been compared to "Little Feat with horns" and "John Hiatt meets Tower of Power" and “Keb Mo meets The Subdudes with horns.”
Starting in 1991 the band made a name for themselves touring Europe: playing for the Queen of Holland at the 50 Year VE Day Celebration and at Europe’s famous Parkpop Rock Festival for 450,000. They have headlined festivals from Mediterranean to the North Sea. They have had number one records on Holland’s number one rock show, “Countdown Café” rand had front page success with cover articles in De Telegraph and De Standard in Amsterdam and Brussels. 

Click HERE to read more.

I Like Your Shoes

Get out to your nearest record store, or go online and get out to explore the world of music!  
Support independent record stores near you!  My independent record store pick is: Stinkweeds Records Phoenix, Az. 
Music Picks for the Week is brought to you by Song River Photojournalist and owner of CowGirlZen Photography.  

Song River is the owner of CowGirlZen Photography. She is also a freelance photojournalist. Currently working with L3 Magazine, Vents Mag, Silverplatter. You can follow her interviews, reviews of great musicians, writers, artists on her blog,  She is also quite active in social media working as a copywriter for several companies, and individuals. Never wrong, always right... and filled with a twisted satirical outlooks on life sometimes... you have to be thinking out of the box most of the time to catch her.  A mess of delight and quandary at times, but known for her love and compassion to help others succeed. A die hard Nikon proficient! 

Contact Info: cowgirlzenphoto {at} gmail dot com
Social Media: 

Charity Involvements (past and present) : Playing for Change, Be the Change, Human Society Fundraiser, Tsunami Relief Fund, Red Cross, Grieving Parents Photography, Missionary San Felipe, Mexico- A Hammer and A Heart, Benefit for Phoenix Children's Hospital w/ Jared & the Mill.  

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

David Letterman Thank You For All the Top 10's

20/05/2015- Song River

Dear David Letterman,

You have been on my mind as of late. We all know the exit is stage right, and you have earned this countdown. Thanks for the memories.



Whether you love him or hate him, he has become a part of my generation's pop culture. He, his guests, Paul Shaffer and the CBS Orchestra, have delivered a part of our existence up to this point in time. With wit, jeers, and a bit of cynical bastardizing pokes at well...

I must admit in the last few years I have not been an avid viewer, life has a tendency to get rather busy, but I was recalling the earlier years when it was a ritual, much like the ritual passed down to me by my mamo who adored and never missed an episode of..."Here's Johnny!" (My mamo would fix her plate of mac n cheese, with polish sausages, light up her cig, pour her diet tab and sit in her plush rust orange swirling rocking chair, and adjust the rabbit ears on her Zenith color TV. It was her period of heaven on earth nightly with Johnny). I remember her watching the last airing, she wept, as she spoke of the days of her beloved music idol, Frank Sinatra's, appearances on Johnny's show, and the glory days of all that was Carson. Then it was the next generation's turn, and the likes of Jay Leno came onto the scene and stepping up to the plate came this awkward, lanky, gapped tooth man...who was immediately likable. Sometimes his humor seemed to be more out of anger, at what I was never sure, other times he reminded me of an old man wanting to yell at the audience, "GET OFF MY LAWN YOU STUPID KIDS!" He seemed testy to me, an overt petulance, a crusty late night cars salesman, never warm and fuzzy, never a sunny rosy cheeked dimple. Yet, I couldn't help but watch as each time I waited for the Top 10 Countdowns. It was The David Letterman Show.  

In the early days it was rumored that Letterman would self-destruct or implode. I think his anxiety levels showed, maybe that is why we liked him, he was that lovable crank, we could identify with his angst. A-type personalities and show biz are like oil and water- yet when they finally make a break through something unimaginable happens, awesomeness, Late Night.

Some may say 33 years of Late Night is admirable, some will say good riddance, and some will wistfully recall their Top 10 Countdowns as a way of honoring what not only David has given, but an entire staff, many who have spent over 20 years in the same pod.

Booger it... change is hard.

Jimmy Fallon and others like Conan, Colbert, Oliver, Stewart, Meyers, and so on will come and go or have already exited their own stage... but Letterman, well to be honest feels a little more like Carson to me.

Thanks for the memories in this very brief letter David. Thanks for being who you are, I think your projection of being uncomfortable, OCD directive, made all of us feel a little better about our own quirkiness.

Signing off, but you're not done yet. I hear Belize is looking for a lounge lizard announcer who likes their martinis very dry.

You'll be missed sir.

Top 10 Reasons Why?

I will leave each viewer to their own lists.