Jesse Ruben, Caitlin Crosby

Jesse Rueben

“I believe that good songs can change everything”. That’s how 26-year-old singer-songwriter Jesse Ruben leads himself into the online world.

Jesse cites legendary artists like Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell and James Taylor as his greatest influences, and also admits a fondness for the standards penned by Cole Porter and the Gershwins. Jesse is reluctant to compare himself to his idols, and says he takes courage from their stories.

Jesse has independently sold over 10,000 albums and had his music featured on TV shows such as One Tree Hill, Degrassi, and Teen Mom and toured with some amazing artists including Jewel, KT Tunstall, Matt Simons, Hanson, and Ryan Cabrera.

His first self-released 2008 debut, “Aiming for Honesty”, consolidated his growing audience, whom the performer has cultivated with virtually nonstop touring and persistent online networking. The online community played a critical role in his debut album, funding the recordings through a project run by five of Ruben’s friends on Facebook.

“Aiming for Honesty” was followed by the highly accomplished “The Ones That Matter”. The album was recorded during a record-breaking snowstorm in Charlottesville, Virginia – with producers Chris Keup (Jason Mraz, OAR, Parachute) and Stewart Myers (Mraz, Lifehouse, Rachel Yamagata, Mandy Moore).

His latest work, “Thoughts I’ve Never Had Before”, was released last year as two EPs and contain the thoughtful “Carry On” and the anthemic “We Can”, a song that has been embraced by schools around the world & has inspired students to follow their dreams.

Ruben’s songwriting and recording efforts are tirelessly supported by his devotion to live concerts: the artist has sold out venues across the US with deeply personal performances that blend well-crafted pop songs with the stories that inspired them. Jesse says “If I had my choice, I’d be touring all the time. I love the lifestyle – sleeping late and getting up and driving and playing and meeting a bunch of people and doing the same thing the next day. I’m cool with living out of a suitcase.”

“I have a couple of breakup songs,” singer-songwriter/actress Caitlin Crosby says of the material on her evocative new EP. “But the ones I’m most passionate about are about issues that could have an impact on someone’s life, maybe make them feel less alone. And this record doesn’t sound like anything I’ve ever done.”

With its sophisticated, smoky sonic palette – crafted by producer/co-writer Boots Ottestad (Robbie Williams, Macy Gray) – Crosby’s new seven-song set is a marked departure from her 2009 release, Flawz. “While recording, Boots and I talked a lot about vintage artists and the warmth of their sound, I was then inspired to go in the direction of an artist like Dusty Springfield…I really wanted a departure from my previous work.”

That meant velvety, Phil Spector-ish orchestration, grooves in the Memphis/Muscle Shoals mold, spy-movie guitars, swoony background vocals and more. Ottestad’s approach made sense to Crosby, who’d fallen in love with the retro-soul vibe of Adele and the folk revivalism of Mumford & Sons.

The EP’s diverse, cinematic musical backdrop adds edge and intrigue to Crosby’s lyrics about women who give themselves to undeserving men (the soulfully sad “Save That Pillow”), the emptiness of L.A.’s party-hardy club scene (the strutting “Is This the Good Life?”), redemption in the midst of despair (the smoldering, syncopated “Gasoline”; the mountain gospel of “Cracked Me Open”) and yes, a former flame (the spare, spooky “Boy in the Benz”; the vintage sounding buildup of “Consolation Prize”). It also showcases colors and nuances in her singing that will surprise even her longtime fans.

While she’s proved her ability to navigate exciting new musical territory, Crosby – who plays guitar and piano on the album in addition to handling vocals – has stayed true to the themes she’s explored throughout her work as a solo artist: loving yourself despite your flaws; the struggle to protect your soul from a predatory, materialistic world; the power of love and spirit to lift us out of even the direst circumstances.

As ever, for Crosby, these aren’t just ideas to weave into lovely songs—she has committed herself to providing uplift in other ways, notably with two websites, thegivingkeys.com (which uses jewelry made from vintage keys to help spread positive messages and has proved “key” to helping participants transition out of homelessness) and loveyourflawz.com (which encourages visitors to celebrate their flaws rather than trying to live up to impossible, unfair standards).

It’s reasonable to say Crosby has showbiz in her genes. Her dad is a manager of actors, and her mom was a model and actress before becoming an agent. “Acting was just a natural thing to do,” she recalls. “I did musical theater, played Sandy in Grease.” She was in a production at Beverly Hills High when she auditioned, at the director’s urging, for all-girl pop group Foxy Nova. She got the gig, and the group signed with producer-writer-star-label owner Babyface. At 17, she got an eyeful of the star-making machinery.

Crosby co-wrote material for the group from the outset, ultimately participating in some 150 tunes during her tenure. But the songs that meant the most to her – ones urging self-esteem and self-empowerment – didn’t fit the pop-vixen pigeonhole. “The label was always, like, no! Write songs that are racy and sexy and push the envelope,” she remembers. “I couldn’t do it. It went against everything I stood for.” After a few years of the “drama and scandal” that surrounded that world, she’d had her fill; having deferred attending Loyola Marymount once for the band’s sake, she finally said her goodbyes and headed off to school. “I swore off the music business after that,” she explains. “I quit and everyone was mad. I was just done.” The portrait of frenzied but unfulfilling nightlife in her new song “Is This the Good Life?” echoes that period.

Alongside her studies she focused more on acting over the next few years, and appeared on an array of TV series, including Malcolm in the Middle, That ’70s Show and Seventh Heaven. Without really consciously shifting gears, she found she’d changed her career’s direction.

But she continued to write songs, mostly as a creative outlet. And when she got up and sang “Finding Feelings” (which, she notes, was inspired by a break-up) at a friend’s club show, she drew the attention of producer Eric Robinson, who worked with Marshall Altman (Marc Broussard, William Fitzsimmons). Robinson and Altman asked to work with her, and she found herself back in the studio. “I thought, ‘Oh, Lord, I can’t believe I’m getting back into this,’” Crosby notes.

This time, though, all the material reflected her beliefs, emotions and priorities. “Finding Feelings” struck a chord with online listeners (it even earned MySpace props from Kelly Clarkson, who also turned up for one of Crosby’s gigs), and Flawz was released in 2009.

“A lot of those songs I’d written so long ago that by the time I recorded them they were old to me, she relates. “It was more pop-rock. But the songs were about trying to be confident with our flaws, and that’s what my website is about. I wanted to put out songs that would help people.”

As she began to craft the material that would eventually form the new EP, Crosby met with producer Adam Anders and signed with his Deep Well Records. Adam hooked her up with Ottestad and their co-writing proved fruitful thus resulting in an exciting new creative partnership resulting in an EP that will be in the Summer of 2013.

Though she hasn’t ruled out further TV and film work, Crosby is focused on her music now – and on spreading the positive messages in her songs. With those themes placed in fresh musical settings, they’re likely to resonate with a whole new listenership.

Flagship Romance

In today's music market, more and more avid listeners are clamoring for something honest and real; scouring social media and blogs for raw talent that they can believe in. This ever increasing demand has paved the way for the rising popularity of male + female duo projects such as The Civil Wars and The Swell Season. The newest addition to this genre, Flagship Romance, hopes to take that honesty, chemistry, and "real-ness" to a new level.

What sets Flagship Romance apart is not limited to what you hear on the recordings; it extends to what you see on-stage, as well as off-stage.

“I felt like I was watching something honest and special; very similar to a modern day Johnny and June,” says Jacksonville, FL, news anchor Tracy “Dot-Com” Collins.

A Flagship Romance show is more than just an opportunity to hear two individually talented performers using their abilities to create something bigger than themselves. It is an invitation to witness an actual couple with a shared passion and chemistry, doing what they love with whom they love. Their lyrics are representative of their own experiences, while the melodies and dynamics are a tribute to their actual emotions.

In the summer of 2012, Flagship Romance entered Fudge Recording Studios in New Orleans, LA, to lay down the tracks for their first record, lovingly entitled "The Fudge Sessions." Every morning, for five days, they would sit with the incredible studio musicians over coffee and discuss an individual song and how they think it should be brought to life. As soon as the initial vision was realized, they would immediately start tracking the song all together to give it an off the cuff, natural sound, with the focus still being on two voices and an acoustic guitar.

Flagship Romance has aligned their musical career with the clean water cause via the phenomenal organization “charity: water.” In August 2012, they organized the inaugural Clean Water Music Fest in Florida, and raised almost $12,000 by merely doing what they love to do – play music & help others. Now, because of the first Clean Water Music Fest, two entire communities in Ethiopia will have clean, safe drinking water for the first time. The duo intends on continuing the Clean Water Music Fest annually. Through their musical efforts, they commit to helping those without access to clean drinking water.

What started as "something fun" between these two lovers has created quite the stir in the southeast. They are quickly developing an extremely devoted group of grass-roots followers they affectionately call the "Flagship Romantics."

It seems that no one can help developing a crush on this Flagship Romance.

Matthew Fowler

A voice and a guitar: Paired just right, they can cut through a moment and leave an imprint that lasts a lifetime. As music fans, we live for those rare songs that introduce themselves and become bookmarks in our history. With his debut, “Beginning”, Orlando, Florida’s Matthew Fowler has created an entire album worthy of inclusion in that sacred space.

Fowler is nineteen. These are three words that you will probably repeat incredulously to yourself as you make your way through “Beginning”. His voice and songs convey an understanding of the human experience that extends well beyond his years, and yet they so perfectly capture the weight and significance of what it means to be young.

Calling on a work ethic derived by helping out at his parents’ restaurant and catering businesses from the time he was thirteen, Fowler used borrowed microphones and recorded this debut almost entirely live; a feat rarely seen these days. When this restless determination is coupled with his immeasurable talent, it’s difficult to foresee any limitations to what Matthew Fowler’s accomplishments might come to include. For now though, it is enough to have “Beginning” — the first offering toward what promises to be a long and meaningful body of work.

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Jesse Ruben, Caitlin Crosby with Flagship Romance, Matthew Fowler

Saturday, September 14 · 6:00 PM at The Social

Tickets Available at the Door