Varsity Theater & SMA Present
Brendan James, Tony Lucca
1308 4th Street SE
Minneapolis, MN, 55414
Doors 7:00 PM / Show 8:00 PM
This event is 18 and over
"'Simplify' represents me finding a clarity I have been searching for for years," says critically acclaimed piano-based singer-songwriter BRENDAN JAMES of his new album "Simplify." His fifth album, it is also his most elegant and emotionally direct album to date.
An active supporter for all levels of equality (he has spoken out for Marriage Equality and is considered a "Straight Ally") and a supporter for the men and women in the military (he's performed for the USO and troops), his advocacy is well-known and widespread. Larry Flick, influential host of Sirius XM's "OUTQ," says of James, "The remarkable thing about Brendan is that he is an active, creative citizen of the world. His songs do more than reflect his experiences in typical singer/songwriter style. He weaves his views and stories into a musical framework that triggers empathy from a wide array of listeners. He's proof that, in the right hands, music can truly be universal."
James is a man who sings with conviction and isn't afraid to speak out, as is evidenced on his new album, "Simplify." For example, the plaintive ballad "The New Plan" tackles our violence-obsessed culture unflinchingly. "It's no secret that this country has an unhealthy obsessions with guns," he explains. "I wrote this song as a conversation piece, begging for an end to violence for the sake of violence. It's in our culture, and it's starting to 'backfire'. We're beginning to look ridiculous on the world stage, and I care enough to address it. Very few civilians I know NEED guns. They simply choose to have them around."
Tackling his personal history as a child of divorce, he wrote the song "He Loved", which actually had origins in the divorce of his musical heroes, Carly Simon and James Taylor. The song was written years ago at Simon's home in Martha's Vineyard where he was invited to a private mentor session that didn't go quite as planned -- Simon had to leave for a last minute engagement just as he arrived, leaving him with the keys to her mansion. When she returned six days later, he played this song for her and she gave him her stamp of approval. It took him a few years to be confident enough as a songwriter to release it, and the song appears on "Simplify." "Back then, I think Carly saw in me the ability to be a mature and credible songwriter, but I wasn't that guy until now. I finally grew to be the songwriter she believed me to be," James confides.
The album's title track and first single is a melodically driving jam that American Songwriter calls "a piano-fueled pop/rocker that feels like a mission statement for the entire record." "The process of evolution, especially technological evolution, is occurring at such blinding speeds these days that we must take collective moments to breathe together, find calm together," Brendan explains of the song, "or we will forever leave behind our real essence as animals in paradise."
The Derry, NH native has had his songs featured in television shows such as "Private Practice," "American Idol," "Bones," "So You Think You Can Dance," "Army Wives," and "One Tree Hill." His first three albums climbed the iTunes Top 10 pop charts -- James' sophomore album, "Brendan James," climbed to #1 on the iTunes singer-songwriter charts. He's toured the country nine times over and played alongside such diverse artists as John Mayer, Paula Cole, Keb Mo, Parachute, and Green River Ordinance. The Kickstarter campaign for "Simplify" netted nearly double its projected goal. And in May of 2013, James had the honor of giving a TED talk, in which he spoke of the importance of consciousness in his art.
Brendan James's new album "Simplify" was produced Matt Chiaravalle (Warren Zevon, Joe Bonamassa) by will be released on August 6, 2013 via Noble Steed Music.
"It's hard to imagine after twenty years in the entertainment business that this is just chapter two," an excited Tony Lucca says of his first music post his game-changing run on the hit NBC series The Voice. For Lucca chapter one included seven albums in a more than 20-year run in show business that started on the Mickey Mouse Club.
Lucca firmly believes all of those experiences led him to teaming with coach Adam Levine on The Voice. "The further along in The Voice contest I got it felt like there was no denying my whole life's work led me to that moment. I know that sounds extremely cliché, but for me specifically it really was kind of that, everything from the former relationship, having worked with Christina [Aguilera] on The Mickey Mouse Club to just the experience of having spent a lot of time in film and television and getting on a big stage and knowing what things like camera blocking and hitting your mark meant. Just little things that all add up to an easier time on the show like that," he said. "That being said, it also felt like after the show, whatever was next, was supposed to happen."
What was supposed to happen is a new beginning for Lucca, who is signed to Adam Levine's 222 Records, and set to release his first EP, With the Whole World Watching, July 16, right before he hits the road as one of the support acts on Levine and his Maroon 5 band mates' sold-out run across America on the Honda Civic tour.
Vicci Martinez isn't worried about the rules.
The singer-songwriter continually goes against the grain both musically and lyrically. She doesn't adhere to guidelines of what pop music is supposed to be or how it should be presented. Given her penchant for writing honest, heartfelt songs, she doesn't have to either. When she hits the studio or the stage, she nods to soulful folk and classic rock with an immortal R&B groove beneath everything. On her forthcoming debut album for Universal Republic Records, VICCI, the world will get to see Vicci for who she is, and it might just be a better place because of it.
Her genuine spirit courses through the fabric of every song she writes on the album. Whether it's a revealing autobiographical ballad or a groove-driven rocker, the music ebbs and flows with a raw and real fire from the energy of "Come Along" to the honesty of "Let Go." Vicci's been working toward this for her whole life.
For as long as she can remember, she knew that she would play music. After her older sister gave up violin, she picked it up at six-years-old, taking proper lessons for five years. Eventually, she traded the violin for a guitar and began writing songs driven by diverse influences ranging from Led Zeppelin and The Beatles to Sarah McLachlan and Gloria Estefan.
Impressed by the first song she wrote, her dad decided it was time for his daughter to pursue music more seriously. He'd bring the young Vicci to local Tacoma, Washington farmer's markets in order to play impromptu. She'd open up her case or put a hat out, and audiences would watch stunned by her powerful voice and presence.
After spending high school honing her talents, she began releasing music independently in 2003. Touring the country for almost a decade, she released seven independent albums culminating with 2011's Live from Jazzbones. Along the way, she shared stages with everyone from Sting and Annie Lennox to The Supersuckers and Jonny Lang. However, NBC's television show The Voice came calling in early 2011, and that opened doors for the next phase of her career.
"They asked me to try out, and I really didn't want to do it at first," the artist reveals. "I did Star Search in 2003 and had tried out for American Idol. I decided to give it a chance though. The fact that the show is called The Voice was so much deeper to me. It wasn't simply about my singing voice but what I have to say. I was in the right place at the right time. I took every song on the show and made it my own, and I didn't let myself get pulled in any direction. I did what came naturally."
That's precisely why she landed in the show's top four after riveting and roaring performances of Adele's "Rolling in the Deep" and an explosive duet with coach Cee Lo Green of Pat Benatar's "Love is a Battlefield". However, it was her stunning live performances of "Jolene" and "Dog Days Are Over" as well as the original song that was written for her, "Afraid To Sleep," where she shined the brightest. Vicci's robust delivery of these tune's made the tracks instant hits online.. She also began to resonate with listeners everywhere as a group of young female fans banded together to assemble the Vicci Martinez Army in honor of her.
On VICCI, she does exactly that. "Come Along" sees Martinez engaged in an unforgettable and undeniable duet with Voice coach Cee Lo Green. About the song she says, "I think the lyrics are really important for people today, especially for our generation. I feel this is a step that I've been trying to take and by singing this song. I'm asking everyone else to come along with me and take a stand."
"I Can Love" delivers a positive declaration of feeling. In many ways, the song encapsulates her personal ethos. "Everything I do is based on love," observes Martinez. This song is about empowerment and to remind us that we do have hearts and we should use them."
Her heart beats loudly on the album closer "Little Faith". It's intimately infectious as Martinez assures a friend, "I´ll catch you if you fall. So, please have a little faith in me."
A centerpiece of the album is the ballad to her father "Let Go". She gives him a fitting remembrance that's bound to reverberate in the hearts of listeners everywhere. "Right when someone dies, there's a lot of sadness," she goes on. "You can live in it for a long time; some people live there forever. There comes a point to let go of the sadness and embrace the fact that I'm living here without my father, yet I never let go because he is always a part of me. I wanted to let go of the pain so I could remember the love. For everyone that leaves us, we have a responsibility to liver harder and live for them."
There's a deeper message to her writing. "I'm writing about really honest subjects," she continues. "I did The Voice so I could trigger that fire in people to pursue their dreams."
Ultimately, that honesty hits the hardest, even if it breaks a couple rules in the process. "I hope people realize they can heal themselves and their hearts," concludes Vicci.