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The Listening Room - Port Clinton: Artist Bios

Hey Monea & Paul Pfau - Saturday, December 16th

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For brothers Dan and Nate Monea and longtime friend Adam Orin, their time is meant to be spent doing what they love – writing, recording and performing music. "Even though Nate was just 13 and I was 16 when we played our first show, I knew music would be our life", says Dan. That passion was affirmed in 2012, when this childhood trio from Cleveland, Ohio were selected to open for Bruce Springsteen to perform in front of 60,000 fans during Hard Rock Calling's summer music festival in London's Hyde Park. The band secured this opportunity by winning Hard Rock's worldwide battle of the bands, besting over 12,000 other bands from around the world. Since then, Hey Monea has shared the stage with many of their musical heroes: ranging from the Bare Naked Ladies and the Goo Goo Dolls to the Doobie Brothers, Lady Antebellum, and Kid Rock. These influences resonate deeply in their music and was captured efficiently by legendary Grammy winning producer Dennis Herring (Counting Crows, Elvis Costello, Modest Mouse) on the bands' major label debut, Cheap Souvenirs, in late 2013. The band spent two years living on the road in support of Cheap Souvenirs, playing club dates and festivals across the country, as well as opening Bronze Radio Return's entire 2014 Summer tour. On the heels of all of that activity, Hey Monea elected to seclude themselves away in a cabin in Florida to write, record and self-produce their newest release, entitled "The Fifty." The record is meant to serve as a hearty homage to the United States, as Daniel Monea offers "not only is the American landscape the backdrop for our lives, it's the inspiration as well. With every new city comes different food, different culture, different nature, and most importantly different people who live entirely unique lives." Nate Monea adds "it's our privilege as a band, being able to travel and see new and diverse parts of the country. We try to use that inspiration, and this new album reflects that." Hey Monea doesn't consider themselves patriots in a traditional sense – as Daniel puts it, "We love America for the greasy spoons, farmers daughters, and fishing holes. For the people we meet along the way and for the freedom we all enjoy…" The songs on "The Fifty" reflect that love deeply on tunes like "Honey, I Do", a devotional love song that, according to Adam Orin, "takes a few risks and doesn't fit into a specific mold". America is the land of opportunity, and on "Filthy Rich", the band laments "late model cars and paper plates" and the other trappings of a band who aspires to break through. The calypso-tinged "Buenos Noches" addresses how love might, at timed, bridge the language barrier in our diverse country. "The Fifty" will be released on October 23 on independent imprint Noble Steed Music, and the band intends to tour with all of the enthusiasm reflected on this new, youthful batch of recordings.
   
  
Paul Pfau (rhymes with "wow") is an award-winning singer-songwriter living in Nashville, TN. After graduating from college with an economics degree in 2010 he decided to forgo the 9 to 5 for a career as a recording artist. In 2011 Paul was nominated Best New Artist by the Washington Area Music Association. In 2012 he began recording his debut full-length album, Happy To Be, with double-platinum recording engineer Sean Russell (Bruno Mars), which was mixed and mastered by Grammy-award-winning engineers Jeff Juliano (John Mayer, Dave Matthews Band) and Brad Blackwood (Maroon 5, Keith Urban). In 2013 Happy To Be won a WAMMIE for Debut Album of the Year. Months later he was diagnosed with a vocal nodule that would put his career on hold for the better half of the next year. Shortly after his recovery, Paul gained national exposure on season eight of NBC's hit show "The Voice." Auditioning with Frank Sinatra's "Fly Me To The Moon" he turned the chairs of both Blake Shelton & Pharrell Williams, ultimately choosing to work with Pharrell. Since his departure from the show, Paul has been writing and recording music for his sophomore album and touring the country.

 

Leigh Nash - New Year's Eve - Sunday, December 31st

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More than two decades into her career, singer-songwriter Leigh Nash shines a light on her Texas roots with The State I'm In, a solo album that plants its feet on both sides of the border.

Nash was raised in the Texas Hill Country, where the radio stations played country music and the small towns rang with mariachi bands. A shy kid, she built up her confidence by learning how to sing. Nash began by impersonating the artists she heard on the FM dial — with particular emphasis on Tanya Tucker and Patsy Cline — before graduating to her own gigs at the age of 13, when she began singing with a country band during a series of weekly shows in New Braunfels. Within a few years, she'd also joined a band called Sixpence None the Richer, which ultimately introduced the pop world to her signature, sparkling vocal and led a successful run that included Top 5 hits like "Kiss Me" and “There She Goes.”
  
Kicking off her acclaimed solo career in 2006, Nash has spent the past decade exploring everything from folk to electronic music. The State I'm In marks a return to her days in the Lone Star State, though, with Nash whipping up a combination of Texas twang, Spanish influences, orchestral pop hooks and heartbroken lyrics. In classic country style, she sings about heartache and bad luck in a voice that swoons and sweeps, backed by a band whose members include Emmylou Harris and Wanda Jackson's pianist, Jack White's ace fiddle player and award-winning a cappella group Street Corner Symphony. If The State I'm In sounds like a country album, though, it's a wide-ranging, left-of-center, Latin American-tinged country album, with songs that tip their hat to the past while still moving forward toward something new.
  
Looking for a fellow rule-breaker who wouldn't mind pushing the envelope, Nash turned to Grammy-nominated musician Brendan Benson, who co-wrote one of the songs and produced the entire record.
  
"I've been wanting to make this record since I was 14, but I needed the life experience to do it," says Nash. "These songs are about the things you can't get back to, whether it's your father dying or your relationship ending or your band amicably breaking up. It's my own version of the music I grew up on, with an emphasis on hooks and melodies and heartbroken lyrics."
 
Releasing on September 18th on her own One Son Records in partnership with Thirty Tigers. The State I'm In was entirely co-written by Nash, whose shimmering voice seamlessly ties together the album whose track list bounces between ballads steeped in old-school pop arrangements ("Spider and the Moth") and breakup songs rooted in the brassy influence of Mexico ("Somebody's Yesterday"). "What's Behind Me" even tips its hat to "God Only Knows," the classic Beach Boys hit whose writer — Brian Wilson — has been a longtime influence on Nash's own music. Also tossed into the mix are barroom piano chords, barbershop harmonies, horns, bursts of electric guitar, fiddle and the steady pulse of an upright bass. "We weren't afraid of going beyond the country genre," Nash explains. "We just went where the songs told us to go. And they took us to some great places."
Nash, Benson and company recorded everything in Nashville, where Nash has lived since 1996. Even so, The State I'm In still creates its own geography, dreaming up an imagined place where Tennessee, Texas and Mexico all share the same border, and Willie Nelson lives next door to Ry Cooder, Roy Orbison and Flaco Jimenez.
"I tried to get Flaco Jimenez on this record!" Nash explains. "His sound is the embodiment of much of the vibe I tried to capture. We got it! But I still want Flaco to play on any and everything I do from here on out."
 
The same goes for Cooder, who has spent his career building a similar bridge between American and Latin American roots music. "There are few artists that have the kind of visibility he has had so far in his career. I'd also chew off a limb to have him collaborate on a song with me," she says, adding, "One of my limbs, not his."
 
For Nash, there's a lot to be happy about. The State I'm In may be rooted in loss, but it's also the most ambitious album she's ever recorded, anchored by songs that turn melancholy into melody. She's a proud mother, too, with a husband who co-wrote album highlights like "High is Better" and "The State I'm In." Alternately loose and lush, The State I'm In feels like a reintroduction to an artist who's never really gone away, with Nash finding new life in older sounds. It's music for roadhouses, juke joints, make-out sessions, breakups, gospel services and drives across the American desert. You can take the girl out of Texas… 

Bryan White - Friday, January 12th & Saturday, January 13th

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Bryan was born in Lawton/Fort Sill, (Comanche County) Oklahoma into a musical family. Growing up he listened to all kinds of music. His parents played in cover bands and thanks to his father, he learned to play drums while he was still very young. Drums came natural to him and he became so good at it that his parents frequently invited him to play with them. Since their bands played all different styles of music, White feels it gave him a great perspective and helped to make him the diverse artist that he is today. "Although country music has my heart, I still love and respect all kinds of musical expression."

One thing White never tires of mentioning is the day he heard the music of his musical mentor, Steve Wariner. “People talk about defining moments. For me, this was definitely one of them. I heard Steve’s voice and I immediately gravitated toward his tone and phrasing. I knew right then, at the age of fourteen, what I wanted to do with my life.” Fresh out of high school, White says he packed up his guitar, drum sticks, angst, dreams, five hundred dollars that his family gave him and headed to Nashville to pursue a career in country music.

The move proved to be beneficial. He charted seventeen singles on Billboard's Country Charts, had six number one singles, two platinum records, two gold records, he joined forces with Shania Twain and together they took “From This Moment On” all the way up to number four on Billboard's Hot 100 Chart. He has garnered several awards for himself, including a Grammy, a CMA Horizon Award, and an ACM Top Male Vocalist award among them. And, with his songwriting, he helped several other artists climb the charts; Sawyer Brown and Diamond Rio both made it to the top five slot with songs co-written by White. He's also had song recorded by Wynonna, Joe Diffie, LeAnn Rimes, Lila McCann, Jackie Lee, Love and Theft, just to name a few. The accolades led him to various TV appearances such as "The Tonight Show," "Late Night With David Letterman,” NBC's "The Today Show," and “CBS This Morning.” However, despite all of his musical successes, it is an award from outside of the music arena that is probably the best indicator of who White really is; People Magazine named him one of their “50 most beautiful people” in the world and everyone who knows him finds it easy to understand why.

White says he has always been grateful for all he’s been given throughout the years but now looking back in retrospect, he is more grateful than he’s ever been before. "To gain notoriety for doing something that's second nature has always amazed me," he says. "It's incredible that I've gotten to work with so many of the people who've influenced me. It still blows my mind."

White took some time off to get away from the craziness of the music business and to start a family. "After a decade of building my career and being on the road so much, I was spent, mentally and physically," he says. "I knew, I needed to get away and take some time to breathe and do some of the other things I had always dreamed of." He did just that by marrying the beautiful actress Erika Page (One Life To Live/Days of Our Lives) and bringing sons Justin and Jackson into the world.

When asked how his life has changed during his break from the industry, White responds, “I found my true identity, not only as an artist and a songwriter, but as a human being. I realize now that life is an incredible gift and it’s meant to be lived on purpose and outwardly. Music is a gift and a great vehicle but it’s really about what happens beyond the music for me. What kind of legacy did I leave as a husband, as a father, and a friend?”

Bryan is currently working on a new album entitled "Shine" scheduled to be released May 27th, 2014. It is a record supported 100% by his fans. When asked what he hopes to accomplish with this new album, Bryan smiles and says, “I’ve already swung the bat hard and put the ball out of the park. I have nothing left to prove, but I have a lot more to say.” White is sure to once again make a huge impact with his voice coupled with great songs full of heart and honesty. Never forgetting where he comes from or his past success, he looks ahead with confidence, determination, gratitude, and much anticipation to a future filled with more dreams...

 

 

Charlie Mars - Friday, January 26th

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Mississippi-born singer/songwriter Charlie Mars is a country- and folk-inflected pop artist blessed with a warm vocal croon and a knack for crafting poignant, earthy songs. Born in 1974 in Laurel, Mississippi, Mars grew up listening to various styles of pop/rock, from Michael Jackson to the Violent Femmes. Just prior to his senior year of high school, Mars moved with his family to Jackson, Mississippi, where he attended Jackson Preparatory School and played in the band Adley Madidafus. After graduating high school in 1992, he attended Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. During this time, he began seriously pursuing a music career, often playing with fellow SMU student, singer/songwriter Jack Ingram. It was also while at SMU that Mars formed the Charlie Mars Band and released several albums, including 1995's Broken Arrow, 1997's Born & Razed, and 1999's End of Romance.

Along with this early success came a hard-partying lifestyle and taste for alcohol that found him disbanding his group and entering rehab for a month. In 2001, looking to start fresh, Mars moved to Sweden where began writing new material. Re-energized, he returned to the United States where he spent time in Austin, Texas and eventually released his 2004 self-titled album on V2 Records. After settling in New York City in 2008, he began work on what would eventually become his "Texas Trilogy." Recorded with producer Billy Harvey and a core group of musicians in Austin, the trilogy includes 2009's Like a Bird, Like a Plane and 2012's Blackberry Light. In 2014, Mars rounded out the trilogy with the release of his seventh studio album, the Harvey-produced Money.

John Berry - Friday, April 27th

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John Berry has a new outlook, a new address and a new beginning. The singer-songwriter rose to stardom on the country charts of the 1990s with such mega hits as Your Love Amazes Me, Standing on the Edge of Goodbye and She’s Taken a Shine. His annual Christmas tours brighten the holidays for thousands, as does his electrifying rendition of O’ Holy Night.

During his star-making decade, John placed 20 singles on the county hit parade, 6 of which went Top 5, with Your Love Amazes Me, scoring a #1 on the Billboard Country Chart. He has earned multiple Gold and Platinum records over the years. John was nominated for the ACM Top New Male Vocalist in 1994, won a Grammy Award in 1996 for his participation in Amazing Grace: A Country Salute to Gospel Vol. 1, was nominated for another Grammy in 1995 for his smash hit Your Love Amazes Me and was nominated for the CMA Horizon Award and Top Male Vocalist Award in 1995. In 1997 he was nominated for Vocal Event of the Year (for Long Haired Country Boy with Charlie Daniels and Hal Ketchum) and in 2013 John was nominated for the Mainstream Country Male Artist by the ICM Awards. And thanks to the miracles of modern technology, he even sang a duet with the late, great Patsy Cline.

“I love what I do, with a passion not seen in quite some time. I’m hopeful and excited about the future. I love singing and always will. I have a bus, an incredible stage presentation, a great band, hands-on management team and I’m always all dressed up and ready to go.”

He and his family moved back to Music City after several years in Georgia, and in 2016 John is pursuing a touring and personal appearance schedule that is more active than ever. Given his wide range of music and number of releases, John is fortunate in that he can book a solo show with just himself and guitar, a small-band acoustic show or a full-band engagement and has more than enough hit material to captivate a crowd and deliver an evening full of musical memories.

John’s enduringly powerful performances draw on a lifetime of making music and living life. Born in South Carolina and raised in Georgia, he began playing guitar at 13, performing shows at age 14 and making records at age 19. “By the time I was 17, I knew that music was what I wanted to do with my life”; and he has done it well ever since. 

Between 1979 and 1990 he recorded and marketed six albums on his own labels. The Graduation Song, which he wrote during his senior year in high school, became a perennial favorite at graduation ceremonies. It appeared on two of his early collections.

Those early discs and John’s strong regional popularity attracted attention on Music Row. Capitol Records signed him to his first major label contract in 1992. Berry’s co-written hits A Mind of Her Own and Kiss Me in the Car introduced him to radio audiences in 1993. Then Your Love Amazes Me, What’s in it for Me and You and Only You thrust him to stardom in 1994. Standing on the Edge of Goodbye, I Think About it all the Time, and If I Had Any Pride Left at All were all major hits the following year, with Standing on the Edge of Goodbye earning John the coveted 1995 Grammy nomination.

But it was his stunning performance of the title track of the 1995 CD O’ Holy Night that led to his most enduring legacy to date. John began doing special Christmas tours that year and 2016 marks his 20th anniversary holiday concert tour. He has big plans to celebrate and involve the fans like never before for this anniversary celebration. He has also issued three more Christmas-music collections. If O’ Holy Night is all that anyone remembers of me, that’s fine with me,” he comments about his perennial Christmas popularity. “It is a truly inspired piece of music.”

Happily, there were more successes to come. The hit Change My Mind earned John a Top-5 spot on the Country music charts in 1996. She’s Taken a Shine became an even bigger hit in 1997. Both fans and the media took note again when There He Goes was released as a 1999 duet with Patsy Cline.

In 2002, Berry returned to making records for his own company, Clear Sky Records. Songs and Stories, a double CD was issued that year.

In 2003, John Berry released his I Give My Heart collection and its critically applauded wedding anthem Will You Marry Me. The disc also contained his versions of such classic love songs as Time in a Bottle, If, Love Look What You’ve Done to Me, Faithfully, Lady and Let’s Stay Together. I Give My Heart inspired still another popular concert series, The Love Tour.

In 2008, Those Were the Days, was released, marking John’s return to mainstream country music. He created his first Christian-music CD in 2011. In 2012, John published the combination book and CD, again titled Songs and Stories. Over the years he has continued to tour steadily. “We just have a great group of fans who welcome us every year. They are always there.”

In 2015 John embarked for the first time on a crowd funded Kickstarter project that proved very successful. Overwhelmed by the fan response, John assembled an all-star studio team and cut both a Country album entitled What I Love the Most and a new 5-song Christmas EP This Christmas Night. Blessed with the ability to make the music he wanted to make (and not what a label dictated) allowed John the time to write and create what many music critics who have heard bits & pieces are saying could be his best, most complete project yet. “I'm excited to release this new music and bring it to the fans in 2016. It’s a new time in the music business and technology allows me to be closer to my fans and interact in new ways. You know, God just keeps blessing me. There are new opportunities coming at every turn.”

“With time, I’ve learned that the road to fulfillment is doing what I was called to do, love to do, and then doing it the best I can, regardless of the circumstances. And for me, that is making music and singing for people."