Gail Petersen – The Hollow Canyon Band: Performing at International Blues Challenge
New Jersey’s Gail Petersen has appeared several times in Shoreworld in the past. As a member of The Catholic Girls, Petersen has demonstrated time and time again her talent and dedication to her craft as a songwriter. The Catholic Girls got their start back in the eighties after the band was formed with childhood friends Petersen, Roxy Andersen and Doreen Holmes.
After learning their craft and playing all over the area, the girls ended up landing a deal on MCA Records. The band launched two world tours, ended up on MTV with their new wave anthem, “Boys Can Cry,” and were scheduled for Saturday Night Live. Fact, the band was pulled from SNL after being deemed to be “too controversial,” due to the Catholic school girl uniforms and their rosary beads. My how the world has changed, right?
The band went on to release several other records (a couple reviewed right here) and do more miraculous things over the next couple of decades. They are still all close and still play music and release Catholic Girls records.
While on a brief hiatus from The Catholic Girls, Petersen has joined forces with three accomplished blues players — Tommy Grills, Dr. Robert Sellani, and Gary “Slick” Van Slyke to form Hollow Canyon Band. The band plays true, original hard-core blues and most recently competed in The Northern Arizona Blues Competition and came in first place. This win qualified them to go to Memphis in January to represent Arizona in The International Blues Challenge.
The IBC represents a worldwide search for those blues acts ready to perform on The International Stage, just needing that extra big break. It is judged by blues professionals from across the world and takes place each year in Memphis, Tenn. from January 16 through 20. Hollow Canyon will be playing Jan. 17 and 18 along with 400 bands, and if they move on to the semi-finals, they will play on Jan. 19.
Many clubs on the famous Beale Street are used for the festival’s showcases, and bands don’t know where they will be playing until the day before. Reaching the finals means performing on Jan. 20 at the Orpheum Theatre. Hollow Canyon’s performance will include Petersen on lead vocals (additionally playing two of her own blues originals). Whatever happens at the IBC, Gail will continue performing her music one way or another in Arizona or New Jersey.
The blues is a natural jump for Petersen, whose original entry into music as a young girl was playing the blues acoustically. As a teenager, she was inspired by people like Bessie Smith and Big Momma Thornton. This led to her to writing original music, which in turn led to The Catholic Girls where she always written and included a blues-inspired tune or two on each album. So, for now, from rock and pop to the blues!
Who knows what’s coming next from Petersen — but there’s more to come, and you’ll read it here first!
For more information on the IBC and to see where Gail Petersen and the band are performing, head over to blues.org/international-blues-challenge.
Brooklyn’s Foxanne Releases “Whiskey and Strawberries” Single Ahead of Debut Studio EP, Halfling
Foxanne is another New Jersey originating artist that has had ink in this column. Ahead of her debut EP, Halfling, Foxanne, a now Brooklyn-based indie-folk-pop three-piece, has been gaining steady buzz with their powerful, sweet, and adventurous sound and dynamic, raw live performance.
Now, in anticipation of the February release of Halfling, the band is releasing “Whiskey and Strawberries,” a track inspired by a night with an unsavory human being. The best art takes the personal experience and blends it with feeling and fantasy to make something relatable, and Foxanne does this tenderly with scads of power on “Whiskey and Strawberries.”
“So, I stayed over, for the whiskey and strawberries,” the chorus echoes as blues-inspired vocals crescendo and soared over a familiar 6/8 heartbeat.
Halfling was recorded with Pat Noon of the EightSixteen Studio, who has previously worked with The Front Bottoms, River City Extension, and many others. Foxanne is eager to showcase their sound in a complete and polished release and to tour extensively with this EP.
Lead singer, songwriter, and guitarist Foxanne is supported by synth player Michael J. Harris and Juilliard-trained percussionist Andrew Funcheon. The band has recently played at venues like Shea Stadium, the Knitting Factory, and Cake Shop with artists like Vita and the Woolf and Letters to Nepal. They have also made regular appearances this past year at Sofar Sounds events throughout the city.
Foxanne sent me the track, and I found it to be both sensuous and original in nature. Foxanne’s voice is a lilting mix of ultra-high, luxurious mids and mind-blowing lows all wrapped up in an earthy grit of power and elevated control. Noon does a great job with the production, blending instrumentation such as guitars, bass, and drums while keeping plenty of space for Foxanne to do her proverbial thing.
Foxanne wrote me and said the “Whiskey and Strawberries” is “a brutally honest ode to a classic fuckboy. It tells the truthful tale of a night gone very, very wrong.”
The song starts off with an ominous feel, slithering from Foxanne’s guitar growls to pocketed bass, drums and synth work courtesy of Mike Harris and Andrew Funcheon. Noon gets things right from the get-go. Blending instrumentation with attitude and vocals to come up with a viable and addictive song that is the first of several from the soon-to-be-released EP.
Foxanne’s style is a mix of dreamy Tori Amos and Beth Gibbons from Portishead. She utilizes a sweeping range that encompasses everything from a whisper to a howl and it works like gangbusters. If “Whiskey and Strawberries” is anything like the rest of Halfling, it’s going to be a winner for 2018 for sure. Once it’s finished I plan on reviewing the entire thing right here in The Aquarian.
In the meantime, for more information on Foxanne and Halfling, head over to foxanne-music.com to get the details.