Have you ever been at a live music performance and you find yourself barely able to breathe? You just sit there afraid to move because you realize that something very special is happening and you want to take it all in. That is the feeling I had as I was a part of the very first Soundstage Live! event at MadLife Stage and Studios on April 5, 2018 in Woodstock, Georgia. The audience around me was mesmerized and captivated as each of the six performers brought their gifts and talents to the stage. A professional film crew was on hand to document the evening and as the venue overflowed with music lovers the excitement filled the room. The goal of this film documentary event is to present original artists to the world.
Soundstage LIVE! evenings at MadLife feature the most exceptional of the original artists who have taken their stage. These are nights of powerful words and music, with every artists’ performance being captured by MadLife engineers via their superb audio and video recording systems. Most Soundstage LIVE! shows feature six original artists / original bands, performing songs that offer honest windows into their hearts and minds.
“Call it inspiration, creativity or destiny, the spark that ignites original music brings sonic gifts to all of us – musicians and music lovers alike.”
The first performer of the night was Cody Bolden, a local Woodstock small business owner. Cody Bolden is a singer-songwriter based in Canton, Georgia. He was raised between Alabama and Georgia, traveling between homes. Music seems to be in the background of all of Cody’s memories, from his Mom singing folk songs while cooking breakfast in the morning to his Dad’s radio always being on and dialed to an Outlaw Country station. Although music was continuously present, Cody only recently decided to pick-up a guitar and start making music of his own.
Two years into his musical journey, Cody enjoys writing and performing songs about things that are important to him, allowing his parents’ musical preferences to influence his sound.
Next in the evening’s lineup was David Michael Miller. Dave is a Buffalo-based singer/songwriter, with roots anchored in gospel, blues and soul foundation. He fronted several bands as lead singer and primary songwriter, getting airplay all around the country in college markets and gospel stations with previous projects. David Michael Miller, founder, lead vocalist, guitarist and songwriter for Miller and The Other Sinners, is a well established musician in the Western New York (WNY) music scene. Raised on gospel and radio, David loved the sounds of soul music from an early age and began writing playing and writing music as a child. His music was kept mainly in the church until he was in his 30’s and began playing blues and soul music around WNY in area clubs and dives. For 6 years he fronted the band, Dive House Union (DHU) which recorded two live albums, one in the prestigious Kleinhan’s Music Hall in Buffalo, NY and one in the historic Aurora Theater, in East Aurora, NY. David has shared the stage with artists such as Tedeschi Trucks Band, Steve Miller Band, Joe Bonamassa, Jonny Lang, Gary Clark Jr., Bobby Blue Bland, Jimmie Vaughan, Shemekia Copeland, Lowest of the Low and many others.
American singer-songwriter Michael Zaib came to the stage next. Michael is a Georgia native with a silky smooth voice that embodies the sounds of Otis Redding and Chris Stapleton with the storytelling of John Denver. Louisiana-born and Georgia-raised, Zaib brings soul, country, R&B and folks genres into his originals that invite you on his journey as a singer-songwriter. With two records to his name—his 2017 “31” featuring five songs recorded at Atlanta’s Spotlight and New York’s Cove City studios, and his 2015 self-titled EP featuring hit singles “The Wind” and “MaMa Said”—Zaib tours regularly across Georgia, the Carolinas, Tennessee, Washington, D.C., New York City and Los Angeles.
“They didn’t realize it then, but when Mom and Dad gave me that old Washburn guitar at fourteen, they were handing me the strings to my future.” — Michael Zaib
Tyler Lee Frush is an alternative rock artist hailing from Atlanta, Georgia. His raspy vocals and folk-like influences paired with fuzz drenched guitar solos form a unique sound. At one point in the evening I was convinced that Tyler’s amazing guitar playing was going to set his guitar on fire. I was fortunate enough to have an exclusive interview with Tyler and you can read his answers at the end of this article. I was very impressed with Tyler and his band and I am looking forward to seeing where Tyler Lee Frush goes next in his career.
Tyler has a new single out called “Firewood” and you can see his video here:
Whiskey Dixie is a Southern Soul Rock band pulling influences from Rock N’ Roll, Blues, Roots, and Soul. Formed in Fall of 2014, the band went from local band to road warriors touring all over the Southeast and Midwest as headliners and support acts for the likes of Joe Diffie, Drivin’ N Cryin’, Artimus Pyle of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Uncle Lucius and many more. Today’s lineup features Jacob Parker’s screaming guitar solos, Hunter Blalock’s honest lyrics, Austin Harper on guitar and pedal steel, Warren Nichols soulful Piano and organ, followed by a rock-solid rhythm section made up of Taylor Locklear and Collin Parker. All together Whiskey Dixie is on a journey to show the world what Georgia rock n’ roll is all about.
The band also independently released their first recorded effort, The Southern Fix in winter of 2014. The band’s constant touring and powerful live shows have made Whiskey Dixie a must-see band for 2017.
Official Website https://www.davemillermusic.com/home
Facebook URL https://www.facebook.com/millerandtheothersinners/
Official Website https://www.codybolden.com/
Exclusive Interview with Tyler Lee Frush
At what age did you begin playing music? Are you self-taught or did you take lessons?
I started playing music when I was 12 with another local guy named Justin Harmon, he showed me Johnny Cash’s song “Hurt” and I was hooked. I took lessons for a year or so from a teacher at Ken Stanton Music store name Luis Mendez, but after that I started learning a lot from Eddie Van Halen on YouTube. Just watching his fingers and trying to understand how he made the sounds that he did.
What instruments do you know how to play?
I know guitar the most, but I can play a little bass and piano. (However, not very well…ha)
When did you write your first song? What was it called and what was it about?
I wrote my first song when I was about 15 and it was called “That Girl”. I honestly don’t remember who I wrote it about. But, if you look hard enough you can find it on YouTube somewhere!
What were you like in high school? Would you go back and redo high school again if you could?
In high school I was just your average kid. I loved Van Halen, sports, and just hanging out with friends. But, I never finished high school because I ended up dropping out in the beginning of 11th grade and moved to California to be the next Eddie Van Halen. But after working at the Whisky A Go-Go for a few months I came back and got my GED. But no, I wouldn’t go back and do it any differently.
Who are your musical influences?
My musical influences differ daily, but the biggest ones I have are Johnny Cash and Van Halen. I also take some from Kings Of Leon, the Black Keys, Jack White, A. A. Bondy and Led Zeppelin.
When people hear your music, who do you hope it reminds them of?
Well, when it comes to what I want people to understand or feel from my music is that it all can be related to their lives and experiences. I don’t usually say why I wrote a specific song personally, but I will say that all my songs tell two stories, there is the secular or worldly side of the story and then there’s the spiritual side to the story. Every one of my songs can be related to something Biblical. Some more obviously than others. I always think of it like the Christian songs for people who aren’t Christians. You already have an over saturation of Christian songs for believers, so why not do things a little different.
What was the first album that you added to your personal music library?
The first album I remember I stole from Justin was a Johnny Cash Greatest Hits album.
What was your most recent addition to your personal music library?
The latest album I have been listening to is “The World Smiles At You” by Khruangbin. A bartender at MadLife showed it to me, really interesting stuff! But before that was The Lord Of The Rings soundtrack. I think Howard Shore is incredible and this is his finest work
What was your first live music experience? Which venue and which artist(s)?
The first concert I can recall was in 2008 and of course it was Van Halen. Blew my mind! Couldn’t believe the sounds he was making on the guitar. I went home that night and tried (unsuccessfully) to play “Eruption”… haha.
If you could cover one album in your music library which would it be? A. A. Bondy’s “When The Devils Loose” honestly I can listen to that album on repeat without skipping a song! Fantastic start to finish!
What artist(s) do you wish more people had in their music library?
Again A. A. Bondy. His writing is amazing!
What’s the name of your band? What’s the origin of that name? Have you changed the band’s name before?
In my band we use my name,Tyler Lee Frush. The reason we chose to use my name came from first, I couldn’t find a name I liked and second, we are a group of individuals that come together to make music, not a band that writes and does everything together.
Who are the other members of the band?
Jason Abarca is the drummer and Adam Davenport is the bassist.
What genre of music do you consider your work to be? Who are your major influences?
I range from everything from Rock to Folk to sometimes older blues.
How long have you all known each other? How did you meet?
I’ve known Adam since we worked together at Ponier Music in Woodstock, GA back in 2013. And Adam introduced me to Jason around 3 years ago. They had played in bands together before they had met me.
When did you form your band? What inspired you to make music together?
Well we started playing shows together three years ago at a bar in Canton, Georgia called The Snug. And we were inspired to play together because it was almost a necessity, I mean there weren’t many local players that could play or wanted to play the kind of music I was writing.
Do you have a record label? Are you a member of any music organizations?
No, I do not have a label at the moment and other than BMI, I’m not in any music organizations.
What can you tell me about your instruments? (i.e., Are you subject to brand loyalty or will you play with whatever’s available? What made you choose the instruments you have now? Was it cost or was it a style/model/brand/color preference?
No, I’m not loyal to a company right now. I have a Jay Tourser guitar, an epiphone dot studio, and a Stella acoustic from the 60s era. The only really thing of interest to me when it comes to instruments is I won’t order or buy online, I have to play the one I’m gonna buy!
Where have you performed? What are the local venues that we might find you playing the most often? Do you have any upcoming shows?
We play a lot at MadLife in Woodstock lately, and we also play Smith’s Olde Bar and the Masquerade as well. We just booked June 22nd show at the Hard Rock in Atlanta with the band Last Chance Riders. And there will be more shows soon!
Which songs do you perform most frequently? Do you ever play any covers? Do you have a set play list?
We are currently playing mostly original music, songs like “Firewood”, “Don’t Let Me Go”, and “Call Me”. Occasionally we will throw a cover into the mix like the Black Keys “I Got Mine”, or Muse’s “Hysteria”. But we are focused on original songs for the most part. And as far as set lists go, it really depends on the show. We have a short set we use a lot but the longer the show the more we mix it up.
Who writes your songs? What are the main themes or topics for most of your songs? Do you think these topics will change over time?
I typically write the music and the guys come in and write parts on top of that. And as far as the lyrics go, I write them myself. All of my songs tell two stories, a secular part and a spiritual Godly part. I try to weave them together and let the listener decide what the song means to them.
Could you briefly describe the music-making process?
The process I go through changes song to song really. I could be sitting in a room playing the guitar, or I could be driving around and have a really interesting idea or hook just hit me. Bottom line, there’s no strict process for me.
What are your rehearsals generally like? Do you have a set time each week in which you practice or are rehearsals more spontaneous?
Our rehearsals are done when we have shows coming up typically. We don’t have a set time or place. It’s just whenever and wherever we can to make sure we are ready for any shows that come up.
How has your music evolved since you first began playing music together?
The music seems (in my opinion) to have taken on a more serious and darker tone and sound. Less happy sounding hooks and melodies, and more theatrical and meaningful songs and inspirations. Before I would just pick chords and write catchy phrases over them, and now I want the music to have as much meaning as the lyrics.
What has been your biggest challenge as a band? Have you been able to overcome that challenge? If so, how?
Schedules! Just making sure everyone can be where they need to be when they need to be there.
What’s your ultimate direction for your band? Are you seeking fame and fortune?
Fame and fortune aren’t really the goals I have set out for myself. I believe I was put here by God to create music and that’s what I’m going to do. My goals are more down to earth when it comes to a career making music. I just want to be financially stable making music, so I can raise a family and provide for them without stressing over money.
What advice do you have for people who want to form their own bands?
Have someone who is in charge and surround yourself with people who are better (and smarter) then you. Don’t let pride get in the way of the goals you’ve set out. In my experience when bands get together and vote on things and each person has a different vision for that band, it becomes more difficult to make decisions. But on the other hand if you surround yourself with people (not just band mates) who know the business of music and have your best interests in mind it can help you make smarter choices down the line.
How can fans to be gain access to your music? Do you have a website with sample songs?
We have music on Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube. We also have a website at www.tylerleefrush.com. And soon we will be finishing up an E.P. Called “The Bliss And The Blind” with Steven Morrison producing and engineering coming out soon!
Any last words? What do you want people to know about you?
All I’d like to say about myself is that I’m grateful to everyone who has supported us and come to shows, and listened to the music. Thanks again and God Bless!