Scene

Prince PORTRAIT

By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

An assortment of some of the area’s most well-known and eclectic talent will join forces this Friday at Suzie’s Dogs and Drafts for a career-spanning tribute to Prince. Since his passing on April 21 of this year, there has been a far-reaching cry across the musical landscape for the iconic multi-instrumental songwriter. A fact no different here in the Valley, as musicians from acts such as The Zou, The Vindys and Jude Benedict and The Last Drop, among many more, will take the stage to express their love, admiration and gratitude for the works of The Purple One.

The event was spear-headed by Kyle O’Donnell and John Anthony, both of whom will be taking part in the performance. O’Donnell said musicians from Youngstown, Warren, and Pittsburgh, as well other parts of Pennsylvania will be taking part, for a diverse representation of the region.

“I actually didn’t even meet some of the guys in the band, who are from PA, until 2 days before our first rehearsal, but I’m excited that they’re willing to bring their talents to Youngstown for a night,” said O’Donnell.

The initial bond that unites these musicians is, of course, the music of Prince. Anthony said that following his death, he decided to analyze himself as a musician and just how important of a role Prince played.

“With the passing of Prince, I felt as a guitar player I always wanted to dive more into his musical vocabulary but always pushed it aside because my focus was always working on different music. Myself and our drummer, Kelvin Newell, had spoke about doing a Prince tribute show for years however we were never able to make a particular date work with our schedules. Once Prince passed, I like everyone else, began to revisit a lot of the music and felt that it was time to really study his guitar playing,” explained Anthony.

There’s no denying the impact Prince made on the musical landscape. Khaled Tabbara of The Zou explained the significance of Prince’s discography and how it influenced the sound of artists to follow.

“Prince’s is one of the greatest artists and performers in the history of modern music. His impact on rock and popular music is unsurpassed. Equal (or greater than in some ways) to the Beatles or Dylan. Even if you think you don’t like Prince, he is probably your favorite artist’s favorite artist. If you like, Beyonce, Beck, Dave Grohl, Justin Timberlake, Stevie Wonder, Rhianna, Trent Reznor, or most things you hear on the radio, you are listening to music made by Prince fans,” said Tabbara.

O’Donnell said that his legacy is on par with that of greats like Michael Jackson.

“Some people might not believe it, but Prince was once talked about in the same breath as musicians such as Michael Jackson. Actually, the story goes that Michael Jackson asked Prince to sing on his song “Bad,” but Prince turned it down. Jackson is responsible for the best selling album of all time, so being considered to be on his level speaks to Prince’s talent,” said O’Donnell.

“He put out 1999, which is a totally cool, electronic synth-pop record, and about a year later, dropped Purple Rain, what many consider one of the greatest rock records ever made,” added Tabbara.

Anthony said that although he discovered Prince slightly later in the game, the impact was felt no less.

“Prince was an artist that I did not discover until high school. My parents did not play him in our house and it wasn’t until his performance at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction in 2004 that I found out who he was,” said Anthony.

O’Donnell, Tabbara and Anthony all agree that this tribute will give justice to Prince’s musical and cultural impact and turn casual or non-fans into believers.

“This show will obviously showcase the classics, but it will also showcase some of the lesser known tunes. I bet that we will have some audience members say to themselves, ‘Oh, I know this song,’ but they might never have realized that it was Prince. I think that this will really outline how even the non-fan was impacted by Prince’s music,” said O’Donnell.

“This show is full of musicians from across the musical spectrum; rock guys, pop girls, jazz and classical cats, funk and R&B fans. We all come from different musical influences, but we are all huge Prince fans,” added Tabbara.

All three musicians share an excitement and enthusiasm upon performing with one another, bringing out the best in one another and doing so in such an unconventional fashion.

“Many of the musicians who are playing this group were picked because of their love of his music. These individuals are some of the best musicians in the area who look at taking an artist’s work and playing it at the highest level of musicianship possible,” said Anthony.

“This is perhaps the most interesting part of this gig. I feel like the story behind the story is the band. In the past, myself and John Anthony have done a number of tribute shows with multiple groups of musicians,” added O’Donnell.

“I’ve known a lot of these musicians for a while, but I’m really excited to have a chance to finally play with them. It’s going to be a really dynamite show,” finished Tabbara.

O’Donnell said that although he doesn’t want to reveal too much, this tribute will be one to remember, with plenty of surprises in store.

“Well, I’m not going to give away too much about the set list, but Prince was very unique and eclectic, so the audience will experience a wide range of styles and themes. We will play music from four different decades, so we plan to cater to both the casual fan and the diehard one.

“Performance wise, we’re going to have a pretty good balance of group playing and solo jams. We have a huge amount of talent in the band and we want to showcase that as much as possible,” O’Donnell said.

“Like many of the other tribute shows that we have done, it’s always exciting to see the people who come to these shows because typically you see the excitement and nostalgia that a lot of this music is going to bring them,” added Anthony.

Lastly, O’Donnell commented that all of the greats to come before and after Prince, the timeless music will continue to inspire and intrigue generations to come.

“I think that Prince’s lasting influence was already being felt, even before his death. When you think about artists like Prince, David Bowie, Elton John, etc., it’s easy to go straight to the crazy outfits and the odd behavior. Beneath all of that, they are all incredible musicians who are very proficient at their craft. Moving forward, I think that future generations will have more awareness of who Prince was, the level of talent that he possessed, and just how prolific of a career he had,” O’Donnell said.

The Tribute will take place at Suzie’s Dogs and Drafts in downtown Youngstown on Friday, June 10. Here is the complete lineup of musicians involved:

Vocals: Khaled Tabbara – Youngstown, OH (Band leader for The Zou)

Guitar: John Anthony – Youngstown, OH (Guitarist for The Vindys)

Keyboard: Doug Finley – Pittsburgh, PA (Guitarist for Jude Benedict and The Last Drop)

Bass: Dave Traugh – Kiski Area, PA (Bassist for Jude Benedict and The Last Drop)

Drums: Kelvin Newell – Warren, OH

Backing Vocals: Katianne Timko – Youngstown, OH (K808)

Aux. Percussion: Jon Pincek – Pittsburgh, PA

Trumpet 1: Tim Tuite – Youngstown, OH

Trumpet 2: Kyle O’Donnell – Youngstown, OH

Trombone 1: Brian Mayle – Youngstown, OH

Trombone 2: Sean Durkin – Youngstown, OH

Saxophones: Stephen Harvey – Rochester, PA

Where's Winona Now? left to right: Ryan Augustine, Lucy Sawyer, Connor Lane and Tyler Toporcer. Photo courtesy of facebook.com.

Where’s Winona Now? left to right: Ryan Augustine, Lucy Sawyer, Connor Lane and Tyler Toporcer. Photo courtesy of facebook.com.

By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

As the seeming endless pool of unique original talent continues to pour out of every corner of the Mahoning Valley, one quartet is bringing the raw intensity of unrefined punk rock to the forefront.

Where’s Winona Now?, a fresh-faced teenage punk rock outfit, is carving quite the niche into the local scene. With memorizing high-profile performances throughout the area including Suzie’s Dogs and Drafts in Youngstown, Dave Grohl Alley in Warren and the Outpost Concert Club in Kent, as well as a slot on one of 2016’s most-hyped events, Revive Arts and Music Festival, the band continue to steamroll their way onto the scene, picking up fans at every turn.

Through heartfelt and empowering lyrics, partnered with powerful music, the band are set to lead the next generation of the Steel Valley music scene.

Consisting of vocalist Lucy Sawyer, guitarist Tyler Toporcer, bassist Ryan Augustine and drummer Connor Lane, Where’s Winona Now? formed out of friendship, and a general love for music. The band’s sound is primarily in the vein of punk rock, with the influence of the fuzz-soaked alternative scene of the 1990s.

“Lucy is into a lot of Nirvana and Bikini Kill, Ryan likes Nirvana, Green Day and classic rock, Connor is into more metal bands like Avenged Sevenfold and Metallica, and I’m all over the place,” said Toporcer of his influences.

Despite coming from a much younger generation, Sawyer said that growing up, classic rock radio was a staple in her home.

“Definitely! My dad was always playing non-stop music,” said Sawyer.

“My dad listened to a lot of Metallica, and we’d listen to Rock 104, and I got into music that way,” added Lane.

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Much like the band’s key influences, Where’s Winona Now? connect with their audience through deep personal lyrics that reflect where they are in their lives. Through long jam sessions, the band carefully sift through their music and piece together each song.

“I write all the lyrics. Definitely about personal events, relationships and not-so-good relationships. They jam and I pick out the parts that I like,” explained Sawyer.

One of the recurring themes through the band’s songs is the idea of embracing imperfection and being comfortable in one’s own skin.

“I think the point of [the band] is that we’re not perfect. And we want to reach people like that, we want to make sure everyone knows they have somebody,” said Sawyer.

“It’s a nice thing to relate to,” added Toporcer. “Not being pressured to be perfect, just be yourself.”

This is a sentiment that Sawyer said is lacking in popular music today.

“It’s just really general stuff, and I get that. But there’s not much that’s real personal that makes you feel that way too,” said Sawyer.

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The members of Where’s Winona Now? all agree that they are at their best in a live setting, where the end result is greater than the sum of its parts. Original songs such as “Tell Me Why,” “Bad News” and “Her Song” capture the raw emotion the band conveys through both their music and lyrics. And with a slew of noteworthy, attention-grabbing live performances already under their under their belt, the band has successfully hit the ground running.

One area the band have most successfully carved a niche into is the revived downtown Youngstown music scene, where the band feel most at-home.

“I definitely think it’s better that the scene is coming back here, because we had to drive up to Kent and Akron to play shows a lot,” said Sawyer.

It’s nice to play shows where people around here are excited to hear us rather than try to get 20 people to pay for tickets to drive up to Kent to see us,” added Augustine.

Sawyer said that she believes it’s very important to have a strong scene in a central location such as that of downtown Youngstown with all of the great culture and talent that surrounds it.

“I think it’s important just because locally it feels like we were culturally starved for a little bit, especially after the Wickyards shut down,” said Sawyer.

As the downtown Youngstown scene continues to expand and rebuild, Where’s Winona Now?, along with a handful of their peers, find themselves smack in the middle of an exciting new movement.

While band look to hit the studio for their first proper recording in the near future, they have a few high-profile performances to keep fans satisfied for the meantime.

“We’ll be at the BuzzBin Arcade and Music Ship in Canton on June 3 and Revive Arts and Music Festival in downtown Youngstown on July 16,” finished Toporcer.

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Aspiring Actress Slashes Her Way To the Big Time

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Ms. Rose

A place for all ears and minds; The Raw Alternative showcases the counterculture in literature, arts and music at their very best. In this publication, we will present you the best underground art from local to international scenes.

-Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

IN THIS ISSUE:

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Aspiring Actress Slashes Her Way To the Big Time

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Artist Katlyn Jackson displaying her original artwork.

Artist Katlyn Jackson displaying her original artwork.

By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

Down time is a strange concept to Katlyn Jackson. At just 18, she runs both a successful photography and custom jewelry business, holds a steady day job and manages to trip out in her own unique artistic vision. And she’s quite the accomplished artist, having gained a good amount of notoriety locally.

“I love everything I do and it’s hard to do all those things with having your daily job to support yourself and hobbies you absolutely love. I plan on my projects throughout the year due to seasons and when I’d have the most free time to work on certain projects,” said Jackson.

Although she doesn’t have the ample abundance of free time to spend on her art that most her age would, it doesn’t stop her from taking advantage of any and every moment to find that spark.

“The hardest part is finding inspiration with having so much to do and only so many hours in a day. I’m always scrolling Instagram, Etsy, Facebook or Pinterest to find my own ideas to put on paper when I have 10-15 minutes. It’s best to make a list and come back to it when you’re ready,” Jackson said.

Artwork by Katlyn Jackson.

Artwork by Katlyn Jackson.

The Raw Alternative recently spoke with Jackson at length on how she began her artistic journey.

The Raw Alternative: How long have you been at this?

Katlyn Jackson: Honestly, since I can remember. In high school I took it more seriously and put a lot more focused time into my pieces when contests and scholarships were important.

RA: How did you discover your love for art?

KJ: Just growing up I liked to draw similar things in different positions and sceneries. Of course they were kids drawings still, then I learned how to really apply my skills in school.

RA: What does art mean for you?

KJ: Art is very expressive. Looking back at it now, I never played sports and kept to myself mostly in school. I was always spending extra time in the art room. It was my escape, I guess you could say. Something I put effort into and felt proud of.

RA: What inspires you? Do you pull from certain emotions?

KJ: Honestly, being in a positive mindset. I get so many ideas and eventually spin off those ideas from there. Personally, I have a lot of anxiety, so it helps keeps my mind occupied to work on something and when I’m done, feel accomplished.

Original Artwork by Katlyn Jackson.

Original Artwork by Katlyn Jackson.

RA: Are there any other kinds of art/artists specifically that inspire your art? Or perhaps any music? And have any one piece of art directly inspired one of your works?

KJ: I have a couple pieces that are inspired from other works. For example, the really intricate works are recreated in my own form. I love watercolor paintings, city photos, abstract graphics. I’m drawn to many different pieces of art not specifically by any artists but I’m very supportive of all forms of artists out there. My favorite is recreating a piece of art as another art form. For example, taking a photograph and sketching and shading it out or recreating it as a stipple photo.

RA: What are some of your achievements so far? What are YOU most proud of?

KJ: Looking back now, I’m pretty proud of how far my photography has gone. There’s no going backwards so in free time I’ll look for contests, other local photographers to collaborate with and my freelance. Today, all the work I did starting at 14 landed me a studio job for Robert Senn, now at 18, making a decent wage. Sometimes I get blind-sided and forget how hard I worked to get where I am with opportunities still awaiting. It just amazes and also frustrates me all the different directions I’m pulled in with photography and art. There’s just so much I want to do!

RA: You’re also a photographer. How would you say those talents inspire your art? Is there any crossover?

KJ: Most definitely. I started off with photography first and got more interested in trying out new art forms and got hooked on seeing what I could do next. There’s so many different art forms, I wanted to see what I was good at and some things, I learned on my first try. Every piece amazes me, “Wow, I made that?” It’s always a surprise to see your own ending result starting from scratch and what things can turn into. I’m more visual, like a see-it first kind of person and go from there and spiral into something of my own. Soon I’d like to create new art from my own photographs.

Katlyn Jackson at work.

Katlyn Jackson at work.

RA: Tell us what you’re working on now? What are some of your short-term and possibly long-term goals?

KJ: I have some ideas and photos stored away when I have a fair amount of free time at once from my jobs. Right now I’d like to experiment with modeling with the help of a few close people and take the photos in my own hands. Not exactly a main focus for now but something to have on hand when I decide it’s something I might want to pursue. After that, I plan on picking up the pencil again and work on booking a month long gallery at Branch Street Roasters in Boardman. I’m very excited to work towards that and hopefully something exciting comes from that. I love selling art and having a variety of forms to show.

RA: What advice can you give to aspiring artists like yourself?

KJ: Just. Keep. Trying. Always have fun with what you’re trying to do, otherwise it feels like a chore and it’s not as fun. Don’t forget where you come from and what you really want deep down. I tried putting things I enjoyed aside and always came right back to doing it again. There are always different routes to take and try so never be afraid to experiment and fail because it will happen sometime and you’ll also succeed from those attempts.

 

Model/Actress Colleen Hagerty, AKA Miss Kittee, on set of her upcoming film, Muck: The Feast of St. Patrick.

Model/Actress Colleen Hagerty, AKA Miss Kittee, on set of her upcoming film, Muck: The Feast of St. Patrick.

By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

2015 has certainly been a busy year for model and upcoming actress Colleen Hagerty. The young starlet has not only landed roles in two feature horror films, but her modeling talents have been published in several major publications including a long-running stint in the Horror/Erotica magazine, GOREgous Girls. She has visited the Playboy mansion, performed at the Gathering of the Juggalos and has appeared at a number of horror cons.

Hagerty, whose modeling alias in Miss Kittee, is looking to take her career to the next level. The Raw Alternative recently sat down with Miss Kittee to discuss showbiz, breaking out of a small town and all things horror!

THE RAW ALTERNATIVE: Tell us a little about yourself: How long have you been modeling/acting?

MISS KITTEE: I’ve been modeling for a little over two years now and I actually just got into acting maybe eight months ago.

RA: How about some of the films you’ve been featured in previously?

MK: I’ve done a lot of background work in some Indie films mostly in the Cleveland area. One of them is called Contract: Redemption, and it’s based off of the Hitman games. I would say about five months ago I decided to start going for speaking roles and I’ve actually been nailing the auditions.

RA: Tell us about your current film: What is it? Who will you be playing? Who’s directing?

MK: I’m currently involved in two, possibly three films, right now. One of them is called Muck: The Feast of St. Patrick. It’s a horror film and right now I don’t know my character’s name for it. The director of that one is Steve Wolsh. The second film is currently being called The Director’s Cut, until he decides on a more fitting name. It is also a horror film and my character for this one is named Raven. The director of if is Col. Richard Hunter. Then there is the third film that I just recently auditioned for and am waiting to hear back about. It’s called Gretchen’s Lock and its a horror film based off of Gretchen’s Lock out in Salem, Ohio. I auditioned to be Esther Hale, but they also had me read for two other characters, Amy and Jenn. This one is also a horror film and is being directed by Josh Menning.

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RA: How did you get involved with these projects?

MK: The first and third film I got involved with because of my one modeling group, GOREgous Girls. My photographer Eric “eRock” Littlefield was promoting the Muck movie and I asked if he could talk to the director about me and see if I could get even just a walk on role, and then it turned into going to the PlayBoy Mansion with him, meeting the director, and getting a bigger part. For The Lock film, one of the models found it and sent the link to eRock to post of all the models to see and I submitted and landed and audition for it. The Director’s Cut movie the director actually found me on Facebook though my modeling things and asked me to audition and that got me the role of Raven, a victim, for his film.

RA: You’ve had a very success career model thus far. Tell us a little about that world. Did your modeling work lead to your acting work?

MK: My modeling definitely did lead to my acting. If it wasn’t for my modeling I would have never gotten into GOREgous Girls or worked with other photographers and I probably never would have gotten half the opportunities that I have now. Modeling can be pretty crazy. You use a lot of muscles you didn’t think you would and sometimes you have to stand in the most uncomfortable position for what feels like forever, but in the end its honestly so worth it. I love every minute of it and wouldn’t trade it, or the people I’ve met, for the world.

RA: What do you enjoy most about what you do?

MK: The amazing people I’ve met and the crazy things I’ve gotten to do. I got to go to the PlayBoy Mansion with eRock and Jessy, who is our MUA (she does our crazy blood and makeup and our hair). I got to go to Vegas, I’m going to be going to Cape Cod for filming in early October. Jessy and her family have become like a second family to me. Along with the GOREgous Girls group in general. We are like one big family and I love that so much.

RA: What are some of your favorite horror movies, or favorite types of horror movies?

MK: It would have to be the oldies like Halloween and Friday the 13th. I really like the campy horror films too though. They aren’t scary, but still fun to watch, like Sharknado or Zombeaver.

Miss Kittee on the set of the music video for "Loose Cannon" by Restriktid.

Miss Kittee on the set of the music video for “Loose Cannon” by Restriktid.

RA: You recently starred in a music video. Tell us a little bit about that. Did you volunteer or were you asked to take part?

MK: The music video was awesome! It was for this Horrorcore/Muder Rap artist, Restriktid, from the Toledo area. I actually met him a few month prior at The Gathering of the Juggalos where I was at with my GOREgous Girls modeling group. Restriktid’s wife actually got a hold of eRock and asked him to ask his girls to get bloodied up and play victims or bodies in his new music video for his song “Loose Cannon.” That was a blast. I got to get prettied up and then bloodied up to jump around in a grave, a cage, even a well like area, just crazy things like that.

RA: What’s next for you? Is this the humble beginnings of a bright career?

MK: I truly am hoping this is a beginning to an awesome career! A lot of the people I’ve been in contact with are really interested in working more with me and some of the other girls. I’m just going to keep trying my best with my modeling and my now acting careers and see how far they can take me.

Hagerty has been featured in every issue of GOREgous Girls magazine since its inception. You can check out here appearance in “Loose Cannon” by Restriktid here, as well as some exclusive stills from the video shoot and more by clicking the links below.

Behind-the-Scenes: ‘Loose Cannon’ Video Shoot

Behind-the-Scenes: Muck: The Feast of St. Patrick

 

 

By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

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Artist: Alex Hall’s Figurehead

Album: Alex Hall’s Figurehead (EP)

Release Date: 6/2/15

Rating: 9/10

Lengthy jams. Infectious grooves. Soaring vocals. Wailing guitars…

It’s not easy to capture all of these elements at one time, in one place. For many, it takes years and years of honing one’s craft before such a bold attempt can not only be made, but mastered. Not to mention carrying the lofty tag of “Progressive Jam.”

However, Youngstown independent act Alex Hall’s Figurehead has somehow managed to wrap their head around this concept while simultaneously blowing ours.

With their three-song self-titled EP, AHF has taken a perfect snapshot of what their band is all about; see above. Recorded at Central 8 Studios in Akron, by the band along with Nathan Doutt, AHF are carrying on the tradition of area mainstays Jones For Revival and Vibe and Direct, only with a unique signature twist. The band channels complex arrangements more akin to the heyday of Bachman-Turner Overdrive and Yes than the Grateful Dead or Phish, only condensed down into a powerful, more conventional run time. Add in some good vibes and soulful lyrics, and you have one of the area’s hottest up-and-comers, Alex Hall’s Figurehead!

Alex Hall's Figurehead performing live in 2015. Photo Courtesy of facebook.com.

Alex Hall’s Figurehead performing live in 2015. Photo Courtesy of facebook.com.

The EP opens with the pounding Reggae-like rhythms and ripping guitars of “Perform.” The track swings back and forth from an attention-grabbing rocker to a more chilled-out jammer, climaxing with an elevated, melodic guitar solo on par with that of David Gilmour. From there, the psychedelic riffs and organs of “Credit Hole” take a listener on a blues-heavy groovin’ trip. The shifting middle section gives way to yet another soulful guitar solo. Finally, the EP concludes with the Doors-esque “Shakespeare,” with exceptional instrumentation by a band who sounds very comfortable together.

All in all, Alex Hall’s Figurehead is a very rare debut in the fact that it showcases a band firing on all cylinders from a very early point in their career. The band has set the bar rather high for itself, leaving the listener wanting more, and in anticipation for the next release! The only disappointment is in there only being three tracks on this EP.

Alex Hall’s Figurehead is set to perform the Friday, Oct. 9, at Cedars West End in Youngstown, Ohio, along with Sleepy Hahas and Knife Fighters.

 

Buzz Osborne Talks Cobain Documentary, Vinyl Resurgence

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