Radio station WBGO champions jazz and classic soul

wbgoI did something today that I don’t normally do: I became a member of a public radio station, putting my money into something worth investing in. WBGO is one of my favorite stations, and even though it’s located in Newark, NJ, and I live far away in Upstate New York, I can enjoy it thanks to the Internet and my TuneIn app on my smartphone.

WBGO is known for playing jazz music along with Felix Hernandez’ long-running “Rhythm Revue” show, which always, always, always offers up the most intoxicating blend of classic soul music from the good old days.

WBGO Jazz88.3FM was the brainchild of an urban think tank whose members came together in Newark in the 1970s to affect change after the riots of 1967. Marshalling an extraordinary group of city activists, and with the help of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, they established the first public radio station in New Jersey in 1979 by convincing the Newark Public School System board to transfer its underutilized broadcast license to them.

WBGO was born as an independent, community-based, not-for-profit, public radio station that would champion jazz. Jazz88 affiliated with National Public Radio (NPR) and went to a 24-hour broadcast day in 1980 when the only other full-time jazz station in the New York Metro market, WRVR (a commercial station), changed its format to country-western music.

Today, WBGO’s broadcast signal is heard by listeners on the air and via the Internet. Fans from around the globe tune in for jazz, blues, Rhythm and Blues, and award-winning news. Jazz88 has won the “Keeping the Blues Alive” Award and twice won the Gavin Report’s “Jazz Station of the Year” Award. The New Jersey State Council on the Arts has named us a Major Impact Arts Organization for over 16 consecutive years. The designation of arts organization reflects WBGO’s mission which extends beyond the radio station to important programs and activities that preserve, promote and present jazz.

In 1985, WBGO became a producer of syndicated programming for the nation’s radio stations. WBGO produced the weekly JazzSet with Dee Dee Bridgewater for 23 years, and now co-produces (with NPR Music and Jazz at Lincoln Center) the next-generation in jazz programming, Jazz Night in America.

Jazz88’s involvement in producing concerts has been strong since 1981 when the station began hosting free jazz concerts in Military Park, bringing life to downtown Newark. The same park is now a city jewel ringed by the Newark Museum, galleries, the renovated WBGO studios and the elegant New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC).

Jazz 88’s dedication to preserving the uniquely American art form of jazz for future generations has spawned a Children’s Jazz Series. The series offers eight free concerts that are presented annually by top-name musicians who develop their programs specifically for young people, some of whom are members of NJPAC and WBGO’s Jazz for Teens educational program.

Jazz88.3FM’s daily broadcast can be easily identified by the passionate, extremely knowledgeable and idiosyncratic on-air announcers, frequent live broadcasts and on-air interviews with today’s hottest jazz and blues artists, and a news department whose drive time news reports and weekly magazine program, the WBGO Journal, are recognized for their reporting excellence every year.

WBGO’s studios are located at 54 Park Place in the heart of downtown Newark, New Jersey. The WBGO broadcast signal (from high on-top the Conde Nast building in midtown, New York City) reaches north to Rockland and Westchester Counties, NY and parts of Connecticut; south to Ocean County, NJ; east to Nassau County, NY and west to Morris County, NJ. The signal can be heard in all five boroughs of New York City. In addition, WBGO can be heard on the four New Jersey stations of New Jersey Public Radio, from midnight to 5 a.m.

Since 1996, Jazz88 has streamed its signal over the Internet on and programming is also available through mobile applications like TuneIn. Jazz 88 has become a true oasis to thousands of listeners–many of whom have become donating members, outside of the station’s listening area.

Find out what you’ve been missing by visiting today. I love this station! –Mark Weber Music Blog

Finn aims for stardom through storytelling

Like Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan and other greats that came before them, the Australian brotherly duo of Mark and Luke Finn, aka FINN, hope to capture the world’s attention with their new album, Art & Espionage.

“Art & Espionage was a reflection of the idea that all great artists are thieves. Good ones borrow, and great ones steal. I think it was Picasso who said that…or maybe T.S. Eliot…who also probably got it from someone else! The aim with this album was to steal from as many of the great artists that we grew up listening too, and make something that was a unique combination of that. Hopefully that comes through, and people can trace the influences, one way or another.”

This is Nov

Nov is a rapper with an advanced college degree. His project, The War in Music, will remind you of Common and Kanye West in that Nov’s not afraid of taking musical chances.

“When we were creating the album, I really wanted to show people that I’m more than just your average rapper. I’m multi- faceted…I can make you reach into your deepest of thoughts, or I can bring out that feel good emotion you haven’t felt in awhile. I can make you laugh, feel cool, get energized, or provoke thought. I want the people to realize that I can be their voice. I am a piece of everyone…the hustlers, the cool guys, the educated, the ladies and even those who do not yet have a voice…I am you,” he says.

Keep an eye on this cat.

Check out his site… –Mark Weber Music Blog

Secrets to being a successful music artist in the world we live in

I would not want to win American Idol or The Voice. Why? Well, those are TV show popularity contests, and while some strong singers have come out of them, like Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, for the most part it’s a bunch of kids singing karaoke and trying to get noticed.

Granted, we live in a 24-7 “always on” world these days, where you can have your own YouTube channel, Facebook page, etc. That means the ability to “reach the world” with your music is there for anyone willing to give it a try.

There are millions of aspiring artists in the world today. You could spend a lifetime just watching their videos online. But what are the secrets to being a successful music artist in the world we live in today?

I’ve recorded some albums, I’ve written some songs, and I’ve performed live in front of all sorts of audiences. I’m not a household name, I’m not on award shows, and I don’t make millions– but I am successful.

The day I decided that chasing the idea of fame and fortune was not my desire was the day I became a successful music maker. I look around at fellow music makers today and see them feeling utterly disappointed that they didn’t “make it big.” Yet they have audiences who love them, venues to play, and songs to record and share.

What is it about this world we live in that convinces us we’re not successful music makers unless we have a big house, a fast car, songs on the radio and endless devotion from the masses?

I would rather sing for a small group of people where I can look into their eyes, they see me and we truly connect than to stand before a crowd of 20,000 in an arena show. By the way, I’ve done that– I’ve been on stage with Kenny Loggins in front of thousands, and it was fun–sure–but it wasn’t intimate. When music is allowed to be intimate is when it’s at its best.

I believe music is about making a connection between the performer and the audience. I also believe music is God’s divine gift to people– a way to express emotions and truth and ideas in a way that speaks to our collective souls.

One of the secrets of being a successful music artist is to truly believe the words you’re singing to an audience. If you believe it, they believe it. You’re there to reflect back to them what’s on their mind but they can’t seem to express in everyday life. You help them get out their feelings. Your music helps them communicate what they believe and what they feel. Your music has the power to change their whole day for the better, improving their outlook on life. That’s powerful.

Some say you have to shock your audience to get their attention these days by dressing oddly and doing on-stage antics like Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and Madonna often do. While that can lead to “success,” ask most people what they think of artists like that and they’ll probably tell you they wish they’d “just sing.” Spectacle can be fun, but simply singing from the heart is often much more touching– that’s why Adele and Sam Smith became stars…

One thing I’ve noticed about some musicians is they beat themselves up mentally– they verbally berate themselves for a missed note or a wrong chord. The reality is this: we’re all human…we all make mistakes…we’re not perfect. An audience is more sympathetic than artists think. Rather than be so self-critical, learn to be okay with failing sometimes, because being a successful music artist HAS to involve failing. You have to have bad days to appreciate the great ones, you know?

Here’s a secret to being a successful music artist: create stuff daily. Some stuff will be awful; other stuff will be brilliant. Write lyrics, draw doodles, take photos, post blogs, etc. Create stuff both without people in mind and with people in mind. Sometimes you should create just for the pure joy of creating. Other times you should create something to encourage or inspire someone else. You will have critics– they’re to be expected. Keep in mind that people will criticize your creations because they have neither the time nor talent to create–and secretly they envy you!

Finally, I’d say this: be yourself. As cliché as it sounds, there’s only one you in this world. To be a successful music artist means becoming who you are in front of an audience. You are in charge of you. You have the want and desire to lead people using music, exploring ideas and emotions in a shared and intimate environment. Share love and truth and talent– all gifts from God– with people thru music, and you will be a successful music artist in the world we live in. -Mark Weber

Whatever happened to Kathy Troccoli?

Almost always mistaken for Taylor Dayne in the early 1990s, singer Kathy Troccoli rode the Amy Grant Christian-to-pop music tidal wave of success with the upbeat “Everything Changes.”

After that big hit, Troccoli went back to singing for churchgoers– making several well-received contemporary Christian albums in the 1990s.

More recently, she found that speaking to women about faith, hope and love became a focus of her career. Coupling encouraging music with encouraging words, she has been on the Christian church circuit as part of/giving women’s conferences for years now.

Troccoli recently released a new album, Better Days, with an interesting take on an old Wizard of Oz song. You know it as the Scarecrow’s “If I Only Had A Brain.” It’s re-written to say, “If I Only Had His Heart,” singing about Jesus. So, if you ever wondered, “Whatever happened to Kathy Troccoli?” now you know. –Mark Weber Music Blog

Sacha Baron Cohen meets Weird Al: Flula Borg

If Sacha Baron Cohen and Weird Al combined, you’d get Flula Borg, aka Flula, a hilarious YouTube personality from Germany who has a good chance of making it big in America with his general nuttiness.

Somehow Flula got Sir Mix-A-Lot to be in one of his Auto Tunes videos:

Meanwhile, I love his take on LL Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out,” which features “mama and papa.”

Flula will be in the movies Pitch Perfect 2 and Killing Hasselhoff this year. You can see his many funny videos on YouTube and share them with friends before the whole world knows his name. –Mark Weber Music Blog

All dance parties need “I Need Rehab” song by Shane Arix

Shane Arix, an Iranian-American EDM DJ, remixer and a record producer, recently launched his first single titled “I Need Rehab” and it’s now available on iTunes and all other online stores. I would definitely recommend you get it if you’re having a dance party and want to play nothing but the best electronic dance music.

Arix primarily produces electro house and progressive house, but he has branched out and is working on new material that draws influences from complextro, dubstep and pop. With vivid sounds and a catchy hook, comparable to the most established EDM giants such as Zedd, Nicky Romero, R3hab, Hardwell, Martin Garrix, Avicii and David Guetta, Arix’s first single has created an instant buzz on the Internet because of its amazing drop, flawless production and huge sound.

Learn more about Shane Arix at his website here. –Mark Weber Music Blog

Obama song raises eyebrows

Blu Collar Glomeration’s song about President Obama will definitely raise some eyebrows. One lady posted a comment, recently, saying, “Wow! Awesome song. It’s intelligent and enlightening. Obama’s speech at the end of this video is absolutely shocking. I honestly can’t believe an American President would say such a thing! I’m giving this video a BIG thumbs up, and I hope other people listen up and discover Blu Collar Glomeration.”

Blu Collar Glomeration is on Amazon, Boomkat, Cricket, Deezer, iTunes, GooglePlay, Rdio, Spotify, TuneIn, and many other sites and apps.

Ten things to know about Bruno Mars

Bruno Mars can sing, dance and write songs…and he has had a number of huge hits, like “Grenade,” “The Lazy Song,” and “Uptown Funk.” The video for “Uptown Funk” has received over 215 million views– that’s astounding!

He has grown on me as a performer. In many ways, I see him like the Michael Jackson of today, and there are even moments when he sounds and dances like MJ.

Anyway, here are ten interesting things to know about Bruno Mars:

10- His real name is Peter Gene Hernandez

9- He was born in 1985

8- He was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii

7- He is one of the world’s best-selling artists of all time

6- His band’s name? The Hooligans

5- He was arrested for possession of cocaine in 2010 in Las Vegas

4- He used to impersonate Elvis Presley when he was little

3- He has a three octave tenor vocal range

2- He has been both a host and musical guest on Saturday Night Live

1- He’s relatively short for a man, standing at 5’5″

I Am They is a hipster Christian worship band

Produced by Jonathan Smith, I AM THEY’s self-titled debut showcases the talents of the six-member band comprised of Adam Palmer (lead vocals/guitar), Matthew Hein (lead vocals/guitar), Stephanie Kulla (lead vocals/violin) Justin Shinn (keyboard), Bobby Stiehler (bass) and Sara Palmer (drums). Hear their song “From The Day” here:

The members of the band originated from several different churches in Carson City, Nevada, and first performed together at Solomon’s Porch — a regular worship event uniting believers from all over the city. The group was discovered at a Spirit West Coast festival “Battle of the Bands” where they won an opportunity to come to Nashville and have a song produced and recorded. Once in the studio, the band impressed key industry veterans and labels, eventually signing with Essential Records/Provident Label Group in June 2013.

I Am They is essentially a hipster Christian worship band… yeah, sure, that’s what to call ‘em… –Mark Weber Music Blog

I Am They: hipster Christian worship band
I Am They: hipster Christian worship band

Toney Rhodes debuts The Buffalo Spell

Talented jazz music maker Toney Rhodes recently debuted his album, The Buffalo Spell, which has been 10 years in the making– and it was well worth the wait.

Rhodes would describe his mostly instrumental originals as a mix of “jazz, fusion and funk.” I’d add that there’s definitely a Latin flavor to several tracks, such as “The Art,” which would be great to dance to in an upscale supper club.

With help from friends who happen to be top-notch musicians, including Jerry Livingston, Kenny Hawkins, Marshall Badger, and RiShon O’Dell, The Buffalo Spell reflects the sound of Buffalo, New York, a city known for its live music scene. Interestingly, some of the tracks on the new release were recorded while “on the road” in…of all places…Osaka and Tokyo, Japan. The world’s a smaller place these days, for sure. is where you need to go to listen to song samples from this bright and intricate album…then, if you like it, buy it online. George Duke fans better not sleep on Toney Rhodes– just listen to his tune, “Best of Me,” and you’ll recognize the greatness! For those enjoy a smooth jazz mix of keys, guitar, bass and drums, you will not be disappointed. –Mark Weber Music Blog


Marc Scibilia scores with Superbowl Jeep ad

Marc Scibilia and Mark Weber
Marc Scibilia and Mark Weber

I am elated for Marc Scibilia. After a lifetime of making music, my friend, who is in his late 20s, scored perhaps the biggest exposure possible in the world: his voice was singing “This Land Is Your Land” during the Jeep commercial in this year’s Superbowl. The whole world heard the voice I’ve enjoyed for years. It couldn’t happen to a more deserving person.

marcscibMarc Scibilia is kind and humble in real life. Recently married, he lives life in Tennessee where he had to literally buy a TV and digital antenna to see the Superbowl commercial. The special moment when he got to witness it at home on Superbowl Sunday was captured for all to see:

In the video, you see Marc smiling (he has great teeth, doesn’t he– props to his dentist) with his arms around two very important people in his life– his wife and his brother, Matt, a fellow music maker.

I remember when Marc was a teenager and I interviewed him for a local magazine in Buffalo. I remember going to his house for a graduation party and his mom feeding me endless M&M’s. I remember his dad caring so deeply about his son, being his biggest champion at gigs. And now, in 2015, after years of making music, Marc Scibilia has “arrived.” The world has been introduced to him via a Jeep commercial of all things!

I’m already looking forward to his new songs, coming soon… here’s a taste of what’s to come:

Marc is doing well on iTunes this week, as well as Shazam and other sites. This is his time to shine! –Mark Weber Music Blog

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Jazz collective Sasha’s Bloc features Jane Monheit

Sasha’s Bloc is a bit of an odd name for a jazz band, but if you ignore the name and listen to their music, you’ll appreciate them no matter what the name. Their second full-length album, Heart on Fire, is the kind of jazz album that’s accessible to the mainstream majority of music fans. In other words, it’s not too avant-garde– aka “weird.” No sir. Sasha’s Bloc is pleasant jazz-pop with a New Orleans bounce to several tracks like “Angel.”

The jazz collective, comprised of several musicians, features jazz darling Jane Monheit’s vocals on four tracks, including “Feels Like Jazz” (with some nice scattin’) and the title track– “Heart on Fire.”

The band with Jane Monheit and Alvin Chea.
The band with Jane Monheit and Alvin Chea.

Lead by top-notch band leader Alex Gershman, Sasha’s Bloc has built up quite a name for themselves in and around Los Angeles in recent years. I like how the group features multiple vocalists on their songs, so you get a nice mix of male and female vocals and beautiful harmonies at just the right times.

Sasha’s Bloc also has a fine horn section, with Brandon Fields on sax, Mr. McChesney on trombone, and Kyle Palmer on trumpet. Kevin Winard’s drumming is on-point for the overall feel of this at times gentle/at times boisterous album.

If you like the music from “back in the day” when Count Basie, Fats Waller, Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington were making their mark in the music world, I think you’ll appreciate Sasha’s Bloc. They take the feeling of the “old times” and update that feeling for today’s modern world, with lively arrangements, masterful musicianship, and vivid vocals. The whole album is enjoyably listenable throughout–a rarity in today’s hit single obsessed world, you know? –Mark Weber Music Blog

Turning you on to new and interesting music makers


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