Xavier Muriel of hard rock band Buckcherry has heard all the drummer jokes. But he believes that he and his fellow beatmakers will have the last laugh.
As musical director and keyboardist for Jay-Z, Omar Edwards is every bit the seasoned professional. But he's far from jaded: "Last night I had a show with Jay-Z and Mary J. Blige at the Hollywood Bowl," he says. "It was my first time there. It was amazing to be on that stage, and look up that far, and just see people!"
Guitarist Joe Bonamassa was a child prodigy. By age eight, the Utica, New York, native was B.B. King's opening act. He co-formed the band Bloodlines while still a teen, then kick-started his solo career in 2000 with A Brand New Yesterday, a fiery blues-rock outing overseen by legendary producer Tom Dowd. Bonamassa's six subsequent releases have topped the blues charts as predictably as Joe's name dominates the guitar magazine reader polls.
Some musicians pour their hearts out onstage. But when singer-songwriter Beth Hart opens her mouth, she pours out her guts and her soul too. With a huge rock voice that's simultaneously ragged and intimate, Hart has won fans around the world through her powerful live shows and studio albums--including her most recent European release, 2007's 37 Days, which captures the excitement and spontaneity of her live performances.
As a young musician in his native Poland, Oscar-winning film composer Jan Kaczmarek acquired a rare and remarkable tool: an Atari computer running Steinberg music software.
Singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles struck sonic gold with her 2007 major-label debut, Little Voice. The initial single, "Love Song," was first selected as an iTunes free single of the week, and then featured in a commercial for online music service Rhapsody.com. Before long, the newly minted star was opening for James Blunt and Maroon 5, and appearing on programs like The Today Show and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
Augustana doesn't do "slick."
"We try to make the show feel like we're all just hanging out in our living room," says frontman/pianist/guitarist Dan Layus. "If the guitar's a little out of tune, it's no big deal. I guess I'm really influenced by that Bob Dylan and the Band sound. Their mistakes are classic, and you really can't imagine the recordings any other way."
The first time you encounter Don Alder's playing, you may be uncertain whether you're hearing a single acoustic guitarist or a small army of Alders. The Canadian virtuoso tackles many parts at once, blending traditional fingerstyle work with extended techniques such as slapped harmonics, fretting over the neck, and mimicking a drum kit by beating the soundboard.
In the past year, singer/songwriter Lucy Schwartz has released a solo album and placed several songs in major film and television productions, including the opening song for a recent remake of The Women. She's won an international songwriting contest, received airplay on trendsetting Santa Monica radio station KCRW, and performed at some of LA's best-known clubs.
Drummer Adam Topol has been on some remarkable musical journeys, including a recent world tour with Jack Johnson, with whom he's played since the late 1990s. But he's as musically adventurous as he is well traveled: As a solo artist, collaborator, and sideman, Topol has explored an atlas-full of world music styles, with an emphasis on Cuban and Jamaican grooves.