Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Reno Tahoe Tonight Review by Oliver X

Singer-Songwriter Whitton to Host Record Release Oct 22 for new album “Rare Bird” w/ Special Guests Tyler Stafford & Jelly Bread
by Oliver Ex on Tuesday, October 18, 2011 at 1:03am
Singer-songwriter Whitton has taken giant steps toward break through success in her music career.  With an impressive list of song placements and major club appearances already under her belt, it is delightful to see the Reno native on the climb and making good in the industry.  We have local music impresario Todd South to thank for sending the talented artist and her publicist our way to help promote her upcoming record release event at Cantina Los Tres Hombres in Sparks on October 22, 2011 @ 7 p.m. 
Whitton’s videos and press materials show an artist on the rise, with an easy stage presence—evident even early on in her career travels.  The willowy blonde chanteuse and veteran road dog with the stunning Bettie Davis eyes, has a decidedly throwback persona that melds a juke joint jazz tonality, with light inflections at the end of her phrasings that recall Billie Holiday.  Her voice is sultry and emotive, with a round, soft feminine sweetness that can easily swing from folky to throaty and smoky.  Somehow these elements combine to make Whitton’s sound both fresh and familiar.
Whitton has been a guest vocalist on Showtime’s Emmy-Nominated hit series “Dexter” and her recent tour in support of “Rare Bird” has brought her to the best venues in Los Angeles and Vegas, including performances at the Hotel Café and The House of Blues.
Her new LP, “Rare Bird” is available now with 10 new tracks including several co-written by Peter Fox (Rachel Yamagata) and Joe Solo (Macy Grey) and mixed by engineer Michael James (New Radicals, Hole).  Several tracks have already received feature film placements in:  SHE WANTS ME (starring Charlie Sheen, Hilary Duff and Josh Gad) and METH HEAD (starring Lukas Haas, Wilson Cruz and Necar Zadegan).  The “Turn off the Light” music video is also available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=efa2Vtox40M 
For a sneak-peek of Whitton’s LP “Rare Bird”, please go to: www.whittonmusic.com.
Tracks from Whitton’s previous, self-titled EP also received placement in the 2011 films: THE 5TH QUARTER (starring Aidan Quinn, Andie MacDowell, and Ryan Merriman), EXIT STRATEGY (starring radio host Big Boy from Power 106, Jameel Saleem and Kevin Hart), and was featured on Delta Air Lines Sonicbids Radio Channel and in Delta’s “Sky Magazine”. WHITTON has recorded three full-length albums with acclaimed producers David Hauser (Redbone, Supreme Beings of Leisure, Iron Butterfly), Kevin White (writer for Billy Ray Cyrus) and Ronan Chris Murphy (King Crimson, Dishwalla).  She also has won numerous awards including “Best Female Acoustic Rock Artist” by the New York Music Festival.
We spoke to the artist by phone and online to get her views on the music business, her busy career and her upcoming record release.
Reno Tahoe Tonight:  You worked with some accomplished producers and writers on your new album “Rare Bird.”  Talk about your songwriting process, and the collaborative experience you had while recording the record
Whitton:  Each song off my new album “Rare Bird” came from a very personal place. Most of them were songs I wrote on guitar years before, but took the lyrics from them and put them over new chords and arrangements. With my producer/writer, Ian Coyne, he had a huge influence on the arrangement and production of this album. Being brilliant in his craft, Ian dissected the characteristics of my singing voice and we built around it musically. I also was fortunate to write with a handful of writers, Peter Fox (Rachel Yamagata), Joe Solo (Macy Gray) and the exquisite jazz pianist, Michael LeVan.  The process was enlightening and very eye opening.  I learned so much from everyone who played and wrote on this album.  I’ll never forget it.  It’s made me realize so much about myself and what I want.
Reno Tahoe Tonight:  You’ve done exceptionally well with film and industry song placements.  How early on did you discover the importance of the publishing side of the business?  What career-building advice can you give Reno’s talented artists seeking breakout opportunities in the industry? 
Whitton:  Well, I can’t give too much advice on this because I’m still climbing the ladder of success!!  I think the most important thing to do is enjoy what you’re doing. If it feels like work and beats you up until you’re blue in the face, it might be time to look into doing something else with your life.  My advice is own everything.  Own your recordings, equipment and do your best to hold onto your publishing rights.  But realize at the same time that you have to give some to get some.  To me, the only real way of getting a strong foot in the door is creating buzz—a fan base.  And how to do that is touring and TV/film placement.  If you’re lucky to get a great publicist or manager, that makes your job soooooo much easier.  I love the job of being the musician! Management/publicity can help get you interviews/reviews/press in the cities you tour through and much, much more.  It’s an arduous battle representing yourself. You can do it… but most people don’t like to deal with the artist.  Besides, being a salesperson isn’t one of my best qualities, I must admit.  Trying to pitch yourself wears you out—or at least me.
Reno Tahoe Tonight:  Talk about how you’ve been able to build your fan base and secure major showcase and performance engagements at top venues like House of Blues and Hotel Cafe?
Whitton:  Consistency.  It takes a long time to develop a strong buzz. Networking is very important.  Sharing the stage with fellow musicians and building relationships with them, fans and industry.  It’s extremely important to have the “right” team of people. Performing in Los Angeles regularly, I’ve gotten handfuls of deals/offers from industry professionals… but that doesn’t mean that any deal through the door is the right deal. You have to be selective and be aware.  But don’t let fear take the wheel because you might end up in a dead end with no deal. Intuition and knowing what you want is key in finding the “right” team.
Reno Tahoe Tonight:  Your upcoming CD release at Cantina Los Tres Hombres is something of a homecoming for you.  Who’s on the show bill and what do you have in store for your Reno fans? 
Whitton:  Yeah, I guess it is like a homecoming for me.  I’m excited to see old faces and new faces! I’m jazzed to perform at my brother’s childhood friend, Shawn Plunket’s restaurant.  Shawn’s been like a big brother to me, so it’s like I’m hangin’ with my family as well.  I’ve heard fabulous things about local songwriter, Tyler Stafford, who’s opening for me at the Cantina.  Also, one of my favorite funky bands, Jelly Bread will perform later in the evening. I’m excited to reconnect with Dave Berry (singer/guitarist), whom I toured with for a while years back.  It should be a wonderful night of just plain ‘ole good music.  
Find Whitton on Facebook, Twitter and Pandora.

Photo by Jeff Fasano
Photo by Natalie Gamble
Photo by Natalie Gamble
Photo by Natalie Gamble

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