| The Velvet Note BlogCast - Part 4


Uncategorized | January 12, 2016

Valentine’s Singles Event

Friday, February 12th

Valentine’s Singles Event

Valentine’s Day often leaves singles behind, but not at The Velvet Note!  On Friday, February 12th, you can mingle with others who are flying solo, enjoy a world-class performance, treat yourself to dinner and enjoy the festivities of one of the year’s best holidays.  



“Tucker and her cello blur the lines in our heads that divide classical, jazz, folk, R&B and soul.”


“Most importantly, the songs tell a story; that’s what a work of art should do…”


“You rarely see Joni Mitchell invoked as a reference point… because her music is so unique that few can follow her.  But in Shana Tucker, we have a worthy successor.”



Harlem-born actor Lewis Saunders has over twenty years of stage, TV, film and LewisSaunders2voiceover experience.  While Lewis is most remembered for his regular role as Fritz on the “CHiPs” Series, his additional credits include a regular role on “240 Robert”, “Murder, She Wrote”, “3rd Rock from the Sun, “The Bold and the Beautiful”, and “Silk Stalkings”.  

Stepping away from the camera, this former pro football and model has turned his attention to writing. spoken word and voiceovers.  Saunders’ collection of poetry about love from a man’s point of view is called “Wattya’ Mean, Men Don’t Care?”.  It was published after interviewing over 500 men fro m all walks of life, and translating the thoughts, ideas, feelings and common themes into poetry form.  Lewis will offer a segment or two from his book during this evening of music, laughter and magic.


Your evening’s entertainment package includes a champagne arrival, concert ticket, dinner entree, raffle ticket and server gratuity.

Showtime:  Doors open at 7:00pm and the fun continues until 11:00pm.

Uncategorized | January 7, 2016

“On the Couch” with Joey Sommerville

JoeySommerville1The interview we’ve been waiting for! After 4 years of chasing Joey Sommerville, he’s finally coming THIS WEEKEND to The Velvet Note. What took him so long? How is his music changing? What advice would he have for his younger self? Get the answers and insights in 20 mins by clicking here: https://soundcloud.com/elusivebe…/joey-summerfield-interview.

Uncategorized | October 25, 2015

Whitney James at The Velvet Note

Listen HERE.  On a picture-perfect, mid-October evening, jazz singer Whitney James made her way up from Tampa, FL to perform in our Acoustic Living Room.  And she brought an extra-special treat:  her band consisted of the WhitneyJames2members La Lucha, one of our favorite acts of all time.  Last year, Mark Feinman (drums), Alejandro Arenas (bass) and John C. O’Leary, III (piano) were awarded several performance accolades as their CD entitled Standards, Non-Standards climbed the charts to critical acclaim.  Whitney James–a former theater arts major– laid down clear, straightforward vocals with a lyrical command and stage presence that blew our audience away.  

But the true breakout star of the night was pianist O’Leary (pictured far left), whose solos throughout the night convinced you that this might be the last day of his visit to Planet WhitneyandLaLuchaEarth before venturing out to other parts of the solar system.  Dr. O’Leary– a PhD neuroscientist and a leading Alzheimer’s researcher by day– was celebrating his 30th (gasp) birthday, and his hands were on fire!  When he got off the stage, a dear couple intercepted him to inquire about his interest in meeting their daughter, who they would love to see married off to a great talent such as his.  But, alas, Dr. O’Leary had to deliver the heartbreaking news that he’s already married.  Ahhh…such is show business.  Thunder only happens when it’s raining….Players only love you when they’re playin’……  Enjoy O’Leary’s solo on this beautifully-re-imagined arrangement of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” HERE.  And catch more recordings of live performances at The Velvet Note at http://thevelvetnote.com/radio.

Uncategorized | October 15, 2015

Is ‘Artisanal’ Music the Next New Thing?

by Ted Gloria, The Daily Beast

Processed and modified are out. Natural and crafted are in. Is the music business about to imitate the food industry? And will the industry giants get caught napping again?
Forget crafted beers and artisan cheeses. The real artisan movement is happening in the music world. The first stirrings can be heard in almost every genre, and the long-term implications are far from clear. But this tectonic shift has the potential to shake up the entertainment business, and shift the balance of power among the various labels.Even as synthesized sounds and samples are available to artists at the click of the mouse, a growing number of million-selling performers are embracing old school values of craft and musicianship. The power brokers in the music industry ought to pay attention—or a paradigm shift could once again catch them napping.

You don’t want to be a musical Monsanto in this brave new world! A smarter strategy is to establish street cred as the Whole Foods of the record business.

The analogy to food trends is appropriate. After decades of processed products and tech-created additives, the public rebelled and showed that a large market existed for natural and organic alternatives. The same thing is happening now in music, but the movement is still in its early stages. Yet similar forces are at work in both fields: a growing sense that that reliance on processing and tech additives may have gone too far, and that a return to core values might produce better long-term results.

The discerning listener can now hear this new paradigm emerging in every corner of the music business. Lady Gaga may have surprised fans with her unexpected collaboration with Tony Bennett and various associated jazz players. But check out Ms. Lauryn Hill channeling Nina Simone on her latest album. Or look at Queen Latifah doing the same with Bessie Smith on HBO. Or consider the implications of the unexpected ascendancy of sweet soul over in the U.K., where Adele showed that you can sell millions of albums without massive Auto-Tuning—and helped kick off a whole British neo-Motown movement.

How did Britain manage to steal the soul/R&B sound from Detroit? The answer is simple: artisanship.

Then listen to Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly, a number one hit and the most talked about hip-hop album of year, and hear all the top-flight jazz talent on that project. Well, maybe D’Angelo’s Black Messiah has gotten as much buzz, but here too we encounter outstanding musicianship from real flesh-and-blood performers … and again a marked jazz component. In the new paradigm of artisan music, a sample just isn’t good enough. Instead, you need to hire the cats who can really play.

In fact, jazz is serving as a catalyst in a host of unexpected places—from the The Late Show, where new host Stephen Colbert has turned to Jon Batiste to run his house band—to new high-profile Hollywood biopics focused on Miles Davis and Chet Baker. Even as the size of the jazz market remains small, the music seems to haunt the entertainment mainstream, serving as a touchstone for excellence and artisan skills.

We can see a similar ascendancy of craft and old school musicianship inside the jazz world, where the very players most famous for crossover slickness, from Kenny G to Robert Glasper, are releasing under-produced albums featuring acoustic instruments. And the hottest young jazz stars, such as Cécile McLorin Salvant and Kamasi Washington, stand out for their deep commitment to craft, and don’t seem much interested in fitting into slick processed-music categories.

And have you heard the extraordinary work of rock and pop composers entering into the classical music field? Or the remarkable creations of contemporary classical composers who are moving into rock and pop? Exciting new projects of this sort are coming out almost every week, but don’t expect to read about them in Rolling Stone or see this stuff on network television. These works don’t fit into radio formats or conventional genre categories. But make no mistake about it: This is a revolutionary movement underway, as significant in its implications as serialism and minimalism in their days of ascendancy.

For some examples, check out Caroline Shaw’s Partita for Eight Voices (a recent Pulitzer Prize winner but resonating with pop vocal influences), Richard Reed Perry’s Music for Heart and Breath, Bryce Dessner’s Murder Ballads (on the new Filament album from the chamber ensemble Eighth Blackbird), and Jonny Greenwood’s Popcorn Superhet Receiver. And don’t miss the eponymous album from The Knells, which mixes prog rock, vocal polyphony, and a string quartet in a stirring hybrid that resists any label you try to apply to it. These works are rewriting the rule book of contemporary composition, and also have the potential to shake up our conceptions of commercial music along the way.

Even the oldest megastars are paying attention to the new demand for artisan skills. Beck won the Grammy for album of the year with a pristine album driven by acoustic guitar—a release that seemed to violate every rule of music industry conventional wisdom in the current day. Elton John’s most recent album finds him returning to the crafted under-produced sound of his earliest work. Bob Dylan’s latest release finds him following in the footsteps of Frank Sinatra, of all people! Everywhere you look, hot stars are going unplugged and all natural.

A few of the old school labels seem aware that a shift is underway. But just as the big food conglomerates mostly missed the rise of natural products, the same thing is happening in the music world. Nimble young labels such as New Amsterdam, Brainfeeder, Innova, ANTI-, Sunnyside, Acony, Tzadik, Third Man, XL Recordings, Motéma, Mack Avenue, FatCat, and others are each pursuing their own vision of artisan music. But they have one thing in common: they seem more in touch with the new zeitgeist than any of the major multinational entertainment corporations. Only a few older labels (ECM and Nonesuch come to mind) seem ready to ride the new wave of crafted sounds.

I am not suggesting that Kanye West will show up on the unemployment line, or that Justin Bieber will start touring with a string quartet. Once again, we should look to the recent evolution of the food business for an analogous situation. Even as organic and unprocessed foods took off, the major companies still used their marketing muscle to push Jello, Velveeta, and Frosted Flakes. The processed foods still sell in larger quantities than the natural alternatives. McDonald’s serves up 75 hamburgers every second! But the high growth segments in the food market today are the natural ones, and the most discerning consumers don’t pay much attention to what’s happening in the frozen meal section.

An acceleration of this embrace of artisanship is the most likely path of evolution for the music business. True, the big companies will continue to push hard on processed and canned products. Dinosaurs don’t learn new tricks. Their sales have been shrinking since the dawn of the new millennium, and they just keep on doing more of the same—just like the corporations who pushed Folgers and Maxwell House while letting other companies build the (now enormous) gourmet coffee market. I don’t expect the people running Universal Music or Sony Music to change their approach just because of diminishing returns. But they are to music what McDonald’s and Wendy’s are to food—volume producers who will struggle to match the quality of the upstarts.

Uncategorized | August 7, 2015

Review: Why The Velvet Note Is A Jazz Club Worth The Drive

by Jon Ross

It’s been two years since I’ve seen a show at The Velvet Note.

This is not for lack of good music. Since opening in 2011, The Velvet Note has hosted big-deal jazz acts like Diane Schuur, Christian McBride, Wycliffe Gordon, Gretchen Parlato and Kenny Garrett, along with top-flight local and regional performers. This dedication to Atlanta’s talented local jazz players is ever more important, as a few long-standing outlets for local musicians in the area have moved in new directions.

While the venue isn’t perfect, that hasn’t kept me away, either. The space itself is cozy without being cramped, and the acoustics certainly rank up there among other venues of its size.

The management’s seemingly curious choice to serve food on plastic plates with plastic cutlery is aimed at reducing unwanted noise during performances, and it works. But this silence-is-golden outlook doesn’t extend to the bartender, who can occasionally shake drinks with abandon during ballads. The intimate space means every little extraneous noise fills the entire room.

There is demand for jazz out in the suburbs, and the venue also seems to draw listeners from inside the city. On Friday, for a concert by drummer Jamison Ross, patrons packed the 40-seat room for the first set and nearly filled the space again for the later show.

Ross gathered former classmates from Florida State University for the show, including the superb local musicians Rick Lollar on guitar and Nick Rosen on piano.

Ross initially gained notice with his first-place finish in the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Drums Competition in 2012 and is currently celebrating the release of his first disc, Jamison. While he won the competition as a drummer, Ross is as much about his powerful voice as his playful drumming.

During the first set, he ran through the entire release, his voice alternately affecting a rough edge for “Bye, Bye Blues” and a rounded, New Orleans bounce for “Deep Down in Florida,” showcasing his easy, fluid range. His voice was light and vibrant on “Sack Full of Dreams,” which he dedicated to the victims of the recent shootings in Charleston.

Ross and company gave a superb, exciting performance, so the mental hurdle I face with The Velvet Note is likely rooted in location. The club doesn’t have an exciting, in-the-moment address; Google Maps will point you to a tiny strip mall just off Exit 10 on 400 that is a traffic-heavy 26 miles from Atlanta’s only other jazz club of note, Churchill Grounds. That Midtown jazz venue is still the location of record for Atlanta jazz.

Yes, it takes some effort to get to The Velvet Note, as I learned when I heard bassist Andrew Sommer lead a quartet of seasoned locals in 2013, but in a city with dwindling options, it’s worth the trip.

With a few exceptions, The Velvet Note is the one place to regularly hear national touring acts outside of a university recital hall. The overall schedule can be hit or miss, but The Velvet Note’s booking choices (which include Jimmy Cobb on November 21) can ease the sting of a long drive from the city.


Uncategorized | August 2, 2015

Alpharetta is The Best Place in America to…..

For the answer, click HERE.

August 2015: A Tribute To Greatness and Grammys

By Tripp Liles, Editor-in-Chief

The Current Hub


The Velvet Note is THE PLACE to catch world-class music in an intimate setting.

The Velvet Note is a musicians dream. Built with acoustics as the main ingredient this room will delight your ears like no other place in the area. This month there are a multitude of opportunities to catch some great entertainment in the coolest spot around, literally.

Billie1009On Sunday Aug. 23, you’ll be able to revisit the greatness of Billie Holiday with a tribute titled A Century of Lady Day: The 100-Year Tribute to Billie Holiday. This performance will feature Dee Dee Wilson who is a past People’s Choice Award Winner for The Billie Holiday vocal competition and has been a composer for the HBO series “The Wire.” Billie Holiday was a true artist of her day and rose as a social phenomenon in the 1950s. This show is a can’t miss and will surely bring back the memories, as well as create new ones.

On the previous night, Aug. 21, you can catch a Grammy-winning trombonist and singer Saunders Sermons. Sermons is an American singer, trombonist, songwriter SaundersSermons2and a two-time Grammy Award Winner. Born and raised in Miami, FL, Sermons began playing the trombone at the age of 11. Since then, he has grown to become an established independent artist with an admirable music career. How often can you watch a Grammy winner at arms length? Now’ s your chance!

These shows are just a few highlights in a busy month at the Velvet Note. August kicks off with a tribute to Burt Bacharach and Dionne Warwick by Toni Byrd on the 1st and Steinway artist Matt Lemmler on the 2nd. On the following weekend, Aug. 7, 8 and 9 you can catch La Lucha, Emrah Kotan and the Daniel Wytanis Quartet. On the next weekend Amp Trio performs on the 14th and Corey Christiansen will be there for shows on the 15th and 16th. CoreyChristiansenChristiansen is becoming recognized as one of the preeminent jazz guitarists in the world. A recording artist, writer, educator and performer, he has played and taught in literally every type of situation around the globe for the last decade. This performance includes Grammy Winner Kevin Smith on bass and Grammy Winner Terreon Gulley on drums.

The month of August closes with Roman Street on the 28th and Darryl “Fluteman” Evan Jones on the 29th. These are just a few of the shows during the month. For more info on these performers and additional shows and times visit www.thevelvetnote.com. The Velvet Note is located at 4075 Old Milton Parkway on Alpharetta.


Uncategorized | July 18, 2015

Friday, August 7th: Enjoy the Freshness of La Lucha!

Uncategorized | June 23, 2015

In Pain? Put down the Aspirin and Reach for the Music

By Patti Neighmond

We all know that listening to music can soothe emotional pain, but Taylor Swift, Jay-Z and Alicia Keys can also ease physical pain, according to a study of children and teenagers who had major surgery.

The analgesic effects of music are well known, but most of the studies have been done with adults and most of the music has been classical. Now a recent study finds that children who choose their own music or audiobook to listen to after major surgery experience less pain.

The catalyst for the research was a very personal experience. Sunitha Suresh was a college student when her grandmother had major surgery and was put in intensive care with three other patients. This meant her family couldn’t always be with her. They decided to put her favorite south Indian classical Carnatic music on an iPod, so she could listen around the clock.

It was very calming, Suresh says. “She knew that someone who loved her had left that music for her and she was in a familiar place.”

Suresh could see the music relaxed her grandmother and made her feel less anxious, but she wondered if she also felt less pain. That would make sense, because anxiety can make people more vulnerable to pain. At the time Suresh was majoring in biomedical engineering with a minor in music cognition at Northwestern University where her father, Santhanam Suresh, is a professor of anesthesiology and pediatrics.

So father and daughter decided to collaborate on a study. And since Dr. Suresh works with children, they decided to look at how music chosen by the children themselves might affect their tolerance for pain.

It was a small study, involving 60 patients between 9 and 14 years old. All the patients were undergoing big operations that required them to stay in the hospital for at least a couple of days, things like orthopedic, urologic or neurological surgery. Right after surgery, patients received narcotics to control pain. The next day they were divided into three groups. One group heard 30 minutes of music of their choice, one heard 30 minutes of stories of their choice and one listened to 30 minutes of silence via noise canceling headphones.

Children chose beforehand what they wanted to hear. For the book group, it was stories like James and the Giant Peach. For the music group, there were pop choices including Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber for the younger kids, Jay-Z and Alicia Keys for the older ones.

To measure pain, the researchers used the Faces Pain Scale depicting illustrations such as a smiling, frowning or crying face. The children pointed to which picture best illustrated their level of pain before and after the audio therapy. After a 30-minute session, the children who listened to music or a book reduced their pain burden by 1 point on a 10-point scale compared to the children who listened to silence. That might not sound like much, but Sunitha Suresh says it’s the equivalent of taking an over-the-counter pain medication like Advil or Tylenol.

The findings suggest that doctors may be able to use less pain medication for their pediatric patients. And that’s a good thing, says Santhanam Suresh, as children don’t tolerate such medication as well as adults. Children are smaller and are more likely to suffer side effects such as trouble breathing, nausea, itching and constipation. So the less pain medication, he says, the better.

When it comes to distracting people from pain, music has special qualities, says Dr. Lynn Webster, a pain specialist and past president of the American Academy of Pain Medicine. “It can generate not only a focus and reduction in anxiety, but it can induce a feeling of euphoria,” he says. That can help drown out the pain.

The researchers plan follow-up studies to see if music can decrease the amount of pain medication needed once children get out of the hospital and are back at home, listening to their favorite tunes.

Uncategorized | May 21, 2015

What in The World Happened Last Week at The Velvet Note?

May 15, 2015.  Steinway artist and Classical Pianist Chad Lawson “got down” on Chopin–accompanied by Everett Harvey (cello) and Judy Kang (violin)–and much to the delight of Velvet Note audiences.  And they threw in a little something extra–check out his Beatles-inspired encore!

Chad’s chart-topping CD–The Chopin Variations,–is available on iTunes. Enjoy!

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