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Rachel Ledesma

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Rachel Ledesma (RachelLedesma)

  • Email: ledesma@chapman.edu
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  • Registered On :2018-06-05 20:39:18
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  • Author ID: 298

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Just before the chorus of “These Dreams,” Nancy Wilson turned to look at Liv Warfield, shaking a tambourine with her eyes closed, and smiled. She then closed her own eyes and sang the words that took the song to every top chart back in 1986: “These dreams go on when I close my eyes/Every second of the night I live another life.” When Wilson reopened her eyes, Warfield was still dancing and now so was the crowd.

On a chilly night in early December, the Irvine Bowl opened its doors for KXMas, the only public event that occurs in the venue besides Pageant of the Masters. The atmosphere reflected this sense of only for tonight—like the amphitheater was open just for those strolling through its premises. Crowds gathered around inflatable snowmen and food trucks, some wrapped in blankets, others holding warm drinks. Scattered conversation of holiday preparation and plans melted in with the sound of carolers and applause. But talk of the future soon turned to reflection of the past, of the “good old days” when rock and roll was everywhere. Because the amphitheater doors would soon open and Nancy Wilson of Heart, a band which defined a generation, would transport everyone in the audience to a time when rock and roll was still being defined.

The definition is understood in the aftermath: the bands which followed Heart, two of which opened before Wilson, both of which were fronted by women. The first was Gothic Tropic, the indie pop brainchild of Cecilia Della Peruti, a singer, songwriter and guitarist who has toured with the likes of Beck and Charli XCX, but now tours with her own band performing her own music. That night, she eagerly took the stage, her personality as alive as the guitar in her hands, playing tracks off her recent debut and tracks not set to release until the next year. Between songs, she spoke of her hometown, New Jersey, slipping into an exaggerated accent most likely compiled from various aunts and grandmothers. She then spontaneously performed a brief, spur-of-the-moment Christmas song with improvised lyrics that had the audience belly laughing. “We’re Gothic Tropic,” she said before exiting the stage with her band, leaving a magnetic energy behind.

Up next was La Sera, originally the solo project of Katy Goodman turned duo with the addition of musician and Goodman’s spouse, Todd Wisenbaker. Together, they have created an alt-country-influenced sound, blending elements of dreamy ‘50s pop and sweet melodies. The result is distinctly Californian, reminiscent of palm trees and endless summer, scenery the band based in L.A. is used to. The pair, joined by a drummer, settled into stage immediately, Wisenbaker strumming away as Goodman bounced around on stage, her fiery red hair moving along with her. They, too, reflected on hometowns, in Goodman’s case, also New Jersey. “This one goes out to Walter,” the couple said before dedicating a song to their son. The audience cheered, shouting back “Walter.” Whether or not their son heard the song from backstage in the dressing room, Goodman and Wisenbaker looked thrilled, jumping into the song by both shredding on their guitars.

Before long the moment arrived for Wilson to take the stage. Yet she wasn’t alone. Joining her was Roadcase Royale, the band she formed with Warfield, a longtime Prince collaborator, blending soulful R&B with smooth rock into something entirely new yet familiar. Playing songs off the band’s 2017 release, their sound was clean and captivating, the result of two minds and four ears who have both made and experienced music history. Wilson paused between songs to switch guitars, to introduce her band, to speak of music, to reminisce on memories and to touch on what it means to be alive in 2018. She then let the music do the talking, covering Foo Fighters’ “No Way Back.” “I’m fighting for you, pleased to meet you, take my hand,” Wilson sang. From the look on her face it was clear she meant every word.

Wilson went on to cover such greats as Tom Petty and Pink Floyd, moving the entire audience as she gracefully paid respects to the musicians that both influenced and drew influence from Heart. It was an act only Wilson could do. The audience rose to their feet and cheered, happy to hear songs from their youth made alive again. They couldn’t help but dance like no one was watching. But Wilson was. “We got some really good dancing going on here tonight,” said Wilson.

The dancing was echoed back on stage by Warfield, who embodied the lyrics she sung and Wilson’s guitar riffs. Warfield presented an authenticity so vivid and exciting, even Wilson couldn’t keep her eyes off her, especially when it came to covering Heart songs. No, it wasn’t Heart exactly, but it was the same in energy and spirit. It’s what Wilson wanted. “We want it to sound different so you don’t think you’re shopping at Ralph’s. No, this isn’t Ralph’s,” said Wilson.

The lyrics came alive with Warfield’s powerful vocals and Wilson’s skill as a guitarist. From “Silver Wheels” to “Crazy on You,” Wilson and Warfield had the entire audience on their feet, moving along to the songs that defined a generation of music lovers if not an entire decade. The whole time Wilson had a smile on her face that reflected a deep joy in seeing her old songs refreshed with new emotions and character. It was a smile that stayed on stage even when Wilson left it and the audience roared for more.

Then, from the back of the amphitheater arose a word that quickly swept through the entire venue: Barracuda. Five chants later and Wilson was back on stage along with the rest of her band. With a new guitar in hand, Wilson gave the crowd what they wanted, performing the iconic riff perfectly as the audience hummed along. Warfield grabbed a mic and began singing, giving her all into every single word. The audience performed backup, echoing the words and clapping along to the beat. By the time the song was over, hardly anyone realized the moment was gone.  “I can’t believe that just happened,” said an audience member. Neither could Wilson as she thanked the audience and reminded them to be kind to each other, happily staring at her band members before finally exiting the stage.

 

“g.a.t.” is the latest single from Fletcher Shears’s solo endeavor as Puzzle. Featuring Brooklyn-based rapper, Ms. Boogie, the track is the first taste of Puzzle’s upcoming album, X Hail, set for release on Jan. 1, 2019. A prolific musician in both his work for Puzzle and as one half of The Garden, Shears’s evolution as an artist is on broad display in “g.a.t.” which continues to redefine his ever-changing sound. Shears blends a smooth rap beat with hypnotizing synth, interweaving Ms. Boogie’s soft and dreamy vocals with his own punk verses. The result is a hypnotizing and memorable precursor for Shears’s new album and sound that promises to expand upon the ideas he first laid out when he started Puzzle back in 2012. We’re all ears.

Listen here.

 

For a band that doesn’t leave their garage much, post-punk/synth-pop band, Distractor, is ready to leave the city behind for a simple life on the farm. Hailing from Costa Mesa, the band’s new single, “Moving to the Farm,” is a rejection of modern life and a wish to get away from it all. It’s a desire that the band transforms into an anthem fitting for 2018: “Just repeat this: Fuck this shit, I’m quitting my job and I’m moving to the farm.” Yet, as Distractor finds out in their imagined future, life on the farm isn’t so easy. From issues with cows and the wife, farm life is no walk in the park, but it’s better than the toxicity of life in the city. “Can’t stand the city. Don’t like the lights. Too many people. It’s not that nice.” Though the song is more desire than reality, the idea of serene farm life, of being far away, transcends time and place — something the band known for their songs about exploring the depths of outer space is used to.

Listen here.

It’s been four long decades of rock ’n’ roll for Nancy Wilson, the iconic guitar virtuoso who formed the multi-platinum rock band, Heart, with her sister, Ann Wilson, in the late ‘60s, and has managed to keep the music pumping.

Though Nancy’s still creating music for Heart (2016’s studio LP, Beautiful Broken), she stumbled across another outlet by forming a new band: Roadcase Royale.

“Everybody needs at least one cool rock band, maybe two,” Nancy said.

While watching Jimmy Fallon, Nancy first saw Liv Warfield, a former Prince collaborator, perform. She was immediately drawn to the power of her voice and her magnetic energy. She then contacted Warfield and got her to open for Nancy’s performance at the Hollywood Bowl. 

“We just hit it off and just started talking about music and she was like, ‘I’d love to rock more. I love my soul and R&B stuff, but I loved to see you guys rock, and I want to rock more like that. Mind if I send you some ideas?’” Nancy said.

After that, the pair started exchanging ideas and pretty quickly, they all took a leap of faith and played together along with Nancy’s Heart band members and Warfield’s guitarist, Ryan Waters, for the first time. The next thing they knew they had completed an album, 2017’s First Things First, which fuses soul with arena rock for an entirely new sound.

Nancy’s grateful for the update. Though Warfield was hesitant to cover classic Heart songs like “Barracuda,” Nancy said it’s refreshing to hear her old songs take on new emotions and character.

“Don’t worry, just bring your own voice to it,” Nancy told Warfield.

Warfield took the advice and now performs an authentic version of the song that even leaves Nancy stunned.

“I pinch myself when she’s singing on stage because she has those ethics as a singer to never be a poser or a phony,” Nancy said.

It’s these ethics that Nancy has lived by as she continues to pave a way for female rockers. During an era when females in rock ’n’ roll were scare and looked down upon, Nancy carved a place for women to shine that’s still relevant in 2018.

“There’s always been an undercurrent in the women’s movement and a move towards equality and equal pay and all that kind of stuff that’s always been there, but to see it come more to the surface and to the front in the culture these days is really great,” Nancy said.

Nancy continues to inspire many female musicians and bands like female-fronted indie band, La Sera, and female singer Cecilia Della Peruti’s solo work as Gothic Tropic. It’s a fitting match then, that the two bands will be opening for Nancy at her upcoming performance for Laguna Beach’s only FM radio station, KX 93.5’s, annual KXMas concert.

Nancy said she’s more than thrilled that the two acts will be paying homage to her as a preeminent icon of female rock.

In 2012, Nancy had the chance to play homage of her own to one of her biggest inspirations, Led Zeppelin. At the annual Kennedy Center Honors for the British hard-rock band, Nancy and Ann performed a cover of “Stairway to Heaven” that moved many to tears—most notably  Robert Plant. The video went viral and Nancy is still moved by Plant’s reaction to their performance.

Since then, Nancy and Ann have been working on their own projects, performances and tours. However, talks of an upcoming Heart tour have recently bubbled to the surface.

“You know, I can’t really give anything away exactly quite yet, but I’m excited and I think it looks very, very positive,” Nancy said.

But a Heart tour doesn’t mean the end of Roadcase Royale.

“I have so much joy playing with Roadcase Royale, my friends and my little rock family, and it just would be insanely sad if I could not continue to do that with them,” Nancy said.

What a performance featuring Heart and Roadcase Royale will look and sound like is still in the works, but with Nancy, Anne and Warfield all collaborating and creating together, it’ll continue to redefine rock ’n’ roll.

Until then, Nancy’s focused on her work with Roadcase Royale and excited to perform at KXMas. Talks of performing songs off of Heart’s Christmas album are in the air, but Nancy is certain that jingle bells will be involved.

“December 8! Bring jingle bells!” Nancy said.

2018 has been Ty Segall’s year. The prolific rocker has released four full-length albums from January’s Freedom Goblin to October’s Fudge Sandwich, a covers album.  Featuring renditions of “The Loner” by Neil Young and “Hit It and Quit It” by Funkadelic, Fudge Sandwich brings a new energy to classic rock songs everybody knows and loves, including Segall himself. On “Isolation,” Segall covers John Lennon, bringing a powerful edge to the track while embodying the deep sorrow heard in Lennon’s voice on the original. Not everyone can cover Lennon, or for that matter, deserves to, but Segall approaches the track with awe and respect, as he does for every song on the album. “The sun will never disappear/But the world may not have many years/Isolation,” Segall sings before yelling “Isolation” for the final time, a cathartic release and embodiment of Lennon’s frustration when he first penned the track in 1970.

Listen to Ty Segall’s cover here.

Listen to the original here.

Released last spring, “Hey Kids” is the latest dreamy single from art pop producer and musician, Molina. Based in Copenhagen, the 25-year-old otherwise known as Rebecca Maria Molina worked with Swedish artist and co-writer, Late Verlane, whose vocals can be heard in the track’s hypnotizing second verse. With experimental synth and a steady backbeat, the song is a glimpse at Molina’s many influences ranging from Apex Twin to Miharu Koshi. Mixing these inspirations, Molila offers us a fitting introduction to her expansive sound and mind.

Listen here.

“You wanna know me, well, what’s to know?” asked Jack Tatum, otherwise know as Wild Nothing, the indie pop musical project he started recording under in 2009, releasing promising demos which turned into EPs and then albums, the most recent of which, Indigo, attempts to answer Tatum’s question.

It’s a question Tatum first asked himself in 2012’s Nocturne, an album which garnered him both critical and commercial success, defining a new, polished voice in the indie pop realm. Yet, with Wild Nothing, Tatum continuously expands on sound and influence, experimenting with writing and production, mixing elements of indie rock and dream pop into something else. This something else, difficult to describe without referring to the serene mood it evokes, is what draws listeners to Wild Nothing.

It’s also what drew fans to The Santa Ana Observatory on a night in late October, filling the pit and balcony, all in attendance slipping into a relaxed mood encouraged by faded blue lighting. But excitement found its way across the venue as the lights shifted to a red hue and indie-dance band, Men I Trust, walked onto stage. Hailing from Montreal, Québec, the dream pop trio was meet by cheers before they even picked up their instruments. They thanked the audience and immediately dove into their dreamy, mesmerizing sound, seemingly effortless and incredibly groovy. The Canadian outfit played tracks new and old, showing off their musical versatility as they transitioned between R&B-heavy inspired tracks, to the stripped-down “Show Me How.” As they left the stage and the flood lights turned on, the audience suddenly awoke from the trance-like state the ethereal band had walked them into.

“It’s over?” a concertgoer asked aloud.

Men I Trust

Not for long as Wild Nothing made their way onto stage, comprised of Tatum and his touring band. Immediately jumping into “Nocturne,” the band grooved back and forth with their guitars, dancing in streaks of light, their faces smiling with content at the crowd of swaying bodies below. The band held nothing back, moving from track to track, maintaining an energy as exciting as the 80s-influenced synth-pop most of the songs off Indigo fall under.

Halfway through their set, Tatum adjusted the microphone and stared into the audience, assessing their energy, which was higher than expected as concertgoers shouted out song requests, compliments and questions, one of which Tatum answered. The question came from the back, inquiring what mystery drink Tatum was sipping between songs.

“It’s throat cold tea if you really most know,” Tatum replied to laughter from the crowd.

Wild Nothing

Wild Nothing then slowed things down with “Shallow Water,” a carefully arranged and cleanly produced track that reveals just how far Tatum has come as a musician, while maintaining the distinctive spirit that has set him apart since his very first demos. Nearing the end of their set, Wild Nothing surprised the audience with fan-favorite, “Chinatown,” beginning a three-song encore that had the crowd dancing and cheering throughout. They ended the night with “Shadow,” a warm melodic song about a negative relationship and heartbreak. Played live, the song transformed into a chance for reflection, to slip away into the calm energy of Wild Nothing and take a breath.

 

 

A frame of mind can be a lonely place to be, especially when your thoughts and memories seem out of control. So reflects L.A. indie duo, Ruby Haunt, on “Sanctuary,” the second single off their most recent record, Blue Hour. A wistful attempt at clearing a headspace and picking up the pieces of regret, “Sanctuary” touches on the refuge from the outside world that is peace of mind. With melancholic vocals and dreamy keyboard, the track proves the haunting magic of Wyatt Ininns and Victor Pakpour’s collaboration, which has resulted in three EPs and now two albums.

Listen here.