Eleven Local Artists Featured on Smilin’ On
Karen Wheelock knows firsthand the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s. Eleven years ago she watched her maternal grandmother succumb to the disease. Recently, her mother was diagnosed. Spurred to action, Wheelock made the decision to participate in the recent Alzheimer’s Walk where she raised some five hundred dollars for the Alzheimer’s Association. As part of that effort she also decided she would compile a CD’s worth of local music to help raise funds. After contacting several musicians she accumulated enough music to make the project a reality.
One of the musicians Wheelock contacted was Shawn Tallard, whom she first met at the very first Project Famous Magazine meet-up. “He has since helped a few of us (Joey Broyles, Kay Laurent, and myself, to name a few) mold and record our songs, and has participated in several Project Famous activities,” says Wheelock. “Four of the songs on the album were recorded in his studio, and he went through and remastered all of the other songs to make sure the album was consistent. He’s a great guy, and this project wouldn’t have worked without him! I’d love to give a huge shout out to [Madison-based CD duplicator] Sooper Dooper – they printed the inserts and gave us those and the plastic sleeves for FREE…really fast, too! They were awesome! Paul Christensen (a friend of Shawn’s) printed and duplicated the actual discs. And Jonah Westrich used his photo and designed the album artwork for us. So many great people helped us on this project! ”
Tallard is better known by his performance moniker Sun Voyage. He released a CD in 2012 titled One More Nightfall and you can check that out here. He also produced a nifty video for his song “May as Well Be Me.”
Tallard and Wheelock assembled eleven chosen songs that are featured on Smilin’ On. The disc is titled after a song Wheelock wrote with Gabe Burdulis, another young, rising musician who is creating quite a buzz (you can read a review of his solo CD here). The song is dedicated to Wheelock’s mother and the pair also created a video for it.
Smilin’ On is largely a collection of pop and soul-laden tunes and focuses on younger talent from the Madison area as well as strong vocal performances. Stylistic deviations include the alt-new wave “Mine Tonight” by Sexy Ester, the electronic pop of Joey Broyles (Editor-in-Chief of Project Famous magazine) and the Latin music of Son Contrabando.
An exception to the demographics is Kay Laurent, an outstanding soul/pop vocalist who opens the CD with “Better Days.” Laurent is from Miami and has been residing in Middleton for about a year-and-a-half. This young lady has an immensely powerful voice and was featured in the September issue of Project Famous.
In addition to Laurent, there are several outstanding tracks that bear mentioning. The Sun Voyage’s “It All Comes True” features a very strong vocal performance from Tallard. It’s a beautifully mesmerizing power ballad with rippling guitar chords and strong melody that builds to an effective climax.
Joey Broyles’ “If This is a Love Song” combines elements of EDM with ripping guitar provided by Tallard so lots of synergies are at work on the CD. Broyles also created a video for the track. Wheelock also has a cameo in the video.
Catch Kid is another young band on the rise and they contribute fine track in “Fresh Air.” The band just added a new guitarist and are about to release their second EP.
Anthony Lamarr contributes “Ovation” from his outstanding album Act Two: The Way of the World (read a review here). Sam Lyons contributes “Star (You Don’t Know)” from his album The Light (read a review here). Brandon Beebe, another excellent young performer contributes “She’s the Moon” from his excellent debut In This Place (read a review here).
Smilin’ On can be downloaded here and is available in physical form by emailing Wheelock at Karen.firstname.lastname@example.org . Hopefully there will be copies in independent music outlets in the city soon. Wheelock is also planning a live event to commemorate the show. Keep your eyes on Local Sounds for details.