Category Archives: Artist Interviews

Interviews with KC Cafe Radio Performing Artists

Joy Zimmerman releases 4th album, “Say My Name”

Joy Zimmerman was just 5 years old when she first became acquainted with music.   Her mother played piano and her grandmother was an organist.  Mom thought Joy would also take a liking to the piano, however it was the violin that piqued her interest.  There was something pure in the sound of the violin, a sound that would lure her in to a fascinating musical world.  

Joy grew up enjoying a very diverse exposure to music.  Thanks to St. Louis rock radio, she became influenced by the likes of Carol King, James Taylor, Earth, Wind and Fire, The Beatles, Sting, and Simon and Garfunkel.

Joy continued to play violin through her college years, performing in churches, for weddings and for funerals.  With all the love that she had for the violin, however, there never seemed to be a real connection between music and career.  She pursued studies for, and eventually a career in social work.

Her interest in music would again become piqued when her son began taking guitar lessons.  She became so intrigued that she asked if she could also begin taking lessons.  As she became better at learning chords, she discovered her own melodies springing forth from the strings. She would go on to join a Folk trio that allowed her to experiment between the violin and her newfound guitar interest.  She would go on to challenge herself with songwriting, and found that it came to her quite naturally.  From that fortunate discovery,  Joy went on to release 4 albums, the latest of which is titled Say My Name.

Recently KC Cafe Radio Music Director Kathy Forste talked with Joy about her journey of musical discovery, and the valuable lessons she has learned along the way.  She also talks about recording her latest album, Say My Name, and the decision to record this one in Kansas City.  And we hear her reaction to having received an Honorable Mention award from American Songwriter Magazine for her song, “Messy Girl.”

Listen to the interview here:

Download the interview here: Interview: Joy Zimmerman 5/31/2017

Music by Joy Zimmerman on KC Cafe Radio:

Raveis Kole: A unique musical duo born out of unique synergy

Perhaps it was luck. Perhaps it was some kind of divine intervention. Or maybe it simply was a case of being in the right place at the right time. What is absolutely certain, however, is at the moment when Laurie Raveis and Dennis Kole first met, a synergy was born that would blossom into one of the most talented singer/songwriter duos around today.

At the time, Dennis had been working in a law firm. There was something else nagging at him intellectually however, and music seemed a perfect fit. He was first introduced to music at age 8 when his teacher put a cardboard cutout keyboard in front of him. His mother had bought him a violin, but he was more partial to the guitar, and at 14 purchased his first guitar. He played mostly classical music, but occasionally made up his own tunes, mostly revolving around “primitive teenage” themes.

Laurie Raveis comes from a long line of teachers. She had been teaching marketing in Boston Massachusetts, but also felt the urge toward the performing arts. Her first introduction to music came about thanks to the piano lessons she took at a young age growing up in Connecticut. Later she would try her had at various performing arts, and found she liked music the most. Later in life she would perform in various bands, including an all-girl band.  Eventually she would be asked to sing in some of those bands.  Her singing would lead to songwriting, exposing her to a whole new world of expression.

The two met at a guitar festival in Montana.  They had both attended the same guitar jam, where Dennis found himself impressed with Laurie’s inventive and original style. It wasn’t  long before the two began playing together.  They would continue to collaborate their musical talents, which eventually lead to the dynamic musical duo we know today simply as Raveis Kole.

Their newest album, Electric Blue Dandelion is an excellent representation of the “chemical reaction that ignites the human spirit by melding Raveis’ caramel smooth, emotive vocals and percussive, groove driven acoustic guitar rhythms with Kole’s fingerstyle and harmonic explorations.” Indeed, it is the essence that is Raveis Kole.

Recently, KC Cafe Radio Music Director Kathy Forste talked with the duo via Skype. They discussed their lives growing up discovering their unique musical talents, that moment when they first met, and how they have grown together musically since then. They also talk about their contrasting approaches to writing music, and how that contrast is the “magic” behind their synergy.

Listen to the interview here:

Listen to the interview here: Interview: Raveis Kole, 5/10/2017

Music by Raveis Kole on KC Cafe Radio:

Elaine Mahon Keeps Reaching For The Stars

Photo by Randy Batista

Elaine Mahon’s songs, as her new album is titled, may Reach for the Stars but they are also deeply rooted in the natural world we all live in. Elaine’s sensibilities as a songwriter developed from a childhood spent roaming the woods and the beaches of North Florida. But it was her work in extragalactic astronomy, which earned Mahon a Ph.D., that broadened her perspective and strengthened her appreciation for nature. Elaine left her career in order to remain near family, and to begin to explore her creativity through music. A masterful storyteller and tunesmith, Mahon has made her mark. Elaine forms an immediate and intimate emotional connection with her audience by drawing them into lyrical songscapes that shimmer with imagery gleaned from the natural world.

Elaine’s newest release, Reach for the Stars, builds on themes of life and love that Mahon explored, through story and myth, in her 2013 release, RISE. However, in this new, cohesive collection of songs, Mahon subtly introduces her astronomical perspective in order to evoke wonder and offer hope and empowerment. A deft finger-style guitarist, Mahon employs alternate tunings to create a rich harmonic palette for the melodies of her songs which often take unexpected, yet pleasing turns. Add to that a sweet, resonant voice capable of expressing a wide range of emotion and you have a winning combination.

Recently, KC Cafe Radio Music Director Kathy Forste visited with Elaine via Skype. They talk about growing up musically, including a very pivitol moment in her life when she discovered her skill as a songwriter. They also talk about the interesting diffences and similiarities between musicianship and songwriting, her decision to pursue music full-time, and her plans beyond Reach for the Stars.

Listen to the interview here:

Download the interview here: Interview: Elaine Mahon 4/20/2017

Allan Frank: A Songwriter’s Songwriter

Singer/Songwriter and KC Cafe Radio Performing Artist Allan Frank has been surrounded by music practically all his life. Growing up in the American Midwestern town of Peoria, Illinois, Frank was caught playing on his grandfather’s piano, making up stories as he played along, at the ripe young age of 3. It wasn’t until age 16, however, when Allan picked up his first musical instrument, a guitar his parents had given him.

As he got older, he became involved in musical theater, and eventually graduated from college with a theater degree. He also discovered his guitar playing skills were in high demand in theater, and he began toying with putting lyrics with song. It wasn’t long that Allan found himself writing for events and issues outside of the theater, and a new songwriter was born.

He later traveled to Europe, and eventually relocated to California, where he continued to hone his craft as a songwriter. His skill as a talented songwriter continued to develop, both in Los Angeles and in Nashville. He became involved in collaborative efforts with some of the most influential songwriters around, including Gary Burr and Chris Tompkins.

Allan’s first full-length album is called The Road So Far, and represents his journey as a genuine singer/songwriter. A blend of Americana, Country and Roots tunes, The Road So Far takes you on a heartfelt journey down the by-ways and back-roads of Middle America. Allan’s gentle down home manner is evident in his songs, reminiscent of the classic stylings of Burl Ives, Pete Seeger and Doc Watson.

Recently, KC Cafe Radio Music Director Kathy Forste spoke with Allan. He tells the story of growing into the art of songwriting, and how he has approached the craft over the years. They talk about the benefits of writing alone versus collaborating with other songwriters, and Allan discusses at length about songwriting as a craft, and the importance of connecting with the listener.

Listen to the interview here:

Music by Allan Frank on KC Cafe Radio:

Bill Abernathy still Finds a Way

Just 10 minutes. That’s all the time singer/songwriter Bill Abernathy needed to complete the task he was working on at the office. He had just received the call from the hospital informing him that his dad had taken a turn for the worse, and is not expected to live much longer. He figured it would take another 10 minutes to compete what he was working on, then he would be off to be by his dad’s side. When he arrived at the hospital, he found that he missed his dad’s passing by just 5 minutes.

“I think that everybody has this vision of how they would like to spend their last moments with people they love,” Bill said. “Mine was clearly being able to sit with my dad, hold his hand and tell him I loved him one more time and just watch as the lights of this world go away and the lights of the next come on. I didn’t get that chance, and it was because I had prioritized my time poorly. I had lost that balance.”

Bill Abernathy: Find A WayThat defining moment in Bill’s life would become the theme for his latest album, Find A Way. “The real theme of the album is based on something that my dad taught me,” he said. “His comment was always that if you want something bad enough in life and you’re willing to put in the blood, sweat, tears and toil, you could always find a way to make that happen.” The album cover artwork he commissioned with artist Damijan Fric, depicts the great chasm that exists for many of us in life, between the demands of work life and the things we cherish in life. Yet the message of hope inspired by his dad resounds clearly in the title song – that it is indeed possible to find a way.

Bill grew up in a musical family, so putting thoughts and feelings into song isn’t too difficult for him. He grew up hanging out with his older brother and associated musician friends, listening to the likes of Peter, Paul and Mary and others. It would be Dan Fogelberg‘s 1972 album Home Free that would inspire him to pick up the guitar and learn how to play. “I learned how to play that album from start to finish,” Bill recently told KC Cafe Radio Music Director Kathy Forste in an interview.

Bill also loves guitars, and has amassed quite the collection over the years, including a rather unique 9 string guitar. Recently, Bill talked with Forste via Skype. They discussed his unique guitar collection, as well as Find A Way and the story behind it’s songs. They talked at length about the struggle most musicians deal with between their musical passion and work life demands, and how he has managed to find his own way.

Listen to the interview here:

Download the interview here: Interview: Bill Abernathy 11/18/2016

Music by Bill Abernathy on KC Cafe Radio: