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18.07.2014
There are performers who scale the heights of imagination and feeling, who walk the high wire of entertainment with such aplomb it leaves audience members giddy.
When Ariana sings a€?Oh The World,a€? about an act of love so precious, it seems too good to be true.
In one of her many YouTube videos, we watch as she and her father, David, play a€?Oh The Worlda€? as a duet. When Ariana was 15 or16, she attended an Ontario Council of Folk Festivals (OCFF) Conference.
When she was 16, she released a self-titled demo which had only 300 copies printed a€” primarily used for her appearance at her first conference. At her fathera€™s urging, Ariana attended more folk conferences which continued to raise her profile. Ariana didna€™t really become serious about music until a three-month bout with double pneumonia brought her close to death.
Arianaa€™s first album, To Make It Make Sense, was released in 2009, when she was 18 years old. I asked Ariana about the source for the allegorical song, a€?John and the Monster.a€? She couldna€™t pinpoint anything in particular. In the video, her father, ever the supporter and mentor, sits across from her and when she finishes, he murmurs, a€?Not bad.a€? In response, Ariana laughs. When we first encountered Ariana at the 2011 NERFA last November, we were shocked to discover that the youthful-looking sideman on guitar, Dobro and mandolin was Arianaa€™s father, David.
Ariana and David will be making a number of appearances in the United States this fall, and specifically the Living Room in NYC each month. We discussed the underlying truth of the fantastical story in the song a€” that something of beauty can be destroyed by a society who would imprison it and destroy its magic.
While numerous researches have been conducted on stress reduction, the one thing that has come out common in most researches is that deep breathing exercises are the most effective way to neutralize stress. Stress is something that has become inseparable from our lives, and even trivial things like a pimple on the cheeks can be a source of stress.
All that is needed is about ten minutes of time, once or twice a day, and you will experience a basket full of benefits.
It is quite a refreshing activity which helps in reducing fatigue and increase alertness and concentration. There is no need for you to get some special clothing or sit down in a particular pose to practice deep breathing. So, look for a time or place where you would not be disturbed in the mid of your deep breathing session.
If youa€™ve been a smoker then youa€™ve already sabotaged your lungs, maybe the word a€?sabotagea€™ sounds too harsh, but well thata€™s reality. In the late a€™90s, out of all the players who showed up to the open mic at the Fast Folk Cafe, he was one of the very few who stood out and lasted.
As a child, barely beyond his toddler years, Marc intuitively would sing songs around the house. Marca€™s brother, four years older, introduced him to a mix of things like Bob Marley, Crosby, Stills and Nash, The Eagles and The Beatles.
Hansmann used a standard Mel Bay system, teaching sight reading of melodic passages and chord formations at the same time with some music theory mixed in.
After a year and a half, Marc came to class and confessed that he hadna€™t practiced that weeka€™s lesson. Before he got his first guitar, Marca€™s father actually rented a guitar for over a year for him to use. When he got to the eighth grade, he collaborated with other young musicians, finding a drummer and bass player.
The music Marc was playing at the time was a mash-up of Beatles, Pink Floyd and Yes, who he also liked. Late in his junior year of high school, Marc dropped out of the band and concentrated on solo guitar, preparing for a college music school.
Marc applied to The Hartt School of Music, Dance and Theater in Hartford, Conn., The New School in Manhattan and the Ithaca College School of Music.
Hea€™s still friends with the bassist of that college band, John DeCrescente, who played bass on Crash Boom Pow. For the first five years after getting out of school, Marc didna€™t care how he made money.
He did a stint in a cover band, which made money, but he found it wasna€™t getting nearer his goal of being an original solo artist. Around 1997-98 he wanted to start finding himself and performed solo at a number of venues including The Fast Folk Cafe open mic, where I first encountered him.
Although he played a lot of rock music, he continued to expand his skills with the acoustic guitar, using it for his songwriting. Life took a quantum leap upward when Marc was asked to be a backup singer and guitarist for Rob Thomas, the lead singer for Matchbox 20. Crash Boom Pow fuses an intensity of rhythm and melody to create a groove that is impossible for the listener to ignore. Marc likened a€?Who Are All These Peoplea€? to a€?Crash Boom Powa€? in its kaleidoscope of imagery. Last year at an awards dinner in Napa, I happened to be seated next to Adam Strum, publisher of Wine Enthusiast. It was directly across from this station that Edoardo Seghesioa€”part of a wave of immigrants from northern Italya€”bought his first 10 acres in 1895. Only one acre of that legacy vineyard remains (plus the railroad depot, bought for $20 by Angela after she learned Western Pacific Railroad planned to tear it down). Therea€™s an old saying: The more a grapevine grows like a weed, the more it tastes like a weed. During sangiovesea€™s heyday, however, a€?everybody came out with a $35 sangiovese and it was very mediocre or blended with cabernet,a€? Seghesio continues.
Florentine vintners since 1385, the Antinoris have been tied to sangiovese for 26 generations. Three years later, Whitbread sold its 85% stake to British liquor company Allied-Lyons (which later became Allied-Domecq). As owners of Clos du Bois winery, Allied-Domecq Wines had done a lot to make merlot fashionable.
In 1993, Allied-Domecq decided to sell Atlas Peak in a a€?sale lease-backa€? scheme (changing it from a capital expense to an operating expense, to benefit shareholders). When the lease expired, Antinori rechristened the winery Antica and shifted its emphasis to cabernet. High in the Macayamas mountains, Lorenzo Petroni has been producing Poggio alla Pietra ($60) since 1998.
Also worth seeking out are the sangioveses from Vino Noceto in Shenandoah Valley, up in the Sierra foothillsa€™ Amador County.
And thata€™s where wea€™ll pick up next timea€”with a look at ribolla gialla, fiano, greco, barbera, and all the other varieties breathing new life into the Cal-Ital scene. Patricia Thomson is a wine writer who splits her time between New York and Italy, where she runs wine tours through her company La Dolce Vita Wine Tours. It happened at the Northeast Regional Folk Alliance (NERFA) Conference last year when we first saw Ariana Gillis, and it happens over and over, every time we see her. Ariana took piano lessons when she was young and didna€™t become interested in guitar until she got one when she was 12.
When I mentioned that I found her to be a lot like Josh Ritter in her imaginative storytelling, she verified that observation, saying a€?I like it that he [Josh] tries to intertwine another story with a love songa€¦ it makes it more interesting. When Ariana was around 13, her father would take her with him when he was playing certain gigs, especially ones that hea€™d booked himself.
David started calling around asking bookers for venues to let Ariana open for artists theya€™d already booked.
These soul-defining experiences are the catalyst that affects the skewed stories she is compelled to tell.


She got a publicist who helped her introduce her CD, getting radio airplay even before it was officially released, and who helped her get bookings a€” and they were exclusively her gigs.
Wea€™re used to it now, but it hasna€™t lost that sense of a treasured combination of father-daughter bonding in such an exalted endeavor a€” the making of music. But this one amazing tool, called deep breathing, can give you results which even medication and expensive therapies may fail to deliver. Deep breathing aids in blood pressure control, heart rate stabilization, better digestion and improving the immunity system. Although it is something that is very simple, but do not doubt it’s competence to cure or at least ease down several different types of problems. You can do it almost anywhere, say when you take a little breather at your work desk or when you’re casually lying down on the couch at home. Also counting your breath can help to keep your brain focused on your breathing and prevent your mind from going astray. He always had that something extra, that power in the vocals, a sharpness in technique on guitar, an assuredness that rendered him memorable.
His brother took a few guitar lessons but didna€™t like his teacher and didna€™t stick with it. At 13 he got an amplifier for Christmas so he bought an electric pickup for his acoustic guitar. He got a distortion pedal and experimented with a€?throwbacka€? rock stuff, a lot of covers by a€™60s groups like Led Zeppelin. Chords his guitar teacher taught him using the Mel Bay system would get used, perhaps by moving fret positions. There were the typical college entrance requirements and, in addition, a music school audition to prepare for. Marc was exposed to a student community that was eclectic, comprised of a mix of suburban, Midwestern and hippie types. He sang in choral and a cappella groups in college and got general advice on breathing from the choral director. One of them, McHale Barone, liked the sound and brought the band in to rearrange a Budweiser jingle, getting the Von Em sound on a€?This Buda€™s for You.a€? It premiered during the 2000 Superbowl broadcast and aired for two years.
He also felt the desire to work solo tugging at him and had been mixing in solo gigs during that time. Marc credits Hudson Valley performer Kathleen Pemble for turning him on to early childhood music.
It seems to make use of everything in Marca€™s very deep toolbox and has the best examples of the vagaries of human interaction.
He got a distortion pedal and experimented withA  a€?throwbacka€? rock stuff, a lot of covers by a€™60s groups like Led Zeppelin. He sang in choral and a cappella groups inA  college and got general advice on breathingA  from the choral director. It seems to make use of everything in Marca€™s very deep toolbox and has the best examples ofA  the vagaries of human interaction.
First, the very idea of California sangiovese has become a laughing matter in some quarters. Though known for their zinfandel, theya€™re the largest sangiovese producer in Sonoma and own the oldest extant sangiovese vineyard in the country. But that acre is a precious archive of historic clones, brought from the Old Country by viticulturalist and brandy maker A.R. The basic orange label ($30) comes from three clones planted on porous flatland, benchland, and hillside. When Piero Antinori took the reins in 1966, he began traveling the wine world, coming frequently to Napa and befriending such pioneers as Robert Mondavi. British brewer Whitbread, which owned Antinoria€™s importer, Julius Wile, decided to get into the California wine business.
Like a true Tuscan, he sought a high-elevation mountainside location (the exception to the rule in Napa at that time), settling on a remote, undeveloped property on Atlas Peak. Enter Terrence Clancy, one of the first executives to bring sophisticated marketing techniques to the wine business. Antinori told them, a€?Ia€™m your buyer.a€? But the deal obligated him to lease the land back to Allied-Domecq for 15 years.
Sold only at the winery, a€?ita€™s a way for us to tell the Antinori story.a€? Made for passion, not profit, the Antica sangiovese ($35) is a delight. Made from sangiovese grosso, this flagship wine strives to emulate the dark, brooding style of Brunello di Montalcinoa€”a goal announced at the winerya€™s gate, where the signage reads a€?Brunello di Sonoma.a€? This pure sangiovese offers raspberry fruit with an undercurrent of tobacco leaf and meat. Founded in 1987 by Suzy and Jim Gullett, Noceto offers a basic sangiovese ($18), a reserve ($24), and four outstanding single-vineyard cru ($28). We find ourselves wondering, a€?Just how good can she get?a€? Her powerful voice, soaring through the high registers, suggests the pinnacle is not yet in sight.
During that time she thought shea€™d overcome it, but had to retreat to bed as it hadna€™t really gone away. She played recordings of her original work for the interviewer and, highly impressed, he advised her not to attend school, but to stick with her own work. Sometime soon after that six-month period, Ariana was in the studio doing the vocals for her first full CD.
We learn from her bio that: a€?David Marsh played the track, a€?John and the Monstera€™ to his radio audience a€” one response was a phone call from an enthusiastic listener who wanted to know more about the unusual song, and the singer.
John, dying of a brain tumor rows out to the middle of the lake and coaxes the monster out of hiding.
We have all these dreamsa€¦ but it slowly starts to disintegrate in front of us and we wonder, what happened to my shiny dream?a€? Ita€™s difficult to express here, its sound and the way it packs such an emotional wallop. Most people find it too good to be true, especially because of the mystical reputation that deep breathing enjoys, and so they are a bit reluctant to give it a try. The idea is to give your body an abundant supply of oxygen by taking controlled and deeper breaths. The best way to cont your breath is to count one when you breathe in and then come two when you breathe out and so forth. Crossing 8th, in the crush of bodies around me, I feel someonea€™s toe against my left heel. His fathera€™s record collection included classical, blues and soul music, and that made an impact as well. Marc, who was burnt out on the mechanical repetition of exercises, was actually convinced he was going to quit and said so. Hea€™d find that certain changes would create similar sounds to the aforementioned groups, and hea€™d use them in his banda€™s material.
During that time, Marc experimented with a wah-wah pedal and played around with progressive, blues and traditional progressions. On top of his natural ability, he finally took voice lessons in his late 20s, which helped with a€?placinga€? his voice, he said.
He worked a variety of jobs, including as cashier in an A & P, and as a roofera€™s helper.
While Von Em had played to 500-1,000 concert-goers, the Rob Thomas tour was a whole other beast. The title track, a€?Crash Boom Pow,a€? conjures up cinematic imagery, but not so specific that it dictates a story line. Over a funky guitar line, hea€™s rapping: Did I say that Ia€™d spray you with mace?A  All I meant was I needed my personal spacea€¦ Ita€™s the very apropos track a€?Personal Spacea€? from his new CD Crash Boom Pow.
Second, this noble varietya€”the undisputed king in Tuscany, where ita€™s behind Chianti Classico, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, and Brunello di Montalcinoa€”has virtually disappeared from our shores. In their Healdsburg tasting room, alongside sepia photos of mustached founder Eduardo Seghesio and his Gibson Girl wife, Angela, hangs a lithograph of Chianti Station. The strategy worked, and in 1910 Seghesio expanded, purchasing the southern edge of Italian Swiss Colonya€™s vast property (owned by his wifea€™s uncle), where theya€™d planted a Chianti field blend: canaiolo, trebbiano, malvasia, and, presumably, the first sangiovese in the state.
The more intense, oak-aged Venom ($54) comes from the fourth clonea€”with the smallest berries and loosest clustersa€”planted on the formidable Rattlesnake Hill.


A naturally vigorous vine, its growth must be tamed with repeated pruning, fastidious canopy management, and soil-poor sites on rocky slopes.
They invited Antinori and champagne house Bollinger (another subsidiary) to become minority partners. They planted cabernet, chardonnay, and in 1987, enologist Renzo Cotarella and viticulturalist Andrea Paoletti brought in sangiovese budwood from Il Poggione winery in Montalcino and T-budded two acres as an experiment. But its two remaining plots are the winerya€™s best, at the top of gravelly, well-drained slopes. Varietally correct, it has sangiovesea€™s red-fruit flavors and bright acidity and is laced with a minerality that speaks of site. These are spot-on specimens, each beautifully balanced and ready to dazzle at the dinner table. But when I sit down with Glenn Salva, longtime estate manager of Antinoria€™s Napa property, the story is more complicated.
Likewise, her song-stories, fed by a keen mind open to both reality and parables of fantasy, spark a wonder in us.
Catherine until Ariana was a year old, then moved further west to Vineland a€” about an hour south of Toronto.
She also took music lessons in high school, studying oboe and upright bass and drums a€” and still wants to learn trumpet.
More often than not, it would be Ariana and a girlfriend whoa€™d do a cover song, something that the student body could relate to and that reflected the sermon that day. David would also perform at an annual Christmas show and would have Ariana perform as well. She slept in an upright position to keep breathing, waking up every hour, each night, coughing from the fluid in her lungs. The mystery caller was Elton Johna€™s lyricist and songwriting partner Bernie Taupin.a€? Thata€™s quite a connection a€” and one hell of a quote that came out of it. What is equally important is to concentrate on your breath and keep your mind from wandering or getting distracted. The strings on mine were so high off the fret board, I quit (much to my regret later) because my fingers hurt.
They played in a couple of bars to enthusiastic reception until the owners stopped it to avoid problems with under-age laws. The national touring acts that came through included the Spin Doctors, Blues Traveler and, early in its career, Phish.
Carrying hundred-pound batches of shingles up long ladders was perilous, and protruding nails on stripped rooftops were hell on the flimsy shoes he wore. They toured the East Coast and opened for acts like The Mamas and the Papas and The Young Rascals. Marc laughingly agreed, joking that he might have thought, a€?I can buy FIVE falafels today!a€? He also wrote a jingle for HIP insurance and a few others.
At this point, Ia€™d been playing it for about three weeks, dropping into a groove each time. The national touring acts that came through includedA  the Spin Doctors, Blues Traveler and, early in its career, Phish. It presents a a€?collage of imagesa€? gathered from Marca€™s time in New York City.A  It allows listeners to have their own reactions and pictures. Few Californians bothered to put in the effort or hand over their best vineyardsa€”not when cabernet or pinot noir could fetch far greater returns. Why would Mondavi take cabernet out of To Kalon when youa€™re making the best cabernet there?a€? Echoing Seghesio, he says, a€?Sangiovese is a prolific producer, so if you put it on deep, rich soil, youa€™ll have clusters that fill a bushel basket. At the songa€™s end, the captured monster is dying, so John, sacrificing himself, sets him free, becomes sick again and perishes. He developed a long-term friendly relationship with his teacher, Bob Hansmann, who still occasionally shows up at Marca€™s gigs.
They did a couple of a€?battle of the bandsa€? competitions in school a€” one each in his sophomore and junior years.
He remembers a course in sight reading where, in the final exam, the student was expected to see and play sharp and flat notes placed in odd places in a random test piece.
For larger, special-event, multi-band shows with groups such as No Doubt and The Black-Eyed Peas, sponsored by Z-100 fm, there were audiences of 30,000.
His robust playing style leaves him particularly suited for ruminations on the fragmented human condition, especially that of New Yorkers. Whata€™s more, Californiaa€™s heat and lack of haze hasten sangiovesea€™s ripening, which leaves its phenolics undeveloped and flavors truncated. He would constantly stop to play his guitar sitting nearby and finally gave up the piano and just stuck with the guitar. He wanted me to get better.a€? She said that shea€™d often co-opt Patty Griffin material and turn it into something of her own. I wanted to learn something cool like a€?Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds.a€™a€? He told Hansmann about this.
He continued learning from early Beatles albums like Rubber Soul, experimenting with chords and guitar runs.
They also played at some block parties, outdoor flea markets, an Ossining fair and a birthday party. Unlike some of his classmates, Marc liked a movement class where the student had to clap and step in different rhythms, ingraining the music on a physical level. When they played Live 8 in Philadelphia, counting cable viewers, the audience was more than two million.
David created his own arrangements of songs and eventually competed in the annual United States championship contest in Winfield, Kan.
His stuff is not exactly folky, but ita€™s definitely wooden music and it sure generates excitement. Demonstrating an astute sense of timing, she fled Germany before the Nazi Holocaust could claim her. Hansmann told Marc, a€?It took a strong kid to hold out for a year and a half.a€? He immediately switched gears and prepared a blues song for Marc to learn and worked out a Beatles song as well.
Marc wrote songs all through high school, though many were not suitable for the rock group he was in.
His sense of rhythm is so strong that it would seem hea€™d have a real affinity for this class. Therea€™s a syncopation that captures the uneven nature of relationships and a minor key melody expressing a pessimism in outcomes.
We have 10 acres and never get over 20 tons total.a€? Thata€™s a far cry from the Green Giant bounty of the 1990s. Even though her illness left her debilitated, she still managed to graduate from high school and made the honor roll. It breathed new life into Marca€™s dedication and he left feeling that he wanted to study and play music forever. He had a small career going when he was younger but gave it up and decided to help Ariana when he saw how talented she was. Then WFUVa€™s John Platt picked him for one of his monthly On Your Radar acts at the Living Room in New York City in August of this year. I hadna€™t seen him in the flesh since the long-gone Fast Folk days, but we quickly got reacquainted before his set. Coming down off of that high perch, though was necessary for Marc to realize his dream of being a creative solo act. The intensity of his guitar and vocal attack sold me and I offered him a cover feature on the spot.



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