Q&A with Carl J. Mancuso:
Executive Producer of Ladies Rise Up and Rock
Q: What is your background in journalism and the music business?
A: I literally grew up with music from a young age, as my family owned a record store from the 1950s through the late 1980s in New Orleans. I recall my Dad bringing home each new Beatles single for me on the day of its release when I was a child. I heard all the music my older brothers and sisters liked, bands like the Everly Brothers, the Doors, the Dave Clark Five, Iron Butterfly... The list goes on and on. I heard a lot of music and read a lot of Billboard magazines during my late teens and throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Writing turned out to be a strength of mine in high school, while math and science classes gave me fits. I eventually went on to obtain a second bachelor’s degree in Legal Studies and spent 20 years as a paralegal. It gave me a good legal perspective of how to form a business and how to navigate your way through roadblocks to success.
Q: What have you been doing lately in the music business?
A: Over the past few years, I have published articles on bands such as Cheap Trick, Foreigner, the Rolling Stones, Queen, the Dollyrots, Girl in a Coma, and Deer Park Avenue, just to name a few, on Blogcritics (blogcritics.org). I also started an internet music station on Live365 (live365.com) called “Rock Space Radio.” My station is based on the premise of taking classic rock bands and playing their most recent music, their hits, and some obscure album tracks, mixed with some new, young, indie artists and their songs. That’s the playlist. The station ranks about 40th out of over 800 stations in the rock genre in the audience ratings. It is a tool I use to play music that, I believe, is of a certain high standard and deserves to be heard by the general public. Much of the music I play is ignored by commercial radio. I also play bass now, so I also have opinions about arrangements and instrumentation used in songs and can speak to musicians in their own language, so to speak.
Q: How did you come up with the concept for “Ladies Rise Up and Rock?”
A: After I started “Rock Space Radio,” I listened to some other Live365 stations for ideas. I came across a station called “Cool Chicks Rock.” It features all female artists. I discovered that the operator of that station actually had her own music on the playlist. I thought I could help her, so I emailed her. I came up with a lot of suggestions for her, and in about three months, I got Angie Foster a feature story in Keyboard Magazine.
In the back of my mind, I had a specific plan for her, but at the same time I began to realize that a lot of young women were buying guitar strings, taking music lessons, and starting music careers. I was looking for a way to help them gain increased exposure. I found myself drawn to artists such as Rachel Platten, Bess Rogers, The Dollyrots, and Girl in a Coma. Lilith Fair was a start, but somehow the idea of having an entire show featuring women making music was being pushed aside. I just think the time is right to do it on a smaller scale and also try to tie in some way to benefit music education in schools. I was inspired to tackle the music education funding problem after reading comments made by award-winning songwriter J.D. Souther.
Q: Can you name some artists that are catching your attention lately?
A: There are so many, but I will name several off the top of my head. I think Gretchen Menn is a rising star as an instrumental guitarist. She is unique in the sense that she has a background as a classical guitarist from her college days, but also has studied the playing of Jimmy Page and Angus Young extensively as well. One of the nicest people in the music business that I have encountered to date, and I will always hold her in high regard because she was one of the first West Coast artists to take me seriously and have faith in me and to trust me. Her manager, Jim Stewart, is also a very impressive guy and has been a good source of advice. Ok, I have a few other folks to mention. Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, the Wellspring, Aleks Sever, the Fray, the Wallflowers, the Hush, and Deer Park Avenue are on my station and won’t come off anytime soon. I would also like to work with Michele Van Kleef, Emily Elbert, and Amanda Shaw sometime. Kelly Ogden of the Dollyrots is someone I also would like to meet someday. I love her energy and enthusiasm. I really like bands that have versatility in their song arrangements and multiple singers. Some bands don't seem comfortable trying anything more than two part harmony these days, and I like to see that change.
Q: What is next for your firm, Upswing Public Relations?
A: The first project is “Ladies Rise Up and Rock” (SF) in March of 2013. I will sit back and contemplate producing additional shows in cities like Seattle, Portland, New Orleans, Memphis, Nashville, and perhaps Los Angeles or Sacramento, in conjunction with the sponsors I have in place for the San Francisco concert and perhaps a few other interested parties. I have managed to assist some acts in acquiring endorsement deals with gear manufacturers, and that’s also something I expect to continue doing. Eventually, I want to be able to get a network of publicists assembled to break a hit record by a UK band here in the U.S., among other things.
Carl J. Mancuso
Upswing Public Relations, LLC
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