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JJ Rocks / Blog

JJ Rocks interview with record company legend Joe Mansfield

Joe Mansfield being interviewed JJ Rocks:

JJ: What was your first musical job?

JM: I was a disc jockey in college for years. I played country music and hated it. The first two weeks I hated it and then I liked it. I never heard it before.

JJ: How did you go from being a DJ to being in the record company business?

JM: CBS radio station. CBS Records…. I just moved over…. Different division….

JJ: How many record companies have you worked for and what were your positions?

JM: CBS for 17 years, vice president of marketing, RCA for 3 years, vice president of contemporary music, Capitol records, vice president of marketing for 5 years in Hollywood and two years here (Nashville), and then 2 years as CEO at Electra/ Asylum. I was always a vice president, president, or CEO.

JJ: Did you have a favorite company that you worked for?

JM: CBS

JJ: What was one of your most famous encounters with a famous artist?

JM: Bob Dylan. He was the first artist that I ever worked with in '65. He came to do a show in Austin Texas. I told him that I had a lot of people that wanted to interview him and he said "I don't do that". And I said "come on". I had a suit and tie on. Then he says "If you find an old garage that has the walk down oil pit, I'll do it there from the bottom of the pit". He thought that he blew me off. So I found one, went back and got him, got the TV stations, radio and press there. He liked me! In fact I was the only record guy that he ever liked. He hated the record people because they're all suits. I was a suit, but you know, he liked me. And he had some “hang arounder” with him who is probably now the world’s most famous photographer "Annie Leibovitz", she was there. She's done a ton of work for famous people.

JJ: How did you become the man behind all the sales of the Garth Brooks records?

JM: I did the marketing. Marketing runs companies. People don't realize that. If you don't market, you don't sell. It's real simple.

JJ: Was Garth with Capitol when you were here in Nashville?

JM: He came out in April of '89 with a record. I was still in Hollywood. We sold 300 thousand. I moved here in April of '90 and in 3 months I had it platinum.

JJ: What kind of person is Garth Brooks?

JM: Great guy. He is what you see. He's just a terrific guy. Good dad, good husband. He's just a great person. He takes care of his friends and he's very loyal to people that are loyal to him. He's a great guy.

JJ: What are some of the future plans for Garth Brooks? Is he going to record or tour?

JM: He won't tell me. I don't know. I said "I want a new studio album and I want a world tour. Let's go!"

JJ: He doesn’t know yet?

JM: He said he was retired until his kids are in college. And they are 16, 14, and 12. So, that's like six years from now. But hopefully he'll change his mind and go soon.

JJ: What do you think of St. Croix?

JM: I love St. Croix! I went down there for years and years 4 times a year through the 70's and up until Sam died (His great friend Sam Marmaduke). And he's been dead 12 years I think, and that was the last time I was there. But I love St. Croix. I don't think that I can live there full time. I don't think that I can live on any island full time. But I enjoyed it, I love that island. I know it really well.

JJ: Earlier you said that you used to drive a lot and go down many of our roads.

JM: I've done every road down there. The first couple of years I rented those motor scooter things. I went out to point Udall and over those damn rocks. I tore the thing up and fell down on it.

JJ: What do you think of the work that Dorothy and I have done with The Spotlight Zone?

JM: I think it's fabulous! You must be putting in hours and hours every week!

Mandee and the ABC Girls
Mandee and the ABC Girls  (11 months ago)

Great interview JJ :) Love Mandee and the ABC girls :)

JJ Rocks Article # 56: From Canada: Dennis Paul

There’s a cool breeze blowing in from the north that is carrying a hot sound that represents the true meaning of the independent rock artist. This artist seems to be carrying the torch that sets the standards for other independent Canadian rockers not only with his music, but in his motivation to spread his sound through the indie airwaves. He is the number one unsigned rock artist in Canada. And his name is Dennis Paul! Dennis’s music has reached several number one spots on Indie radio and also on several independent band sites including the famous site for friends and musicians, My Space. And he does this not only by tedious networking, but having great music to back it up. We can honestly say that Dennis Paul creates a sound that is very recognizable but also very original. His music connects with the every day listener by having the drive of a famous classic rock band while at the same time demanding respect from the independent songwriting community. This is not an easy balance to maintain but Dennis seems to do it with ease. So we welcome Dennis Paul to our very young but determined independent musical publication and we want to thank him for his contributions to the idea that great music should not be overlooked just because it’s not on all the record store shelves yet. It’s because of musicians like Dennis Paul that the unsigned artist is finally starting to gain recognition. This man composes great music and rocks hard! - JJ Rocks

JJ Rocks Article # 55: From Italy: Ila

There’s a new star on the rise who is taking the image of women in rock to a whole new level. She doesn’t depend on mimicking the shaky voices of the modern day pop singer, nor does she rely upon the time tested formula of 3 chords pounding behind a biker chick image. Her approach is so tasteful that it demands attention from any level of musician while still maintaining a drive with an edge that cuts through any rock that falls in her way. And she does it all in Italian. Her name is Ila! Hailing from Genova, Bergamo, Italy, Ila has a voice that delivers not only a pitch that I could tune my guitar by, but a texture that has the feel of someone who is totally in control of the music that is inside of her. And with an incredibly tight band behind her consisting of musicians Andy Ronchi on guitar, Teo Airoldie on bass, and Teo Marchese on drums, she highlights a group that has a sound so solid, it borders perfection. And at the same time they are balancing their values of taste and technique while producing very polished recordings that are only rivaled by the big record companies. But all this would be a great loss of energy if it was without originality. So obviously I’ve been saving the best for last. And of course that is the high quality of songwriting that comes out of this very beautiful woman from Italy. Ila has found a way to channel her feelings through her songs in a way that shows that her main concern is to emotionally and spiritually connect to her listening audience while still being able to nail them to the wall. So Ila, we welcome you to our family of great featured musicians. And even though this publication is still very young, your article will always be in our August 2007 issue for all to read. You are also a shinning star in our international galaxy of musicians that keeps us looking up towards the skies of musical independence. - JJ Rocks

JJ Rocks Article # 47: From Russia: The Ranetki Girls

Now here’s an article that definitely fits with the international flavor of our magazine. It’s about an all girl pop band from Moscow, Russia who is making their way to the top of the Russian music scene. They are showing that they love the freedom of musical expression, notoriety, and the one thing that fuels modern day pop bands, fame. Now of course that can define almost every garage band in the world. One of many things that make me want to tip my hat to this fine group of musicians is that they really show a love for establishing a connection with their listeners. And they accomplish that with great songwriting, energy, and superb musicianship. They are reaching for heights that have the historical equivalent of having to be the first band to land on the moon. They are defining the future of international entertainment while mapping out new musical directions. They are the Ranetki Girls! I’ll tell you right now that I’m positive that this band has many young rockin’ pop groups trying to cook up their recipe on a garage band barbeque grill. And The Ranetki Girls have up and coming bands saying that it’s their incredible looks, or the way that they sing. But this writer has to say that when it comes to their ability to sound fresh, play with a high degree of polish, and show an incredible amount of charisma, The Ranetki Girls have found the secret formula! Two of their songs have reached #1 in Russia and they are now becoming known outside of their country. With Lera on lead vocals and drums, Natasha and Anya on guitars, Genya on keys and Lena on bass, they create a line up that attracts the respect of all listeners of pop music. And add that the fact that they project an incredible amount of energy on stage you wind up with a band that has the ability to make their way into music history. So let’s welcome The Ranetki Girls to our family of featured musicians. Although this publication is still in its youth we have managed to reach 53 countries so far and we hope this fine band will be well received by anyone who visits them via our bands section on the homepage. That’s where you can purchase their CD or just say hi! - JJ Rocks

JJ Rocks Article # 46: From Pennsylvania, USA: The Skyla Burrell Blues Band

Wake up people! The cool blues just walked in! And it’s coming from a hot band from Pennsylvania, USA that has a tight sound and a lot of soul. Hailing from the land of the brave and the home of the blues, they have an authenticity to their sound that doesn’t sway to a pop side that can usually ruin any attempt at being a good blues band. And with a female vocalist whose voice jumps out and grabs you by the blues, The Skyla Burrell blues band is the real deal in a solid package that stays true to the real meaning of their genre. Being a full time blues band is harder these days because of the lack of places to play during the week. But this band maintains a full schedule. And seeing how there are so many blues bands out there, they must be well received and have many fans. I’m familiar with one of the places that they play “The Cats eye Pub” in fells point which is in Baltimore, MD. That’s where I’m originally from and I know that Baltimore knows good blues! And I can only imagine their response when Skyla opens up her pipes and lets her bluesy and very accurate voice fill the room! When I visit Baltimore later this year I defiantly want to look them up. Most of our readers know that we are not into bios and mainly focus on the current day talents and impact of a band. But if you want to learn more about their background you can visit them on their web site via our “bands” column. That’s also where you can order their new CD at a very reasonable price and leave them a nice message at the same time. And I’m sure that the blues lovers out there won’t be let down when they take a few moments to check out this very cool band that consist of Skyla Burrell on lead vocals & lead Guitar, Mark Tomlinson on lead guitar, Ezell Jones on Drums, and Chris Sellman on bass. So let’s all welcome The Skyla Burrell blues band to our family of featured international bands! And we would like to invite them to visit our beautiful island where they would be very welcome by our blues lovers. All they have to do is drop a line to our very own “Dorothy” and I’m sure she can arrange some gigs where they will be well received. Also please feel free to download one of their songs at the bottom of our column. It’s just one small example of their ability to knock out some real blues just the way you like it! - JJ Rocks

JJ Rocks Article # 43: From Serbia: Masque of Betrayal

Ok all you heavy metal heads! We have discovered a band from Serbia that is going to give you one of the best metal sounds that we have ever received at our web site! Usually the metal mp3s that we receive sound very uniform and don’t break away from the “normal metal” to the “artistic metal”. What I mean by that is that some metal bands seem destined to stay inside of a style that doesn’t usually generate a wide variety of approaches. Most of them just seem to feel comfortable staying inside of a metal “speed box”. But this is not so with the first metal band that we ever featured in St. Croix Music Magazine. This band manages to take metal to a level that is rarely heard in this genre. This band is called “Masque of Betrayal”. I could name all of the players, but I rather focus on the band in general. If you want their bio, you can visit them in our bands column and get the link for their site. But I’m not going to waste your time with these easy to find facts. Instead I’m going to tell you how great they are. And after all, isn’t that what is most important. I just got finished listening to “Agony”, which is the cut that the band sent us. It’s very cool because it pulls you along at a moderate metal pace, and then takes you on a journey down unexpected musical twists and turns while still keeping your interest directed to the main theme of the song. This kind of musical expertise and adventurism only grows from a garden nourished by serious minded musicians. The band “Masque of Betrayal” has found the perfect balance between the commercial aspects of heavy metal music and the ability to gain respect from the musical community as a whole. And that is hard to find during a time when so many metal bands are made of plastic. So in conclusion, Dorothy and I agree that this is a band that deserves to not have print wasted on who plays what and where they were born. I as a writer find myself stumped when searching for new words to compliment their approach and formula. Maybe that’s because I tend to lean more towards respecting their musical collaboration than I do towards many other groups of musicians that are standing in line waiting to be noticed as virtuosos. - JJ Rocks

JJ Rocks Article # 42: From Argentina: Daniel Canueto

Now here is an article which helps define the true meaning of what this magazine is about. And that is to try to bring together many nations through their music while having them all meet on this tiny little island in the Caribbean, even if it is only through the internet. It’s a total learning experience for all who arrive at this site because not only do they discover our beautiful island, but they learn from each others musical contributions. Some of these musical gifts to our magazine represent current sounds in today’s music scene while others like the musician in this article are representing the traditional sounds and history of their country. And in this case the country is Argentina and the musician is Daniel Cañueto. The key word here is authenticity. The song that Daniel sent us sounds like it came from the deep roots of Argentine folk music and it paints many colorful pictures in my imagination of everything from Zorro to the Cisco kid. When I listen and close my eyes I can see Spanish speaking cowboys riding up to a cantina after a hard day on the range and singing up a storm and having a hoot of a time. And even though I don’t speak Spanish very well I can still feel the energy coming from the singers, guitars and violin as they capture the essence of old Argentina. The musical offering that Daniel sent for our readers features him and his band playing a song called “Pista 2”. He also writes songs in many genres including tango, boleros, blues, ballads and even reggae. The song that we are featuring in this issue really captures what we feel is a true representation of authentic Argentine history. And Daniel Cañueto does a great job of preserving it. We are so happy that Daniel Cañueto has become a member of our constantly growing musical family. His contact and web site information will remain in our bands column and his article will always be in this issue. And we thank him for helping us to keep an international aura, variety, and flavor to St. Croix Music Magazine. - JJ Rocks

JJ Rocks Article # 41: From Maryland, USA: Woody Lassauer

With all the character voices and fad following artist on the rise today it becomes quite a chore finding someone who remains true to the art of displaying a high level of quality in their vocals and songwriting. But this month’s featured artist from Baltimore Maryland (my hometown) has made the search for such musical quality very rewarding for this publication. And after hearing his song “Roses”, you will agree that he belongs in our family of great musical creators. Woody Lissauer has reached a level of musical communication that touches not only the hearts and emotions of the every day listener, but also attracts respect from the most demanding pop culture composers. And with a voice quality and precision that rivals the most well known singers, he maintains the ability to achieve a perfect balance between technical expertise, instrumental versatility, and creative focus. I met Woody at a gig somewhere in Maryland that I can’t remember, and it was a rare occasion because back then most of the professional level players were working five or six nights a week. But I do remember that he had a pleasant personality that was absent of the usual attitude problems that many local players had at that time. There was also a time when I saw him play with a former member of one of my bands (Laura Hunter) on my night off. I also remember that he played very tasteful guitar solos, but at the time I wasn’t aware of his great songwriting ability or his expertise on so many instruments. Even though I have only seen him two times in my life, the fact that he wound up playing with two of my former band members from the original JJ rocks band (St. Croix 1982) means a lot to me because those members went on to play with such a fine musician as Woody Lissauer. And one of them, drummer Mike “Crash” Kundrat” is playing on “Roses”, the song that Woody is offering to our readers as a free download at the end of this article. I’m trying to get Woody to come down to St. Croix sometime in the future and play in some of our local establishments. And believe me, if he does, it will be something that St. Croix won’t forget! Because it’s not that often that a musician / songwriter of that quality arrives on the shores of this beautiful island. So Woody, St. Croix Music Magazine would like to welcome you to our family of fine featured artist! And we are glad that we can spread the word about your fine talents to over 50 countries worldwide. Your article will always be in this month’s issue for all to read and your website will stay in our bands column for anyone who wishes to contact you or purchase any of your fine recordings. Keep writing those great songs and give “Crash” a hug for me for playing such great drums! - JJ Rocks

JJ Rocks Article # 38: From Los Angeles, USA: Javelyn

We‘ve always felt that a great song starts with mixing simplicity with a healthy dose of originality. Then you can dress it up and take it anywhere with a variety of arrangements that you may choose. But to gauge a songs true strength I always preferred to hear it in it’s most basic form. And in this song “Images of You” you will hear just piano and singing with just a few added vocal parts. This allows the song to breathe and be appreciated because it stands on its own two feet that are made of soothing melodic passages, lovely vocals and interesting chord changes. It’s as basic and beautiful as nature itself. And it’s brought to you by a wonderful artist named Javelyn. After visiting her web site we discovered that she performed many styles of pop music including some with a rapper. And when you visit her via our bands column you will be impressed with her accomplishments. I’ve copied a few of them from her site to give you a preview of what this talented young lady from Los Angeles has done. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- --------- Press release: Javelyn toured with her first CD which charted on Gavin between Sarah MacLachlan and Matchbox 20 on the Hot A/C charts, had airplay on over 200 radio stations nationwide, and had rave reviews from press, DJ’s & online sources. Javelyn hosts and performs with other acts at Java with Javelyn, an indie music nite which occurs twice a month around Los Angeles, featuring some of the hottest indie live & recorded music in LA. Javelyn released her second CD “Cut to the Chase” last year. Javelyn is currently finishing production on two new music videos for "Stay" and "Love for Eternity", a docu/music video highlighting independent artists in Southern California. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Well, that’s pretty impressive to say the least! And I can imagine this fresh sounding pop artist going far in the music business once her name and her sound are heard by more people. And we hope that this article can contribute a little to having her name and music spread around the globe. And don’t forget, there’s a new star on the rise out there in the Pop genre and her name is Javelyn! - JJ Rocks

JJ Rocks Articls # 37: From India: kiranz and Arathi Menon

This is a special Spotlight Zone column because it’s not only about two great singers from India, but the fact that even though they are singing an incredible duet on a traditional Indian song, they have never met. They contacted each other on line and exchanged the background music for the songs that they sang. Each singer sang their part and then e mailed the tracks to each other. And they did all this without ever meeting. This sounds like a musical love story in reverse. Usually, two singers will meet and then become friends (and sometimes more) and then record together and get noticed by a record company or a music publication. But in this case they got the attention of a music magazine by having their incredible voices on the web, but they have never even seen each other in person. And by the way that they relate to each other through their music you could easily imagine a love story in the making. But to be truthful, they might both be happily married and just sing together on line. But you got to admit, seeing on how I’m a writer you can understand me using my imagination a little. I hope that I’m not causing any waves but after you hear them sing together, and along with knowing how it happened, you could probably imagine the same thing as I have. Kiranz (the male singer) is from Siemens, Bangalore India. He says that he is not a hard core musician but enjoys singing and recording in his home studio. Arathi Menon (the female singer) is also a great singer and as of now we don’t know very much about her. But I can say one thing that I do know. I hear more Indian music in our house in one day than most people hear in a lifetime (excluding Indian people of course). That’s because Dorothy is a West Indian from Trinidad and has one of the most extensive collections of Indian music on the island. So when I heard these wonderful singers that I am writing about, I knew that they were the real deal. And I don’t mean that because of there authentic traditional sound. I mean that they are just great singers with pitch that’s dead on and emotions that are very heart felt. Well, I guess that this proves at least one point. It doesn’t matter to us if your band (or solo act) has sold tons of songs, is high on the charts, or has an incredible bio and has been playing for many years. We here at St. Croix Music Magazine only feature artist that we feel have great talent. Your band could have just got together last month, but if you are very good or very original (or both) then you have our attention. So, on that note we want to welcome Kiranz and Arathi Menon to our family of featured artist and say that you both are certainly helping us keep up our level of standards when it comes to the talent that we write about. Peace to you both! - JJ Rocks

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