Friday, May 1, 2015

Field Trippin’ With ZuhG

From the cover artwork by Joe Vickers and Jonas Claesson, to each individual song of ZuhG’s newest album-baby, Field Trip, it is all delicious. This new album of eleven songs creates a feeling of summer-loving, toe-tapping, hammock-swinging paradise. Recorded at Sacramento’s beloved Pus Cavern Recording Studios and engineered by Joe Johnston and ZuhG’s JR Halliday this is ZuhG’s best creation yet. Collaborating with over ten musical artists, Field Trip offers sounds of funk, reggae, jam, jazz, and rock n' roll.

Released in time for the warm months of weather ahead, Field Trip invites you to live in the moment, enjoy your time and embrace the beautiful world around you, including your friends. Dragonfly, the first song on Field Trip is a goodie-good. You can’t help but want to live within the lyrics. Dragonflies and summer nights, I can’t keep my composure, the music makes you feel like you’re floating as the lyrics paint the perfect setting in your mind. I just can’t stop listening. Big Sur, Exit Texas, Morning Sun- they are all unique, inviting, engaging and so very tasty. Hungry? Take a bite of Field Trip at

Let’s be honest. It is not just the perfectly suited lyrics that make these songs such a large part of your playlist. The creators of these tunes ooze talent. Each member of the ZuhG family plays a key component in keeping the train a-rollin’. Bryan Nichols, JR Halliday, Alan Ferriera and Andrew Barnhart are unique individuals who offer bright and vibrant talents. Collectively, with help from several other musicians, Field Trip was created and awaits to take your ears on an unforgettable journey. Let’s go.

Have you been to ZuhGfest? It’s just a three-day nature oasis weekend filled with the most friendly people, enjoyable music and memories to store in your best life experiences file. Mark your calendars for October 2nd-4th, get your tickets and pack your adventure pants for ZuhGfest 2015. Want more? Get the details here

Written by Emily Montoya

Monday, November 3, 2014

Calling Tempo

Two worlds united when Krystyna and William met in Scotland as they fell into an abyss of love. She was a beach baby from Santa Barbara, California with a bleeding heart for playing cello and he was a Rock and Roll loving Scottish man. Their paths crossed when Krystyna was visiting her sister as she was studying classical guitar overseas. "I instantly fell madly in love with William," Krystyna said.

A few months later she returned home to California and he soon was on a plane with a guitar and a few bags to live beside her. Through the mystic spell love can cast, the two married. Granted a well-deserved scholarship to Sacramento State University, Krystyna received her Bachelor's in Cello Playing. As years passed, Krystyna started to perform in Sacramento. She even played cello on albums for well-known local artists such as Jackie Greene and Autumn Sky.

Not until March of 2014 did the married couple decided to perform together. Both individuals hold heavy amounts of musical art which they developed independently from one another. They often found themselves calling tempo to bring their musical languages closer to mutual understanding.

She plays cello and he plays guitar, together they are Calling Tempo, a Sacramento band with roots stemming from multiple genres. Imagine Classic Rock with a gothic twist. This is a new powerful sound that the music family of Sacramento will end up craving. This month they are recording their first track.

Thanksgiving weekend marks Calling Tempo's next show at the Starlite Lounge where they will be opening for Dream in Red on November 29th. This is a raw performance with one of Sacramento's up and coming talents. Be sure to give thanks this Thanksgiving weekend and checkout Calling Tempo at the Starlite Lounge! See you there, music junkies!

You can find Calling Tempo’s tunes at or on their soundcloud.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Audible Medicine

She goes by Autumn Sky, and it suits her perfectly like a fitted leather glove to a slender hand. With twenty-five years of life existence she beams with vocal capability and immense shimmering passion for her creations. Her stage presence is soft and light. At the same time it is easy for the common eye to understand that she isn’t just performing, she’s pouring her heart into every moment of song. She’ll tell you it’s true.

Living in Sacramento for twelve years, Sky performs regularly. With her favorite spot to create music being her kitchen floor when everyone is gone, she dwells in the emptiness. Seeing it as room for her mind to expand, for her creations to explode. She is a humble person who smiles often. A lover of the rain with as much patience as there are grains of sand on the beaches of California, Autumn Sky is unique. Not in the way that being unique is now a fad, the raw, genuine uniqueness that cannot be falsely “applied.”

Avidly listening to bands such as Death Cab for Cutie, Bon Iver, and Bright Eyes, Sky keeps her standards for herself high. Listening to her lyrics are like reading a book or eavesdropping on an intellectually stimulating conversation. They are deep. They hold meaning, and they carry you as you fall into the sound. As if holding your hand through the rough stages of life, her lyrics are relatable.

The letters and messages I've gotten from people I've never met until I started playing, telling me to keep going and that what I've written or what I've performed has moved them and touched them. I don't think there's anything better than those deep friendships you form just because you shared something honest and scary about yourself.

Autumn Sky is a local gem. She creates that song you crave, the one that saves your mood when the day is eating at you. It’s audible medicine. Her E.P. release party is closely approaching. Mark your calendars for Saturday March 29th at 7pm to watch Sky unravel her talents at this celebratory party of Scout, an Autumn Sky creation. This is an all ages event at Assembly, which never happens! Take me for my word, as this will be an event all of the attendees will be mesmerizingly sublime that they attended.

-Music Journalist Emily Anne Montoya
Eat music; it’s that only thing that will make you feel complete.

Photo Credit: Sarah Dawson

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Vintage Pop: Denver Saunders

I met Denver Saunders at an open mic event held at a community college; his smile and passion for music stuck in my mind. That was two years ago. Watching the evolution of his musical journey has been incredible. His growth and motivation have escalated, his crowds have multiplied and now his music is all over the internet.

Performing several times a week in El Dorado Hills, Roseville and Sacramento, Saunders is actively establishing his name in the music world. Playing with his band, The Denver J Band, his sound comes together ideally. Offering an accumulation of Folk, Hip Hop, Blues, Reggae, Country, Pop, Rock and Punk, Saunders attracts an eclectic audience.

Recently I attended a show of Saunders’ at Harlow’s in Sacramento. Saying I was blown away would be an understatement. He started the show off by hitting a standing bass drum. The notorious Saunders smile appeared as the band intertwined, revealing a few new songs. The venue was packed. Friends and fans of the music man danced the night away as smiles painted their faces. It was vintage pop. It was high energy. It was a room filled with love.

Self-taught genius, Saunders isn’t just a musician. He has a warm heart, a mind that is capable of literally anything, and is a hands down stellar person. The genuine smiles don’t lie. Donning a chocolate brown vintage sports coat, he played a song called "Angel." Watching the crowd sing "the angel’s playing you and me," Saunders’ smile covered his face and it was evident he was in it, he was incredibly happy.

With not an ounce of doubt that Denver Saunders will make it in the world of music, I cannot wait to see what comes next. His hard work, dedication and kind soul are taking him places. His new album "A Real Good Book" is now available on ITunes, Spotify, Rhapsody, Google Play, Amazon and several other sites! For an entertaining show ensured to be a good time, head out to see The Denver J Band!
-Music Journalist Emily Anne Montoya

Monday, December 23, 2013

I never want to be an item; I want to be an icon.

The December sky hung among the pink and gray painted clouds. I walked into Origin Coffee and Tea to meet the talented up and coming musical artist by the name of Claire Wright. Her song Chemistry was playing on repeat in my mind as I ordered my Americano. We headed to a table and starting talking like we were old friends.

At the age of seventeen Wright carries herself with poise, class and charm. With her brief life experience she has accomplished more than most twenty-five year olds. Growing up on a ranch in Auburn, California Wright has modeled, been titled Miss California High School America and is now taking over the world of music! Graduating from high school early, Wright is currently completing her freshman year at William Jessup University while holding a job at a store in the mall. The passion for music and life in general can be seen through Wright’s eyes when she speaks. My biggest fear is to be normal. I never want to be an item; I want to be an icon. She is genuine and raw; a unique person who will go far in any direction her life takes her.

As far as music goes, Wright is on the path to success. Offering catchy songs boasting relatable lyrics, leaving the listeners craving more, Wright is eager to grow further into her music journey. Performing music I wrote gives me the ability to influence younger men and women to be who they want to be, Wright commented on why she enjoys creating music. By listening to her songs one would never guess she has only been performing for one year. Natural talent and charisma will keep Wright’s success escalating. January of 2014 will start the recording of her first full 10 track album at Roseville’s UpRock Recording Studio. She currently has a three song download available for purchase on her Music Facebook page for $3.00, titled Icon of Freedom.

With ambitions to create more artistic sound, Wright will be performing frequently in 2014. Head over to Rocklin’s Boneshaker to see Ms. Wright do her thang the first Saturday of January from 7-9pm. You can also see her at Lounge of Life in Roseville on January 17th. If this is her talent at year one, I cannot wait to see what she creates as a new year comes forth. Remember her name and checkout her music: Claire Wright.

-Written By Music Journalist Emily Anne Montoya
Instagram: @clairewrightmusic

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


You remember them, the year was 1997 and a group of talented alt-metal musicians became one. A year later and their album, “Candyass” went platinum. Their songs “Blue Monday,” and “Stitches” were played so frequently, they retired on MTV’s TRL at number one. The band was called Orgy. Seven years off the grid and they’re back in full force with new talent and fresh ideas.

Saturday night and the winter chill crept upon us. The Rock Rag Magazine Crew was sitting on the balcony of Sacramento’s Social nightclub, prepping to interview Orgy. Jay Gordon, vocalist for the band, bassist Nic Speck and both guitarist Carlton Bost and Ashburn Miller, walked onto the open balcony taking a seat on the couch. Drummer Bobby Hewitt walked over to where I sat and introduced himself and then took a seat with the rest of the band. As Orgy spoke of their new songs, including “Suck It,” a humble feeling hung around them. They’re all very talented and down to earth.

Currently Orgy is working on creating their own record label to not only put their own records out, but to sign new talent as well. With motivation to release a few EP’s this year, they are serious about making their vision a reality. Orgy has never toured to Europe or Japan, this too is on their list to dig their alt-metal roots deeper into the music society and again have the honor of creating a platinum album.

Later on in the night Orgy took stage just below Social nightclub at Assembly on K, a music venue. Fans of all ages flocked to the stage. Playing both new and old tracks, Orgy held the audience’s attention and had them craving more. The entire band was submersed in their performance, as they shared their new songs with fans that have waited seven years to see their beloved Orgy again. There is something to say about disappearing from the scene for almost a decade and still being able to fill a large venue with fans! Gordon was full of energy, keeping the crowd pumped. With a few technical difficulties that were practically swept “under the rug,” with the incredible show, Orgy fans decked out in band shirts, black tights, studs and pleather had a kickass time.

Checkout their new music on their website and checkout how YOU can say you were a part of creating the Orgy record label!

Music Journalist Emily Anne Montoya

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Nickel Slots: An Entity

The rain was pelting down in the dark streets of Sacramento when I pulled up to Pus Cavern Recording Studio Tuesday evening. Questionably I opened the door of the steel warehouse building. My doubts of whether I was in the right location or not vanished when my eyes caught a glimpse of the three framed Cake albums posted on the wall. Chris Amaral walked out of the mixing room and greeted me with a warm hug and kind smile. His style suited his music as a black rockabilly t-shirt hung over his torso accompanied by khaki Dickies and worn in Chuck Taylor’s on his feet. I was introduced to the Americana band, The Nickel Slots and the incredibly talented music producer and owner of Pus Cavern, Joe Johnston. Taking a seat on the worn-in brown leather sofa that seemed to hug your body and suck you in, I felt at home. The ambiance of the group was comforting and natural. Immediately our conversation started as the talent around me offered honest information.

Steve and Chris Amaral are brothers and were raised in a family of musicians. In fact, Mr. and Mrs. Amaral play in a band to this day. We didn’t know any better, not being in a band wasn’t an option, Steve mentioned of he and his brother’s childhood. Steve, the mastermind on electric guitar for the band is a Graphic Design artist as well. Creating all the art for The Nickel Slots’ albums and merchandise, his gift behind the computer as well as on the guitar helps mold the band into a one of a kind Americana genre. Chris is a professional drug slinger; he even is employed by the state and wears a white coat. In other words Chris is a very knowledgeable medicine man (pharmacist). Not to mention his badass skills as a drummer giving the Slots their Rockabilly beat that keeps the momentum going. Playing music their entire lives, the Amaral brothers boast confidence in a genuine, positive manner.

Paul Zinn, the band’s bassist and mandolin player, is known as the musical genius. Playing piano since the age of six, Zinn has been around music his entire life. Writing manual instructions for software companies by day, this bassist carries the deepest roots of the group. Capable of seeing the elements of the musical situation others wouldn’t think of: Zinn takes The Nickel Slots to a higher level.

Tony Brusca plays guitar as well as providing the Americana vocals. As a kindergarten teacher Brusca sees being in a band and teaching in a similar shade of light. Guided into playing piano at a young age, he never fully grasped just how much being a pianist would assist his journey as a­ musician. My mother had a gentle way of getting me to play piano, now years later, I appreciate the extra effort to get me to play. I am thankful towards my mom for that, the talented Brusca mentioned as he gazed off into his childhood.

This October marked the band’s five year anniversary together. What is that, paper? That is the five year gift, right? Brusca joked as the studio bounced with laughter. The band formed naturally. Everyone knew each other from playing in bands over the years. One day we all started jamming’, we weren’t sure where it was going. Currently recording their third album with Joe Johnston- it is clear even though their destiny was murky at first, they made the right choice. The Nickel Slots are composed of four gentlemen who encompass much more than talent. Genuine, good individuals with determination to constantly better themselves provided me with a room of powerful energy that evening.

The Nickel Slots have an amazing sound to them. Playing shows all over the world, their music appeals to people of all ranges. We played a show at a very nice country club in Rancho; I think we had to play ‘The Devil’s Chain Gang’ three times. All the luxurious people and children were singing the lyrics- everyone loves it, mentioned Chris. Everything about this song works. The guitar compliments the vocals, the lyrics draw you in, painting a movie in your head while the drums make want to get up and dance. The Devil’s Chain Gang, is their most popular song at the moment, and for good reasoning.

With a strong backbone of trust and respect for one another, these musicians are able to produce top quality music with ease. Songs come together a lot faster than other bands, they naturally flow since we know each other and who possess which strengths, Steve reflected. Their third album should be up and ready for purchase in early 2014. With each CD the group strives for growth and evolution of their sound. I for one am eager to hear what these talented beings will release. Next year the band will be touring Europe for their second time! Excitement filled the room as stories were told about the great people of Belgium, and the experiences of sharing musical interests.

That rainy, cold evening I walked into Pus Cavern Recording as a stranger and by the time I left a friendship was in place. The members of the Sacramento Americana band, The Nickel Slots are pretty rad fellas. January 31st the boys will be playing at Sacramento’s Old Ironsides, I highly recommend marking your calendars and purchasing tickets soon. If you’re itching to hear fresh, new music with a rockabilly, upbeat, Americana feel give The Nickel Slots a listen. Easily accessible on Spotify, iTunes and Pandora, this music will not let you down. Click HERE to view their amazing music video for The Devil’s Chain Gang.

-Music Journalist Emily Anne Montoya

Brusca, Zinn, Montoya, Steve and Chris Amaral