My Guitar, My Guiding Light - Shun Ng feature in Star2
Monday, March 5, 2018
By N. RAMA LOHAN
“THE next thing I knew, someone was banging on the toilet door. It was my manager, who told me Quincy was talking about me.” Shun Ng walked out nonchalantly in an attempt to calm his nerves, but he should have known better. And just as he arrived at the main area where architect Frank Gehry’s house party was swinging, he caught the eye of multi Grammy-winning producer, Quincy Jones, who duly introduced him to the audience.
Of course, the two men are no strangers. Ng had performed for Jones at his home upon the music legend’s behest, after the octogenarian had watched him in the music video for the song Get On With It with Singapore’s King Of Swing, Jeremy Monteiro.
Four years on, and that performance by Ng now marks one of many highlights in his young yet chequered career. It’s hard to fathom this was the same young man who was once dismissed as a failure because of his dyslexia. The ill-educated perceptions served nothing else but to hurt his confidence.
“I never realised how badly it affected me until later. I grew up with low self-esteem because of it,” revealed the Singaporean, who was born in Chicago, the United States.
As a child, though, he at least found a calling in gymnastics. “I was a hyperactive kid, and the one most likely to jump into a sponge pit. But that environment (gymnastics) became too competitive for me, and I began to hate it within a couple of years. My coaches pushed me hard, and my parents felt I should stick to something, but all I was trying to do was quit,” he said, ruing the time spent. Naturally, that interest died quickly, even though he persevered for several years – until a friend brought a guitar to the gym one day. That’s when everything changed.
In the instrument, Ng found a voice, a calling that would have him dedicate his life to the six-string.
“I felt like there was nothing I could do well at that age, but the guitar changed that. Learning to play that first chord felt like an achievement,” he shared, detailing his start as a musician.
That first chord learnt soon led him to learning all the parts on Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean, a challenge thrown at him by a friend which he duly took up and accomplished. Did he play it for Mr Jones, then? “No,” he responded sheepishly.
A stint at Singapore Polytechnic to pursue an Associate Degree in Music and Audio Technology when he was 16 did little to convince him that formal education was the way forward. Poor results needlessly discouraged him further. “I didn’t do well, and it was just a struggle. Reading music was tough, and it made me feel like I would never be good.” But even in the throes of despair, the guitar remained his guiding light.
Music not being predominant in his household barely deterred Ng, too, and soon, he was learning the classics by ear.
“I passed off (the Beatles’) Hey Jude as my own to my dad,” said the 27-year-old, with a hearty chuckle, revealing that it was his old man who bought him his first guitar for his 14th Christmas. “Music was an escape, and that’s how I became a student of it,” he added.
It was the blues that truly turned him on his head, the mournful, rootsy idiom resonating with him like no other.
“Blues is raw, and the way it’s played has an intellectual feel. Emoting is important, and though there are only five notes in the blues, I loved it and I dove straight into it.”
There’s the ill-advised belief that the blues is nothing but an interminable jam session, but Ng disagrees. “People need to listen to the great old stuff, where you can feel the pain in the music and lyrics. For some reason, people are scare to delve into the sorrowful element of the blues,” he opined.
Ng, though, dipped liberally into the wellspring of blues influences, absorbing the sounds of Robert Johnson, Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, John Lee Hooker, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters and Freddie King. While cutting his teeth in the genre, he was fortunate enough to ply his trade in the club circuit in Chicago, playing with grizzled old hacks and younger musicians alike.
“They taught me that the blues is about being a family. They all treated me like one of them and were so encouraging. They loved the idea of a Chinese kid playing the blues,” he said, of the experience.
The flame of desire in him grew exponentially, and in 2012, he released his debut album, Funky Thumb Stuff, which even drew the attention of revered guitarist Tuck Andress, of duo Tuck & Patti. The album was also the entry point in him gaining Jones as an audience and fan.
But fate had other ideas for the budding guitar player, and upon the recommendation of Singapore’s Cultural Medallion winner, Dr Kelly Tang, he was awarded a scholarship from Berklee College of Music, and was eventually selected for the prestigious Artist Diploma, an esteemed programme for highly recognised musicians.
This educational stint, though, yielded something much more meaningful – being in Boston allowed him to cross paths with 1970s blues rock outfit J. Geils Band’s harp player, Magic Dick. Ng and Magic recorded the God Of Father of Soul, James Brown’s clas- sic Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag, a cool bluesy rendition of the gem.
Ng currently tours with a duo of back-up singers, powerhouses Deon Mose and Angel Chisholm, who are collectively labelled the Shunettes, a moniker clearly inspired by 1960s vocal girl group The Ronettes.
He may still need years to emulate his heroes, but he has certainly set himself on the right path and dug deep into a genre that best represents him.
“I feel nothing has been more satisfying than learning life through music,” he said. And based on his meeting with Jones at the elder statesman’s home, where they spoke about everything but music (“We talked about life, ribs recipes, culture, architecture ...”), life has already presented him with a perspective that could only serve him well in future.
Welcome Pat Pattison!
Thursday, March 1, 2018
Pat Pattison is currently a professor at Berklee College of Music, where he teaches lyric writing and poetry.
In addition to his four books, Songwriting Without Boundaries(Writer’s Digest Books), Writing Better Lyrics (Writer’s Digest Books), The Essential Guide to Lyric Form and Structure(Berklee Press), and The Essential Guide to Rhyming (Berklee Press), Pat has developed five online courses for Berklee Online: three on lyric writing, one on poetry, and one on creative writing, all available through online.berklee.edu, and more than 1,300,000 students have enrolled in his coursera.org MOOC "Songwriting: Writing the Lyric" since its first run in 2013. He has written over fifty articles for various blogs and magazines, including American Songwriter, and has chapters in both The Poetics of American Song Lyrics (University Press of Mississippi) and the Handbook on Creative Writing (Edinburgh University Press).
Just recently, Pat's book, Writing Better Lyrics, was mentioned in Songwriting Magazine's top 10 books for songwriters in commemoration of World Book Day! You can read the article here!
Pat continues to present songwriting clinics across the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Europe. Pat’s students include multiple Grammy-winner Gillian Welch, John Mayer, AND Tom Hambridge, Karmin, American Authors, Liz Longley, Greg Becker, Charlie Worsham, and many more.
Meet Ralph Jaccodine of Ralph Jaccodine Management / Berklee College of Music
Tuesday, January 9, 2018
Ralph, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I started promoting concerts in my hometown of Allentown, Pa. And then at the University of Notre Dame where I was the concert commissioner. I was able to work with artists such as Bruce Springsteen, Hall & Oates, Rush, Kiss and Livingston Taylor, who years later I started to manage.
After a decade in the commercial real estate business in downtown Boston, I embarked on another career chapter and started a record label with my friend Mike Dreese, the founder of the Newbury Comics retail chain.
Eventually, this set me on a 25-year path of managing artists such as Livingston Taylor, Ellis Paul, Martin Sexton, The Push Stars, Adam Ezra, Rebecca Loebe, Shun Ng & Magic Dick from the J. Geils band and others.
Five years ago I joined the faculty of the Berklee College of Music and eventually, was promoted to a full-time faculty position in the Music Business/Management department which is where I have found an inspiring new home.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
There is no smooth ride in the music business.
As a manager, I am paid a commission from what independent touring musicians make traveling the globe. The climate for the musicians, and for the music industry, in general, is always changing, growing, and sometimes shrinking, sometimes at the same time.
On most days there is never a dull moment.
The job of a manager is not for those who thrive on consistency, or security. Managers ‘eat what they kill’ so it is a job of constant hustle and creating something out of nothing… much like the job of a musician.
Somehow I have managed to have amazingly talented artists to partner with which has helped smooth out many of the bumps in the road. It has also created a lifetime of good stories.
Ralph Jaccodine Management/ Berklee College of Music – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Ralph Jaccodine Management was established in 1994 in Boston as an artist management company built on integrity and tenacity. The company has thrived with years of success launching musicians and their artistic projects in an ever-changing music business.
The RJ Management company also runs Black Wolf Records which initially partnered with nationally acclaimed singer-songwriter Ellis Paul, then other artists, to create a catalog of music, visual media and book releases.
The philosophy is indie and fiercely independent with global reach in mind for our artists. The goal is to dedicate building lasting careers, focusing on working hard and doing things the right way for the right reasons.
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Success is leading a balanced life where my heart, mind, spirit, body… and bank account all get proper attention.
Success is when I can be in the moment… and understand how darn lucky I have been with being given another day to do what I do.
Tuesday, November 7, 2017
Summa Cum Laude: Ralph Jaccodine
Wednesday, August 24, 2016
While at the world-famous school of music, artists meet other like-minded people with a driving passion to express themselves through song. They also learn how to turn that passion into a career.
Among the leaders of the artist management muster at Berklee is Ralph Jaccodine.
Having started his own career as a performer, Jaccodine knows well the trials and tribulations (as well as the glory and the fun) involved in a musical life. As he understood the difficulties involved in making it as a performing musician, Jaccodine diversified his passions while in high school in Allentown, PA, promoting shows by the likes of Hall and Oates, Kiss, Rush, and Styx as a member of the city’s high school student government. He then went on to promote shows at the University of Notre Dame, including a concert by Bruce Springsteen.
“That experience brought me a complete fascination with the business of music ,” Jaccodine explains. “I was in a small town and suddenly these huge, shiny busses pull in and everybody in town comes out.”
And while the bands would “blow everybody away and then move on to the next town,” something stuck with Jaccodine that shaped his career and his life.
“To be able to meet the artists and see it all, I really caught the bug and found that I really had a lot of passion for the whole circus act,” he smiles.
In 1994, Jaccodine co-created Black Wolf Records with friend and fellow industry expert Mike Dreese, who had created the popular and enduring Newbury Comics record store. Ralph Jaccodine Management (www.ralphjaccodine.com) was born soon after as a company that, Jaccodine says, was “built on integrity and tenacity.” These dual qualities have helped Jaccodine steer his curated family of clients amidst the tidal waves of a tumultuous industry.
“The philosophy is indie and fiercely independent with global reach in mind for our artists,” explains Jaccodine, noting that his company also founded Black Wolf records with award-winning singer/songwriter Ellis Paul. “The goal is…building lasting careers, focusing on working hard and doing things the right way for the right reasons.”
As he was in Boston and working with many nationally-touring artists, Jaccodine was often invited to speak and present at Berklee.
“I was pretty familiar with the folks in the faculty and Berklee’s status in the music world,” Jaccodine explains. “I also really like talking to student(s) because I feel I have a lot to offer them because I have 25 years of hard-earned experience as a manager.”
The more Jaccodine got to know the school and its faculty and students, the more he wanted to be a part of it.
“Years ago, I asked my management client Livingston Taylor why he was so excited to be teaching at Berklee,” Jaccodine recalls. “He said it was because he was among the best, most talented faculty and students in the country. That stuck with me! “
And while he admits that he was initially reticent to share his wisdoms with the students, Jaccodine says the he now relishes the opportunity.
“When I first started to talk to students, I was very nervous because I did not feel I was an authority figure on the business of music,” he recalls. “But now that I have been managing artists for so long, I feel confident that I am the expert on one thing, my career and my years of experience and the lessons I have learned from the trenches of the music industry.”
As he lives what he teaches, Jaccodine has been able to bring a rare, real world perspective to his classes and his students. “Because it is my day job, I have to be up to date and so I can bring that updated information and perspective to the students,” he reasons. “It is a really good feeling to be able to help them!”
At Berklee (where he won the Dean’s Award for Innovation and Service in 2015 ), Jaccodine also wears multiple hats, serving as an Assistant Professor in the department of Music Business/Management, co-managing the Berklee Music Law & Management Club, and also developing a series of professional development seminars with the Boston Managers Group, which he started 20 years ago with ex-Aerosmith manager Tim Collins.
“The club brings speakers in for the students and the community-at-large,” Jaccodine explains, listing such other austere speakers as Don Law of Live Nation, Panos Panay of SonicBids, Derek Sivers of CD Baby, and Berklee President Roger Brown and also mentioning a recent seminar with Rock and Roll Hall of Famer John Oates. “I am trying to bring a lot of energy and great talent to Berklee.”
Jaccodine has also been able to gain a great deal from his time at the school as well. Among his Berklee-bred clients are Shun Ng and Rebecca Loebe (see January, 2015 issue), and long-time friend Taylor. “I also mentor many of my students and others at the school,” Jaccodine says.
In his role at Berklee, Jaccodine is able to support and influence many young artists and future managers. When asked who influenced and inspired him, Jaccodine again mentions Collins and Dreese.
“In 1992, I came to Mike ranting and raving about Ellis Paul, and how great this guy’s music was. He quickly brought me down to earth saying those two words that have haunted me ever since- ‘Nobody Cares!’”
While Dreese’s response drove home the hard reality that, for the most part, music is seen as disposable, it also encouraged Jaccodine to work even harder to make people care about the songs and songwriters who mattered to him.
“Mike’s challenge to me back…was ‘How do I make people care about the music I care about?’” Jaccodine explains. “I have made a career out of spreading…the music of other people I care about.”
In fact, Jaccodine takes Dreese’s words so to hear that he continues to see his role not just as manager, but also as proselytizer.
“Personal management has to be a holy crusade or nothing at all,” Jaccodine observes. “You have to have confidence that people will care. Spreading my artist’s music is how I feed my family, but just as important… it is how I feed my soul.”
In an effort to repay his mentors and to help them support each other and other colleagues, Jaccodine has also organized a manager’s roundtable, of which Collins and Dreese are integral parts. In fact, Jaccodine recalls, Collins was there from the beginning.
“I had a few months of calling myself a manager under my belt when I called Tim,” Jaccodine recalls. “Tim was on top of the food chain for managers and I just wanted to meet him, touch his garment and hope that something would rub off on me.”
After what turned out to be an extensive conversation, in which Jaccodine was able to share his knowledge of the MA music scene with the eminent manager, Collins offered to reciprocate.
“I asked him to help me form a ‘bunch of managers’ so we can help each other out,” Jaccodine explains.
Thus was the Boston Manager’s Group born!
“As a manager,” Jaccodine suggests, “I am supposed to know how to guide a career without question, the artist places their trust in my guidance. I need to be an expert.”
While Jaccodine says that the Group helps him and other managers find the answers and garner the support they need to help their clients and to hopefully help strengthen and grow the music scene and the industry at large, he still feels that his main role is as an educator.
“I feel like I have found my calling in teaching,” Jaccodine says."
Boston Managers Group
Tuesday, May 12, 2015
When I got into this business, I had a few months of calling myself a manager under my belt when I called Tim Collins, the longtime manager of one of the world's biggest bands, Boston's Aerosmith. For a while, they were arguably America's biggest rock band. Tim was on top of the food chain for managers and I just wanted to meet him, touch his garment and hope that something would rub off on me... so I called to set up a meeting, and he said sure, come on in.
Tim was very generous of his time and we had a very nice, cordial meeting in his office overlooking the city. We talked, I gave him my first Ellis Paul CD, dropped off a business card and went on my way, thrilled for the time I had with of of music's best managers.
To my surprise, Tim called me the next day and asked me if I knew anything about a 200 capacity club in western Massachusetts, The Iron Horse. I did, and for the next 15-20 minutes I was able to download everything I knew about the club to Tim. He said "thanks" and we said good bye.
I hung up the phone and was amazed that I was able to help Tim Collins just months into this new career. So I called Tim back and said "Hey Tim, I just helped you" and he said "yeah, thanks" and I said "If I can help you, I"m sure you can help me out."
Needless to say, managing Aerosmith for almost 2 decades at the highest levels of the music business made me confident that Tim knew a couple of tricks about managing artists and while I was on a roll, I told Tim that "we should get all the Boston managers together to help each other out".
Many years later, it sounds a bit naive, and it was, but this conversation was the birth of the Boston Manager's group that is now still going strong after 20+ years and with over 50 managers as members. With the birth of this group, I have my personal panel of experts I can contact to help me out of a situation that needs some extra finesse, and vice-versa.
As a manager, I need to be the leader of the Holy Crusade and I am supposed to know how to guide a career without question, the artist places their trust in my guidance. I need to be an expert at finding experts.
Here is the info on the Boston Managers Group
Co-Founder: Tim Collins: Collins Management
Co-Founder: Ralph Jaccodine: Ralph Jaccodine Management
Founded in 1995
Mike Dreese: Newbury Comics
Rob Light- CAA
Timothy White: Billboard Magazine
Don Law: Tea Party Concerts
Roger Brown: Berklee College of Music
Ted Kurland: Ted Kurland Agency
Bertis Downs: REM Management
Julie Burros: City of Boston
Bert Holman: Allman Brothers
Phil Antoniates: NIMBIT
Derek Sivers: CD Baby
Steve Mindish: Phoenix Companies
Chip Rives: Boston Music Awards
Eric Suher: Iron Horse Entertainment Group
Panos Panay: Sonicbids
Dave Kusak: The Future of Music
Jim Glancy: Bowery Presents
Steve Morse: Boston Globe
Bruce Warilla: Unspring media
Ryan O'Connor: Ticketfly
Shun Ng Update
Tuesday, April 7, 2015
'Papa's Got A Brand New Bag'
A year ago, Shun played a sold out show hosted by one of his biggest fans, Quincy Jones, at the Eli Broad Stage in LA. "When you see Shun Ng, you won't believe your eyes nor your ears - he belies all stereotypes, all premonitions. I was simply blown away by both his soul and his science - his creativity and his uniqueness is astounding." - Quincy Jones
Highlights of his touring have been several sold out shows in his former country of Singapore, a run of five shows at Biscuit & Blues in San Francisco. After his APAP showcase and Rockwood Music Hall show in NYC, Shun will be playing at The Opera House in Boothbay, ME, The Center for the Arts (TCAN) in Natick, MA, and Tupelo Music Hall in Londonderry, NH this April and for a sold out 2Cellos show at the Berklee Performance Center in Boston, MA in May.
He released a video covering Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" - a tough one for solo guitar - and I believe he nailed it! Within hours, Queen's guitarist, Brian May, started spreading it around to Queen fans all over the world by Twitter: "You gotta see! Amazing new solo and acoustic vocal arrangement of Bo Rap." Check it out below!
Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody - Shun Ng
Ellis Paul Update
Tuesday, April 7, 2015
-172 shows in 2014... workshops, showcases, festivals, and adult and family shows in 34 states!!
-"Chasing Beauty" Release date: September 9, 2014
This second fan-funded album raised over $125,000! "Everyone can relate to Ellis Paul and his songs and for that reason he continues to be a national treasure." - Absolute Punk
-"The Hero in You" (Published by Albert Whitman & Co.) Release date: September 1, 2014 #1 "Must Read" Teacher recommendation at Scholastic Magazine! A company with books, magazines and more in over 90% of United States schools. Parents Choice Foundation, Gold Award
-"The Night the Lights Went Out on Christmas" Release date: September 15, 2015 A story of neighbors who are so caught up in having the best Christmas lights, forget about the true meaning of Christmas, until their lights cause the entire world to lose power!
-Maine Music Hall of Fame inducted in July 2014
-University of Maine commencement speaker and Honorary Doctorate recipient, May 2014
Film and Publishing:
-BMG Chrysalis Ellis signed a publishing deal with BMG Chrysalis, one of the largest publishing companies in the world.
-"10 Days in a Madhouse" the story of 23-year-old pioneering reporter, Nellie Bly, who faked her insanity to study a mental institution from within. This film to be released in September 2015 will feature Ellis' song 'Nellie Bly' as the end title credits song. Christopher Lambert will be starring in the film, directed by Timothy Hines.
-"All In Time" will feature a song Ellis wrote for the film, "Saving Grace". It is current on the festival circuit and will be released in early 2016.
-"Me, Myself, and Irene", "Hall Pass", and "Shallow Hall" are other films that include Ellis Paul's music.
Rebecca Loebe review in Maverick Magazine UK
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
by Arthur Wood
4.5 Stars - Quite simply this is a wall-to-wall folk/pop delight.
The ten-song CIRCUS HEART is 2009 Kerrville New Folk Song Contest winner Rebecca Loebe’s third full album - born in Virginia, has lived in Georgia, Massachusetts and now resides in Texas. The album was recorded at Mark Addison’s Aerie Studio in Austin, and he engineered the sessions, whilst Matt Sever aka. Matt the Electrician occupied the producer’s chair. Amongst a vast array of instruments, Addison played Wurlitzer, electric guitar, bass, bouzouki and added harmony vocals, whilst The Electrician added keyboards, acoustic, electric and tenor guitar, ukulele, trumpet and more, as well as singing harmony. The other session players were Dony Wynn (drums, percussion), Andrew Pressman (upright and electric bass), Raina Rose (lead guitar, harmony vocals) plus harmony vocals from Lex Land and Shae Stuart. The latter pair are out-of-towners, now an entegral part of the vibrant Austin music scene.
I clearly recall first hearing the album opener during a 2010 Kerrville Folk Festival In-The-Round that featured a quartet of New Folk winners and finalists, including Rebecca. During that performance, Raina Rose proved beyond a doubt that girls can play lead guitar. There’s an obvious and wicked twinkle in the eye of the sassy Darlin narrator- sic: ‘The smell of your beard in the morning’ - as she recalls, instantly being transformed from introvert to extrovert - ‘Next thing I knew it was skipping’, out on the pond, skinny dippin’ - whilst the lyrics is neatly wrapped up by the repeated ‘What did you to my (pause) heart.’ Of course, what made me truly smile was the ensuing aside: ‘When can you do it again.’ Sever has gone for a ‘everything including the kitchen sink’ approach on Darlin and it succeeds in spades.
On this set, Rebecca has hook-laden melody nailed down, and replete with a Mariachi interlude that’s clearly evidenced by the ballsy title song. The allegorical Swallowed by the Sea concerning her life in the music business was penned during her participation in the first Stateside season of The Voice. Loebe possesses one hell of a set of pipes and on High & Lonesome, her voice ascends to the stratosphere and then gently settles back to terra firma. The latter is a treatise with a twist - namely, love and less-than-luxurious hotel rooms that are a road warrior’s lot.
At almost six minutes duration, the sublime Georgia - replete with mention of the state’s prevalent ‘magnolia and pine’ - is this album’s longest song, wherein the deceased narrator contemplates reincarnation with: ‘Heaven send me back to Georgia.’ Death is also very much present in The Chicago Kid. The album’s only cover song is Joan Jett’s Bad Reputation: Mercy possesses a confessional feel, while the penultimate, keyboard propelled I Will Wait is a love ode.
Featuring Raina’s lead guitar and harmony vocal, Vagabond Prayer brings the album to a gentle close with the road warrior deliberating on the subject of home. An infectious air of unshackled abandon pervades this folk/pop collection. CIRCUS HEART is a wonderfully wayward tonic and more fun than a bag of monkeys, and that’s a fact.
Ellis Paul's "The Hero in You" Wins GOLD Parents' Choice Award!
Ralph Jaccodine Management partners with Shun Ng
Shun Ng is a very gifted 22 year old singer-songwriter born in Chicago raised in Singapore currently enrolled in the esteemed "Artist Diploma" at Berklee College of Music. He is known for his virtuosic and unique style of guitar that infuses elements of Funk, Fingerstyle, Blues, Jazz & Motown, to create a one-man band like experience. His flamboyant guitar work is equally matched with passionate vocal styling seemingly well beyond his years, yet with a light and energy that can only be described as childlike innocence.
In 2012, he released his debut album, entitled “Funky Thumb Stuff” which explores honest stories of his early teen life as well as the rise of his ever-improving guitar pyrotechnics. "Funky Thumb Stuff" was well received by many acoustic guitar lovers and musicians around the world. Shun is a featured performer at some of the top music festivals including: Japan, Canada, Malaysia and Singapore. In fact, at a recent show in Boston Shun shared the stage with Livingston Taylor who said of him, “Shun Ng is amazing. His talent rests on a rock-solid work ethic and the results are pure WOW!”
To see Shun perform is to truly understand the level of his talent, so I'm including two video links here, one is the official video for his title track, "Funky Thumb Stuff", and the other is from the recent performance I mentioned in Boston, at a Red Star Studios event for Boston Beyond Borders, playing a track entitled, "Slam!"