I can’t believe that I had the #1 video on CMT.COM. I knew that many country radio stations were playing the Christmas Song already but I was still surprised to see that for a brief moment, my video was #1 on Today’s Top Videos! It was such an honor for me and such an incredible feeling to be on the same list as Toby Keith and Luke Bryan … words alone cannot describe how excited I was to see my name up there and I am so grateful to CMT for giving me this opportunity.
On Sunday, October 2nd, I took a flight from Nashville to Los Angeles, California to prepare for my West Coast radio tour to promote the “Me Time” single. Our first stop on Monday October 3rdwas 107.9 KUZZ in Bakersfield, CA where we met up with program director Evan Bridwell. I performed for the staff in their conference room and he invited me back to perform at the Crystal Palace nightclub they have directly in front of the radio station. It was amazing to hear how country music legend, Buck Owens, established KUZZ as the first FM country radio station in Bakersfield, California. Before we left, I made sure to take a photo with the life-size statue of Buck in their main lobby!
We then drove up the coast and stopped by 106.7 KJUG Country in Visalia where we met up with program director Adam Jefferies and on-air personality Lisa Hamilton. They were really great people and shared a really funny video with us about a “waffle house boy” (you had to be there to understand, LOL).
We were then off to Modesto, California where we visited 103 KAT Country with program director, Nikki Thomas and played for her entire staff. Overall, California was an amazing trip and well worth the visits.
On Tuesday October 4thwe went to 95.3 KRTY San Jose Hot Country to perform for program director Julie Stevens. The KRTY offices are located in front of a small farm and since we arrived early, I got the chance to pet a few horses! Julie was such a great lady! I especially liked how she said being a mother made her really relate to my song “Me Time” and I was glad to hear that. We performed another 2 songs for her and then we were off to 105.1 KNCI New Country in Sacramento, CA to perform for program director Byron Kennedy and music director Matt Vieiera. It was really great that a good portion of their staff joined in the conference room for our performance because afterwards, I did a little Q & A for them. I enjoy answering questions from the radio stations and like to feel that personal connection with the people I meet on the road.
We then headed over to 101.9 The Wolf, KNTY also inSacramento, to perform for program director Tosh Jackson
and on-air personality Charlee Simons. This is a really fun radio station! The people are so nice and welcoming and I had a BLAST recording “liners” for their station … (I especially liked how I had to howl like a wolf on some lines! LOL!!)On Wednesday October 5th, weboarded a plane to Salt Lake City, Utah and met up with program director Debby Turpin of Z104, KSOP and her staff. It was a really great visit and I was humbled when Debby said she really loved my voice. I mentioned that I was recording a Christmas Song and she asked me to send it to her when it was complete!
We took a few pictures with the staff and then headed out to 101.5 The Eagle, KEGA in Salt Lake City to perform for program director Alan Hague and music director John Watkins. Both gentlemen were so sweet and enjoyed the songs we performed for them. We also took a few photos with them and headed back to the airport. I have never been to Utah before, but it was such a beautiful state and the people are so nice and friendly…definitely worth a return visit one day soon.
Then on Thursday, October 6th, we headed to Denver, Colorado to meet up with 92.5 The Wolf – KWOF. We performed for program director Jonathon Wilde in a beautiful studio with a stage and full PA system. It was one of the nicest studios I have seen. We then met with on-air personality Mud Flap and had a few laughs as I attempted another wolf howl on the station liners!!
Our last stop was Friday, October 7thwhere we boarded a plane to Portland, Oregon. Even though it was raining when we arrived, I have to say, Portland is a breathtakingly beautiful city!! Our first visit was
to 99.5 The Wolf-KWJJ to perform for program director Michael Moore and music director Savannah Jones. Before we arrived, we made a quick stop over to Voodoo Doughnut in Portland. If you have never eaten a Voodoo Doughnut before, well, YOU NEED TO!!! We brought two dozen donuts over to the station and did a performance for the staff in their HUGE conference room. After this visit, we headed over to 98.7 KUPL to perform for program director Scott Mahalick. This visit was quite amazing…KUPL has a studio on the first floor that is sponsored by BING and it was like a mini theatre! The sound system could rival a concert hall and the stage was just incredible. After Joey and I performed, Scott thought it might be cool to “surprise” the accounting staff on the 6th floor with an impromptu performance throughout their office. Joey and I happily agreed and we all quietly went to the accounting floor and started singing “Me Time” in the main accounting office. People were coming out of their offices to see what was happening and stayed to watch us perform 3 songs! Afterwards, I signed pictures for the staff and posed for a few photos. It was a GREAT! Scott explained how the employees rarely get to see or hear the artists that come into the studio and he wanted to treat them to a private performance .. it was a wonderful experience and I am really looking forward to returning to Portland again soon .. and to Voodoo Doughnuts.
What an amazing summer this has been! On September 28th, I spent five days in Nashville promoting my “Me Time” single and meeting with many “movers and shakers” in country music. I had the opportunity to attend my first CMA Membership Event at the Red Rooster and had a nice time chatting with CMA President, Steven Moore. The next day, we met up with two of the nicest people at CMT, Leslie Fram and Bryan Bayley. I gave an impromptu acoustic performance on the (surprisingly) vacant sound stage at CMT for Leslie, Bryan and a few CMT employees. That was such a great experience! Even though the cameras weren’t rolling, I could still feel the energy on the stage from the country music artists who performed before me. Bryan and Leslie were so sweet and I’m really looking forward to meeting up with them again in Nashville for the CMA awards show in November.
Next on our stop was a visit to Country Music Weekly and Country Aircheck. My guitarist, Joey Sykes and I performed a few songs for the staff and had a great time hanging out afterwards to talk with them. It’s very encouraging to know that this journey I am on is receiving so much positive feedback from everyone we meet.
During my Nashville trip, we went into the recording studio to meet up with the musicians who are playing on the two new songs me, Joey and Don Rollins co-wrote together on my last visit to Nashville. The musicians were so amazing and we finished the rough tracks to both songs in under an hour! I can’t wait for everyone to hear these two new songs!
Produced by JVC Radio Broadcasting’s country music station, My Country 96.1 FM, the Vets Rock concert was an all-day outdoor country music festival that boasted a turnout of 7,000 Long Island country music fans! Vets Rock turned out to be even bigger than last July’s Freedom Fest on Long Island. If this large turnout isn’t a sign that country music is taking root on Long Island, I don’t know what is!
The show began at 1PM and went until 9PM that night, with platinum selling country artist Eric Church as the concert’s headlining act. Other popular country artists who performed included: Thompson Square and The Jane Dear Girls.
I opened the show with the National Anthem, after being escorted to the stage by a local American Legion Post motorcycle group on a Harley Davidson motorcycle. I returned to the stage once again, later in the show, to do my 35 minute set. I sang 9 songs, both from the Me Time EP and from my upcoming LP, Sunrise Highway. Amazingly, there were audience members singing along with me to “Me Time,” “Sunrise Highway” and “I Don’t Feel Anything.” I have My Country 96.1 to thank for supporting my music and giving me the airplay that has allowed people to become so familiar with my music. I also want to thank the musicians I worked with on stage: Tony Bruno, Bobby Guy, Jules Radino, Simi Stone, Greg Smith, Colin Smith and Mike Dimeo. I am blessed to get to work with such a talented and accomplished group of musicians.
After the main part of my set, I read a poem written by a Vietnam Veteran named Walter Mooney. The poem was a poignant piece that expresses what freedom means from the point of view of a veteran who has fought for our freedoms. I then performed a song called “We’re All The Same,” written by songwriter Sheira Brayer who was in the audience. The Broadway Youth Ensemble, a group of young professional Broadway performers, sang backup for me and provided the harmonies during this song. “We’re All The Same” is a great patriotic song with a profound message: if danger came to our world there would be no racism, no prejudice… we would stand together as brothers and sisters and learn to love one another.
Country music has a way of bringing people together. I saw fans in the crowd line dancing together, socializing with one another, and the concert was truly a family affair with a lot of children in the crowd. You can feel a warm camaraderie between country music fans that you don’t always see at other types of concerts.
After my set I signed autographs for over an hour, signing everything from “Me Time” T-shirts to boots, hats, posters and pictures. Fans of all ages, from little kids to Veterans in their 60s and 70s were lined up for autographs.
Wednesday, August 30th was an important moment in my country music career. I went down to the Country Music Association in Nashville to officially sign my CMA membership papers!
Becoming a CMA member is a great honor for any country recording artist, but it was an especially big accomplishment for me as a country artist from Long Island, New York. The CMA invited me to come back at the end of September to Nashville for a party honoring all of their new members.
The next day I went over to Renegade Radio in Nashville, right on Music Row. Renegade Radio is one of the top internet country radio stations, founded by deejay, Kaptain Jack. This was a very special reunion for me since Kaptain Jack was the very first country deejay to ever interview me when all of this first started. Kaptain Jack is a great, warm hearted man who loves to give new artists the opportunity to be heard, and he has an amazing vision for where Internet country radio is headed. After a live on-air interview and performance with Kaptain Jack we chatted and took pictures before heading to the next radio station.
Next, I went over to meet with Cody Alan at CMT Radio Live, performing for him and taking some photos. Cody and I will be meeting up again when he comes to WJVC My Country 96.1 FM on Long Island later this year for a visit. Cody mentioned that he liked how he can sometimes hear my Long Island accent, declaring that it made me stand out among a sea of southern country artists :).
On Friday, September 1st, we headed over to Cookeville, Tennessee and met up with WGSQ Country Giant 94.7 FM, which is a 100,000 watt country format radio station. I met Philip Gibbons, a real sweetheart, and Joey Sykes and I gave a live on-air performance and interview. I sang “Wouldn’t You Like to Know?” and “Somebody’s Baby,” and then Philip played “Me Time” live on the air. Having “Me Time” officially added into the rotation at WGSQ, which is such a big Nashville country radio station, was a major accomplishment for me and my team.
Next, we headed to Lawrenceburg, Tennessee to visit WLLX Power 97.5 FM, a 50,000 watt country radio station serving the Southern Tennessee area. As I walked into the radio station the feeling was like walking into the living room of a cozy little home. The women working in the office were so warm and friendly to me and I felt very welcomed.
I met with deejay Dan Hollander for the Afternoon Drive and gave a live on-air performance and interview. We spoke at length about my career and where I hope to see myself in the next year. Dan is such a sweet person and really knows his country music! He is also a proud supporter of the town of Lawrenceburg and recommended we visit a beautiful little Amish community called Ethridge when we return to Lawrenceburg. I’m definitely looking forward to doing just that when I return to Tennessee at the end of September.
We braved Hurricane Irene to drive down to Nashville for the music video shoot for my single “Me Time” which is currently spinning on more than 40 country format radio stations across the U.S. :)! We were working with a top creative team and there was no way we were re-scheduling this shoot, so we defied Irene!!
Upon our arrival in Nashville on August 28th it also happened to be my 19th wedding anniversary and we got to spend it in one of my favorite cities as a family. After an anniversary dinner with my husband and kids, we immediately started preparing for production for the “Me Time” music video shoot to take place the next day, on Monday the 29th. In the early morning hours, I began getting ready with the help of makeup artist, Brady Wardlaw, who has done makeup for Carrie Underwood, Lady Antebellum and so many other artists. Brady is a true artist with makeup! In addition, we worked with music video director Traci Goudie, a wonderfully talented director with incredible vision for “Me Time.” Traci has directed music videos for Merle Haggard, Diamond Rio, Patty Loveless, Shawn Colvin, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Keith Anderson and Buddy Miller… to name a few of her credits.
Our video shoot started at the White Elephant Emporium in Watertown, Tennessee, which is known as “Ruby’s Place” by the locals. Ruby, the owner, is such a nice woman, and Watertown has seen so many great artists come and go. Fun fact: Justin Bieber shot his very first music video in Watertown.
The “Me Time” music video opens with me as a harried 1950s housewife, struggling to hold it all together as I tend to the house, my husband and three children, and the crew set up a great replica of a 1950s kitchen, complete with all of the pastel appliances and décor. My look in this part of the music video is very reminiscent of Lucille Ball in I Love Lucy.
From the first location, we headed over to the town of Mt. Juliet where we filmed on a suburban residential block. I emerge from my “house” in ripped up blue jeans. I spot an unattended 1965 white corvette with keys in the ignition and defiantly take off in that corvette for some “Me Time.” Residents from that Mt. Juliet, Tennessee block were excited to witness a country music video being shot right in their own backyard. I took a lot of pictures and signed autographs for everyone. The high that I get from that kind of outpouring of support is truly indescribable!
Our last location for the shoot was a picturesque hilltop property owned by White Elephant Emporium owner, Ruby, who was kind enough to let us shoot there, the next day, as the sun was setting. We also shot scenes where I am at the beauty salon, in a dress shop and in a coffee shop in Lebanon, Tennessee. My kids got to have cameos in the video, and that was an exciting experience for them.
The “Me Time” music video shoot was a wonderful experience and I cannot wait for all of you to see the finished product!
I hit Detroit’s 8 Mile Road at WCEN The Moose 94.5 in Saginaw, Michigan, where I met with on air personalities Joby Phillips and Jim Biggins, and sang for them. Both guys were really nice. They asked me about my music, my family, and how it is juggling a country music career with being a wife and mom. I told them that it’s all about the support I get from my family. I can’t overemphasize how lucky I am to have my family behind me. After my performance we all took some pictures in the lobby before heading out to our next radio station appearance.
We moved on to WKCQ 98 Country, which was also in Saginaw, Michigan where we met with on air personality Greg Cole and his staff for another performance. When I commented to Greg about what a pleasing and gifted radio voice he had, he told me it was thanks to a special hospital in Tennessee that saved his voice after a serious throat condition that almost threatened to silence him. After my performance at WKCQ I did a Q&A with the staff. When I left the radio station I checked my Facebook wall and they had posted a thank you note to me expressing that they loved my voice and my music.
Afterwards we stopped at WKOA K105 in Lafayette, Indiana. At WKOA I net Shamus who plays guitar professionally and Annie who writes and sings in her spare time. Since Shamus and Annie are also musicians we had quite a lot to talk about. I absolutely love that WKOA does a lot of charitable work within their community, like donating prom dresses to local high school students who aren’t able to afford them. The radio station also showcases local talent. They are such great people. Before saying goodbye to Shamus and Annie, I pre-recorded a performance of “Me Time” for them to play on the air during their upcoming shows.
Just got back from being on the road and yesterday evening I was invited to Long Island’s NYCB Theater at Westbury to meet country music star Trace Adkins backstage. My Country 96.1 WJVC had a promotional table at the concert and invited me down for a meet and greet with Trace.
As Long Island’s first country format radio station, JVC gets a lot of local support at shows. They were able to set up shop at Trace’s concert with giveaways and radio station contests for the NYCB Theater audience. Trace Adkins, apart from being extremely tall, is a super nice guy and one of my favorite country artists. All in all, it was a great night!
Now that I’m back home I’m taking this opportunity to work in my home recording studio, finishing up the vocals on my upcoming LP, Sunrise Highway, and doing a ton of radio interviews all over the country. At this point I feel like an old pro at doing press (it starts to become second nature after awhile :)), but I’m always amazed that people want to know all of the details about what’s going on with my career and my life. Journalists also find it fascinating that I made the transition from a 1980s dance pop artist to a country artist. I grew up in the south with country music, but when I moved back to New York as a teen, country music had not yet developed a large following up north, so back then a country music recording career was not feasible. Times have changed quite a bit and I am so proud to see all of the support for country music in New York these days. I’d like to think I am a part of that exciting music
We covered quite a bit of ground on our last radio tour, with the first stop at WDSY Y108 in Pittsburgh. At Y108 we met up with on-air personality and program director, Stoney Richards, who does the weekly drivetime show. Musician Joey Sykes and my record promoter, Larry Pareigis, President of Nine North Records / Turnpike Music, both accompanied me on this radio tour and it was great to have that kind of support around me. Larry commands a tremendous amount of respect in country radio, dating back to when he helped to break The Dixie Chicks. Joey Sykes and I performed for everyone down at WDSY and we gifted Stoney Richards with our promotional “Me Time” and “I Don’t Feel Anything” t-shirts.
Next, it was off to “Froggy” 94.9 (they also broadcast on 103.5 and 104.3 in their region). Everything over at “Froggyland” radio is frog themed, even down to the deejays’ names. We hung out with deejay, David Hopperfield, who was very sweet. After a lively conference room performance for the Froggy crew, we joined them for dinner. David was a professional drummer at one time in his career, so we had that musical kinship. Before leaving Froggy, the station had me record a station ID promo where the written copy actually required me to “ribbit” like a frog. I felt better when I was told that Carrie Underwood and many of the biggest artists who had come through their doors were also compelled to croak the radio station’s famous “ribbit,” so I’m in good company! Afterwards they gave me a fun swag bag full of stuff from “Froggyland,” including a giant coffee mug that I use every morning :).
When we moved on to Cleveland, Program Director Charlie Connelly and DJ Chuck Collier, at WGAR 99.5, had me perform a live acoustic set in their radio station’s studio. Charlie and Chuck were very sweet and receptive, and since Charlie is originally from Long Island and misses his NY Islanders hockey team, I brought him a goodie bag full of Islanders gear, which he loved.
After Cleveland we moved on to Fort Wayne, Indiana and WBTU U.S. 93.3 where we were greeted by Assistant Program Director AJ Maguire and Colin, the station’s music director. I pre-recorded an on-air performance of “Me Time” for WBTU and AJ told me about a recent contest the station had where they offered a generous reward for whoever could locate and recover the “9” that was mysteriously stolen from their 93.3 sign out front. The listener who found and returned the station’s missing 9 donated his reward of $10,000 to a local homeless shelter.
WBEE 92.5 in Rochester, NY actually invited their listeners to come down to the radio station to watch me and Joey Sykes perform. After performing for their listeners I did a Q&A and autographed photos for everyone. These spontaneous concerts are some of my favorite radio appearances because I actually get to meet country music fans and thank them for their support and enthusiasm for my music. And it was on the Rochester stop on our radio tour where I created my “Lisa Matassa Minute” video blog where I began posting video journals of my experiences on the road and posting them to my YouTube channel. We shoot the Lisa Matassa Minute right on my iPhone and it’s pretty raw and organic; a video journal of this amazing journey I am on.
As everyone knows, I feel a strong sense of pride and commitment when it comes to supporting important causes and events on Long Island. When I got a request to perform at the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund’s 1st annual Pink Penguin Bash, I said “yes” right away! I was so honored to be invited and asked to perform by the Baldwin family, and for a cause that is very close to my heart. One of my favorite aunt’s lost her battle with breast cancer last November.
For those who aren’t familiar with Carol Baldwin, she is the mother of actors Alec, Billy, Stephen and Daniel Baldwin, and she is a breast cancer survivor and breast cancer awareness advocate. The family originates from Massapequa, NY, and all four Baldwin brothers established the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund in their mother’s name.
The Pink Penguin Bash took place on July 30th at the Long Island Atlantis Marine World Aquarium and Exhibition Center in Riverhead, NY and was emceed by WBAB 102.3 FM on air personality, Fingers. I performed a five song set along with JD Leonard who is a super talented guitarist. JD and I performed 3 songs from my EP, Me Time, including: “I Don’t Feel Anything,” “Wouldn’t Like to Know?”, and the title track, “Me Time.” We also performed two songs from my upcoming LP, Sunrise Highway: the songs “Somebody’s Baby” and the title track, “Sunrise Highway.”
The other great performers at the event were legendary rock n’ roll singer, Lita Ford; American Idol season 10 finalist, Robbie Rosen, who is so talented and such a sweet kid; and Randy Jackson from the group, Zebra, who performed an amazing rendition of “Stairway to Heaven.” Robbie Rosen sang first, followed by Randy Jackson of Zebra who invited Lita Ford up on stage with him. Lita Ford then did her set, and I went on as the final act. My guitarist, JD Leonard, picked up the harmonies for my songs beautifully, and the crowd was very receptive to us.
During the event I had the opportunity to speak with Billy Baldwin, Stephen Baldwin, and their mom, Carol Baldwin. The Baldwin family was so kind and the work they are doing for breast cancer research is remarkable. I was informed that since its inception, the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund has given out $6 million in grant funding with a large portion of that grant funding having gone to breast cancer research at Upstate Medical University. In addition, the Carol M. Baldwin Fund awards multiple $50,000 grants each year to breast cancer research at the State University of New York (SUNY) Upstate Medical University and University Hospital in Syracuse.
For the event, the Atlantis Aquarium was transformed into a catering hall. Many of the aquatic exhibits were table-side. They did a beautiful job decorating with pink and purple lights and penguins were dressed in pink bowties. There was also an organization at the event that was there with exotic looking rescue birds that you could stop and take pictures with.
I posed for pictures and signed plenty of autographs throughout the night, and there was a fun casino area and a Chinese auction. All in all, a very rewarding night!
Before we left, Atlantis Marine World’s curator and co-founder, Joseph Yaiullo, told me that he enjoyed my performance and he offered me a private VIP tour with my family for a private session with the penguins and seals, which sounds wonderful. Can’t wait to take him up on his offer!!