And there she stood, a middle-aged woman dressed in a tight black skirt, an equally ill-fitting bolero jacket that I imagined she had pulled from the back of her closet questioning herself if it was still in style after all these years. She took the microphone from my hands and she sang.
I listened as she warbled "Happy Birthday" and I saw my entire future unfold.
I realized that I was not but a few years away from being the woman in the bolero jacket. A voice long gone, if it ever was at all. Singing a drunk "Happy Birthday" while people marveled that I was still alive.
No. That was not going to be me.
I had had a good run. After graduating college, I spent the next couple of years overseas performing for our troops. I love to tell people that I have seen every country you never dreamed of seeing…… Because you don't want to.
Croatia, Macedonia, Iceland, Korea, Germany, Finland to name a few. I have spent time in tents while performing for the NATO troops and marveled at the wonder of men and women from utterly opposite worlds coming together for a common good. I have visited the Korean DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) where North and South Korea touch each other like children, bound by blood, both scared of the other's shadow.
I have walked the streets of Zagreb at the heels of the Croatian War for Independence with the threat of sniper fire hanging overhead. I have had more than my share of adventure while performing overseas. My respect for our military men and women is profound. We could not enjoy our collective life without them.
I came back to Dallas in 1996 and began performing in the local bars after traveling had lost its luster. I found myself without a road map as to where I was going. The music industry was changing. Britney Spears was climbing the charts with her disturbingly hairy Lolita act and I could not find my place. I had released a "Live" CD with my former band, "Blanche Fury", but I was searching for my own sound. I had the opportunity to be an opening act at Lilith Fair in 1999. That event alone propelled me into my first solo CD "Stretcher". I began opening for many of my favorite artists; Concrete Blonde, Beth Hart, Ryan Adams, even huge monster bands like Chicago. Too many to recollect. Too many glasses of wine between then and now to fully recall.
I met Caron Barrett in 1996. She owned a Dallas-based indie label called "Last Beat". She was also the silent partner in most of the cool restaurants and clubs in Dallas' trendy "Deep Ellum". A mover and a shaker, a guitar player and very attractive to me.
We became friends but more on a peripheral level. I signed to her record label and in 2001, after the singer in her personal band, "Astrogin", ended their musical relationship with the throw of a shoe to the head, I stepped in and filled the void. I was more than happy to because Caron and I had begun dating and I knew I was in love. Caron began playing guitar for me at my "Deborah Vial" gigs and I became the singer for her band "Astrogin". I released my second solo CD "Cooler Heart" in 2002 and we released the Astrogin CD "Dynamic Trash" in 2004 produced by the amazing Nick Griffiths of Pink Floyd fame.
But I got burned out
We both felt like it was time for a change. I wanted to learn a new trick. I wanted to learn how to cook and entertain and grow vegetables. Things that maybe people that are more firmly planted than I had ever been, know howto do. By the Fall of 2004, we moved to Maui with our six dogs. It was not the idyllic situation that you are probably imagining. I will reserve those stories for another time as this is supposed to be a bio.
In 2010, after six years of performing intermittently, the release of a "Live at the Granada Theater" DVD in 2008, we began writing again. We released "Stages and Stones" in August 2011. Produced by Jeff Halbert with additional production input by Caron, recorded at Dave Bianco's studio in North Hollywood. The CD rocks. A complete portrayal of honest human emotion. I could not have asked for better performers. Kenny Aronoff on drums, Chris Chaney on bass, Kevin Savigar on keys, Caron Barrett on guitar. Jeff Halbert pulled it all together with his mantra "now…THAT sounds like a record".
But back to my lady in the bolero jacket. I suspect I will be singing a drunken "Happy Birthday" in these coming years. I have even recently purchased my own bolero jacket because they did, as all things do, come back on trend.
The difference is in perception.
I no longer dread being the middle aged lady with a microphone.
I am looking forward to it.
Now based in Brooklyn, the band started making waves in Toronto in 2005 when original members Kiyomi McClosky (lead vocals and guitar) and Laura Petracca (vocals and drums) formed the group and came out with their first self-financed EP.
Since then, Hunter Valentine has released three full-length albums. Working with such producers as Greg Nori (Sum 41, Iggy Pop), Julius “Juice” Butty (Alexis on Fire, City and Color, Protest the Hero), and Ian Blurton (The Weakerthans, Amy Milan, Cursed, Lowest of the Low). Their blatant disregard for a typical girl-group sound has garnered them international attention. The girls' success has taken them on tour around the world and back, opening for such artists as Sum 41 and Cyndi Lauper.
With even greater accomplishment on the horizon, Hunter Valentine has solidified their lineup in 2014. The band now has the ability to shake any audience to its core. The group will be featured on VH1's Make or Break: The Linda Perry Project in July 2014 and will be releasing their fourth full-length album shortly thereafter. The band has paved their own way in the realm of edgy female performers and there is no end in sight.
Anton Shaw has been performing professionally in the Dallas/Ft.Worth area since 2001. Previously she graduated from KD Studio (Actors Conservatory of the Southwest) and went on to receive a scholarship to attend AMDA (American Musical and Dramatic Academy) in New York City. She was honored to be selected to perform at the 25th Annual Black Tie Dinner in 2006 and to be the Headliner for the Dallas Pride Rally in Lee Park for 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010. Her highest honor, however, has been to be selected as Best Cabaret Singer, Best Local Singer and Best Musician/Best Band by the Dallas Voice Readers Choice Awards in 2009, 2010 and 2011. In 2010 she got rave reviews in her performance “Call Us Mister” with the Women’s Chorus of Dallas at SMU Caruth Auditorium and followed that up in 2011 performing as the Featured Guest Artist at The Wylie Theatre in a Concert titled “Let there be Peace on Earth”. Anton has also been the entertainment coordinator for Sue Ellen’s since 2010. She is bringing together an all new all girl band for this years Sue Ellen’s Music Festival!
Yoza took to music early, learning to play the ukulele at age 5. By the time she turned 10 years old, she performed with world renowned ukulele master, Roy Sakuma, as a “Super Keiki.” Not being bound by one instrument, she then began playing the saxophone at age 12 with her school’s symphonic orchestra. The two years that followed were filled with many musical accolades as a saxophone player. This included a position as first seat, first chair in the Hawai’i State Select Band, as well as Gold Medalist in both Solo and Ensemble. It was clear that she was becoming prolific in every aspect of her musical craft. Her accomplishments also led to her being offered a full musical scholarship to Hawai’i Pacific University.
In 2009… YOZA stormed through the music scene with a new, fresh soulful sound and turned acoustic music on its ear. With the fusion of Hip Hop, R&B and Latin influences, she redefined the sound of “acoustic soul.” From her rich, palpable ballads to her show-stopping upbeat renditions, YOZA had the honor of being featured in various articles and live television performances, including “Heineken’s ‘Hot Hawaiian Nights,'” “HI Sessions,” “Living Local”, “Pakele Live,” “Cool Corona Nights,” “Real Word” Magazine,” “Expression” magazine, “FLUX” magazine, Waikiki Magazine, Honolulu Star Bulletin, and “Local” Entertainment Magazine (where YOZA was featured on the cover).
In the Summer of 2012, YOZA was asked to perform at the Waikiki Shell, with Matt Catingub and the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra. She considered it a huge accomplishment to hear her original music come to life… especially because she didn’t have an album out at the time.
Yoza moved briefly to Los Angeles, California. She was able to perform for: Hard Rock Hollywood, Hotel Cafe, The Charleston, and Room 5.
In 2013, Yoza released her highly anticipated debut album, self-titled, “YOZA.” As expected, her album did not make it to regular rotation on local radio. Despite lack of radio play, Yoza was able to get 3 nominations for her album at the 2014 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards (Hawai’i’s grammy award). She took home the award for “R&B Album of the Year.” She says the biggest moment was for her to have the privilege of performing live at the award show with the legendary “Uncle” Willie K, who hadn’t performed for the show in years.
2014 and 2015; brought for new challenges and new relationships. Yoza produced and recorded a track for the young and talented ukulele virtuoso, Aidan James’, EP. Willie K took Yoza under his wing and placed her on his shows, included his annual Blues Fest.
Venues in Hawaii that Yoza has had residency include, but are not limited to: Amuse Wine Bar in the Honolulu Design Center, Kula Grille at Turtle Bay Resort, LBLE Lounge in the Hilton Waikiki Beach Hotel, Hard Rock Cafe Waikiki, RumFire at the Sheraton Waikiki, Mai Tai Bar Ala Moana, The Study at The Modern Honolulu, Apartme3nt and Dave & Busters.