Roses and Revolutions
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Roses and Revolutions

Rochester, New York, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2014

Rochester, New York, United States
Established on Jan, 2014
Duo Pop Alternative


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Stylus" - Stylus

"Tinted Image rocks Rochester"

Tinted Image rocks Rochester
Carly Hansford
Issue date: 2/3/10 Section: Lifestyles

Four Rochester natives who call themselves Tinted Image and sound like a combination of Dave Matthews Band, Vanessa Carlton and John Mayer will be playing on campus in the Union Gallery Saturday, Feb. 6.

With Matt Merritt on guitar, Joel Vickers on sax, Levi Bennett playing drums and Alyssa Coco leading the group with vocals and piano, this band is one you shouldn't miss. Although all members are relatively young, ages ranging from 19 to 23, their music sounds soulful and mature.

While Merritt and Vickers have been playing tunes together since high school, they always knew something was missing. After an entire summer of singer auditions, they found what they were looking for.

"Finally Alyssa came in and her voice was just what we were looking for," Merritt said. "Since Joel and I were heavily based in jazz and blues music we needed a mainstream pop voice to tie us together."

They were not the only ones who knew it was a match from the second she sang.

"They taught me a few of their songs and showed me a little bit of instrumental songs they do and I was instantly impressed," Coco said. "I knew from the start that I wanted to be in the band and was excited to have the opportunity."

Since the band has been whole, they have played gigs with guitar legends such as Sonny Landreth and Tim Reynolds (the guitar player in Dave Matthews Band) and popular bands such as Average White Band and Little Feat. Being the opening act for shows like these, which bring upward of 500 people to the front of the stage, has increased the bands exposure.

"I like opening for bigger acts," said Merritt. "It gives people who have never heard of us a chance to listen."

Because of their growing popularity, Tinted Image has begun headlining their own shows. Not only do they play their instruments well, the creative quartet also writes all their own music, bringing a new level of talent to the table.

"I love our fans," said Coco. "My favorite part of performing is when they sing along to our songs."

Although being in a band may seem like a dream job for many musicians, there's more to it than what meets the eye.

"You have to do more than just play songs," Merritt said. "You have to work hard and promote yourself."

If you're an aspiring musician, Vickers had some words of wisdom to share.

"In music, you never know until you try," he said. "Just go with the flow."

If you like what you hear Saturday in the Gallery, purchase tickets to their upcoming show at Waterstreet Music Hall which will be Friday, April 9.

To check out their music ahead of time, visit and learn more about them by searching for Tinted Image on Facebook. - The Stylus

"An impressive performance by Tinted Image"

An impressive performance by Tinted Image
By: David Weirich
Posted: 2/10/10
With a relaxing setting, dimmed lights and comfortable seating that perfectly fit their style, the local band Tinted Image performed Saturday, Feb. 6 in the Union Gallery.

The local band that has gained national acclaim, opening for acts such as Ingrid Michaelson and the Average White Band, excited a crowd of about 40 students for more than two hours with a variety of songs, including their own hits and popular covers.

"It was really awesome to come here and see the amount of crowd interaction," lead singer Alyssa Coco said. "They were really getting into the songs, clapping and singing along. I was surprised at the amount of energy they brought to our show."

The band opened with a song from their newly released CD on iTunes called Accoustic Sessions which set the tone and mood for the rest of the concert. It epitomized the magical style and cohesiveness they have as each individual musician showcased his skills, then blended back to the rest of the group to create beautiful and memorable harmonies.

With a sound all their own, Tinted Image has a something everyone can enjoy. From shimmering guitar and patient song structures reminiscent of the band Owen, to catchy hooks and riffs that make you want to bounce, clap and sing along.

Coco's beautiful voice was reminiscent of Vanessa Carlton and Colbie Caillat. The beautiful harmonic keyboard melodies, as well as Joel Vickers on alto saxophone, brought a bluesy feel to the group.

It became quite obvious after a spot-on cover of "Bubbly" by Colbie Caillat that each musician knows their instruments inside and out.

The group also played covers of John Mayer, Miko, "A Thousand Miles" by Vanessa Carlton, "Free Falling" by Tom Petty, "Love Song" by Sara Bareilles and "Breathe" by Anna Nalick.

"Each of us all have our own separate influences," Coco said. "We all try to bring something to the group, and for me Norah Jones is a big influence. Levi is into Calvin Rodgers; Joel is into the Camel Brothers."

The group was down to earth and enjoyed interacting with the crowd, even asking random trivia questions in-between songs.

Whoever answered the questions correctly first received a free T-shirt or CD of their choice. The group even took time to talk to students that came and signed autographs.

Matt Merritt, guitar, and Vickers have been playing together since high school and bring a bluesy, jazz sound to the band which is the core of what their songs are built around.

Coco's amazingly soothing voice adds a whole other dynamic to the band as she sings soothing lullaby after soothing lullaby that paints a picture. Songs of love and heartbreak that also are full of hope of finding what you are looking for in life and "the one" you want to spend the rest of your life with.

Levi Bennett only played a single snare drum, yet managed to hold his own with the rest of the band.

Tinted Image comes to the Waterstreet Music Hall Friday, April 9. Tickets are $10. More information is on their Web site

Coco has advice for other artists. "Advertising yourself is really important, just do what you do, write your own songs, promote a lot," she said. "It has gotten a lot easier to promote yourself with the technology we have today. Use Facebook, Twitter, etc. Most importantly just have fun, you have to have fun with what you are doing or otherwise it is just a job."
© Copyright 2010 The Stylus - David Weirich

"MUSIC PROFILE: Tinted Image"

According to my watch, Alyssa Coco has 14 minutes, 52 seconds remaining of her allotted 15 minutes of fame. At age 16, Coco made the grade over countless other young hopefuls to perform on "American Idol" only to be cut unceremoniously short barely 10 seconds into her Hollywood Week performance. Well, fuck those TV phonies. Coco has a beautiful voice and writes songs with a maturity that belies her youth. Now at 19, her talent couldn't be more apparent than it is in Tinted Image, the relatively new jazz/pop/funk/acoustic outfit that she fronts.

Coco's "American Idol" experience wasn't all bad; it led her to her current band, which also features guitarist Matt Merritt, saxophonist Joel Vickers, and other assorted musicians. Merritt and Vickers had been playing together since their days in the Spencerport High School jazz band. By their senior year they were playing in clubs. And when the need arose to make a little scratch, they branched out into the wedding arena playing pop tunes. But there was that underlying urge to play originals.

"You can't play all originals at a wedding," says Merritt. "They wouldn't be happy." But Merritt and Vickers wanted to play happily ever after and go beyond the pop tunes they did at weddings and the funky covers they pulled off at night. Then they landed a gig opening for Average White Band. The band was going to have to pick up its own pieces, and fast.

"One of the first songs we played as a band was ‘Pick Up The Pieces,'" Merritt says. "Joel had written some songs that were AWB-like, so we threw together some rough originals for that show." The band went over huge. Vickers even got invited up to play "Pick Up The Pieces" with AWB.

The next few months netted a number of gigs for the band, which still hadn't secured a permanent singer. Vickers and Merritt endured a lengthy parade of female vocalists before Coco strolled in.

"When she came in, we were still looking for ‘that voice,'" says Vickers. "When Alyssa came in we got goose bumps."

"She had her whole act together already," Merritt says. "As soon as we started with her is when it all came together."

Merritt and Vickers had both been writing within the group, but deferred to Coco's skills. "She was still in high school," Merritt says. "And I couldn't believe how professional she was. Once I checked out the stuff she was doing I was like, ‘You write better than us.'" Merritt was ready to defer even further.

"I've always said anytime she wants to call this the Alyssa Coco Band, we're all for that," he says.

Merritt, Vickers, and Coco pare Tinted Image down to play as an acoustic trio, or flesh it out with bass (Sean Conlon) and drums (Karl Thomas). It's within the trio setting that the songs prove themselves. At the core is Coco's sweet, sweet voice as it weaves in, out, and around her melodious inflections. In other words, this young woman can sing. Vickers' creamy smooth sax adds even more slither, as Merritt takes the jazz and makes it go pop. And of course there's always that full-band funk groove coiled and ready and waiting.

The Tinted Image trio will release its new "Acoustic Sessions" album on February 1 - "A nice, easy listen," Vickers says - and will begin recording a full-band, full-length project in the coming months, bringing its total discography to three. More and more supporting and headlining gigs dot the band's calendar, including a semi-regular engagement at The Bitter End in New York City.

Tinted Image is fresh and fun but doesn't delude itself; originality is often subjective to each listener's experience - or the band's.

"The original-ness of our music comes from where we've all come from," says Vickers. "And it just blends into this flavor."

"I was in a master class with Branford Marsalis," Merritt says. "And he said out of the entire human population, of how many people have created something original, to think you're in that small population is arrogant. So I don't go out there and say, ‘Oh, our sound's all new.'"

"We like the fact that after a show we can say that was our song, and they enjoyed it," Vickers says. "And not just because they recognized it."

Tinted Image

Opens for Little Feat and Donna The Buffalo

Friday, January 8

Water Street Music Hall, 204 N Water St.

8 p.m. | $30-$35 | 325-5600,
- City News

"DISC-OVERIES: "Tinted Image""

By L. David Wheeler, staff writer

Daily Messenger

Posted Jun 28, 2009 @ 09:22 PM

Last update Jun 28, 2009 @ 09:24 PM

Last time we wrote about Tinted Image in these pages, in May 2008, was a heady time for the five-piece band: They were set to open for their musical heroes, Average White Band, at Water Street Music Hall in Rochester, with a Lilac Festival gig opening for Ingrid Michaelson in the wings.

Those sets got the band — initially a funk/R&B combo, founded by Spencerport High School graduates Matt Merritt (guitar) and Joel Vickers (saxophone) — some national attention. It was time to get really serious about the band. That meant, among other things, finding a singer.

Their friend Zahyia had filled that role for the AWB and other early shows, giving the band more of a soul sound. But for the long run, “We were looking for someone a bit more pop, a little less R&B,” Merritt said. “That summer we had about two to three singers a week audition.”

They found their match in Alyssa Coco, a teenage singer-songwriter and pianist from Penfield. The singer, reminiscent of such artists as Norah Jones and Vanessa Carlton, still plays solo and with cover bands throughout the region. A couple years ago, she auditioned for “American Idol” and appeared briefly in season seven, singing Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful.”

With a singer came focus. “Before we had a singer, we were kind of a jam band,” Merritt said. “As soon as we had a singer, we put an end to that. Even though as musicians we’d like to do the long guitar solos or sax solos, the audiences wouldn’t be into that.”

Tinted Image these days has solidified into a five-piece, with Merritt, Vickers, Coco, bassist Sean Conlon and drummer Karl Thomas. The tracks on the band’s self-titled debut disc lean more in the direction of pop with jazz and R&B influences, with the sax, bass, guitars and such accenting and punctuating Coco’s vocals, giving them their room to shine. Someone from Little Feat likened them to a female-fronted Dave Matthews Band when Tinted Image opened for them last fall at Water Street, and Merritt’s not arguing.

The disc’s seven tracks include some (“Broken,” “Secret Fire”) written by the band in its pre-Coco days and some of Coco’s own, given fresh arrangements — “Where I’m Going,” “Five Days” and “Harvest Sea.” Plus an instrumental guitar-sax duo that Merritt and Vickers put together barely out of high school, “Go With the Flow” — a strong interplay that displays the duo’s musicianship and hints at an alternate route the band could have taken.

Of the pre-Coco compositions, the EP’s first track, “Broken” “kind of has more of a jazz progression to it, it’s more jazz driven,” Merritt said — opening the disc with a sax riff and turning Coco loose on a soulful, range-displaying vocal. “Secret Fire” (two arrangements of which appear on the disc) has more of a conventional pop progression, he said, and has gotten some local airplay for its account of romantic yearning:

“The world keeps turning round and round

The clock keeps ticking down, down down

So hard to swim when everyone’s holding you down

She said I want somebody who loves me for me

Takes the good with the bad things that they see

Someone whose kisses get me high

Someone to light my secret fire ...”

Rounding out the EP are “Five Days” — a Coco lyric recorded live at Water Street when the band opened for gospel/R&B group The Campbell Brothers — and two more Coco compositions, “Where I’m Going” and “Harvest Sea,” which Coco, Merritt and Vickers had performed as a trio, to a good reception, when playing New York City club The Bitter End. “Even though we recorded these in the studio, there’s no overdubbing, studio magic — we kind of played them like a concert,” Merritt said.

The CD’s official release was June 13, at Water Street Music Hall — this time, they were the headliners — then they’ll play the Canandaigua Art & Music Festival on its opening day July 17. July 24 brings a repeat gig opening for Average White Band, this time at Tralf Music Hall in Buffalo; then on Sept. 16 they’re back at Water Street, adding a new national act to their resumé of opening gigs: the blues-rocker and slide guitarist Sonny Landreth.

On the Web:
- Daily Messenger

"Add hot Coco, get hotter band"

Add hot Coco, get hotter band

'Idol' tryout reveals versatility as Tinted Image releases CD at show
by Troy L. Smith
Insider, Staff Writer
June 2, 2009

If you happen to catch the YouTube video of Alyssa Coco's appearance on American Idol, don't blink, because you might just miss it. In 2007, a then-16-year-old Coco auditioned for the seventh season of America's most popular television show and made it to the second round known as "Hollywood Week." But the ride pretty much stalled out there.

Coco was just a few lyrics into The Pussycat Dolls' "Sway," when Simon Cowell threw his hand up and said, "I can't hear any more of that." And that was it.

"I was bummed, but I just laughed it off," says Coco, now 18, of Penfield. "I remember being nervous. I was the first one to use the keyboard and it didn't work, and though I auditioned much longer, they only showed me for 10 seconds."

To be exact, it was 15 seconds — enough time for Coco to earn the "from American Idol" tag on her name that's stuck with her ever since. "I don't think I've gone one day without talking about it," she says. "There's always a question or a mention. I hope that maybe someday it will stop coming up so much."

Thanks to her new band Tinted Image — performing at its CD release show at Water Street Music Hall on June 13 — Coco's wish may come sooner than later. For starters, the band (the first collaborative project Coco's ever been in) already had a distinct sound before Coco ever thought about joining.

Guitarist Matt Merritt, 22, of Spencerport and saxophonist Joel Vickers, 22, of Gates have been playing together since their days at Spencerport High School. After graduating, the two began playing around town as an instrumental project with jazz drummer Karl Thomas, of Rochester. After seeing the success friends were having in vocal-driven projects, the guys decided to take the next step.

"You can do more with a singer," says Vickers. "It gives the audience something to sing along to and brings a whole new element."

In May 2008, Tinted Image added bassist Sean Conlon, 24, of Spencerport and landed a gig opening for Scottish funk/R&B act the Average White Band. Only Tinted Image didn't have a lead singer yet. After numerous failed auditions, the guys found Coco, whom they had read about after her Idol audition.

On paper, it doesn't seem like it would fit. Coco's girl-next-door looks and pop vocals seem more tailor-made for Disney-style pop than a jazz fusion band. However, one listen to Tinted Images' diverse array of songs, and it's clear Coco's voice is far more versatile — more Joss Stone than Demi Lovato. On songs such as "Go With The Flow" and "Broken," Coco's sultry voice serves as the perfect accompaniment to Vickers' sax and Merritt's guitar playing.

"Yeah, Alyssa's stuff was very poppy," says Merritt. "But she can do blues really well, she can do rock, she can do anything."

As Tinted Image prepares for its CD release, Coco hopes her voice can help propel the band to bigger and better things. Or at least a point where she can simply be known as just a band member and not a former contestant on that TV show we'll stop mentioning right about now.
"It's hard because I want to separate myself from it, but it's done so much for me," says Coco. "Eventually I want to be known as just Alyssa Coco, Tinted Image lead singer. That would be nice." - Insider

"Tinted Image morphs"

Group has gone from cover band to grooving jazz-rock combo
Jeff Spevak
Special to Metromix
October 8, 2009

In about a year's time, Tinted Image has undergone a complete makeover, from funkified John Mayer and Dave Matthews Band cover band to the grooving jazz-rock combo that opens Friday, Oct. 9, at Water Street Music Hall for Sonny Landreth. That's a pretty quick turnaround, which guitarist Matt Merritt attributes to two factors: Average White Band and American Idol.

These guys hustle their band, for sure: They've landed a couple of gigs opening for Little Feat, have another one of their acoustic shows at New York City's The Bitter End next month, and finished second in a nationwide Internet contest that would have landed them a slot playing on a cruise ship with Mayer. But the support of Average White Band, a group revered by several of Tinted Image's players as they were growing up, resonates strongly.

"They let our sax player get onstage with them to play 'Pick Up the Pieces,' when we opened for them at Water Street," Merritt says of Joel Vickers, who juggles sax with tackles as a defensive end with the St. John Fisher football team. "And their sax player came onstage with us and played some of our songs when we opened for them in Buffalo. It just kind of snowballed from there."

That snowball picked up Alyssa Coco, who started out as a 14-year-old singer portraying Britney Spears and Shania Twain with the local party band Nik & the Nice Guys. Now, four years later, she's blended a handful of her original songs with Tinted Image's own talented crew — which includes bassist Sean Colin and drummer Karl Thomas — to create a whole new band. Merritt and Colin also play in the local Dave Matthews Band tribute group, Big Eyed Phish, which tips you off to the sound, as does Vickers' work with the area jazz outfit Kinetic Flo.

But none of that would have happened if American Idol hadn't rejected Coco. Her 10 seconds of fame ended abruptly last year at the hands of the evil judge, Simon Cowell. After battling her way through 20,000 contestants in Philadelphia to the final 500, "he stopped me really quickly and said I should take an ax to my piano," Coco says.

Although at age 18 the list might not be terribly long, Coco likes to write about "life experiences," and "Where I'm Going" is about one that few people have: American Idol. "I guess it's kind of negative on American Idol," Coco concedes. "But it has a positive message; you can say no to me, but I'm gonna keep going."

For more, check

- Metromix

"Tinted Image opening for Average White Band"

Tinted Image opening for Average White Band at Water Street
Jeff Spevak • Staff music critic 2008

Matt Merritt is one persistent dude. It's not simply that he was practicing six and seven hours a day. Merritt was a latecomer to his instrument, a dissatisfied trumpet player who didn't pick up a guitar until he was a sophomore. He had some ground to make up.

And that he did. His band, Tinted Image, opens for the Average White Band on Friday at Water Street Music Hall, with another gig May 21 with Internet chanteuse Ingrid Michaelson. The persistence comes in how he landed those dates.

Tinted Image grew out of Merritt and sax player Joel Vickers, both 2005 Spencerport grads, who later picked up drummer Karl Thomas and bassist Sean Conlon. Then their smooth jazz-funk instrumental sound changed when they began working with Nik & the Nice Guys vocalist Alyssa Coco. She's acoustic pop, and suddenly Tinted Image was a whole new fusion of those elements.

"She's really taken ahold of the group," Merritt says. "We've gone from jazz funk to more of a Dave Matthews Band, John Mayer sound with a lot more originals."

Merritt's now a student at Purchase Conservatory of Music, where he met a couple of Michaelson's band members; e-mails went out, and Merritt quickly secured the gig opening for her. It wasn't so easy with Average White Band. Response to his barrage of e-mails suggesting Tinted Image open that show was slow in coming, and discouraging: If promoters were to add another band, it would be one appealing to ticket buyers.

So Merritt went to Plan B, suggesting on its MySpace page that Tinted Image fans e-mail the club. And Merritt went straight to the source, e-mailing AWB, suggesting the band check out Tinted Image's site.

"Onnie McIntyre, Average White Band's original guitar player, called me the next day," Merritt says. "He said they got my e-mail, checked out our Web site, liked our sound, and said it would be real cool if we opened for them."

And concerns that the show needed a band that will sell tickets have been addressed: As of last week, Tinted Image's fans were buying tickets at a quicker pace than Average White Band's.

For more, go to
- Democrat & Chronicle

"Local band teams up with its musical heroes"

Local band teams up with its musical heroes

By L. David Wheeler, staff writer
Daily Messenger
Thu May 08, 2008, 01:45 PM EDT

Matt Merritt remembers the first song his band ever played: "Pick Up the Pieces" by the Average White Band, a Scottish R&B band big in the 1970s. The AWB had long been among the musical heroes for the emerging funk, soul and jazz guitarist.

So this Friday, May 9, will be a dream come true for the 2005 Spencerport graduate: His band, Tinted Image, will be the opening act when the Average White Band plays Water Street Music Hall.

As pretty much an unknown quantity, they faced some reluctance from the talent agency handling the AWB, Merritt said — but a MySpace connection with the AWB's guitarist sealed the deal.

"The Average White Band really stuck up for us," Merritt said. "It was really cool for us to have one of our idols stick up for us."

Also cool: John Viavattine will be sitting in with them — not only the saxophonist with the Mambo Kings, but also an influential high school teacher for Merritt and Joel Vickers, Tinted Image's saxophonist and another Spencerport grad.

Friday isn't the band's only brush with national acts. On May 18, they open for folk-pop singer-songwriter Ingrid Michaelson. They've done some auditions for "America's Got Talent," and soon will have a CD out. Numerous local shows are booked, including a slot during the Canandaigua Art & Music Festival in July.

"We had a huge mix of players and a huge mix of styles, a wide range of people and backgrounds," Merritt said. "... Most bands, when they start off, they're the same group of buddies." Not so with Tinted Image: "We all met through music."

Merritt, currently living in New York City and majoring in jazz performance at the Purchase Conservatory of Music, attended Monroe Community College after graduating from Spencerport. While at MCC, he also was playing with Latin Jazz and Saxology at the Eastman Scool of Music, studying jazz guitar with Bob Sneider, teaching at Collichio's School of Music in Spencerport and gigging with Tinted Image, at one time the house band at Spencerport's One Way Cafe.

Water Street Music Hall is at 204 N. Water St. The concert starts at 9 p.m., with doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets ($25, or $22.50 advance) are available through Ticketmaster.

- Daily Messenger


Richie Hayward(drummer from Little Feat) - "the female answer to the Dave Matthews Band" "Alyssa's voice reminds me of Norah Joes... in a very good way"

Freddy V of the Average White Band- "We've done several shows with Tinted Image and they truly are great. Joel(sax from tinted image) and I always have fun"

Sonny Landreth(email from his agent)
"Please send our regards to Matt &TI,we really enjoyed having them. They sounded great and hope we can do it again down the road. Best and safe travels to them.

"I’ve broadcasted from South by South West, and let me tell ya, Rochester’s Tinted Image can hang with the best of them. These guys (and girl) are the real deal. Whether they’re playing with Little Feat, Ingrid Michaelson, Tim Reynolds, or headlining, this group delivers one hell of a show."
--Brother Wease radio personality

"Matt Merritt is one of the important young guitarists emerging on the music scene today. His talent and dedication are truly remarkable"
-Randy Johnston (Jazz Guitarist and jazz guitar instructor at NYU, & New School)

Elliot Jacobson(drummer from Ingrid Michaelson's band) "It was a pleasure to have Tinted Image open up. The songs sound great. Alyssa adds a lot to the bands sound."

"Tinted Image is the kind of band that should have record labels fighting over them. They’re my go to band when a national act needs support. They are always on time, don’t get in the way and are incredibly courteous. They’ve supported dozens of national acts this past year. And when I booked them to headline they sold our venue out!"
--Catherine Bauer
Talent Buyer
- Little Feat, Average White Band, Ingrid Michaelson, Sonny Landreth

"Penfield junior made it to the Hollywood limelight"

Video: Penfield junior made it to the Hollywood limelight

Billie Owens

GateHouse News Service

Penfield, N.Y.

She’s 17, belongs in two bands, plays piano, writes her own songs and made it all the way to Hollywood on “American Idol.”Alyssa Coco is talented, and she’s gutsy. It took gumption to do a Christina Aguilera song, a pop star whom Coco believes has some of the best pipes in the business. Last year, Coco sang 90 seconds of Aguilera’s self-penned “Beautiful” for the three celebrity judges.She was eliminated early on, but she beat out 20,000 others to become one of 164 contestants culled from the masses, and she and her family are very proud of the accomplishment.Mom, dad and sis — Marie, Nick and Angela — have been fans of the show, of course, for a long time. Ever since she could talk, Coco sang. Ever since she could walk, she danced — or tried to, anyway.“We’d switch the radio stations and she’d sing and dance to anything that was on,” Nick Coco said.That’s exactly the way Aguilera was as a tot, according to her biography, and it’s another reason Coco says the star is her favorite. Maybe one day ...The junior at Penfield High School has dreams of majoring in vocal performance in college, of making CDs, of being able to do want she loves to do more than anything.“I see it as a gift and I’m totally thankful for it,” Coco said. “Without it, I wouldn’t be myself.”At 14, she became a professional singer and musician and now performs with Nik and the Nice Guys and Unexpected Pleasure. The gigs require singing everything from the Rolling Stones to former “American Idol” winner Kelly Clarkson. When she listens to music, she enjoys a wide range of styles, but, in addition to Aguilera, she likes Vanessa Carlton, Norah Jones and a little-known songwriter named Vienna Teng.Coco has been watching “American Idol” for years and had long planned to try her luck when she reached the minimum age of 16. So it was that last August the family and her best friend, Bethany Wallace, drove all night — in a terrible thunderstorm — to Philadelphia to audition for Season 7.There were more wannabes there than at any previous “American Idol” audition, 20,000. Sign in started at 4 a.m. Before and after it was all about waiting, waiting and more waiting.“It was just standing up — they wouldn’t let you bring lawn chairs or anything — just stand there,” Coco said.Five hours later, she got in front of the first of many judges. The first four were TV producers. There were three others in her group and they all made it through that round.“I got the ‘golden ticket’ and walked through Victory Hall,” she said laughing.The next go-round took place two days later, requiring an extended stay in Philly, and she performed for Nigel and Ken, a couple of “American Idol” producers.“It was horrible — producer after producer after producer,” Coco said. How do those weirdos make it through to Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and the notoriously brutal Simon Cowell?“They put them on for the show,” Coco explained. “People like to watch them. I had to wait in line with the guy who wore a cape and had all the chest hair and got waxed. He was weird, too.”She was fourth to audition in front of the famous judges. Simon said she looked great and sounded great, words she’ll not long forget. Paula said she was “too controlled.”“Whatever that means,” Coco added.Randy, in typical form, says “Ah, I don’t know, it was just OK for me.”Simon, incredulously, gave her an “absolutely 100 percent yes.” Paula the Pushover actually wavered, as did Randy, and Simon convinced them to let Coco through. Of course, then Jackson yelled “Welcome to Hollywood, baby!”And go she did, in September. She was the first of 164 there to perform. It was also the first year artists could play instruments. She played their piano, but the sound pedals were broken. Like the others, she got another chance, this time a cappella.“It’s tough,” she said. “You can’t think too much” or you’ll get too nervous and choke. She was ousted. But she had a grand time, despite never really seeing Hollywood or the Pacific Ocean or very little else but the inside of a hotel.“We’re very proud of her, she’s gone through a lot,” Nick Coco said.

And she loved making the memories.

Penfield Post
- Penfield Post

"Tinted Image plays International Jazz Festival"

Media Presentation:

Festival Coverage:

Festival Photos:
- Democrat and Chronicle

"Slightly altered Image"

Slightly altered Image
Troy L. Smith
April 7, 2010

Despite being one of the most talented drummers in town, Levi Bennett was never in a band until recently. "I was always the hired drummer; the cat that would come in and guest on a track or whatever," says the 23-year-old Rochester resident, who was named Best Undiscovered Drummer in the Nation by Guitar Center last year.

But now he's the newest member of rising local act Tinted Image, which will perform at Water Street Music Hall on Friday, April 9. Bennett's decision to join the group came after he saw the passion of its members: guitarist Matt Merritt, 23, of Spencerport; sax player Joel Vickers, 23, of Rochester; singer Alyssa Coco, 19, of Penfield; and new bassist Tony Galofaro, 25, of Rochester.

"I was feeling everyone's hunger for the music," says Bennett (who replaces Karl Thomas, now a member of local Dave Matthews tribute band Big Eyed Phish). "I was feeling their hustle, so I chose to jump on board."

Tinted Image's "hustle" was strong in 2009. The band sold out Water Street Music Hall for its CD release show last June and spent the rest of the year opening for national acts like Average White Band, Badfish and Dave Matthews' collaborator Tim Reynolds.

Yet, Merritt, Vickers and Coco were looking to take things further musically by upgrading from a simple jazz-rock project to a more sophisticated pop-rock act with a broader reach. Enter Bennett, a longtime friend of Vickers and Galofaro, who previously played in local pop-rock band Strike The Sky.

Still, Tinted Image remains rooted in the chemistry of its three founding members. Merritt's bluesy guitar riffs and Vickers' saxophone playing perfectly complement the smooth vocals of Coco, who first gained local fame as a "Hollywood Week" contestant on American Idol in 2007.

Fans will get their chance to hear new recorded material from the band on April 9. Tinted Image will release a CD of its Acoustic Sessions EP (currently available on iTunes) with new studio tracks, which were mixed by producer Brian Moore at Red Booth Recording.

"I think their sound is maturing based on the limited previous material I have heard," Moore says. "I look forward to seeing them perform live at the release show."

Thanks to Tinted Image's rising popularity, Merritt says the band has received a number of offers to play festivals and shows in Rochester this summer. But he says they've remained selective, committing to just a few gigs, including opening up for Smash Mouth at this summer's Rochester International Jazz Festival and opening for Greece pop-rockers Joywave (formerly The Hoodies) for the band's first local show in June at the German House.

"We could book our entire summer right now," Merritt says. "But if you do that it becomes easy to coast. Then you get to the fall and you're right where you were last year. We're picking shows that are really going to be highlights for us and that will get us in front of new audiences, both in and out of Rochester."

- Metromix


Still working on that hot first release.



When most artists talk about writing on the road, it's a euphemism for late nights spent working in hotel rooms or backstage on tour. When Rochester indie pop duo Roses and Revolutions—aka singer Alyssa Coco and guitarist Matt Merritt—talk about writing on the road, they mean it quite literally. In fact, most of their gorgeous new EP, 'Torch,' was penned while behind the wheel. "Matt and I work a lot in the car," says Coco. "We'll turn off the radio and Matt will say, 'Give me a verse real quick.' There's no distractions, nothing but the road. We write a lot of the details in the car that way." While Coco and Merritt's names might not yet be familiar, their music likely is. Their songs have earned praise from USA Today to Idolator and appeared in soundtracks everywhere from MTV and VH1 to Showtime and E!, and they've already shared stages with The Head and The Heart, The Lone Bellow, Sheryl Crow, O.A.R., Wynona Judd, and Ingrid Michaelson among others. Coco also appeared on Season 7 of American Idol, which prompted Merritt, a trained jazz guitarist, to reach out in the first place and propose a collaboration. "We instantly connected," says Coco. "It started with us writing songs together, and I'd never been in a band where I could collaborate with somebody as a writer like that before. We would sit down in a room together, and he'd have a chorus idea I'd have a verse idea, and somehow they'd just mesh perfectly." "The big thing that clicked for us," adds Merritt, "the reason we're a duo even though sometimes we'll have drums or strings with us, is that the two of us write everything together. It's not like she writes some and I write some. Every song we've ever written is a 50/50 collaboration." That musical kinship shines from the opening seconds of 'Torch,' which kicks off with the utterly infectious and hypnotic "Start Over." "We were driving to a gig and came up with the chorus," says Merritt. "It's this repetitive chant, but we had the hardest time connecting it to the verses until we landed on this driving, shuffle-rock groove and found the song's swagger." Part of that swagger comes courtesy of Ingrid Michaelson drummer Elliot Jacobson, who contributed the song's propulsive, electrifying rhythm from Brooklyn, though Coco and Merritt recorded most of the EP in Rochester. On "Let Go," Merritt's deft fretwork shines underneath Coco's warm, breathy vocals, while "Echo" strips their sound down to a somber piano and string trio, and "Bonnie & Clyde" hits bombastic heights. "We brought in a whole drum line with six or seven marching snares going at the same time," says Merritt. "It's a real, anthemic pump-up song that's so much fun for us to play live with the full band." The EP closes on a more intimate note with "Dear My Love," a romantic, acoustic ode written for Valentine's Day. "We wrote it really quickly all at once in the car on the way to a gig," says Coco. "We had a show in New York City," continues Merritt, "so the next morning we pounded out a demo in a friend's studio, and a week later we'd already recorded the final version." Such is the magic between the two halves of Roses and Revolutions. They named the EP 'Torch' because nearly every song contains a lyrical reference to fire or burning, but the greatest sparks undoubtedly come from their creative synergy. With a gripping new release on their hands and a busy tour schedule to follow, Roses and Revolutions is set to spend more time than ever before behind the wheel, and that's good news for everyone who can't wait to hear what this breakout duo will write next.