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Band Hip Hop Reggae


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"Singer to celebrate new CD with old friends"

By Lindsay Key

There's something to be said for going your own way. For Emily Brass, the former front woman of the Floyd-based reggae band Foundation Stone, breaking away in the past year to make her own album has been "inspiring and healing."

On Friday, she'll perform tunes from "Open Door" at the CD's release party at Pine Tavern Restaurant in Floyd. Brass wrote the songs on the reggae, jazz, and hip-hop influenced album alone, and recorded the CD with The Princes of Babylon from Philadelphia.

However, she's looking forward to performing the songs Friday with guitarist Richie Ursomaro, bassist John Lindsey, keyboardist James Pace and drummer Dave Brown. The musicians are longtime friends of hers.

"Initially, there was so much freedom in making it for myself," Brass said. "But then I got to the point where I wanted the parts to be played by people again."

Ursomarso said he and Brass have known each other for 10 years but reunited in Floyd's Cafe del Sol coffee shop about a year ago.

"I said, 'Hey, let's get together and play,' " he said. "I love her style."

Ursomarso learned how to play Brass' new songs, as well as some of the old Foundation Stone songs.

Double click arrow to hear "Changes"
Foundation Stone, which played in the Floyd area and toured the East Coast for about six years, broke up in 2005 after Brass and husband and fellow band member Jacques Trudel went their separate ways.

Brass said that the lyrics on her independently recorded album are more personal than the ones she sang for Foundation Stone. However, the rhythmic dance music is the same.

"I love it when you look out and see a bunch of people dancing, singing and sweating," she said.

Brass, 37, grew up in Montreal and moved to Floyd about 12 years ago.

She started playing the saxophone for her high school band when she was 12 years old.

She began to think more seriously about singing after completing a radio internship in West Virginia, where she was told she had a good voice. During the nascent stage of Foundation Stone, she served as temporary singer until the band could find someone full time. But the position stuck.

On her new album, Brass sings about politics and the environment in "Changes" and the need to party in "Why Wait."

When she's not playing music, Brass sells goods from Guatemala for a friend who lives there.

"The Emily Brass Band Shines On"

By Colleen Redman

Roberta Flack meets Bob Marley, that’s how I first described the music of Emily Brass when she was lead singer for the popular Floyd-based band, Foundation Stone. Back then I considered Foundation Stone to be a hometown “house band.” They regularly played at The Pine Tavern Restaurant, renowned for its Sunday Night Open Mic, community gatherings, and the Italian cooking of chef, Michael Gucciardo.

But then the Pine Tavern closed and later Foundation Stone folded when Emily and her husband, Jacques, the band’s bass guitarist, broke up. It felt like the end of an era, significant losses that would lessen my opportunities to dance with and socialize locally with friends.

The Pine Tavern has been open under the new management of Reed and Jane Embrey for over two years now. They serve down home Southern cooking that the Roanoke Times has rated with 4 ½ stars. Tom Ryan, a satirist who authors the online Floyd Enquirer, tends bar in The Tavern Room. This past Friday night, the venue and the sound of Foundation Stone were reunited. Emily, a singer, songwriter, and saxophonist, hosted a party for the release of her new CD with her new band, The Emily Brass Band.

In the old days bands played in the restaurant’s main room. Tables were moved to make room for dancing. Over the years, I and others wore down some of the Tavern’s wood floor shine with our enthusiastic and persistent dance steps. Since then the place has expanded. On this night, the last of November, we danced under the Tavern Pavilion, closed in with plastic and warmed with portable heaters. But it didn’t take long for people to throw their coats over the backs of chairs. Emily has a stage presence that encourages a feeling of celebration, and when she plays sax she reminds me of snake charmer with a talent for getting everyone up and shaking to her rhythmic grooves.

“Who knew?” I asked more than once of those who danced near me, after hearing lead guitarist Richard Ursomarso play. I’ve known Richard, a Floyd Market Gardener, for years but didn’t know he could play guitar riffs like a top chart musician. Other band members who rounded out the reggae, jazz, and hip-hop influenced sound were bass guitarist John Lindsey, keyboardist James Pace, and Foundation Stone drummer Dave Brown.

Emily, who is originally from Montreal Canada, is an environmental activist, and her lyrics reflect that. We once shared a group bus ride to Washington D.C. to protest the start of the Iraq War. She wore a large silver Statue of Liberty crown to go with her hand painted sign that read “Protest is our Patriotic Duty," one of the slogans we came up with at a sign painting party the night before the march. She volunteers her time to help put a local newsletter together, which frequently happens on my kitchen table, and sells Guatemalan clothing when she’s not busy writing and playing music.

The name of her new CD, “Open Door,” suggests the hopefulness that is an integral part of Emily’s style. With a sultry voice ranging from soothing to commanding, she raps and sings lyrics that prod listeners to think about how they live, urging global awareness with a hip upbeat that causes me to look around and smile at my dancing neighbors.

Although most of the songs Emily performed were new ones off her CD, every now and then she would shout out to the crowd that it was time for a “Foundation Stone fix,” and the audience would cheer and prepare to sing along.

Emily’s website, emilybrass.com, best describes her music and what it’s like to dance to: Like a musical shape-shifter, Emily Brass takes you on a psychedelic hippie-hop journey, channeling the ghosts of old school rap, rock-steady reggae, ragtime jazz, and 60's rock & soul, while relentlessly keeping you in a sweat-inducing, smile-inspiring trance-dance, all night long.

Maybe not all night long for some of us, but when it comes to the music of Emily Brass, I’m good for at least a first two hour set.

Post notes: HERE'S a short video clip of the band on the Pine Tavern Pavilion Stage Friday night. And HERE is a Roanoke Times write-up about Emily which links to audio of two of Emily’s songs. Emily’s CD can be purchased online HERE. It is also available in Floyd at noteBooks, Café Del Sol, and New Mountain Mercantile; and in Roanoke at Seeds of Light.

- The Floyd Press on December 6, 2007

"Singer Hosts CD Release Party"

Emily Brass celebrates her new debut solo record, Open Door, with a CD Release Party at The Pine Tavern in Floyd this Friday, November 30 at 9 pm.

The singer, saxophonist and former Foundation Stone front woman takes the stage with an outstanding group of musicians: fellow FS band member Dave Brown on drums; keyboardist James Pace (who also wields his skills with The Non-Profits, The Seed, and Cyrus Pace); funk bassist John Lindsay; and Floyd guitarist extraordinaire, Richie Ursomarso. Asheville-based singer-songwriter Ash Devine opens the night with a set of her original folk-reggae-blues, and some mystery guest stars of the local music scene will make cameos as well.

The music is a blend of Brass’ influences: psychedelic hip-hop, old school rap, rock-steady reggae, swing, and 60's rock & soul. The lyrics are progressive and poetic, conjuring the sounds of Erykah Badu, Zap Mama, and even John Lennon. When performing, Brass says she tries to keep the audience in a “sweat-inducing, smile-inspiring trance-dance all night long.”

Open Door represents a new beginning for the songstress. With Foundation Stone, Brass played festivals and dance halls from New England to Florida. When the band quit playing in 2005, she channeled the experience into new music, transforming what was overwhelming into something empowering.

Fond of the Philadelphia sound, Brass enlisted the help of musical allies, hip-hop-reggae-soul trio, The Princes of Babylon, as well as renowned keyboard wizard musician, Jeremy Dyen (of Fathead and Alo Brasil).

The musical match-up was astonishingly hot. Straight from the ranks of G. Love's All Fellas Band, bassist and vocalist Dave “Katman” Katowitz jumped in as co-producer, lending his mad-scientist genius to the project. Guitarist Dave Quicks, of the Burndown All Stars, recorded and mixed the sounds in his Burndown Studios in Philly. Ry Pilla, who often toured with Foundation Stone, and who plays in NYC-based band The Last Broadcast, laid down patently solid rhythms on drums.

Brass just released Open Door in local stores and online at her website. Those who come to the show will be able to pick up a copy for a special price of $7 (which is also the price of admission). The show will be the first to take place in the recently weatherized Pine Tavern Pavilion. More information can be found at her website, www.EmilyBrass.com, and at www.ThePineTavern.com . - The Floyd Press on Nov. 29, 2007

"2 bands cap off summer concerts - The Emily Brass Band and the Sol Creech Band will play Sunday at Floyd's Pine Tavern."

By Amy Matzke

A show to bring the region together.

That's how Emily Brass, vocalist, saxophonist and namesake of Floyd-based Emily Brass Band, describes Sunday's show with the Northern Virginia-based Sol Creech Band.

Both bands play throughout the region, so Brass hopes the event will bring people together for one last outdoor concert before the end of summer. The concert will be at the outdoor pavilion at the Pine Tavern in Floyd.

The Emily Brass Band and Sol Creech Band are both known for fusing reggae, jazz, blues and hip-hop sounds, so it was a natural pairing, Brass said.

"I think both of us like a variety of styles, and it really shows in our performances," Sol Creech said.

The bands share a common link in Blacksburg drummer "King" George Penn, who plays with both bands.

"Me and Emily have been in conversation about doing a show together for quite awhile," Creech said. "We've been trying to work it for a couple of years, so I'm really looking forward to it."

Creech spends much of his time touring with the Music Maker Relief Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to helping musicians rooted in a Southern tradition who are 55 or older and have an annual income of less than $18,000.

Creech said his involvement with the Music Maker Relief Foundation influenced his sound with its emphasis on the blues.

The Sol Creech Band has been touring with Music Maker while setting up the show at Pine Tavern, Creech said, which means that this will not only be the first time the two bands have played together but also the first time Brass and Creech have met.

"I've talked to him on the phone, but it's my first time seeing him in person," Brass said of Creech. "I think it's going to be a really good relationship."

The concert at Pine Tavern will be only the second time the Emily Brass Band has performed since new members Mike Kirby on guitar and Lindsey Wright on flute and vocals joined original members Brass, Penn, guitarist Richie Ursomarso and bassist John Lindsey. The first performance was Blacksburg's Steppin' Out in early August.

Creech has played in Floyd before, including FloydFest, the Pine Tavern and shows with local musician Scott Perry.

"We keep Southwest Virginia on a steady rotation," Creech said. "We really enjoy the people there."

Brass said she thinks the music, paired with the outdoor space and food served by the Pine Tavern, gives the event a kind of festival atmosphere that will encourage people to relax and have fun.

"Floyd is a hugely music-loving place," Brass said. "No one is shy about getting up and dancing.:
- The Roanoke Times

"Artist of the Week: Emily Brass Band"

By Christine Pizzo
September 15th, 2008

When a sultry, powerful sounding voice, accompanied by a saxophone takes the stage you know you are in for a night of unexpected musical revelations and all-night enjoyment with Emily Brass.

Incorporating music styles that range throughout past decades such as old-school rap, rock-steady reggae, ragtime jazz, and 60s rock & soul, the Floyd resident uses ever-changing raps and lyrics to send powerful, poetic, and even progressive messages your way.

Brass’s arrestingly soulful voice and innovative sax riffs captivate the audience under smooth reggae overtones with infectiously funky hip-hop beats, punctuated with iconic jazz and strong rock sounds unique to her music.

Last fall, Brass released her debut solo record with Forward Moving Records, cleverly titled Open Door. Representing a major turning point in her life, Open Door reflects the new path Brass has chosen after being the former front woman for Foundation Stone.

Before the band called it quits in 2005, the diversely talented songstress released two albums, playing festivals and dance halls from New England to Florida, selling thousands of CDs to their far-flung fans. (You can read the New River Voice review of Open Door here!)

Gaining influence from the sounds of Zap Mama, Arrested Development, Chrissie Hynde, Erykah Badu, Bob Marley, Billie Holiday, and even John Lennon, Brass blends her vocals, sassy sax work, and percussion pieces to portray her lifestyle as an environmental activist, calling upon the audience to think about how they live and urging global and personal awareness.

Entrancing you with sounds from her childhood spent in Montreal as the daughter of a jazz musician, the night swiftly slips away spent swaying and moving to an updated beat often unheard.

Other musicians who play with Brass include George Penn (drums), Mike Kirby (guitar), Lindsey Wright (vocals, flute), John Lindsey (bass), and Richie Ursomarso (guitar).

You can catch Emily Brass live at Awful Arthur’s (Roanoke, Va., Sept. 26), BT’s (Radford, Va, Oct. 2), Awful Arthur’s (Salem, Va., Oct. 18), and Awful Arthur’s (Blacksburg, Va, Nov. 21).

Listen to New River Voice Editor Tim Jackson’s interview with Emily Brass Tuesday night (Sept. 16) at 6:30 p.m. on WVRU FM, 89.9 in Radford. Emily Brass is the next act featured in WVRU’s new weekly radio show called “The Listening Room,” brought to you by WVRU and the New River Voice.
- New River Voice


Emily Brass-Open Door
Foundation Stone-The World We Live In
Foundation Stone-On the Updraft



Like a musical shape-shifter, Emily Brass takes you on a psychedelic reggae-jazz-hop journey, channeling the ghosts of old school rap, rock-steady reggae, swing and 60's rock & soul, while relentlessly keeping you in a sweat-inducing, smile-inspiring trance-dance, all night long.

Her lyrical message is empowering and poetic, sung through countless vocal styles, conjuring up the spirit of Zap Mama, Sade, Erykah Badu, Chrissie Hynde and even John Lennon. Between rapid-fire raps, catchy choruses, and sensuously sung verses, she wails on her sax while audiences lose themselves under the influence of Maceo Parker and Dean Frasier-inspired riffs.

As front woman of Foundation Stone, the multi-faceted songstress released two albums, playing festivals and dance halls from New England to Florida, selling thousands of CDs to their far-flung fans. Brass released her debut solo record entitled "Open Door" last fall, and as the title suggests, the album represents a fork in the songwriter's path. Fond of the Philadelphia sound, Brass enlisted musical allies, The Princes of Babylon (a funk-hip-hop-reggae trio that features bassist and vocalist Dave “Katman“ Katowitz of G. Love's "All Fellas Band“) to record the project, as well as renowned keyboardist and studio musician, Jeremy Dyen (of Fathead and Alo Brasil).

In her live show, Brass again brings an outstanding group of handpicked musicians to the stage. Voted best musician in 2006 and 2007 by The Roanoke Times, Brent Hoskins (formerly of The Seed) rocks the house on drums. Lindsey Wright adds her sublime harmonies and upbeat energy to the mix on vocals and flute. John Lindsay keeps the groove with steady, heavyweight bass, while versatile guitarist Richie Ursomarso skillfully weaves fascinating, psychedelic melodies into his rhythmic guitar parts.

Emily Brass Band also occasionally invites other top notch musicians from the area to join them on stage as guest artists, including flamboyant Yams from Outer Space singer and guitarist Mike Kirby; reknowned reggae circuit musicians Greg Ward and Peanut (of Culture and The Abyssinians); the highly skilled, international touring keyboardist James Pace (of Cyrus Pace and The Non-Profits); and legendary drummer “King” George Penn of Hopehop (formerly of Jah Works and True Sound).

Join the circle, become entranced…their music is coming your way soon!


Forward Moving Productions
3754 Franklin Pike
Floyd VA 24091
(540) 745-3827



...has performed at the same events as …


...has played at outstanding festivals like...

MUSIC MIDTOWN (Atlanta GA), BELE CHERE (Asheville NC), COLUMBUS ARTS FESTIVAL (Columbus OH), LAKE EDEN ARTS FESTIVAL (Black Mountain NC), FLOYDFEST (Floyd VA), FRIDAYS AFTER 5 (Charlottesville, VA), SMILEFEST (Union Grove, NC), FIRST NIGHT (Asheville NC, Harrisonburg VA, Blacksburg VA), STEPPIN OUT (Blacksburg VA), FRIDAYS ON THE SQUARE (Harrisonburg VA), SUMMER JAM (Ithaca NY), SPRING FLING (Spartanburg SC), TASTE OF ST. AUGUSTINE (St. Augustine FL), ONE LOVE PEACE FESTIVAL (Fredericksburg VA), FIRST FRIDAYS (Roanoke VA), JAMES ISLAND CONCERT SERIES (Charleston SC), GROOVE REGGAE FEST (Woodbury CT), GOOMBAY FESTIVAL (Asheville NC), GROVERFEST (Union Grove, NC), GROOVIN ON GRAYSON (Galax VA) & more

... at countless cool venues including...

FREEBIRD LIVE- Jacksonville Beach FL, ZIGGY'S- Winston-Salem NC, THE LANTERN - Blacksburg VA, THE SUN MUSIC HALL- Floyd VA, JANNUS LANDING- St. Petersburg FL, 123 PLEASANT STREET- Morgantown WV, MARQUEE THEATER- Jacksonville FL, GRAPE STREET PUB- Philadelphia PA, MARZZ-Wilmington NC, STELLA BLUE- Asheville NC, BUBBA MAC’S- Ocean City NJ, PEASANTS CAFÉ- Greenville NC, CONCH HOUSE- St. Augustine FL, BAYLEE'S- Blacksburg, VA, FOXFIRE GRILL- Snowshoe WV, CHARLIE BROWNZ- Wilmington NC, BARLEY’S- Knoxville TN, CYBERCAFE- Binghamton NY, 13th FLOOR – Baltimore MD & more

…as well as these colleges…


...and they'll be in your town soon!