Mel Monaco

Mel Monaco

 St. Catharines, Ontario, CAN
BandPopSinger/Songwriter

Mel Monaco is a 27 year old singer/songwriter from St. Catharines Ontario. Mel enjoys putting a twist on contemporary pop rock with soulful blues vocals.Mel loves a strong female vocalist who commands the stage and showcases their inner power through the use of their voice. From Amy Winehouse and Lady Gaga to the soulfulness of Nina Simone and Janis Joplin there is no stopping the wild and vibrant sounds of a woman's musical styling.

Band Press

EP: Anything Goes (2012) Album Review – Bryan Farrish Promotion

“If you can’t be safe, be spectacular” Mel is quoted as saying. This is a good description of this album. At just 22, Mel’s strong pure voice and powerful songs define the timeless sound of music you just want to sit alone and listen to full blast or dance around the living room. A sound for all generations, that has wide enough appeal for the large adult contemporary market, yet sounding fresh and youthful. Fans of Carol King, Jewel, and Avril Lavigne will all be swaying their cellphones and lighters side by side in an arena to Mel’s songs someday.

Track #1 Like An Ocean has the feeling of a ballad you will hear in your head for a long time. The song has an intimate revealing feel yet is universal. You can not help wanting to sing along as the music and harmonies ebb and swell building gradually to a crescendo like waves at sunset.

Track #2 Misperception – The sultry Misperception reveals a deep guttural overtone to Mel’s silky voice as she bends notes just enough to hit that sweet spot. The arrangement frames the song perfectly to evoke a smoky room with keyboards full of the promise of the night.

Track #3 A New Me – This song builds with an intensity of commitment. You can feel the heart in this. Mel’s delicate balance of vulnerability and strength is served well in this song.

Track #4 Clear – This rocker on the album kicks right in with a beat that moves you to your feet. The fullness of the band keeps in a support role to Mel’s voice that has a powerful assertiveness in this song that you want to do the fist pump along with. But wait, ripping guitar solo kicks in to put a cherry on top

Reviewed by June Caldwell, Bryan Farrish Promotion

Mel Monaco Shows Anything Goes For Charity (January 2015) – Paul Carfagnini

A charity calendar was launched at a party rocking with music and merriment on November 28 at Jack Astor’s to support Community Cares St. Catharines – Thorold. Calendars were sold for $5 and more than $350 was donated to help adopt a local family of three people for the Christmas season. The event featured a live show by Mel Monaco, accompanied by Ian Northcotte. Mel enticed the audience with songs from her CD, Anything Goes. Imagine a contemporary blues pop rock sound spiced with a sweet soulful jazz vocal twist by Mel. Go to melmonaco.com for news on the St. Catharines-based artist.

Mel Monaco celebrating release of new CD (April 2015) – Kevin Dowd

Mel Monaco loves to command the stage much like her musical influences, and this month she’ll be doing that several times leading up to the release of her new CD.

The 25-year-old singer and songwriter from St. Catharines is inviting music-lovers to attend the public release of her new CD, These Are Just Suggestions, at Hernder Estate Wines in St. Catharines, April 26 from 1 to 4 p.m.

“It think it really is going to be a great show and it’s an awesome venue,” said Monaco. “I’m really excited to share the music with a lot of people who have been waiting for it.”

The seven-track album features Monaco’s self-described “bluesy, jazzy, pop” sound delivered through varied and one-of-a-kind compilations.

“The whole album does have that general blues, pop feel to it just because of how I sing and the instrument I wrote the songs on. But there are some other influences and genres in there,” she said.

The release is open to anyone; tickets cost $30 and include an autographed, limited-edition album, food, a drink ticket and the live performance.

Monaco says she draws her musical influence from powerful female vocalists such as Amy Winehouse, Adele, Lorde and Nina Simone.

“I love these female vocalists who just command the stage, and for me it’s empowering so that’s a huge musical influence for me,” she explains.

She enjoys travelling to gain inspiration from her experiences and the people she meets, so in February 2012, she travelled to Memphis, Tenn. for the International Blues Challenge. She did not compete but took to some of the famous stages on Beale St., Memphis’ famous entertainment district.

“There were certain bars that may have not been partaking on that certain day so they would open up the stage for people to just come up and play, jam, there were a lot of jam sessions going on,” Monaco said.

Monaco released her first EP, Anything Goes…, in July 2012 and released her first unplugged music video for her song “Like an Ocean”, in January 2014. She followed this with the release of her single “And Baby”, accompanied by a full-length music video in July 2014.

Later in 2014, she travelled to Nashville, Tenn. to record her original music accompanied by multi-instrumentalists John Heinrich and Phil Valdez.

“To have these guys who have worked with amazing musicians before be like ‘awesome song, it’s great’ and you’re like ‘wow, thanks.’ So that was pretty awesome,” she said.

The result was the September 2014 release of “Cupid” from her upcoming album, with a complementing music video released in November 2014.

On Nov. 28, 2014, Monaco showed her charitable side when she held a live concert featuring songs from her album Anything Goes… during a charity event to support Community Care St. Catharines.

“It’s always important to give back. You have to give as much as you receive if not more. I had a great time working with Community Care, it was really a great cause,” she said.

For those who cannot wait until her CD release, Monaco will be performing at the Kilt and Clover in Beamsville on April 9, the Kilt and Clover in St. Catharines on April 10, Chop House Burger Bar in St. Catharines on April 17 and the Merchant Ale House in St. Catharines on April 19. Additional performance dates can be found on her website, melmonaco.com.

Tracks on the new album are; “Single Again,” “From the Mistakes,” “My Eyes,” “Cupid,” “The Truth,” “Soul Survivor,” and an acoustic version of “Single Again.”

Monaco will also be on Giant FM for radio interviews on April 14, 21 and 25 and submitted “Cupid” to CBC Searchlight, which is looking for the next up-and-coming musician. People can vote daily.

Album a collection of "life lessons" (April 2015) – Kris Dube

ST. CATHARINES - A song is a story and Mel Monaco has at least seven of them on her upcoming album 'These Are Just Suggestions.'

The St. Catharines-based singer-songwriter is getting ready for the official release event of her latest work – at Hernder Estate Wines on Apr. 26 in St. Catharines at 1 p.m.

Growing up in a musical family – Monaco said the craft of song is something she has always held close to her and that she is always excited to share her own original material with audiences.

She plays regular gigs around Niagara, has shot a video with Niagara College students and is also competing in the CBC Searchlight contest – an online competition that music lovers can vote in to find 'Canada's Best New Artist.'

Many of Monaco's songs are inspired by a short time she spent in Scotland while attending teacher's college.

“When I came back, I kind of went in a different direction with my music,” she said in a recent interview with Bullet News.


“It was an awesome experience and it put a lot in perspective for me – it was a huge growing-curve that I think really stemmed the whole idea for the album,” she said.

The title of the album, 'These Are Just Suggestions,' is fitting for Monaco because she said all of the songs are “life lessons” in one way or another.

“I know that I've learned a lot from music and it's awesome that I can translate my own memories and experiences into music,” she said.

“I love the stories that come out in songs,” she added.

Last year, Monaco's music video for her single 'Cupid' was shot by a group of Niagara College broadcasting students – an experience she is grateful for.

“It's a great opportunity for students and their program – as well as to get music and my video out there,” said Monaco.

To shoot the video, Monaco also had help from HQ Group Salon and Spa with hair and makeup, Lady Luck Pinups with wardrobe and Broadway Lights Dance Studio with choreography.

The video was also shot by local director Keith Murphy.

“Everything just came together – it was awesome,” said Monaco.

When asked about her musical influences – she said her tastes tend to go back a few years – even though she does still enjoy modern artists like Lorde and Adele.

Some of her all-time favourites include Amy Winehouse, Janis Joplin and Nina Simone.

To learn more about Monaco, you can visit her website and Facebook fan page.

To purchase tickets for her album release event, email mel@melmonaco.com.

Mel Monaco: These Are Just Suggestions CD Review (May 2015) – Richard Hutton

Mel Monaco
These Are Just Suggestions
Independent
The campaign to get Mel Monaco a record deal starts here.
The St. Catharines singer-songwriter has some serious talent as a vocalist, musician and songwriter. And she delivers the goods on her latest EP. Her voice is soulful but powerful — perhaps as a testament to some of her influences like Amy Winehouse and Adele among others — and her songs get their hooks into you right away. It's not a grab you by the throat kind of thing, more of a slow, infectious seeping into your brain.
There's a familiarity about the music that I can't quite put my finger on but I like it. Perhaps The Power of Suggestion could have been a more appropriate title of the six-song release. A seventh tune — an acoustic version of the EP opener “Single Again” — rounds out the collection.
Threads of blues, jazz and pop run throughout the EP but it truly comes across as a genre-bending collection. Those threads bind the songs together but no two sound remotely alike.
She has gotten help this time around from the likes of J.P. Maurice, who produced These Are Just Suggestions and provided guitar, bass and keyboards.
Standouts include “Single Again” (both versions) and “Cupid”.
Now about that record deal … someone, please sign her.

Mel Monaco: Rising Star (June 2015) – David DeRocco

No one paid a cover charge to get in. But there, in a dimly lit nightclub, in front of a weathered velvet stage curtain and an even more-weathered crowd of Sunday afternoon lunch special types, stood an artist clearly paying her dues.

Standing tall in her brilliant red dress, flashing colour like a provocative matador demanding the attention of a disinterested bull, fiery red-headed Mel Monaco strapped on her guitar, confidently straddled up to the mic, focused her alluring green eyes on the half-empty club, and did what every aspiring young performer strives to do: win over the crowd by singing her heart out. Mixing in songs from her new CD “These Are Just Suggestions” with classics from Cash and Croce, Wonder and Winehouse, Mel skillfully guided her audience across a sweeping landscape of diverse musical influences that showcased the immense vocal versatility of her unique alto. Bouncing between originals and a well-chosen collection of fan favourites that even included some Beatles and Stones, Mel gave a performance meant for a bigger and more appreciative crowd, one that might truly understand the degree of talent on display at Monty’s Gastro Pub this particular afternoon. But like any budding artist revelling in the joyfulness that comes with performing their music live, Mel simply used the three hour session as another step along the long path to the successful musical career she’s working toward.

“I am definitely on the path to what I want to accomplish, as you say paying your dues,” said the 25-year-old Muskoka-born singer/songwriter who now calls Niagara home. “We love doing this. We love playing. I love playing. There’s nothing I like more. That’s why I’m so happy where I am in this stage in my life. Because 10 years from now, I don’t know that I would have the energy – because you really do have to chop up your heart and put it on the table to do this.”

There was a time when following her heart may have led Mel to a different but equally demanding and emotionally-draining career. After graduating university as a drama major with a teaching degree, Mel came to the critical crossroad faced by many artists staring directly into an uncertain future: should she choose the stable teaching job and ride out life with her summers off and her teacher’s pension funding her retirement plans, or take a chance on a very unstable but personally fulfilling career in music? Thankfully, she had a friend who helped put things into proper perspective.

“When I was living in the U.K., a friend and I were discussing just that, and she asked me what I would regret more: would I regret not teaching for five years, or would I regret not pursuing my musical career. And it kind of put it in black and white for me, because at the time I would have 100 percent regretted not pursuing music. Not to say I don’t love teaching, which is a beautiful profession. But for me, my heart and soul is invested in music, and always has been since I was a little girl.”

Along with investing her heart and soul, Mel has also had to commit to the bigger investments each artist must make to advance their career – things like long hours of practise, hard work, dedicating herself to writing and recording and arduous travelling to tiny clubs to play endless gigs in promotion of her music. Thankfully, that drive has been hard-wired into her DNA by virtue of being part of a supportive family of artists and performers, so she is fully aware of the Herculean effort it takes to make it in the today’s music industry. She also understands the wisdom of taking a business-like approach to her career.

“Like every other business, musicians they need drive,” explains Mel, who is touring this summer in support of her recently released “These Are Just Suggestions” CD. “They need direction. They don’t know how they’re going to get there and why they even want to go there. And at the end of the day, you want to be happy with the results that you’re getting. For me, I’m working with different people in terms of management and the different aspects of what they can help me with. It’s also about developing your business plan and where you want to go as an artist. At the end of the day, it’s your career, it’s your brand. You need to be a part of every decision.”

Developing her “brand” as a talented singer, songwriter, pianist and guitarist has included recording her own original songs, most recently at Hamilton’s Catherine North Studio with sessions that produced her new seven-track release. The songs on “These Are Just Reflections” – with titles like “Single Again,” “From The Mistakes I’ve Made,” “The Truth” and “Soul Survivor” – paint a rich tapestry of emotion as seen through the eyes of a young woman on a journey of self-discovery. Delivered with angst and sultry emotion, it’s admittedly a very personal collection of songs according to Mel.

“It’s really about growing and learning and developing as a person; that’s why I called it “These Are Just Suggestions,” because a lot of the songs – which I realized after the fact were all lessons – are all my personal suggestions about the particular lessons I’ve learned along the way.”

For a young female singer-songwriter trying to make it in a space crowded with singer/songwriters, the real hard lessons, however, are still to be learned. With a summer schedule packed with tour dates that will see her performing either acoustically or with a full band in clubs from Niagara to Gravenhurst, Mel Monaco hopes to win legions of new fans with her soulful yet powerful voice and contemporary blues pop rock sound. It’s the short term pain for long term gain every young artist must endure along the way to stardom – which if Mel had her way, would look very much like the career of another multi-talented woman she admires.

“I love Lady Gaga. She’s an amazing singer, an amazing musician. She’s an amazing performance artist. She just lays it out on the line. And to me she’s an artist that has honed down on what they want to do and why they’re doing what they’re doing, just trying to bring their art to this world. She’s not a one-hit wonder. She’s the whole package. But again, that comes with a lot of hard work and discipline and a lot of support. I have all that, so it’s all one day at a time – putting your heart into it every day.”

By David DeRocco

For more information, tour dates and music, visit www.melmonaco.com. Or purchase her new CD via iTunes or Amazon at the links below.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/mel-monaco/id591178826

http://www.amazon.com/These-Are-Just-Suggestions-Explicit/dp/B00ZC51D04/ref=sr_1_2?s=dmusic&ie=UTF8&qid=1434392690&sr=1-2&keywords=Mel+Monaco

Mel Monaco: More Than Skin Deep (July 2015) – Richard Hutton

By Richard Hutton
Mel Monaco is not afraid to own up to her pop roots.
“I remember being 11, and for me at that time it was Britney Spears,” she says over coffee at a St. Catharines eatery. “I wanted to be the next Britney.”
Fast-forward 14 years and the now 25-year-old singer-songwriter retains that affection while adding admiration for artists ranging from Amy Winehouse to Lady Gaga. She says that it has helped with her craft.
“I learned the art behind writing pop songs,” she says. “I'm still learning.”
She recently released her first long player, These Are Just Suggestions which pays homage to some of the women who have influenced her, including the aforementioned songstresses.
“I'm a huge fan of Lady Gaga,” she says. “I love Amy Winehouse, Alabama Shakes…”
She has put together a band, including guitarist Don Box, bass player Jordan Phalen and drummer Nick Deshane.
“We've been together a couple of months now. We started at the end of the winter and we've been performing and playing since then.”
And despite a fun, light-hearted image — Monaco has taken on the image of a ‘50s pin up girl and her band is dressed in black with natty red ties and high-top sneakers — she's all business when it comes to the creation and performance aspects of her music.
“Before I took it to a serious level, it was an outlet,” she says. “But now, it is an expression. I'm learning how to take the emotions and express them. I think that's what makes it so awesome.”
She derives inspiration for her songs from the world around her and lessons she's learned.
“I love the philosophy of things. The mantras, the phrases, different things that allow you to understand aspects of life.”
The album documents that feeling, she says.
“That's why (the album) is called These Are Just Suggestions. I'm always trying to understand things — get a better grip on everything. I'm learning from them. I've developed physically and mentally from these songs.”
She loves to perform and will go pretty much anywhere. Already booked to take to the stage at this fall's Niagara Wine Festival, and the Mayors Au Marche hosted by St. Catharines Mayor Walter Sendzik at 13th Street Winery on August 22, Monaco recently performed at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto accompanied by guitarist Box.
“Don and I just rocked it,” Monaco says. “It was really cool. I love these quirky shows.”
They were performing as a part of the ROM's Friday Night Live Series and by all accounts, were a hit, Monaco says.
“People were swing dancing to our music. The audience was so responsive. We jammed out to B.B. King (who had recently passed away). It was awesome.”
And she and her band are keeping busy. Besides the above mentioned big dates, Monaco has a variety of acoustic and full band shows that will keep her busy for the immediate future including gigs at such spots at Oast House Brewery in Niagara-on-the-Lake, The Old Stone Inn Boutique in Niagara Falls as well as the Merchant Ale House and the Kilt and Clover in St. Catharines, where you may just find Monaco behind the bar when she's not on stage.
As for Monaco's pinup persona it's something that happened almost by accident.
“I was just driving downtown and I saw this big aquamarine-coloured sign for Jennifer McCready and Lady Luck Pinups. It was the first time I came across the style and I just fell in love with it. I just felt right wearing it.”
She found working with McCready was a pleasure.
“We just hit it off right away.”
And when it comes to writing songs, she of course runs ideas past the band but there is one test her music must pass.
“My four-year-old niece, Nevaeh, just loves music. She knows everything. She always wants to play Don's harmonica but we said that we don't share harmonicas. We had to get her own harmonica.”
But in a more serious vein, Monaco says she knows when she's hit on something musically — it's staying power as an idea.
“If you wake up the next day and that same melody and lyric is in your head, you know you have something.”
These Are Just Suggestions will soon be available for download from iTunes while CDs can be purchased at Hairquarters in Fariview Mall as well as the HQ Group at 159 Geneva St. in St. Catharines.
For more information on Mel Monaco, visit www.melmonaco.com.

Magic Mel (August 2015) – The Sound

By Robert Saxton


Perhaps it’s unfair to open a profile on a talented local singer/songwriter with a comment about her appearance ahead of praise for her voice or some insight into her musical style or lyrical approach. At least it would be, if it were anyone other than Mel Monaco.

When Ms. Monaco strolls into a bustling coffee shop on a wonderfully sunny July afternoon to discuss her latest record, These Are Just Suggestions, she meets the gaze of those around her with a restrained but self-assured look with her breathtaking green eyes. She sits at the table, eager to chat about the EP that’s garnered so much attention, and suddenly the urge to draw some loose comparison to David Bowie’s anisocoria is nearly overwhelming. As a general rule, an artist’s looks ought not to enter into the conversation unless somehow pertinent.



For example, if one were having a conversation with say, a contortionist or even a look-alike, one could be forgiven for dwelling on the physical. In the presence of such a dynamic performer, however, it might be considered insulting, if not downright criminal, to focus solely physical attributes without even a single mention of Mel’s effortless alto vocals or her uncanny ability to captivate an entire room. Even without her band backing her up, Mel Monaco commands the attention of devoted fans and patrons alike; including those lucky enough to find themselves in the right place at the right time. Fortunately, track three from the sonically brilliant album is titled “My Eyes”, and it provides a golden opportunity to take the conversation in an ocular direction.

“Yes,” she laughed. “I’ve even been asked if they’re my real eyes.” After spending some time with the record, it’s clear that the track — one of seven on Mel’s most recent offering — has more to do with struggling to find true love and lasting affection, than with her actual eyes. Still, it’s difficult not to fixate. Geneticists can disagree all they like about the circumstances that coalesce to create rare colouring in the human iris. But when it comes to the rarity of Mel’s talent, there is simply no debate.

“I have it all visually happening,” she said. “And that is what makes a great performance.” Mel’s desire to connect with her listeners is undeniably apparent, and her considered, far off look betrays itself. “The imagery is happening in my head as I’m singing it, whether I’m the character or I’m seeing these characters as I’m singing the song. And […] that is the point that makes it a great show […] if I’m not doing that, how can I expect anyone in the audience to be feeling those same things.”

As a character in her own music, Mel’s numerous references to strength and discernment are juxtaposed against the often-painful life lessons that have afforded the 25-year-old songstress such a unique perspective. One example of the duality that inhabits the record occurs in the beautifully composed ballad “The Truth”. The piano-based song features a line in which we hear Mel state that while we “can’t run from a past/can’t escape,” we can “chose to feel and acknowledge.”

Both as a songwriter and as a young woman, Mel Monaco remains determined to transform the negative, collecting and packaging the choice gleanings as food for thought. In her remarkably catchy single “Cupid”, Mel confesses that “for a smart girl” she does “a whole lot of stupid.” When asked about that unflinching commitment to authenticity she stated, “I’m just being me, and letting it just flow out.”



As if that weren’t enough, Mel goes on to explain that she’s quite comfortable owning and exposing failures to provide rich and meaningful catharsis for her listeners. “I think I’m too young for everything to be going well,” she declared unapologetically. “Because a lot of time I think that’s what it is, it’s like you sieve yourself so much and see what comes out – like, where all the gold flakes fall, you know?”

Fortunately, the gold flakes seem to be falling anywhere Mel chooses to go these days. Her packed schedule is a testament to this fact. As a result, she has no desire to stop putting herself “through the meat grinder.”

“[I’m] happy, but that’s the funny part. It’s that constant reflection and constant reflexive attitude, I think, is what makes me happy – that constant analyzing.”

Notwithstanding, Mel conceded the process “can sometimes be very taxing.” Unwilling to play the victim however, Mel hopes that by approaching real vulnerability from a position of strength, she can inspire others to do so as well; taking chances in life and embracing failure with a win-some, learn-some attitude. In the upbeat and playful track “From The Mistakes”, Ms. Monaco admits to feeling pressured by the expectations of her critics and detractors, but she refuses to let it corrupt her purpose. She sings “maybe you’re judging me/saying I’m living too freely/but I’m living up to the potential that I could.” Of her shortcomings, she goes on to say, “I think it makes the world more picturesque.” And if the video for “Cupid” is any indication of what she means, one could hardly disagree.

With all this going for her, Mel still isn’t content. There’s more room for growth, and with plans to continue writing and recording as much as possible, we can look forward to the next phase in the steady progression of this homegrown gem.

Mel Monaco: Pin UP Girl With A Guitar (October 2015) – John Law

If singer Mel Monaco's first priority is to get noticed, she can put a check mark next to that.

As she approaches a downtown coffee shop for an interview, her flaming red hair can be spotted a block away. She has the swagger of a pin-up girl, which is only appropriate as she fires up her lap top to share photos for her fundraising calendar.

The pics match her personality: Vibrant, colourful and playfully nostalgic. In the cheeky spirit of wartime calendars from the '40s, Monaco poses in a series of themed shots related to the 12 local businesses which hopped aboard as sponsors. She's in a giant tub of popcorn for one. In another she's sipping brew for a picnic. Shot by her friend Jennifer McReady of Lady Luck Pin Ups, they'll all be unveiled at a release party/free concert at Monty's Gastropub in downtown St. Catharines Oct. 16.

"The businesses loved it, it's a different way to advertise," she says. "The images really reflect what the business is about, and it's keeping in line with my brand."

The project is meant to raise funds so Monaco can shoot the video for her song Single Again. Her original concept would have cost $45,000, she laughs. Her director found a way to do it for $4,500.

But everything about Monaco suggests she won't be pinching pennies for long. After nabbing three nominations at this year's Niagara Music Awards, her retro brand of roots rock is snagging attention beyond the region – on Friday, she and her band played the Royal Ontario Museum as part of its Friday Night Live series, her second appearance this year. Local gigs are also piling up, and her second album, These Are just Suggestions, may be one of the strongest releases of the year by a Niagara artist.

It's making her decision to choose music over teaching easier.

"Someone once came up to me and said, 'What are you going to regret more? Not pursuing a professional career in education or not pursuing your music?' I thought, I'll definitely regret not pursuing music. Because my education's always going to be there."

Born in Niagara, Monaco moved to Bracebridge when she was 10, where she spent her teen years. Instead of getting antsy with boredom, "I loved it there. It was inspiring."

She went to university at McMaster in Hamilton before returning to St. Catharines to focus on her music.

"My sisters were getting married, having babies… when I moved back here it was a conscious decision: Okay, what am I going to do? Music has always been a part of my life. I've been writing for as long as I can remember.

"I knew if I was going to do it, you've got to do it. You've got to put all of your energy and effort into it, because it's now or never. It's exhausting and amazing and I love it."

Always enamoured with the look and style of the '40s, Monaco's resembles a Gil Elvgren pin-up with a guitar on stage: "It's like anything in the industry, image is part of who you are. I'm a very visual person. It looks like a rainbow has thrown up in my apartment!"

But once past the visuals it's her sound, which she describes as Amy Winehouse meets Sheryl Crow, that registers on old school tracks like Cupid and Waiting.

"I grew up in a very musical household…my dad was a drummer and my mom a piano player and dancer, so I had everything from Zeppelin to Earth, Wind & Fire coming out of the speakers," she says.

"For me, if I like that, and it has nothing to do with that but I also like that…I'll just put the two things together. It's like eating Shepherd's Pie!"

john.law@sunmedia.ca

WHO: Mel Monaco
WHERE: Monty's Gastropub, 547 Ontario Street, St. Catharines
WHEN: Oct. 16, 9 p.m.
ADMISSION: Free, Calendars $20

Mel Monaco: "Community Comes Up Big For Local Musician” (October 2015) – Scott Rosts

ST. CATHARINES — Mel Monaco is one determined musician.

She had her mind set on producing a video for her latest single, “Single Again”, and she came through. But it wouldn’t have happened without her resiliency, more than a dozen local businesses, and a day-long photo shoot to help fund it.

The St. Catharines musician released her newest album, These Are Just Suggestions, in April. Since then, Monaco has been working hard to get the album out across Niagara and beyond, including the new music video project she started this week at the historic Smithville Train Station. Music videos don’t come cheap, so she turned to the business community. The result was a 2016 Mel Monaco pin-up calendar, featuring 12 classic pin-up images all based on the support 12 local sponsoring businesses. The calendar is being sold to help fund the video.

“Videos are such an important way to get the music out there,” said Monaco. “They really tell a story, and I think the music can resonate more with the imagery.”

Monaco tapped Jennifer McCready of Lady Luck Pin Ups in Ridgeway, and once they secured the 12 sponsors, they spent a 12-hour session of shooting images custom to the sponsors. There were wine bottles and barrels for a local winery, popcorn for a local popcorn maker, and much more, all pin-up images with a modern twist.

“Each month highlights the different sponsoring businesses and it’s an opportunity to showcase establishments in the community all while supporting the arts,” said Monaco, noting McCready brought to life her personality through the playful photos and vintage fashions. “They’re all so unique and Jennifer was amazing at pulling it together.”

“She comes to life when there’s a camera,” Deanna Spencer-Walker, who works alongside with McCready at Lady Luck Pinups, said of Monaco.

Monaco credits the Ridegeway business with that.

“I have never felt so right than when I worked with these ladies,” said Monaco. “It gives you confidence, it makes you feel beautiful. They do amazing work.”

That’s what Lady Luck Pinups is all about, said McCready.

“It’s about positivity and empowering women,” she stressed. “It really brings out the energy in people.”

From the sponsor businesses, to McCready and her team, right down to her own supports in her family, including her mother Natalya Morlacchetti, Monaco said it was a team effort that helped pave the way to the video shoot, which is happening this week.

“One couldn’t exist without the other,” she said.

Monaco, fresh off an appearance at the Niagara Wine Festival celebration, will launch the calendar at a fundraising show Friday, Oct. 16 at Monty’s Gastropub in St. Catharines. Her show, which will feature her complete band, will begin at 9 p.m. Mel Monaco and Company will play live all night and the calendars will be available for purchase.
For more on Mel Monaco and her music, visit www.melmonaco.com or https://www.facebook.com/melmonacomusic.

Mel Monaco: Crooning Calendar Girl – John Law

Mel Monaco is ready to be a calendar girl again.

A year ago, the Niagara singer released a nostalgic calendar to help fund her new music video. The images, shot in the cheeky style of ‘40s wartime pin-ups, were each themed to 12 local sponsors.

It quickly sold out, and the resulting video for Monaco’s song Single Again won a Niagara Music Award in September.

For the encore, Monaco has once again posed for 12 colourful pics to help finance her latest video, Hold Me Back. With sponsors like Hernder Estate Wines, HQ SalonSpa and the Itty Bitty Pie Company, it features Monaco in a dozen of diverse, playful images shot by friend Jennifer McCready of Lady Luck Pin Ups.

She realizes it’s a bit unorthodox, but most everything Monaco has tried since pursuing music full time has panned out.

“I’ve done a lot of musicals, I was a dancer for a long time…I’m one of those ‘Throw something against the wall, see what sticks’ kind of people,” she says. “I was always involved with every kind of activity possible at university.”

With her radiant red hair and infectious energy, Monaco seems born for the stage. While she originally pursued a career in teaching, she knew she’d regret not taking a shot at music while she was still young.

She hasn’t looked back since, releasing two acclaimed albums, racking up several Niagara Music Award nominations, and becoming one of the region’s busiest performers. She has gigs most every week, and the 2017 calendar will even include 80 gigs she has lined up next year.

It’s unveiled during a release party Nov. 20 at Club Italia in Niagara Falls, where Monaco will perform with an eight-piece band.

Despite the work involved in the calendar, the music is still what matters most to Monaco. Her past sound - heavy on twang and Amy Winehouse soul - has evolved into a funkier state. The video for Hold Me Back is drenched in the ‘70s, with roller skates, bell bottoms and Monaco’s frizzy perm.

She has no concerns about being regarded as more of a pin-up girl than singer.

“I try not to worry too much about (that),” she says. “I really enjoyed this process and creating this calendar. I enjoy it just as much as when I step on stage and when i write, because it’s all important.

“If you’re really concerned about what people are going to say, it’s a really tough business to always be focussed on that. People are always going to say something.

“It’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s definitely mine.”

jlaw@postmedia.com



WHO: Mel Monaco
WHAT: Calendar/Video Release
WHERE: Club Italia; 2525 Montrose Rd.; Niagara Falls
WHERE: Nov. 20, 3:30 p.m.
ICKETS: $30 (include calendar). www.melmonaco.com

Nothing Can Hold Magic Mel Back – Chris Illich

Mel Monaco had a dream: a dream to skate the ashphalt surface on four wheels, a dream to strap on roller-skates and glide down Santa Monica Boulevard and Venice Beach. So, as easily said as done, she did it.

“I went out to Los Angeles in April of 2016 and bought myself a pair, and began teaching myself,” she said.

But, as much as she wanted to learn how to roller-skate, she wanted to take her newfound skills and display them in her upcoming video for her new single “Hold Me Back”.

The music video, directed by Rabidog Films and produced by Backstraight Productions, will be released on Nov. 20 at Club Italia, and the event will feature Mel Monaco ‘All Brass’d Up’ with a seven-piece backing band consisting of the accompanying boys in the band and a four piece brass section.

The release event also coincides with her annual Mel Monaco 2017 Pin-Up Calendar fundraiser. Working with Lady Luck Pin Ups, HQ SalonSpa and Katelynn Nangle Designs, the calendar aims to help support the video shoot, which was shot on the outdoor roller-rink at Hamilton Waterfront Trust, featuring the Niagara Roller Girls.

“They are the most badass girls I’ve ever met in my life. They sweat their entire summer away with me, teaching me how to roller-skate. Having first received a Factor Demo Grant to record the single “Hold Me Back” in March of 2016,” said Monaco. “That was truly the start to me finding a style in my own writing.”

Working with Guillermo Subauste of Pacha Sound, and Bruce MacKinnon who is a fantastic brass musician…together, we really funked up the entire song. Naturally, it had this vintage 1970’s R&B vibe to it, so the roller-skating just fit. We just had so much fun shooting the video.”

The video premiere for ‘Hold Me Back’ and Mel Monaco’s 2017 Pin-Up Calendar takes place at Club Italia on Nov. 20. Tickets and More information can be found at facebook.com/melmonacomusic

Mel Monaco: Gets All Brass'd Up – David DeRocco

I’ve got a new perspective,” sings Mel Monaco on her brand new single, “Hold Me Back.” And if the sound of the song is any indication of what that means to her career, it’s clear this this feisty redhead is ready to kick some brass.

At least, that’s what’s in store for fans when Mel Monaco and Company hit the stage for their “All Brass’d Up” party November 20th at Club Italia, a typically amped up Mel Monaco promotional event designed to showcase both her new 2017 Pin-Up Calendar and the video for “Hold Me Back” – the likely first single off her upcoming full-length album set for release next year. No stranger to the importance of self-promotion, this hard-working Niagara singer/songwriter has turned her playful pin-up calendar into a mutually beneficial marketing program, one that generates revenue for her recording career while also supporting the local music venues that help facilitate her dreams.

“Pin-up is kind of my niche, and who doesn’t want 12 months of me” laughed Monaco. “We already have 80 shows pre-booked for 2017, and all the dates, times and locations, whether we’re playing as a duo, trio or a band, are all listed in the calendar. All the sponsors got to list their events in the month they sponsored. And each sponsor got a performance as part of their involvement.”

While some indie artists fail to recognize there’s more to a career in music than making music, Monaco understands the importance of taking an active role in the business side of her current profession.

“I’m all about being very professional,” said Monaco, who opted out of a teaching career three years ago to pursue her passions for music. “I respect the venues I play at and they respect me, and us. It’s a business. I honour everything. We show up. I get pneumonia, I show up, although I don’t think I’ve ever cancelled a show for being sick. Through thick and thin it’s a business. It’s hard but that’s the way it is. It’s music. If it was easy everyone would be doing it.”

For her part, the hard work Monaco has been putting in this past year has included a laser-sharp focus on her music, writing, recording and constant gigging with the band, from stages in Toronto to this year's Wine Festival. Their group residency at Niagara Falls’ Spyce Lounge has paid enormous dividends as well, helping them grow individually as players and collectively as a band while organically forging a new direction to their sound according to Monaco.

“We’re getting real tight. Even just my presence on stage, I can feel a comfort level I’ve never really felt before, and I think that’s coming out in the music. It’s a natural progression. I have not forced myself to gear towards this style of music. It’s a natural progression of where I’m going as an artist. For me that’s what’s so amazing out this next album. I’ve never been more honest more true about the music.”

With “Hold Me Back,” Monaco has delivered a bright, brass-infused track that bounces between classic pop and R&B. And according to the singer, the song represents a definitive statement of where she wants to be as a performer going forward.

“I think I’ve worked my whole life to get to this album, the sound that’s coming from the band right now and the influences I’ve been taking from. I think this album best represents music that I have been wanting to write my whole life. It’s all original, I’m on keys again which is something I had put aside for a long while. I’m just so excited for the world to hear this.”

While fans will have to wait until next year to purchase the new album – entitled Falling for the Third Time – tickets to the Brass’d Up Party are available now. Purchase price includes the calendar and a glimpse of the video for “Hold Me Back,” a slick production that features a retro-70s Monaco going mobile with the Niagara Roller Girls.

For details visit http://melmonaco.com/.

(*PHOTO CREDITS: Jennifer McCready of Lady Luck Pin Ups / Hair/MakeUp- HQ SalonSpa)

Monaco Gets Brass'd Up – Melinda Cheevers

Niagara This Week - St. Catharines
ST. CATHARINES — Being a calendar girl took a little bit of getting used to for Mel Monaco.

“My friends will text me at the beginning of the month, to let me know they’re turning the page on a new photo,” said Monaco with a laugh.

Last year, the St. Catharines-based singer and songwriter teamed up with Jennifer McCready of Ridgeville’s Lady Luck Pinups to put together a calendar for 2016. Monaco sought out local businesses to sponsor each month and all funds raised from the $20 calendars went towards funding a video for “Single Again”, a single off her April 2015 album These Are Just Suggestions.

“They were a big hit,” Monaco said, noting that she sold of all of the calendars. So, this year she decided to do it again with one little caveat: she increased the print run. Proceeds will once again be going towards a video, this time for a new single “Hold Me Back”.

The single is a reflection of Monaco’s evolving style. While her 2015 album had a very blues feel with lounge inspiration, her music has evolved to a more funk-infused vibe. To start, she’s added some horns.

“That will be the first thing people notice. You can’t miss the horns,” she said, calling the change a natural evolution. “It’s all part of exploring what I like and what I’m feeling.”

Monaco has been hard at work writing material and working on recording a new album, expected to be out later in 2017. She said the new material has given her the opportunity to return, a bit, to her roots. Namely, she’s seen herself going back on the keys.

“When I first started, it was just me singing and on the keys,” she said, adding that eventually she learned to play the guitar and that changed her focus for a while. Now, she’s back on the keys — this time with a full band backing her.

Fans of Monaco will have the opportunity to check out her new music at a video release party happening Sunday, Nov. 20 at Club Italia.

The video for “Hold me Back” was shot in Hamilton this summer. Just like her previous video for “Single Again”, which was shot at the Smithville train station harkened back to the 1940s and 1950s which reflected the sound of her music at the time, this new video channels the evolution of her sound. For starters, Monaco learned to rollerskate for the video and brought in some friends from the Niagara Roller Girls to participate in the shoot. They, along with the band, headed down to the Hamilton waterfront to shoot the video directed by Rabidog Films.

“It was a really fun day,” said Monaco of the shoot. “And I think that comes across in the video. Everyone had a lot of fun shooting it and the whole vibe just fits really well with the song and the sound.”

Tickets for the video release party are $30 each and includes a 2017 pin-up calendar, a drink sampler, light refreshments and a live performance by Monaco and her band.

This year’s calendar is very similar to the 2016 product, with Monaco again teaming up with McCready. Each of the pictures relate in some way to the local business that sponsored that month. In some cases, Monaco can be seen in location at the business or doing an activity that in some way corresponds with the business. In addition to featuring 12 different pin up shots, the calendar highlights all of the 2017 performance dates that Monaco has booked so far.

“Fans will be able to know where they can see me performing and when,” she said.

For those who can’t make it out to the release party, calendars will be available for purchase after Sunday.

The release party takes place at Club Italia, 2525 Montrose Rd. in Niagara Falls. Doors open at 3:30 p.m. and the show starts at 4 p.m. Tickets are available online at melmonaco.com and a limited number will be available at the door.