Raw Sugar
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Raw Sugar

Band Jazz Singer/Songwriter


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"Downtown Orono's Verve hosts musicians, writers"

By Mario Moretto
Posted on Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

When Verve opened its two locations about two months ago — one at the Collins Center for the Arts and one in downtown Orono — its relationship with creative expression was clear: The CCA venue would serve patrons of the arts at music, theater and other performances throughout the year.

But now, the door has been opened for customers at the downtown location to enjoy the arts while they sip coffee and mow down on pastries. On Sunday, a variety of local musicians and writers performed at Verve during special night hours, beginning at 7 p.m. — the store usually closes at 4 p.m. Roughly 50 people attended.

Anya Rose, a graduate student in ecology and environmental science, was one of the performers. She also was crucial in bringing live music and art to Verve.

“It seemed like something that was bound to happen,” Rose said. “I just asked if we could play and they said ‘sure.’”

“Anya comes in pretty often to Verve during the day to hang out, do work, relax,” said Abe Furth, co-owner of Verve with his wife Heather.

“When we first opened, she mentioned it to us, and we were really excited about the idea. I was really super pleased with how it came out, you know? I couldn’t be happier with the performance itself and I thought it was a lot of talented people.”

The performers included Rose, who performed with guitarist Craig Lodis; writers Adam Crowley, assistant professor of English at Husson University; Alison Fraser, Megan London; and University of Maine alumnus Clinton Spaulding.

“There’s a lot of really interesting and talented people in town that the university draws here, and it’s nice to have a place to see that, to share it,” Abe said.

Heather and Abe plan on having more performance nights at Verve in the near future.

“We probably wouldn’t start it over winter break just because the crowd wouldn’t be around,” Heather said. “But certainly the beginning of next semester and maybe one prior to break or something like that.”

Abe has been talking to a student at the New England School of Communications about doing an acoustic night. Ideas are in the works to connect with the English department to explore the idea of doing readings. When all is said and done, Verve’s owners would like to be able to host performances during special night hours every Sunday.

That idea suits Rose just fine. “It was exactly what I wanted it to be,” she said. - Maine Campus News

"UMaine Artist Profile"

By Kaley Roberts
Posted on Thursday, February 5th, 2000

Artists can spend months or even years putting together an album. University of Maine graduate student Anya Rose has only 28 days. Anya is one of more than 1,600 musicians taking part in the 2009 RPM Challenge. The task, found at rpmchallenge.com, is a simple yet daunting one – record 10 songs or 35 minutes of original, previously unheard music during the month of February.

Anya – an ecology and environmental studies student – recalls composing ditties in her head for as long as she can remember.

“It wasn’t until more recently that I started actually writing things down,” she said. In her songs her voice is sometimes jazzy and soulful, other times light and brimming with cheer. It’s evident through her music that she does not take herself too seriously, and her carefree spirit gives her original songs an offbeat, Regina Spektor feel.

While it’s clear Anya has a passion for writing and performing music, her list of interests doesn’t stop there.

To observers, Anya may not look like a composer of bubbly, quirky jazz songs. With a large scarf twisted around her neck and her dark hair pulled back in two low-maintenance French braids, she looks ready to trek through unexplored backwoods. After years of teaching outdoor education and wilderness survival courses and traveling across the globe, Anya has learned to embrace a self-reliant, nonmaterialistic way of life.

One of her global adventures took Anya to Costa Rica, where she helped a scientist study shrimp. During the trip, Anya had the chance to teach music to children from a small village, an event she spoke of fondly.

“It was me teaching about 10 or 12 kids of varying ages . I was trying to make it an English-slash-music class where I would teach them songs in English and then we would sing them, and we’d come up with different motions for parts of the songs and they would remember them. They ended up teaching me a lot of Spanish, too.”

Back at UMaine, Anya shifted her focus to classes and her RPM entry. This is her second year taking part in the challenge, and one of the things she enjoyed most the first time around was the fact that “you’re writing songs, you’re sitting in your room by yourself probably, but you know that other people all over the country are doing the exact same thing.”

“At the Dump,” a track from her 2007 album, was featured on National Public Radio.

Currently Anya writes and performs all her music and vocals, but she is always looking to expand her act.

“I want to find other people to play with. I could use a bassist and maybe a drummer,” she said. The jazz-singing, guitar-strumming soloist also hopes for a bigger stage in the future. “I hope [to play] more in the area.”

When not studying, teaching, playing music or trekking across the globe, Anya channels her creativity into filmmaking. Her 2001 animated short film “Hamlet,” a children’s version of the Shakespeare tragedy, has been shown internationally at film festivals such as the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival and the Toronto Images Festival. Her most recent project, “Tracking the Tracker,” is a documentary following two groups of animal trackers as they test their skills. “I’m thinking that I might want to start up my own film company and do films pertaining to environmental awareness and environmental justice,” she said.

For the next 23 days, at least, the multitalented Anya plans on focusing solely on her music. - Maine Campus News

"Caleb Riley Funk Orchestra"

Fort Collins, CO—The eclectic mix of musical education behind the Caleb Riley Funk Orchestra is simply astounding. The band’s six members have spent lifetimes learning and perfecting their crafts—all the while dedicated to the goal of creating a unique and powerful sound.

“We apply jazz form and theory to every style of music imaginable,” says Caleb Riley, “from funk to Latin to rock to metal.” Riley, the classically trained front man and bassist for CRFO, starting building on his understanding of music theory at a young age, hopping from viola to guitar to bass—the instrument that would capture his heart and catapult his career. But to satisfy Riley’s love for jazz, funk, Latin and soul, he needed more musicians to play the songs he was composing around his heavy, groove-oriented bass lines.

The first step in assembling Riley’s concerto was the addition of Craig Lodis on guitar, a jazz musician trained under Fareed Haque of Garaj Mahal. Next came the horn section, with Greta Cornett on trumpet, Dave Clapsaddle on saxophone, members of local superstar band 12 Cents for Marvin who have shared stages with the likes of The Skatalites, Ozomatli, Buckethead and Fishbone.Next was Louisiana drummer Dave Nezat, whose Cajun-inspired beats became the heartbeat of the unstoppable dance machine that is CRFO. The last piece of the puzzle was Chris Nicholas. A formidable player with a doctorate in classical trombone.

This gumbo of experience and influence informs the musical arrangements written by Riley, whose ambitious energy seeps into his composing, playing and singing. “We want to cross genres, but also redefine them,” he says, revealing the heart of a musician always challenging himself to break new, uncharted ground. The success of this recipe is evident on the band’s first album, Fat Lip, which could make a dead man dance with its outrageous energy and soul.

Amongst all this genre jumping and cross-pollinating, one thing remains constant in the Caleb Riley Funk Orchestra—the unmistakable, dance-friendly groove. From the mouth of the composer himself—“In this band, the groove drops HARD.” - Jambase.com

"Caleb Riley Funk Orchestra makes everything a standard"

By Margaret Hair Friday, November 16, 2007

Steamboat Springs — Dave Nezat, drummer for the Caleb Riley Funk Orchestra, is understandably excited.

After playing a late-night show with DJ Logic - who tours with Widespread Panic and has collaborated with The Roots, Christian McBride, Medeski, Martin & Wood, Mos Def, Ben Harper and John Mayer - Nezat's group was asked to play dates as the DJ's backing band this winter.

This development in the band's relatively new career - led by Caleb Riley, a relatively young, jazz-heavy arranger - says something about the septet's ability to do something a lot of other funk/jazz/groove peddlers are doing, and do it better.

When the band plays Saturday at Mahogany Ridge Brewery and Grill, it'll bring a mostly instrumental set of standards that have been put through a jazz filter.

Nezat talked with 4 Points about the group's decades of combined music education and performing experience, and Riley's knack for arranging and putting a jazz structure on anything, even Ozzy.

4 POINTS: Using your MySpace page as a research tool, under "influences" you've got Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Charles Mingus:

DAVE NEZAT: We pretty much take any form of music, any style of music, from metal to funk or anything, and we apply jazz to it. We even have, like, metal tunes that we do but completely with horn sections. It's pretty interesting.

4 POINTS: What kinds of metal tunes do you arrange with horns?

DN: We do a Black Sabbath tune, "Iron Man," you know (sings the melody).

4 POINTS: Oh, OK. So where does this come from, applying jazz to everything you play?

DN: The majority of people in the band are jazz players. Our trombone player, Chris Nicholas, has a doctorate in music, and is a professor of music at the University of Wyoming.

Coming from that kind of schooling, you're actually able to do that.

4 POINTS: You mentioned the first time we talked that you guys are setting up a tour with DJ Logic. How did that come together?

DN: We played with DJ Logic in October at a Widespread Panic after-party until 5 in the morning.

When you talk about the jazz world, DJs aren't very popular in that world. And this guy is world-renowned, he's considered a jazz player.

He scratches, makes his own beats. He's also a drummer, and has worked with ?uestlove and recorded with John Mayer.

He normally travels with Widespread Panic, so to be his band, it really kicks it up about three notches for us.

4 POINTS: Anything in particular to look forward to for the show Saturday?

DN: We're actually breaking out a completely new set. We do a bunch of really cool tunes - "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy," that's one of the jazz standards we do.

4 POINTS: Oh, that's a good one.

DN: We might do it as a ska tune one night. And then Caleb Riley - he's 23, and I'm 42, and he's one of the most phenomenal bass players I've ever played with. He's like the next Victor Wooten.

He does all the horn arrangements. He's an alien, man. He's just not even from this Earth.

http://www.steamboatpilot.com/news/2007/nov/16/caleb_riley_funk_orchestra_makes_everything_standa/ - Steamboat Today


"The Sweet and Lowdown:" (Lodis, Rose, Stern, and Spaulding) 2010.
"Phases of the Moon:" (Rose), 2009.
"Laundry Day": (Rose), 2007.
"Waffleberry": (Stern)
"Fat Lip" (Lodis with the Caleb Riley Funk Orchestra).

Songs with radio play:

-Anya has been played on NPR's "The Front Porch" and on Portsmouth's WSCA.
-Craig has been played on KRFC in Fort Collins, Colorado, for "Live at Lunch."
-Adam has been played on University of Wisconsin radio.



Having recently recorded a roughcut album, Raw Sugar is now in the process of setting up a kickstarter account to fund a full EP. We consist of 3 graduate students from the University of Maine: singer Anya Rose, guitarist Craig Lodis, and drummer Adam Stern.

Anya Rose had a short engagement as a music major at Bard College, where she studied classical piano, music theory, and ear training, and took voice lessons from Metropolitan Opera singers. When she realized she wasn't so crazy about opera, she began to focus more on her first loves: jazz and folk. Anya grew up in Philadelphia, where she sang songs to keep the crazies away, and listened to Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin, Benny Goodman, and Tom Lehrer. Her experience as a Biology Teacher has given her a lot of practice performing in front of a crowd.

Craig Lodis had a brief stint as a Jazz Performance major in Iowa, and studied under guitarist, Fareed Haque. He later formed a jam band in Colorado, with a 3-piece horn section, called the Caleb Riley Funk Orchestra. They played regularly throughout Colorado and Wyoming and shared the stage with Little Feat, John Medeski, Chris Wood, Bruce Hornsby, DJ Logic, and Devin Allman and Honey Tribe. Craig got his first guitar in 6th grade.

Adam Stern was a member of "Linear Regression" in highschool, a hip hop/rock band from suburban Minnesota. He later toured for 6 months in Wisconsin with his band, "Waffleberry." Some of Adam's influences are Arcade Fire, Radiohead, and Neutral Milk Hotel.

The members of "Raw Sugar" converged in grad school at the University of Maine, where they study: Ecology and Environmental Science, Clinical Psychology, and Natural Resource Economics, respectively.