roni zagoria and the whole lotta man band
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roni zagoria and the whole lotta man band

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The best kept secret in music


"Infernal Racket: A compilation of Columbia acts"

“Infernal Racket” might not be the best way to describe this eclectic collection of local acts, ranging from the experimental ramblings of Kurse Go Back to the Americana of Petrillo Relents.
Released by fledgling local label Race To Rock, “Infernal Racket” brings together eight of Columbia's finest bands, as chosen by local music fan Chris Powell. It seeks to show the musical diversity of a city that has been largely overlooked on a national scale.
Here's a brief rundown of the songs:

7. So you say you like Fiona Apple and Tori Amos? Roni Zagoria and The Whole Lotta Man Band is in the vein of crooning, bluesy pop-rock. “Speak Dangerously” begins with a dynamic minor piano part, but a few steps into the trip it is joined by what many consider to be one of Columbia's best backing bands. Zagoria wraps her husky, full voice around all of it, quickly establishing the vocals as the centerpiece of this combo (it is her band after all). They are clearly a very talented group of musicians, and of all the bands on this compilation, I would venture to say that Roni Zagoria and company have the most commercial potential. -

"Roni we hardly Knew Ya"

Here they come. There they go

We just got to know Roni and the guys and already they’re leaving?
By Otis R. Taylor
Staff Writer
« Published: Friday, May 13 »

Boys II Men had it wrong: It ain’t so hard to say goodbye for Roni Zagoria.
It’s probably because she has a crew now: The Whole Lotta Man Band. And at the end of the month, Zagoria and WLMB will move to Charleston.
So long. Farewell. Goodbye.
Before leaving Columbia, Zagoria and the band will play at 9 tonight at New Brookland Tavern, and May 29 at Art Bar.
Zagoria says the move is necessary.
“Columbia’s not really the town that caters to our audience,” she said.
The band, which has been together only eight months, agrees.
“We want to open for more big touring acts,” said drummer Zach Alberto.
Guitarist John Ford added, “It definitely feels more like you’re living in a community, I think, when you’re (in Charleston).”
And bassist Jon Stone is blunt: “It’s (Charleston’s) not as much of an eyesore.”
So everybody’s on the same page with this one, but it took a bit longer for the band to find its niche. Actually, the members still haven’t found it.
“One of the reasons why we have so much trouble telling people what we sound like when they ask us is because we’re kind of figuring out what we sound like as we speak,” Ford said.
Airy and melodic, funky and fiery, Roni Zagoria and the Whole Lotta Man Band’s sound is perfect for a late-night flight or Amtrak ride. At every destination, there is hope or an easy letdown.
Zagoria swoons over delicate keys with Rachel Yamagata’s exuberance and Joss Stone’s soul. The band members fill in as if they’d been playing with Zagoria for years. But this is her first group.
“I like it,” she said.
“You better like it,” Stone said.
As a solo performer, Zagoria had become popular on the local scene and other places such as Baton Rouge, La. She was wary of playing with others.
“It was a completely different experience, and I started doing it and it started sounding more like how I ideally wanted my music to sound,” Zagoria said.
She brought music — sheet music — to practice and the band wrote around her notes. Ford said it was difficult to find a groove at first. But Alberto jumped right in.
“It wasn’t hard for me,” Alberto said. “The rhythm was kind of already laid out and I just played along.”
Someone suggested that Zagoria get a backing band if she wanted to move her career beyond Columbia. It was a good idea, but who knew she would leave so soon?
“Everything seems to be falling into place naturally,” Zagoria said.
It might not be hard for her, but it will be hard for Columbia to say goodbye to Zagoria.
Reach Taylor at (803) 771-8362 or

- Otis R Taylor

"Roni Zagoria beats out the competition for gig at 3 Rivers"

Stars on the Rise

Roni Zagoria beats out the competition for gig at 3 Rivers
By Ashley Vaughan
Published: Monday, February 3, 2003

Seven acts and 15 minutes each to play for seven judges.

Carolina Productions' Bring Your Own Band brought these seven local acts to the Russell House Ballroom on Thursday night, and the judges evaluated the performers' originality and stage presence, as well as the crowd's reaction.

"We had about 40 bands submit music back in November, and my staff selected these seven in a meeting. We judged them on originality and overall sound," said Josh Terry, chairman of Carolina Production's Concert Commission.

The Columbia-based Conner Brothers kicked off the event with some good-old Southern-style rock.

Next, backed by a keyboardist and a bongo player, the rhythmic hip-hop duo IX Two provided a change of pace with their powerful, message-packed music.

Brett Treacy, a first-year USC student, played next. He had the audience's support, but Treacy's Eddie Vedder-esque sound seemed out of place.

Columbia rock trio Tigerbot Hesh was the next act to take the stage. Despite a few minor difficulties, the band delivered a solid performance and took second place. The crowd really took to the band's songs about girls and breakups. In fact, they received an ovation.

Hip-hop artist Dan Johns followed, backed by DJ J Ruff. His flowing rhymes, commanding stage presence, and slick freestyle ability earned him third place.

Greenville's the Lackies gave a solid performance. The band's Southern roots showed through, especially in "Straw-berry Pie," which contained a tinge of country twang.

The last to perform, pianist Roni Zagoria, distinguished herself from the competition as the first place winner. She will have the opportunity to reach a bigger audience at the 3 Rivers Music Festival this spring.

"I can't even believe that that's part of the prize," Zagoria said. "I can't even fathom that."

Zagoria also won 10 hours of studio time at Modern Music Studios.

"I'm going to be getting in the studio and pumping out an album soon. That's why I'm taking a whole semester off -- so that I'll have time to do all this," she said.

With her confessional lyrics, bluesy voice and distinctive sound, Zagoria is a rising star. Zagoria, an anthropology student, was not even going to enter the contest until her friend Megan Treacy, a WUSC DJ, offered to submit her CD for her.

Zagoria didn't start performing until this past summer, and she says she suffers from stage fright. During Thursday's performance, however, she didn't seem nervous at all.

"I got a little loophole going on. As long as I can have a few beers or so before I get on stage, I'm golden," Zagoria said.

In fact, Zagoria seemed right at home on stage.

"I think that crowd interaction is really key, because if the crowd feels personal with you, if you make it more of an intimate setting, then they're going to get into it a lot more because they feel like they have some sort of a connection," she said.

She talked about the music scene and the current piano-girl trend.

"I'm not into the pop thing," she said. "I'm not into the 'American Idol' crap." Those forms of music aren't creative, she said.

"I just get up there and rock it out," Zagoria said. "I'm not doing this because it's a trend. That's the last thing I want people to think."

She makes light of the fact that she's had little training yet can create coherent songs.

"I'm not professionally trained. I took three months of lessons in third grade, and I don't really know how to read very well. I kind of just play everything by ear," Zagoria said. "I just play all the time. ... I'm not a prodigy, but I think that I have an innate talent. I was definitely born with it."

Zagoria is aiming high.

"I want to do this for a living," Zagoria said. "Make lots of money off of it. I don't want to be a pop star. I don't want to be on MTV or anything like that, but I do want to be known. Respected, not idolized."

"I could do this for the rest of my life," she said. "I really could."

- The Gamecock (USC)


2004 - 4 song sampler (2 studio demo tracks/2 live tracks)


Feeling a bit camera shy


Roni grew up writing music in Marietta, GA. She then attended USC and began to make a name for herself. In 2002, Roni recorded her first solo demo, Handy Rhyme, and since she has opened for acts such as Derek Trucks, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Dr. John, Lake Trout, Moe, Perpetual Groove, and many more. Roni was doing well playing solo, but she was looking for a band.
Zach and the Sheriff grew up playing music together on Hilton Head Island. Roni met Zach drinking at a local bar, and learned of his music endeavors. She went and saw Zach and The Sheriff's other band, The Fastest Steed on Earth, and realized it would work. John Ford also saw The Steed play a number of times and asked Zach if he'd be interested in working on one of his projects, and soon enough Ford was corralled into the Man Band.
Since Roni had already written about 15 songs solo, there was a huge buzz about Roni finally having a band. We added a handful of covers and within two weeks we were already playing out to very large crowds.
Our influences range from Clapton to John McLaughlin and Mahavishnu to Stereolab to Tool, so our sound is very diverse. When we 'jam' it doesn't sound like any jam band, but it still makes you dance. We do everything solely for the music and we all listen very well so we can play exactly what we need to whenever we need to.
To date, we've played most venues in Columbia, SC (including The Art Bar, Minglewood, New Brookland Tavern, Headliners, Mellow Mushroom, Locals, Senate Park (closed), and a few others), we've played Baton Rouge, and Roni played some dates in Mississippi and New Orleans as well when she was still flying solo.

Some of the acts we've opened for include: The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Lake Trout, Dr. John, Derek Trucks, Perpetual Groove, and The Zen Tricksters.