The Halley DeVestern Band
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The Halley DeVestern Band

New York, New York, United States | INDIE

New York, New York, United States | INDIE
Band Blues Funk


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This band hasn't logged any past gigs




by Isaac Guzmán

How does a nice Rockville Centre girl like Halley DeVestern make us believe that she's got the brains, teeth and smell of an animal? That she's got a "bloody screaming jones" and "digs a moonlit howl?"

First off, it's her voice. Weaned on the Janis Joplin records of her older siblings, DeVestern's got pipes that aren't quite as seasoned as her inspiration, but they do show a sinewy mettle akin to Joan Osborne's or Maria McKee's. And on her self-released debut album, "Sugar Free," her incisive songs about emotions run amok ("I'll Light Myself On Fire"), bogus relationships ("Tied") and dysfunctional relations ("The Family Way") show that she's learned from masters such as Patti Smith and John Hiatt how to turn a phrase.

DeVestern says her arresting vision is just the result of "having these demons inside me which are demanding to get out and make some noise." In that case, when she takes the stage at this Saturday's WBAB Blues and Brews Festival, the Brookhaven Amphitheater will be in need of an exorcism. If you can't catch that show, she'll be opening for Joan Jett at the Bridgeview Yacht Club in Island Park on July 12.

Though she still spends time at her parents' Rockville Centre home, DeVestern lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn. For the moment, she's pulled back on her acting career (perhaps you recognized her as an Alex Kelly rape victim on "America's Most Wanted"?) to get her ya-yas out behind the mic. Word is quickly spreading about her prowess, and in addition to increasing radio airplay, she's just nabbed a nomination as best national act in the Los Angeles Music Awards.

A previous day job at a music publishing company motivated her to get serious about songwriting. When she saw people making money with lame songs, she figured she could do better. And she was tired of reciting other people's words on stage and screen.

"When you just talk and rant, people think you're crazy, but when you sing about weird stuff, people go 'Wow,'" DeVestern says of her emotionally raw songwriting approach. "If it sounds angry to go to the extremes of thought, then that's what I do. I just go to the extremes of emotions and feeling." - NEWSDAY



by Robbie Woliver

Halley DeVestern is the type of rocker whose hybrid style invites many comparisons. Constantly linked to artists such as Janis Joplin and Natalie Merchant, she, unlike many other artists, does appreciate the connections critics and listeners make. "What you hear from the outside," she says, "is more real than what you hear yourself." We met last week in a small record shop in her hometown of Rockville Centre to discuss her work and explore her influences, rack by rack.

As we walk from section to section, DeVestern gives me a hands-on tour. With Janis looking down at her from the new Live at Winterland promotional poster, DeVestern begins talking about her greatest influence. "I grew up listening to Janis. My older sister played her all the time," she says. "Women just didn't have that kind of power at all. She had an incredible instrument. It was beyond raspy. She almost harmonized with herself."

Eventually we end up standing in front of a poster of her album, Sugar Free, a bluesy shout out of visceral rock tunes that drips with desire, rage and power. Unlike the manufactured fervor of Alanis Morrisette or the rootsy passion of Joan Osborne, DeVestern's classic sound spawns from a different kind of drive - one that takes no prisoners. It Natalie Merchant lost her pretension and got soused on Southern Comfort instead of herbal tea, she might be DeVestern.

"Success still seems like such a faraway thing for me," she says. "I feel grateful that people are playing my CD and enjoying my music. I try to be real in my music."

She points to Neil Young's Year of the Horse. "It's that rough sound I was trying to achieve on the CD. In the studio, I kept saying, 'Make me sound like Neil Young. Raw, pure rootsy, soulful, organic.'"

For further inspiration, the gutsy redhead in the black lace jacket looks up at a nearby CD from another no-nonsense Rockville Centre grrrl and says, "You know, Joan Jett." So ballsy that Jett's management pulled DeVestern off a potentially show-stealing opening spot on a Bridgeview Yacht Club gig this weekend.


It turns out DeVestern had a bunch of other instructions she delivered in the studio while recording Sugar Free, like, "Make it sound like the O'Jays." As we start with the R&B/Funk/Disco section, Halley laughs as she comes across a disco compilation. "At the time, I thought disco sucked," she says, "but now I appreciate a lot about it. I love the early disco bass lines and solid drumming grooves. The players were really playing. I appreciate the musicianship. Funk and R&B performers like Earth Wind and Fire, the Ohio Players, Aretha, Otis...they're fantastic."

In the country aisle, she pulls out a George Jones album. "He's lived the life," she says. "You can hear it in his voice. It hits you right in the heart." DeVestern's lived the life as well, if her music is any indication. The lyrics spew anger and determination. There are no love songs; maybe some lust songs. The album is literally about flesh and bone, and what's in between.

Still, DeVestern always seems on guard. She says she doesn't listen to music as much as she'd like, but she's well-informed, almost scholarly in some of her reflections. But, as with her music, it comes down to the gut.

As we pass through the blues section, she says, while almost caressing the classic CDs, "Now this is the real thing. It's so honest. There's no bullshit. No pretense. These guys got their guitars from the five-and-dime, and worked it to death. Bessie Smith, Robert Johnson, Mississippi John Hurt. Nothing sappy here at all."

Which brings us to the Lilith album displayed on the wall in front of us. DeVestern auditioned for the second stage of the Lilith Tour, but didn't make it. "I'll play anywhere, and I would have loved to have gotten that gig," the singer explains. "But It's not really my style."


DeVestern, whose own music ("Bring me the man who put me down, bring him close to my side, bring me the man who put me down...tied") is full of strum und drang, reveals, "I love the idea of opera. I respect opera singers. They get to the complete heights of emotion, vocally and dramatically. I strive for that ultimate emotion. I craft my lyrics to make sure they're active, and that they're going to the nth degree."

As we hit the section filled with movie scores and original Broadway cast albums, DeVestern tells me about her BFA in acting from Boston University. "It helped me learn how to perform with a band," she explains, adding that she's been "singing seriously" for the past five years, and only been writing her own material for two.

She swoons over Cabaret. "Composers like Kander and Ebb do the unexpected," she says. "They juxtapose a happy melody with frightening lyrics. Sondheim does that as well."

I remind her t - THE LONG ISLAND VOICE


by Brad Shafran

HALLEY DEVESTERN deserves to be judged on her own merit. Forget the comparisons and similarities to some of music's most influential women; Halley might one day join them, but it will certainly be on her own terms. Currently plugging away at countless gigs throughout New York City, DeVestern recently released her debut album, Sugar Free (Bagel&Rat Recording Co.). The aptly titled masterpiece contains songs of hate, revenge, and the dark side of humanity that are certainly not coated with sugar like so many of today's chart toppers...

HALLEY DEVESTERN is aware of the hardships that still await her as she plugs away on the local music scene. "I will keep being true to the stuff that pops into my head, even if it is lots of ugly thoughts," she says, as if to prove she will not compromise herself or her music. "My songs talk about revenge and the darker side of humanity," she admits before confessing, "I try and try, but can't seem to write a love song.

Forget about the love songs, Halley. Keep patiently singing the way you do now, and major success is inevitable. - MTV ONLINE


by Stu Fox

Janis Joplin exploded upon the music world like a supernova blazing on the horizon. She rocketed to fame with an electrifying performance at the Monterey Pop Festival and ascended to superstardom with the release of Big Brother and the Holding Company's Cheap Thrills album. It's been years since she passed away, yet Janis continues to rule as the queen that every talented female blues rocker is measured against.

The comparisons with Janis began for Brooklyn-based singer Halley DeVestern when she released Sugar Free in 1997. Her soulful vocals on "I'll Light Myself On Fire" plunge right into the emotional heartbeat of rocky relationships, and on "I'm Over It" she sings passionately about the gut-wrenching freedom that comes after realizing that she's reached the point of no return. The singer's vocal phrasing and the funky rhythms on "They Ain't Got the Ways" do remind me of Janis's Kosmic Blues days, but the biggest similarity between the two lies in the messages of the songs and the rockin' way they're delivered.

"It's certainly an honor to be compared to Janis Joplin because she's the female rock and roll singer's icon," says DeVestern. "She was such a great force in music, because she had such an incredible instrument. I think a lot of singers get compared to her because there really hasn't been another woman who sang with such power and such a connection to incredible emotions. She was really driven by these incredible muses, and there hasn't been anyone who's touched that in a long time. So, when reviewers and fans see somebody who has a lotta power and emotion, they get compared to Janis."

The singer's performances were limited to the metropolitan area until last fall, when she was asked to do an East Coast tour with the original members of Big Brother and the Holding Company. "It was like some kind of surreal dream at first," says DeVestern. "Here are the guys that I was listening to as a kid. These were big shoes to fill."

One high point for DeVestern was the experience of performing the showstopping "Ball and Chain" with Big Brother. "It's like your most favorite and least favorite song to do because it's so demanding," Says DeVestern. "It's such a powerful song, and I get to feel like a real rock and roll diva for ten minutes, cause that's totally what it's about. It's like you've totally got the audience in the palm of your hand."

The tour also enabled her to understand the undying devotion that people still have for Janis. "Sometimes people would come up to me in tears and say 'you brought it all back,'" recalls DeVestern. "If you think about it, a large part of the experience that those people have is fueled by their memories."

Halley DeVestern is a highly talented singer songwriter and this Friday's performance at the Common Ground is part of their continuing Women's Concert Series. The show gets under way at 8pm and will conclude in time for everyone to catch the fireworks at IC.


"Independent Songwriter"

Raw and passionate and totally mesmerizing... Yes, Halley sings a mean note, but she's more than that, and her ability to articulate such complex and dark emotions while still keeping the songs accessible is nothing short of remarkable.
- Independent Songwriter


by Art Wenzel

Janis Joplin lives? Well not exactly, but the next best thing is taking the country by storm. And, believe it or not, Auburn too.

Blues belter and guitarist Halley DeVestern is coming on like a strong comet, bringing a fresh flavor to the blues scene... The comparisons are many, but she stands alone when it comes to a delivery that is dynamic and diversified.

Halley DeVestern was selected to be featured on a MIDEM CD along with Christina Aguilera, Blink 182 and Diana Krall.

DeVestern will bring her raucous blues-induced rock 'n' roll style to Tinker's Guild in Auburn for a rare gig... She is currently on tour in support of her latest CD "Live at the Towpath Inn," the follow-up to her debut "Sugar Free."...

"It took a little getting used to, but I like it now," she said about touring. "You never know what to expect."

She has opened for John Hammond, Government Mule and Jimmy Vaughn and even toured as the lead singer of Big Brother & the Holding Company, Joplin's original band.

"It was amazing, really fun, and mind blowing," she said of that experience. "I still can't believe I did it. They are legends. It's music you listened to for years. My sister and brothers had all the records, so it's kind of in my blood. It was pretty cool."

Her career has been varied and she is not particularly looking forward to signing a major record deal.

"It isn't necessarily my goal," she said. "I just want to keep doing what I'm doing and be able to pay my bills."

DeVestern is actually a person who is varied in her tastes and likes.

"I'm really boring," she said of the activities that occupy what spare time she has when off the road. Heck, during one of our phone conversations, she actually called from her neighborhood laundromat. How cool is that? "I'm really boring. I like to do crossword puzzles. I love reading history books (currently reading 'Gotham.'). I watch a lot of television, I'm ashamed to say."

..."When the weather is right," she said about her fascination with gardening in the Big Apple, "I try to make something grow up out of the Brooklyn soil."

DeVestern has been featured in Seventeen and Billboard, reached the Top Ten Editor's Picks of last year, appeared on CBS This Morning, and has even become a favorite on Rochester radio station WCMF's Brother Wease Show.

"It's nice to get out of New York [City]," she said about touring in other parts of the United States. "Audiences are generally more appreciative. You feel a lot more love out there, and happy vibes too."


One needs only to look back to the landmark case (the People vs. Milli Vanilli) to understand that if you can't cut it live, you can't cut it period. And she cuts it like the knife fight in West Side Story. With just guitar, fiddle, and drums, the disc proves to be a thumping, bluesy ride that actually benefits from the sparseness by promoting her voice. And her voice, when mellow, reminds one of Natalie Merchant, until she gets cooking, at which point she takes the road less traveled by the former, and sings from the gut like Janis Joplin. Heck, I almost felt like taking a pull off a bottle of gin. DeVestern was also part of the Indiegrrl circuit, and when success hits, which should be soon, she'll be packing the big houses on her own. Strong, soulful stuff."
- Bill Ribas, NYRock - NYROCK


Instead of railing at the world in a high, thin keen, this lady lets loose with a big, bluesy roar. The formula might not be new... but the rootsy attack is arresting. - LISTEN.COM/RHAPSODY


Halley DeVestern is a pop pugilist. When she lashes out at her targets - lowdown men, broken relationships, timid parents - she doesn't swing wildly, she lands a shattering uppercut... One part Joan Osborne, another Natalie Merchant, with a whopping dose of Janis Joplin tossed in, DeVestern sings like a woman possessed. With the bluesy inflection of a gin-joint queen, her voice soars over this razor-sharp collection of country-tinged, organ-drenched songs. Had Maria McKee lived up to her potential, this is the record she would have made. Why Sugar Free wasn't released on a major label is anybody's guess. DeVestern's irascible manner is as radio-friendly as any Alanis Morissette or Meredith Brooks. She's no sweet little pop moppet, but her debut effort is richer than double-chocolate cake.
"Performance: A Songwriting: A Sound Quality: A
- Isaac Guzmán [giving Sugar Free an extremely rare Triple-A rating] - NEWSDAY


"With a tight rock/R&B sound and a voice that brings to mind Janis Joplin, DeVestern is a roots rocker with an attitude - a bad attitude."
- Taylor McNeil, Bostonia


-Fabbo Boffo Smasho (drop date: January 7, 2014)
-Muscle Memory
-Superhero Killer
-Live at the Towpath Inn
-Sugar Free



The Number One Blues band in New York City (per Oct/Nov 2013) The Halley DeVestern Band sounds something like Janis Joplin backed by Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Mothers of Invention with just a hint of howitzer. They always put on a sweat-in-your-eyes, epiphanic, rump-shaking live show, guaranteed.

Halley was born in Manhattan and moved around the US before settling back in New York City, where she and the band call home. Halleys voice is huge - somewhere between Janis Joplin and Aretha Franklin. She earned a BFA in acting at Boston University, and that pedigree shows in the her performances. In fact, Halley fronted Janis Joplins legendary band, Big Brother and the Holding Company, on a recent US tour and brought down the house every night.

Killer band members have earned their chops with the likes of Roger Waters, Shawn Mullins, Muddy Waters, Taj Mahal, Gatemouth Brown, Zen Tricksters, and Mickey Dolenz. Halley and the band have shared the stage with Govt Mule, Bonnie Bramlett, Jimmie Vaughan, Son Seals, Johnny Winter, Donna the Buffalo, John Hammond and Antigone Rising.

Their new album FABBO BOFFO SMASHO! drops in 2014
and the band will be doing big push with publicity, radio, and national touring, working with Bob Laul at Serious Bob Promotions in New York and Betsie Brown at Blind Raccoon in Memphis.


*Film and TV placements (CBS News, Dance Moms, The Young and the Restless)
*Top Ten on the MySpace Blues Charts (Switzerland);
*Editor's Pick at
*Chosen feature on MIDEM Compilation
*Editor's Pick at CD Baby
*Honored by the Billboard Songwriters Contest, The Australian Songwriters Contest and others
*AAA Radio adds

Reviews and praise:
"[Halley's] got the biggest pipes I've heard on a babe in a long time." - Rock and Blues legend Bonnie Bramlett...
"Keep patiently singing the way you do now, and major success is inevitable." -
"Instead of railing at the world in a high, thin keen, this lady lets loose with a big, bluesy roar...the rootsy attack is arresting." -
"Halley Devestern has a big, ballsy voice and knows how to use it. She's got the funk too!... harkens to the great Maria McKee and Lone Justice." - Ear Candy...
"Damn, that girl kicks ass!" - Holly Figueroa, founder of Indiegrrl
"Halley DeVestern: The New Janis Joplin?" - Good Times Magazine cover story
"Had Maria McKee lived up to her potential, this is the record she would have made." - Newsday
"...Extremely sexy vocals, great songwriting!" - Show Me The Music

And remember: Even if you ain't worth nothin', baby, you're still a work of art...

Peace Love and Soul...

Band Members