Valerie Orth
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Valerie Orth

Brooklyn, New York, United States

Brooklyn, New York, United States
Rock Ska




"Shawn Colvin/ Valerie Orth at Sacramento City College Performing Arts Center | Sacramento, California | 1/27/2013 (Concert Review)"

This show had an interesting… well, rocky start. Doors were scheduled to be opened at 6:30, and I was running late, having been stuck in traffic, and arrived at about 7:00. I was surprised that there was a huge line of concert attendees standing outside.

Long story short, there was an issue with the originally intended sound technician for the promoter/venue being unavailable, which caused significant delay in dialing in the sound for the artists and allowing them to conduct their pre-show sound checks. Ultimately, concertgoers were not admitted entrance into the venue until about 8:00… which left everyone waiting outside in 40 degree weather for upwards of an hour and a half.
In spite of this, once inside, the venue appeared nearly full, so it looked like most of the fans waited out the uncertainty, and were ultimately awarded with fantastic performances by both artists.

Once inside, little time was wasted and things progressed along quite smoothly. And in spite of the delays being due to sound-related issues, the sound was phenomenal – great clarity and dynamics, excellent volume level, really well done.

The auditorium at Sacramento City College was recently renovated and modernized, and they did a wonderful job. It’s a really nice-sized venue with a large and wide stage and three floor sections of seats that rise slightly as you go front to back, and two single-rows on each side that are elevated. Capacity is 612. You can learn more about the venue on the Los Rios site.

Opening for Shawn Colvin was Valerie Orth, a fellow singer-songwriter who delivers a unique mix of musical styles that are once, collectively, quite contemporary but timeless in that she draws on folk, indie-rock, and soul. She is definitely one of the most impressive supporting acts I’ve seen in some time, and is one of those artists who have the ability to going from being an unknown to you and turning you into a fan.
While her studio work features a full band, and she tours with them as well, tonight it was just her, the microphone, and her two guitars.

I’ve always felt the singer-songwriters to be the most brave of musical artists, in that when they perform alone on stage, usually performing songs that actually mean something (more on that later), they are not only in many ways baring their soul, but their vocals and overall performance is really “out there” to succeed of fail on its own merits… with nothing to have behind.

In addition to all of this, Valerie opened with an a capella song, in a completely silent auditorium, filled with people who were already, as explained, a bit bent out of shape having waited outside for quite some time.

It was immediate to me that Valerie has a very disarming and warm personality – a mix of confidence and a celebratory sort of fun. By the time she picked up her guitar and went into her music, she’d quickly won the crowd over.

One thing that I really liked about her (in addition to her awesome music) is that she would talk about each song a little before going into them… and shared with the audience what the songs are about. Which is refreshing, because a lot of music today isn’t intended by the artist to actually be about much of anything.

As noted, her music is a bit of a mix of a variety of genres that all really works well. In addition, and just as importantly, she has an amazing voice. While I was listening to her during her set, and felt I heard some things in her voice that reminded me of other artists, but I just couldn’t quite place it during the show.

I did have an opportunity to meet her in-between sets, and picked up her latest EP, Life on the Moon, and her LP, Faraway City (both available via her online store), and had a chance to give them a full listen on the way home, and figured out these impulsive connections that I just couldn’t quite place at the time…

I think, vocally, she has in part a quality that reminded me a bit of Natalie Merchant… just in flourishes – that bit of a flutter at times, like there is such power in her voice it can’t be fully controlled, if that makes any sense.

The other artist that she reminds me of (the studio work more than the live performance) is Amanda Ghost (who I love), both in her vocal range and tone as well as delivery in some songs.

For me mentioning these other two artists is intended as a huge compliment.

In any event, I really enjoyed her performance and would definitely go out of my way to see her live again. I’d really recommend checking out her work, and the easiest way to do that is via her YouTube channel, and a good example of her work is the official “Blinding” music video at

Shawn Colvin
Shawn Colvin is a Grammy-winning singer-songwriter from South Dakota best known for her 1997 song, “Sunny Came Home”. She has a long history with music, going back to her childhood, which was spent in London, Ontario, and Illinois.

Her start w - Rock Subculture

"The Night is Young"

Valerie Orth, singer-songwriter of the independent folk-rock persuasion, makes her way here from San Francisco for a Friday-night performance. It's been a year and a half since her last visit here, so I zipped over to and for a refresher.

Upon listening to ''Better than Reality,'' I remembered why I wrote in 2008 that she has an unmistakable bite to her voice. ''I'm calling 'cause you make it sound so pretty when you tell me that I'm just fine. Please tell me I'll be fine,'' she pleads with hopeful desperation against a whirl of guitars, bass, drums and organ. Orth's first album, ''This at Last,'' came out in 2007, followed by a 2008 EP.

Her next full-length CD is either just out or on the precipice of release.

Either way, I expect Orth and her band will hit us with a bunch of songs from it and, based on the three tracks she's posted online, it should be a stellar show. Count me in. - Press Herald

"Concert for Clean Clothes"

It's not everyday when you can see an act from California in Maine, especially so close to home. This past Friday night, there was no reason to go to Portland or some other big city - the action was right here in Orono.

As a graduate of Tufts University in Massachusetts, the Valerie Orth Band's front woman Valerie Orth is no stranger to the East Coast and her band has been touring here for the past two weeks. Orth and her bandmates made the journey to Orono and Portland to wrap up their tour.

...From the first note to the last, they played a solid set with a great sound that kept the music fresh - you could tell the band played with their hearts.

One of the highlights of the night was when Orth left her post up front and sat down at the drum kit. She joked that she is really a drummer, and I wouldn't doubt her, as she impressed the crowd with her drumming prowess. Not to be forgotten, their presence and music helped convey the major topic of the night - the fight against sweatshops.

Orth is no stranger to the subject. For the past four years, she's been working with Global Exchange as its Sweatfree Campaigns Organizer. Before Global Exchange, Orth represented industrial laundry workers in California affiliated with UNITE Local 75 (Union of Needletrades, Industrial, and Textile Employees). She was also a grassroots organizer with Green Corps, the field school for environmental organizing where she worked on legislative and corporate campaigns nationwide.

Many people have a big ego towards activism, but in speaking with Orth after the show, she just stands up for what she believes in. "My music is my music, and it is what it is," she said.

And while some of her music reflects her activist attitude towards events in the country - their song "Movers and Shakers" is about changing political opinions and how it takes everyone to help to do so - not all of her music has to do with political affairs. She simply sings and plays what she believes in.

If you missed the performance of the Valerie Orth Band in Orono, they're returning to California next week. You can still check out their website at - The Maine Edge

"Feature Valerie Orth: MakeAStar Music Video Winner"

Can you tell me a little about your history?

Born and raised in New Jersey, I believe I started singing as soon as I could talk. I was in my first theater production when I was 4, and performed in musical theater until I was 20. Then I finally started sitting in with bands as a vocalist, later picked up guitar and started writing my own original songs. I also spent time studying drumming and dance in Ghana, and singing in an African diaspora a capella choir at Tufts University.

I wanted to play guitar so I didn't have to depend on anyone else to perform my songs. Still, I wanted a band to fully represent my music, so I started forming bands in 2005. I met my match in 2009: Romani (ethnic Gypsy) bass player Veronika Safarova from the Czech Republic, who you see in the "Relinquish" video, and who recorded on all of our singles after my full length album, "Faraway City" (produced by Tori Amos's bass player, Jon Evans).

There was a moment in my life where music wasn't entirely the center focus - I was a grassroots campaigner for various human rights non-profits and unions for years, working for social and economic justice. Now I try to tie that activism into my music, when possible.

What style of music are you?

Rock with a unique blend of groove, edgy folk, soul and even some reggae. It's righteous, honest,

And genre-bending.

Who influenced you?

I've been influenced by artists as diverse as Ani difranco, Bjork, Zap Mama, Meshell Ndegeocello, Portishead, Jeff Buckley, Bebe, Matisyahu, Manu Chao, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Foo Fighters, and Radiohead.

Where can people find out more about you?

After almost 2 years spent conceptualizing and building it, we're just about to launch our new website - www.Valerieorth.Com - check it out! It has links to all of our social networking sites, including Facebook, Twitter, Bandcamp, etc.

Why did you enter Make A Star?

Our fearless music video director, Jason Mongue, won the Make A Star contest last year with him music video for Shovelman. It was his suggestions to enter into Make A Star.

Has it opened up any new opportunities for you?

Besides this magazine article, the Make A Star contest allowed a lot more people to watch our video. We also made a video for my song "Blinding," which we hope to enter in the near future. We hope for more opportunities soon!

What are your thoughts on the music industry at the moment?

Anyone can be in the game, which makes it an indie musician's market, but it also means there are a lot more artists and music to sift through. So, it's not any easier to "make it" than it's been in the past. It's just different, and challenges, strategies and techniques change constantly.

What would you say to anyone looking to enter Make A Star?

Do it! It's free to enter and it's another way to engage your fans. And once you do enter, make sure you constantly (and tactfully) remind your fans to vote.

What is your biggest ambition?

I want to share my music worldwide by having regular, successful international tours with my band -and have a team of people to book, manage and promote. Veronika and I have done all the booking, promoting and managing ourselves and it can be overwhelming - I'm sure I'll always do that type of work for the band but I want to focus more time on the music, songwriting and performing, connecting with my fans in person.

I also want to add that, viewing music as a healing power unlike any other, I play often at juvenile halls, homeless shelters, drug rehabilitation centers, and high schools for "at risk" youth. The rewards go both ways - one teenage girls in a juvenile hall, said after one of my performances: “I will remember this the rest of my life.” - Amaze Magazine

"Essentials - New Parish Gig Preview"

Valerie Orth

Tonight @ New Parish: San Francisco singer-songwriter Valerie Orth blends rock and soul with a penchant for Ani DiFranco. Her second full-length, "Faraway City," features Julie Wolf on piano and organ, Scott Amendola on drums and Jon Evans on bass and electric guitar. Tonight's CD release is also a donation drive for BOSS (Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency), so bring canned food or other goods. With Finding Stella and Alexis Harte. 9 p.m., $10-$12, 18+. 579 18th St., Oakland. (M.B.V.D.)

- San Francisco Chronicle

"Off The Record - New Parish Gig Preview"

I have been a fan of Valerie Orth for years, and her latest CD Faraway City is in constant rotation on my CD player. She has catapulted herself to the likes of major artists such as Tori Amos and Ani DiFranco.

There is an honesty to Valerie's music that is both brilliant and heartbreaking.
Her CD isn't available yet but you can grab a copy at the show.
- San Francisco Chronicle

"For Valerie Orth, The Music Is The Message"

For Valerie Orth, the Music Is the Message
How activist burnout fueled a young singer-songwriter.
By Rachel Swan

Valerie Orth's cell phone isn't working. Her apartment is cold. She has no central heating, and the large windows make the rooms feel drafty. Orth paces the floor in hiking boots and a long knit scarf. She piles blankets on the sofa and stocks the cupboards with Throat Coat medicinal tea. Even in such conditions, she remains relatively sanguine.

"If I were going to be sponsored by a company, it would be Throat Coat," the singer said, setting her kettle to boil on a recent Wednesday afternoon. She smiled facetiously, brown eyes twinkling.

Despite her humble living conditions, Orth has a lot to be happy about these days. Five years since leaving an activist job with Global Exchange, she's become a successful folk singer, clocking two full-length albums. Her current one, Faraway City, took a year and half to make, and the effort shows. Orth plays guitar and sings multi-part harmonies over tracks provided by a seven-piece band. Her personnel include pianist Julie Wolf of Ani Difranco fame, and free-jazz titan Scott Amendola, playing the part of a rock drummer. For a fledgling singer with a completely intuitive composition style, it's a remarkable piece of work.

Orth might say it's a little disingenuous to characterize her as "intuitive." She did, after all, grow up singing in musical theater productions, and went on to join an African diaspora choir at Tufts University. Citing influences that mostly stem from feminist folk and world music — Tracy Chapman, Ani DiFranco, Zap Mama, Indigo Girls, Tori Amos, Meshell Ndegeocello — Orth says she was probably singing before she could talk. But her background is mainly in activism. She campaigned for a women's studies department at Tufts, organized singer-songwriter benefits, and attended rallies for fair trade and environmental justice. After graduating, Orth took a job with Green Core, then moved to San Francisco and became a labor organizer for Global Exchange. She challenged corporate behemoths like Proctor & Gamble, joined the fight for fair-trade coffee, and traveled to China to consolidate worker support. She led the effort to pass San Francisco's anti-sweatshop law in 2005.

Then she got burnt out. "With the sweatshop law I worked a couple years to pass it, then three years on the advisory board with the city, trying to implement it," she said. "It was moving so slow that I thought, 'There has to be a better way to have an impact.'"

Music didn't offer a lot of concrete rewards, at first. Orth recorded her first album over a period of four months with no budget, no management, and no business plan. Most of it happened over two weeks, when she and her engineer cloistered themselves inside a lake house in Minnesota. Orth played guitar and sang several original tunes, mixed the demo, and put it on CD. It's pure, shoestring-budget folk with almost no adornments. "A really interesting experience," she said. "Not something I would do again."

Faraway City is Orth's real debut, in that it includes a five-piece studio band, twelve fully fleshed-out tunes, and multilayered vocal harmonies — mostly Orth singing multiple tracks, except for "The Ones I Owe" and "Toolbox," which feature background singers. Aesthetically speaking, it's very much in the Ani DiFranco vein of folk. Orth has the same glottal intonation and staccato guitar style as DiFranco. Her choruses soar and her politics prickle through, even when the lyrics center on relationships.

That said, Orth has a different stage persona than many of her forbears. She may approach her causes with missionary zeal, but her natural demeanor is pretty demure. She lives with roommates in a big apartment on the lip of the Castro, drinks tea, and wears chunky jewelry. She describes her whole artistic philosophy in platitudes. Even her lyrics veer from the particular to the general (It takes a village to send a message/It takes all of us to make a difference, she coos in "Movers & Shakers"). In interviews, she talks about not wanting to be put in a box.

"Tracy Chapman — she's been able to have a strong political message that still is able to reach a mainstream audience," she said. "Ani DiFranco ... I think that because her stance was so strong and in-your-face, people were resistant to her when she was big in the late-Nineties."

Having an understated personality can be a great asset, especially in the singer-songwriter world. Orth can sing about protest movements without risk of becoming a protest singer per se. She gets to play at Burning Man and decorate her apartment with Ghanaian folk art, and not be a hippie. She's not worried about alienating her audience. And, best of all, she's a musician first and foremost. Orth starts most of her songs on guitar and then has producer Jon Evans help with the editing. She wrote "Movers and Shakers" from the drum's perspective.

Faraway City st - East Bay Express

"Faraway City CD Release Preview"

Valerie Orth is a sexy, soulful singer-songwriter whom I've been lucky enough to catch for truly memorable sets ranging from a powerful performance at Cafe du Nord to an intimate acoustic session rolling across the playa in an art car with a konked out generator at Burning Man last year. Now the SF artist has just come out with a new album, Faraway City, that beautifully captures a voice and style that is reminiscent of Ani DiFranco or Björk, two of her key influences. The album, filled with catchy original songs developed over the last two years, was produced by Jon Evans, another local who plays bass for Tori Amos and helped record music for the likes of Tom Waits, Third Eye Blind, and Boz Scaggs. Stop by this CD release party and see what I mean." (Steven T. Jones) - San Francisco Bay Guardian

"Faraway City CD Review"

Valerie Orth, Faraway City. Multi-octave range and nimble, yowling vocals aren't the only things that Valerie Orth has going for her. She's also buttressed by one of the best bands in the Bay Area, with Scott Amendola on drums and Jon Evans playing bass, electric guitar, Rhodes, and a little piano. Local emcee Mystic makes a dramatic cameo on "Black & White." But that's nothing compared to the call-and-response breakdown on 'Waterfall.'" (Rachel Swan) - East Bay Express

"Songwriters Showcase featuring Women Who Rock"

Yoshi’s is the Bay Area’s ultimate destination for jazz, featuring touring and local acts on its intimate stage. But with the help of Bay Vibes and SonicZen Records, Yoshi’s is becoming a destination for singer/songwriters as well....

I was excited to see Bonnie Hayes in action, as she is a Bay Area veteran and teaches songwriting at the Blue Bear School of Music. Valerie Orth kicked it up a notch with a sultry performance and really cool interplay between her guitar stylings and those of bassist Veronika Safarova. Women like Safarova are exactly why I’m learning to play the bass. (Jamie Freedman, SF Music Examiner). - San Francisco Examiner

"Concert for Clean Clothes (Up Your Culture)"

Valerie Orth and her band are making their first appearance in the greater Bangor area soon, and you don't want to miss it. The San Francisco-based trio is rocking venues and traveling the country as you read, waiting to serve up a hot set of folk-tinged rock here on Friday, September 28th.

Aside from instruments and their loyal fanbase, Orth and company will be bringing their powerful message of life, love and... the fight against sweatshops? That's right. Ms. Orth has deep roots in the anti-sweatshop movement and has worked with local and international organizations like Global Exchange and SweatFree Communities for years. She is proud to be collaborating with co-sponsors SweatFree Communities, Maine Peace Action Committee, Progressive Student Alliance, and Bangor Clean Clothes Campaign to bring the show to our area.
- Brent Hall

"Valerie Orth: CD Release at Cafe Du Nord"

Music Picks
Known as much for her stage presence as for her hard-hitting lyrics, San Francisco singer/songwriter Valerie Orth is sure to captivate the crowd at the release party for her debut album, This At Last (VLO Music). She'll share the stage with exceptional guitarist and singer-songwriter Kate Isenberg and Charles Gonzalez, whose alternative indie pop has been called two parts Robert Pollard, one part Neil Young, and the rest pure Pink Floyd. But the highlight of the night will undoubtedly be the soulful, genuine, edgy Orth as she performs with her band.... - San Francisco Bay Guardian

"Things you wish you hadn't told your lover"

By Chris Thompson
All around the bar, the talk grew silent as Valerie Orth's voice took control of the room. The rowdy drunks put down their glasses, and the hipster sneers were silenced. For twenty minutes, nothing stood between the crowd and Orth's vulnerability. She owned these people like she owns her own heartbreak and honesty. When you hear Valerie Orth, you hear the things you wish you hadn't told your lover, and the things you resolve to tell him or her when you get home.

- East Bay Express

"Not to be missed"

By Bernadette Bohan
With lyrical depth, rhythmic sway and a compelling stage presence, V-lo (Valerie Orth) captures, enraptures and ensnares you in her soulfully crafted and danceable music. Playing with a simple set-up of drums, guitar and upright bass, V-lo commands the stage, audience and all those who happen upon her music. Off-stage, Orth matches her musical capacity with a passion for activism and community involvement- she is an act that cannot be followed nor missed! - WomenRock

"On a scale of 0-10, Valerie is at least 11!"

...Another great performance was Valerie Orth, who performed on Friday at Grape Street Philadelphia. On a scale from 0 to 10 her stage presence was at least 11! She introduced herself as well as each of the songs. She made comments about the songs and what had inspired her to write particular pieces. --- She told a few anecdotes about herself, made comments about the room and the audience, and just had a very good rapport. - Bob Seabury, Live Music Critic, Philadelphia

"Hot List"

"Valerie Orth Band - You might dance or you might cry when soulful, skilled Orth takes the stage at her band's EP release party, showcasing her signature guitar-driven, emotion-laden rock sound." (Chosen for SFBG's HOT LIST for Saturday, September 27, 2008) - San Francisco Bay Guardian

"Review: Valerie Orth at Billy Goats Tavern"

Sheer hunger careened us into Billy Goats Tavern in Mt. Shasta after the 4th of July parade, and it was a fortunate twist of fate. We got to see San Francisco’s Valerie Orth Band (Valerie Orth, guitar/vocals, Bob Sanders, bass, and Abigail Picache, drums) perform some of Ms. Orth’s original compositions.

Her songs and vocalizations are unpredictable and highly original - just when you think she’s going to settle into a familar groove, off she flies into the stratosphere with phrasings you never saw coming. Here at the Jeff Agrarian, we’ve been bopping the last few days to the band’s EP we picked up at her gig. Further internet research reveals not only a website and CD (This At Last), but Orth is also a grass roots organizer and Global Exchange speaker for anti-sweat shop legislation reform.

We ran into Valerie, Bob and Abigail the next day, as they were taking their *tourist* picture downtown, with Mt. Shasta in the background. The Jeff Agrarian was happy to take the group shot for them - hope it came out well in the harsh, midday light. ( - The Jefferson Agrarian


Still working on that hot first release.



“There is an honesty to Valerie Orth’s music that is both brilliant and heartbreaking,” writes the San Francisco Chronicle. Last year, Orth’s band reached new rock territory with the release of their highly anticipated EP, Life on the Moon, produced by multi-platinum, Grammy-winning Jason Carmer (Molotov, Third Eye Blind, Billy Idol). With a multi-octave voice that soars from the depths of bitterness to the height of sweetness, Orth tells stories of empowerment and yearning, while pulling in audiences with her raw magnetism on stage.

Described as “sexy, soulful, genuine, and edgy” by the San Francisco Bay Guardian, Orth's dynamic range as a performer is made all the more compelling by what the East Bay Express calls a "completely intuitive composition style."

Orth started off 2013 with a boom, opening for legendary songwriter Shawn Colvin in California. Rock Subculture reviewed these shows, saying "Valerie is definitely one of the most impressive supporting acts I’ve seen in some time, and is one of those artists who have the ability to going from being an unknown to you and turning you into a fan."

Soon after, Orth and long-time bassist Veronika Safarova put themselves on the NYC map, relocating from San Francisco to Brooklyn. With Daniel Gould (drums/vocals) and Nathan Rosenberg (piano/synths/vocals), they have reinvented their sound, creating a distinctive hybrid of rock, punk-folk, ska and even trip-hop. Rosenberg’s electronic textures add to the deep grooves and rock edge that makes this band hard to resist.

Previously, Orth collaborated with Jon Evans (of Tori Amos) for her full-length album, Faraway City (2011), which WERU’s Rich Hillsinger named Best Album of the Year. Orth’s thought-provoking lyrics, gorgeous melodies, and unpredictable-yet-unforgettable arrangements prompted comparisons to artists like Joni Mitchell, Natalie Merchant, Foo Fighters, and Radiohead.

To Orth, music is a healing power unlike any other, especially when performing at juvenile halls, homeless shelters, and drug rehabilitation centers. After an emotional performance at San Francisco’s Youth Guidance Center, a teenage girl relayed her admiration, saying, “I will remember this for the rest of my life.”