News

Photo: Bill T. Miller

 

Gigs:

Check back for gig dates.  I am currently focused on writing and saving to record.  If you'd like to donate to my recording fund, you can do so via Paypal using the email address ajdatq*at*gmaildotcom.

News:

July 5th ::: Porchfest was cool.  Now summer is here, and it's absolutely lovely here in New England.  I'm out and about all over the place trying to find inspiration.  I finished a great biography of Aretha Franklin, and now I'm currently reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig.  Yup.  Motorcycles seem to be a theme in my life since 2014, and provide me with endless inspiration.  Hopefully, I'll soon have news about a compilation one of my newest original songs will appear on - the song being from the 35th anniversary sessions recorded at BC Studios last year.

March 21st, 2017 ::: I am pumped to announce I've been asked to sing in the choir for a performance of songs from Heterotopia - an original rock opera composed by a local female-fronted band.  It's at a beautiful theater space - Oberon - and will be my first time performing there.  Many other local Boston-area visionaries and luminaries are involved, and I am honored to join them.  The music is rhapsodic, proggy, trippy, and psychedelic, and it is about the journey of a female protagonist.  The music is challenging to work on, and I embrace and enjoy that, as a trained musician who continually seeks to expand and refine my skills.  The harmonies are beautiful, and it's good for me to change it up and sing in a group, since I almost always sing lead otherwise.

September 8th, 2016 ::: Alright!  Back from the session in New York, and it went very well.  Over the course of 23 hours in 2 days, we edited, recorded overdubs on bass & electric/acoustic guitar, and preliminarily worked on mixes.  Just a few more steps and they'll be in the can.  Here are some pictures from the session!

August 31st, 2016 :::  For one month this summer I worked for a rock camp for kids aged 11-17 in the Chicago/DC/Pittsburgh areas, and, despite the grueling long hours, it kickstarted me creatively.  Therefore, this weekend I am heading down to NYC to work with Martin Bisi to do some overdubs and touch-ups on three songs I recorded at BC Studio in January.  I am psyched!  Brian Viglione (Scarlet Sails/x-Dresden Dolls/Violent Femmes) and Paul Wallfisch (Swans) sound awesome on the tracks, and I think Lorde Buckingham may lay down some bass, too.

Right before I left for the camp in July, I did a solo show, and then another right after I came back.  Both were really cool, and it felt good to get up there and do my thing.

May 24th, 2016 :::  Played an event called PorchFest in Somerville (the city where I live) last weekend.  It was great!  Friends and fans stopped by to watch me and my musical neighbors do sets of originals and covers right on our front porch.

Videos:
  Mighty Fine Day (original)
Streets of Baltimore (country song cover)
Take This Ride (original)
Ashes to Ashes (original)
The Weight (cover by The Band)

April 6th, 2016 :::
I write fresh from a trip back to Texas to see my father and attend the wedding of an old bandmate.  The weather was absolutely perfect - warm and springy.  Widlflowers I grew up seeing - Bluebonnets and Indian paintbru
shes -  everywhere!

My next show is with AjDIO the night before my birthday, and I'm looking forward to the set.  We are doing a few songs by Rainbow, and I love the range that band had - dreamy and idealistic to hard rocking and bluesy rock.

AjDIO April
                2016 at Midway Cafe

Also since I last wrote, Lorde Buckingham and I played a house show, and our friend Rachel Barringer (the hostess) sat in on cello on two songs.  Here's a video of us all playing an original song called "Ashes to Ashes."

Oh, and here is a link to the photo album for the BC Studio 35th anniversary!  The rough mixes of the three songs we recorded sound awesome, and we will polish 'em up a bit and release them.

January 27th, 2016 :::
The recording in NYC was a blast.  It was a live audience, and there were even children running around.  That helped me feel much less nervous!  Ha!  Got to use the new guitar, as well as my '65 Mustang.  The tracks should be mixed in about one month's time, and I cant wait to hear them back.  We did 3 songs, and I feel very good about the strength of these tunes.  After playing by myself for a while now, it was good to have others join me. 

Alan Young, from New York Music Daily, has been a fervent supporter of my music for years now, and he was present.  Click here for his account of the event, which also included sets by members of Sonic Youth, The Dresden Dolls, Swans, Cop Shoot Cop, and many more.

January 13th, 2016 :::
Happy New Year to you!  Mine is starting off very promisingly.  I will be in Brooklyn this coming weekend recording a few original songs as part of a live set, collaborating with pianist Paul Wallfisch and my old roomie Brian "Viggie" Viglione on drums.  The recording is to help commemorate Martin Bisi's 35th year in maintaining his studio, and many cool musicians are involved in the project.  I suspect a compliation of the sets will be released later this year...

My sweet boyfriend bought me a new guitar I plan to use on some of the songs for the session - a Gretsch Electromatic Sparklejet:
Gretsch
                    Electromatic Sparklejet

I was also recently contacted by a fellow putting together a metal bill in April, asking AjDIO (my Ronnie James Dio tribute) to play and it just so happens to be the night before my birthday, so I think that will be my party.

These invites for both my original works and my passion for metal help me feel like I'm moving forward in my life, and I am hopeful.

Also, back in December I recorded some vocals on a couple rap songs for the very talented Boston-based artist PAuSE.  I've secretly always wanted to do rap!

November 8th, 2015 ::: 
The trees are aflame and the landscape is autumnal here in Boston right now.  I just did my third annual tribute to Ronnie James Dio with my band AjDIO, and it went so well!  The show was packed and we all had a blast.  Pictures and videos have been streaming in, and I thought I'd share.

Photos by Johnny Anguish from Daykamp Music

AjDIO doing "Don't Talk to Strangers"
AjDIO doing "This is Your Life" & "King of Rock'n'Roll"
AjDIO doing "Children of the Sea"

September 11th, 2015 :::
On this somber day of national tragedy remembrance, I am sad to report a dear friend and Black Fortress of Opium album artwork designer Thom Martin passed away a few weeks ago.  His death deeply affects a wide swath of creative folks here in Boston, and we are devastated.  Thom was a wonderful soul who battled addiction.  May he rest in peace.  One of his greatest artistic achievements was making the original Dresden Dolls website, which was insanely complex and beautiful.


In other news, summer is waning, and autumn is rolling into New England.  I recently finished reading Kim Gordon's book, Girl In a Band.  I enjoyed the read immensely, and found it incredibly gratifying to get in the head of someone seemingly so reserved.  I feel the sentiments expressed in the book humanize both her and Thurston.

June 24th, 2015 :::
Much has changed for the better since my last update; my cast is long off, and I have a wonderful new partner in my life.  I have resumed playing all my instruments, and I feel pretty normal.  Power chords are a little stiff, but other than that...I am looking forward to doing an interview and playing on the Crash Course for the Ravers radio show at Tufts next month, and rocking out a bit.  I may have a guest musician sit in on the short set.

April 29th, 2015 :::
Since I last wrote, I was in a motorcycle accident, and broke my left hand.  The cast comes off May 19th, but until then, I can't effectively play guitar or mandolin, or the left hand of the keyboard.  I am incredibly lucky I wasn't killed, though, and my healing is coming along well, so there is still much to be thankful for.  I have some cool ideas for musical things I want to do, like a series of duet shows.

Friends and neighbors have been incredibly helpful and supportive of me, even encouraging me to get back on a bike to ride once the cast comes off.  My cast is red, and I have had a lot of friends sign it; the messages are comforting and encouraging.

My cast
                  on broken left hand

I did the Patti Smith tribute, and it went very well.  I read Just Kids, and now I am reading Victor Bockris' unauthorized bio of her.  I also read his book about Keith Richards and The Velvet Underground.

I also had a birthday, and my cake was tasty.  I so adore cake!!!

Other great news:
My live solo album received a positive review in Boston's Noise Magazine.  Read it here!

February 11th, 2015 :::
Well I did the big release show and it was a blast.  It all started when local pals The Freeways asked me to do the show on New Year's Day.  The end result was a magical night.  I had the tail end of a cold, but it all worked out great!  Next up is playing a Patti Smith tribute.

January 19th, 2015 :::
The first review of the new album is in.  Read it here!

December 19th, 2014 :::
Well my new live record is finally available after much nail-biting and nervousness!  "Beautiful Boot Leg" is born.  Get it here via Bandcamp, and coming soon to iTunes/CD Baby, etc.!!!!  The cover was done by Erin Genett.

Beautiful
                  Boot Leg album cover


November 6th, 2014 :::
Hello again so soon...The second year of AjDIO went very well.  The other bands were talented and rocked hard.  I felt AjDIO's performance was very strong as well.  Our drummer Steve told me my voice had more authority this year - a pleasure to hear!!!  I can't explain exactly where this whole Dio-love came from, but I do feel tapped by the universe to carry on his legacy in my own way.

Pictures from the show can be found here!

AjDIO
                  2014 photo by Helen Flannery

October 24th, 2014 :::
Hey there!  Well there is much ado at the moment.  Since I last checked in here, I did a house show at my buddies' Bo and Rachel (of The Wrong Shapes) house.  It was great, and I debuted four new songs.  Love solo shows for that!  Titles of the new ones: Galloping Horses, Motorcycle Song, Torri Gate Garlands, and Dark Side.  They are all very different in character, too.  I am steadily creeping towards doing some solo studio recordings, inspired by people asking me to and the responses to my live solo stuff.

Speaking of that, "Beautiful Boot Leg - Live at Rick Walker's" is coming along, and hopefully will be ready to release by Thanksgivingish.  I have an artist, and she is working on the cover.

I am all about the big AjDIO show next weekend, at the moment.  Saving my energy and concentration for this very special gig!

September 14, 2014 :::
Well it seems fall is just about here again in New England.  Leather jackets and boots abound.  Hence, I am easing into it just fine.  Good news to report!  I did a solo show at my friends Rick and Rachel's store here in Boston in mid-July, and it got recorded.  I am releasing it as a live solo record with 15 tunes on it.  The album is called "Beautiful Boot Leg - Live at Rick Walker's."  It is being mastered now, and I hope to have a release date to share soon, but certainly in the next month or two.  My plan is to use proceeds from that to fund some proper solo recordings.

Very much looking forward to doing a Dio tribute for Halloween again this year with my crack team of guys in AjDIO!  We're doing eight new tunes, plus two we also did last year that are just too good to skip.

July 28th, 2014 :::
The Brattle screening of "Sound and Chaos" was tons of fun, as was the show we did together this past weekend.  I really enjoyed hosting the QnA with Martin and filmmaker Sara Leavitt.


Over the next few months, I am looking forward to enjoying the last bit of summer, making some demos for a solo record, saving up money to finish the 3rd Black Fortress album, and increasing my knowledge in the field of voice through study.


June 19, 2014 :::
Bunch of dates coming up over the next 4 weeks or so, ranging from metal covers to my originals to the band and more.  I am also trying to organize a screening of the documentary about Martin Bisi's studio, in order to present it the same day we all do a big show together in late July.  Rumor has it there is some music by Black Fortress of Opium in it.  The trailer is here!

In other happy news, the video of my solo performance on cable TV in Winchester, MA in May 2014 is now streaming live.  The set's about half an hour, and features songs interspersed with interview snippets.


May 14th, 2014 :::
The cable show I did last week was challenging, but fun.  In lieu of sitting and playing acoustic geetar, I stood and played my electric.  Footage from the show should be coming soon.  The preview I saw looked really cool with fancy lighting, and such.  Big thanks to my buddy Sean O'Brien for having me on!

Sometimes people ask me when I am going to make a solo album.  I do think about this a fair amount, and I appreciate the interest.  Tonight I very informally recorded a rather short song I wrote about 2 or 3 years ago.  It's a taste of what might be heard on an Ajda solo record, and it's called "Your Lady."

May 1st, 2014 :::
Well, I just returned from the ASCAP expo in LA, which was great.  Very inspiring, as I attended panels, performances, and film screenings directly pertinent to nurturing my inner songwriter.  I feel a bit renewed and re-invigorated, which is a good thing!  I also got to see and reconnect with some friends, and see the Pacific Ocean.  Oh yeah, I also saw Black Sabbath at the Hollywood Bowl - pretty awesome!  As you can see from the show list above, the spring and summer seem to be heating up for me, as far as performing live.

April 8th, 2014 :::
Things are starting to get going a bit as it warms up here in Boston.  Finally!  The band is sounding great, and I am looking around for appropriate gig possibilities.  I played my guitar a lot the other night after I got home from rehearsal, and seeing as how I had attended 6 films of over the past 3 weeks as part of the Boston Turkish Film Festival, and heard so much beautiful Turkish music both before and in the films, I was inspired to improvise a bit - basically noodling around in what I consider Ottoman style.  Here is a short track I recorded for fun.  It's called Turkish Guitar Nightdrift.

March 9th, 2014 :::
Did some informal recording with my jazz duo today.  Here's one called "Black Coffee."  Enjoy!

January 16th, 2014 :::
Well, here we are into the new year, for which I do have high hopes.  I hope to finish the Black Fortress of Opium third album, and possibly begin working on a definitive solo recording.  After Feburary, we will have 6 songs mixed for the new record, and that is really getting there.  We have been working on new material and it's a fun process.  Gives me a chance to flex some creative muscles.

I am also planning on attending the "I Create Music Expo" in Los Angeles, CA in April, as sponsored by ASCAP, of which I'm a member.  Looking forward to that, and I'll probably visit Dio's grave again.  And it is a personal goal to make it to Nashville to at least check it out and hopefully play there, too.  I would also like to get some of my more rootsy solo material to certain other internationally-recognized artists in the genre.

However, I am also excited to see what opportunities pop up on their own, as well.  Surprise can be a beautiful thing.

Johnny Anguish of Daykamp Music took some lovely pictures of me and Tony at a recent duo gig we did here in Boston.  Find them here!

Ajda
                  & Tony at O'Brien's Pub December 2013Photo: Johnny Anguish

December 1st, 2013 :::
AjDIO video is in, with our version of "Sign of the Southern Cross".  "Stargazer" coming shortly!  Thanks to Stephen Head for shooting it.  I have posted a demo of my song "Mighty Fine Day."  Periodically my Texas roots really show, as evident in this tune.  Part of me is a minor key mountain girl, I suppose.

Last weekend I was in Washington, D.C. for the American Voices conference at the Kennedy Center, and I was attending as both a singer and teacher of singing.  It was truly amazing - with master sessions in classical, jazz, pop, country, music theater, and gospel, as well as symposia on voice health, pedagogy, and the business and technology of singing today.  Each session was coached by a top artist in that genre, including Renee Fleming, Allison Krauss, Ben Folds, Sara Bareilles, Diane Reeves, Eric Owens, Sutton Foster, and Kim Burrell.  There were serious heavyweights in voice everywhere one looked, from music biz execs and producers to voice health professionals and leaders of top singing programs across the nation, too.  Whew!  I loved DC, and the whole experience was inspiring and informative.  

November 3rd, 2013 :::
AjDIO's first show was a total success!  We had the songs down tight, and the house was packed!  People seemed to really enjoy my take on Dio.  It was done in loving tribute, with nary a hipster wink.  My serious metal phase continues!  It seems I really opened Pandora's Box, and now even my good friends are requesting me to do metal at birthday parties.  Ha! Keep an eye on the band's FB page for more photos and video to come over the next week or so!
AjDIO action shot
                                                                                                                                            Photo by Adam Ritchie

Now it's time to get back to Black Fortress of Opium business.  About 2 weeks ago, I spent a few days in the Brooklyn studio of Martin Bisi, mixing 3 new songs for our upcoming third record, and the tracks are coming along nicely.  Can't wait to mix the other 3 we have, and write and record a few more.

We have 2 shows before year's end, and I've also been doing jazz gigs at nursing homes.  At some point in the not too distant future, I'd like to record some jazz standards/blues/gospel.  I like so many different kinds of music.

A combination of working on Dio's lyrics about witches, wizards, and demons, etc., plus recently visiting the Witch Museum in Salem, MA has me interested in early New England settlers and the time of the witch trials.  Currently, I'm reading a book on the subject called The Heretic's Daughter that I'm quite enjoying.

† October 1st, 2013 † ::: Last week was AjDIO's first rehearsal, when some of the band members also met for the first time.  I created a mini-rockumentary to document the occasion.  Watch it here!

September 30th, 2013 ::: My last few gigs went great, and at the moment I am very focused on making the Halloween AjDIO show the best I can.  The band sounds great, and it feels like flying playing with them.  In solo news, I now have a lovely profile page on the Free Music Archive, thanks to WFMU.  Be sure to check out the Black Fortress of Opium profile page on there, too!

August 21st, 2013::: Fall show booking is heating up!  I will probably add 2 more shows to the above list, one of them being AJDIO near or on Halloween.  Stay tuned on that!  Our 2012 album Stratospherical has received a fair amount of airplay this month on WZBC, and it makes me happy to know people are digging the tunes.

July 25th, 2013::: Here is a piano and vocal version of a song I've been working on over the past year and change.  It's called Way Up in Her Head. 

Also, Black Fortress of Opium is seeking a new bassist.  If you are interested, please contact me at ajda@ajdatheturkishqueen.com.

July 15th, 2013 ::: Here we are halfway through the year and deep in the dog days of summer.  After a period of relative quiet, Black Fortress of Opium has seen a flurry of activity, with numerous recording sessions over the past month.  We are getting close to the mix stage for 6 new songs, and we couldn't be more psyched about how they are sounding!  We have been working with Josh Hager at Metacomet Sound for this phase of the recording.  Here are some pictures from our most recent sesh...

AJDIO!
I am working on getting a Halloween show together where I will sing Dio/Sabbath/Rainbow songs. The band involved is sick!  I have been truly inspired by Ronnie James Dio over the past year, and I guess you could say I'm in a Dio phase...similar to my Nico phase back in 2006.  In fact, I vistied Dio's grave at Forest Lawn in LA in May.
Ajda at Dio's
              Grave at Forest Lawn Los Angeles


June 3rd:::
Got back from NYC late last night.  My set at ZirZamin went well; old and new friends were there, which was nice.  I felt very comfortable, and we had the place to ourselves so I held a bit of an informal Q & A, and introduced people, etc.  WFMU was great!  Once again DJ Julie of Dark Night of the Soul got me in there doing my thing, but solo this time.  I did 8 songs on guitar and mandolin, and then she requested "Ari," too.  Ira Kaplan of Yo La Tengo was filling in for the OTA DJ at the moment, so I met him and we took a picture.  I've always admired his guitar playing.  So expressive...Julie asked me to pick out some songs from records that I like and/or have influenced me, so we did that, too.  A DJ set, if you will.

Here's the link to the set, interview, etc.:
http://www.wfmu.org/playlists/shows/50969

Beyond the business of why I was there, I also managed to get around town a bit, and visit with friends and check out some cool spots in the Big Apple.

All in all, a great way to kick off my summer.

May 29th::: I just returned from LA and Las Vegas, where I took an all too brief vacation.  This coming weekend, I am excited to play ZirZamin in NYC, where luminaries such as JSBX, William Parker, and more have played.  The next day, June 1st, I am heading to WFMU to record a solo set for Dark Night of the Soul, with Julie B.  The show will likely be aired the following week, on June 6th, and then added to the station's free music archive.

April 28th::: Hello there! It's spring now, and I've been trying to get out and enjoy the warmer weather - hiking, biking, and birdwatching, etc., as well as taking in cultural events, like the Boston Turkish Film Festival.  The outdoor activity is very much desired and deserved after our long, seemingly unending winter here in Boston.  Still recovering from the insanity after the bombing attacks here last week, as well.  Makes me especially proud to have lived here so long, though, when I saw how kindly residents reacted in the wake of this adversity.  There is no doubt we have all been through a lot here.

Musically, I hope to finish some new pieces and record my parts for our EP.  I don't have any shows booked at the moment, but I predict that will change with the evolution of new material, which is what really inspires me to gig.  I would also embrace some help in booking, if anyone out there wants to help me out, whether it's band or solo, or both.  Email: ajda@ajdatheturkishqueen.com.

Teaching-wise, I joined the National Association for Teachers of Singing.

March 5th::: Mission accomplished during our trip down to BC Studio in NYC.  We captured basics and guitar overdubs for 5 new tracks!  We are leaning towards releasing a vinyl EP...Click here to view pictures of us hard at work during the session. 

In other news, my solo show went very well, and I challenged myself - doing 16 songs in an hour, 15 originals and a cover of one of my favorite songs.

Black Fortress of Opium has some great shows coming up this spring.  T Max from The Noise magazine kindly gave us a live pick for our next one on 3/21!

February 10th, 2013::: Well, the new year is upon us.  We are heading into the studio in 2 weeks, and have been working on pre-production to prepare for that experience.  In some ways, this is the most ahead of the game we've been for any recording, and that feels good!  My solo show went very well, and I have another one coming up at the end of the month.

Dear friend/fan/supporter Johnny Anguish from Daykamp Music took some shots at our last show.  Check them out here!

December 11th, 2012 :::  Black Fortress of Opium is confirmed to record at BC Studio in NYC in February, and we have 2 new songs that will join at least three others that have not yet been recorded.

In a few days, I am doing a solo show at a local gallery here in Cambridge.  I am so excited, as it has been awhile, and solo shows are an excellent impetus for me to finish some new material.  I will play several unheard pieces.

And the very same day, in the morning, I will do a song live on WMBR 88.1fm with Lost Highway DJ Doug Gesler.  Tune in!

October 29th, 2012 :::  Here in Boston, hurricane Sandy is upon us, and it's blustery as Hell.  Halloween is the day after tomorrow, but things feel so out of whack with the storm and all.  I had a blast this past weekend, though, catching some big shows for the first time in awhile (Major Lazer and Saint Etienne), and dressing up like a red devil!

I had to move suddenly due to an unfortunate turn of events at my old abode, but I am happily settled in a wonderful new place.  I am definitely entering into a new chapter of my life, and it's fascinating to see what shall be writ on the pages when all is said and done.

The move and the events surrounding it have set me back a bit musically...but I hope for a return to form over the next few months.

I have been doing some songwriting workshopping with BFOO's guitarist Tony Sav.  I have some good riffs that need to be fleshed out.

Here are some gorgeous pics taken by Johnny Anguish of Daykamp Music from our last show.  What a lovely fellow...

September 2, 2012 ::: Here I sit at summer's waning end.  It's hard to let go of the sunny season and summer fun, as I've had much of it this year...alas, it too must end.  Our first show of the new season is coming right up at the Middle East on 9/12, where we haven't played in many years.  We are excited to be asked do this show by Brian Carpenter's guitarist Andrew Stern, who will debut his own new band, Old Soliders of the Prairie War.

This fall and winter we hope to record about 5 new songs, working again with Martin Bisi.  We would also like to do some shorter, more regional tours.  If you have any bands or venues to suggest in your town, please email me at ajda@ajdatheturkishqueen.com.

We would also like to announce that we have mounted a set of songs recorded live during our Summer tour this past June on Soundcloud.  The recordings were made fairly lo-fi, with just a Zoom H4, but they came out pretty well, and we are happy to share this document of our trip out West.

July 3rd, 2012 ::: Our West Coast tour last month went so very well.  The whole experience was reinvigorating and reaffirming!  Pictures etc. are mostly on our FB page.  I can't wait to plan the next tour...perhaps Northeast?  We have been asked to do a few dates in September for some special events, and are looking forward to that very much.  For the moment, though, I am making a concerted effort to try to enjoy the season at hand.  Today I made my annual cherry pie, and with America's birthday being tomorrow, some barbequing will happen.  Beaches and camping are also high priority for the next month and a half.

I was most pleased to discover our own local Noise Magazine gave us an amazing review of the new album.  Scroll down past Roy Sludge.

June 8th, 2012 ::: Alright, I have been very busy between planning the tour, gigging with Black Fortress of Opium and playing with Greg Ferreira.  I have had like 5 gigs in the past 3 weeks - which is grand!  "Stratospherical" received another positive review - from Terrascope (UK).  They loved our first record, too.
Terrascope Rumbles

Also, here are some pictures of the Porch fest performance I did with Greg and crew from Boston's Weekly Dig.

May 14th, 2012 ::: Our new album received two more reviews this past week, one flattering and praising our music, and the other, well, less so.  I'm OK with that, though.  Jeez if I couldn't take some criticism or hear the word "no" I would've quit doing music long ago, ha!  Art is subjective. 
Daykamp Music
Pop Matters

The West Coast tour is coming into focus, and we are stoked to get out there next month! 

I have also been playing mando and singing a bit with the very talented Greg Ferreira and a kick-*ss cast of musicians he has assembled to perform songs from a concept album he wrote.  2 gigs this week with them - one radio performance on WMFO and outdoor performance for Somerville Porch Fest.  Performing outside is one of my favorite things to do!

I have been enjoying my new "Bat wing" mandolin, which I got from a feller who formerly played with Trey Anastasio.

April 19th, 2012 ::: Alright, some more reviews and footage have come in since I last posted, check it:
New review from New York Music Daily
Video interview of Black Fortress of Opium the night of our record release

And I am working on booking us a summer West Coast tour (from Seattle to San Diego), so if anyone would like to suggest bands or venues that would be appropriate for our sound, I am all ears!!!

The new album "Stratospherical" is out now, and available in several spots such as Bandcamp, iTunes, Amazon, and Newbury Comics stores in Boston, so folks can pick their favorite vendor. Though we will admit that if it's purchased through Bandcamp the first week of sales get sent to Soundscan, which looks good for us...

So far we've gotten great feedback, both at the release show and from the reviews coming in:
Ryan's Smashing Life review
Boston Band Crush review

We have also received airplay on KDHX, WZBC, WMFO, WMBR, WFMU, WFNX, WAAF, WZLX and probably more, for which we are thankful and excited!!!


February 13th, 2012 :::  Happy early Valentine's Day to everyone!  I hope you all eat your weight in chocolate, if that's your cup of tea!  So the countdown to album release continues, but now you can stream and download the "Right Around Here" single off the record via Soundcloud.  Enjoy!

January 17th, 2012 ::: The new year is off to a great start!  Our Lizard Lounge show was one of our best, as put by our fans who attended and the way we truly felt onstage. HUGE NEWS ~ Our new album is now available for pre-order here!!!!  

You can buy a download only or a physical CD, which includes a download as well.  The enhanced CD features a 6-panel booklet with lyrics and original artwork by Thom Martin, BFOO guitarist Tony Savarino, and David Samuel Robbins, as well as our music video for "Afyonkarahisar Battle Cry."  The pre-order includes immediate download of the song "Blind" in your choice format. A link to the complete album will be emailed to you the moment it’s released - on March 6th, 2012.

We are really proud of this record and so happy to be able to share it with you.  It has been 4 years since our last record, and it's definitely been a real labour of love.  On this new album, we once again worked with dear friend/engineer/5th horseman Martin Bisi, Brian Viglione (The Dresden Dolls), and band members past and present, incuding Joel Simches, Rich Cortese, Joe Turner, and Dave Yanolis, as well as talented engineers Rafi Sofer and Danny Gold.  Without such a team, it would not have been possible.
Now we make room for our second child. 

January 8th, 2012 :::
Happy New Year!  I do still hope to post my 2011 Year in Review, so stay tuned for that.  It's pretty much back to the grind back in Cambridge, but I feel refreshed after my trip to Texas.  It was definitely good to get away from the city life for a bit, and clear my head some.  I've have been having a lot of new song ideas, and am feeling grateful for the inspirartion.  And although the new record is about to surface, I have to say I can't wait to get the third record out.  The new material is so strong...
Michelle McCormack of CBS Boston gave me a shout out for my voice lessons on her Secret Boston blog - awfully cool!  Michelle is a Facebook expert and blogger at  LoveTheCool. LIKE her Facebook page Secret Boston and FOLLOW her Tweets at @MichelleMMM.
The last remaining copies of Black Fortress of Opium's debut album and our matching ladies' tees are now for sale here.  Your support is very much appreciated!

December 22, 2011 ::: I write to you now from my native Houston, TX, where I am spending the Christmas holiday with my father.  The upcoming record is now at the plant and being manufactured, so that's something.  This one's been a long labour!  We now have 2 shows to announce - back to the Lizard Lounge, where we played our very first show in 2006, and the album premiere show at the Magic Room, where we played our video release in 2009.  Both rooms are excellent in different ways, and it's an exciting prospect!  The muses have been graciously providing many new song ideas, and we will debut some at the Lizard Lounge.  I will probably post my end of year review here shortly, so stay tuned and Happy Holidays!

November 1st, 2011 ::: We had a blast last week, with 3 events - 2 live shows, one of which was Tony's Birthday show, and recording on the amazing independent radio station WFMU.  The set aired Halloween night, and it's archived here!!!  Thanks to Julie B, hostess of Dark Night of the Soul and Irene Trudel, our amazing engineer!  We even covered a Pink Floyd tune, from the Syd years...

At the moment, we don't have any gigs booked until our album premiere show, and we are wrapping up and prepping for the release of the album.  It feels good to take a little break, as we worked hard this year!

Rocktober 4th, 2011 ::: Our set at the Allston Village Street Fair was a blast!  Fan Michael Rowe captured a few songs on video...
Regret & Rue
From a Woman to a Man
Afyonkarahisar Battle Cry

We are psyched about some upcoming things...such as recording a live set for Dark Night of the Soul on the amazing 91.1FM WFMU, which will air Halloween Night!  Also, our album premiere show and party will be in January at a new club in Boston.  The new album, "Stratospherical" will be released in mid-January, and we can't wait for you to hear it!

August 15th, 2011 ::: We had a productive summer, played a few awesome shows.  Thanks to all bands for asking us on these bills!  I am teaching voice lessons, and just finished 2 rounds of voice instruction/band coaching at Girls Rock Boston, and it was a profound experience, once again.  If you know anyone with a female child aged 8-16, it is an amazing program where the kids learn to rock out, form a band, learn an instrument, write a song, and perform it on stage at a real club in one week.  We also have a Ladies Rock Camp session in February, so stay tuned.

This fall we have some shows coming up, and I am doing a solo show or 2 in Western Mass, as well.  I was crushed to hear of Amy Winehouse's passing, but I've been working on a tribute song to her.  The new record is an egg we are sittin' on at the moment, but I predict a hatch date sometime in December or so...

June 30th, 2011 ::: Well well well! This week a lot of video footage of Black Fortress of Opium playing LIVE has emerged thanks to some talented and awesome folks, namely Sophia Cacciola and Dean Frankensplean.  Here are a bunch of clips of our original songs and one cover, taken from gigs in May and June

The Facts of Love
Afyonkarahisar Battle Cry
Right Around Here
 Cherry Blossom
 PJ Harvey/John Parish's "Black Hearted Love"

May 31st, 2011 ::: Summer weather has hit Boston bigtime, and warm weather activities are in full swing here.  Black Fortress of Opium has some great shows lined up for the summer, with new folks we haven't previously played with.  We just did a great show with Brian Carpenter + The Confessions, which was so wonderfully matched we'd like to try it again in NYC sometime soon.  Speaking of which, I was in NYC in mid-May finishing up the record.  For real! It's all mastered and good to go.  Thom Martin is cranking out the artwork as we plan our release, so stay tuned for more deets on when & where.  To present complete bodies of work is very important to me. 

While in NYC, I met up with some old friends from Boston and we had a lovely brunch and they took me to see the Andy Warhol sculpture in Union Square.  After the mastering sesh, Martin and I celebrated the completion of the new album with a Turkish feast and then we wandered around Times Square and Broadway - the first time for me, despite many years of visits to the Big Apple.

I have been teaching private voice lessons since fall 2009, and I am really enjoying it.  It is rewarding beyond what I could have imagined, not to mention fun! I have learned so much in the process, and I desire to keep studying, learning, and growing even more so I can lead my students in deeper knowledge, and through my own personal experience as an active vocalist and songwriter.
March 29th, 2011 ::: In 2 weeks, I will be peforming at the April Flowers edition of Deep Heaven Now!, a festival continuing the bi/semi-annual tradition of the original Deep Heaven ambient/psych festivals of the 90s in Boston, and featuring the very best of the East Coast, Mid-West & West Coast Ambient/Experimental/Psychedelic Rock scene.  I will be rocking out on the first night (4/15) with Narcoterror (my side project that also features Black Fortress of Opium bassist Joel, Chris Pearson of Magic Shoppe, members of Abunai!) and the second day 4/16 (my BDAY!!!) with Black Fortress of Opium.  The fact that I get to sing the very first note of the festival is getting me pretty pumped, and, er at least appeals greatly to the Aries in me!!!

The festival is a 2 day event happening Friday April 15th through Saturday April 16th taking place in Union Square Somerville between Precinct and PA's Lounge.  One $10 admission fee gets you access to BOTH venues for that day.  Set times will overlap minimally so there'll be plenty of time to check out almost all the bands if you want to. Full band schedule at http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=202207596460112

Festival highlights include: Sharp Darts (feat. 3 former members of Lockgroove, who were an integral part of the original Deep Heavens of the 90s), Ghost Box Orchestra (soon to represent Boston at Austin Psychfest), MMOSS (listed one of the Phoenix's 12 bands to watch out for this year), The Curious Mystery (K Records, Seattle), Diamond Center (VA, also playing Austin Psychfest this year), Narcoterror (feat. Ajda, ), The Sunshine Factory (AL), the Brooklyn Raga Association, and The Sky Drops (DE, also playing Austin Psychfest).

For a free download compilation of mp3s by Deep Heaven Now bands; http://deepheavennow.bandcamp.com/


Also, a song we have been working on that features Paul Wallfisch on keys is getting closer to being finished!  And we set a mastering date for May 2011 to seal off the second Black Fortress of Opium record!  It's gonna happen...

End of February 2011::: Whew!  This month has been flying by!  I was involved at the first ever Ladies Rock Camp Boston as a vocal instructor and band coach.  Truly rewarding and I'm grateful for the oppportunity to be part of it!  Did a Valentine's Day gig with Tony where we covered The Turtles, Amy Winehouse, Twin Peaks soundtrack, and Mark Sandman.  Got back up onstage with Martin Bisi and his lovable gang at the Middle East.  Here is the video, as shot by Tony Savarino!  Felt great!  Did a Black Fortress of Opium gig and more is coming up, especially this April.  We have made headway on album artwork and the cover is looking fantastic!  I'm currently reading Keith Richards' Life and loving every page.  I can relate to a lot of it, especially the parts about writing songs...

January 2011::: New year, new lease on life, and been working on new material.  Still saving up to put out the new record.  All that's left is mastering, pressing, & promo!  We are considering doing a kickstarter campaign to raise funds to get it out, but in the mean if anyone wants to make a donation, please Paypal ajdatq@gmail.com!  The support is much appreciated.

December::: Looking back on 2010, I accomplished a lot of things, in terms of musical and personal endeavors. 

2010: In Review

Overall, much time was spent in the studio, and that’s how I like it!

 

Accomplishments:

-Made another solid full length Black Fortress of Opium record with Tony, Dave Y, Viggie, Bisi, Joel

-Live shows at clubs/loft parties/galleries like PA’s, TT’s (with Serena Maneesh/4AD), Gallery 119, The Distillery, HOB, Precinct, Great Scott, also in CT

-Licensed 4 new BFOO songs for an indie film soundtrack (and the movie’s actually good!)

2 solo shows (1st in nearly 2 years) The Delancey, & Gallery 119 (with Soriah)

-Played with Narcoterror (1st show in 4 years, and 1st flute appearance in a rock setting in as many years!)

-Picked my flute back up and began playing in a classical duo on a weekly basis

-Did some church gigs on flute and voice that paid well (anyone need flute on a sesh?)

-Started my own business teaching music and taught voice lessons to 16 students

-Attended the McClosky Institute of Voice’s summer seminar in Beverly, MA

-Joined up with Girls Rock Camp Boston (in their 1st year!) as a vocal instructor

-Recorded country vocals for Tony’s solo album, letting the Texas roots show a lil’

-Played Atwood’s with Tony Savarino & the Satanic Lounge Syndicate

 

Highly worthy of note:

-Solidified 2 new songs, one of which is mostly done being recorded (featuring Paul Wallfisch on keys)

-Improved my voice a lot through teaching

-Got to be in a band, rock out, and record with old friend Yuri Zbitnoff

-Got to be in a band, rock out, and record with dear friend Dave Yanolis

-Renewed my friendship with and got to make music regularly with Joel

-Got to be in a band and rock out with my buddy Chris Pearson

-Moved into a new rehearsal space that’s better all around (grace a Garvy J!)

 

Travel:

-NYC a plenty to make a new record in my favorited BC Studio, to get Paul Wallfisch’s piano tracks for a new BFOO song, Cynthia’s Halloween BDay party, recording with Baz

-Syracuse for Carl’s recital (Tony's brother)

-Houston for the Rodeo

-Went to MassMOCA for the first time to see Carolina Chocolate Drops

-Several New England beaches incl. Nantasket, Hampton Beach, York Beach, Nahant

-Went to Battleship Cove with Tony

-Went to CT for Cynthia’s summer weekend and played almost everything I know with Tony outside under the stars (which inspired him to rework the Battle Cry a lil’ with a belly dance-y interlude)

-Went camping in Vermont with my dearest Pan 9 friends at summer's end

 

Other:

-Watched 6 years of the TV show “Lost” with Tony

-Attended Tony’s mastering sesh at Sound Mirror

-Had a wonderful coaching on flute with Peter Sykes of BU Early Music dept.

-Went to hear Tom Windish speak at Berklee – informative and inspiring

-Attended the Greek Festival down the street with Tony and enjoyed the yummy food

-Attended an excellent and enjoyable performance of Coppelia thanks to my friend Karen M.

-Attended a Lenten weekly harpsichord concert series at Emmanuel Church for about 4 of 6 concerts, where I heard several excellent players from the area

-Generally attended many networking events and parties

 

Awesome concerts I attended:

-PIL @ Royal

-Die Antwoord @ Royal

-Grinderman @House of Blues

-Swans @ Middle East

-Billy Ruane Memorial show with Thalia Zedek, Chris Brokaw (nice 20 minute feedback solo), Peter Wolf & more @ Middle East

-Bill Laswell & Method of Defiance in NYC at Santo’s

-Wovenhand w/Serena Maneesh @ Middle East

 

Great books I read:

Neon Angel by Cherie Currie (so awesome, inspiring, and powerful)

The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk

Snow by Orhan Pamuk

Bargaining with the Devil by Robert Mnookin (very useful tactical advice)


November::: Tony Savarino's new solo guitar album "Guitaring" is out this month, and I did guest vocals on a Flying Burrito Brothers song on it, "Devil in Disguise (a.k.a. Christine's Tune)."  It was a lot of fun to do a country tune from the 60s; I finally got to let my Texas roots show!  I am also touched and honored to be one of 2 people Tony dedicated the album to!

I am pleased to report that 4 songs from Black Fortress of Opium's upcoming album have been licensed for use in a feature length independent film by Boston filmmaker Andrew Sayre.  More tba!

 I recently went to NYC to do some recording with Michael Bazini, a.k.a. DJ Butterface.  I recorded some vocals for a few pieces.  This was a great experience for me to come up with parts on the fly, and for stuff other than my own.  Collaboration always rocks, and Baz spoiled me completely!  I know Baz from touring with Martin Bisi in 2009, and he is very talented, as a musician, DJ, and producer.  He now has a record label called AwwYeah.

September 2010 ::: The upcoming Black Fortress of Opium record is now mixed.  All that remains is album art and mastering!

This just in!  I am so happy to receive word that I've been selected to receive an ASCAPLUS award for the 7th year in a row.  It means a lot to be a member of ASCAP and to be recognized by them for my efforts as a composer/author of songs and lyrics.

Check out this stellar review of my last solo show in NYC, by Alan Young of Lucid Culture!  Thanks Alan!  2 shows with the full band this month!  Joel Simches is playing bass with us again:)

August 2010 ::: Played The Delancey in NYC last night, at Paul Wallfisch's Small Beast.  It was a solo show, and it rocked, IMHO.  Many NYC friends came out to support.  I spent a lot of time outside my comfort zone during the set, as I debuted a few songs.  I performed exclusively on mandolin and piano.

Thanks so much to those who came out to see me in Lowell, MA on the bill with Soriah.  I was nervous, not having done a solo show in nearly 2 years, but debuted a new song, 'Desperate Kiss'.  Great Scott with the full band was amazing as well.  We had a couple great shows in a short amount of time, and I feel some momentum, especially sitting here mixing 2 more songs with Martin.

July 2010 ::: We are currently working on the second record, mixing with Martin Bisi, and anticipate a fall 2010 release.  Possibly November!  The artwork will likely include pictures Tony took during our trip to Turkey last year, and yet another fortress - Uçhisar.  Basics for most tracks were recorded in January at BC Studios in Brooklyn, NY with Martin Bisi engineering and Brian Viglione, formerly of The Dresden Dolls, playing drums on it. Dave Yanolis joined us on bass guitar, and is in the live band, too.  Also, many thanks to our original bassist Joel Simches for helping record the vocals and some additional instrumental tracks!

This album is going to be different in many ways. It's much more collaborative between me and Tony Savarino. We are including a hard-hitting Turkish Queen song that S.J. Roi and I demo'd in 2005. The personnel on this record is more varied, including numerous musicians and engineers. Whereas, the first time around it was 5 people from recording through mixing.

 Janaka Stucky of Black Ocean will contribute some poetic appeal to the liner notes, and expect printed lyrics this time. I am very excited about that!

Our music video screened at the Boston Underground Film Festival this year.

We shared the stage with Serena-Maneesh (Norway) in April. They have an amazing new album out on 4AD, and they previously also worked with Martin Bisi.

  12/09:::The MUSIC VIDEO for the song 'Afyonkarahisar Battle Cry' is now up on the newly created Black Fortress of Opium official youtube video channel (which also features many other live videos)!!! It was directed by Noah Blumenson-Cook (friend and winner of the 2009 Boston Underground Film Festival's award for Most Promising New England Filmmaker). It was shot in South Boston and on Lovell's Island in Boston Harbor in late summer 2009. Thanks to the lovely black angels who donated to the effort! Here are some great pics from the shoot by most talented photographer Mong-Jane Wu...

We had a huge release show in Boston at The Magic Room to premiere the video. Thanks to those who came out to support!

We recently taped a set and interview on CCTV in Cambridge, Massachusetts that is currently airing in the Metro Boston area. The set includes a lot of new material. Thanks to Matt and Marissa for making it happen! They did an awesome job integrating the interview with the set footage!

Background:

My band is Black Fortress of Opium. It's named after the English translation of the name of a Turkish town called AFYONKARAHISAR. Originally, I passed through this town while traveling around the Turkish countryside in summer of 2005, and then returned in summer 2007 to climb up to the very top of the Fortress itself. There is much lore surrounding this place...Besides yours truly on lead female vocals, mandolin, acoustic/electric guitars, melodica, and keys - the band also features six-string samurai Tony Savarino on guitar, Joe Turner on skins & Rich Cortese on bass duty.

Our DEBUT ALBUM was produced and recorded by Martin Bisi in New York City. Martin has worked with the likes of Sonic Youth, The Dresden Dolls, John Zorn, Swans, Lydia Lunch, Brian Eno, Bill Laswell, Herbie Hancock, Iggy Pop, Afrika Bambaata, and many more. The self-titled Black Fortress of Opium record was released on March 25th, 2008, and you can buy it on CD Baby and iTunes. It's in a few other record stores around the US, as well as being available through Projekt Records Darkwave Store. A lot of hard work and excitement went into the making of it, and we appreciate your support!

The record has been very warmly received, and gotten great reviews from places such as the All Music Guide, Terrascope, Ink 19, Noise Magazine, Northeast Performer, Muruch, Playback stl, and more.

The Boston Metro had this to say about our debut in their "Local Greats of '08" article, as well:
"Given the band’s name and the fact that its front-lady is called Ajda the Turkish Queen, you might expect full-on, flat-out Goth. But elements of folk, country, and blues mingle with measured psychedelia and “Model Café”— a country romp about a love affair sparked in that famed Allston establishment — is easily the local song of 2008." - Linda Laban

Our ROCKUMENTARY about the making of our album was shot, directed, and edited by Jake Hamilton. View it here:
Youtube, Myspace, Facebook

The band has also recorded a cover of the Magnetic Fields song 'Born on a Train' for the soundtrack to the indie film 'Ana's Time' by Alice Cox. You can check it out on our myspace page. The film was screened at the 2008 Atlanta Film Festival. See below for more info on this venture...

Other, Ongoing & Recent:

I am on Twitter , myspace, and blogger.com. Please befriend me there...That is where you cand find some pics and links, and my blog.

In 2009, I did many shows and tours with Martin Bisi, from New York City to Kansas City. I performed backing vocals for the title track of his album 'Sirens of the Apocalypse' and on several tracks on his new digital EP Son of a Gun. The EP also features Bill Laswell and Brian Viglione (ex-Dresden Dolls). Here are some pics from Martin's May 2008 CD release at the Knitting Factory, which also included Laswell, John Zorn and others.

Please take a moment to read the journals and view the pictures of my 3 tours from the past year!

Summer 2009 tour II journal (Mid-Atlantic with Martin Bisi) and pics...
Summer 2009 tour I journal (West Coast with Martin Bisi) and pics...
Winter 2009 tour blog (Midwest with Martin Bisi) and pics ...

I performed some flute recording with Darkflow, which involves some of the family of bands that rehearse in our space V8.

In late December 2008, I recorded some flute and mandolin for my friends Abunai! on their track 'Jamaicaway'. Check it out!

Late October 2008 I performed with Bill T Miller's Orgy of Noise. It was a noisy little experimental quartet, with me on vox and skull shaker - the sort of thing I haven't done in awhile. Bill's blog and various pics can be found here. He is the multi-media documentation king! I dressed up pretty sexy for the show.

In 2007, I did the soundtrack for an independent film entitled Ana's Time, by director Alice Cox. I composed new music on piano, tenor banjo, and guitar. Black Fortress of Opium recorded a cover for this movie as well, as mentioned above. I am excited to announce the film was screened at the Atlanta Film Festival in 2008. I posted one version of the main piano theme on my solo myspace page. The soundtrack also features a recording of my version of 'Afraid' by Nico.

In 2007, I did some vocals for an anti-war song called "End War Now" written by T Max, editor/publisher of the local Boston music magazine 'The Noise'. The session was at Hi'N'Dry Studios, which was started by Mark Sandman of Morphine. The song is now complete and thusly available on the myspace page for you to download. The song, along with other anti-war tracks, is featured on Neil Young's website.

An interview I did on www.gothtronic.com...

Two pieces of my original music can be heard in the independent film Pony Trouble. The whole soundtrack rocks, also featuring Dame Darcy, Freezepop, Lorette Velvette (The Hellcats, The Kropotkins, Sonic Youth, Tav Falco's Panther Burns), and many others. Officially released in March of 2007, the film is distributed through Brain Damage Films. You can buy the Pony Trouble DVD here. The film is also available through Netflix.

My other band, Narcoterror, recorded 5 tracks for an EP, which may one day be released. One of our songs made its way to Angel Sighs - a website of some people putting together a Spiritualized tribute album. Our cover of "Electric Mainline" is on there. Check it out! Please befriend us on myspace.

My previous band Turkish Queen has a myspace page, with tracks as well as plenty of photos.

Photo by Karen Zanes

I am a 7-time recipient of the ASCAPLUS Award.  If you are a musician, I highly recommend joining ASCAP as a performing rights society. They offer monetary awards to new/developing artists, which can be ohsohelpful until royalties start pouring in. I highly endorse this organization, which is run by and for artists.

† RIP Dear Mother † 2006

† RIP Scott Roy † 2008

† RIP Michael Braga † 2011

† RIP Thom Martin † 2015