Heart, soul & raw passion in Shikha’s meditative, rhythmic Coconut Mantra EP

DSCN2067 smIt was a celebration of music with friends, family and fellow musicians at C’est What? on Friday night, with the launch party of Shikha’s EP Coconut Mantra.

Opening act Custom Tease (Celebration Army frontman Oliver Pigott and Danka Scepanovic) brought some soul-infused, bluesy, rootsy goodness featuring originals with poetic, evocative – at times fierce – lyrics. And they threw in a sultry cover of “My Heart Belongs to Daddy” for good measure. Sounds include hints of Motown and Kate Bush, executed with sharp harmonies.

Shikha, the main event of the evening, featured Shikha Sehgal on vocals and banjulele (a four-stringed banjo/ukulele hybrid instrument), accompanied by Hugh Wilson (of Big Name Actors) on bass and Troy Larabie (of Celebration Army) on drum box. A passionate performer, Shikha brings it with heart and soul, and genuine feels. The vocals are delivered raw, with heart-on-sleeve intensity – and the lyrics are soulful, meditative and rhythmic (“Sing Baby Sing”), with hints of reggae (“Can I Hold You?”), blues and pop. The result is a seductive sound that features an earnest, sometimes melancholy, and powerful (“I Am Woman”) resonance.Check out the official video for “Sing Baby Sing,” one of the first songs Shikha ever wrote:

You can keep up with Shikha on Twitter, Facebook and on her YouTube channel.
In the meantime, check out some pix I took of the evening’s music festivities:

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Cozy sounds on a rainy night @ C’est What? – Angela Saini & The Lovelocks

Out late on a school night last night for a good cause: music. This time, the comfy, easy-going music room at C’est What? where I found a great atmosphere and tucked into a very tasty dinner before the show started. And none other than Mr. Johnny Cash was playing on the PA – tunes I’d never heard him sing, like “Your Own Personal Jesus” and “Danny Boy” (the latter song really takes you to church with that organ accompaniment).

Angela Saini

Angela Saini kicked off the evening, performing an acoustic set on guitar, with her band’s (The Residence) drummer JB on snare and percussion. From “Dear Diary” and “New Canvas,” Saini treated us to a selection of tunes from her recently released Cakes and Callouses CD. Her vocals have this great combination of strong, clear and soulful – and even playful – whether performing a power pop ballad like “Raindrop,” the softer “Shadows” (which she dedicated to her dad) or the more tongue-in-cheek “Keeping Score” (written with a high school nemesis in mind). And she has this easy rapport with the audience that just makes you want to hang with her. I hadn’t seen her perform since her CD launch, so it was great to have the chance to hang out, catch up and hear her perform again.

Find Angela Saini and her music here: http://www.angelasaini.com/fr_home.cfm

Here’s Angela performing “New Canvas” during a traffic jam on her recent trip to Spain.

The Lovelocks – Zoe & Ali
The Lovelocks – Cory Lacey
The Lovelocks – Joel Schwartz

I hadn’t heard The Lovelocks before I arrived at the venue last night, but after hearing their sound check, I knew I was in for yet another musical treat. Zoe Neuman’s and Ali Raney’s sweet country harmonies are backed by an awesome set of strings, with Cory Lacey on guitar and Joel Schwartz on mandolin, banjo and guitar, and Ali on fiddle most of the night – even Zoe got on fiddle for a tune or two. Zoe and Ali have a great stage presence together – and funny! – going from comic tunes like “You Don’t Bring Me Anything But Doubt” (with lyrics like “I wish you were the one that got away.”), to their driving cover of “Miss Ohio” and the lovely melancholy ballad “Elephant in the Room.” And they did some really nice covers of Katy Perry’s “Part of Me” and Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison.” Polished, but warm and inviting at the same time, their performance was a delight. Nice work, ladies!

No record yet, but The Lovelocks are looking at releasing a CD in the fall. Check out their YouTube channel sometime. In the meantime, you can take a look at and give listen to The Lovelocks here: http://www.thelovelocksband.com/