Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Up & Coming New Nashville- The Lunabelles

Olivia Arciero – lead vocals, rhythm guitar
Dominique Arciero – piano, mandolin, vocals
Gabby Arciero – drums, percussion, vocals
Alex Kline – lead guitar, banjitar, dobro, mandolin

It takes a lot of moxie for teenage girls to launch a country songwriters’ night in the heart of New York City, but passionate artists always find a way to be heard, and it’s that combination of creativity, glamour and grit that makes The Lunabelles one of the most intriguing young acts in country music.
“Growing up, we would play any place we possibly could – weddings, school assemblies, an open mic at a café, anything to be playing our songs,” says Dominique Arciero, who formed The Lunabelles with sisters Gabby and Olivia, later recruiting Alex Kline to round out the group. “We started our own open mic in New York when I was 13 and Olivia was 15. There was this café right near the NYU campus, and we set up shop there. We were kids hosting an open mic for adults. It was a blast for us.”
The experience really solidified their desire to pursue a career in country music. “I was 15,” says Olivia, “but I felt like I was closer in age to the people in the audience, and to have them come over to me and say, ‘That song really made me feel a lot better because my girlfriend just dumped me,’ it was so encouraging. I thought, ‘This is why I’m here! This is why I’m doing this.’”

The Lunabelles have a vibrant sound marked by shimmering harmonies, seasoned musicianship and a love for country music tradition tempered with a cutting-edge musicality that brings a fresh perspective to the genre. The siblings developed a passion for performing during their early years in Chester Springs, Pennsylvania, where they would put on plays for their hometown friends and neighbors. As they began playing instruments, they gravitated to country music, and the siblings had the opportunity to perform in Kenny Rogers’ Christmas show for five years – and it was a wonderful experience. Olivia recalls, “Kenny was a huge influence in my choice to pursue music professionally,” as Dominique adds, “He became a dear friend of ours; he treated us like family.”

By the time their father’s work led the family to relocate to New York City in 2001, the sisters had already been performing on Rogers’ holiday show and begun crystallizing their vision of what they wanted to do.

As much as their music, the band’s name stands as a unique reflection of The Lunabelles, an elegant tip of the hat to the sisters’ mother – a true Southern belle – and also a nod to their fascination with the moon, sparked years ago in a random encounter on a New York street with a woman who played in an all-girl band in the ‘60s.
"We spent many years playing in New York and did a little stint in London, England, and just kept writing and developing,” says Dominique. “Being a country band, we realized New York City wasn’t the best place for us to break into the genre. We decided to move to Nashville in September of 2009 and began working with our producer Jeff Coplan.”
The sisters first met Coplan while they were still working in the Northeast. They had developed a reputation for their musicianship and professionalism. They bested other aspiring young bands to win a coveted slot touring with the Jonas Brothers in 2005. “It was such a blast because we gained three really great friends,” Gabby says of the Jonas siblings. “It was the year that we met our producer. Jeff did a song that was our theme song for the year that we toured with the Jonas Brothers. It was a song Olivia and Jeff wrote together called ‘Sweet Summer Kiss.’”

When the sisters moved to Nashville, they rekindled their working relationship with Coplan. “We wanted to develop something that was so undeniable,” adds Olivia, “and we knew that we had the opportunity to do that with Jeff, but we wanted another band member. We all play instruments and we all sing, so we wanted a versatile player who would round out our sound and personality. We found Alex in February 2010, and she’s been a part of our band ever since.”

Alex hails from Minneapolis, but moved to Marin County, California, when she was 15. She attended Boston’s famed Berklee College of Music before moving to Nashville where she became the fourth member of The Lunabelles. “I remember the first song I ever heard them play,” says Alex. “I went over to the girls’ house the first night that I met them, and there was a moment where they sang ‘He Loves Me for Me,’ and they came in with this three-part harmony a cappella, and it took my breath away. I was like, ‘Wow! These girls are amazing.’ It was that moment that I knew I wanted to be a part of it, and after playing with them for a little bit, we all realized it was a really good fit.”

When it came time to secure a record deal, The Lunabelles took an unconventional approach. Instead of inviting prospective labels out to see them showcase at a Nashville venue, they invited record company reps to their house. “We work on that intimate level, and we wanted them to see the environment that we create in every day,” says Dominique.

Adds Olivia, “There’s definitely a family dynamic within the band, and that’s an important thing to get across.”

The Lunabelles signed to BNA Records and began crafting their label debut, a scintillating collection that draws heavily on their years of live experience and the deep well they draw from as songwriters. The lead single, “A Place to Shine,” is an upbeat anthem that showcases the foursome’s distinctive vocals and earthy, organic vibe. “Las Vegas” is an aching ballad penned by Dominique and Will Bowen that finds a woman comparing her man to the glittering Nevada city that is both alluring and heartbreaking.
“This is the first song I wrote in Nashville,” recalls Dominique. “I had just gotten out of a really bad relationship and was bitter and heartbroken. The thing I love most about this song is the bridge. There’s a turnaround. She’s going forward. She’s not dwelling on it anymore. She’s actually saying, ‘You can’t have me anymore. I’m emotionally freeing myself from this messed up situation,’ and that’s what makes it a meaningful song to me. You’re not just crying about what just happened and how he ripped you apart and abused you emotionally. It’s actually an awakening. I love that song.”
“Come on Love,” written by Lori McKenna and Andrew Dorff, is a sweetly lilting tune about giving love another try. “It’s really fun to see the reaction when we perform that song live, especially with guys,” says Gabby. “They are all singing along with the chorus by the second time around. They love singing the ‘little black dress’ line.”

“He Loves Me for Me” is another fan favorite. Penned by Dominique, Coplan and Bowen, the song paints a blissful portrait of unconditional love. “We always talk about how great it is if you’re lucky enough to find that guy,” says Alex.

From the potent “Dixie Whiskey,” which Dominique co-wrote with Coplan and The Warren Brothers, to the heartbreaking treatise on love gone wrong, “You Knew This Would Hurt,” penned by Olivia and Canaan Smith, The Lunabelles’ songs are a spirited journey. Olivia compares it to a Ferris wheel that lifts the listener up, takes them ever higher and then gently dips down before rising again.
“We tell stories with our songs,” says Olivia, “and we love performing live. There’s nothing else like putting on a really exciting, entertaining live show. We know how much people appreciate that, and I know how much I love to see that when I go see live music. It’s not just about playing the music, it’s about delivering it in a way that people can walk away and say, ‘That was a fun ride!’”

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