2011 Nominee – Instrumental Artist of the Year – 21st Annual LA Music Awards
“2KX” is the permanent band formed from the 2009 international prog endeavor, “Lisa LaRue Project 2K9.” The band is headed by keyboardist Lisa LaRue, who has released four solo albums, Lisa LaRue Project 2K9 “World Class,” and 2KX “Fast and Blue,” “Beautiful Life,” and several singles. She is twice winner of the Oklahoma Music Awards’ Native American Artist of the Year.” She has also been nominated for several Native American Music Awards in addition to a Hollywood Music Award, and the band 2KX was nominated “Best Instrumental Artist” at the 2011 Los Angeles Music Awards.
Steve picked up the guitar in grade school and never let go. He grew up listening to Classic Rock mimicking riffs from the likes of Jimmy Page and Steve Howe. Soon to follow was an interest in Classical and Jazz… a broadening of artist appreciation ranging from Bach to Stravinksy to Bird and Joe Pass.
It wasn’t until post High School that Steve finally learned the quantitative aspect of music: reading. Theory, and disciplined Classical (finger style technique). Steve graduated from Lewis & Clark having studied with Scott Kritzer (Classical) and Dan Balmer (Jazz).
Upon graduation Steve focused on teaching and composition. His ARZ project (pseudonym for his one man “band”) was conceptualized and soon he was writing instrumental works combining Rock and World Music styles. Four albums ensued until Merrill Hale (drummer) joined the roster for the fifth album Turn of the Tide.
In performance and recordings, Steve has appeared on Oregon’s ART Beat and was heard on NPR’s All Things Considered supporting violinist Chien Tan. In addition to working with ARZ and 2KX, Steve has had the pleasure of joining forces with the celebrated Jennifer Batten (Michael Jackson, Jeff Beck) in showcasing their solo performance shows.
Cellist Mike Alvarez started out taking piano lessons but his curiosity led him elsewhere. While checking out stringed instruments, he discovered his true musical love: the cello! Although it towered over him at the time, it felt right. As time passed, the urge to rock made him favor keyboards, guitar and bass, but it was his cello playing that caused people to call. He has recorded and performed with such notables as Erik Norlander and Lana Lane, Don Schiff, Roswell Six, Nima Rezai, Bridget Brigitte, Michele Shipp, Deal By Dusk, Scot Taber and Rustik Ballyd. He once even played at a reception for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. His current band is Bass Clef Experiment, a duo with Greg Gohde.
John Baker grew up in Colorado, and playing guitar at age seven. One year later, he began leading the Sunday parishioners in song, and had advanced to the electric guitar.
As his interest in writing and recording grew, he formed a band called “Cousin Anne” at age 13 and began playing school dances, and other events. The group played a combination of cover songs and original pieces.
Later in his teens, he built a 4-track recording studio in his parents’ basement (while they were on vacation!) where he and his musical friends recorded home demos and rehearsed. John made good use of this studio until he decided to hit the open road, and head for Los Angeles with his band, “The Envy.”
Upon arriving in LA, John began working with a close friend who had opened a studio, and pursued songwriting and working with other musicians. From 1988-92, he formed “The Lumins,” an original band based on John’s compositions. The group recorded an unreleased compilation of these songs, and played local shows. Upon disbanding, John spent the next few years perfecting his ever-growing repertoire of original compositions and beginning to form the frame-work of a solo album.
By 1995, John was operating a studio business in LA, and obtained a songwriter/production deal with L.A. based Music Grinder Studios’ House of Brick Music.
From 1997 through 2002, John had formed and led a band called “The Scavengers,” which was also an outlet for his original compositions.
Although continuing to pursue and hone his songwriting skills, John desired to play live shows, and was asked to join “The Little Girls” as bass player. He was with the band from 2002-08, and co-produced and engineered their album, “No More Vinyl.” During this time, he also played bass as well as engineered recordings for Harvey Sid Fisher.
It was soon after that John helped form “Mars Hollow” as Lead Vocalist and Guitarist, where he was also able to foster his collaborative songwriting.
Throughout the years, John Baker has held stints as guitarist and backing vocalist for various original bands and musicians, including Christian Love of “The Beach Boys”, Tom Caufield, Shana and the Fire and Kathi Pinto.
Since 1995, John has been operating a successful studio business, comprised of music projects, audio drama, and dialogue work. In the music field, John has worked on some interesting projects including David Hasselhoff’s recording of the Baywatch closing theme, as well as many songwriter’s demos for A&M Records. In this capacity, he worked with many musicians and producers, including Mick Taylor (Rolling Stones) and Richie Zito (Elton John, Tina Turner, Heart).
In the dialogue field, John has directed, engineered, and edited hundreds of audio books including works by authors such as Robert Ludlum, Danielle Steele and Deepak Chopra. Also a rewarding part of this field are the many audio dramas John has had the opportunity to work. In 2007, John engineered “Sherlock Holmes Theatre” which won an AUDIE Award (2007) for Best Audio Drama. In 2008, he engineered and co-produced “Sweeney Todd” which won two AUDIE Awards, one for Best Production and one for Best Audio Drama (2008). He also engineered, co-produced (with producer Yuri Rasovsky) and composed the music for “The Oresteia” in 2009.
John Baker currently resides with his musician wife Lisa LaRue in Oklahoma, and continues songwriting, guest spots and collaboration with other artists while operating his studio business.
A native Portlander, Merrill Hale has played drums for over 25 years. For the past 3 years Merrill has been writing, recording and producing music in the prog rock band ARZ. A perfect fit for Merrill’s writing and playing style, ARZ affords him the luxury of pushing his musical limits without compromise. Before meeting the creator of ARZ Steve Adams in a Yes tribute band called All Good People, Merrill had played for numerous bands in many styles over his career. Anchoring his technique with formal training and education, he now teaches drums for a living.
he began playing keyboards as a small child, her grandmother noticing she was playing “These Boots are Made for Walkin'” the Nancy Sinatra hit, on her toy Magnus Chord organ. Later sought out by shopping malls and department malls as a young girl, she started writing her own songs and designing her own ‘album covers.’ This led and inspired her for her future careers, which also include graphic design.
Not only a fan of progressive music such as Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Yes, Genesis, and others, the hometown boys Kansas played a big part in her influential years, as well.
Before setting out for a record contract, she collaborated with Gilli Smyth of “Gong” on a self-released ‘tape’ titled “Dreamscapes.” “Dreamscapes” was released by the U.S.-arm of Voiceprint, and soon after, she began label shopping for a longer-lasting deal.
A composer and keyboardist, LaRue became the first female artist signed to the Sound of America Records label (SOAR) Natural Visions sublabel. Her debut release was titled “Beloved Tribal Women,” produced by Will Alexander (keyboard tech to Keith Emerson, Herbie Hancock, and many other great keyboard players). The CD also received accolades for being a first in combining art with music. The CD booklet featured 14 paintings by the most awarded female Native American artist in the world, Joan Hill. The idea was, “A picture paints a thousand words,” so naturally, the music was instrumental, letting the art inspire the listener. Since, she has released “Children’s Songs in the Cherokee Language,” “That Ol’ Sofkee Spoon,” “Ama,” “Transformation 2012,” “World Class” released as Lisa LaRue Project 2K9, and “Fast and Blue” with 2KX. She has also appeared on recordings by others, including Oliver Wakeman Band guitarist, David Mark Pearce (“Strange Ang3ls” album), and Esquire with Nikki Squire (“Stay Low”).
Don Schiff has worked with some of the best – including Elvis Presley, Tina Turner, Pat Benatar, Sheryl Crow, Sammy Davis, Arjen Lucassen among many others. Don is also a member of “Rocket Scientists.” He is internationally known for his expertise with the NS/Chapman stick.
Special Guests who have performed with 2KX
JOHN PAYNE MICHAEL SADLER RYO OKUMOTO MITCH PERRY MAXI NIL BRENDA K MICHAEL WHEELER
Vocalist/bassist John Payne fronted ASIA for 14 years replacing John Wetton in 1992. 8 studio albums and 6 live albums followed including extensive world touring with the band. In 2006, John formed “ASIA Featuring John Payne” and is performing shows with his current lineup. Previous to ASIA, John sang with Roger Daltrey, CCCP, ELO Part 2 and more recently GPS plus being chosen as the Parson in Jeff Wayne’s The War Of The Worlds stadium tour. Most recently, John was an integral part of hit Las Vegas production, “Raiding the Rock Vault.” . He appears on the Lisa LaRue album “Transformation 2012″ , Lisa LaRue Project 2K9, “World Class” and 2KX’s “Fast and Blue” where he also co-produced, mixed and mastered the album.
(photo by merriewells, used with permission)
Michael Sadler is internationally known as the lead singer and frontman for “Saga.” He has collaborated on various projects as well, including the recent “Roswell Six” endeavor.
Having recorded and worked with the likes of Kitaro, Phil Collins, Eric Clapton, Aretha Franklin and numerous others, Ryo is best known as the keyboardist for “Spock’s Beard.” He is also a member of GPS as well as K2 and Asia featuring John Payne.
Over the last 25 years, Mitch Perry has worked alongside some of the most renowned and popular musicians in the world. Having worked with Michael Schenker, Cher, Glenn Hughes, Billy Sheehan, Asia Featuring John Payne, he is currently working with his own band. Mitch was awarded ‘Best Rock Guitarist’ at the 2000 LA Music Awards, as well as ‘Instrumental Album of the Year’ 2007 and various other awards.
Maxi Nil (former singer-composer of Elysion 2003-2008) joined the band On Thorns I Lay with whom she recorded one album which was recently released. Some of the most important moments for Maxi were supporting Amorphis in 2004. The Gathering in 2007, Diary of Dreams in 2008, sharing the stage with Star Industry in the song Last Crusades and singing twice on stage with Moonspell in Athens. In February 2009, and while working on her solo album, she supported Dutch band Agua De Annique. In June 2009, she joined Visions of Atlantis, an Austrian band.
Brenda K of San Diego, California followed the traditional career path of a classical violinist, beginning private musical studies at the age of six and obtaining a Bachelor of Music degree from San Diego State University where she won a Kiwanis scholarship her freshman year, performing recitals, weddings, musical theatre and on other musicians’ recordings, hopefully edging toward a permanent seat in a symphony orchestra. When nothing sustainable materialized, she took a brief hiatus from music where she met multi-instrumentalist and composer Chi Saito in Tokyo and the two began a long-term collaboration.
Her classical background was greatly enriched by her experiences performing with various ensembles working in different styles of music such as country, jazz, Celtic, pop, rock, and World, for which her improvisation skills that had been recognized during her youth by the receipt of several Music Teachers’ Association awards came in handy. Her recording credits include work on independent recordings with members of Weather Report, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Three Dog Night, the Doobie Brothers, and many others.
She is currently based in Los Angeles, California, and is concentrating on recording and performing with her own all-original cross-genre ensemble, The Panache Orchestra, which she co-founded with Chi Saito in Tokyo, Japan in early 1999. The Panache Orchestra is presently engaged in collaborative efforts with San Diego Zydeco/Blues band, the Bayou Brothers , featuring San Diego blues luminary Charles Burton, and KanVas, a Los Angeles-based tribute to the progressive rock band Kansas.
Lisa LaRue / 2KX
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