Making a Scene Presents an interview with Val Starr of Val Starr and the Blues Rocket!
Healing Kind of Blues is Val Starr & The Blues Rocket’s 6th CD Release hits the streets on January 21st, 2022. The album continues on with Val’s unique style of uplifting, inspiring, California Blues. It contains multiple styles of blues, including shuffles, swing, ballads and rock infused blues. The album features special guest appearances by Canadian powerhouse Blues performer, Debra Powers and blues fiddliest, Ilana Katz Katz. Largely written during the pandemic, Val Starr States “Above all else, there is no denying the healing power of music.”
Val Starr & the Blues Rocket, like all artists, was caught in the Pandemic of 2020 as it set off a world-wide crisis and produced many new on-line media skills in musicians that had previously never had to deal with that end of the business. Staying in touch with fans and friends, making at-home live clips and videos, trying to get tips to pay bills, and developing content for platforms such as Can’t Stop The Blues. Val Starr made a few at-home videos playing to tracks from her song library, did a Facebook Live show, produced three 20 min segments of content for Can’t Stop The Blues, and recorded two songs pandemic style with her bandmates, sending out demos, getting recorded tracks back, and then building and mixing the songs, and getting them out to radio for airplay. The two tracks are “Winter of 2020” and “So Easy Isolating With You f. Victor Wainwright” and both songs are on the band website www.valstarr.com on Spotify, Apple Music, and in on-line stores.
Val Starr & the Blues Rocket latest CD release, “Lighter Side of the Blues” came out in January of 2020 and remained on the RMR Blues Charts for over 22 consecutive weeks, peaking at #10. This album was met with worldwide radio support, incredible reviews and is still being played by many blues stations. Their radio success can be attributed to their talent, hard work, unique songs, and their extensive music business background.
“I Always Turn The Blues On” was Val Starr & The Blues Rocket’s fourth all original blues CD, it hit the streets on August 1st, 2017 and in 2018 made it to #12 on the RMR Blues Charts. The songs are written from the heart, and tell tales about love and loss, breaking free of bad relationships, and learning to live with the good ones. “Whether Blues” is a blues cry for people to come together and just get along. “What Happens After Midnight (Nothin Good)” is an blues anthem that every parent should relay to their teenagers
For several years, John and Val brought blues acts to Sacramento by way of their own summer concert series, Blues On The Patio. BOTP, and other blues festivals such as the Blues & Bones Festival in Sacramento and in Idaho, Vacaville Blues Festival, El Dorado Hills Art & Wine Festival, Folsom Rhythm & Brews and Orangevale Pow-Wow-Days, have provided the Blues Rocket with the opportunity to share the stage with top blues artists such as Albert Cummings, Rick Estrin, Coco Montoya, Tommy Castro, EG Kight, EC Scott, Laurie Morvan, Chris Cain, Ms Arbess Williams, Daniel Castro, Dennis Jones, Kaye Bohler, Lisa Mann, Mick Martin, Leah Tysse, Mike Hammar and more. The band was also a finalist in the 2012 Sacramento International Blues Competition and in 2018 and 2020 she performed in Memphis during IBC week for the Women In Blues and the Blind Racoon showcases.
Val Starr & The Blues Rocket released their first CD, “Cool Ride” in 2012 to favorable reviews. “Blues Away” their second CD which came out in 2014, was well received at blues radio and went to #4 on the Airplay Direct Global Blues chart. In addition, Val had a #1 Airplay Direct holiday hit single with “Spending Christmas With The Blues” in December of 2015. In February of 2016, Val released her third all original blues CD, “Woman on a Mission” which received solid radio support, holding the #1 spot on the Airplay Direct Global Radio Blues Charts for 5 straight weeks through March, 2016. The band also debuted on the Roots Music Report blues charts at #39.
Her ultra talented band is comprised of Sacramento blues professionals, John Ellis on bass, Tim Brisson on lead guitar, Frankie Munz on harmonica, and Paul Farman on drums. Lighter Side of the Blues also features several top Sacramento based side musicians including Todd Morgan of Todd Morgan & The Emblems on keys, Danny Sandoval and Saxophone Zot on saxophones and Horacio Socarras on percussion.
Val Starr has experienced a lifetime of music both as a performer and music industry executive. Raised in southern California, Val started singing and playing guitar at age 12. Her earliest musical influences were female singer/songwriters like Carole King and Joni Mitchell, and bands of the 60’s and 70’s. Her mother also instilled in her a love of musical comedy, which is apparent in the theatrical way she delivers her songs live, her catchy lyrics, and her amusing storytelling.
Val’s music business career began in the late 70’s working for record labels, ABC, Chrysalis and Polygram as an executive assistant. In the early 80’s her focus shifted to radio promotion and from then on into the late 90’s, Val had a successful career as an independent radio promoter. Val worked in the music industry by day, and at night, played the L.A. club scene, in original rock bands “Local Authority” and “Threshold.”
In 1983, Val married bassist, John Ellis, who remains the cornerstone of her band to this day. At the end of the eighties, the family, which now included son James (and later son Sean), relocated to the Bay area. For the next twenty years John and Val continued to write, record and perform with local bands in San Francisco.
At the start of the new millennium, streaming audio caught her eye. She had witnessed firsthand as an indie radio promoter, how hard it was to get records added to the limited airplay slots available at terrestrial radio. As a result, she started one of the first streaming audio networks, Allradio.com, and went on to launch Choiceradio.com and then, Gotradio.com. GotRadio continues to be a popular global radio network and along with its 38 custom channels, features a 24/7 blues station called Bit O Blues.
In 2003, Val and her family moved to Sacramento and continued playing in local cover bands. Around and about 2010, tired of the cover band/ club scene, Val and John started showing up at local blues jams in the area, out of which she found the talent to form her first blues band. “I found the blues and with it I discovered my voice. I had been singing covers for so long, imitating other singers, I forgot what my own voice sounded like. I may not have the ‘typical female blues whiskey voice’, but I know that I was always meant to sing and play the blues.” – Val Starr
From programming an online international 24/7 blues radio station, to promoting her own blues concerts in Sacramento, to recording and performing with her top-notch band, Val Starr & the Blues Rocket is on a Cool Ride that will take your Blues Away, she is a Woman on A Mission who can truly say I Always Turn the Blues On and she will show you the Lighter Side Of The Blues.