Making a Scene Presents an Interview with Val Starr
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. I Always Turn The Blues On also features several top Sacramento based side musicians including Todd Morgan of Todd Morgan & The Emblems on keys, Daniel Castro and Steve Wall on lead guitar, Guyle Taber on drums and Tim Barron on harmonica.
The band’s prior release, Woman on a Mission received solid radio support, holding the #1 spot on the Airplay Direct Global Radio Blues Charts for 5 straight weeks in March, 2016. The band also debuted on the Roots Music Report blues charts at #39. Their radio success can be attributed to their talent, hard work and music business background.
For several years, John and Val brought blues acts to Sacramento by way of their own summer concert series, Blues On The Patio. BOTP, along with other blues festivals such as the Blues & Bones Festival, 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 Tommy Castro, Coco Montoya, Rick Estrin, Chris Cain, E.G. Kight, Dennis Jones, Laurie Morvan, E.C. Scott, Albert Cummings and more. The band was also a finalist in the 2012 Sacramento International Blues Competition and performed in Memphis during IBC week for the Women In Blues and the Blind Racoon showcases.
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 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
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 with “Spending Christmas With The Blues,” in December of 2015
Val Starr is an extraordinary singer and songwriter who writes songs gleaned from everyday life, love, friends, and family. In 2016 Woman On A Mission was submitted for nomination to the 2016 Grammys, and I Always turn The Blues On was submitted for consideration for the 2017 Grammy Award.