Dear readers, 
Many of you who have followed Valslist for the past nine years have been asking about my blog. It was the classic case of the first thing to go (sad) as the business grew (happy). For those of you who are new to Valslist, I write a monthly (or so) blog post about life & music. I'm an enigma in the music industry, a backstage boomer, a category of one. My posts are simply about what I observe when I'm places I shouldn't logically be: backstage, hanging with the band, in the mosh pit, in the press tent, on stage, facing the audience, behind the mic, in the sound booth, in the green room, on the set, in the studio, behind the camera, on tour, at private sessions, in the board room, in the C-suite, at headquarters, conference calls, and curtain calls ...  And because of my age (wisdom) I see a lot and I have a lot to say. I love telling it like it is and in my own tiny way I hope to impact an industry that needs some grown-ups who simply care about the artist FIRST. Stay tuned, we've been quite busy with some cool new ideas that no one has thought of yet. The blog is back too. And as I've been saying for nine years: JUST LISTEN. 

(Val Haller, founder / ValslistRadio)                                                 READ OLDER BLOG POSTS

Val's Blog   
   July 4, 2016

Val's 4th of JulyPlaylist
stream it here:
ValslistRadio App  (iOS/Android)















 4th of JULY 


They push the boundaries. They take what they know and create new.  They're innovative. They interpret and create. They learn from those before them, pay homage and honor -- as they blaze a new trail. We can follow or not. Some of us will judge. Some of us will fear. Some of us will shun counter-culture. Some of us can't go to the edge. But some will look up. Some will take note. Some will listen and agree. Some will embrace. Some will follow. But always remember this. We are free to listen. We are free to interpret. We are free to decide. We are free to choose. We are free. 

Let's flashback on this Independence Day. The year is 1814. The song is THE STAR-SPANGLED BANNER. The songwriter is attorney and poet, Francis Scott Key. You know the words, you bellow it loudly with your fellow Americans every pre-game. You hear it. But are you listening?  

Today I'm giving you 3 versions of the song with 3 interpretations. Make sure you scroll all the way down so you don't miss anything. And my plea to all of you is, however we sing it, let's just please keep singing it. Now more than ever it's our National Anthem. It's our fight song.

 Lend me your ear. This won't take long. 


year:  1814
by Francis Scott Key 


The most memorable lines involve rockets and bombs, 
 and the lesser-known verses conjure "the havoc of war" and "the gloom of the grave."

here's why he wrote it:  WATCH

Why do we sing it before sporting events?

"The second thing to remember? It's a taunt, a lyrical grenade 
chucked at a defeated opponent. 
'See that flag still flying, the one you tried to capture?' 
it famously asks the British. Then it answers: "Scoreboard." 
                                                                                                                 -ESPN The Magazine


year:  1969



year:  2016 
Tony award nominated
 Andrew Lloyd Weber "Awakens the Empowering Message of Rock"
Winter Garden Theatre NYC

Real life:  
age 13.   guitar prodigy.   prowess on the 6-string.  mentored by Jon Baptiste.  
nickname "Taz" after Tazmanian Devil = plays so fast
shared stages Derek Trucks, Stevie Nicks, Gregg Allman, Warren Haynes, Soulive.
New Orleans Jazz Fest. Ellen. Barclays Center. Stephen Colbert. GMA. The View.
first song he learned on guitar: "Smoke On the Water"
first Broadway show he attended: "Motown" 

(my interview with Brandon below)



VAL:  Obviously you've seen (and studied) Jimi Hendrix' SSB rendition from Woodstock 1969. What made you choose that particular song?

BRANDON:  Being that we are close to Independence day, we thought it would be nice to put something out for the holiday. I am in the Broadway production of School of Rock The Musical. The show has many references to classic rock and some amazing original rock music written by Andrew Lloyd Webber. We rock out every night. We thought the iconic rendition of Hendrix's classic cover of SSB would be perfect.

VAL:  How long did it take you to master this?  How did you do it?

BRANDON:  I learned it last summer for a soon to be released film called Here Comes Rusty. I have been fooling with it ever since. I learned the song in about a half hour. But putting the Hendrix flavor on it with my interpretation took me a few hours. I did not want to play it exactly the same as Mr Hendrix, that's his. But his version was my main influence. 

VAL:  With everything going on in the world today (politics, terrorism, etc.) how does it make you feel to play this song, this way?  It's quite powerful! 

BRANDON:  I really liked my history class this year where we studied American History. I learned a lot about how we became the great country we are now. Playing this song in this way is great for me because I love rock. So I am able to play it how I like, and say thanks to our great country at the same time.


 a must-watch jam session:
Brandon shares the stage with a Valslist favorite artist:

"Bright Lights Big City"

the shredding begins at  3:18

The Star Spangled Banner Lyrics
By Francis Scott Key 1814

Oh, say can you see by the dawn's early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
'Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more!
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!





VALSLIST RADIO - mobile app
our signature playlists - on your phone
streaming / iOS / Android / $1.99


Chicago Botanic Garden + Valslist presents
feat:  JOE HERTLER & the RAINBOW SEEKERS (R&B, funk, soul, Motown)
Premier Concert Pkg upgrade includes:
Parking, intimate band meet/greet pre-show, cocktails in Bonsai courtyard 
with popular Chicago mixologist, and priority concert seating. 

tickets here  (first 2 concerts sold out!)

Chicago IL - Grant Park
July 27, 28, 29, 30
4 Days this year!  25th Anniversary
Radiohead. Lana Del Rey. Red Hot Chili Peppers. LCD Soundsystem. 
- this year's lineup (baby bands) is basically insane -

Del Mar, CA
September 16, 17, 18
Music, Comedy, Art, Craft Spirits, Gourmet
YES: shade, seats, restrooms, indulgences, perfect weather, killer lineup, Aerosmith & cast of Silicon Valley (HBO)
NO: porta-potties, dirt, dust, mud, EDM, mosh pits, rain, kid crowds

Burlington VT 
Sept 17-18
A Valslist favorite - this boutique fest is 2 days in a gorgeous setting 
: the home town fest of Grace Potter (who headlines both nights)

* * *

If you're so inclined, check out two of my favorite writers:

"for the years between being hip and breaking one"
a music blog by Nancy Davis-Kho

a life blog by NYT best-selling author / journalist / CBS This Morning /  
sample:  "The Death of Civility"     (love this one)


     A boutique music website that helps busy adults keep up with new music. Effortlessly.






Visit our blogFollow us on TwitterFind us on PinterestFind us on FacebookView our profile on LinkedIn