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Verona’s Got The Blues

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Verona is a town of music. We’ve got several concert bands, a marching band and a jazz band. We’ve got musicians who perform in show orchestras and musicians who favor acoustic instruments. We’ve got garage bands created by adults and teens, all playing different styles of music. Yet, in all this music, we don’t hear a lot of one of the key styles of American music: the Blues. Liam Holland has a plan to change that, in Verona and beyond.

Holland is the founder of Earth Prime Productions, a video production company that does work in commercials, corporate productions and concert videos. If you’ve watched Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? or the Rachel Ray Show, you’ve seen some of Holland’s work for big screens. But he recently debuted a show that is aimed at a much smaller screen, a Web TV project called Raw Blues.

Blues musician Bob Lanza, featured in the Web TV series "Raw Blues".
Blues musician Bob Lanza, featured in the Web TV series “Raw Blues”.

Web TV is the sweet spot of video programming now. Thousands of hours of Web-only content is being produced annually, shows like Burning Love and Seattle Grace, a Web spinoff of Grey’s Anatomy. Netflix rolled out House of Cards, while Google is bankrolling 100 new video channels on YouTube, to the tune of $5 million each. According to a survey just released by the global consulting firm Accenture, 65% of those surveyed watch Internet video content at least once a week.

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This is the world into which Holland has launched Raw Blues, a series dedicated to the blues artists beyond the big headliners. People that you might hear playing locally if only you knew they were out there and had the chance to get to the club in time, like the Bob Lanza Blues Band.

“The Blues is one of the most influential genres of music, but most people only know the big names like BB King, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker and Eric Clapton,” Holland says. “It’s hard to discover new Blues music to listen to.”

Holland might not seem to be the obvious director’s choice for the role of reviving interest in the Blues. For starters, he grew up thousands of miles from the Mississippi Delta, in England. “I guess people know from my accent that I’m not from Verona,” he quips. After a transatlantic romance turned into marriage, he moved to the U.S. and settled into video production work in New York. He brought his love of the Blues and, after raising funding for the show from a campaign on Kickstarter (the same way Verona actress Samantha Futerman is funding a documentary about her possible twin sister), he set a shooting date for late October. Hurricane Sandy scrambled that plan, cutting power to the studio Holland intended to use and forcing several artists to cancel.

If your idea of Web video is 30 seconds shot on the kids’ cell phone, be prepared to see something quite different in Raw Blues. With lush lighting and audio, each segment is 22 1/2 minutes, which is the standard run time for a 30-minute broadcast TV show. “The plan with this show is to get it on television, so we’ve chosen that format to make a move possible,” says Holland.

Holland taped six episodes of Raw Blues. So far, he’s released the introduction, which you can watch below, and a segment on the Bob Lanza Blues Band. “Reaction has been fantastic,” Holland says. “There’s been loads of really positive response. Lots of people said ‘I had no idea that that’s what the Blues was’. It’s really cool. I hope to bring Blues music to a new generation of listeners, and to get them to check out these acts.”

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Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citranohttps://myveronanj.com
Virginia Citrano grew up in Verona. She moved away to write and edit for The Wall Street Journal’s European edition, Institutional Investor, Crain’s New York Business and Forbes.com. Since returning to Verona, she has volunteered for school, civic and religious groups, served nine years on the Verona Environmental Commission and is now part of Sustainable Verona. She co-founded MyVeronaNJ in 2009. You can reach Virginia at [email protected]

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