With all of the amazing musical talent in the Las Vegas, I have been meaning to start writing some “Artist Spotlight” posts where I can periodically point out some of my favorite up and coming artists. Last weekend I attended the Sunset Songwriting Festival where I was fortunate enough to hear some outstanding music, so I decided to dedicate my first “artists spotlight” section to some of the talented individuals who stood out in my mind.

In a previous post I had mentioned that some of the attendees had the opportunity to pitch their music to a panel consisting of Music Industry Blueprint founder Rick Barker, music supervisors Jonathan Watkins (EA Sports) and Frankie Pine (Whirly Girl Music), and publisher Suzan Koc (Songwriters Rendezvous). This song pitching session was a special feature made available to members of Songtown.com, who sponsored the festival. I specifically highlighted two artists who, in my opinion, had outstanding material- Cozi Zuehlsdorff and Dani Poppett. Both Cozi and Dani were fortunate enough to be able to perform a song during a performance of Nashville Unplugged at the Sunset Station Casino. Likewise, after the Nashville Unplugged show several artists had the opportunity to play their music, and I’ve highlighted a few of the standouts below.

After speaking with Cozi and her mother I learned that Cozi is an actress (she starred in the movie Dolphin Tale) who is trying to focus now on her musical career. Although past success as an actor/actress does not automatically guarantee future success as a musician (see, Corey Feldman), in Cozi’s case her music is strong enough to stand on its own and she should have no problem pursuing her musical career. If I had to describe her music in one sentence I might call it “piano driven pop”, although that’s an admittedly bad description. Her music is enjoyable and catchy. If you want to check out Cozi’s music, go to: http://www.cozizuehlsdorff.com/ or https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/originals/id944051326.

(l-r) Cozi Zuehlsdorff and Shelly Peiken perform at Nashville Unplugged.

The second artist whose material stood out was Dani Poppett, a singer-songwriter from Orange County, California. She immediately grabbed the attention of the panelists with a pulsing Bjork-esque pop track. Later that evening she demonstrated her musical versatality by performing an original country song with the guys from Nashville Unplugged which clearly impressed them. You can find her music at https://soundcloud.com/dani-poppitt and https://www.youtube.com/user/officialdanipoppitt.  Her work is a mix of electric pop and folk/country, and I think her music would be as equally appreciate by fans of Bjork and Norah Jones.

A pleasant surprise amongst the performers who played after Nashville Unplugged was Las Vegas songwriter Matt Taylor. Matt introduced himself as a saxophone player for the popular Jersey Boys show, but he also writes songs for a living. You can check out his songs at http://applegatemusic.com/songs, if you enjoy laid back country-inspired acoustic songs you might like “Lonely Is a Place I Know Well”.

Matt Taylor performs at the Sunset Songwriting Festival.
Matt Taylor performs at the Sunset Songwriting Festival.

Speaking of laid-back music, I also enjoyed the 60’s folk vibe of “I Like the Way That Sounds” by Marilyn Moser. You can check it out here: https://soundcloud.com/marilynmoser/the-way-that-sounds-1

Another local standout was the duo “Love You Two”, comprised of Jacqueline Strayve and Dayna Kovacic. They took a risk by performing their song “All In” without any instrumental accompaniment, but it paid off due to their great vocal harmonies. Speaking with them after their performance, I was surprised to learn that they had just formed their duo and this was their first performance together! Also, their a capella rendition was borne out of necessity as they don’t have any backup musicians….. yet. So if you are a local Las Vegas musician looking for some singers, check them out!

(l-r) Megan Barker, Cynthia Ford, Marilyn Moser, Jacqueline Strayve, and Dayna Kovacic perform at Sunset Songwriting Festival.

In the future I hope to spotlight some more up and coming Las Vegas artists but in the meantime, if you are searching for new music and need some direction feel free to check out some of the artists mentioned above.