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Joe Firstman bought an $18 cross-country Greyhound ticket from his home in North Carolina to Los Angeles, arriving with a beat-up guitar and head full of songs. He quickly found the big stage. It all happened quickly: first came the big Hollywood gigs, then the industry buzz, then the big deal with Atlantic Records and national tours with big rock stars like Sheryl Crow, Jewel, and Willie Nelson. There was ego and excess and beautiful ladies and music, music, music. Firstman wrote it all down and sang his songs like his life depended on it.
"In the songs of Joe Firstman, sensitive young men prowl the hills of Los Angeles, searching for fame and beauty, only to find self-destructive behavior and egos gone wild…” wrote Jim Farber in the New York Daily News. “While Hollywood's peaks and pitfalls have been prominently charted by songwriters from Don Henley, Stevie Nicks and Jackson Browne to Warren Zevon, Firstman aims to reinvent the milieu for his own generation."
When the world stopped spinning, he’d landed a regular gig as the bandleader on the “Last Call with Carson Daly” show. For four years, this was his university – playing and writing songs in whatever style the show’s musical guests played and learning how to engage a studio audience, day in and day out.
Firstman released his 7th studio album, “Swear It Was A Dream,” on September 6, 2011. The album features 10 new songs written and recorded over the last year in studios in Charleston, SC, Mexico, Los Angeles, and Nashville. Of the album, Firstman shared, “You can really feel the year in the record, you can feel the whole journey in there and it’s my best piece. It’s my best thing thus far.”
“Swear It Was A Dream” is the follow-up to Firstman’s two 2010 releases, “El Porto,” and “Live At The Treehouse,” both released on Rock Ridge Music. In 2009, Firstman’s full-time, four-year job as bandleader on “Last Call with Carson Daly” ended when Firstman shifted his focus to his independent musical pursuits. Prior, Firstman put out a full-length (“The War of Women”) and an EP (“Wives Tales”) on Atlantic, plus another full-length (“DrAma”) and live EP (“Live at The Sandbox”), which were released independently.
As Firstman was wrapping up “Swear It Was A Dream” in Nashville, he formed a new band with longtime friends and collaborators Jaron Lowenstein, Toby Weaver, and John Lloyd, dubbed “Cordovas.” Their debut, self-titled, album features all new songs written and produced by Firstman in his first efforts at writing for a full-band and three part harmonies. Additionally, Firstman is currently producing Lowenstein’s forthcoming solo album.
Sam Llanas (formerly of the BoDeans) is an iconic American singer, acoustic guitarist, and songwriter. Best known for his unique and distinctively soulful voice, it was Llanas’ voice that supplied the trademark vocal on Robbie Robertson’s “Somewhere Down the Crazy River.” On November 18th, 2014 Llanas released The Whole Night Thru an all new studio record produced by longtime collaborator Gary Tanin. It features 9 new Llanas originals.