|CD: Anna Cheek’s “Water Over the Bridge"|
Nippertown! (Dec '10)
|Roll Magazine — Highlights|
Roll Magazine (Dec '10)
|CD Review: Anna Cheek— "Water Over The Bridge"|
Roll Magazine (Dec '10)
|Cheek's "Water Over The Bridge" Sparkling|
Sound Advice, Kingston Freeman (Jul '10)
|Anna Cheek at the Jolly Roger|
Limin' Times, British Virgin Islands (Dec '06)
|Anna Cheek Band Launches Virgin Islands Tour|
The Daily News, US Virgin Islands (Jan '06)
|A Triple Threat Singer|
By Hinda Mandell, Bennington Banner, VT (Jul '05)
|Anna Cheek's songs cross genres|
By Robert Hicks, Morris County Daily Record, NJ (Jun '05)
|Troy music man opens series with Cheek |
By Don Wilcock, The Troy Record, NY (Mar '05)
By Dale Robin Lockman, York County Coast Star, ME (Feb '05)
|'Getting the Right Feeling'|
By Scott McLennan, Worcester Telegram & Gazette, MA (Feb '05)
|Anna Cheek at Mast Cove|
Portland Press Herald, ME (Nov '04)
|The Anna Cheek Band Enthralls Listeners|
By Jennifer Hagan, York County Coast Star, NH (Feb '04)
|Anna on a Bridge (Mar 2003)|
By Gary Alexander, Woodstock Times, NY (Mar '03)
CD: Anna Cheek’s “Water Over the Bridge"
by Greg Haymes
Singer-songwriter Anna Cheek wrapped up her latest album more than a year
ago, but she’s been battling a lengthy illness in the meantime, so “Water
Over the Bridge” is just now finally getting its long overdue release.
It’s well worth the wait.
Woodstock area resident Cheek possesses a captivating voice that’s been
compared to everyone from Grace Slick to Eartha Kitt, from Joni Mitchell
to Imogen Heap, from Rickie Lee Jones to Marianne Faithfull. Which is, of
course, a testament to the truly unique quality of her voice. She doesn’t
really sound like any of those artists… or anyone else. And try though
music writers might, the comparisons ultimately don’t get to the heart of
the matter. Or the music.
And her voice isn’t her only strong suit, either. She’s a classically
trained pianist, who brings a command of dynamics and an uncommon sense of
intimacy to her playing. And she’s a magnificent songwriter, too, and
with this collection of 10 original songs, she’s created moody,
atmospheric music that is bolstered by memorable pop hooks.
And she’s surrounded herself with a team of ace musicians. Produced by
Robert Frazza, the album features contributions by guitarists
Jim Weider, cellist
drummer Jerry Marotta
steel guitarist Kevin Maul, who sparkles on the haunting ballad, “Faith.”
This is a gem of an album.
Anna Cheek and her band – which includes the members of the
Todd Nelson Trio
and percussionist Bob Resnick, as well as backing vocalists
and Bill Ross – celebrate the release of “Water
Over the Bridge” with a performance at the
at 7:30pm on Sunday [Dec 19, 2010]. The Todd Nelson Trio opens the show with selections
from their debut album, “Here.” Admission is $10.
Roll Magazine — Highlights
Sun 12/19 - ANNA CHEEK CD Release for Water Over the Bridge, at Bearsville
It's been a trying year for
pianist/songwriter/chanteuse Anna Cheek, who has spent the better part of
it on an unintended hiatus, battling illness that sapped her of energy,
making performance all but impossible. But fine music won't be denied,
and though it was recorded last year, her Water Over the Bridge has
patiently awaited its proper debut, and it's well worth the wait (please
this month's roll CD reviews). Originally from New Orleans, by way of
Canada, Maine, and Puerto Rico, the classically-trained Cheek weaves
threads from multiple musical sources into a highly individualistic sound
that one reviewer has compared to "Eartha Kitt meets Rickie Lee Jones"
(though I would add a dash of the Cranberries' Dolores O'Riordan). With a
strong backing unit including longtime collaborators Kyle Esposito (bass)
and Manuel Quintana (drums,), plus guitar whiz Todd Nelson, percussionist
Bob Resnick, and backing vocalists, this show should serve as a potent
reintroduction for an important regional artist we at roll hope to see
more of in the coming year. Welcome back, Anna! Bearsville Theater, 291
Tinker St. (Rte. 212), Woodstock/Bearsville,
845.679.4406. 8 PM
CD Review: Anna Cheek— "Water Over The Bridge"
by Crispin Kott
Describing the sound of Anna Cheek’s voice is nearly impossible, so
perhaps it makes more sense to talk about how it feels to listen to it.
It’s unsettling, but so are a lot of things you actually love. It’s
unique, not necessarily in what it sounds like, but what it does. She’s
an artist in every sense of the concept, especially with her voice.
Witness “Fountainhead,” on which Cheek directs the musical core with a
vocal at once unwieldy and terrific. This is followed by the absolutely
stellar “Midnight Blue Sky,” with a chorus that amps up the notion of arms
aloft singalongs in splendid fashion.
“Pretender” opens with the shimmering sound of something in reverse before
one of the most intriguing drum tracks in recent memory joins Cheek’s
piano and forlorn vocal. It’s perhaps the album’s standout track, though
it’s difficult to pick just one with such a wealth of wonder at one’s
Who this album is for is a mystery, because it’s really for anyone who
longs for sophisticated music that resonates in the heart, which takes on
contemporary notions like the backing vocals-as-strings on “In Another
Minute” that recalls last year’s celebrated Dirty Projectors album, Bitte
Orca. But there are also classic sounds here alongside the entirely
original, which is perhaps the best way to describe Water Over the Bridge:
A singular work of an original artist in a unique yet diverse musical
Cheek's "Water Over The Bridge" Sparkling
by David Malachowski
Friday, July 2, 2010
Artist: Anna Cheek
Album: "Water Over the Bridge"
Local treasure Anna Cheek has been battling illness for some time, and
we're lucky she's on the mend just as this sparkling new CD
"Water Over The Bridge" is released.
Produced by Robert Frazza in Woodstock, Cheek has written all the songs
here, with an ethereal bent and an eye for detail.
A long list of local luminaries join her. Along with producer Frazza, renowned
guitarists Mike DeMicco and Jim Weider, drum master Jerry Marotta, keyboard
wizard Ross Rice, pedal steel giant Kevin Maul, and cellist Jane Scarpantoni
all join the fray.
Born in New Orleans, Cheek has lived in Niagra Falls, Montreal, and now makes
her home in nearby Palenville.
After a delicate inro in "Ever So Gently," a full band crashes in full force.
Here Cheek's voice is innocent and sweet, bolstered by a fast vibrato,
and isn't swallowed by the wall of sound, but instead, stands proudly
on top of the luch, layered pop fare waving a flag.
In the haunting "Fountainhead," she sings about being insecure, but doesn't
sound it. "Midnight Blue Sky" is dramatic and majestic, though still finds
a funky groove, and the exquisite "Pretended" surely channels Tori Amos,
while Cheek closes with the stately strings of "In Another Minute."
Well thought out, "Water Over the Bridge" is a quiet masterpeice from an artist
who obviously lives to play.
Anna Cheek at the Jolly Roger
Limin' Times, British Virgin Islands
Friday, December 15, 2006
The Anna Cheek Band returns to the Jolly Roger this weekend for the
first installment of the Bud Light True Music Series.
Anna Cheek's distinctive voice has been compared to Tori Amos and
Norah Jones. A classically trained pianist, Anna was born in New
Orleans and raised in Canada where she studied at the Royal
Conservatory of Music. She spent a decade in Puerto Rico where she
began her performing career and currently resides in Woodstock, NY.
You can see Anna perform on this Friday and Saturday night from 8:00
pm. Dinner reservations are recommended.
Anna Cheek Band Launches Virgin Islands Tour
by Lydia Harris
The Daily News, US Virgin Islands
ST. THOMAS, US Virgin Islands - Earthy, soulful, unique.
Singer-songwriter-pianist Anna Cheek's sultry voice has been described as
"Eartha Kitt meets Rikki Lee Jones."
The Anna Cheek Bank kicked off its debut Virgin Islands' tour Wednesday at
Paradise Point, then moved over to Jack's last night. The band will be at
the Jolly Roger on Tortola tonight and Saturday. On Sunday, they head for
Jost Van Dyke and a performance at Foxy's. The tour continues on St.
Thomas, St. John and St. Croix through Jan. 30.
Jan. 28, the band will be featured at St. Croix's BBQ Boogie at Sydney
This may be its first time on the islands, but already the Anna Cheek Band
has new fans.
As a singer, Anna's voice is more interesting elements than most pretty
vocalists in contemporary popular music. And her brand of music runs from
blues to folk and pop to rock with a little Latin and classical thrown in
for good measure.
Born in New Orleans and raised in Canada, mostly Niagara Falls and
Montreal, Anna studied classical piano at the Royal Conservatory of Music
in Toronto. After college, she spent 10 years in Puerto Rico where she
was, of all things, an engineer for The Timberland Company.
Reconciling being a musician and an engineer is not hard for this
exuberant performer. Anna sees direct connections between engineering and
music in the "constructualization and spatial relationships in intervals.
Both are very creative professions," she said. "I think most musicians
have mathematical minds."
In math or art or design, "the whole dimension of math applies," she said,
noting that intricate mathematical elements appear in all these forms,
including the classical music she began studying at age 5.
Songs from the heart
As a songwriter, Anna's songs provide a unique listening experience. Her
music and lyrics are honest, interesting, well-crafted and appeal on
multiple levels, intellectual as well as emotional.
"In spirit I'm a singer-songwriter. As a singer-songwriter, it's like
layers of your psyche. I write from the heart. I tend to feel like music
is more of a muse for me," Anna said in recent interview from her home
near Woodstock, N.Y.
She might have different ideas or phrases "hit" her from time to time, but
until they relate to her personally, she doesn't use them. It's more
about a natural expression of her inner self, Anna said.
"I love expressing myself vocally," she said.
Often described as a "musical poet," Anna talks about music the way a poet
talks about words. For her, it's about "how everything comes together and
makes meaning. Life is a fabric," she said. "It has texture and colors
and weaves together."
Writing music is like being "part of a conversation I'm having with
myself. … It's more a gift or companion. Someone with whom I have a
moment in time."
Anna's classical training springs to life in her expressive keyboard
progressions and her appreciation of different kinds of music comes
through most soulfully in her voice.
Listening to Anna Cheek, it sounds as though her voice and the piano are
one instrument, extensions of one another joined together.
"It's about hearing the voices in the orchestra and adding the singing as
another voice," another instrument in the orchestra, she said.
In fact, she said she is having to learn how to separate vocal techniques
from piano techniques.
The Anna Cheek Band
The Anna Cheek Band includes multi-talented musicians Manuel Quintana on
drums and percussion; Michael Colletti on bass guitar; and Kyle Esposito,
also a songwriter, on guitar.
Anna "depends on them a lot. They're fantastic musicians," she said.
Anna's music career didn't begin until she moved to Puerto Rico, where she
started playing with "guy bands," she said. That's where she met Manuel.
They've played together for about 10 years.
"His talent is organic. He is a naturally talented and experienced
musician," she said of Manuel. "He's remarkably talented. He always adds
Kyle studied at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. "He's a
well-schooled musician. He's just exquisite," Anna said. "He pulls out
tones and voices that just make the music sound better."
Also a well versed musician, Anna described Mike as "fun, talented, with
great energy. He always makes you have a better time when he plays."
Like a family out having a good time, "we laugh and it's a hoot!" Anna
said of the group. And that comes through when they are on stage.
With two albums to her credit, Anna is working on a third. Her musical
goal is to "explore, live and learn."
This album, she noted, has "a more tribal element to it," but the "essence
of Anna Cheek is still there." While the melody lines are simplified, Anna
said the writing is more sophisticated than her previous work. Still,
similar to her other albums, "there's a lot going on underneath," she
About coming to the Virgin Islands, Anna said the entire band is excited.
Of course, she visited the islands when she lived in Puerto Rico - where
the band spent a few days before this tour began - but never as a
"We're looking forward to being there," she said. "We totally appreciate
Charlie Campbell" - the tour promoter - "and how he's coordinating this
for us. We're looking forward to sharing what we have to share and
providing everybody with a great time."
After playing throughout Puerto Rico and the northeastern United States,
Anna also appreciates Doug Dick of WVGN who helped make the connection
with Campbell that resulted in the band coming to the islands to play.
A Triple Threat Singer
By Hinda Mandell
Arts and Features Editor
Thursday, July 21, 2005
A singing voice and a speaking voice are two altogether different
But that doesn't make it any less surprising to hear the difference
when singer-songwriter Anna Cheek talks on the telephone in a clear,
feminine voice, and then on her CD, "Closer to Now," where her voice
is by far huskier, grittier, certain.
A resident of Palenville, N.Y., in the Woodstock area, Cheek will
perform in town Friday as part of the free Summer in the Park Concert
Series at Merchant's Park.
She will also perform in trio format Saturday at Madison's Brewing
Company on Main Street. Both shows are scheduled to start at 7 p.m.
In an age where the air-waves are overstocked with the contrived
melodies and technologically enhanced voices of packaged stars, Cheek
and her band fulfill an entirely different niche - good, honest
musicmaking. As a triple threat, Cheek, 46, writes the lyrics and
melodies of all of her songs and also plays the piano when she
North of the border
Born in New Orleans and raised in Niagara Falls and Montreal, Cheek
studied piano at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Canada. But she
never intended to have a career in music; she thought that might
tarnish music's therapeutic abilities for her.
That all changed, however, when Cheek spent a decade in Puerto Rico
from 1989 where she began performing in cover bands and writing songs.
When she returned stateside, this time to the Woodstock, N.Y., area,
Cheek was armed with an arsenal of songs and melodies, and ready for
the recording studio.
In 2003 she released "Closer to Now." Two years later Cheek produced
"LIVE at Mass Cove."
With a smoky voice leading the pack, Cheek and her band - including
Manuel Quintana on drums and percussion, Kyle Esposito on guitar, Bob
Resnick on percussion and Scott Hargash on bass - infuse classical,
jazz and rock influences.
While her classical training is apparent throughout some of her songs,
in "Cold Fall Day," a classical piano solo leads into a heady ballad
about a suffocating relationship, most of her piano playing is
"I'm really drawn to rhythms," she said. "I find myself playing a rhythmic piano."
Working closely with her band, Cheek said it rocks when all of the
instrumentalists get into the groove, otherwise known as the pocket.
"When the drummer and base player are in sync, what I try to do is get
in the pocket with them," she said.
The relationship pendulum
Most of Cheek's songs speak of relationship doom, from loneliness to
uncertainty and blatant pleas for love. Cheek admits that "nuances of
relationships are an ongoing theme through most of my music."
In "River" she sings, "Oh river, please save me/I don't wanna drown in
this love/I can't even say his name out loud anymore/Oh won't you
please wash away this pain?"
But contrary to having a downer effect, Cheek said that people have
thanked her for her songs for uplifting them out of their misery, as
it provides them with comfort when struggling through trying personal
"Some of the stuff is pretty raw and it's out there, but it's who I
am," Cheek said, who added that the lyrical content of her songs are
not necessarily cold hard facts about her own life.
But Cheek mostly speaks, and sings, from experience. The title track
of "Closer to Now" was written in response to 9-11. Her husband, Zane
Cheek, a pilot for United Airlines, considered changing his flying
schedule which would have put him on one of the stricken planes.
"My personal response was to be grateful that he was here with me,"
said Cheek, who acknowledged that thousands of others endured fates
more tragic than her own.
Two friends inspired the lyrics behind "Piece of Heaven."
They were going through a difficult time in their relationship but
eventually smoothed out the bumps and had a baby. Everything worked
"Such peace and laughter in your papa's heart/And your mama says that
it's pure bliss," sings Cheek.
Cheek is a natural performer who rides high on adrenaline before a performance.
There's always that nervous tick at the beginning, she said, but when
she starts to sing and play the piano, that melts away as she gets in
"When you start playing and the synergy that happens between the
players. It's like a team," said Cheek.
She added this: Since she never wants to let her teammates down, Cheek
feels a personal responsibility to perform to her highest ability.
And that's when the groove sets in. "When I start playing, I'm home."
Anna Cheek's Songs Cross Genres
By Robert Hicks
Daily Record, NJ
Anna Cheek has journeyed a long way from her former identity as a
civil engineer in the international corporate world in Puerto Rico to
her current position as an emerging singer-songwriter in upstate New
Her music career has enabled her to wed a variety of musical styles
while giving her a voice to express her true, inner self.
"I finally realized where I fit is either nowhere or everywhere," she said.
"In terms of genre, I'm not a typical folkie. I'm not a typical
rocker. I'm not a typical classically trained pianist. I'm not a
country artist. I'm not a blues artist, but I'm a little bit of all
of those things. I always try to make sure that the essence of
emotion is expressed in my songs."
Cheek, who plays piano and sings, will perform with acoustic guitarist
Kyle Esposito and drummer/percussionist Manuel Angel Quintana at Café
Arabica in Morristown June 16.
"I like playing in trio," she said, "because in terms of leads and
solos, you can trade off, and there's a rhythmic element. You can
also get vocal harmonies and the essence of the songs."
Classically trained as a pianist at the Royal Conservatory of Music in
Canada, Cheek writes reflective ballads and gritty rock full of the
counterpoint and harmony she learned from studying everything from
Leonard Cohen, The Band and Bob Dylan to Joni Mitchell, Bruce Cockburn
"I've always been a storyteller with music," she said.
Born in New Orleans, she grew up in Canada, Maine and Florida before
studying civil engineering at Vanderbilt University in Nashville and
math and computer science at the University of Southern Maine.
From an early age, she studied at The Royal Conservatory of Music and
accompanied her parents, who sang songs at home. She later took
private classical piano lessons in Maine and Florida.
Her first corporate job with Timberline software company took her to
Puerto Rico, where she managed business process reengineering projects
at manufacturing facilities. In her spare time, she began playing
with local cover bands and taught music to local students before
forming her first band Seventh Wave.
During those years, she met her husband, who at the time worked as an
airline pilot for an air taxi service to Puerto Rico. A year after a
major airline hired him and relocated his base of operations to New
York City, he bought property near Woodstock in upstate New York.
"As I started to get older and realize my love for music through
jamming with people and sitting in with musicians, I was encouraged
internally and externally to find my way home in music," she said.
Through the local music scene in Woodstock, Cheek met
singer-songwriter Chuck McQuillan, who encouraged her to record her
song "Piece of Heaven." She met producers Michael Bitterman and Robert
Frazza, who in turn introduced her to bassist Tony Levin and guitarist
Jim Weider (The Band) and other local musicians who played on her
debut CD, "Closer to Now," in 2003.
Cheek's song "Run So Fast" has been featured on a compilation CD, "The
Goddess Within," a project whose sales proceeds will benefit women and
children who are victims of neglect and abuse. For more information,
visit www.thegoddesswithin. com.
Her songs also will appear in Tana Lee Alves' forthcoming indie film,
"Griffith Gaunt," based on a book by Charles Reade. Last year, Cheek
performed with Weider, Esposito, Quintana and background vocalist Lesa
Kraft for her "Live at Mast Cove" CD, recorded at an art gallery in
Kennebunkport, Maine, in November 2004.
Cheek is again working with Frazza and notable guest musicians on her
forthcoming studio CD, scheduled for release in December 2005.
Troy music man opens series with Cheek
By Don Wilcock
Troy Record, NY
Anna Cheek's family thinks she's eccentric.
"That's a nice way to put it," says the singer/songwriter making her
area debut with a CD-release party tonight at
Artie's River Street
Stage in Troy.
She then paraphrases what she imagines they're saying about her.
"Falling off the truck and hitting her head - what's wrong with Anna?"
One can understand why they might feel that way. Here's a young woman
properly educated at the The Royal Conservatory of Music in Canada who
gives up a fine-paying job in Puerto Rico in computer science to move
to Woodstock. There she devotes full time to music that sounds like
Grace Slick wrestling with Eartha Kitt on original lyrics set to piano
music influenced by Bach cantatas with the wrenching emotional
intensity of Marianne Faithful after her fall from grace with Mick
"When I was younger I ,did let (others' views) influence me, and now
I'm like, 'OK, that's fine, but this is who I am. This is my life,
and this is what I love to do. This is what I'm doing, and whether
I'm mildly or moderately successful, my success is about creating and
developing and presenting my art in the best way that I can.'" If
you're still trying to imagine her music from my description above,
give it a rest. You gotta hear this lady. She's Beat Street Jimmy
Barrett's latest discovery.
Since Love FM 104.9 dumped Barrett's top rated "Kaleidoscope," along
with their smooth jazz format in favor of country music (No, I'm not
gonna go there right now!), Jimmy's had some time on his hands -
always dangerous - and has come up with B.S. Promotions. (He assures
me the B.S. stands for Beat Street, the name of his wonderful record
store on River St.)
B.S. Promotions' first show is tonight, headlining Anna Cheek and
opening with one of Troy's former residents and an area favorite,
acoustic singer/songwriter Kim Buckley.
The show's at Artie's River Street Stage, across the street from
Barrett's store. It's a CD-release party honoring "Live at Mast Cove"
recorded in concert at Mast Cove Galleries in Kennebunkport, Maine,
Remember the first time you heard Rikki Lee Jones' voice and wondered
if she'd discovered a new, stronger brand of steroids? Or, better
yet, had her voice been picked up by one of those massive dishes
that's supposed to intercept extraterrestrial communications?
Anna's vocals will hit you the same way. She has a high-angst-ridden
vocal delivery with concise intonation. But it's the intensity and
obvious sincerity that sucks you in, and by the second song, you're
there for her.
And so is Jim Weider. You think you know what his roots-rock guitar
sounds like from his work with The Band and his fabulous workshop at
Fleet Blues Fest? You haven't heard him with Anna.
On "Black Dress," his guitar tickles and teases the melody without
succumbing to it. His high strung (literally) accompaniment for "On
My Mind" beautifully enhances Anna's quiet weep of desperation.
Weider will accompany Anna tonight, as will fellow Woodstock
heavyweights bassist Kyle Esposito and drummer Manuel Quintana. The
Capital Region's own Jim Resnick is on percussion.
In addition to the above-mentioned female vocalists, Anna has been
compared to Tori Amos, Nora Jones, Victoria Williams and Joni
Mitchell. Such journalistic liberties almost always telegraph the
coming of a truly unique stylist.
Ask almost any artist his or her reaction to such comparisons, and
most will beg off the question. Anna, however, does not blink.
"I think I have a very unusual voice, and I definitely can hear Eartha
Kitt. She is a wonder of a musician. If I have a career that's
anywhere close to what hers is with the kind of energy and charisma
that she has, I would be thrilled.
"So, I would say, vocally, a cross between Eartha Kitt and probably
Nora Jones on the softer side. Maybe I can hear Rikki Lee Jones in
terms of style. I know I don't have a beautiful voice like any of
these people as a whole, especially somebody like Joni Mitchell.
She's just so smooth. What was one of the other ones? Maryanne
Faithful - I could hear that a little bit."
Next to the voice, its Anna's piano playing that truly distinguishes
her. She's heavily influenced by Bach. "I've always been influenced
by many genres of music: folk, blues, jazz, rock, but I think the
classics are a very familiar place for me, and definitely Bach.
"The contrapuntal elements and the polyphonic kinds of influences of
that genre of music play into a certain hollowness, but at the same
time, there's a lot of depth, and there's a lot of heart and soul if
you listen closely. You just have to listen with that ear." And how
does she think Bach might have reacted to her music? "If I were in
his time, I think nobody would have got it, but I think now if he were
here, I hope that he would have recognized and appreciated what a
profound influence he's had on me in my music and how encouraged I am
having studied his music."
Her lyrics bring into focus the sadness one associates with the
classics of centuries past in songs such as "Cold Fall Day": "I
thought we'd travel through the corners of our make-believe
world/Living on our dreams together we'd reveal a secret too unreal/It
can be true/And God how I miss you."
"Not everybody listens to classical music as much as I was exposed to
growing up and still listen to, but there's a lot going on there. You
just have to lean forward a little bit to hear it. It's not so in
your face sometimes. If you listen to the different voices and you
think about the different instruments that play the different parts,
it's very sophisticated. Some of it is very sophisticated music."
This former computer science worker was born in New Orleans and has
lived in Canada, the coast of Maine and Puerto Rico. But in the three
years she's lived in Woodstock, she's landed one of her songs on "A
Taste of Woodstock" compilation, garnered local airplay for "Black
Dress" and recorded three times with Jim Weider, including "Closer to
Now," a 2003 CD that also featured Donna Lewis, Tony Levin and Robbie
"You know (whose influence) that is? That's (producer) Robert Frazza.
He has just helped. He's outstanding. Not only is he great at what
he does, he's a great friend and he's been a great supporter. He's
introduced me to many people in Woodstock that I would probably have
never had the opportunity to meet.
"He's working with Todd Rundgren and Joe Jackson right now. They're
getting ready to go out on tour next month. In between, this is
probably why the studio project is taking a little bit of time. When
he's home, he works with me and a few other people, and I'm happy to
wait my turn." Advertisement
Anna Cheek accompanied by Kyle Esposito, Manuel Quintana, Bob Resnick
and special guest Jim Weider hold a CD release celebration for "LIVE
at Mast Cove" tonight at 8 p.m. at Artie's River Street Stage, 194
River St. in Troy. Kim Buckley opens. For more information, call
The River Street Beat Shop at 272-0433.
Dale Robin Lockman, Music Columnist
York County Coast Star, ME
As any touring performer can tell you, there is nothing that is as
thrilling as returning to a venue that feels like home. That is
exactly how it is for pianist Anna Cheek as she makes her fourth
appearance at Mast Cove Galleries in Kennebunkport on Thursday, Feb.
10. Sometimes there is a connection, an electricity that occurs
between the artist and a place, and that appears to have happened
Cheek, a Canadian who now resides in Woodstock, NY is a classically
trained pianist. She applies her impressive technical skills to her
music with a broad stylistic brush, blending in influences from pop,
rock and jazz as well as her classical training to produce a fully
composed and orchestrated sound to her work. Her voice is soulful and
edgy and gives her sound a very contemporary feel, even as she mixes
in more weathered musical influences.
Years ago, Cheek's family lived in Kennebunkport when her dad was
employed in Sanford. She met another young singer who turned out to
be Mast Cove owner Jean Brigg's daughter Lise. They sang together at
local venues and were good friends. Briggs remembers, "Annie spent a
lot of time singing in this house when she and Lise were performing
together. I have such wonderful memories of that time, and the
closeness we shared. She was like another daughter. Not, to see how
far her music has come and to be a part of the growth of her career,
well that's just so marvelous!"
Other than the personal connection, what makes Mast Cove a place that
Cheek and her band want to come back to? Says Cheek, "The room, the
art, the piano, and of course, Jean-- it's a beautiful room, great for
listening and it's totally inspiring to be performing amidst all that
creativity. The piano itself is a joy to play, it's a sweet Yamaha
baby grand with great tone and action, so that's a treat. And Jean
herself is such a gracious and wonderful person… a true supporter of
the arts. I think she and her music series provide for such a lovely
experience for both the musicians and the audience. We really enjoy
performing there-- it's a special place."
Briggs notes that Cheek "plays a different style of music than what
people usually listen to here. The audience really connects with
Annie and her band because they are so personable-- all of them reach
out with warmth to the audience, so people get to know her, love her
music, and oh that voice! And they want to come back and see here
again and again. That is just fine with us."
For longtime jazz and blues aficionados or for listeners new to those
genres, Mast Cove Galleries' ongoing series of concerts are a
comfortable way to hear many talented musicians who are carefully
hand-picked by Jean Briggs. Her welcoming music parlor has it all,
great acoustics, an inviting ambience, good community, tasty
refreshments and ample opportunity for person-to-person encounters
with the artists. There is hardly a better music venue for jazz in
the area. A percentage of all art sales on music nights goes to
benefit York Hospice. The music schedule, along with directions and
other gallery info, is posted at
'Getting the Right Feeling' Anna Cheek
Anna Cheek takes care with her craft
By Scott McLennan
Telegram & Gazette Staff
Sunday, February 13, 2005
Anna Cheek: "I write when I'm
feeling emotional or sad.
Sadness influences me."
Because Anna Cheek listens for what her songs want, there's a much
better chance you will want to listen to Anna Cheek's songs.
"I try to be in touch with my emotions. With music, it's about
getting the right feeling," Cheek said during a recent interview. In
discussing the making of her last studio album, "Closer to Now," she
noted, "We took the approach of trying to hear what the songs were
trying to say. We tried different things on songs and paid really
close attention to what worked best."
So even though much of "Closer to Now" lingers in a romantic sadness,
Cheek's sound is expansive. She can be smoky and jazzy one moment,
folksy the next, and then wind up on an artsy, cabaret bent.
Cheek also explained that it's not good to get totally comfortable
with the recorded versions of her songs, as her interpretations can
likely change on stage. That assertion can be put to the test
Saturday when Cheek plays at Cafe Fantastique inside Rotmans furniture
store, 725 Southbridge St., Worcester. Set times are 6 and 8 p.m.
and admission is free.
Guitarist Jim Weider, known for his work with the most recent
incarnation of The Band, will be joining Cheek's combo of bass player
Kyle Esposito and drummer Manuel Quintana.
Weider and Quintana are veterans of Cheek's "Closer to Now" recordings
sessions, which also brought in Peter Gabriel's bass master Tony
Levin, harmonica player and singer Robbie Dupree, singer Donna Lewis,
cello player Abby Newton, and several others from the fertile music
scene of Woodstock, N.Y.
Woodstock is Cheek's latest outpost. The pianist and singer was born
in New Orleans, then moved to Toronto where she studied piano at the
Royal Conservatory of Music. Her peripatetic lifestyle then took her
to Maine and then to Puerto Rico. In the Caribbean, Cheek put more
time into developing her music and eventually teamed with drummer
"There have been lots of comings and goings. You have to say lots of
goodbyes when you move around. There's a certain hollowness and
sadness to that," Cheek said. "On the plus side, I write when I'm
feeling emotional or sad. Sadness influences me"
Cheek spent 10 years in Puerto Rico before moving to Woodstock. There
in upstate New York she met Robert Frazza, a multi-instrumentalist and
recording engineer who helped get the ball rolling for the making of
"Closer to Now."
"He works with heavyweights. He's out now with Todd Rundgren and Joe
Jackson. He had the connections to all the players in the area. I am
shy, so he had a hand in knocking on the door of people like Tony
Levin and Jim Weider," Cheek said.
Weider became a regular in Cheek's band and will be heard on her
forthcoming concert album, "Live at Mast Cove," which captures a
performance at Mast Cove Galleries in Kennebunkport, one of Cheek's
favorite places to play in Maine.
Listening to Cheek's songs makes it easy to understand why top-caliber
musicians would be drawn to an artist still making her way through the
maze of being an independent operator.
Cheek's songs boast strong melodies and well-crafted lyrics, and she
keeps the quality high regardless of genre bends. The bluesy "All Too
Well" and sleek, contemporary "Black Dress" boast the same careful
preparation as the classically shaped "Home" or singer-songwriter
knockout punch of "River."
Cheek's pliable voice is another element giving her music a distinct
stamp. Cheek offers a suitable alternative to those who like
piano-driven music with heart and brains yet can't find a pulse in
Norah Jones'music. Cheek also comes recommended to those who miss
Rikki Lee Jones.
Asked about handling the diversity of her sound, Cheek said, "It works
for me. I'm not the type who can play the same sound over and over.
Marketing my music and finding the right audience has been hard. To
build an audience you need to get into the good listening rooms. To
get into the good listening rooms, you need to prove to them that you
can bring an audience. But in the bigger picture, I'm glad to be
influenced by so many sounds."
Scott McLennan can be reached at
Anna Cheek at Mast Cove
Portland Press Herald
Seems like I've been running from myself for way too long
Seems like I've been heading for a fall
Seems like I've been searching for a way I can forget about you,
Seems like I need to find, I need to find my way back home
Excerpt from "Home" by Anna Cheek
Anna Cheek came home last week to play for her extended Maine family at
Mast Cove Gallery. Cheek, originally from Canada, spent time in
Kennebunkport during college and connected with Jean's daughter Lesa. The
two sang together at the former Port Gardens and have remained friends for
years. This is Cheek's fourth appearance at Mast Cove and a special one
marked by the recording of a live album due out at the end of the year
called, "Live at Mast Cove."
Cheek is a classically trained pianist having studied at the Royal
Canadian Conservatory in Toronto. Music has long been her best friend but
not always her career. She worked as an applications developer for
Timberland down in the Carribean and played music on the side. As time
went on, the lure of music was too great and Cheek left the corporate path
to pursue for her own.
When she moved to the rich artist enclave of Woodstock, NY, Cheek met a
lot of people in the neighborhood who were involved with music. It didn't
take long before they were encouraging her to take the next step.
"I met a guy at this studio, Midnight Modulation, and he asked if I'd
thought about doing an album and that's how I met Robert Frazza; now we're
rockin' and rollin!'"
Frazza arrived in Kennebunkport with his dual processor Mac in tow only
days removed from a two-week stint in Japan where he was recording an
album with Todd Rundgren. His initial session with Cheek yielded one
contact after another including Tony Levin, bass player for Peter Gabriel,
Robbie Dupree, Donna Lewis and Jim Weider. That was three years ago and
Frazza's been with Cheek ever since.
Anna's piano play provided the backdrop for her haunting voice that is
reminiscent of Tori Amos and Nora Jones. Her music reveals her passion
and compassion for life, each song capturing a moment of emotion. The
songs take flight when supported by the incredibly talented band behind
"If you think about it, it's each of our jobs to make it easier for the
person beside them," offered Cheek. "When you come to the party, you've
got to be focused, prepared to play. It's a team."
Weider, former member of The Band, gets a phenomenal range of sound out of
his '52 Telecaster, a guitar he's been lugging around since he picked it
up at a music shop in California over 30 years ago. Throughout the show,
Weider slapped the wooden body, bent the strings and worked the knobs
until it soared with vibrato.
Bass player and Berklee grad Kyle Esposito anchored the band with drummer
Manuel Quintana. Quintana was spot on adding tight, trance like beats --
a wonderful balance between Weider's screaming licks and Cheek's chord
This performance and others are a labor of love for Mast Cove Gallery
owner Jean Briggs. For the past twenty-five years, Briggs has grown Mast
Cove into the largest privately owned gallery in the state of Maine.
Along with this passion for the visual arts, Briggs developed an intense
love for music bolstered by her marriage to a concert pianist. And while
the marriage did not last, her love of music only grew.
"When he left, I missed the music probably more than him. I started going
down to Portsmouth and listening to jazz. Someone said, 'the best revenge
is living well' so I thought, 'I'm going to bring some really good
musicians back here. Everyone was in favor and I did it."
Indeed she has. Today, Jean attracts remarkable talent like legendary
blues harp man James Montgomery, most notable for his work with Duane
Allman and Johnny Winters.
The frequency of the performances is driven by interest; Briggs would
welcome more concerts but there just isn't enough local support. She
certainly doesn't do it for the money.
"I lose money every time I do this," she says through laughter. The
artists certainly don't come for the money either but to bathe in the
light of lively paintings and perform in this beautiful home. "I just try
to make it a nice happening for the musicians," said Briggs.
"I love it here," added Jim Weider, former guitarist in The Band. "You
roll out of bed and start playing."
For more information on Concerts at Mast Cove, contact Jean at
207-967-3453 or, via the web at
Anna Cheek's single,
Dress," can be heard on a few regional radio stations. She can be found
online at www.annacheek.com
along with Jim Weider
and Robert Frazza
The Anna Cheek Band Enthralls
By Jennifer Hagan
York County Coast Star
Thursday, February 19, 2004
KENNEBUNKPORT - The dulcet tones of The Anna Cheek Band, recent
performers at Mast Cove Galleries, are magnetizing, catching your ear
and holding it.
This is the second time The Anna Cheek Band, named for pianist and
singer Anna Cheek, has performed Kennebunkport, and audience members
at the show on Feb.12 will be glad to hear that she will be coming
back this summer.
The band both captivated and relaxed, sometimes inducing their
audience to sway in time and other times lulling them into sitting
back and absorbing the music.
Cheek's classical piano training came through as she lightly tickled
the ivories with skill and feeling. Her smoky voice is not
conventional, but very appealing, making the sad songs raw and the
upbeat tunes spicy. The soulful combination of classical piano and
her sultry voice is very compelling.
Although her classical roots are apparent in songs, Cheek's music is
only partially classical and takes cues from folk, jazz, blues, and
several other genres. With such eclectic influences, Cheek creates
something new and distinctly her own, making it not hard to say that
many people will likely find the music of The Anna Cheek Band easy on
Her affectionately nicknamed, "bad boys", such as drummer Manuel
Quintana, who was captivating to watch and listen to, are all
wonderful musicians in their own rights, but were excellent
complements to Cheek's vocals and piano.
Cheek and the band even played a few covers, putting a new twist on
the song, "I Love You Always Forever", but fellow Woodstock, New York
singer, Donna Lewis. In the hands of Cheek and her band, the song
rolled along in a rhythm that was hard not to bobyour head to.
Quintana on drums set a bubbling and almost tribal pace to the pop
song, while Cheek's own voice lightened to float along the upbeat
Special guest guitarist Jim Weider, who was a member of The Band, was
so good when playing the song, "Sliding Home" from his CD "Big Foot"
it made this reviewer want to throw her head back and howl. The
seductive sounds of his guitar seemed to demand involvement, whether
it was tapping a toe in time to the music or hooting out appreciation.
Mast Cove Galleries was the perfect venue for such a concert, which
was held in a parlor illuminated with flickering candles and a few low
lights. In the dimly lit room, the paintings that bedeck the walls
were just barely visible, but were still an inspiring backdrop. The
music filled the room in a way that makes a member of the audience
feel as though they're the only one there.
This talented pianist-singer-songwriter draws comparison to
everyone from Marianne Faithfull to Imogen Heap. But the nearly 20
tracks on her new CD Closer to Now, (Chestnut Records) confirm her
inviting voice and personal, original style....
... a classically-trained pianist who has carved a unique sound
of the piano in the same way that Bruce Hornsby and Joni Mitchell make
their performing instantly recognizable. Her vocals are reminiscent
of Victoria Williams...
~ DJ Wavy Davy, Chronogram
~ John Barry, Music Writer, Poughkeepsie Journal
Not only is Anna a superb singer, songwriter and pianist, but the
whole group was fantastic. Our
audience responded to them with rapt attention throughout the entire
evening... The overall sentiment
was, "When are they coming back?"...
~ Jean Briggs, Owner, Mast Cove Galleries
... The band both captivated and relaxed... Her smoky voice is
not conventional, but very appealing, making the sad songs raw and the
upbeat tunes spice. The soulful combination of classical piano and
her sultry voice is very compelling. The music filled the room in a
way that makes a member of the audience feel as though they're the
only one there... Cheek creates something new and distinctly her
~ Jennifer Hagan, Reviewer, York County Coast Star
My God, this is impressive... Anna's voice scares me!!!
by a voice that reminded my of one of the genius voices of pop I can
think of: Nico and the godlike Marianne Faithful... Anna's best
friend must be the piano... No words for this one except that I'm
~ Didier Becu, The Original Sin, Belgium
One of the most intriguing and enjoyable albums I have heard
recently. Anna's dusky, expressive
voice is a unique and captivating element that adds depth to an
already rich production. Her music
and lyrics are honest, interesting and well-crafted and appeal on both
an intellectual and emotional
~ Steve Stiert, Publisher, HVmusic.com
When you put Cheek's CD in motion, you're bound for an almost
seamless ride through a blended mixture
of musical terrains which center on Anna's voice and piano... The
distinct, smoky and finely grained voice...
weaves in the flow with character, depth and implication. The effect
of her delivery creates a voice with
deeper and more interesting elements of beauty than most of the pretty
vocals we are used to in
contemporary popular music... When the spin of the disk has ceased, we
can recognize that, within its motion,
it has transmitted notice of th arrival on the scene of an
~ Gary Alexander, Woodstock Times