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"I think it’s far more valuable to create art that is honest, than to chase what others believe to be popular". - Manda Mosher

Posted: February 28, 2024
An award-winning songwriter, recording artist, multi-instrumentalist, and entrepreneur, she was baptized in the river of real-time rock & rollf feeling close and connected to others. It involves feeling loved, cared for, and valued, and forms the basis of interpersonal relationships.at can describe either the level of a person's ability or the diameter of a gun barrel.
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Photo by: Deb Morrison

Connecting with people is integral to our enjoyment, and peace that we welcome in our lives. However, many find it difficult to connect with others, and it is often due to communication styles. Admittedly, we all are going to communicate on different levels. However, to connect successfully, we must be smart. There is always an instrument to deliver effective communication. Some can perform with instruments of sound. They use this gift to connect.

Many artists who have focused on this craft, are gifted. They do more than just play the instrument. They get to know their audience, and what it will take to grab their attention, and keep it.  

I have followed the career of our guest today. Simply, stunned by her ability to connect with the audience that she is performing in front of. Her mission is to create art that engages and connects with the listener. This shouldn’t be a new concept. However, some artists forget that this is a priority. In fact, it could influence their longevity within the music industry. Our guest today is Manda Mosher

ABOUT MANDA MOSHER

From her first solo album on, Manda Mosher’s songs have always shimmered with pure rock & roll soul. A singularly grounded American Girl, inspiring one writer to dub her the “female Tom Petty.” That’s high praise, but she carries it well. 

An award-winning songwriter, recording artist, multi-instrumentalist, and entrepreneur, she was baptized in the river of real-time rock & roll, and has never abandoned that spirit. Like Tom Petty, her idol, she’s radiated a reverence for the purity and artistry of great songwriting and record-making since the start. 

A full-fledged California girl, she’s a sixth generation Angeleno raised on music. With her father on flamenco guitar and her mom singing, she swiftly mastered ukulele, guitar, and harmonica. Songwriting came early, and never stopped. Following high school, she attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, where she studied music theory, composition, and guitar. 

Back in L.A. and armed with her ever-expanding songbook of originals, she began recording what became her critically acclaimed debut, Everything You Need and its follow-up EP City of Clowns. Both garnered a bounty of rave reviews and established Manda as a seriously gifted songwriter and charismatic live performer. She won many L.A. Music Awards, including Female Singer-Songwriter of the Year, and National Touring Artist of the Year. She was a 2009 official SXSW showcase artist, a 2010 official AMERICANAFEST showcase artist and her songs have appeared in many films and television shows, including the feature film Please Stand By, and CBS’s “NCIS: Los Angeles”; she also performed on CBS’s “The Late Late Show.” 

In 2012 she took a break from solo work to launch California Country Records and to co-front the female California Country/Americana group CALICO the band. With heartfelt songs, beautifully close harmony singing and rich musicianship, they made two landmark albums, Rancho California and Under Blue Skies. The group toured extensively through the United States and the UK, including the Stagecoach Country Music Festival in 2014 and 2018, and as an official AMERICANAFEST Showcase Artist in 2015 and 2017. They won several awards, including Americana Album of the Year at the L.A. Music Awards, and Best Country Band at the L.A. Music Critic Awards. Their songs were heard in the feature film Walk of Shame, as well as in NBC’s “The Nightshift,” and the Netflix original series “The Ranch” with Ashton Kutcher. 

In 2016 Manda co-founded the annual California Country Social at AMERICANAFEST in partnership with The Alternate Root Magazine to provide a platform for West Coast artists on California Country Records. Over three consecutive years, it hosted over 45 artists, including Sam Morrow, Rod Melancon, Ted Russell Kamp (Shooter Jennings), CALICO the band, Alice Wallace and many more. 

In 2019, Manda and partners Eric Craig and Deb Morrison launched The California Country Show at AMERICANAFEST at ACME Feed & Seed with the aim of “spotlighting California-centric country and roots artists alongside artist friends in Nashville.” It remains one of the most well attended and highly anticipated special events at AMERICANAFEST.

Now back on her solo journey, she seems positively liberated, creating some of her strongest material yet. With long-time partner, A&R executive, and music supervisor Eric Craig in tow, she established Blackbird Record Label, now home to more than 25 artists. Together they built a new recording facility, San Fernando Valley Recording. It’s there she’s been writing and recording some of her most powerful and poignant music to date, as well as cutting tracks for her next album. She released a new arrangement of John Moreland’s classic “Nobody Give A Damn About Songs Anymore” in 2019 with the video premiering via The Bluegrass Situation. The single reached #10 on The Roots Music Report’s Top Americana Country Song Chart. In 2022 she released “Evil On Evil” (Live) recorded and filmed at San Fernando Valley Recording.

“We made a promise to ourselves,” she said, “that we’re not going to polish off the sharper edges.” Wherever her music leads her next, Manda is a musician of multitudes, and remains one of L.A.’s most luminous musical artists. Long may she shine. 

INTERVIEW WITH MANDA MOSHER AND GUITAR THRILLS MAGAZINE

Guitar Thrills: Before discovering her angle on developing music that enables a connection, I immediately was drawn to her guitar playing ability. There was something unique, and thorough. There is a mission behind Manda Mosher’s approach to guitar playing.

Guitar Thrills: Hi Manda. Excellent subject to talk about. In fact, it’s one of the topics that I find a way to bring into many of my interviews. It’s because it’s that vital to connect with your audience. At what point in your career did you find the need to connect with your listeners?

Manda: One very teachable moment comes to mind from music school days. It was in our psychology class that our teacher asked everyone who would be ok to play music forever in their bedroom behind closed doors to raise their hands. Some students did, and then our teacher called BS on that. He said that of course we play music for ourselves but without the universal connection with an audience, it’s only a small piece of what music can do. I agree. It’s the most profound form of communication which is not a one-way street. You can feel the intangible feedback loop from the audience when you perform and each performance is different depending on who is in the room. It’s a shared transference of energy, a live conversation.

Guitar Thrills: Was it always at the focal point of your music career to do that? Or did it become evident, that this is the way to ensure your success?

Manda: Artists bear their souls so that you can see your own through them. It’s very powerful when it works. I had another teacher that instilled the importance of writing lyrics and delivering a vocal that can be understood. If it’s far too esoterically personal in a way where no one can understand, the message can be lost and folks will tune out. That being said, I think it’s far more valuable to create art that is honest to your own lens over chasing what one would think would be popular or what others would like. Chasing trends is less artful and ultimately not honest. Some see through that, some don’t.

Guitar Thrills: What kind of feedback have you received due to your approach to guitar playing?

Manda: I know I’m a very solid rhythm player and have an ability to create memorable lead lines and guitar parts. Many have mentioned that. I’m not a lightning-fast shredder however, well-constructed memorable melody lines on guitar have the ability to connect as strongly as a great lead vocal.

Guitar Thrills: I think you have the right approach to giving fans what they want. Working against the demands of your audience, is one way to decrease your longevity in the music industry.

I am familiar with your work, as you performed with other artists. Who had a huge impact on your playing ability?

Manda: My biggest influences on guitar are Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Mike Campbell, Neil Young, and I love Mark Knophler. I grew up admiring Leo Kottke’s work on 6 & 12 string guitar.

Guitar Thrills: What guitar brand are you most comfortable performing with and why?

Manda: I’m most partial to my Gibson acoustics. I have a 1966 Hummingbird and 1968 B-25 which are my favorites. Beyond the Gibsons, my Martin D-35 is a sturdy work horse and for songs that call for resonator, I have a Gretsch Bobtail. For electrics, my two favorites are my 1960 reissue Fender Telecaster Custom and my Gretsch Panther.

Guitar Thrills: Do you perform as a solo artist, or are there other members that have contributed to your releases?

Manda: I mostly perform in a band configuration under my name. My husband Eric Craig most frequently accompanies me on guitars and vocals and we have our favorites on drums, bass, pedal steel and fiddle who regularly perform with us.

Guitar Thrills: Do you do a lot of touring? If so, how important has it become to your success?

Manda: I used to tour a lot. At one point with CALICO the band, we were on the road for close to 250 dates a year and prior to CALICO, I spend a lot of time on the road. The touring builds a fan base in the truest way. It’s a very important piece to a career as nothing replaces the magic of connecting with music lovers live and bringing the music to them. I have taken a break from touring now and focus on shows that are special to me locally or festivals while I’m raising my young daughter.

Guitar Thrills: What are some accolades that you wish to obtain within the next year or so?

Manda: Most importantly, I want to finish my next album and get this new music out. I’ve been hyper focused on building Blackbird Record Label for years which is a huge passion of mine, and I’ll continue to be dedicated to that however, I feel that things are on a good track there and it’s time to shift more focus back to the studio work.

Guitar Thrills: I believe that you deserve much recognition. Extremely talented, and we wish you the best in your endeavors. Please make sure that you keep in touch. We want to let your fans know what you are working on in the studio, or other. Thank you.Manda: Thank you Edward! I really appreciate you and Guitar Thrills!




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