Billy Raffoul (Early Show)

Ages 18+

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About This Event

Moroccan Lounge Presents

Billy Raffoul

Alicia Blue

Ages 18+ / $15

Early Show, Doors Open 6:30pm


Billy Raffoul

Billy Raffoul’s anthemic debut single “Driver” serves as a potent calling card for the 22-year-old singer, songwriter, and musician. His signature sound is a rough-hewn, low-timbered rock and roll that nods to the likes of Jeff Buckley, Neil Young, and Joe Cocker, and is powered by Raffoul’s gravelly, soulful voice and deeply felt lyrics. “That’s one thing for me — a song needs to be about something I’ve experienced or something someone close to me is going through,” Raffoul says of his sources of inspiration. “I find myself going back to moments of time from the past, picking apart these little experiences and building them into bigger things. I want people to know that the songs are genuine, that they’ve been lived in.”

“Driver” is one of those lived-in songs. It was inspired by his family picking up a hitchhiker one night after Raffoul and his musician father Jody played a gig on Pelee Island in the middle of Lake Erie. “This guy was really out of it, so he ended up staying with us for a few hours,” Raffoul says. The following weekend Raffoul told his story of the hitchhiker to songwriter Simon Wilcox and songwriter-producer Nolan Lambroza during a writing session in Los Angeles. “We turned it into something a little more sentimental, in that maybe I’m not singing about someone being lost on the side of the road, but maybe someone lost in life who doesn’t know where they’re going or what they’re supposed to be doing,” he explains.

Raffoul has been fairly certain of what he wanted to do with his life from a young age. He grew up in a creative family in the small farming town of Leamington, Ontario — “the tomato capital of Canada,” as he puts it. His mother is an artist, writer, and teacher and his father Jody Raffoul is a solo artist and hometown hero who has opened for everyone from Joe Cocker to Bon Jovi. Raffoul’s earliest musical influences come from his dad. “The Beatles were like Jesus in our house,” he recalls, adding that he also listened to soul singers like Otis Redding and Sam Cooke. On his tenth birthday, Billy received a ‘British Invasion’-inspired guitar with a Union Jack on its front from Jody and started teaching himself to play. By 16, had bought his first real guitar — a 1968 Gibson Les Paul Black Beauty. “It’s the same model and year as the only one Jimi Hendrix was ever photographed playing,” Raffoul says.

When Raffoul was in high school, he watched his dad headline a show for 4,000 people at his school’s stadium. “I remember in that moment thinking, ‘This is cool,'” he says. “I had appreciated music and written songs up until then, but I didn’t think I wanted to be a live performer until that one show.” Raffoul’s first paying gig was playing to long-haul drivers at a local truck stop. “For the next three or four years I just put everything into it, playing out four and five nights a week in bars from Leamington to Detroit and back.”

Every so often Raffoul would get a gig singing demos for hire. “Just getting paid hourly to be the vocalist,” he explains. “One day I went into the studio to sing on some Kid Rock demos. The guys heard my voice in the booth and asked if I had any original stuff. I played them two acoustic songs. They shot an iPhone video and sent it to my now-manager, who used to work with Kid Rock. The next day we drove down to Nashville.”

Raffoul now splits his time between Nashville and Los Angeles where, in between playing shows, he has been collaborating with other songwriters and slowly but surely assembling his debut album. “Since it’s my first record it feels like I’ve been writing it my whole life,” he jokes. In addition to “Driver,” Raffoul is proud of another new song called “I’m Not A Saint,” which emerged from a conversation Raffoul had with his co-writer Julia Michaels. “We were talking about things we do or that we shouldn’t do, like swear too much, smoke too much, lie too much, and it just flowed from there,” Raffoul says. “Forty-five minutes later it was done.”

As he gears up to finish his debut album, Raffoul is also eager to tour and see the world. “I’m putting everything into this record,” he says, “but I want to build my career on the live show. I want to be a true working musician.” He knows that makes him sound like a traditionalist and he’s fine with that. “It’s more of the old school way of doing things,” he says. “But I think that even in this ever-changing music business there will always be a thirst for live performance and that’s what I want to do. That’s always been the goal. Connect with people, one room at a time.”


Alicia Blue

Alicia Blue began her creative pursuits with a deep emersion into poetry that spanned her earliest years and filled her days with words, art, and stories. While in college at Cal State Northridge her life in music began when she collided with a wheelchair-bound, aging soul singer named Malcolm Clark Hayes, Jr. forty years her senior. A former Liberty Records artist, Malcolm had toured with Little Richard and an early Jimi Hendrix as part of Richard’s band. Initially, Alicia had come to care for him to earn extra money, but ended up sleeping on his floor several days a week for two years just to gather musical knowledge from him; or as she puts it, “to learn everything Malcolm knew.”

During this time, Alicia began her first foray into setting her poems to song, while she could barely yet even play an instrument. After hearing her sing for the very first time, Malcolm asked, “What makes you so sad?” a question that both set her name and style, and soon Alicia became Alicia Blue.

The first order of business was learning the basics of music and Malcolm convinced Alicia to take at least one music class. But showing up to class took a backseat after a chance meeting at a restaurant in Thai Town just below the East Hollywood apartment. During their dinner, Alicia was struck by a Thai woman finger-picking an acoustic guitar, blowing through songs the likes of James Taylor, Carole King, and Joni Mitchell. Malcolm insisted that Alicia speak with her after her set, and to her surprise, the woman hardly spoke English, despite singing those songs in near-perfect English…but the musical connection was made. Nong and Alicia spent every weekend together for the next year playing music, finding Alicia the perfect guitar, and teaching her everything she knew about playing the instrument. Between Nong’s guitar and Malcolm’s vocal instructions, Alicia’s style began to take form. Malcolm introduced her to soul music, but it wasn’t until Alicia discovered “Blue” by Joni Mitchell that the heart of her artistry began to emerge. Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, and Neil Young would prove to be just as important and influential as her songwriting style began to coalesce into something more singular.

Following Alicia’s first open mic as a newfound musician and performer, Malcolm’s health began to deteriorate quickly, as though he’d remained healthy just long enough to see her begin to take flight on this next phase of her life. One of his last wishes had been to see Alicia pursue her dreams as a singer-songwriter and it seems he felt he’d succeeded. Malcolm died in August 2015, leaving Alicia with a book full of life’s poetry and a burning desire to reach people with her music.

In 2019 Alicia Blue independently released her first EP, which included her earliest songs, and was near-immediately contacted by Starbucks to have her song “Magma” featured in stores worldwide via their Starbucks Acoustic playlist on Spotify. Garnering immediate attention as a songwriter and singer, Alicia quickly became a pivotal figure on the LA songwriting circuit and drew attention from various labels, managers, and media outlets. She’s been featured in publications like Billboard and Atwood Magazine, as well as LA’s legendary KCRW. She’s opened for artists like BØRNS and sang alongside Bill Withers at a tribute to the legend.

Alicia Blue’s first full-length album, Bravebird, was released April 2020 (yes, in the middle of a global pandemic), securing spots on Spotify’s influential Fresh Finds Pop and Fresh Finds Rock playlists and garnering a whole new round of buzz and attention. In January 2021, she was listed at the top of Atwood Magazine’s “2021 Artists to Watch.”

Armed now with new management, a band of top players, an extended support team, plans to tour in 2021 (as the world opens again), and two new singles and videos ready for release, Alicia Blue is headed back to the studio with a slew of new songs and eyes wide open looking toward the next chapter.

Please Note: Early Show - Ends by 9pm

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