About Energy Vine

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Energy Vine is an expression of the "soundtrack of my life." It is meant to take music and tell the story of where it originates, where it is headed and how the music itself can change lives.


Some say you never forget the moment when you find your favorite music! The click of a mouse, and I had come across the most inspiring music I could ask for. In 2007, I was searching on Myspace for new music, and had come across Kiwi. I traveled on, keeping Kiwi tunes dear to my heart. Last year, I contacted Alex and Vera, inquiring about Cd's. We started keeping in touch. Their caring, genuine natures are apparent. 

Wishing to feature the two on Energy Vine, I quickly thought it would be best to capture their own words.

And we wrote:

Danielle~ Vera, your voice is powerful and unique...when did you first start singing?

Vera~ I began singing pretty early on as a child. As early as I can remember. My parents moved to the states from Portugal in 1984, I was almost four years old, my sister was 9. They came looking for some economic stability. Life was pretty tough for my parents, just trying to make enough cash for milk and bread in the beginning was a challenge. But through it all my mom was always singing. I think that's where it truly started. Song has forever seemed to take me away from everyday routine and hardship, and brought me to another place since then.

My mom of course was singing Portuguese traditional songs of Fado. Powerful singing. Male and female. Super dramatic songs. I had no clue what people like Amalia or Carlos Ramos were actually singing about but it was good. Couldn't really process the adult themes of struggle with adultery for example in a song like " Nao Venhas Tarde" by Ramos but my ear sure picked up on the melodies and the ring of the song. 

To be completely honest, TV played a huge role in my musical development too. GEM was my most favorite, awesome cartoon in the 80's! Tv Is also how I learned to speak English. From there, I remember watching some Mel Gibson movie by the time I was about 11, and it had a Billie Holiday song played in one scene. I was mesmerized by her voice and waited for the credits to roll to catch her name. Billie really inspired me. 

My older sister had an awesome collection of music as we were growing up also. I'm in LOVE with Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians. Shooting Rubberbands and Ghost of a Dog are still two of my most cherished albums. (thanks Marta;)

Danielle~How was the use of two different languages embraced? Do you plan to expand this further, maybe by adding the use of more languages?

Alex~Both Vera and I come from bilingual families: Vera's Portuguese/English, and mine Russian/English... we both learned Spanish in school, and later I picked up Portuguese from my stays in Brazil...

I love the idea of singing in a variety of languages, but one has to be pretty comfortable speaking to really convey feelings and ideas that make sense in that language... at this point Vera and i have strong English and Portuguese in common... maybe next would be Spanish...

Danielle~ How did the name Kiwi The Child come about?

Vera~ When we were in college I got a call from Alex one day. He had gotten together a group of guys to play music he'd been working on, and he asked that I come take a listen. Alex and I had sang together before, random covers, just our voices and a guitar. This was something bigger. I showed up and there were about ten guys in the room! The energy was right on. From then on we were a unit. I think we wrote our first song that day "Joshua". I threw in a bit of Portuguese on that one too, as per Alex's request;) I think he was just getting started learning Capoeira at that time too, so the Portuguese language was peaking his interest.
The music really worked well from the start, and we knew we needed a name cause we were all excited about it and wanted to spread the word. We wracked our brains for a few weeks thinking of a band title. In that original crew both the drummer and bass player had just become brand new daddies. Their kids were coincidentally both nicknamed Kiwi. So there it was... Kiwi the Child. New life, new love. We imagined a world of opportunity and happiness awaiting those kids in their tomorrows. And we hoped for the same for the band. And That's that.

Danielle~ Together, Vera and yourself  have an amazing gift to harmonize! Tell me about the very moment you realized this, and the first song you worked on together.

Alex~ The first song we formally 'worked on' was 'More Than Words' by Extreme for our h.s. talent show in 1997 or 1998.

We clicked harmonically right away, and its always been a big part of the music we've written together... although we didn't work on music together for a while after our first experiment, once we did get together... we've been moving along for a decade now!

Danielle~What was the best about Brazil?

Alex~ The music.

Not only is Brazilian music and culture incredibly rich and diverse, it is also alive in day to day life... people have a really strong collective sense of self, and roots music is everywhere...

And the land and people I fell in love with right away... I have some really good friends over there and I try to make it back every couple years or so.

Danielle~The two of you are apart of a music project called The One and Nines. The genre is described as "Rock & Roll, Rhythm & Blues, Swingin' Gut-Bucket Soul." Does playing a different genre help to inspire and expand your Kiwi endeavors?

Alex~ Playing different genres helps on a lot of levels, from technical improvements to new ideas and angles ... the music of The One and Nines in particular celebrates the same music celebrated by the innovators of reggae music... so in addition, its been a foundation education for me as far as informing my existing love for reggae, ska, rock steady, etc.

Danielle~ We have had a great response to Kiwi here on the Treasure Coast!  Will there be a new Album before your Florida shows? (If not, can we expect a mixture of classic songs, like "Take My Time" with newer Mischief Reigns tunes?)

Alex~ I'm hoping to put out a new record this year...I have about 20 tunes in various stages of development . I will probably chisel it down to 15 or so for an album.... I guess the answer depends on the timing of our next Florida visit.

"...take a little step of the way
upon your own advantage
striding over mountains, and that was yesterday
take a little moment today
here is your reminder
if she's lost you'll find her some other place

all right, oh i
overstanding silence
in life you ride, far
this fight, standing up to violence
our sight, my eye.....

in a morning born of the sea
as if the only morning
heeding all the warnings that made sense yesterday
take a little moment for ease
wash away your worries
in this second story, we will release

break our own devices aloud
play our given vices around.... in a sacred sound..."

Moska Project

In 2004, I met, in passing, two smiling and joyful human beings from Caracas, Venezuela. A year later, hearing Carlos Chaumer and Gilly Gonzalez perform for the first time was invigorating and refreshing.

The two energetic men had the sound of four. The dynamic immediately brought to light was a bass that was looped, allowing Gilly to play a harmonic bass lead.  Carlos showed to be a power drummer. To put it simply, he wasn’t messing around.

The joy of hearing bilingual lyrics gifted nourishment to the music  and mystery at first blush. This inspired my warm appreciation for the sharing of cultures.

The pair, “barefoot and baggies,” owned the crowd.  The music demanded a dance celebration! When Gilly sang “Shake it, shake it,” singing the now staple song, ‘El Mayor,’ the whole crowd shook it! 

I looked at Gina with huge eyes.
“Gina, I can’t believe all this sound is coming from two people.”
She agreed. “I know, Dan, he really knows how to use that pedal.”

In 2007, the musical pair gifted their music to the volunteers of Treasure Coast Surfrider Foundation, and they have continued to support the foundation.

I met Jorge Orellana, also from Caracas, Venezuela, at the local drum circle at Shepard Park. He was, at the time, performing with another group. I thought “wouldn’t it be great if…..”

And  it happened! Jorge joined the project, bringing a solid harmony, and has learned Moska’s classic songs like ‘El Mayor,’ on bass. Gilly now plays guitar leads, some Santana-inspired.

Beau Parra, also from Caracas, has rejoined the group to once again bring a spice and flare of Latin percussion. Joyful, he adds to Carlos’s easily distinguishable drum beats.

To see the group now, as four, makes me so proud and happy for them. Moska music brings motivation, and flavor to life.

“All I wanted was to make a simple song
Make the people jump around and dance along

…I want to make you have some fun!”

Cheezy and the Crackers, South Jersey

       Parts of South Jersey are a compact, musical treasure chest. I never knew this until I traveled north, spending enough time in South Jersey to find my scene. And one of the greatest groups from South Jersey, Cheezy and the Crackers.
     Compared to my  surface memories from my childhood, my new discoveries were priceless and in depth. Living as children, the  world seems vast and unending. Buildings are bigger, walks are longer, trees seem much taller. The ground that we are allowed to cover as children seems like a whole town within itself.  I remember circling the sidewalk on my first bicycle. I felt as if I had as much room to pedal as I needed, on Commerce Street in Bridgeton, New Jersey. I compare this vision to that of Peter Gabriel in a live performance of “Solsbury Hill,” where he circles on stage, freely riding a bike, singing “Today, I don’t need a replacement, I’ll tell them what the smile on my face meant.”  
     As I drove north towards New Jersey via I-95 during the winter of 2007, each chilly stop for gas meant one more layer of clothing. As I neared the Delaware Memorial Bridge, I veered the wrong way and got lost in Philadelphia.
      Once I made it to my destination, I stopped at  Music Central  in Vineland. I walked in, asked about the music scene, and was quickly told to look for Cheezy and the Crackers shows. This suggestion would open the universe,  to what I had hoped to find.
      About a week later, I opened the door to the Frosted Mug in Vineland. There were greetings from the beat of the music, and I felt right at home. As I looked around at the crowd, I listened to a positive, light, Sublime inspired song. The music was well written and had so much energy.  Cheezy and the Crackers  songs are parallel to the local bands I was used to.  They were by far the cleanest sounding and most well rehearsed reggae/rock/hip hop group I heard in the South Jersey area. Their music stood out and the performance was fun and lighthearted. 
     Before moving back to Florida, I spoke with Charles, the well- spoken, open- minded front man of Cheezy and the Crackers. I shared information  with him about our music scene in Florida, letting him know that I could picture his band playing a show on the Treasure Coast of Florida. His excitement and energy was clearly communicated. He was professional, motivated and optimistic. 
      And in the summer of 2010, a few years later, this vision came to life. Just as I had imagined, the locals loved the music. This was a free show, for our local Non-Profit Environmental group Treasure Coast Surfrider Foundation. The members of the band, Randy Richardson, Albert Trionfo, Cheezy McNasty, Mike Sarkady and Tom Parker covered their own travel expenses, gifting us with their music. At the end of the set I could feel great energy  as we heard a song they had written for us, about what we unite for: The purity and respect of our waters. Their message was loud and clear. 
     Not only was the show crisp sounding and full of great new material, but I could  sense the groups connection with each other, as well as ability and gift to connect to our locals during their performance. It felt like they had been here for a while. This is an undeniable key to live performance. It is a great achievement to maintain balance and connect with the energy of the audience just as is sounding great recorded.
     Cheezy and the Crackers is a diverse group obviously inspired by a range of genres. They sound great doing acoustic tunes, like   "Twenty After Four." They grab the attention of a Philadelphia crowd, as well as a "surf ghetto."  They went on to play shows with  Less than Jake, and are currently in the studio recording new material.