Logo for Under The Marquis podcast from our hotel in West Hollywood

Yes, we’re doing that for you.

Meekoh, Christopher Cope and Andrew Lawrence
Meekoh, Chris Cope, and Andrew Lawrence, after recording “Under the Marquis”

Leave it to us to always be going above and beyond for our guests, and our diners, and our clients, and our drinkers, and our gallery attendees, and our recording artists, and the list goes on and on and on. With a lot of unique assets on property, we are busy providing our, let’s call them, our people, a lot of different things. If you didn’t know already, we’re not just a hotel. We have a restaurant, a spa, a photography gallery, a bar, and a recording studio, to name a few of the hats we wear, and today we are going to focus on our love of music and the newest thing we are doing about it.

We are 56 years old, and we are coming up on our 57th birthday in 2020. In the 60s, 70s, and 80s, it was musicians who found us and made us their home. The biggest musicians in the history of music, in fact. (To learn more about our history, please head to our historical blogs: there is one per decade of our history!)

In an effort to give back to the community that made us, we started a summer concert series called Live at Sunset Marquis. You’ve been, haven’t you? The concert series has been championed and produced from the get-go by our fearless leader and VP of Sales & Marketing/Creative at Raleigh Enterprises, Chris Cope. The impetus for the concert series is providing a performance platform for up-and-coming artists at one of the most historically rock ’n’ roll locations on the Sunset Strip: our hotel. Next year will be our tenth anniversary of the concert series, so stay tuned for how we will be celebrating that this coming summer. The concert is free to encourage great attendance for the talent and as a sort of gift to our immense clientele of music lovers. All in all, it’s an event that sticks with you; people who come once begin to show up again and again. There is a rawness of energy and camaraderie that’s unlike anything at other events. The artists are honored to perform here at the legendary Sunset Marquis Hotel, and the guests are all sincerely and fiercely in support of the performers.

John the Martyr at Live at Sunset Marquis 2019, photo by Alex Huggan
John the Martyr at Live at Sunset Marquis 2019, photo by Alex Huggan

Now, Chris Cope is taking it to the next level with our brand new podcast, “Under the Marquis.” The podcast is currently being recorded at NightBird Recording Studios, which is the extraordinary and storied recording studio that we fondly like to say is “in the underground” of our hotel. More on NightBird in another blog, but in short, Jeb Leiber and Jeff Beck started it, and it’s become home to many of the bands, artists, and Grammy winners you admire. That is the remarkable “basement” we have, and the remarkable location for recording our new podcast.

The seventh “Under the Marquis” podcast was released this past weekend, and speaking of Live at Sunset Marquis, the band, John the Martyr, finished up our concert series season this past summer and are the interviewees for this newest podcast. Cope sat with Kyle Ridley and Dustin DiSalvo who founded the band, and the podcast starts with them reminiscing about how their magnificent 71-year-old frontman, Bill Hudson, brought Cope on stage during the concert at our hotel this summer. Kyle met Bill back in 2015 on a Manhattan subway platform – yes, you read that correctly – where Bill was singing with a doo-wop group. His voice captivated Kyle, and the rest is history. That’s just one of the interesting parts of this band’s story. 

Kasey Lansdale, during the recording of "Under the Marquis"
Kasey Lansdale, during the recording of “Under the Marquis”

Kyle and Dustin grew up together – middle school, high school, and then college. Kyle moved to New York City from LA in 2015, and as he puts it, started “Meeting different musicians, going to gigs, and recording in the back of Guitar Center. I turned their lessons room into a little makeshift studio with the guy who ran rentals there, and it was a cool little scheme we had going for awhile.” I am skipping some key story elements (so you will have to listen to the podcast in its entirety!); Kyle wrote the band’s song, “Feeling Good,” and after presenting it to Dustin (after years of playing together!), they decided to really go for it and pursue music full time. Dustin moved to New York, and he recalls in the podcast, “We had this interesting job working on the Upper Eastside as caretakers for a pastor that had a shutdown parish. And we had to live in this shutdown church.” They laugh, as they look back at living in that four-story brownstone, and say that “the demons” were the only downside. Though, “They knew how to party,” Kyle chimes in. Dustin continues, “It was insane though. We lived in this old rectory, and there was a church on the backside of it, and we started working on all the demos and producing the music, getting it to form in the basement of this church.” And there was a huge auditorium in the basement where nuns would work out, which makes them laugh again, saying they didn’t know if the nuns were real or imagined. That parish was called John the Martyr, and that’s how the band got its name. 

Hamish Anderson performing at Live at Sunset Marquis, photo by Alex Huggan 2018
Hamish Anderson performing at Live at Sunset Marquis, photo by Alex Huggan 2018

All of the podcasts are stacked with gems like these, from start to finish. Some of my other favorite moments include when Kasey Lansdale, an exceptional country singer – who is interviewed by Cope alongside well-known drummer Brian Viglione – talks about how she was always drawn to stories, because of her interest in people. “I always have been drawn to people and wanting to hear their story, and want to help them and share that message. And I think that’s why songwriting and fiction writing have been such a big part of my life. Because I want to hear that story, and I want to take it and share it. And maybe it’s my own take on it or my own perception of that story, but other people’s lives and their stories fascinate me.” In Cope’s podcast with Hamish Anderson – a remarkable blues guitarist and solo artist –  Hamish says something similar: “For me, a lot of it I think’s personal. I find songwriting definitely more than anything very cathartic, and it just like, kind of, helps me work through things I’m trying to work through, whether it’s relationship stuff and friendship stuff. You know, just make sense of stuff.” 

Rob Leines performing at Live at Sunset Marquis, photo by Alex Huggan 2018
Rob Leines performing at Live at Sunset Marquis, photo by Alex Huggan 2018

Rob Leines, an extremely talented up-and-coming country musician who has played at our Live at Sunset Marquis concert series too, talks with Cope about not needing any more pop artists. Chris responds to this, saying that one of the reasons for this podcast, “Under the Marquis,” is to introduce people to more independent artists, like Rob. “I think that that style is making a comeback, like the band we just worked with – they’re a bunch of damn rock stars. I mean, they’re doing it. They’re selling out huge places, and none of their [stuff] gets put on the radio. People are power, and listeners are everything, and if you can get a group of people that follow you and believe in what you’re doing, that’s everything, and fuck the radio,” Rob concludes quietly; Cope responds with a giggle. Marcus Eaton, a fabulous guitar virtuoso, also spoke highly of musicians he’s worked with, saying, “On an interesting note, I played with Blues Traveler a few times, like three times I opened for them. Super cool guys. Man, his setup is so incredible, because he’s playing like through a Mesa amp, and he’s got all of his switches on his microphone, so all of his effects and stuff, it’s really cool. God, he’s so good. John Popper, man.” This fellowship between the musicians and their colleagues is persistent throughout the podcast series so far, and it is both fascinating and inspiring. 

Andrew Lawrence performing at Live at Sunset Marquis, photo by Alex Huggan 2018
Andrew Lawrence performing at Live at Sunset Marquis, photo by Alex Huggan 2018

The musicians also talk about the broad range of music they admire and that inspires them. Brian Viglione, who has played drums with The Dresden Dolls, Nine Inch Nails and the Violent Femmes, recalls on one of the podcasts, “Traditionally, I’ve listened to all types of music. My father brought me to see the Elvin Jones Jazz Machine when I was 11-years-old, which was an absolutely transcendent experience for me. Elvin became sort of the pinnacle hero of mine and main guiding musical influence in terms of his attitude and passion for music, and I was always kind of encouraged to just keep a really open ear and open mind about music. So I listened to everything: country, classical, you know, blues, rock, metal, punk, you name it, reggae down the line,” and he says as long as people are passionate, he is in. Andrew Lawrence, who has had a robust acting career on top of his stellar musical talents, also has a range of musical inspirations and tastes. “It’s so vast though. It’s like asking me what my favorite movie is. Really, it all dictates emotions, right you know, so it depends on what your emotion is really, what the moment is, what that means to you, and then the song can fall into a place.” Andrew continues to list his many musical influences and favorites, “Leo Sayer to Chopin to Prince to Van Halen to Dave Matthews Band to, you know I mean, Michael Jackson, it goes on and on, Frank Sinatra, I mean I could keep going, Brownsville Station, Rainbow Kitten Surprise, they’re a new band that’s out that I absolutely love.” And I listened to Rainbow Kitten Surprise, because of his recommendation, and they are awesome. 

Meekoh and Chris Cope, recording "Under the Marquis"
Meekoh and Chris Cope, recording “Under the Marquis”

Finally, our first podcast features Meekoh who has also performed at our Live at Sunset Marquis concert series. When asked what genre of music is his favorite, he responds to Cope, “My favorite genre is your music. I mean, I just love a man that can play harmonica and sing and foot stomp and clap,” and Meekoh cites a performance that Cope and his band did at the Rosenthal Tasting Room (our sister company). I like this moment, because it clearly telegraphs the kindred spirit-ness between Cope and the interviewees, which is the same kindred spirit-ness that pervades our hotel and our beloved guests. With his musical background – as both a musician and producer – Cope is an excellent podcast host. Sincere and passionate in his questions and connections to the interviewees, he is also funny and intelligent for the listeners. 

The podcast is already thoroughly engaging and entertaining, and then the musicians interviewed begin to play their music too, which takes everything up a notch. “Under the Marquis” is unmissable, and all of these podcasts need a listen. Listen today and get hooked, because we have a NEW podcast out tomorrow!

We are thrilled to be further expanding the ways in which we support musicians and share their work with you. Plus, there are whispers that this podcast will soon be growing into something bigger…but for now we are just going to tease you with that. Give “Under the Marquis” a listen on Apple Podcasts, Google Listen, Spotify, or Stitcher, and check in tomorrow for our next new podcast. Then, keep checking in with us on social media and our website to see what comes next…!




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