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January 10th, 2006

Nightlife Music: Quasilulu

by J.J. Connelly

Quasilulu played Arlene’s Grocery a couple of times this past summer. I’ve always been impressed with both their stage presence and their musical range. Lead singer and guitarist Rona Figueroa is no stranger to the stage. Her experience includes roles in Broadway’s Miss Saigon, Les Mis?╔└▄rables, and most recently in Lennon. I got to see her at a preview in which she played the part of Yoko Ono and was blown away by both her acting ability and her vocal range. The rest of the bands lineup is equally as impressive. Backup singer Coleen Gonzales, electric violinist Lyris Hung, guitarist Ernie Fortunato, bassist Mat Fieldes and drummer Damien Bassman have collective experience ranging from west-coast-pop acts, Broadway musicals, the Julliard School, and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra to name a few.

Their talent and intense ability to rock out make them a great live act. In addition to the traditional way of playing, Lyris Hung often plucks the strings on her electric violin, giving it a sound all its own. I’ve always been especially fond of the violin myself, and love seeing it used in non-traditional ways. Their sound is hard enough to keep an aging metal head like myself happy while also appealing to those of you who enjoy great lyrics penned by lead vocalist Rona Figueroa. In addition to their intense original material, they also throw a couple of covers into their set once in a while. I’ve heard them play Living Color’s “Cult of Personality” at their last show, and I believe they’ve done Queen’s “Stone Cold Crazy” on occasion as well.

As often as you can catch them playing live in the city’s downtown clubs, don’t think for a minute that this is just another NYC bar band. Quasilulu is busy in the studio writing and recording their next album, which should be done by years-end. I’ve had the privilege of hearing a few of their new songs, and I can’t wait for the CD to be released in its entirety. Ernie’s guitar work on “Please Stay”, Damien’s drums and Lyris Hung’s violin on “Atlantis” are alone enough to have me listening to the two tracks over and over, but add the rich vocals by Rona and Coleen and I can listen to them all day long.

The name “quasilulu” was coined by an actor for the unnamed character he played in in Miss Saigon. Rona, played Kim and took a liking to the name and always thought it sounded like a great name for a band–I tend to agree.

You can learn more about Quasilulu by going to www.sonicbids.com/quasilulu or to www.quasilulu.com [where you can also check out their first self-titled album].

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