Jamestown Native Appears On Blues Song ‘Travel On’
Jamestown native Sylvie Yannello appears on New York blues artist Mike Muller’s latest release, “Travel On.”
Muller wrote the song in 2011 on the sudden death of his cousin’s teenage son. Yannello reconceived the song as a duet for piano and voice, writing an Allen Toussaint-inspired accompaniment for Muller’s composition. They recorded the song this fall in Long Island City and Manhattan. “Travel On” releases on Muller’s bandcamp.com page on Oct. 13, and sheet music for the duet is available on Yannello’s website.
Muller is a fixture on the New York City blues scene, playing bass locally with stars including Big Ed Sullivan, Arthur Neilson and Joey Kelly, as well as touring internationally. Muller honed his craft in Richmond, Va., clubs and touring the Georgia/Carolinas circuit in the early 1980s before playing with new wave band Single Bullet Theory. In addition to copious blues gigs, Muller also plays bass with anti-folk group Too Many Lauras, as well as composing and producing for various artists including Juilliard-educated German singer Annie Moore. Muller is producing Yannello’s original debut EP due out next year.
Yannello is a professional pianist, drummer and music teacher in Long Island City, Queens. Since 2013 she has served as accompanist and music director at the Rose Academy of Ballet in Forest Hills. Yannello started her musical education in Jamestown, studying piano for 10 years under Helga Hulse. After taking her bachelor’s degree in music from NYU she studied ragtime piano under Dr. Mark Birnbaum. She has appeared at numerous New York establishments as a solo pianist, and also as the drummer for alt rock band Her and the Grey (which disbanded in 2016) and the pop-soul band Phanrosy. She released piano/vocal sheet music arrangements of five Elvis Costello songs in 2014.
Yannello began performing her original piano/vocal compositions at open mics in 2019; she and producer Muller are expanding the songs into full band arrangements for her upcoming EP.
“My first song took me seven years to write,” Yannello says. “I’m not a ‘natural.’ My parents don’t play instruments, nothing musical has come easily to me. Even after 20 years of musical education it was still a struggle. I try to help others benefit from my difficulty — I tell my students ‘I already spent 20 years gaining insight into this process so you don’t have to.'”