Tag Archives: music
If you’re not familiar with the CD “Long Black Veil,” it’s a compilation CD of traditional Irish folk songs that was put out in the mid 90’s by the well known Irish group, The Chieftains. The CD features The Chieftains who teamed up with a great roster of musicians to produce one of their most popular albums to date. With collaborations with Mick Jagger, Sting, Van Morrison, Ry Cooder, Sinead O’Connor (featured below), Mark Knopfler, Marianne Faithful, and Tom Jones, the album was a big success with the Van Morrison song “Have I Told You Lately,” winning a Grammy for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals.
The Chieftains, best known for making traditional Irish music popular began in 1962 but it wasn’t until 1975 that they started to play together fulltime. Since they have performed with musicians from Elvis Costello to Ziggy Marley, Carlos Nunez to Lyle Lovett, a very wide spectrum of artists. They have been nominated for 18 Grammy’s, have won 6, and have been honored in their own country by being officially named “Ireland’s Musical Ambassadors.” The bands leader is Paddy Moloney who composes and arranges most of their music.
Below is the Sinead O’Connor and The Chieftains collaboration from the “Long Black Veil” CD. It’s an Irish song called “The Foggy Dew.” I hope you like it!
To view this video of Sinead with The Chieftains, cut and paste the link below into your browser.
Brazilian singer from Bahia, Margareth Menezes gets you moving. Her African influenced Brazilian songs infuse a song with the best of both worlds, the beautiful sounds of the Portuguese language and Brazilian rhythms mixed carefully together with African percussion, drums, and sometimes reggae. She is an infectious singer very popular in Bahia and Brazil, and many other parts of the world.
An awarded Brazilian pop star she came to the attention of David Byrne when he was exploring Brazilian music and singers. She later toured with him in Europe and the U.S. Most familiar with her “Kindala” album, which has been a favorite of mine for a number of years, I have only had the opportunity to see her perform live, once. She played at Central Park’s SummerStage during the Brazilian film festival several years back and the audience loved her! The second she got on stage everyone got up and started moving to her grooves and didn’t stop until the end of her encore performances. It was truly energizing. Her second album “Elegibo” stayed in first place on the billboard world music charts for 11 weeks when it was released, and Rolling Stone rated it one of the five best in the world under its world music category.
Below is a YouTube performance I found of Margareth Menezes singing her song “Elegibo” in Brasil in 1994. It will give you a good feel for the love she has for her music and the love her fans have for her.
I was lucky. I got to see Stevie Ray Vaughan perform before he died. I was a big fan and had gotten tickets to a Bay area double bill concert where Stevie Ray and Bonnie Raitt performed both solo and together. Little did anyone know that such a young talented performer would not be around for much longer. The day I found out he had died, I cried. The world had lost one of its most passionate and talented guitarists, and I had lost a guitar hero of my own.
Stevie Ray Vaughan was born in Dallas, Texas. His older brother Jimmie (Fabulous Thunderbirds guitarist/vocalist), taught him how to play guitar and was one of his biggest musical influences. Stevie Ray started performing in clubs as a teenager and dropped out of high school permanently to pursue music full time when he moved to Austin, Texas. He never learned how to read music and played entirely by ear.
Having beaten his dependency on alcohol and drugs. Vaughan was straight the last four years of his life. The night of his helicopter crash he had been playing a concert in Troy, Wisconsin along side Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, Robert Cray, and his brother Jimmie. After the show he was offered a ride back to Chicago in a helicopter with some of Eric Clapton’s crew. He opted for the helicopter over the two hour drive. The copter crashed soon after take off not far from the concert site, and Clapton and Vaughan’s brother Jimmie were called the next morning to identify the bodies. The music world was soon mourning a great musical loss, as was I.
But during his all too brief life Vaughan put out some of the most inspiring guitar work of the century. Ranked the 7th greatest guitarist of all time by Rolling Stone, and number 3 by Classic Rock Magazine, Vaughan was highly respected by all his peers. In the 80’s Keith Richards and Mick Jagger saw Vaughan perform and asked him to play a gig in NYC. This began his greater exposure culminating in his bands first big break in 1982 performing at the Montreux Jazz Festival. Soon after he met Jackson Browne who gave he and his band “Double Trouble” free studio time to record at his studio in LA. Also around this time David Bowie asked Vaughan to play on his album, “Let’s Dance,” which became a huge hit. In 1989 the band recorded their 4th album entitled, “In Step,” and it won the Grammy that year for “Best Contemporary Blues Album.” It was while touring to promote “In Step,” that on August 25th 1990, Stevie Ray Vaughan died at the age of 35.
The track I chose to feature is a live performance of Vaughan and his band at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1985. I hope you enjoy listening to one of my all time favorites and guitar heroes. Thank you Stevie Ray for all you gave us!
To view this video simply click on the link below or cut and paste it into your browser.
No YouTube video or Last FM for this one. You’ll just have to trust me and go out and buy it if you want to hear it, but it’s a CD that has brought me many hours of pleasure over the last 15 to 16 years. Chopin is probably my favorite classical composer and I have listened to his compositions being played by many of the masters for hours on end, but it is this simple recording, and I own many others, of his music that remains my favorite.
I listen to it on Sunday mornings while sipping coffee and reading the New York Times. I listen to it before I go to bed at night or as I’m falling asleep. I’ll put it on when flying cross-country or across an ocean as I gaze out at the clouds or look into the night sky. It relaxes me, calms me, and helps me to rest. And I’ll put it on when I’m trying to create a certain mood and use it as a side dish while serving a romantic candlelit dinner. I just love Chopin and this recording in particular. An old French boyfriend gave it to me and I’m certain that that has added to the romance of the disc as he was a very romantic, handsome, charming guy. But Roy Eaton’s “The Meditative Chopin” remains one of my most regularly played CD’s.
Schooled pianists I have spoken to about Chopin over the years have all recommended other recordings so I don’t know if Roy Eaton’s playing is technically brilliant. But it’s expressive and I guess that’s what I like about it. I’m not a classically trained musician or pianist. I mostly go on feeling, and this CD has worked its magic on me.
A little bit about Roy Eaton, he made his American debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra performing Chopin’s F minor Concerto under George Schick in 1951. After a stint in the army and a much longer stint in advertising and music for commercials, he is currently on the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music and is scheduled to play at the 50th Anniversary concert of the Kosciuszko Foundation Chopin awards that are scheduled to take place at The Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in the spring of 2009.
They recently opened the “Bethel Woods Center for the Arts” in Bethel, NY. It is located on what some consider to be sacred ground; the ground where the legendary “Woodstock” music festival took place almost 40 years ago. For this post I’m going to focus on “The Museum.” There are also several pavilions for concerts, beautiful grounds, and other events taking place at the center throughout the year, but since we went up to visit the museum, The Museum is this week’s “Monday Crack.”
First of all I didn’t quite know what to expect. A museum that’s job was to capture and encapsulate an experience such as Woodstock; I thought it would be close to impossible for it to really work. To tell the story of an event that changed and defined a generation, what an awesome task. I wouldn’t have wanted it on my own hands. You had to know that every person who was going to walk through the door was going to come in having preconceived ideas, judgments, and opinions. I knew I did. I was ready to enjoy, but I was just as ready to be critical.
I have to say I was more then pleasantly surprised. They did a really terrific job of explaining history and events, while making it informative and more importantly contextual. That’s what I kept saying to my date. “They really gave this a context.” Through the use of text panels chronicling the times, artifacts from the period, interactive displays, and films, they brought that experience and time in history to life. You didn’t have to be there and live through those years to “get” what took place, how it happened and why.
The story is told through personal stories and profiles, interspersed with the music of the festival, and the historical events that were happening in the world, not just the U.S.A. during those years leading up to the famed festival. It highlights the political, social, and cultural transformations that were shaping our lives and the lives of our brothers, sisters, parents, and neighbors, and it tells the story from all sides, demonstrating the tension and conflicts that all families were facing. The museum is not only a lot of fun but it is a very good educational tool. And I believe part of the mission of its founders was to keep alive and pass along some of the ethos that represented that late 60’s era, with peace, respect, consideration, as well as a continued connection to our planet topping the list.
For myself the highlight of the museum were the films, and seeing so much young raw talent. It was also the “hippy” bus as it was really true to life. But what I loved most like I said earlier is that somehow the creators really created a platform with context from which we all could collectively jump into and view an historical event that took place during an historical troubling time in our countries history.
For information about the Bethel Woods Museum go to the link below by either clicking on it or cutting and pasting it into your browser.
With Taj Mahal who helped Ben Harper get his start, on my mind, and having just finished writing a piece about Jack Johnson, whom Ben Harper helped get his start, it’s no wonder that today I find myself writing about Ben Harper.
Ben Harper seems to be a musician who is pretty much universally liked by both critics and fans alike. At an early age he would visit his grandparent’s music store, “The Folk Music Center and Museum,” where a foundation of folk and blues was laid. He also had the luck of being influenced by the stream of talented musicians who use to patronize his grandparent’s store including the likes of the legendary Leonard Cohen and Taj Mahal, along with the amazing string player David Lindley. That’s some pretty heavy company for a young musician to keep.
He started performing as a teenager and trying to set himself apart, Harper took up slide guitar, and the Weissenborn (a hollow-necked lap-steel guitar) eventually became his signature instrument. Besides his voice and playing which I find pleasing, distinctive, rhythmic and soulful, I think what I like best is the way he integrates all his different musical influences. When he writes and performs, it’s kind of like being served a big salad in a bowl that is full of all the things you like, but it’s mixed together in a way you never thought of mixing it yourself. It’s unique and individual. Ben Harper combines blues and alternative folk while at other times 20’s jazz and urban music. But folk to funk, it doesn’t matter where Harper is concerned, he puts it all together in a way that resonates with a broad fan base making him popular around the world. The man is talented and eclectic and seemingly a good soul!
Harper has had the same band, The Innocent Criminals, since about 1997 when he released his album, “The Will To Live.” He’s toured as the opening act for The Dave Matthew’s Band, has collaborated with a number of artists such as Jack Johnson, and he even toured and recorded an album with the Blind Boys of Alabama winning a Grammy for “Best Traditional Soul Gospel.” Now that’s diverse! He is politically active, married to Laura Dern, has four children, two from a previous marriage and two with Dern.
From his 2006 released album “Both Sides of a Gun,” comes the song “Better Way.” It’s Monday and I want to start the week off on a positive note. So if you want to hear Ben Harper play and sing, “Better Way,” just click on the link below or cut and paste it into your browser.
I got turned on to Jack Johnson several years ago by one of my best male friends who lives in LA. His day job is as an editor for a major television network, but 4 days a week before going to work he heads out to Malibu to catch some waves and surf, and when he finishes his day and returns home at night, if his daughter isn’t with him, most likely you will find him keeping company with his acoustic guitar playing old rock or blues. So it should come as no surprise given that combination, he is a Jack Johnson fan and probably kindred spirit.
For those of you who don’t know anything about Jack Johnson’s background, he was born in Hawaii and his father was a famous surfer. Jack also surfed in some major competitions until an injury got in the way when he was 17. While recovering from his injuries Jack spent his time writing songs, and music began to play a larger role in his life. He went on to university and graduated with a degree in film from UC Santa Barbara and started making movies about surfing before his music career took off.
Finding his music and energy very infectious I first borrowed and started listening to “Brushfire Fairytales,” graduating over the next several weeks to “In Between Dreams,” the CD on which you’ll find the cut “Better Together.” There I was in my rental car tooling LA, driving around Venice and through the canyons cranking Jack Johnson. It was just happy music! I hadn’t listened to someone new to whom I had such an immediate attraction and likeability in a long time. Since that trip any time I want my spirit lifted or I need some inspiration to clean my house, or I want to listen to something I know will make me happy, I’ll turn Jack Johnson on and sing along bouncing to his beat. His lyrics are great, but somehow his music remains uncomplicated and at times it is just what I need. He also wrote music, sing-a-longs and lullabies for the film “Curious George,” and I find that my 5 year old niece is a Jack Johnson fan too.
To hear the cut “Better Together,” click on the link below or cut and paste it into your browser. For more Jack Johnson info visit his website. The link is also below.
I read that new British sensation singer/songwriter Duffy will be touring with Coldplay for six shows this coming fall. If you don’t know who she is you would recognize her hit single, “Mercy.” “I’m beggin’ you for mercy….” It’s funny because one day she was an unknown and you thought you made this wonderful discovery and then two weeks later you were hearing her and seeing her everywhere and realized that not just you but the world had all suddenly discovered her. I think the music supervisors in LA thought this too, that they had found this well kept secret that was about to burst and licensed her song “Mercy” for their TV show. I can’t imagine how surprised they were to hear it being played on three or four other shows including “ER”, “Smallville”, “Women’s Murder Club”, the season finale of “Grey’s Anatomy”, and also the soundtrack for the movie “Sex and the City.” And this all happened within weeks of each other or at least it seemed that way. I know I was shocked because I couldn’t believe the news had spread so quickly. I too had thought I had been turned on to a new little known talent.
Duffy’s debut album, “Rockferry”, was released on 3/3/08. Her hit single “Mercy” a week earlier in February, and by this summer the album was a multi platinum seller. With a number of other worthy songs besides the title track of the album, such as “Warwick Avenue” and “Sleeping Stone,” I think the CD is worth a purchase. Duffy is a singer almost reminiscent of a 60’s throwback. She is sexy, soulful, and talented. Born in Wales as Aimee Anne Duffy, she is the first Welsh female to achieve a number one pop single in the past 25 years. She is also a twin, just in case you can’t get enough of her.
Duffy is touring and will be playing The Orpheum in LA on October 10th and Webster Hall in NYC on October 10th. These shows are not with Coldplay. Her tour with Coldplay includes Cleveland, Baltimore, DC, East Rutherford, Boston, and Philadelphia. To learn more about Duffy and to see some of her videos from her debut album “Rockferry,” check out her official website. I’ve included the link below. I’ve also included a YouTube video to my favorite Coldplay song, “The Scientist.” My indulgence. ☺
This is a weekend entertainment alert for NYC. For those of you who will not be heading to the beach or the mountains this upcoming weekend, I highly encourage you to take advantage of the free concerts at Lincoln Center in the South Plaza and Damrosch Park. This weekend they will be hosting their “Annual Roots of American Music” concerts on both Saturday and Sunday.
On Saturday they will be starting the day with the “Pinettes Brass Band,” and “Hot 8 Brass Band” at 4pm in the South Plaza. The musical festivities will continue on at 5pm in Damrosch Park with some soul and funk bands from New Orleans ending the day with songs from NOLA’s best male vocalist John Butte & The Hot Calas to be followed only by the infamous Irma Thomas & The Professionals. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Irma sing, but she is a legend!
Sunday the festival begins at 11am in the South Plaza with legendary American folk singer and political activist Pete Seeger. If you’ve never seen him play I suggest not waiting. The man was born in 1919. Then take a break in Central Park or go out for an afternoon brunch in the neighborhood and return at 4pm to Damrosch Park where the day continues with the Music Maker Blues Revue, The Knitters, Charlie Hayden, and more ending the weekend festival with famed punk, poet, songwriter, artist and activist Patti Smith and her band.
It’s quite a festival and quite a lot of music and it’s ALL FREE! For more information you can call Lincoln Center at 212 LINCOLN or look online at LincolnCenter.org
Jess Chalker “You and Me Said the Raindrop to the Seed” (The You and Me song)
I guess it’s somewhat perfect to follow the Joni Mitchell posting with this one. A friend of mine just turned me on to this unsigned singer/songwriter from Australia who got featured on YouTube for her song “You and Me Said the Raindrop to the Seed” (The You and Me song.) And in trying to get some info on her and give you more than a YouTube link I came across her Myspace page. Under influences the first person she mentions in a very long list of influences is Joni Mitchell.
So what have I learned about Jess Chalker after watching about 8 of her videos that she has posted on YouTube, I feel as if I discovered a disarming talented singer/songwriter whom I bet will be signed by years end. A&R guys, check her out! She’s posted about 15 to 20 original songs on YouTube, just Jess and her guitar to whom you’re about to be introduced. To me she seems like the complete package. Her videos are very simple, mostly Jess in her living room singing solo, playing acoustic guitar in a contemporary folk style. There’s nothing fancy, just a pure voice, simple guitar styling, and a beautiful girl singing smart lyrics with meaning. Besides the song I’m posting below one of my other favorites was “He Kissed Me Twice.” I also liked “This Little Heart.”
So, good luck Jess. I hope this posting wins you a few more fans, and better yet a contract. If it does, be sure to let us know.