Thursday, April 30, 2009

Lucy Langlas - Your Campaign

”Who will finance your campaign? Who will give and give while you take? Who will pour the water down the drain? And you still have it all.” A very interesting presentation – finger-style guitar, harmonica, standard chords – makes me think folk? Lucy obviously has no wish to be lumped easily into a category. The melody and vocal attack are pure pop, which gives this three minutes of entertainment a value worth investing time in. I’ve listened in many time over the past several weeks, and cannot tell myself exactly what the story is about. Sometimes it feels like an intensely personal story, other times it feels like a political statement of some sort. But never, in all the times I was contemplating the meaning did I tire of the musical arrangement and voice that exudes a deeper meaning than I’ve been able to grasp. I’ll keep listening, tho. Lucy Langlas

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Tornado Warnings

Exciting, but no electricity means no sharing tonight. The winds are making their own music, and the electric box sending off sparks in the dry back yard does not make me want to sit around enjoying music tonight anyway. I'm going to enjoy the sound of the winds swaying trees back and forth - tops of the branches touching the ground on two sides of the trees. Anyway, I'm off to make sure the sparks that hit ground don't actually catch anywhere.

UPDATE: We made it through the night. Not much sleep, but plenty of natural music keeping my ears tuned closely to my surroundings! One peach tree actually snapped in half. A lot of tomato blossoms flew off into the tornado nether lands, and a few heavier tomatoes are laying on the ground begging me to make some green fried tomatoes for breakfast tomorrow. A tornado touched down at a ranch a few miles up the road, but besides the peach tree and a few tomato blossoms, we survived the thrill.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Jill Sobule - Where Is Bobby Gentry

Second song this month centered around Bobby Gentry. Gentry did have a coupla good albums way back in the golden oldies days. Why she’s being brought to the attention of a new generation leaves me a bit speechless, but why not? She brought soul to country music, and is bringing a bit of wonder to 21st Century music. What’s really fun about Jill’s song is the narrator is claiming to be the “baby that was thrown off the Tallahachee Bridge.” By my reckoning that baby would be 42 years old, just at the peak of her creative powers. Works for me! Shoutouts include the hilarious Nothing To Prove (“I’m here at a meeting trying to impress someone at a dying record company!”), the swine flu prophetic A Good Life (“tomorrow a tiny cell might grow in everyone, and it’s not the cold”), and the beautiful pop sentiments of a masseuse who has a desire to go to San Francisco (“she looks just like a sparrow, but she’s strong just like a wrestler”). Jill Sobule

Monday, April 27, 2009

Bertie Blackman via Twitter

Talked about Bertie Blackman on April 12 & shared some of her videos. Via Twitter I found out she has posted some of her new songs for everyone to hear.


Elvis Costello - Complicated Shadows

The advance release on this CD is exciting. I heard 10 seconds of the song, which I would usually never think of talking about. But YouTube has a version of the song that you can hear and get used to the lyric and melody. Let me tell you flat out the performance on the CD has been completely re-worked and is much tastier than the version on the video. If the rest of the CD has this sound (produced by T-Bone Burnett & featuring Jerry Douglas), then we are all in for a tasty treat this summer. Keep your ears to the ground for more news about this set!
Elvis Costello

CD Baby DIY Musician Podcast - Matt Malley - Life as a Counting Crow

I’ve been listening to the podcast over a year now. All of the podcasts are interesting, but for a special audience – the indie band – how to market yourself, etc. This particular podcast is interesting because I think Matt Malley’s story is as good as any interview you’ll read in Rolling Stone. In short, any music lover will love hearing the story of band, and what it felt like to be a member. Matt also has a CD available as a solo artist on CD Baby. You’ve probably noticed many of our links point you to CD Baby – many great artists make a home there.

A similar podcast came out with John Oates of Hall & Oates, but I couldn’t find the album at the time. I should have shouted out that podcast, too.

CDBaby DIY Musician Podcast #57

Matt Malley

An oldie but goodie. . .

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Bell Orchestre - Dark Lights

I love what music can do for my mind. This piece of music has taken my mind on a journey. What’s interesting is as I was listening, it was a journey toward light & scenes of deep beauty. The composer chose a title on the other side of the fence, perhaps for contrast? Last month I mentioned The Gaze from this same CD. It’s very ossible as the year wages on I’ll have more favorites. Today it’s definitely Dark Lights because it has fulfilled this entire day for me.

The video I found on YouTube has nature sounds placed on top of the music – so you won’t have a true experience of Bell Orchestra, but the scenes are a good representation of a Sunday in Spring. Bell Orchestre

Music for this video: Bell Orchestre - Dark Lights

Live: Water/Light/Shifts -

Bell Orchestre - Stripes

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Silent Years - Taking Drugs At The Amusement Park

“Sing us a song, but don’t sing too long, you know I will get bored in a while.” I get comments a lot from friends – why listen to new music all the time? Don’t you like the old stuff? Etc. You know how it goes. Am I bored by the same ol same ol? Sometimes I wonder myself. I like listening to bands that have no reason to be stuck where they are except for the way our society works – by personality, not talent. By a penchant to do the unusual to get your name in the news and keep it there. I like the name of these guys – the Silent Years. They move in the music world “sending shivers down cheap plastic spines”. Weird thoughts for a Saturday. Blame it on realizing another year slipped by and I still feel 16 inside. Nuff about the old days, what about Silent Years?

I was sent one song, and replied to Angelica (their publicist) okay, I like it, but are they putting me on? The song was Madame Shocking, and the rhythms were strange enough, complete with a string quartet, and then what sounded to me like a circus complete with lion jumping through flaming hoops. The vocalist convinced me he believed what he was singing about. “Focus on the future, all eyes on the future.” So, I told the publicist I needed to hear more because this was so far out it coulda been a put-on. Frank Zappa meets Brian Wilson and never the twain shall meet sorta deal. So I got the whole CD, and yes, these folks are serious about being far-out and blurry. Shoutout for Forest Fire, “I’m just trying to act my age.” Lord, I hope not. “All my friends are busy now with things that they don’t care about.” Tell me about it. I’ll stick to listening every day and searching for the lost chord. I can admit whole-heartedly to enjoying the journey I’ve chosen, and will not allow the questioners to force me to question myself. I think Shakespeare said it. To thine own self be true. The Silent Years definitely have a sound that utilizes that philosophy. They make joyful, wonderfully complex music, and don’t make huge efforts to water it down for an ‘average’ music consumer. Seems to me they’d like people to listen, but if people won’t, they will be content silently releasing albums for their fans through the years. The Silent Years

Seven Saturday Smiles

Boy Least Likely To - Saddle Up
Latvian Radio - Seven Layers of Self-Defense b/w Leaning On A Reason
Girl with the Gun - In the Sunshine b/w Multicolor Paper Loops & Duck Motif
Marty Finkel - The Good Life
Nina Fletcher - Courage
The Loves - I My She Love You b/w Xs And Os & The Good Times & Honey
Hank Williams Jr. – Red, White, & Pink-Slip Blues

Friday, April 24, 2009

Heull Howser - Huell Tripping

I've been partying all day at work, and after work, and only listening to Bob Dylan & M Ward, and a great James Brown CD from 1990 collecting all his blues cuts in one place. So, for the first time in sevral years I won't talk about a new record. Un;ess this guy qualifies. I really do not know if this is an artist or a joker. Of course, we could ask the same question about Dylan or anyone else. I'm sharing this because it was my daughter's Birthday present to me, and it made me laugh. As far as I know it's only available as visual art, and after you watch it you'll know why. Enjoy!

PS: Thanks Parker!

EDIT: Turns out Huell has a real world of fun. Just saw him at the Mexican Border via You Tube. Plus: Heull Howser Website!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Bob Dylan - My Wife`s Home Town

I went 250 miles today (round trip) to see some students win medals in the Special Olympics. Joyful day. Very hot, wipe-out weather. I was enchanted by the student’s willingness to persevere under such oppressive conditions. The lack of complaining was both astounding and outstanding. Much of our lives are spent listening to people complain, yet here was exuberant joy personified. When I got home I found Bob Dylan waiting here for my birthday tomorrow. All through my life he has had an uncanny ability to make me think, examine myself, examine my beliefs, examine my humanity, examine my purpose. Never once has he complained about this. He didn't eve complain when I ased him to have his new CD ready for my birthday this year. He simply does things for me, year in, year out. He often can make me smile, he does have a very wry sense of humor that tickles my funny side. For the life of me, I can’t think of when he actually made me laugh out loud. Until today. Blame it on the sun.

“I just want to say that hell’s my wife’s hometown. There are reasons for that, and reasons for this, I can’t think of any just now, but I know they exist.” Of course, you need the delivery to actually taste the humor, but it’s there. “She got stuff more potent than a Texan curse.” Another hilarious tune is Shake Shake Mama. Perhaps in the more traditional ironic humor, but still funny is It’s All Good. I guess I can say that about the CD too. It’s been teased for several weeks now, and it lives up to its pre-release publicity. Gotta admit I didn’t expect it to be this much fun, but I’m glad it is. Bob Dylan

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Band Of Skulls – Light Of The Morning

There was a time when a three minute song was a symphony. This collection of musicians has resurrected that skill, and I am so happy to listen. I’m living in a full tower of 32 ice cream flavors, complete with dripping chocolate, strawberries, and pineapple. The song starts off with a guitar riffing along with the narrator, and quickly develops into a whole band ear feast. At first the guitar continues riffing as the drummer begins a dance of ageless wonder, but then the drummer seeks infinite wisdom as the flails. The false ending quickly leads to a full-powered symphony of guitar, bass, and drums finding clarity and light atop a mountain. Rock and roll dreams live on. Shoutouts for I Know What I Am, Patterns, Bomb, Blood, and the dream pop summertime hit Fires. Band Of Skulls

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Ensemble Sarband – Jesus Of Nazareth

One of my favorite records of all time is John Lewis & The Modern Jazz Quartet doing Bach. I am on a new high with this new release of Bach tunes, mostly with a beautiful, ravishing middle-eastern flavor, but the tune I chose to highlight is definitely a full-on jazz treatment of Bach. Love it. Other extremely satisfying joyful earfuls are We Have A Law, and Wept Most Bitterly. The entire CD makes for a full feast of flavors – the most middle-eastern flavored tunes include a vocalist that moves me to tears despite the language barrier. I know these tunes in their standard flavor, usually with a soprano treatment that takes tying me down with ropes to keep me from shutting it off. What this ensemble manages is to make Bach’s music sound like it was composed in 2009, for ears like mine. So the vocalist is not screaming with hilarity at the highest levels of human ability to hear and trying her best to make dogs howl incessantly. Nope, this vocalist, Fadia El-Hage, warmly brings Bach to me with tenderness and a loving knowledge that simply singing the notes with passion will bring the truths Bach wants to convey to life for me. My favorite vocal treatment her is O Mighty Love. Fadia is from Beirut, other musicians are from Bagdad and Munich. Truly an international look at the Passion of Jesus Christ, with the flavors of today set so that we are aware during each musical theme that the trials Jesus endured for his beliefs are being reenacted daily in the same region of the world by martyrs who have a deep and abiding love for their family and homeland as they are senselessly attacked by armies from the other side of the globe, along with armies from nearby countries that are paid for by the taxpayers of that same country on the other side of the globe. We all know who that country is, but no one wants to mention it by name for fear of its wrath and propensity for throwing folks who criticize it in prison without charges, without legal representation, and torturing them endlessly in the name of “democracy”. More irony is met when those who perpetrating these crimes against humanity do so in the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Thus, the bitter tears along with the irony of these international musicians playing the most beautiful jazz available in the world today. A special shoutout for The Tears On My Cheeks Are Of No Avail. Ensemble Sarband


Extra flavorings:

Monday, April 20, 2009

Enter The Haggis – Cameos

 “I hope this is only the end of the show, and we all get leading role.” It’s fun to enter a world of your own even when someone is trying to pull you into theirs. My mind went into the direction of the movie I’m in, and considering those around me who have leading roles, and which ones are simply cameos. What really did me in was considering from the other direction. Whose movies do I have leading roles in, and whose am I just a bit player or cameo? It’s a bit lonely on there when looking at life from that perspective. Is that what Enter The Haggis wanted me to glean from this song while I danced wildly around the room? I don’t know, nor do I think they’d ever tell me. The mind works in mysterious ways, and that’s as it should be.

One of the shout-out tunes, DNA, takes me through the same thinking about things scenario. With a slower dance beat. This one makes me consider the actions I see around me. Are the folks I deal with working from learned behaviours, or DNA? In all seriousness, it’s probably a combination with different percentages for different personalities and DNA mixtures. It’s easy to say “boys will be boys”, but that presupposes anger and violence will continue on forever and ever. It’s not what I desire, nor do most people I know desire these activities. But solutions are slippery visions. Which makes it easier to accept it’s in our DNA. The cool thing about the song is it doesn’t answer these questions. In fact, I’m not even sure they’re asking any questions. They just pop out of the narrative into the ether between the speaker and my ear.

The other shout-out is a pop-tune, Sea Of Crutches. An evocative title which invites another short essay, but I’ll let you fill in your own meandering because I believe that’s what the songwriter intended. “I’m not sleeping but I don’t know what I’m searching for.” One thing I’m sure the writer intended is some great harmonies, and that comes out with seeming effortlessness. Plus, I love the psychedelic break. I guess I need to mention a short song, because I can’t get it out of my head - (I’m Gonna) Bury My Demons. Enter The Haggis

Enter The Haggis on Eartaste

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Vince Bell - One Man's Music

“One man’s music plays like one man’s heart. There is no giving in right from the start. My love. One man’s music is my love.” Last week my eyes were given the privilege of tasting the beautiful prose of Vince Bell, this week a CD with the same title arrived and it is my supreme pleasure to listen to his poetry and music. Call it folk music with a lot of chords, not quite jazz, not quite pop, but totally Vince singing words that mean everything to him. The passion is real. A shoutout for what might be called Vince’s “oldie but goodie,” Sun & Moon & Stars. It is quite a treat to hear the song sung after 30 plus years of further maturity as a human being. Vince Bell

Vince Bell on Eartaste

Friday, April 17, 2009

Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears - Sugarfoot

Friday night parties work best when the dance has aerobic qualities – to sweat out the alcohol before driving around the neighborhood. Even if you’re smart enough to keep the party local and walk home, the sweat quality is great, because I think I sleep a lot better when the beer has transformed to sugar and then sweat before my head hits the pillow. The Honeybears are in the business to supply our industry with a much-needed kick in the funk. We’re not looking for deep, philosophical meanderings tonight, we’re looking for a great dance band with a vocalist who works as another instrument, not a philosopher. Shoutouts for gunpowder, another great workout tune, Humpin’, a cool-down banquet for the ears, and Bobby Booshay to rock us into the night with funky soul-power. A fulfilling feast. Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears - Sugarfoot

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Karli Fairbanks - Some Other Plan

I love when an artist sneaks up on me. I put this CD in and a folk singer with her guitar is talking about wearing her heart on her sleeve, “when the leaves fall I'm just playing like a fool.” Then a corner is turned lyrically and musically. “It all seems so good at the time until we make our plans and then change our minds.” First, back-up singers start the call and response, then out of the blue, instruments start dancing around the lyrics that dig deeper and deeper into a soul seeking peace from self-judgment as well as the judgment of those around her. “I do alright on my own in the end.” The flavors of the percussionist and the solo guitar turn this folk song into a full-out psychedelic joy. A beautifully thought-out composition.

Shoutouts for Needle And Thread (“the love you found, you were worried it would make a sound”), and Last Night's Songs (“I could tell you were alone drowning in the sounds of your dreaming”). I believe you’ll smile with me as the final verse leading to the chorus says “sing with me tonight” because Karli’s melodies make it easy to want to do just that. Karli Fairbanks

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Commander Cody - Roll Yer Own

An old friend rolls into town just in time for hump day, perfect excuse for a party! Not that an excuse is necessary. Lots here to recommend – but I’ll shout out the slide guitarist as an artiste supreme. Rock and roll hoochie koo! Commander Cody has never stuck to one flavor of tune, so why start now? He serves up country with Wine, Wine, Wine, Do Your Stuff & Semi-Truck, and returns to rock with a Texas-swing flavor Stealin’ At The Seven Eleven. Then the band cooks up a sweet, slow version of the Seeds And Stems Blues, sung with much more passion on the CD than on the video. The video below is simply an appetizer.

Back to the party, we have a narrator that has had one too many parties, and really doesn’t care in his story It's Gonna Be One Of Those Nights. “My kid is in detention, and she’ll never get out. Well, my dog still loves me, but even he has his doubts.” He’s not complaining, simply admitting his shortcomings as a renter, husband, parent, and pet owner & loving life anyway. No one’s perfect, so why even try? Party on, because the rock and roll continues with They Kicked Me Out Of The Band! Life can’t get any worse, and is seldom as much fun.

Commander Cody

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Hedley - Never Too Late

I like my pop flavored, and this one comes flavored with ska and rock guitar licks. Great fun. All the “official” links are down until the official US release in May. In the meantime, the live video below gives a good idea of the energy these guys have. The lyrics are a treatise explaining that when you’re sad & depressed, just listen to this song and you’ll “get up and start all over again”. The energy is infectious enough that it just might help. Certainly won’t hurt =:-) Will be available everywhere, I’m sure; in the meantime, import a copy here: Hedley. Otherwise, pre-order a US copy with an extra goodie here:Hedley.

Amoeba In-Store Videos

Rameen from Amoeba contacted me to say thanks for embedding the Conor Oberst video last night. At the same time he invited me to check out the videos they've dne in the past, as well as the future. You're in for a treat! There are close to 200 videos featuring everyone from Flipper to Richard Thompson. Plan to spend a few years enjoying the intimate, high-quality movies. Amoeba In-Store Videos.

3 assorted from about 200:

Black Lips:

Vampire Weekend:

TV On The Radio:

Monday, April 13, 2009

Conor Oberst - Outer South (CD)

The first few hits on the drumset make me ready for a rousing good time from Conor Oberst & the Mystic Valley Band to rock my soul and keep my ear full of pleasant tasting music and dreams. I’ve listened in about a dozen times, and can honestly say that, as usual, Conor takes me deep within myself – a line sung in the song will take my mind off to deep memories and thoughts and return just in time to hear another line that will take my mind off on another tangent. That’s good for me, I enjoy these mind trips. But I won’t be able to coherently tell you the story Conor wants to convey. And that’s okay, because when you buy this CD you’ll experience your own newly uncovered dreams and deep thoughts.

I’ve thought a lot about how he pulls this off. Usually a guy doesn’t tell me a story, I tune him out. Conor has an uncanny ability to dig up stories from within myself, some of which I forgot about or never knew existed. How does he manage to do this? Conviction. Each note comes out of his mouth with complete and total conviction that the song is important and he has found a fantastic back-up band to support his convictions.

The first cut rocks Slowly (Oh So Slowly) – “the veil between the world and the faceless bride” – right off the bat we are reminded we are listening to a poet. “Dementia, you better treat me good. The human race is in its second childhood.” Another line lets me know that I’m not the only one who uses music as an escape from reality, “Sometimes I need a place to go. Classical music plays from my radio. I sit real still, let my shadow grow.”

An acoustic guitar strums To All The Lights In The Windows until the band gets me up on my feet dancing circles to biblical allusions. “That’s the thing about charisma – it makes everyone believe.” Big Black Nothing keeps the rock & roll beat while the poet is singing about “fooling everyone” and asking “will you still be my friend if I told you it’s all just pretend?” There is some cool call & response going on with the band in this song, which makes for a lot of fun, especially when they begin the clap-along joyful noise. “I’m real scared, but so prepared for the worst.”

Air Mattress was weird on the last tour, and is just as weird here – but in fun way. Like a quick just for fun break in the proceedings, a lightning fast dance to “twist the night away.” An 80’s flavored pop punk song about sharing – I picked up on that!

Cabbage Town is a beautiful tribute to Steve Nieve’s work with Elvis Costello. Ten Women Between You And Me is a self-confessed acoustic-flavored fantasy tune, “I’m biding my time like a cellar of wine.” The fun has a sorta bittersweet flavor when the poet looks for “one witness to mourn for our love,” and admits that the fantasy is a “tragedy”. Difference Is Time reminds me of “Lay Lady Lay” because Conor’s voice takes on a completely different timbre to tell this tale, “I want to be done with everything I know.” He includes an epitaph for his headstone, “Life is hard, even if you cheat.” This performance may be the classic one that gets played from this album 40 years from now.

I talked about Nikorette last year, and still feel the same time warp when listening to this performance. “There’s nothing more sad than a lynching mob full of rational men who believe in God.” The song also includes a bit of reality that turns out to be prophecy for the capitalist created crisis that has affected the economy of the poor and middle class while the rich stuff their pockets. “My neighbor dreams big ‘cause his house is small, says all he needs now is some capital. It’s a pirate world, it’s a free-for-all.
They take your bright ideas and they make them dull. . . It’s all just a fix.”

Bloodlines is a summer radio-ready pop masterpiece, “How could you refuse to believe it’s a wonderful life? Two sheets to the wind all over again”. Spoiled is a perfect follow-up summer radio song, the music happy & joyful over lyrics proclaiming “you get everything you want and you still feel down.” Total pop irony, I love it. Dance the depression away. Complete with party noises. This late summer song will play well, even after school has started and the kids are all writing their “what I did” essay. Worldwide is the radio song for autumn, “there’s a place you go when the weather’s cold, leave it all behind.” How I long for the days when there were radio stations that played songs like these. Dream on. Roosevelt Room is the ‘underground’ FM radio cut, complete with some far-out guitar solos bouncing off the organists salutations.

It’s hard to tell how serious the band wants us to take Snake Hill. Remember the guy who sang “Don’t Bogart” on the Easy Rider soundtrack. The voices sound like they’re pretending a southern accent, but the words have a serious intent. Leave it to someone smarter than I to figure out why the band chose this method to present this story of a young man seeking to visit the huge world outside his family surroundings. “I discovered that a girl was what my mother tried to hide from me. She can make you feel alive, she can make you want to die.”

Last year Conor made my personal list, as well as many other lists of top CDs for 2008. I have a real sneaky suspicion that this new CD is going to stay close enough to my CD player to reach the top CD list for 2009. A big thanks to Conor Oberst & the Mystic Valley Band for making this week start off with a blast and having me look forward to many hot summer days listening to this fine album.

Check out Conor’s website this week for a stream of Slowly (Oh So Slowly), the opening cut; and a free download of Nikorette. Also, keep your eye open for a downloadable documentary film, One Of A Kind, from the website soon – it is being offered at no cost, with the understanding that if you receive personal benefit from it that you’ll donate some cash toward charity. Conor Oberst

Nikorette Live:

A year ago - Souled Out:

A beautifully filmed live show from last year from

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Bertie Blackman - Sky Is Falling

“I jump in a hole deep within.” It’s not often that someone takes the seven notes (12 if you include sharps or flats) and makes them sound this fresh. Bertie is approaching pop music with a unsullied vision of music. Not that she doesn’t have influences – simply that she’s surpassed them and found a personal reflection of sound that can be enjoyed by others. Let me say it this way - you’d never mistake this as a pre-2009 music but you know from the first notes that it is music. Call it melodic hip-hop in the way that the Beatles were melodic soul and the Stones were melodic blues. Her poetic imagery matches the intensity of her music. “The earth is gone, already dripping with blood.”

The shoutouts are many: Thump (“if only the night were forever, I’d fight for you”); Heart (“This road feels rough under my shoes”); White Owl (“he has so many faces inside”); Birds Of Prey (“you picked the wrong girl off the streets and my nails are sharp. . .I live in my own darkness”); Come To Bed (“what’s it to you that we’re worlds apart?”); Shout Out (“it’s like a fear I feel tonight”); Town Of Sorrow (“dirt roads covered with daisies so in love with each other”); and Baby Teeth (“I’m always on the run to never feel anything else in the dark”). Each song has its own musical flavorings, and each of these flavors fits the story the poet wishes to convey perfectly. Purchase current single on Amazon (Heart).

Free download of Heart from ITunes

Bertie Blackman on MySpace – watch for CD release date.

Visions from previous albums:


A freak that can never fit in:

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Vince Bell – One Man’s Music (autobiography)

You never know what to expect from a poet in terms of autobiography. Vince surprises in that while his prose is poetic, it reads well, like a good novel. We get small glimpses into his life filtered through the eyes of a good writer. Vince’s life interests me in that the first dozen or so years out of the nest our lives paralleled, though I was in California and he was down south. I cut out of the “scene” after having a few kids and gathering the responsibility to see them eat regular, something a musician’s life doesn’t guarantee. Vince stuck to it, so let’s share some gleanings from the first 40 pages. I will read the rest, but I already know this is a volume I’ll be recommending, and there’s plenty up front to let you know that it’s a worthwhile read.

Vince’s prose is filled with irony and self-deprecating humor, in the best sense. “I’ve grown up in music, worked to distraction in music, married unsuccessfully in music, and I’ve been at it for several wifetimes.” Nope, that’s not a typo, that’s Vince at his best. Occasionally he’ll remind us that he’s a poet, “every kind of human perturbation was partially obscured by a verdant, elephant-eared undergrowth”, but his poetic phrases do not distract from the story, they add some color and flavor.

When Vince speaks of “we”, he is most often talking about himself and his guitar. His guitar meditations make for a peek into a love-affair that we seldom ever get, but is obvious when you see so many guitar-pickers hanging that shapely lover around their neck. “The guitar you played and owned was a symbol of your vision. . .You could rest assured, if you couldn’t be recognized in a carping musical crowd for your tuneful genius, your guitar surely could.” Vince is open and honest about life on the road, and feels no need to shelter himself or his heroes from the diggity eyes of the self-righteous. “Coffee and marijuana: drug maintenance and the first two things you needed to start a rock ‘n’ roll band, even ahead of a new set of strings.” Reminds me of a bass I had that went 6 years without a new set of strings. Loved that filed-down fretboard Fender bass. Dunno what happened to it – gave it to a young musician 20 years ago, who has gone on to become a father himself in the intervening years.

Many of the things you’re forced to do as a musician are pure insanity, like a 3 piece playing in front of 8 people convincing them that they are having the time of their life. I’ve been here: “I got tired of playing in between songs on the jukebox in the same hick towns.” Vince was keen and smart enough to get here: “My first few lessons about the ragtag of showbiz taught me that if you couldn’t fool yourself first, that I an idea didn’t light you up like Times Square, you couldn’t fool anyone else into believing they were in Times Square.” I’ve played with many musicians, and many were legends in their own mind, but a few went beyond that to become legends in the collective mind. They had the magnetism, and charisma, largely because they had total and complete belief in their ability to do nothing else in this word besides play music, no matter who they hurt along the way, or how lonely they were before and after the show.

I’m not sharing any of Vince’s wonderful stories here – you’ll enjoy them as you read the book. Just a few more lines so you can be assured you’ll have fun while turning the pages. I loved this insight Vince had after forming several musical groups: “I was turning into a writer, a different person than the teen idols I had tried to emulate with my group. It would ultimately take a few more dips into the pond of my imagination, a place I never spent much time in the shallow end of. But I was becoming liberated from delusions of my youth. . .If I was going to survive my budding authorship in the rough-and-tumble music world, if I was going to make the difference I aspired to with my work, it would be because I kept playing those solo gigs. Just me and those six strings.” Vince Bell

The book as a stage event:

It was 32 years ago today, Vince Bell taught his guitar to play:

Friday, April 10, 2009

Mojo Morgan - Tonight

”Don’t look at my fancy clothes or shoes. Just lok at my shades ‘cause I’m in the groove.” Humorous beats for a perfect send-off for a Friday night dance party. “It’s enough. It’s time to shine tonight!” This record does just that! Keeps the grove steady & the word rhythms rockin’. “Get your swerve on and put on your dancing shoes!” I enjoy the way Mojo encourages having fun, dreaming, and building up your self esteem, without discussing losing your moral ground. In fact, he seems to suggest you can have great fun while maintaining a higher ground, and I think he’s right. “Don’t think, just live your life for the light!” There’s nothing wrong with this track, but I did wish it had gone on a few more minutes. Guess I’ll have to wait for the dance-floor re-mix. Shoutouts for the rocking Reggae Avenue (“there’s no hope if you never dream”), soulful Childhood (“all my days full of dreams”) & the pop flavors of Petrified (“can’t even tell your friends you’re all alone”). Watch the myspace page for the release date:Mojo Morgan

In the meantime, enjoy these

earlier releases:

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Adam Hill - High Road

”There’s a hundred million reasons why electrons spin around.” Well, that’s a very new thought for me. Never really thought about one reason, and this guy has a bunch of ‘em. Course, he doesn’t cover them all in 3 minutes, but he does get some ideas rolling pretty dang fast. “Everyone we pass is gone, wonder if we’re right or wrong, but we never really know.” Sounds like a folk singer borrowing johnny cash’s guitar for an hour and has some pretty deep roots in rock. “It may just might be the things we see are tracking all the things we sow.” Could be. Definitely something to consider. “Sometimes we don’t understand.” Shoutout for Fueled Up, a new r&r dance for my friends who have a good sense of humor. “You get fueled up and you turn three times around, you tear off your crown and throw it to the grown. You huff and puff and you blow this house down.” With a few whoops, just for fun. Can’t help but smile at Adam’s energy. Adam Hill

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Yellow Dog Records - It's All Connected Sampler, Vol. 3

Samplers are always fun, small tastes of different artists – appetizers to prepare for a full meal. This particular sampler is a meal in itself. It begins with a tasty treat by the Asylum Street Spankers called Breathin'. A finger-snapping tune begins with a walking bass, then a voice that welcomes all listeners which, in turn, introduces a fiddle. 2nd verse introduces a tasty guitar and sets the tone for the hump-day party of fun – “loving you is just like breathin’ in and breathin’ out.” The next solo is a visit from a clarinet. A few cuts later Mark Lemhouse has a track that brings in some blues banjo and other tasty Americana-type instruments rooted in a blues mode. He supplies the potatoes on the plate with Paper Sack, while Mary Flower supplies the meat with Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gives To Me. This one is lightly grilled with humor and an acoustic-filled night of joyful sorrow. Some fine picking. The pecan pie is supplied by Calvin Newborn with a soulful instrumental he calls Newborn Blues. A guitar-based joy, the back-up band here provides the delicious crust that enhances the subtleties of the sweetened bitter pecans. Fine to dance with also.

I think this sampler arrived simply because I became a follower on twitter; but there are other ways to get it: Yellow Dog Records

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Death By Sexy - Wake Me Up

“You got me achin’ to pray!” The sound captured me immediately. Rock and roll trios always have a special sound and mean a lot to me, especially when everyone contributes to the vocals. The bass player drives the percussion, and the guitar player has to fill in with beautiful noise. The drummer has the hardest job, using the drums as a melody instrument while maintaining a steady beat – I’m impressed & am also betting this is a great live show band. Luckily they captured their energy on disk to share with us – not easy to do. Good work. Death By Sexy is high-energy rock and roll fulfilling the promise to “Wake Me Up.” Shoutouts for You’re So Hot & C’mon Babe. Death By Sexy

2 years ago:

Monday, April 06, 2009

Bob Dylan - I Feel A Change Comin' On

"Dreams never did work for me anyway, even when they did come true." A love ballad to float away on. Some fun details and recommendations, "I'm listening to Billy Joe Shaver and reading James Joyce." Some spirituality, "they say that life is for love"; some pessimism, "what's the use of dreaming?"; and some lust "you're the object of my desire". What else do we need from a song? Bob Dylan at his sexy best. Bob Dylan

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Branford Marsalis Quartet - The Jitney Man

The Jitney Man starts of this wonderful CD with an upbeat introduction to a group of players who know each other well, and play well off each other with brilliant chord runs and smooth jokes. There are call-outs to the past with sly smiles, as well as joyful improvisation that creates a fresh and exciting dance of sound interweaving the molecules of air around me. This session may be led by Branford, but what makes this album a must-have for a collection is the ensemble. Each member adds compositions, voices and dreams so that each movement is truly a new flavor and no one player makes the effort to overwhelm the set with their voice. These guys work together with joy and tenderness. Joey Calderazzo, Eric Revis, and Jeff ‘Tain’ Watts are co-conspirators with Branford in putting together a most delicious meal. Shoutouts for The Blossom Of Parting, Jabberwocky, and The Last Goodbye. Branford Marsalis Quartet

It was 50 years ago today:

Autumn:Downpour:Machinery - Eye Of The Funeral

This trip starts with a chord lost in the ethers until the drummer invades my thoughts with a welcoming call back to earth. Guitars talk to me with invitations to partake of the surrounding lotus blossoms. I enter my own funeral procession, but the musicians drag me back and tie me down to prevent my escape back to the lotus. It turns out the eye simply allows a religious service of future possibilities. I’m impressed with the musicianship, and the composition’s power to transport. This is the second offering from the airbagpromo net label, and well worth your time to download an listen. Shoutout for the equally georgeous soundscapes of March Of The Spineless. Autumn:Downpour:Machinery

Friday, April 03, 2009

Tim Easton – Burgundy Red

”Woke up this morning with an old song in your head, a spilled wine glass, and a stranger in your bed.” Perfect story to start off a Friday night party with – sort of a preview for Saturday morning. Tim performs the song with absolute abandon, and like all great rock and roll, it frees the soul. The percussion is arranged to ensure dancing, and the exciting lead guitar work makes my heart pound with life. Tim’s vocal performance demands attention, I just love his repetitions of never. He convinces me that he’s trying to convince himself, even though he truly doesn’t believe it’ll never happen again. Shoutouts for the musical inspiration of Get What I Got Broke ("all you took away was the hunger and the swagger"), My Heart (“she’s got the coldest heart in this state, and that’s not my imagination”) & Stormy (“don’t like to wear no shoes, that’s why she’s got them running blues”). Stones Throw Away gets a special shout-out as a sleepy tune pefect for the last dance of the night. Tim Easton

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Pierce Pettis – Nothing But The Wind

“If you should feel me move toward the light, you'll shoot me down like a dead satellite.” Mark Heard’s beautiful song about how our friends, family, schools, governments, and media will do everything they can to keep us from recognizing the daily miracles around us. “If you should see me stoop to smell the rose, don't let me - show me the thorns it grows.” What I like about this line especially, is Mark also realized that we beg our friends to stop us from exploring our spiritual side, and that if they catch us thinking, we beg them to stop us. Pierce Pettis captures the power of the song and performs it as an introduction to a collection of his own songs. I Am Nothing (But The Angels Sometimes Whisper In My Ears) also explores our spiritual nature (“I stumble when I try to walk the straight and narrow”). Something For The Pain is a meditation on living in the presence of the spirit. Fine collection. Pierce Pettis

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Brother Joscephus and the Love Revival Revolution Orchestra - A Child Shall Lead

Brother Joscephus made his way into my heart before I heard the music because of the menu posted on his website for the Nawlins Gospel Brunch. It includes delicacies such as "The Bayou Melt" Grilled Cheese/Andouille Sausage/Caramelized Onions/Sweet Potato Fries. Instant hit with me, but of course that won’t make me tell you about the band. For me to pick up a pen and write and not just dream of eating, I need to hear some music. No prob, the CD is just as much fun as the menu.

A Child Shall Lead starts off this humpday with a church of delight hollerin’ joy in the spirit love this life dance party! “Can I get an Amen?” The Voices of Reason supply the "Amen" in full. The party continues with Bon Tempe Roulez, which announces “got the jones in my bones”, along with an aural menu that keeps these ears happily drinking in the horn section while the singer preaches about chicken wings, jambalaya and shoo-fly pie. Scrumptious. More Than I Need brings Motown spices to New Orleans, “I want to shout it from the top of the mountain. . .I got soul satisfaction!” The slow dance is a total knockout that Brother is able to suck emotions out into the open entitled I Won't Be That Man (“even your dog don’t want to be around you, but he ain’t got no choice”). The jumping party attitude returns with a whistle and some fine horn interplay on Midnight Moon (“I’m listening to the stereo and feelin’ Neil Young, they ain’t come up with an emotion that man hasn’t sung”). The videos will let you see the versatile talents of this exciting party animal. Brother Joscephus and the Love Revival Revolution Orchestra

A Child Shall Lead

I Won't Be That Man