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Category Archives: music dudes

On This Day…1977

elvis-st

No mention on the news.  No acknowledgement that I’ve seen today.  However, today is the 32nd anniversary of the death of Elvis. One place that never, ever forgets Elvis is his home town of Memphis.  Death Week festivities culminate with the “vigil”, each August 15th.  Having witnessed this firsthand during our six year stint in Memphis, I must say that seeing the thousands upon thousands standing silently with candles and moving through the gates of Graceland is quite touching.

My Elvis love has been well-documented in several posts, here, here, and here.  As I reflect on the death of Les Paul and his dramatic impact on modern music and Rock & Roll, in particular, I can’t help but also think about Elvis’ significant influence.  These people made HUGE changes to their worlds.  Makes me wonder….just where are this generations change agents?  Miley Cyrus?  The Jonas Brothers?  Where are the new “originals”?

In this age, where non-conformity is the norm, it is hard to appreciate just how odd and different Elvis was.  Coming out in the Deep South, where good, upstanding citizens listened to clean cut white boys in the vein of Pat Boone, Elvis’ loud clothes, swiveling hips, provacative dance moves, and strong R&B leanings were not exactly embraced by the adults of the South (or otherwise).  But, the kids got it and they LOVED it.

America loves an original, and Elvis was definitely original.  In the thirty odd years since his death, I’ve often thought about what Elvis would have done, had he lived.  Would he have joined the fitness revolution and slimmed down?  Would he have realized that overuse of prescription drugs IS drug abuse and checked himself in to Betty Ford?  Would he have made a big comeback?  And, just WHAT would he look like at 74?  Well, wonder no more…

ElvisPresleyAgeProgression 

Oh, to go back to when Elvis was Young & Beautiful….

 
 

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Lovin’ JM

Mayerliciousness

Mayerliciousness

My Mayer love is well documented.  If you search the John Mayer tag on this blog, you’ll find many a tidbit concerning the young guitar hero.  I’m really not fangirly over Mayer…I mean he’s cute and all, has a wicked sense of humor, and lives the most enviable life, but more and more I gravitate to JM for the music.

I still find myself migrating  back to Continuum tracks when I’m surfing my iPod on plane trips.  Good music does that.  It beckons listeners back to visit and enjoy.  Now, I know that there are MANY Mayer haters out there (several have visited this blog), that think Mayer is a sell-out and even go so far as to call him “untalented”.  Sorry, but I can’t go there with you.  Mayer’s guitar prowess, alone, commands respect of the music appreciater.  Whether you like the dude or not, his talent is proven.

Besides, he is not in the generic mold of the current day Pop Star.  From his famously big mouth (sardonic & sarcastic) to his unconventional “style” (arm sleeve tattoos and ever-changing hair style), John Mayer is a non-conformist.  Mayer has been able to expand and explore other genres, despite his label trying to keep him constrained to high-selling “pop”.  He can do this because his audience accepts it and even demands it, giving him the leverage to basically do what he wants.  That’s how big talents roll. 

Ray Charles didn’t stay confined to blues and R&B.  He ventured deep into Country, traditional Adult Contemporary, and even a little Rock & Roll.  He did so and was readily accepted because the audience loved and appreciated his TALENT.  I see John Mayer in the same way.  And, before you submit some snarky comment….NO, I’m not saying that John Mayer is on par with Ray Charles.  At least, not yet.  However, he has proven his music ability which has given him the leverage to expand his horizons and that IS in the same vein as the great RC.

Perfect example is Mayer’s alter ego, The John Mayer Trio and their foray into heavy blues, jazz, and “standards”.  I was so pleasantly surprised to find this gem from Mayer’s traditional Thanksgiving night visit to David Letterman.  Normally, I would balk on a “pretender” trying to cover Sinatra on one of my favorite Sinatra tunes, but Mayer takes it and makes it his own, without bastardizing or dramatically retarding the song and its wonderful essence.

Bravo.

  Wee Small Hours of the Morning

 

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A WONDERful Christmas Time…

stevie20wonder2013

Sorry for being so absent lately.  Not that there’s not alot of music thoughts going through my head, it’s just that something has to give, sometime.  With work, hauling down the decorations, decorating, gift searching, gift buying, gift wrapping, cleaning, cooking, college searching, and the various asundry tasks on my To Do list, that there is no “free time” to write the type of meaningful posts that I like to do.  And, after all, I can’t give up “The Midgets” on Monday night or Biggest Loser on Tuesday or the host of mindless crap (a quote from my husband) that I consider valued entertainment after 5 p.m.  Truth is, after a long day, all I want is mindless crap, but that’s another topic for another day.

While I’ve been busy, I haven’t been void of music and of course my FAVORITE genre of Christmas music.  We officially kicked off the Holiday season with some festive tunes on our drive back to Alabama from Louisiana after Thanksgiving and each day, I’ve been sampling my vast Christmas collection and compiling my list for the 2nd Annual Music Maven Christmas Playlist.  Be on the lookout over the next week or so for that compilation of Christmas goodness.

I’ve always LOVED Stevie Wonder’s Christmas music, particularly What Christmas Means to Me.  It just gets me in the right Christmas spirit and is such a happy song.  And, the other night, I was watching the movie This Christmas and heard an old familiar Wonder song that I hadn’t thought of in a long, long time.

The WONDERfulness of Twinkle, Twinkle is the fact that just like the Christmas season it’s joyful, melancoly, introspective and warm….just one of the great tunes of Stevie’s enduring Christmas repetoire.

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Me is one of those soulful songs of the period when a plethora of non-traditional Christmas music was introduced, capturing the spirit of Christmas in new ways.  In 1967, Little Stevie Wonder having just dropped the “Little” and fresh off of hits like FingerTips, Uptight (It’s Alright), A Place in the Sun  and For Once in My Life, Wonder released an epic Christmas compilation, Someday at Christmas and Twinkle, Twinkle was one of the hidden gems on this wonderful collection of the man entering his heyday. 

Someday at Christmas is a mix of traditional and non-traditional Christmas songs and was released right after Thanksgiving in ’67 and was, no doubt, well-received.  However, I don’t recall hearing much of Stevie’s Christmas music until I was an adult and largely through movie soundtracks.  That’s how I got turned on to What Christmas Means to Me, the anchor song on Someday at Christmas.

This song always puts me in such a festive mood.  The kind of Risky Business, Tom Cruise in tighty whities, sock sliding across the floor in sunglasses, strummin’ air guitar kind of mood.  It is one of my absolute favorite Christmas PARTY songs.

But, Someday at Christmas has a little something for everyone and is a superbly well-rounded record, particularly for a specialty CD.  But then, it IS Stevie Wonder, after all.  A Warm Little Home on the Hill and Bedtime for Toys bring a sweetness and longing for family, home and hearth.  A new find that I am particularly enjoying this year is The Day That Love Began, which is a combination of doo-wop, Motown, and classic Wonder:

I like that one almost as much as the inspiring, soulful One Little Christmas Tree.  (NOTE:  The video for One Little Christmas Tree was pulled off of YouTube, so the others may vanish, as well…another subject for another post.)

Of course, Stevie doesn’t stray too far away from the standards with traditional takes on The Christmas Song, Silver Bells, Ave Maria, and The Little Drummer Boy…all of which are superbly sublime.

If you’re looking to expand your Christmas collection, Stevie Wonder’s Someday at Christmas CD is a “must have”.  Unfortunately, the original album/compilation is no longer available, but fear not…all songs from this CD, plus a couple more are available on iTunes and Amazon via 20th Century Masters under The Christmas Collection: Stevie Wonder.

stevie-wonder-xmas1

Click here to order from iTunes.

Many times, when I’m doing research for these posts, I find unanticipated nuggets.  This time, I found a wonderful cover of Someday at Christmas, by a very talented young man named Justin Bieber:

Just goes to show that good music endures.  BTW, Stevie Wonder re-released For Once in My Life as a single this past Monday…40 years after original release. 

Everything old is new again. 

 

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John Mayer Shows Us Exactly “Where the Light Is”

On July 1st, John Mayer released his extended play CD and DVD, Where the Light Is. Basically, this high-quality DVD was a recording of Mayer’s December 8th, 2007 concert at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles.

Now, being the Mayer lovah that I am, I downloaded the movie on iTunes and I must say, I LOVE IT. For the life of me, I can’t understand why every artist doesn’t produce a live video of a concert like this.

Johnny Boy starts off with an acoustic set that is simply brilliant in its simplicity. Perhaps my favorite of this set (and any other) is Stop This Train: I really dig the added whistling, as well.

Stop This Train

I really identify with this song. The lyrics really touch on the progression of life and the realization of aging parents and that we are ever closer to there being no buffer between us and death. He touches on that every once in a while you’re all together and everyone is there and it’s all just perfect and you just want to stop time and have it last just a while longer. But, time stops for no-one. Mayer captures it beautifully and runs the gamut of emotion from fear to happiness to contentment.

Another acoustic gem is John’s cover of Tom Petty’s Free Fallin’, when he’s joined by guitarists David Ryan Harris and Robbie McIntosh of The Pretenders, who also has served as a session musician for Sir Paul McCartney. It is fantastic…

Free Fallin”

The cinematography in this film is awesome. There are many great angles including those from in amongst the crowd. This movie really gives you the feel of a concert without the hassle of getting good tickets, parking, fighting the crowds and bad sound. While I try to make several concerts a year, I just can’t make all the ones I’d like to, but putting up $12.99 for a kick ass, high quality, extended set concert that I can watch on my HDTV? Done. I would like to see other artists begin to produce concert movies like CDs, particularly when the concert is as good as this one.

After the acoustic set, John brings on Steve Jordan and Pino Palladino, who are part of the John Mayer Trio to go down and dirty blues and jazz.

Who Did You Think I Was?

He also performs the great Hendrix anthem Bold as Love with the trio with a very heartfelt introduction, as well as some pretty frank dialogue in the middle about living his life and love — that “gotcha back kind of love”

Bold As Love

Lastly, Mayer brings his entire band on to complete the concert with many hits from Continuum and otherwise. Perhaps my favorite is the I’ve Got Dreams to Remember intro into Gravity:

The film/concert is a little over 2.5 hours and is definitely a keeper. Mayer shows his depth of talent and his obvious intelligence and sincerity in his music. To me, Mayer’s viability as a contemporary artist is directly correlated with his ability to evolve and expand his music into various genres and styles and to be “all about the music”.

The CD/DVD live concert release will be a nice tune up to his upcoming CD of new material, which will include All We Ever Do Is Say Goodbye. Here is a short sample:

If you’re looking to attend a great concert (over and over again), I strongly recommend purchasing the movie, Where The Light Is. Once again, Johnny Boy does not disappoint.

The “Where The Light Is” tracklisting is as follows:

Acoustic Set:
1. Neon
2. Stop This Train
3. In Your Atmosphere (L.A. Song)
4. Daughters
5. Free Fallin’

Trio Set:
6. Everyday I Have The Blues
7. Wait Until Tomorrow
8. Who Did You Think I Was
9. Come When I Call
10. Good Love Is On The Way
11. Out Of My Mind
12. Vultures
13. Bold As Love

Band Set:
14. Waiting On The World To Change
15. Slow Dancing In A Burning Room
16. Why Georgia
17. The Heart Of Life
18. I Don’t Need No Doctor
19. Gravity
20. I Don’t Trust Myself (With Loving You)
21. Belief
22. I’m Gonna Find Another You

 

Amos Lee: “Last Days” Podcasts

ETA2:  The vids are back with a few extra delicious tidbits (see below).  Don’t mean to pre-empt Colette’s Corner spotlight on David Cook, so make sure to visit the post below this one.

ETA: Sorry folks, Amos evidently pulled these off of YouTube.  Believe me, they WERE really good stuff.  I’ll try to find them elsewhere…

YEAH!

Amos does it again. In anticipation of his coming new CD, Last Days at the Lodge, Amos Lee provides a podcast for most of the songs on the CD. He gives an explanation of the song and some of the history behind who, what, when and why. Now, some may not be interested in the detail, but as a liner note junkie from way back, I LOVE THIS STUFF.

I like to understand where the artist was coming from when they wrote the song and what they were trying to convey or what the story is behind a key change or rhythmic riff. I know this is a lot of YouTubeness, but each one is only about 2 minutes long and gives some wonderful insight to this CD, that I’m predicting will be even a bigger hit than the first two.

Amos is a very “real” guy who is very transparent in his artistry. No hidden or mysterious innuendos or aloofness, just WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get, for all you post DOS folks). It’s guys (and gals) like these that I truly appreciate. They “make the sausage” and show us all the parts, then let it stand on it’s own for us to enjoy the flavor.

He talks about music influences by Merle Haggard, Bob Dylan, Bob Marley and Paul Simon, and the fact that his music comes more out of practice than theory. There are some real nuggets of insight to the artist that Amos Lee is.

So, when you have a little time this weekend, check out the podcasts for Last Days at the Lodge…right here, at Music Maven:

Ease Back

It Started to Rain

Jails & Bombs

Kid

Listen

Street Corner Preacher

Truth

What’s Been Going On?

Won’t Let Me Go

Superb.

Don’t forget to pre-order your CD at Amazon or to download the tracks from iTunes on June 24th. You will not regret it.

Here are a couple of “hot off the press” vids done expressly for YouTube by Amos, IN HIS LIVING ROOM!  I love this guy….noice couch.

  Baby I Want You

  Keep it Loose, Keep it Tight

Notice the invitation to respond to Amos via a song “cover” and his acknowledgement that he listens to the heartfelt covers that people do of his songs on YouTube.  That, is making a kun-NECK-shun. 

 

 
 

“The Last Days” of Amos Lee

Amos Lee’s third CD is scheduled for release on June 24th. All indications are that this third effort will be as enjoyable as Amos’ self-titled debut CD, Amos Lee, and his follow-up CD, Supply & Demand.

Last Days is produced by Don Was, and is accompanied by a star-studded musical cast including, the formidable Doyle Bramhall, Jr who plays with the great Eric Clapton on guitar, legendary keyboarder Spooner Oldham who has backed Neil Young and Aretha Franklin, bassman Pino Palladino of The Who and The John Mayer Trio and drummer James Gadson, known for his work with Bill Withers.

From the tracks I’ve heard, Amos once again delivers an original, soulful, playful yet serious CD that exemplifies the depth of his talent. I have long been impressed with Amos and was fascinated by some of the techniques he used to promote Supply & Demand. Like his series of podcasts (here and here) that explored who he is as an artist and the process of his songwriting, delving into the stories behind some of the songs. As a fan, I eat that stuff up.

And with this effort, Amos is using subtle promotion like providing a video of a live performance of his new single, Listen, on the pre-order page for Amazon. He’s also already listing snippets of the songs before the actual release, way before. When you’ve got something good, it pays to put it out there and let people sample it.

However, through my deft navigation of the internets, I’ve managed to find full tracks of a few tracks for you to preview. Of course, I encourage you to pre-order to get your very own copy of Last Days at the Lodge.

The first single, Listen, is certainly similar to previous Amos conviction songs such as Shout Out Loud and Freedom, off of Supply & Demand, but there’s a confidence now about Amos that’s evident in his sound.

He also includes a re-vamped version of Truth, which is one of my favorite tracks off of Supply & Demand. I would like to know the reason why he’s including this song on two CDs back to back.

Truth (from both Supply & Demand AND Last Days at the Lodge)

But Amos is no one-trick pony as evidenced with the exquisite Ease Back. Enriched by some awesome BANJO, Ease Back, is a relaxing and introspective tune that hearkens Woody Guthrie and one of the few songs today that is on par with the brilliant folk songs of the ’60s.

I find the lyrics of Ease Back quite compelling and a testament to Amos’ ability to present a song that is starkly self-evident.  A great song about friends who may not have been on the best terms lately.

Hello. It’s good to see you comin’ back again.
It’s been a long time since I sat with you, my friend.
I’ll lend an ear. It’s not that’s so severe.
Time has killed the pain and dried up every tear.

And now, I’m thinking ‘bout what went down.
All the heartache, I laughed away just like a clown.
And now, you sit around and talkin’
Drink some wine. I’m really glad you stopped in.
To spend some time, you sit around and talkin’,
Thinking ‘bout the past, it’s funny how it lingers
But nothin’s meant to last.

And my Maw, she’d like to say hello.
But she’s a little scared that I can’t let it go.
So let on ease back, brother and let it slip away.
I’m tired of hanging on to the pains of yesterday.
Once again, the money is so thick.
It makes your heart go numb, it makes your mind get sick.

So, come on by, we’ll sit and talk about it,
Drink some wine, I’m really glad you stopped in, brother of mine.
We’ll sit around and talk it, drink some wine and maybe by the morning,
Everything is fine.
Everything is fine.
Ease back, brother, let this clear your mind.

Come on by and drink yourself a good time.
Have some wine, think about each other.
Sister, am I fine?
Yes, I’ve been alright now.
Take it lightly, step on out the front door.
I see you want some time.

Perhaps my most favorite track of those I’ve heard and previewed so far, however, is the Southern Rock-infused Street Corner Preacher. Like the refreshing Sweet Pea, from Supply & Demand, Street Corner Preacher gives us a great beat and an atypical subject, but it’s one of those contagious tunes that gets played over and over again until the intricate lyrics are committed to memory. One has to wonder how a Philly boy has such a Delta vibe.

Based on these few tracks alone, I give the CD an A+. Amos Lee is one of the great new artists of this generation who beautifully uses influences like Bill Withers, Ray Charles, and Bob Dylan to create a sound that is undeniably soulful and thoroughly enjoyable.  While critically acclaimed in many circles, Amos has sold less than 500,000 CDs of both of his releases COMBINED.  That, my friends, is a stark statement regarding music today.  However, while Amos is not a household name, he does quite well touring…at least enough to keep making great music.

Amos will be touring the U.S. this summer, doing what an artist should do — giving fans live performances to assist in the sales of his new release.

Click here for a listing of tour dates.

Amos Lee MySpace Page

 
8 Comments

Posted by on May 31, 2008 in Amos Lee, music dudes

 

I Believe in You

From the Gentle Giant, the great troubadour Don Williams, the Platinum hit from 1980, I Believe in You.

I can’t help but smile when I hear this song. Perhaps I identify with the lyrics and the kun-NECK-shun that they make.

I don’t believe in superstars,
Organic food and foreign cars.
I don’t believe the price of gold;
The certainty of growing old.
That right is right and left is wrong,
That north and south can’t get along.
That east is east and west is west.
And being first is always best.

But I believe in love.
I believe in babies.
I believe in Mom and Dad.
And I believe in you.

Well, I don’t believe that heaven waits,
For only those who congregate.
I like to think of God as love:
He’s down below, He’s up above.
He’s watching people everywhere.
He knows who does and doesn’t care.
And I’m an ordinary man,
Sometimes I wonder who I am.

But I believe in love.
I believe in music.
I believe in magic.
And I believe in you.

Well, I know with all my certainty,
What’s going on with you and me,
Is a good thing.
It’s true, I believe in you.

I don’t believe virginity,
Is as common as it used to be.
In working days and sleeping nights,
That black is black and white is white.
That Superman and Robin Hood,
Are still alive in Hollywood.
That gasoline’s in short supply,
The rising cost of getting by.

But I believe in love.
I believe in old folks.
I believe in children.
I believe in you.

But I believe in love.
I believe in babies.
I believe in Mom and Dad.
And I believe in you.

 
9 Comments

Posted by on April 19, 2008 in Country, kun-neck-shuns, music dudes

 

Live from Sun Studios: Adam Levy

Yet another session of Live from Sun Studios is up, this one featuring Adam Levy.

  Interview

As mentioned in the Amber Rubarth post, Adam Levy is part of Norah Jones’ Handsome Band.  In the Sun Studio piece, he performs In the Morning, which he wrote and Norah included on her Feels Like Home CD.

Adam is an accomplished guitar man, providing the solo on Tracey Chapman’s Give Me One Reason:

I knew I liked this guy from the Amber Rubarth vid, and then it is confirmed with the fact that he played guitar on Amos Lee’s debut CD:

  Colors

You may recall that Amos opened for Norah Jones for a while and that debut CD was produced by Lee Alexander, Norah Jones’ bass guitarist and shack-up.

Here’s Washing Day, performed by Amber Rubarth and written by Adam Levy.  Yes, it do go ’round in circles….

Through the wonders of YouTube, I even found this rendition of Johnny B. Goode performed by Levy and his high school band, back in the glorious year of 1982.

 

So What?!?

Drive-by post, but I’ll have much more later…

Last night.  2nd Row.  Keb ‘Mo.  Awesome.  Hot new artist found.  Kevin So.

Brighter Day

 
5 Comments

Posted by on February 23, 2008 in blues, Emerging Artists, music dudes

 

The Thunder Rolls….Or Not.

ib0garthbrooks12.jpg

Oh. My. Gawd.

Friday night, I happened to be channel-surfing and saw that CBS was carrying a Garth Brooks’ concert, live from L.A., to benefit the firefighters who fought the recent wildfires out west. Having nothing better to do at 9:00pm, CST (yes, I’m old), I decided to tune in a see old Garth do his magic.

You see, in my “Blue” period, I was a huge Country Music fan and other than George Straight, Garth Brooks was as big of a country artist as it gets. Garth had many hits in the 80s and 90s and I always had a particular fondness for his ballads like To Make You Feel My Love (written by Bob Dylan) and The Dance.

His concerts were legendary for the passion in his performance and the overall high-energy. Everyone that I’ve known who has attended one of Garth’s shows said two things: 1.) It was worth every penny they paid; 2.) The guy is seriously talented.

So, I looked forward to settling in, hearing and seeing the great Garth Brooks, and being wowed once again. Unfortunately, it was not to be. Garth was really off. I don’t know if he couldn’t hear his tone, was ill or just way rusty, but virtually every song was out flat or out of tune and at points he seemed to be screeching. He covered with a bunch of yells to the crowd and let them sing some verses, but it was just not good. It was more glaringly evident how bad it was when his wife, Trisha Yearwood came out and sang perfectly in tune and then again, when Huey Lewis came out and sang Workin’ for Livin’.

Here’s an excerpt of Friday night’s Garth:

Callin’ Baton Rouge

The unofficial anthem of Louisiana may have been irreparably damaged. Now, contrast that with the loveliness of Garth past, singing one of Mr. D’s all-time favorite songs:

The River

 
5 Comments

Posted by on January 27, 2008 in Country, music dudes, Reviews, Uncategorized

 
 
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