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May Musings

Sorry for the lack of attention here over the last few weeks.  Our lives have been quite busy and something’s gotta give.  Hundred of post ideas pass me during the week, but I’m usually not in a position to post it.  Therefore, I thought I’d throw out the week in review (from my mind).

On the personal front, we’re starting to center life around the river and the boat.  We’re readying our house to sell in order to build our dream house, so there’s plenty of work to keep us busy.  More to come on the dream house, but here’s a preview….

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While this has been top of mind for us, other exciting things are also happening.  May is shaping up to be quite a nice month.  On Monday, Mini DD fulfilled a big goal (at least one of his Mom’s) in becoming an official member of the National Honor Society.

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Part of the induction ceremony is the new Junior members being “tapped” by a graduating Senior member.  5′ 6″ Mini DD was tapped by 6′ 8″ GM.  It received the biggest laugh of the night.

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Very nice way to start off the week and so proud of our progeny.

Cinco de Mayo — which seemingly lost it lustre this year because of Swine Flu — required travel starting at 3:00AM (that’s not a typo), with meetings/dinner until after 9:00PM.  I therefore, missed Idol, but was kept informed by  Shrew and KD. 

On Wednesday, John Mayer posted the second video chronicling the creation of his new CD, Battle Studies.

Johnny Boy’s been particularly busy on Twitter and on Wednesday twittered right before playing this…

Since I was traveling home on Wednesday, I once again missed Idol.  I was kept informed that the dudes were safe and Allison was going home, but an important detail was omitted.  No-one told me of the absurd Paula Abdul “first time on TV” performance.  This is wrong on so many levels, but SO telling regarding what the “judges” endorse as good music.

WARNING:  Viewing this video may be hazardous to your musical health.

Along  American Idol lines, Taylor “Tinks” Hicks released his country foray, Seven Mile Breakdown, complete with video.  Perhaps Taylor is reading?  From my March 15th, 2009 post on The Distance:

Along with Nineteen, Seven Mile Breakdown (co-penned with Hicks by Spoonful James’ guitarist and pre-Idol buddy, Wynn Christian) and the title-track, The Distance, Maybe You Should has serious Country potential, if appopriately brought to Nashville.  Even the blues number, Wedding Day Blues is oddly reminiscient of Garth Brooks’ Country anthem, Friends in Low Places.

I think that Country will be much kinder to Taylor and there are even better Country songs on the current CD to be released.  This might have legs.  (**clapping as hard as I can**)

Taylor is also a twitterer, recently tweeting that he LOVES FEIST!!!  See, all you Feist hatersTaylor thinks she’s the female Paul McCartney.  I might not go that far, but do still love me some Feist.

  Feel it All, Feist

Rather excited to find this morning that Janiva Magness was named Entertainer of the Year at the 2009 Blues Music Awards in Memphis last night.

….although she beat our Watermelon Slim….

Pretty cool, as the guy is left-handed — so he’s playing that dobro upside down and backwards.

All in all, a pretty solid week except for the fact that Dom Deluise died.  Sure miss the great comedy of Carson and Company.

R.I.P. Captain Chaos.

 

I will be back to regularly scheduled programming soon….just trying to catch my breath.

 

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Eli “Paperboy” Reed

Photo by Nicole Tammaro

Photo by Nicole Tammaro

Before I write another word, simply listen to this…

  Poor Side of Town

THIS, is who I imagined that Taylor Hicks would be after he won American Idol.  A little Wilson Pickett, a little Otis Redding, and a lot James Brown, Eli honed his skills by street performing on Harvard Square in high school, after teaching himself piano, guitar and harmonica.  (Sound familiar?) 

The son of a music critic who exposed his son to a vast soul record collection (again, sound familiar?), Eli ended up in Clarksdale, MS after high school, eventually ending up under the tutledge of legendary blues drummer, Sam Carr.  He frequently adorned his grandpa’s chapeau, which garnered the “Paperboy” nickname.

With a cool blues moniker, a degree in Southern blues, and a HUGE passion, Eli was convinced to enroll in the University of Chicago by his concerned parents.  While in Chi Town, Eli broadened his soul horizons by reaching out to Mitty Collier, who scored the 1964 hit, I Had a Talk With My Man.

Now involved in ministry, Mitty hired Eli Reed as her music minister, where he served for a year before returning to Boston with a different kind of education.  There, he put together his band, The True Loves, and recorded and self-released his first collection of originals and covers entitled, Sings “Walkin’ and Talkin’ (For My Baby)” and Other Smash Hits. 

After a phenomenal performance at the 2007 SXSW, Eli “Paperboy” Reed & The True Loves recorded and released Roll With You on the Boston-based, Q Division label.  (Even the album art is retro boss.)

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Some highlights from that compilation:

  Am I Wasting My Time (diggin’ on the Aretha shirt) — oddly reminiscient of LaMontagne’s You Are the Best Thing

  Take My Love With You on Jools Holland

  Doin’ the Boom Boom

  The Satisfier

Eli is currently embarking on a European tour and is recently signed to Virgin Records, after opening for the likes of Dave Matthews recently.

Eli’s NPR interview shows his love of music and his enthusiasm to spread it around.  At 24, he produces a much older and “experienced” sound.  But, then again, Otis, James, Jackie and Wilson were all about his age when they came into their own.  He is proficient at old soul, mixed with passion and love of music.  His music is infectious and draws you in.  Many critics and observers have dubbed him as the next sensation.  I am definitely on board.

Paperboy, stay true to your school and you shall go far…perhaps an example for many.

Visit Eli “Paperboy” Reed at http://www.myspace.com/elipaperboyreed and buy some stuff.  You will not be disappointed.

 

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Funky Music? White Boy?

Ok.  There was a certain level of sacrilege on American Idol tonight.  This was wrong on so many levels. 

I cannot wait to hear Dave White’s take on this one.

How in the world could even attempt this classic Idol “moment”…has he not heard?   There is only ONE Boogie.

– now, THAT is some emotion.

 
22 Comments

Posted by on March 31, 2009 in american idol, Funny, taylor hicks

 

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A Tale of Redemption…Going “The Distance”

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First, let me say that Taylor Hicks owes me nothing.  Nada.  Not a thing.

I used to think that he did, but let me say here (clearly), that I was wrong.  You see, four years ago when I rabidly followed Taylor on the cheese fest that is American Idol, I was envigorated by a young man who appeared to beat the odds, defy “the man” and strike a blow for the every day music lover.  He was a refreshing throwback to good, “old” music that was pure, un-synthesized, and “real”.  He was the everyday musical hero who came to save the day.

After AI, I expected Taylor to remain “all about the music” and continue to defy the musical ogres who control content and dole out the uninspiring pablum derived from electronic manipulation.  It was evident from Taylor’s first post-AI release, Taylor Hicks, that there was more influence from those writing the checks than any of us would have preferred.  Through the whole time, Taylor seemed to be impersonating some character in a play and while fans largely supported the record, it rang hollow on the charts.  It seemed that the daring, soulful style and smokin’ harmonica accompniment was largely absent from the record, leaving listeners, including me, wondering just where Taylor Hicks went.

His live tour was very successful and likely garnished Taylor enough dough to break away from J Records (whether mutual or not), start his own label, and take time for the next record that, maybe…just maybe, would more closely represent what fans so desparately want to hear from the soul man.  There have been some detours along the way, including the Broadway role of Teen Angel, that I simply did not agree with because it’s not my vision for the dude.  But, really…what do I know?

Oddly enough, Grease appears to have been the catalyst that provided some public acceptance and a bit of a springboard for, perhaps, a redemption of “America’s pick”.   Even though I still cringe at the notion of Taylor crooning out Beauty School Dropout, I can’t deny that it’s been good for his career.  Hey, it’s a mean to an end, I guess.  I have said all along, if the music is good, people will listen and all of the other extra-cirricular activities won’t mean a thing. 

That brings us to the release of Taylor Hicks’ new CD, The Distance.  I’ve been listening to it for a few days along with some other new music that I’ve been recently turned on to.  I wanted to give it a few days to simmer before I commented.  First, let me quench your curiosity and say that overall, this CD is MUCH better than the first release.

There’s a definite ease on this record that was absent on Taylor Hicks.  While that effort was frenetic, disjointed and a bit out of control, The Distance is thoughtful, balanced and comfortable.  It is very reminiscient of his pre-Idol work and shows that Taylor seems to be going “back” to his core, which is exactly what most people loved about him in the first place.  This should have been his Idol release, had they been smart.  The arrogance of greedy people who believe their “formula” for making a record and maximizing its profit never ceases to amaze me, but we continually see these dinosaurs take unique and genuine talent and turn them into something that is the opposite of what actually makes them appealing, and then scratching their head at its failure.

But, I digress…back to the review.

As I previously detailed, the first single, What’s Right is Right, is a simple, pleasing tune with a great video.  It’s currently doing well on AC radio and seems to be a happy medium between what’s expected from fans and what’s accepted by the industry. 

But what about the rest of the record?   Well, I think I get Taylor.  He is not just one style or one genre.  Like me, he likes a lot of different types and styles of music and I think that’s what he wanted this record to be.  Recently, he did a guest DJ spot on “My Turn” on 100.3 (Newport Beach, CA), no doubt as part of his promotion of this release (which I have to say is 200% better than the crack PR team at J Records and The Firm).  Whoever is in charge of promotion this time is doing a fabulous job.  Anyway, Taylor’s playlist for the hour long DJ stint is very telling.

St. Dominic’s PreviewVan Morrison
Gasoline Alley -Rod Stewart
How Long – Ace
Rainy Night In Georgia – Brook Benton
You Belong To Me – Carly Simon 
Hurricane Water – Citizen Cope
Foggy Mountain Breakdown – Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs
Where I’m From (Alabama Frame Of Mind)- Shelby Lynne
Life’s Been Good – Joe Walsh
Lowdown in Lodi – Freddie King
Something So Right – Paul Simon
Arc Of A Diver – Steve Winwood
Don’t Think TwiceSusan Tedeschi
I’m In Love – Wilson Pickett

To hear Taylor’s DJ skillz, click on the following player.

Now, I have to say that this was one of the most redeeming things I’ve heard from Taylor in a while.  It validated that the dude still has great music taste and still true to it.  Many of the songs on the new CD incorporate “sounds” from Taylor influences like Steve Winwood, Keb ‘Mo, Delbert McClinton, Van Morrison, and The Meters.  He signed on a quality producer in Simon Climie, who has produced Eric Clapton and who is an accomplished keyboardist and song writer in his own right.  In addition, some of Clapton’s touring band performed on the record, including Doyle Brahmall II and bassist Nathan East and was joined by Paul McCartney’s drummer, Abe Laboriel, Jr.

This is a quality record, with quality songs, musicians, and mixing.  I like it.  I have to say that it’s very entertaining and there are a few really good tracks on it.  If I had to pick a favorite, it would be Maybe You Should.  Written by Taylor and Nashville songwriter Gary Nicholson (who contributes on several songs), it is a great ballad that reminds me of Bonnie Raitt’s I Can’t Make You Love Me.  That could be because songwriter Michael Reid co-wrote both of them.  While I love Taylor’s raspy blues feel to this song, I could also see Keith Urban doing this song.

Along with Nineteen, Seven Mile Breakdown (co-penned with Hicks by Spoonful James’ guitarist and pre-Idol buddy, Wynn Christian) and the title-track, The Distance, Maybe You Should has serious Country potential, if appopriately brought to Nashville.  Even the blues number, Wedding Day Blues is oddly reminiscient of Garth Brooks’ Country anthem, Friends in Low Places.

While there’s certainly some Country influence, this CD is not a one trick twang pony.  One of my favorites, Keeping It Real, is influenced by co-author Delbert McClinton’s wily humor along with a great strider piano, New Orleans sound.  It’s also the ONLY track on the CD with a harmonica accompniment.  A pity, as I really dig the harp.

There’s also plenty of “soul” in the Nick Lowe cover, I Live on a Battlefield, and one of my all-time favorite tunes, Woman’s Gotta Have It, where he is accompanied by AI buddy, Elliott Yamin.  Now, Woman’s Gotta Have It is one on my Music Maven “All-Time Favorite” list, but James Taylor’s 1976 version from his In the Pocket CD which is, in my opinion, one of the best albums ever made — but that’s a different subject for a different day.  I really love the meshing of voices between Elliott and Taylor and especially Taylor harmonizing background vocal (fulfilling Simon’s ambition for him), but the beginning of JT’s version is more to my liking.  Got me to wondering what a combined version would sound like.  Hmmmm….

Once Upon a Lover and New Found Freedom are my “throw away” tracks.  I didn’t like the Latino sound of West Texas Sky and I don’t care for it on Once Upon a Lover.  New Found Freedom is more of an Idol “coronation” song that just doesn’t measure up to the other songs on the CD.   

The marketing plan of three “special tracks” via different store exclusives are in play for The Distance.  Wal-Mart offers the Ray Charles’ cover Hide Nor Hair, Target provides Indiscriminate Act of Kindness, and iTunes has Yes We Can, Can.  While I haven’t been able to sample Hide Nor Hair, Indiscriminate Act of Kindness reminds me of Taylor’s much heralded performance of the Ray classic, Georgia.  It is indulgent and very non-descript.  While I know this won’t be popular with the “Soul Patrol”, Indiscriminate Act of Kindness is NOT a song that exhibits Taylor Hicks’ talent nor is it a very appealing cut.  However, if you’re looking for a theme song about drug addiction and recovery, this is likely as good as it gets.

On the other hand, the iTunes “special”, Yes We Can is a veritable who’s who of funk & boogie.  Written by Allen Toussaint and covered by the likes of soul man, Marc Broussard and The Pointer Sisters, Yes We Can pays homage to the soul/zydeco/funk of the Southern Gulf Coast.  While Taylor may be considered the “forgotten idol”, the fact that Ivan Neville, Delbert McClinton and Stax legend, Steve Cropper provide back-up, indicates that “real” musicians “get” Taylor.  Even Marc Broussard couldn’t pull that off.

Music Maven gives Taylor Hicks’ The Distance  4 of 5 stars.   Buy it.

Redemption attained.

 

Clapping As Hard As I Can…

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Today, the inaugural Taylor Hicks music video premieres. 

Click the picture to view.

 taylor-video

The link takes you to Jake Davis’ blog.  Davis is the director of the video and I must say that I like his style.  He’s managed to capture alot of what I think Taylor Hicks wants to portray.  He creates that “alone” James Dean feel, complete with the overcoat walk in the snow on deserted streets…even the diner scene. 

Photos by Dennis Stock

Photos by Dennis Stock

The video is good.  It’s just the right amount of highlighting the artist, storytelling and showcasing the song.  Well done, Mr. Davis.

I have to say that Taylor has never looked better.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, his new What’s Right Is Right is a pleasant-enough song that seems to be catching on a little with a #25 position on Billboard’s Hot Contemporary Chart.  It also looks like he’s embracing his inner Idol with last weekend’s appearance with the other six idols to christen Disney’s “American Idol Experience”.

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Taylor’s CD, The Distance, drops March 10th and again, I think we’ll see an Idol appearance around that time.  Could it be that Idol #5 will finally start to gain traction?

Yahoo Premiere of What’s Right Is Right

 
13 Comments

Posted by on February 17, 2009 in american idol, new releases, taylor hicks, Videos

 

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Last Hint…

  Not Fade Away, Taylor “Tink” Hicks

 
6 Comments

Posted by on January 31, 2009 in kun-neck-shuns, taylor hicks, Uncategorized

 

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What’s Right is Right

…and what’s fair is fair. 

While I was a HUGE Taylor Hicks fan when he was sporting that lovely paisley shirt, purple velvet jacket and getting funky on American Idol a few years ago, I lost interest after a while.  His over-produced, Idol infused “debut” CD, the obvious malfunctions in his marketing and the insaneness of the online “fan wars” caused me to put some distance of my own between me and the Silver Fox. 

Also, the whole Grease thing really shattered my illusions of the nitty, gritty, “real”, all about the music, soul singer.  I had envisioned Taylor with the likes of Marc Broussard, Norah Jones, Widespread Panic and Grace Potter, not prancing around in a teased up pompadour singing Beauty School Drop Out.  While I still don’t like the move, it appears that the Teen Angel part has kept him out in the public.  In the summer, he released Early Works, full of older pre-idol material that was self-produced and had limited distribution, mainly via Target.  Not sure of the exact count, but let’s just say that it didn’t storm up the Billboard charts. 

Taylor has been working on a new CD, titled The Distance.  It will be released via Taylor’s Modern Whomp Records and distributed via the indie-promotiong Artists2Market.  While quite a challenge to go it alone, Taylor has asserted that this CD will be a true representation of his music, without interference from “others”.  So, today the first single from The Distance drops — a smooth, easy tune called What’s Right is Right.

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Click HERE to listen to What’s Right is Right

As much as I may have seen Taylor, and his music through rose colored glasses previously, the pendulum swung hard the other way over the last two years with my disappointment in the music (or lack thereof) of Taylor Hicks.  Where was the John Mayer collaboration?  The Ray Charles studio session?  A Muscle Shoals revival?  The Yabba Dabba Soul Patrol Mojo Dive Tour, for Christ’s sake? 

However, lately, I have wondered if I have simply been too hard on poor Taylor.  After all, his was an uphill climb out of the chute.  Not really Country, not really Alternative Rock, not really any specific “genre” for the suits to throw him in.  While he certainly made missteps and was, at times, lazy…did I throw the baby out with the bathwater?  I decided to really give this new CD a try.  So, I have started with What’s Right is Right

While there’s nothing here that will set the world on fire, the song is good.  It’s James Taylor-esque to me, with simple instrumentation and vocals I can actually hear.  Not sure that he’ll get much radio play on anything other than Adult Contemporary stations, but I don’t think that’s the point.  James Taylor has had VERY few “hits” over his career, yet is certainly a respected musician and singer.  If you can make money pleasing a fan base, over time, you will be able to sustain yourself and leave a lasting legacy.  I like What’s Right is Right and I think that I will like the rest of the CD that drops March 10th, 2009. 

 The track listing is promising, with a little of something for everyone. 

Wedding Day Blues
Seven Mile Breakdown
What’s Right Is Right
Woman’s Gotta Have It
New Found Freedom
The Distance
Nineteen
I Live on a Battlefield
Maybe You Should
Once Upon a Lover of Mine
Keepin’ It Real

There is a potential solid Country hit in Nineteen, along with one that I have a feeling will be a Music Maven hit — Bobby Womack’s Woman Gotta Have It.  I have adored this song since 1976, when my brother gave me my first LP album — James Taylor’s In the Pocket, arguably one of his best albums.  But THAT, my friends, is another story for another day.

If I may — give Taylor just one more chance and try to listen to this new CD without rose colored glasses or bias from unrealized expectations.  Try listening to it like any other emerging artist I might throw out there at you and then, we’ll give it a proper review.  Just keepin’ it real.

It will be available on Amazon, March 10th.  The single is available today on iTunes.  My Libra Dragons is predicting an American Idol appearance in mid-March.  Don’t they at least owe the guy that much?

 
31 Comments

Posted by on January 27, 2009 in american idol, new releases, taylor hicks

 

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