Sorry for the tardiness in getting this posted. It’s been such a long, short week. New job, business trip, cleaning up Christmas, etc. , but now I’m firmly set to take on 2008. So is our dear Colette, who offers the following submission on several artists that may not be at the top of the charts, but certainly deserve a bit more attention.
I appreciate Colette’s compilations and after all, this is what Music Maven is all about. Finding obscure, unknown and highly talented artists to share and educate. I have a couple to include, but you’ll find them AFTER Colette’s interesting contribution. I encourage you all to share your “deserving artists” for ’08, as well.
Seven who Deserve More Ear Time in 2008
Who do you believe deserves to be heard by many, many more people in 2008?
I know Music Maven and everyone else who follows this blog has their list of under-touted musical favorites, artists whose sounds mean a great deal to you (and other aficionados), but who still are not widely known — even among fellow soundistas. So I want to share a few of mine (and maybe get an exchange started)?
Just to draw some parameters here: I’m not talking only about young music-makers. Nor people who’ve won major, big deal awards; had a huge hit single in recent years; fill large concert halls; get significant national radioplay; or have already had major tributes from MM or other bloggers (including John Mayer, who turned me onto to Brett Dennen among others).
It’s my belief that there is enough unmined, underexposed musical talent in this country to jack the music scene way, way up, to save it from its plastic-overhyped-underwhelming-overcommercialized current self. If I ruled the world, these are artists who you could hear every day on your car radio:
1) Ryan Shaw
Maybe the next true Soul Man? Not rap, hip-hop but back-to-the-Marvin/Stevie/Jackie soul singing — this young Georgia-bred artist is a godsend: handsome, exuberant, and wildly impassioned. Can he ever get into the heart of a tune, with a voice that pleads, croons, promises, and lifts into gospel heights — while making you want to dance. Really love him, and again am looking for that national tour that brings him to me. Until then, there’s his debut album (“This is Ryan Shaw”), and the occasional TV appearance….it’s clear a lot of people in the biz like him, so what’s next?
On the TV show “Ellen” – why the hell isn’t this a monster hit??
His great tune “We Got Love” on Martha Stewart’s show
And, channeling a little Otis:
2) Tyrone Wells
A young Spokane native now based in L.A., this bald, gangly, extremely talented young singer-songwriter has written the best anti-war song of the era: “What Are We Fighting For?”. And one of the catchiest ballads: “Sea Breeze.” He gigs low-rent halls all over the place, like so many Internet wonders, and always pays homage to his own favorite influences — including Bill Withers and Stevie Wonder. In another period, I imagine he’d be snatched up by a smart scout for a big label and his supple songs would be covered everywhere. As it is, he has a solid campus following, almost entirely through music sharing and the Internet.
Tyrone Wells singing “Sea Breeze”:
Tyrone, in a funky home-made live video, doing “What Are We Fighting For?” — such a passionate plea…..”. Love teaches the way to overcome hate/Weapons of war…..”
3) Tuck and Patti.
Patti Cathcart is a black woman with a big, warm voice and a rare ability to scat-sing. She also creates the superb arrangements for herself and her white husband Tuck, a guitarist extraordinaire who can make one electric guitar sound like an orchestra. This sublime jazz-pop duo has made glorious sounds together for three decades, often with me in the audience (during the past 15). They have a loyal US falling, but are much bigger in Europe & Japan. And way too many friends I’ve turned them onto have never heard of them (or have the wrong idea about them).
They do a lot of scrumptious covers, well-chosen tunes from Gershwin to Jimi Hendrix, originals too, and they truly care about the messages in their songs as well as the musical values.
T & P’s beautiful cover of Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time” —
The song my hubby and I fell in love to — “You Take My Breath Away:”
And here they are, boppin’ and jivin’ to a groovy jazz standard — “Better Than Anything”:
4) Bettye Lavette
Talk about lives of the R & B saints! Bettye was a rising soul singer in the 1960s and 1970s, but pretty much fell off the American pop radar for a long period afterward. She came roaring back with “I’ve Got My Own Hell to Raise,” a fantastic 2005 album of gritty, fierce tunes by women singers/composers. (Do you remember when albums were very carefully composed and meant to be heard in entirety? This is one of those!) Watching and listening to Bettye on video, you can’t help but feel that this is what Amy Winehouse is aspiring to — if she has the strength of soul and will to triumph over adversity. I’ve never seen Bettye live, and fervently hope I’ll get that chance. Meanwhile, this 60-something woman is on a tear.
Her raw, exquisite cover of “Close As I’ll Get to HEaven” makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. What a deep, deep scorching take on this song:
Just as fabulous, her version of Dolly Parton’s “Little Sparrow.” It ain’t a song, it’s a novel!:
And from her new album of “greasy blues,” titled “Scene of the Crime,” here’s “The Battle of Bettye Lavette,” during which she tells her up-from-the-bottom saga:
5) The Be Good Tanyas
Maybe these Canadian gals are better-known and I’m just discovering them (thanks to a 20-something friend who recommended their music). There’s a lot of wispy-quirky female acoustic music out there in the cosmos, a development I welcome though it can feel sorta faddish. But I do so like the Tanyas’ soothing/sultry/searching blend of string acoustic instrumentation and lovely harmonies.
Here’s “Light Enough to Travel”:
Their very sweetly bluesy “The Littlest Birds”:
6) Eric Bibb
Eric is a young but very old school troubadour, from the folkie-blues era that made a star out of his wonderful father, the great (and still alive & singing) Leon Bibb. Eric performs on guitar and voice with great conviction, touching on the matters that are meaningful to him — love, faith, peace, brotherhood and (of course) the blues. He’s a throwback, yeah. Or you could say his brand of music is “classic” — wherever there’s a porch, a guitar and a song, it’s gonna get sung.
“In My Father’s House” — recorded in London, where Bibb lives. Not surprisingly, perhaps, the Europeans honor Eric more than we do —
I really like Eric’s duets with a fine acoustic guitarist Brian Kramer. Here they do a lovely spiritual, “Now is the Needed Time”:
7) Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings
OK, I’m cheating a little here. Most of us know of this killer soul band, fronted by a middle-aged pistol of a soul gal. So why haven’t they graduated into big venues yet? Let’s get it started! Sharon is a glorious throwback to early funky Tina Turner, and the Dap Kings were the backup band for Amy Winehouse’s “You Know I’m No Good.” They are FABULOUS live, do not miss them if they make it around! and they’re getting some significant push on the tube. So why why why……oh the state of the music biz makes me crazy…..
the title tune from their latest hot disc (“100 Days, 100 Nights”):
the funkiest cover ever of “This Land is Your Land”:
and Miss Jones singing an amazing “Amazing Grace”:
Small point of clarification — Bettye Layette WAS actually showcased in Divas Got the Blues post. In my preamble to Colette’s submission, I include Bettye as part of the wonderful documentary on PBS.
As for my recommendations, they ALL hail from the great state of Louisiana, a/k/a God’s Country. First, I give you Geno Delafose. Geno is from Eunice, LA and actually started his musical journey at the feet of his father, John, when he was 10 years old and joined the band on the rub board. He was nominated this year for a Grammy Award in the new category of Cajun and Zydeco Music. His musical and cultural heritage is very rich.
Mr. D and I actually met Geno at the world famous B.B. King’s on Beale Street about ten years ago, when we lived there. We had our company Christmas party there that night and Geno just happened to be the entertainment. Of course, sensing a kindred Cajun spirit, we made our way to the stage after a mean Cajun Jitterbug and introduced ourselves. He loved that there were other South Louisianians there and even dedicated a song to us. He threw in an autographed CD, personalized to us, that I played for a long time and just recently came across. I’ve ripped it to my iTunes and now have a Geno Delafose playlist on my iPod. One of the things that I admire about Geno is that he is a relatively young guy (35) who is working hard to keep Cajun music and language alive.
Geno is like Charlie, “he’s just happy to be here”. Every year, for ten years now, Geno throws a huge “fan appreciation” party in his hometown. It’s BYOB, but they provide all of the food and naturally, hours of great music. Of course, like many musicians and genres, Geno is much loved and better know in Europe where they really appreciate the music.
at the Cajun & Zydeco Festival in Saulieu, France.
Another up and coming young Louisiana artist is Amanda Shaw. Amanda hails from New Orleans, where she is supposed to be a Senior at Mount Carmel Academy (love those Catholic roots). However, she has foregone her Senior year to tour and play music. She’s most well know right now for co-narrating the IMAX film “Hurricane on the Bayou” with Tab Benoit.
A classically trained violinist who made her soloist debut with the Baton Rouge Symphony when she was seven, Amanda yearns to play all kinds of music and has embraced her Louisiana roots.
At this year’s Voodoo Festival
Here’s Amanda talking about her voyage, so far:
Shrew tells me that petite Amanda is become quite the sensation up North and I fully expect that, with tracks like these, she’s positioned perfectly to give Carrie Underwood a run for her money.
My last contribution is a tip from Cajun Boy @ Cajun Boy in the City. Sons of William are from the Houma, LA, and consist of brothers David (drums) and Joe Stark (guitar) along with Jen Janet on bass. Their name is self-describing, paying homage to their father, William, who was an early musical influence.
Their attention to classic blues and rock is evident in this Clapton cover of Bell Bottom Blues:
However, this ain’t your typical Louisiana band. As illustrated in this sample, Sons of William have a compelling, “now” sound. A little Cat Stevens, a little Hootie, their subtle harmonies and strong melodies on Easy to Love really draw the listener in.
And, finally, tell me you don’t hear The Beatles’ influence on Smile:
I’ll have more to come on the state of the music biz in 2008, but I have to say that with emerging artists like these, there is no shortage of talent — if you just look for it.