Thursday, July 30, 2009
Monday, July 27, 2009
"Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery" so goes the saying.
Cover songs are the best way to pay tribute to excellent musicians and songs. Some straight up copy the tune, some take it and tweak it to make it fresh and new.
Since MJ's untimely death, I've noticed folks posting Michael Jackson covers in every style from Mariachi to ballad-esque. Here are some of the most interesting covers I've seen.
Disclaimer: Just because you put on the sequined jacket, it doesn't mean your version of an MJ song is going to be good. Put on the jacket and make it your own. Make it interesting.
- Does the artist make the song their own?
- Does the artist keep the integrity of the MJ original?
- Last but not least, is the cover fun to listen to?
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
I know, I know, this report is months overdue, but I figure better late than never. And since these pictures are pretty good for what I can do with my little Canon Power Shot, I wanted to share them with you.
I am not embarassed to say that I am a Queensrÿche fan. Even though I mostly listened to classic rock and 60s folk rock in high school, something about Queensrÿche's album Empire grabbed me in the early 90s. My older brother gave me his tape and CD because he was soooo over it. But I listened over and over and over. Was it Geoff Tate's insane soaring vocals? Was it the intricate arrangements and guitar lines? What about their unabashed political statements? As a girl whose music tastes were somehow stuck in the 60s, this strange world of Seattle progressive metal was bizarrely appealing to me.
In 2004 Queensrÿche toured through Austin, Texas (where I lived at the time) performing their rock opera Operation: Mindrime. I jumped at a ticket. Yes it was expensive and I went alone since I couldn't persuade anyone else to go with me.
"Queensrÿche? You like them?" people would say.
Yes, I'm crazy. The fans were fascinating, especially these Texan fans. I've never seen so much faux-leather spandex in my life. Metal fans are awesome and the music was not disappointing. The guitars sounded great and Geoff Tate sounded better than ever. This is what singing is all about.
Queensrÿche came through Austin again in 2007 peforming both Operation: Mindrime I and II with theater sets, costumes and props. By then I had met a friend curious enough to come with me and we had a great time.
I saw that Queensrÿche was playing the Fillmore at the beginning of June and I jumped at this show too. They have a fascinating new album out called American Soldier based on recorded interviews conducted by lead singer Geoff Tate with men and woman who have served our country. It was inspired by Tate's father who served in Korea and in Vietnam. Tate told the Fillmore audience that his father never liked talking about his wartime experiences but got him to talk in an interview. This album is not an anti-war album, it's a pro-soldier album.
Tate stated that Queensrÿche has many fans in the armed forces and appreciates what they've done for the United States and "allow us to live the way we live." Earlier this spring they scheduled Military Base Signings open to service men and women only.
These are snippets of Tates's stage banter and photos from the Queensrÿche San Francisco show at the Fillmore on June 4th, 2009.
"Vietnam veterans came home to a very divided country. They were called 'baby killers' and people spat in their faces. We've come a long way since then."
Tate reminised about listening to Queensrÿche on vinyl records and appealed to Bay Area mentality. The audience cheered.
"Are cheering because you like vinyl?" he asked "You mean you like the idea of people being made to sit and actually listen to music? Wow. I'm giddy. The record industy must have it wrong (with mp3s)."
After the show I had the honor of meeting the band. They signed my ticket stub! Check out the the wall of Fillmore posters in the back.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Love the infamous bass line on the baritone saxophone.
Now I'm looking for more interesting MJ covers, send one my way!
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Monday, July 13, 2009
Friday, July 10, 2009
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
In honor of Girls Rock Camp this week occurring in Oakland this week, I am celebrating women in music, past, present and future.
Today I want to celebrate Bessie Smith, definitely one of the greatest influences on women (and men!) in music today, and possibly the first music video star as well.
Rhythm & Blues
Monday, July 6, 2009
Why girls? Why a Girls Rock Camp?
Someone has actually asked me that.
Have you ever watched Mtv? (Especially now that it only schedules reality television.) Have you seen the dozens of blatant sexualized covers of RollingStone Magazine?
Why are there so many more men in popular music than women? And why are most of the women in popular music singers? Where are all the female instrumentalists?
Do you want to see more women on TV being real women rather than over sexed school girls?
Aretha Franklin, Wanda Jackson, Joan Jett, Sleater Kinney, Queen Latifah, and Bjork: these are someof the famous woman that Girls Rock Camp (GRC) uses as role models. But GRC also seeks to shine the light on every day role models: our cool sisters, the girl next door and the band that plays in that small club on Fridays.
This Saturday, July 11 at 2pm at the Metro Oakland Opera House you will be able to see the 70 or so girls perform their original songs that they will write with their bands this week. Whether or not they ever pick up these instruments again, GRC hopes to inspire each and every one of them to be powerful and true to themselves. I highly recommend that you pencil this show into your weekend. You will not regret it. I usually spend the whole two hours smiling with tears in my eyes. It's amazing what these kids can do in a week.
Read more of my Examiner.com Article here
Thursday, July 2, 2009
I came across an addicting website the other day while trying to remember what the name of the song where Fatboy Slim sampled Camille Yarbrough. Turns out it was of course "Praise you" and I found this neat site that puts the two youtube videos right next to each other: WhoSampled: exploring and discussing the DNA of music.
My friend Raya Yarbrough (also a vocalist) is the grand-niece of Camille Yarbrough, who is the vocalist sampled on "Praise You." I heard that Camille made so much money off this sample that she was able to buy a condo in Harlem, where she lives today. Spin Magazine called her the "fore mother of hip hop." Very cool.
This is the original "Take Yo' Praise" from 1975:
This is the hysterical video that WhoSampled uses on their site: I repost it here because it was filmed in front of the Bruin Theater in Westwood, the neighborhood near UCLA in Los Angeles. I grew up about 6 blocks from this theater. Check out these dance moves:
Another video WhoSampled entry I wanted to point out was that of Moby's "Run on" from the album Play. This is my favorite Moby track:
Here's the original four part harmony gospel tune (one of my favorite genres of music, a precursor to motown, do-wop and any vocal harmony group) by Bill Landford & the Landfordaires called "Run On for a Long Time":
Here's Moby's tune "Run On":
I think I like this tune more than most of the others because of the way Moby samples Landford: he samples the whole song. This really hardly ever happens with samples, it's usually little bits played over and over and over (oh, the joys of electronic music). Really Moby just adds an accompanying track to the vocals and I think it really adds to the tune.
Check out the rest of the site, there's more good stuff there.