Sunday, November 28, 2010

Follow me in Europe and Africa!

From November 29th to January 15th, I will be traveling in Europe and Africa. Follow me around here.

I'll be going to England, South Africa, Namibia, Scotland and France (in that order, as London as my hub.) I've built this trip around visit my friend Brad in Namibia in the Peace Corps. I figure why not make a whole adventure out of it.

Austin, Texas Mix


This is a mix I made in 2007 when I worked at the Hatbox, a hat store in Austin on 6th Street, during South by Southwest. It was super fun putting hats on music industry folks from all over the world. David Boreanaz (from Angel and Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and Badly Drawn Boy came in to browse around.

I added a couple things that have come out since then like the Maneja Beto tune. All of these songs are upbeat, suitable to be played loudly in a retail shop.

Click to download

1. Something Good - LZ Love
2. Toot Your Whistle - White Ghost Shivers
3. You're Gonna Miss Me - The Thirteenth Floor Elevators
4. Big Fat Mama - Pinetop Perkins
5. Darlin' I'll Do Anything You Say - Junior Brown
6. Don't Wanna - The Asylum Street Spankers
7. Ritmo del Tambo - Grupo Fantasma
8. Stuck in a Crowd - Alpha Rev feat. Casey McPherson
9. City Song - Kathy McCarty
10. Mr. Atom - Liz Pappademas
11. Pride and Joy - Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble
12. Solo Quisierea - Maneja Beto
13. Truck Driver - Scott H. Biram
14. Call Of My Heart - Toni Price
15. Bloodless Revolution - Carolyn Wonderland
16. Let's Talk About Jesus - Bells of Joy
17. Take The Fifth- Spoon
18. When She Walks Away - Alejandro Escovedo
19. The Lost City Of Refuge - …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead
20. Cariño (First Date Mix) - Ocote Soul Sounds

New Mix: Music for Yoga


Yoga Mix - Music obviously makes a big difference to me in yoga classes. I get bored easily, and if the music is boring, I'll tune it out and just get more bored. But there have classes where the teacher picks interesting music, and I'll come back just for that.

This mix is full of luscious and calming music that I would love to hear during a class. But it's also just a calming, mellow mix. I know some of you are yoga teachers, so I figure you might want to add some of these tunes to your ipod.

Click to download

1. Ave Regina Caelorum – Dufay (Seattle Pro Musica)
2. All is Full of Love remix - Bjork
3. Scarborough Fair/Canticle - Simon & Garfunkel
4. Sodade - Cesaria Evora
5. Strange & Beautiful (I'll Put a Spell on You) - Aqualung
6. Hypnotist - Built For The Sea
7. Many Seasons - Kacey Johansing
8. Mouneïssa - Rokia Traoré
9. Singing Softly to Me - The Kings of Convenience
10. Heartbeats - José Gonzalez
11. All You Ask - Magnet
12. From The Depths / Mi'ma'amakim - The Idan Raichel Project
13. Almost Everything - Raya Yarbrough
14. Take My Hand, Precious Lord - Mahalia Jackson
15. Angels - Wax Poetic feat. Norah Jones
16. Ice - Sarah McLachlan
17. Fields of Gold - Eva Cassidy
18. Sirata - Habib Koite
19. Love Is Blindness - U2
20. The Song Of The Sybil - Dead Can Dance
21. Kol Galgal - Shotei HaNevu'a

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The concert photography of Amber Gregory

Since getting involved in all this live music reporting and whatnot, I've met some really amazing, talented people who are so passionate about what they do, they don't care if they make any money doing it. Granted, it would be nice, but as long as the music keeps coming, why not?

I met Amber Gregory when her posts started popping up on Examiner.com. In the last year I've watched her photography get better and better. I've also noticed that we were ending up at a bunch of the same concerts over and over again like OONA and My First Earthquake. So it's good to know she appreciates the best! I also like to see what awesome and fun outfits she shows up in! :)

Amber is completely self-taught and she's only been doing this for two years. TWO YEARS! (picks up jaw off of floor) She gets those "money" shots: the dynamic images of musicians in the moment of their element. I like the ones that are fierce. She really knows how you use the light to enhance the shot and her processing is amazing.

She says in one of her Examiner.com stories:
Live music is fleeting, and there is a great challenge to being able to capture the mood (emotion, physical dimensions, sense of space, the thickness of the air) of a live performance in a series of still images. I want to capture tangible proof of the unique qualities of these fleeting moments.
As it goes with digital cameras, you can get hundreds of photos from a show. If the performer is dynamic, it's fun to click through these quickly in a facebook or flickr album and watch the performer move, usually in a much crisper image than most video.

PR folks are starting to offer me photo passes, and since I know very little about taking a good photo, I asked Amber to come along to the Greg Laswell show.

Below is a slide show of some of my favorites of hers from the Treasure Island Fest, Coachella and other shows around town, including a gorgeous shot she took of Greg, with a broken camera.

Oh, she does weddings too! :)

See more of Amber's work on her site here.

(Picasa was being really frustrating and deleting my captions, so in the slideshow you will see in order: Greg Laswell, My First Earthquake, Scissors for Lefty, Groove Armada, OONA, Florence + the Machine, The Specials, The Gossip, Devo, Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, Fitz and the Tantrums, Rykarda Parasol, The Thrashers, Tartufi (and little guy), Belle and Sebastian, The National, a bra, Wallpaper, !!! (Chk Chk Chk) and the Ferocious Few)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Review: 'Five Shakespeare Sonnets' by Rufus Wainwright with the SF Symphony

A lot has been said about Rufus Wainwright's Five Shakespeare Sonnets in collaboration with the San Francisco Symphony. I was not blown away, nor did I expect to be. While the orchestration was gorgeous, I would have welcomed more breathing time in the compositions. Shakespeare’s poetry came at the audience so quickly, they felt hurried. I would have liked some time between vocal lines to digest, and maybe a little break from Rufus' vocals.

Wainwright’s vocal timbre is a specific taste. You either like it or you don’t. He is one of the few vocalists that can pull off nasaled, and I was curious to see if it would work in a concert setting. It would be interesting to hear a classically trained vocalist attempt to perform these pieces as there were moments of strained higher notes. In popular music, this can commonplace and even artistic, but on the Davies Hall stage, it seemed a little strange. I'm still on the fence if I personally liked it or not.

TO READ THE REST OF MY REVIEW CLICK HERE

Record Review: Maneja Beto’s 'Escante Calling' and the future of American Indie-rock

left to right: Bobby Garza, Alec Padron, Patrick Estrada, Nelson Valente and Alex Chavez

Maneja Beto's new album Escante Calling (A Rare Calling) should not just be noticed by Spanish speakers, but recognized by music industry at large. Not just because it’s great record, but because of the direction it’s pointing. Maneja Beto will probably never become a household name (although if I ruled the world it would be) but the concept of the band’s music will become as commonplace as reggae or hip-hop: “Indie en Español” is a genre we’re going to be hearing more.

I met singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist Alex Chavez in a Cultural Anthropology seminar at the University of Texas at Austin in 2005 when we had both just started our Master’s degrees (he completed PhD just this year). Once I heard his band's music, the genre “Indie en Español” made perfect sense. Maneja’s music lies in that nebulous “Indie” zone, a term that has lost it’s original meaning identifying a band’s separation from major record companies. These days it’s more of a category describing the fusion of styles, sounds and instruments. “Indie” is where experimental popular music lies.

If you like Radiohead, Animal Collective, Vampire Weekend and the Arcade Fire, you’ll probably like Maneja Beto. And if you’re a non-Spanish speaker, I guarantee the music is interesting enough that you might not mind so much that you can’t understand the words. Who can understand what Thom Yorke sings anyway?

TOO READ THE REST OF THE REVIEW CLICK HERE

Maneja Beto's fun video of the last track of the album "Ofrendas"

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Florence + The Machine at the Oakland Fox Theater, a review

Florence and The Machine at the O2 Empire, Shepherd's Bush, London, 28th September 2009
Photo by preamble

WOW! This woman is INCREDIBLE. Because it's not super professional to say that on examiner.com, I just wanted to get that out of the way here :)

Anyone who takes their cues from Bjork is okay in my book.

READ MY REVIEW HERE


Florence and the Machine - Dog Days Are Over VMA
Uploaded by samiam2546. - Explore more music videos.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Shirley Verrett 1931-2010: My college voice professor

Shirley Verrett was my voice teacher at the University of Michigan from 1999 to 2001. Even though I don't think she quite understood why I didn't want to be a professional opera singer, she kept me in her studio anyway. I realized early on that if she didn't think I was worth her time, I wouldn't have been there. I was honored to learn from her.

Verrett was a black woman in the world of opera when there were few. She was a black woman in the era of civil rights. She was a woman in an industry that didn't (and still doesn't?) really believe that a woman could have a successful personal and professional life.

Professor Verrett's office was covered in photographs reaching as far back into the 1950s showing herself onstage and posing with presidents, other famous opera singers and celebrities. She was fearless. And I learned as much from her vocally as I did from her about life.

She taught me that you can be as successful in your personal life as you can be in your career. You CAN BE a famous opera singer and be a wife and a mother at the same time. And if others tell you differently, it doesn't matter.

She also taught me that you should not allow yourself to be pegged in a corner if you do not want to be. Being labeled as a mezzo-soprano, a dramatic soprano and more, Verrett kept critics on their toes by tackling operatic roles that were unexpected for her vocal type. She appeared in music theater productions (she was in a production of Carousel with Taye Diggs and seemed more excited about that than anything else she ever did!) and encouraged her students to sing music theater.

Professor Verrett also valued beautiful and natural things. Her vocal technique was based on supporting the natural positions of the body. I know this is pretty common, but at the time I had been learning from a voice teacher in high school who got me to make funny faces when I sang. It's been an uphill battle to unlearn those habits ever since.

Verrett also loved clothes. She LOVED clothes. Her father was in the fashion industry and she had the opportunity to travel all over the world. So she managed to pick up some interesting garments along the way. It was fun to see what she wore to campus each week.

Shirley Verrett died yesterday November 4th in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She will be missed.

Here she sings Tosca at the Met in 1978 with Pavarotti and MacNeil.

Portland travel guide GIVE AWAY! My playlist featured in Shelf Unbound Magazine

Shelf Unbound Magazine ran a story about Serena Bartlett's GrassRoutes' Urban Eco Guide to Portland and they put together the Portland Playlist I developed for the book. (Something I was going to anyway!) Thanks Shelf Unbound!

You can download this list from iTunes!

If you'd like to enter to win this book, leave a comment. And make sure you identify yourself!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Greg Laswell finally gets to rock out with a 5-piece band, and the catalyst to starting this blog in the first place

Greg Laswell holds a special place in my musical being. He was the first post on this blog.

It was a lonely September evening when I went to see Greg Laswell by myself at Cafe du Nord in 2008. But it was there that I decided to go home and actually start writing. I had been thinking about it for awhile, but there was something about discovering this musician and seeing him play live that actually convinced me to do it.

So thanks, Greg.

I'm super excited to see him play with a 5-piece band on a bigger stage. The energy of his music calls for more sound, and somehow the two and three piece groups I've seen him with always left me a tad disappointed.

READ THE PREVIEW OF THE THIS SHOW at the Independent next Wednesday HERE

Please click through, even if you don't read it, I get a penny every time you go to my Examiner articles! MAKE ME RICH!! lol. I don't have a day job anymore!!

And for those of you not in the Bay Area check out his tour dates here, he'll be heading through the Midwest, East Coast and Canada in the next month or so.

And stay tuned for photos and review from a fellow Examiner Amber Gregory.

Watch Greg try to sing backwards (to make it look like he's singing forwards) while people destroy the set in the background.

Greg Laswell Featuring Ingrid Michaelson "Take Everything" HD from OTTO ARSENAULT on Vimeo.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

"Alice Dancing Under the Gallows" - Theresienstadt and the Power of Music

"Music is a religion, music is god."

Never have I heard words that were any truer (at least for me personally).

Alice Herz-Sommer will be 107 years old this November. She is the oldest living Holocaust surviver. She has her friends, she has her health and she plays piano everyday.

Alice lived in the Theresienstadt concentration camp during World War II. Theresienstadt was used as a Nazi front to show the public the daily lives of prisoners. It was the only Nazi camp where children were kept with their parents and where artists were permitted and encouraged to create.

Read my post about a concert featuring some of the music composed in Theresienstadt

Even though many of these prisoners were starving, they kept on creating. Alice was one of these people.

Alice Dancing Under the Gallows is a film due to be finished next year. To follow its progress see its twitter and facebook pages.

I want to be like Alice when I grow up. Her love, hope and optimism are truly an inspiration.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Help fund My First Earthquake destroy a record studio

This is actually my favorite MFE official photo, love that it's taken in front of the DeYoung Museum

My First Earthquake has quickly become my favorite Bay Area band. They are silly, irreverent and fabulous live. They have a song about cooking a chubby boyfriend into a meat pie for godsake! And the music is something out of a hip '80s video game.

And they are also nice people who suggest meeting for the best pancakes in San Francisco early on a Sunday morning.

I'll be plugging their music and their kickstarter.com album-making campaign tomorrow (Thursday October 21st) morning on KUSF 90.3 FM (you can also use this link to listen online or later) between 8-9 AM PCT.

But for now, READ MY ARTICLE that came out of a breakfast interview with the band. And donate some cash if you feel like it, you have until Saturday morning.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Israeli Jazz and bassist Avishai Cohen

At the beginning of 2010, a friend of mine turned me onto bassist Avishai Cohen. He has played with giants of jazz in New York, Europe and of course Israel. He finally started his own record label in 2003 and his new release Aurora is one of the most gorgeous records I've heard.

This video of the track "Alon Basela" has just over 24 thousand hits, I bet 20 thousand of them are mine. As soon as the video is over I want to hear it again.
(Sung in Hebrew)
I believe I’m an oak tree in the rock
Even if a storm will hit me.
I will keep standing
When I shed a tear I plant a Tree.

Sorrow is the soul
And I am nature

I believe in mankind
And in the sky
I exist in the ocean
And in the tree
As long as I live
I will remember
Happiness is the people
For better and ever



Cohen plays at Yoshi's in Oakland on Wednesday and Thursday, two shows each evening. I'll be there Thursday for the 8pm.

READ MY PREVIEW HERE

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The best place to sit for a symphony concert: the choral stalls/tier section


A photo taken in Davies Symphony Hall (for Mahler 8) a little further to the right from the spot I'm taking about. We were sitting where those kids are on the left. (Photo, Kristen Loken Anstey)

Who wouldn't want to see the conductor hit himself in the face with his baton?

Thoughts that passed through my head last night at Davies Symphony hall seeing Semyon Bychkov conduct Ravel's Le Tombeau de Couperin and Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini:
  • What does the pink post-it note in the conductor's Rachmaninoff say. ("Remember to queue violins?" "Turn off stove?")
  • That trumpet player is really hot.
  • What is that fidgety oboist smirking at now?
  • That timpani player is being really anal and working really hard to keep them in tune.
The best thing about these seats may not be the sound (I've been told that it's not so great, but I actually liked feeling like I was right in the action), but the visual aspect of the individuals on stage.

I think that's one of the things that's been taken away from the symphonic/orchestral experience for the audience. When you're sitting so far away, you can't SEE anything. I don't know about you, but I love this music and my mind still wanders when I'm listening to it: I get hit by the tired stick and I want to take a nap. But if my eyes as well as my ears are stimulated, it's WAY MORE INTERESTING and I stay more alert and focused on the performance.

And if you still get bored you can count the sleeping people out in the audience.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Review: Songwriters Unplugged Showcase 3 featuring Women who Rock

Here's a review of a singer/songwriter showcase at Yoshi's SF from last night produced by my friends at Bay Vibes who do amazing organizational and promotion work for the Bay Area music community.

<-- I do want to point out that Veronika Safarova, Valerie Orth's bassist, was totally rocking my world at this show. This is why I'm taking bass lessons.

READ MY REVIEW HERE

Just to share: I'm still struggling with reviews in general, but I'm getting better! Meaning: I keep doing it! I hope I'm getting better. And the more I do it, the better I will get. For many reasons reviews are harder for me to write than anything else. (I really just want to support musicians and spread the good juju and many of the people I talk to struggle with this), and I'm still struggling, and will probably continue to do so, with how to balance my opinion of the good with the bad in a critical way. (See this challenge of writing a review of a musical I was super disappointed with). It's also a tricky balance when I'm highly involved in the community I'm writing about. I'm figuring it all out.

Have any of you noticed anything about my writing or just have words of advice, encouragement or critique? I welcome them.

Sesame Street wins again, and again: "I Love My Hair"

Despite the Katy Perry debacle, Sesame Street (via facebook) has been doing some very smart, pop-culture savvy, progressive things lately. And riding the tails of my Esperanza Spalding article, I'd like to help celebrate accepting and loving what you got on your head and workin' it like a rockstar.



And just for fun, Sesame Street's recent parody of Isaiah Mustafa's brilliant and hilarious Old Spice commercials. Proves that Sesame Street is hip. Love it.

I'm on a horse, MOO! cow.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Esperanza Spalding: an extraordinary young jazz musician


I first saw Esperanza Spalding open for Dianne Reeves three years ago. All I remember from my crappy seats is a young black woman with huge hair and enormous talent.

Three years later she is still at it, performing for the White House, the youngest professor at Berklee School of Music and already reinventing herself musically with each album and concert tour.

I am enthralled by this woman. She is young, she is of mixed race, she is ridiculously talented and, I'm going to say it, makes a HUGE statement wearing her hair this way. Whatever it is, I dig it and I hope that people are paying attention (especially young women).

(I really hope that SFJAZZ didn't pick this season's image based on her, but then changed the hair just to suit their marketing material, that would seriously bother me.)

Spalding's career has just begun and I think it's obvious that she's here to stay.

READ MY REVIEW OF HER CONCERT AT DAVIES SYMPHONY HALL HERE

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

"It Might Get Loud" review: for fans of U2, Led Zeppelin, Jack White and the guitar

Gods of the Guitar: Jack White, the Edge and Jimmy Page

I know I'm all about getting girls and women to play rock music (and music in general), but that absolutely doesn't mean I don't become a total fan girl when I get to see Jimmy Page, the Edge and Jack White sit around together to chat and play music together.

"It Might Get Loud" (2008) is a brilliant twist on the documentary, bouncing three lives, stories, personalities and techniques off one other. The result is three different ways to tell the same story: the love of the guitar.

I love how these guys represent three different generations of music, yet the film focuses on their drive to be equally musically innovative. Each musician has had something to overcome, whether it be the crappy pop music of the time or political turmoil. Each also has their own musical drive. Jack White has a fierce desire to replicate as close as possible the blues of the 30s. The Edge grapples with peddles and wires and effects trying to replicate sound qualities in his head. Jimmy Page, a former session musician who freaked out when he realized how little creativity he had in the job, pushes himself to innovate, innovate, innovate.

It's incredibly charming to watch these guys jam to each others songs. But the moment that takes the cake, is the smiles on the faces of the other two when Page busts out with "Whole Lotta Love." Being the senior member of the group, Page obviously holds a certain position among the three. But, interestingly enough, this is the only moment when his position is completely evident in the film. Otherwise, the three are shown in equal light, with equal contributions.

Watch the moment below, and add "It Might Get Loud" to your Neflix queue.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

To my readers (and a CD giveaway)

Helloooooooo!

I have a question for you all:
What do I need to do to get you all to start talking back at me? This question is not meant to be a Geeez-why-won't-you-comment thing, but more of a blogger trying to figure out how to make the most of her blog and getting it to be a more interactive place where we can talk about music, which is sort of the whole point...

My posts have not been super interactive and I don't necessarily want to completely change how I do things, but I'd like to try posting more material that will inspire you to share YOUR opinions and YOUR experiences. I know many of you personally, and I think there are folks who read this blog that have found Always More to Hear searching the net I've never met. I would love to hear from all of you! Please introduce yourself!

So I'm going to try some different things and see what works.

I've got some CDs to give away. I'm not sure what they are yet (CDs from my collection and/or mixes), but I'll figure something out. I'll randomly pick a couple folks and send you something.

Tell me: what are you listening to right now and why do you like it?

Maybe post some links so that we can listen?

I'm listening to a Doo-wop box set I bought at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame back when I was magically stuck in Cleveland last summer. My friend and former classmate Kathryn works there, so I spent the morning poking around. Doo-wop great driving music and just fun to listen to.

There's stuff on there that shows up on the "Stand By Me" soundtrack, like this gem by The Fleetwoods - "Come Softly to Me"

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Navigating the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival and a couple band recommendations


Carolyn Wonderland

Every time I look at the line-up of this year's Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, I notice another ridiculously awesome name buried in the mix: Patti Smith! Joan Baez! Sharon Jones! Elvis Costello! David Grisman! Trombone Shorty! Gillian Welsh! Ralph Stanley! The Indigo Girls! Conor Oberst! MC Hammer (had to mention)! The list just keeps going and going.

And what? Hardly Strictly is free??? Are you serious?? (Sorry, it's free every year, this 10-year anniversary line-up is just sort of blowing my mind.)

You know what that means: throngs and throngs of people descending on Golden Gate Park. How does one navigate this experience without getting totally frustrated? Golden Gate is not the easiest to get around for masses of people.

My advice: Don’t get overly ambitious about seeing every act you’re excited about. There’s just too much and it's too spread out. Pick one, maybe two a day, and just go with the flow. You’ll end up seeing something amazing that you weren’t expecting. Find a spot and stick with it. The line-up is full of so many amazing musicians that you’re going to see something good, I promise.

READ MORE ABOUT MY PICKS: Carolyn Wonderland, the Carolina Chocolate Drops and the California Honeydrops (suddenly I want candy)!

the Carolina Chocolate Drops

Friday, September 24, 2010

How to participate in a jam session as a vocalist


Last weekend I found myself in a jam session among professional musicians at a party at Sonic Zen Studios in Berkeley. As a vocalist who dabbles in playing instruments, rarely do I feel confident enough in my playing ability to pick up something more than a tambourine in these kinds of circumstances.

I walked into the party and a jam session, full of professional musicians. The jam session had already begun. I sat down, listened for a while and then, of course, got myself a tambourine.

Then they hooked up a microphone. I decided to not even consider not singing. I jumped right into it and had the most positive jam session experience I’ve ever had.

How does a vocalist “jam”? These are things I’ve figured out over the years.

1) Be very conscious about how much space you are or are not taking.
As soon as a singer begins to sing, the ear focuses on them. It’s just how the ear is trained. A bass guitarist or drummer can keep playing, and should keep playing unless they are making a specific statement to drop out. A jamming vocalist needs stay very conscious about taking up too much of the attention and stay sensitive to what the other musicians are doing. If the keyboardist and drummer are getting something going between them, you want to be sure not to step on their toes until the back-and-forth is over.

2) Dealing with lyrics.
How does a vocalist deal with this whole word and lyrics situation? Well if you are a poet, you probably won’t have any trouble. I’ve never considered myself a songwriter or a poet. And I've never really felt that words come easily to me. But this evening, words sort of came out in a stream of consciousness, or as a couple words and then some “Bla-dee-bla-dee-bla” nonsense syllables. I don’t think it really matters if you scat or sing words, but when out pops some funny or thoughtful lyric, people react to it.

3) Think like a horn player.
Play your melody a few times, riff on it a little bit. Then drop out for a while, come back in with some back-up, simple lines with some oooo’s or aaaah’s or back-up vocal type punctuation at the end of phrases. (Think Motown or soul back up singers.) Then come back in with the melody.

4) Don’t be afraid to be dramatic or silly, just don’t over do it.
Make funny voices, sing real low, real high, scream. Just don’t let that be all you do. Save it for special moments.

5) Don’t be shy to use material that isn’t yours or something you’ve been working with on your own.
There’s nothing wrong about quoting someone else. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with bringing in something that you’ve written on your own. You never know what kind of ideas someone else in the circle might bring into the mix that you wouldn’t have thought of. It could make an idea blossom into something bigger the next time you work on it.

6) Milk a good idea, just know when it’s time to move on.
When you get something good going, and the other musicians seem to react well to it, work it. And then when you feel that you’re ready to move on, do it.

The more you jam, the more comfortable you’ll get. You’ll start to get more confident in following your gut and your abilities to make things up on the spot.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Chanticleer sings of the earth and stars on "Out of This World" Bay Area Tour

The men of Chanticleer

On Sunday evening September 19th at 5pm, Chanticleer performed at the gorgeous San Francisco Conservatory of Music, about a block over from their Hayes Valley headquarter offices. It was the second concert in that space and the fourth concert on their “Out of This World” tour.

“Out of This World” features pieces across vocal musical history from Gregorian chant to Eric Clapton that speaks of the earth, stars, planets and the heavens. What is so brilliant about this programming is the variety of ways the celestial bodies are used in description and representation depending on the genre and era.

For example, the medieval compositions chosen sing of angels, Mary, Queen of the Heavens and the light of Jesus Christ while the Italian madrigals compare the “earthly” love of another human to that of the stars. Romantic poets describe inner heaven and modern compositions literally describe the earth from an orbiting spaceship, mechanical satellites and star clusters. Exploring how poets have perceived "outer space" in the last five hundred years is such a fun and interesting way to organize a concert of vocal music!

READ MORE OF MY REVIEW HERE

Franz Biebl's "Ave Maria" was not on this programme, but it's purdy:

Saturday, September 18, 2010

My picks for the SFJAZZ Fest 2010 Fall Season

Check out my picks for the SFJAZZ 2010 Fall season, my favorite "festival" in the Bay Area, including:
- Nellie McKay - a tribute to Doris Day
- Olodum
- Taj Mahal, Toumani Diabaté and Vieux Farka Touré - tribute to Ali Farka Touré
- Meklit Hadero
- Lila Downs
- Slavic Soul Party!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Jessie Woletz: the woman behind the Seaweed Sway & grassroots music promotion in the Bay Area

Please meet my friend Jessie Woletz, fellow lover and promoter of local music. We met when I was singing with the all women's choir Conspiracy of Venus and learned of a little project she's called the Seaweed Sway.

I'm in awe of what Jessie is doing for San Francisco's music scene and we have been supporting each other in our endeavors.

Please read my article about her and the Seaweed Sway HERE and come see one of her Seaweed Sway showcases on the third Sunday of every month at the Make-Out Room in San Francisco.

This is the first article in a series interviewing folks behind the music in the Bay Area's music scene. These folks are making it possible for musicians to get out there and do what they do best. You know, people like me! We need to support each other as well as the musicians we love.

Stay-tuned for profiles on the gentlemen of Chasing the Moon and the Joyce McBride of Conspiracy of Venus.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Thank you Flying Spaghetti Monster for giving me the internet and this video

I just wanted to thank YouTube, the internet and the powers-that-be for giving me this video cover of the "Bed Intruder Song" for Tsugaru Shamisen! This is Mike Penny, and he is badass on this instrument.

If you haven't seen the original yet click here.

Brilliant.

Friday, September 10, 2010

"Double Rainbow" and "Bed Intruder Song": The Gregory Brothers and Auto-tune

"You are so dumb, home, home, homeboy" says Antoine Dodson

Okay fine, I give in. Theses songs are totally catchy and I totally admit that I can't stop watching/listening to them. I might even download them.

So, according to the New York Times, the "Bed Intruder Song" has made it to the 39th spot on itunes as well as number 89 on the Billboard chats. The Gregory Brothers have split the proceeds of the song with "unintentional singer" Antoine Dodson who is using his money to move his family out of the projects. That might be the best part about this story.

So if you've not seen this yet, watch it. If you've watched it a million times, here it is again: "Bed Intruder Song"



I'm a little late to the game with this one, but this is "Double Rainbow" inspired by this video of a guy freaking out over a double rainbow in Yosemite. It's intense.



I'm finding that you need to have a certain sense of humor to really appreciate the ridiculous awesomeness that is auto-tuning. Musicians, like Ke$ha (article soon to come), have instead of using it to "fix" pitch and instead use it in the open to create pitch.

Love it or hate it, you have to admit that when use right, it's absolutely hysterical.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Green Day plays one helluva live show and is just enough angsty for this 30-year-old

Billie Joe is a whore for attention, I'm sure of it
photos from live105.radio.com by white menace


There's something pretty special about seeing a band play to its hometown/area while at the same time badmouth the area that you grew up in. Hearing Billie Joe tell San Diego and Los Angeles to "fuck off" right after playing there is pretty hysterical.

There's also something really special about being angry about a ticketing will-call snafu that almost sent me home, and then being able to work it out to some perfectly angsty pop punk. I love being 30 and still able to bounce around with the teenagers.

I love Green Day's interaction with the crowd. It's really physical, letting them pull and push them around, from both the pit and the stage. It was also fun to see Green Day show off their chops, both with their own music and covering other music. (See the setlist here, you'll see they covered quite a few rock tunes from Journey to Zeppelin.) Billie Joe proved that that nasaled vlocal thing is just for aesthetic value, because his vocal chops on those hard rock covers were pretty spot on.

Read my review of the Saturday, September 4th show at Shoreline Amphitheatre on examiner.com HERE

Billie Joe encourages fan to stage dive

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Emmys - It looks like I might be enjoying TV again

Jimmie Falon sings goodbye to Lost, Law & Order and 24.

Just in case you missed the Emmy's last night, it was actually pretty fun.

I used to watch entirely too much TV. Ask my parents and my brother. And then sometime in my 20s, I stopped watching. But now (mostly likely because I've been through phases of free cable, roommates that like TV, netflix and hulu) I find myself knowing more about TV that I have in a long time.

I've recently been turned onto the Lefsetz Letter, a (now) blog by Bob Lefsetz, a former entertainment business attorney. This "letter" has been in existence for over 25 years. This is some what he had to say about the Emmys. (read more here)

This entry seems to sum up why TV seems to be more and more "movie-star" studded every year, why even I think there's good stuff to watch on TV and why I don't seem to end up at the movies very often anymore.
I no longer go to the movies. There’s nothing there for me.

If you want truth, you turn on TV. All the big stars are working on the small screen. And the small screen tackles subjects deemed too tiny for the big screen. If it involves human emotions, if it’s complicated drama, it’s on the small screen. The big screen is reserved for special effects. Oh, of course they trot out drama in the theatres, but the focus is on production values, the story is secondary to the presentation. That’s like thinking a record’s production is more important than the songs, than the playing. Just like recording stars of yore spend a fortune to buff their product to a sheen that is impenetrable, using auto-tune and effects to achieve perfection, which no one can relate to. We’re attracted to humanity. And that’s gone from the big screen and major label music. In search of all the profits, with the goal of making a ton of money, the core audience has been turned off.
Please enjoy the musical stylings of Jimmie Fallon, the cast of Glee, Tina Fey, Betty White, Jon Hamm and more as they mimic Bruce Springsteen. Jimmie ain't bad!



Jimmie Falon sings goodbye to Lost, Law & Order and 24 to the tune of Elton John, Boys II Bem and Green Day.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The anatomy of a mashup - with guest blogger Christine Boone

My friend and former classmate from the University of Texas at Austin Christine Boone is writing her dissertation on mash-ups. I asked her to write up a little something for Always More to Hear sharing her vast knowledge about the different types of mashups.

-----------------------------

There are several different types of mashups. The most basic kind is vocals from one song, instrumentals from another. Of that basic type of mashup, I think the most impressive examples are the ones in which the vocals are sung, not rapped. I love rap, but since there is no pitch material involved, it's much easier to work with than singing. You can put a rap on top of most any musical background, and it will generally work as long as the meter is the same in both songs. Therefore, I think the best kind of basic mashups using rap are ones where the instrumental background is totally unexpected and extremely far removed from anything related to hip hop.

A personal favorite is a really early mashup from 1993: Public Enemy "Rebel Without a Pause" + Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass "Bittersweet Samba" by the Evolution Control Committee. This was 1993, the ECC was clearly way ahead of their time! The innocence and total uncool-ness of Herb Alpert is so completely foreign to Public Enemy, and it's really funny to hear the two of them together.



The play between unrelated genres makes a great mashup, regardless of whether the vocals are sung or rapped. However this next example contrasts a prefabricated studio band with a squeaky-clean image of the The Monkees with Iron Maiden, a heavy metal band that sings about Satan.

"I'm a Believer" + "The Trooper": This might actually be my favorite mashup - dare I say - ever?



Besides the wildly contrasting genres, other great parts about this one include the relatively unaltered status of each source track. Sometimes would-be great mashups end up sounding weird, because one song has to be sped up or slowed down a little too much in order to get it to work with the other song. If either song has been changed in this case (in either pitch or tempo) it's not noticeable.

It's also great because its sung vocals fit perfectly over instrumental accompaniment. This is particularly difficult to do, because you need to worry about the notes in the melody line fitting with the harmonies in the accompaniment. Sometimes you can find two songs that use the same chord progression. (Or a million songs? See the Axis of Awesome: ) When this is the case, the songs can be easily put together. But in the case of "Trooper Believer", the harmonies are completely different to begin with, which makes it even more awesome that they fit together.

Another type of mashup is one in which some of the source material is very heavily manipulated, sometimes to the point of becoming unrecognizable. This happens quite artfully in DJ Danger Mouse's Grey Album, which famously combines Jay-Z's Black Album with the Beatles' so-called White Album. One of my favorite tracks is "Dirt Off Your Shoulder," because of what Danger Mouse (Brian Burton) has done in order to create a musical accompaniment for Jay-Z's rap vocals.

Rather than simply placing two songs on top of one another, Burton has completely cut up the Beatles' "Julia" and composed an entirely new accompaniment using individual notes from the guitar and vocal lines.



And then there's the crazy jumble, how-many-songs-can-you-name? technique of Girl Talk. Perhaps the most famous mashup artist, Girl Talk (Gregg Gillis) makes a living creating manic mashups that seamlessly incorporate as many as 30 songs per track. "Play Your Part (Pt.1)" is a great example.



This type of mashup is extremely appealing to listeners because of the sheer number of songs involved. It becomes sort of a game to see how many songs you can recognize in each track. Gillis' DJ'ing/mashup skills amaze me, because not only does he combine songs of different genres like any successful mashup artist, but he does it with so many songs. He keeps a constant beat and weaves samples in and out, keeping crowds at his live shows dancing the entire time.

Mashups are mostly an amateur art, which is great, because it gives everyone a chance to be creative and make music. However, it does mean that there are a lot of really bad tracks out there. But that means you get to have more fun digging, so enjoy!

__________________________

Christine Boone received her Bachelor's degree in vocal performance at Indiana University, her Master's degree in music theory at the University of Texas, and is currently a Ph.D. candidate in music theory, also at the University of Texas. She has presented papers on The Beatles in both the United States and the United Kingdom and given guest lectures on the music of Richard Wagner. Christine is currently writing a dissertation on mashups.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Bay Area music mix and the Hear it Local launch party

Please feel free to upload this mix cover into your itunes

As promised, here is the Bay Area Mix that I made for the Hear it Local launch party this evening. It was a fun gathering and it was great to see so many familiar faces, meet knew ones and finally meet other folks that I had been in touch with. I think there's a lot of love for Hear it Local!

It was really exciting for me to hear this music blasted overhead. I know, I'm a dork.

Please check out these amazing local artists and support them! (I have permission to post most of these tracks. If you would like me to remove your music, please let me know and I will do so immediately)

Always More to Hear's Bay Area Music Mix
(Click here to download)

1) B and not B - Traffic Jam of Stars
2) Bang Data - El Pacino
3) Owen Roberts - Around My Thoughts
4) Brass Menažeri - Opa Cupa Fly
5) The Dodos - Red and Purple
6) Built for the Sea - Hypnotist
7) My First Earthquake - Meat Pies
8) Kirk Hamilton - No Crow, Scarecrow
9) OONA - Tore My Heart
10) Sambada - Sangue Africano
11) Blisses B - Juxtaposed
12) Kacey Johansing - Many Seasons
13) Grass Widow - To Where
14) Guitar Mac & His Blues Explosion - T-Bone Shuffle
15) Janam - Vitori, T'u Befte Nena
16) Pomplamoose - Centrifuge
17) The California Honeydrops - Broke Down
18) Ziva - Can't Do Pretend
19) Up Against the Glass - The Botticellis
20) Steve Taylor - Nothing Left
21) Meklit Hadero - Leaving Soon
22) The Dina Maccabee Band - California
23) Oakland Faders - Soul Techniques

SoCal powerhouse singer/songwriter Tim Matson stops at Hotel Utah and my living room

Tim Matson in my living room. photo by Shelli Owens

It's one of those romantic things to have a touring musician stay in your house on their way through. And it's even better when you actually enjoy their music and they happen to record a video in your living room. This is Tim Matson, my roommate's cousin. She sent me a link to his music a few weeks ago and his cover of U2's "40" (or "Psalm 40") blew me away. I'm happy to be a new fan.

With his unique brand of spirituality (à la U2), Tim's thick, gravely voice seems to come from somewhere beyond his throat. He's touring without a band right now, so the focus is on his voice and the simple accompaniment.

Tim has just made his first tour stop in San Francisco and is onto Salt Lake City, Denver, Austin, Tennessee, Florida and then back to the Bay before he returns to Los Angeles.

For more touring info, visit Tim's facebook page and tumblr blog.

Check out my examiner.com article covering his show at Hotel Utah on Sunday night.

This is Tim's cover of "Wagon Wheel." The song was suggested by a fan a couple days ago, Tim learned it and recorded this video in my living room. Wagon Wheel was originally performed by Bob Dylan and Old Crow Medicine Show.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

In honor of my 420 facebook followers


I noticed today that I have 420 facebook followers on Networked Blogs. I have no idea who most of these people are, but thank you for your support!

Even though my Dad will read this (hi Dad!) I couldn't resist the urge to post some music to go along with this momentous occasion.

Enjoy! Happy Thursday.



Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Relentlessly Cheerful Art - Pop Art icon pairings

'Bein' Green'

Kirk Hamilton posted a link on facebook today for James Hance's "Relentlessly Cheerful Art." Had to share. You can buy prints for $10 (or originals for around $250 which is actually pretty reasonable, if you can swing it). See more at his website. The titles are really cute too.

'The Flower Of The Force II'

'The Dark Starry Knight'

'These Are The Droids We're Looking For'

Monday, August 9, 2010

Launch Party for local music website Hear it Local: Come celebrate local music!

You're probably very aware of this Hear it Local thing I've been blathering on about. (If it's news to you, I just posted a article about it and the launch party on examiner.com)

But here are the vitals if you are able to come:

Wednesday August 18th at the 111 Minna Gallery featuring performances by Porto Franco Records artist The Nice Guy Trio, Quinn Deveaux and Kelly McFarling.

Chasing the Moon will screen its latest videocast of Tartufi. There will be music photography exhibits by Niall David and Audra Marie Dewitt and snacks by BrokeAss Gourmet. Truly a community effort and I'm VERY excited about it.

Always More to Hear is an official partner of the launch party and I've been asked to put together a playlist of local music for in between live sets and I've been having the best time rummaging through my sampler CDs and mp3 library looking for suitable music. Some you've heard before, some is brand-spanking-new (likes this fabulous Oakland band Bang Data) I'm going to post the playlist here for downloading! Stay tuned!

More info and RSVP on facebook here

I'm super excited to be part of making the Bay Area less overwhelming for live music lovers and I'm honored to be part of such a vital community of smart, creative and passionate people who can make something like this happen.

This is Chasing the Moon's Quinn Deveaux podcast: both will be in attendance on the 18th.

Quinn Deveaux @ Chasing The Moon 9.04.09 from Scott McDowell on Vimeo.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Music blog love: Unbounded Song


Last week I randomly came across the music blog Unbounded Song and I'm really excited about it. The premise is that the blog will eventually feature one song from each country in the world, roughly 196 of them.

The details on who is publishing this blog are non-existent other than his name is Dylan. But one thing is for sure, I trust Dylan's taste in music. That sentiment really boils down any music blog: with all the music blogs out there, what keeps you coming back? What keeps you coming back to mine? I hope it's because you trust me and my taste in music!

Each song on Unbounded Song as been fan-fricken-tastic so far.

The actual text posts are short and to the point, which I appreciate.

The song I'm in love with right now is the Polish entry: "At My Mothers" by Warsaw Village Band. This is the kind of music I want to crawl up inside. You know that feeling? When you just want to get up in it? I have no other way of describing it.

Check out this blog if you like music from around the world. There's some good stuff coming at you.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Always More to Hear featured in the GrassRoutes Travel Guides and at the Hear it Local launch party!

Things are getting exciting over here at Always More to Hear!

Serena Bartlett's GrassRoutes Travel guide's to Portland and Seattle feature my mix tapes exploring a taste of music that has come out from those cities. Here I am on the new GrassRoutes website!

The GrassRoutes guides (also including Olympia, San Francisco, Oakland & Berkeley and the Northern California Wine Country) are basically all about "green travel" and how to either be a tourist in your own city or learning where the locals go when you are in a new city. The guides feature businesses and organizations that contribute to the sustainability of local economies.

Learn more about the GrassRoutes Guides here.


Also, Hear it Local in the Bay Area is up and running (it is also in the Twin Cities and Boston)! On August 18th at the 111 Minna Gallery is the official launch party (join us if you're in the area!) and Always More to Hear is an official event partner. I am providing the playlist between performances by Nice Guy Trio, Quinn Deveaux and Kelly McFarling with Jonathan Kirchner. Chasing the Moon will screen the newest podcast and there will be exhibits by photographers Niall David and Audra Marie Dewitt. Tasty treats will be provided by Brokeass Gourmet. It's going to be so much fun!

My playlist will feature a variety of some of my favorite local Bay Area music.

Respond to the facebook invite here.

It's been really fun working with my friends to help make our cities more enjoyable! I can't wait to do more.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...