Posts Tagged music discussion

A Boy And His Guitar – Tony Lucca – Music Monday

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, there’s nothing quite like seeing music live. Well, last Saturday I got to attend the Tony Lucca show at The Prophet Bar down in Dallas’ Deep Ellum. I brought along my dear friend Kelly and had one of the best nights I’ve had in recent memory.

There were three acts slated for that night: Griffin Schmucker, Zach Balch, and the headliner Tony Lucca.

Griffin was…okay. The drummer was awesome, actually. Everyone else seemed to be going through the motions. They didn’t feel connected to the music. I blame this on Schmucker himself. He was a little too high on the smell of his own “glory” to care about servicing the audience or the music. He was serving his own ego. From what I have seen, that never works out well. Now, he may have just been nervous. However, when you mention you’re doing a charity show, you should know all about the charity instead of being dismissive about it. How can you get people to care enough to come out and spend their money on a cause if you don’t care? Further, he made some snotty comment about the audience not being able to spell his name so of course Kelly and I took out our phones and spelled it exactly right in order to Google him. Don’t talk down to me. Don’t assume your audience can’t do something. Don’t be rude to people there just because they may have come to see someone else. This is how you lose potential fans! Plus, he introduced only himself and his BFF the guitarist. Um, now you’re rude to the band? Wow. No, thank you.

Zach and his band were great, thankfully. Every one of them, especially Balch himself, was engaged in the music. They LOVED what they were doing and it showed. Sitting ten feet from the stage I could feel the drums in my chest. Especially, I enjoyed the two songs that were just Balch, his back-up singer, and a violinist.  The banter was great as well. He engaged with the audience, he engaged with his band, heck, he introduced them all and gave them credit equal to himself. He played to us, with us, and that is priceless.

That being said, Tony blew them both out of the water.

I knew he would, but I was not prepared for how MUCH he would. It was just him and his guitar up on the stage and yet he filled the room. He wove pictures and emotions that were touchable and filled up little corners in my heart. His banter was real and inclusive, reaching out to share his experience with us and make it ours. My favorite song was Anchored, a love song for Los Angeles. I also really enjoyed Fight Song, Long Love Letter, Starting Over, Foxy Jane, and Death of Me. If I don’t stop there I’ll just start listing every song off the three albums Kelly and I bought after the show.

At one point during the encore, when he was singing a song called Always, I felt tears filling my eyes and beginning to roll down my cheeks. Looking over at Kelly I saw that she was right there too. Now that, right there, is the mark of a master to me. He didn’t just fill our ears with joy, he touched our souls.

If that weren’t impressive enough, he didn’t just stand there playing his guitar and singing. He used his voice and the microphone as instruments in and of themselves. I’ve said that music is my drug and my religion. Well, some of the things he did with his voice made me feel like I was flying high and in church all at the same time. I wanted to yell “amen” and “hallelujah” after certain of the vocal acrobatics he performed.

After his performance, Kelly and I nearly tripped over ourselves to buy the three available CDs. As we stood there, clutching our treasure, Tony came out to mingle. I made a couple aborted attempts to speak to him, but was stymied by people wanting photos. Kelly told me to stop being shy and I smiled. When the young ladies wanting their photos were done, I touched Tony’s arm and he turned to face us, smiling.

Now, you all know I am a goof. I say embarrassing things to people who have awed me. So this was the portion of the evening where I babbled my thanks for his performance and that listening to him was like being in church, and how he was part of Kelly’s live show education. He took all of this in with grace and charm, thanking us for coming and for our kind words. He shook our hands, and we floated away, blissful. In the car, I realized that we had neither asked for him to sign the CDs, nor asked for pictures to be taken with our phones. Duh.

That being said, we had a fanTAStic time with just a boy and his guitar.

 

Who have you seen live recently? How was it?

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Music Monday – You Must Drown

Zly

Image via Wikipedia

Drowning is easy, especially if you have ear-bud headphones. That way, you get to bypass all the white noise of your surroundings. The music goes straight into you and if you close your eyes you get a private show. Any kind your brain associates with what you’re listening to.

Is it any wonder then that most of my favorite singers are men? **shivers with pleasure** Ahem. Where was I? Ah yes, drowning. It’s good for the soul.

Depending on which music hits us and how it hits us, we can fuel just about any state of mind with the right playlist. Writers frequently use music to get into the mindset of our work. We want an action scene? Something fast and furious might help us focus better. Romance? Lord is there a wealth of music out there to help us out.

What’s even better? We can use music to frame our minds for the rest of our lives as well. We’ve all used music to set the mood in romantic situations, for working out, and even to help us wake up in the morning. Why shouldn’t we use it to amp us up or calm us down for other situations? It’s no accident that a lot of therapies involve beating the crap out of some sort of drum.

What music gets your motor running? Soothes the savage beast inside? I’ll show you mine if you show me yours!

 

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Immortal – John Taylor

For a few years, John Taylor struck out on his own, got away from Duran Duran. I’m not going to sit here and tell you he was the most brilliant solo artist, because he wasn’t. He was… okay on his own. Mostly it’s the cauldron of creativity fired by his Duran band mates that makes him the Almighty Bass God. He needs that conflict to push him to greatness, as do they all. Still, there are a few bright gems that he cut, and Immortal from his Techno For Two album is one of them.

There’s got to be a reason to this rhyme
There’s got to be a message here this time
You’re not one of us, but I’m one of them
You know it’s not that easy
It’s so much harder to be real

Now I’m no immortal, but I think like a king
You’ve got to be queen just to satisfy me
A social disorder

There’s gonna be moments here living with me
I know it’s not easy to satisfy me
I’m no immortal
But I think like a king

I’m not gonna let go of my prize
I wanna keep the symmetry alive
There’s so many changes
One day to the next
Sometimes I’m disappearing
But you know where to find me
Under the gun

Now I’m no immortal, but I think like a king
You’ve got to be queen just to ratify me
A social disorder

A strange situation, apparently
It takes more than order to civilize me
I’m no immortal, but I think like a king

Give me everything
I’ll not settle for less
That’s my ceiling
Method to this rhyme

No I’m no immortal, but I think like a king
You’ve got to be queen just to satisfy me
A social disorder
But I sting like a bee

I’d like to say the lyrics speak for themselves and be done, but there’s so much to them, so many things to be gleaned. He’s known in some circles (okay, Duranie knitting circles, but still) for telling on himself. Sometimes it’s inadvertent, but sometimes he very clearly goes out of his way to share, to connect with his listeners.

With that in mind, these lyrics are astonishing and heartbreaking in their honesty. Before I wax on too much more about what *I* see in these lyrics, I want to know what *you* think, without my opinion biasing you. What sort of man wrote these lyrics? What was he feeling? What was he struggling with (or, conversely, conquering)?

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Old 97s – Doreen – guest blog by Nigel Blackwell

I was stunned and inspired by the way a new friend of mine was able to apply his writer’s sensibility to the dissection of song lyrics. So please welcome our guest blogger, Mr. Nigel Blackwell!

If it can ever be said that I grew up, I did it listening to the Beatles, the Sex Pistols, the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Squeeze and everything in between. I ended up with a mixture of musical tastes. There are some that would say “taste” isn’t the first word that comes to mind looking my music collection. At least they did say that until I sent the boys round (governor).

The Old 97s were an instant hit with me. Pounding melodies, a vocal line that shouts “I don’t do melodies,” and no %$*#@! Disney channel vocal effects.

What’s that you say? Disney doesn’t use a million dollars of equipment and software on anyone they select for stardom? Yeah, right. In which case I bet you can’t wait for Mitchel Musso’s “live” tour. I’m on tenterhooks. (what’s sad is that Disney used to care about talent -ed)

I digress, back to the Old 97s., specifically Doreen, from Hitchhike to Rhome.

Don’t know it? Well, iTunes has the first minute to give you the idea (and maybe buy a copy).

http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/doreen/id6557602?i=6557584

Pounding melodies – check.

Banjo front and center – check.

And then there’s the vocal line. Hot damn (as they might say). Alt country. No whining about “ma dogs done gone left me” here. There’s a story, and like the best stories it’s shown, not told.

To start with there are the cheesy rhymes.

When I first met Doreen
She was barely seventeen.

And

Well you can roll your eyes and nod
But I swear that I saw God,

Rhett Millar’s delivery is so no-nonsense that it all just works.

And the lyrics show, not tell.

In the first four verses we’re shown how he falls in love with her. No blatant “I’m in love” lines here (even though Sir Paul’s made a fortune through that route).

When I first met Doreen
She was barely seventeen.
She was drinking whiskey sours in the bar.

The way she tossed ’em back
I would’ve had a heart attack.
But as it is I let her drive my car.

We galloped through the boroughs
Like a pair of horny thoroughbreds,
Until I said, “Stop the car, Doreen.”

Well you can roll your eyes and nod
But I swear that I saw God,
In the moonlight on a side street in the wreckage we call Queens.

Brilliant. Not only do they show us he’s in love, they keep the car theme going with “side street” and “wreckage.”

Then we hit the chorus. The awful dream. The dark threat of new lovers (esp the ones started with Whiskey sours. So I’m told, anyway).

Doreen, Doreen, Last night I had an awful dream.
You were laying in the arms of a man I’d never seen.
Come clean Doreen. Come clean Doreen.

So we’re shown he’s worried about her being faithful and (hot damn) we’re shown how he’s separated from her and has to admit his feelings to the band.

Well I’m pulling into Cleveland
In a seven-seater tour van.
There’s eight of us, so I’m sleeping on the floor.

The guy that plays the banjo
Keeps on handing me the Old Crow,
Which multiplies my sorrow, I can’t take it anymore.

Now I’m begging and I’m pleading,
“Well pull over guys, I’m bleeding.
There’s a Fina off the highway with a phone.”

Keeping the threads going, we’re still traveling and the whiskey hasn’t been forgotten. The best lines are surely, “so I’m sleeping on the floor,” “I can’t take it anymore,” and best if all, “There’s a Fina off the highway with a phone.” Everyone knows what he’s taking about, but the sound of the word “Fina” is such a great contrast between the “ing”s and “o”s of the previous verses.

Finally we’re shown that she’s dumped him. The inevitable conclusion. His dread manifest.

I’m calling you Doreen,

But it rings and rings and rings.

Where is it that you are, if you aren’t in our bed at home.

Even the last line is nothing ordinary. It’s a great reversal of the normal word order to put “home” as the last word, the final take-away. They wanted you to understand, if you hadn’t got the picture by then, the guy’s dream of home was gone.

Show, show, show. No telling. Brilliant.

Course, I can hear lots of you saying serves himself right, moral of the story – don’t pick up chicks under alcohol. But really guys, are you so pure you can throw that stone? Have a heart.

Better still, put that stone down and spill the beans. Do whiskey sours ring bells in your past? Margueritas in Austin? Or was it Poire Williams in the Swiss Alps (if you’re rich)? Don’t worry. Your secrets will be safe with us.

And we’ll be sooooo sympathetic. Really…

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The Surprise Next Door

co-written by Laura Christian

 When I was growing up, there were a lot of Saturday morning shows my sisters and I watched through the years. Not counting the cartoons, there was Saved by the Bell, California Dreams, and my all-time favorite: The Guys Next Door (GND).

Sadly, GND lasted for only one season in the fall of 1990. I was sixteen. Now, this show was on the order of The Monkees, with both skits and music videos. I’ve heard it described as “Saturday Night Live” for kids. NBC had pulled together a group of five “Guys” to meet every teen’s dream: Patrick J. Dancy, Eddie Garcia, Bobby Leslie, Damon Sharpe, and Chris Wolf.

 At the time, I had two favorites, Chris and Damon. Chris was the “bad boy” (although how bad could you be on Saturday morning TV?), and Damon was the… fashionable one? Actually, I think I liked him because he was the one true triple threat. 

 Sure, Eddie was the dancer, Patrick was the actor, Bobby was the “funny” one (read: stoner, though I didn’t know it at the time), and they all sang. Heck, they even recorded an album. But Damon could do it all. WELL. He made me laugh, he danced, and he sang like this made for TV band was his big break.

My favorite of their songs was and still is their comedic spoof, “Bad Hair Day.” It was sung by, you guessed it, Damon Sharpe. Yes, it’s a silly song. It’s also the most fun song I’ve heard to date and has a special place in the soundtrack of my life. Every time I hear it, I am filled with joy and must sing along. And he’s the reason I’m writing this post, to introduce you to who I believe is a truly talented, amazing artist.

 

Now, thanks to Laura, who is also a GND fan, I found out that Mr. Sharpe has kept himself quite busy since 1991. His career has been pretty impressive actually. He’s worked with J-Lo, Anastacia, Sharon Stone as both producer and songwriter, and written award-winning songs for the movie musical Chicago. Bless his heart, he even produced his own CD in ’99 which was surprisingly difficult to get a copy of. Of course, Laura has 2 copies. He’s worked with more artists than I have space to list.

The last time she was in town, Laura and I YouTube searched Damon and found a recently released song called “Break My Bank” and fell in love with him all over again. One thing you pick up on following his career – Damon believes in himself, and his music reflects that conviction and passion. Watching all of the little clips available and reading about him, it’s impossible to imagine him doing anything else with his life and enjoying it. He’s just so happy in music, and you can’t help but feel that when you listen to him.

 

 

Unfortunately, he hasn’t released an album recently. Believe you me, we looked. There are songs here and there, and he’s on the Twitter (@damonsharpe), so of course we follow to see on what projects he might be working. But mostly, Damon has been busy producing other artists and sharing his passion for music with them.

As fans of his particular artistry, we want an album. Possibly a tour. Maybe see him on Ellen or Jimmy Fallon or another show. His cameo in the first season of Buffy, short though it was, is still one of my go to clips for a little smile. I love that I can tie him to one of my other loves.

My friend Kristen, author and social media expert, does something called the Mash-up of Awesomeness. Here, today for my amusement and your hopeful enjoyment, we’re going to do a Mash-up of Damon-ness.

Damon Sharpe on:

 Wikipedia

Myspace

IMDB

Facebook (fan page)

and a couple more videos for your enjoyment:

What’s Good Witcha?

 

Alter Ego (Damon, feat. Rob Allen & Andre Merritt)

 

 

 

…and a little GND for all the vampire lovers out there (Patrick J. Dancy on lead)

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Music Monday – The Soundtrack of Your Life

The first music I remember, really and truly know, is the Imperial March from Star Wars. You know, the music that plays as Darth Vader enters Princess Leia’s ship? That’s because that is actually my first memory. I was three years old, in the movie theater with my mom and dad, in 1977. When that music plays, it’s a visceral thing for me. My muscles tighten and my nerves hum with anticipation. Every cell of my body knows that music.

I have a similar reaction to Hungry Like the Wolf, the first Duran Duran song I ever heard. I was ten, and the twelve-year-old boy I had a crush on played drums on it with his friends for the school talent show in the spring of 1985. Instead of anticipation, this song fills me with the imperative to move, dance, and sing along. It fills me with life and light.

We all have those songs, don’t we? Songs that, by us listening to and loving them, have become a part of us. They make up the soundtracks of our lives.

Why are those songs so important? Music is good for the soul. It can be cathartic, helping to leach out pain or anger so that we can continue through our lives. It can help us express our joy, or even show our love to someone. It binds us together on a level that can’t be reached through speech alone.

What happens when people hold candle-lit vigils? That’s right, they begin to sing. It’s usually something simple that one person starts and gradually others join in. Why? Because it brings them closer, chases away the darkness.

I always joke that music is my drug of choice, but it’s true. Wagner’s Flight of the Valkyries can get me emotionally high for hours, as can Walkin’ on Sunshine by Katrina and the Waves. Eclectic, moi?

Skeptical? Go to a concert, a really good one where the band (or singer) engages the crowd. Ride the wave of hundreds or thousands of people singing and dancing and chanting along.

Let me know, what songs get you high? What’s the first music you remember? What gives you that visceral, gut-and-soul reaction? What is the soundtrack of your life?

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Fangirl Friday – All You Need Is Live

Welcome to a new edition of Fangirl Friday! Snowbound in the frozen north (of Texas) mostly because I’m afraid of the loony toons on the road who have no idea how to navigate in weather that we normally don’t get, I’m pretty cozy. It’s all Duran Duran‘s fault.

Last night, I got to see them play live with two of my best friends and one of my sisters. Y’all, I’ve got a confession to make. I am now in love with All You Need Is Now. All the problems I had with it were absent in a live performance. It was a short set because they shared the evening with two other acts, but it was a lovely way to induct my friend Kelly to the wonders of Duran Duran live. Laura and I had spent the morning and afternoon “schooling” her in the ways of Duranies, playing songs they were likely to play, teaching her some of the audience participation stuff they like, and so on.

We braved the icy roads and idiot drivers to get to the Verizon Theater for the Pepsi Super Bowl Fan Jam and ran into my sister, Alia, who had scored a free semi-VIP ticket thanks to one of her friends. After they had been ushered away, our threesome went to find our seats… in the far right corner where we could barely see the stage. While that seems bad, that was a pittance compared to how badly VH-1 managed the evening. But I get ahead of myself.

Don’t get me wrong, we had a fantastic time. That, however, was due to the excellent performances despite the poor management of the event. In a three-performer show that started at seven at night, Duran was billed second. That usually means they play second,or at least they would at any other such event. What that means is that Duranies who had no desire to see the first act has no way of knowing that Duran would actually go on first, their bits being recorded to air in the middle of the televised event. Thanks to Twitter, some knew that Duran would be up first. Thanks to my personal paranoia of being late to anything, our group arrived just after the doors opened at six. We saw the Twitter notice after Duran had played.

 As soon as it was announced that Duran was taking the stage, the three of us jumped up, manning our far out post like good soldiers, cheering, hollering, and dancing to save the world. Admittedly, it had been a few years since I’d last seen them, and hearing them again, even at our far away station was happy. They opened with a classic: A View to a Kill. In the proverbial fan groove, when they announced  they were playing a song from the new album, I was admittedly apprehensive. My friend Laura said that my face and posture actually fell at the prospect. However, midway through the first verse, I finally felt what other fans have been saying this far. I was caught up in the brilliance of Being Followed to which my friend next to me was going crazy.  After the next song, Hungry Like the Wolf, VH-1 stopped the show and made my band wait on stage. SOMEONE MADE DURAN DURAN WAIT. I started ducking for fear of flying pigs.

We waited, mostly impatiently, and then a miracle happened. Laura thwapped my arm, pointing. “There’s your sister.” Sure enough, there she was. She leaned over the railing with a half-smile and gestured. I couldn’t believe it. She was inviting me to come with her. Eyes wide, I said, “Can they come with me?” She nodded and the three of us chased her across the venue until she turned into the pit, and they let us down into the pit! And we SCREAMED. The difference was amazing. The band chatted on stage, and my fangirl heart was imagining all the ways they were thrilled to see us get to move closer. Surely we’d made enough ruckus from way out in proverbial left field to get us noticed. And surely we made their evening by cheering like mad women from where we stood a few dozen rows back. I’m almost certain our little group caught at least Simon’s eye once or twice. I mean, Duran knows who belongs to them, you know?

The rest of the concert passed in an overheated blur including two new songs, All You Need is Now and Girl Panic, as well as such classics as Notorious, Come Undone, (Reach Up for the) Sunrise,  and Girls on Film. My sister even took video of me dancing without me being in any way aware of her doing so. I do remember, however, that the two men in front of us just standing there like lumps actually started to clap and dance after a song or two of us singing along and screaming behind them. The big surprise of the evening was that we didn’t hear Rio! Don’t get me wrong–I’ll never turn down Rio if someone happens to play it. However, for the last ten years, the band has closed EVERY show with this song, and I do mean every. When I hear Rio I start mentally preparing to leave wherever I am. To not hear it was lovely.

The joy of the evening, however, was introducing Kelly to one of the loves of my life. Kelly’s a bit younger than me, but she’s been incredibly gracious to indulge my hobby. I was far more excited about taking her to the show than myself even. I wanted to witness that joy I remember feeling when I first saw them live. And as I mentioned before, Kelly didn’t have the history with them that I did. Her main frame of reference for the band was having played along with their music on “Band Hero.” Bless it for existing. So when they concert started, she knew almost none of the songs, despite her brief introduction to the band. She cheered and danced and clapped along with us, and I figured at that point it was mainly due to being swept away with the crowd. All that changed when Girls on Film played. I looked to my left and there she was, screaming loudly enough to be heard above the others, twenty-year old hands in the air waving, and cheeks pointed so far skyward I thought she might float away! She bounced and danced along finally really feeling like one of us. The energy rolling off her was restorative for me, knowing that my well-aging band could capture an entirely new generation who weren’t born until after their fame had withered away. In that way, the band definitely has a point: all I needed was now. Right that moment when we were all surrounded by pure joy and magic. My ego forced my chest out a bit because for all time I will be part of Kelly’s first memory of Duran Duran. In that way, my legacy lives on with theirs.

When we got home, we stayed up to watch the re-airing on VH-1. If I hadn’t been there, and had to rely solely on their representation of the concert, I would’ve been incredibly disappointed in and for my boys. Their set looked short (only 2 songs aired), boring, and the fans look disinterested when they were shown at all. Which brings me back to the subject of my post. Live shows. Nothing beats live. Don’t ever think that seeing a concert aired on “live tv” is the same as watching my band live. If you can go: GO. Always. Every time. No exceptions. No matter how tired, no matter how complicated, no matter WHAT–make the effort. I’ve yet to regret it.

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