Thursday, October 31, 2013

Haunting Songs of Halloween

Bobby 'Boris' Pickett & the Crypt Kickers photo BorisPickettMonsterMash_zps462ab56d.jpg Warren Zevon photo WarrenZevonWerewolvesofLondon_zpsdb13e7a7.jpg
David Seville photo DavidSevilleWtichDoctor_zpsfd893077.jpg Sheb Wooley photo sheb-wooley-purple-people-eater_zpsb83e05fb.jpg
Clockwise: Bobby 'Boris' Pickett & the Crypt Kickers; Warren Zevon; Sheb Wooley; and David Seville.

To celebrate the Halloween season, I thought about what songs would be great for the season. I will lead off with a song that might be considered the granddaddy of all Halloween songs, "The Monster Mash". The song was released in 1962 by Bobby "Boris" Pickett & the Crypt-Kickers. The song was written by Pickett and Leonard L. Capizzi. And just befoer Haloween of that year, the song reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100! Here is Bobby "Boris" Pickett & the Crypt-Kickers singing "The Monster Mash".

Next up, we have a rock song composed by LeRoy Marinell, Waddy Wachtel, and Warren Zevon and performed by Zevon. "Werewolves of London" was released in 1978, off the album 'Excitable Boy'. The single was in the Billboard Top 40 for six weeks, making it to #21. It was great fun at the time, and continues to be an exceptional song, 35 years later. I hope you enjoy Warren Zevon's music video for "Werewolves of London".

Back in the 1950s, David Seville was quite the busy man. Not only was he writing and recording songs, he was also forming the ideas for 'Alvin and the Chipmunks', a storyline that would create a cartoon and recording career for years to come. I still remember being a young kid and watching the Chipmunks, wishing the animals outside my house would talk and sing like the Chipmunks did! In 1958, Dave Seville & the Chipmunks released a novelty recording called "Witch Doctor". In the summer of that year, the song went to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. This was the first of his songs to include the animated characters, but certainly not the last. Here is David and the Chipmunks with "Witch Doctor".

Well, it seems as though 1958 was a great year for novelty songs, for Oklahoma native Sheb Wooley had a big hit with "Purple People Eater", and I am not sure who saw that coming. The song was fun and silly, and seemed to capture the imagination of all the kids across the country, for it went to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. And while it might not be a true Halloween song, I certainly think it applies to the season quite nicely. this is "Purple People Eater" by Sheb Wooley.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Dangerous Muse • Everyday Is Halloween

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Dangerous Muse is an electronic rock project based in New York City, led by songwriter and vocalist, Mike Furey. In 2006, Dangerous Muse released a cover of "Everyday Is Halloween", originally released by Ministry in 1984. The song has the patented Dangerous Muse sound, with slick production and sexy vocals. That sounds like a perfect way to kick off the All Hallows Eve, so please enjoy "Everyday Is Halloween".

You can purchase "Everyday Is Halloween" from iTunes and Amazon. To learn more about Dangerous Muse, visit the official website. You can also 'like' the Facebook page, and 'follow' on Twitter. Social media is a great way to keep up with this great band.

Time Warp (2001) • Raul Esparza, Daphne Rubin-Vega & Joan Jett

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A revival of 'Rocky Horror Show' opened on Broadway in October of 2000, although it is often referred to as the 2001 Revival. The show had an incredible cast, but what really blows me away is this version of "Time Warp", featuring Raul Esparza as Riff Raff, Daphne Rubin-Vega as Magenta, and Joan Jett as Columbia, that really blew me away. And while I do love me some Joan Jett, I must say it is the new spin from Esparza and Rubin-Vega that got the job done. I have no idea how Raul makes his voice do that, but when it does, I am a very happy camper.

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It is just one of many songs I have in my collection which constantly remind me of my never-ending crush on the talented Mr. Esparza. I hope one day soon he comes back to his native Wilmington, Delaware, to give a performance of some of his great songs, including this one! I found this clip of the cast of 'Rocky Horror Show' performing on 'The Rosie O'Donnell Show', so please enjoy Raul, Daphne, Joan and the rest of the cast performing 'Time Warp'!

You can purchase the New Broadway Cast Recording of 'Rocky Horror Show' featuring Raul Esparza, Daphne Rubin-Vega and Joan Jett, as well as many other talented artists, from iTunes and Amazon. I say download it, and add it to your Halloween playlist. Later, you can just listen for the fun of it! And Happy Halloween!

Bette Midler • I Put A Spell On You

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I simply have a tough time not loving just about anything that Bette Midler does, I couldn't see how I could let the Halloween season pass without checking out Bette singing "I Put A Spell On You", a scene from the movie 'Hocus Pocus'. Witches, showgirls, vampires and children, all making it a delicious scene, and adding the song written by Screamin' Jay Hawkins in 1956 makes it perfection!

Happy Halloween!

Michael Jackson • Thriller

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How could I start out Halloween without Michael Jackson singing "Thriller"? I couldn't, for it is just about a amazing now as it was thirty years ago when it was released. If the song wasn't already enough, the highly stylized video featuring the King of Pop made it heaven on a stick. So, without further ado, this is Michael Jackson with "Thriller".

You can purchase "Thriller", the song or the album, from iTunes and Amazon.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Marshall Crenshaw • Someday Someway & Others

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It has been a while since I have featured the music of Marshall Crenshaw on the blog, so I thought this might be just the right time to do it. As I went to visit my sister last week, I was reminded that she and I would go see concerts often, hearing several of our favorite performers. Those shows included Howard Jones, The Cure, and Marshall. Marshall was making music that was very American, and very 'singer/songwriter'. His songs were smart, fun, and bold, with a great awareness and respect for some of the great Rock and Pop performers of the past. To take a look at this wonderful artist, I decided to take songs off his first three album releases from thirty years ago, and share them with you.

Marshall Crenshaw - Marshall Crenshaw photo marshall-crenshaw_marshall_crenshaw_zps31188ae7.jpg Marshall Crenshaw - Field Day photo MarshallCrenshawFieldDay_zps244b0b47.jpg Marshall Crenshaw - Downtown photo MarshallCrenshawDowntown_zps22b252bc.jpg
Left to right: Album covers for 'Marshall Crenshaw', 'Field Day', and 'Downtown'.

Before Marshall set out to record his debut album, like many songwriters, he made demos of his songs. In 1979, he recorded "My Favorite Waste of Time", using the name Marshall Crenshaw & the Handsome, Ruthless, and Stupid Band. As a song, it is so very much like the kind Marshall liked to make, with smart lyrics that turn a phrase around. It was recorded by Scottish artist Owen Paul in 1986, and it went to #3 on the UK Pop charts. In 1983, it was recorded by Bette Midler for her 'No Frills', which was a great album! Oddly enough, it was never officially recorded by Marshall, but the demo is still around, and was included on the 2000 compilation, 'This Is Easy! - The Best of Marshall Crenshaw'. This is "My Favorite Waste of Time".

A song that still remains one of my favorites from the time was recorded for the eponymous debut, released in 1982. "Someday Someway" had a great sound, a bit retro but never old-fashioned. For me, the song had a sound like a modern day Buddy Holly. The beat is inescapable, and I involuntarily begin to dance the minute it starts to play. Love is never easy, and it is even harder when communication is an issue. This is Marshall singing "Someday Someway" on the David Letterman show in 1982.

Marshall's second album, 'Field Day', was released in 1983, and Marshall avoided any sophomore slump with exceptional songwriting. With songs like "Our Town", Monday Morning Rock", and "What Time Is It?", the great songs seem to line up, one after the other. But it was "Whenever You're On My Mind" that proved to be the hit single, spending 14 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. I just recently found the music video for the song, which I didn't know existed before. So I hope you enjoy the official music video for Marshall Crenshaw's "Whenever You're On My Mind".

'Downtown' was released in 1985, and is one of my favorite albums from Marshall. It had a stronger Rock vibe, and was a bit more intense than the previous two. The production was also amped up a bit, with more layers to the sound, which I just loved. My favorite song off the album was the first cut, "Little Wild One (No. 5)". The song is delicious, and 28 years later, I still find it addictive. I can't play it just once, I hook myself up several times in a row. Hit play and tell me "Little Wild One (No. 5)" doesn't get you getting your groove on.

As a collection, many artists would love to be able to claim these four songs during their career, let alone in the early part of it. Marshall has an incredible catalog of songs from the last couple of decades, and will continue to wonder why more people don't sing them. But I am also very happy to know that Marshall not only wrote them, but also sang them. And in the 1980s, I was lucky enough to heard him perfom many of them! To learn more about Marshall Crenshaw, visit his official website. You can also 'like' him on Facebook, and 'follow' him on Twitter.

Ryan Amador • Skylark Music Video

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Singer/songwriter Ryan Amador has a new music video featuring a song off his eponymous album released a few months ago. I first got to know Ryan with his music video for "Define Me", which also featured Jo Lampert. That video was a perfect partner with the song, both taking on prejudices visiting on gay men and lesbians still today. So when I saw he had a music video for "Skylark", I was excited, for I really love this song. "Skylark" gives voice to our inner child. The music video uses videos of the first five years of Amador's life, from darling infant to adorable toddler. The delightful images work in counterpoint to the haunting song, helping with the introspective journey. This is Ryan Amador with "Skylark".

"Skylark" is the first track off the album, a collection of music I really enjoyed. 'Ryan Amador' can be purchased on iTunes, Amazon, CD Baby, and Bandcamp. To learn more about Ryan Amador, visit his official website. You can also 'like' him on Facebook, and 'follow' him on Twitter.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Aiden James • On My Sleeve (Acoustic)

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Aiden James has recorded and released a video of the songster giving an acoustic performance of his song, "On My Sleeve". The song, found on his album 'Trouble With This', is a beautiful song, a sweet look at a time when you are discovering new love. You know, when you get those first feelings and find it impossible to focus on anything but the one that takes away your breath. There is such charm and honesty in the song, I find it just as irresistible now as when I first heard Aiden singing it live in Philadelphia a few years ago.

I love this acoustic version, but I also enjoy the Electronic version Aiden recorded. There is just something so sweet about it, I still listen to it. The amazing thing about Aiden's voice is that it sounds perfect with just an acoustic guitar, and really special with a synthesizer. "On My Sleeve" can be found on his latest album, 'Trouble With This', which can be purchased from iTunes, Bandcamp, and Amazon. To learn more about Aiden James, visit his official website. You can also 'follow' him on Twitter, and 'like' him on Facebook. Aiden is always happy to say "hi" to everyone!

We The Ghost • Sinking Suspicion

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We The Ghost - Snking Suspicion photo WTG_Sinking003_zps68148534.jpg We The Ghost - Snking Suspicion photo WTG_Sinking004_zps4c07db58.jpg
Clockwise: Beau Tyler; Dain Samuelson; Matt McHan; Jocelyn Rowland; and Jimmy Dean Adams.

Tulsa-based band We The Ghost have a new music video out, featuring the title song off their new album, 'Sinking Suspicion'. The video features singer Beau Tyler, drummer Jimmy Dean Adams, guitarist Matt McHan, percussionist Dain Samuelson, and violinist Jocelyn Rowland, all doing what they do best, making fresh music. I bet bassist Ben Mosier was sad he wasn't able to join them, for this music video is hot! The video is a twister of images, with lyrics spinning around the band, before they explode and the pixels twist through the screen like drops of blood from a broken heart. Life deals us all so many change-ups, much like the shifts in beats and tempos, keeping us all guessing. It is the rush of hormones and adrenaline that gives us that rush, which can seem addictive. Now seems the perfect opportunity to check out the handy work of director Kevin Fleming for "Sinking Suspicion".

I get a rush from love, but I also get the blood pumping every time I listening to the music of We The Ghost. The band seamlessly blends influences like Pop, Rock, R&B and Reggae to make a sound that glistens and gleans, leaving me feeling like I am bathing in the afterglow. You can get your FREE DOWNLOAD of 'Sinking Suspicion', the latest album from We The Ghost, from Bandcamp. I don't know how much longer it will be available for free, so get it now! To learn more about the band, you can visit the official website, 'follow' them on Twitter, and 'like' them on Facebook. You can find the video on YouTube, where you can 'like' it, leave a comment, and share it with your friends!

Any Given Tuesday...

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As sad as it might seem while elected members of the government refuse to see past one or two issues, the world continues to move on, with or without them. While the children across this country are finding themselves homeless, the government seems more intent on fighting the same battle time and time again, ignoring issues that impact their constituency, both present and future. Teens are finding themselves homeless everywhere, but they seem to head to the metropolitan areas to find their way. An amazingly high number of those kids are LGBT youth, kicked out of their homes by parents who believe any God would believe hate, anger, and judgement are preferable to love, peace, and acceptance. Watch this short film written & directed by Trent Kendrick, and starring Noland Ammon, 'Any Given Tuesday...'

We know that on any given Tuesday, children are being turned out of their homes because they may be gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. By example, they are being taught love is not something given freely, but instead offered only to those who fit the description given by men, not any higher power. They are taught the world is filled with with people willing to point a finger, but never look in the mirror. They are taught they are unworthy of love, especially from their so-called 'Christian' families.

And when these families refuse to do their job, to offer love, support, and nurturing for their own children, that is when we must all step up and try to do what they could not. We must show these kids they are loveable, and if they can find a way to make it through life safely, things will indeed get better. They are not only capable of being loved, they actually deserve to be. We live in the best country in the world, and we should be able to care for one another, not just ourselves and those who follow a set of rules we often ignore when it benefits us. Support the Gay & Lesbian Centers in your area, as well as those in the major cities, where abandoned and runaway kids congregate. To start with, you can give money to the Centers in Los Angeles, New York City, and San Fransisco, although there a so many doing great work. If you live close by a Center, they are more than happy to have your time as a volunteer, as well as your support with a contribution to give these kids at least part of what their shameful families have failed to give them. Remind them the world is a placed filled with love, and everyone is entitled to be loved, and to love in return.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Dark Monday • Lost in the Stars

Lost in the Stars: The Music of Kurt Weill photo Lostinthestars_zpsa2ab0aaa.jpg

While I normally use my Dark Monday posts to pay tribute to the wonderful artists who have worked in musical theater to leave such an amazing bounty of material. From performers to writers to composers to dancers to designers, the rich history is truly something. After all, the term 'dark Monday' was a reference to the fact that musicals were dark on Mondays, not open for business, and the marquee lights were not shining. But today, I thought I would combine great music from the musical theater with the loss of a favorite of mine, Lou Reed. He passed away over the weekend at 71 years of age. In 1985, the album 'Lost in the Stars: The Music of Kurt Weill' was released that included a wonderful version of "September Song", from the musical 'Knickerbocker Holiday'. The music was composed by Weill, with lyrics by Maxwell Anderson. This is Lou Reed singing "September Song".

The second track on the album is "The Ballad of Mac The Knife", from 'The Threepenny Opera', and performed by Sting and Dominic Muldowney. The song with music by Kurt Weill and lyrics by Bertolt Brecht, and was their most famous song. It was recorded by many, in so many styles. There was the original German music hall style, true to the original, as well as Pop and Jazz interpretations by artists as varied as Bobby Darin, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald and Westlife. The song is a classic, and I bet most could sing along with it. This is Sting singing "The Ballad of Mack the Knife".

"Ballad of the Nazi Soldier's Wife" by Marianne Faithfull was written by Weill in 1942 with Bertolt Brecht. It was intended to be performed on German radio, chronicling the the gifts the German wife received from her soldier husband from the Russian front, until the last 'gift' arrived, the notification of his death on the battleground. Faithfull is such an exceptional interpreter, this is an amazing track. I hope you enjoy Marianne Faithfull singing "Ballad of the Nazi Soldier's Wife".

Lou Reed • Rest In Peace

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When I heard about the passing of the amazing Lou Reed, I was a bit numb. I love Lou's music. His music could be exquisite or heart-wrenching, and his words were poetry. He was born in Brooklyn, and raised on Long Island, New York. As a teen, his parents were 'disturbed' by his display of homosexual feelings, and forced him to undergo electroconvulsive therapy. It was also said he was a bisexual man, and openly spoke of one of his partners, a transsexual. But at the core of Reed's life was his music. Over the course of several decades, Reed marked his move to New York City in 1964, forming a band with college buddy John Cale, the Velvet Underground. The group made albums and song that influenced many a generation, and are still impressive today. They took on artist Andy Warhol has their manager, hoping to make it big. Before that could really happen, the band broke up, and Reed looked to a solo career.

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As a soloist, Lou Reed continued to make the music that made the world sit up and take notice. In 1972, he released his second solo album, which was also his second of the year. The album managed to be spontaneous and meticulous at the same time. The songs were stunning, and told the stories of Reed's life as he lived it. The album was his impressive sophomore album, 'Transformer'.

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'Transformer' was recorded in August of 1972, and released in November of the same year. While the album had many favorite songs, the most well-known of the collection is the iconic "Walk on the Wild Side", a look at life on New York's Lower East Side, from transvestites, male hookers, drugs, and oral sex, fairly shocking topics for the time. But his words paint pictures, just not the type favored by 'Reader's Digest', or the Doctor's who hand Norman Rockwell reprints in their offices. On the album, Reed combined Pop with Folk and Rock, making a sound that was new and fresh. I figure there is no better way to celebrate the man and his music that to listen to it. This is the song list for the album, all written by Lou Reed. Then you can play the video, featuring the full album.

01. "Vicious"
02. "Andy's Chest"
03. "Perfect Day"
04. "Hangin' 'Round"
05. "Walk on the Wild Side"
06. "Make Up"
07. "Satellite of Love"
09. "Wagon Wheel"
10. "New York Telephone Conversation"
11. "I'm So Free"
12. "Goodnight Ladies"

30th anniversary edition Bonus Tracks:
13. "Hangin' 'Round [Acoustic demo]"
14. "Perfect Day [Acoustic demo]" (Includes a hidden track featuring an advert for the album.)

Lou Reed's 'Transformer' can be purchased from iTunes and Amazon. In 1989, Reed released what was surely one of the best albums of the year, and one that spoke to my in ways few albums could. 'New York' took the world by storm, and had music lovers and critics running out to purchase it.

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The 'Village Voice' named the album the #3 album for the year in the 1989 'Pazz and Jop' critics poll. The songs on 'New York' once again painted a beautiful landscape of the city, using the spray paint on the walls of the Village and other neighborhoods, making aural images of life away from 5th Avenue and the wealthy on the Upper East Side, and the yuppies on the Upper West Side. Reed was telling stories about the life on the streets, from the young lovers on "Romeo and Juliette", to the characters he ran across on "Dirty Blvd". I loved this album from the moment I played it on my turntable, and knew once again I had fallen for Lou's charms once again. In the video below, you can listen to the full recording of 'New York', All the songs were written by Lou Reed, except for "Beginning of a Great Adventure", which was written by Reed and Mike Rathke.

01. "Romeo Had Juliette"
02. "Halloween Parade"
03. "Dirty Blvd."
04. "Endless Cycle"
05. "There Is No Time"
06. "Last Great American Whale"
07. "Beginning of a Great Adventure"
08. "Busload of Faith"
09. "Sick of You"
10. "Hold On"
11. "Good Evening Mr. Waldheim"
12. "Xmas in February"
13. "Strawman"
14. "Dime Store Mystery"

The album also featured Maureen Tucker, who had worked with Reed in the Velvet Underground with Lou back in the 1960s. As I had lived in New York in the 1980s, the album most certainly told storied I identified with, and still do today. As Reed was wont to do, he wrote about the political and social issues facing many, giving voice to topics and people the leaders of the day, including Presidents Reagan and Bush (Sr.), refused to mention. There were songs about the environment, the human condition, and life of the people often forgotten about by people who preferred to watch TV shows like 'Falcon Crest' or 'Major Dad' than Dickensian tales of Reed's dark city. Lou Reed's 'New York' can be purchased from iTunes and Amazon. May you rest in peace, Lou Reed, having told your stories which have given voice to so many. I know I will miss you.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Don't Be Scared... Too Much!

Ella Fitzgerald Barbra Streisand
Judy Garland Carmen McRae
Clockwise: Ella Fitzgerald; Barbra Streisand; Carmen McRae; and Judy Garland.

While they might not be as scary as the Halloween season might call for, I thought I would offer up a few supernatural-tinged torch songs to help you burn up your pre-Halloween Saturday night. And I will start with an amazing singer bringing to life the scary childhood tale of 'The Three Little Pigs'. "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?" first appeared in the 1930s as part of a Disney cartoon. It was written by Frank Churchill with additional lyrics by Ann Ronel. In 1963, it was recorded by Barbra Streisand for her first album.

"Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered"first appeared in the the 1940 musical 'Pal Joey', written by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart. It became an instant standard, and some of the top vocalists of the next several generations were singing it, both men and women alike. In 1956, Ella Fitzgerald recorded an immaculate version of the classic.

Any song that can say the music was written by Harold Arlen and the lyrics by Johnny Mercer is certainly one that needs to be heard. The 1942 song has been sung by most, if not all of, the greats of the music business. Here is a clip of the sultry and talented Carmen McRae singing "That Old Black Magic" in 1986.

The 1947 musical 'Finian's Rainbow' was composed by Burton Lane and had lyrics by E.Y. Harburg. It included "How Are Things In Glocca Morra", a memorable song to be sure. If that was the only song in the score, it would be well worth listening. But it wasn't. There was also the iconic "That Old Devil Moon", another song that has been covered by some of the greatest voices to ever record. Here, watch Judy Garland sing it on her television show.

Hope the songs didn't scare you too much...

Friday, October 25, 2013

Date 'Fright' Night • Coming Out of the Coffin

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Top: Mikey Rourke Rhodes and Jeff Kuncaitis. Bottom: Jeff Kuncaitis.

Next week is Halloween, so I thought I would get the mood going with a little taste of the supernatural. Writer/director Mickey Rourke Rhodes takes a look at what happens when a new couple moves into the neighborhood. While Dexter is busy taking matters into his own hand and Teddy is getting high as a kite, a knock on the door is heard. Val and Antonio are stopping by to introduce themselves to the new neighbors. But what will bother the stoners more, that the new men are lovers, or that they view the frat boys as the next meal. This is the story behind 'Coming Out of the Coffin'.

Hope you have a great weekend, and this helped you start it off with a laugh or two!

Oingo Boingo • Dead Man's Party

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To get a start on the weekend before Halloween, I thought I would kick it off with a bit of the 1980s, with Oingo Boingo. The band, which featured the talented Danny Elfman, released an album in 1985, the intriguing 'Dead Man's Party'. All the songs on the album were written by Elfman, who had a love and understanding of the eccentric. But it was the title cut that seems like just the right song for the occasion, for how could you celebrate All Hallow's Eve without a "Dead Man's Party"?

The album also included the huge hit, "Weird Science". You can purchase Oingo Boingo's 'Dead Man's Party' from iTunes and Amazon.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Spencer Day at the World Cafe Live

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Spencer Day at the World Cafe Live! in Philadelphia.

I was beyond excited when I saw Spencer Day was going to perform live at the World Cafe Live in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I've been a huge fan since I found the 'Vagabond' album, and that only grew stronger with the release of his latest, 'The Mystery of You'. The anticipation was so strong, I even had to check in with Spencer on Facebook, and make sure I could take pictures of the handsome jazzman. Once he gave the go ahead, I excitedly packed my cameras, both still and video. Above you will find a few of my pictures, and below an overview of Spencer's show, or Spencer Day in 8 minutes. He did a wonderful selection of songs from the Great American Songbook, as well as some favorite original songs from his own songbook. I can tell you I was feeling blissful from beginning to end, and can't wait to see Spencer live again!

Once I have it figured out, I will upload a couple of the songs from the show, but deciding on which is hard. They were all great! If he is playing anywhere near you, you need to go. Such a great night! For more about Spencer, visit his official website. You can also 'like' him on Facebook and 'follow' him on Twitter. Spencer's latest album, 'The Mystery of You', can be purchased from iTunes and Amazon. 'Vagabond' is also available for purchase from iTunes and Amazon.

Kings • Bones

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The last month has been a very good one for me, at least when it comes to music. Several new voices came into my life, most of whom I am so very grateful. One of those is Kings, a Country trio who found their way to me via my buddy, J.D. Doyle. the 'curator' at Queer Music History, suggested they contact me, and the next thing I knew, I had a Facebook message from Robert Maril, giving me a link to the music. Maril plays with Emily Bielagus and Steph Bishop, making up Kings, a band with an intoxicating sound. With harmonies tighter than Dolly Parton's brassiere, and strings that can soar or ground the song with amazing ease, Kings make ear candy I want to gobble up, but instead learn to savor. That is the simple lesson I learned when I listened to their EP, 'Bones'.

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Robert, Emily, and Steph have released 'Bones', which kicks off with the breathtaking harmonies on "Western Sky", which combines Country with a splash of jazz, showcasing the vocal prowess of the trio. There is a wonderful quality in those vocals, exposing the remarkable co-existence of pain and hope. The brisk rhythm of the acoustic guitar brings us to "Wake Up Scared", a place far too many people have found themselves over time. As we all search for a place to be, without feeling fear. Check the song out for yourself.

There is a true simple beauty to "Carry Me Home", a heartfelt and honest song that utilizes harmonies and a Dobro guitar to enrich the colors of the picture. This gives was to "That's Fine", a song that lives on the intersection of Tin Pan Alley and Honky-tonk Boulevard. There is a wonderful lightness to the jingling bounce, giving life to that feeling of fresh love. Hit play, and try to not smile like a young fool in love.

From the start of "Wolf at the Door", I had this palpable feeling since I first hit play. It occurred to me right away the Kings were the bastard children of Peter, Paul & Mary and the Dixie Chicks, weaving a strong message in a beautiful aural landscape, using harmonies to brush on the strong strokes of a deft artist. They can turn pain to joy, and go back again with a simple phrase, with an astonishing ease. I can't tell you how much this group impressed me on this debut. They stay true to their music, a look toward the Roots, while never feeling old nor dated. There is both a freshness and honesty present, something that cannot be faked. I can easily hit play with the repeat loop on, just loving life. 'Bones' can be purchased from iTunes and Bandcamp. To learn more about Kings, visit their official website. You can also "like" them on Facebook, and 'follow' them on Twitter.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Mike Burns • Live at Melodies Cafe

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Mike Burns playing at Melodies Cafe in Ardmore.

When I saw that Mike Burns would be playing in the area, I was very excited. I had not had the pleasure of being entertained by Burns before, so that certainly added to the excitement. I loved his music, both his latest, 'Chapter Twenty-Seven', as well as the beautiful 'Courage & Longing'. Mike was on the bill with three other singer/songwriters, so I was just hoping he would have enough time to give us a set of some kind. Once there, I learned it was to be a special 'in-the-round' style night, with each talented artist taking turns. Matt Tarka, James Hearne, and Jared Costa played alongside Burns, each making their own mark on the audience. They all played seven songs each, each taking a turn at the microphone, one song at a time. Melodies Cafe, located in Ardmore, PA, was gracious enough to let the men play later than usual, giving each man a chance to shine. Here is a video of Mike playing his songs, all originals written and recorded by Burns. This is a remix of his show, with stories and songs, all in five minutes!

I had a great time, and was so happy to get to know Mike Burns a bit better after the show, while we spoke. Smart, sensitive and sweet, it was easy to see how he came up with his music. If he is playing in the area anytime soon, count me in among the audience members! For more about Mike Burns, visit his official website. You can also 'follow' him on Twitter, and 'like' him on Facebook. Mike's latest album, 'Chapter Twenty-Seven', is available on iTunes, CD Baby, and Amazon.


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