Archive | April, 2013

A Historical Waltz by The Rebel Light

30 Apr

The Rebel Light

I’m going to go out on a limb and start this post off with a guarantee. If you like creative pop/rock music, you will enjoy “Goodbye Serenade” by The Rebel Light. It’s that simple. It doesn’t matter if you are from Montauk, New York, Yucaipa, California, or anywhere in between or across the seas; if you like pop/rock music, you will like “Goodbye Serenade.” Why am I so confident?

“Goodbye Serenade” is structured to be successful. The song is effervescently focused on a catchy melody that is accentuated by several instruments like the piano, trumpet and the xylophone. It fits into the rare category of mainstream Indie, where the song is accessible enough to be dispersed to a wide range of audiences but still maintains a strong taste of Indie musicianship mixed with an enviable DIY enthusiasm. Also, the song is a waltz. Yes, I’m not lying, it is in three. Immediate kudos right there to The Rebel Light.

The Rebel Light released its debut EP last year, which was independently recorded and mixed. Vocals for each song were recorded in a bathroom and the drums were tracked in a wood shed. The band is made up of two brothers from Montauk, New York and a cousin from Yucaipa, California. The Rebel Light is currently based in Los Angeles.

“Goodbye Serenade,” as is expressed in the praise above, is my favorite piece off of the EP. The video paired with the song was also created by the band, and it provides a spine-tingling trip into history. This historical waltz flashes images and video as the song builds in the background. The strength of this song resides in its climactic chorus; a true diapason of harmonic instruments mixed with potent vocals. It has an empowering effect on the listener. The song is puissant. The melody is delightful. It all meshes well. The Rebel Light may have a big hit on its hands.

Keep up with the Rebel Light on Facebook, Twitter, and Website

The First Man of Motown – Marv Johnson

25 Apr

Marv Johnson

Here is a good trivia question. What was the first song ever released by the Motown/Tamla label (In 1960, the Motown and Tamla Records merged into Motown Record Corporation)? Miracles, Supremes, Vandellas, Four Tops, Temptations? Nope. Try Marv Johnson, the singer and co-writer of “Come To Me,” which, after it was released in 1959, would go on to reach number 30 on the Billboard Top 100 and number six on the national R&B chart. Since Motown was a fledgling label, Berry Gordy, the founder and king of “The Motown Sound,” sold the rights of this incipient piece to United Artists.

Berry Gordy first met Johnson at a carnival in Michigan. Johnson was performing with a doo-wop group called the Serenaders, and Gordy, a tremendous evaluator of vocal talent, implored Johnson to join his label. “Come To Me” was recorded in February of 1959 at United Sound Studios in Detroit. Johnson recorded with future Funk Brothers bassist James Jamerson and drummer Benny Benjamin. Take a listen to the song:

And, as they say, the rest is history. For good reason, Motown burgeoned like a pandemic. But, for a second, let’s imagine we are back in 1959 and listening to Marv Johnson performing this new song “Come to Me.” The song shares similar doo-wop qualities with the popular music of the time, but, the instrumentation and arrangement is different. It’s, dare I say, modern. More than 50 years later, it is easy to say that such characteristics helped spring Gordy, Smokey, and the talented folk at Motown to the cockaigne of music.

On Saturday, I will venture into NYC to see Motown: The Musical. If you have seen it, let me know what you thought of it. All I know, is that there will be the great music of Motown, and that is all I need.

The True Meaning of Galore Rock

25 Apr

The Rockers Galore

Galore means abundance or plentiful amounts. If you have food and drinks galore, you have a party on your hands. Hopefully, you also have some music by Blayer Pointdujour & The Rockers Galore to accentuate your bacchanal! Most bands stretch the truth with a band name (they are not really Eagles), but The Rockers Galore truly serve a massive helping of every facet of rock: pummeling electric guitar, swift percussion, hip/hop vocals, and potent horns. And, most importantly, the music blends together and goes down smooth like a toasted lager and some chips and salsa.

The Rockers Galore, a Reggae/ Hip Hop band from Philadelphia, PA, was founded in 2008 by multi-instrumentalist Blayer Pointdujour. The Rockers Galore recently released their new album The Bull (mixed and mastered at Milkboy the Studio formerly Larry Gold, The Roots, Common, Kanye West).

“1804” combines horns borrows from The Skatalites’ “Rock Fort Rocks” with a panoply of guitar and percussion. The lyric is genuine and it helps form a puissant piece. Perhaps most impressive is the effective balancing act that The Rockers Galore are able to achieve in this song. The wide array of sounds can be intimidating if not organized well, and The Rockers Galore are able to provide a “controlled madness.”

“Mansion Party” features constant rhythm – a fun mix of horns and rock – almost Mexican influences. The music plays like upbeat Ska.

Check out more about The Rockers Galore by visiting the website and Facebook of the band.

 

The Top 3 Concerts at Summerstage 2013

22 Apr

Summerstage

While the cold air continues to linger over New York, one of the first signs of summer presented itself in the form of an e-mail this afternoon. The 2013 Summerstage calendar has been released. Summerstage, a product of the NYC City Parks Foundation, is a uniquely New York. From June 4 – August 29, Summerstage provides over 100 free music, dance, film, comedy, family and theater programs in 17 parks across all five boroughs of NYC. It is an ubiquitous city-wide arts fest and all are invited. The schedule, like in year’s past, is packed with several savory events, including a few premier cost events – like the ones I will discuss in today’s post.

While I urge you to check out the Schedule when you have an opportunity, I am going to preview three events I am most excited about, all occurring at the 69th St. & 5th Ave, Central Park location.

3.) Bobby McFerrin – Tuesday, August 20th at 7:00pm EDT

No, this famous song of sincere contentment was not created by Bob Marley. The song was released seven years after Marley’s death, and, last time I checked, Marley is not 2Pac. “Don’t Worry Be Happy” is the wise advice of Bobby McFerrin, and, in some form of twisted irony, this simple ditty of humorous happiness that is clearly his most known work suffers from authorship mistakes and does not do McFerrin justice. McFerrin is a tremendously talented musicians with a perspicacious musicality that shines through everything he creates. Although I am still trying to figure out the “Don’t Worry Be Happy” video that truly marks the song as one of the weirdest pieces to ever hit the top spot on the charts, I’m sure McFerrin will put on a very “happy” show in August.

2.) The Zombies/Django Django/Adam Green and Binki Shapiro/DJ Modest P – Saturday, June 15th at 3:00pm EDT

Wow. This is an eclectic mix of old/new musicians. The Zombies released Odessey and Oracle in 1968, and those who have listened to it can attest to it being one of the better rock albums of the 1960s. The band combined pop/rock with prog/psych to establish an intriguing blend of 60s genres. I saw them at a previous Hippiefest, and they were quite good.

Django Django released their self-titled debut in 2012, and it’s combination of electronic rock and indie influences is upbeat and poppy with Franz Ferdinand influences. Heck, there is even some embedded 60s pop in the music. Take a listen to “Hail Bop” below. Enjoy the odd video.

Of what I know about the other two performers, Adam Green and Binki Shapiro are folk/pop artists with a pull towards the 60s and DJ Modest P is a skilled New York spinner known for his long time Saturday night residency at the legendary East Village club Nublu. I’m interested to hear what kind of show this will be.

1.) Airborne Toxic Event – Tuesday, June 18th at 7:00pm EDT

I have had an itch to see the Airborne Toxic Event for quite a while. The Californian Indie Rock band – with a name alluding to my favorite Don DeLillo novel – saw well-deserved success with the release of their sophomore album, All At Once, and, by the time this concert rolls around, will be supporting their third release, Such Hot Blood, set for release in late April. Quite simply, this will be an awesome show. Perfect band for the Summerstage.

Those are my top three. Feel free to check out the schedule (above), and you can follow Summerstage on Facebook or Twitter

 

A True Guitar Festival – Crossroads Night One (4/12/13)

21 Apr

Eric Clapton Crossroads (DAVID HANDSCHUH/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

Within the first ten minutes of the first night of Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival, I turned to my buddy and exclaimed, well, “that was better than an encore. Do we go home now?” Behind the attempted humor, I was serious in my sentiments.To open the show, Eric Clapton and guests greeted an enthusiastic full house at Madison Square Garden with a five-song acoustic set that drifted and jived through Clapton staples like “Lay Down Sally” and “Wonderful Tonight.” Clapton invited artists like Vince Gill and Andy Fairweather Low on stage, the latter of which sang tremendous lead vocals on his song “Spider Jivin” – the second song of the night. Clapton began the concert with “Driftin.” In the middle of his opening set, Clapton performed “Tears in Heaven,” which he has unearthed for his 50th Anniversary Tour. The song, written in response to the death of Clapton’s four-year-old son, is as potent as it is simple. Because of its subject, Clapton rarely plays it (last time before this tour was in 2003). Hearing him perform the song live was well worth the price of admission.

At the helm of the show was emcee and original Blues Brother, Dan Akroyd, who introduced artists and, prior to the concluding set by the Allman Brothers, performed a rousing version of “Got My Mojo Working” with Keb ‘Mo. In reviewing my notes from the show – and recalling my euphoric loquaciousness during/after the show, I realize now that despite my pre-show expectation to see a slew of revered guitar gods, I couldn’t quite grasp how overwhelming and ethereal the concert would be. Perhaps the “kid in a candy store” axiom might suffice in describing the crowd’s zeal, but I believe it may be a little weak. There was an infectious gregariousness to the crowd; this wonderful atmosphere of musical passion and friendship. It was as if the guitar community was coming together for a convention, a mind-blowing convention.

Let’s face it; the entire five-hour concert was a highlight. It was a virtual all-star game of guitarists. I intended on marking down some highlights of the night, but I ended up typing furiously on my cell phone (and then my friend’s cell phone after my battery depleted) just to keep up with the plethora of highlights. For your reading pleasure, I have narrowed down my thumb-tiring list of typed highlights to just three major performances during the show. Before I get to the top three of the night (not counting the Clapton solo set I mentioned above), let me commend Booker T and Steve Cropper for their set (the first after Clapton’s acoustic opener). Paired with Blake Mills, Matt “Guitar” Murphy, Keb Mo, Booker T and the NEW MG’s played a five-song set (concluding with “Green Onions) that featured a strong version of “Born Under a Bad Sign.”

Now on to the top 3…

3.) “Everyday I Have the Blues” with Robert Cray, B.B. King, Jimmie Vaughn & Eric Clapton

Blues royalty. Yeah, something like that. B.B. King, who is in possession of a personal fountain of youth, was electric for the few songs he sat in on. I particularly like this performance because it highlights the spirit of the festival. As these legends (King, Cray, Vaughn, and Clapton) playfully swapped and stole solos from each other, the crowd could almost smell the aroma of blues – which to me is a mixture of hard scotch and worn guitar strings. This jam is about as authentic as you can get. It is the blues. Strip away the stage, crowd, and allure, and there would still be four individuals playing the blues.

2.) “Don’t Let me Down” with John Mayer and Keith Urban

After a small set of original pieces, John Mayer summoned Keith Urban onto stage to complete a guitar duo for an electric performance of The Beatles’ “Don’t Let me Down.” There are so many things to like about this performance. A.) It’s an awesome cover of a Beatles’ song. B.) John Mayer and Keith Urban can flat-out kill it on the guitar. C.) They also can sing pretty damn well. D.) If you listen closely, the band adds several interesting influences into the song (country hints mixed with traditional blues). E.) Go to the 3:00 minute mark, refer back to B, and enjoy.

1.) “Whipping Post” with The Allman Brothers Band

12 minutes of pure, unadulterated, brilliance. Watching the Allman Brothers Band is always a treat, but they brought it to a completely different level for this concluding performance at Crossroads. The solos were that much more inspired, and the band played with some extra fire and oomph that propelled the song to the apex of awesome. Listening to the jam-packed crowd, five hours into the concert, belt out the familiar lyrics like it was the opening song was also spectacular.

Legendary show! And, all for a good cause.

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