Friday, March 17, 2017

Lost in 2017

EDIT: And 24 hours after this posted, we have lost Chuck Berry.

I normally avoid these sorts of stories, but the death of legendary blues harmonica player James Cotton yesterday, following right on the heels of Sister Sledge singer Joni Sledge, forced me to take a look at 2017 so far.

This is not an exhaustive list, but I wantd to raise a glass to these folks in particular, because their music is a part of my personal past and developmental landscape. Fly on, brothers & sisters....

Chuck Berry - One of the inventors of rock-n-roll, Berry released his first single, "Maybellene", on Chess Records in September of 1955 (a year after Elvis released "That's Alright", but 4 months before Elivs had his first #1 hit with "Heartbreak Hotel"), and changed the world. The sax took a back seat in popular music, and the guitar god was born. Rock-n-Roll Hall of Famer, Rolling Stones #5 on their "100 Greatest Artists of All Time" list, composer/performer of the ONLY Rrock-n-roll song on Voyager Spacecraft Gold Record, Grammy Lifetime Achievement and Kennedy Honors...and the list goes on. But all you really need to know are the songs. He was 90.

James Cotton - played harmonica for everyone from Muddy Waters (with whom he won a Grammy in 1977) to Howlin' Wolf and also won a Grammy for his mid-1990s album as well as 10 Blues Music Awards. He was 81.

Joey Alves - original rhythm guitarist for the rock band Y&T, played on their most successful albums and toured during their most active years. He was 62.

Joni Sledge - Co-founder & singer of Sister Sledge, whose song "We Are Family" is still a mainstay in dance clubs. Multiple hits, a Grammy nomination, and world tours, their music is inescapably a part of the cultural tapestry. She was 60.

Al Jarreau - legendary jazz singer who earned 7 Grammy Awards, was a singer on "We Are the World", sang the theme song to the TV show "Moonlighting", produced numerous jazz chart topping albums, and was awarded an honorary doctorate from Berklee School of Music. He was 76.

Larry Coryell - often called the "Godfather of Fusion", he also founded the Guitar Trio with John McLaughlin and Paco DeLucia (he was later repleaced by Al DiMeola), he released over 80 albums as band leader and played on dozens more. He was 73.

Walter "Junie" Morrison - Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame indictee, he was founder, guitarist, & vocalist of the Ohio Players, he went on to become music director for George Clinton's P-Funk during their most influential and successful years. He was 62.

Butch Trucks - founding member of the Grammy winning, Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame inducted legendary rock band The Allman Borthers. He was 69.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Prince's NPG 2017 Tour

The New Power Generation, Prince’s band through the ‘90s and 2000s both live and in the studio, is reuniting.

After playing together at the Prince tribute concert in Minneapolis last October, various members of the collective -- best known for its work on 1991’s Diamonds and Pearls and 1992’s Love Symbol Album -- will play Celebration 2017 at Paisley Park (the four-day tribute to Prince in honor of the one-year anniversary of his death) on April 23. Following that appearance, The New Power Generation will play their own solo show at California's Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center on May 22. More dates in the U.S. and Europe are to come. Tickets for the Redondo Beach show go on sale March 21.

Read it all at BILLBOARD.

Review: "Contemplation" by Alan Robinson

Guitar shredder and master musician  Alan Robinson has released his album "Contemplation"!

This collection of instrumental, guitar-driven progressive rock has everything the shred guitar fan desires...and much more! Gorgeous melodies, inventive lines, beautifully executed & arranged, splendidly composed, loads of harmonic magic, and top-shelf technique fully on display.

The musicians on this album are: Alan Robinson (lead and rhythm guitars; bass, keyboards on "Watermelon Seeds"), James Weeks (bass), Daniel Phelps: (drums; rhythm guitar 2 on "Contemplation"), Beth Dean (keyboards), and Kyle Hall: (drums on "Contemplation").

Alan - a graduate of Berklee School of Music in Boston (he also was awarded his master's in music from EKU) - has put together an incredible collection of music that will engage and inspire not just high-level musicians and guitarists, but (with his emphasis on composing quality and interesting songs) music fans of any particular style. This is what places him above the guitar-hero heap: his desire and ability to compose fascinating songs that stand on their own, not requiring the pyrotechnics to carry them along.

This makes his stunning technical virtuosity all the more amazing, and welcome, when it shows up in spades!

You can listen to clips & purchase the album at CD Baby.

Visit Alan on-line at his Web-Site to learn more about him, hear music, watch videos, enjoy a series of free lessons, sign up for private lessons, and much more!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Music & Your Brain

Can playing a musical instrument make you a genius? Probably not, says Bob Duke, director of the Center for Music Learning at The University of Texas at Austin, but it is giving your brain a great workout.

“Few activities engage the brain like music does,” said Duke, who for 32 years has led classes and national research on music and the brain. “My focus throughout my career has been on learning and human behavior. And because I am a musician, I do that in the context of studying music makers.”

That is why he founded the Center for Music Learning within the Butler School of Music in 2002. The goal of the center is to break down barriers between disciplines by bringing together expert teachers, performers, composers, psychologists, neuroscientists and physiologists.

Read the entire article HERE.

Tonya Kay on Cruelty Free Living

"It's important to rally and campaign and repost on social media, but remember that there is something you can do every day to live in non-violence and harmony. Personal activism takes the power back" - Tonya Kay (award-winning actress and writer, professional dancer, burlesque performer, pole athlete, danger artist, stunt woman, world-traveling conservationist, raw vegan)

My vegan life does not always mesh with the layout of conventional society. Fortunately, I’ve been vegan for 21 years and vegetarian for even longer, so compassionate dead ends aren’t firsts for me and I don’t let living in my world, whether I agree with it or not, get me down…for long.

I remember a nine-year period when I replaced all the leather I owned with “cruelty-free” products. That is, until I realized that man-made plastics manufacturing was destroying potentially more lives of all species through air pollution, water pollution, and manufacturing/landfill-caused habitat destruction than the direct use of animal skin. PLUS the quality of those man-made plastic uppers was so comparatively low, I consumed not one pair of leather tap shoes in 20 years (which is realistic and reasonable), but a new pair of plastic cowgirl boots every six months.

Unfortunate. Sad. Trapped by society. But no longer trapped by inner torment.

I’ve learned to stay conscious and awake in every choice in each moment.

Read the entire article HERE.

Woodsongs Creator Speaks Out on PROs

"Any royalty rate or fee that prevents an artist from reaching the audience has $0 value." - Michael Johnathon (host/creator of Woodsongs Old-time Radio Hour)

America has become a venue starved nation.

Many great venues across America have closed the past couple years. In nearby Louisville alone: the Rudyard Kipling, Jim Porters and several others have shuttered their doors leaving the music public and the artist community in their wake. In Lexington, this hometown recently lost a great venue called Natasha's. I bet you know of many in your area that have disappeared as well.

The world of the arts has changed, my friends. The business model of music has changed. Arts venues can thrive, flourish and make a living for many good folks ... when it's done right. Whenever an arts endeavor launches as a "money enterprise" it is doomed for failure. That sounds anti-capitalistic and I don't mean it that way. My point is the business plans most are using are all wrong.

Read the entire article HERE.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

GUITAR GODS: Nicolas Meier

Nicolas on-stage with Jeff Beck
It's one thing for a musician to say they listen to everything, but its quite a rare thing to actually HEAR such diversity of style in a single artist's catalogue. Fewer still manage to display that diversity in a personal era, or a single album. With Nicolas Meier, you're likely to hear multi-styles executed flawlessly and authentically in a single song.

Nicolas displays a stunning chops skill set matched only by his ability to compose with a depth and breadth that is nothing short of awe-inspiring.

Classical, jazz, rock, Turkish, eastern & middle eastern, flamenco, euro-folk, and much more...all played with a virtuostoic hand and a rock star flair.

Nicolas - who attended Switzerland's prestigious Conservatoire de Fribourg and attended Boston's Berklee College of Music - has written 2 books, appeared on some 20 albums, and toured the world as 2nd guitar in the Jeff Beck Group.

You can visit him on-line at his WEBSITE to learn more, hear music, read the full bio, see/hear video, and much more!

I had a chance to chat with Nicolas recently. Check it out!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Adele To Win Music Biz Award

From Billboard: The Music Business Association (Music Biz) announced on Monday that the British juggernaut will be crowned artist of the year at the upcoming Music Biz 2017 conference.

The singer's third album, 25, has been certified Diamond by the RIAA for selling 10 million copies. She went five for five at last month's Grammy Awards, winning album of the year, record of the year, song of the year, pop vocal album, and pop solo performance.

“Adele is a once-in-a-lifetime talent who has clearly struck an indelible chord with music fans all around the world,” said James Donio, president of Music Biz. "Her accomplishments are unprecedented, from the record-shattering success of 25, to the glowing reviews and sold-out audiences for her massive world tour, to her Emmy-nominated TV special Adele Live in New York City."

Read the rest HERE.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Stage Fright - Banish it Now

You're about to walk on stage, for a talk, a musical or theatrical performance, or similar. And suddenly....

Stage fright has famously effected many people, including Brian Wilson (Beach Boys), Megan Fox, Rhianna,Andre 3000, Katy Perry, Carly Simon, Barbera Streisand, Olympia Dukakis, Maya Angelou, Hugh Grant, Adele, and many others.

Some just suffer through it, struggling their entire careers with it. Some resort, quite famously, to drugs or alcohol or other unhealthy (and only temporarily effective) approaches.

I've seen all manner of articles on conquering stage fright. They offer all manner of advice, from "just get out there more often and you'll get used to it" to "imagine the audience naked" to "you have to address your negative thoughts and realize they aren't realistic" to "imagine positive images" to "visualize success" and many more.

While somewhat helpful, these are all woefully inadequate, ultimately, because they address psychology and ignore physiology.

GUITAR GODS: Cody Wright

Cody Wright: Remember that name. Awesome chops, excellent musicality, superb ear...and on his way up!

Currently playing in guitar master Eric Gales' band, Cody has also played with the likes of Michael Manring, Tommy Emmanuel, Victor Wooten, Stu Hamm, and others, and has received the highest praise from fellows like Greg Howe, Felix Pastorius, and a host of magazines, from Bass Player to Modern Drummer to iBass Magazine.

Cody also teaches via Scott Bass Lessons, and has a solo album coming out later this year. You can check him out on-line at Cody Wright.

I had a chance to chat with Cody recently - check it out!