Your Weekly Weekend Music Mix | 8/8/14 [MUSIC NEWS]

KILLER COVER: STEVE’N’SEAGULLS COVERS AC/DC

This cover is great. Steve’n’Seagulls. I don’t know much about this band. And their Facebook  page  doesn’t really help me either … it’s in a foreign language!!! … but their cover of hillbilly/folk cover of AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” is internet gold.

MUSIC INSTA-BABE: SHANNON BEX

So, I just read that females pop/R&B group Danity Kane has broken up again. Though many of the people are more partial to either Dawn Richard’s slender figure of Aubrey O’Day’s curvy features, I’ve always been partial to Shannon Bex. Unfortunately, Shannon is married, but that doesn’t mean we can’t ogle her on her social media profiles.Why don’t you follow here, and there other members of Danity Kane (I’m assuming that following their band profile won’t do you any good). : @Shannon_Bex.

BEST MIX TAPE OF THE SUMMER

I haven’t see the movie yet, but the soundtrack of “Guardians of the Galaxy” is terrific. Quite possibly, the best soundtrack/mix tape of the year.

For your easy reference for the video above:

00:00 Hooked On A Feeling – Blue Swede
02:52 Go All The Way – Raspberries
06:13 Spirit In The Sky Norman – Greenbaum
10:16 Moonage Daydream – David Bowie
14:57 Fooled Around And Fell In – Elvin Bishop
19:33 I’m Not In Love – 10cc
25:36 I Want You Back – Jackson 5
28:35 Come And Get Your Love – Redbone
32:02 Cherry Bomb – The Runaways
34:20 Escape (The Pina Colada – Rupert Holmes
38:57 O-O-H Child The Five – Stairsteps
42:11 Ain’t No Mountain High Enough – Marvin Gaye , Tammi Terrell

THE WORST USE OF HIP HOP IN A CAR COMMERCIAL

Hip-hop has been used to sell a lot of products over the years, but we’ve come a long way from Eminem’s Chrysler commercial. Toyota made a commerical for the Sienna line, and …. it … is … just … terrible. I hope that Busta got paid a a nice penny for being a part of it.

MUSIC NEWS/STUFF YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT

Tom Petty scores his first-ever No. 1 album with “Hypnotic Eye”. It’s about damn time, Tom! lol.

I’m a music attorney, so I’m pretty familiar with the difference types of income that come in from the exploitation of a sound recording. Billboard.com put together a pretty nifty “cheat sheet” to help you musicians navigate the basics.

I’m not going to Outside Lands, but if I were, I would pick up a bunch of the stamps they are selling at the music festival. Why? Because they will debuting Janis Joplin Forever Stamps! Don’t worry about me though … I have friends in low places.

It sucks when musicians, who are trying to speak out on important social matters, get the assaulted for speaking their mind. Apparently, Blood Orange’s Dev Hynes was assaulted by Lollapalooza security guards after speaking out about police brutality. From having his apartment burn down, to getting beaten up by guards that are supposed to be there to protect him, I feel bad for the dude.

Your Weekly Weekend Music Mix | 6/6/14

 MUSIC INSTA-BABE: Rita Ora

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Rita Ora is a British singer-songwriter who released her first album in 2012 and is currently featured on Iggy Azalea’s song “Black Widow” from the chart-topping album “The New Classic”. She is currently signed to Roc Nation and one can hope that a follow up album is forthcoming. Rita Ora is a babe. You should follow her on Instagram @RitaOra. And fellas … she’s newly single too!

KILLER COVER: Depeche Mode’s Dave Gahan Covers Joy Division

I’m a huge Depeche Mode Fan. When I found this cover of Dave Gahan covering the Joy Division classic “Love Will Tear Us Apart” I lost my shit. Terrific cover.

Marvin Gaye Doesn’t Need Instrumental Accompaniment

The video below is a just the vocal feed of live performance. Who says you need instruments to sound good. This video proves that if you can sing …. you can sing. The first few seconds are silent (it’s just the vocal feed, so you can’t hear the introductory instrumentation. For your auditory pleasure, the a cappella track of Marvin Gaye singing “I Heard It Through The Grapevine”. You’re welcome.

MUSIC NEWS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT

It’s been quite an eventful week for the Beastie Boys. Earlier in the week, in a very classy and moving tribute, the Beastie Boys announced that they will no longer record new music after the death of Adam Yauch pka “MCA”. On Thursday, a jury in New York’s Federal Court found that Monster Energy violated the Beastie Boys’ copyright and now has to pay out a $1.7 Million judgement. I guess this case is proof that a one word email of “Dope” can’t constitutes a sufficient meeting of the minds for contractual purposes. LOL.

New video of Justin Bieber singing racist lyrics to one of his songs surfaces, and all I can do is shake my head in disgust. How many second chances do you give a kid who seems to have a sense of entitlement? Personally, I’m just tired of it.

Chris Brown was recently release from prison after serving part of a one-year sentence for violating his probation. He has vowed to change his ways. Personally, I hope that he’s being sincere about his proclamation. I like his music, and he needs to keep his ass clean and stay out of trouble and just make good music.

Pharrell announces that the new album he’s working on with Snoop will win Snoop a Grammy. He even went as far as to say that the album he’s producing for Snoop is even better than his own latest effort. If that ain’t high praise, I don’t know what is.

BECAUSE IT’S AMAZING

This 8 year old from Norway is AMAZING. Angelina Jordan got her “start” performing on (and winning) Norway’s Got Talent. She has a voice that is beyond her years, and it blows me away every time I hear her sing. Ugh. Simply marvelous. If her voice impresses you as much as it does me, you really need to follow her on Facebook and check out her other videos.

365 Songs in 365 Days: A Woman’s Commitment To Sing

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I feel like I do a good job at picking friends whose passion for music is as strong as, or greater than, mine. In fact, for some of them, the music is actually in their blood. Literally.

Tina Watkins is a friend of mine since elementary school (her brother was in my 6th grade class). I remember going to her parent’s house and hanging out in their home recording studio. It wasn’t until years later that I discovered that Tina’s mother was a member of The Sylvers; a very popular  R&B/soul and disco group during the 1970s who released 11 albums between 1972 – 1984. Let me assure you, she got the music genes in the family.

Earlier this year, sometime in March, she posted a youtube video wherein she proclaimed that she was going to try her best to sing one song for every day of the year: 365 songs in 365 days. Whether with instrumental backing or a cappella, in her kitchen or in the car, by herself or with friends, armed with only the video in her phone, she’s been religiously knocking them out.

I caught up with her to find out what motivate her to do this project. Here’s what she had to say:

MMM14: For those who don’t know you, who are you and why did you start this 365 songs in 365 days project?

TINA: Well, like I told my dad- It’s good for goodness’ sake. He loves watching them. I’m a writer, fiancée, friend, daughter, sister, dog/ cat/ turtle parent, cook, fashion designer, artist and community activist. I work to make the world a better place, one day, one song, one smile, one act of kindness at a time.

One Monday night in March I was singing my heart out in the shower (happens often) and just didn’t feel like stopping. I was having fun. And I thought, why should I stop, and why shouldn’t I share?

My promise to me is to share a song a day: If even one person enjoys it then I’ve spread some joy. And that’s a good thing. I started the next morning.

MMM14:  What’s your background in music (lessons, projects, musicals, etcs)?

TINA: According to my mom I started singing at age four. In harmony. Singing in public used to terrify me, so about 15 years were spent in groups (choir/ a cappella/ girl bands etc.) The more voices I could hide behind the better. I remember singing with you in Chadwick’s a cappella group Ted led for a while, you have an amazing voice.

MMM14: <blushes>

TINA: At Occidental college I studied opera for a couple years under voice scholarship. More than anything else, my learning came through blending in harmony with different female vocalists (Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington, India Arie, Mariah Carey, Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Christina Aguilera, Sade, Jill Scott.)

Believe it or not I’ve written more than a hundred songs, but most have never seen the light of day (thank goodness- a lot of them were awful).

MMM14: Do you have the songs already planned out? Do you take requests? What are you planning as a last song?

TINA: Nope. Maybe. No idea.

Honestly, there’s no plan at all. All I’ve committed is not to spend too much time on them. Which is hard because it’s such fun and I’m a perfectionist. From the moment I begin thinking about the song for the day to when it’s posted takes around 15 minutes every day. I’ve made up some of them as I sang.

It’s especially challenging when it’s been a hard day because that comes out in my singing. Being authentically joyful really is a choice and this has reminded me every day to choose happiness and share that.

I’m looking forward to seeing how far I can get without having to learn new songs. So if a request happens to be a song I already know I’ve taken it. I’m getting married this year also, so seeing how this fits around my life is fun.

No idea what the last song will be… Maybe something original. Something with interpretive dance (insert evil laugh). Something fun. Something good.

I don’t think she has to worry about what song she sings (even if she makes it up, which she’s done on occasion). Odds are it will be something fun … definitely good.

Other people have tried doing this as well. Some with professional production, and fancy cameras, but Tina’s endeavor proves that the joy of singing really doesn’t need fancy production. With technology being what it is today, you can use your phone to record video and share you passion or joy with whoever is willing to listen. Ah, the joy of singing.

Here are some of my favorites. Follow her  Youtube account to see what else she decides to post.

As an added bonus, another youtuber “remixed” her a cappella performance of Anita Baker’s “Sweet Love”. See, the Internet can be fun!

 

 

Jose James | The Del Monte Speakeasy | 3/13/13

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Earlier this year, a friend of mine posted a video clip on Facebook of a performance by a singer named Jose James. I liked what I heard, and started googling him and his music.  When I stumbled upon his amazing cover of Freestyle Fellowship’s “Park Bench People”, I nearly lost my mind.  I mean, I grew up with “Innercity Griots”, and I have always preached how that that album is in my top 10 list of best and most influential hip-hop albums of all time.  What made that album so groundbreaking was how it pushed the limits of hip-hop (at the time), thematically and musically, especially using live jazz instrumentation, courtesy of members from The Underground Railroad (I even got to meet Onaje Murray– who kills it on Freestyle Fellowship’s version of “Park Bench People” in high school once, but that’s another story).  Needless to say, I was feeling what Jose James was doing with his music and the fact that he picked one of my favorite hip-hop songs to cover earned him some mad respect.

While I was watching some of the video clips on Youtube, I noticed that Youtube had a tiny little caption in the video description that showed where he would be performing in Los Angeles next.  I clicked through the link trying to see how much the tickets were, but apparently the show had sold out. Apparently, it was a KCRW promoted concert, and to my dismay, they had just featured Jose the day before, and tickets for the show sold out immediately. Slightly disheartened, I simply “liked” Jose’s Facebook page for updates on when he’d be in town in the future.

Facebook.  Some people can’t stand it.  I can’t live without it. About a week after trying to get tickets, I get a notice on FB that a second show had been added.  I logged on and purchased tickets.  FYI, the ticket for this second show also sold out. Thank you, Facebook.

It had been a tough couple weeks leading up to the show.  Work had been overwhelming, and it seemed that everybody I was working with was heading to South By Southwest to work on various projects. I’ve never been to SXSW, so I was a bit envious.  But since everyone was in Austin, TX for the music festival,  I got a little reprieve from phone calls and emails to enjoy myself for the evening.

When I got to the venue, I picked up my wristband and got stamped at the door. The performance venue was downstairs in a dark basement with low a ceiling. My guest and I roamed the venue looking for a good place to stand, and we ended up basically where we started off, by the entrance, close to the stage right.  The show was scheduled to start at 10pm, but the bouncer at the top of the stairs told me that he started around 11 the night before.

The later it got, the smaller our little space got.  People kept filing in, and the temperature of the room started rising.  You could feel it. Note to self: bring a small handheld fan for the next show I attend there.  The air-conditioning was on (so says the venue), but you couldn’t tell.

A blurry shot of Jose and Takuya.
A blurry shot of Jose and Takuya.

Close to 11:00pm, the band the took the stage. One by one, the band members took the stage. Kris Bowers (keyboards)Solomon Dorsey (bass)Takuya Kuroda (trumpet) and Richard Spaven (drums).  Each member introduced themselves to the audience through solos, and after a good 10 minutes of jazz instrumentals, Jose joined them on stage to sing “It’s All Over Your Body”, the first track of off his latest album .  That song is about 5 and a half minutes long, but they jammed out for at least 10 minutes. It seemed to me that the audience truly understood the musicality of the gentlemen on stage. Each of them was truly skilled at their respective craft.

The room was getting hotter and hotter, and if you came in wearing a jacket or a sweater, you weren’t wearing it anymore. You could feel the the body heat coming off of the person standing next to you. You would think that the temperature would be unbearable, but no. Girls were shouting out Jose’s name with each line he sang, and bodies were swaying to the rhythm.  If anything, people were sneakily pushing their way towards the stage, immersing themselves in the sweltering heat.  The music was that good.  No one wanted too leave their spot (at least where I was standing).

Another blurry shot of Takuya.
Another blurry shot of Takuya.

Jose has preached his musical root as being set in Jazz.  He’s a tremendous “classic” jazz vocalist, as his duet album with Jef Neve, titled “For All We Know”, clearly showcases, but his talent and stylings are so much more that traditional jazz.  Like Freestyle Fellowship, he takes a genre and stretches its boundaries.

People have compared vocals to D’Angelo and Bill Withers.  People say that he evokes the 70’s soul of Gil Scott Heron. As cliched as it sounds, he’s Jose James.  His performance showed me that he is his own style … meaning, if you heard his voice on the radio, you’d probably be able to tell that it’s him and not some other singer.

I usually try to take video clips of a handful of songs of the concert I go to, but after the show I realized that I had only taken clips of three songs.  It was the kind of show where you didn’t want to watch it from the tiny screen of a cell phone.  I was no more than 15 feet from the stage.  I was going to soak it all in with my own eyes.  Luckily, the three videos that I did take were of some of the highlight I took away from the show.

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I had seen Robert Glasper earlier this year, and it just so happened that the music of “Vanguard”, one of my favorite songs off the album, was written by him. Jose wrote the lyrics.  Great song. 

Jose covered Bill Wither’s “Ain’t No Sunshine”.  A great song.  A great voice. 

It was 1am when Jose closed his set with “Do You Feel”, and people started to leave. It’s almost understandable. Almost. After all, it was a Wednesday, and people have 9-5 jobs.  The show was already over 2 hours. I, technically, have a 9-5 job. BUT he hadn’t played “Park Bench People” yet.

After a bit of cajoling from the faithful who moved forward to take up the space from those who couldn’t hang, Jose came on stage and started to sing a cappella a Marvin Gaye medley of “What’s Going On” and “Mercy Mercy Me”.  What he did with the medley blew my mind.  The voice is an instrument, but what he did with his instrument left me amazed. He became the human record player, scatting lines making it sound like a DJ was spinning records.

“What’s Going On” and “Mercy Mercy Me”, with their strong social commentary, segued brilliantly into “Park Bench People”, a song about the ravages of homelessness. He continued the scat passages of “Park Bench People” like he did with the medley and made those songs … for lack of more poetic words … his bitch.  He took a song that I already loved, and left me amazed with his performance.  Close to 1:30am, Jose and the band wrapped it up. 

IMG_0339I was able to tell  Jose before I left that I was amazed by his set, and that there was nothing I appreciated more in the world than good music, but upon retrospect the concert itself was a one of a kind experience.  To experience that kind of musicianship, in that venue, with the heat, and skin, and vibe, excitement, and movement … Before I left him and his band alone, I was able to get Jose and Takuya autograph my 12” single of “Park Bench People”. IMG_0337

They say that listening to good music is like having sex. On March 13, 2013, in the crowded, sweltering basement of the Del Monte Speakeasy in Venice Beach, I left a concert drenched in my own sweat (and probably the sweat of others), my feet and legs aching from the physical exertion of standing for over two hours. I was physically and emotionally spent, but absolutely in awe of the performance that I was lucky enough to catch. When I got to my car, I sat there smoking a cigarette just to relax for a moment.

Yeah … I needed it.

Autographed 12" single of "Park Bench People".  #Treasure
Autographed 12″ single of “Park Bench People”. If you want to see some other music treasure I’ve collected, click through this link.