[musicmonday] Singin’ the Blues

I went to the Rusty Nail for the First time Ever on Tuesday

It just so happens that every Tuesday, and every 1st Saturday at 8pm,  The Rusty Nail hosts a Blues Jam. Having never been to a blues jam before (or the Rusty Nail for that matter), I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. As I crossed the threshold, I walked into a sea of jean and plaid. And none of it was worn ironically. A few people hovered around a pool table at the entrance, and others sat at 6 to 8-top tables tapping their toes in rhythm with the music.

Drunk or not Drunk

My date and I were the youngest people there by a decade or two, and we stuck out like a sore thumb. But nobody seemed to notice or care, so he and I pulled up some chairs and soon felt at ease. “Let’s play a game,” he said, “drunk or not drunk. Starting with the lead singer.” I glanced over at the woman behind the microphone. She was belting her heart out, and doing a mighty fine job of it, too. In between singing, she sipped on her drink and nodded her head with her eyes closed, swaying to the music. “That is a drunk face if I ever saw one,” I said.

Good Vibes

And that is the way this place rolls. People come on Tuesdays – it was pretty crowded – and they check their baggage at the door. They have a few beers and listen to soul-hardy music and they hoot and holler for the musicians (who were all on point regardless of how many beers deep they were). This is not a rough and rowdy crowd. There was not a single feeling of ill will floating around anywhere near that bar. And when we eventually left, the celebration was still going strong.

Some Other Blues Happenings in Wilmington

[musicmonday] Paco Strickland: a Wilmington Legend

lately I’ve been listening to the radio a lot

For such a small town, Wilmington has a number of great radio stations. So many that I can’t fit all of them onto the 6 program slots available on my car stereo. There’s the Oldies station (Jammin 99.9), the Classic Rock station (93.7 The Bone), the Modern Rock station (98.7), the Classic Hits station (94.5 The Hawk), 80s, 90s and today station (Sunny 104.5), the Alternative station (The Penguin 98.3), the Talk station (The Big Talker 93.7). There are also a few hits stations, NPR (which unfortunately just plays classical music all.the.time.), and another rock station or two.

Vacation Town

I think part of the reason we have so many good stations is because we are close to vacation towns Wrightsville Beach and Carolina Beach. And each station seems to know what good music is in their genre. For instance, most Modern Rock stations seem to play way too much Nickelback and Linkin Park and not enough Talking Heads and Smashing Pumpkins. Not so with 98.7. At times they seem to be more of a rock alternative station than a typical modern rock station.

And then there’s Sunny 104.5. Tuning into this station is like having a flashback to high school. And I’m ok with that. The only unfortunate blip on the radio radar in Wilmington is the NPR station. It must be run entirely by unoriginal old folks who think that too much Beethoven is not enough Beethoven. I usually like to tune in to NPR to hear their news programs, not to listen to classical music. Luckily, we also have The Big Talker 93.7. It’s talk radio all the time.

For the most part, Wilmington radio stations rock my socks off. It’s as if they’ve all signed some agreement not to suck. And I’m diggin it.

So I heard some sad news on the radio the other day

Paco Strickland, the host of FLAMENCO CAFE on The Penguin and a Wilmington native renowned Flamenco guitarist, passed away from Multiple Myeloma, a terminal blood cancer.

From his website:

William “Paco” Strickland is one of North America’s few working Flamenco guitarists…Paco’s own passion and love of Flamenco has prompted a dedication to creating an awareness and appreciation of Flamenco Art in the Cape Fear Region.

Paco hosts “Flamenco Cafe” the nation’s only regularly broadcast radio program which is in syndication from the Atlantic Coast to the Hawaiian Islands. In addition, Paco has independently produced seven locally best selling” CDs and has been voted Best Solo Artist by area media for 10 years running. And, Paco scores music for various independent film, video, commercials, and television projects and contributes to local publications.

I am sad to have only just heard of him as they announced his death. The music by him that I’ve listened to so far is inspired and at times incredibly moving. I would have loved to have had the opportunity to see him in concert. But instead, I will have to settle for this video of him on Star News:

[musicmonday] <–look, it’s back! // WERKOUT MIXES

After working on my new Etsy site all morning, I was starting to feel a little lethargic (I’ll be honest, I was still in my PJs at lunchtime). Which is the absolute WORST when you’re trying to accomplish anything.

So I decided to go get on the treadmill.

I grabbed a water bottle, towel and my iPod, then headed out the door toward the little gym provided by my apartment complex. I figured I may as well take advantage of the facilities (however meager) while they’re available to me (did I mention I’m moving in February).

Poor Decisions

I have a mix on my iPod specifically for working out. It’s full of upbeat songs that help me get into a rhythm while I’m running and inspire me when I’m feeling tired. It has about 100 songs on it, and I have to admit, I’ve been getting a little tired of predicting each song as I’m running.

Today I decided to branch out. I put my iPod (which has nearly 12,000 songs on it) on shuffle. This was a poor decision.

It’s never good to settle. Especially when it’s Alkaline Trio.

It started out OK. I warmed up to “Single Again” by Fiery Furnaces, got annoyed with it 30 seconds from the end and landed on a song by The Faint about gang rape. Alright. I can only take so much gang rape in my music. Especially when I’m trying to be superwoman on the treadmill. Switched it one minute in and got “Not Great Men” by Gang of Four. Acceptable. Until it overlapped with a speed increase on the treadmill, but the rhythm of the music stayed the same.

Then it started to get really bad. I shuffled through Miles Davis, Beirut, Appleseed Cast, a slow Beatles song, paused at a Justice song for 30 seconds to see if it would pick up. It never did. Finally, after skipping a dozen different songs, I settled. For Alkaline Trio. I felt so uninspired that I cut my workout sesh short and cooled down to At the Drive-in. Yeah. At the Drive-in.

Moral of the story

Always eat your vegetables. Oh yeah, and I have a workout mix for a reason. Its hand-picked upbeat songs inspire me to work harder and get in rhythm with my footfalls and my breathing. Sometimes it’s not a good idea to stray from methods that work. I’m still in the process of updating my workout mix, but this time, I’m doing it off of the treadmill.

Check out WERKOUT MIX

[musicmonday] Flogging Molly in Charlotte

So last week I went to a Flogging Molly concert.

A few months previously a friend of mine told me she liked Mumford & Sons. It’s hard for me to hate on them because I’ve never really listened to their music, but she played me a few of their songs and explained that she loved their “folky sound”. She also mentioned that she loved their accents and accordion. “Laura,” I said, “I know a band you should listen to.” Two months later I drove up to Charlotte, NC and we went to see them live at the Fillmore (for only $25 I might add).

Before the concert, we indulged in Irish cuisine and Harp (because I didn’t want to sip on Guinness all night) at Ri Ra Irish Pub. If you like lamb, get the Irish Stew. You’d be doing yourself a disservice getting anything else, although the Bistro salad was also delicious.

Flogging Molly Live in Charlotte, NCWe got to the venue just in time to see the last song or two of the opener, and squeezed into the center of a packed house. Even though it was a Sunday night, the place was crammed full of concert-goers. Mostly the good kind, too – you know, the ones that are always holding a beer, wearing a big green hat, and grinning ear-to-ear as they bounce back and forth in the crowd. As I’m sure you can imagine, Flogging Molly is an awesome band to see live. Lead singer Dave King tells entertaining stories about their songs and has a great camaraderie with the crowd. You can tell everyone onstage is really enjoying being there, and all of their songs have such upbeat, dance-and-sing-your-heart-out rhythms that it’s hard not to enjoy yourself.

Flogging Molly in Concert in Charlotte, NCAt the end of the night, amidst chants of “Olé, Olé, Olé, Oléee” the band came back for an encore and played a cover of Bob Dylan’s “The Times Are a-Changin”. Check out the video below.

On the way home, Laura and I snagged a cab with another guy headed our way. The cabbie had house music playing, so, naturally, I started beat-boxing (or trying to, anyway), and our new friend tried his hand at freestyling. “I don’t think any of that rhymed,” I told him. “Was it supposed to?” he asked.

Flogging Molly Concert in Charlotte Feb 26

[musicmonday] Music Video Collaboration

Hey guys, I did hair, makeup and costumes for this music video! Check it out.

Chieftain (Austin Hafer) is a friend of mine with whom I worked on Edge of the Woods back in January. Kelsey Kopecky is a wonderful singer/songwriter of The Kopecky Family Band and Feather and Belle.

The rest of the crew included several other people that I worked with on EOTW:

Director/Cinematographer/Post Production – Ben Walter
Production Manager – Andrew Callicott
Set Decoration – Taylor Glazier
Prop Manager – Julius Amaker
Key Grip/Still Photographer – Max Ridgeway
Grip – John Thomy
1st Team Assistant – Caroline Hafer

THE VIDEO CAME TOGETHER BEAUTIFULLY, and I am very pleased and impressed with the result! The song has a mellow, smooth vibe reminiscent of The XX (who I wrote about a few months ago btw). The full album will be out soon on iTunes.

It was a pleasure working with everyone, and I hope we get to work together again soon. Chances are, I’ll be seeing several of them on this project.

[musicmonday] Farewell DJ Mehdi, Hello new CYHSY

This week we have some sad news and some good news. First, the sad news: last Tuesday French electronic music producer, DJ Mehdi of Ed Banger Records (the label that signed French electronic music duo Justice), died after a skylight in the roof of his Paris apartment collapsed during a birthday party he was hosting for a friend, plummeting him and 3 friends two stories below.

DJ Mehdi was most known for remixing songs by Miike Snow and Architecture in Helsinki, among others, as well as for his popular singles Lucky Boy, and I am Somebody (which was actually featured on an XM commercial). Check out this sweet video below.

 

The good news is, however, that indie rock band Clap Your Hands Say Yeah has finally produced a third album, Hysterical (after the title track). It’s officially on the shelves tomorrow, but NPR has done a “first listen” so you can check it out here. Their last album, Some Loud Thunder, was released in 2007 and failed to impress. I’ll be honest, I am a huge fan of their first, self-titled album, which came out in 2005, and was incredibly disappointed by their sophomore attempt. It replaced the happy, upbeat “get up and dance” feel of the first album with a more downbeat, minor-chords-heavy, and at times discordant sound. I found it difficult to sit through – though admittedly that might have been partly because of the extremely high expectations I had of their work.

Now on to their third album…four years later. NPR writer Bob Boilen claims this album marks a point in the CYHSY history – that the band has officially “grown up”. After listening through the album, I think he means their sound has developed into something smoother, polished, and more mainstream. If you ask me, this is not necessarily a good thing. What was so charming about CYHSY was their complete and utter lack of sophistication. We loved the pitchy wailing of singer Alec Ounsworth, and the dance-your-heart-out beats. The new CYHSY is not bad, they’re just different. But then, it has been 4 years since their last album, and Ounsworth has even released a solo album since then, Mo Beauty.

I suppose it’s hard to see one of your favorite bands evolve, but I’m mostly just glad they’re still together and producing music. Also planning to listen through their new album a few more times and see if it’ll grow on me.

[musicmonday] Everybody loves Zelda

So I’m taking a break from writing about my travels to regale you with some pretty damn sweet music, all related to Zelda’s Ocarina of Time. The first, Flyrule, I actually found trying to locate my brother’s bandcamp site. And I’ve listened to it about 30 times all the way through since I found it. The artist describes himself as “an 18 year old university student who likes to make beats!”
Contact him at: garsidetogo@gmail.com

On that website, the musician references another Ocarina of Time project, The Ocarina of Rhyme, which is a compilation of Zelda mash-ups with rap songs. Have a listen below.

http://8tracks.com/mixes/13941/player_v3

In searching for that last one, I found that there is apparently another Ocarina of Rhyme, except that this one seems to have only original content. I’m not really sure how I feel about this one, but here’s the link regardless:

[musicmonday] Youtube Sensations: why this shirtless accordionist makes me feel like a preteen fangirl

Everyone knows the Youtube Success story – from the big ones like Justin Bieber to the lesser known ones like Darren Criss (A Very Potter Musical, Glee), it seems like everyone and their mom finds fame on the video streaming site.

Recently, I have happened upon (or been recommended) a few people in particular. When you work in a store in a metro station obviously you are going to want something to drown out the noise of the metro cars, construction, and inevitable fights between homeless people. So I would just pull up Youtube, type in something along the lines of “classical playlist” or “piano music” etc to find some mellow music that everybody could enjoy.

One particular day, I searched “acoustic guitar” and came across an amazing Russian guitarist who has done a number of incredible jazzy covers of popular songs. He’s been playing guitar for over 35 years, and it definitely shows. His cover of “Beat It” alone has over 4 million views on Youtube. Definitely worth a listen or twelve.

Igor Presnyakov:

Another day, I searched “accordion music”. Amidst the street performers, “how to play…” vids, and slightly geeky looking teenagers, I found this guy. Actually, somebody had put him on a playlist of accordion music and at one point, I turned from the counter to look at the screen, and I see this rumpled, shirtless guy (“long-haired hippie” as my dad would say) sitting on an equally rumpled bed bobbing his head along to the music coming from the accordion propped in his lap. My first reaction was to laugh because it was just so unexpected. Accordions are for 65 year old men with big mustaches and weird clothes that probably smell, right? Not beautiful young, half-clothed British men. This complete contradiction and the fact that not only was he playing accordion, but he was playing it well (one of his Amélie covers has over 2 million hits on Youtube), forced me to look into this phenomenon.

I was surprised to find…practically nothing. This “Dave Thomas” character has no background information listed aside from his age and place of birth. His bio is extremely vague and mentions only things we already know (he has a youtube account and has covered a lot of Yann Tierson songs) and that he’d like to start a solo career. OK, maybe you want to be an international man of mystery, Dave, but your fans would love to know something real about you. Or maybe you are just a robot that adopted the name of Wendy’s founder, or another lonelygirl15 scam? Either way, your music is awesome so at least you’re doing something right. Although, in light of the recent “Bieber Secrets” scandal, I suppose I can understand the desire for anonymity.

A couple other great musical videos suggested by friends:

“Merton”

Matt Dahlberg

[musicmonday] How to be a Barfly

A few weeks ago, some friends and I were wandering down St. Laurent trying to decide where to go to grab a drink (or two) and enjoy some good music. We had shared a pitcher of Sangria earlier that evening and my bladder was rebelling. I was practically skipping down the sidewalk as my friends trailed behind me. So, naturally the first bar that looked like they wouldn’t refuse if I waltzed in and used their bathroom was where my feet led me.

Barfly Montreal Blues BarThis bar in particular had a small stoop with a couple people leaned against it – really it looked more like the entrance to somebody’s house than to a bar. It was called BarFly. As I ran in, I rushed past a pool table, a few bar-height tables, the bar on the right, and the blues band in the back left. Everyone in the bar was intently listening to the band, tapping their feet and nodding their heads.

I dashed into the toilet stall. When I emerged, I was able to take in more of the atmosphere: homey, welcoming, casual, cool. I was about to head to the door when I realized my friends were sitting at the bar, drinks in their hands, “this place seems pretty cool, I think we should stay here,” my friend said.

Barfly Montreal Blues BarI climbed onto a barstool and ordered a Boreale Blanche, the beer that has become my usual choice (did I mention that I love Canadian beers?). Since we were seated at the end of the bar, we had front row seats to a hoppin 3-man blues band – piano, drum kit, banjo, harmonica and all! Of course they looked like they came straight out of the country – slicked-back hair, suspenders, the pianist had on a cowboy hat and I believe a brown trench. It was pretty slick to say the least.

Later, we all got up and did some swing dancing in the very small space between the bar and the stage. When we left our moods had significantly lifted and headed home feeling happy and relaxed.

[musicmonday] So you’re stranded on an island…

This past Sunday/Monday I went camping in New Hampshire with a friend. We also hiked Mount Washington. For those of you who don’t know, Mount Washington is the highest peak in the Northeastern United States – 6,288 ft (1,917 m). Don’t worry, I hadn’t even heard of it until two weeks ago. If you wanna know more about the climb and the camping trip, check back thurs/friday for the Travel Thursday entry.

What does this have to do with music, you ask? Well, as you can imagine, it takes a while to hike that big of a mountain – it took us about 4 1/2 hours. What did we do in those 4 1/2 hours? Well, we played ‘brain games’ of course! You know, the speed-dating-esque questions you use to get to know somebody without asking about what they do for a living. Among the questions we discussed were included “If you were stranded on an island, what five celebrities (dead or alive) would you bring with you?” (Daniel Tosh, Steve Irwin, Queen Latifah, Oscar Wilde, and Sean Connery in case you were wondering) as well as “If you could only take five bands/musicians with you to that same island, who would they be and why?” Here is my answer to that question:

Also, just a note, these are not necessarily my all-time favorite bands/musicians, but just what I consider to be an interesting mix of incredible music that would help prevent boredom should I be stranded on a desert island for the rest of my days.

1) The Beatles
This is an obvious choice, I know, but they’re the first band that comes to mind for a reason: they’re damn brilliant. On top of that, they have a huuuuge and varied body of work so it would be hard to get bored with them. I also find they’re the one band I can listen to no matter what mood I’m in. I love singing their songs, I love air guitaring their songs, I love how simple some of their songs are and the complexity of others. Or maybe I just really love Octopus Garden.

2) David Bowie
I chose David Bowie because I love dancing, I love singing, and I love his music. I mean really, how can you not love Bowie? I love how dramatic his singing can be, and I would definitely need something funky and upbeat for the days when I’m feeling down.

3) Cake
For something a little more contemporary. And because I love how cheeky they are, and how cheeky John McCrea’s singing/talking/rapping is. Plus they did a stellar cover of “I Will Survive.” This for the days I am feeling negative. Anyway, who doesn’t love a little bit of brass in their rock?

4) Talking Heads
How could I not take the Talking Heads? They’re just so deliciously weird. And I have to say that Psycho Killer is one of my all-time favorite songs. Again, a huge body of work, so lots not to tire of. Plus there’re some songs of theirs that I still find a bit discordant – plenty of time to grow to love all of their work, right (or at least learn to appreciate it)?

5) BB King
Sorry, but I gotta bring some blues with me to the desert island! I’ll admit, I was debating between BB King and Jimi Hendrix, but in the end, I decided BB King would provide more of a contrast to the artists I chose above. And besides, it’s always a good day for blues. Besides, what better to air-guitar to than the best blues guitarist in history?

So, who would you take? Leave a note in the comments!