[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.


[musicmonday] Keren Ann’s Trumpet Player

Before I begin, I just want to apologize for the tardiness of this post. I went to see Keren Ann at the Montreal Jazz Festival (more on that next week) this past Monday night. I had intended to write about her for Music Monday – you know, do what I usually do, write the post a day late and then pre-date it – but instead I got tied up with my sewing lessons (naturally, I thought I could pull a few strings and get everything done, but I was stretched in every direction and there wasn’t a thread I could grasp). Regardless, I didn’t get the post done in time, and for that I apologize.

BUT you should have seen them! Keren Ann and her two musicians came to two guitars (an electric, and an acoustic electric) and a trumpet, but if you closed your eyes and just listened, you would have thought they had more instruments than the Arcade Fire (okay, maybe not that many, but you get the point). Never have I heard such smooth, heartfelt music. The two guitars complimented each other, and the trumpet stood out when needed, but mostly blended pleasantly into the background, providing depth to the music and, through the use of an effects peddle and mute, emitting sounds I never knew could come from a brass instrument. I was not the only one who appreciated the incredible skill of Keren Ann’s trumpeter (whose name I have been unable to find). The bearded man (who, disregarding the beard, I think looked a lot like Matt Smith) received resounding applause after some particularly poignant solos, and he smiled shyly at the crowd, unwillingly to flaunt his talent. Keren Ann, for her part, graciously shared the stage with her two backing musicians, applauding both of them herself and even giving them center stage for their solos. It was an incredible experience watching the three of them work together – worth every penny I paid of the reasonably low $32. And at the end of the night, the crowd responded – giving them not one, not two, but three standing ovations – one after their initial performance, one after their encore, and one more after Keren Ann had l’Astral (the venue) turn off all the lights in the place and she sang a Capella into the mic for her final chanson. It was a magnificent performance.

Now that I’ve finished my rant on how incredible Keren Ann and her band was, I should mention the opener. Chris Garneau “just got here 25 minutes ago from Los Angeles” he told us, after jumping right into his emotional performance on the piano, “I’m sweaty…and don’t really know what to play.” Someone from the crowd interrupted him, “You’re incredible!” a few others chimed in, “You’re amazing!” “Beautiful!” This sums up the crowd’s general feeling towards Chris. He walked on stage wearing a brown ribbed tank top, looking disheveled and a little lost, but the moment his fingers touched the keys of the shiny black Yamaha Grand, we were in for a treat – I knew it, and so did everyone else. With a voice reminiscent of Colin Meloy of the Decembrists, Chris sang about lost love and serial killers, and the audience lost themselves in his performance. I was fortunate enough to sit where I could see his fingers on the keys, and I felt hypnotized by them throughout his performance. Every person in the room was disappointed when Chris Garneau left the stage, but then, as he said, we got an incredible replacement: “The Beautiful Keren Ann”.

See Chris Garneau’s whimsical Ocarina of Time-esque video, “Fireflies” below, as well as a live version of “Hands on the Radio” and pictures from the concert I saw on Monday.

[musicmonday] Pop Music: Is it ever OK?

I have to admit, I’m not a huge fan of pop music. Yeah, some of it can be rather fun to dance with, and I seem to end up learning all the lyrics without trying (must be because of their complexity, right?), but I find pop songs to be generally lacking in substance. That said, you do have to hand it to the writers – they’ve managed to create something so infectious that the masses can’t help but bop their heads along to the beat and maybe even develop massive crushes on teen-aged singers (who, me?) who are otherwise quite ordinary people (disregarding their fashion choices and ability to shake it like a salt shaker).

In any case, I think we can all agree that there is music out there with much more soul than Lady Gaga’s Paparazzi or Justin Bieber’s Baby; HOWEVER, last week a song came out that I just could not ignore: Last Friday Night (TGIF), by Katy Perry. I know, I know, it’s not much different from the aforementioned examples of soulless, life-sucking pop songs, so how is it better? I’m so glad you asked! Remember that god-awful auto-tuned-out-to-wazoo Youtube song Friday that turned poor 13 year old Rebecca Black into the laughingstock of the internetz, spiraling her into a realm of fame I don’t completely understand and reinforcing the idea that “any publicity is good publicity”?  Yeah, well, guess where it landed her? Yep, in Katy Perry’s music video, as well as in the world in which Katy created for her alternate personality – Kathy Beth Terry.

In this new world, Rebecca Black is the coolest preteen on the block, and Kathy Beth is a headgear-sporting, glasses wearing nerd whose interests include Sudoku, her model of the solar system, and drooling over the hot jock in her class. One night, Kathy Beth is working hard on a Sudoku puzzle, when she is interrupted by the noise coming from across the street – Rebecca Black’s house. Watch the vid below to see what happens next!

This video also appeals to me because of all the 80s/90s cameos and style featured. See if you can spot all the celebs!

[musicmonday] Feeling…Cheeky?

Ok, so I’ve decided to start a new Monday trend on my blog: Music Mondays! This week, I’ve created a playlist of 25 songs that I would consider “cheeky”. Click “pop-out playlist” below to listen in! Feel free to throw in your own suggestions in the comments. Also, here’s the music video of “North American Scum” by LCD Soundsystem because they are awesome. And cheeky.

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

Join the Movement

So one of the many things I’ve been doing here in chilly-but-sunny Montreal is acting as promo-girl and photographer for Movement Travel, a nightlife electronic tour company started by my friends Zeina and Michael (pictured at left).

You can see some of the pics taken in the gallery below. These pictures are from Feb 19th, one of our largest tours so far! The company was officially launched late last year (yes, during the winter!) and began collaborating with Montreal Central, providing their guests with weekly Thursday tours. We are now working Saturday nights with the largest hostel in the city – Hosteling International Montreal, with plans to expand to other hotels and guest services in the city. We also are looking at the possibility of daytime themed tours. So, why start a company in the wintertime that depends on tourists for business? Well, Zeina and Michael explained that it is the best time to hone your business and figure out exactly what your clients want and need. By the time summer comes around, we’ll be ready to handle very large groups, and will have the routine down-pat. I know I’m excited about the summer!