Music Night, August the very first, 2014

This is London Grammar, a relatively new group from (surprisingly) England. I find Hannah Reid’s voice haunting and quietly fierce. I hear echoes in the band’s music of people like Jeff Buckley, Julie Driscoll and even Cat Stevens–which resonate with me on a deep level. Your mileage may vary, but even if you don’t mesh with their music, please at least watch the videos which are fascinating bits of art. Particularly take a shot at the first and watch it all the way through. And then maybe the second video which is strange indeed. Hurray for young unfettered artists.

Music Night, July 18, 2014

Choosing the musician to highlight this time was, unfortunately, too easy. Johnny Winter died yesterday at the age of 70. The man was one of the most incredible guitar players ever, and a brilliant bluesman. He also had a perfect voice for the blues.

Music Night, June 6, 2014

These guys were a lot of fun back in the 60s, as The Turtles and with Frank Zappa. The two songs fused together in this video make a nice set because the latter was actually a gag song taking a slap at their label for constantly demanding another Top 40 hit. And that’s what the song turned out to be.

Music Night, May 23, 2014

I think I missed a Music Night two weeks ago. Sorry! I think I relaxed too much on vacation and drank too much and ate too much awesome Southern cooking… At any rate, this video is a little unorthodox. It’s an ice cream ad, which is one thing. It’s eight minutes long, which is another. And it’s a very sweet love story. The young woman with the short hair is Phoebe Neidhardt and once upon a time she played Lucy to my son’s Linus in high school. You can’t tell from this but she’s got lungs of leather.

Music Night, April 25, 2014

About the time this posts on Friday, I will be wandering through the airport in Atlanta looking for food and a drink, ready for a week of, um, eating and drinking. And a baseball game. In my honor I’m posting a video from an Atlanta garage rock band.  I’ll probably forget to notice that it is 6:00 pm and the Music Night post is up.

Music Night, March 28, 2014

Alex Chilton (December 28, 1950 – March 17, 2010) first swam into my consciousness in 1967 as the lead singer of the Box Tops, part of the blue-eyed soul singer wave. In the early 70s he was a founding member and lead singer of Big Star, a hugely influential powerpop band that withered without any decent support from their record company but reached cult status over time.

From Wikipedia: Before it broke up, Big Star created a “seminal body of work that never stopped inspiring succeeding generations” in the words of Rolling Stone, as the “quintessential American power pop band” and “one of the most mythic and influential cult acts in all of rock & roll”.

Alex Chilton died at age 59 of a heart attack. He’d experienced symptoms for weeks beforehand but, hey, no health insurance so not doctor visits. Four years later, with the ACA, he might well have survived.

Music Night, March 14, 2014 More about backup singers

Ok, I’ll admit, I love Nashville (the tv show), not because it’s a dopey soap and not just because Connie Britton. Well, maybe it is Connie. At any rate, this week’s episode had one of the minor characters auditioning as a backup singer–pretty girl with a pretty voice. Sweet. And, thanks to 20 Feet From Stardom I was shaking my head the whole time.

No power. That’s something made clear time after time in the film; all these women have tremendous vocal power. Hell, they probably don’t need microphones half the time. Case in point is Judith Hill, the youngest of the performers. YouTube has a number of videos from her time on The Voice, but this one is my favorite, from the film. Gorgeous, exotic woman who can bring down the house with her singing.

February is what? Over? Music Night Feb. 28, 2014

Last week I watched Twenty Feet from Stardom, a brilliant documentary on some of the greatest American backup singers. If you have not seen the film, stop what you’re doing and order up a copy from Netflix. Seriously. We’ll wait…. Ok. All of these women will knock your socks off, guaranteed, but for the moment we’ll focus on Lisa Fischer, who was a complete revelation to me. There is a point in the film when Mick Jagger goes on about how he and Keith decided in the midst of recording that they needed a female voice on account of how they were all masculine and stuff so they had someone bring this woman in in the middle of the night. What he doesn’t say is that they didn’t need a woman, they needed this woman because suddenly they had one of their biggest hits. So this is a Rolling Stones video, but you really want to pay attention at about 2:30 min. And go get that movie.

Music Night, January 31, 2014

My comment upon discovering this video on YouTube: I saw them at a Pop Festival in Rotterdam, summer of 1970. I had their LPs but nothing captured that live performance. I still vividly remember Jerry Goodman standing at the front of the stage, his long hair flying in the wind, hypnotizing the crowd with his violin. Great to see a live video!

First Music Night of 2014, January 3

Please share with the rest of us any music or musical acts that you discovered in 2013 or music you think we probably missed.

Prefab Sprout was apparently very popular in the UK in the 80s and 90s. Living in the US you can be forgiven if you never heard of them or heard any of their music. They had few releases this century and don’t appear to have a US label. This fall they released a brand-new album in the UK, Crimson/Red. And I just found a couple of stores based in the US that have the CD in stock. Ordering in 3, 2, 1…

Music Night, November 22, 2013 – 50 years later

I had something all prepped up to play by the Dixie Chicks when I realized what a knucklehead I was. It’s 50 years today after the Kennedy assassination and one song came immediately to mind. I had completely forgotten that it was recorded by Dion (once of Dion & The Belmonts) and found it serendipitous that a YouTube video memorialized Dion on the Smother Brothers Comedy Hour.

Music Night October 25, 2013

I won two tickets to see a Rising Star concert by calling in to a Bay Area radio station. The person I spoke with on the phone had no idea who this Pat Benatar person was. As long ago as this show took place, I was the oldest person in the audience except for Paul Kantner. Benatar killed it. This video was shot a few months later, when everyone knew who Pat Benatar was.

Great hair, Pat!

Music Night, August 16, 2013

I was a huge Byrds fan from the beginning and virtually all of my favorite original material was written and sung by Gene Clark. He left the band after just a few years and drifted across my personal radar on rare occasions. As far as I knew at the time, he was done. The reality is that Clark continued to write and perform (but not tour) for a couple of decades and the albums (solo and with various partners) contain some amazing music. In the 1980s he worked with singer/songwriter Carla Olson, resulting in several really excellent albums. Clark died in 1991, age 46 after years of excessive drug and alcohol use.

Music Night, July 5, 2013

Because the world can never have too many Japanese neo-psychedelic, Cipollina tribute musicians. And because  you’ve probably never heard of White Heaven or Michio Kurihara, which is a damn shame.

Tomorrow I get to stand up with two good friends as they marry in a rose garden in Corvallis, Oregon and one of those friends turned me on to White Heaven some years back. And I get to wear a linen suit with a turquoise tie and socks!


Bonus bonus!