Following his highly successful Ella Fitzgerald Tribute in January, producer and musician Graham Hawthorne returns to the stage of Chickie Wah Wah with a celebration of the life of the one and only funk and soul superstar, Prince.
The High Standards Orchestra will perform the music for this special show. Originally conceived, organized, and led by Hawthorne as the Harlem Speakeasy Orchestra, the band became an underground sensation in New York City by bringing the great American songbook to life in a fresh and exciting way. Hawthorne is now a resident of New Orleans.
For this show, Hawthorne will present the music of Prince in a unique way using big band arrangements. Expect to hear many of his hits as well as other tunes inspired by the legendary musician.
Just because everybody and his twitchy New Wave brother likes to go on about how Magazine’s 1978 LP Real Life is, like, one of thee finest examples of early post-punk, end of discussion, doesn’t mean I have to like it. Sure, the melodies are fetching and the musicianship is stellar, but I intend to argue, in this here review, that Real Life ain’t all that, for the simple reason that it’s slick as black ice. And I have a confederate who has my back in the personage of legendary muz-crit Robert Christgau, who swam against the currents of acclaim being garnered upon Real Life way back when by saying, and I quote, “Back in the old days we had a word for this kind of thing—pretentious.” He also labeled band leader Howard Devoto “the ultimate art twit” before tweaking Devoto’s English nose with the mean-spirited brush-off, “We hate you you little smarty.”
I should add that I like several of the songs on Real Life, which made England’s Top 30, bunches. Pretentious, sure, slick, for damn sure, but Real Life, which was released by Magazine (the band formed by Devoto after leaving the Buzzcocks in early 1977) featured some notable exceptions, including the raucous “Recoil” and the “so-glam-it positively-glitters” anthem “Burst.” The first could pass for punk because that’s what it is, while the latter is a pink monkey bird of a throwback to the days of Ziggy Stardust, et al.
Unfortunately Real Life also includes the insufferable “The Great Beautician in the Sky,” a carnival-like atrocity which I can find nothing positive to say about, except that I find Devoto’s imitation of a shit-faced git who just got off the merry-go-round and is about to hurl his fish and chips amusing indeed. And “Parade,” with its music school piano opening by Dave Formula and Devoto’s vocal affectations, irks. It’s not helped any by the limp saxophone solo by John McGeoch either.
Vinyl Record Sales Surges And Music Events Go Viral, Thanks To Rising Popularity Of Online Music Streaming: Interestingly while online music stream has contributed to the downfall of CD sales, it has boosted that of the old-style, old-school vinyl records that can only be played on a turntable. The BBC report notes that these vinyl buyers are avid record collectors and music aficionados who still cherish the traditional way of playing music because of the way it seems to bring them back to a more culturally refined, classier era.
Iggy Pop, Kim Gordon and Ian Rankin pick tracks for new compilation celebrating vinyl culture: Charlatans frontman and vinyl warrior Tim Burgess has announced a new compilation called Vinyl Adventures from Istanbul to San Francisco, to coincide with his book release of the same name. A celebration of vinyl culture, the book follows a digging road trip undertaken by Tim Burgess tracking down records recommended by the likes of Ian Rankin, Iggy Pop, Tony Wilson, Daniel Miller, Kim Gordon and more. The forthcoming compilation collects those timeless recommendations across double vinyl.
Do You Love Music? Silicon Valley Doesn’t: The song “Drag Me Down” by One Direction appeared on YouTube 2,700 times after the service was asked to take down unlicensed copies.These 2,700 pirated uploads allowed Google to continue profiting from advertising while the artists got nothing. The problem has gotten so bad that, in 2015, vinyl record sales generated more income for music creators than the billions of music streams on YouTube and its competitors.
Sunshine, sunshine is that a cloud across your smile / Or did you dream again last night / It’s best you rest inside a while / As blue doesn’t seem to suit you right / Things ain’t what they used to be / I say pain and rain and misery / Illness in the family / And sunshine means a lot to me, I say sunshine
This Friday finds me in the “Sunshine State” visiting my dad Kenny who recently lost his sprawling New York City apartment only to be trapped by the heat and humidity in a condo surrounded by prescription pills and luggage.
It’s not bad or depressing here but it will take your Idelic host this hour of song to shake my blues. The truth is that I’ve never been a Miami kind of guy. I don’t sniff white powder, wear white shoes or shirts, and I don’t understand spanish soap operas.
Adia Victoria, the soulful, electric-blues siren from Nashville, Tennessee made DC9 the DC stop on her current “Me & the Devil” east coast tour.
Delivering a mesmerizing performance, there’s something truly indescribable about Adia’s music that can’t be labeled or confined. It’s like a whole otherworldly presence is along for the ride and Adia’s in control of it all. Her music has dissonance and an ethereal quality to it. Its feel is magnified further within a live setting, and her band’s performance is like no other in the game right now. There’s a lot of raw guitar tones among the strings and they churn from silence to a bomb dropping in no time.
Adia’s vocals are gritty, yet refined. She manages to howl, whisper, chant, scream, and demand all eyes upon her with just a gesture. Her vocals soar from high to low and take listeners on a ghostly journey in tandem with her band that’s both tight and impeccable—from the straight-forward thumping drums, the relentless tonality of the guitars, right down to the last organ swipe.
“Lyrically, ‘Imposter’ is about a pop star that used to annoy me. The music and melody are a combination of ‘Song 2’ by Blur and a standard song by The Hives. If we could pick one song off of this album to share with people, it would be ‘Imposter.’”
Michigan may not be the birthplace of killer two person rock bands, but its White Stripes certainly were a standard-bearer for the configuration.
Add to the list of rockin’ duos from the Wolverine State the Bangups, who are poised to break out of greater Grand Rapids with the back-to-basics drive and power of their new single “Imposter” which we’re happy to premiere today.
Guitarist Joey Dombos and drummer Brent French kick it out on the track about a suspicious individual. With its thick riffs and a catchy melody, it’s the kind of track you want to put on repeat as soon as its 3 minutes 13 seconds are over (jukebox operators take note).
“My first record was Purple Rain. I loved Prince. When my parents divorced, I moved with my mom (and my conveniently-new stepdad). They were very religious and didn’t want me listening to ‘secular’ music. I remember them making me throw my one and only album away. I was devastated. Luckily I moved in with my dad shortly after that.”
“I remember the record player my dad had. It was from his hippie days, and he’d saved all his old 12”s. I would flip through them and try to figure out what was going on with each cover… It was like my very own art exhibit. I remember seeing The Beatles ‘White Album’ and wondering if they forgot to make the art for it.
I also remember giggling at Led Zeppelin’s Houses of the Holy, thinking, ‘Those kids should really put their pants on, I can see their butts.’ It was an awesome time for me, discovering new music, or, I guess, music in general. Luckily my dad had great taste so I wasn’t steered in the wrong direction.
The Vinyl District is pleased to premiere the first episode of The Broken Dreams Project, a monthly video series featuring musicians smashing instruments—all for the sake of fostering art. The first video features Chris Smith of Carolinabound discussing the importance of art in his life, performing several songs, and then breaking a guitar that was painted specifically for him by project creator, Jenni O’Shea.
The Broken Dreams project came about when O’Shea was working in education and witnessed arts funding get cut from schools. She saw children simply forget how to be creative and she knew she had to do something. This project serves as a reminder to support the arts in all forms—visual and musical—before they are destroyed literally in front of our eyes.
O’Shea works with her husband, Michael O’Shea who does the video and music production for the series. Michael has a background in music and has worked with many nonprofits in the past. He also had the key idea for the project—smashing instruments.
For Smith’s episode O’Shea painted the Blue Ridge Mountains which hold significance to both artists. O’Shea plans to keep each painting uniquely personal for the featured musician, depicting where their creativity is drawn. She also hopes to paint on many different instruments, not just guitars.
My favorite Siouxsie and the Banshees fact; the early band, primitivists to the core, ditched axe player Peter Fenton because he was a “real rock guitarist.” Can’t have one of those gussying up one’s primal punk rawk sound, not if one wants to create something truly unique and new. Which is what Siouxsie and the Banshees created with their celebrated 1978 debut, The Scream. So revolutionary was their music that critic Clinton Heylin held that the post-Fenton iteration of Siouxsie and the Banshees, along with the formation of PiL and Magazine, marked the “true starting point for English post-punk.”
On The Scream, Siouxsie Sioux (aka Susan Janet Ballion), guitarist and saxophonist John McKay, bassist Steven Severin, and drummer Kenny Morris created a sound that perfectly melded discord and harmony—a twitchy, spiky, and seemingly chaotic ruckus that was actually filled with beguiling melodies. Siouxsie’s vocals were by no means “pretty”—on The Scream she’s more attack dog than traditional female vocalist, and that’s a large part of the LP’s charm. But the real beauty of her vocals is the way they perfectly mesh with the band’s jagged yet catchy melodies; she’s in total synch with McKay’s remarkable guitar lines, and the pounding and throbbing of Morris and Severin on drums and bass, respectively.
McKay in particular is brilliant; I listen to his surprisingly ornate guitar work on, say, “Jigsaw Feeling,” and I marvel. The same goes for his magnificent guitar riff on “Carcass,” which is undoubtedly the catchiest song on The Scream. Between his guitar and Siouxsie’s alternately choppy and flowing vocals, this baby is a keeper, especially when you throw in the glam handclaps. His guitar work on the band’s cover of “Helter Skelter” is also a marvel; he meets Siouxsie’s stridently harsh vocals with a guitar that is more battering ram than six-stringed instrument, while Morris and Severin contribute to what is less a song than a wonderfully extended car crash. I love the song’s slow and clunky opening, and I can’t conceive of any finer moment than the one where Siouxsie sings, “You may be a lover but you ain’t no fucking dansa!”