Thursday, September 21, 2017

Topical Thursday Morning Shuffle - Down by the River Mix

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And then it was Thursday...

Last night, after work, I headed down to The Country to check out Ben de la Cour and Gaelynn Lea (who you read about in Collins' guest post earlier this week). (if you missed it, click the link).

Ben is one of my absolute favorite songwriters.

Gaelynn Lea (who won NPR's Tiny Desk Contest) is nothing short of brilliant. Playing traditional fiddle music and originals using a loop pedal and her unique playing style, she makes otherworldly and music that is at once dark and beautiful.

After that, I headed to Kay Bob's to hang out with some of my fellow WXNA DJs.  Every third Wednesday, Kay Bob's hosts WXNA Night and donates 15% of all sales to the station.  It's a fun hang with good food and a great beer selection.

Then, I crossed the river in time to catch Brian Milligram at The Crying Wolf.  I was reminded about how much I love his music.  Folk-punk delivered with passion. And he can pull off a sad song pretty well, too.

Today being Thursday, we return to our special Topical playlist  - said topic being self-referential and we delve into the history of E2TG.  It's an interesting history (if I do say so myself) covering a wide swath of musical styles. From the beginning, my approach to E2TG has been to write about music that moves me without much regard to the relative notoriety (or lack thereof) of the artists.  To that end, some bands I have written about have gone on to achieve greater notoriety and others have seemingly disappeared - at least from social media.  I take no credit and accept no blame from either. In my estimation, the value of the music itself is not really affected at all by what happens next for the artist. But, that's just my take...

Without further ado, here is the Topical Thursday (E2TG-centric) shuffle....

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Wild Wednesday Morning Shuffle - Off the Beat 'n' Path Mix

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You know, I am generally a pretty optimistic guy. I mean, I don't think I'm Pollyanna about it, but I do tend to look for the bright spot in things or at least the light at the end of the tunnel (that is hopefully not an on-coming train.)

Lately though, it is not easy to maintain optimism. It's not just the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue... I actually think he is more of a symptom (although a potentially fatal symptom) of a large problem.  I often hear the suggestion that we are part of an empire in decline. And maybe we are... maybe we have been for some time. There were certainly warning signs at various points of my life.

As someone who is deeply passionate about music (and art and creativity of all kinds), it is very hard to see incredibly talented people - who pour their souls into their art and who make vital and beautiful things - struggle to find an adequate platform for their work.  And then to read about a junk culture flash-in-the-pan figure getting signed to a record label... I just don't know.  It's easy to lay blame on the record companies... or on Spotify or whatever... but I think this all goes to a deeper problem in our society - where as a whole, we don't value truth or beauty or substance...

For the most part, I try to focus upon the communities of which I am a part that do value those things... and I do my part to put truth and beauty and substance into the world...

To that end... it is Wednesday... I call it Wild Wednesday... but really it's like classic E2TG day... from the beginning, I hoped to place new and under-heard music alongside some of my all-time favorites and recent discoveries (of older music) and oddball choices that stretch and challenge genre boundaries...   Eventually, things got so big that I needed to create specialized playlists for new music or Nashville music or whatever... but I am glad that I can have one day a week to shuffle all of the music I have on my phone and see what madness ensues....

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Trending Tuesday Morning Shuffle - Angels in the Architecture Mix

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I think I am well on the road to recovery from Americana Fest.  I've been laying low trying to make sure that I get this crud out of my system.

It is Tuesday.  We call this day, Trending Tuesday (because... well, Trending and Tuesday both start with T... and that sort of thing is cute - apparently).

But seriously, we shuffle up songs from our "New Music" playlist - which features primarily songs that have been submitted to us or songs from long-time favorites. It's all relatively recent - sometimes not yet released. It covers about every genre you can think of and a few you probably have never thought of.. it's all good, and that seems like a good reason to stop writing and get to the songs...

Monday, September 18, 2017

Music City Monday Morning Shuffle - Unconventional Mix

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Well.... Americana Fest 2017 is in the books... I feel kind of overwhelmed about what to write about the last two days (for me) of the conference. I think I got some sort of post-AMA drip thing going- runny nose and scratchy throat.... but I'm carrying on...

Look for some more detailed analysis forthcoming...  overall, I have to say, although I am probably not the best person to explain what Americana music is... as evidenced my attempts this past week to explain it to people... what I can say without any hesitation is that any festival that can find a place for as diverse a set of artists I saw (and missed) last week is okay in my book.  From Robyn Hitchcock to the Blackfoot Gypsies, from Dave Alvin to Brian Wright, from North Mississippi All-Stars to Darrin Bradbury... etc. etc. etc.

The other thing I want to say today is that I am super proud about the performances of the three E2TG Artists of the Year who played AMA Fest.  

2014 Artist of the Year Darrin Bradbury:  From his raucous single-song performance on Tuesday night - which ended with him leaping off the stage and disappearing into the crowd to his utterly charming and arresting performance at his official showcase Saturday night at The Anchor. The Saturday night show was probably among the five or six best Darrin Bradbury shows I have ever seen. (And I've seen a bunch).  Playing to a crowd - many of whom were there to see the nights final act - The Secret Sisters (who were phenomenal by the way) - Darrin pulled a good mix of his classics with some brand new songs and he utterly won over the crowd - as he has the amazing ability to do.

2015 Artist of the Year Jon Latham: For someone who did not have an official showcase (a glaring oversight in my opinion) - Latham managed to stay extremely busy all week.  He, too, was awesome on Tuesday night. Unfortunately, I missed a couple of his other performances during the week, but his closing set at the Cafe Rooster party on Saturday at Little Harpeth was among my favorite moments of the festival. Backed by his killer band, Jon commanded the stage in a way that he does better than most.  He took us, the audience, on an emotional ride.  His introduction to "Lifers" - the title track from his latest album - which he dedicated to the late Ben Eyestone, Jessi Zazu, and Chris Porter literally drove me to tears.

2016 Artist of the Year Brian Wright: Along with Aaron Lee Tasjan - Wright was one of busiest performers at the festival.  I saw him three times - all were spectacular, but his Friday night official showcase was nothing short of brilliant.  Wright is one of the few artists who can be equally captivating solo acoustic as he is playing full-on rock and roll with his amazing band.  He flat out gives his all to every performance and I for one cannot look away when he is playing.

So much more to write about but not enough time...

In case you missed it, please check out the latest Guest blog post from Collins de la Cour.  It is her review of Gaelynn Lea's utterly captivating performance at the American Legion on Friday night.  Check it out HERE.

Meanwhile, it Monday and we have another Music City Monday shuffle of songs somehow connected to the city of music...

Guest Blog Entry | Gaelynn Lea & The End of Times

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“You would think that the Finnish would have a lot of beauty to recreate in their art but surprisingly you find that the music is supremely dark and menacing. This is a traditional Finnish fiddle tune that I've adapted. It sounds like the apocalypse.”

Gaelynn Lea performs from her wheelchair. She began playing violin 20 years ago after a creative music teacher helped her to adapt a playing style that suited her frame. Lea holds her instrument like a tiny cello and loops her classically trained rhythms and melodies to create a symphonic cacophony that is both glorious in its reach and profoundly introspective.

Winner of NPR’s 2016 Tiny Desk Concert, Lea now tours the country full-time, performing original songs and clever adaptations of traditional folk songs and choice covers. Her well earned platform also gives her the opportunity to give talks advocating for people with disabilities. Lea has recently graced the TED Talk stage to give her own experience of “Sexuality, Disability & the Journey to Inner Freedom.” I highly recommend giving this talk a listen.

I first met Gaelynn at the 2017 Folk Alliance Conference in Kansas City. Since then my husband, Ben de la Cour has had the opportunity of touring with her to open shows across the northeast and midwestern states. Her performance quality is transcendent to say the least and her influencing positivity and confidence has been a huge source of encouragement to our family.

This past evening she perform an unofficial showcase at Green Room Music Source’s official AmericanaFest party at The American Legion, Post 82. Because many stages are not made to be wheelchair accessible she didn't even bat an eye to the accommodations of bringing the sound equipment down for an intimate, audience-level performance. Lea comes across just as confident on stage as off.

But back to the apocalypse. She certainly wasn't wrong about the tones and cadence of the performance she gave. All I'll say though is that if her ‘apocalypse’ is indeed what it will sound like in the end of times, we may all count ourselves lucky to be caught in the rapture.

Peter Jackson, wherever you are out there, listen up! I know a woman with a fiddle who needs to score your next movie.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Featured Friday Morning Shuffle - Dr. Strangelove Dough Mix

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Americana Music Association Fest 2017 rolls on... I think my total sleep for this week is still in the single digits. Maybe the very low double digits...I'm too tired to figure that out.  But no rest for the wicked... and things roll on tonight. Once again, there is way too much going to catch it all, but there are numerous really cool things happening:

Early this evening: The Wild Ponies host their annual Happy Hour - at The Family Wash.  Three years ago, it was at that event that I first me Julie Christensen and Grant Peeples - not a bad day.

Also, Bloodshot Records is holding their party - outdoors at The Groove in East Nashville with Jon Langford and much more, Tim Carroll's Rock n Roll Happy Hour is an official AMA event, if you are from out of town, that is a slice of the real Nashville experience that you should check out, and the fine folks at Green Room Music Source are throwing a party at the American Legion in Inglewood.  Technically, it may be possible to catch at least of part of all of these... I'll leave that to you to figure out.

Later, much to be recommended... Joey Kneiser's showcase is at The East Room, India Ramey is at The Country, and The Basement East has a great lineup that includes Little Bandit, Patrick Sweany, Aaron Lee Tasjan, and E2TG Artist of the Year 2016 Brian Wright.  There is also great music at The OG Basement and other venues across the city. It is probably physically impossible to catch all of these, but you are more than welcome to.make an attempt. Better yet, pick one and then enjoy that show and don't stress over all that you are missing.

Hey - ICYMI, we have an AMA-themed guest blog post from Collins de la Cour.  I love the way she writes, and she has some good things to say.   Check it out HERE.

Well - I have managed to keep up on blog posts during AMA, and today is FRIDAY! This is the day when we post about "featured" music on E2TG.  Let's shuffle!

Guest Blog Post | A Thursday Sermon with Reverend Sekou

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Tardiness is not a quality of mine that I value. Time and time again I try to show up before the bell. I will do all the preparatory, anxious worrying about timeliness only to still fail the clock.

So picture me today, hustling into a tight parallel parking spot, shuffling with my AmericanaFest badge tangled in my hair, hurrying through the crowded hallways of the Westin, rushing past the gorgeously groomed industry professionals. I'm on my way to a songwriter's round hosted by NPR’s World Cafe moderator Jewly Hight.

Being tardy to these events is frowned upon to say the least and the doorman scowls at me as I reach for the door. As I draw open the heavy oak out pours the sound of a growling, powerful vibrato, “Bury me in the struggle of freedom! - In the arms of someone who knows my name.”

Reverend Sekou is performing. Behind him sits his guitarist who rips at the air with an electric, Hendrix accompaniment to Sekou's gesturing spiritual. With his hands free, he floats them in the air before him as if he were plucking at the vibrations of his own voice, harping the tones, casting his spell, making you believe in the power we share when we share life together. With each verse he grasps at the air, drawing his audience closer, still closer, “until something beautiful is born.”

In the tremor of the hall, after the hum of his words is left lingering, the audience stands, cheering as if they were at a venue and not at a moderated panel in a conference room. The wild clapping and shouting is contagious.

I try and find my seat.

Jewly Hight quietly subdues the audience’s passion respectfully, applauded Reverend Sekou and calmly asks where the inspiration for his songs comes from. It is clear that though his background as a Southern, charismatic preacher from the Arkansas Delta is prominent there is a modern, youthful exhibit to his bluesy rock-gospel.

Like the best of storytellers Sekou, with a tone, blurs the air around him like a film reel going back into time. He invites the audience to see the world as he sees it and locks us inside his recent account of the events around Charlottesville, Virginia where he and 600 other men and women of faith boarded themselves inside their worship hall while Nazis parade the local streets around them with torches.

The inspiration he says comes from the strengths of each soul within that church to battle against white supremacy with the peaceful hum of their voices united in song.

Collectively, we the audience seem to realize that Reverend Sekou’s message strikes a note within each of us. It is the reason why we are in the conference hall today. We are all here to unite our disparate voices in song and because his church is carried around with him, today we were his parishioners. In my own secular way I knew that even to show up late to this modest, modern revival was better than to not show up at all.