singing

Town Mountain at the Top of the Mountain

Town Mountain almost rocked the building strait off  the mountain side when they played at the Gold Hill Inn last night.  Before the show started I spoke t

Sarabeth Tucek Streams New Album On AOL

Sarabeth Tucek is set to release her sophomore LP, Get Well Soon, on May 24th on Ungawa Records. It’s a stunning record that, although not a concept album as such, forms a narrative based around the death of Sarabeth’s father, or as she beautifully describes it “an impressionistic rendering of a time ruled by grief”. The 12 tracks were “sequenced and resequenced for weeks” in order for the story to emerge and the end result sees not one wasted word or unnecessary note; all we’re left with is “just pure feeling”.
Sarabeth was born to a psychiatrist and a psychologist in Miami, but grew up in New York. She was a latecomer to music, her first calling being acting. However, after a few years in Hollywood, her singing and songwriting was encouraged by people on the music scene she fell in with. She first made an impression singing backing vocals on Smog’s 2003 album Supper and then in the film ‘Dig!’, where she sings a song she had just written called "Something For You". The Brian Jonestown Massacre went on to cover the song (retitled "Seer"), but Sarabeth’s own version became her debut single, on Sonic Cathedral, back in February 2007.
This stark and simple song won her legions of fans and her self-titled debut album followed a few months later (on the Echo label) to rapturous reviews. Produced by Ethan Johns and Luther Russell, its understated style was an inspiration to a number of singer-songwriters who followed in Sarabeth’s wake, including Laura Marling, who approached Johns to produce I Speak Because I Can after hearing it.
However, despite everything seemingly going so right, at home everything was going wrong. “Some very bad things happened during the first record and after,” recalls Sarabeth. “It was as if all that had ever troubled me, hurt me, came back just as I was embarking on what should’ve been the happiest time of my life. It all came back and said, ‘Not so fast...’
“I don’t think my mind could handle all the good coming its way. It was unfamiliar terrain and I didn’t know how to traverse It. Predictably, my drinking got out of control and that led to a couple car accidents, jail and legal troubles.I wanted to leave LA anyway, but now I felt I sort of had to. I hoped that by coming back home to New York I would be able to forge some kind of redemptive break from the past. To forgive myself.”
The move has informed much of the music on Get Well Soon. The warmth of the West Coast has gone, replaced by a much rawer sound, all recorded over an intensive 15-day period in a basement in Southampton, Pennsylvania. “We recorded this record in a house where we also lived,” Sarabeth explains. “My friends Robert and Peter from Black Rebel Motorcycle Club recorded ‘Howl’ there. It’s owned by the Nicgorski family who are all very musical: Billy, who offered me the basement, and his brother have played in lots of bands, their sister Maria sings on ‘State I Am In’ and their father Wally spent his mornings on the front porch singing in his rocking chair. Making a record where I am singing to and about my father and seeing and hearing their dad out there every morning served up a pretty strong and bittersweet feeling for me.”
“I think we managed to capture a unique mood down in that basement,” adds producer Luther Russell. “As guests in someone’s home we got a feeling that might not have happened in a regular studio. Sarabeth wanted to be somewhere totally unfamiliar; the material was incredibly personal to her, so she had to feel right about where she did it. My job was to capture that feeling, and fast. The plan was to mix it in LA, but it turned out that all the magic was there in the rough mixes I did as we went along – so that is what you hear. I think that’s why it’s such an immediate record, because it really was completed in those two weeks... but with a lifetime of preparation, of course.”
The rawness of the recording reflects the subject matter and provides the perfect accompaniment to Sarabeth’s voice, which seems stronger, more confident and more crystalline than ever, like Karen Dalton or a less histrionic Cat Power, as she deftly conveys her grief with an eloquent, understated majesty. The musical reference points of the first album – Neil Young, Dylan, The Velvet Underground, Big Star – are still there, but somehow amplified, and Sarabeth is definitely not looking towards the current music scene for inspiration. “It’s odd how placid a lot of music seems now; so washed out in sound and feeling,” she says. “It’s like antidepressant music to take antidepressants to. I don’t really give a shit. I am more likely to buy a new book now than a new record.”
This would explain the number of literary references on Get Well Soon. The opening track "The Wound And The Bow" is named after a book of essays by Edmund Wilson, in which Sarabeth discovered and subsequently became obsessed with the myth of Philoctetes, a play by Sophocles in which the protagonist suffers a wound so grotesque that he is left alone on an island to live in a cave and tend to his injuries. The title of "Exit Ghost" was taken from the Philip Roth novel, but he appropriated it from ‘Hamlet’, where it is written as a stage direction. “The scene when Hamlet sees his father’s ghost became lodged in my head,” explains Sarabeth. “And his subsequent madness I understood in a more personal way.”
The narrative ends with the title track and a resolution of sorts. “I feel like I’m either the patient or the doctor, somebody always has an ache,” she says. “When I wrote the title track I had a friend of mine on my mind. She was so sad... just inconsolable and it was painful to see her like that. The title is a reminder to keep myself well. It’s hard to explain the ferocity of the grief I experienced when my father died. I really felt like it was going to kill me, so to be here... well, I just wanted to remind myself of what I survived.”

NPR Takes Ladysmith Black Mambazo Back Home

For their new album, 'Songs From a Zulu Farm' (out this week on Listen 2 Entertainment Group/Razor & Tie Entertainment), South Africa's a cappella treasure Ladysmith Black Mambazo went back home.

Original band member Albert Mazibuko and 20-year band manager Mitch Goldstein joined NPR Weekend Edition Sunday’s host Liane Hansen to discuss how Ladysmith Black Mambazo collected songs traditionally sung by Zulu parents to their children for the new album.

"There's such a rich, wonderful history. A personal history that comes from the group that's not always found in their CDs," Goldstein said. Mazibuko added, "When my grandmother told me about the songs, she said that their parents were singing the same songs to them."

Listen to the NPR interview here.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo was featured earlier this month on AOL’s Spinner blog, where Mazibuko, said, "Most of these songs we sing, even the traditional songs and the songs we wrote as a group, are the songs that always have lessons of encouragement, this kind of instruction."

Read more about 'Songs From a Zulu Farm' and listen to "Uthekwane" and "Leliyafu" here.

Read some Grateful Web coverage of Ladysmith Black Mambazo here.

B.B. King with Hazel Miller Trio @ Boulder Theater

His reign as King of the Blues has been as long as that of any monarch on earth. Yet B.B. King continues to wear his crown well. At age 76, he is still light on his feet, singing and playing the blues with relentless passion. Time has no apparent effect on B.B., other than to make him more popular, more cherished, more relevant than ever. Don't look for him in some kind of semi-retirement; look for him out on the road, playing for people, popping up in a myriad of T.V. commercials, or laying down tracks for his next album. B.B. King is as alive as the music he plays, and a grateful world can't get enough of him.

For more than half a century, Riley B. King - better known as B.B. King - has defined the blues for a worldwide audience. Since he started recording in the 1940s, he has released over fifty albums, many of them classics. Over the years, B.B. has developed one of the world's most identifiable guitar styles. He borrowed from Blind Lemon Jefferson, T-Bone Walker and others, integrating his precise and complex vocal-like string bends and his left hand vibrato, both of which have become indispensable components of rock guitarist's vocabulary. His economy, his every-note-counts phrasing, has been a model for thousands of players, from Eric Clapton and George Harrison to Jeff Beck. B.B. has mixed traditional blues, jazz, swing, mainstream pop and jump into a unique sound. In B.B.'s words, "When I sing, I play in my mind; the minute I stop singing orally, I start to sing by playing Lucille."

B.B. continues to tour extensively, averaging over 250 concerts per year around the world. Classics such as "Payin' The Cost To Be The Boss," "The Thrill Is Gone," How Blue Can You Get," "Everyday I Have The Blues," and "Why I Sing The Blues" are concert (and fan) staples. Over the years, the Grammy Award-winner has had two #1 R&B hits, 1951's "Three O'Clock Blues," and 1952's "You Don't Know Me," and four #2 R&B hits, 1953's "Please Love Me," 1954's "You Upset Me Baby," 1960's "Sweet Sixteen, Part I," and 1966's "Don't Answer The Door, Part I." B.B.'s most popular crossover hit, 1970's "The Thrill Is Gone," went to #15 pop.

More Info / Buy Tickets

Ladysmith Black Mambazo Keep the Music of their Childhood Alive

The centuries-old story of their country and culture has been the foundation of the a cappella singing group Ladysmith Black Mambazo since its beginnings, almost fifty years ago. On 'Songs From A Zulu Farm,' out January 25, 2011 (Listen 2 Entertainment Group), the nine-man group returns to their origins in the open fields of Zulu country to recreate the idyllic world in which they once lived by singing traditional folk tunes sung by mothers and fathers to children throughout the generations.

"These are songs from the earliest time in our lives," says Ladysmith Black Mambazo founder and frontman Joseph Shabalala. "When we sing these songs, we're singing from our personal history. It is such a joy for us to put these stories and songs together for our fans to enjoy too."

'Songs From A Zulu Farm' speaks to the universal joys of childhood. "Whether you are in Ladysmith, Virginia, or Ladysmith, South Africa, children are hearing songs they will carry with them for the rest of their lives and share with their own children," Shabalala says. "We hope that these songs sung to South African children can be enjoyed by families in many other places in the world."

Among the 16 tracks on 'Songs From A Zulu Farm' is "Old McDonald… Zulu Style," the classic children's song reworked in ways never before imagined as it's piped through the language and culture of the Zulu people.

Listen to "Old MacDonald" here.

Shabalala professes his love and longing for the times and places of his youth in “Thalaza,” a song he composed to encourage Zulus – and people of every nation and culture – to reconnect to the innocence of their younger years. “Your roots are who you are,” says Shabalala, who revisits the farmland of his youth every month. “I go home to see the sights I’ve known since I was a baby. When I see a field there, I see my father and mother standing with me as a little boy. I love going home because it is just that…home.”

Check out some Grateful Web coverage of Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

B.B. King at the Boulder Theater - Jan. 22nd

Since the 1950’s, there has been only one King of the Blues – Riley B. King, affectionately known as B.B. King.  Since B.B. started recording in the late 1940’s, he has released over 50 albums many of them considered blues classics, like 1965’s definitive live blues album “Live At The Regal,” and 1976’s collaboration with Bobby “Blue” Bland, “Together For The First Time.” In 2008, B.B. King released his Grammy winning “One Kind Favor” featuring one of his personal favorites, “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean” with Lemon Jefferson.

B.B. has mixed traditional blues, jazz, swing, mainstream pop and jump into a unique sound.  His singing is richly melodic, both vocally and in the “singing” that comes from his guitar.  In B.B.’s words, “When I sing, I play in my mind; the minute I stop singing orally, I start to sing by playing Lucille.”

Riley B. King was born on September 16, 1925, on a cotton plantation in Itta Bene, Mississippi outside the Mississippi delta town of Indianola.  He used to play on the corner of Church and Second Street for dimes and would play in as many as four towns on a Saturday night.  With his guitar and $2.50, he hitchhiked north to Memphis, Tennessee, in 1947 to pursue his musical career.  Memphis was the city where every important musician of the South gravitated and which supported a large, competitive musical community where virtually every black musical style was heard.

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B.B. King at the Boulder Theater | January 22nd, 2011

Tickets are on sale at Boulder Theater Box Office. Call (303) 786-7030 for tickets by phone.

Tickets are also available through our website @ www.bouldertheater.com.

Tickets are On Sale – 10.02.2010 @ 10:00 am.

Individual tickets are $77.50 GA / $96.50 Reserved / $124.50 Gold Circle.

Kelli Scarr Announces US Fall Tour / To Play The Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary Benefit

Kelli Scarr's interest in music and recording started early, at the age of three with her Nana using a handheld cassette recorder to record her singing. Growing up amongst the soundtrack of her parent’s records and singing in the Lutheran church of her hometown, music quickly became an important part of Kelli Scarr’s life.

After high school she moved to Boston, Massachusetts to study voice at Berklee, and she soon joined the band Moonraker.  Following college, Kelli, along with Moonraker, moved to Brooklyn, NY where they were thrown head first into the ever-expanding indie scene, opening for bands like the Arcade Fire and Broken Social Scene.

After several years of touring and three albums, the band dissolved in 2005 and Kelli started to shift her musical focus more towards film scoring, composing the score for Matthew Nourse’s full-length feature, “The Pacific and Eddy” and Jeremiah Zagar’s documentary, “In a Dream” (HBO).  Kelli soon found herself nominated for best original score for, “In A Dream” by the Cinema Eye Honors alongside fellow nominees Nick Cave and Danny Elfman. It was also during this time that Kelli joined Brooklyn-based alt indie group, Salt and Samovar.

During an almost accidental bill sharing, Kelli was noticed by local NYC musician, Moby. After striking up a friendship, Kelli and Moby were soon working on music together with Kelli singing the title track of Moby’s haunting and introspective 2009 release, “Wait For Me” (Mute). Kelli also quickly joined Moby’s touring band for a world tour to support the critically acclaimed album. On top of singing and playing keyboards within Moby’s band, Kelli was also asked to open the shows, playing her own music in supporting slots for Moby and winning over crowds all over the world.

Amidst all of the transitions and touring, Kelli had begun recording songs on her own. She began simply by recording quiet piano songs at home in between working her hospital day job and in brief moments to herself during her three year old son’s naps. From what began as a simple process Kelli quickly found herself with a collection of recordings that spanned the world, two and a half years and included a diverse cast of musicians, engineers and producers.

The themes and inspiration for her music ranged from the once small gold rush town of Folsom, CA, now turned suburban sprawl, to the raising of a child and the wishes of a parent. For a majority of the record the songs acted as a therapeutic release and moment of reflection for the relationships in her life and the struggle to find peace within them. Along with these moments of self-release, her songs captured the images of her childhood and reflected everything from scenes of driving through California to the memories of her favorite childhood movies like Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz.

After a long and exhausting two and a half year process Kelli had a record of mainly home recordings, which she named, “Piece”; a name she adopted early on with the advice of friend and filmmaker Matthew Nourse, to help her visualize the album as a “snapshot in time” within an otherwise hectic time.

In the end “Piece” reflected a large portion of Kelli’s life and those around her. From the sounds of her creaky upright piano and midnight acoustic recordings to the whimpers of her son waking up from a nap in the next room, “Piece” captured an extremely personal journey, providing a photo album's worth of lush images. “Piece” will be released on August 10th, 2010 as the debut for indie start-up label, Silence breaks.

The Terror Pigeon Dance Revolt! Announce East Coast Shows!

Founded in late 2007 as means for front man Neil Fridd to yell about his romantic mishaps, The Terror Pigeon Dance Revolt! has blossomed into a real juggernaut of epic dance floor revelation.

What do they sound like? It’s sorta dance-soul music, like synthed out Otis Redding covers on fast forward. Dance music with too many cooks in the kitchen, but in a good way, so not too many cooks, maybe just an above average amount of cooks. That is to say, there are sweet beats: your ass wants to shake, but there’s also like four vocals and two horn lines happening too, making for a unique, dense, dance floor throw down that’s suitable for both club rock outs and secluded headphone listening. But perhaps more than both of these, you’ll find yourself wanting to be listening to this music at a Halloween party with all your friends, because before TPDR were trying to make your head bob or your ass shake they were trying to make your heart feel something. Whether they’re singing about a new romance, old friends, or a magical thing that happens when the roads are too icy for professors to get to school, TPDR are singing about something that you’ve felt, and doing so with a humor and sincerity so often lacking in indie music. Scenes and events are set up so perfectly that on a late night, driving in your car in the middle of nowhere you feel every emotion they’re singing about deep down in your gut: you’ll be getting chills on the  subway during your morning commute. These songs will make you long for every boy or girl you almost kissed in high school, chuckle to yourself about how stupid and great your friends are and make you want to go camping, stay up late, dance on your fire escape, have a potluck dinner, jump in piles of leaves, French kiss in the back of a movie theater and finally go out and cut down a real Christmas tree this year.

And if listening to this band on CD makes you feel alive, seeing them live will set you on fire. Terror Pigeon live is sometimes four people and sometimes forty, but it doesn’t matter, cause you won’t know who’s in the band anyways. Everyone dances, everyone gets a costume, everyone sings. And don’t worry, only half the people know any of the lyrics so you won’t feel left out: the sing alongs are easy and they’ll teach them to you. The show is happening on the stage and in the audience. There are people running around with big light up robots on their backs, others wearing disco ball hats, a hairy man dressed as a giant pumpkin, streamers, aliens, football players from the movie Mac n’ Me on a TV dancing to the beat, a dude butoh dancing, it’s like Halloween and junior prom and new years and Christmas at once. There’s a lot of glitter and strobe lights and it’s entirely probable that at some point you’ll be handed a mic and told to go for it. And that’s the idea: that you go for it. Cool has been abolished: for 25 minutes you can’t fuck up. You can scream and sing and roll around on the floor and it’s okay. To quote them “No one here looks more stupid then we do so don’t worry about it!” And you can totally just stand up against a wall and watch too if you want: there aren’t rules. It’s not, “you have to go crazy,” it’s “you can.” And that freedom leads to a real liberation, an all encompassing fuck everything dance party hailed as everything from kid playtime gone wrong to the least self conscious act at CMJ to a religious awakening.

And all this razzmatazz hasn’t gone unnoticed. In addition to getting a plaque once they’ve also been written about by a bunch of important magazines and newspapers, including the New York Times, New York magazine, NME, Nylon and more. Perhaps most impressive, besides the plaque, was their winning the Diesel:U:Music World Tour competition last year. Selected from amongst thousands, Diesel flew them around the world to play in big stadiums in Japan and historic nightclubs in France. This rather surprising move, (wait, good, deserving bands can actually get giant handouts from monster corporations?!) catapulted them into the spotlight, giving them a much-deserved amount of exposure, a buzz that will that may very well explode as they release their debut album and continue to tour nonstop.

The Terror Pigeon Dance Revolt! have an album coming out on Luaka Bop this spring. It’s great. It’s ten tracks of absolute power. They’re touring the US nonstop starting in February with a new backing band called The Shakes. They’re now accepting summer barbeque invitations and really want to play someone’s senior prom like how the Spice Girls used to have competitions like that.

Upcoming Shows

06/05/10 - The Ox (with Harry and the Potters (7pm early show)) - Philadelphia, PA
06/06/10 - The Knitting Factory (with Harry and the Potters (3pm early show)) - Brooklyn, NY
06/11/10 - Hillstock (with the Eskalators, Ava Luna, The Shakes, Ghost Mall and many others) - Brooklyn, NY

07/18/10 - Velocity - Watertown, NY

08/06/10 - Brooklyn Yard (with for Mucca Pazza) - Brooklyn, NY

GNU VOX: SARA SERPA Tonight At Cornelia Street Cafe

Sara Serpa is a vocalist wielding an instrument as favorably unadorned and pure as any in jazz. She's the freshest vocalist on the scene at the moment, not just because she's new to it at age 28. It's certainly not because of the way she delivers a lyric, since there usually aren't any. Being from Portugal is also irrelevant, for like much of the great jazz coming our way in the past few years from Lisbon, there is nothing overtly ethnic about the music; it's sensuous, transporting, sultry and warm.

A main reason is that with one recording in, she raises profound questions regarding the previous role of the vocalist in jazz. What's radical, is that it's not about the ridiculous chops or inhuman gymnastic training or trickery. She sings as an instrumentalist, as a member of an ensemble with a bold conception, moving seamlessly as would a saxophonist from melodist to soloist, or from a front line horn to an ensemble voice—not the star of some show. Serpa sounds as if she's talking right to you, even though she's singing, not just in terms of the intimacy quotient, but in terms of the actual sound of it—literally, she sounds as if she must sing whenever she speaks." (Phil DiPietro, All About Jazz)

Thu  Apr 22nd 8:30PM   
GNU VOX: SARA SERPA

CORNELIA STREET CAFÉ
29 Cornelia Street, NYC, New York| 212-989-9319
http://www.corneliastreetcafe.com