• Your Favorite Live Music

    One of my favorite quotes of all time came after several minutes of a friend talking about a fellow star’s boring live performances.  At the end came an emphatic, “And that’s why I don’t like [artist].” I find that few people’s favorite shows are performed by their favorite artist.  Personally, some of my favorite artists are now my favorites because of their shows.

    I’m excited about a weekend this fall when I plan to see two of my favorite live artists – The Reverend Horton Heat (a psychobilly trio who put out more energy in one show than some powerplants) then a couple days later The David Crowder Band (a Christian group known for experimenting with their sounds and shows; I’ve seen a homemade robot drum for them, heard the whole band sing through T-Payne apps and watched half the band donate their shoes to someone in the crowd).  I liked both artists before I saw them, but now they are both on my top 10 list.

    It’s hard to pick a single favorite show, but I have to go with The Police in Hershey, PA.  The band broke up when I was in 3rd grade, but I vowed to see them if the chance was ever presented.  When they announced their reunion tour a few years ago, 4 of us bought our tickets and tackled the 430 mile trip that was worth every inch.  Sting’s son and his band Fiction Plane opened for the show in Hershey Park Stadium.  The stage was set against the gorgeous background of the Hershey resort.  Both bands were on point, there was the perfect amount of stage theatrics to set off an amazing concert without overshadowing the playing that made The Police one of the best bands of all time.

    But this isn’t about me, it’s about live music.  I asked some coworkers about their favorite shows.

    Audio Architect Michelle Colyar-Cooper

    That’s a tough question…my favorite concert ever would have to be the Preservation Hall Jazz Band with Andrew Bird.  A couple of years ago we were on vacation in New Orleans and that meant we HAD to go to the Preservation Hall and experience the Band live and in their element.  We heard rumors that somebody was going to be making a surprise guest appearance at the show and the rumors were spot on.  Andrew Bird was in town recording and came out and performed with them.  The band all by themselves are an amazing bunch of musicians.  Their music was tight and they were soaring.  Then Andrew Bird came out and joined them, singing and playing some new songs, but mostly old standards reinvented.  The collaboration between them made for a truly unique and enthralling show.  The room was stiflingly hot, but nobody cared because the music was phenomenal.

    Collections Specialist Les Libby

    Barbara and I heard Trans-Siberian Orchestra a couple of years ago and just loved their sound. We heard they were coming to Charlotte last year for a Christmas show. We got great seats for the concert being it was the 1st time seeing the show; all I can say is WOW AWESOME and incredible show. The arms of the stage extent into the audience and if lucky enough where you sit the guitarist or violinist will be on top of you. The laser portion and backdrops also were incredible to see. One of the guitarist’s gave his guitar to a young fan; that surely made his day. The concert was worth every dollar. TSO is awesome and if you get a chance you need to go at least once.

    So, what was your favorite concert, and was it by your favorite artist/band?


  • What Can Bob Marley Do?

    be your friend imageEven after 30 years of death, Bob Marley, or at least his family, is reaching out to make a difference in the world.  This time The Bob Marley and the Wailers song “High Tide or Low Tide” is featured in a music video available on iTunes and Bob Marley’s Facebook page – and all proceeds are going to Save the Children to help children suffering in East Africa’s ongoing drought.  The social media campaign, “I’m Gonna Be Your Friend” launched today and is utilizing the immense social networks of over 50 artists like Lady Gaga, Eminem, Bruno Mars and U2 to help spread the word.  Watch the story unfold on Twitter with #beafriend.

    “The single, ‘High Tide or Low Tide’ was specially chosen by the Marley family for the resonance of the single’s lyrics, “I’m Gonna Be Your Friend,” according to the press release.

    Visit www.bobmarley.com or the Bob Marley Facebook page to make a donation or download the video.  Read the whole story on the Save the Children site.

  • Jewel’s “The Merry Goes ‘Round” Release Date Set

    Jewel's Lullaby

    Jewel's Lullaby

    Mood Entertainment announced this week that it will release Jewel’s newest album, “The Merry Goes ‘Round” on August 16, as part of the Fisher-Price Music Series.  This is Jewel’s second children’s album and will be released within months of the birth of her first child, a son.  “Lullaby,” the first album included the single, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” which reached #1 on the Top Children’s Songs chart.

    In her blog, she says of the new release, “I want the album to be fun for kids and adults, whether they have kids or not. I looked at it as a chance to write songs for my baby boy, that he can dance around to when he arrives.”

    Her sweet voice is perfect for children’s songs and still deep enough to appeal to the adults.  The new album includes more up-tempo songs than “Lullaby.”  With rockers playing and producing and styles like Dixieland and bossnova – there should definitely be a fun and unique sound that you won’t want to miss – children at hand or not.

  • Björk Prepares to Stretch the Limits Again

    bjorkbiophiliaBjörk has announced that her 7th album will be once again pushing the bounds – surprise.  The Biophilia album will include at least 10 iPad Apps and intertwines with the live show. It is based on the relationship of the sciences, including biology, astrology and sound physics.  Her website, bjork.com, has been re-released based on the new album, and although it is interesting, it will not be completely updated until Biophilia is released, likely later this summer.  The site is best viewed in Google Chrome or Safari.  She will also perform tracks from the album at the Manchester International Festival between June 27th and July 16th.

    Always one to step outside of what is expected; Björk is once again using the available technology to bring the experience of her music to a place that has not been tested yet.  One of the Apps reportedly is a game in which cells are attacked by a virus.  If you kill the virus, the music stops, and at some point the cells sing along to the chorus.

    Two new instruments were created by organ builder Björgvin Tómasson for the album.  Although I personally am not one to sit and listen to Björk while hanging out, what she does with her albums can really be an interesting experience.  And whether they admit it or not, most people are impacted by musical experiences.

  • R.E.M. Life’s Rich Pageant

    R.E.M.

    R.E.M.

    For those who are old enough to remember R.E.M.’s beautiful ballad “Fall on Me,” which was the soundtrack to my summer in ’86, Athens, Georgia great R.E.M. are releasing a 25th anniversary re-mastered version of “Life’s Rich Pageant.”  Teaming up with Capitol/I.R.S., this July 12 2CD release will have the works, including 19 previously unreleased demos plus liner notes from music journalist Parke Puterbaugh.

    R.E.M.’s fourth studio release was recorded in John Mellencamp’s Belmont Mall Studio in Indiana and was the first album to achieve Gold certification status.

    Contributed by Alex Espinosa, Audio Architect

  • Cinco de Mayo

    Mexico_flag_largeCinco de Mayo…5th of May…what does this mean?  To me, when I was a child, I just saw my family drinking margaritas and cervezas and having a good time on this date every year.  I also thought this was Mexico’s Independence Day for many years, but it’s not.  This date is actually important to the United States as well; and no, I’m not drinking right now.  You see, Cinco de Mayo is the date when Mexican troops stormed and defeated Napoleon’s French invading army on May 5th, 1862.  Napoleon and France wanted to invade and defeat Mexico so they could get to the vulnerable United States who was already weak from its own Civil War.

    So now you say “Where does the music come into play?” Here is the best part.  After Mexico defeated the French, many Mexican rancheros who fought in the war brought out their acoustic guitars and started singing and playing festive songs in a style that would later be known as Mariachi.  In our Cinco de Mayo program, you are going to be taken to a place where you can let you hair down and either pop open a cold one or say “Salud” with one of your favorite tequilas and yell Viva Mexico!  You’re going to hear artists like Mariachi Sol de Mexico, Gloria Estefan, Flaco Jimenez, Juan Gabriel and many more surprises that’ll have you dancing on the tables.

    Alejandro Gabriel Espinosa, Audio Architect

  • SXSW Proves It Isn’t About the Money!

    Wealthy West at SXSW

    Wealthy West at SXSW

    So imagine yourself among tens of thousands of aspiring musicians, artists, industry experts, and enthusiasts as they gathered in Austin last week at the 25th anniversary of SXSW (South by Southwest).  My last count was over 3,000 music showcases, 100 presentations and panels, and more business meetings than this exhausted participant could even imagine.  Musicians were found playing in every corner of the city, traveling from across the world for the opportunity, the dream, to be heard.

    But why?  It has become a foregone conclusion that today’s musician, at almost every level, should not expect riches from this crazy business.  Big paychecks from tour dates and CD sales are long gone.  The term starving musician now applies to even the elite.  Members of legendary rock star Duff McKagan’s band Loaded, a headline act at SXSW, struggle to make rent each month in their shared apartments.  Loaded bassist Jeff Rouse quipped, “This is my dream job and I love it.  Duff is a great guy and treats his bandmates like gold, but the gigs just don’t pay much, and CD sales barely cover costs.”  Duff himself comments, “The business model has changed.  Back in my G N’ R days, the tours were a loss leader for CD sales.  Now, bands need to make the best they can from tour proceeds, after paying the agents, managers, roadies, staging and all the travel expenses.  I’m doing fine because of past endeavors, but I wish we could get more for the guys.”

    A local fan of Loaded stated after last Friday night’s gig, “Man I’d love to quit my job, join a band, live the life of a musician and make the kind of money these guys rack up!”  Turns out this fan was a top exec at a prominent Austin firm.  I advised that maybe he should keep his day job.

    At Muzak I am surrounded by employees with a passion for music.  Producers, editors, programmers, songwriters, performers and the list goes on.  Some of them have spent a career in the industry and others are working their way up the ladder.  We are of the fortunate few in the music business who are actually making a living doing exactly what we love.  For most musicians at SXSW, it’s clearly not about the money… because in most cases there is very, very little to be made.  It’s all about the love and passion for their craft and the belief that perhaps one day their music will make a difference.  It’s a lifelong quest to articulate reality, dreams, anger, desperation, love and hope, creating a body of work that will resonate with someone else.  That’s why SXSW remains one of the most relevant music festivals today.

    Contributed by Bruce McKagan

  • Duran Duran and David Lynch

    Duran Duran

    Duran Duran

    I know these two names really don’t go together but on March 23rd, they will collaborate like The Stones and Maysles Brothers or The Band and Scorsese before that.  The upcoming March 22nd release of Duran Duran’s latest, “All You Need Is Now” is produced by Mark Ronson.  They are scheduled to perform at the Mayan Theatre in Los Angeles the very next day.  This will be for the American Express Unstaged Performance Series, which kicks off its 2nd year and will also be available to stream live via YouTube in partnership with VEVO.

    Duran Duran is making a sort of comeback to their roots with their latest release, which features the use of analog synths and dance grooves.  These elements made them famous in the early ‘80s with hits like “Girls on Film” and “Rio.”  They are also headlining the Time Out North America showcase at Stubbs in Austin, TX for this year’s SXSW (South by Southwest) on March 16th.

    http://www.youtube.com/DuranDuranVEVO

    Contributed by Alex Espinosa

  • Phil Collins Confirms His Retirement from Music Biz

    Phil Collins

    Phil Collins

    For anyone who was a fan of Progressive Rock and loves early Genesis when Peter Gabriel was actually the singer, you always remembered the funny bloke behind the drum kit who sang back up to Gabriel’s lead.  In 1975, when Phil Collins took over the lead singing duties after Peter Gabriel decided to go solo, the band sort of went in a different direction than the theatrics of Gabriel.  Phil Collins took Genesis to the next level with their music and live performances, which are now considered classics by those who saw them perform.  After noteworthy stints with Genesis as well as his solo efforts that produced his masterpiece “Face Value”, he confirmed today that he has decided to call it quits.  After seven Grammys and 13 hit singles as well as an Oscar from scoring the Disney animated film Tarzan he says, “I’m much happier just to write myself out of the script entirely.”

    Collins, who now resides in Switzerland, has had problems with his back for a while and after the excess of Rock n Roll has some hearing loss as well as nerve damage in his fingers making him unable to hold onto a drumstick.  In a letter to his fans though, he says, “I am stopping so I can be a full time father to my two young sons on a daily basis.”

    Being a fan of Prog Rock, especially Genesis’ “Abacab” release, I will have fond memories of him as the rock god that he was, and even that one time where he actually was a paid actor.  C’mon, you remember when he played Phil Mayhew, the British conman in the ‘80s camp show Miami Vice.  Here’s to a happy retirement Phil.

    Read Phil Collins’ letter on his site.

    Contributed by Alex Espinosa

  • New Beth Ditto Solo E.P.

    Beth Ditto EP

    Beth Ditto EP

    Fans of  Super Cool Indie Pop/Rock band ‘The Gossip’ will be pleased to hear that lead singer Beth Ditto will be releasing a self-titled solo E.P. this March 29th on Manchester Dance Label Deconstruction Records.  The E.P. has been produced by Simian Mobile Disco’s ‘Super Producer’ James Ford who has also recorded albums in the past for Arctic Monkeys, Mystery Jets and The Klaxons. The E.P. takes a more Electronic and ‘Dance orientated’ direction and I could see this working great in several of our custom programs as it reflects the client’s Cool and Fun approach to branding.  We’re sure this is exciting news for both fans of ‘The Gossip’ and ‘Simian Mobile Disco’ too!

    The new E.P. and Video can be previewed at the links below:

    http://soundcloud.com/deconstruction-records/beth-ditto-ep-preview

    Beth Ditto ‘I wrote The Book’ Video

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UECeJzd-G30

    Enjoy!

    Contributed by Billy Caldwell

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